Already Prettypoll: Care Instructions

I have transformed a few sweaters into potholders in the wash and caused the occasional rayon garment to shrink into unwearable tightness. Because although I follow garment care instructions about 85% of the time, I just cannot believe that an unembellished cotton/spandex top needs to be dry cleaned. AND. I’ve had many experiences where the instructions want me to dry a garment flat, and doing so leaves weirdly deep, totally un-iron-able creases everywhere while 10 minutes in the dryer makes it look perfect. For truly delicate garments, I hand wash, but most get put through my machine’s delicate cycle. It’s risky, but sometimes I save myself time, money, and aggravation and sometimes going against care instructions works better than following them.

And you? Are you a stickler for following garment care instructions to the letter? Or do you trust your own judgment based on fiber knowledge? A little of both? Any guidelines for when “dry clean only” is a lie? Any horror stories that have forced you to lauder exactly as instructed forever?

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Insomniac Sale Picks: Knit Jackets

*In this late-night feature – which will run on Tuesday and Thursday of each week – I’ll gather up three fun items that are currently on sale online and share them with you! I would LOVE suggestions: Stylish wide-width pumps? Classic v-necked sweaters? Chandelier earrings? Petite dress slacks? What would you like to see featured?*

Not quite anonymous requested a few picks for knit jackets that will work in a business casual environment, so here we go:

knit blazer

Olivia Moon Ruched Sleeve Jacket – was $79.50, now $47.70

Confession: This request was for any style of jacket, but I’m gonna give you mostly blazers. Because otherwise we’re either talking moto style knit jackets – which we covered recently here – or styles that aren’t quite dressy enough for the workplace. Would love other suggestions, if you have them! In the meantime, this knit blazer has a sleek shape but the ruched sleeves keep it from feeling too formal. Available in this mocha color as well as black, heather gray, and green in sizes XS – XL, including some petite sizes. Size availability varies by color. This similar style comes in black and heather gray in sizes 18W – 26W.

gap knit blazer

Gap Classic Ponte Twill Blazer – was $88, now $44.09
with code HAPPY

A great option if you prefer a two-button fit and higher stance. This blazer has some seamed shaping and roomy external pockets. Fully lined for easy fit and extra warmth! Available in sizes 0 -20, as well as some petite and tall sizes. Also in a denim-y heather blue. Couldn’t find a two-button knit option, but this blazer comes in three colors of ponte knit in sizes 14 – 28.

bates2

NIC+ZOE Bates Jacket – was $198, now $89.99

My lone non-blazer, but SUCH a cute one. Jackets with multi-button closures like this often look great buttoned and sloppy unbuttoned, but I think this little guy looks fab open or closed. Cute with pants for sure, but would also look great with a dress and tall boots. Available in sizes XS – XL. Couldn’t find anything truly similar, but this double-breasted blazer has a similar shape in sizes 14W – 24W.

animal print knit blazer

RACHEL Rachel Roy Animal-Print Knit Blazer – was $109, now $79.99

What a fun way to wear animal print in a non-neutral palette. This knit blazer has a streamlined, collarless shape and single-button closure. This would look great with gray, olive, or burgundy. Available in sizes XS – XXL.

Other not-currently-on-sale resources for knit jackets:

  1. Nordstrom – In my opinion, the best selection around. Some are motos and other casual styles, but there are also more polished options like this microcheck ponte blazer.
  2. Piperlime – Consistently stocks knit and ponte blazers and jackets. If you can do a moto at work, this sweater one is darling.
  3. Land’s End – A handful of blazers and jackets, petite and plus sizes for some.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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Reader Request: Successful Style Juxtapositions

leather and lace

Reader and client JW sent me this question:

I have been having some challenges mixing and matching “tougher” and more feminine pieces and textures lately. I wondered if you could offer some other examples/pics in a tutorial on this topic? For example, I was looking for some dark brown boots with a bit of a heel to wear with dresses of more “pretty/formal” fabrics than my usual jersey type this fall. I tried on the Adriana Luna boots (that I’ve admired on your blog!) in dark brown and love them. Can’t decide whether to invest, though, because I am wondering if they are versatile enough to go with fairly dressy dresses, or would always look too western and rugged. I would like to combine elements of both (a la Sundance Catalog but somewhat toned down) but the fabrics/textures always confuse me! I feel I risk looking totally mis-matched rather than intentionally stylish! But I am such a novice at this.

I love mixing opposite styles within single outfits, so I LOVE this question! There’s no single formula for making juxtapositions work, but I have some guidelines I use for myself and for clients. But first, a few things to keep in mind.

Suiting is tricky in mixes

Suiting juxtaposition - doesn't work
Suiting juxtaposition – details for this set

When you think about juxtaposition within outfits, you tend to think of polar opposites: Leather with lace, cashmere with distressed denim, etc. And suiting is a classic, conservative family of clothing that should work in polar opposition to tough, edgy pieces or highly romantic, frilly ones. But more often than not, it doesn’t. Suiting blazers, pants, skirts, and some suiting dresses like J.Crew’s Super 120s series seem out of place in mixes like the one shown above. Other dressy, office-appropriate attire that isn’t technically suiting – like wool pencil skirts, dress pants, and non-suiting blazers – qualify here, too. None of these will look cool and intentional with cowboy boots or leather pants. Some blazers and structured dresses can pair nicely with jeans and tees or leather jackets and boots, but because suiting is a grouping that stands apart from virtually all other clothing, it is tough to juxtapose. Because …

Items should have something in common

Western ladylike juxtaposition
Western Boho juxtaposition – details for this set

Here we have a frilly dress and long pendant, both of which are a little Boho, paired with harness boots, a denim jacket, and a rugged backpack. Why does this work better than the suiting set above? Because Boho and Western are both on the more casual end of the style spectrum. Imagine swapping in a wool sheath dress and strand of pearls. Those items are SO far from the weekend-y, outdoors-y Western vibe that they just don’t connect. Although “something in common” is usually related to level of formality or casualness, it can also mean color: A black leather jacket, black background graphic tee, and black pencil skirt would make visual sense together despite their differences.

To see this type of juxtaposition in action see: Sundance Catalog styling

Or try something costume-y and its polar opposite

Tough and ladylike
Tough and ladylike – details for this set

Interestingly, the polar opposites thing seems to work best when there is one over-the-top item or sartorial genre involved. Usually the super sparkly, princess-y, wear-this-to-the-ball genre that includes tulle skirts, rhinestone bib necklaces, puff-shoulder jackets, or gobs of sequins. In this case, the skirt is the most costume-y piece in the mix and the pumps, clutch, and pearl bracelet align with it in terms of classic formality. The graphic tee and leather moto group together as casual/tough elements. Another piece that makes this type work? Distressed boyfriend jeans. They’re slouchy and beat-up and incredibly casual, which makes them really fun to pair with sky-high heels and sparkly necklaces.

To see this type of juxtaposition in action see: Atlantic-Pacific

Stick to two genres

Three genres - doesn't work
Three genres – details for this set

So we’ve established that Western and Bohemian have a natural chemistry. Here is that same set with the clutch swapped in for the backpack. A little jarring, right? Occasionally throwing a glam piece – like a sparkly necklace – into a mix of two other non-glam genres will work. Generally, though? Pick two genres to mix, and draw pieces from those two only. Take one or two pieces from the first, and all remaining pieces from the other. Genres that work well together include:

  • Frilly and tough (think lace dress with leather jacket)
  • Boho and edgy (think patterned maxi skirt with combat boots and a graphic tee)
  • Boho and Western (our eyelet dress set above illustrates this combo)
  • Preppy and glam (think Breton top and jeans with rhinestone statement necklace)
  • Preppy and distressed (think cashmere sweater and sparkly necklace with ripped jeans)

To see two-genre mixes in action see: J.Crew catalog styling

Finally, there is a little alchemy involved in style juxtapositions. Everything I’ve said here may be tossed out the window if you find a three-genre outfit that works or create an amazing ensemble that includes your suiting slacks. Although these guidelines may help if you’re interested in trying this activity and don’t know where to start, once you get the hang of it you’ll see that certain totally unexpected combinations just WORK. So it always pays to experiment.

Any of you readers fans of the juxtaposed outfit? What are your favorite genres to mix? Any items that work beautifully to bridge different styles? Would love to hear your thoughts!

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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