Posts Categorized: shopping

How to Love Something From Afar Without Buying It



Transitioning to a new aesthetic (details here and here) meant getting rid of LOTS of stuff, and also meant doing some very fun shopping. A group of beloved and versatile items made the transition, but I was a little optimistic in thinking that I could go from a style that focused on pumps, cardigans, and fit-and-flare dresses to a style that focused on jeans, sweaters, and drapey tops without adding anything to my closet. Or without adding anything much. In most cases, I sold or donated several items when I bought a new one – often funding the purchase with consignment proceeds – and brought in lots of secondhand and new items that aligned with my vision of badassery.

But I also had to shore up an ability I’d been trying to cultivate for some time: Admiring a fashion item from afar without needing to own it myself.

This was especially relevant in transition since I still LIKED the look I was leaving behind, but no longer felt compelled to actually wear it. Also generally relevant because, although I was building, I wanted to keep my wardrobe smaller and more focused than it had been previously. And although this tactic is especially helpful when something is out of your price range, it’s useful to anyone who has limited storage space or a limited budget. I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered loving things from afar, but I’ll share what I’ve learned and ask you to chime in with your experiences and tips.

Be honest about style and fit

Exploring new cuts and styles is an important and valuable practice. After all if you stick to the same things forever, you’ll stagnate. BUT. You likely know that certain cuts and styles don’t work for your figure and needs, but you’re still drawn to them. This becomes especially dicey when you see one of these items styled exquisitely on a model who may or may not have a body shape resembling your own. It fits her well, but will it fit you like that?  If not, is it still a smart buy? Be honest with yourself about which styles and fits will actually work on YOU, and which ones are fun to look at on others.

My weakness in this area: Boxy Eileen Fisher stuff shown on tall lanky gals. (As shown above.) Oh how I love that look, and oh how it doesn’t love me back. Even though it fits into my new style, wearing it doesn’t make me feel my best. So I drool from the sidelines.

Be aware of inventory and use patterns

Let’s say you’ve got your eye on a pair of ankle boots. You love this style of shoe, and already own three pairs. Is this new pair significantly different than the others? Is it different in ways that work for you? (If your other pairs are flat and this one has a 3.5″ heel, that makes it different … but not necessarily in a good way.) Do your other three pairs get worn equally, or are you wearing one into the ground while the others collect dust? If the former, adding another pair might make sense. If the latter, there should be a specific reason the new pair is a good candidate for frequent wear. Otherwise, perhaps they’re better admired than purchased.

My weakness in this area: Used to be handbags. Now it’s sweater dresses. The first group of tops I bought for my new aesthetic were lightweight and drapey with big, open necklines. And then it became fall, and then winter, and I realized I was gonna freeze, and decided sweater dresses were the answer. And they’re great, but I have one that’s a go-to and the rest are occasional. And even though my initial thoughts are always, “Warm! Cozy! Cute!” I force myself to remember the tidy little stack of sweater dresses already in my closet.

Be a stickler for versatility

There will be items in most wardrobes that can only be worn one way, but are still loved and worn. (For instance my tunics aren’t especially versatile, but they are in constant rotation.) So, ya know, grain of salt. But ideally most items – including new purchases – should have multiple applications. A handbag that works with office outfits and weekend outfits is a better buy than one that’s strictly casual. A pair of pants in a fabric that can be worn three seasons out of four is a great buy. Heavy, lined wool and cropped linen have their place, but if you’re looking at cost per use a more versatile fiber is the way to go. If you’re pining over something that doesn’t work across seasons or formality levels, consider seeking something more versatile.

My weakness in this area: Slouchy pants. Especially cropped ones. I have figured out how to make cuffed, boyfriend-esque pants work for winter by hiding my socks inside slightly taller booties, but my truly slouchy, drapey pants are lightweight and fluid by nature. They wouldn’t slouch or drape done up in thick ponte or stretch denim. I live in a place with 6-month winters and exposing my ankles makes me freezing. I am now attempting to ogle cropped, slouchy pants from afar.

In terms of the actual loving from afar? In most cases you’ll just do that when you’re shopping around and come across an item you love but shouldn’t buy. But it can also be helpful to actually stash images of these things somewhere, both so you can admire them aesthetically and so you can “have” them in an intangible way. Collages and inspiration boards will work – use magazine and catalog pages, printouts from websites and blogs, anything you can cut up or print out. Of course, if you’re a Pinterest user, you can make a board for your Imaginary Self and stash images there. If this practice is just going to make you pine harder, skip it. If you think a stash of eye candy might hold off unwise purchases, give it a shot.

Sometimes the things we want to wear are different from the things that we actually will wear. And learning to think, “I ADORE that … just not on me,” can help you differentiate.

Which items or styles do you absolutely adore, but only when someone else is wearing them? Other tips for figuring out what should be admired and not bought?

Images courtesy Eileen Fisher

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This Week I Love …

tracy reese

… Tracy Reese.

Like many people, I first found out about this designer’s work through her Plenty line, some of which can be found at Anthropologie and Modcloth. I only own one piece – this dress, which is fancy enough to get fairly infrequent wear – but found my interest in her work rekindled when I saw this Amazon ad last fall. That dress was NOT from a lower-end line and way out of my price range, but oh how I daydreamed about it.

Reese is a Detroit native who attended Parsons and, after graduation, rose quickly in the fashion design ranks to women’s design director at Perry Ellis. She launched her eponymous collection in 1998, Plenty in 1998, and Frock (another lower-end line) in 2006. She’s been a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) since 2000, and has served on the Board of Directors since 2007. So, ya know, she keeps busy.

Although I’ve backed off my color obsession in my own wardrobe, I continue to admire Reese’s bold and inventive use of intense colors and intricate patterns. She has such an amazing eye for detail, and even her more subdued designs have thoughtful and unique touches. Her main line runs in the $500-$600 range, but the diffusion lines are more affordable. Here are some pieces you can nab right now:

tracy reese deveny dress

Deveney Ponte Sheath – $148

Fearful of print mixing? Let Reese do the heavy lifting for you. Such a great mashup of geometrics and florals, and will pair beautifully with black layers for the rest of the winter. Also comes in petite sizes.

tracy reese chunky toggle sweater

Chunky Toggle Sweater – $164

 After days and days of subzero temps, this sweater looks like heaven to me. It’s 60% cotton so it’ll be wonderfully heavy and warm, and I adore the toggle closures. Also comes in ivory with black closures.

tracy reese rayon blouse

Easy Printed Henley, Watercolor Blocks, Petite – $35.40

There’s only one of these left and it’s a size small, but I wanted to call it out both for its gorgeous print and to point you to Plenty section over on Amazon, which has some mind-blowing bargains.

tracy reese larmona lace dress

Larmona Lace Dress – $178

Such a classic black lace frock. Perfect for winter parties and nights out, but would also be so fun paired with a leather jacket and ankle boots. The low scoop in front will frame a necklace but this dress has a nice, high back.

tracy reese silk blouse

Floral Surplice Silk Blouse – $117.49

Such a creative take on ombre, and in rich magentas and pinks. Layer this 100% silk blouse under a blazer for now, and pair it with a sleek pencil skirt in spring. Too spendy? This Plenty blouse has a similar palette and is only $27.02 on sale.

tracy reese dress

Jersey Dress – $34.99

This one’s a bargain because it’s secondhand and listed over on thredUP, which has 67 fun Tracy Reese items for sale right now. You’ll need to create an account to purchase, but the account is free. Also love this arty sleeveless silk top.

tracy reese jali coat

Stitched Jali Coat – $199.95

Blanket/wrap coats are super trendy this winter, and this one provides a fantastic pop of color.

Sadly, Reese hasn’t done any plus or tall sizes yet – I hope she will – but if you love her aesthetic and are sized out of the clothes for now, check out her shoe and handbag designs. (A plus size designer with a fairly similar aesthetic is Anna Scholz. My post about her here.)

Other sources to check for Tracy Reese designs:

Anyone else a fan of Reese’s designs? Is this your first time seeing her stuff? Which piece is your favorite?

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

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This Week I Love …

… turtleneck and cowl neck sweaters.

I’m still a little leery of turtleneck SHIRTS, I have to admit. My winter uniform in middle school was a colorful turtleneck and cheeky printed sweatshirt, and I look back on those photos and wonder how I landed on that combo as a 12-year-old. But I spent much of last winter swaddling myself in scarves, and this year I realized I wanted some actual sweaters that covered my neck and kept me warm. Here are some of my current faves:


Banana Republic Waffle Turtleneck Tunic$98

I own and adore this very sweater. Mock turtlenecks fell out of favor for a number of years, but I’m thrilled to see them making the rounds again. They’re just as cozy as full turtlenecks, but a little sleeker and less bulky. This one isn’t long enough to be a proper tunic, if you ask me – I wear it with pants, not leggings – but it’s longer than a typical sweater and incredibly comfy. Available in black, gray marl, or navy in sizes XS – XL, including petite and tall sizes. This slightly shorter mock turtleneck comes in seven colors in sizes 0X – 3X.

cashmere turtleneck

Charter Club Cashmere Turtleneck Sweater$69.99

That is an AMAZING price for 100% cashmere, and you can choose from 16 gorgeous colors. I’ve read a lot of cashmere reviews this season, and it seems like many people expect thicker knits. Some reviewers said this style was too thin, others raved. Probably a great bet for warmer days and could be augmented with a nude tank underneath. Also in three colors in 1X – 3X.


J.Crew Cambridge Cable Turtleneck – $68.60

Chunky knits are trendy now, and this cabled turtleneck certainly qualifies. It’s a 3-gauge wool/nylon blend and will look fabulous with jeans. Available in sizes XXXS – XXL in this navy as well as camel, cream, heather gray, lavender, chocolate, ice blue, violet, or black. Size availability varies by color. This style is cotton, but is a cozy cable t-neck and comes in petite and plus sizes.


Woolovers Slinky Turtleneck$41.40
with code LASTMINUTE

I own this style as well, and it’s really lovely. It is definitely on the lightweight side, but a soft merino/cashmere blend that’s warm and lofty. And it comes in a whopping 29 colors. Available in sizes S – XL. Woolovers doesn’t do plus sizes per se, but their unisex sizes will fit through a 47″ chest.

marled cowl sweater

Anne Klein Marled Cowl Neck Sweater$89

I am really loving marled knits this winter, and this one has a particularly high-contrast, arty look to it. Available in sizes XS – XL. This space-dyed cowl tunic has a similar look in sizes 1X -3X. Looking for a lower price? This cotton blend Chaus cowl is only $41 but in limited sizes.

gap cozy turtleneck

Gap Cozy Turtleneck$43.99

I’ve tried this on in-store, and it is quite cozy. It’s also very oversized which means it looks great with slim or skinny pants. Available in this heather brown as well as navy, cream, tobacco, or heather gray in sizes XS – XXL. Also in petite and tall sizes. Not quite as oversized but lovely colors and great quality in these Pendleton mock necks in sizes 1X -3X.

merino cowl neck

Colour Works Merino Cowl Neck$19.04
with code 30CLOTHING

This one is definitely lightweight, but a great price for 100% merino which is warm and soft to the touch. Available in this red as well as brown, cobalt, black, or heather gray in sizes S -XL. I couldn’t find merino cowls in other size ranges, but this one is gorgeous in a cotton poly blend in petite and plus sizes.

Are you wearing turtlenecks, mocks, or cowls this season? Any other great sources for these styles?

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

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