How To Look Put Together (For Girls Who Are Not Put Together) – Part Two: Accessories

In part one of my wildly popular new series on how girls (or people who dress in women’s clothing) can look put together without actually being put together in the slightest, I discussed exclusively clothes. But there’s so much more to an outfit than clothes (unfortunately for our wallets).  And so this week I present part two of my primer, aka The Part of Being A Girl I Am The Worst At: Shoes/Accessories.

Shoes: Because Walking Barefoot Leads to Frostbite and/or Tetanus
I recently had to go to a four-hour corporate re-branding seminar for work and the guy who taught it was what I can only refer to as “benignly sexist”. We’ve all met these guys. They mean well and are nice people, they just have very strict socially-enforced ideas that girls are one way and boys are another. At one point in the seminar we were discussing what brands we liked and didn’t (and why) and the teacher, to lead into it, looked around the room (which was 75% women) and said “ladies, which of you here likes shoes?”  I think he thought that all women’s psyches were roughly like this:

The reality is that women have a whole host of shoe problems, the same way they have a whole host of every other type of clothing problems. There are wide feet, narrow feet, feet that are two different sizes, high arches, flat arches, no arches, bunions, etc, etc, etc. Shopping for shoes can be just as much of a nightmare as shopping for anything else.

I have only semi-nightmare feet (wide, shaped like Kermit the Frog’s, and also I have to wear either low heeled or flat shoes most of the time so I don’t irritate my plicas), so if you have feet that are real special snowflakes, I can’t help you, but I can tell you my saving grace when it came to footwear was discovering Zappos.

The problem with most shoe shopping is you have to try stuff on in order to make sure it fits. Most people aren’t the same size across every brand, and every brand differs in terms of width and shape. There are plenty of shoe sites that offer better deals or more variety, but Zappos offers free, fast shipping both ways, amazing customer service, and returns for 365 days. They have a huge variety in multiple widths, sizes (including half-sizes!), colors, and styles. There are plenty of other shoe sites, but they have crappy return policies, or smaller selections, and you need both those things to be a good shoe site. (Though as a note, always check Nordstrom’s before you order. They often have the same things for a little more, but every so often they’re having a sale when Zappos is not.)

As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m terrible at shoes and I desperately need several varieties of things. But here’s a list of basic types of shoes most women probably need:

blackflatsThe number one most important pair of shoes you need are your every day work/moderately nice shoes. If you are the type of person who can rock heels on the daily, you are amazing and I salute your sacrafice. I am not, and so I love love love love flats. Flats are the singular greatest thing to happen to foot fashion in my estimation since ever. You really only need two pairs of flats: black and a brown/neutral color. (Though pop of color flats are fun and nice to sometimes just splurge on.) I just own black (I told you, my shoe situation is bad) and they’re the Blowfish Nice flats.

The good news about these flats is the following: they’re adorable, they’re $40, they go with everything, they mold to your feet within twenty-four hours, they’re hella comfy (as in, they have a little bit of cushion, its not like you’re walking on thin cardboard). The bad news is: they’re not leather, so if you have sweaty feet (like me), that can be a problem. Also since they’re not leather, they take forever to dry. If it’s rainy and you step in a puddle then leave them overnight, they’re usually still cold and damp in the morning. They’re also very clearly $40 shoes. I wear these literally every day to work and usually after 4-6 months of constant wear, the edges of the soles start coming unglued and I just order another pair. I’d be more than happy to spend pretty much double on flats that were like this but just made of better material, but I can’t find a pair I like as much as I like these guys, so I just get two pairs a year of these until I find something better.

The best time to buy flats, hands-down, is in the fall. Why, I don’t know, because then you buy them and in a few months it’s winter and you can’t usually wear flats, but for some reason the shoe industry has decided that flats are a back-to-school item, so there you go. If you don’t like one year’s shoes, wait until August or September. That’s when every company will release their new models.

The next thing you need is sneakers.

gymshoesWhen I started working out a year ago I made do with an off-brand pair of “Converse” from when I was in high school until last fall when I got a trainer. She took one look at my sneakers and said “you need real sneakers”.  And at first I was like “naaaaah” and then I did one workout in them and my feet were dying and I was like “yup, I need real sneakers”.

I work out in these Arianna III sneakers from Adidas for the simple reason that when I went to look on Zappos, they were the only non-neon and non-granny pair I saw. I have zero experience with other brands and cannot tell you if they’re good or not (I mean, I have some foot pain occasionally, but for the most part they do their job). My parents are both huge New Balance fans, though I think that’s in part because we live very close to their factory store so you can get good quality sneakers for not a lot of money. I’ve noticed almost everyone at my gym wears Nikes.

What you buy is hugely dependent on a) the type of workout you’re doing and b) the type of feet you have. I’ve googled extensively what the best brands are and literally no one agrees. It’s all a matter of personal taste.

The other kind of sneakers you need are your relaxed, every day, it’s the damn weekend sneakers. Dress up sneakers, if you will. Non-gym sneakers.
converseMy favorite style of shoe’s on God’s green earth are Converse. I would wear them to weddings. I would wear them to funerals. If I was being crowned ultimate ruler of the universe, I would wear Converse to my coronation. When I was three the first pair of shoes I ever wanted was blue high-top Converse. (I have since evolved as a person to prefer low-tops. Character growth!)

Unfortunately for me, Converse believes that only people with very narrow feet exist, which means I can never own a pair until they decide to accommodate me (which will never happen.) For a brief, shining few years when I was in high school there was this brand called No Sweat Apparel that made faux-Converse (or as I called them, “Fauxnverse”) and sold them at The Garment District in Cambridge. (Note: if you are in the area, that’s a fun place to drop by. Or it used to be. I haven’t been there in over five years since I am never in that area.) Tragically, No Sweat decided to stop making shoes and selling individually and focus completely on wholesale basics, like an American Apparel with ethics. I’m still clinging to the almost ten year old pair of Fonverse that barely still fit the legal definition of “shoes” though. I will never let them go.

For wide-footed people, there are some alternatives. As a kid buying sneakers, I mostly went between two brands: Adidas (their Sambas/Campus 2/Gazelle are all subtle variations on the same theme) and Vans. These days I am all about the Vans.

vansslipons
Vans
is like the ultimate laid-back cool sneaker company. Their quality is great and they have a whole bunch of different styles. Right now I am all about the Vans Classic Slip-Ons. As a disclaimer, I don’t actually own a pair, but it’s one of those purchases I’ve been meaning to make for months and at some point I’m going to actually sit down and do. The reason I suggest Vans over, say, Keds (who are very similar) is quality, variety, and width. Keds is another brand that runs very narrow, and they have a much smaller range of colors/patterns (in fact the last time I checked they ONLY had patterns), and their soles are much thinner, which means they’re not as supportive and wear out easier.

When summer comes, you’re going to need two kinds of sandals. First of all, you’re going to need nice sandals for, like, going to work and wearing with dresses. I am currently in the throes of trying to find a pair (and failing miserably despite literal months of effort), so I can’t recommend any. (Though I did just buy this nice pair of sandals/wedges for my sister’s upcoming wedding, but since I haven’t worn them yet except around my house, I can’t review them properly besides “fits and also adorable”.) But also you’re going to need a good old basic pair of flip-flops for the beach and the pool and when you just have to slap on a pair of shoes to run out of the house and do a quick errand. And for those, I have my Tevas.

blackflipflopsNow let’s be real, you can get crappy flip-flops anywhere. I’m pretty sure they just give them away at Old Navy like they’re free candy samples. But the trick to good flip-flops is twofold. First of all, get a fabric strap. I have tried the plastic strap and I am here to tell you that you deserve better than that. Plastic straps are thick, they’re uncomfortable, and they break ten times easier. Don’t do that to yourself. The second thing is the right thickness of sole. You need a pair that’s not practically cardboard soles, and you also need a pair that aren’t those giant platforms that are tragically coming back into style. (Fun fact: giant platform flip-flops are how I discovered my knee problems! Ah, the follies of youth/the early 2000’s.) So I went with these Tevas. They’re not an exact match, since don’t sell the kind I got years ago any more as a singular pair, they now only come in a $50 two-pack. But they’re close enough and they’re comfy as hell.

And, I would say for a good 80% of Americans (who I’m assuming are my main audience here), you’re going to need a pair of waterproof boots. Many people (read: my mom) would also say as a New Englander I need a pair of snow boots, but I disagree. I have feet that get sweaty very easily, plus I have to work in a warm office building where snow boots are heavy and hot as all heck. If you really need snow boots, everyone I know swears by our good old friend L.L. Bean’s. They’re expensive, but they’re extremely good quality and worth it. You do have to order early, though, because they hand-make their boots and if you order sometime in mid-winter you’re going to get a notice that says “back ordered until June”.

But if you live somewhere that’s more wet that cold, or if you’re like me and get hot feet easily, or if you just want plain old rain boots, allow me to introduce you to Tretorns.
Tretorn-Skerry-Black-Ivy
This is my first pair of Tretorns, which is their Skerry model. I loved these boots. For eight years, I loved these boots. They’re cheap, quality, wide, adorable, and completely waterproof. They have a fuzzy fleece lining that’s not too thick. They are perfect. Unfortunately after about eight years of love, the rubber started to crack and break along the line where it meets the sole, so I had to get new ones.

I wanted to just order another pair of Skerrys, but in the ensuing years Tretorn had decided, for mysterious and unbeknownst reasons, to only sell Skerrys in “metallic” and “shiny” colors. I even called the company directly to ask about it, and they swore the matte colors would be back, and I waited and waited but they never came. Eventually I had to just order a new pair because this year’s winter in Boston was so wet and also because I was going on vacation where it was predicted to rain the entire time, so I went instead with Tretorn’s Elsa model.

tretorn-elsaTo be fair to these boots, they’re still great. Great quality, same nice fleecy lining, very cute. They’re thinner than the Skerrys (so I can’t wear them with thick socks), and if Tretorn ever sells the matte Skerrys again I’m dropping these in a hot second and getting my old beloveds, but they’re a very, very good substitute.

A very big essential is also a nice pair of boots to wear to work the way people wear flats to work in the spring/summer/early fall. I wish so badly I could recommend a good pair to you guys, but I can’t. I spent all winter scouring every corner of the internet trying to find a pair of boots that would fit me (literally I think I got up to almost two dozen pairs of boots) and I found nothing. This is a wide foot problem. Most shoes are semi-structured, meaning that they have parts that can expand if your foot is wider or bigger in certain areas and fit a bigger variety of feet. But boots are ultra-structured, and if you have wide or slightly abnormal feet, you are shit out of luck. I tried in vain to google “boots for wide feet” but I just got boots for people who needed wide shafted boots, not boots that are wide in the foot. If anyone reading this has a suggestion for boots for people with wide feet that are also cute and good quality (AND NOT HIGH HEELED), I will kiss you on the mouth. I will give you my first-born. I am at desperation level, here.

There are plenty of other styles of shoes you will probably acquire, mostly for fancy occasions (because for some reason owning just one pair of heels never works, every dress you get always seems to require a different pair). If going through the entire Zappos site is too daunting for you (and I don’t blame you, it’s huge), you can either filter it to be extremely specific on the side, or you can search by brand (if you scroll all the way down to the bottom you can find each brand listed alphabetically). My favorite brands to always check in with are the following:

Blowfish: cute, semi-trendy shoes, usually on the cheaper side, but good quality cheap.
Rocket Dog: extremely similar to Blowfish. Blowfish 2.o. Don’t like what Blowfish has? Check out Rocket Dog, and vice-versa.
Steve Madden: If there’s a new trend you’re seeing extremely fashionable people wear that costs lost of cash, check Steve Madden. They usually will have a pretty good quality knockoff for much less. They specialize more in fancy shoes/high heels.
Seychelles: Seychelles are almost always, without fail, the brand that has almost exactly what I’m looking for, but $20 more than I want to pay for it.

Scarves: The Blogger Is From New England (So This Is A Vitally Important Section)
My favorite clothing item in the entire world is scarves. I love scarves. I want every single beautiful scarf that has ever existed. In my humble opinion the months of May-August are the very worst months of the year because it is both too hot and also not socially acceptable to wear scarves, and then how the heck am I supposed to wear a cute outfit without one? It eludes me.

I went through my scarf collection (I’ve managed to whittle it down to about fifteen “essentials”) and I tried to figure out what to suggest for people in terms of acquiring scarves, and the two best sources for scarves are the following:

1. Your friends/Your mom/You/someone with a pair of knitting needles: Handmade scarves are great, especially if you live somewhere cold. If you want a hand-made scarf, the best place to look for patterns is in Ravelry (you have to create an account, but it’s free and they never e-mail you, so it’s totally worth it). They have literally thousands of free patterns. Then, if you are like me and don’t knit (well, I can knit a very nice rectangle the size of a potholder before I give up, but don’t ask me about purling, though, it’s beyond me), find someone who does and bribe them to knit for you. Offer to pay for the the yarn, or the labor, or the whole damn thing. Remind them when your birthday is. Promise to do chores for them. Whatever it takes. This is how I got both a gorgeous scarf from my BFF as well as my winter hat from my friend Kitty.
2. Thrift stores: If you go to a thrift store for literally no other reason, go for the scarves. Thrift stores all (or at least, in New England they all do) have amazing selections of scarves for very, very cheap. I’ve gotten real silk scarves from thrift stores for about $5.
(Secret option 3, Your grandma: Another thing that struck me, going through my scarves, is that a lot of them come from my mom’s mom’s house and I got them after she died. While this has upped my fashion game, I recommend against actively pursuing it because it requires your grandmother be both fashionable and dead.)

My two favorite scarves I wear the most are probably a gray cotton-ish scarf I got a million years ago (I can’t remember if I stole it from my sister, got it from a thrift store, or my sister got it from a thrift store and then I stole it from her) and this penguin scarf my friend Lauren got me for Christmas two years ago. The penguin scarf I probably wear the most, because it’s a nice pop of color, penguins are fun, and I like to wear it on Penguins game days for good luck (it’s work-appropriate team gear that no one will give me crap for). In fact, I wear it so much that if you follow my Instagram (warning: mostly gerbil pictures) it appears during the winter to be the only scarf I own.

If you really, really, really want to buy scarves online, though, here’s some places to start:

circlescarfmodclothModcloth’s scarf collection is okay. Their scarves are usually not very good quality fabric, is the main problem. I do have a scarf from them I really like that I got for free (because I ordered like $200 worth of stuff, so I got a complementary goodie bag, and then wound up keeping none of what I ordered. I win!), but they no longer sell it and also the quality isn’t that great. A nice basic if you’re looking to start your scarf collection is their Brighten Up circle scarf which they have in a variety of colors (and come the fall they will have a bigger variety of colors).

You would think Etsy would also be a great place to find scarves, but it’s really, really not. I’ve searched extensively, and the one good store I found is Little Minnow Designs.

littleminnowscarf
Little Minnow Designs is a screenprinting store that has a few basic designs that they print on really nice quality infinity scarves in a million different colors. I like their flower design the best (the one I showed above). I got it three years or so ago on white, because at that time they only had, like, four colors, and now they come in pretty much every color of the rainbow. (I think I might still choose white, though.)

There are only two things that keep Little Minnow scarves from being the perfect scarf. The first is that over time, they lose their fullness as the material becomes softer and less stiff. I like more volume in my scarf, so this bugs me. The other thing is that they’re only printed on one side. When you first get them, this isn’t a huge problem because the cloth is a lot stiffer and easy to manipulate, so you can just show only the side with the print. But as the cloth slowly gets worn, it scrunches up more and you don’t really see the pattern as much, you mostly just see the background color.

But really, thrift stores. If you want good scarves, go to thrift stores.

Jewelry: All That Glittery Crap
If there is one area that is even weaker than my shoe game, it is my jewelry game. It’s terrible. I’m a minimalist who did not inherit almost any from my family (because I was such a tomboy my family never bothered giving me any of the jewelry I didn’t, at the time, want) and I’m cheap. It’s a bad combination. Like, think of Mindy Kaling’s amazing jewelry game, then think of the opposite, and that is me.

Every day I wear this ring I got from Keka Jewelry on Etsy, and I wear a pair of earrings. Very, very, very rarely, I put on a necklace.

The problem with trying to advise people on jewelry is that it’s so deeply personal in a way most fashion is not. It usually comes from someone who means something or is symbolic or religious or sentimental. And as far as aesthetics go, you can get away easily with wearing no jewelry or wearing a ton of jewelry. It’s all up to you.

There are, however, two areas I would suggest investing money in. The first area is one nice statement necklace.

tassel1
The necklace I own is a gold-colored (positive it’s not real gold) tassel necklace very similar to the one above (which can be bought here). I think I got it from my grandmother when she moved from her house to an assisted living? (This time, my dad’s mom.) There are a million styles of statement necklaces in varying levels of statement-ness, but having one fancy piece you can put on over an otherwise plain outfit and be like “look! effort!” is always nice. (NOTE: if you do want to go the tassel necklace route, which is pretty trendy right now, avoid ones that either describe themselves as or too closely resemble Hindu malas or prayer beads. Being inspired by the aesthetics of another culture is always cool. Literally stealing fashion from them – especially religiously significant fashion – is absolutely never acceptable.)

The second is earrings. Earrings are a nice way to low-key accessorize, and honestly, most women have their ears pierced anyway, so might as well use that hole you got poked in you anyway, right?

The only things literally everyone needs in terms of earrings are a basic pair of gold and a basic pair of silver studs. After that, the sky’s the limit.  I also tend to think everyone should have a big old pair of dangly earrings for fun, but that’s just me. Different face types look good in different things (I, for example, need either studs or big earrings . Medium sized earrings are not flattering. Neither are hoops.)

My gold earrings are this vintage pair that I would recommend if only there were more of them that exist, but there are not. My basic silver earrings, however, are fantastic.

hapagirlsearrings
I love flower/leaf motifs (in case that wasn’t flagrantly obvious to you throughout this series of blog posts), and I especially love the blossoms on fruit trees. Cherry blossoms are probably my favorite. So I love love love this pair of earrings you can buy from Hapa Girls on Etsy. I’ve actually bought them twice. Once my parents bought them for me for my birthday, and once I bought a replacement pair because one of them fell out on the bus and I was heartbroken. They take a while to make, so if you need them for an event, order at least a month in advance, but they come in gold and copper (which is fun and unusual) and they’re beautiful.

My obvious recommendation for where to buy good earrings is Etsy. But most of the nice earrings on Etsy require dropping a little more cash (most nice earrings are like, $30+), so first, you should get a bunch of cheap earrings and figure out what you like.

claires2 claires3
The first and most obvious place is Claire’s. It’s super-cheap earrings in every conceivable style (though it does lean more heavily towards the pre-teen demographic). I hate going to Claire’s in person because it’s so offensively glittery and tween-y for my tastes, but if you want to order a bunch of earrings from them, they do have free shipping for any order over $35. That sounds like not that much but in reality you probably would need to buy, like, at least six pairs of earrings to hit that price. A better solution is to put together an order with your friends where each of you have 1-3 pairs you want and then just distribute them when they come.

targetearrings2 targetearrings3
Target also has a nice selection of cheap earrings. I actually really like Target. I’m not a huge fan of their clothing (I mostly feel like you get what you pay for, which means a lot of their stuff is cheap), but they have surprisingly good shipping/return policies and customer service. So earrings are one of the few things I without reservation say yes, go forth and order from Target.

Once you’ve figured out what you like, though, go to Etsy. You have to slog through a lot of crap on Etsy to find the good stuff, but the good stuff is really wonderfully good. A few of my favorite jewelry stores (though most of them are mostly earrings stores) are the following:

zooz1 zooz2

Zooz Jewelry is a store that does earrings and necklace charms of a menagerie of adorable animals (and dinosaurs, and stars and hearts and stuff like that), and some pretty unusual animals too. Most of her stuff comes in either gold or silver, and I’ve never asked but I bet if you messaged her you could probably get her to make something you only see in gold or silver in the other.

marymaryhandmade1 marymaryhandmade2

MaryMary Handmade is a very similar shop that focuses much more heavily on both necklaces and inanimate cute objects rather than just animals. Her shop also seems to be pretty strictly sterling silver.

curare1 

One of my favorite shops I found on Etsy was Curare Sweets, which is unfortunately on a break right now.  The stuff there is super unique in that it’s not metal, it’s lasercut leather. That makes it both very light and very intricate, plus they come in lots of fun colors. I have a pair of her “Little Mama” earrings, which I like but which are too medium-sized for me, and I want desperately to graduate to the “Big Mama” style (which is the same, just bigger – it’s the one in blue on the left).

Like I said, she seems to be closed up for now, but she does have a website where you can contact her if you really, really, desperately need something. Always worth a shot.

balinese2 balinese3

BaliArtworks is the Etsy shop of a woman who lived in Bali for many years and sold contemporary jewelry there. She moved and closed shop, but she kept tons of stuff in storage for years until she decided to sell it. If you want something that’s not run-of-the-mill or unusual, this is a really fun place to shop.

Bags: Not Everything Fits In Pockets (And Functional Pockets In Women’s Clothing Are Rare)
Being a women means you have to schlep around a lot of shit. Besides just your phone and wallet and keys, you usually need chapstick and tissues and headphones and  a phone charger and a granola bar/snack and Advil and extra tampons/pads and extras of any other pills you take/Lactaid if you’re lactose intolerant and bandaids and hair elastics or pins or clips and breath mints/gum and maybe a book or a Kindle or a notebook or a sketchpad… you need a lot, is my point. And that’s just if you’re carrying for you and don’t have kids/a significant other (usually male) who expects you to carry their stuff because you already have a bag. Women are also, on some level, expected to be like an Inspector Gadget/Mary Poppins hybrid who have a magic bag where you can reach in and literally everything you ever need comes out of it. Why can’t guys just get bags and carry their own stuff?! It’s a mystery.

Every woman needs precisely two bags: a little one and a big one. (You can of course have as many as you want, for funsies.) The big one for every day stuff, and the little one when you’re just going out for a few hours/the night and don’t want your giant bag to come along with you.

For everyday bags, I suggest a big cloth tote. I suggest this for several reasons. First of all, cloth is lighter than leather and it can get wet without getting ruined (so, say, if your waterbottle leaks or something spills, your life is not over). Second of all, you can throw fabric in the wash. Third of all, it’s cheaper. The kind of bag you’re looking for is generally called a “tote” or “diaper bag” or “messenger bag” or “hobo”, depending on what you’re looking for. My bag looks like this and I love it:

mybagI got it several years ago from the Etsy shop Meiling Sketchbook and it’s beautiful. (Though wow, compared to this picture, so dirty. I really need to wash it.) I take it with me to work every day and it fits all my crap and my lunch and even a sweatshirt if the weather’s something in between. She’s since stopped selling it, though (and who wants the same bag as me, that would make life boring). I looked around online and it seems to me that the best place to get a good quality cloth bag is once again Etsy.

The best shops I’ve found for big carry-all bags are:

whitneyjude2 whitneyjude3

Whitney Jude does really cute work with pleating and buttons (and I do love a good button detail). Her stuff seems to be on the smaller side for totes and only comes in solid colors, but it’s very affordable and if you see a style you like but isn’t in the color you want, you can contact her and she says she’ll happily make you a custom order.

tippythai1 tippythai3

TippyThai/TippyToon are two different shops from the same seamstress from Thailand. She has a huge variety of patterns and colors and again, takes custom orders. The one thing to keep in mind is she is from Thailand, so shipping might be expensive.

icky2 icky3

IckyBagLady is very similar to TippyThai. Also from Thailand (so mind the shipping!) also a huge array of styles and fabrics, and like WhitneyJude, it seems to be almost exclusively solid colors. IckyBagLady seems to focus more on  bigger, more messenger-style bags.

Purses for a night out are more tricky. Ideally, you want leather, but leather is expensive. I attempted to Google and find good quality leather bags that were also not a billion dollars, but I only found sites that looked super sketchy. A really good purse can go for hundreds of dollars. The purse I deeply lust after but would never, ever drop money for is this Chloe bag. I’ve seen several style bloggers tote it and I don’t know how you can in good conscience spend $800 on a bag?!?! The world is full of wild and crazy things, I guess.

My purse is a matter of happy circumstance. My mom’s good friend was cleaning out her attic and had a lot of nice designer handbags, and that included the one I adopted. We’re not sure which designer is, since the label has since been lost to the ages, but it’s really good quality and it’s just your basic cross-body brown purse.

My suggestion for purses is to wait until you find one you really, really like that’s got a timeless quality to it, and then pounce. I wouldn’t recommend spending more than, say, $200, but if you have to go over $100, don’t sweat it. Good purses are expensive but last forever.

Until that sweet day comes (or if you just want a variety of purses), there are two places to get purses that are both cheap and good quality. The first, obviously, is Modcloth.

modclothpurse1 modclothpurse2

modclothpurse3None of these purses are leather, but for a cheap bag, that’s okay. In order they are: the Sunny Experience Bag (that’s actually almost exactly my bag, my bag just has no cutouts or embellishments), the I’m The Woven One Purse (unusual color! cute detailing!), and the Benefits of the Route Bag (classic). Modcloth is a little steep usually when it comes to bags, especially considering they almost never sell real leather, but they have a lot of cute, unusual styles.

The other place (surprisingly) is Target.

targetbag1 targetbag2 targetbag3
I have a small cloth tote from Target and my best friend often gets bags from Target, and they’re surprisingly really great quality? And some are actually leather! They are, in order: Buckle Flap Leather Handbag in Cognac (real leather and only $100!), Gold Clasp Crossbody Handbag, and Merona Satchel Handbag with Removable Cross-Body Strap (this is my best friend’s purse – hers is light blue. On the large side, but super cute and comes in lots of fun colors).

Putting it All Together: Final Thoughts
“Okay,” you might say to me. “You’ve shown me basics, and where to shop, and what kinds of things are good staples, but you haven’t shown me color! Suggested styles! Told me how to put it all together!”

This is true. And that is because there is literally no right answer. And I’m aware this is a very unsatisfying response.

Look, I am not a wardrobe professional. I did my best to suggest only things that would look good on every conceivable body. But obviously, people’s tastes and bodies vary so wildly that is physically impossible.

My best suggestion for everyone is first, eye-shop. Go to style blogs. Ask your friends/family who dress nice where they got stuff. Figure out what your favorite TV characters wear (and inevitably get a cheaper version because TV clothing budgets are way more than any normal human’s clothing budget). Check out people on public transport. Flip through magazines and catalogs. Browse online stores. Go to Polyvore and create a virtual paper doll. (And when you are feeling frustrated go to Doll Divine and make a literal doll.) Use Pinterest or bookmark your favorite stuff and come back to it days later with fresh eyes before you press the “buy” button.

Then, when you have made a list of “stuff I want to try”, try it.  You can read every how-to and style blog in the world and you are never going to know what you like or think looks good on you until you either go to a store and try on a bunch of stuff or go online and order a bunch of stuff. Then at some point you’re going to have to stand in front of a mirror and look at endless variations of the same stuff. 99% of the time you will feel ugly in the stuff you picked out that you loved so much. That is okay! Because much like dating, you have to go through a lot of shit before you find true love (you will fall in love/like many more times than you ever will dating, and go through clothes at a much different pace than significant others. But in principle, same thing).

And then, stand behind whatever you like. Put it together however you like. Dress in the way that makes you feel comfortable and confident and sexy. And if someone tries to tell you you look dumb, your reaction should always be the following:

You're_tacky_and_i_hate_you
Like, honestly, unless you’re naked or showing what are generally considered private parts of your body (don’t do this, there are laws against this), who the hell cares? Life is too short and there are too many people telling women what to do.

But if you ever want someone to tell you where there are cute [clothing item] on sale, hit me up. I probably know.

Tune in next week, when we’ll wrap it up with everyone’s favorite topics, hair/makeup/nails/general girly grooming stuff.

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One response to “How To Look Put Together (For Girls Who Are Not Put Together) – Part Two: Accessories

  1. So, I’ve found the ideal pair of boots, and they’re beautiful and simple and have a 1.5″ heel, plus a very good warantee, but… well, we got them on sale, and they were still the most expensive shoes I’ve ever bought. Amazon sometimes has them cheap(er), but still.

    Nonetheless, they’re here– http://www.lacanadienneshoes.com/us/passion-62194.html

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