Sunday, June 26, 2016

How I Shop

A lot.


For five years I've worn a uniform Monday-Friday. My weekend clothes are casual - San Antonio is very hot, very casual, and little people are trying to wipe excreta on me constantly. A couple of years ago I got fed up with the overall mediocrity and lack of cohesion of my wardrobe and set about being more deliberate, considered, and responsible.  Sending boxes and boxes of unworn clothes and shoes to my sister in law has also been informative. Lessons there:

1) Don't buy heels, Julie. You don't wear them. Ever.
2) Don't buy aspirational items - nothing for events I don't attend with a body I don't have, etc.
3) Limit prints. These items get marooned. Restrict the fun to scarves and jewelry and eyeliner.
4) Don't buy anything that doesn't immediately go with 3 other items that you already own (exception: buying a capsule of 3-6 pieces at once that go together).
5) No cheap shoes.
6) Don't buy anything you're not genuinely excited to wear out of the store.

Another turning point was the documentary The True Cost.

The older I get and the more I learn the more I realize every dollar spent is a political act. I'm attempting to make the most sustainable and ethical choices available in clothing manufacture, sourcing of meat and seafood, et cetera. (This is a privilege I'm thankful for and don't take lightly). These concepts inform my shopping mindset:

Fewer but better.

Durability, not disposability.

Cohesion and curation - not trend.

Don't waste time (aspiration outfits are a major distraction - and a cause of anxiety as they hang there, unworn).

If you wouldn't buy it full price, don't buy it on sale.

Cotton sweaters decay faster than my interest in bikram yoga. On the no-buy list along with anything requiring special underwear or that is difficult to sit in.

The development of a uniform: not the same pieces daily, but cultivation of a uniform formality, tone, style. (Remember, this is me. Some people like glam days and down days. I like a forecast of 100% chance of drapey tees).

That is how I approach shopping. The breakthrough, however, was in cultivating a relationship with local boutique Grove Hill. Grove Hill is a mile from my house, has a playroom for the girls, and salespeople who know my name, what I'm looking for, and what is important to me. I say, "Kay, I need navy pants," and she collects ten pairs and I try them on. No wandering. As I write this I'm wearing a long sleeve gray tee (made in USA) and white jeans (made in USA) from Grove Hill. Exciting? Not really. Ethically sourced? Yes. Comfortable? Yes. Perfectly suited to my lifestyle with my partners in grime? Yes. So I bought this shirt in three colors. My newest brand-love from Grove Hill is Amour Vert (made in USA), also sold at Nordstrom - because after all this soul-searching, I'm just a woman who loves to wear tee shirts (ps you would not believe how soft this shirt is).

Because I value customer service and need guidance and direction, I shop at Nordstrom and Grove Hill. Nordstrom's free personal stylist service is a wonderful resource and a lot of fun. By limiting my choices (which each have hundreds and thousands of options), the anxiety of SHOPPING THE ENTIRE INTERNET is gone. (I do occasionally purchase from Zappos, the Hautelook app, or Amazon but almost always it's an item I've scouted at Nordie's but my size is sold out or a brand I'm familiar with -- for instance I stalk Paul Green shoes, Amour Vert, Nordstrom's house workwear line Classiques Entier, and Acrobat (their silk tunics are perfect) on Haute Look).

Would love to hear your thoughts, friends! A little bit of a break from the self-congratulation... :)


  1. Love this! Nodding while reading!! I made a promise to myself two years ago that I would STOP buying clothes at Target and Old Navy because they never fit right and would fall apart instantly. Since then I've been SO much happier with my wardrobe, it's nothing super special and actually smaller, but I'm much happier in the clothes it contains. And I totally agree on prints, I hate them after 4 minutes. I do have a killer pair of heels though, because they just make a night out feel that much more fun.

    One store I've found that I love is Ever Eve. It's specifically curated for 30-something moms, stuff that's cute but comfy and prices aren't outrageous. I'm also shopping at Athleta a lot, their stuff is great (swim suits!!) and return policy is stellar. I need to find a local place, yours sounds amazing. Great tips!!

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  3. I've recently fallen for LOFT, but the Amour Vert stuff looks great! I still have a lot of work to do to rebuild my weekend wardrobe, which is still mostly from my no-money grad school days. I have enough great jeans (high-waist, wide leg, love love) but need many more shirts. Work wardrobe is pretty satisfying, mostly from Banana, Loft, and Nordstrom Rack. I like patterns for work shirts, mostly because my work pants selection is perfect for them: gray, black, gray, gray, black, black, in various cuts. Overall, I've tended toward neutral with pops of color, and shirts that DO NOT TOUCH my midsection. When you get here I would love to check out your closet for weekend inspiration!