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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Personalize Your "Chain Store" Purchases

I'll be the first to admit that I shop at chain stores.  (Express, Banana Republic, H&M, etc.) I'm familiar with the layout of the stores, I know what types of pieces they carry, and I know how the sizes run - so shopping is a breeze.  Another benefit to shopping at chain stores, is that they're located just about everywhere - so if you're in unfamiliar territory and need to buy an article of clothing, you can pop into one of the stores and voila…quick and easy shopping.

However, shopping at chain stores has its disadvantages too...the primary one being that you're likely to see 50 million ladies with the same items.  Who wants to walk around looking like a clone of everyone else?  Individuality is very important to me, so I've developed some strategies that help create a unique look when wearing mass-produced and widely distributed apparel.
Separates are great, because they allow you to mix, match, and style your pieces in many different ways. Challenge yourself to re-work your separates and give them a different look each and every time you wear them.

Clothing in solid colors is “less obvious” than garments with prints/designs, and allows you to mix and match seamlessly. You’ll have an easier time “camouflaging” your pieces.

Combine pieces with contrasting patterns to add a dose of character to your outfits. For this look, I paired two pieces with the same colors, but with very different prints.  The black and white tied the separates together, but the two patterns added some personality to the look.

Opting for classic pieces, and properly caring for them, will allow you to wear your purchases for years.  When everyone else has moved on to the next trend, your classics will serve as go-to items that you can dress up, dress down and reinvent repeatedly.

Pair your “chain store” purchases with items from vintage stores, consignment shops, etc. to bring a different vibe to your ensembles.

Shop in the bigger well-stocked locations of your favorite chain stores (e.g. flagship stores) and check online for exclusives that may not be carried at other locations.   

This ostrich feather skirt from Express was only available in select stores and online.
  • Tie a button down shirt/vest over a flowy dress.  I used a lightweight denim vest to rein in this billowy summer dress and to change up the look a bit.
  • Pair atypical color combinations, such as emerald green and purple, red and orange, fuschia and royal blue. (aka color-blocking)
  • Wear a skirt over a lightweight dress.
The dress, worn by itself
The dress under a skirt
  • Wear a cropped top over a sleeveless sheath dress.

Complement your look with bold and interesting accessories. Statement necklaces, scarves, shoes, handbags, bracelets, brooches, etc. can breathe life into otherwise “ordinary” finds.

When you take care of your clothing, your garments will remain in rotation for years.  I recently wore a skirt suit that I purchased from Express 15 years ago.  It’s well-made, fully lined, and because it’s a classic design it doesn't look dated.  The best part is, nobody can walk into a store today and purchase that suit.

Use your imagination to create looks that differentiate you from the crowd. Tap into your creativity, mix and match, and turn your chain store finds into standout looks.

Thank you for reading.  And as always, Be Fearless. Stay Fashionable. Have Fun!

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