Monday, February 4, 2013

Shopaholic vs The Closet...

If you're anything like me, an impending vacation is the perfect excuse to shop...even if you live in California and happen to have a year round summer ready wardrobe.

At least once -- okay, maybe three times -- a week, I stand in front the gigantic (and full) closet that sold me on my apartment and muse about having nothing to wear. Nothing except the four options I've already tossed on the bed/chair/yoga mat/fill-in-the-blank because they just don't fit my mood that day. And certainly none of the mini, midi or maxi dresses I have hanging next to blouses in any given cut and color. And somehow, on each and every occasion, I end up giving up after a half hour of this and getting dressed in 2 the same old faithful combination. I take comfort in the fact that I've heard some variation of this a million times from my girlfriends. Safety in numbers.

As women we tend to have multiple personalities when it comes to fashion. And unfortunately, the personality that goes shopping isn't always the same one that ends up standing in front of our closet. Thankfully, at some point during this whole process, the clothes strewn around your room start eyeballing you sadly like Andy's neglected toys in Toys Story 3 and you start to reconsider and remember some of the good times you've had. 

Either that or you can't actually afford a completely new wardrobe.


Either way, let me introduce you to Polyvore

Also known as fantasy football for women. 

I stumbled on this site while looking at more fashion specific posts on Pinterest. In this cyber playground, all the key players are already available to you, awaiting the jacket or accessory to breathe life into it before it can be unleashed, ready to tackle your next outing. They catalogue every of the moment trend and help you layer your way through the days of the week and every season without breaking the bank. 

You can literally type in any item (keep the search broad to get the most similar options) and see the multitude of ways your little black dress, white skirt or colored denim can be worn.

Take the chambray shirt, for example. A key staple in the Fashion Hall of Fame. Whether you've got the $19.99 Target version or Madewell's $70.00 incarnation, Polyvore has a way to style it. Below are two versions from users on the site.

As an admitted shopaholic, I can cop to owning about 90% of some variation of the items in each of these pics. The neutral wedge, hobo tote and cross body bag. At least one basic tank and dress in a pastel or blush and medley of complimentary accessories to go with them. I love all of them separately yet, I've never happened to have worn these items together. 

And that's the beauty of Polyvore. It's like the dress up doll you had as a kid... there are a million different combinations but now you can compare notes and garner inspiration from other players.

I love styling and accessorizing and judging by how often my friends let me dress them for dates and events, I'm fairly good at it but we can all use inspiration and fresh ideas from time to time. And it keeps our personal style from stagnating and our style education evolving.

Every education has learning materials and this one is strongly visual...

A Quick Lesson In Polyvore

Step 1: Visit the site and find the search feature in the upper right hand side of the page. Type in any item you own that you want to refresh, aren't sure how to style or maybe a pricier invest piece that you're considering buying but aren't sure would integrate well into your existing wardrobe. 

For example, I recently picked up a pair of coral lace shorts. I found a similar pair by keeping my results a little more vague with "coral shorts".

Our starting piece...minus the lace.

Floral Sheer Top, Coral Shorts & Blazer.
Normally, I'd go with the staple white tank, aforementioned chambray shirt and flip flops or a silky mint shirt and wedges if I wanted to dress the shorts up a bit. However, to mix things up, I checked out some other user created looks and found an edgier option that I love but wouldn't have thought of myself. Personally, I'd throw some heels into the mix!

Step 2: Gather more inspiration within the outfit. I also happen to have a similar sheer blouse to the floral one pictured here. Each collection on Polyvore allows you to click on the individual item within the look and from there you can see what else it's been styled with, pretty much allowing you to play dress up doll with several different items in your closet at a time.


Floral sheer top + my barely worn teal skinny jeans = a brand new outfit for $0

Floral Shirt + Teal Skinnies
All of which totals a very happy and fancy looking you. 

Now, I'm not telling you not to shop. That would be sad and hypocritical of me. I'm just telling you to shop in your own closet first and supplement your wardrobe from there. If you didn't know what you liked, you wouldn't buy so much of it. This site just helps you figure out how to stretch your wardrobe farther and shop smarter.

The key here is not having a million things that go with one other piece in your wardrobe but making your favorite pieces more versatile and taking them from season to season.

Don't shop out of frustrated impulsive need. Shop out of well thought out want

Now, go play. And then, finally... go shop :)

This shopaholic is off to pack!


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