The Weird Off: Zara vs. Goodwill

Lately, the two of us have been in a “weird off” of sorts when it comes to choosing outfits for shoots. Our taste in fashion has definitely gotten funkier, so we can’t always find what we’re looking for at stores that mostly focus on basics, like H&M or Express.

We each chose statement tops and eccentric footwear on our trip to Nashville this past weekend, where in between watching the eclipse in the band of totality (life-changing) and eating at the Cheesecake Factory (SO good), we noticed that one of us was all decked out in Zara (H) and the other in Goodwill (S).

The realization that these are the two places we most commonly turn to for quirky clothes made us ask the question of who is weirder: Zara or Goodwill?

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The outfit I’m wearing is almost entirely from Goodwill, which is quite a change for me because I’m usually the one in the all-Zara outfit. But, Hannah has lured me into her thrifting ways, and now I’m completely addicted to hunting for the strangest pieces I can find hidden in the overcrowded racks of secondhand clothing stores.

Goodwill is the place where people donate anything and everything, and as a result, you can find literally anything in there (I once found a Christian Dior shirt that I will not shut up about). You do have to hunt for those pieces, though, because most of them will not jump out at you from the moment you walk in the store.

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You need to filter through every single piece on every single rack sometimes to find that one piece that takes your breath away. But rest assured, when you do find that one silk top with the puffy sleeves that tie back to the days of the Revolutionary War (like this one), it will give you chills because you know you will likely not ever meet another person who owns that shirt. As someone who loves to stand out, I can’t beat that.

-S

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I think if there’s one thing we can rely on when it comes to being fashion forward, it’s the element of surprise. From fishnet socks to statement earrings (like Sabrina’s here), this year has been one for the books when it comes to odd fashion trends.

First, let me say that I have always been–and always will be–the thrifting queen. Until recently, I only ever used to shop at secondhand stores like Goodwill whenever I was looking looking for unique, one-of-a-kind pieces. Yet in the months since we started Ensemble of Elan, I’ve become more and more enamored by online brands that are known for their out-of-the-box, statement pieces.

IMG_7170The one place I can always find the on-trend, Pinterest-worthy pieces is none other than Zara. Every time I visit their site, I fall in love with everything from their funky flare pants and open back button downs (and then get my heart broken when all of the clothes in my cart go out of stock, because they’re so popular)! I snagged this off-the-shoulder top and polka-dot mini skort during one of Zara’s amazing sales for under $30.

Thrift stores will always have a special place in my heart for finding unique vintage pieces, but there is also something about Zara that makes my heart flutter.

-H

Goodwill and Zara are odd in each of their own magnificent ways, and honestly, we cannot choose whom to award the title of “The Best Place to Find Weird Fashion.”

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

 

Hannah’s Wearing:

| Zara Off-the-Shoulder Top (similar) | Zara Mini Skirt (similar) | Amazon Fuzzy Mules (similar) | Target Cherry Blossom Handbag | Target Layered Necklace| Rue21 Sunglasses (similar) |

 

Sabrina’s Wearing:

| Goodwill Top (similar) | Goodwill Mini Skirt (similar) | Target Platform Oxfords (similar) | Target Statement Earrings (similar) | Banana Republic Circle Purse (similar) | Daisy Chain Geometric Sunglasses (similar) |

The Art of Putting Together a Great Outfit

Putting together a great outfit truly is an art form. It takes a while to develop the skills to throw on anything in your closet and fool people into thinking you spent hours in front of the mirror perfecting your look.

To help you out a little, we’ve come up with some tips and tricks that we personally use when creating outfits:

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For all the girls out there who are sometimes late to class or (even ditch going) out of fear of being seen in an uninspired, boring outfit, worry no more because this one’s for you. Many of us, myself included, have two types of styles in our closet: the most trendy, funky styles and the classics. When I stand in front of my closet in the morning and inspiration fails to strike me, I immediately turn to classic styles.

The great thing about classic styles is that they compliment more “of-the-moment”, trendy pieces, like how these raw hem distressed jeans complement this clean, airy top. I always tread cautiously when it comes to trends (can you blame me, anyone remember hair feathers?), but the more I’ve started branching out as a fashion blogger, the more I’ve realized that mixing trends and classics is one of the keys to putting together a great ensemble!

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Lastly, I’ll leave you with a tip. I’ve always had my closet color-coded and grouped together efficiently, but recently I’ve gotten a bit lazy and started simply throwing my clothes in there wherever, and I honestly think it’s been for the better. Making a rainbow out of my clothes was fun and all, but it was poor in promoting creativity in fashion. Sometimes I let the closet do the work for me by hanging anything anywhere and disregarding order. I have found outfits I would have never thought of just because they were side by side in my closet.

-H

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_MG_7754Believe it or not, I never used to be much of an accessories person. I carried the same purse every single day, never wore jewelry, and didn’t see why women got so carried away about shoes. But, a few years ago, I realized my outfits could only be so good if I didn’t pay attention to the accessories. Lo and behold, shoes and handbags and stackable rings are now my favorite things to shop for.

I’ve come up with a couple rules for pairing clothing items and accessories to make it easier to create a great outfit. Rule #1: Do not just stick to basics. Resist the urge to wear your black flats every day because they “go with everything.” Mix it up by pairing some fun shoes with your outfits, and you will soon start to see the light as to why women are obsessed with footwear.

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Rule #2: Create a color scheme. (Anyone who knows me knows that I love creating color schemes.) Pull some colors from your clothing items; for this one, I focused on the pink from my dress and paired a matching choker. Even doing this for one color will make your outfit feel more cohesive. Then, choose whether you want to wear primarily gold or silver (you can definitely mix the two, but one needs to be the primary metal). I wear gold 90% of the time because my skin has warm undertones, but I still like throwing a silver ring or two in there to add a modern twist.

-S

 

Hannah’s Wearing:

| Awaken Atelier Top (similar) | TJ Maxx Distressed Jeans (similar) | Goodwill Heels (similar) | Target Hat (similar) | Goodwill Purse (similar) | TJ Maxx Sunglasses (similar) |

 

Sabrina’s Wearing:

| Target Slip Dress (similar) | Target Beige Cardigan (similar) | Zara Flats | Zara Clutch (similar) | Lulu’s Choker | Lulu’s Gold Necklace (similar) | Target Earrings | Plato’s Closet Watch (similar) | Aldo Sunglasses (similar) |

Three Definitions of What It Means to Dress “Professionally”

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When I stand in front of my closet in the morning trying to decide what to wear, I’m often confused on how to represent myself professionally, but still incorporate my sense of style into my look. As a student, fashion blogger, entrepreneur, and social media manager, I need to wear clothes that I can easily transition from business meetings to photoshoots to classes (it’s a struggle sometimes!).
I love these professional, straight leg trousers I snatched from Old Navy because they work for almost any occasion. I paired them with a chic orange top with a few cutouts to show my sophisticated, feminine style, and I added some metallic loafers to give my look a fashion forward edge. With this look, I can easily jump from place to place without breaking my personal aesthetic.

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I used to work at a clothing store (which I’ll leave nameless), where I would initially wear what was true to my style when I went into work. But as soon as I walked in, I could feel the pressure as other girls stared at me, looked me up and down, and judged me for not dressing like them. I started to cave and began dressing similarly, but I wasn’t happy because when I looked in the mirror each morning and asked myself, “Am I dressing for me or am I dressing for them?”, the answer was them.

I eventually left that job, but my time there taught me a valuable lesson. I was beginning to lose who I was because I let someone else’s opinion define me. I think when we get into a level of professionalism, we want to change who we are to please our boss or others around us. Never let anyone change who you are, whether it’s for a job, or anything else.

I will dress professionally, but you can always count on me to add my own flair to it and most importantly, express myself.

-H

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As a photographer, it can be challenging to find clothes I can move around in to get that perfect shot and are still professional enough to meet clients for a consultation. My favorite part of the job is getting to know my customers and listening to their stories so I can reflect their beauty through my lens. I need them to be comfortable and open with me, and meeting them with a smile and a professional appearance is the most effective way to let my models know that they have nothing to worry about.

When I’m taking pictures, I have to be comfortable and flexible, so I can catch that perfect angle at any given second. Especially because I frequently work with families and children, I need to be able to move quickly and keep up with hyper little ones! To enable me to do this, I turn to clothes that are more loose and flexible, like jogger pants, loose tops, and leggings.

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I would honestly prefer to simply wear leggings and t-shirts 24/7, but I realize that as a business owner, I need to put a little more effort into my appearance. So, I dress up my athleisure-style outfits by adding some simple jewelry that doesn’t get in my way, like rings and earrings, and by incorporating some fun patterns into my looks. When it comes to shoes, I will wear more stylish flats or sandals for my consultations, but when I’m actually shooting, it has to be tennis shoes all the way. Fortunately, I have a pair of vintage high-top converse, which work with just about any outfit!
-B

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Geometric Black and White Romper

Even just a couple years ago, I thought dressing ‘professionally’ meant wearing dress pants, a button-down shirt, and heels. That was the standard ‘professional uniform’ in my head. So, that’s almost exclusively what I wore on the rare occasion that I attended an event with a business casual dress code. Whenever I put on my ill-fitting, probably-flared dress pants and a boxy button-down, I never felt like myself because I didn’t think there was any room for creativity and personal expression in the ‘professional world.’

It’s taken me until now to really start branching out from what most people wear to meetings and networking events, but I’m so happy I did because when I feel more like myself in my outfit, I act more like myself. I’m more comfortable talking to people and sharing my ideas, and I think people respond to me better because they can see exactly who I am before I even open my mouth.

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I love to toe the line and wear things like rompers because the last thing I want is to blend in with everybody else. As a fashion blogger and a soon-to-be fashion business owner, I set higher expectations for myself when I’m getting ready for an event or a meeting. I think that if you’re going into fashion, you have to try that much harder on a daily basis so that people trust you and eventually buy what you’re selling.
-S

Street Style Stars

Photos by: Rainwater Reflections Photography

Brooke’s Wearing:

| Goodwill Top (similar) | Nordstrom Pants (similar) | Goodwill Flats (similar) | Aldo Sunglasses (similar) |

Sabrina’s Wearing:

| Asos Romper | Amazon Heels | Express Earrings | Goodwill Purse (similar) | TJ Maxx Sunglasses (similar) |

Hannah’s Wearing:

| Old Navy Pants | Forever 21 Loafers | Rue21 Sunglasses (similar) | Amazon Earrings |

Falling in Love With Clothing Again

Do you remember how you felt as a teenager after you tried on a million prom dresses and finally found one that gave you goosebumps?

If you are anything like us, you probably took it out of its garment bag and tried it on at least two or three more times before prom night because you simply could not wait to wear it until then.

It was a magical feeling that most of us can still remember.IMG_2771People used to have that kind of emotional connection with a lot more pieces in their wardrobes, but many of us have lost that. We buy the same, boring button-down shirt in three different colors because it works for the office, and we don’t want to have to put in the effort to find three amazing, unique tops instead.

This is precisely why we as a society have accepted fast fashion. We’re perfectly content with finding clothes that are kind of cute and that we can wear two or three times before the seams start coming apart and the appliqués start falling off because we honestly don’t care enough about them to want to wear them year after year.

But, it’s time to bring back the emotional connection to clothing because without it, we are losing out on some of the greatest benefits that fashion has to offer us.

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I know there are a lot of people out there who love services like Stitch Fix, where a personal stylist selects clothes for them based on their style preferences. This service is great for those who don’t have time/don’t enjoy shopping, but I personally do not think you can develop that same attachment to something if you do not pick it out yourself.

This is big part of the reason why I develop more of a connection to clothing items that I purchase myself, rather than those I receive as gifts from friends or family members. I truly do appreciate that someone else has put the time and effort into choosing a dress or pair of shoes they think I’ll like, but even when I do like it, I don’t fall in love with it in the same way I would have if I had found it myself.

 

So, use Stitch Fix for everyday wear if you like, but if you have a big event coming up that you are really looking forward to, I urge you to go out, do the old-fashioned thing, and find a dress or an outfit yourself.

The joy of discovery leads to a deeper connection with that piece of clothing, and you’ll be more likely to wear it again and again.

-S

 

There are not a lot of times I can find a print or a pattern that works for me, but when I saw this dress online at Lulu’s, it was love at first sight. This print was minimal, chic, and two of my favorite colors. I was motivated to widen my wardrobe and find more prints that I adore because of the designer, Dom Streater, who was a Project Runway winner.

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What inspires me about Dom is that she creates her textile designs based on her own paintings, and you can see her constant love affair with prints come through in her clothing pieces. Dom took a lot of risks during her season by using prints in every challenge (even the million dollar runway challenge!), but because she continually made clothes that she personally loved and never compromised her design or aesthetic, she prevailed and won her season.

Even though I’m not quite as much of a prints person, I want to try to be more like Dom by not being afraid to take a risk and always wearing pieces that I’m emotionally attached to instead of ones that I merely ‘like’.

-H

 

You are probably tired of hearing this by now, but we’ll say it again anyways because it’s important: Clothing is how we show the world who we are inside.

How are we supposed to do that if we do not care about what we buy or what we put on our bodies?

Treating clothes as if they’re disposable not only harms the environment and contributes to unethical labor practices in developing countries, but it also dilutes this crucial form of personal expression.

There is a famous quote that reads,

“Life is too short to wear boring clothes,”

but we’d like to amend that to say,

“Life is too short to wear clothes you don’t love.”IMG_2896Sabrina’s Outfit Details

Dress: Target
Button Down Shirt: Goodwill
Ankle Boots: Lulu’s
Sunglasses: TJ Maxx
Earrings: Jeweller in India
Purse: Aldo
Hannah’s Outfit Details
Dress: Lulu’s
Bralette: Aerie
Ankle Boots: Lulu’s
Choker: Rue21
Earrings: Amazon
Hat: Target
Sunglasses: Eyeglass Direct