Thursday, September 13, 2012

Three Ways to Wear It: Cowlneck Sweater

They say when it rains it pours, and in Bowdenisms land, it has been pouring lately (in a good way!) Those who know me "in real life" (quotes are inappropiate there I guess, as it really is real life, it just sounds odd...) obviously know what I do for a living, and understand how important it is to me. But I rarely, if ever talk about it here in anything more than a round about way. Well today worlds are colliding...I'm sharing some "bits and pieces of our little lives" on the American Eagle blog. Check out my dorky self here.

And if by chance you wandered over here from the AE site- Welcome! Stay a while! And don't worry, I'll serve up a little bit of fashion before forcing some baby pictures on you.

And now, on with your regularly scheduled programming. Whatever that means.

A few weeks ago I sign up for Stichfix and shared the (mixed) results. But though I didn’t love everything in my box, the yellow sweater had potential, and I decided to keep it. With the fall weather coming and all the “back-to-school” sales (that technically shouldn’t apply to me anymore…) going on, it’s hard to keep the lid on my clothing purchases. Everywhere I look is stuff I need. (duh- want). So to curtail the spending before it spirals out of control, I’ve made a new shopping rule for myself:

In order to buy a new item, I have to be able to 
picture wearing it at least three different ways.

I figure if I can’t immediately picture how something can rotate into my wardrobe, and do double triple duty, then it doesn’t deserve a spot in my closet. And since playing mental stylist isn’t as fun as playing real stylist, I thought I’d get you all involved. So with that- a new Bowdenisms feature is born: 

Sweater- Ya via Stitchfix.

Here’s my new sweater, in all it’s cowl-y, drape-y, mustard-y glory. I knew I liked it, but I wasn’t 100% sure how I planned to wear it. Fortunately Stichfix gave me a bit of a headstart, with the styling card they included:

Unfortunately, their suggestions weren’t exactly me. I like the idea of the loose silhouette over a body-con dress, but such a look really isn’t practical for my ladder-climbing, baby-wrangling centered life. (Not to mention the yellow +black/white stripe combo was a little too BumbleBee chic for my taste). But the look was right up my alley. I do have a strict “leggings are not pants” policy though, so I knew I’d have to swap those for a similar look, but in a slightly more forgiving jegging. With those rules in mind, and a closet full of neutrals in my arsenal, I began my three look challenge:

Blue & white striped 3/4 sleeve T- Urban Outfitters.
 Skinny Jeans and Boots- AE (obvs!)“P” necklace- Max & Chloe.

If I can figure out how to pair something new with the plethora of white/grey/navy in my closet, I consider it a win. If it also works with stripes? Then I’m pretty much in love. So pairing this sweater with a heavy-rotation closet favorite was pretty much a no brainer. 

It’s a simple look, with classic skinnies and a riding boot that fits my style to a T. And by “my style” I mean, anything that requires next to no effort, but looks like I tried. In real life I’d probably add a chunky ring, a twist band, and at least seven bracelets to the mix, but all that comes about as natural to me as putting on my underwear, so it almost goes without saying.

For the next look, I wanted to mix it up a bit and see if this sweater could help push me out of my another-day-another-jean comfort zone. I liked Stitchfix’s idea of pairing it with a dress, but I knew I’d have to cas it down a bit (cas- like an abbrev for casual…can I even use that in writing? Totes just did!). And of course we’d have to get some more navy involved somehow (I yam what I yam).


Blue & white marled yarn dress- Urban Outfitters. Boots ZigiSoho from DSW
Belt- came attached to a shirt from Forever21. Yes, I’m that classy.

I bought this dress while I was pregnant, so the fact that I’m still able to wear it either means I’m a frumpy mess, or a repurposing genius. Let’s just go with option #2 for now. This dress has an empire waist and a fuller skirt than the Stitchfix suggestion, so I knew I’d need to cinch it in a bit, or end up looking like a yarn obsessed bag lady. (With kittens in my boots!) Recently “put a belt on it” has been my outfit version of Porlandia's "Put a Bird on It."- in my wardrobe, you can put a belt on it and call it fashion. Done!

There would probably need to be some leggings involved, but droopy little knit legs hanging from my closet door just weren’t selling it, so you’ll have to imagine that part.

P.s.- Please don't judge the boots. They're on their last leg foot, but until I find the perfect replacement, I refuse to part with them.

White tank- Old Navy. Necklaces and Leopard belt- AE.
Jeans- Gap. (circa 2003?) Gladiator sandals- DSW

For the last look, it was back to jeans, but rather than dark skinnies, I tried an old pair of Gap "Long and Leans" (they were my jam in college. So was saying "my jam"!) They're falling apart (insert old person rant about pre-distressed jeans being for sissies, here), and don't fit at all, but I actually kind of like them that way. I just cuff the bottoms and call them boyfriend jeans. They all but require a belt, so I added my new favorite piece- a touch of leopard. I'm strangely obsessed with leopard these days, (ok...maybe for a while now) and though too much can make you look like an 80's music video reject, when done right it can act as fun, preppy-glam twist on a neutral. 

In a similar high-low play, I stuck with a plain ribbed tank but added a pile of pearls. The whole look ends up half downtown-dude, half uptown-girl. If I actually put it on, I might end up wanting to swap the pearls for another bold, but slightly less traditional necklace, and trade the sandals for ballet flats, or some Chuck's...but even if it's not 100% perfect, sometimes you just have to give things a try.

----------------------------------'s your turn to weigh in. What do you think of my first three pairings? How would you wear it? Share your style skills with the group!

And did all this fashion fun make you want to get a fix of your own? Do it- and report back!


  1. Love the new feature for ae! Also - love this idea! Glad you are sharing your knowledge/skills with The World. We need help.

    1. Thanks Meg. But you're more pulled together than I am! Still happy to share a trick or two if it helps!

  2. I love this new feature!! I need to do this more often with the pieces that I buy :) Perhaps you could do a post on on how you went about dressing yourself when you were pregnant? I've got babies on the brain! Either way - great job - I kind of want that sweater now!!

    1. Ooooh Carrie....good idea. Maybe I'll try something maternity related sometime. I tried to get by with as little official "maternity" gear as possible, so there were a lot of fashion experiments! Any if you do buy a few pieces, you want to get as much out of them as possible, so 3 ways to wear it would be a great start!

  3. I love the idea of buying something with multiple wardrobe functionality. However, my issue(s) of which there are many, but we'll deal with two for now would be 1. I draw a total blank when I go shopping about what's already in my closet. It's like I get so overwhelmed and enraptured with what I am seeing that it cripples my brain. Or, I think, "Well, this is so nice all of my crappy clothes would look crappy with it..." 2. My idea of using one piece for two or more outfits might be slightly more simplistic than yours. As in, it would just look like I keep wearing the same mustard sweater with different pants. Feel me?

    Is it totally tacky that I sent your AE blog link to my step-daughter, lover of American Eagle, with a caption that said, "I KNOW THIS GIRL!" :)

    Do you ever play Stacey from What Not To Wear and come clean out people's closets and make them buy all new things?

    Congrats on the fifteen minutes of fame. Hope there are many more famous moments to come!

    1. happy, I totally know how you feel. I keep buying the SAME thing OVER and OVER again....Sometimes I know it, and sometimes I'm surprised and annoyed to bring home things only to find I already have something similar. And the outfit thing is tough sometimes for me too- I find a way I like something and just repeat, repeat, repeat. I'm trying to push myself to create more outfits, not just top+pants all the time.

      And stay tuned on that "what not to wear" idea....I have a little something in the works you might be a fan of.... (ooooh, the suspense!)

  4. I love what you've done here. I'm a fan of what happy suggested... The whole what not to wear idea. Good gravy I'm impressed that you can wear my least fave color on earth And look good. I like to eat mustard on pretzels.... Can't wear it to save my life. Wel, maybe to save my life....ah you get my point.
    Ps major props on the AE blog!