Friday, September 23, 2011

To the Maxx!

After reviewing what I feel are the biggest trends for the Fall Season, and showing lots of runway and mainstream retail examples, I thought it would be fun to put together some
TJ Maxx
wardobe boosters using these trends from an off-price store. I decided upon T.J. Maxx, and would like to thank the manager at the Kingsport, Tennessee store and her staff for their help and cooperation in allowing me to photograph this merchandise and monopolize a dressing room for a couple of hours!

I found lots of great items....far too many to include here, but I'd like to share my picks for a bargain-priced fall update. I chose twelve pieces of clothing which totaled about $300, then I put them together several different ways on the fly; added some fantastic shoes and handbags (which I'll tell you more about later), and voila - instant wardrobe transformation!

One of the many outfits I put together at T.J. Maxx

Here are my finds:
Metallic Stripe Draped SweaterKenneth Cole Reaction Shirred TurtleneckLauren Ralph Lauren Slim-Cut Stretch Pants
Metallic Stripe Draped Sweater
Kenneth Cole Reaction
Shirred Turtleneck
Lauren Ralph Lauren
Slim-Cut Stretch Pants
Venue Crochet-Trim Draped CardiganAllison Taylor Snake-Print Bow BlouseJones Signature Leopard-Print Turtleneck
Crochet-Trimmed Draped Cardigan
Allison Taylor Snake-Print Bow Blouse
Jones Signature
Leopard-Print Turtleneck
Willi Smith Tweed SkirtWilli Smith Faux Fur VestAdrienne Vittidini L/S Brown Tee
Willi Smith
Tweed Skirt
Willi Smith
Faux Fur Vest
Adrienne Vittidini
L/S Brown Tee
Basic Black Tee ShirtBagatelle Faux Leather Ruffle VestElena Bolano Ruffle Sweater-Coat
Basic Black Tee Shirt
Faux Leather Ruffle Vest
Elena Bolano
Ruffle Sweater-Coat
And here are the outfits!
Outfit 1
I've had a lot of people tell me that they have difficulty shopping the off-price stores because of the assortment of merchandise as opposed to the coordinates that you'll typically find at a better department store, so I thought I'd share how I put these outfits together. 

First of all, it's important to do your homework before you go shopping.  Over the course of the last several posts, we identified ten popular Fall trends.  Without looking for anything specific, I went to TJ Maxx with the intent of finding apparel representative of those trends as well as basics that can be worn forever.  To create this outfit, I used the Willi Smith tweed skirt, the Adrienne Vittidini tee-shirt and the Venue cardigan.  Both the skirt and sweater are very on-trend.  The sweater actually encompasses three popular trends: capes (the collar forms a large cape-like shawl), ruffles, because of the drape of the front, and Boho - or Bohemian which is a style I haven't written much about yet, but quite popular, nonetheless. Tweed is a very important fabric this season, but it is quite textural, as is
Outfit #1 is comprised of the tweed skirt, flouncy crocheted cardigan and a brown t-shirt.
the cardigan. For this reason, I chose a very plain, simple top to coordinate and not compete.  The smooth silky texture offsets the roughness of the other pieces beautifully.  You might even be able to skip purchasing this piece, as most of us already own a brown t-shirt.  If not, consider this one a 'must-have' basic.  To accessorize, I selected a neutral sandal and a fabulous studded bag by MICHAEL Michael Kors.
An entirely different style is achieved in Outfit #2 by simply swapping the lacey cardigan for the weightier fur vest by Willi Smith.  I also exchanged the lighter colored shoe for a black bootie.  To complete the look, I'd suggest opaque black tights, and keep jewelry minimal - a ring, and/or earrings.  Nothing more.

One of the things I like about this skirt is that it incorporates both black and shades of brown.  That makes it very easy to swap other pieces of either color in or out to make a multitude of ensembles.  Instead of the brown tee, a black or brown turtleneck that you may already own would give you a very similar look.

To add even more mileage to this basic ensemble, a white or beige crew or turtlneck could be worn in place of the brown t-shirt.  If wearing a lighter color on top, consider accessorizing with a graphic scarf in warm tones, or a chunky necklace.
Outfit 2
Outfit #2 keeps the tweed skirt and brown t-shirt, but trades the cardigan for the fur vest.
Outfit #3

Outfit #3 keeps the skirt and booties, but trades fur for leather and the long-sleeved brown T-shirt for a short-sleeved black one.  I chose this vest, by Bagatelle because it echos the 'Ruffles and Roses' them in the ruffles on the front.  Don't you think it adds just the right touch of edge and attitude to this 'proper' skirt?
I also swapped the Michael Kors handbag for another studded bag.  This one in taupe.  Either would work with this outfit, but I like to avoid the 'matchy-matchy' look wherever possible.
As with the second outfit, switching out the tops will add even more options.  White, cream, and brown are the obvious choices and will work nicely, but how about a splash of color - perhaps jade green or yellow - two of this season's hot hues, to add yet another option.  Just remember when working with two strong pieces such as the vest and skirt, to keep all of the other elements of the outfit clean and simple to avoid looking busy and overdone instead of stylish.

Outfit #3 consists of the tweed skirt
mated with a faux leather vest
and black T-shirt.
Moving on to some of the other pieces, I decided to go for a more 'luxe' look with the metallic cardigan.  I layered it over the black T-shirt and then added a pair of skinny black pants by Ralph-Ralph Lauren.  For some reason I had some difficulty in photographing the pants and displaying them with this grouping, but they are a part of it nonetheless.  I also went more luxe in the accessories, swapping out the leather studded bag for the luxury of fur, and the black booties for a high-heeled black patent loafer by Nine West.  Note the substantial heel on the loafer.  I'm starting to see more and more of this, and while stilettos aren't going away anytime soon, this heel style is becoming more and more popular.
Outfit 4
Outfit #4 keeps the black T-shirt
and layers a metallic sweater with pants.
Outfit 5
Outfit #5 is both  fashion-forward and office proper at the same time.  The very modern pants are topped by a wonderful ruffle-front sweater-jacket with the feel of boiled wool and a garnet red turtleneck.    The jacket has a very classic, lady-chic appeal with it's side tie and ruffled placket.  The side shirring of the turtleneck is both a strong fashion element and figure-helper.  There's nothing like shirring to help to conceal a little bit of a tummy.     You could remove the jacket and wear just the pants and turtleneck and have yet another great look.  I chose a pair of matte leather pumps with a stud and rosette detail and a garnet red cross-body bag to finish the ensemble.  T.J. Max also had a clutch purse in the same color and style if you prefer it to the cross-body.
Outfit #5 takes the pants and pairs them
with a wonderfuls sweater-jacket
and a red turtleneck.
The proper jacket is exchanged for the ruffled leather vest in Outfit #6.  It's amazing how changing just one piece of the outfit can make such a dramatic mood jump!  To further enhance the mood of the outfit, I swapped the pumps for the black booties.  While this outfit is work appropriate for most environments, it lends just a touch of 'tough-girl' appeal, and a throughly modern sentiment.
Outfit #6
Outfit # 6 sheds the jacket and
exchanges it for the leather vest.
Outfit #8
Outfit #7 once again demonstrates how much of a difference on small clothing exchange can make. This time I swapped the red turleneck for one in a leopard print.  That one element has enough power to create a dramatic change.  In the photo, I kept the red-studded cross-body bag in the mix for splash of color, but the large MICHAEL Michael Kors studded handbag would be equally appropriate.
Outfit #7 consist of the black pants,
the faux leather vest,
and a leopard-print turtleneck.

My apologies for the awkward photo here.  Outfit #8 goes slightly dressy by pairing the Ralph Lauren pants with a lady chic blouse in a snakeskin print and bow tie.  I went the lady style look in the accessories as well, by adding that fabulous fur handbag and a pair of charcoal gray, aligator embossed pumps with a pointy toe.  The gray pumps from Nine West pull some of the gray from the blouse but are dark enough to work with the black pants and maintain a sleek line.

By the way, for those of us who may lack those gorgeous mile-long model-legs, we can do a lot to elongate our leg line by keeping pants, shoes or boots, and hosiery in a similar tone.  The same principle works when wearing skirts or dresses.  Nude hosiery and nude shoes are the best leg-lenghtener in the world.  This is something I learned very quickly when I was a ballroom dancer.  You can achieve a similar leg-lengthening effect with black shoes and hosiery.  Sometimes you may want to contrast, and that's
Outfit #8
The same Ralph Ralph Lauren pants
with a dressier blouse, bag, and shoes.
fine too, you just need to be aware that you might have to make other adjustments with the outfit if a long, lean look is what you'd like to achieve.
Outfit #9
To gain yet another great outfit, I added the faux leather vest to the blouse and pants in the previous ensemble and swapped the lady chic bag and shoes for a bolder combo in the black studded handbag and black booties.

This is one of my favorite outfits because it is totally wearable, yet entirely on-trend with the modern, narrow-cut pants, the ruffled faux leather vest, and the snakeskin-print blouse with a lady chic tie.  The booties and black studded handbag add even more high-style appeal!
Outfit #9 adds the faux leather vest
to the pants and blouse from Outfit #8
and exchanges the accessories.
Outfit #10
Outfit #10 marries the pants with the faux fur vest and leopard-print turtleneck.

The final outfit photographed is equally trendy but wearable.  Here, I've swapped the leather vest for faux fur, and the delicate blouse for the leopard-print turtleneck.  The separates I've chosen from this excursion to T.J. Maxx are really the basis for an entire fall wardrobe.  You could further mix things up by combining the black sweater-jacket and brown tee with the skirt, or pair the same jacket and brown T-shirt with the pants, and then make yet another exchange for the leopard-print turtleneck.  When you consider pieces that you already own; perhaps a black pencil skirt, brown trousers, beige trousers or skirts, red skirts or pants, white or ivory tops of varying designs, and a few tops of color, such as jade green or mustard yellow, you have endless possibilities!  And don't forget, all of these toppers look fantastic with a pair of jeans.  While you may not want or need all of these pieces, just one or two can boost your fashion mileage immensely!  It's Saturday, why not head on over to your local T.J. Maxx store to see what's waiting there for you.  And have fun!

Stylishly yours,

Come and join me at these great blog parties!


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