Sarah says she felt obligated to get some cowboy boots, what with being from Texas and all.
She got these at ... one guess ... Buffalo Exchange, a thrift store I'm thinking might be worth a visit to Austin.
I know it's a little late for scarves (these photos were taken during a colder part of spring called, um, winter), but this is one of American Apparel's circle scarves.
The coat, from Free People, has a great half-length sleeve that I love with the layering.
"I wish the inside was visible," Sarah says, "because it is blue silk with a gray unicorn on it."
(In that case, I wish the inside was visible, too!)
Underneath, she is wearing a pair of patterned tights from Target, a pair of jean shorts that she made out of her dad's old jeans, and a striped shirt from the DAV on Summer.
"Stripes are so fun to wear and this shirt is perfect because it is so classic," Sarah says. "It fits into so many different styles from nautical to grunge."
I love the way this could be a summer outfit very easily, just ditch the tights and outwear and trade the boots for the pair of sandals Sarah wore earlier in the week.
I also love the way Sarah layers layers on top of layers. It's hip and it can be so helpful in those weather transition weeks, when the morning is one season and the afternoon is completely another.
Thanks again to this week's Fashion Plate Sarah Knowles, and to whoever the wonderful person was who took her picture.
Have a candidate for Fashion Week? Email me at email@example.com.
Okay, so I might have put these photos up in the wrong order, and I *might* have done it on purpose.
But I pretty much love the way Sarah had her photo taken in front of her closet. Not only can we see some of the items she's worn in previous photos (the faux fur coat! the flannel shirt!), but there's a fashion textbook sitting right there on the shelf by her right knee.
This outfit is a combination of new and used, but mostly used. In addition to her Urban Outfitter jeans, she is wearing Doc Martens from Buffalo Exchange in Austin.
"I had been looking for the perfect pair of Docs and finally found these: Maroon and a steel toe. What more could I ask for?" she says.
She also got the plaid blazer from the DAV on Summer; the denim shirt was actually one her mom got at the Gap during the '90s.
"I may or may not have sneaked it out of her closet before I left for school," Sarah says.
And then she topped the whole thing off with a hat from Target.
In addition to thrift stores, Sarah isn't afraid to hit up a garage sale now and then.
Which was where she got this red and black flannel.
"I paid $3 for a paper bag and got to fill it up with as much stuff as would fit," Sarah says. "I got a black and white one, as well."
She's wearing the flannel over a Free People tank top.
"You can't really tell, but it's cut at different angles and lengths and crosses in the back, which makes it really nice for layering," Sarah says. [I kind of wish we could see this tank without the flannel and from the back, too, because it sounds really interesting.]
She's also wearing black jeans from Urban Outfitters, platform sandals from Target (which she also scored in a darker brown, because they were about $5), and a necklace she got from her grandmother.
Sarah loves to mix brands and styles, so it makes sense that thrift shopping is one of her favorite hobbies.
(It also makes sense, with all the mix and matching, that when I asked my two Rhodes interns if they had any candidates for this section, they both suggested Sarah.)
Sarah says about half her closet — including these black ankle boots — is from Buffalo Exchange, a thrift store in her native Austin where people can buy, sell, and trade clothes.
But she also mixes what I call highs and lows, i.e. things from Target with designer pieces.
For this outfit, Sarah paired an eye-popping blue Madewell skirt with a Target blouse and accessorized with a studded clutch.
"I was so sad because they only sold this [clutch] at 'select Marc Jacobs stores,' but I found it on eBay! It's funny," she says, "because inside it has a tag that says Jacobs by Marc Jacobs for Marc by Marc Jacobs in collaboration with Marc Jacobs for Marc by Marc Jacobs. Longest name EVER!"
I haven't actually seen the inside of this fun clutch to verify that, but I'm already imagining my new byline.
Rhodes College sophomore Sarah Knowles began college as a business major, because she wanted to go into fashion. She quickly realized, however, that the practical business major wasn't for her.
Now she's majoring in English Literature and minoring in Studio Art.
But that doesn't mean she's lost her interest in fashion or style or her dream of being in the fashion business.
In this outfit, she combines black leather Michael Kors boots — a present from her mom — jeans, a tank from Urban Outfitters, a black long-sleeve button down, and a faux fur coat.
But let's talk about the jeans, which Sarah says are very comfortable.
"I would probably wear them everyday if the fabric wasn't so thin. They're starting to wear out," she says.
I know what you're thinking: Of course they're starting to wear out, they have holes in the knees.
"The holes are intentional," Sarah says. "I did like them as they were, but I didn't really wear them very much until I made the holes, strangely enough. Now I basically wear them all year round!
"I must say, though, I do get tired of people asking if I fell down or if I was attacked by an animal or something. The best is when my grandma says, 'Oh, you poor thing, tell your mother to get you some new pants.'"
I get it: Sometimes your knees just have to be free. Frankly, that was basically my motto in high school.
On another note, just between you and me, I think we're going to be learning a lot about layering this week. Stay tuned.
I think I've made my feelings known on bib necklaces (pro on the concept, not on the name), and here is a cute one on Penelope.
"I recently wore it to the Phoenix Club party all dressed up, but the beauty of it is that it can easily be transitioned to the day," she says. "Actually, the beauty of it is that it was missing a stone so it was 75 percent off at Dillard's."
In this picture, she's also wearing a tie-dyed wrap from Gianni Bini, a designer that she just discovered and loves, Bebe jeans, and her Naughty Monkey boots.
And she paired it all with a turtleneck from Target. If I haven't mentioned it before, I think Penelope has shown us how easy it can be to mix and match basics from Target with vintage pieces or more name brand things.
What else have we learned? Animal print can tie things together, it's fun to mix up colors and patterns, and we might need to ask Penelope's mom to do this feature.
Again, I want to thank Penelope McDowell for being this week's Fashion Plate and Gwyn Fisher and Shalishah Franklin for taking this week's photos.
(If you want to nominate a Fashion Plate, shoot me an email.)
Today I'm pretty sure most of you out there are going to learn something.
This is one of Penelope's casual, hanging out outfits, with an oversized sweater from the '70s that used to be her mom's, a yellow tank from Target, and patent leather Tory Burch flats. And leggings. Or, wait. I'll just let Penelope explain.
"I know there is a constant struggle with the 'leggings as pants' look, but these provide a nice compromise — jeggings. That's right. Half jeans, half leggings, all awesome," she says. "I think Jessica Simpson made these up and they are a great substitute for skinny jeans."
This is about as get down to business as Penelope gets at MPACT Memphis.
According to her. Not me. Just for the record.
The foundation for this outfit is a gray turtleneck from Target and a pair of Bebe jeans. The blazer is from her mom. Well, it's from J. Crew, but her mom got it for her. Her mom also got her these shoes, also from J. Crew.
"She has a better sense of style than I do, but I'm still taller. ... Sorry, Mom," she says.
"The blazer goes with every single thing ... ever."
The shoes, which have a camel's hair texture, also go with everything.
"That's the thing about animal print. So many people shy away from it, but it's extremely versatile, because it helps to blend all sorts of colors and shades," she says.
And if you're wondering why Penelope is looking down in the previous picture, she's obviously looking at her shoes! See.
A longtime Michael Stars fan, Penelope ordered pretty much everything from his line when it was on Rue-La-La (if you want to belong, email me and I'll be happy to share an invitation with you. Even though it means my clicking fingers will have to be that much faster to beat you to the deals. But that's just an aside).
This lightweight turtleneck dress was one such purchase.
The scarf, she says, was an impulse purchase from Target that she can wear with just about anything. The tights were also a Target purchase.
"I'm constantly cold, so I have to find ways to stay warm when it's sunny, but breezy out," she says.
And the Naughty Monkey boots we saw yesterday.
"The boots are also pretty versatile," she says. "My mom got them for me for Christmas one year and I love how they're not quite brown or gray, but somewhere in between."
Penelope McDowell is MPACT Memphis' communications person. More importantly for my purposes, every time I see her, I love what she's wearing.
Somehow, I convinced her during the same week of MPACT's Soul of the City gala — where they released The Voice of MPACT — to show us a few outfits. And somehow she convinced MPACT director Gwyn Fisher to take time out of her busy schedule to snap a few pictures.
With spring just having sprung (tho we all know how dicey that's been), she says this outfit is half-winter and half-spring.
The cardigan is J. Crew, the jeans are J brand, and the boots are Naughty Monkey. The sleeveless turtleneck is one she bought at a boutique in college.
Penelope says she likes matching colors and patterns, thus the addition of the leopard print belt from Express.
"It took me a long time to get into the skinny belt trend and now that I finally am ... I think it's going away," she says.
But her favorite part of the outfit? Her owl earrings.
"I bought [them] on my first spring break in Acapulco. A year later, owls were everywhere and the trend is still going strong."
We started this week with re-purposing, and we'll end it that way, too.
Sophorn originally got this dress from a vintage store in Atlanta about 10 years ago to wear to a '20s party.
It's a size 8, and originally, it had cap sleeves.
"I loved the pleated bottom so I took off the sleeves to make it more my style," Sophorn says. "To deal with the larger size, I usually wear this with a wide belt, which I have several of."
This red one came from Eye-Con Couture on Union.
"The shoes, which I specifically bought for the extreme points at the end, are from Dillard's," she says. "I've heard this makes you appear taller and I need as much help as I can get."
Slimmer, too. Not that Sophorn needs any help with that, but if someone else does, pointy shoes are a good way to go.
(Personal side story: I have a pair of pointy slingbacks that I hate to wear. The heel is a little short in comparison to my other shoes, and every time I look down at the pointy bits, I think, these are witchy shoes. BUT. Whenever I see pictures of me wearing said heels ... I think I really should wear those more often, b/c they look great.)
So things we've learned this week:
1) You don't just have to wear something once, even if it's a bridesmaid dress.
2) Get creative. Dressing is an experiment.
3) Just b/c something isn't your size doesn't mean you can't rock it.
and 4) Pointy shoes are awesome.
Let me take a moment to thank Sophorn McRae for sharing her closet/personal style with us and her photographer Annabella Brandon for doing such a super fab job.
Sophorn had never bought a silver dress before getting this one for last year's AIA Memphis Architecture Awards.
She got both the dress and the necklaces from Lux, "probably my favorite store in Memphis," she says.
"Since it's right down the street from my house, it's my emergency fashion source, and the owner Tad always suggests the cutest things to try on."
The slingbacks are from a shop in Portland.
"I am not sure I would wear them with the dress again," she says, "but dressing is always an experiment, right?"
What did I say last Friday?
They might as well rename it Denim Day.
Sophorn says she wears jeans almost every Friday, but still likes to wear heels with them. This particular pair is from Dillards.
In addition to her jeans — from Forever 21, one of the only stores that carry a size 0 — she paired a brown cowl neck shirt from Coco & Lily, and a striped wrap sweater from Old Navy.
"The clutch is a Gecko Traders purse made in my home country of Cambodia from old fish bags," she says. "I bought it locally from Delphinium, but I know it still helps those women in Cambodia support their families."
Socially responsible and stylish to boot.
While getting her architecture degree at Auburn, she did a design for Afghan refugees as part as of interior architecture thesis: "I included, with the interior architecture and furniture design, a redesign of the burka which I sewed and modeled. It was made more functional but still seemed avant-garde. I wish I remembered where I put those photo files," she says.
Sophorn says that Thursday nights seem to be her new night out: "I usually go to design networking events Thursday nights," she says.
For this particular day, she wore a ballet-inspired bubble skirt from Eye-Con Couture on Union with a scarf and a short-sleeved cardigan sweater that she got from her mother-in-law.
"She finds cute things, mostly at SteinMart, so I would guess that's where these come from," she says. "I love this scarf for the pop of color with all the black I wear but it's also very warm and soft."
Sophorn has about 8 scarves b/c her mother-in-law gets her a new one every year.
I get the sense that Sophorn is not a traditionalist with her clothes. Take, for instance, yesterday's bridesmaid dress turned balloon blouse. In this outfit, she's wearing the skirt high on her waist with a polka dotted belt she got at a boutique in Oxford. But she says she also wears the skirt below the waist if she's just wearing it with a shirt or a tank top.
And the high-heeled boots? Guess.
Also, Sophorn and Annabella were nice enough to send me a close-up, which shows the really great texture of the scarf and the sweater.
A few months ago, I stumbled across norococo, a wonderful little blog that had me instantly charmed.
In fact I developed a little bit of a blog crush on it. It is just so *pretty.* And the music — well, let's just say I plugged my headphones in and listened for hours.
Norococo is the online home of Formus Architects project manager and graphic designer Sophorn McRae. I didn't really know Sophorn, but I knew that anyone with a blog this stylish probably had some tips to teach us.
I don't like to brag, but ... I was right.
In this outfit, Sophorn is wearing what appears to be a lemon yellow balloon blouse with an Old Navy pencil skirt and a skinny orange belt from J. Crew. (Seriously, I am loving orange.)
Beside her is a white cardigan that she wears when it's cold in the office, and her shoes are from Shoe-Nami. (This isn't her office, by the way. This is in a vacant spot above her office, in the Tennessean Building in Court Square. I believe it is available for lease.)
But let's get back to that balloon blouse, shall we?
Three year ago, she was a bridesmaid and she had to find a dress that was yellow. At the last minute, she found one at Macy's on the clearance rack ... only it was a size 10. Sophorn obviously isn't.
For the wedding, she belted the extra material and used it to make pleats.
And now she's found that she can tuck it into a pencil skirt and wear it to work. She says she has to be careful the end of the bridesmaid dress doesn't peek out the bottom, but what a great idea! I love this sort of re-use.
How many of us have dresses in our closet that we never wear again? I would have never thought about using them as a blouse and wearing them to work.
Sophorn volunteered with Dress for Success for several years as a "personal shopper," putting together outfits that were work appropriate but stylish for their clients going to interview for a job or just starting work. Seeing this, I have no doubt she did a wonderful job.