Stylin'

I don't know that looking good makes it to the top five of my daily priorities. Most days, I'm doing really well if I get a shower in. These are the days that my boys will say, "Mama, you look so beautiful!" Beautiful, because I actually did my hair and put on clothes that matched.

This is a letter I recently received from a reader:

Hi Ruth!

I so enjoy your blog, and share your heart for your home and family! Thanks for helping me do better, even from afar...if you lived closer, I'm sure we'd be friends:)

So, if you have two seconds, I have a question. Where do you shop for clothes? I have so little time and seem to only pick up things from Target these days! I was sorting through my clothes today...after 3 babes in 4 years, I don't know what fits! I realized I need to get some new staples. I have a similar style to you, so I thought I would ask for some help! Simple staples, casual style and affordable! I would shop at Anthropologie if I could afford it!

Thanks. Blessings to you and yours! Jen, from Indianapolis

I love it when you all write me! I so enjoy getting to know you, and feel blessed to know the commonality we share across the globe.

So the truth is, I'd love to host What Not To Wear. I've only seen the show 2 or 3 times, but that's all you really need anyway. {grin} It's so satisfying to find a wardrobe (or decorate your house, for that matter!) with a style that fits your personality, body-type, and budget.

Here are 12 random tips I follow myself:

1. Limit Target shopping to only sales racks...as in 50% or more off. They have cute clothes, but quality-wise, it's never worth paying full price. I generally never spend more than $10 on anything from Target.

2. Buy fewer, but better. I like the quality of the Gap over Old Navy, for instance. Gap has amazingly good deals on their sales racks, and, if you are patient, everything ends up on the clearance rack. So wait for it. My rule of thumb is no more than $15 for a top there, and no more than $25 for jeans. There's always the occasional splurge, but rarely without a coupon or gifted money!

3. Buying fewer pieces at better quality will ensure that you purchase things that last and work with the rest of your wardrobe, rather than always responding to some cheapy new trend. But, who doesn't like to get in on some of the fun accessories and trends? Just make sure to find those at the trendy teen stores, like Forever 21, where you can afford to buy a floral headband that will come and go.

4. You find deals when you go shopping more than once a year! So...while shopping all the time as a pastime is dangerous, you will find good deals if you know when and where to look for them. I always ask what day a store has markdowns and do a little walk through the mall as an outing with the kids, once or twice a month on those days. I find deals because I look for them. That's the truth.

5. I know it sounds boring, but I buy almost everything in solid staple colors like black, cream, gray, and navy. That's just a choice, for simplicity sake. Simplicity and sophistication. Looking classy is way easier to achieve with solids than with patterns, in my opinion. I don't like to get bogged down with whether something goes with something else. I only have a small window of time to get ready on any given day! Choose colors and pieces that are simple, but can be dressed up with a few accessories. By the way, I don't mean solid colored t-shirts either. Have fun with shape, detailing, and fits that are flattering. Just make sure it's a look that will keep on giving...

6. Buy for fit, not for size. Who cares, ultimately, what size something is, if it looks flattering on you!

7. My fave outfit is dark skinny jeans, black top, cardigan or denim jacket, and flats. Chic without trying too hard. We live in a time where dark jeans can be perfectly acceptable at dressier events. Invest in a great pair of dark denim trouser jeans or skinny jeans, and you'll have half the work figured out for any occasion.

8. Try adding one trendy item in at a time. Do scarves, or gladiators, or camo, or ruffles....but don't do all of them together at once. Ever.

9. Every girl should own a nice belt. A belt cinched over a dress, a cardigan, or even over a few layers, can really pull it together, and give you a waist. I picked up a summer woven leather one in Gap men's department, for $3.97!

10. If you sometimes feel a bit stuck between grown up and teeny bopper, but you're just not ready to do all your shopping in the Women's Department at JC Penny, two great stores for clearance rack prices and fit are: LOFT, and The Gap. TJ Maxx is great if you have the time and energy, but being choosy is the key. Sometimes Kohl's is great, though I find their quality lacking after a few washes. Just my opinion.

11. Buy what you love. We may be moms, but we don't have to dress sans personality.

12. If you don't know what you love, spend some time exploring it...not to foster materialism or superficiality, but rather to make the presentation of ourselves an area of intentional graciousness and not reactionary carelessness.

Everyone's sense of style is different, as is each woman's budget. But here's the point: Wise choices and a little effort can revive a tired wardrobe, and help us enjoy fashion rather than become a slave to it. While motherhood often calls us to replace self with sacrifice, the Lord is pleased when we pursue loveliness...to adorn and reflect the beauty of Christ.

Are any of these 12 tips idease you follow as well? Please share...I'm sure I have much to learn!