Building a Classic Wardrobe through Consignment Shopping


The word “classic” sounds expensive and labor intensive, but building a solid, wearable wardrobe, of classic, yet functional, pieces should be fairly easy and potentially a lot of fun.

Forget about old-school Brooks Brothers, stiff, stuffy and boring, and think about what makes you feel confident and comfortable, without having to wonder too much about what goes with what. It all goes together!

Today’s classic wardrobe includes these easy-to-find secondhand pieces:

1. Jean Jacket

Once again, the jean jacket has made another comeback! The more classic the better. Think Levis, with a little extra wear in the fabric. It looks great on most women’s figures, and it’s the kind of clothing item that never goes completely out of style. It’s durable, maintains its shape and size, and can be dressed up or down to suit your style need. Just this morning I saw a woman show up at the gym wearing her jean jacket over her Lulu workout wear. So cool. So perfect.

2. Pants

Skinny jeans are the first obvious recommendation for a classic wardrobe, but there are so many more styles to choose from. If you don’t find skinnies comfortable or flattering, look to the millions of other cuts and fabrics, some with a bit of stretch that makes them even more comfortable and flattering. Do try to stay with a “less embellished” style; no bling on the back pockets, no whiskers, no tears and no bleach. There’s a time and place for those (kind of!), but not in a classic wardrobe. Higher waists are back, and are great for holding in the tummy and covering all the “parts”. Slightly flared is always an option, especially if the flare is worn with a more fitted top. The main thing is to feel comfortable and put together, and to keep it simple and elegant. As with finding princes and such, you have to try on a lot to find the one that fits.

For summertime, try classic chinos in a loose fit, or drawstring waist linen. Love!

3. Long-Sleeve Cotton Button-Down

This too is a style that looks good on just about all of us. And it also a style that you’ll find in abundance at good consignment shops. They should be inexpensive enough that you’ll be able to stock up. The most basic version is white, with simple buttons and the right cut for your body. A beautiful pinstripe would be good too, along with plenty of florals and solids that would add a little understated pizzazz (oxymoron?!). A longer cut in the torso means a little more movement and coverage for you as you move the world, and it will look fab with a cardigan or light blazer. Again, try them on. They all fit a little differently, and the more perfectly nipped and tucked on your body, the better you’ll feel about your style.

4. Sheath Dress

I love the sheath dress. Period. But I’m not sure it works on everyone. If it’s good on your body, you’re lucky and it’s perfect. A little jewelry, a nice pair of flats, and you’re on your way for the day. If, however, the cut is a little too staid, and makes you look like a girl in a box with your head sticking out, you might need to think about choosing a different style. In warm weather, stick with cotton weave – definitely no silk, and no polyester. If you like your shoulders, look for a style that cuts in a little, showing off your great arms. Waists are to be flaunted! Look for something that nips in and accentuates your curves just a little. You can’t go wrong with a hemline just a couple of inches above your knee or hem it a little longer, at the length where your calves are their smallest, just below the knee. When wearing a classic dress style, like any of these, you can go a little crazy with pattern and color. Just hold back on jewelry if the fabrics are bold.

5. Flats & Wedges

I couldn’t decide between these two, so I’m choosing both! Ballet flats are always a classic choice. If you’re a little older, or you’re wanting a more elegant look, forego the bow on the toe. A slightly pointed-toe flat is also a good classic choice, and suits some personal styles better than the ballet option. There are all kinds of colors and patterns to choose from, so look for the pair that suits your classic style, and stay within your “age appropriate” range. The wedge gives any outfit a classic summertime feel. It’s most versatile in a natural tan leather, and – bonus – because it’s the color of your skin, it’ll make your legs look longer. The perfect pair may be a little harder to find secondhand, but be patient, it will show up and you’ll be happy when it does.

In either case, try them on, and do a lap around the store. If the flats don’t stay on or don’t feel comfortable, put them back and try another. If the wedges make you walk funny, or worse yet shuffle funny, not a perfect fit.

6. Stud Earrings

Pearls, diamonds, gold, silver or rose are all perfect for the woman who is not at all concerned about flash, but wants a simple, sophisticated style. Metals don’t have to match with the rest of the outfit. Wear them with confidence. No one knows if they’re “real” or not. Finish up the look with a basic watch or bracelet, Timex or Cartier; it’s about how you wear it, not how much it costs. And when was the last time you dug out your 7th grade boyfriend’s ID bracelet out? Fun! Flaunt it.

Stop in at Rags Consignments and see how easy, and fun, it is to start building a beautiful wardrobe full of classic pieces that will never go out of style.

If you’ve lived in Colorado for more than a week, you know it’s quite likely you’ll wake to snow and ice, and break for lunch sloshing through puddles peeling off sweaters. And you love it. Here are our tips for dressing for the everchanging weather:


Sleek Jeans

Fitted jeans are not done yet! Go for dark wash, no back-pocket embellishment, and a good fit. A little high around the waist is always better than a little low. Trust us. Some stretch in the fabric is a good thing, and is found in most current, well-made, designer label brands. You’ve got the right jeans when you’re not tugging and pulling, and there’s no sagging in the back.


A Simple Long Tee

It may sound dull at first, but hear us out. The perfect long tee is a little loose, a little long, and is a “goes with everything” color like taupe, tan or an earthy gray. You don’t have to spend a lot to have a decent collection of tees, sleeveless and long sleeved, and you’ll be happy to have a selection when you need one.


Boxy Sweater

The next layer is a boxy (not to be confused with bulky) sweater in just about any color you love. It should be boxy enough that the long tee we just mentioned is peeking out a few inches below the sweater, but not squeezed out of the bottom. The perfect sweater for the look is not too full across the shoulders, and is either long-sleeved or midsleeved.

We’re picturing an organic cream-color, with a taupe tee underneath.


A Scarf and Simple Earrings

Throw on a scarf that compliments, but doesn’t match, your sweater – a blue and tan plaid, a red and brown stripe, teal and mud houndstooth… you’ll see. Then add some simple pearl or diamond earrings, a pair that doesn’t get caught up in the scarf.


Ankle Boots or Mid-Calf Fryes

Ankle boots may have had their day in the sun (if they have they’ll be back in a few seasons!), but we think they’ve got at least a few more weeks before they’re relegated to the back of the closet or the top of the “over it” pile. Use them, the low heel ones, in these days of ice and snow in the morning and puddles by mid-day. They’re cute. They’re easy. And they look good. If you just can’t do another day of booties, go for the super cool, never out of style midcalf square toe Frye boot. These work well with the sleek jeans and the earthy modern layering, and they’ll keep your feet high and dry. Bet you get noticed!

“Car Coat”

It’s not too long and not too short. It’s just right. The in-between length makes it perfect for a day that’s a little bit cold and a little bit warm. You can layer up, and layer down. Take off the coat. Take off the scarf. You can even take off the sweater.

Stop in at Rags and see how easy, and fun, it is to start building a functional, stylish wardrobe.

I’ve been in the women’s clothing business for the past 20+ years. I love the colors and cuts and fabrics, the waists and boots and skirt lengths that go up and come down again (because there’s just nowhere else to go!), the crazes that pass (shrugs), and those that stick around (gorgeous handbags and good jeans). That said, it took me all of those years to finally get around to this… I am not turned on by high fashion. I like it. It’s entertaining and over the top, but it’s not what I wear.

I am turned on by dressing fashionably for my life. Recommendations for those who love getting dressed, fashionably:

1. Use clothing catalogs as inspiration and fashion mags as entertainment.

When was the last time you saw something in a high fashion magazine that you could, or would, actually wear, and to what event, and that you could afford? Catalogs, on the other hand, are created to sell real people real clothes that they will really wear! Find your 4 or 5 favorite inspirational catalogs and start to visualize yourself in the photos.

2. Know your base pieces.

Base pieces are different for everyone. And they can be different for different days of the week and hours of the day. My base pieces for workout are black tights, black shoes and a short sleeved white V-neck tee from J. Crew. My mid-day is sleek jeans with low boots or sandals, a light sweater and my basic brown belt. If you’re in the corporate world, or living in a city that dresses up a little more than Boulder does, I would think you’d have a perfectly fitted pencil skirt, some low heels, and few blouses that all go with the skirt, and some flats for the commute. Put those in plain sight in your closet, and work your way from there.

3. Commit to comfort.

Real life requires real movement. If you are uncomfortable, you’ll look uncomfortable. That is not the look you’re going for.

4. Underpinnings (aka undies, bras, etc.) are important.

They don’t have to be expensive, but they should always be fresh. Yes, they should mostly match. Thongs are still in, but choose “age appropriate” styles, with wide bands and simple colors. Boy shorts or full-bottom bikinis are good under dresses and skirts. Bras that fit. Spanx for every occasion!

Wear what you love. Dress for real life. Enjoy the getting dressed process.