This post is for those of you who don't live near any major metropolitan areas, and your shopping choices are severely limited, especially if you love classic preppy clothes. This means no Vineyard Vines, Lilly Pulitzer, Kate Spade, or Tory Burch unless you shop on the Internet. I don't know about you, but sometimes I need to browse the stores, try on a stack of clothes, and walk out with something today---not wait for UPS to deliver it next week. So here are a few of the outfits I've been able to find recently. Most of them were purchased locally, but there are a few items I did rely on the catalog/Internet to purchase. These are all from major retailers that are located all over the country. I figure if I could create a preppy wardrobe out here in the very rural Allegheny Mountains, you can do it anywhere.
In the photo above: Black & white paisley dress and shrug (Perceptions), black leather flats (Liz Claiborne) both from JC Penney. The purse was made by an artisan in Aiken, SC many years ago, so that was not purchased locally. I actually bought this dress and shoes 3 years ago, and it is the oldest outfit I'm wearing in this post, but I included it because it's one of the most comfortable dresses I own, and I love paisley. I often wear it in the summer without the shrug since it's sleeveless and light weight, but it continues to work for early fall as well. And it never needs ironed, which is a definite plus.
I just found this shirt and skirt last week, and the entire outfit was on sale and only totaled $30! Striped boatneck shirt (Tommy Hilfiger) & blue skirt (Lauren/Ralph Lauren) from Macy's. The leather basketweave loafers (West 31st) are from the Bonton and are nearly a decade old. I'm always looking for shirts this time of year that aren't too heavy, but that aren't summery either. This one is perfect with 3/4 length sleeves, and it's not too thick or thin. I think I'll also pair it with jeans or chinos.
I found this Argyle sweater (Croft & Barrow) on clearance this past spring at Kohl's. It buttons up the front so I can wear it as a cardigan over a t-shirt, turtleneck, or collared blouse too. The tan skirt (Merona) is from Target, but I purchased that about 11 years ago after our sixth child was born when I couldn't fit back into any of my old clothes. And I never ever returned to a size 4 again. The black & white striped ballet flats (Mossimo) were bought at Target over a year ago.
By the way, most of my children were enlisted to be my photographers yesterday whether they wanted to or not. The only one who was excited about doing so was our seven year-old daughter who happily snapped away while I tried to give her instructions. She must have taken 15 shots of me in this outfit.
You can't really see the stripes in this blouse, but it's a beautiful pink & white cotton pinstriped shirt (Lauren/Ralph Lauren) found at Macy's last week. There were many colors to choose from, but this was my favorite. The navy blue chinos (L.L. Bean) are one of those items I had to mail-order, but I bought the white reversible leather belt from Kohl's, and the paisley canvas sneakers (Mossimo) were purchased at Target in the spring. I know they're not really fall-like, but I like them so much that I'll probably continue wearing them throughout this month. Oh, and that's me trying to keep the gnats out of my eyes and mouth. Yesterday had to be the buggiest day all summer---which didn't make it any easier to persuade my boys to come outside and take pictures.
Aside from swatting bugs, we also had goat kids escaping their pasture and coming up to our photo shoot.
This is what they were doing under the clothesline while we were taking pictures of preppy clothes.
This is the last of my outfits today because it was the last of the photographing. My ten year old son took two pictures while the gnats swirled around his head, and he said he was done. I was tired of dealing with them too, and it was incredibly warm and muggy, and I was perspiring in my fall clothes. This was the best shot of the two, and not very flattering of me, but it shows the outfit: White t-shirt (Land's End), oatmeal cardigan I purchased in early summer (Gap), blue jeans (St. John's Bay) bought at JC Penney a year ago, same leather reversible belt (Kohl's), dark brown leather heeled loafers from Bon Ton a year or so ago, and a gold cross necklace that belonged to my grandmother (all my pearls need restrung.) I have discovered that cardigans are the best wardrobe item for those of us with an expanding midriff. They camouflage that middle-aged spread quite nicely.
These clothes work for most of my days: volunteering, substitute teaching, chauffeuring children, shopping and running errands, attending meetings, and doing things around the house. Macy's, BonTon, Kohl's, Target, and the Gap supplied most of the items, and I supplemented with L.L. Bean and Land's End. It takes some real looking through the stores to find classic American clothing that looks good on a middle-aged mom who tries to be frugal, but it can be done...even in the middle of nowhere.