Outfit Restyling – Advice from Bridgette Raes

This is the final installment (I think, anyway) of my Bridgette Raes series.  It’s hard to believe that I only had two virtual sessions with Bridgette given how much wonderful advice I received from her.   We really packed a lot of information into a short amount of time!

In the last two posts of this series (see here and here), I outlined some of the suggestions that Bridgette made for improving my skirt ensembles and enhancing some of my favorite outfits.   I’ve recently had a chance to play in my closet and implement some of Bridgette’s advice.  In today’s post, I share before and after photos that show how I changed some of my looks through incorporating the words of wisdom I received from the fabulous Ms. Raes.

Good Better Best - Outfit Re-styling

A Few Caveats

I wasn’t able to translate all of Bridgette’s advice literally, as I was limited by the contents of my closet.   I didn’t own some of the items that Bridgette recommended wearing, but I did my best to use what I have to improve upon my outfits.   While I don’t love all of the new looks, I feel that many of them represent a vast improvement over the original ensembles.  Some of the differences are quite minor, such as switching out the shoes, while others are more dramatic.   All in all, I enjoyed experimenting and trying new things.  

Not all of the looks are fully styled, as I was making a lot of quick changes along the way.   For one, I didn’t pair tights with any of the skirt outfits even though Bridgette had suggested that I do so.   Tights probably wouldn’t work with many of my shoes, but they would probably look nice with my booties (if you have tights suggestions, fire away, as I am a tights novice!).  I also didn’t switch out my accessories between each photo or even put on many accessories for some of the looks.   When I actually wear the restyled ensembles, I’ll be sure to take the time to select the best accessory pairings from my relatively vast (but much smaller than earlier in the year!) collection. Now on to the restylings…

The Infamous Blue Jacket

This past summer, I purchased a blue jacket at a consignment shop that was deemed a shopping mistake by many readers of this blog.  I never actually wore this jacket out of my apartment, but I did put together a few outfits with it and snapped some photos.   Not only did Bridgette give me a lot of advice on how to restyle the jacket, she also wrote a blog post around it.   Bridgette didn’t really think the jacket was a dud; she just thought it needed to be styled differently than how I had done it.

Below is a photo which shows my original ensemble, a failed attempt at creating a casual skirt outfit without the dreaded “church vibe.”   While I may not look “churchy” in that look, I do appear more conservative (to use a nice term) than I’d like.   Bridgette recommended making the jacket the star of the show and keeping everything else in the outfit very simple by comparison.   Next to the image of the original outfit is one restyled look, and three more are shown in the following photo.

Blue Jacket Restyling

I restyled my problematic blue jacket per Bridgette Raes’ advice.

More Blue Jacket Restyles

Here are three more new looks with the blue jacket.

The new outfits are definitely a major improvement over what I started with.   I think my favorite look is the one with the striped pencil skirt (but I wish the boots were shorter) and my least favorite is the one with the white t-shirt and jeans.  I’m happier with the jacket restyled as per Bridgette’s recommendations, but I feel that it looks too short when paired with pants and too small overall.   If the sleeves were a few inches longer, I would probably like it a lot more, but it’s still a bit too ruffly and feminine for my new style preferences.  I enjoyed experimenting with some new looks incorporating the jacket, but I still plan to let it go.  Perhaps I will find a better jacket in that beautiful color at some point and I can then revisit all of Bridgette’s suggestions.

What a Difference the Shoes Make

In this next before and after photo, all I changed were the shoes.   I much prefer the revised look, which incorporates my new black caged sandals.   Those edgier shoes help me to look less dressy and conservative.

New shoes with blue dress

I swapped out the shoes with this blue dress outfit for a more casual and edgier look.

I actually wore the new outfit to have lunch with Jill Chivers, who was visiting California from Australia last month!   It was so wonderful to meet Jill and spend some time with her, and she was just as lovely and vivacious as I had imagined.   Here’s a photo of the two of us together.  Fortunately, it was an unseasonably warm day and I was able to wear a summer dress with sandals (you can’t see the sandals in the photo, but I was wearing the exact same outfit shown at right above).

Debbie Roes and Jill Chivers

It was such a pleasure to get to spend time with Jill Chivers last month!

Switching Out the Bottom Half of an Outfit

I included the outfit below among the favorite looks that I sent to Bridgette prior to our second session.  While Bridgette really liked the way the outfit looked as is, she also pictured the top half of the look with a black skirt and my blue sandals, which match the turquoise trim on the blouse almost perfectly.

Restyling a Black and White Top

I like both the pants and skirt outfits with this black and white top.

I liked the restyled version and plan to wear both outfits moving forward.   I would like to find a shorter black skirt, though, as the ones I own are either midi or maxi length and cannot be shortened given the way they are cut.   Hopefully when the spring clothing arrives in the stores, I’ll be able to find a shorter, slimmer black skirt that is to my liking.

Another Shoe Change and Some Outfit Variations

My black and red striped high-low skirt is one of my favorites and I especially like it paired with my black sequined tank.   However, when I first wore that outfit, I had to wear metallic sandals, as I didn’t own a suitable pair of black sandals at the time.   Bridgette thought the look would be better with black sandals and I totally agree.   One small swap can make a big difference.

Striped skirt shoe swap

I switched out the shoes in this ensemble and prefer the new look.

While I was playing in my closet, I also tried the outfit with other shoes and two of my black jackets (the new mixed media draped front jacket and my moto jacket).   I like all of the variations below, but the middle look is probably my favorite.  The black booties look better with skirts than I thought they would, but I would definitely prefer if they were shorter, especially since my skirts are all knee-length (they look longer in the photos due to the camera angle, but this one in particular shows part of my knee-caps in the front).

More new looks with the striped skirt

A few more new looks with the striped skirt.

A Favorite Skirt Restyled

My black and white zigzag striped skirt is a definite favorite.  However, I didn’t necessarily love it with the silver sandals and coral blazer shown at left below.   Bridgette suggested pairing the skirt with a plain tank and different shoes and I like the new outfit much better.   I also think it coordinates well with my newly acquired mixed media (knit with faux leather) drape front jacket.

Zigzag skirt restyling

I liked wearing the outfit on the left, but I like the new version much better!

Switching Out the Skirt

I switched out the skirt from the ensemble at right above for my black and grey striped pencil skirt and liked that look, too.  I think it’s a vast improvement over the outfit at left below with the purple ruffled tank and metallic sandals.

Pencil skirt restyling

I tried to do a casual skirt outfit, but the dressier version is more my style.

However, the new outfit also looks quite a bit dressier.   Although I’ve been trying to create casual skirt looks that I like, most of my attempts have fallen flat.  I greatly prefer the dressier skirt outfits.  Perhaps I will stick with dresses for my casual summer outfits, as I seem to have more success with those looks.   I’ve done okay with casual maxi-skirt outfits, too, as full-length skirts actually look better with flat shoes, so those are also a good option for me.

In terms of remaining casual, I think I fared better when switching out the flared denim skirt below for a less flared black skirt.   With the different skirt silhouette, the green jacket no longer looks too long and the proportions are much better.   Although I might prefer that the black skirt be shorter and narrower, I would definitely wear the restyled outfit as is.

I no longer have the flared denim skirt, as I didn’t like the way it looked in its sole wearing (a different outfit than the one shown).   I had settled in purchasing it, as I’ve been trying to find a denim skirt for a long time.  I will hold out for more of a straight/pencil shape, which I will hopefully be able to find come springtime.

Tonal green outfit restyled

The new skirt in this tonal green ensemble creates a more proportionate look.

Pairing Moto Jackets with Skirts

In some of the outfit photos I sent to Bridgette, I was wearing a two-toned grey moto jacket that I ended up returning (it was part acrylic and I found it itchy).  I later bought a black moto jacket that has since become a closet favorite.   Using Bridgette’s advice, I was able to create a much better look using the pinstriped skirt and my black moto jacket.

Moto jacket with flared skirt

The outfit on the right is more balanced  with only one ultra-feminine piece. 

Bridgette recommended only having one feminine garment in the outfit in order to keep things more modern and cohesive.   In the outfit at left above, both the flared skirt and the ruffled cardigan had a feminine vibe and the edgier moto jacket looked out of place as a result.   The revised ensemble includes a plain tank top and less conservative shoes, so things flow much better.   I really like the new look, but again it is on the dressier side.  Perhaps I just need to make peace with the fact that my style skews dressy and let it be.  Food for thought…

I also paired the black moto jacket with the polka dot skirt from the initial blue jacket outfit.   I think the edginess of the moto jacket takes the look out of the “churchy” realm, particularly when combined with the caged black sandals.  Although I could wear the restyled look to church, it doesn’t necessarily look like that’s where I’m going.

Polka dot skirt outfit restyle

This polka dot skirt looks less “churchy” on the right. 

The New Outfits are a Vast Improvement

Even though I didn’t have all of the proper pieces in order to implement Bridgette’s advice precisely, I feel that all of the restyled outfits represent a vast improvement over the original looks.   The new ensembles are more in line with my style aesthetic and they look more modern and stylish.   I have already worn a few of the revised outfits and felt quite happy while wearing them.

The much-maligned blue jacket ended up being a “miss” after all, but I learned quite a bit from the restyling exercises using that piece.   I enjoyed experimenting with new proportions, including wearing shorter toppers with pants.   Below are a few outfits that I can see myself wearing which include shorter jacket or cardigans with pants.   I will continue to experiment with this type of pairing, as I’ve wanted to get away from the long open cardigan silhouette which was a favorite of mine for the past few years.

Wearing short toppers with pants

I’m going to start wearing short toppers with pants more often. 

Bridgette’s Advice has Been Incredibly Helpful

As I’ve mentioned in the earlier posts in this series, Bridgette’s styling advice has helped me tremendously.   I now have a much clearer sense of my style vision and how to interpret it through my outfits.  My work with Bridgette has empowered me to better use what I have and to be more strategic about my purchases.   Of course, my style journey is ongoing and I will continue to use Bridgette’s excellent advice as I put outfits together and shop for new wardrobe items.

I say this is the last post in my Bridgette Raes series, but you never know.  I may choose to do more outfit restylings (Bridgette gave me more advice than what I highlighted above) and I may opt to have additional sessions with Bridgette.  For the moment, however, this is it.   I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and have been able to learn through my experiences.   It has been my pleasure to share Bridgette’s insights with all of you.  Of course, you can continue to learn from Bridgette by subscribing to her excellent blog and following her on Facebook and Twitter.

Coming Attractions and a Reminder

I’ll be back soon with the results of the “Recovering Shopaholic” reader survey.   I also plan to showcase my best and worst purchases of the year before 2014 draws to a close.   If you have any questions or comments regarding this post, feel free to share them.   It’s always true that you don’t have to confine your comments to the topic of the current post, but since this can be a challenging time for overshoppers, I want to clarify that today.  If you are struggling and need support, please ask for it.  I feel blessed to have such a supportive community of readers and I love how you offer each other advice and moral support.  If you post a question or concern, I know that you will receive a helpful reply (I usually respond, too, but others often beat me to it).


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