1 Pant, 12 Looks

Two “rules” I try to follow when shopping for clothes are:

1) Buy clothes you’ll wear on a Tuesday afternoon, not a Saturday night — few people lead Saturday-night lives. I originally read this on Susan’s website, and it jumped right off the page at me. I am SO guilty of buying for Saturday night! A beautiful silk blouse, 4-inch heels, denim that requires 4-inch heels to wear…sure, these are absolutely fantastic items, but they don’t represent my life. (I WISH they represented my life, but no. Not right now.) For the most part, my day-to-day grind involves writing from home, errand-running, park playdates and school drop off. As much as I love Saturday night clothing, I’m just not sure I’m getting a return on investment from them at this point, and have become much more mindful of that when buying new clothing.

Another phenomenon that baffles me is what I’m willing to pay for certain items. I’ll completely rationalize spending $200 on a silk blouse that might be worn once every few months on date night, but balk at $80 cotton canvas pants (like below) that I could wear several times a week. Explain that ridiculous line of thinking, will ya?

2) If you love something, buy in bulk. I know, I know. It’s just so UNROMANTIC. Of course I want to have a closet full of unique, finely-curated items that I’ve procured on trips around the world, but once again, I need to be realistic about what I’m comfortable wearing on a daily basis. However, this isn’t to say that I don’t love unique pieces. I seem to make up for some of my more “conventional” clothing with shoes, jewelry, scarves and the like. I guess my line of thinking is that if I find a shirt or pant that looks and feels great, I’m going to buy it in several colors.

Like these pants. I would have never given these pants a thought had I solely seen them online, yet, they instantly caught my attention while poking around my local J. Crew. I tried them on, liked what I saw, and decided to make the plunge and buy all three colors. (At $74 a pop, I admit to balking. I mean, they are COTTON SURPLUS PANTS.) Let me just tell you, I have worn the hell out of these pants this summer. Grocery store runs, kindergarten volunteering, lunches with girlfriends, even to an evening of cocktails.

Here, let me show you. (Click thumbnail for full photo.)

[nggallery id=4]

Who would have thought, right? And I could have shot 12 more outfits easily. (But my room was starting to look like bomb full of accessories had detonated.)

Now, I’m not saying these exact pants are right for you, but I feel they perfectly exemplify the point I’m trying to make. Be realistic about how fashion plays a part in your day-to-day life, and if you find something that really works, buy a few. (FYI – If you DO think these pants are for you, they are on final sale with an additional 30% off. Um, that breaks down to $17.49 for a pair. Final sale is a risk, though, since you can’t return, but sizing is true to size, if not running a little large. I waver between two sizes at J. Crew, and bought the smaller size in these pants.)

What are some of your fashion rules? Do you find yourself drawn to “Saturday night” or “Tuesday afternoon” clothing? How do you find the balance between expressing your unique style and being realistic about your day-to-day grind, i.e. – moms handling dirty kiddos and/or stains galore? (I should own stock in Tide To Go pens.)

  • Mama Bub

    September 7, 2011 at 7:16 am

    Well color me a follower because I just bought those pants in all three colors.

  • Rebecca (Bearca)

    September 7, 2011 at 7:32 am

    GET OUT OF HERE!!!! I just ordered these pants yesterday in a rare (these days) J Crew sale binge! I am so excited to see your ringing endorsement. :)

  • Amy

    September 7, 2011 at 8:01 am

    I really love this advice—I want this lovely closet full of delightful things from Anthropologie, but my reality (and uh, budget) is that I’m a high school teacher, so just about everything needs to be washable (overhead pens!), easy to move around in and comfortable. I rely a lot on dresses, yes, but it’s more likely that they’re made out of cotton and can be paired with TOMS wedges instead of stillettos. Great tips!

  • Amanda

    September 7, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Nice! I’m afraid that I too have been struggling with shopping for the life I have, and I’m trying to be more mindful of that. My JCrew score was the Minnie pant in stretch cotton. Slim enough to look good with flats in warm weather, and I suspect they’ll look alright tucked into boots in cool weather (though I’ve yet to try this out fully).

  • Torrie @ a place to share...

    September 7, 2011 at 9:51 am

    I’ve struggled with this in the past. I’ve gone back and forth- shopping primarily for Saturday, and then having NOTHING to wear on Tuesday, and vice versa.

    When I worked, I never went near the clearance rack- not so much because I didn’t think there would be anything good there, but I just didn’t have the time to dig/sort through it! Not the case anymore. I usually wear the ‘clearance finds’ or clothes that were less expensive (but still cute) during the week, and the more “upscale” items on the weekend. But I love this way of looking at it… why not invest and spend a little on what you wear most?? (as long as I’m fully armed with Tide pens) :)

    A great post… and I’m a big believer in doubling up (my super-chic cousin looked at me like I was crazy when I did this in her presence).

  • Torrie @ a place to share...

    September 7, 2011 at 9:52 am

    thanks for reaffirming that I am not in fact “crazy” :)

  • whoorl

    September 7, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Amanda, I had such high hopes for the Minnie pant! So many people love them so much, but for some reason, they taper strangely on me. :(

    If anyone else didn’t have luck with the Minnie, might I suggest these pants from Gap? I love them!


  • Neda

    September 7, 2011 at 10:27 am

    I love your advice (and I need to take it)! I have been slowly getting over my Saturday night shopping addiction…I’ve been buying “nice casual” clothing so I can wear them to the office and switch out accessories and shoes and look decent enough for the weekend. Sometimes it works, sometimes I feel like I look boring on the weekends. It’s a work in progress! :)

  • lucy s.

    September 7, 2011 at 10:37 am

    great advice. i need to remind myself of this more often.

    ps – you look super pretty in each photo!

  • whoorl

    September 7, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Neda, it’s definitely a work in progress! That’s why I truly find myself spending the majority of my shopping budget on accessories. That way, I can always change the look of an outfit.

    Lucy S. – thanks for the compliment!

  • steph

    September 7, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Looks 4 & 7 are my favorite! :)

  • Kristin

    September 7, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    I have two rules:

    Buy things that I can wear to work and will also double for out-of-work.

    Buy colors I don’t already have a lot of. Like, don’t keep buying green if my closet is already full. If I like a certain style, I just try to find it in a different color (but still colors that are pleasing with my skin-tone).

    I like buying for Saturday night. I like having fun while shopping, but honestly, there are times I come back from shopping with a bag full of khakis. That kind of makes me sad when I do that. So boring, but you have to do it!

  • Sarah

    September 7, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Fun ideas…thanks for sharing the sources, especially the scarves. The Epice (sic) is gorgeous. (p.s. My name is Sarah, and I am a scarf junkie.)

  • DeAnne Olguin Williamson

    September 7, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    This hit some serious home. I literally just bought these fabulous leapard print wedges and have nowhere to wear them! And on Tuesdays, I got nothing. Man, I really need to take this to heart. Clothes for Tuesdays. My new shopping goal. You are so right. Those wedges will never work at the park on a play date.

  • Siera

    September 7, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    I enjoyed this Vlog! If I can figure out how to do audio only I will. You say route the same way I do. Caramel is way different. This could be fun. It’s funny as soon as I get across that border into from BC into Washington state major accent change. It’s funny what a few miles will do to an accent.

    Guilty as charged for Saturday night shopping. I don’t really have any rules per se but am leaning towards just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean I need it. I have done this at Ross quite a few times in the last year with jeans. Sure the jeans are $15 doesn’t mean they will wear well. I have a few sitting in my closet. One rule I have is if I’ve been eyeing for a year, its there, fits and looks good then I need to get on it like white on rice. I did this with a pair of boots this weekend. I was all gung ho to wear them to work this week and then summer decided to finally show up and I’ve been living in skirts.

  • Siera

    September 7, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Oi. Please ignore the top paragraph. It was meant for another blog. I’m too tired to keep blog comments straight.

  • Rebecca

    September 7, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    just bought all 3!

  • Angella

    September 7, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    You really are the prettiest!

    I buy for Saturday night/Monday morning. A lot of what I wear out I can also wear to the office, which is nice.

    I do need more pants in my life (I hate my thighs, so stick to skirts and dresses). Pants are on my fall shopping list.

  • Ashley

    September 7, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    You may have just changed my shopping life with that first point!!! I love the “pretty” or the “sexy” and then never wear it…maybe I’ll work on that one. Also, I LOVE to buy in bulk, it saves time

  • Miss Virginia

    September 8, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Just bought all 3! YIKES…now sitting here biting my nails and hoping they fit. I LOVE they way you styled them and need to go buy all your tops and shoes and accessories, too! I think this should be a regular post…”what I’m wearing today”

  • Katrina

    September 8, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Love the looks Sarah! Can I ask where the top is from in picture 4? So cute!

  • whoorl

    September 8, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Hi Katrina,

    If you click on the thumbnails of the outfits, all of the clothing info is underneath the photo. #4 is Forever 21, I believe.

  • Asha Dornfest {Parent Hacks}

    September 8, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    YOU ARE ADORABLE. Your look is imaginative but so easy and approachable. Boy, do I need someone to shop for me. The free Twitter t-shirt my husband gave me and the ill-fitting jeans just aren’t doing it for me.

  • Ami

    September 8, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    I’m so glad to hear a fashionista preach this point of view. I’d love to be more stylish, but when it comes down to it, I always choose comfy basics. It really is all about how you style them. Also, J Crew sale! Woo!

  • elz

    September 8, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Ok, I trust you. I bought two pairs. Tuesday afternoons I’m at work, which is why I have an AWESOME work wardrobe but relatively few items (like casual pants and shorts) to wear on the weekends. I’m bookmarking this page to see different ways to make casual pants work.

  • Kristen

    September 8, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    I am SUCH a Saturday night shopper. You make a good point about learning how to splurge on pants you wear every day. How can I spend [edited for embarrassment] on a little black dress I wear once a year and then not wanna spend more than $50 for everyday pants? Okay. It’s all clicking for me right now.

  • Kathleen @ Sugar and Spice

    September 9, 2011 at 4:14 am

    Saturday night shopping, extra guilty. Really Kathleen, that Nanette Lepore is Park/Playdate material? Your words now leapt of the post at me. Thanks for the “Tuesday” find, I bought two pairs. Damn that price was out of this whoorld. xo

  • Odds and Ends : whoorl

    September 9, 2011 at 7:30 am

    […] It seems from the tweets and emails and comments I’ve received, many of you will be rocking these pants soon. Since they were on final sale, I said a little prayer that they look smashing on all of you. […]

  • Amanda

    September 9, 2011 at 7:53 am

    Whoorl: Here’s my deal with the Minnie pants. When I tried them on last summer, the sales associate told me that, huh, I was the *one* figure the pants didn’t flatter. [shrug] [also: ?!?!] So, I didn’t buy the pants, of course. And nice sales tactic, dude.

    I went back this year and tried them again. This time, a diff’t sales associate suggested I go up a size (though I hadn’t gained any weight since last year’s try), and they worked. I think JCrew may have finessed the pant a bit in the last year. Going up a size and using a belt gives a better silhouette than staying at my normal size with no belt. Weird, but it works. HOWEVER, those Gap pants you suggest are cute and cheaper, so I’ll definitely be looking into them before throwing down more $ on more Minnies.

  • whoorl

    September 9, 2011 at 8:22 am


    Horrible sales tactic, for sure! Ha. I actually loved the look of the Minnie on me everywhere but the calf to ankle part. I have muscular calves and so the fabric would be stretched to point where it created an upside down triangle effect on the pants, definitely not the straight line they are supposed to look like. I need a little extra room there!

    Maybe I’ll try a larger size next time I’m in there. I’m just afraid they would be way to big in the waist/derriere. Oh, first world problems!

  • Kate the Great

    September 12, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I’ve found the balance between signature pieces and everyday wear–I buy jean capris and bright-patterned and colored T-shirts, but I buy them at thrift stores. If you can stand the slight smell of urine on everything, this is the place to get one-of-a-kind stuff. And I each item doesn’t cost over $50, or even over $20.

  • Rebecca

    September 20, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    Thank you SO much for this post. As a relatively new stay-at-home mom in a new city with very different weather (San Francisco to Austin), I have struggled with getting dressed nearly every day. Having 10 more pounds of baby weight to lose hasn’t helped either. I ordered one pair of the pants in a size for now, just to see how they would look. They made me look slender, a sight I haven’t seen since before baby #2. I’m going to tell all of my girlfriends who are in the same predicament. You look great in all of the images, too!

  • Five Jeans for Fall : whoorl

    September 26, 2011 at 6:02 am

    […] 2. J. Crew Matchstick in Classic Rinse Wash – Repeat what I said above. (Remember, I like to buy in “bulk.”) […]