Back when I was figuring what to call my blog, I eventually landed on Barcelos Knows for two reasons: I love a good slant rhyme and I’m known for being an insufferable know-it-all. While writing what you know is one of the oldest pieces of writing advice, I don’t know everything.
But you know what? There’s nothing stopping me (or anyone else, really) from writing about what I don’t know. In that spirit, I’m starting a new series on my blog: Barcelos Doesn’t Know. I’m pretty clueless about some things but I want to change that, one blog post at a time.
If you’ve known me for long enough, you know that my personal uniform consists of the following: a t-shirt, often of the quidditch or other nerd reference variety; a layer consisting of a hoodie/cardigan/button-down shirt, jeans, and one of the ten pairs of chucks that goes with the aforementioned shirt + later combo.
As much as I’m starting to hate the word adulting, that’s what I feel like my wardrobe is in need of. In spite of purging quite a bit of it before I moved, I still feel like I have too many clothes and not enough. Too much of the same look I’ve been wearing for the past decade and not enough of the more polished, Young Creative Professional vibe I’m trying to gravitate towards now that I’m in my 30s.
I also hate shopping. My mental image of myself froze at twenty-five, but I don’t look (or specifically, weigh) the same as I did six years ago. I keep looking at the same sizes and styles that fit me then. That means that clothes shopping usually starts with the best of intentions and ends with me trying not to cry in a fitting room because I’m convinced that I’m a fat, unlovable cow. Now, I’m obviously not an overweight, repulsive bovine. I just don’t know how to dress for the body that I have and achieve the look that I want.
While my office is pretty casual (working in Silicon Valley isn’t all bad), I still wanted to up my style game. Since I had room in my Young Creative Professional salary for it, I decided to pay someone to do my shopping for me. After seeing it float around my Facebook feed, I finally cracked and signed up for Stitchfix when my friend Sequoia was sharing her referral link.
My First Fix
Between filling out the style survey, being pretty clear in the note you get to leave to your stylist (in my case it was a more succinct version of the intro to this post), and linking to a Pinterest board filled with my #wardrobegoals, I thought I had a pretty good chance of getting a good box. Behold, my first fix:
I was definitely most excited about the blouse and blazer. They had the more polished look I was going for while still being as easy to wear as the t-shirt + layer combo that I tend to gravitate towards.
The pants gave me pause, as skinny jeans tend to do. Pants shopping is the fastest way to bury me in a pit of self-loathing. The thought of sinking into the depths of despair in my own home, a misery usually reserved for department store fitting rooms, was pretty demoralizing. I didn’t sign up for that. But once I tried them on, I went from trepidation to elation. I didn’t care how much they cost; someone had found skinny jeans that fit my not-so-skinny bottom half and I was gonna keep them forever.
The striped top and bangle bracelet felt more like afterthoughts. The shirt looked like other things I already owned while the bracelet was nice but not terribly exciting.
The box also came with cards with tips on how to wear the pieces inside. You won’t necessarily get a full outfit in a box, so they’re great for helping you figure out how to wear this stuff. It was also nice to hear from the real live human who picked out my fix and why she picked out these five pieces.
Day 1: Instant Outfit, Just Add Loafers
This was definitely the easiest day of this experiment. I wore everything but the striped shirt, grabbed a pair of blue loafers that I’d owned for years but hadn’t used much, and headed to work. Even though I’d only been at my new job for a few weeks, my coworkers instantly noticed the change. While their compliments were definitely a nice little ego boost, what I really enjoyed was the effect my clothes had on my mood. I looked like the Young Creative Professional that I wanted to be and my productivity that day ended up matching my look. I had a lunch meeting that day, and while I’m normally pretty nervous when I’m interviewed, I felt confident and authoritative.
Day 2: Print Mixing Mishap
I was determined to use the striped shirt to make full use of my box. However, I stumbled a bit. First, I tried to be a little more adventurous by mixing some prints. I had a pair of polka dot leggings that I liked but found hard to pull together into an outfit. I thought that mixing prints as long as they were the same colors would work out. Instead, I ended up feeling clownish. I also like the idea of a tunic/loose top over leggings, but the length of the top didn’t feel quite right, either.
I was already running late for dinner with my boyfriend’s family and had to get out the door. So, I traded the leggings out for something from my comfort zone: a pair of corduroys and polka dot sneakers. I tossed a denim jacket over it like the cards recommended but it felt like I had taken a step back after Day 1.
Day 3: Struggling with Stripes
Ugh, this was a rough morning. I went through three outfits before landing on something I liked. First, I tried on the striped top and blazer with a pair of mulberry slacks. It didn’t feel wrong, but it didn’t feel right.
I felt wide when I looked in the mirror. I ditched the stripes for a loose embroidered top but I still felt bulky.
I finally ditched the pants and went with jeggings and boots on the bottom. The loose top balanced with the closer fitting bottom half of my outfit finally felt right. It also rained that day, making the choice of closed boots over open loafers a practical choice.
Day 4: Thinking Inside & Outside the Box
I knew I couldn’t keep relying on the box forever… but I could use it as an inspiration. I had a floral scarf that reminded me of the blouse that came in the box except that it was a lighter shade of blue. So, I decided to build an outfit around it.
Days 5 and 6: Incorporating the Ravenclaw Aesthetic
I had a very magical month that included a trip to Hogwarts (I’m sorry, Universal Studios Hollywood) and a mini-shopping spree that left me with all the Ravenclaw wardrobe staples a girl could want and the need to incorporate them into my everyday wardrobe to justify the cost. It ended up being easier than you’d think!
Professora Elizabeth went to the Luso-American Education Foundation Conference at SJSU, so switching a Ravenclaw cardigan in for the blazer kept me looking polished and professional but still indulging in my favorite fandom.
Later that week I went out on a wifey date with Gina, so I swapped in a chambray button up for the floral blouse and pinned my Head Girl badge on my blazer for a dapper look that channeled Roger Davies (Captain of the Ravenclaw quidditch team and Fleur Delacour’s Yule Ball date, natch) more than Cho Chang.
Shameless plug: The labradorite earrings I’m wearing in both pictures are by my friend Megan of bird + bead and I love them. Photographs don’t pick up how shimmery they are! Feel free to support my fellow millennial in her side hustle if you feel so inclined.
Day 7: Stripe Success!
I finally figured out the damn striped top. I went with the pair of plain jeggings I’d worn on Day 3 and the blazer this time around and instantly felt more put together. The one drawback was that I went from Young Creative Professional to Soccer Mom if I took off the blazer, but it was cool enough that day that I didn’t need to take it off. You’ll have to settle for my bathroom mirror selfie for this look because I spilled coffee on myself at lunch and my striped top is currently sitting in my hamper.
Was it worth it this month?
It wasn’t cheap but it definitely worth it. Check out this price breakdown:
I’m not gonna lie; I cringed a little at the prices at first. I’ve been shopping at lower cost stores like Target for so long that I didn’t have a strong grasp of what clothes can cost. I certainly would have never paid nearly 60 bucks for a striped top that would give me so much trouble, especially since I own some fairly similar shirts. I liked the bracelet but not enough to pay 30 bucks for it.
But getting a nice pair of pants that fit me without having an existential crisis in a fitting room to find them? That alone was priceless. The blazer has become a regular part of my daily wardrobe because it instantly adultifies (I both love and loathe that word) any outfit I wear with it. The blouse doesn’t see as much use as the blazer and pants, but it is just the type of top I want to be wearing more of, so now I know to look for similar pieces when I shop.
Together, they cost about 225 dollars and I would have been fine with that. But I’m a sucker for a deal and keeping the bracelet (and the dreaded striped top too, I guess) cost me less than 10 dollars more. I made sure to rave about the three pieces I did love and share my ambivalence about the other two in hopes of getting a better box in March. (Spoiler alert: It arrived this week and I am 100% in love with it.)
One More Shameless Plug
I’m not sponsored by Stitchfix (even if being paid to write my blog someday is the dream) but I do get 25 bucks towards my next fix if I refer people, which is why I’ve sprinkled this link everywhere. If you feel like this mailbox makeover is for you, be sure to use my referral link. If you have any other things you’d like to see me try out or you have styling tips for a fashion novice like me, let me know!