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Break the Rules, Not the Bank: Poppin' Tags


Today’s post is an homage to an item in our closet that works overtime and a tribute to the trinkets that make its blue-collar work possible. While not the traditional idea of a blank canvas, denim button-downs have long been nudging the white blouse off the hangers of daywear’s go-to status, and today we take a moment to honor that.

When shopping, I often find that what catches my eye actually resembles pieces I already own. In fact, most of what I’ve bought this past year have been variations of the jean oxford—again and again, I chronically convince myself that each shirt is different enough from my others to spring for it.

For this post, I challenged myself to take only one such shirt and transform it eight times by offsetting it with a spectrum of lipstick shades from my makeup bag and a slew of cheap jewelry dug up at the proverbial "thrift shop down the road."

Each piece of jewelry below was bought for less than $25 from those wonderful, secret repositories: consignment shops, Goodwill, messy sale sections, and even pieces I've owned so long I rarely (or never!) remember to wear them.


01. Bought years ago at a consignment shop in Charlottesville, Virginia, this necklace is one I often forget to wear. I love colliding feminine, glittery pieces with cozy, worn-in fabrics—it hits a playful middle ground I feel most comfortable in.

02. I purchased these two beaded beauties at an Anthropologie sale. I like wearing both at once, winding them around each other—their color combinations are brought out and enhanced against the shirt’s soft blue chambray.


03. I found this necklace at a thrift store in Manhattan and anchored it to my shirt with a bird brooch (bought at Second Time Around in Boston). Seeing these two pearl-and-gold pieces in my jewelry box, I had a feeling they belonged together. Both are striking statement pieces in their own right, but by seeing their similarities and combining them, I created something no one else has.

04. I bought this silver collar at a boutique sale on the Lower West Side of New York. I was running an errand as an intern but made a pit stop along the way. . . . It was worth it. With its demure Peter Pan shape and metallic edge, this collar can dress up any ensemble, from blouses to dresses to run-of-the-mill cotton tees.


05. This is actually two necklaces in one: I bought the gold necklace with conch-shaped spirals at a consignment chain called Housing Works. The other is a bracelet from Goodwill. I bought jewelry wire from a craft store and basically sewed the two together using the bracelet’s clasps. The homemade double tier gives a polished-yet-still-bohemian feel. Sometimes when you know the look you want, you have to take matters into your own hands and make it happen.

06. A simple gold brooch can be hard to find, but discovering this baby at a rural antiques store in Virginia made it worth my search. Although usually associated with the elderly or characters in period WWII films, if used carefully, pins, brooches, and cameos can be great, modern ways to transform your daily ensemble.


07. The diamond studs on my collar are actually vintage earrings from the 1940s that were intended to screw onto your ears, rather than clip on or pierce through. Given the trend of studded collars, I figured, why buy tons of shirts like that when you can call the shots by attaching your own?

08. I found this colorful piece, one necklace masquerading as many, in one of the reject sale jars Anthropologie keeps at the register—you’d be surprised by the lonely little wonders people overlook. I love jewelry that is inherently silly and seems to make fun of itself. This pastel chandelier necklace is definitely one such comically formal piece. I can’t imagine it belonging with anything but a wrinkled denim shirt.

By pairing a quality piece of clothing in your closet with creative, inexpensive jewelry (and a splash of color on the lips), the possibilities for the wardrobe you already possess become exponential, as well as affordable. The important thing is to see it as a fun challenge, keeping in mind that the only rule to follow is that there isn’t one.