In Which I Wear Fall-ish Clothes

Back when I was asking for blog topic ideas in the spring, I was genuinely surprised how many of you wanted fashion tips or posts with outfit ideas. Which is funny because I am NOT a fashion blogger. Most of the time I don’t even feel like I’m a stylish person. My sisters are always raising their eyebrows (or out-rightly voicing an objection) and all my inspiration comes from magazines from the 70′s or random photos I find of people in different cultures. It’s pretty quirky, to say the least.

But hey, I do wear clothes and sometimes I wear fall-ish clothes, which is super convenient since it’s fall. So if you want to know what my five staples for fall are (don’t I sound official), scroll down.

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A great pair of jeans

First you have to figure out what a great-fitting pair of jeans means to you. Because they do not come one-shape-fits-all. My sister Hannah, for instance, rarely wears anything but dark wash skinny jeans. Have you seen me in dark wash skinny jeans? It’s not pretty. I need something looser. Higher waisted. I’m the one who will go for boyfriend jeans or wide legged 70′s cuts. Don’t follow denim fads. Just try on pair after pair until you find something you can walk in, sit in, eat in (gosh that’s so important) and feel confident in!

Something vintage

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of vintage. But it’s funny because I’m really not a retro housewife-in-pearls kinda girl. But the great thing is that, with vintage, you can be whatever kind of girl you want. You can don a sundress and pearl necklace, or you can pick up a 90′s floral dress in a thrift store and just rock it. These clothes that are so rich with history and stories take on a whole new life in your hands. I love wearing vintage at any point in the year, but the phrase “everything begins again in the fall” really has a meaning here. Vintage clothes, no matter how old, become new again on you.

Bright scarves

I refuse to believe that scarves are just for the preppy. Because I own about twelve of them and wear them every other day in the colder months. I’m visually drawn to things with color and texture, so even though I sometimes wear head to toe black or neutrals, grabbing an embroidered, batik, or hand dipped scarf makes me feel like I’m still covering myself with beautiful things. Remember the Ayu scarves I told you about? They’re great examples of how you can take one stunning piece of fabric and wear it close to your face. People will look at your face, feel the happy vibes, and have their days brightened because of it. I’m not even lying.

Big sweaters

Remember when you were a kid and you used to pull your arms into your sweater and say something like, “Hey look! I was attacked by a shark in a freak accident that left me armless!” and no one would believe you? Yeah, me too. I was missing sweaters big enough to lose my arms in, so this year I just decided to start wearing them again. Thus began my thrift store hunt and you’d be amazed how many giant shapeless wool sweaters you can find in Goodwill. In rad colors too that make you feel like a 1970s Ivy League student.

A wear-everyday jacket

For Hannah, it’s a trench. I’m not quite that classy but I was in desperate need of a lightweight jacket to get me through the in-between months. I had a brief affair with a fabric/leather motorcyle jacket for a good bit, but didn’t work with everything. And then, on one of the last days of summer, I stumbled across the denim jacket of my second grade dreams in the Gap. So much yes. I wear it everyday.

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 Well now you know what I’m wearing this fall. What about you?

-Rachel

Giveaway to Giveback: Ayu Sewing Project

Lately my ideas about fashion and style have really been changing. I used to be a “more is more” kind of person. But since coming home from Asia, I can definitely see a drastic change in the way I get dressed. After living for four months with only a handful of outfits, I learned to define what I love. To live on less. To choose carefully and wear things that are important to you.

I came home and gave away four trashbags full of stuff. And as my tastes change and my style evolves, I find myself wanting to spend money on things that won’t benefit just me.

That’s why I got so excited when I discovered Ayu Sewing Project.

A friend pointed me to this project, based out of Indonesia (where I’ve BEEN–isn’t that crazy??), that empowers women to provide for their families while staying at home and enjoying them. I read the stories on the website, about these women with their warm, soft hands that touch cheeks and pour milk and sew beads and lace around other fingers. I could scroll down and see every face. Read every story. As a story-oriented person, my heart tightened and then overspilled with love for these women in homes eight thousand miles from mine. I wanted to see life like they did. What would it be like to live on less than $120 a month? To keep the children home from school because you couldn’t afford to pay for a test? To go to a stranger for money because your baby was crying and you didn’t know where the next bottle of milk would come from?

I read the stories translated from their own handwriting and immediately went to my wallet and pulled out a huge chunk of my gift budget for the year. I then proceeded to order seven or eight scarves. Two for me, two for each of my sisters, colors and patterns for my mom and my best friend and even women at church. I didn’t know what to expect when I got them and opened the packaging, but I wanted to cry at the gifts in my hands. Photographs of the women who had held this fabric in their hands. Beautiful scarves stitched in the front rooms of brightly painted village homes, while kids played hide and seek in the alleys outside.

I knew this was something I wanted to share on the blog. So I contacted the lovely people behind the Ayu Sewing Project and asked if they’d be willing to do a giveaway for my blog. They emailed me back almost immediately and offered to send THREE scarves to my lovely readers! But don’t just sign up for a free scarf, you guys. Go to the site. Buy one for yourself. Buy one for your mom. Buy ones for your friends and sisters.

We spend so much money and time and effort looking nice. But for what eternal value? Whose lives are changed by the Target sweater you’re wearing? What will your Old Navy boots mean to someone else in fifteen years?

This is important to me. This is a way–a small way, almost tiny enough to cup in the palm of my hand, but a way nonetheless–to make a difference. To invest in a person, not a company. To place money in the hands of women and families with lives and futures.

Ayu is the Javanese word for beautiful. Not just because of the rich batik silk. Not because of the white smiles against tan faces. Not even because of the lovely concept of empowering women in another country.

This is beautiful because God filters all this through His hands. Because something as simple as a strip of silk wrapped around your neck can put milk in a bottle and pencil lead on a test paper. We give not because of what we think we can do, but because of what we know He is capable of doing. It’s beautiful and grand and humbling that the dollars we skim off the top of our paychecks can fill the gaps in someone else’s life.

I’m excited to give away THREE Ayu scarves this week. My family and friends are already enjoying theirs, and I hope you’ll get your hands on a few scarves as well.

HOW TO ENTER:

1. Comment! Tell me what giving back means in your life.

2. Additional Entry: Like both Rachel Coker and Ayu Sewing Project on Facebook

3. Additional Entry: Share my image about the giveaway on Facebook

3. Additional Entry: Pin any of these images onto Pinterest with a description linking back to the giveaway

4. Additional Entry: Go to Instagram and share my image. Be sure to tag me in your description!

5. Additional Entry: Tweet about the giveaway! Be sure to tag me @rachelcoker3

 

Comment after you’ve done each of these things so I know how many times you’ve entered! (Note: The three scarves pictured are NOT the three scarves included in the giveaway. When the winners are announced, I will email photos of the three scarves I have and you can choose which scarf you’d like on a first-to-choose basis)

Once again, please don’t let your involvement end here. Go to www.ayusewingproject.org and order a scarf or two. Wear them proudly this fall. Give them as Christmas gifts. Use them as a conversation starter to explain why you care about people and want to love the way God does. They will take 4-5 weeks to ship from Indonesia, so be sure to order them soon!

The giveaway will be open now until Friday at midnight, then I’ll announce the winners on Saturday!

-Rachel

Put Some Spring in Your Step

Most of you know by now that my sister Hannah is the designer behind Hannah Everly Designs. For two years now, she’s created custom-made skirts (and bowties!) for women all over the country through her little online shop. I’m just going to admit that it’s pretty amazing to have a designer for a sister (and my closet would prove that to you), but it’s even more fun to work as her photographer and help her put together lookbooks for her new collections each season!

She just launched her Spring 2014 line, and even I can’t believe how amazingly beautiful this collection is. We shot it in historic Yorktown, and people were literally rolling down their windows and staring as the girls walked by. These skirts are that pretty. Honestly.

You can buy any of these designs in my sister’s etsy shop, and she will make sure that it’s custom made to your waist and height measurements! It doesn’t matter how tall or short, big or small you are. You have the opportunity to embrace your femininity and enjoy a little beauty in life. So embrace it!

So which skirt is your favorite? What would you pair it with?

-Rachel

Please Wear Color

If I have even the slightest awareness of my audience, I’m guessing that a lot of you are girls. And if you’re girls then you probably, like me, have put a lot of thought into what you wear and how you dress. Because as a young Christian woman in the world today, it can be so hard to figure out what to wear! I remember breaking down and crying in Kohl’s when I was about thirteen years old because I couldn’t find any skirts that covered my thighs or tops that reached my belt. Everything was just too short, too tight, and too uncomfortable. And even though my style has evolved over the years, I still find it just frustrating to find cute clothes that actually cover me up!

That’s why I was absolutely over the moon to receive an email from one of my favorite stores, DownEast Basics, asking if I was interested in becoming their January stylist. In case you haven’t heard of DownEast Basics, I just have to let you know how much my sister and I have benefited from their online shop. I get their catalog in the mail, and I’m always drooling over the beautiful bright clothes. I’ve bought several miscellaneous things from them throughout the years (they have amazing sales) and I couldn’t wait to see what was in their January catalog!

Being a stylist was basically the funnest job ever. I got to look through the catalog and pick out lots of my favorite items and show how I would style them!

I kept pinching myself the whole time like, “What? This is me? I’m a stylist? What kind of parallel universe have I entered?”

The most amazing part was that DownEast Basics sent me a gift card as a thank you and I was able to get some really beautiful pieces for this spring! I let my sisters and my mom each pick out sweaters (they are definitely sweater people) and then I used the rest of the money to get myself a few new things. Let me tell you, you can’t beat these prices. My money stretched so much further than I was expecting.

My style philosophy, like so many other aspects of my life, is to embrace color and beauty. I want pieces that are bright, classic, and comfortable! I love the concept of being a modern-day Audrey Hepburn (or maybe not–what did she weigh, like seventy pounds?) and being able to go about my everyday life with class and elegance.

{wearing this amazing eyelet pencil skirt–can’t even get over this shade of orange}

{even my sister Hannah agrees–every girl needs a little striped dress}

{introducing the world’s largest bag of chocolate chips and the world’s comfiest maxi skirt, which I’ve seriously been wearing all day since it’s ten times better than pajamas}

{and my new favorite striped top which goes perfectly with happy or dramatic faces and must be worn with lipstick — Revlon’s “Love that Pink”, to be specific}

I guess you could say that finding good clothes at a good price makes me pretty happy. I mean, how could you not have a good day when wearing a hot pink striped top or an aqua maxi skirt? It just seems impossible to me.

I really hope that this post is an encouragement to those of you who are on the hunt for cute modest clothing. I really don’t feel frumpy at all and neither should you! (Oh, and for those of you who are asking about swimsuits… DownEast Basics sells those too)

Check out the whole feature on their blog here and maybe even check out the site and let me know what you think! I’m not making any money off of anything you might buy. I’m just curious to see what you like!

-Rachel

{P.S. Please let me know if you liked this post and if you might be interested to hear me talk about some more of my favorite sites or brands in the future! Your feedback is very helpful}

Say Yes to the Dress

Growing up, I’m pretty sure I had the most convoluted sense of style ever. My outfits were beyond cringe-worthy. I’m talking terry-cloth sweatpants with Aeropostale hoodies kind of cringing. All I wanted to do is fit in with everyone around me. I wanted to blend. To disappear into the swarms of teenagers surrounding me.

But then, somewhere along the way, I changed. I realized that I actually hate sweatpants. And hoodies. And so, I threw all those things away. I went completely cold-turkey, a fact that shocks me even to this day. And I decided to only buy clothes that I love, even if that meant waiting a while to figure out my style and what makes me happy.

It was a long and slow process and I had very few clothes for a very long time. At the time, I didn’t know anything about style and didn’t even know who’s style I wanted to emulate. I was slowly beginning to enjoy more old black-and-white movies and books of poetry. I wanted to look like Ginger Rogers and Grace Kelly. Romantic, soft, and pretty. I loved the flair of their ruffled tops. The swing of their sweeping skirts. I wanted to look like that, no matter what the year was.

I remember the first vintage item I bought. It was a full red skirt, with a big ruffle on the bottom. Probably originally intended for square dancing, I decided to make this my Rita Hayworth moment. I started pairing it with white lace tops and cropped cardigans. Roses in my curly hair. I wanted to look like the beautiful Cuban women in old black and white films and I didn’t really care who noticed. It was fun! Getting dressed was an adventure. With my red ruffled skirt I could be a feisty senorita one day and a rockabilly teenager the next.

For the first time, I genuinely enjoyed the process of getting dressed. Of wearing skirts and dresses. I sought out more vintage clothing, or even just pretty clothing in general. I loved feeling swishy skirt fabric swinging against my legs. I liked spinning. I loved dancing. I know it sounds silly, but I just felt happy.

For years, I literally wore nothing but dresses and skirts. Not because I was legalistic. Not because I was worried about being more “modest” or even super “feminine”. I kept my old pair of jeans for if I needed it. But I found that so many things were not only easy, but more fun to do in skirts! It wasn’t something I tried to push on anyone else. It was just one little thing that made me happy. I enjoyed wearing dresses.

I’ve had a lot of you comment before and tell me that you love wearing dresses, but that you just don’t know how. Or that you like the idea of being carelessly feminine, but you’re afraid of what people might say or think. To be honest, people will think you’re weird at first. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked, “Where are you going?” or “Why are you so fancy? It’s just a barbeque.” Those are just comments you’re going to have to deal with. I’ve learned to just shrug and say, “I just felt like wearing a dress!”

Remember that you don’t owe anyone anything. You never signed a waiver to say that you’d always be dressed a certain way. There’s no one forcing you to wear jeans or sneakers! The way you dress is one of those few privileges in life that will almost always be entirely up to you. You can choose to blend in, or you can choose to stand out.

At the end of the day, wear dresses because you like feeling pretty. Wear dresses because you enjoy being different. Wear dresses because you’re a romantic, or a poet, or a dreamer. Wear dresses because it makes you happy or cheerful or just plain smiley.

Or, wear pants for all those same reasons.

Say yes to dressing in a way that brings you joy and that points others to Christ. That’s all that really matters!

{If you’re interested in seeing more of how my sister and I dress, I’d encourage you to check out our fashion blog, shesaid{shewore}. We stopped posting for a bit in the fall, but we are back and with more skirts and bows than ever!}

-Rachel

“It’s Never Inappropriate to Be Fabulous”

I have a confession. I’m a major hat person. Like, I’m probably one of the few Americans who watched the Royal Wedding three million years ago (wait–was that only three years ago?) and actually swooned over all the crazy fascinators. I just don’t get what isn’t amazing about having a fuzzy, fluffy bright pink ball on your head? Honestly, people.

But then… There’s vintage hats. And suddenly we’re talking about a whole new class of amazingness. Those berets, cloches, and fascinators? Yep. They really do it for me. And the more I browsed Pinterest, the more I longed to be that girl who could look absolutely stunning in a grey wool beret while walking down the aisles of Walmart. Or who could throw a straw boater on her head one sunny afternoon and go boating down the river with her girlfriends.

The more hats I saw, the more I really wanted “that kind of girl” to be me.

My ultimate moment of envy and weakness came when I stumbled across the swoon-worthy shop Poppycock Vintage. And I laid eyes on this little number.

Um… Yes. Hot pink? Check. Bow-like topping? Yes. Fluffy pink netting? Oh yes. I was long gone. I really, really wanted a hot pink, bow-like little hat with fluffy hot pink netting. But I knew I could never pull it off.

Because I am a reader (and because I was now strangely obsessed with this new shop), I started going through the archives and drooling over all the completely un-wearable hats. Green felt fedoras. Pink wool berets with big felt flowers. Black fascinators and argyle bucket hats. Basically, my dream closet right at my fingertips.

Curious about the woman who owned this wonderland of vintage toppers, I clicked on the “about page” and started reading about the shop. “Get ahead? Get a hat!” the absolutely adorable (and very red-headed) Ashley Webb wrote. “I’ve had more people than I can count contact me to say that they love hats and want to wear them, but they ‘just can’t pull off hats.’ Nonsense! It’s all about finding the right hat.”

I felt a little sinking hand raising in the pit of my stomach. Ummm… That was me. That was me who said that. Sorry.

“These days,” Ashley’s write-up continued, ”Most people have the mindset that wearing a hat is reserved only for old ladies at church or for an event like the derby. They’re viewed as flamboyant pieces, worn only for special occasions. But who says all hats are flamboyant? Who says you can’t wear a hat to go shopping, or to school, or on a night out? If you put that hat on, and you look amazing, who cares what the social norm is?”

And then came the words that completely rocked my world and changed my perspective on life, liberty, and justice (or maybe just hats).

“It’s never inappropriate to be fabulous!”

And bam. That did it for me. I went out and bought a hat. And then another. And then a couple more. And all of the sudden, I was wearing vintage hats. (Want proof? Check this out. Oh, and this. And this) And yes, I’m sure it’s strange to some people. I’ve been given more than one strange look at the grocery store. But you know what I finally realized?

I can go my whole life worrying about what other people think about me, or I can just be fabulous and get it over with.

So I’m a hat person. Big deal. I also like bright colors. And shoes with bows. And coral lipstick. And you know what? I’m pretty content with that. I enjoy wearing vintage dresses to Walmart and orange suede heels to parties and brooches in the shape of lizards. I enjoy being myself, and I think that if everyone just enjoyed life a little bit more, they might find themselves to be a little bit more fabulous too.

-Rachel