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My #StyleDiary: Something old, something new (to me)

Recently, I spent some time out and about in the city visiting the kite exhibit at City Center DC and attending my second "Conversations with Claire" event. Besides the incredible shopping at City Center, featuring some of my fave designer stores like Louis Vuitton and Gucci, and the always inspirational pearls of wisdom Claire Sulmers has to share; what stood out to me about both days was the numerous compliments that I received on my outfits. I don't take any appreciation for my personal style for granted, but it definitely hits home more when the fashions I am wearing are not obviously designer/high-end. Mostly anyone can recognize a classic DVF wrap dress or the fun, bright, catchy patterns of Alice & Olivia. I expect a nod of approval from a fashionable friend when I step out in something fresh from the racks of Neiman Marcus/Bloomingdale's/Saks/Nordstrom . But on both these days I was wearing something me...also known as hand me downs or in my case swap meet finds. Read on for deets on each outfit...

I've had a love/hate relationship with this kimono. On more than one occasion it has found its way to a bag of clothes intended to go to a style swap or to a "this would look better on my daughter" pile. And yet, it somehow miraculously keeps finding its way back to me AND keeps ending up as a perfect accent to an outfit. This kimono is a good piece, caught on sale, that I never expected to be great. On this day, I added my kimono to a strapless black cocktail dress with a fitted bodice and a flared skirt. The same dress my daughter wore to her high school homecoming dance - in 2012. It is akin to death for a popular high school girl to ever repeat an outfit, especially one that was documented in pictures, and so, said cocktail dress ended up in my closet, only to resurface 6 years later as a head turner on the stylish sidewalks of downtown DC.

What tickled me about this look is that EVERYONE thought it was a dress! Nope - it's a top and skirt, both from h&m, neither piece new, but both are new to me. My close friend cleaned out her closets (yes plural) and one day when I was visiting she handed me a bag saying "I don't know if you'll even want these" while wrinkling her nose as if she were handing me a bag of old holey socks.

I didn't even bother to look inside the bag - knowing her style, I knew whatever was in there would work for me. I've worn the top twice, once to a Cherry Blossom event and more recently to "Conversations with Claire" held in Chinatown, DC at the Xfinity store, sponsored by Ubiquitous Women's Expo and hosted by Monique Rodriguez , founder of Mielle hair care products. Again, compliments GALORE and plenty of "Where'd you get that dress?" questions. I had to promise up and down that I wasn't lying when I said "it's a top and skirt" and "they are hand me downs".

So the moral of the story is, the next time you get an invite to a swap meet or a fashionable friend says she did a closet purge, don't be so quick to turn your nose up. Remember one woman's "old" fashion trash can definitely turn into a new to you stylish treasure. It's all in how you add your personal touch to it.

Happy swapping, hand-me-downing, or thrifting!

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