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12 Strangely Useful New Fashion Obsessions


First off – this is NOT a post about cute outfits, no, it’s a post about certain things that I’ve purchased lately that I’ve found VERY, VERY useful to wear. So useful, in fact that I have told everyone I know and feel the need to tell you. So from one girlfriend to another, here are some strangely useful new obsessions of mine. Some are boring (but SO necessary) and some are just plain awesome.

Emily Henderson_Fashion_Affordable_GoTo_Essentials_Roundup

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1. Navy Light Down Jacket This folds up into a bag the size of your fist, weighs zero pounds and yet is so very very warm and cozy. I’ve been wearing it every day and I know that it’s frumpy but it’s also so easy and light. When I went to the flea market the other day at 6am I was freezing but I didn’t want to have to slug around a huge cardigan amongst my other wares once it got warm. This guy was so perfect. Light and so functional. It’s $70 which I don’t think is too bad, either.

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2. Charcoal Slip On Sneaker I’ve developed a serious obsession with all things Dr. Scholls. I’m not sure if they rebranded or not but stop spending $200 on Vince sneakers, folks, because these guys are so comfortable, so stylish, so affordable and they give you at least an 1 1/2″ of height. I have 3 pairs of their shoes and will continue to buy more (sometimes they are on sale for $50 and they are real leather).

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3. Crop workout Leggings  Every time I wear these, which is every time I work out, people think I’ve lost weight. It’s just the pants. They hold you in far more than any of my plethora of Athletic brand workout pants. I wear them for yoga, running, and around the house. They don’t cut in at your waist nor roll down and let your tummy fall out. They are wonderful.

4. Black Leather Carry All Tote We all have good totes that are lovely to look at, but I often find their proportions wrong for either over the shoulder or cross-body. This one, by a very lovely couple who started Parker Clay, fits perfectly on my shoulder without me having to struggle to get it up there, and is big enough to store my laptop sideways, but not so huge that you can still wear it for dinner. It’s the perfect size, shape and color.

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5. Olive Fedora I’ve owned a lot of fedoras in the last couple years. Some of them WAY too expensive and some of them affordable, but those lose shape immediately. This one is my every day fedora, which a couple of my friends have, too because it’s so great. It looks good with everything, it doesn’t lose its shape, and while it’s not cheap, I think that $80 for a good high quality hat is a decent price.

6. Khaki Short Trench Coat  Not sure if you heard but LA turned into Seattle this year and many of us were totally unprepared. This is the one thing that I didn’t buy, only because I bought #9 instead and it was expensive, but I wanted to give you an alternative for a great rain coat that I love, for every day purposes.

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7. Jeans I was part of the generation where jeans went from being $50 to $250. Remember when 7 for All Mankind came onto the scene and all of a sudden we were told that in order to get good jeans that made your butt look good you had to drop serious cash? Well, I have done that and while some are totally worth it (I LOVE Frame and J brand) I have found myself a snob for jeans that aren’t from a denim company. But as you know I go to Target A LOT and I tried these guys on was shocked at how wonderful they are. They are SO VERY VERY GOOD. I wear them all the time, they are super flattering, comfortable (they don’t cut in at my waist) and they stretch out as much as fancy jeans – you have to wash them like every 3 wears. Not bad for $28. They are actually my go-to jean of choice right now.

8. Carmel Mule I haven’t received these yet in the mail – they are new, but man do they look like a way more comfortable, way cheaper Rachel Comey Clogs. But listen, you are talking to the girl that literally got married in Aerosoles (they were nude leather and so god damn comfortable). When is Dr. Scholls going to hire me as their spokesperson??

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9. Navy Raincoat On day 19 of the LA rains I realized that maybe this is just the new Southern California, and maybe I need to buck up and prep for it like a responsible adult. My friend, Suzanne, had this coat and convinced me of it. As a fellow Pacific North-Westerner she knows rain, she dislikes umbrellas (me too), and she told me that while it’s an investment, it is the only raincoat you’ll ever need for the rest of your life. That’s compelling. Up until this point I haven’t had a rain coat because I was promised sun in exchange for insanely high cost of living. But no sun, just rain, so I need to either move back to Portland or get myself a rain coat. Done. GAH I just saw this Pale Pink One!!! I stuck with the navy just because if it’s going to be my lifetime raincoat I want it to be timeless, but man that pink one is cute.

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10. Rain Boots Most of what I said up there is true for these, too. What I love about these is that they are super light, not huge and still classic (and affordable).

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11. Black Clog What, my sloggers? This was the first of four of these things that my friend convinced me to buy. These are the perfect backyard slip-ons and no, they aren’t crocs. If you need to ‘let the dog out’ or ever walk the dog on a quick short one, these are worth the $25. Brian even bought some. We leave them by the back door and slip the on and off all day long.

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12. Madewell Jeans: Both of my best friends in LA SWORE by these jeans, all ‘Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants’ style. So I tried them on and indeed they are absolutely essential. Are they the most flattering pants i’ve ever worn? No, but they are pretty darn flattering for how comfortable they are. They have a higher waist that says, ‘I don’t have a 2-baby pooch,’ plus they have that frayed crop bottom that says, ‘I can still hang with the millenials.’ Stretchy and comfy with an edge. See? An everyday pant.

Other things you may have seen here that I didn’t include in the essential list because they are too expensive and more fashion-y than ‘essentials are: 1. Rachel Comey booties, 2. The Great Khaki swing jacket and that navy wool baseball cap – which I can’t find online. Sorry!

So ladies, please dish … what are your secretly kinda boring but essential fashion purchases that we should all have???

Fin Mark


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For me (in Michigan) it’s the knee-length puffy coat with fur-lined hood. I got one on sale from Lole three years ago and it’s still going strong and worth every penny.


Emily. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being one of the last remaining bloggers with whom I can still identify. Thanks for showing me real pictures of yourself, your home, products you love that I can actually afford to buy. And while much of your life is still unattainable to the majority of us I still feel like you get it. I appreciate you. And while I have gotten off most social media and unfollowed many blogs because, frankly, I can’t look at one more perfectly styled outfit or house fit for a millionaire only, your blog still has me coming back for more. Don’t stop doing what you are doing Emily. Oh and I am also certain we would be friends if you lived in indiana. ??


Yes!!!! Emily out are the BEST EVER




Agree – You are the best ever! !


Yes, agreed, thanks so much for this real life post. I love your hi-lo clothing style and your California design style. I life in NorCal, and so many of your ideas resonate with me. Your style is attainable, especially the mix of flea market, Target, expensive style, vintage, etc., always with that light, sunny, bohemian California spin. I have discovered my own take on it for our (70s suburban) home in San Jose, and it works so well. I totally second that little puffy coat, the perfect piece of clothing for a California winter. Thanks again and have a wonderful rainy LA weekend.


Yesss! High-five, Kate and Emily!


Totally agree!! And hi to a fellow San Jose resident 🙂


YES YES AND MORE YES! Thank you for being down to earth, funny, and relatable.

And on another note, as a fellow Angeleno, I love hearing your commentary on our crazy city 🙂


YES! I so agree! Thank you Emily!


Love this post! My staple item is my sheepswool lined LL Bean boots. A total staple here in southwestern Pa. since they transition from snow to cold slush because they’re water proof but they are so iconic and not at all bulky that they still look cute.

Monica Stone

Wow, I haven’t ever been even one of the first 100 commenters on this blog, I don’t think. I’d be self-conscious about that if this weren’t my favorite post about clothes so far! I’ve looked up over half of theses items already. The bag is the piece that I am most in need of and the link in the post seems to be broken – but I found the Carry all on the website:

Thank you for this basics roundup!


Those Dr. Scholls shoes are surprising. I’m kind of loving all their new stuff. And the fact that you shared Target jeans and shoes under $300. I appreciate the balance of it all. Have a great weekend Emily!


I’ve been living in these LL Bean Polartec fleece-lined leggings this cold New England winter. They are more comfortable (and stretchier / no camel toe!) vs. pairs from North Face, Champion, etc. Perfect for lounging around the house and warm enough under a shell for snow/sledding. Highly recommend!


First off, you’re so CUTE! Are you wearing the leather mules in one of those gifs? I’m trying to get an idea of how they look on? Thanks, girl!


Gah! Just saw that you haven’t received them in the mail. Sorry ’bout that!


My new favorite house shoes: Oofos! Not very stylish but super comfy! They feel wonderful after wearing heels all day. I have the clog version but they also come in slides.

Re: Jeans, I have recently discovered Topshop jeans! The high-rise Jamie jeans on first glance LOOK about 2 sizes too small, but then they magically stretch to fit, are super thick and slimming, high waisted, and NEVER stretch out. I have been amazed.


Ooohhhhh I hope someone answers this:
For bohemian office, did you switch out the lampshade from the west elm, floor lamp?
Also, do you think I could get away with the target version?


Here in the mid-Atlantic, we have stolen all of LA’s nice weather this year. Last year, we got SO MUCH SNOW. But this year, more days January thru February have felt like fall or spring than like winter. So much so that it’s almost scaring me since I should have to wear a jacket in January, right? And yet, one day it was 70F, and many afternoons I’ve had to eschew my jacket. (Normal winters here have me in full parka mode by December).

I would love a link to the plaid shirt in the GIF – it’s definitely an item I could use here.

Sarah Beth

I bought a pair of Mossimo jeans after I had my baby and wanted some non-maternity pants, and I totally agree that they are EXCELLENT. I think I have the same ones, just not distressed, and I wear them constantly. Those post partum ones are too big now (but I still wear them, bc they feel great) but I’m honestly considering getting another pair in the right size. So good at any time, but especially in that immediate post-partum time when you don’t want to spend $100 but you really want to look great and show off your butt and finally get back into pants with a real waistband.


Lands End Down Vest – They make the generic puffer vest with cute patterns that are unique. They have a fleece lining and the down is so lightweight and comfy. You can put on the vest over cleaning/around the house clothes and run out looking like an actual person who cares about presenting them self. Or you can just wear the vest with real clothes to work etc. and look cute and interesting. I LOVE mine. Down might be a little much for LA but you have the down coat already… I also love vests because you can wear them for most of the year – you know…no sleeves:)


I have recently fallen in love with vests in general, and i’m a little bit sad that I have spent the last decade without knowing how perfect they are – time wasted! (My life story on coffee is exactly the same.)

I’ll check out the Lands End b/c “unique pattern” is my cup o’ tea!


Why do you feel it necessary to curse?

Spare me.

Why do you feel it necessary not to?


Nice one! I for one LOVE that you curse Emily! To me it shows that you aren’t afraid of what people think (you can think for yourself) and makes you very relatable. I like that I curse like a sailor-makes life more fun, yes? In fact I remember the first time I saw you curse on the blog I laughed out loud and thought, “She is so my tribe!” I have come to rely on your blog as inspiration while I am trying to redecorate our apt, however I have expensive taste and I am on a not-working-grad-student budget. I have always mixed high-low but now I have to. I am slowly redecorating our apt (like I buy 1-4 items every month).I have actually purchased some throw pillow at Target that you showed on your blog! I have always hunted for antiques and still love that and bringing in pieces that will make my house unique and not catalog-y. I have been into mid-century like you for a while now but I am now trying to move into mixing in some boho/scandinavian design. I tend to be all over the place design wise apparently – I don’t quite fit squarely… Read more »


Because it’s distasteful.


I have been looking for the perfect raincoat forever. Is the navy one very heavy?


I received a North Face rain coat for christmas and i LOVE it. (I think it’s the Venture 2 according to my amazon research,, but I can’t remember) I don’t get wet and it’s really lightweight. (and it has pit-zips. which, keeping it real, come in very handy on muggy-yet-rainy-days!). I also love that the hood is large, so it actually covers my head without completely smooshing my hair & has enough fabric to sort of “visor” over my forehead too if that makes sense.


I have loved your Rachel Comey booties for some time now! Thanks for letting us in on the Dr. Scholls secret! I am very loyal in love and life and speak nicely to my things (mainly my nearly 20 year old Honda) because I think it helps to appreciate them. My list includes UNICLO High Waist Skinny Ankle Jeans, they suck in everything, don’t lose their shape…ever and make crop tops look fashion-y and chic (they hit perfectly at the top of these jeans). While my sisters say I’m too young (25) be be a high-waist jean lady, these are chic and tailored enough for the office and as a petite but bottom-heavy lady they really bring out the hourglass shape and I never worry about bending over! I also pledge allegiance to ANY Sorel boot/shoe and my Mary-Poppins-esque Dooney Nylon Large Pocket Satchel (black with brown leather accents); it fits everything, looks brand new (after three years of daily abuse) and can be dressed up or down. You only need one bag if you have this baby. Also to be applauded, the Delsey, hard-side carry on spinner suitcase. Perfect sized, fits everything you need for a 4-ish day trip,… Read more »


I feel the same way about Danskos as you do about Dr. Scholl’s. You have to check out the more stylish ones – seriously my feet always hurt and I can now walk around showrooms all day in my Danskos. I think several of the newer styles have a Scandinavian style look to them.


This list makes me very happy 🙂 you might also be happy to hear that Madewell makes a much cheaper version of the Great Khaki Swing Jacket. I got it last week and LOVE it! On another note, I saw you at the rose bowl and was too shy/ didn’t want to intrude on your happy shopping to say hello, but I’ve read your blog for years, like way before the Glendale house, and still look forward to your posts each week ?


Also LOVE my Tretorn rain boots! I have the Elsa boots, rather than the Wings, but I love that they’re so much less heavy and clunky than normal rain boots, with a soft fuzzy lining. And WAY less expensive than those Hunters everybody else has.


I love my Barbour jacket. It eliminates almost every coat I had, and in NE Ohio, you actually need coats, jackets, vests, etc. And I love feeling half hipster half hunter. Seriously, I’ve worn it probably 200 days of each year for the last 6 years, including 2 pregnancies and it looks great, very patiny.


I bought the white Dr. Scholls sandals from a last fashion post and love them.

I’m bummed the capris here are Lululemon. I won’t patronize them. My Adidas ones are amazing, though, if you ever need a new option.

Gonna head to Target to try those jeans. I bet they aren’t stocked, though. Virtually nothing I see here is in the stores when I try to get it.


If you live in LA near 90036 they are in stock-I checked! 🙂 Happy hunting!


I just bought the #8 Dr Scholl’s mules at Marshall’s and they are AMAZING. So comfortable!!!


Hmmm. I’m more of a form girl than function. Which often leaves me underprepared. BUT you are looking extra cute in this post! ??

I used to be form over function, but then one day I wore a trench and rain boots when it was gross outside and I was SO COMFORTABLE. I never looked back! I mean, I do try to be cute and practical, but function is king now. Come over to the dark side. We’re really comfy over here!


What about the sweatshirt that you are wearing!? I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect grey crewneck sweatshirt!!


Yes! I would also like to know where you got that sweatshirt from!!


YES to that Uniqlo puffer jacket! It’s one of the most-worn things in my wardrobe in the past two years. I even bought my mom one for Christmas this year. On the subject of jackets, I would also recommend the Everlane Street Fleece Bomber, which I’ve worn constantly since I got it. It’s so easy to throw on over whatever, and the thick neoprene-like fabric is sleek, chic, and makes you look like one of those effortlessly stylish people who have minimalist capsule wardrobes.


I LOVE THIS POST! Thank you for the suggestions and for keeping it real 🙂


Keds Leather Crashback slip-on sneakers are my everyday shoes. I like the low-profile, fit true-to-size and the sole is sturdy yet pliable. And $60!

So easy to put on without hands since I’m usually wrangling a baby out the door!

Those dr. Scholls are awesome, too! Had no idea they updated…heading over now…


I practically live in a pair of flats from Payless – yes, that Payless. Hear me out: comfy, cute, affordable, and when I was pregnant they were one of the only pairs that fit my swollen feet towards the end that weren’t flip-flops. They’re from dexflex comfort, and I totally recommend them!


i love most all of these items–good round-up! question, though: in the photo, it looks like you cut off the bottom of the target jeans? or is it linking to the wrong item?


I was wondering that too. They don’t look like the same jeans, the pair from the link are more distressed. I would love the link to the less-distressed pair!


Here it is:

I wore mine for the first time today and I’m in love.


What a fun post! I have a best friend who similarly swears by Lululemon pants for getting the “have you lost weight?” query.

I have these crocheted slip-on slippers from White Noise Maker (on Etsy). We have hardwood floors and cats between the coldness of the floors in winter and the bits of litter tracked by the cats the bottom of my feet were gross and uncomfortable. The maker of the slippers puts a latex layer on the bottom. I’ve owned like 4 pairs now. I wear them daily through the winter.

And, I love the Tissue Turtleneck from j.crew. It drapes amazing. Keeps its shape after washing. Is comfortable fall-winter-spring. This year I bought the navy and caramel color.

My newest, comfiest fashion discovery is the Hush Puppies Cyra Catelyn. Found here:

I bought these to bring on a trip to Europe, after a long hunt for shoes that were fashionable, warm, water resistant and going to be comfortable after walking all day long. I wore these shoes for 12 days straight and they never let me down. And they’re so cute and come in a ton of colors. I seriously can’t recommend them enough. I now wear them 2-3 days a week.


I got those in the taupe color at the recommendation of another blogger I love (Karen at and I agree with everything you said. They are sooo comfortable, and really are waterproof!


pleeezzze do tell:what necklace r u wearing with the plaid blouse?
and,you look gorgeous!!!!


First time mom. Long time reader. I also live in L.A. Love the slip on sneakers (I’ve been wearing perf leather VANS). I always need a hand or two free and my latest essential is the refined nylon tote with cross body strap. I rarely use my fancier leather handbags anymore because leather gets so heavy and this rainy weather + toddler means potential damage.

Have been using this Longchamp Le Pliage with removable cross body strap. Its not too small or too big and I can take it to work, to the gym, general daily life!


Running off to buy both of those Dr. Scholls shoes….I literally have spent the past week searching for mules in the right height, so this is so perfect!

Kristen Davis

I want to know more about the black-and-white striped shirt from your Insta story !!! Where is it from? I LIVE for stripes!


Madewell has an almost exact replica of that (The Great) jacket right now!


I have many items that I completely rely on and reach for constantly so I appreciate your posting this!! I got a Zella waist-length lightweight (not bulky but slim) down quilted jacket in army green-(which is my fav color) and I LOVE IT SO MUCH! I am so glad I got it and I wear it almost every day! I too have found some gems at Target – I am so going to go and try on those jeans! Q: Is the butt pocket situation good in the back? That is my main complaint about jeans at Target is the butt never looks good due to the pocket size and placement. However the front looks so cute on you that I will make a trip to try them on! I used to love my Dr. Scholl’s in the 80’s!!! Glad they are making a comeback. Q: f you have the old school sandals-do they fit and feel like they used to be made? Some reviews of them said they weren’t? However, I am so ordering those charcoal slip ons! I may also have to try on the two jackets as well-love that trench at The Gap that you posted! And… Read more »


In # 9 and #10, you look totally Portland and not So Cal at all! Are you sure you haven’t secretly moved back?
Hey,, in Seattle today (where I live), it was so darn sunny in our south facing apartment, we had to close the blinds and open the slider to the balcony.



Emily, what is the sizing like in the Stutterheim raincoat? I’m a little confused by their Virtual Fit Guide because I’m a US size 10 and it’s suggesting I order an XS! Thanks! P.S. I also love Ilse Jacobsen, Joules, and Boden for fantastic raincoats.

Hi Lisa!
If you are looking at our Stockholm coat (which is the one Emily is wearing) we usually recommend women to size down one or even two sizes (especially if you’re usually in between sizes), as this is a unisex style, and the sizes are men’s sizes.
I hope this was helpful! If you have any other questions, feel free to send us an email at [email protected].
My best, Klara at Stutterheim


Not frumpy! Adorable and warm. Another great clothes post and I love how your readers help each other out and answer questions.

Super work word done by you .I really appreciate your work because its very helpful for us.


I walk my kindergartener to school every morning and home every afternoon with a two year old and nine month old in tow. We got POURED on today in the Bay Area. POURED. My new coat didn’t quite measure up and I spent this morning and afternoon damp and unhappy. So good timing on your post. I’m also a native PNW-er and refuse to use silly umbrellas-not that they’d of helped with the sideways CA rain today. I promptly ordered the green raincoat you linked to as soon as the littles were in bed.


I’ve been cutting back on shopping these past few weeks, but when I read this post I immediately bought two of the items. Oops. Ha! Thanks for the recommendations!


The Birkenstock Madrid sandals in black EVA (rubber) are amazing. Unlike traditional Birkenstocks the Madrid has a classic, timeless look. In the EVA, there is no breaking in period. I’ve had mine for a few years now, and they show minimal wear even though I wear them like everyday. I would buy these over and over again, but so far it doesn’t look like I’ll need a replacement any time soon.


YAY, Emily!!! Thank you so much for such a great fashion post while keeping the items on the more affordable side of things. I love your fashion posts very much but it’s sometimes been a bit of a bummer because I have fallen in love with things I just can’t afford. Thank you for keeping it real and reachable for more of us!! As a working Mama, I so appreciate it. Love to see ‘What I Wore’ posts return!! 🙂


Fun post to read. Cole Haan double monk oxford and the WATERPROOF (yay!) wingtip oxford. Tempted to buy some metallic ones, too. Wasn’t wild about white soles before I bought them but they don’t bother me anymore. Very comfortable. Pldm Footwear Savory booties, I bought in caribou and deep, love them. Someone else mentioned Lole jackets and I’m also a big fan. I find they run quite small so have always sized up one size but perhaps that’s not true of all their styles. Marmot Trina down jacket (actually a coat), flattering shape and a great navy color. Zipper is terrible and I will likely have to get a new one sewn in but I like it too much to care. Same idea as your shorter jacket but I like the longer length because it looks good with everything. Eddie Bauer Girl On The Go trench coat. Looked forever for something that has a flattering shape and is not so sporty that it looked discordant with less casual outfits. I have the insulated one and it’s versatile because you can remove the insulating layer when you don’t need it. Just looked on the website and it is very discounted this… Read more »


I love my Tretorn boots! I am now on my second pair, same style as yours but mine are a shiny navy. Also mine are fuzzy on the inside so makes them warm (since I live up north) and I can wear them in the shoulder seasons. The best 🙂

As a tall person who is not big on heels, I have many pairs of tall boots that I wear with tights and dresses, which is what I live in in the winter.

For active leggings, there is a great company called Coryvines (based on Montreal) that sells amazing full and crop leggings for less than Lululemon. I order them every few years and they last for ages.

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