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Emily Henderson

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by Emily Henderson
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New Year, Old Me. This is the theme of 2020, now that we are 10 years into me putting myself out there and celebrating the blog’s 10 year anniversary. In conjunction two things are happening right now – I’m purging my closet and yet at the same time hoping to shift back into a wardrobe that is more colorful and fun, and random and weird. After years of chambray (due to having too many kids and not enough time), I’m ready to try harder with my wardrobe, take a few more risks and have more fun with color and pattern (while not necessarily purchasing anything). AREN’T MID-LIFE CRISIS’ FUN TO WATCH???

A good friend of mine, Jen Gotch, definitely uses her wardrobe as an expression of her creativity and every time we hang out I get inspired. It says something about her and if I didn’t know her already I’d want to get to know her. I miss wearing vintage and color, even if I do look less sophisticated and even a bit nutty.

So, I dug deep into my closet and found some old pieces, pieces from over 10 years and two of them are vintage so they are like 30 years old. I thought I was over them but kept them for nostalgia purposes because I wore them on DesignStar or Secrets From a Stylist. So the question became – do I even like these anymore? Are they dated or just ‘too young’? And if I do still like them (I do) how would I style them differently in 2020?

Let’s start with a Secrets From A Stylist staple…

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I remember vividly buying this dress. I was 29 and I bought it at American Rag for my birthday. It was $200, which was 4 times the cost of my wedding dress so it felt like such a splurge. But then I was like ‘wait, my wedding dress was only $60 so maybe I deserve to splurge a little on this’. I’ve joked before that if this career ever dries up I could have a ‘justification and rationalization hotline’ where you call and ask me how to justify a purchase. I wore it on DesignStar too and even through Elliot’s birth (it was a strangely good maternity dress).

I didn’t know if it was dated – but then I thought why? I still love blue – and this bright blue is making a comeback. I still love ruffles and this silhouette is one that I’m still very comfortable wearing (I love a deep V, large shoulders and more fitted on the bottom).

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So I paired it with my statement knee-high snakeskins and all of a sudden it did feel 2020. I’m shocked it’s still in such good shape and can see myself wearing it all the time like I used to.

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Onto another Emily Henderson classic. It’s another blue dress. Shocking I know…

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I’ve had this dress for almost 20 years. It’s from the ’80s and when I bought it at a thrift store I shortened it to make it more fun and youthful. I wore it on DesignStar (the first and the last episode- see below) and the photo above was my headshot on the blog (back when it was THE BRASS PETAL) for a while.

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When I threw on that dress a few weeks ago I was like ‘yes, I love this cheap bright blue, 100% polyester dress and always will’. I paired it with my western boots, shoved up the sleeves and I felt good and happy.

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The princess sleeves, color and ’80s vintage secretary vibe is indeed still me (I think).

Lastly, this ’80s red victorian number that I had so many headshots in:

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My hair is blonder, I have more brows (thanks to your help) and I’ve perfected the spray tan but I think my love of red, puff sleeves blouses is the exact same.

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This time I styled it with high waisted, straight cut light blue jeans (way better than the dark jeans) which dressed it down and modernized it a bit. It’s such a fancy costume-y shirt, so it needed something to make it less serious. Again I paired it with the pony western boots to take it into another direction (uptown prairie) and then matched my fanny pack for a cute, color-block moment.

I am trying to be more conscious of what I buy new in 2020 (and maybe you are too?). But we did want to give some similar shopping picks in case any of these pieces caught your eye, and you want something fun to buy now, so in ten years you can nostalgically pull them out of your closet and realize you still love them:

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1. Draper Ruffled Dress | 2. Balloon Sleeve Jacquard Skater Dress | 3. Ruffled Jacquard Midi Wrap Dress | 4. Moliere Tiered Tunic | 5. Bianca Dress | 6. Maternity Ruffle-Trim Wrap-Front Tiered Midi Dress | 7. Luna Corded Puff Sleeve Dress | 8. Wrap Dress 9. Rhiannon Dress

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1. Stella Shirtdress | 2. Kingsley Floral Snap-Front Shirtdress | 3. Cotton Shirt Dress | 4. Rochelle Shirtdress | 5. Long-Sleeve Striped Cotton Shirt Dress | 6. Floral Print Long Sleeve High-Neck Smocked Dress | 7. Petite Alex Spectator-Stripe Button-Front Long-Sleeve Shirtdress | 8. Tall Cotton Mini Shirt Dress | 9. The Cotton Shirtdress

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1. Sheer Ruflle-Trim Shirt | 2. Twyla Top | 3. Long Sleeve Satin Shirt | 4. Bow Polka-Dot Blouse | 5. Carma Silk Ruffle Blouse | 6. Double Ruffle Long Sleeve Deep V-Neck Top | 7. Chiffon Ruffled Flounce Shirt | 8. Eva Blouse | 9. Bow Satin Blouse | 10. Leopard Jacquard Pussy Bow Blouse | 11. Petite Mock Neck Bow Blouse | 12. Long Sleeve Collared Drapey Tie Neck Blouse 

Now, please comment below what pieces in your closet you’ve loved forever and cannot get rid of- and if you are still wearing them. I’d love to hear your stories xx

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  1. Thanks for sharing a blog post on reusing and restyling clothes. I appreciate that you shared items that are classic and have stood the test of time and that you shopped your closet Moving into the new year, I want to streamline my closet but am also conscious about the decline of fabric recycling. Thanks for showcasing a different but still fun way.

  2. You looked great in them then, but I think they look even better now! I too am trying to buy less in 2020 and it’s a fun experiment to see how to modernize things you’ve had for a long time. I had to laugh at the pics of the belted dress, that was THE thing to do and I have so many college pictures in this trend!

    1. Yes! I just cleaned out my closet and my sister and I were laughing about ALLLLL THE BELTS I haven’t worn since 2010. Just wait, now that I got rid of them it will come right back into style and I’ll be hitting up the thrift stores for them again.

  3. I. Love. Your. Fashion. Posts. !! You are a dang cutie and it’s so fun to see what you like to wear. Plus, it inspires me to look at my own closet differently and really consider what I enjoy putting on my body and why. Never stop!

    1. thank you so much 🙂 It’s like we all have these pieces in the back of our closet we’ve kept for a reason, so i’ve got to start wearing them. xx

  4. Oh my gosh I love this post! You look amazing in the clothes…even better than you did years ago! (How is that possible?!) This is all the motivation I need to start “souping”!

    1. thank you 🙂 such nice things to read when you wake up on a saturday morning. yes to souping!! i feel like its the only and best way to get so many vegetables into my body so easily. Brian is on it now and loves it (but his true passion is sandwiches so he peppers the in).

  5. I love this! You look so great in red. Never get rid of that top!

    I have a navy blue sheath dress I’ll never part with. It’s from Dillard’s and I wore it on one of my first dates with my now-husband when we I was 17. I’m 33 now but that dress is stretchy and ruched so it will always fit – it even made a great maternity dress during my twin pregnancy. And it doesn’t wrinkle, AND it’s office-appropriate with a blazer over it. But I keep it mostly because every time I wear it, my husband remembers 17 year old me and tells me how much he loves that dress. 💗

    1. that is so sweet 🙂 brian has the same thing with a couple vintage tshirts of mine that I’ve had forever (shockingly, he’s not necessarily that into the red top, although I still love it :))

    2. Umm…this is the cutest thing ever.

  6. Emily—you are even more beautiful now then you were in the earlier pictures—seriously! And the clothes look great on you. You can really carry off wearing those saturated jewel tones and not many people can.

    1. I agree! You looked great then but seriously look prettier as time goes on! Please write your tips on THAT!! Lol! Signed, slowly aging 😭

  7. Ah there’s nothing like an old favourite that still looks stunning. In 1986 I bought a designer coat in rust and black to wear over my Victorian style wedding gown. The gown was $800. We postponed the wedding for oh, 10 years…. but I thought he’ll I’m wearing the coat! It was a 40’s swing shape with exaggerated shoulders. I removed the shoulder pads, and still wear it with everything from velvet dresses and boots to jeans and a jumper….. I still love it. Best $400 I ever spent.

  8. Ooooo. Myyyy. Gerd. So exited by this. You look gorgeous and it’s so inspirational.
    I too have been going through my closet to “mix it up” and find some of the things I already have are so much better quality and perfectly fitting than something I’d buy/try new online. But!!!!! I don’t know how to style it. This helps so much.

    More Suzanne too please.

  9. I love how each person can take the same piece of clothing and make it her own outfit. I was totally expecting to scroll to your feet in the blue and white floral dress and see a pair of white tennis shoes!

    I pass my most favorite clothes on to my best friend who loves my hand me downs. It makes it a little easier than dropping beloved pieces at Goodwill.

    I have the hardest time letting go of statement shoes. There are many in my closet that I haven’t worn for more than a year. I’m working on wearing only comfortable shoes that won’t cause me back issues. Maybe this year I’ll finally bite the bullet and say goodbye to those beautiful and dangerous shoes!

  10. Such a fun and different blog post! We often think of our items from the 2010s as the tackiest right now. I love my mother’s maternity shirt from 1993 – it’s a navy and green smock flannel with a black corduroy collar.

  11. All great pieces, and a well timed article as I’m sure a lot of is are doing the “wardrobe clean out for the new year/decade” right now. FYI, as a non-American reader I had to giggle/blush at your use of the term “fanny pack” rather than belt bag, especially when you are wearing it over exactly the zone that the rest of the English speaking world thinks of when you use that particular f word…..

  12. I’m just blown away by the wild ride your last ten years have been. You straight up have iconic EH clothes. You are totally inspiring me to make some of my favorite outfits icons of my style and not just this year’s flavor. Ps, props to figuring out how to rock a face-framing ponytail. There’s a tutorial we all need!

    1. OMG. thank you! I didn’t even like it that day, thinking it was too flat and straight, but i liked it way more in the photos. thank you 🙂

  13. I like all 3 of these vintage pieces. The only thing I don’t like? Those green snakeskin boots. I just don’t like the color, or their tube-like shape. I must be missing a style gene, though, because lots of other people like them; I just find them really hideous. Sorry! I think a western brandy colored mid-calf boot/bootie would look much better with that first blue dress. Contrast the girly with the rough.

    Now the white snakeskin booties? I’m all in! They look great with that second blue dress and the jeans.

    1. HA. I don’t think they are for everyone, for sure. they are not subtle or simple in the least bit. so i get it (and no offense taken). I wear them ALL THE TIME, way more than I thought I would, so apparently they are doing something for me 🙂

  14. I love all these on you – particularly the red blouse, which I see you are now wearing with the collar turned “high” rather than “low” as you did in the older picture. It’s a fabulous colour on you too.

    But please don’t pose with one arm-across-your-middle-clutching-your-opposite-wrist anymore, there are plenty more poses that look so much better (many of them in this very post), and this one just makes you look nervous and insecure, when in fact you look great and should be posing with confidence.

  15. Where do you purchase all of your dainty gold necklaces, I love them!

  16. Sometimes you really do have to shop your own closet. This winter I had been shopping for a new long black wool dress coat and finding that all of them (at least the affordable ones) are made with a high percentage of synthetic fibers and not much actual wool or other natural materials. Then I went up in my attic and found a long black winter coat that I’d stopped wearing 10 years ago for some reason. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
    And it still looks great! Plus the tag of my old coat shows it’s lambswool & cashmere!!! It’s a shame that fast-fashion manufacturers have decided that only super-expensive coats are made entirely with lambswool and cashmere, and most of us these days get stuck wearing polyester-filled winter coats.

    I also found a great old blazer up in my attic, a dress that still fits, and a pair of pants I used to love, but had outgrown and now fit into again. So the lesson is: Look closely in your own closets/attic/basement/storage . before you buy,

  17. I remember all of these original looks, and I must say that they look fantastic in 2020!!! The first blue dress with the snakeskin boots is my fav!!!

  18. I loooove all three pieces. They don’t look dated to me at all which is the best part of thrift shopping!!
    I would love to see posts about you going thrift shopping for clothes. Both online and in person. Both real thrifty thrift stores and more high end vintage stores. This would be so fun and also so environmentally conscious!!

    1. I would love to do this for you (and me :)) The flea market (shoot, which is tomorrow) has amazing vomtage clothes… we were going away for the night with the kids but i’ll try to race back because I want to get lots of vintage there.

  19. Emily,
    Love this blog post. So cool that they look as good now as they did then by just adding shoes. I love your blog and have been watching you since design star. Why did you change the of the blog and how did you get a perfect spray tan. Mine are always splotchy as crap!
    Thanks thexglitterbox
    http://thexglitterbox.com/
    @thexglitterbox

  20. This was really fun! You did a great job. I need to review my wardrobe too and be intentional about wearing it so I don’t just grab the same five things.

  21. They all look better now than they did before! I’m just jealous you are the same size after all these years 😝
    More posts like this please!

  22. Umm I love this. These are such great pieces and honestly some of my favorite looks you’ve done — maybe it’s because you love the pieces so much that you’ve kept them for 10 years and you love wearing them? Regardless, great post! Happy 10 yearsssss!

  23. Love, love, love! I say yes to a come back of that bright blue. Love that color! The red top looks great with the jeans and boots. I’m going to be on the lookout for something similar at my local used clothing stores. I’m trying to buy more used and have had a lot of success. I also have 25 year old items I’ve pulled out of my closet and styled to feel current. I especially love wearing my older pieces, because they were made so well. I tended to buy fewer, better items 20-30 years ago. I’m trying to get back to that fashion philosophy. I think understanding your style is key, and you’ve definitely found what works for you, so it has a timelessness about it, despite also feeling on trend. I look forward to more fashion posts like this.

    1. Is this THE SUZANNR. name and comment indicate yes!

  24. *Love* this post – I am a fan of your fashion posts, but the re-use of old stuff you kept for inexplicable reasons (very relatable for all of us, I’m sure) is inspiring.

  25. You look better than ever! And yes to conscientious shopping, or not shopping!

  26. I am dying to know the brand of the pony western booties. They are so cute! Could I get the brand/style name if possible? I love the style posts.

      1. Thank you!!

  27. But what are the jeans? Is there a link for those? Love them!

  28. This fashion post is VERY helpful — many thanks for arranging for it.

  29. Please do more of these “shop your own closet” posts — I love seeing how you update these pieces, and I’m inspired to do the same. Reminds me of something I read recently: the most sustainable way to shop is …not to shop. But may I ask: in the new pics of the ruffled dress, you’re covering up the waist. Are you still belting, or is it an elastic waist? Do tell! Thank you!

  30. I remember all of these! Takes me back.❤️

  31. I remember many of these clothes.
    Secret of a stylist and the brass petal.
    Fashion come and go,
    But you always look like Emily
    And your Emily essence.
    That’s how you keep us engaged.

  32. I love that you hang onto your things. I do too and they’re timeless.

  33. I love that red shirt on you. Gorgeous.

  34. Good for you, not buying all new! These all work well. At the ripe age of (ahem), I am wearing clothes longer than I did 20 years ago. It’s great if you can pick out clothing and have it still be “you” 10-20 years later! You’ve grown prettier through the years!

  35. My main takeaway from this post is just how gorgeous you are, Emily! 40 looks good on you, girl! You of course were beautiful in your younger photos but you are aging like a fine wine.

  36. I love this! Seriously, what a fun post. I often lament having “nothing to wear” despite having a closet full of clothes. Thanks for inspiring me to shop my closet and remix what I already have. A win-win for the environment and my bank account. Would love to see more fashion posts about making the most of what we’ve already got.

  37. Great post, love how you restyled those pieces. You look amazing in red by the way- it makes you shine!

  38. You look fantastic — and fun! — in all of these. Brava! And CONGRATS on 10 years!

  39. I love the white and brown pony western boots! Where did you get them? I’d like to own a pair.

    Thanks!

  40. I love this post! I was a big SFAS fan! I couldn’t wait to see your fun outfits as much as your room reveals. Mid-Aughties style is still my favorite; I was both sad and inspired when you did a big closet purge a few years back to break up with your ‘sister wife’ phase. I am so surprised you didn’t feature your Emerson Made blazers! They were the perfect foil for the saturated hues and feminine blouses and dresses. Thanks for this fun, nostalgic post!

  41. Bravo Emily!! Once again you have accomplished the impossible! I can’t wait to dig through my closet. Not sure how to update my 1965 cheerleading uniform….but I am determined to find some classics in my closet.!!

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