Photos by Lydia Vilt
My mission, and of course I chose to accept it, was to create an outfit from any combination of stores at the Asheville Outlets for $100 or less and then shake my blog thing about it. Oh hello, some kinda dream come true. Let’s jam.
I knew immediately what kind of look I would go for: a sassy concert ensemble (duh!) with enough versatility to adjust to the impending weather changes. What I didn’t realize when narrowing my focus was that I was perhaps up against an even greater challenge; I had cornered myself into a relatively small market at the outlets, that of chic nighttime attire for a woman about town. But I remained optimistic because with so many fresh shows coming up this fall, there really is no other type of gear on my mind right now. I basically work, play, eat, and sleep in band t-shirts, so I’m all set on other fashion fronts.
Now, there are a few things I take into serious consideration when shopping for concert wear: a striking aesthetic presence as well as comfort. This is key. There’s nothing worse than being at, say, an electronic show and cursing the shoes you’re stuck in or constantly adjusting a skirt that rides up. It ain’t attractive and you’ll miss a good show! Furthermore, I tend toward classic styles and try to tune out most trends, as I know by now what shapes and materials flatter my body and what nonsense simply does not.
I started in Express. An instinctive animal mind takes over when I enter a boutique; I am suddenly on the hunt. Instead of just seeing the displays, I’m feeling them, sniffing out what I may not know I’m even after. After 20 minutes or so of fondling racks of bedazzled tanks, peplum tops and pencil skirts, their small section of clubwear found me. And there it was: a chiffon romper in classic black, 30% off.
The crazy thing about this moment is that I have honestly never owned a romper or jumpsuit before. It is a rare one-piece that fits both halves of my body, but this was my rare gem: a strapless top with grip lining and side zipper to keep me squeezed in, shorts that fall to just the right length, and a pretty piece of extra material that cascades down the center and over one leg. And the fact that it’s black means the possibilities for accessorizing are endless. Silver, gold, turquoise, wood: you can literally do anything to this thing but throw up on it and it’ll be fabulous. Bam.
I knew my next piece would have to be shoes in order to determine what style jacket and jewelry I would go for. I headed to Rack Room Shoes, where they’re doing a buy one get the second pair half off sale. After a quick run-through, I found just one pair I would possibly buy (I am very picky). They were blingin’ black and gold peep toe platform stilettos, and while I am in desperate need of a new pair of major heels, they still weren’t quite right. My toes pinched on both sides, my heel popped ever so slightly out with each step, and I knew those issues would only get worse with wear. That’s when, out of nowhere, I saw the real winners.
Black peep toe wedges with a summery, psychedelic heel design and ballerina wrap-around strap = YES. But it’s what’s inside the shoe that counts, so I strapped myself in and took ‘em for a spin around the store. Three times. Any pinching, slip-n-sliding or heel wobbling, and I would have dropped them like a one night stand. But the heavens opened up, and a wave of warm euphoria fell over me. They belonged to me. I even took them dancing downtown Saturday night, and I didn’t trip once.
The romper and shoes make a complete outfit on their own, but when it’s nearing the end of summer and we’re dealing with shorts and wedge sandals here, a girl needs options for the weather. This is where jackets and/or scarves come in. I’m a big fan of pashminas (big scarves), the many variations of draping and wrapping perfect for these chilly nights.
A light three-quarter sleeved jacket would look great with this, too. Color and pattern options are, again, limitless. I happened to snag a classic black (faux) leather jacket at Forever 21. Maybe it’s trendy all over again, but I’ve never had one, and I don’t believe it ever really has gone out of style. Whatever flips your skirt, I say.
Let us not forget those bare legs! Throw some tights or leggings on under those shorts, and you’ll be killin’ it. Color accenting in a primarily black outfit is one of my favorite things in life.
The necklace I selected is the only unfortunate part of the story. Jewelry is hard enough to buy, especially costume jewelry with its endlessly stimulating selections of colored beads and chain types. Shoppers become junkies at the displays, sweat beading on our foreheads, hearts palpitating at the slightest hint of some other bitch crowding us out as we try to possibly choose one or two pieces. I want them all. I NEED them all. If I wear this one I could be a ‘30s movie star, this one an African queen! This mentality is not unique to me, and it’s not an accident. Fashion marketing is a brilliant thing, really. Scary, but brilliant.
I finally chose an uncluttered silver Y-chain with two turquoise beads from Maurice’s. It was more expensive than those of the other shops I visited, and I assumed that factor combined with its simplicity would reduce the risk of breakage. But I was wrong. Six hours after my purchase, the bottom link up and fell off. I was driving. Come. On. For now, I’m going to chalk this up to a bad batch, return it (or exchange it for a stack of bangles), and play with the necklaces I’ve already got and can count on. No harm done; I can pair anything with my new romper.
Asheville Outlets pro tip: If you are 95% in love with an article of clothing but are still a little unsure how it will look and feel outside the store, tour other stores and try it on in different dressing rooms. I tried the romper on everywhere I went after buying it and paired it with a variety of jackets under a variety of lighting situations. If you still like it, that piece is for you. If you don’t, jump ship and return it. It’s okay to admit when something just doesn’t work; you’ll be grateful you held onto the money in order to let the right thing in.
What I Spent:
Express, black chiffon romper: $29.95
Rack Room Shoes, black peep toe wedges: $26.74
Forever 21, black bomber jacket: $22.47
Maurice’s, silver Y-necklace: $17.12