30 for 30: In Neutral Territory

LC Lauren Conrad top (Gift from Little Tin Soldier) | Madison jacket (Belk clearance) | Tommy Hilfiger denim crops (Macy’s sale) | Madden Girl sandals (Ross) | Thrifted belt




I know it’s summer, and I’m supposed to be swathed in neons and nautical stripes and florals… but my closet seems to be lacking in the bright and bold department… Especially in my 30.

It’s not because I don’t love the way girls are working these trends into their style — I mean, it would be amazing to play in Taylor’s closet or spend a day shopping with Krystal. I just don’t have easy-access to these trends in an affordable, wearable way. I don’t shop at Forever 21, I think Zara is over-priced, and I’ve never stepped foot in an H&M {I know!}. In my small town, these mammoth discount retailers are more than an hour away, and finding a free afternoon to spend perusing the mall is a luxury I don’t seem to have these days…

But living in a less-than-metropolitan area doesn’t mean you can’t build a great wardrobe; you just have to get a little creative. We have several decent department stores and some awesome boutiques around here, but you’re going to spend $50 on the striped boatneck tee that you’d pick up at H&M for $8. I’ve said it here before that I’m not one to drop a lot of cash on items that won’t stay around for longer than a season, so instead I’ve stocked my closet over the years with a lot of neutral, classic pieces that play well together.

So, where do I usually shop? I frequent Macys, jcpenney, Dillards and Kohls, and head straight to the clearance sections when I’m looking for pieces to try out seasonal trends. LC Lauren Conrad, Simply Verai heart ronson, and MNG by Mango are all great brands that bring designer duds to the masses, and when these department stores put items on clearance, they basically give them away {in my last Kohl’s trip, I picked up LC tops for $3 and Simply Vera dresses for less than $10!}. When I’m looking for shoes and handbags, it’s gotta be Marshall’s and Ross. I also love my friend Meghan’s boutique, m.marie, and she’s my go-to for denim, TOMS, and those unique pieces that kick everyday basics up a notch.

Who else lives in a retail-challenged town? Do you love it or hate it? And how do you work around your shopping restrictions?

Author: Keira Lennox

I'm a small town lady from the sunshine state with an affinity for bookstores, beauty counters and unfussy style. I spend my days running my flower shop, and my nights blogging about what I love and what I wear. (Or watching Netflix and drinking wine.)

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  • I love your classic style. I don’t like to do a lot of trendy… I want things to last and to get my money’s worth! I’ve never even seen an H&M or Zara! Haha. I occasionally find items at Forever 21, but they are always on the classic side. I mostly find things at Marshalls and Ross, or thrifted pieces.

  • I totally agree with Cheryl! That’s one reason why I check your blog so often–out of all the bloggers I read, your style seems to offer the most accessible and relatable inspiration for my everyday life, budget, age, activities, etc. You always look classic with a twist, polished, and put together, and you really do retain a distinctive “look.” I also appreciate the fact that you don’t dress like a teenager, but like a sophisticated, chic woman. Many bloggers are super-cute and stylish, but their looks are much more adolescent than the styles I’m interested in creating for myself. Even though I live in a huge city, I don’t shop at F21 and similar stores, simply because I’m not usually drawn to the fashions they sell (for myself, I mean–they look great on others!).

  • I have all kinds of access to great retailers in Atlanta, GA, but I tend to stick to a few safe havens; Marshalls, TJMaxx, H&M, Target and a couple boutiques for the unique pieces. I love the outfit, and you have officially inspired me to paint my nails! What brand and color are you rocking?

  • Maybe that’s why we all like you so much! You are a classy woman, and your blog is that little bit different…..everyone is featuring bright hues and H&M on their blog…a lot of them are starting to look the same….not you! Many women might not feel comfortable splashing neon all over themselves of following trends, and they can see you for inspiration! Style isn’t about always following the trends, it’s knowing who you are and embracing it. So, go ahead and keep showing us your neutral, classic looks and well keep coming!

  • i love the little details in your outfit – the ruffles, layered necklaces, the stitching of the belt…so cute!

    not to brag or anything but, um, i have the opposite problem. too many big stores in this city = lots and lots of temptation to buy clothes ALL THE TIME. lol. i love what you do with what options you have though, and that’s what counts, right?

    caroline – pictures & words

  • I leaved in Wichita, Kansas, last year. Originally from France, it definitively was a challenge finding places to shop. I did the same thing as you do, buying very neutral and classic and getting more original with jewelry. And really, in my opinion, you don’t always have to be a fashion sheap all the time, fashion is also about creating your own style, your own trend. It is also about who you are, I can try to wear a bright pink pair of pants with an electric blue tee, but it won’t feel like me. So I stopped being worried being so “IN” all the time!
    Oh, and you look very pretty Penny! The outfit is really cute!

  • I definitly live in a retail challenged area! I live in a border town in south texas on an Air Force Base! We only have Bealls, JC Penny, Ross, and Walmart, not any boutiques or cute shops. And the closest place/city with a mall and other shopping options is 2 and half hours away. I have found some cute items at ross on the cheap and some basics at jc penny. I have done some online shopping for shorts and skirts from old navy and zappos for shoes and purses and accessories.

  • Lovely outfit! You look great :)

    Ottawa, the capital of Canada, doesn’t even have an H&M or Forever 21 (although, we are getting a forever 21 at the end of the summer… so that’s good news!). But I hate it and love it at the same time. It’s great that when I buy something from Forever 21 or H&M and I rarely see anyone wearing it. But then it’s so hard to actually buy the clothing unless you take a day/week trip.

    It’s also kind of nice not having them… It helps curb my shopping addiction ;)

  • Totally agree with you about Zara! Their clothes also fit me funny. I have access to F21 but I get concerned about how their clothes cheaply the clothes are made. I stick to Marshalls and TJ Maxx plus I hit the sales and clearance racks at my favorite department stores. Found your blog about a month ago and really enjoy it!

  • I hear ya. I am in Colorado. We don’t even have an H & M in my state! (But it’s rumored that one will be appearing at the 16th street mall in Denver soon) Until I harnessed a love for thrifting, I was a frequent shopper at Kohl’s and just like you, I made my way right to the clearance racks. I scored some amazing deals.

    You look great in your neutrals! They are timeless!

  • I also don’t have access to H&M, Forever 21, or any good thrift stores for that matter. I stick to shopping those places on vacations to visit my parents, or search for deals at Target, Kohl’s, and other dept. stores.
    You seem to be doing a good job in the fashion dept., though- I love reading your blog! :)