a week of outfits

Blogger Cup of Jo (do you read her?) has an ongoing series called “A Week of Outfits” in which she showcases different women and what they wore for a week.

I find these posts equal parts eyerollingly exasperating because:

1) I seriously doubt the women wore all these outfits in one week
2) The clothes are often (though not always) outrageously expensive
3) Is anyone seriously this put-together?

and charmingly addictive because:

1) Wallowing in envy, on occasion, is rather pleasurable.
2) The women’s creativity and confidence are kind of inspiring, in a back-handed, can’t-touch-this sort of way.
3) Wouldn’t it be awesome to be so stylish that I’d get showcased on someone’s blog, can you even imagine?

Hang on a sec.

I have a blog, yes?
I am a woman, yes?
I wear clothes, yes?

 Oh my word, I QUALIFY.

So here you go, my own merry little version of… 

A Week of Outfits: Jennifer Murch (squee!)

(clears throat)

Jennifer, a stay-at-home mother of four, usually never goes anywhere so wearing presentable clothes is kind of hit or miss. However, this summer she’s volunteering with an organization that has An Actual Dress Code which means looking presentable is one of her job requirements. Of course, “presentable” has different connotations for different people  there’s a good chance that many people wouldn’t be caught dead in the chothes she wears. (But then again, she might not be caught dead in the clothes other people are wearing either, so moving on.) To learn about Jennifer’s trick for making the most of her piddly clothing budget, the one piece of clothing that makes her feel put together even when she’s not, a great way to get rid of old clothing (and find “new” ones), and the one item she’ll never wear, read on…

(Oooo, this is fun!!!!)

Tank top: Target, probably; Ratty sports bra: Walmart?; Running shorts: from a grab pile; Flip-flops: considered buying good ones from Zappos but in the end I couldn’t justify the cost and went with these from some store in town…Walmart maybe?

“Because our home here is half private residence and half hostel, I’ve taken to sleeping in actual clothes. It makes going running in the morning easier, too  just swap the black tank for a neon spandex, don’t-I-feel-like-an-athlete shirt, put on sneakers (and socks) and away I go. This is also my uniform  shorts and a tank; I have several of each  for cleaning the house. I often sweep and mop (what with all the dust, this is a near-daily activity) after breakfast so I can have the whole day to enjoy the clean floors, but then I get all hot and sweaty so I have to shower…again. (Here, I average about three showers a day: once after running/cleaning, once around suppertime to cool off, and once before bed. It makes for a lot of laundry!)”

Jeans: hand-me-downs from my mother; black tee: no idea; brown sandals: Supershoes; Camera bag: Xhilaration, stolen (with permission) from my brother; hobo handbag: LeDonne, a requested birthday gift from my husband

“I adore black. It’s the one color I can’t get enough of (well, that and grey, though I suspect grey brings out my burgioning crop of grey hair and should probably be avoided, but I never do). And if I wear all black  in wintertime, oh, sweet wintertime!, my favorite thing to wear is black sweater, black jeans, black belt, black boots  it makes messing up in the matching department nigh well impossible. My favorite black tee of all time came from Costco, the Kirkland brand. It was cotton, fitted, long at the waist, and thick enough that I didn’t need to wear it with an undershirt. Which reminds me, what is it with all the t-shirts being made from such filmy-thin material that you have to wear a second shirt underneath just to not feel naked? Anyway, that t-shirt is nearly in tatters now. I periodically check the Costco shirt tables but no luck so far.”

Shirt: Target; Capri jeans: purchased years ago from some store

“When I was soaking the dishcloths in the sink out back, I splashed the front of that shirt with a bit of bleach. But then I decided the spot of white, dead-center, just looked like I had a piece of lint and since that’s sort of forgiveable, I wear the shirt anyway. As for the capris, they’re too big at the waist, so I have to wear a belt. Which stinks. And I don’t really like capris, but oh well. They’re a step up from jean shorts (modesty-wise re The Dress Code), so there’s that.”

“Some people clutch pearls; I clutch a thermal coffee mug. The band of rubber has long since disappeared, and the slidey-top gets gunked up with bits of dried coffee, but the lid never falls off. Plus, it has a measured pour-in-mouth spout  enough for easy drinking, not so much I burn my upper lip. It’s the little things.”

Shirt: Costco; Pants: clothing swap; Arm candy: my womb

“A couple weeks before we left for Puerto Rico, a friend from church invited a bunch of women to her house for an Earth Day clothing swap. When I arrived, there were mountains of clothes all over the place  skirts in one pile, jeans in another, t-shirts, shoes, jewelry, hats, dresses, maternity, and so on. We tried on clothes any free place we could find (after a bit I stopped running off to the bathroom and just stripped whenever I found something that might fit). I got rid of a bunch of stuff and made off with a nice little new-to-me selection. The pants are way too big for me  the belt makes them bunch up around the waist all fuddy-duddy-like  but they’re airy and feel good against my skin in the heat.”

“Several years ago, fed up with bras that never quite fit, I finally made a trip to Victoria’s Secret to get measured. I was so impressed with how wonderfully the bras fit, that I bought three ($!$!$!, gulp). But it was so worth it. For the first time in my life I had a bra that didn’t move around whenever I did. Just putting one on made me feel put together, secure and comfortable in my own skin. Even if my other clothes didn’t fit perfectly (and they rarely do), at least the bra did. That evening, elated and pumped over my new-found booby confidence, I resolved that I would take my girls for a fitting when they turned eighteen. There is no reason for them to go as long as I did without a good bra.”

Dress: Gift and Thrift

“When our agency gave us smartphones for our work, I was a little worried that I might get hooked and suddenly develop a pressing need to have one of my very own when I returned home. Turns out  hallelujah  I can’t wait to be done with the silly thing. It’s such a time suck (example, the other night I actually spent time trying to make my own emojis), I’ve never quite figured out how to navigate it, and I absolutely hate always being available to everyone. I’m tethered to the computer enough as it is  no need to weigh myself down with one more thing. (My husband, however, is totally sold on it. Though I admit it does make sense for him to have one, what with his work and all. So I guess we didn’t escape completely unscathed….)”

Cotton cover-up shirt: Kohl’s? Target? 

“The agency we’re working for doesn’t allow sleeveless shirts (or shorts shorter than knee-length) so when I go out I have to wear another shirt over top this dress. Without the sweater, I look five-months pregnant. With the sweater, I look like a cardboard box with legs.

“I wore these sandals to a meeting at FEMA headquarters. At the door, the guard took one look at me and said, Flip-flops aren’t allowed. These aren’t flip-flops, I said. Those aren’t flip-flops, the women I was with echoed. The guard hedged, eying my feet warily, before finally waving me in, whew. I guess my agency isn’t the only one who takes their dresscode seriously? (The next time I went to the FEMA headquarters, I wore heels.)”

Pants: that clothing swap I mentioned; Shirt: haven’t a clue, sorry; Sandals (i.e., my “heels”): Gift and ThriftHair tie (on wrist): Target 

“Are bell-bottoms in again? I can never keep the fashion straight  skinny jeans, low-waisted jeans, high-waisted jeans (which I’ll never wear, mark my words), and just a couple weeks ago I saw a teenager with the tight-rolled jeans, eek!  and really, I don’t care all that much. The pants were free, durable, slimming, and, aside from being far too big in the waist, comfortable.

“It’s way too hot to wear jewelry here, but I often sport a spare black hair tie on my wrist. I usually start out the day with my hair down but then the wind whips it into my eyes and it clings to my face sweat (which is unbelievably annoying, almost panic inducing) and up the hair goes.”

“Even though most everything I wear is either purchased at a run-of-the-mill store or thrifted or gifted, I do, on occasion (too frequently on occasion, my husband would say) shell out the big bucks: one hundred dollars for a pair of boots, a 60-dollar pair of leggings (gasp), Eddie Bauer jeans (they fit the best and last forever). However, with a budget of 125 dollars per month for a family of six, big-ticket items of that sort are few and far between (not far enough between, my husband would say).

“My trick? Ignore my children’s rags and tatters until it’s no longer morally feasible (it helps that homeschooling and country-living somewhat remove us from social expectations), and then, under the guise of turning them into responsible adults, declare them in charge of acquiring their own clothing once they turn sixteen.

“Responsibility is good, I tell them, and this is true! (But it’s also true that if they buy their own clothes then I’ll have more money to spend on me.)”

Shout-out to my kids for (begrudgingly) taking the photos!

This same time, years previous: my beef obsession, glazed lemon zucchini cake, a new friend, corn crepecakes, the quotidian (8.6.12), why I am recuperating, all things ‘reenie.


  • mommychef

    Love this! My favourite post maybe ever, and I am typing this in my Walmart shorts and Costco top…so nice to know I am not alone!

  • Kathryn

    I love Cup of Jo as a blog, and this is brilliant. They do always seem so put together and it would be great to have a caspule wardrobe made of lovely expensive things but really sometimes you just want to wear a ratty t-shirt! Yes to well fitting bras, and yes to black. Those brown sandals look like a good mix of strappy and strapped in.


    This is hilarious and I loved it, please do these more often! Also thought it was worth mentioning, you look fantastic in those chino bell bottomed clothing swap pants.

  • lisa

    I think this is my favorite blog post on fashion I've ever read. 🙂 (and, I've never heard of A Cup of Jo, but the outfits were fun to look at!)

  • Suburban Correspondent

    I think I have the same capri jeans (wearing them now, as a matter of fact) – J.C. Penney's. I do love your clothing sources. I'm thinking you should come my way for a day or two, once you get back. We could hit a really great thrift store, where you could stock up on jeans ($5 each) and shirts for the whole family, and then a museum or two out near my house (not in the city).

  • Margo

    JENNIFER!!!! I died laughing! I read Cup of Jo with the same mix of eye roll and fascination – and your week of outfits was heeeeelarious! My favorite outfit (to mimic the CoJ readers) is the mint tee and the tan pants – well done for a clothing swap!

Leave a Comment