You know how sometimes one new thing just refreshes your whole closet? It’s almost like you’ve been on a gigantic shopping spree. It’s kind of like that one friend, the life-of-the-party friend, who just changes the energy the minute she steps into the room.
I introduced a new piece into my wardrobe on Monday after an annual expedition to Monterey. It’s a simple jacket in a color I wouldn’t think of buying if I was planning to get a new jacket – which I was. And it has sparked a string of new combinations just by pairing it with things I already have.
We’ve just returned from our annual trip to the Monterey Jazz Festival – 31 straight years! Way back then I gave my then-boyfriend (now husband) two tickets to that three-day jazz festival for his birthday. He was, and is, a jazz fan, and I was so excited to give him this unique gift. Little did I know at the time that it would become one of those “same-time-next-year” kind of events that we have shared in our life together.
That first year we sat in one of the very back rows of the main arena where the top-billed artists perform. The performers on stage looked tiny from that vantage point. But despite our back row view, the weekend offered lots to enjoy in addition to the music. The second year we invited another couple (also jazz fans) to join us. And the four of us have been making the annual trek to Monterey ever since.
There are so many things to love about this weekend. Of course, there’s the music – both jazz icons and new artists. But there is so much more – especially appreciated by me, the non-jazz enthusiast.
Our memories include the bevy of places we’ve stayed: funky and quaint Carmel inns, hotels from Monterey to Carmel Valley, and the perfectly located Carmel house we have been renting for the past few years. There were the challenges just getting to the festival when we had young children – especially the years we had infants (but somehow we always managed to get there!). There was the year we had unexpected rain and fashioned rain gear from plastic trash bags (and laughed hysterically about it – here are the photos to prove it!). And the annual sheepish lamenting by my friend and me about the huge collection of clothing, jackets, and shoes we lug so that we can be ready for the warm summer-y days and the cold, foggy nights. There have been, and still are, the traditional walks to the beautiful Carmel beach and our lookouts for adorable sea otters reclining in the kelp beds. Our coffee addictions have given us memories of the morning beelines to the nearest caffeine supply and the year we packed our coffee maker and paraphernalia to the remote inn that didn’t serve coffee. Every year we begin the weekend by lining up the bottles of wonderful wines that we bring, just so we can admire them before choosing which to open. It’s been a place for incredible people watching – the Rainbow Lady, the hairy-back guy (I’ll spare you the visual!) the 80+-year-old ladies dancing in the aisles, the volunteer ticket taker and his collection of funny and ridiculous hats, and always Clint Eastwood spotting.
And a favorite tradition, with lots of memories to go with it, is our annual shopping expedition during this special weekend.
Between the retail mecca in the town of Carmel-by-the-Sea and the artists who set up shop on the grounds of the festival, prospecting for unique items is one of the traditions that my friend and I look forward to.
Several years ago we discovered a lady who brings her “pop-up shop” of unique women’s clothing to the grounds of the festival, and we now plan for that shopping experience for the whole year leading up to our September visit. What has made this expedition fun for me is that the one special item I find becomes a focal piece around which I can build a number of new outfits by simply pulling out things that I already own to create something new and different.
This year I planned to purchase a black jacket just like one I’d purchased in a different color a few years earlier. I was not going to be swayed from this mission – I have been wanting a black jacket for a long time, and I had decided months ago that this would be my special purchase this year. Until . . . I saw the same jacket in a light aqua color! That jacket was singing a life-of-the-party song from the back corner of the pop-up shop. The black jacket suddenly seemed a little, well, practical and a bit boring.
That French terry, super soft, light aqua jacket piqued my creative juices. It felt kind of exciting to consider what new outfits I could put together just from what I already own. No additional shopping trip needed – I have a whole new wardrobe sitting in my closet now that the perky jacket has arrived. (This is the jacket, but the photo is not a good representation of the color.)
So how about you? Is it a jacket, a pair of pants, a new top? What one piece can you bring home that could bring new life to your current pieces?
Fashionable, stylish doesn’t have to mean expensive. Try it! Give yourself a fun weekend project to find one piece that can give your current wardrobe new life. Step a little outside your comfort zone – not too far, though. You want to bring something home that feels fun, for sure, but you also want to have something that you know you will wear. Sometimes it helps to bring a friend to give you a bit of courage, to talk you into taking a tiny risk. Let me know what piece you find that kicks up your wardrobe!