Garanimals For Grown-Ups

At least once a week Melanie and I have a very enthusiastic discussion about our love for the assymmetrical cardigan and/or jacket and/or tunic. In fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced a weakness for an item of clothing like I’ve had for Anything Assymmetrical, and that is saying something given my considerable affection for stirrup pants in the early 90s.

In addition to being super-cute, the assymmetrical cardigan / jacket / top is flattering and comfortable, and it’s sort of revolutionized the way I dress (if such a thing could be considered revolutionary, which, come to think of it, NO). But because the assymmetrical stuff comes in so many great, lightweight options, I layer a lot more than I used to. And a few weeks after I started adding the assymmetrical cardigan / jacket / top into my wardrobe, I realized that I was getting ready a whole lot quicker in the mornings – because instead of looking at my closet and seeing “outfits,” I saw stuff that could be mixed and matched and switched around.

Oh, you laugh. But as somebody who has always been dependent on “the outfit,” I’ve needed to make this shift for awhile. It’s totally changed the way I shop – because now I understand that it makes a whole lot more sense for me to have a few things that I can mix and match like crazy than it does to have 40 things that can only be worn one way.

So. Here’s what I do. Not that anybody, you know, cares. But it’s really early and our power was out last night and I have a cold and TALKING ABOUT CLOTHES MIGHT JUST MAKE ME FEEL BETTER, THANK YOU.

I have a line-up of basics that are always in my closet (and I’ve had some of the basic pieces for YEARS), and then I build off the basics with the trendier stuff. Since I’ve been on the aforementioned assymmetrical cardigan / jacket / top kick for the last year or so, it’s been my primary trendy (and affordable) indulgence. I tend to stick with a black / white / bright color / gray color scheme because then everything goes together. I usually go with fuschia or teal for the bright color, but feel free to use red or yellow or green or whatever suits your fancy.

And also: I rarely shop unless I can pair a sale with a coupon (which is one of the many reasons I love Steinmart so much). Big department stores are great for the sale / coupon combo. Last year at Belk I got a pair of white jeans that had been $80 for $17, and I still can’t quit talking about what a bargain they were, as evidenced by the fact that I’m mentioning those white jeans right now, A WHOLE YEAR AFTER I BOUGHT THEM.

Anyway, my list of basics looks something like this (just buy whatever brand looks best / feels the most comfortable / makes you happy when you wear it – and in my case that almost always means WHATEVER I CAN FIND AT THE STEINMARTS).

1) An assortment of pants-type products:
Black pants (I have a pair of boot-cut and a pair of wide-legged).
Gray pants (I love a cute cargo-style).

(By the way?)

(Where would I be without parentheses?)


2) An assortment of shoes:
Black wedges.
Colorful flats (fuschia or teal).
Animal print flats.
Wedge sandals.

3) Then add above-the-waist stuff.

And that’s pretty much it. Besides my ever-present large hoop earrings, of course. But you feel the freedom to embrace whatever earring speaks to you. I like for my earrings to holler a little, but you may be a fan of a more whisper-y earring. Our differences make the world go ’round.

Anyway, here are a few of my assymmetrical favorites.

Black and gray cotton or knit jacket (this one and this one)

Striped assymmetrical cotton jacket / cardigan (love this one, this one, this one and this one)

Colorful cotton or knit jacket (like this one or this one)

Striped tunic (this one and this one)

An assortment of Old Navy t-shirts (or whatever your favorite brand happens to be). Don’t be afraid of embellished t-shirts, either. And just FYI: I like t-shirts that are at least 25″ from shoulder to hem.

Then mix and match at will.

Jeans, striped tunic, black cardigan, wedge sandals.
Gray cargos, embellished t-shirt, hot pink jacket, flip flops.
Black pants, black t-shirt, striped jacket, fuschia flats.
Black leggings, striped tunic, gray jacket, black flats.


A lot of this stuff is by Cha Cha Vente, one of my favorite brands, and what’s even more delightful is that you can buy it at Steinmart. It comes in misses’ sizes or women’s sizes, it’s comfortable as all get out and it launders like a dream. I’m a fan.

So there you have it. My handy-dandy Garanimals for Grown-Ups method. I cannot begin to tell you how it has simplified my life in the mornings. I used to stand in my closet and stare and ponder and wonder what in the world I could wear to church or to work or to a soccer game or to go out to eat with the family. Now I pick out pants or leggings and build from there. It takes less than a minute, and I feel better because I know that I at least look somewhat coordinated and put-together – even if I’ve had three hours of sleep and am contemplating propping my eyes open with toothpicks.

Like I told Melanie a couple of weeks ago: if I leave my house in the mornings and bear some resemblance to Maude, I know that I’ve succeeded in meeting my fashion goals for the day.

And if you’re wondering what in the world I’m going to do once it’s hot outside and I can’t bear the sight of an assymmetrical cardigan, I have two words for you: assymmetrical vests!


Have a great day, y’all.

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  1. I have never thought about assymetrical dressing! I love the knit cardigan though. It’s been a staple for me all winter/spring. I pair a long plain colored tank with a knit cardigan and throw on a long beaded necklace and I feel fancy.

    Great dressing advice. Gray cargos really struck a cord with me, I’m desperately searching the web now for them. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Okay. I do also love the assymetrical tops but they always look ALL KINDS OF WONKY on me. I don’t know how to explain it. On the hanger its cute. On my body it is awkward. Maybe it’s because my legs are super squatty. Who knows?

    I also can’t wear bermuda shorts cause I look like a cruise director.

  3. I have been wearing Garanimals for Grownups for years! I get too hot when I wear traditional suits, so I really love the lightweight stuff. I have several “shackets” (shirt+jacket=shacket) that I wear to the office when I need to look like I’m dressed up but don’t want to melt.

  4. garanimals for grown ups- I am still laughing!
    I do love to mix and match and since I ususally only have about two pair of pants at any given moment that actually fit, it works. Actually just like your method except I start with the pants THAT FIT and then work my way up from there!
    Too funny!

  5. Maude…. oh my word I just about spewed my tea on that one! And what’s so sad is I totally get it!

    And, I’m all about the layering.


  6. I was totally thrown off by your title. Perhaps that intrigued me. But this post was DELIGHTFUL! I LOVE IT! Fashion Tuesday from Boo Mama!!!

    I’m not sure where I’ve been because the asymmetrical tops/jackets–I knew not about! And I am so THRILLED!!!! I MUST have one, some, something.

    And thanks for the added bonus giggle from the varied sounds of earrings. I tend like mine to holler sometimes and whisper others.

  7. You make me laugh, Friend!

    The Hubs always asks my why I INSIST on telling how much I paid for something-it’s because I LOVE to ROCK the coupon/sale combo. I feel as if somehow I’ve accomplished great and mighty things.
    Love that dress you have.
    Why thank you, I only paid $9 for it!!

    See it makes it so much cuter! :)

  8. I have to add that after pulling out my asymmetrical royal blue lame’ ’80s prom dress and donning it for my daughter’s prom date arrival just to TOTALLY EMBARRASS her, I’ve been feeling a longing for the asymmetrical clothing. Perhaps my daughters will shy away from borrowing my new duds after pulling that little number.

  9. Love the t-shirts!! I never think to go to Old Navy for anything….but the striped t-shirt is super cute!

  10. I love the words, “Pants type products”

  11. I love the asymmetrical cardigans b/c they hide my love handles. I found a cute gray one with 3/4 length sleeves at target recently. I’m loving some of these you found Especially that bright pink one.

  12. :)
    “And Then There’s Maude”

  13. I’ve been calling my approach to dressing “adult Garanimals” for years, and it was so delightful to come across this today! As one who was a graduate student for many years who also had to teach, I suffered from the no-money-but-need-a-wardrobe syndrome. So I developed a basic scenario: 2 pair black pants, 2 pair brown pants, black skirt, brown skirt, black shoes, brown shoes, with a mix of sweater/tanks/long and short sleeve t-shirts in shades of black and brown, and compatible colors. Now, before I bore you to death with my drabbiness, [is that a word?]:
    A) black and brown are totally my colors: they make me look healthy. Some colors that I LOVE (yellows, pinks…when I wear them people LITERALLY ha ha ask me if I’m feeling sick)
    B) the basic items might have some pattern to them (pinstripes, or flecks, or heathering, the skirts might have designs with varying shades.
    C) for those who care, black and brown are totally slimming (I care, a little!)

    THEN…since I don’t have to spend money all the time on basics, depending on how much disposable income I have, I add colors that go with everything (gray, khaki pants for example) and stay in my “color zone” – and I do this with the layering of which you speak, fun accessories, and jackets/sweaters. Even now, when I have to wear business attire, if it’s not a “suit” day (meeting with a client) I will still wear something “suit-like” if the occasion requires it, by pairing those solid slacks and a nice jacket.

    AND….I’m pretty sure this is the longest comment I’ve ever posted here and I’ve read you for years! LOL.

  14. So, if the two sides match, is it really assymetrical? I’m so confused. Love the layers though. works really really well up here in Alaska—all year long too.

  15. Asymmetrical cardigans are awesome, but I have learned that I look better in the ones that are longer in the front. The ones that are shorter in front actually make hips look wider.

  16. This is my favorite way to dress. I feel like you just looked in my closet. I LOVE to layer. It especially helps when you still have 8 pounds of last baby weight still on and it helps to cover the rear end.

  17. I just had to look up “shift dress” and found that I have several in my closet. Never knew that they were called that.. LOVE those things and maxi dresses. I wonder if those will be “in” again this year. They are crazy comfy.

  18. I love Cha Cha Vente!

  19. I cardigan my wardrobe to death. The current formula is legging or shorts with a flowy top and a fitted cardi, usually with a scarf. I totally understand the wardrobe game changer, that’s what scarves are for me, THEY DON’T EVEN HAVE TO MATCH, it’s a beautiful thing!

  20. I have always,but always loved the classic cardi, and at last count had… ermmm… 10 black ones.. [on sale, and coupon, yes ma’am] However, I have never heard of Cha Cha Vente, and just lost myself in awe at the Macy’s site!! Thank you for the update, although.. my Macy’s card may just be melting down soon ~

    I’ll look forward to your shift dress recommendations!