Plaid Duster & Faux Leather Leggings: Voices

Plaid duster collage2

Have you ever given any thought to the origin of the voices in your head…


…really, that’s a totally serious question. I don’t mean the ones that tell you to do insanely wild things that you’d never actually do in real life (although I sometimes think it might be kinda fun to listen to those voices once in awhile), I mean the voices that oftentimes dictate what we do and how we feel about ourselves and the world.

I’ve always fancied myself to be somewhat of an armchair psychologist. The why’s and how’s of the mind have always fascinated me. Actually, there was a point in time that I truly wanted to go to college and medical school to become a psychiatrist. Do you know why I didn’t? My high school guidance counselor told me that I wasn’t smart enough for college and medical school; nor did I even have what it took to be a teacher. No, I’m not making that up. Give that guy an educator of the year award, am I right? How’s that for a voice in your head? I had a pretty heinous childhood and came from the wrong side of the tracks (both literally and figuratively) and coming from a small town, people had no qualms about letting me know that all that was expected of me was to spend my life in the trailer park producing numerous babies and living off the system. Add to that a significant family member who always made sure that I knew that no matter what I did I was never enough (good enough, smart enough, pretty enough…you get the idea) and you have a recipe for disaster, right? In this case no.

As epically awful as all of that was, those voices actually served me well. They made me who I am today. That rebel voice that tells me I can wear ripped boyfriend jeans over 50? Ya, that’s the very same voice that told me I was better than everything they said I was. That voice told me that living in the trailer park barely getting by on minimum wage wasn’t good enough for me. Those awful nasty voices gave birth to the voice that told me that come hell or high water, I would put myself through college and become everything they said I couldn’t. And you know what? I did.

No, those voices aren’t gone. I don’t think they ever truly go away. But over the years I’ve learned how to ignore them and on the days that they are hard to ignore, I find ways to work around them. Yes, I have days where something happens or someone is cruel to me, and in my head I’m again that young girl who was never good enough, but now I’m wise enough to step away for awhile and get my head back on right. And whenever possible, I entirely avoid situations or people who make me feel that way. The reason I have worked so hard to get to the place in my life, that for the most part, I honestly don’t care what other people think of me is that you cannot ever let other people define who you are. Do not ever give someone else that power. You define who you are. The only voice that really matters is your own.


Enough serious stuff. Let’s get to the style. Dusters, in particular plaid dusters, are one of my go-to items. While I’m crazy about them I can see how what amounts to an uber-long plaid shirt might be overwhelming to style for the less adventurous amongst us. Don’t fear the duster…I have some ideas for you to make it less intimidating.

Although this plaid duster is probably the trickiest one to style in my collection due to the long sleeves, it’s the one I’ve gotten the most mileage out of. It’s a lightweight sheer fabric so that makes the sleeves easier to layer under other things like the white cardigan I’m wearing with it in today’s post. I loosely tied it with the belt that came with it so that the white tee and faux leather leggings would be visible. Last summer I wore it loose and entirely open over a striped tank dress. Not only did it add a fun hit of print mix, but it also provided a light layer when I hit the air conditioning inside. Finally, last winter I styled it as a full-on dress. I simply layered it over a turtleneck and leggings for warmth and coverage, added a few strategic pins to secure it and cinched it with a belt…like magic, it’s a dress. See, nothing to fear here.


If you don’t already own one, give a duster a try. And if you do own one, look at it as more than a long shirt. Try layering it both over and under other things in your closet. Belt it, don’t belt it. Add a scarf or a statement necklace to change things up. The possibilities are endless. Okay, maybe not endless, but there are a lot of options for styling it.


Check out the weekly link ups I participate in for even more fashion and style ideas…

Plaid duster collage

Striped tank dress original post, Duster as dress original post

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Plaid duster: Boohoo (Similar);  Cardigan: JCPenney;  Leggings: Nordstrom;  Boots: Pink Blush (Same)



    • debbies
      03.5.2016 / 8:08 am

      Thanks Suzanne. 🙂

    • debbies
      03.5.2016 / 8:09 am

      Genius idea Jodie! I’m going to have to try that!

  1. 03.4.2016 / 7:42 pm

    A super versatile piece! Plus it’s nice that a duster is in a plaid material as they are usually in a sweater material 🙂

    Nice to see something different.

    MonicaP recently posted…Effortless Shawl Cardigan by CaliaMy Profile

    • debbies
      03.5.2016 / 8:11 am

      I have a couple of plaid dusters as well as camo and floral print…they are really versatile.

  2. 03.4.2016 / 7:48 pm

    Amen, Sister! Thank God you rebelled against those evil voices with your own true strong, bright and beautiful voice! I also have a bit of that “not good enough” nonsense in my head so I get that totally.

    And of course you know I love this plaid duster!

    Thanks so much for coming to the Fun Fashion Friday party & hope your weekend is wonderful!

    Dawn Lucy
    Dawn Lucy recently posted…Designer Consignment Online & Fun Fashion Friday Link Up Party!My Profile

    • debbies
      03.5.2016 / 8:15 am

      Unfortunately so many people don’t rebel and use it as an excuse to be an idiot! Although it was rough when it was happening, I wouldn’t be who I am if things had been different, so in a weird way that makes it all a good thing. 🙂

  3. Marsha
    03.4.2016 / 8:15 pm

    I have followed your blog for a long time, but have never commented. Tonight, I just have to say a couple of things. First, as a former special educator (retired in Indiana), I love the passion you have for your kids. Some of mine have now made me a grandteacher (you know…they’re your kids forever and then they have kids so that makes you their grandteacher). Secondly, I am also vertically challenged so I enjoy seeing your ootds. Finally, although I didn’t grow up on the wrong side of the tracks and I had only a few hags in my life whispering behind my back, I have fought those same voices in my head…sometimes, I win…sometimes, they do. I’m truly glad you fought back because how else would I be able to read your fabulous blog!

    • debbies
      03.5.2016 / 8:23 am

      I’m so glad you decided to comment Marsha! And it makes me so happy to hear that you enjoy the blog. They truly are “your kids” forever. I love it when I run into one of my former kids and they are all grown with jobs and kids of their own. One of my students is a custodian at our school now and is married with a baby. It’s so great to see him everyday. There are days it is tough to fight the voices, when that happens you just have to give yourself a talking to and do better the next day…they might win a battle, but never the war! 🙂

    • debbies
      03.5.2016 / 8:24 am

      Thanks so much Nicole! Have a great weekend! 🙂

    • debbies
      03.5.2016 / 8:24 am

      Thanks so much!

  4. 03.5.2016 / 11:10 am

    Love all three ways you styled it! BTW, I’m linking back to an old post of yours on Monday…involving that embroidered camo jacket we both own. 😉
    Darlene Fadem recently posted…Banana Republic Piped Sweater JacketMy Profile

    • debbies
      03.12.2016 / 8:30 am

      Thanks so much for the shoutout Darlene! Maybe we should do a post together sometime styling the jacket in two different ways. 🙂

  5. 03.5.2016 / 1:54 pm

    Debbie, that Duster with the striped dress is driving me a little crazy!
    I love that clash of patterns. Punchy yet still elegant.
    It is making me long for a little heat in the Scottish air.
    Luckily your layered up look is also fabulous, especially with that cheeky peep of leather.
    Cold weather has it’s positives too!

    • debbies
      03.12.2016 / 8:32 am

      Nothing beats a good mix of patterns, right?! It’s starting to warm up here. Hopefully this year we will have an actual spring instead of going from cold to 90 degrees with no real break in between. 🙂

    • debbies
      03.12.2016 / 8:32 am

      Yes, yes you do Jaymie. 🙂

  6. 03.6.2016 / 3:19 pm

    Debbie I think you’re brave to open up and share all as you have today. I echo your sentiments and think you have a lot to be proud of. My upbringing was tough too, but I maintain that it’s what gave me the drive and determination to be who I am now. You with have more empathy because of your journey and that’s so good for all who encounter you, particularly the youngsters you educate. You clearly love your job, and do it well, so what on earth did that careers guy know way back then?
    I’ve never come across a full length plaid shirt/duster like this, but my, oh my, do I love it! You look fabulous in red. I’ll be on the lookout for something like this on my next trawl through the charity shops in April.
    Anna’s Island Style
    Anna Parkes recently posted…The big outdoorsMy Profile

    • debbies
      03.12.2016 / 8:35 am

      Longer duster/shirts are surprisingly versatile so you should definitely pick one up if you have a chance. As much as it might have been nice to have a storybook childhood, I agree with you. The life I survived back then has made me who I am and it’s the reason I’m so driven to achieve the things that I have.

  7. 03.6.2016 / 6:23 pm

    Thanks for sharing such a personal story with us, Debbie. I am so glad those voices spurred you on to become the person you are today.

    I really like the different ways you have styled your plaid duster and will be taking some notes! A few months ago I bought a blue and white plaid duster and had you in mind when I saw it. 🙂
    Jennie recently posted…A Touch of SparkleMy Profile

    • debbies
      03.12.2016 / 8:37 am

      You’ll love it Jennie, you can really do so much with it! If it wasn’t for my childhood I definitely wouldn’t be where I am now.:)

  8. Amy Ann
    03.6.2016 / 8:49 pm

    Glad you didn’t listen to those voices! Love seeing the three totally different and awesome ways you styled this outfit.

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

    • debbies
      03.12.2016 / 8:38 am

      Thanks Amy Ann!

  9. 03.7.2016 / 11:56 am

    If I saw that duster in a shop, I’d probably walk right past it and not give it the time of day but seeing it on you, well, it looks amazing! I’ll be more attentive next time lol
    As for the voices in your head, I’m so glad that something so downright awful ultimately had a positive effect on you.
    Suzy x
    Suzy Turner recently posted…Arrifana – a surfer’s paradiseMy Profile

    • debbies
      03.12.2016 / 8:39 am

      Definitely keep an eye out, they do add so many options to your wardrobe. I honestly believe it’s the adversities in our life that make us who we are and show us what we’re really made of. 🙂

    • debbies
      03.12.2016 / 8:40 am

      Thanks Whitney!

  10. 03.7.2016 / 9:26 pm

    So glad you’re able to get your head back. Gosh peeps are so harsh with words. Glad you rose above it all to become who you are today. A beautiful strong woman. An educator that moulds lives. So proud of you Debbie. Ok, that duster is every darn thang! I’m in love. You look amazing darling.
    idu recently posted…Crimson CrushMy Profile

    • debbies
      03.12.2016 / 8:41 am

      Thank you my beautiful friend. I wouldn’t be the teacher that I am now without all of the nonsense from the past.

  11. 03.8.2016 / 9:20 am

    I’m sorry you had to endure hearing such obscene things from someone we were taught to look up to and take their opinion seriously. Seriously…I can’t believe he actually said that to you. But if you have a knack for these things, just like fashion, who needs a degree unless it was to prescribe meds…I bet you would be really awesome at it. I also love the plaid with the stripes, it’s really emerging now the pattern mix.

    • debbies
      03.8.2016 / 7:38 pm

      Crazy right? The thing is, if my childhood wasn’t what it was, I wouldn’t be who I am today. So as weird as it may seem, I’m grateful. All of that adversity instilled a drive in me that’s never gone away.
      Plaid and stripes is one of my favorite mixes and I think one of the easiest to pull off too. 🙂

  12. 03.9.2016 / 1:04 pm

    I love the post, and the alternatives that you propose. The dress is beautiful, and looks have prepared are fantastic.

    • debbies
      03.12.2016 / 8:42 am

      Thanks so much Josep!