#WO2crosscountry: Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis Tenessee family road trip recap - Wardrobe OxygenThe drive from Amarillo to Memphis is over 10 hours and a drive that wasn’t terribly fascinating. On top of that it was cloudy and rained from time to time. We would have loved to stop in some of the cities on the way, but that kind of drive day meant we even rushed bathroom breaks.

Memphis, Tennessee

I reached out to the city of Memphis regarding our trip. They were excited and said they’d get back to me and did the day before we were set to start our road trip. In a brief email they just stated we were being hosted by The River Inn. I was trying to wrap everything up at work and doing last-minute suitcase stuffing so I didn’t have time to research this hotel and was just grateful that they agreed to partner with me and we had a place to rest our heads.

We arrived at the hotel around 6pm completely bedraggled and road weary. I was in my Gap tee shirt dress (which was laundered in Albuquerque but worn since so not terribly fresh) and Birkenstocks, Karl was in a polo shirt and Adidas track pants with Minnetonka driving mocs, and Emerson was in a pair of shorts too small and a tee shirt we bought at The Big Texan that was too snug and kept riding up. We parked our bug-splattered 2011 Kia Soul in front of the hotel and staggered in. Why am I telling you this?

The River Inn of Harbor Town

The River Inn of Harbor Town in Memphis Tennessee - Wardrobe OxygenThe River Inn of Harbor Town has won the prestigious awards such as #1 best hotel in Memphis by US News & World Report, Top 100 Hotel in the whole world by Travel and Leisure, and Top 25 Hotel in the United States by Condé Nast. Walking into the lobby we could immediately tell it deserved it by the décor, the vibe… and the service.

River Inn Memphis Lobby EntranceWalking in, we were treated like royalty without even stating our reason for entering their doors. When I let her know my name, the concierge’s eyes lit up and she said they were excited for our stay and were honored to host us in their Penthouse Suite. Like any other guest at The River Inn of Harbor Town, the staff is there to make your experience exceptional. Need a car to visit the sites of Memphis or wish to book a tour? Forgot to pack something? Wish to have flowers delivered to a room or an in-room massage? The River Inn staff is there to assist. They also welcomed us with glasses of champagne!

Mud Island, a peninsula that jetties into the Mississippi River, is home to the River Inn of Harbor Town. Just a stone’s throw from downtown Memphis (or a $6 Uber ride), The River Inn has a gorgeous view of the bridge, the Mississippi River, but still feels remote, romantic, and a retreat. Harbor Town has everything for a luxurious and relaxing stay – restaurants of all types, a market, even a day spa and nail bar. Inside The River Inn is the famous Paulette’s Restaurant, a Memphis institution for over 40 years and is regularly rated as the most romantic restaurant in Memphis. Paulette’s is also home to Little Bar, which is exactly that – cozy and utterly charming. On the top floor is Terrace, a rooftop bar with delectable little plates and a panoramic view of the Mississippi and Downtown Memphis.  Across the street from the hotel is Tug’s, a more casual bar and grill restaurant that is part of the River Inn.

Every floor of the hotel has a library with sitting area, and in the morning there will be a table in the library with hot coffee available. Entering our room, there was a spacious living area with sofa bed, armchair, table and two chairs, an electric fireplace, armoire with TV, a wetbar, and yet still plenty of space. The bathroom was larger than our dining room at home with a large shower and a deep whirlpool tub and high-end toiletries. The bedroom had a four-poster king sized bed, desk, armoire with TV, and a large closet with two terry robes. Looking out the windows of the suite, we had a spectacular view of the Mississippi River and the setting sun.

Emerson at the window of Little River Inn MemphisWe unpacked and all bathed; Emerson was so excited to take a bath in that huge tub!

Paulettes Memphis Tennessee - Wardrobe OxygenKnowing nothing about Paulette’s we headed there for dinner. I wore my green Boden off the shoulder top with white jeans, gold sandals, my yellow bag with the strap off to make it a clutch, and gold jewelry. The patrons wore everything from jeans and nice tops to cocktail dresses, it was a resort vibe.

I’m still torn over which meal was better, the one we had at The Turquoise Room in Winslow, or our dinner at Paulette’s. I had a wedge salad (a guilty pleasure of mine) and the lamb chops, which were like butter. It was a very romantic setting, but we were treated with respect even though we came with a child (who was very respectful herself). We drank wine, we savored every bite, we laughed, and we slowly relaxed. While we felt relaxed in Durango, the drives, the tire, the everything was wearing on all of us and we were in need of some TLC. Emerson had dessert, we had coffee, the sun set, and it was an utterly perfect moment.

The River Inn Memphis Penhouse BedThe bed at The River Inn is insane. I’ve slept in those other hotel’s famous beds, and we have a pretty wonderful mattress at home but it was nothing compared to our bed at The River Inn. This was the first hotel where we didn’t use our own pillows, the ones they offered were so perfect we wanted to order some to take home! The Democratic National Convention was taking place and we tried to stay up for it, but silky high-count cotton sheets, a million fluffy pillows, and the truffles and port they left bedside for us had us drift off and experience the best sleep we had since starting this journey.

Penthouse River Inn Memphis Pull Out Sofa BedEmerson even said her bed was the most comfy of the journey and she was on a pull-out sofa!

Paulettes Memphis Breakfast PancakesThe next morning, we all bathed again just to enjoy the fabulous shower water pressure and the decadent tub, and went back to Paulette’s for breakfast. Breakfast is complimentary with your stay at the River Inn, and this is no traditional continental spread. You have your choice of entrees, beverages, and sides. We had fruit, I had Eggs Benedict, Emerson had blueberry pancakes. It was so delicious, we lingered over the meal, not stressing about the day.  We had hoped to visit the National Civil Rights Museum but it was Tuesday and the museum is closed on Tuesdays.  So we went back up to the room and caught up on the previous night’s speeches via YouTube and then decided to explore a bit of Harbor Town.

Greenbelt Park Mud Island MemphisAcross the street from the hotel is the Mississippi River and a park called… Greenbelt Park! We drive across the country but we still can’t get away from our hometown!  Of course we had to take a picture and share it with our neighbors on Facebook!  We walked around the shops and restaurants and saw there was most anything you need for a lovely stay in Harbor Town – a variety of restaurants, an adorable market, day spa, gym, and even a nail bar.

Sun Studio

wardrobe oxygen at sun studio memphisWe then headed to downtown Memphis for the day.  The River Inn is happy to call you a taxi, and an Uber ride to the Beale Street area is only about $5.  We headed to Sun Studio, a must on our list.

Sum Studio Memphis DoorSun Studio is a recording studio opened by Sam Phillips in 1950.  It’s considered the birthplace of rock & roll, and famous blues and rock & roll artists like Howlin’ Wolf, BB King, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded there.

Dewey Phillips Studio Sun Records MemphisHowever the studio is best known for introducing the world to Elvis Presley.  Sun Studio then (and now) would let anyone come in and record.  Fresh out of high school, Elvis stopped by. Sam Phillips wasn’t there that day but Marion Keisker was and she pressed Phillips to listen to Presley, even though he was a “ballad singer” and Phillips was more into rock.

Emerson at Sun StudioPhillips brought Elvis Presley back in, they did a recording, it was given to DJ Dewey Phillips and the rest is history.  They rebuilt Dewey Phillips’ DJ booth inside Sun; this is Emerson in front of it.

Johnny Cash I Walk the Line Record Sun Records MemphisSun Studio has guided tours, $12 for adults, kids under 11 free (FYI kids under 5 are not allowed).  If you visit Yelp you may see negative reviews for these tours, saying it’s a ripoff as there’s really only two rooms on the tour.  I think those grumpy heads aren’t music fans.  All three of us were highly impressed by the tour.  Our guide was phenomenal; she knew the history, had funny stories to add, and engaged our entire group.

Emerson with Elvis Microphone Sun Studio MemphisWithout the tour, it really would have been two rooms but with it, the tour of Sun Studios was a highlight of our trip.  Karl and I both got tee shirts and we got a pint glass with the Sun Studio logo on it; the tour guide gave Emerson a Sun Studio sticker.  Emerson was psyched to hold the microphone that Elvis used!

Beale Street

Beale Street Memphis - Wardrobe OxygenSun Studio offers a free shuttle to Beale Street so we took advantage of it.  It’s a clean, comfortable and very air conditioned mini bus with a TV in front playing Elvis movies on a loop.  A really nice feature, and proves even more that the tour price is worth it.

BB King Company Store Memphis Beale Street - Wardrobe OxygenWe walked around Beale Street because we knew it was a must while visiting Memphis, but it wasn’t anything thrilling.  Restaurants, bars, gift shops, and plenty of folks out on the street trying to woo you into their establishment.  It was hot and humid and gross outside so when we saw what looked like a quiet air conditioned art gallery we popped in.

Withers Collection Museum and Gallery

Ernest C Withers Building MemphisThe Withers Collection Museum and Gallery is dedicated to the works of photojournalist Ernest C. Withers.  Withers began his career as a military photographer and when he returned home after World War II, he chose to be a photographer by profession.  Withers was the only photographer who covered the entire Emmett Till trial; he self-published a photo pamphlet about Till’s murder which helped spur the movement for equal rights. Withers’s pictures of key civil rights events from the Montgomery Bus Boycott to the strike of Memphis sanitation workers are historic; he was often the only photographer to record these events as the mainstream press wasn’t interested at that time.  Withers traveled with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and captured many iconic images of him, including the ones of him in room 306 of the Lorraine Hotel the night before his murder.  Withers captured many historical photos of baseball, especially the last years of the Negro League, and jazz and blues musicians in Memphis (many early photos of Elvis Presley, Tina Turner, Ray Charles, and Arethra Franklin).

Emerson at Withers CollectionWe were able to see a documentary about Withers, view many of his over 5 million photographs, and they even had a room where you could dress up and take a picture for social media.  Withers’ goddaughter was at the gallery and gave us a tour and provided a lot of interesting tidbits and moving stories to go with the powerful photographs.  With the Civil Rights Museum closed, we were glad to be able to share some of the history of the civil rights movement with Emerson while we were in Memphis; I’d recommend visiting the Withers Collection.

The Peabody Hotel

After the gallery, we headed to the Peabody Hotel to see the ducks.  Back in the 1930’s the General Manager of the Peabody and his friend returned from a hunting trip and thought it would be funny to put their live duck decoys into the hotel’s fountain. Hotels guests loved the ducks.  Peabody bellman Edward Pembroke,. who used to be an animal trainer with the circus, taught these ducks the now-famous Peabody Duck March.  Pembroke became the Duckmaster, a role he held for 50 years until his 1991 retirement. The Peabody ducks march to the fountain every morning at 11am and leave at exactly 5pm, directed by the current Duckmaster.  It wasn’t even 4pm but we had enough of Beale Street and figured we could at least sit in the lobby, have a cold drink, and relax before the Duck March.

Walking into the hotel, there’s a few stores.  One had this fantastic paisley tux jacket on a mannequin and I said, “Karl I could totally see you in this.”  He agreed and we decided to walk in, not realizing at that moment what store it was.  It was Lansky Bros.  In the late ’40s, Samuel Lansky bought a store for his two sons, Bernard and Guy.  They sold clothing for those who wanted to look dapper and were part of the Beale Street music scene and outfitted famous musicians like Count Basie and Duke Ellington.  In 1952 Bernard Lansky saw a young man looking in the store window.  The man said when he had enough money he would buy the store.  Supposedly Lansky replied, “Don’t buy me, buy from me!” That young man was Elvis Presley.  Once Elvis was famous, he got much of his clothing from Lansky Bros. including his wedding suit and what he wore for his first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.  Lansky Bros. has two locations – one in the Peabody Hotel and one on Beale Street.  They also have a “Clothier to the King” line which offers reproductions of clothing that Elvis actually wore as well as 1950s-inspired clothing.  Musicians and celebrities love Lansky Bros., they have a gallery of all their celeb customers on their site.

We walked in all bedraggled from a day out on Beale Street and were treated like celebrities.  Edith assisted us, and she was able to take a quick glance at Karl and immediately know what size he wore.  Karl tried on some pretty fierce jackets including a black version of the jacket Elvis wore for his wedding, but really fell for a grey blazer with blue flowers on it (it helped that it was on sale!).  He also got a cool printed shirt which some of you saw on Instagram.  When heading to the fitting room we saw The Speedway Jacket.  When I met Karl, he had a cerulean blue jacket from some surf brand.  It was a lightweight jacket that he wore all the time, and the color was amazing, made his eyes pop.  This jacket was the same blue color, and had a similar utilitarian but stylish vibe.  Karl tried on the jacket and we knew he had to have it.  Karl NEVER buys clothes, so to buy three items was huge for him.  But everything fit so well and had such a unique vibe and personality, they were great purchases.  If he had the money I think Karl’s entire wardrobe would come from Lansky Bros.!

Peabody Ducks - Wardrobe OxygenWe left Lansky and went to the lobby.  There were a lot of people already there, but it wasn’t too crowded.  Emerson was positively absolutely in love with the ducks and was “talking” to them.  There was a set of twins from Canada her age and they instantly became BFFs so Karl and I each got a Mint Julep and sat down in two chairs to relax.  Five minutes later came the deluge.  Suddenly the whole lobby was packed with people. Folks were scrambling to grab a seat and were hovering around the ropes around the main part of the lobby.  Security asked everyone without a seat to leave the main lobby area (kids were permitted to hang out and enjoy the ducks).  We had no idea, we arrived at the perfect time!  We clinked glasses and sat back to enjoy the spectacle that started 15 minutes later.

Peabody Hotel Lobby MemphisAnd spectacle it is. Hundreds of people were there to see the Peabody Duck March.  The Duckmaster, in a red coat with a gold baton, shares the history of the Peabody Ducks.  Stairs are rolled out, the music swells, the Duckmaster marches around the fountain, and then one by one the ducks climb out of the fountain, walk down the steps, and march in a single file line to the elevators.

Peabody Hotel Memphis DuckmasterEmerson was right on the path and saw the whole thing while we had an obstructed (but comfortable) view.  This is a free and fun activity if visiting Memphis; if you do it I recommend getting there earlier than you’d think.  Grab a drink, sit down and relax, let the kids bond with other children from around the country and world and cool off.  We’re so glad we did it, and next time we visit Memphis we plan to see the 11am march.  I heard if you get there early they sometimes let you go upstairs and see the ducks’ home too!

terrace at River Inn - Wardrobe OxygenAfter the Duck March, we were hungry.  We checked out Yelp and TripAdvisor looking for a place to eat nearby, but we were hot and sweaty and dressed like tourists and had bags of purchases so we decided to snag an Uber and head back to the hotel.  We came back to our beds turned down and a treat of truffles and a little bottle of port.  We all showered and changed and decided we didn’t want to go back into downtown Memphis and decided to check out Terrace, the rooftop bar and restaurant at The River Inn.

View from The Terrace at River Inn MemphisTerrace is small but stylish.  With panoramic views of the Mississippi River and the bridge, Terrace has a bar but also several tables.  Emerson picked a high-top table for us and we all sat so we could look out the windows and watch the spectacular sunset.

Terrace at the River Inn Small Plates MenuTerrace offers small plates; Emerson had chicken satay, Karl got the Mojo shrimp and we both ordered the seared tuna, and we shared an order of French fries.  It was a perfect ending to a really fun day in Memphis.

Wardrobe Oxygen at the River Inn of Harbor Town MemphisThe next morning, I went right outside our room and got me and Karl cups of coffee, we put on the bathrobes and got back in bed and watched the news.  So decadent!  When Emerson woke, we returned to Paulette’s for another amazing breakfast.

We had originally planned to next visit Nashville, but we learned by this point there was no point to visiting a city with only one night.  We didn’t have a hotel booked, so we decided to change our plans and head to Virginia.  It was an almost 13 hour drive so we knew we’d have to crash one night en route.  Still with a lot of travel on the schedule, after breakfast we packed up, said our sad goodbyes to The River Inn and Memphis, and got back on the road.

Wardrobe Oxygen at the Little River Inn Harbor Town MemphisI seriously can’t recommend The River Inn enough.  If it’s an anniversary, a special birthday, or a night when you want to be romantic or pampered, The River Inn is the perfect place to stay.  It was like a mini vacation within our vacation, it recharged us, relaxed us, and was much needed after some stressful driving and long days on the road.

Emersons Toys at Little River Inn MemphisI worried staying at such a posh place with a child, but they were wonderful with her and Emerson LOVED it.  In fact, just this past weekend Emerson randomly said, “I miss the River Inn, it’s my favorite place on earth after home.”  Thank you to the city of Memphis and The River Inn for our fantastic stay, we WILL be back!

Next and last post… Jamestowne and Williamsburg, Virginia!


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Fashion Purchases Hits and Misses: Soma Intimates Edition

soma intimates purchases review - wardrobe oxygenSpoiler alert – there’s no misses really in this post. Also note some items were gifted to me from Soma, the rest were purchased with my money and my only discount was the code I got from one of their emails that goes to all customers. Anyway, on with the items I have recently purchased or received from Soma and what I think!

Soma Cool Nights Collection

I was going on vacation and wanted a pair of cute pajamas that wouldn’t be too heavy, too hot, or take up too much room. You have all raved about Soma’s Cool Nights collection for so long I decided to try it out. While the Cool Nights collection is 93% rayon and 7% spandex, I find it breathable and yes, cool at night, even in heat and humidity. It’s thin, stretchy, silky, and can survive the washer, dryer, being laundered with things like denim and towels and Velcro and come out looking like new.

Soma Cool Nights Lace Sleep Cami – Large

I got this in a no longer available color combination of Poppy Red/Rose Violet which is in my eyes, an orangey red and a cool blue pink. I love orange and pink together, and this color combo made me happy. I ordered a large… and think I could have gone with a medium. This is a very loose, drapey, swingy camisole. It’s not too low in the neck or under the arms, but I wouldn’t have minded less volume in the body. I also for some reason didn’t think about the combination of older softer, let’s say… drapey breasts and a soft, thin, drapey camisole. It’s not the most flattering combination. However, this cami is uber comfortable. I prefer to go commando when I sleep and find many pajamas annoying. This cami doesn’t annoy me at all. I used a promo code and got it for a bit over $40 and it has been totally worth the money. The cami has been washed at least a half dozen times and each time after put in the dryer and I haven’t experienced shrinkage, fading, pilling, or even snags in the lace. I love the fabric so much I am considering a more structured sleep cami that better flatters the bustline!

Soma Cool Nights Lace Pajama Shorts – Large

I love these shorts. They’re like longer, fuller tap pants. Super cute and feminine, not clingy, not snug, they don’t give wedgies, they’re long enough to not have my thighs rub, but short enough to look a bit sexy. If you’re between sizes, go down. Like the cami, I think I could have done these in a medium. With the code I used these were $38 and completely worth it. I have bought similar shorts from department store brands that aren’t nearly as nice in quality or fit as these. I love these so much, I may get the longer pants for winter.

Soma Vanishing Edge Collection

Soma sent me a pair of their Vanishing Edge Modern Brief. Again, you all raved about this collection and I see why. They completely vanish under clothing, and the little silicone grippers aren’t uncomfortable yet keep the back in place (no wedgies!). The biggest thing is that though they are 83% Nylon, 17% Spandex (though with a 100% cotton crotch), they don’t get swampy and uncomfortable in heat and humidity. As a petite woman, briefs are often too high on me and fold over; as a woman with a belly I often find lower rise underwear to roll down when I bend. I find these are a perfect height for me and are still sassy looking.  I decided to get a couple other pairs in a variety of Vanishing Edge styles to see which I like best and to have a good stash for my road trip.

Soma Vanishing Edge Microfiber Modern Brief – Large

I already had one pair in nude but I bought another in nude and one in black. These fit exactly like the pair I got free, and all three have survived being in the wash and dryer (though I recommend washing on gentle in a lingerie bag and line drying to keep them looking and fitting great as long as possible).

Soma Vanishing Edge Cotton/Modal with Lace High Leg Brief – Large

I got these in leopard print with black lace (currently not available online but plenty of other patterns and solids are on the site) and they’re super cute. They run a tad lower rise than the modern brief, but not enough to have them ride down or cut me under fitted dresses. The black lace makes them look more luxe, more sexy. I like these a lot.

Soma Vanishing Edge Microfiber with Lace Modern Brief – Large

I got these in black with white dots and black lace. They’re cute… but they look the most like a pair of shapewear (very similar to my DKNY Lace Curves shaper briefs). It’s funny but I find the hint of lace on the sides to make these look more frumpy than the plain solid ones. However, they fit similar to the plain modern brief and are quite comfortable. So on looks, they get a C but on fit and quality they get an A.

Other Soma Purchases

Soma Vanishing Back Full Coverage Bra

When I visited Soma for this post, I was measured as a 38D though I usually wear a 36DDD or F. I found it to be a bit off in size after owning it, so when Soma offered to send me this bra, I told them 36DD. It was the wrong size too, but Soma was kind enough to send it to me in the size I normally wear in Chantelle, Fantasie, and Wacoal. It’s a super comfortable bra, I hardly notice it’s on and I’m not itching to remove it as soon as I get home. That being said it doesn’t give me as gorgeous of a bustline as my favorite Fantasie bras. It’s more of a… relaxed silhouette. Decent lift and separation, no back bulges, no quad-boob, a good everyday casual bra.

Soma Travelers High Leg Brief – Large

I was traveling so a pair of these seemed like a natural choice. These are okay, but they are not my favorite. They run a bit more snug, and a bit lower rise than the Vanishing Edge, and the leg opening isn’t as open. They’re not bad, they’re more like an awesome pair of Target underwear than something that costs $15. I got them free as part of a buy X get Y promotion taking place at the time of order. I got them in Ruby, which was an ordinary red, not the brilliant red I saw on my computer monitor.

Soma Enticing Lift Unlined Full Coverage Bra

The Enticing Lift bras from Soma are supposed to give lift without being a padded pushup bra. As someone who wears a molded cup bra for that pushup lifted look, this sounded pretty darn good to me. Soma sent me one without me even asking for it, and thanks to my Vanishing Back experience, sent me a 36DDD in black.

The bra is black lace with a beige lining but the layers are bonded together so it’s super smooth and there’s no texture even when worn under thin fitted knits. No padding, but better shape and support than unlined stretch or lace bras. In fact, after my beloved Fantasie bras this is the best bra I have owned in a very long time. I think because of its weight but the bonded fabric, the bra molds to your body over the day and has a seamless and comfortable fit. It has been a favorite this summer because it’s lighter weight than my molded cups and well, it’s prettier too!

Soma Enticing Allover Lace Boyshort – Large

Soma sent these to me in black along with the Enticing Lift bra and they’re fine. My body isn’t made for a boyshort, I find them to ride a bit too low and not be too flattering on my figure. But these are nice quality, the lace holds its shape, they’ve been washed and worn and have held up beautifully. They are a lightweight lace, lighter than Hanky Panky, and not as stretchy/form fitting. Not my cup of tea, but if you like lace boyshorts, you may like these.

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Capsule Wardrobe: Street Style Fashionista

Can you do a capsule wardrobe that is full of prints and personality? Capsule wardrobes always are so minimalistic and boring. I want to shrink my wardrobe but I don’t want to lose the fun it has.

What does it take to be stylish? I look at street style and blogs like The Sartorialist and it’s not the fashion I see on blogs. How do they do it?

Is it possible to be fashionable and not have a giant wardrobe? I want to learn how to purchase less but better things. When is a designer piece an investment or when is it a trend? What parts of a look should you spend money on and when can you buy cheap?

You can have a small wardrobe and still have your closet chock full of personality and style. In fact, a smaller wardrobe helps you really define your personal style and choose wisely to ensure cohesion. Many of those stylish individuals shot by street style photographers have quite small wardrobes but buy statement and quality pieces that pack a punch, get them tailored to fit perfectly, and shop knowing and loving their body and their personality.

Wardrobe Oxygen - Capsule Wardrobe for the Street Style FashionistaThis capsule wardrobe is for inspiration, not imitation. It shows how you can mix budget-friendly classics with vintage, designer, and unique items that show your personality. I call it a street style capsule wardrobe as it creates looks that will stop traffic without being too trendy, too extreme, or requiring too many pieces in your closet. However, this capsule will work beyond the street and into many situations in life.

Shop My Picks for Solid Yet Not Boring Dresses:

The green dress is from the budget-friendly brand Topshop. This brand can often fit weird, but it does a great job of incorporating trends and adding unique details. For the low price you can afford alterations to make it look like a million bucks, and many celebs and street style icons love this brand. I chose it because it’s a classic wrap dress with edge thanks to the unusual color and dolman sleeves. How you style it can take it from ho-hum to hum-dinger. Pair with the tassel earrings and gold sandals for a summer dinner, with the leopard pumps and gold necklace for desk to drinks, with the scarf and black pumps for the office.

Shop My Picks for Vintage-Inspired Dresses:

The navy floral dress is a vintage-inspired piece and the kind of dress I could see fashionistas drool over. With good tailoring it won’t look mumsy, and in fact with alterations you could go with a cheaper vintage-inspired dress from a lower-end brand and get the same effect.  Again it’s all about the styling. Pair with the sneakers and throw the denim jacket over your shoulders like a cape. Style with the sequin boots, deep dark lipcolor and bedhead. Pattern mixing is a way to stand out in a crowd; don’t be afraid to wear it with a patterned shoe and/or bag.

Denim is a way to buy low cost but look high end. Levi’s are eternally chic yet budget-friendly. If you like crisp and dark, you can find them at many mass retailers; if you desire the distressed look head to Etsy where you can find vintage Levi’s jackets, skirts, shorts, and jeans for prices far lower than designer. I find J. Crew does a good job with denim washes that look both expensive and well-loved. Denim can be tailored and it’s worth it, whether it’s a shirt or a pair of jeans, to have it fit impeccably. This is what usually makes a wardrobe go from fine to fabulous. Denim looks great paired with bold prints and luxe fabrics. Style the denim shirt with the jeans and add the leopard pumps and gold necklace. Wear any of the skirts with the denim shirt or jacket (consider wearing the jacket as a shirt!). Play with the jeans, sometimes wearing straight, sometimes making one large cuff, or a couple smaller ones. Try rolling sleeves, wearing the jacket like a cape, knotting the shirt, popping the collar, and giving the pieces new lives and new silhouettes.

Shop My Picks for Statement Skirts:

There’s something so chic about a statement skirt. It’s a piece that can become your signature and worn over and over without looking tired. While the red paisley skirt is designer (Alexander McQueen), it’s a concept that can be recreated with vintage, a unique boutique purchase, a chance finding in H&M or Zara, or even handmade. The midi length can dress up or down with ease and the simple a-line silhouette transcends trends. Style with the band tee and sneakers, with the black turtleneck and a pair of tall black heeled boots, the black silk blouse and leopard pumps, the denim shirt and a pair of beat up cowboy boots. It could go evening with a silk camisole and heels or weekend with a ribbed tank and gladiator sandals.

Shop My Picks for Leather Jackets and Skirts:

I’m a sucker for leather and by perusing street style blogs or Googling style icons you can see fashionistas are as well. A leather pencil skirt can make a simple white shirt look couture and a black fitted turtleneck sweater with one is a look you could see on Jackie O or Karen O. You can’t get more luxe than a silk blouse and leather skirt, and a band tee with leather skirt and statement shoes is a look that has you a fashion badass once the sun goes down. A leather jacket is the perfect completion piece. While it can be outerwear, it’s also so great in tempering twee or something too feminine. Imagine it with the floral dress, over a pleated silk maxi skirt, or used as a blazer over the printed shell and black trousers. I have had much luck with leather from the Halogen brand found at Nordstrom, and also find great gently used leather on eBay.

Shop My Picks for Wardrobe Classics:

A stylish woman mixes classics with trendy touches. Some pieces like a Breton tee, black turtleneck, straight jeans, a Western-inspired denim shirt, cashmere crewneck, or black silk shirt rarely go out of style. The mixture of a classic with a classic is always chic, but consider going outside your comfort zone and mixing them with the unexpected. Add the sequin booties to the black turtleneck and leather skirt, wear the Breton tee with a patterned skirt or trousers. Wear jeans with your gems, silk with distressed denim, florals with snakeskin, a ball skirt with a band tee. Stepping outside the box is what takes your style to the next level.

Shop My Picks for White Blazers:

A white blazer is an instant way to look chic. Whether it’s worn over a black sheath dress, paired with a band tee and vintage jeans, over a Breton tee or a silk camisole with dark denim, made into a suit with the black trousers or paired with matching pants for a variation on the Le Smoking, you’ll find a white blazer can often be more versatile than one in navy or black and it has far more impact.

Buy the best quality you can afford so it can last and will justify alteration costs. Factor in alteration costs when budgeting for a piece so you won’t get tailor sticker shock. It’s better to spend $100 in alterations on a $150 blazer than buy a $255 blazer and wear it right off the rack. It will look more expensive and you will look more stylish. Check Yelp, ask a bridal salon or men’s suiting shop for recommendations on a tailor and test them out with a piece that isn’t your ultimate favorite.

Shop My Picks for Statement Shoes:

I feel where one should spend their money is on footwear. While many lower-cost brands sell current trends, they quality is often lacking and you can risk purchasing a cheap replica and no fashionista wears fakes. You don’t need a closet overflowing with footwear, just a few key pieces that are versatile yet make a statement. In this capsule wardrobe I have a leopard calfhair pump (leopard is a neutral and the textured finish adds interest to a look), a sleek leather pump with a pointed toe (this is the kind of shoe where quality and details matter; if you can care for shoes well it’s a good shoe to invest in), an on-trend flat (right now it’s sneakers; this is an embroidered style from Gucci but you can go classic with a pair of Adidas shell tops or Stan Smiths), and an eye-catcher (for these I did sequined booties from Roger Vivier but you could do most any on-trend unique silhouette in a statement color or material).

When it comes to accessories and being a style maven, go classic and quality, or go vintage or handmade. There’s nothing less chic than a replica of a designer piece, and sometimes you don’t even realize you’re buying a cheap copy of the original. If you see your favorite fashion icon wearing an accessory or pair of shoes that calls to you, Google it. A search of “Gigi Hadid Sunglasses” or “Jenna Lyons shoes” will provide you with zillions of photos of the celebrity in the accessory and from there you can find the one you liked and often click on the image and get a website sharing the name and style number.

Vintage designer is a way to have high-end for less. While vintage Chanel will still cost an arm and a leg, you can often find belts, clutches, and brooches at reasonable prices at local consignment and high-end vintage shops, and online at places like The RealReal, Tradesy, and FarFetch have great selection and guarantee authenticity. The addition of a designer belt can completely transform a pair of Levi’s and a v-neck tee, and you’ll see many fashionistas sporting a vintage designer clutch instead of the most recent It Bag.

The best way to put a personal touch on a wardrobe is shop for it when on your travels. A cuff bracelet picked up on your trip to Vietnam or shoes you bought at a market in Morocco add far more style than buying the most expensive on-trend accessory that season. And how nice when someone compliments you on the piece to be able to have a story to share about it!

Subscribe to fashion magazines and/or visit their websites to get regular inspiration of what is coming down the runways and how editors are styling them. A fashionista doesn’t copy, but she is well educated on designers and trends. The more you research, the more you will see patterns in what you like, get ideas for unexpected pairings within your current wardrobe, decide what will complete your closet that season, and figure out how to get the look you desire on your budget.

Don’t think because you’re a certain age you can only glean inspiration from stylish women from your generation. True style is ageless, and someone 20 years older or younger than you may stimulate your sartorial juices better than your peers. Also step out of your comfort zone and check out the current fashion mavens on the scene. While Audrey, Katharine, Bridgette, Jackie, Jane and Lauren are eternal icons, there’s some really chic women right now who are going to be the next generation’s icons and can provide a lot of inspiration, or at least food for thought.

Shop the Capsule Wardrobe:

This capsule wardrobe is not cheap; tallying it up it would be around $10,000. That is a LOT of money, but these aren’t pieces that are all purchased in one season or one year. Many of these pieces are ones you can buy once and wear for decades. Consider the fashionistas featured on the blog Advanced Style; you know they didn’t buy their whole look at once. Over the years they found that perfect hat, the bracelet that looks so perfect with that dress, the sunglasses that complete an ensemble. Style icons don’t shop just for the here and now but also for the future. Don’t gut your closet and start from scratch, slowly replace items with quality, with style, with fit, with personality. Stay on track, save your pennies, don’t be swayed by major markdowns or the look for less. Treat your wardrobe like an art collection and your personal style a work of art. This mentality is what takes one from looking nice to being a fashion icon.


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