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Recent Purchases: Spring Clothing Shopping

Been doing a bit of shopping lately, a bit more misses than hits:

recent spring purchases clothing

1. Halogen Roll Sleeve Maxi Dress

This dress looked like perfection for spring through fall. I imagined it with my vintage brown leather belt and heeled sandals for the office, with my silver Birkenstocks for the weekend. I have pieces from Halogen in this fabric and knew it would be great for travel. Since it’s a maxi, I chose a petite. I went with XL since it’s not stretchy and I need room for “the girls.”

The arms were so tight I could hardly get it on, and the front placket bulged. However, the torso felt a bit too long, the waist was too big and the skirt was loose. The length was perfect, just like the model so I knew switching to Regular wouldn’t work. Sadly this was returned, but if you’re smaller busted or taller scoop this baby up; it’s very similar to dresses sold by brands like Vince for four times the price and the fabric is nice – feels and looks like silk yet is machine washable.

2. Madewell Raw Edge Denim Skirt

I swore I wouldn’t buy a denim skirt this season. I did denim skirts a decade ago, and did them five years before that and a decade before that. There’s a point when you just don’t want to do a trend again. But then I saw a woman around my age wearing one with a Breton tee and Chucks and Wayfarers and gosh she looked so casually cool and classic. I didn’t want it crisp, I wanted a casual version, and I wanted it to come down to my knees. This one from Madewell via Nordstrom looked perfect.

And it is almost perfect. So almost perfect I’m wondering if it’s worth alterations. For the problem with this skirt is that it’s completely straight and if you’re curvy like me, a straight skirt turns into a bell. From the front, it’s cute enough but the side and back view is dreadful. However, if the skirt was tapered about an inch on either side, it would be awesome. I love the soft denim, I love the raw edge and subtle distressing that looks authentic, not torn apart in a warehouse. And I tried it on with the striped tee in this post and my Converse Shorelines and I loved the concept on me.  I should have also checked it out on the Madewell site where it’s not pinned in back and looks more a-line.

So the skirt is sitting in a box in the corner of my room while I decide whether it’s worth additional alterations or if I find a better choice. If you’ve seen a similar skirt that’s more a true pencil, please let me know!

3. Gap White Linen Shirtdress

I’ve always wanted a dress like this – buttons all the way down, sleeves rolled, pockets, knee length, a self-belt that can be switched out for a different look. I’ve never bought one because white dresses are usually too sheer and they rarely end up looking good after a day of wear. But this dress got great reviews for opacity and wearability so I took a chance.

Again, I worked a hell of a long time trying to style this dress. Skinny belt, wide belt, raffia belt, braided belt, no belt, collar popped, cami underneath. It just isn’t flattering. The pockets are very bulky (why make the actual pocket of the same heavy linen? Use a lightweight cotton for gosh sakes!), there’s no loops for the belt so the belt slides around, and yes, it is too sheer to wear without a slip (though I have a cotton slip and that didn’t bother me).

4. Ann Taylor Stripe Shoulder Zip Cotton Top

I know, do I REALLY need another striped top? My gray striped J. Crew Factory tee now has a hole in it, and I wanted another gray stripe. I know, I know, but all my striped tops DO get regular wear!

This top is a heavy weight, the zipper detail adds a nice touch. It’s a structured top, too heavy to tuck in and far more substantial and less stretchy than a tee. I actually like that feature, it looks more polished when paired with jeans and can be worn in a Business Casual work environment. It was machine washed regular but line dried and turned out well. It’s not the best striped shirt I have ever had, but it’s a nice one that has already been worn a handful of times!

5. Gap Cinched Scoop Dress

I’ve worn the heck out of this dress from Lands’ End Canvas (RIP) and it got too worn out to look nice. This dress in navy looked like a great replacement. And it’s sooooo close. I ordered a petite because I feared the armholes would be too low and the skirt too long. And while neither of those were an issue with the petite, the problem was that the waist was at this weird point that isn’t empire and isn’t traditional. The elastic waist is begging to be covered with a belt, but is wider than all of my wide belts, and with the high waist, it just looked super wonky. I kept trying to make it work and realized that if a dress takes this much effort to style, it doesn’t belong in my wardrobe. But if I were taller and could carry off the regular, I think all the issues wouldn’t be issues. If you’re 5’6” or taller, don’t rule this one out as it’s that great fabric that can look good wrinkled or crinkled and will get softer with washings, it has pockets, is a classic style and quite comfortable. It could be dressed up or down and will dry quickly.

6. Banana Republic Brenna Slip-on Sneaker

I mentioned in this post that I purchased these shoes. I must say I really dig them. I have short toes,a high arch and a fat foot thanks to lots of padding on the ball from childhood toewalking, so slip-on shoes don’t usually work for me. However, I have had luck with Banana Republic in the past so I took a chance. Glad I did, these shoes are freaking awesome. The silver is shiny, but it’s clearly metal and not cheap. The fit is comfortable, and the leather has a bit of give. The perforations keep you cooler than a solid shoe, but you can slip a pair of peds underneath without them showing.

Wednesday, I created an outfit around these shoes and asked Karl how it looked. He agreed the shoes are badass, but do I NEED shoes like this? I have my silver Birkenstocks, I have my Converse Shorelines. I hate to admit it, he’s right, so the shoes are going back. But if you need such shoes in your wardrobe, these are even better in person! Do as I did, wait until Banana has one of their 40% off deals; while these are awesome I think the price is a bit cray for a trend piece.

Have you made any recent purchases? Anything we should check out? Anything we should avoid at all costs?

My Beloved Banana Republic Slingbacks

A couple weeks ago, Banana Republic had 30% off everything in honor of their 30th anniversary. On a whim, I ordered the shoes to the left, in black as well as bronze.

I usually cannot wear slingbacks. As a child (and even a bit as an adult) I walked on my toes. This really built up my legs in weird ways – humongous calves and very thick ankles. My ankles are so thick, there is no dent in the back where the heel meets the leg – a necessary detail for successful slingback wearing. Straps never stayed up, so I stopped even trying.

The only reason I ordered these is because they looked to be crafted in a way that the strap would stay up without the need of a proper ankle/heel combo. Also I was desperate – my feet are swollen from pregnancy, my black sandals broke, my gold gladiator sandals are dangerous on slippery floors or in rain, and being pregnant makes anything with a high heel utter torture.

I ordered an 8; I was a 7.5 pre-pregnancy. They arrived and my feet slid in no problem. Buckling them was a different matter – having a baby in your stomach and trying to bend over to work a buckle on the outside of the shoe was the most intense yoga I have ever experienced. It took ten minutes to close one shoe before I had the brilliant idea to put them on already buckled (d’oh!).

Anyway, these shoes are divine! I am able to wear them all day without any pain. I got some Foot Petals so I wouldn’t slip and slide on the leather footbeds and wore them to work, to a wedding, to various social engagements. The heel is low enough that I am not dying, but high enough to feel feminine. They look great with pants as well as skirts; the bronze color was dressy enough to wear with an LBD and pearls for a wedding (didn’t want to look like Swollen Foot PRegnant Woman in old lady shoes).

Anyway… the shoes are back on the site and are on sale for $59.99! Not only that, if you spend $125 at Banana Republic you can get 15% off your order with the code FALLSALE. AND… today is 6% cash back with Ebates!

For those who don’t know, if you go to different online stores through Ebates, you receive cash back, like a rebate. Ebates is completely free and there are no strings. You can even make money off of referring your friends, and receive a $10 gift card just for signing up (I got one for Target). I have been using it for almost a year and have already gottn back almost $200 in checks mailed to my house. So I can vouch for it that it works, is worth it, is easy and fabulous.

If you would like to join Ebates, click this link. Then if youa re in need of some great slingbacks, head to Banana Republic! :)

What I Wore: Issa for Banana Republic

I’m not a fan of designer collaborations. I don’t understand clamoring for a cheaper version of a designer piece. I don’t want a glued-together pleather bag or ill-fitting polyester blouse no matter what name is on the label. However, once the Issa Collection came out for Banana Republic I was intrigued. Banana Republic already has good quality and fits me relatively well, and the pieces in the collection were things I would buy no matter the designer. I liked the kimono dresses, and felt this print was one I would wear now and five years from now, in spring and in winter. For those considering this dress, I chose a 14, and yes, they do run short (it’s veering on not work appropriate and I am 5’3″). However it’s made extremely well, a heavy matte jersey that feels good and is a style that I think would work if I gained or lost weight. And you know me, I waited until it was on sale, Banana Republic was having a big sale, and I had reward dollars!

And how great is this bracelet? Wearing gold jewelery? No problem! Silver? No problem! Everything goes with this piece from Ruth Barzel, and I love that it’s rock and roll while still being elegant. I’ve been wearing this bracelet a ton lately (check my Instagram for proof), I like it mixed with other bracelets, but with such a bold dress, I felt it looked best all by itself.

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My Wardrobe today – Thursday

Ponte collarless jacket - Banana Republic Outlet (similar)
Striped tee - LOFT
Ponte bootcut pantsLOFT
Bag – Sabina (similar)
Pashmina - c/o Pashmina International
BootiesCole Haan “Air Talia”

Ugh, another rainy day in DC! My old raincoat from LOFT is now too big – totally swimming in it. I recently ordered this trench in black from Nordstrom and wish I ordered it a week sooner so I could wear it today!  Instead I made do with an umbrella and a cozy scarf!

My hair is finally getting used to the new cut (got last Wednesday) – this morning I let my hair air dry sans product, then did big sections with a curling iron, a bit of Elnett to set.  So far so good on this soggy yucky day!

Another busy work day, and heading into a busy evening!  I will be at Simply Soles in Georgetown from 6-8 for the Presenza media event.  Will you be there?

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Spring Shoe Trends: Style Like a Pump, Looks Like a Sneaker

When writing this post, I could NOT get this jingle out of my head, but with the revised lyrics, “style like a pump, looks like a sneaker.” For it’s true, this spring sneakers have become THE hot shoe and their purpose goes way past the gym or tennis court.

The street sneaker trend started last year with the return of Vans and Chucks and variations of these shoes in fun textures and fabrics. Well the trend has only improved, offering more silhouettes, fabrications, and options to fit most any foot or personal style. While high-tops, lace-ups, and slip-ons are all en vogue, I am only featuring lower-profile shoes in this post because I find them more flattering and more versatile. A low shoe that can be worn without socks (or with Peds or socks like these which hide from view) can be paired with ankle pants, flared jeans (which are also back in style this spring), wide-leg trousers, midi skirts, pencil skirts (yes, seriously!), sundresses, and shorts of every length. This is a great shoe choice for travel as you can spend all day on your feet but still look on trend and style it with most everything in your suitcase.

This is not your gardening sneaker, and this is not your Keds or Tretorns of yore. This is a shoe that can easily replace your sandals on weekends, but also your heels for a night out or your slingbacks with a summer dress. Treat them as well as you would your leather pumps, and realize to have the style and comfort you deserve, you’ll likely have to pay more than expected for athletic shoes. Choosing a unique material, pattern, or metallic is actually more versatile than a neutral; let your shoes this spring be an accent piece like a statement necklace or a colorful silk scarf. Don’t match, complement or contrast with purpose.

2015 spring shoe trends

Consider this your cue to drop the beat-up elastic-backed ballet flats or the frumpy “comfort sandal” for an upgrade that’s high on style but still comfortable. A few styles I’ve been admiring, and how to style them for spring:

1. Aerin ‘Liza’ Slip-on: While available in stone and white calf leather, I chose to feature these shoes in Azalea Multi because it’s proof of what I wrote earlier about a unique pattern can be more versatile than a neutral. Pair with jeans and a Breton tee for the weekend, or style with a midi-length boho sundress for the farmer’s market. Style with white jeans and a silk tank for drinks with the girls, or gray ankle pants and a crisp white shirt for a more relaxed workplace. The perforations keep you cool on a warm day and the ultra-slim profile makes these more like a loafer than a clunky sneaker. Aerin (as in Lauder, granddaughter of Esteé ) makes beautiful footwear that is classic with a touch of elegance and this slip-on is a perfect example of her aesthetic.

2. Chico’s ‘Agatha’ Champagne Sneaker Flats: Sometimes a lace-up is a necessity, and sometimes it’s a sartorial preference. I fell for this lace-up “sneaker flat” because it has such a great sole for pounding the pavement, but an elegant low profile that would look great dressed up. Pair with a tee shirt dress and denim jacket for a day at the museums, style with a midi skirt and a large-brimmed sunhat for an afternoon at the winery or flea market, with ankle jeans and a tee shirt for running errands, with wide-leg ivory trousers and a silk blouse for a creative or more casual workplace. This shoe can easily hide a pair of Peds for additional comfort.

3. bernie mev. ‘Verona’ Slip-on Sneaker: I bought a pair of bernie mev. shoes last spring and adore them. Super cushy insoles, and the body of the shoe is made of elastic strips woven together in a basket pattern. This makes the shoe stretch and give with your foot and movement, but also provides support and a bit of ventilation. I had a hard time choosing which color of this shoe to put in the collage as there are so many great options. While the Leopard and the Black Patent/Silver combos are pretty awesome, the Pewter (pictured) is a good basic that would look great with a black midi skirt or white boyfriend jeans and be comfortable enough for all the sight-seeing on your spring and summer calendar.

4. Rachel Zoe ‘Chandler’ Pointy-toe Sneaker: One of the best variations on last year’s sneaker trend is this year’s elongated, slim, and pointy-toe versions. A big problem with sneakers is that they can make a foot look blocky, which is tough to carry off if you’re petite or have larger legs and ankles. The slimmer and longer toeboxes on sneakers work like pointed-toe pumps and flats to elongate the leg and balance the figure. Available in black leather and ivory (which is more like a champagne) metallic, this pointed-toe sneaker will look amazing paired with any pant or skirt in your wardrobe. This is a statement shoe that will dress up a simple look of boyfriend jeans and a band tee, or look at home peeking out of tropical wool trousers or paired with a shirtdress.

5. Boden Slip-on Trainer: Boden is my go-to when trying to find casual shoes that look great with dresses or a more feminine wardrobe. Available in five different fun prints, this slip-on has a slim profile that will look great with casual cuffed ankle jeans or paired with a floral circle skirt. The Black and White Spot Pony is a brilliant choice; a calfhair finish adds interest, the brown trim ensures the shoe will go with most everything in your wardrobe, and the green elastic adds a bit of whimsy and humor to what could become your go-to shoe for the next two seasons.

6. Dr. Scholl’s ‘Sterling’ Sneaker: The bowling-inspired sneakers are coming back in style (the ‘90s are back baby, whether you like it or not), and it’s a great trend if you need a supportive comfortable shoe that still has style. The retro mix of cream and black will look great with denim or paired with a striped knit dress and can even be styled nicely with cream wide-leg trousers. This is a shoe that can accommodate an orthotic and sock without sacrificing style.

7. Nine West ‘Banter’ Perforated Suede Slip-on: The low profile and choice of suede upper makes this sneaker downright elegant. This is a sneaker you could pair with a silk midi skirt or shirt dress without looking confused, but it can also pair nicely with your favorite denim, shorts, or cotton dress. Pair with a black pantsuit to add a modern touch.

8. Trouvé ‘Evans’ Leather Slip-on: Available in black and a very pale gray, this streamlined leather sneaker is downright elegant in its minimalism. This is a shoe that can replace your Keds, your loafers, and your ballet flats! Gray (pictured above) is more wearable than true white, looking great with everything from a pastel pleated maxi skirt to a pair of khaki Bermudas. The black version is crisp and modern and would look great with everything from a modern art-inspired printed shift dress to vintage denim and a slouchy knit top.

9. Via Spiga ‘Gingi’ Leather Slip-on Sneaker: Available in four leather and suede options, this slip-on sneaker is a great alternative to canvas versions. While the other options available are quite lovely (I’m partial to the black leather), the Red Pepper Suede is my favorite because it’s that perfect pop of red that goes with most everything. Like a bold lip or glossy tomato nails, a hint of red is an elegant addition to a wardrobe of neutrals, a denim-based ensemble, or a look incorporating leopard or another animal print.

Inspired by this post, I ordered the ‘Brenna’ Slip-on sneaker from Banana Republic in Super Silver. Last summer I wore the heck out of my shiny silver Birkenstocks but wish I had something more substantial to wear for Casual Fridays and crowd situations where I wanted my toes protected. I’ll be sure to report back in a future post on what I think of them – they’ll either be featured in an upcoming post or rated a “fail” in a shopping recap!

Shop the Looks Featured in this Post:

Distraction

Kimono Jacket: Tildon | Tee: Old Navy | Jeans: c/o Liverpool Jeans Company | Shoes: Miss Sixty (similar) | Navy bracelets: c/o lifetherapy | Silver cuff, necklaces: random mix I’ve had forever | Earrings: Nordstrom (similar) | Bag: Banana Republic via eBay (similar) | Cute child: Mah Bellay

Part of me thought about having the blog silent today out of respect for the tragedy that happened at the Boston Marathon yesterday. But then this morning as I was getting overwhelmed by more news on Twitter, I went to my Feedly app to distract myself with lovely blogs by talented writers and stylish women and men. And I realized, we all have different ways to cope with a situation, and sometimes we just need a distraction. Maybe it’s a reality TV show on Bravo, possibly a pedicure and latte, or maybe it’s visiting blogs on a lunch hour and distancing yourself from the news for just a little bit.

When I bought this tunic/jacket/thingie I felt very Stevie Nicks in it, but when I saw pictures of when I wore it this past weekend, I felt a bit more old school Carney Wilson. However, it’s so darn fun to wear, Karl told me I look sexy in it, and it’s free and breezy and flowing and dramatic when I move. This top is actually one big rectangle with a slit down the middle and four holes to thread the belt. It’s really getting my sewing juices flowing, thinking I could make something similar. I’m also thinking I may try this with a leather belt for a different look. The belt holes are a bit high so the belt can ride up to right below my bust (as you see in these pictures), so by making it myself I can have the belt at my natural waist for less riding. However I don’t have the skill to recreate the cool beading!

Oh these shoes… when I got on my ankle bootie kick, I set up an eBay alert to let me know when Miss Sixty Jaiden boots in my size were up for bid. I broke the heel on my first pair, found my second pair on Gilt (thank you Fi for the head’s up!), but they got beat up pretty quickly with winter wear. I found my third pair for a song on eBay and set up an alert to let me know if another pair in my size went up for bid. Day after I set up the alert, these came up for an insanely low price, brand new. I thought they would be great for spring. Nope, they looked atrocious, like horse’s hooves or bandaged feed. So they sat in a box waiting for me to get around to putting them back on eBay. This weekend I decided to try them with this outfit since black shoes looked too severe… and I kind of liked it. And they’re just as comfortable as the black ones (though a slightly different heel and shape). So comfortable, when I went to my cousin’s this weekend, I ended up taking a pretty long walk in them and didn’t have unhappy feet. Talk about shopping your closet!

And the key necklace?  I don’t know why I didn’t think about it before, but it’s the key to the cedar chest in our bedroom.  This weekend I thought… hey that would make a pretty badass necklace and I’d always know where to find it!

I remember when I was little, we went to a yard sale and I found this hot pink and white acrylic ribbed turtleneck sweater and I felt in love HARD. If I recall correctly, my mom tried to dissuade me from getting it but I felt I needed it in my life and I can remember wearing it a lot. In my child brain, I felt it was so beautiful and cool, but likely it was itchy and stained or ill-fitting. My friend Jazz gave me a box of her daughter’s clothing that she outgrew and in that box I found this sweater and just by looking at it I bet it was to her daughter what that pink and white sweater was to me. A couple of the crystal buttons are missing and it’s more worn looking than anything else in the box, obviously loved. I just opened the box last week, realizing Emerson is finally the size for the clothes, and didn’t put out this sweater since it’s getting warmer. Yesterday during her supposed nap, Emerson rooted through her closet and found this sweater and put it in her drawer because she found it, “magical.” And though it will likely be warm today, she wanted to wear it, and I have a feeling it will be worn quite a lot in the coming months, even during blistering hot days. And like my mom, I won’t have much control over the situation, and like my mom I will realize it doesn’t really matter what she wears as long as she is happy.

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Friday: Working for the Weekend

Shirt: Lands’ End Canvas
Jeans: Jag (similar)
Bracelets: Nordstrom, Ann Taylor, Lauren Ralph Lauren, c/o Soft Surroundings
Shoes: Halogen (similar)
Sunglasses: Ray-Ban
Bag: Banana Republic (similar)

I really should have had my husband get a shot of my travel mug – it’s for Saturn of Bowie.  My dad got it when he bought his 1994 Saturn, which I inherited when he passed in 1998 and drove into the ground until 2002 or so when I took over the loan on my mom’s ’99 Saturn, which I drove into the ground and replaced this past Easter with my Kia Soul.  The more I have the Kia, the more I like it.  I no longer feel like a hamster in a track suit – it’s great for carrying a ton of stuff, is good on gas (went to SC, KY, and DE with us this summer), and is roomy and comfortable.  And it’s my first non-inherited car!

This week has been busy. So busy, I haven’t done laundry in quite a while. I started trying to pull together fancy-shmancy outfits, thought maybe I’d go all kitchen sink today… but then realized I just want to get through today so I can enjoy the weekend. So I went to closet basics.

Last night I went back to Weight Watchers… for the first time in three months! Ack! We’re doing a wellness challenge at work so I figured it was time to get back on the Weight Watchers bandwagon. I was surprised I only gained 1.6 pounds in the past three months but no gain is a good gain. We’re moving offices soon and I am excited because the new one has a gym in it – a few of my coworkers and I have already decided to make good use of it, coming in early a couple days or using our lunch hours when we don’t have client meetings later in the afternoon.

Tomorrow we’re going to see Band of Horses and My Morning Jacket at Merriweather and I couldn’t be more psyched. Favorite band, and also get to spend time with some of my favorite people! What are your weekend plans?

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My Wardrobe Today – Wednesday

OxfordLands End Canvas
Skirt - Calvin Klein (similar)
Scarf (as cummerbund) – H&M (no longer available – similar)
Shoes Payless
Bag - Banana Republic “Sandhurst Hobo” (no longer available – similar)
Watch - Orient
Thread braceletsTreasure Tower
Silver cuff

Don’t you hate those folks who tell you on Thursday, “Today’s my Friday”? Yeah me too. Well today is my Thursday, hate me all you want! This weekend is the annual Girls Getaway Weekend where my mom, sister, Emerson and I head to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. I couldn’t be more excited. Not really sure exactly why but I have been feeling very tense and stressed. I have this feeling in my stomach as though I am going to say or do the wrong thing, accidentally hurt someone or end up in a sobbing mess in a bathroom stall over nothing important. Please tell me I am not the only one who gets this way when life gets too hectic… but I am looking forward to a weekend away from computers and with some of my favorite people on the planet.

Now if I can just get myself together before we leave… tomorrow after work I am going to the Swapaholics Sip & Swap and I know I won’t get home until late and then we are leaving bright and early on Friday. Between now and then I need to do laundry, pack for me and Emerson, write my article for Savings.com (and some other goodies such as a giveaway that is coming down the pike!), tie up loose ends at work and hit CVS or Target for some last-minute vaca essentials. However, it’s all so worth it because the Sip & Swap is going to be a blast (let me know if you’re going!) and I know the beach is JUST what the doctor ordered (speaking of which, been watching past episodes of the new Doctor Who and I think I’m getting a bit addicted…).

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Treat Yourself: Sol Republic Headphones Giveaway

This is the time of year where it just feels good to give to others. I love thinking about my loved ones, and what I can make or buy them that will let them know I know them, I love them, and I listen to them. However after baking all the cookies, fighting the mall crowds, trimming the tree, and visiting every relative you can be pretty worn out. Nothing like some good tunes to help you chill out; well thanks to SOL REPUBLIC you may be able to do this with a pair of their amazing Amps HD In-Ear headphones.

This giveaway is now closed, thank you for entering!

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Wednesday – Black and White and Red All Over

Sweater – Banana Republic (similar)
Shirt – c/o CAbi
Pants – Ann Taylor (similar)
ShoesMichael Kors “Flex”
Silver cuff (similar)
LipstickNARS “Heatwave”

Last week it felt like summer, this week it has returned to typical DC March weather – windy and chilly.  Glad I kept my sweaters in the closet!

Today I will be walking from my office to Georgetown to meet my sister for her follow-up MRI (proving she is tumor free!) so I wanted to wear comfortable shoes – these pumps are perfect for this – work-appropriate yet can handle a 20 minute walk in the city.

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Wednesday


Black cashmere tank from Banana Republic, black ponte jacket from Banana Republic Outlet, Chinese red shantung skirt from Banana Republic (definite theme here!), leopard peeptoe heels from BCBGirls, gold necklace from Express, gold bangles from Ralph Lauren.

Hair was washed and conditioned, dried with my Croc wet-to-dry iron. No products.’

Makeup is L’Oreal True Match concealer in W1-3, Benefit’s That Gal, philosophy The Supernatural in Beige, Nars blush in Orgasm, Revlon ColorStay shadow quad in Neutral Khakis – ivory over whole lid. Lashes curled, two coats Cover Girl Lash Blast and one of Imju Fiberwig. Maybelline Ultraliner in black on top lash line and on lips is some Revlon Shiny Sheers in a sheer red that I left at home by accident so do not have to read the label.

I am not really sure what is going on with the layout of my posts; I have not done anything different so it must be that Blogger is being stupid again.

This outfit is inspired by Catie’s contest at Cuffington. This outfit makes me fabulous inside… though notsomuch when I walk past my reflection in a window. I adore this skirt, it is so much fun and the color is awesome. The cashmere tank is really thick and I have had it for years and got it for like $10 on the clearance rack. Jacket has given me many miles and I love its versatility and the shoes… oh I love these shoes so much I have two pairs of them! All that is missing is my silver cuff, this great green ring I bought at a Ren Fest and my wedding tiara and I would be wearing almost all my favorite things! :) Too bad this skirt isn’t the most flattering (the one my husband says makes me look like Mimi from Drew Carey) or I would wear it every week! :)

Saturday

In the morning, I ran to get my hair cut and colored in the nearby town, and then run a few errands. Olive ribbed tank from J. Crew, white ribbed tank from Old Navy, Joe’s Jeans in “Provacateur,” brown stacked flops from J. Crew, silver hoops from The Icing, silver cuff.

Hair was brushed out but on the second day; blew the bangs straight.

Makeup was Body Shop bronzing powder in Light as face color, Max Factor Lash Perfection mascara on curled lashes, Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Pink Afterglow.

Kathleen did her magic – all I told her is that I wanted to go darker and that I wanted heavier bangs. I trust her, and was not disappointed. Choppy layers that can work straight, wavy or curly, fun sideswept bangs, and a very rich multi-tonal color of dark brown that looks closer to what I was born with.

Got home and had to dash to get dressed. Friday night I had a friend over so I didn’t have time to play dress-up and figure out my theater outfit. Thank you soooo much to everyone who wrote in suggestions, you guys are awesome and have good ideas! For the one who suggested my Old Navy dress… I completely forgot about it. I had set to wear my black cashmere tank from Banana Republic and my orange-red shantung full skirt also from Banana (seen here), but when I saw how spiffy and sleek my husband looked (flat front gray tropical wool trousers from J. Crew, white tailored shirt from some brand sold at Mens Wearhouse, black blazer from… J. crew? Not sure…, black slip-on sleek shoes from Ecco) I decided my outfit may look a bit like a costume. I tried a few different skirts, but settled on the black matte jersey dress from Old Navy, my red stone necklace, my leopard peep-toe heels from BCBgirls,silver hoops from The Icing, and silver cuff natch. :-)

Didn’t have to do my hair since it was done by Kathleen my talented stylist. She used the Pureology line on me, and swears by it for protecting color. I bought the shampoo and conditioner and once I can wash my hair (was told to go as long as humanely possible without washing) I will be using it and let you k now how it is.

Same makeup as earlier, just a re-touch of the bronzing powder, a bit of Smashbox Soft Lights in Tint on my cheekbones, a medium line of Maybelline Ultra Liner in black on the top lash line, a quick swipe of Maybelline Great Lash waterproof mascara in black over existing mascara, Body Shop Lip and Cheek Tint with Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Pink Afterglow over it.

We took the Metro and it was not even a block to the little restaurant (I don’t know if there are even 20 tables in the place). The menu seemed different from the one online and the only entrees that were vegetarian were spaghetti with tomato sauce (yawn) and a risotto with corn and truffle shavings. My husband and I chose the risotto, we shared a bottle of Pinot Grigio (not sure the label, our friend chose the wine) and had a nice, yet not inspiring or overwhelmingly unique meal. We then walked not even three blacks to the Kennedy Center where my friend and I sidestepped grates in our heels (she too wore a black sheath and heels) while the men tromped over everything and got there in time to marvel at the acre-sized curtains in the lobby and get a cocktail in the Terrace Bar prior to the performance.

The performance was great! As I said, I had never seen The Phantom of the Opera other than the movie. Back story – 1992, for Christmas I got my first boom box with a CD player in it, and with it two CDs – Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera. For several months until I got my high school arsenal of REM, Depeche Mode, Pearl Jam and Nirvana, I listened solely to these two soundtracks. Come 2007, I am silently singing along to this performance and even a tear came down my cheek at finally seeing live what I had in my head 15 years ago. I think also seeing Shakespeare in Love the night prior made the theater experience that more intense.

Our friends live in Virginia and parked at the theater; it was a gorgeous night and declined their offer to drive us to the Metro and decided to hoof it. All in all a lovely evening!

My Wardrobe Today – Monday

Tee - LOFT
Skirt – Ann Taylor (bought on eBay 5 years ago for $14.99, no clue how old, label style unfamiliar to me)
TightsNordstrom
BootiesCole Haan
Scarf – c/o Nordstrom Rack
BagSabina
Silver cuff

I forgot to set my alarm last night. My body woke me up at 7:15 (glad it wasn’t 8:15) and I had 45 minutes to get myself together and out the door. I had pulled this skirt out of my stash of potential winter things and a month ago it was just too tight, too short, and I thought I would re-eBay it. I pulled it on this morning since it was sitting on the cedar chest at the foot of the bed… and it fit! Only thing wrong is I guess the hem dry rotted and has fallen out while wearing (easy to fix). Very excited to have another leather skirt in my arsenal!

New bag – I had $40 in Nordstrom rewards, saw this bag for $129 and decided to try it.  I have wanted a bigger bag to carry my netbook and such, and wanted a soft black purse (currently have my Banana Republic one which is that textured hard leather like a football). Love the bag, so soft, holds so much, necessary front pocket (with magnet closure) and hey… gotta love such a quality bag for only $89!

Sorry for the delay in posting, work has gotten really hectic. Glad I stocked the office fridge with Lean Cuisines because that’s the only way I get to eat anything. The only time I have left my desk is to hit the printer or the bathroom (and refill my water bottle!). Whew, what a crazy couple of weeks!

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Thursday

Black stretch v-neck from Banana Republic, white twill cuffed cropped pants from Casual Corner, black leather thong heeled sandals from Mossimo, multiple skinny silver bangles from Ann Taylor Loft, black leather and silver necklace from Chico’s.

Hair is weird. In the shower I was considering loose messy waves and the front feathered out. Yeah, I watched Jessica Simpson’s stupid new video and was slightly inspired. So I added Frizz-Ease Dream Curls Spray, blew hair straight letting it do as it pleased, twisting some pieces. It ended up looking damaged and gross. I continued blowing, using a paddle brush, that made some difference. I then blew the front with a round boar bristle brush and then applied bioSilk so it didn’t look as much like straw…. not my best hair day.

Makeup is L’Oreal True match foundation in C3, MAC Studio Stick concealer, Physician’s Formula Magical Mosaics bronzer for color and powder, a bit of Nars Orgasm blush. Eyes is the ivory shadow from Revlon’s ColorStay Neutral shadow quad, then The Body Shop’s 08 (Granite) in the lids and along the lash line. lashes curled via Shu Eumura and two coats of L’Oreal Voluminous mascara in black applied. On lips is Sally Hansen’s diamond lipgloss in a hot pink (the label with the name fell off).

Outlet Mall Shopping

Yesterday I visited a major outlet mall in my area. Over a mile of stores – some with great bargains, some with great piles of crap. There have been many stories about discount stores – how some of the product is not on sale, the clothes are made specifically for the outlet and are not the same quality that the brand name usually delivers, etc. After all that, you find designer duds for less, when is it worthwhile to spend, when should a bargain be passed by?


Fit
If it doesn’t fit well for $300, still doesn’t fit well for $150 and even for $65, don’t buy it. Just because it’s a great bargain does not make the fit any better. Shoes that are too tight or too big, jackets that pull at the back, pants that would be lovely if you just lost 15 lbs., no matter the bargain these items should just stay on the rack.

If the jacket’s sleeves are too long, the skirt’s hem at an awkward length, the shoulders a bit too big, these things can be altered easily by a tailor. You must be in love with the piece and find multiple places and ways to wear it to justify the tailor expense. I found a cream silk linen suit at a discount store – the suit fit perfectly except for a broken zipper and too long of sleeves and legs. I bought the suit for $65, regularly $350, and for $40 had the zipper and hems all modified. I have worn the suit to work, to religious events and as separates for three years. That purchase was worth the added tailoring expense.


Style
Often times the items at the discount store are there because they are leftover from last season. When it comes to classic pieces like suits, dresses and knits, this is not a problem. A blue merino v-neck is lovely almost every year, and more lovely when 50% off. The problem comes with the trendy p[pieces.


If Lindsay, Mischa, Nicole or Chloe was wearing it last spring, it’s a good chance that piece is passé now. Pass on the embellished jeans, the metallic leather bags, the rainbow-hued sunglasses and most other accessories. Just because it’s on sale does not mean it is a good buy. When it comes to scouring outlets, your best deals are the ones that will last through more than one season. Sweaters, suits, outerwear, cocktail dresses, leather goods and most shoes are great bargains if you find quality and value in the same item.


Name Brands
Just because you found a pair of Manolo Blahniks for $100 at the Saks Fifth Avenue outlet does not mean they need to be purchased. Do they fit your current style? Are they comfortable? Are they current or classic?

We have all seen the label whores – those women with a Coach purse, Jimmy Choo shoes that JLo wore last year, Baby Phat jeans, a Bebe tee with the rhinestone logo, Chanel sunglasses and a Pucci scarf in her hair. These items weren’t bought for the quality or the style. They were bought because a stranger could spot the brand a mile away. She looks trashy, obvious and victimized by fashion. None of these are appealing. Labels do not suddenly make you well dressed or well liked.


If you can find a Furla bag for 40% off and it suits your style as well as lifestyle – then go for it. If you are buying a bag purely because it’s Prada and you don’t like the style, size or fabric… well you have become a label whore.

Don’t buy that jacket just because it’s designer. Pretend that it is an unknown label – do you still like it? Do you still find it attractive and necessary? If not, put it back on the rack. That goes for ill-fitting designer duds, last season’s “It Bag,” obvious logo advertising (if it’s that obvious, it will be that obvious from last season – not worth your time or money) and damaged designer goods.


Damaged Goods
Many discount retailers sell the irregulars from a label. Some irregulars can barely be seen by the naked eye – may be an incorrect dye lot or the wrong buttons sewn on a jacket. Some may work in your favor – pants cut too short or sleeves that are too long or too narrow. Often times these stores received the garments that were damaged in production, transit or through many jaunts to the fitting room. Broken zippers, missing buttons, fabric snags are all defects that can easily be repaired or covered up if the price and style is right. However there are other defects that are not worth the purchase, no matter how low the price. Runs in nylon, stains, button holes at the wrong height, linings that do not align with the trouser, two pieces stitched together from two different dye lots. Even if it is Versace, it will look like Gallo Clothing on you if it is this defective.


Buying in Bulk
I used to be a huge fan of buying in bulk – find a tee shirt you love, buy it in eight colors and three of white and black. Flattering trousers? Buy one in every color. I then found that my wardrobe was like one big uniform… one big boring uniform. Mixing basics with fun pieces offers versatility, ease but individual style.


At outlet malls, buying in bulk is a good idea. Yesterday I was at the Banana Republic outlet and found high quality stretchy tees in tons of colors – $9.99 each. I bought one in black, one in white, one in gray and one in red. These shirts can be worn with jeans on weekends, with a little skirt for happy hour with the girls or under a suit for work. I found a great pair of wool trousers at Off Fifth, bought them in brown, gray and black. They were so standard and fit so amazingly well (and were only $39.99 each) that it was worthwhile to buy every color I liked. I knew with my work and lifestyle I would find regular use for such trousers. Another time I found a pair of really cute studded pointy heels from NYLA. They were 75% off and tres cute. I decided to buy them in hot pink, ivory and black, thinking that if they fit well, they would get much use. I was imagining sparkly tops and designer jeans with the ivory, a sexy power suit with the black, and envisioned an outfit a la Carrie Bradshaw for the pink. I took them all home, have worn the pink ones multiple times, and have barely touched the other two. I don’t wear designer jeans with sparkly tops on a regular basis, and don’t own a single chic black power suit. Those two shoes have barely seen the light of day. Consider your current lifestyle when considering to buy in bulk – items that look too familiar may not be worn and too many of the same thing may make them all too boring to regularly wear. Also, if you don’t wear red patent stilettos now, you probably won’t after purchasing a pair.


In conclusion, don’t buy just because of a label, or just because of an amazing price. Less money for an item is still money, and money should be spent carefully. Be willing to take the time to find quality purchases, not pick up every shiny bauble that sort of resembles what Gwen or Jessica wore last Spring. Fashion is not about the specific item, but the allover look. A Louis Vuitton bag or a pair of Chanel sunglasses will not make you a fashionista, the pairing with appropriate and complimentary pieces is what takes you from being a label whore or a fashion victim to fashionista status.

What I Wore: Winterized

Dress: Issa for Banana Republic | Tights: DKNY | Shoes: Nine West “Lottie” | Bracelets: had forever, c/o Ruth Barzel Jewelry Design | Glasses: Derek Cardigan 7014 | Lipstick: NARS “Hyde Park”

I wore this same outfit on the blog before, even down to one of the same bracelets… but last time it was warm enough to run around with bare legs. This dress is a nice heavy weight that doesn’t cling to tights or any of my curves, and is a bit warm. The neck is high enough that I can wear a v-neck cami underneath, and these tights are super thick; paired with a knee-length coat, scarf, hat, and gloves I’m good to go this winter!

And yes… new glasses!  Coastal.com has some deals that are just too good to pass up.  They have a few styles that are free to new customers (look at the top of the site for the promotion), and once you buy from them they send you 50,000 emails, but most have good promotions.  With a $49 Derek Cardigan promotion they were having and a promo code I found on RetailMeNot these ended up being about $20.  And if you go through Ebates, you get 5% cash back on purchases from Coastal.com!

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Last Thursday

Attire:
Marshall’s – Indigo merino cardigan sweater (some brand with Carolle in it and it was less than $20)
Gap – White ribbed tank
Marshall’s – Random black pants I got for $16.  Nothing spectacular – not lined, no pockets but they are machine washable and did I mention only $16?  Oh, and they fit this weird postpartum body?

Banana Republic – Black leather strappy slingbacks
My silver necklace and cuff

My hair is… I think it was wet in this picture and I don’t have a face shot to describe my makeup but it wasn’t anything terribly inventive.  A pretty basic and boring outfit, though I am loving this indigo/bright navy color lately.  Bright enough to contrast with black and I think a pretty good color with my complexion.

No picture on Friday, I wore my ivory top with the printed trim from Language Los Angeles (which is on sale at Nordstrom) and a pair of jeans.  It was rainy out.  Bleh.

Monday and Tuesday

No pictures on Monday because I haven’t put up the new mirror, and I drove myself to work early in the AM.

I wore my black jersey sleeveless wrap top with the ruffle trim from Ann Taylor and my ivory tropical wool trousers from Talbots. Freshwater pearl necklace that my sister gave me as a gift and black kitten heel sandals from Banana Republic. Hair curly.

Here is Tuesday:

Attire:
Ann Taylor – Black matte jersey wrap dress
Expres – Red print silk scarf
Sofft – Red patent leather T-straps (I just splurged to get them in black, they are so comfy and cute)

Hair:
Next day
Blown out semi-straight

Beauty:
Estee Lauder – Nutritious Vita-Mineral Makeup in Intensity 2.0
Nars – Blush in Orgasm
Revlon – ColorStay shadow quad in Neutral Khakis, ColorStay lipcolor in Rich Raisin
Maybelline – UltraLiner in Black
Cover Girl – lashBlast mascara in Rich Black

Wednesday

So Tuesday night I went to the mall. The trip was more geared toward my friend who was in search of business-casual attire for her job, but I just happened to pick up a few steals, such as this top ($20.99 for silk/cashmere! Love it!)

Black sleeveless sweater from Banana Republic, gray suiting trousers from Tahari, black peeptoe pumps from Steve Madden, oversized pearl necklace from Ross (another steal at $7.99!).

Hair looks like crap, to put it mildly. To maintain my highlights I am trying to wash every other day. Works when it’s curly, gets gross when I straighten it. I tried adding loose waves with a large-barreled curling iron but it looked horrible. Honestly, it was a bad look day and I spent the majority of my time with a turquoise pashmina slung over my shoulders to cover up the icky look.

Makeup? Same foundation, same concealer, same powder, touch of Nars Orgasm blush, eyes were mainly mascara and some Fawn Pearl shadow from The Body Shop. Lips were Sheer Caramel lipcolor from the Body Shop topped with Sally Hansen’s Diamond Lipgloss in Champagne Toast.

Lets forget this day.

Redemption

Though I realized I am wearing a dark orange-red two days in a row…. hey call it my signature color!

Dark gray suiting trousers from Ann Taylor. The ones I wore last Friday. Not loving them as I was, they are still too long and fit a bit like men’s trousers..

With it is an orange-red silk knit scoop tank from Banana Republic. BR calles it “Chinese Red.” I have a vintage necklace, overlapping discs of an orange-red stone with black and tan flecks in it. About 20″ long, a smidge higher than the scoop neck. A good match.

With this, a black tailored suit jacket, also from Ann Taylor. Black pointy toed pumps. Same copper/bronze Origins lip balm as yesterday, eyes with a more coppery shadow and did the black liquid eyeliner look.

hair is very piecey and funky today, sideswept bangs. Lots of texture with the smooth bangs – I like the constrast. I feel sassy.