Thursday, June 30, 2011

Look For Less ~ Slouchy Sweater

I know you probably read the title to this post and thought, "Why is she talking about sweaters when it's 80 degrees outside?"  To my credit, this is a short-sleeve, loose-knit version...which makes it much more doable this time of year.  And I love the versatility of it - so cute paired with little black shorts or wide leg linen pants in summer, but could easily be layered over a long sleeve tee with skinny jeans & boots for fall.

I have been lusting after this Vince version for quite some time.  But even with it currently being on sale, $240 is still too steep for me.  So, I had put it on my "wish list" and thought maybe someday I would find something similar for less (fingers crossed).

Thankfully, this weekend was my moment!  I swear, I only drove to the Outlet Mall because I had a return...but I also had a 60%-off-any-item coupon at Banana Republic.  So, I popped in to have a look around and, to my delight, this sweater was the only one of its kind in the entire store, in my size & marked down (I may have audibly squealed)!

Banana Republic Short Sleeve Sweater - retail $80 , bought for $20
(similar J. Crew version on sale here)

Details I love: Slightly boxy shape makes it comfortable, subtle metallic thread adds a dose of polish, slouchy neckline gives it an effortless look (& allows for an off-the-shoulder option)


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Greek Goddess

It's time for another simple & pretty summer up-do!  I saw this look on the InStyle website and just knew I had to share it with you all.  I have already done posts on the undone bun (here), the feminine ponytail (here), the side braid (here) & the ballerina bun (here) - which are all great options when it gets hot outside and you just want to pull your hair off your neck & shoulders. 

This look is slightly more sophisticated, but still soft and romantic...and even those of you with shorter hair can pull this one off!  Technically, it is still a bun, but it has that goddess-y twisted-back detail in front, making it totally chic & definitely date-worthy!  Take a look & then read below for 3 simple steps to recreate it yourself.

How to try it:
1) On either side of your head, roll back the strands along your hairline, adding more hair as your work your way backwards, just like you do with a French braid. (Tuck in a few pins if you find the twists are heavy and tipping forwards.)

2) Wrap the two twists into an "untidy" bun and secure with pins and elastic.  If you have shorter hair and aren't able to make it into a complete bun, just twist as much as you can & pin it into place.

3) Lightly spritz with a flexible hold hairspray to tame flyaways and help secure the style.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Electric Avenue

Neon was a huge trend for Spring 2011 - but because I grew up in the 80's/90's, I was very hesitant to try it out.  However, I did finally cave & buy a few bright pieces to add a dash of color to my wardrobe.  As we look towards fall (yes, it will be here before you know it!), I am anxious to mix these eye-popping accessories with the heavy neutrals that autumn & winter help ease myself into the colder season (example seen on the Fall 2011 runways here).  

Still on the fence?  Try picking just one of the options below & pair it with white, dove gray or nude for a chic contrast.  My budget-friendly picks to help you get your feet wet:


Monday, June 27, 2011

Meet in the Middle

At the request of several readers, I have decided to take the plunge and do more outfit posts (most likely, one per week).  And it's good because it will help challenge me to get creative with my wardrobe.  This being the first one, I wanted to touch on a trend that is big right now - midi skirts (this one's for you, Kimi).  At first, I wasn't sure how flattering this length would be on my figure...but after buying one, I am hooked! 

I love the vintage-vibe that they give to an outfit and how they ooze femininity.  Thanks to the neutral color, I am finding mine to be incredibly versatile.  I'm already dreaming up more combinations in my head ~ a peach silk tank with a floppy hat & wedges or a simple fitted white tee with flats.  This time, I chose some chunky shoes & a tribal-inspired necklace to juxtapose against the sweetness of the skirt.

What I'm wearing:
Forever 21 skirt & belt, Mossimo tank, BCBG sandals, Kohls & Steinmart bracelets, BCBG necklace


Friday, June 24, 2011

My Top 3

With summer well underway, I find myself choosing a simpler pairing of pieces due to the warm weather.  However, living right near one of the Great Lakes provides a cool breeze on most days, which makes light layers a necessity when heading towards the water.  And though I like to keep my jewelry low-key when the temperature is rising, I never leave home without my favorite watch!  My last top 3 for June...

Jodi Arnold Linen Pleated High-Waist Shorts

Merona Mustard Print Scarf

Michael Kors Gold Boyfriend Watch


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Make Me Blush

My new favorite of-the-moment color is blush ~ an ultra-feminine blend of pale pink & soft nude. I love it because it acts as a neutral and is so easy to pair with other colors, whether they be bold or muted. Plus, it's flattering on everyone...a beautiful contrast for those with dark or olive skin, but also pretty with a fair complexion & light hair.

To further prove the versatility of this color & to inspire you to give it a try, here are four different outfits I created, using a blush-colored blazer (recently purchased from H&M), paired with pieces I already owned. While I chose to mix it with mostly neutrals, blush also looks great with brights like scarlet, purple & pink (and are great options if you're nervous about it washing you out).

In case you were wondering, I intentionally cut off my calves & feet, because I wanted to you to be able to see the color combinations up close. And I apologize for these pictures being a little fuzzy - it was incredibly cloudy outside, so we had to shoot indoors...thus the mediocre lighting.

1) Olive Green & Gold: Mossimo sheath dress, Adrienne Vittadini belt, Vintage bracelet, Banana Republic cocktail ring
2) Camel & White: NY & Company chiffon tank, Attention pants, Ann Taylor statement necklace

3) Ivory & Chocolate Brown: Gap blouse, LOFT skinny pants, TJ Maxx earrings
4) Black & Silver: Forever 21 tank, Gap trousers, Simply Vera by Vera Wang layered necklace, Alfani belt


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Runway Inspiration ~ Nina Ricci Fall 2011

While most people were swooning over the styles that flooded the Fall 2011 runway shows, I couldn't help but zero in on the hair & makeup...particularly at Nina Ricci.  It was a feminine mix of Bardot-inspired half-up hair & a sweet matte pink lip.  Although it was back in March, I've been thinking about it ever since & wanted to share with you the steps to recreating this look for yourself!  Take a peek:

As for the makeup breakdown, it's pretty simple - just a swipe of neutral taupey/bronze eyeshadow, light brown mascara & matte pink lipstick (it has a creamier look to it than a lipstain).  Make sure you tone down the blush or skip it altogether & keep your brows defined, but soft.

For the hair, blow dry with a round brush and use a large barrel curling iron to create soft waves.  Run your fingers through to loosen & then tease your roots at the crown for added volume.  Pull back a small section of hair above each ear, criss-cross them over each other & secure with bobby pins.  If you have long front layers/grown-out bangs, let them fall around your face.  Here's a back view of the style for reference:

Get the look:

Maybelline Great Lash (Dark Brown) - $4.99
Illamasqua Matte Lipstick (Obey) - $22


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Steals Under $30

It's that time again - here are my top 8 picks for this month, all $30 or less!

 Forever 21 Braided Floral Top - $15.80
Urban Outfitters Cooperative Cross Body Bag - $19.99
TopShop Spike Waterfall Earrings - $12.50
H&M Red Trio Bracelets - $5.95
Old Navy Belted Pleated Twill Shorts - $22.94
Alloy Lexley Fedora - $9.99
Dorothy Perkins Multi Primrose Stripe Scarf - £6.00
Coconuts Pisa Sandal - $29.99


Monday, June 20, 2011

DIY Experiment ~ Dyed Blazer

A few months back, I read an article in Lucky magazine about how to dye your own clothes.  I tore all the pages out because I was so fascinated by it, but I was too scared to actually attempt it.  Until now...

I didn't want to experiment on any of my favorite pieces for fear they would be ruined beyond repair.  So, I picked up a little cropped jacket from the clearance rack at WalMart (yes, WalMart) to try it out on.  That way, if something went terribly wrong, I wouldn't be devastated.  And if it worked, I would have the confidence to try altering another item from my closet.  Here is the "before" picture:

I purchased navy blue Rit dye ($2.99) at the local craft store, followed the steps outlined in the article and also switched out the buttons on the jacket (for $5.99).  The only slight hiccup I experienced was that once it dried, I realized the "decorative stitching" had not picked up the color.  Probably because dye will not adhere to anything that is more than 50% polyester (which I'm assuming the thread was).  Thankfully, it was not structural, so I removed it.  Here's two quick shots of me wearing the finished product:

Now that I have conquered my fears of dyeing clothes, I am thinking about what my next experiment will be...maybe transforming some white jeans into the coral red hue that is so popular right now?  You'll have to check back to see... :)

How to try it:
Before you get started ~ Get all the items you need: rubber gloves, chopsticks to stir the pot, a brillo pad, Ajax, a sponge to clean up and an old towel to protect your bathtub while items dry.  Remove any labels or buttons that you don't want dyed and sew them back on when you're finished.  Pick a roomy pot that you don't use to cook in.  Don't stress if you mess up...that's what Rit's Color Remover powder is for.  It can fix small spots or lighten an entire garment.  For more tips & techniques, visit

For cottons, silks & synthetics ~ Use an alkaline dye like Rit.  Add a cup of regular table salt to a big pot of water (3 gallons per pound of fabric) and bring it to a simmer on the stove.  Add dye and stir well.  Thoroughly wet the garment you're dyeing in warm water, wring it out & place in pot.  Stir regularly for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on how intense of a hue you want.  Turn off the stove and let it all cool for 20 minutes.  Dump the dye water into the bathtub (or sink), then rinse the garment in warm water (cold can cause shrinkage) until it runs completely clear.  Hang item in the tub overnight to dry - place a towel underneath to protect any porous surfaces.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Look for Less ~ Silk Shirtdress

I have always loved the classic shirtdress.  It is that perfect balance of masculine and feminine, making it structured yet sexy.  And the newer silk versions have won me over with their more polished look, which suits my personal style.  Some celebrity examples:

Over Memorial Day Weekend, my girlfriend & I drove an hour to our nearest outlet mall to do some serious shopping.  While searching through the sales, I was so excited to find this budget-friendly version on the clearance rack!  While the elastic band does help cinch the waist in, I don't completely love how it looks, so I'll be covering it with a leather belt.
Banana Republic Shirtdress - retail $69.95; bought for $15

Details I love: Front flap pockets give it a cool military feel, polyester silk means I'll save money on dry cleaning, 3/4 length sleeves are perfect for this season, but can carry me into fall too (just think how cute it will be with knee-high boots)!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Orange Pop

This is my second outfit post in one week!  Normally, I don't do that, but it just happened to be the way the challenges fell on the timeline.  This edition of the Bloggers Do It Better challenge was inspired by the Spring 2011 runway look of neon + neutrals. 

To be completely honest, I only had a couple "neon" options in my closet, so it was pretty easy to pick this time.  Still, I was really torn between this print blouse and wearing my new bright red blazer (seen here) with a nude skirt.  But, in the end, this won because my husband pointed out that I have worn a blazer/jacket in every outfit post thus far - so it was time for a change!  Of course, after we took all our shots and I was uploading them, I regretted not choosing the bolder combo.  Maybe next time...

What I'm wearing:
LOFT top & trousers, Via Spiga belt, Aldo shoes, Michael Kors watch, Vintage bracelets, Target earrings (Essie nail polish - Mink Muffs, L'Oreal Colour Riche Lipstick - Volcanic & Revlon Super Lustrous Lipgloss - Papaya)


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

InStyle Magazine ~ Nautical Look for Less

Usually, I don't do multiple posts in one day and I also don't do "look for less" versions of an entire outfit.  But, when I was flipping through my latest issue of InStyle magazine & saw this photo of Clemence Poesy, I fell in love.  I adore the classic nautical feel with a modern twist...

She is wearing: Ralph Lauren Black Label cashmere sweater, Vince denim jeans, flats (here).  

I instantly knew I wanted to recreate a budget-friendly version for myself.  I have omitted the captain's hat, so the look doesn't come off as "costumey" and I chose these fun lobster print espadrilles, instead of a solid navy color (though the pair she's wearing above are affordable, too).  My picks:

Merona Navy Boatneck Sweater - $24.99
Etienne Aigner Urban Print Espadrille Flat - $29.95


Mission Organization

I have some OCD tendencies, so when things aren’t perfectly organized, I go a little crazy.  Since we moved to New York, we are temporarily living in an apartment and I don’t have all the closet space in the world.  Therefore, I’ve had to adjust the way I store my things. 

So, I thought I'd share some of the tools I’ve found helpful to getting my accessories & cosmetics in order.  The added bonus?  Being able to clearly see everything means I don't just reach for what is on top, making my selections...and thereby, my look...more varied each day.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lovely Lace

Today I am participating in the Everybody Everywear challenge for June.  I decided to do this mainly because I was thrilled with their theme choice as it's one of my favorite things right now (mentioned here).  With all the recent lacy additions to my closet, it was difficult to choose.  I almost went with a girly lace dress, but changed my mind at the last minute & opted for this more sophisticated ensemble.

What I'm wearing:
J. Crew silk tank, Lauren Conrad lace jacket, Gap trousers (also seen here), Nina peep-toe booties (also seen here), Michael Kors watch, Vintage bracelet, Banana Republic earrings


Monday, June 13, 2011

Style Crush: Olivia Palermo

I know I am not alone here in my admiration of Olivia Palermo's style.  I have featured her outfits in several of my posts in the past.  But, I couldn't resist putting together some of my favorites, that just happen to be perfect for summer...a nice dose of inspiration for us all!  Take a look:

What I love about her style is that she has classic pieces she wears over and over again, but she mixes them in different ways to create new outfits (notice the black tweed shorts & brown clutch above?).  I also admire how she manages to look eternally feminine and chic - embracing trends, bright colors & prints, but never going overboard.


Friday, June 10, 2011

My Top 3

It was a long, hard winter here in New York.  Since we moved from North Carolina in the middle of December, it was my first experience with these arctic temperatures.  Now that it is finally summer, after 6 months of bundling up, I am finding so much joy in rediscovering all my warm weather pieces.  Even though they were items I wore constantly down in the South, there is something so satisfying about breaking them out after braving (& surviving) all that snow.  My first top 3 for summer are:

Aviator Sunglasses

Banana Republic Silk Tank

Rampage Wood Platform Sandals


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Look for Less ~ Silk Pants

I have been absolutely loving the slouchy silk cropped pants I've seen this season so I was on the hunt for that perfect pair.  I wanted some that looked effortless & chic, but were still cut slim enough to be flattering.  And, of course, they had to fit within my budget.  Some examples I liked:

So, I was thrilled last week, when digging through the clearance rack at Gap, I found these in my size.  I wore them the other day with a white silk sleeveless blouse, my leopard print skinny belt & black patent pumps.  But, I love that I can just as easily dress them down (as Olivia Palermo did above).

Gap Silky Cropped Trousers - retail $59.50; bought for $12

Details I love: Ultra-soft viscose blend looks & feels like silk but is machine washable, slouchy low-rise is comfy while a straight leg slenderizes, rolled-cuff hem is cropped to the perfect length.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lucky Lavender

I haven't done a makeup post in a while, mainly because I have been stuck in my own beauty rut of sorts.  Now, there is nothing wrong with sticking to what works for you...but I have been using the same taupey shadow/chocolate liner/black mascara combo for weeks.  And I was getting bored.

Then I saw this pretty, girly eyeshadow on a few people and decided it was the exact change I needed.  It is light and feminine and so perfect for a summer date-night or brunch with the girls.  Take a look at some examples before I get into the application break-down:

I chose these pictures specifically to show that you can try this look, regardless of your haircolor or skintone.  Also, notice that the shades of lavender they chose are slightly different.  Rachel's is a more icy hue while Emma's is a darker plum version. 

The other important similarity?  The addition of dark liner & mascara - it helps add depth & ground such a bright color.  You can choose to make yours smokey like Emma did or keep it simple & fresh like Rachel.  Just be sure to pair it with a nude or pale mauve lip and tone down the blush.

How to pull it off:
1) Apply a lavender eyeshadow to your upper lid from lash line to crease and sweep along lower lash line.
2) Lightly trace upper, lower lash lines and inner rims with eyeliner.  It's your choice which color liner to use here - a dark plum would work well, as would a charcoal grey or black.
3) Curl lashes & apply two coats of black mascara.

Products to try:


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fashionably Cool

One of my faithful blog followers (and a fellow Zumba girl) requested some summer outfit ideas...and I was happy to help!  For me, the warmer months are all about staying cool (literally) while looking pulled together.  So these outfits are more casual but still remain polished.

Because they are to serve as inspiration, I am not including shopping info for the pieces below.  But, I tried to choose simple items that would be easy to recreate your own "look for less" version of.  Don't forget to send me your requests/suggestions for things you want to see more of - I promise to respond quickly & give you what you're looking for!

Ways to rework: Try a midi or maxi skirt instead, keeping everything else the same.  Also, if you're not a high-heel gal, you could easily swap out these sandals for a lower version or wear ballet flats.

Ways to rework: For those cooler days, you can layer a boyfriend-length cardigan or lightweight anorak on top.  Alternately, you could switch out the cropped jeans for denim cutoffs if things warm up.

Ways to rework: If you're looking for a more structured option, try a printed sleeveless blouse with a chambray blazer on top & keep the shorts and wedges.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Favorite Summer Products

Now that it is officially summer and the temperatures are climbing, I am stocking up on some of my favorite warm-weather essentials.  Not only are these products great, but they are all affordable!

St. Ives Naturally Clear Green Tea Body Scrub - $16.21
Summer is the time when you're exposing more of your skin, so you want to make sure it is silky & smooth.  This body scrub not only gently exfoliates away dead skin cells, but also helps fight breakouts on your back, shoulders & chest.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunblock SPF 45 - $9.99
We all know that protecting our skin against the sun's rays is a must.  I love this sunblock because it doesn't feel like you have anything on, but it gives you full coverage that is waterproof, sweatproof & won't clog pores.
Fekkai Marine Summer Hair Beach Waves - $23.00
Craving those perfectly tousled waves?  Spray this in your hair and you'll look like you just spent a day at the beach!  Marine waters & sea kelp create amazing texture while UV shield prevents from damage & fading.
Michael Kors Leg Shine To Go - $10.00
Great for prepping legs for a date-night out!  This travel-size twist up canister deposits just the right amount of shimmer for a healthy glow, plus a warm sensual fragrance.
Laila Rowe Straw Hat - $18.00
Everyone should have at least one floppy hat.  They protect your face from the sun, they are chic & never go out of style!  The leather strap and buckle detail on this one makes it look more expensive.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Twisted Sister

Want an easy, romantic hairstyle that is perfect for the weekend?  Try this twisted-back style! 

You can do this with hair parted down the middle or on one side.  Grab small sections of your hair (you can decide how much) and start twisting as you pull it back.  Do this on both sides & make sure the sections are even.  You can either secure it in the back with a clip, clear rubber band or criss-crossed bobby pins.  I think it looks best when paired with loose waves (as seen here) and I love how simple it is!


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wardrobe Essentials ~ Summer

As you may recall, back in mid-March, I posted my must-have pieces for Spring (here).  And now that we are entering June (can you believe it?), here are my 10 picks for your Summer wardrobe essentials:

1) Linen blazer
2) Silk print tank
3) Floral maxi dress
4) Wooden platform sandals
5) Khaki shorts
6) Nautical stripe top
7) Bejeweled flat sandals
8) White skirt
9) Cropped jeans
10) Embellished kaftan (doubles as a chic swimsuit cover-up)


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Nail Color of the Month ~ June

Normally I choose brightly colored nails during the spring & summer months.  But, sometimes it's nice to mix things up a bit.  So, my pick for June is this beautifully warm dark-nude hue.  It still makes a statement, but with a low profile and contrasts with my skin better than a sheer neutral pink.  Plus, it works well with this season's brights, whites & tribal prints without competing against them.