Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Look for Less ~ Red Blazer

You may be noticing a trend with me adding more bright colors to my wardrobe.  As evidenced by my last LFL post (here), I am really loving the cheeriness of these bold hues.  And this is yet another instance of me being drawn to them.  I have been searching for my own version of a cherry red blazer, after seeing these celebrity examples: 

I love the versatility of this - see how the styling options in the above pictures are so varied?  While I already owned a bright persimmon blazer (here), I was wanting a true red color in a crepe fabric with a dressier feel to it, similar to the Vanessa Bruno jacket seen on Rachel Bilson.

While searching for a different H&M jacket on eBay (which I never found), this one popped up - brand new with tags & it just happened to be my size!  I can make it casual & wear it over a breton-striped top with jeans or throw it on over a LBD for a punch of color!

H&M Red Cropped Blazer - retail $49.95; bought for $15

Details I love: Slight ruching at waist for a figure-flattering fit, single hidden hook-and-eye closure gives it a sleek look, shrunken shape makes it easy to layer over anything.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Retired Beauty

Have you ever had this happen…you have been using a product for years because it is the perfect shade and/or formula…and then, inevitably, it gets discontinued?  And you have to run to the store and stockpile as much as you can before it’s gone OR go on a frustrating search to find a replacement?  I struggle with this ALL the time and it seems to be happening more lately!!
Well, ladies, don’t despair…because I am such a pro in this area (not by my choosing, mind you), I have done some research & am going to share with you my secret places to still find those products you love, but are no longer available.  Here’s the scoop:
Buy Me Beauty
This online beauty retailer sells popular drugstore brands (L’Oreal, Revlon, Maybelline, etc.) plus some higher end lines (Lancome, Clinique, Kiehls, MAC, etc.) that have been discontinued.   They also offer free shipping on orders of $35 or more.   
Three Custom Color Specialists
You can search their archive of discontinued products (lipstick, concealer, eye shadow, powder, eye liner, lip liner, or blush) by entering the brand name & shade.  If you can’t find the specific item in their archives, you can send them a dime-sized sample & they will recreate the exact product for you (they will even keep the formula in your file for easy re-ordering). 


Friday, May 27, 2011

My Top 3

It's ironic how some of the items I cherish & wear most often are things that I have purchased for so little.  My last top 3 for spring are pieces I bought on the clearance rack or eBay for less than $15 and have become some of my favorites:

Banana Republic Cropped Linen Blazer

LOFT Triple Chain Necklace

The Limited Lace Striped Top


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend Sales

There are some downright C-R-A-Z-Y deals to be had this weekend.  Not only do stores slash prices in hopes of luring people in on the holiday, but it is also the end of the spring season.  This makes it the perfect time to score & save!  Here are the sales running at some of my favorites spots:

Gap - extra 30% off sale/clearance items (use code GAPSAVE online)
J. Crew - extra 30% off sale/clearance items (use code LOVEIT online
The Limited - 40% off all capris & shorts + extra 40% off sale/clearance items
- extra 50% off sale/clearance items + all shorts, tees, skirts & capris are $25 and under

Ann Taylor - 40% off shorts, tees, capris, shoes & jewelry + extra 40% off sale/clearance items (use code EXTRA40 online)
Macy's - extra 25% off sale/clearance items (online only) + dozens of other sales on select items (see macys.com for details & coupons).
Banana Republic - handing out "mystery coupons" as you enter the store (open it to reveal 25%, 30% or 50% off anything!


Beautiful Scars

There are two things, though unattractive by the world's standards, that I am thankful for:

1) My c-section scar - because it delivered my daughter from physical distress (the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck) and 4 years later, gave me my sweet little boy.  Everytime I see it, I am reminded of my two little blessings & the incredible gift of motherhood.

2) My porcelain crowns - which cover all of my molars & were necessary to replace cracked teeth that were weakened due to a 10-year battle with an eating disorder.  They remind me of my amazing family, who intervened and would not rest until I was well...and my then boyfriend/now husband who loved me unconditionally through a long process to full recovery.

My point in sharing all this with you?  That scars, stretch marks & other physical "imperfections" are important because they remind us of where we came from, the family we belong to, or something we have survived.  Whether it be a lesson learned, a blessing received or a dream realized, we should accept & embrace them...because they make us who we are.  And that is beautiful.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Chantilly Lace

Designers & celebrities alike have been drawn towards lace this season.  I have to admit, there was previously not a speck of this handcrafted femininity in my closet.  However, lately, I cannot get enough of it - I have purchased a cropped lace jacket, lace striped tee, lace embellished blouse and a lace shift dress.  Overboard?  Maybe.  But, take a look below and tell me you aren't craving this same flirty sweetness...

Some frugal options:

Pins & Needles Scalloped Lace Top - $19.99
Go Jane Layered Lace Skirt - $17.90


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beauty Supplements

I am not a big fan of taking pills.  I gag very easily and already take too many vitamins & fish oil as it is.  However, after doing some research and trying them myself, I was amazed at the difference I saw by taking these beauty supplements.  While probably not necessary on a daily basis, they're great if you're needing an extra boost for your hair, skin or nails.

1) World Organic Liquid Chlorophyll - $8.81
Mix one tablespoon of this into your water (morning & night) and you'll see a noticeable improvement in the clarity & tone of your skin.  Helps clear up breakouts and even out blotchiness.

2) Appearex Biotin Tablets - $29.99
These pills work to stimulate nail growth & reduce breakage by increasing keratin cell proteins.  The result?  Stronger, healthier nails.

3) Viviscal Hair Vitamins - $42.99
Used by celebrities & models to help strengthen overstyled/processed hair.  Also provides nourishment for faster hair growth.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Steals Under $30

This is a new monthly series featuring items I love from some of my favorite stores.  Posts will include 8 pieces (clothing, shoes & accessories) - all for $30 or less!!  Since I will be scouring the clearance & sale racks on your behalf & sharing the deals with you, be sure to let me know if there is a specific item you are looking for or what you'd like to see more of.  Here are my penny-pincher picks for May:
Forever 21 Gold Espadrille Sun Wedges - $24.80
Dorothy Perkins Coral Scallop Edge Tee - £17.00
Urban Outfitters Raffia Checkbook Wallet - $14.99
Forever 21 Floral Maxi Skirt - $22.80
TopShop Loopy Flower Ring - £8.50

 Old Navy Low Rise Cuffed Denim Shorts - $21.99
Banana Republic Dove Braid Bracelet - $17.99
J. Crew Leather & Jute Belt - $29.50


Friday, May 20, 2011

Prep School

I have to be honest…when I read that this edition of the Bloggers Do It Better challenge was American Prep Menswear, I was scared.  Don’t get me wrong, I am all for this style…but the challenge was to wear a vest/blazer AND a tie.  I wasn’t quite sure I could pull this off. 
So, I decided to do a less literal take on this trend.  The aspects I loved and chose to incorporate into my look were: breton stripes, white button-down shirt and a classic blazer.  I may have twisted the rules a teeny bit by using a scarf, but only because my husband didn’t have any ties for me to steal.  Plus, I think I get points for tying the scarf as you would a tie, right?

A couple things about these photos: 1) I apologize for the redundancy of the background, but it was literally raining sideways, so we were stuck out on the covered patio again.  This is also the reason why these pictures are so dark & why my hair is so frizzy.  2) I would have preferred to wear a lighter wash, boyfriend-style, cropped jean with this outfit...but I am still on the hunt for that perfect pair. 

What I’m wearing:
Old Navy shirt, Merona sweater, H&M blazer, Target scarf, Mossimo jeans, Aldo shoes, Michael Kors watch


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Happy Feet

With spring already here and summer close at hand, I finally get to pull out my peep-toe pumps and strappy sandals!  Although I usually keep my toes polished through the winter months, I need to give my feet a little extra attention to get them ready for the new season.  And because I don't have the money to go to the salon all the time, I thought I'd share my tips for the perfect at-home pedicure:

1) The best time to perform your own pedicure is just after you've stepped out of the shower or bath.  Your nails are clean and your cuticles are softened.

2) Apply a foot scrub all over, focusing on your heels and the balls of your feet, where calluses tend to form.  To really smooth things over, use a diamond file on particularly rough patches (avoid pumices as they trap bacteria).  Rinse off with warm water and towel dry.

3) Clip toenails and lightly shape with a file into a "squoval" shape.  Push cuticles back gently using an orange stick.  Lightly buff the surface of your nails, smoothing out any ridges.

4) To prolong the life of your pedicure and to keep dark colors from staining your nails, apply a base coat first.  Then, apply two full coats of polish and finish with a glossy top coat.

5) To keep my heels soft through the summer, I apply Aquaphor or an intensive care lotion and then put on socks before going to bed.  This acts as a deep-moisturizing treatment and I wake up with silky smooth feet!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Maxi Skirt

One of the problems with being tall is that alot of the skirts I try on are mini-length on me, even if they aren't supposed to be.  Being in my 30's and having two small kids means that wearing super-short skirts is neither practical nor appropriate. 

So, I was thrilled to see how designers embraced maxi skirts & dresses at the Spring 2011 runway shows.  I love how versatile these full-length skirts are.  You can pair them with a simple tank top and flat sandals or dress them up more for evening.  The layers of flowing fabric make the modern styles more bohemian-chic than "Little House on the Prairie".  Some examples:

I personally am on the hunt for one that I can wear with a basic tee, leather belt & wedge sandals for those days when I want to feel feminine, but still be comfortable!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Summer Makeup

As we draw closer to summer and the temperatures continue to climb, I am starting to pare down my daily makeup routine.  Thanks to our recent move to NY, I won't have to endure the unbearable sticky humidity of the South this year.  But, I still want to keep my makeup light & simple during the warmer months. 

One thing I learned from NC summers is that even makeup that looks immaculate indoors will become a cakey mess in the oppressive heat.  Cream makeup, eyeshadows & blushes melt faster than you can blink...and waterproof mascara is a necessity!  Here are my must-haves for the perfect summer face:

1) OC Eight Professional Mattifying Gel - $36.90
This stuff is quite pricey, but I have never used anything that works better.  Put it on under your makeup and you will never get that "greasy" look, even in high temperatures!  If you have normal to oily skin, you will LOVE this!!

2) Maybelline Great Lash Waterproof Mascara - $4.99
I know everyone has their own "favorite" when it comes to mascara & this just happens to be mine.  The brand doesn't matter, as long as you pick one that is waterproof and doesn't flake easily.

3) Avon Get a Tint Tinted Moisturizer - $10.00
Swap out your usual foundation with something lighter - this includes SPF15, has an oil-free formula & is safe for sensitive skin.

4) Korres Lip Butter Glaze - $14.00
Thin, non-sticky & moisturizing...this gives you a semi-transparent, shiny wash of color that smells amazing and leaves your lips feeling softer.

5) Benefit Liquid Benetint - $28.00
This rose-tinted cheek stain is long-lasting and waterproof, giving you a perfect natural flush that is ideal for summer.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Dept Store Lines

There are a couple of clothing lines at your local department stores that are recent discoveries of mine & are totally worth checking out, if you haven't already.  Here's the scoop...

JCPenney - MNG by Mango
This line was introduced to stores at the end of August 2010 - Mango is a Spanish-based fashion chain, similar to Zara or a higher-end H&M.  The full-price items are a little on the spendy side...but if you're like me, you will head straight to the sale/clearance rack anyway!  My picks:

Pleated Short - $24.95

Sears - UK Style by French Connection
This line was just launched in March - French Connection is a fairly expensive & ultra-modern designer brand.  All of these pieces are very affordable, so even if they aren't on sale, you can feel good about it!  My picks:

Utility Vest - $28.99


Friday, May 13, 2011

My Top 3

After reading through my blog archives, I realized that alot of my posts are focused on acquiring more/better things.  While there is nothing wrong with taking advantage of a great deal & enjoying fashion, I never want to be ungrateful for what I already possess...because I truly am blessed with so much. 

For that reason, I am beginning a new bi-weekly series - to remind myself of the items I own & love AND to share with you some of my favorite things!  So, with a focus on spring, my top 3 things I'm thankful for are:

Turquoise milk glass necklace (from Mexico)

Zara High-Waist Chambray Skirt
MRKT Nude Cut-Out Wedges


Mad for Plaid

Want a perfectly casual transitional piece that will take you from spring, through the summer and into fall?  Get yourself a plaid shirt.  Traditionally a preppy classic, the new styles are more relaxed making them versatile & great for layering.  Some examples:

Wear them untucked over cropped skinny jeans for spring; layer them over a tank with shorts for summer; pair with leggings, boots & a blazer for fall!  My penny-pincher picks:

Old Navy Plaid Camper Shirt - $18.00
Heritage 1981 Soft Plaid Shirt - $19.90
Merona Plaid Heritage Shirt - $19.99


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Modern Man

(My sis-in-law asked me to do this post, so this is for her!)

Two years ago when we were home for Christmas, I helped my brother re-vamp his wardrobe.  He had worn the same things for so long and had never considered updating his style.  Thankfully, he was *mostly* willing to listen to me and get rid of alot of things. 

Then, he gave me a budget and entrusted me to do some shopping for him.  With it being right after the holidays, there were plenty of deals to be found and we successfully transformed him into a thoroughly modern man.  If you find your husband/boyfriend in the same situation, here are my recommendations for updating his closet...
  1. Flat front pants - these are a MUST!  Much more flattering than the pleated version and can instantly streamline his look.
  2. Denim - pay attention to the wash...anything too light can really date him.  Medium to dark washes are modern and sleek.
  3. Graphic tees - these are okay as long as they aren't splashed with logos or of the Ed Hardy variety.  Also, if you can't get him to throw out his old faded/cracked shirts, then make sure he only wears them for yardwork or painting.
  4. Dress shoes - anything with a chunky heel or "platform" has to go...it's so 90's! 
  5. Fit is important - if he has had something for a long time, chances are it is stretched out and baggy.  He will look best in something that has a slim (but not tight) athletic fit.  Anything with too much extra room will just add bulk.
Trends to try for Spring:

Cargo Utility Jacket

Denim Chambray Shirt


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

$100 Spree

So, the other day my husband came to me and said he had been given $100 bonus at work and that he wanted to give it to me (I know - he's great, right?)!  Of course, I wanted to get the most I could for that money.  Before I even went shopping, I took a look at my closet and decided the items I needed most were dresses & more modern shoes.

I wanted to share with you what is possible when you take your time & shop the clearance racks - here are the things I bought with my $100...

Banana Republic Silk Racerback Dress - retail $115, bought for $12
I love the lightweight feel & simple styling of this dress - I'll add a leather belt at the waist for a bit of interest.

Nina Embler Peep Toe Booties - retail $80, bought for $19
These are sleek, flattering & a bit dressier than my other booties (seen here), giving me a more modern option than my classic black pumps.

Banana Republic Knotted Strap Dress - retail $150, bought for $35
Believe it or not, before this purchase, I didn't own anything in pink!  The shoulder knot detail gives it a romantic, Greek-goddess feel.

SE Boutique Oscar Pump - retail $80, bought for $30
Even though my husband doesn't like them, I think they are fabulous.  Extremely edgy and perfect with skinny jeans and a blazer!
 So, if you are better at math than me and you've been adding, you'll notice that I didn't even use all of my $100!  I had just enough left over for a coffee at Starbucks.  Talk about a perfect day - shopping success & a little caffeine! :)


Monday, May 9, 2011

Designs by Lynsey Richelle

Lynsey was one of my best friends in high school.  She was the kind of girl that you sort of wanted to hate - sang like an angel, ran half-marathons, and was pretty too.  But, once you got to know her, it was impossible to dislike her...she's just too sweet! 

Not only one of the nicest people on the planet, but also incredibly talented - she started her own business a few years back, hand-crafting the most beautiful & unique jewelry (self-taught, by the way)! 

Take a peek at some of my favorite pieces below, then pop over to her website (here) and view the rest of her collection.  You can also like her on Facebook (here) and check out pictures of her custom work.  I know you'll be impressed...


Friday, May 6, 2011

Look for Less ~ Bright Dress

Remember a few weeks back when I professed my love for all things cobalt (here)?  As I stated then, I have been on a mission to add something in this bright shade of blue to my wardrobe.  And I finally found it!  Here are some examples first to get you inspired:

I had taken a solo trip to the mall - it was one of those times when everything I tried on didn't work.  Frustrated, I finally gave up...as I was walking through JCPenney to get to my car, I saw a clearance rack of dresses and this blue caught my eye.  It was in my size and severely marked down!  I plan to add a black leather belt to cinch in the waist & add a bit of interest (like Hayden & Emma did above).
Bisou Bisou Tiered Dress - retail $70; bought for $19

Details I love: Tiered layers of chiffon are feminine without being too sweet, flattering design with scoopneck cut & slight flutter sleeves, exposed zipper in back gives it a cool modern touch.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Love That Red

Red is such a bold, dramatic color...it demands attention.  Most of the time, I go for a peachy-pink lipstick/gloss combo.  But there are times when I'm in the mood for something different, something daring.  Particularly when I'm wearing my leopard print scarf (as seen here).   
5 Simple Steps:
1) Prep with a lip scrub to ensure the surface is smooth and flake-free.  Then, apply an anti-feathering lip treatment around the edges of your lips.

2) Trace the outline of your lips with a flesh-colored liner. 

3) Using a lipstick brush, apply the color in small strokes until completely covered.  Blot with a tissue and then apply another coat of color.

4) Finish with a small dab of clear gloss in the center of your bottom lip.  This helps add just a hint of shine and gives the illusion of fuller lips.

5) Make sure the rest of your makeup is simple.  Pared down blush & eye makeup are best with a bold lip.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Today I am attempting something new by participating in Pretty Shiny
Sparkly's Bloggers Do It Better challenge.  I missed the first assignment on color-blocking, but when I read that this one was the all-white outfit, I jumped at the chance to give it a try. 

I have a couple of LWD's (as discussed here), but decided to take my inspiration from Thakoon's Spring 2011 runway show.  I went with a white "suit" instead, which makes a much stronger statement than a simple dress.  Using separates from my closet, I layered different textures (linen, silk & cotton) then accented with bold blue earrings for a clean, sophisticated vibe.

By doing this challenge, I have learned a couple things: 1) when wearing all white, it's important to stick to a slim silhouette, 2) that I really need to have the hem on these pants let out by my tailor!
 What I'm wearing:
H&M blazer, Isabella Rodriguez blouse, Attention pants, Guess metallic heels, Banana Republic earrings


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Boho Braid

I personally love the braid.  There are so many different ways to do it.  When I am having a bad hair day or simply don't have a lot of time in the morning, I braid all of mine off to the side (as seen here).  I also am a big fan of wearing most of my hair down and just doing one small braid for a relaxed, boho feel.  Here are the latest styles I am loving:

This is a great option for those of you who are growing your bangs out.  My daughter and I both have been doing this style alot!  Just make sure you are using a thin, clear elastic to secure the end of the braid.

I love this style because you can still wear your hair down and add some loose waves, but the braids are subtle & semi-hidden.  It makes it casual and interesting, giving the hair more texture and added dimension.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Nail Color of the Month ~ May

Inspired by the flowers that are *finally* starting to bloom around town, this color is a beautiful pale pinkish-lavender.  It is soft enough to pair with most of my spring clothes and provides the perfect contrast to anything blue (navy, periwinkle, and the cobalt pieces shown here).