Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mix it Up with and a Different Neckline

I don't know about you, but I often find myself in a bit of a rut in terms of the clothes that I buy. Shopping can be a double-edged sword in the sense that once you find something that works for you, and I mean really works for you, you want to purchase more of the same thing. Whether it's the silhouette of a day dress, the rise of a pair of jeans, or a specific heel height and width- once you find something that you know you'll wear all the time, it' hard not to shop for similar pieces.

Of course, after a few months, sometimes that means a closet full of the same theme, all in a minor variation. I'm definitely that way, particularly where silhouette and neckline are concerned. I can count on one hand the number of dresses in my closet that aren't a simple scoop neckline. I own one halter dress, a couple of strapless, and a few other random necklines. As for silhouette? I've branched out from full and circle skirts and now my closet also includes some slim a-line and pencil shapes, too. Every one of them emphasizes my natural waist, though. I'm remarkably consistent in that regard, at least.

Since finding a silhouette that is flattering and comfortable isn't always easy, I can understand why you wouldn't want to deviate from it once you find it. In order to avoid feeling like you are in a rut, look for pieces that mix it up in other ways- ways that don't effect the silhouette at all. Neckline is a perfect example. A unique, asymmetrical neckline can add a whole lot of visual interest to a look and you won't have to compromise on silhouette at all! Check out these dresses with interesting necklines:

Always a Plus Dress, Modcloth, $44.99

I'm not sure I could wear the last dress, as I generally try to avoid dresses that require I either not wear a bra, or I wear a strapless one. It's still pretty darn cute, though, don't you think? 

Are you in a wardrobe rut right now? What do you do to pull yourself out of it? Obviously shopping is the easy answer, but is there something else you can do without shopping that makes you feel like you've got  a fresh new wardrobe? Leave a comment and tell me what works for you to stay out of a rut while also saving money! I'd love to hear from you! 

Shopping on Nantucket

I must admit, while visiting the island of Nantucket last week, I was a bit disappointed in the shopping available. I found the downtown area to be full of shops attempting to appeal to one of two major demographics on the island. The first was the high-end preppy attire that included the likes of Lily Pulitzer and Nantucket Reds as well as an assortment of other high-priced accessories and jewelry. The second was the tourist traps- full of "Nantucket" emblazoned hooded sweatshirts, t-shirts and of course countless tchotchkes such as magnets, figurines and "housewares."

My mom and I spent a good part of the afternoon wandering in and out of the many shops that made up the downtown area. I made one purchase- my new shell ring- which by some standards might be placed in the cheesy tchotchke category. (Not my standards, though- I think it's fabulous!)

Aside from a few cute printed dresses and one decent vintage shop, there wasn't a whole lot that appealed to me and even the pieces that did, were so far out of my price range as to be laughable. There was one item I saw, however, that although being too rich for my blood was also too fabulous not to notice- an amazing Leifsdottir sweater: 

At $248, there was not way it could come home with me. But I also feel my body type wouldn't do it justice- it's designed for someone long and lean and although I may admire and appreciate it, I know it's not meant for my wardrobe. I love that it has interesting detail without being over-designed. I love that it's a "summer" sweater- light weight and light in color, ideal as a top layer on the rare chilly summer nights of the shoulder seasons. It's artistic and beautiful and I wouldn't feel right if I hadn't shared it with you. 

In short, visit Nantucket for the scooters, not the sweaters. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lace it Up!

Earlier this week, my super stylish boss, the owner of Madeleine's Daughter, wore this absolutely fabulous dress:

Everything about this dress is awesome. The oversized, geometric lace pattern, the dark grey lining underneath, the sexy, but not inappropriately so shorter hemline, the slim fit, the cap sleeves- seriously everything. There is nothing about this dress that I don't like. It's also great in all grey- check it out here. Seeing her in it, made me instantly jealous and I felt a desperate need for an amazing lace shift dress of my own. Nordstrom is not lacking in the amazing lace dress department. I think there is literally something here for everyone- short, tall, slim, plump, colorful, neutral- they've got it all. And I could drain my checking account trying to stock my closet full of them. Here are some favorites: 

JS Boutique Lace Dress, Nordstrom, $138

I'm sure at this point, you're wondering how to pull off this look. It can be tricky, that's for sure, but much like any other outfit, it's all about proportion. There are two main things to do when choosing a lace dress to wear. First, the key is to view the lace as you would any other printed fabric and choose a lace pattern that is in proportion to your body. If you are a very petite person, then a large lace pattern will only overwhelm you- people will see the dress as opposed to seeing you. However, if you are very tall and/or broad, a large pattern can be overwhelming in the sense that there is too much of it. In most cases, the best choice is a moderately size pattern with strong structure shape. If you have trouble with the all-over look, choose a dress that breaks up the pattern, much like the black dress pictured above. The sash at the waist not only breaks up the pattern, preventing it from being overwhelming, but it also provides added definition at the waist- something we pretty much always want. Second, choose a dress that is in proportion to your body in terms of the overall structure. A long lace dress will be more likely to overwhelm you and be less flattering than a knee-length or even a mini. 

Thanks to Kate Middleton, I think we're going to be seeing a lot of fabulous lace dresses in both the bridal realm and in ready-to-wear. I've got a shopping trip planned with a girlfriend for a week from today and you can bet I'll be stopping in to Nordstrom to try on a few of these. 

What about you? Are you a fan of lace? How do you wear it? How do you select lace pieces for your wardrobe? Leave a comment and tell me! 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Shoesday Tuesday- Look for Less is Actually Awesome

Hello, ladies and gents- I don't have a whole lot to say today except for one bit of exciting news. Last week I featured several options as a "look for less" and over the weekend, I actually ran into one of the pair I featured live and in person. Of course I had to try them on. It would have been irresponsible not to, right? They were the Franco Sarto Vial Platform Pump and they were much more beautiful in person:

In person, the color is so much more rich. They are also fairly comfortable, as heels go, anyway. I found them at Macy's, but you can buy them at Endless for a lot less money. At Macy's they were about $80, and I was not prepared to splurge on them on that particular day. It was difficult to walk away, though. I will admit that. 

Why was I shoe-shopping at Macy's? I was with my BFF and we were shopping for wedding shoes for her. And I'm proud to say that we found them and they are FIERCE. I must say that I have been impressed with her wedding attire choices from the get-go. Her dress is simple and daring at the same time. Her shoes, as I mentioned, are FIERCE. Her jewelry choice is probably the most simple and understated and yet there is a lot of sentiment attached to it, so the meaning is the focus of that particular piece. I guess I'm trying to say that I think she's going to look amazing and I can't wait! 

Speaking of wedding shoes, how do all of you feel about shopping for shoes for a wedding- whether you are the bride, a member of the wedding party or a guest. Do you feel it's more difficult or at the very least different from shopping for shoes for pretty much anything else? Do you struggle more when shopping for a wedding? I do, partly because I'm not really interested in shoes that most stores would deem "wedding appropriate." Tweet your thoughts today and don't forget the hashtag #ShoesdayTuesday

Monday, June 27, 2011

Rate My Look- Shopping in Shorts

Yesterday was spent doing wedding-related things with my BFF Beth. She is getting married in November and we had some things to take care of, like finalizing the centerpiece design, discussing the issue of legally changing ones name (Do you take his name? Do you hyphen-ate? What about creating an entirely new last name for both of you?), and of course shopping for shoes and undergarments for the big day. I'm proud to say that we found both for Beth. Well, we definitely found "the" shoes to go with "the" dress. The undergarments are a little more tricky, but we found options, which is important. My dress (which you will not see on the blog until after the wedding- sorry!) is a lovely scoop-neck and I must admit that I am THRILLED to be able to wear a normal bra with it. I even bought a cute floral one with coordinating (but not matching) lace panties that I am super psyched to wear. Cute underwear makes me happy, but don't worry, I'll never feature it as part of any "Rate My Look" post.

The bottom line is that while shoe and underwear shopping can be some of the most enjoyable shopping that women do, it's very different when a wedding is involved in the equation. Normally, shoe shopping has no rules. Shoe shopping for a wedding? Totally different. And I mean for the bride AND the wedding party. For example, I'm someone who tends to make bold shoe choices on a daily basis. I have no qualms about wearing a pair of sky-high bright purple stilettos to the office or even to a cookout. Inappropriate footwear? I don't understand those terms. If I like them and they are eye-catching, then I want to wear them. But when it comes to being a bridesmaid, I have the opposite approach. I want to look pretty, of course. And since shoes are sort of "my thing," I of course don't want to disappoint in that area. But I also don't want to do anything that would even remotely resemble an attempt to upstage the bride. After all, it's not about me that day- it's about her. (And the groom. But his shoes will be boring, so there's no way I won't upstage them. Sorry, dude.) The good news is that I think I've found a great pair of shoes for myself that strike that happy medium. I'll be sure to check with the bride to make sure she approves. And fortunately, today we found the most fabulous pair of shoes for Beth that are actually way more fabulous than the shoes I am hoping to wear. I figure as long as her shoes are better than mine, then I'm good. Again, you will not see photos of anything for the wedding until after November 12th. But I can promise her shoes are amazing. A-MA-ZING.

But enough about all of that- let's get to the outfit. I wanted to be casual and comfortable and I was not in a mood to put much effort into my outfit. This is what I came up with:

Clearly, I have an obsession with bright citrus colors this summer, since I can't stop putting them together. This clementine- colored shirt and lime green bag work really well together to create a fun, on-trend summer outfit. The shoes, by Sofft, I bought last year and they have proven to be an excellent pair of nude wedges- great for a day spent on my feet. The shorts I purchased at Forever 21 for my day-trip to Nantucket, but I have a feeling I'm going to be getting a lot of wear out of them. They button on either side just like sailor pants, and they are in the impossible-to-find perfect length for my legs. I wish the wash was a smidge darker, but to be fair, they are a better color in real life than they are in this photo. The accessories I chose included a pair of Stella and Dot earrings as well as my new shell ring that I bought in Nantucket. All in all, it was a great outfit for shopping and accomplishing wedding-related tasks. I looked and felt great all day long. 

Please feel free to leave a comment about my outfit, shopping for wedding attire, or anything else you like! Happy Monday, everyone! 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Photos from Nantucket

As you guys know, I went to Nantucket last week. It was an absolute BLAST and I would recommend everyone do it! Whether you rent bicycles to ride around the island, or scooters, like we did, you will have SO much fun. The beaches are beautiful, the landscape is absolutely picturesque and the atmosphere is perfect for a relaxing day with loved ones.

We started off the day on the 6:30 AM ferry from Hyannis to Nantucket. We took the high-speed ferry which got us there in about an hour. We had a light breakfast at the Easy Street Cantina and then went immediately to the Nantucket Bike Shop to pick up the scooters we had reserved. A few minutes later we had learned how to ride them and were off on our way!

Riding the scooter made me realize what people love about motorcycles and mopeds. It's so much fun to ride in the open air like that. And although my scooter's speed topped at about 35 mph, it still felt amazing to ride around on it. I didn't look amazing doing it, though. You can see by my outfit that I dressed for comfort, not style: 

After scooting around the island for a while, we had lunch at Cy's Lobster Pot. We had a craving for a good New England lobster roll and Cy's did not disappoint. The afternoon was spent shopping and visiting the many beaches around the island. I was unimpressed with the shopping on Nantucket, actually. It seemed there was mostly stores selling either super preppy, super expensive clothes or silly souvenirs like "Nantucket" hoodies and keychains. I did manage to purchase one item that didn't fall into either of those categories:

What I love about this cocktail ring is that it is LITERALLY a seashell that has a hole carved out of it for your finger. I'd never seen anything like it and I loved it, so I had to buy it. At $18, plus tax, it actually cost less than my lobster roll at lunch. 

All in all, it was a spectacular day- the weather wasn't amazing, but the company was great (I went with my mom) and we had so much fun with every single thing we did on the island. If you have the opportunity to spend the day on Nantucket, do it. It's not cheap- our ferry ride (round trip) was $77 each, the scooter rental was another $75 each and of course food and drink while you're there. But do yourself a favor and save your pennies so you can enjoy this quintessential New England experience.  

Another MD Co-worker: Meet Chelsi!

You've heard about quite a few of my amazing co-workers- there's McKenzie, Juhree, ElizabethSadie, Kerry, Ryann, Kate and Gigi, but you haven't met Chelsi yet! That all changes today! Here's what Chelsi wore to work last Saturday (when we are required to wear all black):

Does she look completely amazing, or what? Chelsi is one of the few people I know who can pull off a romper or a jumpsuit and look absolutely unbelievable doing it. Seriously. Look at her! Chelsi has a unique sense of style that stands out from the crowd in the best possible way. She always looks so put together with her hair and make-up done perfectly, too. You'd buy a wedding dress from her, wouldn't you? I totally would. 

And just because they're so fierce, here's a close-up of Chelsi's amazing wedges:

I'm impressed every time she wears them. She claims they're pretty comfortable, but by the end of a long day, I can't imagine my feet being happy in shoes like that. 

So there you have it- more evidence that black doesn't have to be boring. Leave a comment and let Chelsi know how absolutely fabulous she looks!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hayleigh's Cherished Charms

There are days when I step back and think to myself what an incredibly blessed person I am to be surrounded by such extraordinary people. I want to tell you about one of those people today. Her name is Hayleigh and she is the daughter of a good friend. Remember this dress?

I made this dress for my friend Rachel- you can read about it here. Hayleigh is Rachel's 12-year old daughter. Hayleigh is amazing. She has been wearing hearing instruments for most of her life and in the last couple of years, she decided that rather than hide them, she wanted to dress them up. So she developed a design (and even patented it!) that allows anyone with hearing aids to wear earring-like charms on them. Her designs range from playful themes appropriate for children her age and younger to sophisticated mature designs appropriate for an adult night on the town. One of my favorite designs of hers are these chandeliers: 

I also love the colorful Swarovski crystals she used to design these "Simply Striking" charms: 

Perhaps you like Hayleigh's designs, but you don't wear hearing instruments? No problem- she'll actually create any of her designs as earrings as well. Or maybe you only wear one hearing instrument and therefore want one charm for your hearing aid and one matching earring for your other ear. She'll do that, too! 

Over the last few years as she has developed her business Hayleigh's Cherished Charms, Hayleigh has proven that you don't have to be ashamed of your hearing devices, but that you can embrace them and be completely confident not only letting the world see them, but also dressing them up with sparkly embellishments that suit your personality. Visit her website to read more about her venture and to see all of her designs. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nantucket Bound

As you are reading this post, I'm likely pedaling my rented bike around the streets of Nantucket. My mom and I decided to get up really early this morning, drive the 2+ hours down to Hyannis, hop on the first ferry of the day over to Nantucket and spend the day exploring the island. I'm not wearing anything blog-worthy, as I need to be comfortable for riding a bike all day. Actually, we may rent scooters instead of bikes- as I write this post, we haven't yet decided. Regardless, I can tell you that my outfit consists of denim shorts, a Life is Good t-shirt and a pair of pink Converse low-top Chuck Taylors.

I'll be sure to post pictures of our day at some point. I'm hoping for sunny weather, but the forecast said there would be some scattered showers.

Since I'm not really blogging anything today, I thought I'd give you a few interesting articles to read:

I enjoyed this post on Mashable about How Social Shopping is Changing Fashion Production. It's eye-opening when you think about how many different ways designers can engage fans of their lines- through twitter, facebook, and of course the ways mentioned in the article. Check it out- it's an interesting read!

Last week I posted about the new season of Project Runway. (Side note: I was wrong about the date- it's actually JULY 27th, not JUNE 27th- oops!) While I may not be really looking forward to it, like I have in seasons past, I certainly will have a few choices of other shows to replace it with if it turns out to be a disappointing season. It seems there are some Project Runway spin-offs in the works: Chris March has his own show Mad Fashion airing on Bravo soon. It appears as though it will be full of Bravo personalities we already know and love to hate. As if that wasn't enough, Tim Gunn is hosting The Revolution on ABC, a new twist on a make-over show. Instead of a quick week-long make-over, it seems the women featured on The Revolution will be making a 5-month long weight loss attempt and their progress will be documented over 5 episodes. Hmm... we'll see if that takes off.

You all know how I like to post about "green" fashion choices- whether is it clothing, accessories, fair trade, organic, etc. So you can understand why I enjoyed this article on Fashion News about New Hampshire company Timberland and their choice for "Best Green Handbag." I wasn't able to find a photo, but the description of the bag sounds great.

Well, I hope these links keep you busy for a little while. I'll try to take lots of pictures today, provided the weather cooperates! Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Shoesday Tuesday- Look for Less

These Christian Louboutins are truly stunning shoes:

Pampas Laser Cut Pump, Neiman Marcus, $1395.00

Unfortunately, the nearly $1400 price tag is not even within striking range for me. So I decided to shop around and try to get the same vibe for a whole lot less-specifically I was looking for shoes under $50. Here's what I found: 

Iced Coffee Wedge, Modcloth, $34.99

Of course, none of these are an exact replica or knock-off, but the overall effect is there- a neutral beige heel with intricate cut-out details. If you have seen any shoes similar to the Louboutins pictured above, let me know! Comment or tweet it! And if you tweet, don't forget the hashtag #ShoesdayTuesday!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Accessories Anonymous: Un-Bow-lievable

There are some things that are so quintessentially girly that you can't help but feel completely feminine when wearing them. To me, flowers and bows are two of those things. My personal preference of the two is flowers- I love floral prints, flower brooches and pins, even flower jewelry. I've got floral shoes, dresses, skirts, blouses, scarves, hats, and even purses. I've never really been a fan of the other side- bows. But then I noticed one of my coworkers- Sadie- has a tendency to wear bows all the time and they always look great. She tends to pair them with more edgy pieces and the balance of the two works really well.

In honor of Sadie and her bow obsession, here are some great bow-inspired accessories I've found for you:


Darling Dottie Hair Clip, Modcloth, $12.99

Sweet Bow Necklace, Cocoro Jewelry (Etsy), $17

Autumn Kiss Brooch Pendant on Bow Pin, Tina Tarnoff (Etsy), $45

Valentino Couture Patent Bow Pump, Neiman Marcus, $745

Elasticized Bow Belt, Yes Style, $9.60

Even a die-hard floral fan like myself can't help but be won over by these absolutely adorable bow accessories! What about you? Would you wear any of these pieces? Do you wear a lot of bows? Leave a comment! 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Celebrity Style Inspiration: Adele

Not too long ago, one of my coworkers remarked that the singer Adele and I have a similar style. I was super flattered- Adele pretty much always looks amazing and I have to agree with my coworker- Adele and I do have a similar aesthetic:

Photo from My Fashion Cents

Look familiar? Her dress is strikingly similar to the one I made for myself: 

Of course, instead of 2 Grammys, I have a giant flower. It'll do. I love Adele's quirky vintage-esque style and I love that she's not your standard size 0 that is so typical in Hollywood and the music industry. I love her hair and make-up choices as well. I didn't intend to emulate her when I started dressing this way, it just seems that we have a similar approach to dressing our bodies. It's no surprise since we're built very similarly as well. We're both curvy women who like a classic silhouette. 

Are there celebrities out there that you try to emulate? Or are there celebrities that people compare to your style? Tell me about it- I know I'm not the only one! 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Rate My Look- Worthy of a Misdemeanor?

Have you guys seen that new movie "Bridesmaids?" First of all, it is SO hilarious- I haven't laughed that hard at a movie in a looooooong time. Kristen Wiig is beyond funny in that movie- actually, just about everyone is beyond funny in that movie. I laughed so hard when I saw it, I decided to see it again. This week, I met up with my friend Stephanie to see it for the second time. As funny as the movie was, I found myself not only laughing hysterically again, but I also found myself crushing even harder than the first time on Chris O'Dowd, a.k.a. "Officer Rhodes." Seriously, after seeing that movie, I'm tempted to break my tail lights and drive around until a cute cop pulls me over. It worked for Kristen Wiig's character Annie and we're not all that different, you know.

We both have sassy short hair cuts.
We both like to wear cute dresses that show off our fabulous legs.
We both are maids in a wedding this summer.

See? We're practically twins. So why shouldn't I also have an adorable cop pull me over and then turn into my boyfriend? Right? I suppose I ought to start by wearing an outfit that will be the perfect "getting pulled over" outfit. Good thing, because I've already got that part figured out:

Dress: Gap
Shoes: Nine West
Belt: J. Crew
Necklaces: Vintage & Forever 21

Seriously, when I got dressed this morning, I thought to myself, "I really shouldn't be wasting this on work." No offense to my coworkers, but this is a fabulous look that says, "I am adorable and totally date-able." And since it is a great date outfit, I really think I ought to wear it out on a date. So to score a super cute cop, I suppose I'll just have to start off with this outfit and then do a few extra miles per hour over the speed limit, maybe run a few red lights, and of course break my tail lights. Honestly, this outfit even looks cute when I'm "walking the line," don't you think? 

Let's be honest- what cute, single cop in his right mind wouldn't be handing me a phone number instead of a ticket? Am I right? Of course I am- I'm not blind. I can see my legs in that photo. 

Please leave a comment with suggestions for minor violations I can commit that will put me in the path of an adorable cop but that won't cause me to face any major consequences such as tickets, fines and/or jail time. Prison uniform orange is not my color. 

One Dress Three Ways

You've all been there, I know it- you have at least 3 or 4 weddings to attend over the next two months and between the showers, bachelorette parties and the actual weddings themselves, you're financially tapped. You want to wear something different to each wedding, but realistically, you can't afford to do so. The solution? Find one amazing dress and style it in a completely different way for each event. Of course, this will work best if each wedding is with a different circle of friends. One of my super stylish co-workers, McKenzie is in this exact situation and she found a completely fabulous dress to work with:

This dress is fabulous for so many reasons- the vibrant color, the sexy halter neckline, the on-trend ruffles, the waist-cinching belt- need I go on? I didn't think so. It's also an excellent base to start with to create three very distinct looks. And that's exactly what I've done for you. Each look takes its cue from the shoes- I like to start there and work my way up to finish the rest of the outfit. McKenzie is very tall and able to pull off that hemline even in flats (Good thing she's so fabulous or I might have to hate her for that). Unfortunately, the rest of us aren't all quite as blessed, so I've opted for heels in all three outfit options. 

Oasis Dress

From left to right we have the neutral look, the boho quirky look and the glamorous metallic look. 

The neutral look is basically understated elegance. The shoes are nude, but also modern and summery and they allow the dress to be the star of the outfit. The earrings are as basic as can be while still dressing up the outfit and the clutch is the one "wild card" item. You could certainly go with a more neutral bag if snakeskin isn't for you. Overall, the effect of these accessories is that the complement the dress without distracting from it in any way.

The boho quirky look does just the opposite- it uses the dress as a jumping-off point for adding fun, boho-esque accessories to create an outfit full of punch and personality. From the floral wedge shoes to the colorful jewelry, this look is not for the wall flower. And while some might say it's not dressy enough for a wedding, I disagree. There are weddings of every level of formality and I've definitely been a guest at more than one wedding in which a more casual outfit is the most appropriate one. 

Finally, I had to go for an ultra-glam option and what better way to glam up an outfit than with stunning metallics. I love mixing metallics together- silver, pewter, gold, bronze- they all work so well together and by mixing it up, the look is totally updated and modern. 

So there you have it- three completely different styling options for one fabulous dress. I hope this will give you some ideas for the events you'll be attending this summer. And maybe McKenzie will be gracious enough to let me post photos of the styling choices that she makes with this fabulous dress! 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I Love a Good Bargain!

You know what's awesome? Finding an amazing deal- that's awesome. Last night I was meeting a friend for dinner and a movie. I got there early and decided to pop into the Gap since I had a few minutes to kill. I found this super adorable shift dress on sale for $9.99:

To purchase this dress online, you'd have to pay $60 right now! I can't explain why it was so cheap at the store, but full price online, but the point is, the dress is adorable and I got it for a steal! I can't wait to put a great outfit together with it! 

Stella and Dot New Renegade Collection!

I know that you are all aware that I love my Stella and Dot jewelry. I would never have become a stylist for the company if I didn't truly love the products they offer. But I have to admit, I'm completely smitten with the new mini-collection that was just released- the Renegade Collection.

To view the entire collection, click the link above, but of course I can't resist showing you my absolute favorite piece:

What can I say? I'm a sucker for a cool cocktail ring! Just when I think, "I have plenty of cocktail rings-the last thing on earth that I need is another one!" That's when I see one that I just can't resist! The Renegade Cluster Ring is doing that to me right now! 

If you want to get the Renegade Cluster Ring or any other Stella and Dot jewelry for FREE, all you have to do is host a trunk show. Email me today to find out how you can do that! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Project Runway Season 9 Will Be Here Soon!

The ninth season in the Project Runway franchise airs exactly two weeks from tonight on Lifetime. Are you excited for that? I have to admit, after the incredibly disappointing end to last season, I'm having trouble getting excited for the upcoming one. It doesn't help that nearly eight months have passed since the finale of season 8- the momentum of the show seems to have slowed a bit, at least for me. I don't doubt the producers are aware of that, though, as there is buzz all over the internet about Project Runway All-Stars and a new show- Project Accessory.

In addition to despising the judges for selecting Gretchen as the winner, I was disappointed at the end of the season because I felt the producers wasted a lot of air time with the new 90-minute format. With an extra 30 minutes on each episode, I really hoped to see more of the contestants in the workroom. I wanted to hear more about the design process, the roadblocks they encountered and the sewing techniques they used. Instead, we got an extra 30 minutes of whining and back-stabbing remarks, with so little of it actually retaining my interest. If the producers choose to stick with the new 90-minute format and focus the extra minutes on things unrelated to the designing, I will likely be fast-forwarding through much of the episodes to get directly to the runway show and judges deliberation.

Of course, you never know what to expect these days, so there is always a great chance that I'll be completely wrong with my predictions and instead of a disappointing 9th season, I could end up with my favorite season of all. My fingers are crossed for that, anyway. I'll find out in two weeks. Will you be watching?

What I've Learned from Working in the Bridal Industry

When I started my new job at Madeleine's Daughter, I brought several years experience as a seamstress and as a designer who has worked with gowns to the job. The learning curve was there, but not too difficult to get over. I had to learn about veils and bridal accessories and bustles and other details that all need to be considered when creating a bridal "look." Of course, I am no stranger to creating a head-to-toe "look" either for someone to wear in life, or for a moment on stage, so this part of the job came easily to me. I definitely consider myself an expert in finishing a bride's look, whether that means pinning her gown to be tailored, showing her various bustle styles that would suit her dress or helping her to select the finishing touches to wear with her gown such as a veil or jewelry.

Since I've started this job, several of my friends have come in to shop for their own wedding gowns. In preparation for their shopping trip, I gave them the following advice: "Be emotionally prepared to find your gown. If you leave that appointment without purchasing a gown, it will not be because you didn't find it. It will be because you found it so quickly, you freaked out." It happens all the time- bride after bride comes into our shop and falls in love with the first dress she puts on. This is no coincidence. It is because our bridal consultants are excellent at what they do. They listen carefully to what the bride is asking for- color, style, details, budget- everything. Since they listen so carefully and attentively, and they have such an enormous knowledge of the gowns we carry, it should come as no surprise that in their first attempt, they pull the gown of her dreams.

Our consultants do this every single day and they do it well. And yet, so many women who are shopping for a bridal gown don't want to listen to the expert in the room with them. This is what I find so incredible. After all, how often have you shopped for a wedding gown? And I mean really shopped for it. We've all spent hours of our lives looking at magazine photos and dreaming of the gown, but to actually try on wedding gowns with the intent of purchasing one? For most women, that is not something we've ever done, or maybe at most we've done it once or twice. Compare that to the number of times you've gone shopping for jeans or shoes or a new coat. You are the expert in what shoes you like because you've shopped for them hundreds of times, you wear them every day and you know your shoe preferences by now. Can you honestly say that shopping for a wedding gown or a veil is comparable to that? Of course not!

Secondly, how many of you out there have ever had a garment tailored to you in the way a wedding gown would be tailored? Even the performers I've worked with in the years I spent in theatre have had garments tailored to them, but not nearly as thoroughly or precisely as the tailoring of a wedding gown. And even if you have had a garment that tailored, does that make you an expert in sewing and alterations? Of course not!

I suppose what I'm trying to say without sounding harsh is that there are people in this industry who are experts at what they do- the bridal consultants are experts at finding the gown and all the accessories to go with it, the seamstresses are experts at tailoring the gown and knowing the capabilities and limitations of fabric, and there are of course experts in selecting bridesmaid dresses and tuxedos for the groomsmen. These are people who have years of experience doing what they do and they have a track record of success. What I have learned from working in the bridal industry is this: listen to these experts. They will not impose their taste and preferences on you, but they will tell you what the best choice is for whatever you are looking for. Whether it is selecting a veil to wear for the ceremony or choosing between a tuxedo or a morning suit, they will know the right answer. Whether you are planning a traditional wedding from start to finish or whether you are abandoning all pre-conceived notions of what is appropriate for a wedding, or whether you are finding some type of middle-ground between modern, unique and traditional, they will know the best choice to make. Listen.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Shoesday Tuesday- Open Toe Flats

I never thought I would swoon over flats, but these shoes have really got me drooling:

Everything about these shoes makes them ideal for summer- the open-ness of the design, the light straw-like woven material, and the adorable bow! I love it all! What about you? Do you swoon for flats? What do you think of these ones? Don't forget to tweet! #ShoesdayTuesday

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Truth: Updated

At the end of last month, I shared with all of you the truth on how I've been feeling about blogging. I received a lot of encouraging remarks that helped me a great deal, so first of all, thank you for that. Second, in getting those feelings off my chest, I also achieved some clarity on why I write this blog and what I want to accomplish with it.

Primarily, I started this blog because I wanted other women to be able to have confidence when getting dressed in the morning. I wanted to help regular people, men and women, actually, in looking their absolute best. I believe firmly in the idea that how we dress makes a strong impact on how we are treated out there in the world. If making better choices in our wardrobes will help us to be stronger, more successful people, it seems silly not to at least try to improve what we're doing, right?

Now that I've been doing this for so long and so much, I feel a need to get feedback. As a person with my own set of insecurities, it makes me feel good when people comment and say affirming and complementary things. But I want to be clear to every reader out there that I want more from the comments than just accolades. I want to know what is missing. When you get to the end of a post and feel like I answered all of your questions but one, I desperately want you to leave a comment asking that one question I didn't answer. The only way I will ever improve my blog is for you to be honest with me about your experience reading it. While not every comment will result in major changes to my blog, they will give me feedback that helps me determine its direction down the road. I'm a person who likes to continually be growing and learning. If my blog is to get better, I need your help to get it there.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Rate My Look- How to Wear Ankle-Strap Shoes

You know how I'm always preaching the value of a great nude shoe? One of the primary reasons is because a nude shoe continues the leg line and has a lengthening effect. Conversely, a shoe that is a contrasting color can have a way of stopping the eye. Sometimes this is good- like when you want to wear a pop of color at your feet. But other times- like when there is an ankle strap involved- it is not good. A shoe with an ankle strap will always be harder to pull off than one without, but there are ways to make it look good. Kind of like this:

I felt like such a babe in this outfit. 
Seriously, the dudes at the grocery store were giving me the eye. 

There are a few general rules to follow when attempting to wear an ankle-strap shoe. The Nine West ones pictured above have a special place in my heart. I've owned them for years and I plan to keep them around for at least another decade or so. I bought them at TJ Maxx for around $5- no joke. They were missing the ribbon tie that is designed to hold the two side straps together, so they had been drastically marked down. Fortunately, there was a small arts and crafts store next door to the TJ's, so after I bought the shoes, I popped in there and bought a bunch of ribbon. And by "a bunch of ribbon," I mean a yard in just about every color in these shoes (which is a lot of colors). Honestly, had the shoes not been missing an essential piece, I might never have done that and therefore never owned what is actually a really versatile pair of amazing heels. On this particular day, I chose to wear them with a bright purple organza ribbon: 

See all the great colors there? I've got purple, pink, green, yellow, black, and brown to work with, and my ribbons are even more varied- there are sheer organza ones, satin ones, even a grosgrain ribbon or two in the mix. When I wear these shoes, it's often hard to pick which ribbon will work the best. But I've gone completely off topic now, haven't I? I have. The point of this post is the ankle strap. I chose these shoes to demonstrate how to do it well for a couple of reasons:

1.) The ankle strap itself- both the actual shoe ankle strap and the ribbon I've selected- are delicate and light.
2.) The ankle strap hits at the smallest part of my ankle and also has a slight downward direction.
3.) The heels are nice and tall.

These are all key factors in selecting a pair of flattering ankle-strap shoes. Of course, if you are a supermodel with thin, shapely legs, these things might not matter a great deal to you. If, however, you are like the millions of other women around the world with less than super-model-esque legs, these reasons will matter a great deal.

First, the size of the strap- how dainty and delicate it is- makes a difference. It contributes to the overall "weight" of the shoe. A thick, heavy strap will make the shoe (and the wearer) look thick and heavy. A thinner, more delicate strap will have the opposite effect. Keep in mind that thin and delicate are all relative- a 1/4 inch wide strap might be ideal for one person and be entirely too small for someone else. Be objective when you look in the mirror and choose a strap that is in proportion to your body. Also make sure the fit is right, particularly that the straps are not too tight. Even the thinnest person will look sausage-y if the straps are cutting into your skin too tightly.

My next point addresses not only where the ankle strap falls, but the direction it falls as well. A straight-across ankle strap will never be as flattering as one with a bit of a "V" shape or dip in the front. For this reason, T-strap shoes are often much more flattering than just an ankle strap alone. But if you aren't a fan of t-strap, look for an ankle strap that will hit at or below the smallest part of your ankle. If the strap cradles that "sweet spot" of your ankle, it will be more flattering.

Finally, an ankle strap will always- yes always- be more flattering in a high heel than in a flat. This is for the simple reason that high heels cause the muscles in our legs to flex, which makes them appear more toned and shapely. They also help elongate the leg because they are literally adding inches. In short, high heels give us longer, more toned legs, which is why we suffer in them. Beauty hurts.

So now that you understand how to choose the most flattering ankle-strap shoes, let's talk about the best way to wear them as part of an outfit. You can see in the picture above that I've selected a sleek pencil skirt that hits above the knee, and that has a very high waist. This is no accident. The high waistline elongates my leg line even further- this is a wardrobe manipulation I have talked about many times, so if you are a regular S...tNB reader, you should already know about this trick. Second, the slightly shorter hemline allows for more leg to show so that when it is finally cut off at the ankle, there is still quite a bit showing. A longer skirt paired with an ankle strap shoe would make my legs look stumpy, even if they were 5-inch heels. Finally, the shape of the skirt creates a long, thin silhouette- I would not benefit from a full skirt with this type of shoe. When trying to look tall and sleek, volume is not your friend.

So, there you have it- a crash course in pulling off the ankle-strap shoe. It might not be for everyone and that's okay. Honestly, if your legs are not something you like to feature, then the ankle strap shoe might not be a good choice for you. Instead, figure out what part of your body you DO want to showcase and choose clothing and shoes that will bring it out.

As always, comments are welcome!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rate My Look- Saturday Black

Even though there are many Saturdays when I just don the first black dress I come across in my early morning closet perusal, there are still plenty when I try to make my all-black look a really stellar one. A few weeks ago, we had a trunk show and for some reason, with wedding gown designers around, I just felt the need to try a little harder. So, I pulled out my enormous flower and pinned it onto the black dress that I recently made for myself:

What an easy way to take a simple dress and turn it into a spectacular (and BOLD) statement! And the best part is that the flower was less than $10 at Forever 21, proof that you don't need lots of money to look fabulous. 

What do you think of my Saturday all-black outfit? Exciting? Over-the-top? Boring? Whatever you think, I'd like to know!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Beauty Product Review Clinique Fresh Bloom All Over Color

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to buy some of my make-up products at CVS when there is a sale and when I have some ExtraBucks. I'm a major bargain hunter that way. Usually, I'll stock up on my favorite products like L'Oreal True Match liquid make-up and Maybelline Colossal Volume Express mascara. I also wear Physician's Formula mineral powder and blush. As make-up products go, these are all pretty low in terms of price point, and when they go on sale and I can combine the sale price with my ExtraBucks, I can get them at less than half price. Which is why sometimes I buy a LOT of make-up and stock up with nearly a year's supply. These are all products that I wear literally every day and I'm happy with my make-up routine. However, there are days, especially in summer when I want to change things up a little bit. That's when I bring out a special, slightly more expensive make-up product: Clinique's Fresh Bloom All Over Color in Peony:

Peony, Sephora, $29.50

First of all, look at how gorgeous it is! I love the way the flower is made using the different shades of blush- so creative and artistic! I'm no stranger to blush with multiple colors- I've found they provide more dimension to the look, whereas the single colors tend to look a little more flat on my skin. I used to combine two or more colors myself, until I smartened up and started purchasing multiple-shade blushes. It's also largely due to the fact that I like to spend 10 minutes or less on my make-up, so taking more than one step to apply blush is just not time effective! The Clinique Fresh Bloom color not only has three rich colors in the palate, but one of them is an incredibly ethereal hi-lighter. Every time I wear it, I find my skin takes on a dew-y glow with just the right amount of shimmer. While I tend to wear it when I'm in the mood for a little make-up pick-me-up, it's actually ideal for special occasions or any time you want to give your skin a little extra special glow. 

What are your favorite make-up products? Leave a comment and let me know! I love hearing what other people wear and why they like it. With all the different products and all the different skin types and preferences, sometimes choosing make-up can be a daunting task. Listen to what your girlfriends like to wear and why they wear it. If someone loves a specific eye shadow because of the rich, saturated color, but you tend to prefer more sheer shades, then you probably won't like their favorite products! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

FREE Renee Terese Original Dress

I have a very exciting opportunity for some very lucky readers! For the remainder of the month of June, I am offering a very special incentive to anyone who would like to book a Stella and Dot trunk show with me. If you book the part for this month, and the sales of that party are $1500 or higher, I will make you a custom Renee Terese original dress for FREE! Seriously!

You've seen the jewelry, and you've seen my dresses, so I'm sure you can imagine how great they would look together, right? And the best part is that you are still able to collect on all the hostess rewards and cash in on lots of free jewelry. Hint: a trunk show with $1500 in sales means $375 in free jewelry for the hostess. We're talking a gathering of your girlfriends, family, maybe even coworkers- just a handful of people is all it takes for a fabulous night of fun with jewelry!

I personally think the Bamboleo necklace would look amazing with one of my dresses:

Am I right? You know I am. Seriously, email me today about booking your trunk show. The first FIVE people to book and qualify will be eligible for the free Renee Terese original dress. The hostess from the top 2 trunk shows will win a free dress ($175 value!)

P.S. To see samples of Renee Terese original dresses, click the links below:

Rate My Look- Vintage Scarf

I recently purchased a couple of vintage designer scarves from Couture Allure and when they arrived a few days later, I could hardly wait to wear them. I got them at major bargain prices, which is always super exciting. But truth be told, I would have paid a lot more for them- they are truly beautiful pieces. One of the things I love about Couture Allure is that the pictures are always very detailed and the descriptions of the pieces even more so. When purchasing vintage, it's important to inspect the materials for any damage or decay. Jody, the proprietor of Couture Allure, is always careful to disclose the detailed condition of each and every item, so you can feel confident when purchasing through her site that the items will be in the condition described and pictured.

But enough about that- how about those scarves? The first was a silk scarf by Elsa Schiaparelli in a bold oversized basket-weave pattern. The colors are very rich and more appropriate for fall, in my opinion, but I'll likely try to work it into a summer look anyway. Check out Jody's photos of the scarf here. The second scarf is a positively ethereal Halston silk chiffon scarf that you can see here on Couture Allure's site or you can see it in these photos of me! I wore this outfit to work and felt so chic and sophisticated:

Belt: H&M
Shoes: Payless
Jolie Cocktail Ring (on the hand in my pocket!): Stella and Dot

I was comfortable all day long, but still felt so polished and put together. It's not that difficult to achieve, either!

1.) Start with a well-fit dress in a flattering color
2.) Add some contrasting, but complimentary accessories

See? A simple two-step program to stylish work outfits! But seriously, if you are looking to create interesting outfits, you don't necessarily have to shop for a new wardrobe. Accessories alone can completely transform an outfit from one distinct look to another and often it's the accessories that make our outfits unique. Anyone can walk into Neiman Marcus and buy a great dress. It's how you accessorize that dress that makes you stylish. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Another Renee Terese Original Finds a Home...

My fabulous friend Kate Parker is an extraordinary wedding planner. Seriously, the girl knows what she's doing. So you can imagine how flattered I was when she asked me to make her a dress to wear to the weddings she coordinates. She had seen some of my dresses- online and in person- and requested a custom dress for herself in navy. It took me a while to get it done, but in the end, the fit was spectacular and the dress looked amazing. She's wearing it to her first wedding of the season this Saturday, and I made her promise to get me some amazing photos of her in the dress. Until then, here's a little sneak-peek of the neckline detail before I'd finished it:

As soon as I have photos from Kate, you better believe I'll be posting them here for all of you to see! I have several friends and acquaintances who have requested I make them a dress. I procrastinate because even though I love my dresses, I still have a bit of insecurity when it comes to my sewing and construction skills. It's one thing to sew for yourself and another thing entirely to sew for other people. When a dress goes into my Etsy shop, it's not necessarily made for any particular person, so fit isn't usually a concern aside from getting it to a standard size. I assume the person who purchases it has selected it in part because it is her size. When I'm making something custom, there's a whole other level of concern for me with regards to fit. When I stopped by Kate's studio to check the fit of her dress, I expected to have to make some minor adjustments, but it fit like a dream and she was able to take it immediately!

Now, it's on to the next Renee Terese original! Do you want one? I've got a list of about half a dozen people to get through and then I'll be open to more clients, so email me if you have an interest!
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