Saturday, July 30, 2011

I Have Good Reasons for Being a Blog Slacker...

You may have noticed a definite lack of regular posting this month. I want to explain myself, so you know I'm not just being a slacker. I had a LOT of important things to do this month, aside from managing the alterations department for one of the best bridal shops in the country smack in the middle of wedding season. I swear, I have SO much to share with all of you about working in this industry, but you will just have to wait until I have the time and energy to do it all justice.

Other than working, I have also been trying to enjoy my summer. So instead of fashion advice, today I'm going to share some pictures of me and my new friends and co-workers having a BLAST. Enjoy!

So cheesy. 

Batman, the Ride. It's awesome. 

Bizarro- the BEST roller coaster ever. 

Six Flags New England is a fun theme park, but it was even more fun for Juhree and I because we upgraded our day and purchased the "Flash Pass." The pass allowed us to go straight to the front of every line. It was amazing. Of course, it was a smidge awkward when we'd get to the front and they would literally stop the line, let us on the ride and then continue. We got some nasty looks, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat. By the time we stopped for lunch, we had ridden EVERY roller coaster in the park. After lunch, we went back to Bizarro two more times and rode in the very front of the first car each time. It was AMAZING! If you've ever been to an amusement park at peak season, you know the lines get really long. Even though we were there mid-week, the lines were still pretty bad. Each ride we went on had a wait that was over an hour. Fortunately, with our "Flash Pass," We never waited more than 5 minutes and most times we didn't wait at all. I'll never go to a theme park unless I can upgrade to some type of "cut-to-the-front-of-the-line" pass. They are worth every penny. 

As if Six Flags wasn't enough fun, Sadie, Juhree and I all went to see Harry Potter again tonight. It was crowded enough in the theatre that you might have thought it was opening night. We were lucky to get seats in the center back- I was nervous for a minute we might have to sit in the front row. It all worked out, though. And afterwards, we had a lot of fun taking photos with the characters' posters: 

Sadie said, "You can be Harry since you have glasses." Clearly, I'm psyched. 

Sadie then said Juhree could be Hermione. I think she's got the part down. 

Of course, that left Ron for Sadie, which she wasn't too thrilled about. Hey, at least she wasn't Grawp. 

So, there you have it- not a lot of fashion, but lots of fun. And now it's nearly August. I'll try to be better about posting next month. I promise! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I'm At Six Flags Today!

Today my awesome co-worker Juhree and I are spending the day at Six Flags New England. We recently discovered that we are both obsessed with roller coasters, so we purchased a couple of tickets, and even upgraded to "The Flash Pass" which propels us to the front of all the lines. We will likely be tired and sunburned tomorrow, but it will all have been worth it.

Even though we are there for the primary purpose of having a blast riding roller coasters, we don't want to look completely terrible. Fanny packs and goofy hats will not be part of our outfits. Cute shorts, tank tops and comfortable shoes will be the theme for this day.

For the perfect amusement park outfit, it's best to start with a pair of great shorts:

Denim Matelot Shorts, Forever 21, $15.80

Add a nice tank top or t-shirt in a light weight fabric and a color that's not too dark:

Pintucked Tank, Gap, $20

Select a pair of comfortable shoes. This is one case where I would choose comfort over style. However, if you can have both, go for it!

Chuck Taylor All Stars, Converse, $46

Cargo shorts are another great idea because the pockets are ideal for carrying your cash around with you. Otherwise, you may have to opt to carry a bag, in which case, a mini-backpack is the best option. Always go jewelry-free, with the exception of a watch. Earrings are a nightmare at a theme park, as are necklaces and rings. Finally, don't forget the sunscreen and remember to have fun! 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Shoesday Tuesday- My Favorite Color Combo

I love that Shoesday Tuesday has become so much more interactive. Whether it's an interesting tweet or a tip on where to find an amazing shoe, I really enjoy seeing what all of you have to share.

For example, last week my friend Amy sent me these photos of gorgeous shoes in one of my favorite color combinations- grey and yellow. Aren't they amazing?

I don't think I will ever get tired of that color combination, but even in a neutral, those shoes would make me drool. If only...

Well, that's it for today's Shoesday Tuesday. Don't forget to tweet or comment your shoe-related thoughts. Have a great day! 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Meatless Monday: Vegan Clothing and Accessories

I'm skeptical when it comes to the whole vegan movement in terms of clothing. Often, I think it's a marketing ploy to convince us to buy cheap plastic at an insane price in the name of protecting animals. In reality, I think the plastic can be manufactured in a very environmentally damaging way, and I have to wonder if we're just choosing the lesser of two evils.

Do any of you feel the same way? Have you taken the time to find more reputable "vegan" clothing resources? I'd love to know what you've discovered, so please feel free to leave a comment. And in the meantime, check out these "vegan" items and tell me what you think of them:

Olive Naughahyde Belt, Herbivore Clothing, $40

Corduroy Pumps, Ahimsa Footwear, $35

Nu-G Perforated Fold-Over Vegan Satchel, Alternative Outfitters, $44

Comments are always welcome, particularly if the include suggestions on other quality vegan and/or environmentally conscious clothing and accessories! 

Shopping is Like Breakfast...

Above is a valuable lesson for all of us to learn. However, it is one that requires a bit of explaining. You see, every morning when I get ready for work, I try to take the time to make myself some breakfast and brew a cup of coffee. I love making coffee at home and I love taking the time to read the news on my phone or computer while I munch on a couple of eggs and some toast. However, the reality is that there are often days that I just don't have the time. Wait- let me amend that. I have the time, but I waste it by either hitting the snooze button one too many times, or zoning out in the shower for an extra 5 minutes or trying on six different outfits before finally deciding on one. My point is this: there are lots of days that I find myself at the drive-thru ordering a fast-food breakfast. I tend to do this more in the summer since I prefer iced coffee at this time of year. However, that's just a shallow excuse for my near daily trips to the coffee shop near my house.

Ultimately, these morning stops are done primarily out of convenience and have hardly anything to do with getting a healthy or even tasty breakfast and coffee. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that not only is it an unhealthy choice, the particular establishment that I frequent day after day is terrible at what they do. The coffee is incredibly inconsistent in terms of the brew strength, and even worse when it comes to making it my way. "Cream and two Splenda" seems pretty straightforward if you ask me. However, from one day to the next, I never know if my iced coffee is going to be abrasively bitter or sickeningly sweet. Usually, I make the mistake of tasting it AFTER I've driven away. And the food is just as bad. If- yes IF- they get the order correct, it rarely tastes the same from one day to the next. My breakfast item of choice is a small "wrap" with egg and melted cheese. Sometimes the cheese is crispy and brown. Other times it's around room temperature. Once, I ordered one of these breakfast wraps and when I was a few miles down the road, I reached into the paper bag and instead of a warm mini breakfast sandwich, I found a package of cream cheese and a plastic knife. No bagel or anything, just cream cheese and a knife.

Of course, I rarely complain about all these irritating mistakes and service issues. After all, it's not as though I'm choosing to purchase my coffee and breakfast from a high-end espresso lounge or anything. The people preparing my coffee and breakfast are likely earning minimum wage or a few pennies more, so I can hardly expect them to care a great deal about getting my order consistent or even correct. In fact, I can hardly expect them to be all that literate, as evidenced by the sign at the drive-thru currently:

This sign has been out for over a month. When I first saw it, I brought the mistake to the attention of the person at the drive-thru window. I informed her of the grammatical error and even may have said something along the lines of, "It's embarrassing." And yet it remains. 

I realized one morning as I sipped my terrible coffee and munched on my under-cooked egg and cheese wrap that the way I treat my morning breakfast experience is the way so many people approach shopping. I realized that a lot of women and men go about the experience with low expectations, rarely achieving satisfaction or success and yet they don't change their approach or the type of store they frequent or much of anything, really. And that is how so many people end up looking far less than their best. 

If I truly want to do what is best for myself for breakfast, I will get up ten minutes earlier, avoid dilly-dallying in the shower, plan my outfit the night before and then I will have time for a proper breakfast with eggs cooked the way I like and coffee brewed to perfection. I shop with my best interest in mind- I go to the stores that offer the highest quality I can afford, with excellent customer service and I purchase items that fit well and flatter my body. I also carefully select items based on what I need in my closet as opposed to more of the same old thing. 

I know lots of people who go shopping at the lowest price point available, where customer service is non-existent and the quality of the clothing is poor in terms of both construction and fit. And yet they wonder why they struggle looking good every day and why their clothes fall apart after a few washes. It's the same as me expecting the local coffee establishment to brew a perfect espresso and bake an impeccable croissant from scratch every day. It's just never going to happen. Don't misunderstand me- I'm not suggesting we all stop bargain-hunting. I still believe in a good deal. But I also believe in purchasing quality products and in trusting the experts to help you fill your closet with the best pieces possible. 

The long and short of it is this: if you want a decent cup of coffee, you need quality beans and someone who knows how to draw the best flavor out of them. If you want a great outfit, you need clothes that are made well and an expert eye to pull the right pieces together in the most flattering and stylish manner possible. So the next time you are going shopping, keep that in mind. And order the cappuccino. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hydrangea Blue

I'm not sure if I never noticed it before or if it's just this year in particular, but the hydrangeas all over New Hampshire are a particularly vibrant shade of blue and have been for the last month or so. My commute takes me through some winding back roads and I see a lot of nicely manicured lawns. Hydrangeas have been in bloom for several weeks and I have been continually struck by the amazing color. I've even found myself searching in my closet for clothing that is as vibrant, but nothing seems to be able to equal the flowers I've been seeing outside.

I think it is the ombre shading of the actual flowers- it's a more complex combination than you might think at first glance. However, I thought these pieces were close enough in terms of color. If they aren't inspiration enough for you, I suggest you head to your local eye doctor and ask them to test you for color blindness.

Vintage Harper Dress, Anthropologie, $325

Kay, Bakers, $59.99

RD Style Silk Basic Tank, Piperlime, $58.99

Colorful Paintstrokes Skirt, Forever 21, $16.90

Whether you incorporate this bright blue color into your outfit with a dress, a skirt, a top, or even a small accessory, I promise you won't regret the cheerful addition. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Rate My Look: How to Defeat the Heat

This week marked record temperatures across the country and New Hampshire was no exception. Temperatures climbed to over 100 degrees and the humidity was absolutely brutal. Given the situation, I really had no choice but to defeat the heat. Honestly, the only solution I could come up with was to simply be hotter. So I put this outfit together:

Dress: Taylor Dresses via Burlington Coat Factory
Shoes: Bakers
Necklace and Ring: Stella and Dot

The dress is super hot, the shoes are extra hot and the jewelry is supremely hot. Together they make for an outfit hot enough to intimidate even the hottest day of the summer. Did you happen to notice that the temperature has dropped about 20 degrees since this morning? You're welcome. 

And in case you want a close up of the shoes and my new ring, here they are: 

Enjoy your weekend, everyone! 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I missed my own birthday...

Well, that's not entirely true. I actually missed the birthday of my blog. July 16, 2009 was the date of my first post here on Style... the New Black and somehow I completely missed the date last week. Better late than never, right?

There are times that I can hardly believe I've been writing this same blog for two years straight and there are other times that I feel like I've been doing it forever. I want to keep it fresh and interesting so that return readers will always have something new and unique to read. And for those new readers, I want to be current and relevant, but also interesting enough that they may want to peruse the (over 800) archived posts.

I'm always asking for feedback on the blog and this post is no exception. If there is something you really loved or hated, something you want to know more about, or even just general criticism for me, I'm open to all of it. Please leave a comment or email me. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go celebrate.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rate My Look- Double Belts Inspired by Tiffany

Jean shorts- KMart (Seriously!)
Shoes: Daffy's
Belts: H&M
Ring and Necklace: Stella and Dot

Full disclosure: I stole this double-belt idea from Tiffany of A Reason to be Fabulous. She did a black and white version yesterday. I liked the idea, so I stole it. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? That's what I've heard. 

Anyway, the look is more than just a belt layered on another belt- it's all about twisting and buckling the two together. I love it!

As great as the twisted double belt look is, it's not the reason for posting this outfit. A while ago, Beth asked for a post on how to wear a belt- when to wear one, how to wear one, how to choose between skinny or wide, etc. It's about time I actually give her the post she asked for! 

Over the decades, the purpose and function of belts has changed quite a bit. I don't know many women who wear a belt to hold their pants up anymore. These days, belts function more as an accessory to add a touch of style to an outfit. More importantly, though, they also function as a way of cinching in a garment and adding emphasis to the smallest part of your waist. I've preached over and over again about how to create an hourglass silhouette and how to create the illusion of a longer leg line. The best way to do both is to add emphasis at your waist- your natural waist. 

In the outfit pictured above, the top and shorts are in high contrast to each other. Whether the shirt is tucked in or left out, the proportion of the outfit on my body would be unflattering without the belts. Look at the length of the shirt versus the length of the shorts and also how the shirt stops at the widest part of my hips. Neither of those things is good when trying to create a long leg line and an hourglass silhouette. By placing the belts (or even just one belt) at my high natural waist, I've forced the eye to be drawn upward and I've created a center for the hourglass that is far more defined. 

Some other examples of outfits I've created over the last couple of years using the same concept: 

I admit, there are times that I know I want to wear a belt, but figuring out whether it should be skinny or wide is a matter of trying both and seeing what I prefer with that outfit. There isn't necessarily a magic formula for figuring it out. I always try to select a belt that keeps the proportion of the outfit intact. If I'm adding a belt to a dress, I often choose a wide belt, since it breaks up the dress, into two large sections. If I'm adding a belt to a top I often choose a skinny belt for the same reason- the top is broken up into smaller sections that are more in proportion with a skinny belt. But again, there are exceptions to every rule- like the red dress above. In any case, I try to select the most flattering option. In the case of the black and white outfit above, the belt is treated as an extension of the skirt which is why a wide choice worked better. However, in the bottom picture with the purple cardigan, I used the belt to raise the waistline of the outfit to my natural waist.Without a belt at all, the eye would be drawn to where the purple cardigan meets the grey skirt. Also, a large belt would have overwhelmed the short cardigan, but a skinny belt did the trick just fine. 

Admittedly, I could probably use a few more "in-between" belt widths to add variety to my options, but there is rarely a time when I can't find a belt or two that functions the way I want for any given outfit. If you have a decent variety of neutral belts in your closet- or even just one black wide belt and one black skinny belt- it's unlikely you won't have one that works whenever you want to wear one. 

Beth, I hope this post was helpful to you, but please leave a comment or email me with any other belt-related questions! 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Shoesday Tuesday- Awesome Floral Pumps

Picture this scene: a girl walks into a TJ Maxx on a bright, sunny summer evening. She walks towards the back of the store toward the bed and bath section. She's looking for a new shower curtain. On the way, she encounters these spectacular floral high-heel pumps:

This may not seem like a remarkable story. Until now: rather than place them in her shopping cart, the young girl resists the temptation, and instead of purchasing the shoes, merely photographs them for use on her fabulous fashion blog. Then she continues to the bed and bath section of the store, selects a shower curtain and continues on her merry way. If that isn't a story of amazing self-restraint, I don't know what is. 

I believe those heels may haunt me for many more days and nights to come. Something so pretty just HAS to be worn, right? I would LOVE to own those shoes, but I also know I own plenty of amazing shoes. Every now and then I try to resist my shopping urges. This one was really tough, but I survived to tell the story. 

Although, if I'm back in TJ Maxx in a week and they're still there in my size, I can't promise I'll exercise the same self restraint. I'm only human, after all.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

More Tapas Blogging via Stumble Upon

I was using Stumble Upon the other day and realized there were quite a few discoveries that I wanted to share with you.

First was this article about a new collection of bridal gowns by Alfred Angelo, all inspired by Disney princesses. While I can admit that some of these gowns are actually really pretty, I can't admit I would never snicker if a bride wanted to purchase one because it was Disney-princess-inspired. Much like buying a replica of Kate Middleton's gown for the sole reason that you want to feel like a princess as opposed to because you truly love the gown, the idea of buying a gown to feel like a fairy-tale princess just seems a bit odd to me. What are your thoughts? 

Normally, I wouldn't find myself clicking the "like" button on a post like this one, but something about it just appealed to me. It is definitely very "girly," but in a nostalgic way or something. I can't put my finger on it, but I know I like it.

And then there was this discovery- a brief article and video describing a dress that actually purifies the air. It seems as though it's actually a laundering technique, but if all the clothes we wash could afterwards act as air purifiers, I think that would be pretty amazing.

Styling hair has never been my forte. I tend to fall into a hair rut over and over again, and it's broken up only by a new hair cut. Even then, I still fall back on my old standbys over and over. That's why I was so excited to stumble upon Hair Romance's 30 Day of Twist & Pin Hairstyles. So many of these looks are so effortlessly chic looking. I know I will be trying some of them when I find myself in a hair rut.

This comical illustration explains the process of bra shopping with amazing clarity and a few expletives. Regardless, it's funny because it's true.

When I was little, I loved playing with dolls- I had a doll house that I loved to furnish, but I especially loved to dress my dolls. I made clothes for them using scraps of fabric. I also loved playing with paper dolls. When I discovered this adorable website, I found myself feeling nostalgic. Twenty minutes later, I realized I'd been using the 21st century version of paper dolls and loving every second of it!

Finally, I really ought to save this link for a Shoesday Tuesday feature, but I can't wait that long. Check out the shoes featured on the High Heel Shoe Museum. Amazing!

The great and terrible thing about Stumble Upon is that you can lose yourself for hours stumbling around the internet. Good for a rainy day, I suppose. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Rate My Look- New BR Top

You saw my new bargain Banana Republic skirt at the beginning of the week, but what do you think of the bargain top I scored as well?

My philosophy when creating this outfit was something along the lines of, "Why not add more purple?" The top is a fabulous mix of various shades of purple- from deep amethyst to periwinkle to a dusty lavender. I tried pairing it with all sorts of other skirts in my closet, but in the end, I decided to mix it with my purple Anthropologie skirt. Purple is such a universally flattering color, so why not wear it (nearly) head to toe? It certainly worked for me! 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Project Runway Season 9- Almost Here!

If you follow the news about Project Runway, you know that Season 9 airs next week. I was checking out the casting videos for some of the season 9 cast and I think there are definitely a lot of personalities there. I'm a bit worried the casting directors focused more on personality and whether they had a good "look" for TV rather than trying to get a diverse group of incredible designers. Based solely on their 1-2 minute "casting sessions" videos on Lifetime's website, I predict Danielle Everine and Amanda Perna as the first two to be eliminated (P.S. Rumor has it the first episode will have a quadruple elimination). I also predict the top three to include Joshua Christensen, Becky Ross and Bert Keeter in the first episode with Joshua as the winner of the first challenge.

I wonder how much the judges know about the contestants before they see their work. In a perfect world, they would know nothing and could base their scores solely on the work they see that day. But I imagine it's more complicated than that, especially for Heidi. I'm looking forward to Michael Kors saying things like, "She looks like a rodeo clown from the 13th century," and for Nina to roll her eyes at contestants who talk too much about their inspiration, but don't actually make anything inspiring. Also, should we start taking bets on the level of Michael Kors' tan? Last season, he was more orange every week. I can only imagine how much worse it's gotten. But enough about that- I can't wait for Tim Gunn to say things like, "There's no joy in this. Where's the exuberance?" I love when he says "exuberance." I also love when he frowns and holds his chin in his hand. He's awesome. (And he once said that I'm fabulous.)

Take a few minutes and watch some of the casting sessions yourself- then leave a comment and tell me who your favorite is so far. It's hard to tell with just a short video, but I like to see what my gut reaction is to each person before I see the slick, edited episodes.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Harry Potter Fashion

When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was coming out, I wrote a post inspired by the fashion of the characters from the story. I embraced my inner nerd and put it out there on the interwebs for all to see. Apparently, I'm not the only one who is willing to do so.

For example, check out the Owl Post Necklace available on Etsy:

This particular Etsy shop has over a dozen Harry Potter-themed items include Golden Snitch rings and necklaces among other things. I'm not quite there in fan-world where I want to wear theme jewelry, but I can appreciate the design and craftsmanship that has gone into these items. 

So, do you have your tickets yet? 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How Do You Feel About...

... nail art?

I have been seeing all sorts of different nail art designs all over the internet. Not only are they pictures of professional manicures, but there are also a lot of DIY versions.

Some using different colors of nail polish applied in such a way as to create design. Check out these youtube videos to see what I mean: Twisted Polka Dot Nails, Nail Flowers, More Nail Flowers, Marbled Nails, even Animal Print Designs and Newspaper Print Nails. The Newspaper print nails are definitely the ones I've been seeing all over the place. Am I spending too much time on the internet, or is nail art suddenly a popular trend? I have to admit, I'm not a fan of any of it. When I get a manicure, it's rare for me to stray from French to even a solid color. The last manicure I got, the technician kept trying to "jazz it up" first by trying to make the white polish go across my nail at a diagonal instead of straight across. I was NOT having it. You'd think she'd take the hint that I'm pretty vanilla where nail polish is concerned, but when she was doing my pedicure, she kept trying to get me to have a design on my big toe- one that included a rhinestone! Seriously?!?! Maybe it's a cultural thing, but I just don't get the appeal.

Leave a comment and tell me what you think of nail art- is it cool? Trendy? Lame? Tell me what you think!

Rate My Look- Still Showing Off My Shopping Booty

When I hit the outlets over the Fourth of July weekend, I knew I got some steals, but I had no idea how great those little gems would turn out to be. The four tops that I got from Ann Taylor Loft have turned out to be amazing every day blouses- perfect for work or just about anything else. In the picture above, you can see I've paired the white version of the blouse (I got it in three solid colors and one print) with my green and white circle skirt that I made last year. I finished the look off with my white ballet flats from Payless and some accessories from Stella and Dot

I realized as I was getting dressed that I had never featured my bee brooch on the blog. And it just happened to be the perfect addition to my outfit. The way it nestled right into the ruffles on my blouse was absolutely perfect:

When it comes to comfort, there isn't much that beats a circle skirt. They're pretty flattering, to boot. When I worked in costume design, they were my favorite choice when creating costumes for dancers because of the beautiful way they move. An even though I don't do many pirouettes or tour jetes at work, the movement of the skirt is still really fabulous. Don't you wish I did pirouettes and tour jetes at work, though? I know my coworkers would LOVE it. Choreo for everyone! 5-6-7-8!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Shoesday Tuesday- Louboutin Measuring Tape Sandals

Not too long ago, my BFF Beth gave me a cute little gift- it was a flower brooch made out of a measuring tape. How appropriate for someone in my line of work, right? I, of course, loved it and even though it was given partly in jest, I still wore it and love it to this day. However, in the future, if anyone wants to give me a gift along similar lines, may I make a suggestion? Try these Louboutins instead:

Just to own a pair of Louboutins would be thrilling for me, but I'd especially enjoy it if they were so unique to my work! Leave a comment or tweet what you think of these shoes and if you tweet, don't forget the hashtag #ShoesdayTuesday

Monday, July 11, 2011

Rate My Look- New BR Skirt

Remember my confession last weekend about the shopping spree I went on? Well, in addition to some Ann Taylor blouses, and a new Coach handbag, I also scored the fabulous skirt in this outfit:

It's a wrap skirt from Banana Republic that I scored for about $15! I wore it to work this week and I was comfortable for a full day of bridal-alterations-mania! I love the print, the length, the pockets- pretty much everything about it. And of course, the price can't be beat. I also got a lovely printed silk blouse at the same outlet, but haven't used it in an outfit yet. I'm sure I will soon, though.

As for this outfit, some of my co-workers commented on the lack of color. Of course, the bag is a nice pop of bright blue, but I didn't exactly carry it around all day at work. Without the bag, it's a very neutral outfit, but  I think it's good to shake things up and do something unexpected every now and then. The shoes pictured are pretty much my favorite work shoes for the summer. The neutral color makes them ideal for just about any outfit and the wedge adds just enough height that I'm not in flats. Have you figured out yet that flats are not my favorite? I've also got a favorite ring- my new seashell ring. It is certainly eye-catching and a great conversation piece. I think I've worn it nearly every day since I bought it. 

What's your favorite new summer piece that you simply can't stop wearing? Obviously, for me it's the seashell ring, but I want to hear what you're wearing this summer! Leave a comment and tell me all about it! 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Beauty Product Review: Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer

I don't know about you, but no matter what the season- whether it's the most humid part of July or the driest day in January, I struggle to keep my lips moisturized. Softlips lip balms were always my favorite in terms of moisturizing, while I always favored other products like the L'Oreal Infallible line or Buxom lips for color. While Softlips are great for moisturizing alone, they don't provide color at all, at least not the products that do the best job moisturizing. And while I love the lip colors in my make-up bag, sometimes I just want a touch of sheer color  as opposed to a really saturated look. I had resigned myself to a life of dissatisfaction in lip products until I discovered the ideal product had been right under my nose for year. Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer is a product I see pretty much everywhere I go, but I always thought of that brand as being utilitarian and not exactly a "beauty" product. I'd only ever known crunchy, granola types to use that brand with any regularity, so I hadn't really associated it with a beauty regime. Narrow minded, I know. Go ahead and judge me, after all, I judged the granolas.

One thing I love about Softlips and Buxom is that your lips get that tingle-y feeling when you apply the product. Not everyone loves that feeling, but for me, it's the mark of a great product. I absolutely love the tingle and without it, I'm never quite satisfied with a lip product. I'm sure it's partly psychological, but the fact remains that the products that actually made my lips soft were the ones that started with a tingle. When I saw that Burt's has peppermint as one of the (100% natural) ingredients, I thought I might have found a new favorite. (All too often, that tingle-y feeling comes from alcohol, which dries your lips out.) When I saw the range of colors available, I knew I'd found a product I'd be using for years to come. "Fig" is my favorite color because it's a touch darker than my natural lip color without being overpowering. I don't look too "done up" when I'm wearing it, but I also look presentable and polished. 

So if you're looking for an inexpensive, all-natural, moisturizing lip color, Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer is where it's at. And despite my narrow-minded opinion from years ago, I now know it really is a true beauty product.  

Stella and Dot- New Fall Collection

I am drooling over SO many of the new items in the Stella and Dot Fall 2011 Collection! And fortunately, quite a few of them are whizzing on over to me as I type this very post.

My favorite, though, is this statement necklace called "Marchesa:"

I also had trouble resisting the new chantilly-lace-inspired cuff and earrings: 

If you have not yet booked a trunk show with me, I suggest doing so soon, since after the reveal of the new collection, I suspect lots of people wanting to book trunk shows right away! Email me if you are interested and don't forget- the hostess receives 25% of the trunk show sales in FREE jewelry! 

Friday, July 8, 2011

How to Successfully Shop at Yard Sales

We're heading towards the middle of summer and that means one thing: yard sales. If you've never experienced the joy of purchasing something fabulous at a bargain price, you just haven't lived. And with the economy the way it is these days, we're all trying to save a buck or two. I've scored some really amazing pieces out yard sale-ing and you can too, if you're willing to put in the time one or two Saturday mornings this summer. Here are some tips for successful yard sale shopping:

1.) Find yard sales in wealthier neighborhoods- even if it means driving 20 or 30 minutes out of your way. Often a trip out to another town will prove far more successful than sticking to your own neighborhood. Plus, it would be awkward to drive by your neighbor wearing the baseball hat you bought from them. Especially after talking them down from 50 cents to a quarter for it. But seriously, find a nice, upscale neighborhood and you'll be amazed at what you'll find- from home decor to designer shoes, even furniture and small kitchen appliances- keep an open mind and travel with lots of cash.

2.) Avoid yard sales with re-usable signs. I once heard this tip and it's proven to be true- if someone makes a yard sale sign out of poster board, they're probably only having a yard sale for one weekend and their goal is some spring cleaning. If they make it out of plywood, they are likely professional yard sale hosts. In other words, they're doing to make money as opposed to getting rid of their clutter. The prices and haggling will differ greatly from the amateur to professional yard sales. And you can bet that plywood sign is out just about every weekend.

3.) Stick to accessories- I rarely shop for clothing when I'm at yard sales, mostly because I will never buy something without trying it on. And there aren't exactly a lot of yard sales with private fitting rooms and mirrors. Instead, keep an eye out for shoes, jewelry, handbags, scarves, etc. If you can find several small items at one yard sale, you can often haggle more on the price, too. Let's say you find a pair of shoes, two handbags and three pieces of jewelry- offer one price for the lot rather than asking for individual prices on each. You can save yourself a lot of money that way. It's rare that the yard sale host won't go for it- after all, they're getting rid of a bunch of stuff all in one shot, so they're motivated to give you a good package price.

4.) Be an early bird. Get out the door early and arrive at the big yard sales before they've even technically started. Most people advertise a yard sale to start at 8 or 9 AM. Show up an hour early and you'll have your pick of all the best stuff.

5.) Sleep in late. Arrive at the yard sales towards the end of the day. Most people wrap up their sales between 2 and 4 PM. Show up an hour before it's over and you can get much better prices. By the end of the day, the host is tired and willing to drop prices on the things that have been picked over all day.

6.) Host your own yard sale first. Use the nice weather and yard sale season to purge your own closet of the things you haven't used recently. Then, when you come home from shopping at yard sales, you'll have closet space for all your bargain finds!

Leave a comment if you have your own yard sale-ing tips! I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Help Me Out: What Is It With This Dress?

Seriously, every time I wear this dress, people LOVE it. (Click here, here and here to see it styled a little differently.) I'm not trying to brag or anything, it's just that I never expected it to be the one that makes people go ape. Seriously. Do you want to know how much people love this dress? Every time I wear it -and I mean every time- strangers on the street stop me to tell me how great it is. I made this dress over a year ago and when I bought the fabric, I knew I'd found a great print, but I had no idea how great. But is that it? Is it the print that is so great? Because I'll be honest- the shape is exactly the same as a lot of other dresses I've made, so it has to be something else that people are drawn to. Maybe it's the ribbon embellishments I've added to the shoulder and waist? I think people are strangely drawn to them, however I've always thought of them as being a little odd. When I added them to the dress, it was partly out of boredom (I needed to try something new) and party just to be a little quirky. I was really into embellished clothes at the time. Is it the color combination of grey, black and orange? It's a great color combo, no doubt, especially since it combines black and orange and yet is not at all Halloween-y. Right?

So, do me a favor and be honest- leave a comment and tell me what you think is the magic of this dress? Is it the print, the color combination, the embellishments, the shape, or everything together.Please let me know so that I can maybe make another dress or two that really makes people go crazy. Because I'll be honest- there's not much better for the ego than to be constantly stopped and told how fabulous you look. And of course it doesn't hurt my ego knowing I made the thing everyone thinks is so fabulous.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rate My Look- Shopping Spree Stuff

First I want to congratulate "Anonymous" for correctly guessing which handbag I bought over the weekend. I opted for the smaller of the two and I'm very happy. The price I paid? Well, let's start by talking about the original sticker price- $348. It was marked down to $269.99 and then with a 50% discount followed by a 30% discount the final price was (drum roll, please).... $94.50!!!

And here I am sporting not only my new handbag, but one of the 5 new tops I bought as well. This one happens to be from Ann Taylor LOFT (as is the skirt):

Skirt and Top: Ann Taylor LOFT
Bag: Coach
Shoes: Payless
Necklace: Stella and Dot
Ring: Some little shop on Nantucket... 

I loved this top so much when I saw it in the shop, I actually bought it not only in this fun summer-y print, but I also got it in three other solid colors- peach, white and brown. I've already worn the peach one and I'm certain I'm going to get a lot of wear out of all four of them. I realized the other day that while I have a lot of great skirts, I don't have that many great tops. When I decided to stop at the outlets on Sunday, I had that goal in mind- to find great tops. I'm happy to say I was so successful. In addition to these tops from Ann Taylor, I also scored a fabulous printed silk top from Banana Republic. Maybe I'll post a photo of that one soon! 

Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday, everyone! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Shoesday Tuesday- Wedding Shoe Shopping

For some reason, I'm surrounded by brides- and I'm not referring to work. I have a whole mess of friends who are engaged and getting married soon. It's funny how these things happen in groups. Anyway, I'm getting together with at least one of these brides this week to shop for shoes for her wedding. I love shoe shopping 100% of the time. And wedding shoe shopping? Even better. We're going to hit Nordstrom as their shoe department is pretty stellar. I've done a little pre-shopping online and here are some beauties I've found:

I can see this shoe on a bride who has selected a slinky, sexy gown and wants shoes that are equivalent in their sex appeal. 

This shoe is ideal for the modern bride who wants a little bit of funk, but still wants to feel "bridal." The color says, "I'm a wedding shoe." Everything else about it says, "I'm a super fabulous shoe." 

Planning a beach wedding, but still want height? A wedge is the way to go and these Badgley Mischkas are wedges done right. The floaty, floral detail at the toe is just a bonus. 

For the traditional bride who wants just a touch of sparkle, these peep toe pumps are perfectly classic. They work with everything from a ball gown to a retro-sheath and just about everything in between. 

Of course, not everyone goes for the traditional ivory or white shoe to match the color of the dress. There are many other contrasting choices the modern bride can make to show a touch of her personality and style. 

Can't you see these on the most dazzling of "dancin' queens?" I can! 

What better way to incorporate your "something blue" than with a fabulous pair of shoes. And don't these remind you of the pair Carrie wore when she married Big? I thought so... 

Of course, blue isn't the only color brides may choose to wear. Whether you want to match the color of your bridesmaids' dresses, or just have a fun pop of color peeking out from under your gown, this modern choice will set you apart dramatically from the more traditional bridal shoe choices. 

I honestly have no idea what types of shoes my bride friends are thinking of wearing, but I can guarantee we'll have fun shopping for the perfect pair! 

Leave a comment to tell me what you think of bridal shoes in general, or these choices above, or anything else that comes to mind. And if you want to tweet, like we do every week, don't forget the hashtag #ShoesdayTuesday
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