Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mixed


Blouse: Aryn K via Stitchfix
Skirt: J Crew
Shoes: Marc Jacobs (Similar with straps)
Earrings: Jewel Mint
Bangle: Bauble Bar (Similar)
Sunglasses: Gucci





I truly believe there is no more perfect piece of clothing than the pencil skirt.  You have to know which length is right for you, but when you figure that out, a pencil skirt is the most flattering cut of all.  It's magic because no matter your shape or size, a good pencil skirt can cure all kinds of figure woes.  I personally have never been happy with the width of my hips, and with added years and a sedentary job, they've only gotten wider.  But I put on this magical pencil skirt, and it's all better.  This J Crew skirt was the last thing I bought before the ban began.  I had been looking at for weeks, and finally decided that if I didn't buy it, I would always regret it.  I paired it with this billowy blouse, but next time, I'm going to put something more tailored on top to let the gorgeous pattern really stand out.

Speaking of patterns, I'm feeling like I'm probably the only blogger left in the universe who has not done a mixed pattern post.  The main reason is that I really don't like mixed patterns.  Even on people whose style I normally admire, I just don't get it.  But when Marion at Marionberry Style posted the Trend of the Month Challenge to mix patterns, I had to try.  Mind you, a few days before she posted, I had come home from work only to find my work-from-home consultant husband wearing plaid shorts and a striped shirt.  In response to said outfit, I posted this photo on Instagram as an homage to his style.


I worked with much trepedation looking for the perfect patterns to match that wouldn't look too ridiculous.  I did copious amounts of research trying to come up with something that I could actually wear out of the house.  I decided to pair my new lovely skirt with stripes because we all know the only thing I love second to this skirt now is stripes.  I followed the advice to match the colors of the print, and this is what I came up with.


But I couldn't do it.  I couldn't go out of the house.  It felt like plaid shorts and a striped shirt (Sorry sweetheart, I mean that in the nicest possible way).

One last question for you.  My family does not like it when I wear my hair up.  An almost collective groan goes through the house when I intentionally style it up to wear out of the house.  However, I do not care.  Some days are just meant to wear your hair up.  Are there any things you do despite being "advised" that you are better suited not to?

Also linked to: Monday Mingle
                        What I Wore Wednesday
                        Whatever, Whenever Wednesday

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Inspiration

As almost everyone I talk to is watching a little bit of the Olympics from London, I was eager to join in when IFB asked, "Who's Your British Style Icon?"  I knew I had to join in this project.

All photos were obtained via Pinterest

In June of 1981, I was a fashion-obsessed 14 year-old living in an extremely small town on the California central coast.  There were only two clothing stores in town at that time: a Western-wear store and a resort-wear store more geared to matronly tourists than teenage girls.  I had been clothes obsessed my whole life.  My mom used to take me school shopping, and I would cry because I had to choose one outfit over another.  I had preppy tastes in the 80's, and whenever I made it into San Luis Obispo with the permission to buy an outfit, it was probably jeans, a wrap skirt and a Lacoste shirt, and even then, I was an avant garde dresser in my high school.  Then one day, Laura moved in across the street.

Laura was already 15, had moved from the same area in Southern California where we were originally from (and where I live now), but that's where the similarities ended.  Laura was tan and blond, the very opposite of my pale, brunette looks.  In the long run, Laura and I were not destined to be best friends.  We hung out that summer, on my part because of proximity and the fact that most of my friends had gotten jobs that summer, on hers, probably because I was the only person she had met.

The one thing Laura shared with me that has hung on to this day, was an introduction to and fascination with the style of Lady Diana Spencer.  I have to admit that at 14, I had no concept of current events.  I knew nothing of royalty except that Grace Kelly, whose icy blond looks I would have given my teeth for, had once been a movie star.  Laura stared at me like I had two heads when I said I didn't know who Prince Charles was.  When she showed me his picture, I declared him ugly.  But when I saw Lady Di, it was like my world stopped.


Here was a girl only four years older than me who was going to marry a prince and live in a castle happily ever after just like in a fairy tale.  Who knew that could actually happen?  I became entranced with the scenario, with the girl that this could happen to.  A simple, somewhat chubby, nursery school teacher.  I felt so much in common with her.  She wore clothes that I liked, that I could see myself wearing.  As her style progressed, I wanted to wear the clothes that she started wearing if not held back by my little town.  She became my style icon.


In an age before the Internet, it was difficult to find pictures of her outfits.  I began collecting souvenir books to have a chronology of her style.  I took Home Economics that fall and searched through patterns until I found a copy of the tie-neck blouse she wore for her engagement announcement.  One of the first suits I bought for myself after I started working was belted like her suit on that day.  I started wearing skirts and blouses to school instead of jeans.  I had the most amazing pair of candy apple red heels which I wore almost everyday.  Keep in mind, most of my classes were held in portable classrooms next to a barn, so I know people thought I was crazy.  Thank goodness I resisted the urge to cut my hair.  I did name my next dog Diana, and my sister had Charlie.  The biggest hint I took away from her style was to choose classic pieces with a unique edge or trim: a ruffle cuff, a too-large earring or jewelry worn in a way it was not intended, good jewelry and shoes, pearls, lots of pearls, plaids and polka dots (which I'm still addicted to), pencil skirts and blouses, and lots of solids with a hint of pattern.


Over the years, her style became more refined, and we left the 80s behind.  She grew stick thin, and we all wondered why.  At the time, none of us knew the cause of the unhappiness that was apparent.  I grew up, went to college, had jobs and my own unhappy marriage.  I lived through the same kind of extreme weight loss that can be a result of the desperation that comes from trying to control something, anything, in a life that so many others seem to be in control of.



We both were able to move on with our lives, to get to the next chapter.  We both made mistakes along the way, but she always found a way to look stylish while doing it.  I remember seeing the pictures of her in her black sheath dress at Versace's funeral.  I thought how amazing she had come through it all to her new life.  She looked secure and confident at a time when I was still struggling.  She gave me hope.  It shook me to the core when only a few short weeks later, she too was dead.

Fast forward, 15 years (how is that possible?).  Somehow I missed it when I surpassed her age.  I still favor classic pieces with unique cuts or trim.  I feel my love for McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and high street shops like Topshop, Zara, Reiss and Dorothy Perkins come from the style choices I picked up in my teens from her.  Her children are grown, mine is growing and now I have five (!) more.  I look back on that day when I was 14 (how can that be 30 years ago?), lying on the floor of Laura's bedroom, looking through magazines, our bare feet up on the wall as we talked about who our princes would be. I wish Diana was here to look back on it too.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Links a la Mode


So honored to be part of IFB's Links a la Mode this week.  Please visit the other links if you haven't already.




Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Relax


Dress: Carole Little
Cardigan: THML via Stitchfix
Shoes: Shoe Dazzle





One of the things I'm really trying to work on for the rest of the summer is trying to relax.  I'm really bad at just sitting and doing nothing.  I can never just sit and watch tv or a movie at home.  I have to be reading a magazine, looking at my phone, thinking about what's for dinner and making a shopping list and doing work all at the same time.  I'm finding that really is complicating trying to clear my mind to go to sleep at night, so I'm going to learn to relax.  I made this vow at the same time that I kicked up my exercise program.  Hope they go hand and hand together well.  I'm still shopping my closet with great success.  This dress is ancient and was on the chopping block.  I knew I would never wear it without putting something over it, but I tried several things and nothing worked.  Just as I was about to put it in the donation bag, I remembered this THML I got in my first Stitchfix box a few months ago which I wrote about here.  Stitchfix has challenged me with some pieces that have been outside of my comfort zone which is exactly why I started getting my box, but more importantly we are working together with them getting to know my comfort zone and work in pieces I wouldn't pick for myself.  I have to admit I was a little skeptical that they would really be responding and adapting the things they send me based upon my feedback, but I know they are because when I opened my last box, I knew that everything in it was a piece I would pick for myself among other choices.  This sweater is a great example.  The colors and the cut fit perfectly into my wardrobe, but because of how this sweater looks on a hanger, I would have passed it by.  It's become central to my weekend wardrobe though because it's so versatile, and the fit is just not reflected until you try it on.  I've been wearing it primarily with jeans, but now I have a great little date night outfit, and I'm going to try it to the office next week too.

Linked to: Whatever Whenever Wednesday on Rolled Up Pretty
                 Visible Monday on Not Dead Yet Style

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fall


Jacket: Kay Unger
Pants: Burberry
Shoes: Sam Edelman
Necklace: Bauble Bar
Bracelet: Forever 21
Brows: Sephora Arch It Kit






There comes a point every summer where I, in the height of frustration for pulling together summer outfits, stop fighting it and put together a typical fall outfit.  Most of the time, I manage to pull it together with more of the lightweight options from the wardrobe, and I get the big light bulb over the head that comes with the dawning realization that I can pull outfits together the same way I do the rest of the year in different fabrics and weights.  I can dress like me but in lighter clothes.  Duh!  It suddenly makes rants in the evenings as I'm pulling things together go much quicker and quietly.  And it makes me more comfortable with the choices I'm making.  Thank goodness it came a lot earlier this year than my usual mid-August awakening.

Linked to: Monday Mingle

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Adieu


Suit: H&M
Boots: Shoe Dazzle






I know I've been mentioning almost every day that I'm in the midst of a mission to shop my closet in order to make some room.  Initially, I purged casual dresses that I knew I wouldn't wear again because they were too short.  I am a firm believer that the quickest way to dress inappropriately for your age is to wear a skirt that is too short.  I'm equally a firm believer in the theory that this means the length can vary based upon the wearer.  I know some ladies in their fifties who can pull off the mid-thigh thing, but I, alas, no longer can.  After the initial euphoria at getting rid of five dresses wore off, I realized that I still had a long way to go, and I pondered what should come next.  As my eye was traveling around the closet, I spied all the bags lined up along the bottom which I very rarely use.  I started pulling them out, and immediately gave a black one to A who was complaining that her everyday bag is just too small for her now.  The next one I pulled out was this huge orange monstrosity.

Now this was a tougher sell because it has a lot of sentimental value.  I bought this bag for about $40 at a craft fair.  I was walking down the aisle of vendors, and it caught my eye, but I kept walking.  I went on a few booths before turning around and going back.  I asked the vendor, who had made all the bags in the stall himself, how much the bag cost.  When he told me $40, I know my face fell.  At the time, I was the working mother of a small child, and I hadn't spend $40 in one lump sum on myself for years.  Knowing by my face how much I wanted it, the vendor started listing all it's practical purposes.  "I made it to be a gym bag, but you could use it as an overnighter," he tried.  Since I never went anyplace overnight, this was not going to be the point that pushed me into a sale.  "I actually like really big handbags," I told him.  "I would use it for that, but it's a little pricey for me right now."  "I made it by hand," he replied.  "It's special."  And that's all it took.

But that's not why I'm sentimental about it.  That bag began to symbolize something for me.  I had been letting other people make decisions for me including things like what to do with my money, the money I earned at my job.  Buying that bag probably started the roughest but ultimately most rewarding period of my life.  Buying that bag caused one of the greatest fights of all times, but that fight made me realize that I was not happy with how I was living my life.  I did not wake up the next morning to magically have everything resolved; it took about nine years for me to get everything sorted out and settled, but ten years after buying this bag, I am a completely different person than the one who walked through the booths at that craft fair.  This bag somehow is an emblem of my freedom, of the control I took back of my life.  Whenever times got rough, I pulled out the bag.  It was soft and easy to carry around.  It held all that I could ever want to throw into it.  It's now rough around the edges, and the metal framing is showing through in spots.  It wears its war wounds well, showing that it and I survived the battles.  And you know what, I don't need it anymore.  It did its job.  I wish I could find that vendor to tell him that he was right.  That bag truly was special.

Linked to: Visible Monday

Friday, July 20, 2012

Pinky


Dress: H&M
Cardigan: Target (Similar)
Bag: Dooney & Bourke
Shoes: Fergie
Necklace: Forever 21
Bracelet: Bauble Bar
Lipstick: Chanel Flamboyant






Thanks to blogging and shopping my closet, I'm putting a lot of pieces together in ways I never would have before.  I definitely take much longer in the evening pulling pieces out and laying them on top of each other to see if they will work.  In an interesting twist, I'm finding that when I think something isn't going to work, I end up really liking the results.  My initial thought on this outfit was that it was way too retro, 50s sitcom mom, but I did it anyway.  The yellow/gold shoes were an attempt to push away from the normal black or red shoes I would have paired.  I kept telling myself that they really didn't go with the colors in the dress, but I like how they draw attention to the leather trim on the bag and the gold in the accessories.  I have so many Bauble Bar pieces now, I end up wearing at least one every day.  Only the bracelet wrapped in black is Bauble Bar mixed in with other bangles I've picked up over the years.  At first, it felt like a lot of jangle on my arm, but looking at it now, I could have worked in a few more for a bigger stack.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Baggy


Blouse: Ann Taylor
Jeans: Lauren
Bag: Coach
Shoes: Sole Society
Bracelet: Forever 21 (Similar)







I wore this outfit one day while I was working from home, but needed to run out several times during the day for appointments and to run errands.  I wanted to wear something comfortable, pulled together, but ultimately casual.  This jacket was originally purchased one day when I wore a white Lacoste dress to work that felt too bare without something covering it.  I ran out to TJ Maxx mid-morning and grabbed this up quickly.  It's been such a great piece to integrate in because it's so versatile.  This is my summer to return to braids.  I used to wear them so often but stopped when I started wearing my hair in long layers.  Messy braids seem to be the norm now, so it's no worries when the layers start pulling out.  I've had this bag for years too.  The season it came out, I splurged and bought it and it's cranberry cousin at the same time.  I've never regretted it, as I've used them so many times while traveling as my carry-ons.  I'm doing pretty well shopping my closet and have started to get rid of bags as well as clothes.  This week saw the farewell of two bags which have joined A's growing collection.  One of my favorites has inspired a future post.  Stay tuned.

Linked to: The Pleated Poppy

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Vacation

If my last few posts have seemed a little out of my ordinary, that's because there has been a lot more of this


going on around here lately instead of this


Blouse: Zero Maria Cornejo
Bag: Celine
Shoes: Shoe Dazzle
Necklace Carolyn Pollack c/o Monday Mingle on Momtrends


And what this


there has been, has been hampered by extremely high humidity that we just are not used to in Southern California.  If you follow me on Twitter, you know I've been moaning about it for at least a week now. I know poor me all you people in Miami and points south are saying.  But as is often said around here, we are used to a dry heat.  Normally I complain when people say that and say things like, "Heat is heat."  But this year, I would give it all back to get back to normal dry heat.  We've only been in the mid-90s a few days, but it's been miserable.  We've been to Disney's California Adventure three times in the last two weeks.  The joys of annual passes.  On this day, the hub and I went alone without any kids to take pictures.  It was really a pleasure to just walk around and not wait in any lines for rides.  I wore my Carolyn Pollack necklace that I was gifted for being a participant in Monday Mingle, but which unfortunately did not get any close ups, as well as my favorite Zero Maria Cornejo blouse which every time I wear, I feel like I should be wearing more often, but the way the front twists and wraps is a little off-putting and labor intensive.  I will pair both again soon as the stones in the necklace are really lovely and deserve some attention.


I'm so happy to be in out of the heat that I can't keep my mouth shut. I'm gulping in the cold air (and a Manhattan).  I actually forgot my mascara that day and only realized it when we were on the freeway.  Thank goodness for the Sephora there.  Best decision the folks at Disney made when building this park in my opinion?  The restaurants.  We very rarely eat inside of Disneyland anymore because the food quality and choices are much better inside California Adventure.  And the cocktails don't hurt either.  For those of you who have never been, Disneyland in California serves no alcohol in any of its restaurants except for the private club while California Adventure now has three bars and a private club.


Love this update on Mickey in one of the galleries.


We have one final short trip to Palm Springs coming up.  This was our year of local trips and stay-cations.  How are you spending your summer?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Smoky


Shirt: Michael Kors (Similar)
Jeans: Topshop
Shoes: Shoe Dazzle
Earrings: Jewel Mint
Bracelet: Forever21 (Old, but Similar)
Lipstick: Revlon Really Red and Plum
Nail Polish: Sally Hansen Graphite Gravity





Jeans and I have always had a love-hate relationship.  When they were higher waisted, if they fit in the hips, they didn't fit in the waist.  Now that they are lower waisted, my waist isn't what it used to be.  Stretchy legging jeans now cling in places I don't want them to.  I think part of my frustration with summer dressing is that I haven't loved a pair of jeans in a few years.  This pair from Topshop is still on the cusp of success.  They are super soft, high enough in the waist to fall in a not so awkward place when I sit down, and the wash is growing on me.  Only time will tell as I migrate them into some outfits.  I thought they would pair well with my new magnetic Sally Hansen nail polish.  I think I was pretty successful in creating a grey outfit a little outside of my norm.

Linked to: Monday Mingle