Thursday, November 27, 2014

Black Friday Deals for the Curvy Girl

It's that time of year again, the exciting (or dreadful, however you see it) shopping day known as Black Friday...or Brown Thursday even, for those of you that are hardcore shoppers that will be going out at 6pm tonight for all of the deals being offered.  I have looked through the ads this morning and have found the following deals that are worth note, in my opinion, for the curvier folks out there.

1. Lane Bryant - 50% Off Entire Store (11/27 - 11/30)
            This sale is definitely one I will be capitalizing on.  There are no limits and not one item in their entire stock that's regular price!  The best thing about this sale though, is that it is both in stores and online AND it is for the entire holiday weekend.  That means I can avoid the Thursday/Friday rush of people and go on Saturday or Sunday instead.  I will be using this sale to stock up on my intimates.  The majority of my bras come from LB because they are the best support I have found for my shape.  I am eyeing this leopard print plunge at the moment:

Smooth Boost Plunge w/Lace $22.00 (reg. $44.00)

2. Dress Barn - All Dresses $50 or less; All "Cashmerely" Sweaters $22.99; Jewelry/Accessories B3G1 (11/26 - 11/30)
            I personally think this is one of the not-so-awesome sales overall, but I do think I will check the store out just for the dresses.  If I can get a well-made, pretty dress for less than 50 bucks, I'd consider it.  Their sale is also all holiday weekend and it's both in-store and online. It's worth note that the shapewear line is in the B3G1 free deal, so if you're in need of shaper briefs, shorts or cami's, definitely check out their wares.

Zebra Print Dress $23.99 (reg. $54.00)

3. Old Navy - 50% Off Entire Store (Thanksgiving & Black Friday Only)
            This sale is in-store and online and is only for 11/27 & 11/28.  If you shop online, they also have a 15% off entire purchase coupon code on top of the sale.  I don't normally shop Old Navy, but I know they do carry a plus size range with some comfortable, cute pieces.  I love these wine colored boots myself.

Faux Suede Ankle Boots $19.97 (reg. $39.94)

4. Macy's - Variety of Sales Throughout Store (11/27 - 11/29)
            60% Off Coats, 40-50% Off Plus Size Clothing, Rampage Boots $19.99

5. Payless Shoe Source - Variety of Sales Throughout Store (11/26 - 11/30)
            Up to 50% Off Women's Boots, 2 for $25 Moccasins (11/27 & 11/28 Only), $16.99 York & Raven Boots, $9.99 Women's Slippers

6. Target - 40% Off Plus Size Clothing (11/27 - 11/29)

7. Ulta Beauty - Variety of Sales Throughout Store (11/27 - 11/29)
            $14.99 for 72 pc. Ulta Irresistible Beauty Collection Makeup (reg. $24.99), $10 Bare Minerals 2-3 pc. Kits (reg. $44), $10 Urban Decay Big Fatty Mascara (reg. $20), $10 Smashbox On the Rocks Travel Makeup Brushes (limited edition)

8. Salvation Army - 20% Off Single Purchase Coupon (11/28 & 11/29)
            Salvation Army of course doesn't have normal sales outside of the 69 Cent Color sale, but hey, a coupon is a coupon when you're going anyway!  I'll be spending most of my shopping time at my two SA locations.

Best of luck in your Black Friday adventures this year!  Be Safe and Warm!

And a Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American friends out there.  May you be surrounded by loving arms and warm memories.

Much Love,

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Stuck in a Fashion Rut?

Do you ever find yourself stuck in a rut?  When it comes to fashion, and more specifically career fashion, I find it's not hard to.  During the work week, you get into a daily routine, and it never fails that you never have enough time in the mornings to devote to really seeking out a rockin' outfit for work.  You throw on "the usual" and call it a day.

For me, that "usual" is black slip on flats, black slacks, print polyester top and black suit jacket - every time.  Some days I'll mix it up and swap out the black for brown - whoopie!  Living life on the edge for sure!  But I find that I just don't have the energy a lot of mornings to really get passionate about my attire.

And then, when I go shopping, I find myself gravitating toward the same styles and color that I wear day-in and day-out.  I have found that if I don't buy "the usual" and start getting more comfortable with different looks, I'm more apt to put a different twist or variation on my daily suit.  Now, when I hit up the thrift stores and clearance racks, I focus on two things: Color and Cut.

Color:  First, I look for colors I don't normally gravitate toward.  I try out yellows, pinks and other pastels instead of the deep, dark purples, reds and blues that blend in with a black suit.  Let me tell you, yellow pops on black like you wouldn't believe!  So anyway, I buy the colors I wouldn't normally buy.

Cut: I think this is the most important thing when you're shopping, no matter what you're shopping for.  If the cut isn't right, it turns out being a crapshoot all around.  Tailored blazers are the love of my life; I have about 10 different blazers/suit jackets that are black, but all have different cuts that give each their own personality.  My problem is that you can only cut a blazer so many ways, and then you wind up buying the same cuts over and over again, hence the rut.  To get out of this rut, I keep an eye out for the cuts I like in blazers, but rather in a shirt.  Women's button ups are great for that suit structure and darting; Poncho style jackets are a nice, comfortable variation on the jacket as well.

~~~~~     ~~~~~     ~~~~~     ~~~~~

Now, to my reason for this post to begin with - I used these two key points today when out with my friend Kelly at the local Salvation Army.  Like all of us, she has been stuck in the so-called rut.  Kelly mainly gravitates toward neutral colors like black, grey and white.  She also feels comfortable in looser clothing that sometimes can lack the shape she needs to show off her beautiful frame.  So she asked me to head into the racks on my own, without her opinions on color and structure, and put a few outfits together.  Then she would try them on as a set rather than separates to help her get an idea of how to pair different types of clothing.

I happily dove into the racks, knowing exactly what I wanted to see her in.  I hit up the short-sleeved tops and found some great prints that had her neutral colors, but still had a little pop of color somewhere.  I also pulled tops that were solids like a beautiful light olive green one I found.  I then headed over to the blazers (you know, because I'm addicted to them!) to see if I could find anything I thought she might be open to trying.  

I spaced out the different tops I had found on the blazer rack and got to digging.  I chose to stick with her solid neutrals for the most part, but tried to find subtle uniqueness in them as well.  For example, I pulled a black knit poncho jacket and put a red printed top underneath.  I then pulled a turquoise colored suit jacket that matched a green print I found.  And then I pulled a darted, lightly pinstriped black blazer and put the olive green top with it.  Then I grabbed a couple colorful scarves and added those to what I had picked out.

I have to say, I am so proud of Kelly for her openness.  I had so much fun watching her come out of the dressing room in the different combinations, and she was pleasantly surprised by the different looks, I think.  She would up liking the pinstriped blazer (HALLELUJAH!), and ended up purchasing that as well as several of the printed tops and one scarf!  I was SO happy to see her smile when she came out of the dressing room each time, and I was happy to see her liking what I had picked out for her.

In the end, I was able to pull just a tiny bit of her personality out of the rut she feels like she's in for work, and I hope she uses that in the future to push herself to gravitate toward colors and styles she wouldn't normally buy.

Everyone deserves something different from "The Usual."

Much Love,

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Glam It Up for the Weekend!

With Monday being the Labor Day holiday tomorrow, today is my "second Saturday."  In order to celebrate, I thought I would glam it up a little bit and share my Outfit of the Day (OOTD) and Makeup of the Day (MOTD) with you!  Hope you like it!

~~~~~     ~~~~~     ~~~~~

My outfit today was 90% thrift store & clearance items, and the rest was gifted:

Purple Striped T-Shirt/Size & Brand Unknown-No Tag (Goodwill $3.49)
Uproar Cropped Denim Jacket/Size XXL (Goodwill $3.99)
Lane Bryant Lightly Flared Jeans/Size 18 (Goodwill/Mother bought for me-FREE)
Lane Bryant Black Booties w/Gold Studded Heels/Size 10 ($19.99 clearance last winter)

Chunky Black/Silver Chain Necklace (Goodwill $3.99)
Silver Knotted Ring (Gift from Fiance/Price & Brand Unknown-FREE)
Lia Sophia Chain Bracelet Cuff (FREE Gift for hosting a Lia Sophia party)

TOTAL PRICE OF OUTFIT OF THE DAY: $31.46 (before tax)
~~~~~     ~~~~~     ~~~~~

This cropped denim jacket is one of my favorite pieces currently in my closet.  It's fun and a little edgy with the zippers and black stitching details.  I wear this jacket all the time for casual Fridays at the office.  The jeans are to die for!  I love super long jeans for my short stature.  If I wear heels with them and let the hem brush the ground, it helps me feel taller!  I will need to wear a little higher heel next time to get these off the ground more, though.  I also like pairing chunky jewelry with edgy pieces.  I think they mesh well and show off a little of my personality at the same time.  A pop of bright color, like purple, is a fun way to jazz up a mostly denim outfit.  I also like to make sure I never pair two denim pieces that are the same wash color.  It ends up looking to matchy-matchy, so I try to mix it up whenever possible.

~~~~~     ~~~~~     ~~~~~

I had to have a little fun with the hubby's guitar since he had it out for his own photo shoot today.  I can't play it, but it sure is fun to accessorize with!

~~~~~     ~~~~~     ~~~~~

My makeup of the day consisted of a full face of products by Maybelline, Hard Candy, CoverGirl, NYX, E.L.F. and Wet 'N Wild.  I chose to go with browns and a little glitter shadow, black eyeshadow for eyeliner and two lipstick shades with a gloss over top.  NYX eyeshadows blend super easy for me, so I usually only stick with them for my eyes.  They are a brand you can get at your local drugstore or Target (and budget friendly, too!).  I used E.L.F.'s brow duo to fill in and shape my brows.  I don't like super strong, defined arch brows for me, so I keep it soft and with my natural brow shape.  I also chose to define my nose and cheekbones with an NYC bronzer compact to give my pale complexion color and a more sculpted face.  The hardest part for me is always the lips.  I can never get a shape I like without looking too caked on.  I still need more practice and better products in order to get the right shape and fullness without the products bleeding into my liplines.  I'll keep you posted as I find new products I like.  I used a Fergie Wet 'N Wild lipstick, NYX Black Rose lipstick and NYX pink gloss to get the color. 

I hope you enjoyed my first OOTD/MOTD post!  I enjoyed doing it, so I will most likely be posting many more that will include more thrift store finds.

Much Love,

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Thrift Store Haul!

I have some goodies to share with you from my thrift store adventures yesterday!  I was invited by a friend of mine to go out to the Salvation Army to look for work clothes.  Of course I said yes.  We spent quite some time picking through their stock and came across some great items and at bargain prices.  Purple tags were automatically $0.69 cents, so I kept an eye out for those when shopping as well.

~~~~~     ~~~~~

I didn't come across too many things that worked out for me, but I still did well on bargains.  I found a bunch of beautiful tops, but they either didn't fit or I didn't like the style on me.  Here's what I found at the Salvation Army:

Item: Kenneth Cole-Reaction men's button up
Price: $0.69 cents

I try to find button up shirts for my fiance when I go out on 69 cent day at S.A.  This Kenneth Cole one is in great shape and a pattern that I really liked.  He wears button ups for work, so I always keep these in the back of my mind when I go thrift store shopping.  He is building up quite the collection from my thrift store trips.

Item: Merona (Target brand) women's long-sleeve t-shirt
Price: $0.69 cents

The second item I found was this basic grey, long-sleeve t-shirt.  These are super soft and a comfortable option for casual weekend days.  I would pair it with a colorful camisole underneath, a tied scarf, jeans and boots.  For fall, you could add a jean jacket or a green, military style blazer for an edgy feel.

I know these items don't seem like much, but I feel if I can find these basics in good shape for 69 cents, they are definitely worth it.  It's a way to keep rotating your basic pieces cheaper.  69 cents is still better than a cheap Walmart item that's $3.00!

Item: The Travel Selection brand red basic shell tank
Price: $2.99

I've been trying to keep an eye out for these shells to put underneath my suit jackets for work.  It's your typical sleeveless tank top, but I liked it because of the beautiful deep red color and had a flower pattern on it.  It's nothing exciting, but it will look nice and professional underneath a suit jacket.  Since this one wasn't a purple tag item, it had to pay full-price for it, but still at $2.99 it's a great deal.

Grand Total at Salvation Army: $5.18

After all was said and done, I wound up spending $5.18 total for 3 shirts and 2 decorative pillows for our living room.  While the trip was not a huge haul, I wound up finding some good items at great prices.

I still had time before stores closed Saturday night, so I decided to make a trip over to my favorite Goodwill store in town, and man am I glad I did!  I found several items that I absolutely love.  The Goodwill sale was 1/2 price blue tag items.  Sadly, only one item was a blue tag, but I still got great deals on things I know I'll wear all the time, and one not-so-great item I should have noticed before I purchased it.

~~~~~     ~~~~~

Item: Star Vixen leopard print top
Price: $3.49

I am super excited about this leopard print top.  It's a short-sleeved polyester top with large flutter sleeves.  I would wear this to go out on the weekend in.  I'd put a black tank underneath, toss on some colorful jewelry, trouser jeans and heels and head out on the town.


Item: East 5th tank top
Price: $1.75 (1/2 price blue tag item)

I was really happy to find this polyester embellished tank, and it was even better when I noticed the blue tag.  However, what I didn't do was pay attention to the details of the shirt.  I even tried this one on and still didn't notice there were a whole string of brown beads missing from the neckline.  I was so focused on the fact that it was 1/2 price that I didn't make sure to check the top over for blemishes.  I may be able to string new beads, but chances are I'll end up donating this one back to Goodwill before getting around to doing it.

I was really disappointed when I pulled this one out of the bag today to take pictures of.  If I would have noticed the missing beads, I never would have bought it.  And I think it's plenty noticeable, so I'll wind up never wearing it.  I should always use my own advice and check for rips, tears, missing pieces, etc before buying anything.  At least I'm only out $1.75!

Item: Tommy Hilfiger navy blue, asymmetrical cardigan
Price: $3.49

I am a magnet for cardigans.  They are easy to wear, comfortable options for work if dressed up appropriately.  This one is a soft knit material, and it has a rolled and buttoned 3/4 sleeve.  There's nothing quite like finding name-brand, quality items for killer deals!

Cardigans are so easy to pair with other separates for work and weekend looks.  I will wear this piece with black or neutral tops, long necklaces and a belt for work, and for weekends, I would pair it with a brighter tank top underneath, chunky necklace (or scarf) and no belt for a breezy, comfy outfit.  A belt can give a shapeless piece the right structured, polished look you need for a day at the office.

Item: Simply Vera by Vera Wang straight-leg denim capris
Price: $5.99

These jean capris happened to be in the denim racks with my size, but they are way too small for me.  I picked these up because my mom LOVES Vera Wang pants.  I'm pretty sure 99% of the denim she wears is by Vera Wang.  I have to admit, if her jeans came in my size, I'd probably be hooked, too.  Wang uses classic shapes and adds a touch of style to her pieces with buttons, studs and splashes of color.

This pair are in like-new shape and have the whisker detail at the hips and a cute, slit hem at the bottom.  The back pockets also have a small flower detail on them.  These were the most expensive item I bought, but at $5.99 and in such great shape, I couldn't pass them up.  Simply Vera is sold at Kohl's and usually run $44.00 and up.

Item: Purple striped 3/4-sleeve t-shirt
Price: $3.49

This shirt was my favorite piece of the day.  I am thrilled with this pattern and color!  There is no tag, so I don't know the brand, but it is the comfy knit material and super lightweight.  It's perfect for fall layering.  I wore this today with a blank tank underneath and a black button up long-sleeved shirt with buckle details over top of it.  I buttoned one button just under my bust at the waist to give a little shape.  The button up is a tailored, short hemline, so the striped detail of this top peaked out from underneath the bottom as well.

I would wear this fun print with and for almost anything.  I love this top!  :)
Item: Villager by Liz Clairborne grey blazer
Price: $3.99

I always take my time and dig through the racks of blazers at Goodwill because while they organize most styles by size (jeans, slacks, etc.), they don't do that with blazers.  You have to go piece-by-piece and check every size tag.  But I always do because I always wind up finding great items like this grey blazer for work.  It is a polyester/rayon blend material, but it has a tweed-like feel and look to it, without having the weight of tweed.  I also like that it has the black stitching detail around the lapels and bottom hemline.  I think this blazer looks chic and polished; I can pair it with a pencil skirt, a colorful top underneath and heels for a perfect office look.

Item: Valerie Stevens-Woman (plus-size line) pinstriped suit jacket
Price: $3.99

Did I mention I LOVE the blazer section at Goodwill?!  Holy cow this jacket is beautiful!  I'm a sucker for pinstriped detail.  It has red and light blue pinstriping and fits like a dream.  The two-button suit jackets work better for my body type because they button slightly lower, allowing me to button them both without any tugging on the sides due to a larger bust.  I am able to get the shape I want without feeling like a stuffed sausage.  The other great thing about this jacket is that it has pockets.  Pockets are a nice surprise because most of my suits have faux pocket detailing.  It looks great, but utterly useless.  I work for the government, and we often have to carry our badges to get through security in the building, so I always like having pockets to slip my badge in since I don't like clipping it on the outside of my clothing.  I am thrilled to have found this gem among those racks!

Grand Total at Goodwill: $28.00

~~~~~     ~~~~~

When all was said and done for the day, I spent a whopping $33.18 total for this haul.  That my friends, is why I love thrift store shopping.

Much love,

Friday, August 22, 2014

Always Have a Game Plan

I think it's important to always have a game plan when you go shopping.  But more importantly, have a game plan when you're going thrift store shopping.  If you don't, you're almost always destined to leave disappointed or empty-handed.  I try to map out my trips before I ever set foot in a Goodwill because if I don't, I'll find myself getting scattered and never really digging for the gold in those racks upon racks of clothing.

~~~~~     ~~~~~     ~~~~~     ~~~~~

Without further ado, here are my tips on having a Thrift Store Game Plan -

1. Prioritize your needs and/or wants.
Are there holes in your wardrobe (or shirts even) that need filling first?  I often find two types of items that I have to keep rotating in and out because of wear and tear, weight fluctuation and the changing seasons - Suit Jackets/Blazers and Dress Slacks.  If I am needing new suit jackets, I make sure I hit up that section first.  Basically, make sure your budget is well spent before pilfering through all of those impulse buys waiting to snag at your purse strings.

2. Be willing to try things on.
I never knew how much of a problem this was for a lot of people until a friend of mine once said "I hate trying clothes on in the store.  I just hold it up, and if it looks like it'll fit, I buy it."  I couldn't hardly get over that!  Maybe it's because my mom always made me try things on before she bought them, but I ALWAYS try EVERYTHING on in the store first.  Why spend the time and money buying something that you may not end up liking or may not even fit in the first place?  Sure, in regular retail stores you can return the unwanted item and get your money back.  But most thrift stores have a "no return" policy.  You're SOL at that point. Also, it's good to try things on in the store because that is often when you notice any blemishes in the item - tears, holes, snags, discoloration, etc.  Good bargain or not, try that sucker on first!

3. Be patient.
Great things come to those who wait.  Trust me, those great deals are there just waiting to be snatched up.  You just have to be willing to dig.  Allot enough time in your day to spend time going item-by-item, rack-by-rack; that's how you find the good stuff.  And if you're short on time, keep an eye out for the sale items; if you're at Goodwill and the 1/2 off price tag color is Blue that day, make sure you stick to the blue tags.  Swiftly slide items on the rack, always keeping a keen eye out for a blue tag.  You may be able to get lucky and score a good deal on something you love.  Salvation Army is great for that since they do a $0.69 cent-sale every weekend based on random color price tags.

4. Avoid the "Boutique" section, if possible.
Some thrift stores, like Goodwill, have a section that they use to jack up the price on brand name and trendy items.  Since Salvation Army doesn't separate their items by general price ranges and individually price-mark their items, the higher priced items will be blended in with the cheaper pieces, so you have to be careful there.  I have a rule at S.A. - any item priced above $6.00 is considered a "boutique" item and off limits.  I'm there to score a great deal, not a good deal.  I'm not saying I avoid the higher priced items all of the time, but 4 out of 5 trips I won't even touch them.  If I have the extra cash in my shopping budget, then I splurge if I happen to find a piece I just HAVE to have.  Or if I'm looking for a specific style or color for a special occasion; I'll splurge then too, because it's still a cheaper option than buying at the mall.

5. Stay within your budget.
That brings me to my next game plan tip - SET A BUDGET AND DON'T GO OVER IT.  I will admit, sometimes, I can be the first one to break this rule, and I wind up regretting it later.  Granted, you're getting some great deals that you wouldn't find elsewhere, but you're still spending more than what you plan on.  It's easy to do when everything is super cheap, ironically enough.  You throw anything and everything in your cart and wind up spending $100+ at the checkout.  Set a "top dollar amount" and leave it at that.  Remember, you're thrift store shopping because it's CHEAP and good for your budget.  Keep a mental tally of the items that go in your buggy.  When you reach your limit amount, go try things on in the fitting room and weed out what ends up not working for you and keep moving, doing the same process until you reach a point where you top out at your top dollar or are happy with your finds and ready to checkout.

6. Take a friend and share the wealth of goodies!
Thrift store shopping is almost always more fun when you go with a friend.  You help each other find the great prices and get to give opinions on what you try on.  If I don't take a friend, I often end up chatting with the people next to me in the fitting rooms and share opinions that way.  I like to know another person's take on the clothes I pick out.  It can put things into perspective a little more.  I don't mean simple things like "Love that top!" but rather things like "Wow...that color works great for your skin." or "That dress would look awesome with a jean jacket."  I like getting comments like the latter two because it helps me keep a mental note for future shopping trips.  Someone says green is my color?  I'm going to watch out for that color next time and see how it works out for me.  Someone shows me how to pair separates?  Hell yes!  It's always more fun to have friends with you when shopping.  Recently, I tagged along with my 19-year-old cousin to help pick out some business/professional clothes for her upcoming school year where she will be required to student teach.  We were able to scour through several racks and stores and get some great professional looking pieces at dirt cheap prices she could afford.

I really think this is the most important tip I can offer.  Thrift store shopping should be an adventure worth taking.  I look forward to every thrift store trip I take.  It's my relaxation and my gift to myself for working hard everyday.  I set aside whole days devoted to thrift store shopping most of the time.  I get excited when I come across a brand I love at a great price.  When I find going out blouses and jackets that I feel represent my personality and style, I start to get giddy.  My fiance often winds up standing at the fitting rooms waiting on me because I've spent the last two hours trying stuff on.  I can't help it; it's an adrenaline rush when I find so many treasures in one or two stores at killer prices.  Who wouldn't be excited when they score $70, name brand dress pants at the staggering price of $0.69 cents!

~~~~~     ~~~~~     ~~~~~     ~~~~~

I hope these tips have been helpful.  Keep an eye out for a thrift store haul post within the next day or so.  I'm heading out with a friend to help search for work attire, and I've got 50 bucks to spend on those great deals!  :)

Much love,

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Twist & Shout: Scarves with Attitude

Scarves are a fun way to add a little spunk to your daily wardrobe.  They can be dressed up or down, going from special occasion to casual summer concert in seconds.  I like wearing scarves in simple knots for daily professional ensembles and in funky wraps and drapes for casual nights out.  My favorite scarves are probably the long, wide ones with fun patterns.  A larger scarf allows for more complex knots and looks instead of just your run-of-the-mill little patterned square.

My favorite scarf right now is the Alexander McQueen Chiffon Skull Scarf.  McQueen has a variety of designs, colors and sizes in this line.  Sadly, they retail at $200+, which means unless I win the lottery, I won't be buying one.  So I settled for a similar skull scarf from Ross Dress for Less that I bought for $8.99 that I love as well.  I buy the majority of my scarves from thrift stores.  You can often find vintage, interesting patterns and all different sizes for a great price.  

Scarves are easy to please in my opinion, because there's a style or design for everyone.  Loud patterns, soft patterns, fringed edges, quilting, long, wide, short, square - they come in almost any style you can think of.  If you want something that's office appropriate, perhaps choose a soft pinstripe pattern in neutral colors.  If you're looking for an edgy, going out look, lean towards a large, colorful pattern instead.  Personally, my favorite is something with fringe like this one pictured below.  It's a large houndstooth pattern that gets larger the further out to the fringed edges.  You can tie it in a normal wrap, but I think this triangle shape looks great here styled with a basic top and edgy, black jacket.  Her makeup and hair are icing on the cake for the edgy feel.  

To master the different options when styling your outfit with a scarf, I recommend scouring YouTube and Pinterest for ideas.  I found the tutorial below on Pinterest for the Allure knot.  This is probably my favorite knot because it adds volume and texture to an otherwise basic look.  I use this knot a lot for the office.

Here are a few more tutorials and photo inspiration I found on Pinterest for helping you choose the styles you like best.  With Fall on our doorstep, I will be pulling my scarves out much more often!

Feel free to follow me on Pinterest:

Grace Kelly

Audrey Hepburn

Monday, July 14, 2014

Vintage Elegance: Accessories with Interest

Collage made at

One of the most prevalent aspects of fashion is the statement accessory.  Like I mentioned in my Professional Ensembles article, accessories can turn a neutral outfit into something fun and eye catching.  But what makes for an "interesting" accessory?  And how do you pair it with anything?  I feel that interesting can mean basically anything to anyone; we all have different tastes and attractions when it comes to style.  That's the beauty of having your own style!

For me, an interesting adornment is something that's bold and full of detail.  I look for color, sparkle and a metallic feel.  I like pieces that feel strong and standalone that I can wear by itself if I want to, and I won't look completely bare.  Wrist cuffs, large rings and necklaces with multiple strands are the pieces that I am attracted to most of the time when I'm out shopping.  I also like the idea of a brooch in certain cases; believe it or not, I have seen several brooches in recent outings, and I think they look fabulous.  A decent sized brooch with gemstones and vine detail (like the one pictured to the right) can offer a classy feel to an everyday professional look.  I actually was just gifted this piece by my grandmother yesterday.  She found a bag FULL of old jewelry that was simply beautiful.  This brooch actually has matching earrings, bracelet and necklace, but I'm not sure I'd wear them all at the same time.  It might be a little to matchy-matchy for me.  This gold gem-filled brooch is an accessory I would like to use to bind a solid, colored scarf together after draping it around my neck to glam it up a bit.

Interesting can also be something that shows off your personality.  For example, let's say you have a soft spot for the 80's; we all have that, right?  ...Maybe it's just me then.  Anyway, as most of us know, 80's fashion was popular for bright colors.  Put on some hot pink, chunky beads that double over around the neck.  Let's say you lean more towards the bohemian look.  Find one of those cute, leather-thronged headbands and wrap it into your hair for a casual weekend accessory.  There are so many ways to showcase your personality and likes.  My all-time favorite story is the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I've read all the books and watched all of the movies countless times.  What catches my eye while watching the movies is the silver, elegant jewelry of the elves.  The headdresses that the women wear take my breath away.  The leafy details in the circlet combined with the delicate silver chains that waterfall down their long locks of hair is just beautiful to me.  The detail in some of these pieces is astounding.  One thing I knew I had to have was the Evenstar Pendant (pictured left).  I bought it last year when I saw it displayed in a tent at an Irish Fest my fiance and I go to every year.  Wearing it is a way for me to display my love for the elegance of Elvish craftsmanship. [ - Nerd Alert! - ]

Like I mentioned earlier, a statement piece to me is something bold and full of detail.  And when I say bold, I mean BOLD!  I have two wrist cuffs that I love to wear because of their bold color and shine.  One is a silver metallic cuff with a large turquoise center and one flower on either side.  Just those three pieces alone made for a bold piece, however, the band itself has major detail as well.  It is a strong enough piece that I feel like I can wear just the cuff and my engagement ring, nothing else, and still have some bling.

The other bracelet/cuff I have is a gemstone lizard.  I found him at an antique store in Corbin, Kentucky.  I don't know who made it or how old it is, but I honestly did not care when I laid eyes on him.  I just knew I had to have him!  This is by far, the most amazing piece I have ever owned.  It is simply gorgeous in my opinion.  It's colorful, gold and metallic...and did I mention...a REPTILE.  The cuff seam is in the back and it splits open at the toes and tail to wrap around your wrist.  I cannot go anywhere without somebody noticing this one.  Several of the women who have commented on it to me have had mixed feelings about it; it's interesting, but it's a lizard.  I personally think the fact that it's a lizard is what makes it so cool.  But like I said, everybody has their own taste when it comes to style.  Reptiles just happen to be awesome in my book.

Collage made at

I hope you've enjoyed reading this article about statement accessories.  I think having pieces like these that you truly love and wear with pride is a way to tap into your inner fashionista.  When you gravitate towards a bold necklace, don't question whether it's too gaudy or too "weird."  If you love it, I say GO FOR IT! 

Much Love,

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Confessions of a Makeup Amateur - Foundation Routine & Tips

I'm going to switch gears today and focus on my experience with makeup.  While I love fashion, makeup products are another area of the beauty spectrum that I have been curious about the last few years.  I love the idea of turning an otherwise plain (albeit beautiful, of course!) face into a dramatic, photo shoot ready visage.

Since I was never curious as a kid, I didn't start experimenting with makeup until college.  I think I purchased my first makeup products when I was 19.  I've watched tutorial after tutorial on YouTube and read umpteen articles on different products, their uses and what would be beneficial to my fair complexion.  I have very sensitive skin, so I am always careful to research each product I buy and it's effects on the skin.  The one thing I want to focus on today is my foundation routine and how I've experimented to get the results I like.

I'll be the first in line to admit trying to buy, apply and set a full face of foundation was extremely scary at first.  What if I use the wrong color and look like an oompa loompa?  Liquid, cream or powder?  Apply with a brush, sponge or fingers?  Does it look cakey and worse than if I just left my skin as is?  Is the $30.00 liquid really any better than it's $8.00 dupe?  All of these questions plagued my mind as I stared at countless brands, shades and prices available to use.

I would like to share some helpful tips that have helped me get to where I am now when it comes to attempting the flawless face.  I hope that in sharing these tips, it will save you time and money, but also help you with the application itself.  All too many times during my experimentation, I wound up looking cakey from too much product OR the wrong color altogether because I chose the wrong shade for my skin.  Let's just say "ivory" doesn't always mean ivory...I learned to never trust the names that companies give their different shades.  Just because Ivory matches you in L'Oreal Paris doesn't mean Ivory will match you in Maybelline New York.  My biggest foe, though, was deciding what to buy and how much to spend on each product.  I would like to point out that I use drugstore products only unless I manage to score a great deal on higher end products.  I've found the cheaper alternatives to high end products (like MAC, Urban Decay, and Chanel) get the job done just as well if used properly.

~~~~~~~~~~          ~~~~~~~~~~

First off, the list below is in the order I put on face products (followed by the current products I am using) when applying what I call my "base face."  Base face is a clean, even canvas before I paint it with my favorite eyeshadows, lip colors and the like.  You'll see that I don't use any blushers.  I have naturally rosy cheeks, so I just allow that to shine through instead of covering it up completely.  Why apply another product for something your skin already does naturally?

5. Contouring Bronzer - NYX's Mosaic Pressed Powder in Latte ($8)

Current products listed were used in this photo.

My first tip to beginners is don't get frustrated if you don't get it right the first hundred times.  It takes trial and error to find the right products and amounts to apply in order to achieve your flawless face.  As you can see, I have products from all different drugstore lines.  It has taken me about three years of experimenting with products, ways to apply and the amount to apply to achieve a balanced, clean look.  Enjoy the experimenting and laugh off the oompa loompa phase - we all go through it.

Secondly, I recommend to ALWAYS use a face primer before applying any foundation.  I used to scoff at all of the YouTube tutorial people for spending money on and taking time to apply a primer.  Foundation is supposed to smooth you out and even your skin tone, right?  Not necessarily.  Primer ups the ante by providing a nice glowing finish.  It fills in the pores, smooths fine lines and creates an even base for your products to glide on with ease.  I was sold the minute I tried my first all over face primer.  If you want to try one without spending much, E.L.F. makes a wonderful primer for just $6.00.

My third and final tip that I think is one of the most important to achieving a flawless face is to use makeup brushes to apply your products.  The only exception for me is that I use my fingertips to apply primer.  For all other products, I use brushes.  It may take a lot of trial and error to find the right brushes for a good application, so I recommend purchasing some cheap ones first before spending much more money on different brushes.  The E.L.F. Essential Line is great for experimenting with; these brushes are only $1.00 per piece.  The E.L.F. Studio Line has a little higher quality for $2 and $3.00 per piece.  I use a small stippling brush for liquid foundation, a small concealer brush for under-eye concealer, a soft Kabuki brush for setting powder, a medium-sized, tapered bronzing brush for contouring and a fluffy powder brush for the final dusting of setting powder.  For me, using brushes instead of sponges or fingers makes the application much easier and quicker when I'm getting ready for work in the morning.  Now that I can gauge how much product to use, brushes help give me an overall even and full coverage application.

I hope these three tips have been helpful to beginners out there.  Stay tuned for more makeup tips in the future!

Much Love,

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Thrift Store Vs. Consignment Shop: Part II

Yesterday, I spent a lot of time talking about thrift stores, and why I love them.  Today, I want to shine some light on consignment shops, when I choose to go to them, and why.

Property of Consignment Chic, LLC.

The Consignment Shop

Consignment shops are stores that take in outside products from individuals and agree to sell them for the individual in return for a percentage of the sale.  Selling on consignment is a popular avenue for gently used prom dresses, wedding gowns and other formal wear that has already been worn and will probably not be worn again by the original owner.  I also see a lot of name brand clothing go through consignment shops.

I think consignment shops can be a great way to find nice, designer clothing for a fraction of their retail value.  The nice thing about this type of store is that the majority of the stock will be current style trends.  A lot of stores pick and choose what to accept on consignment based on the probability of a successful sale, so you should be able to find something you like that's fashion forward on the racks.  The other thing I like about consignment shops is that they are set up like a boutique.  The racks are organized, spaced well and arranged in sections similar to retail stores, making them easy to navigate.  Sometimes, they will even separate by color which can be beneficial if you're looking for something specific.

If I'm looking for a specific item, I will sometimes choose to go to a consignment shop over a thrift store because you can usually find better quality, fashionable styles with less effort.  For example, if I'm looking for a specific color dress for a special event, I can go to a consignment shop and have a better chance of finding what I'm looking for that's nice, formal and at a good price point.

~~~~~~~~~~          ~~~~~~~~~~

The main reason I don't choose a consignment store on a normal basis is because of the prices.  Granted, you are getting a good deal when you pay a quarter of the retail value, but I have a hard time paying $15-$20 for a work blouse that's used.  I feel I can keep an eye out at retail department stores for deals to get the same price on a brand new blouse instead.  I understand that the items in consignment shops will generally be higher than thrift stores because the profit is being split two ways instead of one, but if I'm just looking for general clothing basics, I feel I can get a much better bargain at a thrift store.

The other reason I tend to avoid consignment shops is because the plus sizes are either very small sections or nonexistent altogether.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, the average woman in the United States is 5 foot 4 inches in height and weighs 164 pounds, putting her around a size 14 by general standards.  I find the majority of clothing in consignment shops to be in the size range of 8 to 14, so I'd say the majority of women who shop in these stores probably find several items in their size.  However, I am above the national average, so if a store does not carry plus sizes, I won't find a piece that fits.  I have walked through an entire shop only to feel awful by the time I leave because I searched tag after tag without finding a single item in my size.  I'm not saying all consignment shops are that way because I have also been to a couple that carry plenty in my size, but I don't like the feeling of walking into a store and feeling ashamed of my body because it's not important enough to even carry clothing in my size.  That's why I avoid most stores in malls (unless they advertise plus sizes), so I'm naturally going to avoid these stores in the same respect.

~~~~~~~~~~          ~~~~~~~~~~

In my humble opinion, I will always choose a thrift store first because of the price point and ability to find clothing in my size.  I am happy to search through racks upon racks of clothing to find quality pieces hidden inside for pennies on the dollar.

I would love to hear other opinions of the Thrift Store versus the Consignment Shop from your experience, so please feel free to leave a comment below!

Much Love,

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Thrift Store Vs. Consignment Shop: Part I

The next two posts to my blog are going to be about the pros and cons of the Thrift Store bargain versus the Consignment Shop bargain.  In my opinion, the true bargains lie in those jam-packed racks of thrift stores, but I think consignment shops can be worth a trip to every now and again for different reasons.

Property of Goodwill Industries, Inc.
Property of The Salvation Army
The Thrift Store

The most popular thrift store in my area is Goodwill.  We have a couple of Salvation Army stores as well, and several locally owned stores.  I will usually dedicate an entire Saturday to traveling to several of the thrift stores in the area to allow myself enough time to look through every rack, try on styles and stand in line to purchase items.

I am such an advocate for thrift store bargains because of the consistently cheap pricing system.  Goodwill has a simple setup for the most part by using a categorical system.  For example, jeans and blazers are $4.99 per piece.  Dress slacks and blouses are $3.99.  Scarves range from $0.99 to $3.99 depending on size, brand and material.  Shoes are $3.99.  They do have items in what they call the "Boutique" section that are generally nicer articles of clothing for slightly higher prices.

Basically, I can walk into Goodwill, search through racks and fill my cart with items to try on, knowing the price without having to look at each tag for a number.  It saves me the hassle of determining whether or not it's worth the price to buy because I know all items are priced cheap enough that I will buy if I like something.  And I may just happen to pick up an item with the right color tag that will be half-price at the register.  I can fill a cart to the brim with items and walk out spending less than fifty bucks.  That goes down in the books as a bargain day for me!

Aside from the consistent pricing system, I also like thrift stores because of the variety of choices.  You just never know what you'll find in a thrift store.  It could be a dress from the 1970's who's style has come back in more recent years.  It could be a jean jacket someone modified with patches, zippers or frays from the grunge era.  Or it could be a piece that's from a current brand in great shape and oftentimes with the original retail store tag still on it.  You are almost guaranteed to find something that fits your own personal style, and you'll get it for a low, low price.

~~~~~~~~~~          ~~~~~~~~~~

One disadvantage to thrift stores can be the organization of their racks, or lack thereof.  It seems to vary from store to store, but most thrift stores do minimal sorting before putting on racks.  One of the Goodwill stores I go to organizes jeans, slacks and skirts by size, but their shirts, blazers, dresses and shoes are just put out on racks in big sections with no size or color organization whatsoever.  It can be discouraging because you are forced to go through these racks piece by piece to find the clothes that are in your size and also suit your style.  If I'm short on time, I find myself gravitating toward the pants because I know I'll be able to go right to my size and then sift through for styles I like.  Sometimes, I'll ignore the tops and dresses completely because I don't want to hassle with or don't have time to check every size tag and style hanger by hanger.

The other disadvantage to bring up is that these stores are often "hit or miss" with successful finds.  I can go to a thrift store five times, and I'll only leave with clothing one out of the five trips.  The stock in these stores just depends on the amount and timing of donations from the public.  If you can find out the days they receive a new truck of goods, you may be able to time your trips appropriately for a better chance to find brand names and current styles you like.

~~~~~~~~~~          ~~~~~~~~~~

The disadvantages of thrift stores are definitely notable, but if you are consistent and take the time to sift through racks piece by piece, it's worth the adventure.  I often find the act of searching for the bargains just as much fun as buying name brand clothes for a fraction of their retail price.  You have to be willing to search through overflowing racks of old, shapeless clothing in order to find the gems hidden within.

But when you do find those gems, and you will, it's totally worth the time and money spent.

Much Love,

Part II: Consignment Shops will appear tomorrow.  Come back soon!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Professional Ensembles

It's never easy putting a professional look together, let alone at 6:00am before you've had your cup of Joe.  And yet those of us that work the desk life do it day-in and day-out.

Courtesy of Lane Bryant

Don't get me wrong, I set out with fashionable intentions. I envision belted dresses, high heels that click down tile halls with authority and precise, perfect makeup that says "I popped out of bed with ease this morning!"  The truth is though, I often find myself opting for the easiest ensemble to put together because I'm short on time.  A black suit/print blouse combo like the one pictured here tends to be my go-to look for workdays; it's simple construction makes it effortless even in the dreariest of mornings.

I love the confidence I feel in a smart black suit and heels, so I am fine with this daily outfit, but I like to add an interesting piece to it each day to give it my own personal flare. I think it's important to express yourself, and one of the ways to do that is through accessories. It can keep you from getting into an everyday rut of same-stuff-different-day.


Today, my flare started with a pair of black, zip ankle boots with gold grommet and mini spike design. I found these at Lane Bryant on clearance for $19.99. I have to say, I absolutely love these booties! They are comfortable and can easily be worn all day without any discomfort whatsoever. What drew me to them was the gold design. It's different without being in your face, which makes them perfect for professional wear. They are a nice change from the plain flats I often choose to wear instead.                                                                                            
I also added a couple statement pieces of Lia Sophia jewelry to the outfit - a cuff bracelet and necklace. A few years back, I hosted a Lia Sophia party and was able to get quite a bit of credit towards their jewelry because of the amount we were able to sell at the party. (Otherwise, I honestly probably wouldn't own any of their jewelry because I feel their retail prices are way too high.)

The very first item I put on my wish list was this beautiful chainlink cuff. I had been to another Lia Sophia party as a guest, and this baby caught my eye the minute I walked in. The sales lady had displayed all sorts of the brand's jewelry on the dining room table, and in the midst of so many other items was this piece. It was so "me" in so many ways, and I knew I HAD to have it. It's chunky, black and metal. I simply couldn't pass it up.  So when I was able to get store credit through hosting a party, I was able to order this one for free (retail $85.00). When I first bought it, it was all black, but now that I've had it for a few years, it has started to tarnish. I actually really like the tarnished look on this one. I think it enhances the detail of the chain wonderfully. And I must admit, it makes me feel like Wonder Woman every time I put it on...Who doesn't want that?

The final piece I chose was the Lia Sophia necklace pictured below. I apologize, I can't remember how much it retailed for. I chose it because I felt the colors matched my blouse nicely. What I really like about this necklace is it's odd chain. The larger links in the chain give it interest, and the different colored beads make it easy to match with several different blouses.  This necklace is one of the few shorter necklaces I wear because it lays nice and flat on the chest. I have come across several shorter necklaces that pinch the skin and constantly flip the wrong way, and I find myself taking them off before the workday is over. I don't have either problem with this one. I really enjoy the styles Lia Sophia offers, and I still wear several of their pieces on a daily basis years after purchasing them.

It's through subtle details like these that an ordinary career suit can turn into a funky ensemble that makes you happy to wear all day everyday and that reflects your own sense of style. If you take the extra time in the morning to add these little details, I promise you'll love yourself for it.

Much Love,