Monday, January 31, 2011

Rate My Look- Old School Project Runway

While my favorite designer (far and away) during season four of Project Runway was Christian Siriano (duh), I still appreciated many of the designs that other contestants created throughout the course of the show. One of my favorite looks that season was Victorya Hong's 2-piece outfit created for Sarah Jessica Parker's then brand-new line Bitten. The prize for winning the challenge was seeing your design actually sold as part of SJP's line at Steve & Barry's stores around the country. Not bad, right? At the time this episode aired, I happened to work across the street from a Steve & Barry's and of course I couldn't help myself- I HAD to see if they had the winning look. In case you don't remember, here it is:

Remember this adorable outfit? The trapeze dress with attached neck bow and the "shrunken" vest in a fun plaid were so hip and youthful. I still really love the whole idea of the look. I've worn the dress plenty of times since purchasing it (for $19.98, by the way), but I had yet to style it just like Victorya did. I finally decided to do so when I was getting dressed for work one day last week. I paired it with my own racer-back vest that is normal, as opposed to "shrunken." Overall, I really loved the look and even though it is several years old (about 4, actually), I didn't feel outdated or off-trend at all. 

So many times before, when wearing this dress, I just automatically tied the neck piece into a regular bow. Only recently did I remember that Victorya had styled her model with the tie in an obi-style bow. I decided to see how that looked on me and -wonder of wonders- I loved it! Obviously, I layered my vest on top, and since it was so cold out that day (-10 degrees F), I wore thick leggings and warm boots. You can't see them, but I also wore thick woolen socks that I got for Christmas this past year. (Thanks, Micah!) 

So what do you think of my version of the look? Leave a comment and tell me what you think! 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sexy Sadie

I work with some pretty stylish women and one of the things I truly enjoy about going in to work every day is seeing what everyone will wear. Unfortunately, many of them are pretty camera shy, so getting them to let me snap a photo is not an easy task. Lucky for you, the other day I was able to convince Sadie to let me snap her picture. Her outfit was too cute and I absolutely HAD to put her on the blog!

How fabulous is she? The fitted skirt with the super fierce boots and the sweet ruffles on the shoulders of her cardigan, but in the striking striped pattern and topped off with lots of bracelets and a cool cocktail ring. This girl knows how to accessorize. And as if the outfit weren't enough, get a load of this nail polish: 

Do you see the flecks of gold glitter in there? But it's not your typical tween-Barbie-doll-glitter. It's funky with different sized flecks that actually look like flecks of gold leaf or something. Awesome. But I'd expect nothing less from Sadie.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Rate My Look- Wiggle Week Finale

Since Saturday is our day to wear all black, I was thrilled to find this fabulous Calvin Klein wiggle dress at TJ Maxx the other day. And it was a bargain at $20! I wore it to work the very first Saturday after I purchased it and it was a hit!

What I love about this dress is its versatility. It looks just as great with heels as it does with my low 1-inch wedges. It even works with flats! It's also great for work OR for a nice dinner out on the town. I'd even wear it on a date with some fun red pumps! With a minor variation in accessories, it can work in SO many ways. Since the silhouette is so flattering, I just have to focus on the extra details that make the outfit really special. What do you think of it? Love it? Hate it? Tell me in the comments! 

I'm sad to say this post is the last of the "Wiggle Week" installments, but I hope you enjoyed it while it lasted. I hope you didn't get sick of seeing the same silhouette every day, because I certainly didn't get sick of writing about it! 

If you could choose, what silhouette would you like to know more about? Leave a comment and let me know. I may not dedicate an entire week to it, but I'll certainly focus at least a post or two towards it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Wiggle Week: A Wiggle for All Occasions

If I haven't yet convinced you of the many virtues of the wiggle dress, let me make one last attempt. You see, I believe there is not only at least one wiggle dress for every woman, I believe there is a wiggle dress for just about any scenario. For example, you need to look polished and professional for work, whether it's to meet the company dress code, or to give a presentation to a large group of your peers. In that case, choose a neutral wiggle with a demure neckline:

We all know, all work and no play makes Jane a dull girl. So, she needs a wiggle for the fun and formal events in her life: a fabulous dinner party or New Year's Eve event, a night at the opera or a night in a swank restaurant. Choose a satin or silk wiggle with a slightly more plunging neckline. Skin, ladies- show a little skin!

Of course, there are all sorts of events that fall into neither of those categories. Perhaps it's a casual afternoon wedding or a baby shower. Maybe you need to find an outfit for church on Easter Sunday. Or maybe you'd just like a little something special to your wiggle. In that case, wear one with a print that suits your personality:

I hope you're convinced that there's a wiggle out there for you for just about any situation. If you can think of a situation where you might want to wear a wiggle, but you're having trouble finding the right one, let me know  in the comments and I'll do my best to help you out!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Rate My Look- Wiggle Week Style

As promised, here is my fabulous wiggle dress, that I purchased from Second Time Around, a great consignment shop on Newbury Street in Boston:

The dress was marked down 30%, but since it was missing the belt, I talked them down to an additional discount and scored it for only $12! (They don't need to know that I already owned the perfect black patent skinny belt- ignorance is bliss, right?) I was shopping with my mom when I bought this dress and when I asked for the discount, I was afraid I was embarrassing her with my brazen miserly behavior. After all, I'd mortified her a month and a half prior when I haggled with the guy at the roadside Christmas tree stand. But as we walked out of the store, she said that this time wasn't as embarrassing. I suppose I'm just that kind of person who always asks for a little extra off the bottom line. In this situation, it worked to my advantage! 

So what do you think of my wiggle dress? Isn't the collar just darling? And the red is super fun, but not too over-the-top. I love it with my black patent peep toe heels, but it looks just as good with my black wedges, which are much more practical for work.

Since purchasing this one, I've totally fallen in love with the silhouette, and I actually found ANOTHER bargain wiggle dress the other day. You'll have to check back again in a couple of days to see it, though. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

One Wiggle, Four Ways

Let's suppose- hypothetically- that four different women all bought the same LBWD (Little Black Wiggle Dress). Each woman had a specific event or occasion in mind. Now, let's picture each woman using that LBWD  in the manner that most suits her personal style and lifestyle. Better yet, how about I actually show you those different outfits with one LBWD? I'm so glad you want to see that, because I've already done it and here they are:

Do you need to nail a job interview or an important pitch to the powers-that-be? Do you want to present yourself as the hard-working corporate maven that you are? What the "power tie" did for Donald Trump, the LBWD could do for you. Just pair it with appropriate accouterments like a polished blazer, demure heels and an amazing bag or briefcase. This look oozes "success" and "accomplishment" from every inch. A monochromatic approach keeps everything polished, but neutral, but the varying textures keep it visually interesting.

Not everyone wants or needs to dress for the corporate world, in such conservative ways. Some companies actually encourage you to express your personal style at work. For the woman who wants to demonstrate her rocker side, while still looking professional, a simple change of accessories is all that is required. The cage heels add a tough vibe to the look that takes the otherwise demure dress to a nearly dominatrix-esque level.

Whether you are acting as the hostess or guest, the LBWD will help you look effortlessly stunning for any dinner party this year.No matter if it's with an intimate group of friends, or a large festive gathering, a holiday party, or a high school reunion, this look will work every time. Nude heels are the magic element for creating a super long leg line and coordinated, but not matching jewelry makes a bold, but modern statement.

When it comes to a nice night out, there isn't much that the LBWD needs to turn up the volume on the sex appeal. An amazing pair of heels in a bright color, or better yet, animal print, adds a playful, flirtatious twist to the look. Simple jewelry and a bold, red lip are all you need to complete the look. Be sure to keep the look soft with a lace-trimmed shawl or light-weight pashmina in a contrasting, but still neutral color.

As you can see, the LBWD has withstood this test of versatility, in terms of both varying events and personal style/taste. It's more than just a retro look. I hope I've helped convince you of that, anyway!

Wiggle Week: Find Your Own Wiggle Dress

After a mere three days into "Wiggle Week 2011," I can tell you're all salivating over the idea of getting one for yourself. Fortunately, for you, I've done the legwork  and found plenty of fabulous ones already in a variety of colors and price points. And I do believe there's a wiggle dress here for everyone- I've covered the most vintage look all the way to a modern version of the silhouette.

50's Wiggle Pencil Dress, Starlets and Harlets, $64.95

Ripple of Excitement Dress, Mocloth, $134.99

Grand Tour Dress, Modcloth, $159.99

Candied Cranberries Dress, Modcloth, $147.99

Sleeveless Dress, Venus, $44

Avenger Sheath Dress, Saks Fifth Avenue, $345

Honestly, if there isn't a dress pictured above that appeals to you, then you just might not have a soul. Kidding... 

No, really... you might not. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wiggle Week: Wiggles on the Stars

You may not have realized that the wiggle dress isn't exactly one that goes out of style. More commonly referred to as a "sheath," the silhouette has never really gone away. It's a popular silhouette even today. Need proof? Check out these celebrities sporting various designers versions:

America Ferrera in Brian Reyes

Ashley Greene in Antonio Berardi

Heidi Klum in Victoria Beckham

Nicole Kidman in L'Wren Scott

Lo Bosworth in Karen Caldwell

Christina Hendricks in L'Wren Scott

What I really love about nearly all of the wiggles pictured above is that they are not only curve-hugging sheaths, but they are also done in "notice me" colors. Aside from Heidi's black and Ashley's white, the rest are bold gem tones that are meant to stand out. And that's not to say that Heidi and Ashley are wallflowers- quite the contrary when you see the details of each dress. As racy as Ashley's may be, I kind of love it. It's a bold choice, no doubt, but she really pulls it off. 

Are you starting to be convinced of the virtues of the wiggle dress in our modern society? I hope so! Check back tomorrow for more fun Wiggle Week posts! 

Wiggle Week: Shoesday Tuesday

To keep with our "Wiggle Dress" theme this week, I'm dedicating this Shoesday Tuesday post to shoes that BELONG with wiggle dresses. One way or another, they need to find each other. Maybe this blog post will be the beginning of some beautiful relationships.

Since a wiggle dress is all about creating a beautiful silhouette, there is no better choice than a nude shoe to help maintain a long leg line. A platform helps keep the heel height manageable while the round toe maintains a vintage vibe:

Although the neckline and hemline are often quite demure on a wiggle dress, that doesn't mean you have to down-play the sex kitten within. Jazz up a simple wiggle dress with a wild animal-print shoe with a narrow heel. The peep toe keeps it young and light, but the print is sophisticated and sexy. The best part? You'll have everyone purring their praises: 
Escher Pump, Endless, $79

Need an "office-appropriate" wiggle dress look? Try these fabulous suede pointy-toed numbers in the lushest chocolate brown. The heel height is sensible, but still flattering, perfect for the corporate world: 

Booboo Pump, Endless, $56

Not every woman wants to play up her demure side. In that case, take the wiggle dress to the next level with a strappy set of heels in leather like these cage heels: 

Got a basic black wiggle, but want to jazz it up a little bit? Try a pop of bright color at your feet. These hot pinkies are just the thing: 

Don't these shoes make you drool? When I picture them with a wiggle dress, I swoon. Literally. 

Check back later in the week to find out what shoes I pair with my bargain wiggle dress. And since you know what day it is- Shoesday Tuesday- don't forget to tweet! You know the hashtag by now, but just in case you need a reminder: 


Monday, January 24, 2011

Wiggle Week Tribute: Joan Holloway

I've mentioned my obsession with Mad Men several times here on the blog, but I want to mention it again this week, simply because Joan Holloway's costuming is so relevant to wiggle week. I would venture to say that Christina Hendricks and Janie Bryant (Mad Men's costume designer) have been the driving force behind bringing this amazing dress back to the forefront of fashion trends. We've all heard about Christina Hendricks and her "curvy" body- how difficult it is to dress her for awards shows, how happy people are to see a "real" woman in hollywood, etc. But the truth of the matter is that her body is the ideal shape for pulling off a silhouette like the wiggle dress. Need proof? Look no further:

The wiggle dress celebrates a woman's curves, so what better body type to show it off than a curvaceous bombshell like Christina Hendricks? With the number of designers out there creating clothing that is most suited to a size 0 or 2, it's nice to know there is a style of dress that actually looks better on a curvy woman than it does on a model. Check back later this week to find out where to buy a great wiggle dress for yourself. And I'll also be showing off MY new wiggle dress that I managed to snag second hand for a mere $12! 

Sunday, January 23, 2011


I have decided to dedicate this entire week to the fabulous article of clothing known as the "Wiggle Dress." I've been becoming more and more enamored of this style of dress ever since I started watching Mad Men last year. I know what you're thinking: a whole week dedicated to ONE style of dress? You can't imagine how I could possibly spend an entire week talking about only one thing, right? Well, I'm going to do my best to stay on topic all week long- even on Shoesday Tuesday.

For starters, I want to talk about exactly what IS a wiggle dress? If you search online- Etsy, Ebay, etc.- you'll find quite a large range of dresses that are termed "wiggle" dresses, but the truth of the matter is that a LOT of them are mis-labeled. A TRUE wiggle dress has certain distinct features. In order to be a wiggle dress, the hemline must not only be down to the knees or slightly below, but it also must be narrower at the knee than at the hip. This forces the woman wearing it to keep her legs close together, thus causing her to "wiggle" when she walks. For this reason, a wiggle dress should not have many pleats or a lot of fullness around the hips, either. The whole idea is for the dress to literally hug the curves of a woman's body.

Many wiggle dresses are actually quite demure in other ways. When the silhouette first debuted in the 1950's, the necklines were frequently high and the hemline never went much higher than the knee. The transition from full silhouettes like poodle skirts to a more fitted sheath like the wiggle dress isn't entirely clear, but the fact remains that both silhouettes were popular for nearly a decade until the straighter shift dresses and mini skirts of the late 1960's took over.

A good way to experience the history of a silhouette is to look at the sewing patterns of the time. Here are a couple of examples from the 1950's and 60's:

You can clearly see how the second pattern is actually a nearly identical bodice for each dress, but the skirts are completely different, evidence of the simultaneous popularity of both silhouettes. 

Check back each day this week for more on the iconic wiggle dress- from vintage examples on various notable women to how to wear one today and still look modern to the unveiling of my recent wiggle dress purchase on Newbury Street. In the meantime, if you know of any great wiggle dress sites, or you simply have something to say about this great dress style, please leave a comment!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Inspiration from the Past

Now that I've been maintaining this blog for about 2 1/2 years (I can hardly believe that), it's fun to occasionally look back at what I was thinking about, or obsessing over, or wearing at this time a year ago. I clicked back to January 22nd of last year and smiled when I saw which post it was. Take a second to hop on back to it by clicking here.

The dress still makes me swoon. I guess I really do love it if exactly one year later, I'm still experiencing the same feeling when I see it. Do you have anything that makes you feel that way, something so gorgeous or amazing that no matter how many times you see it, or how much time passes between viewings, you still fall in love every time? It doesn't happen very often, but when it does, you know you've found something special.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everyone. I'll be working most of the weekend, but I'm looking forward to it. Weekends at the shop are the most fun!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Beauty Product Review: Mascara

I've been experimenting with lots of different mascaras lately and I thought I would share some of my findings with you. First of all, you should know I am NOT a licensed cosmetologist or even a make-up aficionado of any kind. I have simply experimented with different types and brands of mascaras and I'm simply going to tell you what I've experienced and learned in the process.

For starters, I want to say that from the most expensive to the least expensive, from the vibrating brushes to the simplest applicators, one thing remains the same: mascara is mascara. Will you ever have lashes like the models in the mascara commercials? You will if you wear false eye lashes. Or if your lashes are naturally long and full. Otherwise, mascara will help to lengthen and thicken your lashes, but without using falsies, you will never achieve the look you see on the TV commercials.

That being said, there are actually quite a few mascaras that seem to do what they say and surprisingly, they are the less expensive brands. Maybelline is one of the most consistent mascaras I've used in terms of delivering on the promises made on the packaging. I recently tried the following mascaras:

After trying Bare Escentuals Buxom lip plumper, I was very impressed. I decided to try their mascara in the hopes that it was equally impressive as a plumping/volumizing product. Unfortunately, this mascara is just your run-of-the-mill mascara without any major lengthening or thickening effects. It does, however go on smoothly and doesn't tend to clump. 

I was drawn to L'Oreal's mascara for much the same reason I was drawn to Buxom- I had experienced success with other products of the same brand. I like L'Oreal's True Match make-ups as well as many of their eye shadows. I'd heard good things about collagen mascaras and that's what made me give this one a try. Once again, I was disappointed. This mascara lengthens and thickens marginally, so the effect was not nearly as dramatic as I would have liked. 

This pricey mascara claimed to last 15-hours without flaking or smudging. Lies. Don't waste your money! Also, its lengthening is marginal at best. I was recently told never to buy expensive mascara because the one that is always ranked #1 is Maybelline's Great Lash. That's right- the $5 stuff performs the best year after year. That's what made me try Maybelline. Well, that and the fact that one of my coworker's lashes always look spectacular and I finally asked her what she uses. Her answer: Maybelline Colossal Volume Express. 

Another collagen-based concept, this mascara supposedly lengthens and thickens dramatically. For once, a mascara delivered on its promise. My lashes are noticeably longer and thicker when I use this brand. The product glides on easily. You don't have to wait for on coat to dry to add another, in fact, the packaging states you shouldn't let it dry. So just apply until the lashes are as long and thick as you like and you're done. The day I bought the Colossal, I was also intrigued by the Lash Stiletto, also my Maybelline. I decided to try it out, too. 

Not the original Lash Stiletto, what intrigued me about this version was its claim to also add volume. I bought both and did a side-by-side comparison that night on my lashes. Both the Colossal and the Stiletto had excellent lengthening and thickening effects. Only after trying each one out for a full day was I able to determine that I prefer the Lash Stiletto, but only marginally. I ended up preferring the Stiletto because it came in a nice "Brownish Black" color that's just ever so slighty lighter than black. On my fair skin and blonde lashes, I don't always like a harsh, black lash. 

None of the mascaras above were used with any type of primer, but I wanted to see if it made a difference. I decided to stick with Maybelline since they really seem to know how to make mascara. 

This type of mascara is a two-step process. First, apply the primer (which is white, strangely enough). This coats your lashes and makes them longer and thicker. After it dries, you apply the second coat which is the color. While it does produce dramatic lashes, I found it made them feel stiff. It held up well throughout a long day, but in the end I prefer a softer feel. Primer is best for someone looking for both length and volume. If you already have thick lashes, and all you want is a bit more length, a primer might be too much for you. But if your lashes are thin and you want it all, you might want to consider something like the XXL Pro Volume. 

So there you have it: my experiences with a LOT of mascara. I really believe Maybelline is the brand that actually delivers on their claims. And with prices under $10, it's worth experimenting to find the perfect one for you. Good luck and let me know if you have anything to say about these or any other mascaras-just leave a comment! 

Accessories Anonymous: A Steve Madden Bag was Stalking Me Today...

It was your typical afternoon at TJ Maxx- some bargains to be found, some interesting patrons roaming the aisles. I haven't felt the need to purchase much lately- I genuinely can't think of anything I need. There's plenty that I want, of course, but need? Not so much. Regardless, I still like to pop in to some of my favorite bargain stores just in case there's something super cheap that I simply cannot pass up. On this particular day, I didn't find anything that matched that description, but I did managed to get stalked for a little while. By a HANDBAG, no less. I snapped his photo in case I need to file a police report:

It was only $34.99 and it was definitely one of the nicer "vegan" bags Steve Madden has put out. The "leather" was soft and supple, not too stiff. And it was HUGE. I have a tendency to fall in love with enormous bags because of how they look, but as soon as I purchase one, I tend to fall out of love a bit. Aesthetically, I adore them. Functionally, they let me down every time. (Well, that's not fair. They don't let me down when I need to smuggle a bag of popcorn, 2 packages of Reese's pieces and a couple of bottled drinks into the movie theatre, but other than that...) I really hate that "bottomless pit" syndrome that so many large bags tend to have. And as gorgeous as this Steve Madden bag is, with it's contrast stitching and it's twisted front detail, as soon as I opened it, I knew it would be that bottomless bag that I find so difficult to deal with. I put it back and walked away from it. I thought it was out of my life until I turned the corner and there it was again- this time in a buttery brown: 

I picked it up AGAIN! I was so drawn to it, I couldn't really help myself! But after a moment, I regained my senses and once again convinced myself it would be the bottomless bag that drives me bonkers. I walked away for the second time. This time, I really thought it was out of my life, but as I meandered down another aisle of bags, there it was again! This time, in a nearly irresistible pewter: 

Hello, gorgeous. 

At this point, I was starting to feel a little bit paranoid, so I rushed out of the bag section and over to the cashmere, but the whole experience had me pretty freaked out. Wouldn't you be freaked out if a bag was stalking you like that? Stop judging me. It's not like I bought it. But I kind of want to. In all three colors. I said to stop judging me!  
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