Tuesday, December 25, 2012

MERRY CHRISTMAS- It's my 1,000th Post!!!

I've mentioned in the last week or so that I was about to hit 1,000 posts here on Style... the New Black and today's the day! I tweeted back in November that I was going to set a goal for myself and the blog. My goal was to hit 1,000 posts and to have 125 followers by the end of 2012. While I am hitting my posting goal, I unfortunately only have three more followers than I did when I announced that endeavor. Despite that, I am still viewing this accomplishment in a positive light. After all, I never set out to do it for the followers, I set out to write this blog for my own creative outlet as well as to put some ideas out there that women (and men, actually) should be stylish and confident in their attire 100% of the time. If I have done anything at all to help even one person, then I am a success.

From the beginning of this blog nearly three and a half years ago, I always intended to be as prolific as possible. My goal was to post as close to once per day (including weekends) as possible. Aside from the break I took for about a year, I was successful in that endeavor as well. In terms of the content and frequency of posts, I feel great. The hardest thing about writing this blog has been feedback. One or two comments at most, typically from friends and family are of course encouraging and I love the support. But it can be hard to constantly put my ideas and words out there only to have the internet equivalent of crickets chirping as my response.

So, of my current 102 "followers" and everyone else who reads but doesn't necessarily subscribe, now is the time for you to speak up. Now is the time to tell me what you love, what you hate, what you want to see more of, what you want to see less of, just what you want to see in general!

Maybe you don't know what you do or don't want to see. Well, then how about a little feedback on what I've done. There's certainly enough on here for you to have an opinion about it. No news is usually good news, I know, but after almost four years doing this, I am starting to think that little to no comments means that you are all apathetic at best when it comes to this blog.

I'm not trying to be a downer at all- just genuinely trying to understand what my readers think! Since I've hit my posting goal, I'm going to take a well-deserved break from now until the new year. I don't know how frequently I'll be posting in the future, but I hope to keep it up to at least a few posts per week.

In the meantime, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! I hope it's a stylish one!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Rate My Look: It's Festive!

I mentioned a few days ago that I found an amazing cashmere sweater and an adorable beret at a consignment shop over the weekend. Well, I immediately put them together to make a chic and festive ensemble: 

Sweater and Beret from the Wear House in Portsmouth

Admittedly not the most flattering photo I've ever taken, but it'll do. The sweater has a fabulous detail of buttons at one shoulder and on the cuffs. And of course the cashmere doesn't hurt. The color is amazing, too- perfect for the holidays! And what goes better with a fitted sweater and skinny pants than a beret? Am I right? It's a basic beret, but it's at least the kind with a little structure to it so that it looks really nice and not just floppy. 

When it comes to berets, I'm fairly certain I was born to wear them. I'm often surprised that I don't wear them all the time. I have quite a few of them and they really do work well with my face. Something about them just works on me. I can't explain it, they just do. 

As for the shop where I found these amazing pieces, I would recommend you give them a visit if you're nearby. They clearly put effort into making sure they only accept quality pieces for consignment. Everything in the store is in great shape and is very clean. You certainly don't feel like you're buying clothes second hand. I've never consigned with them, but I'm thinking I might make an appointment! 

Finally, you may have noticed that this photo was taken at work in the same spot where I like to take all my blog photos, but that there is something a little different. Do you know what it is? It's the curtains! We got new curtains and a valance for the fitting rooms at the front of the store and I love them! I think they are so classy and well made. They work perfectly with our decor. Liz, the owner, thought they might be a little too monochromatic with all the other beige around them, but I'm of the opinion that in a bridal shop like hers, the dresses should be what catches the eye, not the decor. What do you think? Leave a comment, of course! 

You can also comment on my adorable outfit, although you can't experience the amazing luxury that is cashmere against your skin through this blog post. How unfortunate for you. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Because a Post About Fruitcake DOESN'T Count...

I felt like a post about fruitcake was a bit of a cop-out, because this isn't a cooking blog. I decided I needed to give you some sort of fashionable post, but I have to admit, I'm a little low on inspiration at the moment. I spent the other day writing over 20 blog posts (literally) for the Madeleine's Daughter blog and it sapped my creativity a bit. Also, I haven't had any blog-worthy outfits to photograph and post lately, so I feel a little like I'm letting you down.

In an effort to post something even vaguely fashionable, I'm going to post some links back to my 2010 "Renee's Guide to the Holidays." It was a fun series to write and even though we're past most of the relevant ones, they still could be fun for you to read. Enjoy and as always, thank you for reading!

Renee's Guide to the Holidays: 

I hope you enjoy this little reading list. If you're new to Style... the New Black, and this post wasn't nearly satisfying enough, then browse the archives. Believe it or not, there are nearly 1,000 posts up at this point. No joke. I'm prolific.

Check back tomorrow- I hope to have found my inspiration by then!

Fruitcake: Not an Outfit Post AT ALL

Today is December 23rd, which might not seem like that big a deal, until you find out that it is also the Professor's BIRTHDAY! I'm currently in NC visiting- and today is when I get to find out if the ONE thing he asked for turned out ok. You see, when I asked the Prof what kind of cake he would like for his birthday, he hesitantly explained that his favorite kind of cake was a little odd and difficult to make and that I was under no obligation whatsoever to try to make it. My response? "Challenge accepted." I didn't say that out loud. I let him think I was too intimidated by this cake to try it. That way, I could do some research, master the technique and then wow him on his birthday by presenting him with exactly the thing he thought was impossible to have. (Girlfriend of the Year, am I right?) What kind of cake did he request? Well, you probably figured it out by the title of this post: fruitcake. Yup. My dude likes weird British food.

In the weeks after that initial conversation, he told me about how a TRUE fruitcake is steamed, not baked, I was intrigued, and I'll admit, a little perplexed. Intimidated? Yes, but only due to the lack of information online. Isn't EVERYTHING online these days? Why can't I find a simple steamed fruitcake recipe if everything on the planet is online? (The truth is that there's more junk online than anything else, so it's actually getting more and more difficult to weed through all the junk to find what you're actually looking for. That's my opinion, anyway.) Most recipes I found that involved boiling or steaming the cake weren't what the Professor had described. He said it was made using a type of Bundt pan. He said you cooked it on the stove, not in the oven. He said it was delicious. His MOM used to make it for him. (No pressure there.) A visit to the kitchen supply store didn't help much as the employees mostly looked at me cross-eyed when I asked for a special type of covered Bundt pan for making fruitcake.

Anyway, after all the research, I was left with no choice but to go rogue. I started with the Bundt pan I'd found at the kitchen store. It was a little guy- about six inches tall and about five inches wide. The key to this pan, though, is that it came with a lid. No joke:

I still couldn't figure out, based on my research if this was to go in the oven with a dish of steaming water, or if it was dropped into a large saucepan on the stovetop. I had NO CLUE. I abandoned my search to find out about how the equipment was to be used and started researching recipes. I found BILLIONS!!! And here's the thing: every recipe was vastly different from the one before it. Major variations in the ingredients in terms of type, proportion and overall amount. One recipe was clearly designed to feed fruitcake to the masses, because it called for multiple POUNDS of dried fruit. Seriously.

In addition to there being some serious variation, any recipe I found that made mention of "steaming" tended to be in grams, which I of course found irritating. I know that "true bakers" weigh everything rather than measure it, but I don't have a digital scale at home, and I was already 20 bucks in with the special Bundt pan. Purchasing a digital scale for ONE recipe seemed a little over-the-top.

Finally, the most frustrating thing was that every single recipe that referenced the method of "steaming" the cake, didn't explain at all what that meant, exactly. I'd read a few recipes where a crock pot was employed; others where there was a tray of water placed in the bottom of the oven, and then there was the Professor's reference to cooking it on the stovetop. AARRRGGGHHHH!!!! What to do?!?!?!

As I mentioned, I eventually decided to just go rogue. I threw caution to the wind and just went for it. I started with a recipe I found online, but I made a few adjustments to it. First, I doubled ALL of the ingredients. I just couldn't understand how only half a cup of flour was going to make a cake- even if it WAS going to be made in my tiny (but very special) Bundt pan. It made no sense to me. So.... DOUBLE EVERYTHING! Also, rather than scour the market for all the special dried fruits called for, I just bought those bags of mixed dried berries. Additionally, I had a package of dried apricots, but then I read online that apricots tend to overwhelm all the other fruitcake fruits, and this particular fruitcake aficionado recommended using them sparingly, if at all. I opted to leave them out.

I decided to try the stovetop method since the Professor was so adamant that the stovetop steaming method was the "true" fruitcake cooking method. I found a pot large enough for my Bundt pan and filled it with water. While waiting for the water to boil, I mixed the batter. Here's the recipe I used:

5-oz. bag of mixed dried berries (cherries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, raisins, etc.)
1/2 cup dark rum
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
4 T. milk
1/2 cup walnuts

(All the measurements above are mine, not the original recipe.)

The day before I planned to bake the cake, I soaked the berries in the rum and left them at room temperature for about 24 hours. Some recipes recommend soaking for 72 hours. Whatevs. I got my berries good and drunk in 24.

To make the batter, I just creamed the butter and sugar together, then added the eggs, one at a time. Meanwhile I sifted/whisked the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. I added the dry mix to the butter/sugar/eggs mixture in three batches, alternating with the molasses and the milk. Finally, I stirred in the soaked fruit (reserving the liquid) and the nuts.

Next, I greased and floured my Bundt pan. A lot of recipes (including the one I was using) recommended lining the pan with parchment paper. I noticed that those recipes also used loaf pans, but with my special Bundt pan, I knew that would be a nightmare. I chose to use the ghetto baking spray that is both butter and flour. I filled the pan with batter, closed the lid tightly and lowered it into the boiling water. I put the lid on the saucepan and sat patiently for two hours while the cake "steamed."

Here's where I want to explain things as clearly as possible. You see, no one online wanted to tell me how to steam the stinkin' fruit cake. If it was a recipe that called for steaming, they all simply said things like, "Steam for 2 hours." NO information beyond that! I had so many questions!

1.) Am I using the right kind of pot?
2.) Do I leave the lid on the pot?
3.) Do I need the Bundt pan to be submerged in the boiling water, or will a small amount at the bottom do?
4.) How long do I leave the cake in there? (Some recipes said 2 hours, others said 4. Kind of a big discrepancy.)

These are important questions, right? So, I will answer them for you based on my experimental steaming method:

1.) Since my Bundt pan was so small, I was able to use a large pot, kind of like the type you'd use to cook a whole bunch of spaghetti, or maybe make soup with.
2.) I left the lid on for the entire cooking time, taking it off only to add more water.
3.) I filled the pot up about half-way with water and when it got down to about 1/3 full I would add a few cups of hot water. This happened about every 30-40 minutes.
4.) I cooked it for two hours exactly, then pulled it out to check on it. A toothpick inserted into the cake came out clean, so I called it done.
5.) In my experience, no.

And the result of my rogue fruitcake baking? Well, it was this lovely gem:

I decided NOT to "feed" the fruitcake with rum or brandy, as nearly every recipe recommends. This is for a couple of reasons. Frist of all, the minimum time you need after sprinkling the liquor onto the cake and consumption is a week to 10 days. I didn't want to risk the alcohol not being mellowed enough by the time we ate the cake. Also, with all the rum in the berries, I think the flavor is probably strong enough.

Today, I will find out how it tastes, but I have to tell you that when I pulled the top off the Bundt pan, the smell was absolutely divine. It smelled sweet and buttery, and not at all like the batter I'd poured in there two hours prior. The batter looked pretty gross, and smelled even worse. I think it's the molasses that make it stink like that. It was also a little lumpy-looking. It never had the perfectly smooth consistency I'm used to in cake batters. But I suppose all of that is irrelevant, since the resulting cake looked and smelled perfect!

So there you have it: adventures in fruitcake baking. Has anyone else attempted this type of cake, specifically the kind steamed on the stove top? Is it really that much more moist than a cake baked in the oven? Leave a comment, please!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Pumpkin Mustard Re-cap

It's amazing how the colors mustard yellow and pumpkin orange have infiltrated the land this season. I've written quite a few posts about it in the last few weeks, so I decided to do a recap of the outfits. Check 'em out:

These colors aren't always easy to wear. Kristin, Ashley and I all have dark hair and warm skin tones that work well with the two colors. If you love these colors, try to find a shade that works really well with your skin tone. Either color on the wrong skin can be pretty wretched. You don't want to look wretched, do you? 

To help you incorporate these colors into your wardrobe, I've created two inspiration boards on Polyvore and I've also kept the price of each item on the boards under $50. After all, if it's a trend, you shouldn't spend a lot on it. Also, if it's something new that you're trying, you shouldn't spend a lot, either. Wait until you know you're comfortable in this brave, new color before investing a lot of money. 


Pumpkin by rtboo featuring amrita singh


What's so tricky about these colors aside from skin tone issues? Well, they're not always easy to incorporate into an outfit. Pretty much everyone has basic pieces in black and often black is the best go-to neutral when putting an outfit together. However, with these colors, you can end up looking a little too bumble bee (in the mustard) or a little too Halloween (in the pumpkin). Try pairing them with other neutrals like brown, grey, cream and navy. Keep the tones rich and you can't go wrong. These are warm, luxurious colors and they need strong neutrals to carry them. Don't go for a pale grey that would work with a more citrus-y orange or yellow. Instead choose a rich charcoal grey. Rather than pair your mustard pencil skirt with a crisp, white blouse, choose a creamy winter white instead. 

Love these colors right now? Wearing them in your own day-to-day outfits? Send me a photo! I'd love to put you on the blog! 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Beth's Amazing Handbag Find!

Over the weekend, I got together with Beth to do a little shopping and some catching up. We love our consignment shopping and you probably even remember how I snagged that amazing Kate Spade handbag during one of our sprees at Second Time Around in Boston. This time we were in Portsmouth, but there was yet another fabulous Kate Spade to be had.

She's so happy!

The whole thing went down in a very similar way to my Kate Spade purchase. There was a lot of deliberation and holding the bag while looking in the mirror, etc. At one point I asked, "Do you want me to talk you into it, or talk you out of it?" In the end, she scored that bad boy for $103 and since we were in NH, it was tax free! Basically half the price I paid for mine! In the world of bargain hunting, I'd say that's pretty darn fabulous. 

Have you ever scored an amazing find at a consignment shop? It seems like Beth and I are destined to be handbag enablers where consignment is concerned. It's just such a good deal, it's hard to pass up. 

I managed to score an amazing cashmere sweater as well as an adorable beret. I wore both to work immediately and the entire ensemble was a hit. I'll be sure to share it in a day or two, so check back soon!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Black and White Delight

I'm hanging out in the Charlotte airport right now, just waiting for the Professor to arrive with the kiddos so we can begin a fabulous (almost) week together for the holidays AND his birthday! He had to work today, then pick up the kids, then hit the road to Charlotte which is about 2 hours from where he lives. I knew I would be landing much sooner than he could possibly arrive to pick me up, so I planned to get myself a Pinkberry and a comfy place to sit while I waited. And that's exactly what happened. I gobbled up my Pinkberry far too quickly for me to photograph its amazing deliciousness for you, so you'll just have to imagine how the original (tart vanilla) flavor tasted with my additions of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, slivered almonds and white chocolate crunchies tasted. Let's just say my current biggest regret in life was ordering a small.

Have any of you ever been to the Charlotte, NC airport? It's kind of an awesome place and I am actually enjoying hanging out here for a little while. I imagine it will be another hour before the Prof arrives to collect me. In the meantime, I have my laptop along with free wi-fi courtesy of CLT and I figured what better way to pass the time than with a little blogging and people-watching? Am I right? Of course I am! And even if that gets tiresome, there are about 40 different stores I could browse while I wait. Seriously, this airport is more like a mall than anything else. And I'm not talking about the Hudson News or those silly kiosks full of local paraphernalia. Although they do have those, they also have a a Body Shop, a Brooks Brothers, an electronics store (or two), and my personal favorite: the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Heaven help my credit card.

Given all I've spent on the holidays, I think it's best for me to stay right in this little white rocking chair (no joke) and focus on writing for my blog. I'd rather spend my money on the kids anyway.

After seeing the bright, colorful Charlotte airport, I felt inspired to write a post all about- you guessed it- black and white. I know that makes no sense. I can't explain my inspiration all the time- these ideas just come to me, you know.

It may not seem very festive for this time of year, but I'm really enamored of the stark black and white combination. It's everywhere you look, most often combined with a pop of color, but really, it's a very cool, funky way to add visual interest to your outfit. Whether it's polka dots, floral prints, or nautical stripes, they all work in a stark black and white combination. You can wear the look head-to-toe or just incorporate an accessory or two. I put together a Polyvore set to inspire you:

Black and White Delight

And as if all of those lovely gems aren't enough to inspire you, I did a little online shopping to help you out, too. What better place for black and white duds than White House Black Market, right?

This dress is so awesome, I'm literally drooling right now. 

These pants are so awesome! Especially when paired with: 

So there you have it: a black and white inspired post despite all the color around me. What can I say? I'm not easily distracted. 

Leave a comment to tell me you love me, you love my blog, you love this post. I'm closing in on that elusive 1,000th post and I think I might hit it just in time for Christmas. Wouldn't that be merry? So in the spirit of the holidays, why not give me a little comment-love to tell m how impressed you are with my unbelievably prolific blog? You know I'll love it.   

Fashion Dictionary By Me

Beth recently sent me an email requesting a tutorial on fashion terms. This can be a tricky thing to do, because while there are some absolutes, often the definition of a fashion term is dependent on whom you are asking. Also, lots of garments, shoes, handbags, etc. fall in between certain categories, or a term we've long known to describe one aspect of a garment, suddenly describes something else. Designers and fashion trends sometimes require the invention of new terms that are used to describe a slight variation on a term we already know. However, despite these challenges, I'm going to do my best to put together some basic terms and their definitions to help you understand the often confusing fashion world. I'm going to attempt to cover silhouette, neckline, fabric, and the elements of garment construction, specifically geared towards women's clothing and accessories. Maybe if this post is popular (and not torturous for me to write), I'll do a menswear version.

A-line- A skirt or dress silhouette in which the waistline is narrow, extending to a fuller skirt in the shape of the letter "A."
Almond Toe- The tip of a close-toed shoe that is a rounded point, like the tip of an almond.
Ankle boot- A short boot that extends up to, but not beyond the ankle.
Ankle Wrap/Ankle Strap- A shoe whose closure includes a wrap around the ankle or a strap that fastens around the ankle.
Applique- A method of embellishing a garment by stitching pieces of one fabric onto another. The pieces are often referred to as "appliques," but the term can also be used to describe the technique. Appliques can be plain fabric, but they can also be embellished with beads/sequins, etc.
Baby Doll- A short dress made with an empire waist.
Baguette- A handbag that is small and narrow, like a loaf of French bread.
Ball Gown- A full skirted ball gown, often with crinoline to hold the shape of the skirt. A true ball gown will have pleats or gathering at the waist which helps to give it the extremely full shape.
Bandeau- A strapless, straight band across the bust.
Barrel Bag- A bag with a horizontal cylindrical shape.
Basque Waist- A waistline that dips into a "V" shape in the center.
Bateau or Boat Neck- A high neckline that runs almost straight across in front, back or both from shoulder to shoulder.
Batwing or Dolman Sleeve- A sleeve with a wide opening at the shoulder that tapers in at the wrist. This type of sleeve often has an opening that runs from the shoulder to as low as the waist or bottom of the blouse.
Bellows Pocket- A pocket with extra folds of fabric along the sides and bottom, so that they can expand. Most commonly used on cargo pants and sporty clothing.
Bias- Fabric that is cut diagonally across the grain of the fabric.
Bishop Sleeve- A long sleeve that is fuller at the bottom and gathered together into a cuff at the wrist. There can be gathering at the shoulder creating a puffed sleeve, or it can be full only at the bottom. A similar style that has the gathering at the elbow instead of the wrist is referred to as a "Leg of Mutton Sleeve."
Boning- Stiff metal or plastic pieces that run vertically within a gown or corset, providing stiffness to the garment. Originally made with actual bone, hence the term.
Bootleg- Pants or jeans that have a slightly flared opening at the hem to accommodate a boot.
Box pleat (and inverted box pleat)- A double pleat where the two upper pleats face away from each other and the under pleats face towards each other. The opposite is an inverted box pleat.
Brocade- An intricately woven fabric typically made to create a raised pattern. It often appears to be embroidered, but is actually woven, typically on a loom.
Bubble hem/skirt- A hemline in which the top layer of fabric (usually a very full cut) is sewn to the less-full lining with the top layer being gathered together as it is sewn. The effect creates a "bubble" at the hemline.
Bucket Bag- A bag resembling the shape of a bucket, typically with a height that is greater than its width. Can have a round or square bottom.
Cape/Capelet- Sleeveless outerwear that fastens at the neck and extends down from the shoulders. Can be any length from above the elbow to the floor.
Cap Sleeve- A small sleeve that sits on the outer edge of the shoulder. It can also extend just beyond the shoulder, or fall a bit onto the arm.
Chambray- A woven fabric, similar to linen or cotton, but which uses a white weft combined with a colored warp. Blue is the most common color used in chambray, and the result is like a faded, light-weight denim.
Circle skirt- A skirt that is cut literally in the shape of a circle. It creates a very full silhouette, but without any gathering or pleats.
Clutch- A small handbag without a strap or handle, meant to be held under the arm or "clutched" in the hand. Best with evening wear.
Covered Heel- A heel that is covered in the same material as the upper portion of the shoe. Most high heels have a covered heel.
Cowboy Heel/Cuban Heel- A heel that falls straight down in the front, but angles in from front to back at the back of the heel.
Cowl neck-A neckline with fabric that falls very loosely from shoulder to shoulder. It can drape in the front, back or both.
Cross-Body Handbag- A bag whose strap extends over the shoulder and across the body, allowing your hands to be free. Can be as small as a clutch, or large like a messenger bag, and everything in between.
Cuff- A large, rigid bracelet, typically made with an interior closure or opening. Also refers to the folded edge of a sleeve or pant.
Damask- Similar to a brocade in that it is woven and often features intricate patterns and scenes, however, unlike brocade, the pattern is reversible.
Dart- A fold stitched into the fabric of a garment to give it shape. Often found near the bust and waistline.
D'Orsay- A style of shoe where one or both sides are cut away from the center portion of the shoe.
Dropped Waist- A silhouette in which the definition of the waistline falls slightly below the natural waist.
Dupioni- A silk fabric woven from two cocoons which creates a slightly shimmery, sometimes iridescent effect. Similar to silk shantung, with the main difference being silk shantung is made using a single thread or cocoon. Both fabrics are characterized by the "slubs" or the bumps in the fabric, left behind by the silkworms.
Embroidered/Embroidery- A decorative pattern or method of embellishing fabric using thread to create the design.
Empire Waist- A silhouette in which the skirt falls from above the natural waist, as high as directly under the bust.
Envelope Bag/Clutch- A flat handbag with a flap closure that resembles an envelope. Typically it is made without straps and is a type of clutch handbag.
Espadrille- A shoe where the sole is made of jute. They can be flats, wedges or platforms.
Fit and Flare- A silhouette in which the bodice is fitted and flares out into a fuller skirt. Trumpet and Mermaid silhouettes are examples of this.
Flap Pocket- A pocket in which there is a top flap over the opening of the pocket. The flap may sometimes have a button or snap.
Frog Closure- A braided button/loop closure often used as an ornamental style closure. It is most commonly used in Asian-style attire.
Godet- A triangular piece of fabric sewn into a garment to create a flared effect.
Grain- The direction of the weft of the fabric. Cutting "with the grain" refers to cutting in the vertical direction of the fabric (weft). Cutting "across the grain" refers to cutting horizontally across the fabric (warp).
Halter- A neckline style in which a single strap fastens behind the neck.
Handkerchief- A hemline that falls in multiple triangular points.
Haute Couture- Extremely expensive, hand-made, high quality garment. To qualify as "haute couture," a garment must be made following strict guidelines within a certified haute couture house.
Hidden Platform- A platform shoe where a portion of the platform is "hidden" within the shoe under the ball of the foot.
High-Low (or Hi-Lo)- A hemline that is high in the front and long in the back- this can refer to a skirt, dress or blouse.
Hobo Purse- A slouchy style of handbag, typically made with a wide shoulder strap.
Inset or Slit Pocket- A pocket that rests on the inside of the garment, with the opening created by a slit in the fabric. This style of pocket can be set into the front or back of the garment, but is most commonly placed in a side seam.
Jacquard- A woven fabric similar to brocade or damask, but made using a Jacquard attachment on the loom. Damask and brocade can be made using a Jacquard attachment on a loom.
Jersey- A soft fabric that is created by knitting the thread, rather than weaving. It can be made with cotton, wool, silk and synthetic threads. The result is a stretchy fabric with a smooth "right side" and a more textured back or "wrong side."
Keyhole- A back or neckline that comes together at the top creating an open round or tear-shaped cutout.
Kitten Heel- A low, narrow heel, usually less than 2 inches in height.
Knife Pleats- Pleats of equal size and length, all facing the same direction. Accordion pleats are an example of this type of pleat.
Lace- An open-work fabric made by hand or machine, often characterized by the floral pattern that results. There are many types of lace including Alencon, Chantilly, crochet, tatting, laser cut, macrame, Shetland, etc.
Lariat- A style of necklace without a clasp. Rather, the chain is either looped around itself to hold the necklace in place, or worn wrapped around the neck like a scarf.
Mary Janes- A shoe characterized by the horizontal strap across the instep. A Mary Jane can be a flat or a heel.
Mermaid or Fishtail- A silhouette characterized by the fitted bodice that extends to the knees before flaring out to the hem.
Minaudiere- A small handbag or clutch with a hard case, typically jewel-encrusted. Generally carried with formal attire.
Modified Sweetheart- A neckline in which there is a dip in the center, similar to a sweetheart neckline, but not as deep or pronounced.
Mule- A shoe with the sides and back completely cut away, leaving only the front portion around the foot.
Natural Waist- A silhouette that is cinched at the smallest part of the torso, usually a few inches above the belly-button.
Netting- An open-weave fabric- examples include tulle, English net, and bobbinet and are typically used in wedding veils and lingerie.
Off the Shoulder- A neckline in which the straps or sleeves fall around the upper portion of the arm.
Patch Pocket- A style of pocket in which a separate piece is sewn onto the top of the fabric. Common on shirts and jackets.
Peep/Open Toe- A shoe style in which the front is cut out to expose the toes.
Pencil Skirt or Dress- A fitted silhouette with absolutely no fullness from the waist to the hem. Also referred to as "column" or "straight."
Peplum- A short piece of gathered, pleated, or flared fabric attached at the waist of a dress, skirt, blouse or jacket. Can be symmetrical/asymmetrical, full or partial.
Pin tuck- Tiny pleats that are stitched in place.
Platform- A style of shoe with a raised or exaggerated sole- can be either flat or heeled.
Pleat- A pressed fold in a garment.
Pointed Toe- A shoe style in which the front forms a point at the toe.
Pret-a-porter- A French term for "Ready to wear."
Princess Seam/Princess Dress- A princess seam garment consists of vertical seams that begin at the neckline and extend down to the hem. A princess seam gown would not have a separate bodice/skirt or a horizontal seam at the waist.
Pumps- A shoe style in which the upper portion of the shoe is closed on the heel and the sides, leaving the top of the foot mostly exposed. Pumps can have an open or a closed toe.
Round Toe- A shoe style in which the front is rounded.
Ruching- A technique in which the fabric is gathered or folded and then stitched in place.
Sandal- A shoe style characterized by the open upper that consists of one or more straps that hold the shoe in place.
Satchel- A bag with a top closure, top handle(s) and a flat bottom. Can have triangular, square or rounded side profile.
Satin- A style of woven fabric in which one side of the fabric is shiny, while the other is matte. Nearly any type of textile- silk, cotton, wool and synthetics- can be used to make satin. It can be very stiff and heavy like Duchess satin or very fluid like silk charmeuse.
Scoop or Round neck- A neckline with a soft "U" or rounded shape. It can be high or low. A high scoop neck is often referred to as a "crew" neck in casual clothing or a "jewel" neck in formalwear.
Sheath- A silhouette with a slim fit and definition at the waist.
Shift- A silhouette with a straight shape and no specific definition. It often falls straight from the shoulders to the hem.
Shoulder Bag- Any bag that is carried by a strap that rests on the shoulder. Different from a cross-body bag because its strap does not extend enough to go across the body.
Slingback- A shoe style with a single strap across the back of the heel.
Spaghetti Strap- A very narrow strap on a dress or blouse.
Split Neck- A scoop neck with a "V" cut out of the center.
Square Neck- An open neckline that forms the shape of a square from the shoulders to the top of the bust.
Square Toe- A shoe style in which the toe is shaped like a square.
Stacked Heel- A heel that is made using layers of wood stacked on top of each other.
Stiletto Heel- An extremely narrow high heel.
Straight Leg- A silhouette of pants in which the fabric falls straight down to the floor from the hip.
Sweetheart- A neckline that forms the shape of the top of a heart at the bust.
Tapered Leg- A silhouette of pants in which the fabric narrows towards the ankle.
Tea Length- A skirt or dress whose hemline falls below the knee, around mid-calf.
Tip of the Shoulder- A neckline that extends from the outer edge of each shoulder. It can be a boat neck, v-neck, scoop neck, etc.
Tote- An open-top bag with a double handle and a large inner compartment.
T-strap- A style of shoe similar to a Mary Jane, but with the addition of a vertical strap that connects to the horizontal one, forming a "T" across the top of the foot.
Trumpet- A silhouette in which the skirt flares out from the hip to the hem, much like the bell of a trumpet.
V-neck- A back or neckline that forms the shape of a "V." It can be high or very plunging.
Wedge Heel- A style of shoe in which the heel is filled in under the foot, creating a triangular "wedge" under the arch of the foot.
Weft- The threads of fabric that run vertically.
Warp- The threads of fabric that run horizontally.
Wrap- A style of dress or shirt in which the fabric overlaps around the waist either in the front or the back.
Wristlet- A small clutch or bag with a tiny strap just large enough to slip onto your wrist.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Shoesday Tuesday- Must Haves

Do you sometimes find yourself looking through your closet FULL of shoes and thinking, "I don't have anything at all that works with this outfit!" Do you find yourself shoe shopping for every outfit, particularly when there is a special occasion to consider? Every woman needs a certain arsenal of shoes for various life situations. Work, dinner out, cocktail attire, etc. At a minimum, every woman needs no less than seven pair of shoes, but they are seven very specific shoes. These are her "must haves," the shoes that are the bread and butter of her day to day needs. Make sure you have these seven shoes and you'll never be unprepared for any occasion or find yourself suddenly having to shoe shop on your lunch break because you just don't have anything that works. After all, shoe shopping should be fun, not stressful.

Black pumps- Open or close toe, full pump or D'orsay, patent or matte leather, suede or even fabric. A pair of black pumps will work with just about anything from a pair of jeans to an LBD. Choose a classic pair in a textile that works for your lifestyle. If you don't attend a lot of formal events, forgo the satin and stick to leather.

Via Spiga Yara Pump, DSW, $129.95

Nude pumps- Just like the black pumps, your nude pumps will work with nearly anything. Not a fan of wearing black with brown or navy? Then that's when you break out the nude pumps. They're neutral and flattering 100% of the time.

BCBG Paris Jaze Pump, DSW, $59.95

Nude dressy heels- Wearing a sparkly cocktail dress to a party or a fun, floral dress to a wedding? The one and only pair of shoes that will work with every single cocktail or semi-formal dress you will ever own is a pair of dressy nude heels. What makes them dressier than your basic nude heels is up to you- it can be the fabric, the embellishment, the more open, strappy design- whatever says "formal" to you.  Choose a style that is classic, elegant and comfortable and you'll have them for years to come. You can spend many an evening dancing the night away in these.

Dressy flats- For wearing with a sun dress to a more casual wedding, or with a pair of capris while out shopping with your girlfriends. Dressy flats help dress up a more casual outfit, but they also tone down an LBD or other more formal dress. What makes them dressy is the fabrication and the embellishment. Whether a neutral color like black or a pop of color like red or fuchsia, dressy flats work with many different looks.

Casual flats- Running errands and going to backyard BBQ's shouldn't always involve a pair of sneakers. As a general rule, beyond the age of 13, sneakers are no longer a style choice. Always have a pair of casual flats in a neutral color like black, grey, brown or nude.

Sandals- These can double as your casual flats, but they can also be heels or wedges- whatever suits your lifestyle is what matters most.

Boots- Brown boots look great with everything, as do black boots. Grey is another great option. Find a pair with a heel height  and look that suits your lifestyle. Invest in a high quality pair and they'll last for years. Cowboy boots, biker boots, riding boots, flats, wedges, heels- these are the details you need to determine based on what works in your own wardrobe. Skip anything trendy and you'll be safe.

So there you have it- your seven must-have pair of shoes. With these shoes only, you would be prepared for literally any outfit opportunity that presents itself. Do I recommend having ONLY these seven shoes in your closet? Of course not! But if you're a recent college grad thinking about how you need to make your wardrobe more mature, or if you've decided to give yourself a What-Not-to-Wear-esque make-over, or if you just want to know what shoes are truly necessary in life, this is where you should begin. Once you've got these basics covered, then you can move on to other less basic and more fun shoes. But if you don't have these shoes in your closet RIGHT NOW, then stop buying the bright red heels and the platform paisley wedges. Rein it in, sister! 

Finally, you may have noticed that I used the same phrase repeatedly in this post, "suits your lifestyle." This key. I love high heels as much as the next person, and at AMT, I wore them all the time. They suited my lifestyle then. These days, with my job keeping me on my feet for ten hours or more, they just don't work any more. Remember those words when you are shoe shopping and you will avoid wasting your money on shoes you'll never wear. 

Didn't you just LOVE this Shoesday Tuesday post? I thought you might. Leave a comment below to tell me how much you loved it. Or better yet, tweet it to all your friends so that they can also experience the fabulousness that is Shoesday Tuesday. Thanks for reading and don't forget to come back soon!

Monday, December 17, 2012

ANOTHER Stylish Co-worker

Ashley started working at Madeleine's Daughter towards the end of summer/beginning of fall this year. We placed an ad for a new bridal consultant and she not only submitted her resume online, but she showed up at the store the morning after the ad was placed with her resume in hand, just wanting to hand deliver it to make sure we got it. When she walked in the door, I remember thinking, "I love that girl and her amazing curly hair." She was also wearing red ballet flats and cute navy dress (I think) and she had the biggest smile I've ever seen. I turned to Sadie after she left and said, "That's our new bridal consultant." Of course, Juhree actually did the hiring, and after interviewing Ashley, she decided she was definitely right for the job. Her warm, bubbly personality and cute sense of style are definite assets, but she's actually turned out to be great at the job, too. Sales isn't easy, and bridal sales is even harder at times, but she does it naturally. She's awesome. That's all I'm really trying to say.

The other day, she came in to work wearing the most fabulous pair of mustard yellow corduroy pants I've ever seen. She looked so adorable, that I decided that was the outfit that would get her on the blog. She didn't even really know about my blog, so I'm sure she was a little weirded out that I made her pose for a photo immediately after she walked in the door that day, but she'll get over it.

See what I mean about that smile? And the curly hair? Fun fact: Ashley (just like me) is a natural blonde! I've written a lot in the last few weeks about the mustard and pumpkin trend that has infiltrated New England this season. These pants are a prime example. I tried to buy them myself, but by the time I made it over to Ann Taylor Loft, they'd sold all the mustard ones in my size. They had some purple ones and turquoise, too, but I didn't want purple or turquoise pants. I wanted mustard. Anyway, sometimes it's just not meant to be. And since Ashley looks so good in these, I probably wouldn't want to compete anyway. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Rate My Look: More Pumpkin

That pumpkin color is still so hot, I just had to put together another outfit using it. I remembered this fun top that I bought at Target a couple of years ago. I've worn it on the blog a couple of times (here and here), but it's been over a year since I've incorporated it into an outfit. It was high time I broke it out and used it again!

It's a sleeveless top, so I had to wear a sweater to keep warm. It's a cashmere cardigan I found at Second Time Around on Newbury Street over a year ago. It's been an awesome basic to have in my wardrobe. The black skinnies look sleek, but feel like sweatpants, and this isn't the first (or last) time you've seen these boots from Charlotte Russe. I wore two gold rings to draw out the gold shimmer in the top. One was an adorable bow with sparkly rhinestones all over it. It's not actually mine. It belongs to Ashley, one of my coworkers. She's been at Madeleine's for a little over three months now and she's pretty adorable. She wore this ring (a double ring, so it slides onto two fingers), and I loved it, so I stole it from her. All's fair in love, war and fashion, right? 

Ashley was a good sport about it, at least. She didn't even ask for it back when she left for the night and it wasn't until I got home and undressed later that night that I realized I was STILL wearing it! I did return it to her the next day, but I felt a teeny-tiny bit bad about stealing it for the entire day. 

So, there you have it, another example of the trendy pumpkin color. Take a look through your closet and see what you have from the past that works in a current trend- you never know what gem is shoved in the back of one of your dresser drawers, like this top was! 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Too Cool for School

Do you guys know about Bauble Bar? I discovered this little gem (pun intended) about a year ago. Sadie had a groupon-esque deal- for $50, get $100 worth of jewelry. That was the beginning of my love affair with Bauble Bar.

When my jewelry arrived a few days later, I was hooked. A year later, one of my favorite sites to peruse is still Bauble Bar. What I love about this site is that there is a range of styles and prices. There's everything from $25 simple necklaces to $250 rings and everything in between. Also, no matter what your personal style, there's something there for you. I like browsing through the designs and thinking about who I know who would wear each stand-out piece.

There's a necklace I've seen on there for a while now, and I absolutely love it for its uniqueness. I would probably never wear it- it's just too cool for my soft, feminine vibe. But never say never, right? The day may come when I decide to rock this:

Bauble Cascade, Bauble Bar, $36

It comes in other colors, but I prefer the rose gold- it softens the design a little and makes it more feminine and a little less edgy. At this point, I'm still really happy with all of my accessories and I feel no need to be buying anything new, but maybe if that urge to spend comes back soon and this little guy is still available, I just might take a chance. 

In the meantime, check out Bauble Bar yourself. No, they didn't pay me to write this post endorsing their site. In fact, they likely have no idea my blog even exists. So you can trust I'm being completely honest. Think of it like Oprah's "Favorite Things," without the fame or paid endorsement.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Rate My Look: Re-purposed Wedding Outfit

In early September, McKenzie got married and the wedding was lovely. She wore Jenny Packham and I made her veil, which immediately blew off her head the minute she stepped out to walk down the aisle. Tornado warnings caused the caterer to try and blow off dinner, but in the end, we all ate. The wedding was a blast and, despite the weather, really beautiful. The bride was stunning, of course. I hadn't been to a wedding in almost a year (remember I had three almost back-to-back last year), and I decided it would be fun to make a dress to wear. I don't have a single decent photo of myself at the wedding, but I can say that my dress was a hit.

I made it with an olive green cotton sateen and I kept it simple- a fitted bodice and pencil skirt with an asymmetrical neckline. The color was divine and that was what inspired me to make the dress. I stumbled upon the fabric and I knew it was perfect for a simple, elegant, fitted design. It only took a few hours to make on one of my days off. It got completely soaked more than once at the wedding, and after that date, I hadn't really thought twice about it.

The thing is, I knew from the minute I made it that it would be great to dress down and wear to work. Why I waited three months to bother doing that, I'll never know. Anyway, I thought about it early in the week and then found myself brainstorming a different way to style it to make it work appropriate. At the wedding, I wore it with fuchsia satin and rhinestone heels and some sparkly jewelry and a silver belt. For work, I needed it to look good with flats, but I still wanted to play with color a little bit. I decided to mix it with a sparkly silver belt (the same one I wore to the wedding), grey flats, a charcoal cardigan and bright purple tights. I'm happy to report the resulting outfit worked perfectly!

I've lost close to 15 pounds since the wedding (low carb diet), so the dress is far less fitted than I originally intended. However, for work, I think it's more appropriate somehow. Even thought it's now a little too big, it worked once I cinched the belt around my waist and added the cardigan. 

So, what do you think of this (somewhat) recent Bouchard Original? It's not my best work, but far from my worst, and I really love how versatile it is. The color and fabric will work in many different seasons. I'm looking forward to styling it differently in the future. 

On another note, this was a particularly good make-up day for me. I pretty much NEVER try to match any of my make-up to my outfit, but with this look, I thought it would be fun to do a little purple eye shadow. It's a flattering color, and I used different tones, so it didn't ACTUALLY match my tights. (That would be weird.)

I think it makes my eyes go "BAM!!!" 

So, there it is- a fun and fabulous Bouchard Original with some even more fun and fabulous make-up. It's been a while since I've sewn anything, and I hope you like it! 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Accessories Anonymous: More Stupid Hats

I'm obsessed with hats right now. I think I've been watching too much "Downton Abbey" because all I want to do is dress in beaded sheaths for dinner and talk walks through the countryside in a flattering coat with a spectacular hat on my head. Gloves, too. I want to wear gloves ALL the time!

I know this hat isn't exactly in line with the 1920's; it's more of a modern interpretation. I think that's why I love it so much.

Ring of Sapphire Hat, Modcloth, $49.99

I think I would look pretty adorable in this hat. I could curl my hair and wear a simple outfit to let the hat be the star of the day. Which is saying something, because I'm pretty much always the star of the day. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Rate My Look: Do People Really NOT Iron?!?!

I got dressed in this fabulous outfit the other day and I was quite pleased with the result:

Top: TJ Maxx
Skirt: Daffy's (may they rest in peace)
Booties: Bloom

Yes, I am wearing those incredibly fabulous new glitter booties that I wrote about not too long ago: 

As fabulous as these glitter booties are, they are not the primary focus of today's post. Nope. What I want to talk about is ironing. 

Not too long ago, several of my coworkers and I were talking about ironing. Who does it and why? Who doesn't do it and why? It's amazing to me how many people try to avoid ironing at all costs. To me, it's such a simple thing to do to get your outfit looking polished and put-together. It only takes about 5 minutes to iron a complete outfit, so why not do it? 

Juhree NEVER irons and she's proud of it. She simply hangs her wrinkled clothes in the bathroom and the steam from the shower seems to do the trick for her. I decided to try that method the day I wore this outfit. I hung the very wrinkled shirt in the bathroom and then I took about a 15-minute shower. Here's the shirt AFTER the "steam treatment." 

I repeat: This is NOT a "Before" photo. It is an "After" photo. Am I crazy or is this unacceptable? After seeing the results of hanging the shirt in the bathroom while I showered, I quickly set up the iron and ironing table and in moments I had the following: 

Obviously, the difference is like night and day. So, tell me what I did wrong all ye who choose never to iron. Should I have tried the five-minutes-in-the-dryer trick instead? You know what, forget I asked. I actually don't care. Because figuring out the lazy-girls' method is actually more work than just ironing the d@mn shirt. Seriously, people, learn how to iron and just do it. It's not that hard. I swear. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holiday Switcheroo

I know I posted a blog about how I had this adorable silver sequin dress that I planned to wear to the Madeleine's Daughter company holiday party, but I lied to you. I didn't mean to lie. At the time, I meant every word. And the peter pan collar necklace I made to go with it? Also, not a lie at the time, but I did not end up wearing either the silver sequin dress or the peter pan collar necklace to our company holiday party this past weekend. Here's how it happened:

The Tuesday evening prior to the party, Brandie expressed her need to find an outfit. After work, Juhree and I went with her to Marshalls to help her pick something out. I had absolutely NO intention of shopping for myself while we were there. However, sometimes these things are out of our control. While looking through the racks of sparkly holiday dresses, I came upon the most stunning art-deco dress I've seen in a long time. The price? Just $59.99. Now, 60 bucks isn't much to spend on a cocktail dress but it is a lot to spend when you don't NEED said cocktail dress because you already have a silver sequin cocktail dress hanging in your closet at home. I bought it anyway. And here's why:

1.) I look incredible in it.
2.) I can wear the silver sequin dress to a New Year's Eve party (and I plan to).
3.) I can get another wear out of the second dress by wearing it to my friend Jen's wedding in January.

So, without further ado, I present to you my holiday party look for 2012:

Go ahead and TRY to tell me this wasn't worth every penny. In fact, go ahead and TRY to tell me it wouldn't have been worth it had it cost DOUBLE what it did! It's a phenomenal dress that fits me like a glove. 'Nough said. 

The best thing about this dress is how I feel in it. I walked strutted around that holiday party KNOWING I was the best dressed in the room. Maybe I wasn't actually the best dressed (not likely), but I felt like it. The only regret I have from this night is that it was an event the Professor could not attend. Which is why I'm incredibly excited to wear it again to Jen's wedding! He'll be my date that night, and he's driving 6 hours to be there, so I'm looking forward to dressing up for him. 

Now that I'm done bragging about what I hottie I am, let's talk about why this dress is so flattering. Do you guys remember when Kate Winslet wore that amazing Stella McCartney dress with the remarkably slimming optical illusion? Here's a photo in case you forgot: 

My dress has a similar effect because of the dark sequin banding on the sides. In my opinion, it's a brilliant design idea and one that everyone should try. Just like Kate, I tried to keep my accessories to a minimum- I chose rhinestone embellished black pumps, black rhinestone earrings (not pictured in the photo above, unfortunately) and a sparkly feather hairpiece (unfortunately also not pictured). It's easy to over accessorize a simple dress, but that's just the time when you need to exercise restraint. I actually didn't want to wear anything in my hair, but unfortunately there were some tacky-looking bobby pins ruining my elegant updo and covering them with a headpiece was the quickest, simplest fix I could come up with. The earrings were sparkly, but not too over-the-top and my make-up was actually pretty neutral. 

I'm hamming it up with co-worker Meghan during dinner. 

What did you wear for your company holiday party? Was it formal or casual? Are you dressing up for New Years? Whatever the look, just remember to wear it with confidence and walk strut through the room like you're the hottest one there. Unless I'm there, too and then I hate to break it to you, but you'll be the second hottest one there (wink). 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Beauty Product Review: O.P.I Nail Polish

Normally I love O.P.I. nail polish, but I have to be honest about this one. Maybe I got a bad batch or an older bottle or something, but this particular polish didn't go on very smoothly.

Color: My First Knockwurst

I bought this bottle at the brand new Ulta store in Newington, NH. I was drawn to the pinkish nude quality. In some lights it actually takes on a slightly purple hue, but overall it's pretty much a blush/nude color. It is the kind of color that definitely requires a second coat for full coverage, but I was disappointed with the application. It was a little gummy and on some of my nails I was never able to achieve a perfectly smooth finish. I could care less because manicures don't tend to last very long with me- I'm rarely surprised if a few minutes of typing don't do some amount of damage. 

Overall, I love the color, but the product itself was disappointing. Given my previous experience with O.P.I., I'm inclined to think I got an old bottle or a bad batch. They're usually much better than this. 

On another note, who comes up with the wacky names for their colors? "My First Knockwurst?" Really? What does that even mean? What IS a knockwurst? Is having my first one a big deal? It certainly sounds like something unpleasant. Just sayin'. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Bouchard Originals Out & About

The other day both Elizabeth and Juhree showed up to work wearing scarves I had made for them. It was pretty exciting to see not one, but two different creations of mine! I love knitting and sewing, but I especially love when someone else loves something I've made! Call me a narcissist, but it feels great!

Who doesn't love an oversize cowl scarf? Am I right? Juhree's is an infinity scarf and Liz is wearing my button-cable design. It can be worn lots of ways depending on how you button it, but on this day she chose to just button it into a circle. I think they both look fabulous, but I'm admittedly biased. Feel free to leave your honest opinion (just so long as your honest opinion jives with mine). Kidding. Or am I?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Rate My Look: Mustard Love

Did you know that mustard and pumpkin are basically the new blacks? I'm joking, but it seems like it lately- the popularity of those two colors has gone through the roof. Remember Kristin's pumpkin top last week? I was inspired by her outfit and decided to put together my own look incorporating a trendy color and our favorite boots. Here's the result:

Skirt: Zara
Necklace: Ablaze

This photo was taken towards the end of the day which is why my skirt is so wrinkled and my lipstick is non-existent. Regardless, I'm a fan of the look and I think it works. The chunky necklace is one of my favorites- I found it at a little boutique in Exeter, NH this summer and snatched it right up. Juhree bought a white version of it, although I don't think I've seen her wear it. Maybe I can convince her to wear it to work one of these days so I can snap her photo for the blog. It won't be the first time we were necklace twinsies. Honestly, with all the accessories my coworkers have in common, it's surprising we aren't a little smarter with our shopping. We should really have a common closet in the shop that we can all contribute to and pull from- it would save us beaucoup bucks.

Friday, December 7, 2012

5 Luxury Items to Add to YOUR Wardrobe

The devil's in the details, right? That statement is true for just about any area of your life- work, home, and of course your fashion. The details of your attire are what separate you from the crowd, so a sure-fire way to stand out is to incorporate small details that make your outfit unique. A basic LBD is brought to a new level with an exceptional pair of high heels. An otherwise dull workplace outfit can become your own version of the "power suit" with the right scarf, jewelry or handbag.

We can't all afford to dress in head-to-toe designer duds, in fact, the majority of us can't do that. I'm sure many of you are like me- I try to find solid "basics" at a good price. I try to find classic pieces that fit me well and that I know I'll get to wear over and over. If I find a great basic, I might splurge a little, but for the most part, a lot of my clothing comes from stores like Target, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Ann Taylor Loft, the Gap, etc. I certainly don't have a closet full of pieces from Nordstrom or Bloomingdale's, because my checking account won't allow for it.

Despite my budget wardrobe, I like to think that I can put together an expensive-looking outfit by the simple addition of luxurious accessories. In fact, I have NO problem wearing a necklace or a pair of earrings that cost as much or even a whole lot more than the clothing I'm wearing. An inexpensive dress can easily be transformed by a silk scarf around my waist or neck. It adds a pop of color and the high quality fabric adds a richness to my outfit.

Think about the outfits you have hanging in your closet and what it would take to bring them to a new level. I can think of at least 5 accessories that would be worth splurging on because of how much depth and dimension they can bring to your wardrobe.

1.) Leather or Suede handbag- Whether you buy it new, or find a used one in great shape, a well-made leather or suede handbag will not only last you for years to come, it will instantly elevate your outfit. Avoid trends when investing in this piece- find something classic and neutral.

My "Ashley" satchel from Coach was a wise investment. This gorgeous, black leather handbag has already logged plenty of miles on my arm and I plan to have her around for many more years to come.

2.) Luxury scarf- whether it's cashmere or silk, find a beautiful, classic scarf that will work with lots of outfits. A print will always look more luxurious and add visual interest. You can tie the scarf around your handbag handle, or drape it over your shoulders, or thread it through your belt loops- the possibilities are literally endless. 

I lucked into a vintage Schiaparelli scarf a couple of years ago- I've used it in a number of different outfits and it never fails to earn compliments. 

3.) High quality shoes- they don't have to be heels to be fabulous; flats can be stunning fashion statements, too! 

Whether you score an expensive pair at a bargain price, or happen upon a really well-executed knock-off, or you have the dough to splurge on a real pair of Louboutins or Jimmy Choos, do yourself a favor and get an amazing pair of shoes. 

4.) Statement jewelry- even though it seems awfully trendy right now, statement jewelry is something that can always work to add visual interest and luxury to an outfit. Whether it's vintage costume jewelry, or something you found a Lord & Taylor last week, a unique necklace, ring, bracelet or earring can really elevate an otherwise hum-drum look. 

I'm no stranger to statement necklaces and this one by Stella & Dot has adorned many an outfit of mine for both work and play! 

5.) An awesome overcoat- A black cashmere wool coat, a camel-colored classic Burberry trench, a vintage fur wrap- whatever suits your style, invest in a truly beautiful overcoat. Your entrance will always turn heads with an incredible coat- everyone will be thinking, "with a coat like that, I can't wait to see what she has on underneath!" 

I am still as in love with this coat as the day I bought it. It was a bargain at $75- the fox fur collar and brocade fabric turn heads like you wouldn't believe. 

So, there you have it- a short list of pieces that will help add luxury and visual interest to your daily wardrobe. Don't try to force certain pieces into your wardrobe- keep an open mind while you're out shopping and you will be amazed at what falls into your lap. Sometimes the most exciting finds are the ones you aren't expecting! 
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