Thursday, September 30, 2010

Style Inspiration: Gwen Stefani

I remember when I thought Gwen Stefani's style was completely out there, and it still is! LOL.

But, lately, I've been increasingly enamored with her casual looks. She has an ability to wear very trendy looks and make them seem accessible. She mixes masculine and feminine, soft and hard, short and long. In all honesty, I would probably never have the courage to wear any full-blown Stefani outfits, but she stands as a GREAT example of being confident and knowing what you like.

I also love her hair. I'm a serious dope when it comes to styling my hair. Her hairstyles are always unique, and they can transform a casual outfit into something really amazing.

I love the footless black tights with the strappy sandals. It adds the perfect element of surprise. And her hair! Funky but totally cute. Photo credit.

Totally casual and comfortable, but she uses accessories to create a look all her own. Photo Credit.

I love how Stefani plays with proportions in her clothes. She's great at mixing baggy with fitted or short with long.
Photo credit.

Love that wrap and hat! Another great display of accessorizing. Photo Credit.

I totally want to recreate this! Her pattern mixing is subtle but so effortless. Photo credit.

I love this gown she wore a few years ago. It's a perfect mix of feminine/girly with the tulle and flowers, and masculine/casual with the T-shirt shape of the top. Photo Credit.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

OOTD: Mixing Patterns

As much as I struggle with styling my hair, I occasionally fall into what I call my "hair-do sweet spot." Every strand falls into place without looking too done-up. I can pull it back, leave it down, pin it up, and be happy with it. In short: I love my hair.

Unfortunately, these sweet-spot moments are few and far in between. Oh. And did I mention that they usually occur somewhere between 7 and 8 o'clock in the evening? Yeah. Coz that's helpful!

I have tried and tried to replicate these sweet spots so that I can have a good hair day rather than night, but I just can't figure out the pattern. Wash my hair now? Wash my hair later? Blow dry? Air dry? Hairspray? De-frizz gel? Expensive shampoo? Cheap conditioner?

Shower in the morning? Shower in the evening? (Shower at suppertime?)

Today was an attempt to re-create my Tuesday night sweet spot. It's not quite up to par, but it's certainly better than my usual messy bun. To detract from my hair altogether, I decided to try mixing patterns today: a LOFT paisley cardigan and my green polka-dot Picture Frame Blouse. I was on a roll with the blues and greens so I added my (Seychelles) Stroke of Midnight Heels and then my goes-with-everything Boden Messenger Bag.

Also, I caved and finally bought a rose necklace I had been eyeing at Urban Outfitters for some time. It's called the Tiny Rose Necklace, and although it's ::ahem:: tiny, it's just what I've been looking for. You can double-stack coupons at Urban Outfitters by entering the first coupon code, submitting the page, and then hitting the "Back" button, entering the second code and hitting submit again. Get free shipping with FALLFORIT, plus 10% off with HAPPYFALL (expires Sept. 30, I think). 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

OOTD: Cozy Cable Cargo

Yes, I am wearing the same pants (my Level 99 World Over Cargos) two days in a row (please don't judge!) I love them, and they are cozy, and that's that. Although I did notice that they had stretched out a little, making the fit looser.

Today I also wore my Anthro Next Year's Lily Top and Banana Republic Cozy Cable Cardigan in grey heather. I sized down to a Small in both the top and sweater. Every once in a while the sweater was a little itchy on my back, but for the most part, it was very comfortable. The perfect weight for a fall day, I'd say.

To accessorize, I used my trusty Boden Messenger Bag, old green herringbone flats (that tear up my feet...ouch) from LOFT, and my NY&Company leopard skinny belt.

The aviator sunglasses were cheap from The Limited. I love them, but I always feel a little presumptuous when I wear them in public. Husband and I both had eye appointments today and got our eyes dilated. Boy, it gets bright in a hurry! Unfortunately, even though he told me this morning to remember my sunglasses for afterwards---I forgot! So I slipped these on as soon as we got home. .....Ahhh, sweet relief.....

Out and About: I Spy Anthropologie

I've got Anthro-colored glasses lately. Everytime I turn around, I'm running into Anthropologie...and I love it!  Well, sometimes. On the one hand, it's neat to see other people appreciating Anthro, but I alternatively love guarding the Anthro secret with my life. I mean, we like Anthro because it's unique! The more we see it in the real world, the less "unique" it becomes.

The blog goldenmeans always does a great roundup of Anthro sightings on TV. (In fact, she's currently rockin' the nominations for the Anthropologie Blogging Collective's 2010 Blog Awards for said feature...) Though my sightings are far less worthy in comparison, I thought I'd share a few of my own sightings around town (the good and the bad!). Enjoy---

1. Stretching Sprigs Cardigan in a Vonage TV commerical
It's not a particularly funny ad or anything, so I doubt that it will ever make it to YouTube, but I swear I screamed "That's my sweater!" the second I saw it.  But the size Large has been sold out online for a while already. Thanks for rubbing it in, Vonage.... 

The woman wears it over a bright blue dress, which I kind of like, but it also seemed much more generic than I would expect out of an Anthropologie piece. Husband also commented that he thought it looked way too small on her. (Glad I didn't settle for that Medium!)

9/28/10 10:00 PM UPDATE: I forgot I have DVR now! :) So I took a few screen shots of the Vonage ad. And actually, seeing it again makes me realize I think this woman looks absolutely adorable! Funny how your memory can play tricks on you sometimes...

2. Man Shops Globe on the Sundance Channel
This isn't exactly what you'd call "new news," but, hey, gimme a break, I just got Dish Network, remember? 

This reality TV show follows Anthropologie buyer Keith Johnson as he travels around the world looking for unique home items. A show about my favorite store ever? Yes, please! It's interesting to see these items in their natural habitats. Whereas a crazy bird statue may seem strange perched on the shelves of Anthro, a woman's workshop full of knome figurines seems eccentric and inspired in her Swedish home. 

The show is currently in its second season, so I still have quite a few Season 1 episodes to get caught up on. Netflix has the Season 1 DVD listed (but unavailable), so maybe it will be available soon! Cross your fingers. :)

3. "The Frown Song" by Ben Folds

NOTE: You may want to skip this one if you don't want to hear about a potential bad side of Anthropologie!

First, let me say that Husband and I love Ben Folds. Husband saw him in concert before we met, and even got him to autograph a CD booklet! Husband also spent the first three months of our courtship sending me Ben Folds songs via AIM and asking for my opinion. (Apparently I passed!) We played "The Luckiest" at our wedding as we lit our unity candle. So it was with mixed emotions that I recently listened to the words of his "Frown Song" (2008) and his not-so-nice mention of Anthropologie:

Tread slowly from the car to the spa
Like a weary war-torn refugee
Crossing the border with your starving child
It’s a struggle just to get to shiatsu

Present the waitress with your allergy card
And tell her all your problems
And leave no tip at all
Down to the shoe store with your friends
Speculate who might be f---ing the guru

Rock on, rock on, with your fashionable frown
Rock on, rock on, spread the love around
Rock on, rock on, with your fashionable frown
Spread the love around

Do you remember how we managed before
We could afford real nervous breakdowns
Or before the Anthropologie store
Was erected on Indian burial grounds

So really don’t you see a little of yourself
In the bathroom attendant that you just scowled at
Or the child who’s hiding inside
As you wipe the smile off the teenage barista


All right

You’re gonna be all right, baby
You’re gonna be all right, baby

Floating back from the spa to the car
A state of bliss, and it wasn’t the steam room
Sometimes life’s not so bad
Now we know who’s been f---ing the guru


I explained to Husband that Ben Folds probably just used "Anthropologie" because it has such a poetic name. Yes? Maybe? Please? Oh, well....

In the context of the whole song, it sounds like Folds is criticizing privileged, egocentric people who are unable to connect to people who are really struggling. And I guess the specific allusion to Anthropologie could be a comment on "Western" domination over other cultures, which certainly involves some egoism. Maybe Folds thinks that Anthropologie usurps the creativity of real artists and assimilates them into its capitalistic framework? (That's like a $10 sentence if I ever saw one....) I don't really know enough about corporate Anthropologie to have an educated opinion, but after watching Man Shops Globe, I guess I can see that interpretation. 

Or maybe Folds is targeting the people who shop at Anthropologie. Gasp! I admit that Anthropologie has nurtured a capitalistic fervor in me that I've never known before. And as much fun as "Monday sale nights" and "stalking" products are, these behaviors do require some self-involved tunnel vision. 

Like I said, I don't have the knowledge to either back up these claims or dispute them, but they are interesting to consider. 

4. Feathered Perch Skirt in October issue of InStyle

pg. 193 InStyle Magazine, October 2010.

I admit that I was a little disappointed when I saw this Anthro skirt in my magazine. My hopes of getting a first (or even second) cut for this skirt become much smaller when the rest of the world has the scoop. (Because clearly, the ENTIRE WORLD reads InStyle!! :P) 

The good news is that I love the color complements suggested by stylist Rob Zangardi: peach, lilac, white. And pairing this long navy skirt with a tucked-in cashmere tee? Love!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Outfit of the Day: Rainy Days and Mondays

What a rainy weekend! It has literally been raining nonstop since Saturday, which I admit has its pros and cons:

Husband wanted to cut the grass before it rained. Oops!
Wet puppies and/or puppies who refuse to go outside at all
Flood watch---eek!
Driving on the interstate in the rain....alongside tractor trailers.....
Bad lighting outside forced me indoors for my outfit picture!

Cold weather means I can break out the fall wardrobe!
The sound of rain on the roof when you're falling asleep
Since it was so dark in the morning, we slept in and got some extra ZZZ's!

First up, it's my Level 99 World Over Cargos. These are THE most comfortable pants I've ever worn. I got a size 29, and they're slim without being constricting. They have a somewhat low rise, so while sitting at my desk, I kept checking to make sure I wasn't being scandalous. And, guess what, I wasn't! Yay!

Also making its debut today is the Wish You Were Here Cardi. You can't really see the details far away, but there are yellow accents in the sweater, so I thought it looked really nice with my From O'Keeffe necklace. I also threw on a white LOFT tee, my Boden Messenger bag and Steve Madden flats to keep the look pretty neutral.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Outfit of the Day: Anniversary Date

As promised, here is my outfit from our anniversary date on Thursday night! A few years ago, Husband and I instituted an international theme for all our special occasions. On top of this, we have a special place in our heart for one particular restaurant. It used to be a post office, but had since been renovated into a restaurant.

We had one of our first Valentine's Day dinners there, and we loved it! We decided we would always go there for Valentine's Day, but unfortunately, we only got to go one more time before (wah!) they closed it! A few months later, they opened a Spanish restaurant in its place, so we went there, and it was just horrible. LOL.  We had a mushroom appetizer that was really slimy, and we shared a paella entree that was gritty! Despite all the flaws, it was still "our place," so we figured they had a year to work out all the kinks for our next outing! Unfortunately, this eatery didn't make it, either.

But a few months ago, ::gasp!:: restaurant number three opened! This time, it was casual dining. I had been planning for weeks to wear my new Leifsdottir Feliciana Dress for our anniversary, but I was worried that it was a little too fancy so I tried to dress it down with my flats (initially, I was going to wear my black heels and a silver cuff bracelet). Lucky for you, we had tons of trouble finding a spot to take our picture (it was super sunny, and Husband kept yelling at me not to put the camera on the trashcan!) so my feet got cut off anyway! You can envision my feet however you would like. :)

You see, Husband and I have perfected the art of taking our picture without anybody's help. First of all, it's fun. We feel totally silly putting our camera on tables and trashcans and chairs, but sometimes it's fun not to take yourself too seriously! And second, we're both pretty shy, so it's usually torture to decide who is approachable to ask for help. (And it's very common that people walking by offer to help without us having to ask. Bonus!) So I thought it would be fun to show some of our creative pictures over the years. Enjoy!

Here's Husband and I in the lounge of our cruise ship to Alaska last summer:
I love the look of this skirt and shirt together, but I accidentally washed this skirt afterward and it's dry-clean only. Ruined. ::cry::

And here's Husband and I on our honeymoon in Savannah at the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low (the founder of Girl Scouts!): 
Squatting is an essential pose to learn when taking pictures with inanimate photographers...

And here we are at the lake earlier this year. I caught my first fish that day!:
The one-handed quick pic: A classic.

Oh, and in case you're wondering? Restaurant Number Three was a hit. We had a crab-cake appetizer (yummm), and we both got chicken salad. (Well, he got a chicken-salad sandwich, and I got a grilled chicken salad. Both yummy!) For dessert, we got two pieces of pie and ice cream to-go and ate it at home on the couch. Perfection!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Anniversary to Me and Husband!

Happy Anniversary to Me and Husband! It's hard to believe that it's been four whole years since we said "I Do"!

We got married at Callaway Gardens in Georgia---if you're ever down that way, I highly recommend it! My husband's family is originally from Georgia so they used to go on vacations there when he was a kid. 

After Husband and I started dating in college, we took a trip down during Spring Break and loved it! We fed the ducks, watched their "Birds of Prey" show, played tennis and racquetball, and went to the nearby animal safari! When we went to visit their little memorial chapel hidden in the woods, an older couple walked by and asked us if we were planning our wedding here. We just smiled! 

A few years later when we started making wedding plans, we both knew right away that the only place in the running was Callaway Gardens' beautiful chapel. 

You know who that is! It's me and Kathleen from Princess of Taylor!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shoe Reviews: Seychelles Cheerrio, Nine West Peroxy, Very Volatile Marlena

One shoe trend that I have consistently loved this year is the masculine/rugged shoe paired with the feminine skirt/styling. I like the contrast (and I admit, I also like the prospects of wearing comfier shoes with dressier outfits!)

However, I'm having difficulty pinning down the right pair of shoes. This post covers three pairs of shoes that I recently purchased but I'm still unsure about. Luckily, I ordered them from three great shoe dealers: Endless, Zappos, and Piperlime. All three sites offer free shipping and returns. At the time of publishing, Endless and Zappos both give you 365 days to return your item; Piperlime gives you 45 days.

Nine West Peroxy in Taupe ($98.95 at Zappos)

In my mind, these shoes were perfect, but IRL, they made my legs look very stumpy. My husband also said they made my feet look very long. Neither of these things is good. In skirt picture #1, I tried flipping up the boot flaps; in skirt picture #2, I left them down. (Flipping didn't help.) The shoelaces are also incredibly long, and you have to get pretty creative to make them the right length. (For me, this entailed, wrapping the shoelaces around the back of the shoe, pulling the laces through the holes in the side flaps, double knotting.) I tried tucking in my skinny jeans into the shoes, but I still felt stumpy. I just don't think that the 3/4 inch heel is enough. As for the fit, my regular size 9 was OK. They were comfortable enough, but not amazing sole cushioning. These shoes also come in black leather, black suede, and dark green suede. I would be curious to test the other colors if I had a store nearby, but I didn't like the fit enough to mess with any other online testing. 

Seychelle's Cheerrio Bootie in Dark Brown ($90.02 at Endless)

These shoes are a little bit Mary Poppins, a little bit rock n' roll. I'm afraid that these might be a little heavy for what I want them to do. They look much better with a skirt than the Peroxy, but it's a lotta look. I tried tucking in my pants again, but the shoes are so slim that even my really-fitted,skinny jeans look bunchy. I would only be able to wear leggings or tights with these, though I think those would both be flattering. My regular size 9 fit OK, and the 3 and 3/4 inch heel is still easy to walk in and gives me the height I need to elongate my legs. The problem, however, is with the boot opening. Endless lists the measurements of the boot opening as 10 and 1/2 inches around. As you can see from the picture, there's PLENTY of room. It makes them look like they don't fit, even though they do fit everywhere else. There's an inside zipper, in addition to the front shoe laces. Also available in clay and black.

Very Volatile Marlena in Natural Medium ($60 at Piperlime)

I've liked the look of menswear oxfords for a while now, but couldn't bring myself to pull the trigger. The cheap pairs I found all had bad reviews about comfort, and I've spent too much $$$ on shoes lately to invest in a more expensive piece. I thought I'd give these oxfords a try when I placed an Athleta order recently and wanted free shipping. (What can I say, I'm a fish!) 

And the verdict? The jury's still out. I like the look of these with a skirt (although I'm not sure how I feel about the socks). And I almost wore these the other day, but I put them away because I thought I might want to return them. They are very stiff, and not very comfortable. Maybe I could break them in a little by wearing them around the house. But as is, I wouldn't keep them. My regular size 9 fits otherwise. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Outfit of the Day: Date Night

On my way home from work tonight, I met my husband for dinner at a Mexican restaurant. We don't eat out very often so sometimes we initiate a spur-of-the-moment date. For some reason, driving separately makes it seem like more of a special occasion than just loading ourselves in the same car after hemming and hawing about what's for dinner. And I must say that after a long day at work, it's exciting to reunite with your spouse away from home and all its distractions (why did you park in the garage? did you get the mail? turn on some lights!! BARK BARK BARK!)

After a hearty meal, we went home and watched Date Night with Steve Carrell and Tina Fey. It was cute, but I think having those two in a movie together is simultaneously genius and foolish. On the one hand, they're the two funniest people on TV (in my opinion): Why WOULDN'T you want them joining forces on-screen? On the other hand, that's a lot of pressure. How on earth can you make a film that lives up to such expectations?

But at the end of the day, this film is like any other film individually starring Tina Fey or Steve Carrell (for instance, Baby Mama or Dan in Real Life). It's not always laugh-out-loud funny, but it's still endearing and fun to watch.

Speaking of old married couples, Husband and I celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary on Thursday! We're planning another date night, and I can't WAIT to get dressed up for our special evening night. Stay tuned!

Today was a little breezy in the morning, but by the time I got to work, it was hot, hot, hot, again. I'm wearing an old Loft grey chiffon-bow tee and grey sleeveless long sweater vest. Also my American Eagle red ballet flats and Anthropologie AG Stevie Crops and Sunken Ship Necklace, both of which I snagged on sale. And big surprise: my Circle Game Belt and Boden Messenger Bag.

Fitting-Room Reviews: LOFT tops

This past weekend, my mom and I had some style rewards cards burning a hole in our pockets, so we took a quick trip to our local LOFT store to see what we could find. I didn't really *need* anything, so it was actually kind of a lackluster trip, but we both came home with one item each! We spent just enough money to use both our cards and effectively get 50% off our purchase.

We did encounter some pushback when we tried to get two sweaters with the BOGO 50% off sweater promo. (Apparently you can't combine the promo with the style rewards. LAME!) So my mom put her sweater back. So, yeah, good job, LOFT. You win. Hmph.

Size Small. This looked way different on me compared with the product pic which looks looser. It was pretty, but it was very boxy. I would have to tuck it in. There were some in-store mannequins showing this shirt underneath cardigans, but this basically hid the pretty bow, which makes the styling options limited. And honestly, I just bought the Season's Way Tee with bows, and am also considering the Scattered Clouds Tee, which I think are prettier/unique bow applications, whereas this was kind of boring.

Size Small. Not surprisingly, the product pic shows this top on a pale-skinned blonde. On me, it did not work as nicely. I loved the V-neck and bow (you'd need a special bra for this one), but the color I was indifferent about. It looked pretty underneath a cardigan, but on its own, it just seemed blah. I wish it came in blue. (I think when I die, they should write that on my tombstone...)

The cardigan I am wearing in all the pics is the Grosgrain Trim Cardigan in Dark Heather Gray ($49.50). It's a Medium. Very similar to the sweater I just got from Banana Republic (opposite colors though) and much thinner/gauzier. The buttons pulled and the contrasting ribbon felt way too delicate.

Size Small. My mom said the girl on the shirt looked like Mary Hartman (apparently the title character of a late-night TV show played by Louise Lasser) so that's what we renamed this shirt: the Mary Hartman shirt. It was completely see-through, but I still liked it. It was kinda kitschy. But Mom said I was too old for it. Harumph!

I tried it on under a cardi, but it felt like I was wearing one of those baby carriers with a little girl tucked into my pocket. Creepy! And considering that this movie gave me insomnia for a full year, a creepy girl is the last thing I want in my pocket!

Size Medium. My mom totally had me pegged on this one when I came out of the fitting room. She said that if it it were stripes on top/solid on the bottom (or vice versa), I would like it. Exactamundo, Mom! As is, it's just too many horizontal stripes. The fit was OK, but I would have liked to try the small for comparison (none available). I like it in the product pic under a cardigan, but by itself it's a No. Oh, and it was kinda scratchy, too. 

Unknown Ruffle Sleeveless Blouse ($59.50, I think, but sold out online)

Size Small. I love me some polka dots. This had kind of a boxy fit (no surprise, considering the tiers of ruffles). The ruffles are only on the front, so I guess it could be worse. The edges of the tiers are unfinished and starting to fray. My mom went and got me a cardigan because that's really what I would use this top for: a cute layer underneath something else. It was cute, and it solved the whole "boxy" problem. But it costs too much. It's the polka dots that I want, so I just have to trust that the *perfect* polka dot shirt will come along eventually.

Size Small. This was the one item I purchased. (And strangely enough the only item I didn't take a picture of! You'll have to wait till I debut it in one of my outfits of the day...) The sleeves were a little bit tight, but I liked the fit of the Small otherwise. It's definitely sweater-material rather than T-shirt material, in case you were wondering. It's got some stretch to it. The length was perfect, and the corsage was a cute touch to make this shirt something special.

I didn't get a picture of this necklace, but I thought it was pretty. Maybe $19.95 pretty. But certainly not $34.50 pretty. It didn't look as bright as in the product pic (maybe because it's not against that bright white backdrop of the tee?), and the bow seemed smaller and not as well shaped IRL. Also, the pendant was pretty cheap looking. I've been looking for a necklace this length for a while, but if I'm going to pay that much, I want to love it.

My mom purchased this. It's really cute. I don't know what size she got? In the product pic, they show this through regular jeans belt loops, but she tried this on as a skinny belt tight around her waist, and then looser around her hips. She had trouble figuring out how to make it work! A sales lady helped her, and now that I see the name of the belt, it all makes a lot more sense now! I thought the double-wrap concept was really neat. And the sparkles added a neat shot of texture/shine.