Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I am doing something I've never done before - wear leggings!  I think they look so cute on everyone else but always thought they wouldn't work on me because of my athletic calves. However, wearing riding boots covers them up nicely. I got the famous Hue ultra wide band gray leggings during Cyber Monday for $27 (had to size down to avoid knee wrinkles) and they arrived yesterday. I can now understand why some people would live in leggings - they're as comfy as yoga pants!

Also wearing a Caslon tunic I got for the fall challenge but never got around to wearing until now. I felt like the Zara vest interfered with the Dolman sleeves on the tunic so I left it off. Plus, the weather is in the upper 60's.

Guess what?!? This is my 3rd challenge and I finally got my first ever unprompted compliment from my hubby today. "You look nice! Get your pretty on!" he said with a smile. Woot woot!!! 😇 Feeling over the moon!  Happy Tuesday!

Looking at it now, I should have added in my tassel necklace to dress it up a bit.

Yesterday was the kickoff for the Winter/Holiday Style Me Pretty Challenge. It's not too late to join! Just click on the link or the graphic below:

Winter/Holiday Style Challenge Square

Once you join, be sure to join the Facebook group since that's where most of the fun is. You get to see how other people style the outfit of the day (OOTD) and can get tips, inspiration, and lots of encouraging feedback. I highly recommend it!

I posted my OOTD late yesterday since I received my new fur scarf and neutral gray sweater in the mail in the afternoon but didn't get to open the packages until well after my son went to bed. I was wearing a teal version of this Target Mossimo sweater with my leopard scarf and neutral flats before I got to play dress up.

What a great outfit to start off the challenge!

The scarf is from Nordstrom and I love how super soft it is. Feels like the most luxurious thing I've ever owned. I tried it on with the red sweater (Target had a BOGO60) and felt like Mrs. Claus (possible outfit for Xmas card)! Target ultrasoft V-neck sweater, AG skinny jeans, Naturalizer riding boots from Macy's, Coach bag, Nordstrom pyramid stud earrings.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Not gonna lie. This was definitely a challenging outfit probably because it was almost too basic - is that even possible? When I first put it on, I felt so masculine in it, like one of those guys that work at Best Buy or something. Not my favorite look.

Evolution of today's outfit:
1) I didn't have a statement necklace, so I first tried this with pearls, but it looked all kinds of wrong. 2) Then I tried to add some color with a pink tank and pink dangling earrings, but it looked too matchy-matchy as if I was trying too hard.
3) I kept the tank on for warmth, switched into my pearl studs, and decided to throw on this lightweight $5 floral infinity scarf from Charlotte Russe to both add color and femininity. From the fall challenge, I discovered Charlotte Russe has an awesome selection of lightweight scarves for only $5.  I hadn't shopped at Charlotte Russe since my college days!

I do love how much a look can be changed by adding accessories since you can get a bunch of them for the price of a shirt.

I only know one way to tie an infinity scarf and this is it. I think it makes the look a little top heavy though. I had to leave the house so ran out of time to try improving this.  Maybe some winter white pants and cognac riding boots next time?

Another blog that I recently started following, Pinterest Told Me To, just did a post yesterday about how scarves can elevate the style of an outfit.

Friday, November 21, 2014

It's raining today but I still managed to run quite a few errands.  Today's outfit called for a jewel-toned blouse with bootcut jeans, tassel necklace, and leopard flats.  I was so excited to wear the JCP shirts I recently bought.  Unfortunately, I had major gaping issues!  What!?!  They worked fine in the dressing room.  I must have just grabbed different shirts when I headed to the checkout line.  Needless to say, I ended up returning both of them and amazingly, left JCP with nothing but my receipts.  Instead, I shopped my closet.  This is what I wore:

I love this Banana Republic blouse and I don't wear it as often as I should.  The last time I wore this blouse was went we closed on our house two years ago!  It has a dainty white mini-polka dot print and a ruffle collar that goes down the front placket.  I never would have thought to pair this with jeans.  Since the neckline already forms a Y, I went with my new Stella & Dot necklace that arrived yesterday instead of the tassel necklace.  Like other ladies in the challenge, I spent half an hour tucking and untucking trying to decide which looked better.  I think tucking the blouse draws too much attention to fluffy abs, so I left it untucked.  One of these days, I will venture out with a tucked shirt, but not today.  This is the perfect date night outfit for my dinner date with my husband tonight.

Went by TJ Maxx looking for the "must-have" Bobeau asymmetrical wrap that I heard was on sale for $20.  They only had heather charcoal and black, both of which looked good.  However, this time I went with black.  These would make really nice gifts.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

LOVED my outfit today!  Not only did I get this selfie right on my first try, but I got to put together two old pieces I had thought of donating, layered my necklaces for the first time, and overall felt really pretty.  I hardly wear these necklaces since I don't know what to wear them with, but as I was playing around in my closet this morning, I put them on and voila!  They just worked!

Just love how the lavender and gray played off of each other nicely too!  It was pure style magic.  I was searching for a neutral sweater and a plaid shirt and ended up shopping my closet for weather appropriate tops.  I pulled out my old Banana Republic plaid lavender shirt and my old H&M gray sweater that I've had forever since they were both lightweight.  They were perfect for the 70 degree weather we had today.

This is one of those outfits that I feel really captures "me" - fun, romantic, laid-back, and classic.  This is also the first time I ever wore this locket that I purchased off of Etsy for my wedding 2 and 1/2 years ago.  It contains a picture of my late father and I had wrapped it around my bouquet as I walked down the aisle with my brother.  There's a lot of sentiment behind this outfit which makes it extra-special.

Have a terrific Thursday!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I apologize for the lack of posts recently.  I had gotten sick along with my son from this cold front that made its way to Houston since my last post.  The temperatures are now climbing back up to the 60's and 70's.

Today I finally crossed off the last item on the Build Your Wardrobe Basics shopping list - the jewel-toned dressy blouse!  Hooray!!!  I found it, or should I say them, at JCP.  Have I mentioned that I never shopped at JCPenney before the fall challenge?  It's my favorite place to find shirts nowadays.  I actually couldn't decide between the regal teal and the intense plum, so I did what I normally do in these moments of indecision...I got them both!  The teal is such a beautiful deep blue turquoise-like color that was so flattering and difficult to find.  It reminds me of the ocean.  The plum was more of a berry-wine that looks so elegant.  I'm starting to gravitate to berry colors this season.  Since the shopping list mentioned that the blouse would be used to layer underneath the black sleeveless shift dress, I was imagining how these colors would look.  I think the blue would give off a nice pop of color and the plum would tone it down so other accessories could take the spotlight.  I would imagine the plum would pair very nicely with my brown tweed skirt for a quintessential fall look.

Lots to catch up on, plus pictures!

The outfits have been released for the past 3 days and they've been living up to the challenge's name so far (as in being very basic).  For Monday's outfit, I woke up feeling under the weather but got dressed up anyways because I was so excited for the challenge outfits to start.  This is what I wore:

The striped shirt I already had gotten for the fall challenge at Ann Taylor, same with the tassel necklace and oversized gold watch from Forever 21, the dark wash bootcut jeans are a Long & Lean pair I already had pre-challenge from 1969 GAP, and the Coach bag was one of the few items I purchased for this challenge.  I got it at the Coach outlet during my birthday weekend with my mom.  After getting dressed, something amazing happened!  I felt much better and even went out to run some errands as opposed to staying in bed.

I also realized how much footwear really completes an outfit! These were my DSW Lucky Brand flats that arrived yesterday and I was still wearing them around the house debating whether I should keep them since I sized up to 7.5 and they're a tad big, but I can't exchange them for a 7 since they are sold out. I love they way they look though!

On Tuesday, I got to wear another new purchase for this challenge: my Ann Taylor Factory leopard belt.  This was my first time belting an un-tucked buttoned-down shirt in my life!  I am amazed at how it creates a waist with a subtle peplum effect.  I have no idea why I never thought to try this earlier.  These are the moments I love about the style challenges: they really do encourage you to go beyond your comfort zone!

Also, I hadn't worn black dress pants for more than half a year and am amazed they still fit!  As you know from my previous post, I had been raving about this $10 JCP chambray shirt, when I came across the lighter Old Navy one for $20.  I think the darker one looks dressier and has a nice cuffed sleeve contrast, but I also really like the contrast in the buttons on the lighter one. I switched out of the dress pants for black straight leg corduroys for the first picture.  Which do you like better?


I decided to keep them both since they will be useful in different situations.  The darker one would be more appropriate for work or meetings, and the lighter one is more casual.

For today's outfit, I thought, "This is the GAP uniform!" Well, except for the leopard flats.  Never tried putting a button-down shirt under this denim jacket until today, but I like it!  I'm doing all kinds of crazy things here in the basics challenge!  Not sure whether the lengths of the tops work, but when I tried tucking the shirt in, it just emphasized my long torso due to the low rise in my pants, so I left it untucked.  My old GAP jacket is much shorter than I remember, but I know the waist-length works perfectly for summer dresses. These Banana Republic weekend chinos are my khaki pants version - I love them since they have a nice relaxed fit with just a hint of stretch.

All clothing was shopped from my closet.  The white button-down shirt is The Limited Essential Shirt.  I love the shirt since it's made of thicker material than other see-through white shirts.  Plus, this outfit worked surprisingly well for the 60 degree weather we had today.

During my trip to JCP, I confirmed that I will be keeping my DSW Lucky Brand leopard flats despite them being a tad big.  I had been eyeing the a.n.a. pair of leopard Epic ballet flats since they remind me of the memory foam cushioned Lucky Brand Emmie Flats that felt incredible on my feet.  However, I felt like the suede leopard print was too faded so I returned them.  The JCP ones were cushioned, but I really prefer the grosgrain trim and suede upper of the sold out DSW Lucky Brand Letah Flats.

One of the side effects from doing these style challenges is that you purge your closet of clothes that do not work.  The ones that are too old, no longer fit, or you never wear since you have nothing to wear it with.  You're more willing to part with them in exchange for ones that do work and work well.

I had purchased Umbra's Little Black Dress at Marshall's yesterday for half the cost and absolutely love it!  It completely cleared out my cluttered jewelry drawer and it keeps all my long necklaces nice and untangled.  I had been thinking of the best ways to organize my jewelry and this is pure genius!  The solution to all your jewelry problems - it takes up very little space, lets you see your entire collection at a glance, keeps everything in its own space, is user-friendly, and is so well-organized that you can find whatever you need within a second.  No need for fancy jewelry boxes, this does it all!

Based on the success of the jewelry organizer, I got myself a scarf organizer from Marshall's today.  Actually, it's 3 18-hole each scarf organizers for $10.  I ended up using one of them for a belt organizer and cleared another drawer!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

It's finally feeling like winter in Houston!  Our temperature dropped to the 30's and 40's.  The autumn and winters in Houston are my favorite seasons.  No crazy humidity, no mosquitoes, just good hair days, holidays, and sales galore!

I loved my outfit today.  I got to wear my new Zara black puffer vest, my new $7 striped shirt from Banana Republic factory, and my new Naturalizer riding boots.  I also pattern-mixed a leopard scarf with a striped tee for the first time in my life!  The pattern-mixing took some getting used to and was definitely not in my comfort zone, but it worked out beautifully.  After putting on the boots, I felt ready to conquer the world!  It never fails to amaze me how closely correlated looking good and feeling good are.  They say confidence is the best accessory...or is it a smile?  Either way, I had both.

Knowing that the cold front was coming today, I finished swapping out my spring/summer clothes with my fall/winter clothes yesterday evening.  I loved how my entire summer wardrobe can fit perfectly into the four storage boxes.  This is how I make sure I don't have more than I need.  I treat the storage boxes like luggage space.  If all the clothes for the season don't fit in the storage boxes, something has to go.

Allow me to regale you with tales of my shopping adventures:

Yesterday, I was so proud of myself for resisting yet another plaid shirt at Old Navy.  I went in to return a boyfriend cardigan, but then came out with a light chambray shirt and a wide brown belt.  Seems like I hardly ever make a true return without turning it into an exchange and then some!  I felt a bit guilty because I already bought my chambray shirt, although a darker shade earlier this week at JCPenney for about $10.  However, both items were on sale at Old Navy and I like the contrast of the white buttons against the lighter denim.  While at Old Navy, I saw a pair of the pyramid studs that looked exactly like my Fall Challenge Nordstrom ones at a quarter of the cost!  Who knew Old Navy sold jewelry?

Not satisfied with my black sheath dress that I have because it gathers to one side, I stopped by Nordstrom Rack because it was practically next door to Old Navy.  I fell in love with a Calvin Klein black sheath dress.  Who better to design a black sheath dress than Calvin Klein, right?  True to their minimalism design philosophy, the dress has these vertical insets that also function as hidden belt loops.  Ingenious!  This way, you can wear the dress with or without a belt.

I'm still in search of one last piece for the Basics Challenge: the jewel-toned blouse.  I saw an emerald green collarless blouse at Old Navy, but it failed my gaping bust test.  Basically, I just put my hands on my hips and throw my shoulders back.  It seems so hard to find a button-down shirt that will lay flat across the chest without pulling at the buttons and exposing your bra.  It's not like I have a huge chest or anything.  I had a whole set of H&M button-down work shirts that I used to wear in my 20's that are now notorious for gaping at the bust.  I noticed I started having this problem when I hit my mid-thirties and my fiance, now husband, kindly pointed out I was getting back fat.  I'd like to think the cuts are made to be slim-fitting for juniors.  I recently discovered the St. John's Bay brand from JCPenney of button-down shirts which successfully pass the test.  I was so happy to finally find shirts that didn't gape that I ended up buying three of them: 2 plaid and the darker chambray shirt mentioned earlier.

Anyways, Nordstrom Rack had these awesome berry-colored and teal button-down blouses which were extra long and could be worn as tunics.  Unfortunately, they also didn't pass the test.  I think I'll need to check out Nordstrom later on.

Today, I went to the GAP to exchange my sexy boyfriend jeans for a smaller size since they were almost falling off my hips.  While I was there, I saw a darker, distressed pair of sexy boyfriend jeans also on sale that fit much better and looked fantastic.  Totally worth the $6.60 difference in price!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Happy Veteran's Day!

Okay, so I think my closet is reaching its limit. My drawers are barely closing and I still have one last item to get for the Basics Challenge - the jewel toned blouse.  Yesterday, I went to Old Navy looking for a chambray button-down shirt and ended up with this light taupe brown boyfriend cardigan.  On the other hand, I managed to score this denim shirt at JCPenney for only $10!  I wasn't sure if the chambray shirt should be light or dark, but I think darker denim has always looked better on me.  I'm starting to really love this St. John's Bay brand that JCP carries - all of their button-down shirts fit perfectly on me without any gaping at the bust.  I already have two of their plaid shirts.

A couple of the challengers posted some really informative resources on the challenge Facebook group that I want to share with you:

Mary Munkelwitz posted a great link for determining which colors look best on you:

Apparently, I'm a deep winter.  Yay for jewel tone colors!

Becky Ratliff Podhajsky posted this awesome link about one of my favorite stores of all time:

I love the discount scheduling info!  Since today was Tuesday, I had to check out the Target clearance section and found a great sweatshirt for only $9!

I learn so much from these challenges - which is why you should sign up for the Build Your Basics Wardrobe Challenge if you haven't already!

Build Your Wardrobe Basics Banner

Friday, November 7, 2014

I just joined the Style Me Bloggers link up series.  I'm a completely new at this, but thought I'd try my hand at adding the link-ups to the other blogs.  I take it we were supposed to give you a peek into our closets and provide organizational tips this week.

My walk-in closet is one of my favorite rooms in our house.  Granted, I share it with my husband, but it has one section for hanging tops and bottoms, another section for hanging dresses, above that there's a pull-down rod for more tops, multiple shelves, 4 drawers, a 3-way mirror, and a built-in vanity with multiple drawers.

When we first moved in, I was adamant about having consistent hangers since your clothes will look so much nicer on uniform hangers - just like a store!  It was something I picked up in college when I bought these cheap white plastic hangers from Target.  I love them because they always have them in stock, they take up very little space, don't get tangled with each other, and are so inexpensive, I can always buy more!  There are two versions of the hangers - one with little hooks on the inside which are my default hangers, and one with wider grooves on the shoulder of the hangers which is better for sheath dresses and tank tops.

I organize my clothes first by type (tops, bottoms, dresses, sweaters, workout, etc.), next by style (sleeveless, short-sleeved, long-sleeved), followed by color (rainbow order: roy g. biv) and pattern (solids first, then more complex patterns after) going from front to back.  It makes sense to have your tops located on top of your bottoms, so with any sort of vertical organization such as my drawers, I'll have tops in the top 2 drawers and bottoms in the bottom 2 drawers.  I also have 4 very nice boxes that I took over from my husband which I use to store out-of-season clothes.

I try to be minimalistic and make sure my closet isn't overflowing with clothes.  This goes a long way in making your closet look organized.  Every season, I'll prune my wardrobe when I move the clothes out of the storage boxes and into my closet.  I'll donate or toss items that don't work, are worn out, or no longer fit.  If I find I can't close my drawers, or my shelves or racks are spilling over, I reduce and recycle.  To avoid a surplus, every time you add an item to your wardrobe, pick out another item that will need to go.

Someone in the group suggested a wonderful idea of holding a clothing swap.  It would be so much fun to trade items that no longer work for you with your friends and family.  Not only is it a fantastic way to recycle, but one gal's trash could be another gal's treasure!
Build Your Wardrobe Basics Challenge by Alison Lumbatis and Cyndi Spivey

The basics challenge is on!  We just received the shopping list last night via email.  I am both super thrilled and relieved to discover that I have almost all the pieces already in my closet.  I guess having a classic wardrobe is coming in handy for this challenge.  I just need a couple of items: chambray shirt, leopard belt, and a jewel tone blouse.  This time, I'm doing the challenge with my mom and a few other friends, so I'm really excited to see what they come up with!

Someone on the Facebook group recently asked how much money do you spend on these challenges.  I know I felt as if I went on a shopping spree with the fall challenge since I had only a minority of the pieces on the shopping list.  However, I was glad to know others said you tend to spend more on your first challenge.  It's incredibly hard to stop yourself from buying multiple variations of the pieces when you know that they work so well.  I ended up with 3 more plaid shirts than I needed, 2 more scarves, an extra puffer vest, dressy sweatshirt, long sleeve tee, sweater, necklace, and am thinking of getting another cardigan!  I decided yesterday that I was going to cut myself off since I finally got all the pieces for the fall challenge.  Now, I have a new problem: I can only wear one item out of the multiple options for my outfit of the day!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Alison Lumbatis' Style Me Pretty Challenge Fall 2014 Review

First off, Alison Lumbatis is amazing!!!  I heard about Alison through the Bellaire Young Mothers' listserve.  One of the moms, Trish Taylor, posted about upgrading your fashion style for fall and mentioned Alison's unique service.  Trish stated that if you ever wanted a personal stylist, but couldn't afford one, this is seriously the next best thing.

I grew up with fashion magazines and although I always had an interest in fashion, I knew I did not really have an innate knack for it.  I would watch shows like "What Not to Wear" or "How Do I Look" and read books about style, but having a real fashion sense of my own remained elusive.  So my wardrobe consisted of fairly basic foolproof pieces along with impulse purchases.  I prefer classic over trendy.  Only in the last year did I realize that to make my outfits more interesting, I should add a pattern, color, or texture.  Yet, even then I would play it safe and made sure everything matched.  I should also mention that it would take me hours to pack for a trip.  I would be up at 3 am the night before trying on all the different outfit variations to make sure all the pieces I was packing worked together.

Once you sign up, Alison sends you a shopping list which you have 10 days to obtain the pieces.  You can shop your closet, buy her recommendations, or use them as guidelines to make your own selections.  After the 10 days, she releases an outfit everyday for 21 days.

I was intrigued and decided to give it a try.

Best idea ever!!!  I joined the Facebook group for the challenge and got to "meet" lots of genuinely warm, extremely supportive, plain funny, and awesome ladies.  I got so much inspiration, styling tricks, and shopping tips from the group!

Upon receiving the shopping list for the challenge, I was happy to see that I already owned about a third of the items listed.  Getting the other items was similar to a scavenger hunt.  It made shopping a lot easier and more efficient since I could just walk into a store knowing exactly what I was looking for.  Plus, everyone on the Facebook group was in the same boat and sharing shopping tips on their finds as well as pictures of their capsule wardrobes that they put together.

I had a trip to California and packed all the pieces I had off of the shopping list.  It cut my packing time down in no time!  I loved how convenient it was!  I could actually get some sleep the night before the trip without worrying that the pieces I packed wouldn't work.  Too easy!

Getting the outfits for the day was great too.  It was such a luxury to wake up and know exactly what I was going to wear that day without spending forever trying on outfit after outfit.  I didn't have to think about what would match what or whether it would work or not.  I loved knowing that what I put on would automatically be stylish and pretty.

The main lesson I learned from doing this challenge was to keep an open mind.  It's good to push yourself out of your comfort zone.  That's how we grow - when we stretch ourselves beyond the familiar.  After all, isn't that why it's called a challenge?  I noticed playing it safe such as matching black boots with black pants wasn't nearly as exciting as matching cognac boots with black pants, same goes for matching only silver or gold jewelry - why not both?

Here are 10 other notes regarding my experience with this challenge:

1. I learned how to wear a scarf using this incredible video Alison recommended called 25 Ways to Wear a Scarf in 4.5 Minutes!  Wendy must have spent lots of time editing it.

2. Leopard prints are your friend.  They add instant pizazz to any outfit and yet, are surprisingly considered a neutral!  Imagine that!  A wild animal print that can go with anything!  I think I remember Oprah saying something like, "If it doesn't go with anything, it goes with everything!"  I had one leopard print cardigan that I used to only match with khaki and black pre-challenge.  Now, I have a scarf and flats that I can mix with teal, mustard, red, cobalt blue, blue jeans...everything!

3. Boyfriend jeans were the hardest part of this challenge for me.  During the 10 day shopping period, I tried on several pairs of boyfriend jeans and couldn't believe they could be considered stylish.  They just reminded me of the dreaded, frumpy "mom" jeans of the 1990's with the high rise and the bagginess in the thighs.  I realized during the challenge that these boyfriend jeans were unlike the old boyfriend jeans which had no shape from before.  This new version had tapered legs that you could roll up and after seeing it on other ladies, I decided to buy a pair at the end of the challenge.  I was surprised by how comfortable they are.  I even got them in a lighter wash other than my usual dark wash because I wanted to try something different.  Besides, they were on sale!  The best thing about these boyfriend jeans is that you don't have to worry about a muffin top because they are looser around the waist for a more relaxed fit.

4. Leggings are not pants.  I couldn't help laughing at this post.  Too funny!

5. Neutrals can be paired with other neutrals.  I don't know why,  but this combination as obvious as it seems never occurred to me as something you would pull together on purpose.  I always knew white and black would go with anything, but gray and taupe?  Brown and gray?  Navy and brown?  Leopard print and gray?  Why didn't I think of this before?  So chic!

6. Speaking of combinations, you can also pair patterns.  Stripes, leopard print, floral prints, and plaid can all be mixed together.

7. I discovered mustard yellow is an awesome fall color after seeing it on some of the challengers.  I got a long mustard yellow cardigan from Target that I love!  I would never have thought to wear such a color before.

8. Taking selfies are much harder than you think.  Trying to get the right angle, lighting, posing yourself in a flattering way, looking in the mirror the right way while pushing the camera phone soft button with one hand is a challenge in of itself!  However, it's amazing to be able to document your outfits this way and view yourself objectively.  It was so nice to see the other challengers post their outfits of the day or OOTD (a new abbreviation I learned on this challenge).  You realize this is what real women look like, not the Photoshopped models in the magazine, but working women and moms who have busy lives taking care of their loved ones.

9. Since getting dressed was such a breeze, I could spend more time on my hair or makeup.  Looking my best as I headed out the door gave me a feeling of renewed confidence.

10. Shoes are an investment.  I tried to go with a cheap pair of leopard flats and ended up with cuts on my heels.  They were so uncomfortable, I could barely walk and I ended up returning them.  Plus, it defeats the purpose when you're wearing something cute and you're grimacing the whole time because your feet hurt.  So when it comes to your feet, always opt for comfort!

This time, Alison is teaming up with Cyndi Spivey to bring us a Build Your Wardrobe Basics Challenge.  So why don't you join me and challenge yourself to another great fashion adventure?  Your wardrobe will thank you for it!