Friends With Benefits…


The benefits of having stylish friends are endless!  First of all, they are my fashion plates, constantly serving as inspiration for my own personal style.  It’s fun to hang out with like-minded gals who truly appreciate the art of dressing.  My dear friend Denise Schultz recently posted this pic on her Facebook page and I was instantly drawn to the look… casual, yet elegant… comfortable, yet super chic!  Though she appears to be wearing separates, it’s actually a gorgeous striped and cobalt blue maxi-dress she discovered at Nordstrom Rack in Tampa (one of my favorite spots to score designer duds at discounted prices).  I found some great pieces online and put together my amped up evening version of this fabulous Spring/Summer look below…

Denise Inspired Ensemble

1. Stripes and Lace Top, $28,
2. Mango Satin Maxi Skirt, $46,
3. Fornash Rosey Earring, $19,
4. French Connection Cropped Cardigan, $99,
5. French Connection Wide Belt, $49.90,
6. Melissa Optical Sandal, $70,

Designer Inspiration: Alice + Olivia

Alice and Olivia Pic

Okay, so I adore this leopard print ensemble by Alice + Olivia.  The dress, the bag, the shoes… perfection!  The price… a bit out of my league.  These three designer pieces total nearly $1,200 and I just can’t go there.  So, like any determined fashion stalker, I found a few amazing alternatives that convey this same look for a fraction of the price (13/100 actually)! I’ve posted both looks below… the real thing for those with deeper wallets, and the ‘close-enough’ version for gals like me…

Alice and Olivia Ensemble

1. Alice & Olivia Dress, $396,
2. Alice & Olivia Snake Embossed Leather Bag, $545,
3. Alice & Olivia Leopard Print Wedge Sandal, $240,

Alice and Olivia Inspired Ensemble
1. Dorothy Perkins Leopard Print Dress, $35,
2. Jessica Simpson Satchel, $69.95,
3. JustFab Leopard Wedge Sandal, $49.99,


Runway Translation: Sheer Fabrics

Sheer Runway Spring 2013
runway photos:

Sheer, lightweight fabrics graced the runways of Roberto Cavalli, Akris, Donna Karan, Tom Ford, Rick Owens, and many other talented designers.  And what better way to represent the Spring season than to show some skin? But if being scantily clad is not your style, try pairing a semi-sheer dress with a jacket and you’ll still turn heads…

Sheer Translation Spring 2013

1. Helmet Lang Asymmetric Sheer Dress, $160,
2. Warehouse Biker Jacket, $88,
3. Blu Bijoux Beaded Hoop Earrings, $17,
4. Apple Crinkle Clutch, $74,
5. Asos Holland Leather Heeled Sandal, $127,

One Thrifty Find, Four Stylish Looks

Catherine Malandrino Citron Silk Dress
I recently scored four designer dresses at a local thrift store for $4.95 each!!!  This Catherine Malandrino citron silk dress ($200-$400 retail value) is one of them.  I was so excited to photograph it that I haven’t yet dry cleaned the dress… which is my #1 THRIFTING RULE: ALWAYS CLEAN YOUR FINDS! Anyway, I love the look of a girly dress layered with a blazer or jacket and paired with great shoes and accessories.  Here are four ways to wear this very versatile dress, one for each possible phase of my day…

PHASE ONE: Kid drop, coffee shop and dry cleaner…

CM Citron Silk Dress Day Look

PHASE TWO: Meeting with a potential retail partner…

CM Citron Silk Dress Work Look

PHASE THREE: Date Night with the Hubs (2 options)…

CM Citron Silk Dress Evening Looks
*all items pulled from my existing wardrobe

Lucky Lucky Gold

With St. Patrick’s day just at the end of my rainbow this week, I am dreaming
of the perfect evening look for a swanky weekend wedding.  Gold accessories are my lucky charm…
Lucky Gold Look
1. Issa backless gown, $412,
2. Clagett Designs gold clover earrings, $18, 
3. Nina Majesta Art Deco Frame Clutch, $85,
4. Chinese Laundry gold high heels, $26.99,

What I Wore…

…for dinner with a girlfriend:
London Times Dress
London Times dress from Marshalls
Orange beaded gold necklace from Deborah Kent’s (long, but wrapped)
Black crochet & leather belt borrowed from another dress
Tried and true gold braided leather sandals from Bandolino

…for a lunch meeting with a fellow volunteer:
BR Top & Summer Skirt
Tribal silk top and cotton skirt from Banana Republic
Military belt from Salvation Army
Necklace by local jewelry designer Pour Toi
Bronze cork wedges by Mia

A Refreshing New Addition to My Boutique Circuit

I recently attended a fabulous shopping party at JC’s Boutique & Alterations.  The store has actually been open since October of 2010, but for me it’s a brand new discovery.  Cat Showalter and her mother Josie Martinez opened the shop when Cat became layed off from her job in insurance mediation.  Well, her loss was definitely our gain.  I can’t decide what I liked more, the pieces or the price-points.  It almost felt like I was getting away with something naughty at the cash wrap.  It can be a slippery slope for a buyer to find amazingly affordable designers without sacrificing either quality craftsmanship or style, or both.  Cat travels to markets on the West Coast like Vegas and San Fran to find designers… and she’s got a great eye!  That’s what keeps the store from looking too young, which is the risk you take when offering such low price-points.  There’s a level of sophistication that you certainly won’t find at most shops that offer budget-friendly frocks!

What I wore there:
MS-Vena Cava Dress
This is a great Vena Cava dress I found in the sale room of Deborah Kent’s a while back.  It’s a lightweight silk with navy blue pleated ribbon trim around the neckline.  There are many interesting stitching details that are impossible for my awful camera to convey, but trust me when I tell you this dress is special and very unique in it’s cut.

What I bought at JC’s:

MS-Peach Esley Dress2
One of my newest treasures is this Esley dress I scored for a mere $64.  No, that’s not a typo.  I love this soft peach with the taupe ribbon detail.  Fabulous neckline…  so fem!  Of course I have a pair of heels for that!  I got these Joey pointy toe pumps ages ago from Dillards.  I’m thinking of doing something a little different with the belt fabric… definitely going to remove the belt loops I’m covering with my hands.  Luckily, JC’s co-owner Josie handles all of the alterations in-house.

MS-Yellow Esley Dress
Another new addition to my Spring/ Summer dress collection.  Love this bold yellow linen number by Esley.  Only $49 for this one.  The graphic detail rocks!  I upped the glam factor a few notches with my Sigerson Morrison gold wedge heels from Deborah Kent’s.

MS-Gold Leaf Earring
8 bucks for these gems!  How sweet is that?  Flower cutout on hammered matte gold leaf dangling from one “diamond”.  Lately I’m loving the look of long, dramatic earrings with my super short hairstyle.

Looking forward to going back for more fashion finds.  I think JC’s Boutique & Alterations now has it’s own stop along my local shopping route!

The Fashion Poet

I have a very dear Aunt, who shall remain nameless… we’ll call her Aunt Diane for this post.  Anyway, my Aunt Diane has always had a very casual and well put-together personal fashion style.  She is the last person to recognize or acknowledge her own ability to create a polished look for herself, but I’ll be the first to say that this woman has “Style” with a capital “S”.  Most of her style comes from within, an essence, if you will… but I digress.  Over the years she has given me several birthday gifts in the form of fashion accessories; purses, necklaces, a watch.  She seems to know exactly what I like… which is a challenge for most considering my personal style fluctuates depending upon which day of the week it is.  For my recent birthday she gave me a dress… very bold move.  She hit the ball out of the park AGAIN!  It was then that I realized that ALL of the gifts she has ever given me have become timeless staples within my wardrobe.  That is huge… quite a testament to her gift-giving skills.  So this post is simply an homage to my dear Aunt Diane.  She’s a fashion poet who doesn’t even know it!

Here are some pics of my favorite gifts from Aunt Diane:

Birthday Gift Dress
The dress and belt are Bisou Bisou from JC Penny.  I’ve paired it with a Michael Stars bolero, Express necklace, and Henry Beguelin sandals.

Bamboo BagetteSnakeskin Clutch 1Rubber Watch 2Adjustable Necklace 2

Always remember:  When giving a gift of fashion it truly is the thought that counts, especially if you take the time to consider the recipient’s personal style!

The Empire Stripes Back!

Spring Fashion Trend: STRIPES

The origin of this trend stems way back to the 1800’s in the French Province of Brittany.  What we commonly refer to as “nautical stripes” (navy and white) are actually called Breton stripes.  The 1858 Act of France made the Breton shirt part of the official uniform for French Navy seamen.  There were 21 stripes- one for each of Napoleon’s victories.  The stripes were also thought to help locate men who fell overboard.

Sailor Stripes

In the 1930’s CoCo Chanel launched Breton stripes into the fashion mainstream after becoming inspired by a visit to the French Coast.  She designed and wore a simple striped tee with palazzo pants and, well… the rest is history!

CocoChanel Breton Stripes

I pulled a few striped pieces from my closet and decided to take some pics of my favorite ensembles.  I have several Breton pieces, but wanted to play with the other striped goodies for this shoot.  Forgive the poor quality of these shots, as I am on the hunt for a better camera.

This red and white striped mini dress is by Soprano from Nordstrom.  I love the simplicity of this cut and the cotton blend is super comfy!  What drew me in (besides the $38 price tag) is the ruching detail on the sleeves.  There’s a small pocket on the top left side that I could do without, but it’s barely noticeable.  I accessorized with a long, silver necklace (which is actually a vintage purse strap), a turquoise cocktail ring, and a sexy pair of nude Gianni Bini heels.  This look is perfect for date night!

MS-Stripes and Flowers
This look combines stripes and a floral print to create an unexpected twist… which I like to do on occasion.  The floral blouse is DmBm from Nordstrom … very inexpensive!  The striped crop jacket is Ett Taia and the white jeans are Joe’s, both from local designer consigner Fresh Threads.  The jacket is a bit boxy, so it calls for a flowy and feminine blouse underneath to balance the look.  Paired with a nude peep toe pump, this look is great for lunching with friends.

MS-Stripe Vest Maxi
Here’s my bohemian side begging to be set free!  The maxi dress is Color Me Red and the striped vest is Project E Vintage, both from Keys Country.  I like this ensemble because it’s super comfy and makes me feel like Mother Earth.  I’ve paired it with a fabulous necklace made by local jewelry designer Marianne Homsy and grecian Bandolino sandals.  I could lounge around town all day in this one!

A Little Stripe On Stripe Action

I’m currently obsessed with all things striped!  While doing some research about the origins of nautical stripes in fashion (for an upcoming blog post), I discovered that I own more striped pieces than any one person should.  Some are old, some are new, and all of them are Spring’s answer to “What’s a good staple for the season?”… a question I’m sure everyone is asking, right?

Today’s look is 2 parts stripes, 1 part casual, one party querky. Comfort was the goal here… it’s a beautiful beach kinda day and I’m ready to lounge with a cocktail in hand!  Stripes on stripes can be tricky, but this look works because both pieces share the same color story of navy and white, and pairing them together creates an unexpected touch of interest that I love!

Stripe on Stripe Action

Two notable details from this ensemble:  I like the dress super long, to wear with my 4″ high platform espadrilles, but for the flat sandals I needed to shorten it… enter military belt.  The belt helps anchor the dress at my waist so I can pull the hemline up a few inches and it stays put.  Also, the necklace is actually 3 different chains I found in my jewelry drawer.  All three are silver or silver and gold with varying designs, but when linked together they form one unique piece of jewelry.  Very rock-n-roll!