How To Step-Up Your Style at the Pool

Lounging poolside with a cocktail, thoroughly reading my favorite fashion rags… this is my vision of heaven.  There’s something  so luxurious and relaxing about the act of just absorbing the environment on a beautiful summer day.  Sometimes I like to blend into the scene and go unnoticed.  Other times I picture myself as the mysterious lady of leisure (yes, despite the husband and two kids in tow!) who does this sort of thing on a daily basis.  I like to be the gal at the hotel pool who looks like she actually put a little thought into her effortlessly chic poolside ensemble… or did she?

Let’s start with the swimsuit.  Right now I am rockin’ a pre-kid string bikini that somehow still fits nicely (Amen), but I am on the hunt for the perfect black single-shoulder one-piece.  Um, okay, so let’s move on to the cover-up, a crucial piece in my summer repertoire.  I prefer a classic black, but it almost doesn’t matter what the cover-up looks like.  Just the act of wearing one trumps the shorts and tank top norm!
Cover-up
During the writing of this post I am wearing my black and white floral 3/4-sleeve tunic.  It has a hint of gold thread woven throughout.  It’s perfect!

Now on to the shoes.  You could go the functional route and opt for a pair of flip-flops.  I’d recommend a gold or silver pair… they go with everything!  But if you really want to step it up, slip into a nicely detailed pair of flat sandals with just the right amount of bling… not too adorned.
Gold Braided Sandals
I love my gold braided leather Bandolino T-straps.  I ordered them online last year during the gladiator sandal craze, but I’d definitely put them in the “classic” category.

Now let’s up the glamor factor with a great pair of shades.  I know the Aviator style is what it’s all about right now, but I am totally faithful to my Bolle sunglasses!
Bolle Sunglasses
These simple wrap arounds are not only tight looking, they actually do a great job of protecting my eyes!  That’s a two-fer!

Hat or no hat?  If I’m fully committed to the poolside Diva look, I’ll go for a big, round, black sunhat.  Otherwise, I’ll go without, which is daring considering my hair, when pool-wet and air-dried looks like a poofy auburn Q-tip!!

Finish the look off with a great beach bag.  Two words: Go Big!
Beach Bag
Even if you only have a magazine and sunscreen to transport, carry a nice big bag in the crook of your arm and your Fashionista ensemble will be complete!

So remember:

Poolside Chic = Cover-up + Fashion Sandal + Great Shades + Sunhat + Big Bag

Easy Breezy!

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!

“Please excuse me, I’m not usually this glamorous.”

As a full-time Mommy to two active little kiddos, I live nearly three-quarters of my existence schlepping around in my playground digs. You know the look: boyfriend jeans, Project E distressed tee (which I have in several colors and prints), sometimes Chucks, sometimes Havaiana flip-flops (Yes, it’s Tampa!), and more often than I’d like to admit, a baseball cap. Did I mention NO make-up? Yes… quite the vision. This is my disguise from the paparazzi of course. That, and running around after children is a tad more difficult while rocking a five inch platform heel. I often dread running into a client or fellow fashionista. They’ll think I have no idea what I’m talking about. “Fashion?… um, her?”

jeans  Boyfriend Jeans  ball cap and jeans

But that’s just my world right now. That’s how I roll! You may run into me in the grocery store one day and, odds are, I’ll be wearing the uniform described above. It’s like living a double life… being a fashion stylist AND a stay-at-home Mom. As a fashion expert, my clients and readers have certain expectations for what I should look like. Naturally! I live for being a fashion plate… trust me. But the reality is that nobody can be glamorous all the time… especially if your reality does not include full-time nannies, hair stylists, and make-up artists.

My life is happening at a lightning pace and in order for me to live in the NOW and enjoy it, I gotta move quickly to keep up. That usually means I’m sacrificing the luxury of getting dressed up in order to get out the door in under 10 minutes!

“I Want It NOW!” -Veruca Salt

Here are a few picks from my list of absolutely required, can’t live without, gotta have it, need it to survive, “I Want It Now” necessities to enhance my wardrobe:

#1  Cream Oxford Flats
Oxford Flat
I can wear these with everything!  Dresses, shorts, pants? YES!  I love the neutral color and how the soft woven texture adds a feminine touch to this otherwise masculine style.

#2  Straw Fedora Hat
Gap Straw Fidora Hat
I am definitely a hat person, but you don’t have to be a connoisseur to enjoy this trend.  Another piece that would go with just about every Spring ensemble in my closet.  Gotta have it!

#3  Pinky Nude Nails
OPI Nail Polish
Coney Island Cotton Candy is my favorite OPI color.  My nail tech can attest to this… I’ve been wearing it for years!  Love it!

#4  Single Shoulder Swimsuit
DVF Swimsuit
The single shoulder trend was all over the runways this season and swimsuits were no exception.  I love this one by Diane Von Furstenberg because it’s a great twist on the classic one-piece swimsuit.

Like Veruca Salt, my appetite (for fashion) is insatiable!  I have many, many more must haves on my list for this season… which I will share in future blogs of course.  Are there any pieces you’ve been dreaming about lately?

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.

MS-REDWhiteStripeDress
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!

Culotte Conversion

First thing’s first: Let’s shop the closet!

After a sit-down with my personal CFO (Mr. Wallet), I’ve decided that it would be a good idea to work with what I’ve already got in my closet before I go out hunting in the Fashion Forest.  Mr. Wallet agrees… the hunt can be very dangerous for him after all.

I’ll begin by pulling out all of the old styles that I no longer wear.  Whether it’s a tired old cardigan from my preppy phase or a pleated floral skirt that now reminds me of a lamp shade, I’ll pull it.  Why waste valuable real estate holding on to pieces that I know  I’ll never wear again?  But what’s this?… an old pair of brown culottes from Express?  First of all, what the heck was I thinking?  Yes, I wore them once or twice… somehow I rocked the culottes.  Paired with tall boots and turtle neck, they weren’t so bad.  To toss or not to toss?  That is the question.  Hmmmm… I’ve got it!  Let’s modify the culottes.  Genius!

So I took them to my tailor and we turned them into shorts!Culottes Turned Shorts
Now the hunt begins!  I’m going through my closet piece by piece, thinking of ways to update and recreate some of my old favorites.  It just takes a little imagination and a great tailor!  I’ll keep you posted  🙂

The Closet Chronicles

I have spent the last four years playing the part of Mommy to my two little ones. In my pre-Mommy life I had a fabulous wardrobe, filled with designer clothing… the envy of any respectable fashionista. Over the course of those four years I have managed to sell, consign or donate nearly every piece that made me smile. Presently, I am left with mere memories of a life of fashion. My racks and shelves are now less impressed with the cotton tanks and jean shorts that they begrudgingly house. Purging the beauty of that space in favor of the functional has left a hole in my closet, which I now refer to as “the comfy zone”. This is a backhanded compliment of course.

I will be venturing back into the fashion industry in a few short months and feel ill-prepared for what lies ahead.  I am no longer beaming with pride when I step into what once was considered my “Vault of Style”.  These days, I stand in the middle of my closet staring aimlessly at the racks of playground wear and sigh.  Well that’s all about to change!  I am going on a journey of rediscovery, a quest for higher fashion, if you will.  I am going to shop this town like nobody’s done before!  … and on a shoestring budget.  This is gonna be fun!!  I’ll keep you posted on my progress.  Wish me luck!

Here are a couple of pictures of my closet before my transformation from butterfly to caterpillar:

Closet2

Closet1