Friday, November 28, 2014

Essie: Head Mistress

One of my best friends & mentors from when I lived in Nashville is a nail artist pro. She sent me a picture of her nails with this design, and I loved it so much that I had to try it myself. While it is a bit more time consuming than the usual at home mani, it's still quite easy to do:

Step 1: Use tape and a pair of scissors to create the triangles. Blue painters tape works great, but masking tape will also do. Scotch tape seems to have more seepage than the other two, but it's still an option. Try your best to make the angles similar to each other, but you can make them smaller or larger depending on your nail shape. Apply the tape so that the triangle covers 2/3 of the nail.
Step 2: Once all of the nails have been taped, apply a bottom coat on your nail, right on top of the tape. Let dry. This helps to create a barrier between the tape and the color, so it won't bleed through as much.
Step 3: Apply two coats of nail color, again right on top of the tape. Allow it to dry for a minute in between the two coats.
Step 4: Before the paint on the second coat is completely dry, carefully peel off the tape.
Step 5: My nails always look messy at this point, so don't fret if you don't have straight lines. I use some q-tips (these pointed ones are great) dipped in nail polish remover to clean up the triangle.
Step 6: Apply a quick drying top coat and allow them to finish drying.

Mine aren't 100% perfect, but they do look great from afar. It's fun to mix it up every now and then!
P.S. A big thanks to my darling mom for taking this picture for me while I was home last weekend. xx

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Necessary Luxury: Designer Sunglasses

Necessary | Luxury

I have purchased a new pair of designer sunglasses once a year since college, and it’s one of my favorite things to do. Everyone needs to wear sunglasses to protect their eyes, and there is a big difference in quality between the cheap frames + lenses and the statement designer frames with UV blocking lenses. My favorite pairs of sunnies feel heavy and substantial, and have stood the test of time (through many accidental falls from the top of my head). Ranging from $100-$400, and often going on sale, sunglasses are a great way to enter into the world of designer goods. Also, you can (and should) wear them every day, which drastically decreases their cost per wear. If you add up the amount of cheap sunglasses I bought and broke throughout my first three years of college, I could have purchased at least a pair of Ray-Bans that I'd still be wearing today.

Department stores are the best (Nordstrom! Dillards! Neimans!). They have so many different pairs to try on in order to find your perfect pair. After I’ve tried on a bunch and found one or two that I love, I always search online to see if they are on sale anywhere. Black Friday is a GREAT time to buy sunglasses (especially from department stores), and I’ve had a lot of luck finding great ones (including these and these) at Nordstrom Rack and Saks Off Fifth. Some of the styles that I'm loving right now are in the image at the top of this post.

DOs & DON'Ts
While trying them on, do take pictures of yourself on your phone (#selfie), just to make sure you can picture how they actually look on you (and if they photograph well). I find it impossible to look at myself in the mirror when I have a pair of dark sunglasses on inside, so the pictures help. When choosing your first pair, start with the basics: a pair of aviators, black cat eye frames or classic tortoise-shell will always look chic. Once you’ve checked those off the list, mix it up with something bold, or a twist on a classic. Try to stay away from white frames, as they often look cheap no matter how expensive they are. Also, always carry them around in their case so they don’t get scratched (don’t just throw them in your bag, naked!), and try your best not to lose them. Keeping track of them gets easier if you make it a habit to wear them everyday. Once you walk outside, it will become instinctual to put them on, so you'll notice right away if you've left them sitting on the table at the restaurant. After a year or two, you’ll have the start to an awesome collection. xx

New Series: Necessary Luxuries

The only thing I don't LOVE about fashion blogs is the materialism. Lately, it seems like every blogger sends the message of NEW NEW NEW BUY BUY BUY! which feels tiring instead of aspirational. You don't really have to have a new handbag and a $1000 pair of shoes in every outfit to be happy, but that has become the new normal. I am sensitive to this because I had all of my clothes stolen about 4 years ago, which forced me to change my mindset. Now I am all about filling my closet with essential items that I'll be able to wear and wear and wear. Those items are something you might call a...
I think other bloggers have addressed this issue before with posts around "investment pieces", but that's not really what I am going for. Some things are definitely an investment (example: a designer handbag), but my favorite black cardigan that I completely wore out was $20 on sale, and my best flats ever are from Target. It's more about spending & investing where it matters. In my opinion, that includes: designer sunglasses, leather handbags, a beautiful & well-made coat. Things that don't last for more than one season shouldn't be a big investment: flats, cardigans, a white t-shirt. Your closet needs both types of items, but you shouldn't feel like you are breaking the bank every time you need something new.

To me, it's the mix between the necessary items you need to have as your base and the luxury items that aren't critical (you can still be clothed even if you don't have a statement scarf), that help launch you into the realm of style. A necessary item may be an investment, but may not be, and the same for a luxury item. A beautiful piece of costume jewelry that makes your outfit come together may have only cost you $15 at a vintage shop or on sale at Nordstrom Rack, but it would be considered a luxury item compared to your favorite pair of jeans.

I'm really passionate about this idea (as you can tell from my blog name!), so I thought it would be fun to create a series where I go through all of the items that I consider essential to a great closet and wardrobe. I'll start today with a post in a few hours, so come back if you are interested. And as always, let me know in the comments if you have any questions or suggestions. I hope you will love it! xx

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sweater & Leather

I am writing this on an airplane as I head back to Baltimore from a weekend at home, so I thought it was only fitting to share my favorite sweater to wear while traveling. It isn't so warm that it's stifling, but it can become a full blanket if needed for a chilly flight. Plus it's Thanksgiving week! And Thanksgiving always reminds me of cozy sweaters.

Here are those leather leggings and Vince booties again.. I can't get enough of them! Plus I find a lot of satisfaction when I can find new ways to wear things that are already in my closet. The sweater and t-shirt were both from TJ Maxx a couple of years ago, and while I would usually wear this with riding boots or loafers, it feels completely fresh paired with all that leather.

One of my favorite things so far about committing to this blog is giving myself an excuse to come up with new outfits all the time. I've been keeping a notebook next to my bed because I've been thinking of new ideas in the middle of the night! It's amazing to start a new project and feel inspired, so thank you for continuing to follow along.

Calvin Klein Sweater (I bought a size large for an oversized look.. similar here) | Long Sleeve Tee (no tag but similar here) | J Brand Leather Leggings via The Real Real (last seen here) | Vince Booties via The Real Real | Chanel Boy Bag

What are your plans for Thanksgiving? I'll be heading to Texas tomorrow to spend five days with my boyfriend's family, which is sure to be a great time. Also happening tomorrow? I'll be sharing my favorite item to look for on Black Friday, so be sure to check back. xx

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hallway Update: Progress & Plans

The hallway - the first thing you notice when you walk up the stairs to our part of the house, plus we spend all of our time here in the morning getting ready. It needs to be pretty AND functional, but the progress has been slow. You can check out this post for what it looked like before, and while these are definitely not the FINAL pictures of the hallway, I’ve made some progress and I'd love to share my future plans with you. Since we’ve last talked about it, I’ve added a rug…

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Essie: After School Boy Blazer

Essie After School Boy Blazer is a true navy. It's very dark - nearly black - but I love dark nails for fall.

The only complaint I have is that it's chipping like crazy. I've had to touch it up nearly every morning since I've had it on, but I guess that's a bit better than starting from scratch.

Overall, I think the color is lovely - very dark and moody to match the weather, but not quite as harsh as black. I'm loving it with my darker ensembles lately, and it certainly makes me feel more put together than I usually am on a Tuesday morning.

What do you think? Would you rock the navy nails? xx

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fall Floral

You know those outfits that just make you feel like a million bucks? This navy skirt + striped sweater combo is a long-time favorite of mine. Since most of you reading this know me personally, I'm sure you recognize it.. I've been wearing it since college. I'm such a big fan of quality over quantity, so don't be ashamed to re-wear what makes you feel great (over and over and over).

I threw on this floral blazer in order to mix it up a bit and stay warm, since it was a bit chilly last weekend. Wearing floral with stripes is the easiest way to mix prints. I've also worn this striped top with a navy & white polka dot skirt, and I've worn this blazer with a black and white striped dress. The key is to keep everything in the same color palette, since mixing prints AND colors is harder to pull off.

Aqua Blazer (similar here) | Michael Kors Striped Sweater (old) | Anthropology Skirt (silk version here, great price here) | Vintage Shoes | Chloe Sunglasses (one pair here, or similar here)

I'm looking forward to wearing this outfit again once it warms up in the spring. With the addition of the blazer, I think I can wear it quite a few more times without anyone noticing, right?

Have a great week!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Orange Stripes

Orange & blue is one of my favorite color combinations. Although it can be a bit bright, mixing in some neutrals can make it more manageable. I think it's especially adorable in home decor, particularly this bedroom and nursery bathroom by Bailey McCarthy.

If you can't already tell, I'm such a big fan of colored handbags. While a bright bag may not get as much wear as a black tote, if you have a mostly neutral wardrobe, you might find yourself reaching for one more often than you think. This one from Topshop came in at under $50, and I've worn it many times to add a pop of color to an all black or navy outfit.

C&C California Sweater Dress | J.Crew Necklace (love this one in blue and this on in white) | Topshop Clutch (similar here) | Vintage Shoes | Prada Sunglasses

I keep posting that I'm running out of time to wear dresses and skirts, but the weekends have been uncharacteristically warm lately. Do you have any plans this weekend? I'm looking forward to resting up after a particularly busy week, and to working on the blog. I've heard from a lot of you that you'd like to see more home decor posts, so I hope to have something like that to share soon. Thanks again for reading and for all of the feedback. I hope you have a great one!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Essie: Bachelorette Bash

Essie Bachelorette Bash | Domino Magazine | Clutch from Bolivia

Happy Wednesday! I just want to quickly say thank you to everyone that has been reading and giving me your feedback on this blog. You've been so encouraging and I have a lot of great ideas for future posts. It's been lovely to have a creative outlook outside of work, and I'm grateful that you find it interesting and want to follow along.

This nail polish color from Essie is a true hot pink. It isn't neon; just a creamy fuschia. I'd prefer if I were wearing it to an actual Bachelorette Bash, but I've been wearing it to work all week instead. It makes me happy every time I look down and see my hot pink fingernails typing away, which makes a busy week just a little bit better.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Black & Leopard

Last fall, I started a new job. While I still used this hot pink Longchamp bag regularly, I really needed a work bag that didn't scream "I just graduated from college!". After intensive searching, I found a black Michael Kors Gia bag on major sale online. A classic black tote bag was exactly what I was looking for, and with gold details and embossed side pockets, I fell for the Gia hard. Unfortunately, I had just drained my handbag savings on a Proenza Schouler bag (from this post), and this one was over my budget. I obsessively checked on it for a week or so, until eventually someone else purchased it, and I was forced to move on.

Flash forward to the holidays. My boyfriend, Jesse, and I agreed to limit Christmas gifts to stockings only, since we had just exchanged gifts during Hanukkah with his family, plus I was still catching up on all of my expenses from moving. Before I keep going, you should understand that Jesse and I are seriously competitive with each other. Historically, he is much better at gift-giving than I am (maybe because he is a better listener?), so I was determined to outdo him for Christmas. I spent months finding the best possible stocking stuffers for Jesse: tracking down his favorite snacks while I was still living in Nashville, ordering a Kickstarter project that I heard him talking about with his friends, and generally paying very close to attention to any comment that began with "I wish I had..." or "It would be great to have another...".

When Christmas finally rolled around, I gave Jesse a stocking full of thoughtful gifts and fun surprises. Jesse gave me a lovely stocking full of new nail polish colors, and pounds of chocolate. Perfect for me, definitely, but I felt like I had finally edged him on the thoughtfulness factor. Victory!!!

Zara Coat | Citizens of Humanity Denim | Vince Camuto Leopard Booties (similar here) | Michael Kors Collection Gia Bag (love this one too!) | Prada Sunglasses (in black here)

Like a true brat, I spent the next hour or two gloating over my amazing gift-giving abilities (are you cringing? I'm the worst). THEN, right when we were turning out the lights, Jesse asked me to hand him a bottle of water from the other side of the bed. Can you guess what was actually on the other side of the bed? Just guess. It was THE BAG!! From months ago! Jesse bought it, stashed it at work, and surprised me with it for Christmas. What a darling.

It was a wonderful surprise, and even a year later, I still use the bag nearly everyday. Whether I'm working, shopping, or traveling, it holds everything I need, and the leather is extremely durable. If you are looking for a work bag or an everyday bag, I highly recommend adding a black leather tote to your collection. I do still love that pink Longchamp, but I feel more grown up every time I wear this one.

Here's to hoping I'll finally beat Jesse this year. xx

Friday, November 7, 2014

Blue Necklace

This skirt from Proenza Schouler has been the most worn item in my closet over the last few months. The fabric is really soft and slightly shimmery in real life, plus with tulle underneath the top layer, it has just the right amount of "poof" [technical term].

I've already discussed my adoration for skirts here, but I love that this one can take a basic tee shirt and make it look feminine and put together.

This necklace is something I picked up at J.Crew during one of their sales last month, and I'm looking forward to wearing it with this sweater now that the temperature is dropping.

J.Crew Painter Tee | J.Crew Necklace (in gold here) | Proenza Schouler Skirt | Vince Boots via The Real Real | Michael Kors Watch | Chanel Boy Bag | Essie Sand Tropez Nail Polish

Give me a black, a-line skirt and a statement necklace, and I'll take over the world.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Essie: Good as Gold

This gold metallic nail polish is my very favorite. It's only edging hot pink by a slight margin, but as someone who has spent their entire life looking for the perfect nail polish color, take my word for it: this one is *THE BEST*. It can look both neutral and fancy, depending on the lighting, and definitely matches my affinity for gold jewelry. I get compliments on it every time I wear it (which is often), and it's the only nail polish I own where I've bought two bottles.

Other reasons why I love it? It dries SO quickly compared to any other. Add this top coat, and it's incredible. Maybe that's why I wear it so often? I can throw it on before I head out the door in the morning, and it's dry by the time I'm finished driving to work. It also looks great on your toes when you have a slight tan (something that rarely happens to me #pale). It's also a cinch to remove, unlike all of the glitter nail polishes I've ever worn.

One word of warning: it does require some extra technique when applying. Make sure to apply it with as few strokes as possible: one down the middle, and one on either side. It will naturally level and smooth out, as long as you don't mess with it too much during application. I always apply a thin coat using the technique above, let that dry (it's always dry once I'm finished with the rest of my fingers), and add one more coat on top of that one. It smooths out really well on its own, and if you mess up, just let it dry and apply another coat on top of it. No stress.

For the redheads out there, the Penny Talk shade (a copper color from the same collection) looks AMAZING on you. One of my darling friends in Nashville always wore it and I am still super jealous. But for those of us who aren't blessed with incredible red hair, pick this one up!

I know I've been really subtle about it in this post, but I LOVE IT.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Emerald Green Skirt

I wore this outfit last week to run errands, when Baltimore felt like it was still in the final days of summer. This outfit combines my favorite pieces from both seasons: a cozy sweater, a flirty skirt, & heeled sandals.

I'll add a pair of tights and some booties or flats to keep wearing this outfit over the next few months, further proving to myself why I will always choose to buy a skirt over a pair of shorts. Skirts are more flattering & feminine, plus you can wear them year round.

John Galt Sweater | J.Crew Skirt | J.Crew Sandals (last seen here) | Michael Kors Watch | Chanel Boy Bag | Essie Sand Tropez Nail Polish

What is your go-to outfit for this time of year? I'd love to know.