Sunday, January 31, 2010

Decorating is hard.

For those who know me, you've no doubt heard about the ongoing bathroom renovation at my boyfriend's house.  He and his parents (and me, for easier tasks like painting or sanding) have turned a bathroom the size of a large closet into a normal sized master bathroom.  Finally, it is finished.

Today is when my skills came into play - shopping for the accessories.  I scoured Dallas for the perfect gray-ish shower curtain to complement the granite and found one on clearance at Target ($17!) with complementing rugs and hand towels from Homegoods.  However,  I learned this week that decorating a shared space is hard.  I see why HGTV created a show about it (though it may be cancelled...)  Unless you're lucky enough to have a man with no opinions (I'm not) most prints get deemed 'too girly' and 'weird looking' and you're left to be creative with solids and stripes.

After much shopping, we ended up with this shower curtain and some white rugs with gray stripes and various blue/white/gray hand towels.  I picked out brushed nickel accessories (Why are these so expensive?  All bathroom trash cans not made of plastic were $19.99!)  and learned that if you're decorating a bathroom on a (small) budget, you should:

1. Pick out your shower curtain first and carry it around with you.  Things that look like they will go together under flourescent lighting can look awful in the room.  I have to make several returns at Target this week because I did not learn this lesson.

2. Check out Target, Ross, Garden Ridge Pottery and Homegoods for cheap(er) items that are still well made.  I was shocked at how much art and mirrors Garden Ridge sells for under $30.  (However, I couldnt decide on anything because I was being rushed.  I will go back next week.)  The Thomas O'Brien collection at Target is great for unisex space because it still stylish but not floral or overly feminine.

3. Look for inspiration at Pottery Barn, West Elm, Crate+Barrel, and Bed, Bath and Beyond but always assume that you can find something similar for cheaper (unless you are absolutely in love with it).  I almost bought a $49 shower curtain and am so glad I didn't.

Once I get some photos uploaded I'll post, but in the meantime I'll be enjoying bubble baths and showers with two showerheads.

              A non-girly shower curtain that isn't uglynavy blue or plaid!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Deal Alert!

If you aren't a member of then you need to join.  They have short-lived sales on specific brands for Women, Men, Home and Travel,  Sometimes the merchandise is high end, sometimes it's affordable.  Today, the editor's pick on GiltFuse is a pair for $14 gold plated earrings that are really interesting but still classic enough to wear every day.  Hurry before they're gone!

To join as a referral from me, click here

Outfitting my new Macbook

If you haven't read it on facebook, now you know that I'm finally taking the plunge and switching to Team Apple.  I'm so excited. 

Since I'm me, I immediately thought "I bet I can get some awesome decals on Etsy" and I was right.

This is a pretty big decision... I may need to think about it for a while.  What do you think?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

But I dont want skinny jeans!

I'm not sure when it happened exactly, but at 26, I see that I've migrated to some sort of pre-middle age demographic for retailers.

First I began to mock the clothing in Express as "hooker wear" (Glittery tank tops? No thanks) when I had happily shopped there in 2005-2006.   (I will admit they still make a good work trouser.  I'm wearing a pair now.)  Then, I learned how well made pants and knits flatter my shape, which ruled out shopping primarily at AE and Old Navy. 

As my salary grew (not by leaps and bounds, but enough) I began to see clothing as more of an investment and $50 became a steal for a well cut pant.  Now, I find myself in this odd middle ground where I'm not ready to spend three-digit prices on clothes from J. Crew but my go-to retailers are embracing new trends that I don't care for.

Shopping for new jeans made this painfully obvious.  During my closet clean-out (see below) I realized that most of my jeans were falling apart at the bottom, too short thanks to the dryer, or just plain ill-fitting.  So, I hit NorthPark with the (terribly naive) idea that I would pick up a new pair of Express or Limited jeans to replace my old ones.  It was then that I realized how much trends and I had changed in 3 years.  Every jean I tried on barely contained my thighs (and I may not be tiny, but I'm definitely a normal sized person) and I suddenly went from a size 8/10 to a 14.  Unacceptable.  My inquiries about 'regular jeans' were met with amused looks from tiny saleswomen.

Next I went to Gap and did something I never do... I actually asked for help.  Much to my surprise, I found that the Gap Long &  Lean jean is actually not a skinny jean.  (The name is misleading!)  I have not been so happy with a pair of jeans in a long time.  People ask if I've lost weight and I ended up getting 2 more pairs over the next few weeks - plus another similar pair with a missing button for $12.

Check out the jeans: Long & Lean

So, everybody get rid of your ratty old jeans.  Ask for help if you need it.  It's hard not being 21. 

P.S. You get 25% off at Gap/BR/Old Navy today if you use their credit card!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Surprisingly chic: JCP

I will be up front about the fact that I work on the JCPenney account at work, and for 2.5 years I've wished they had more stuff I like so I could use my occasional 20% discount.  Finally, the time has come. 

When my boyfriend and I were shopping for bedroom furniture, we checked out the JCPenney Home department and I was shocked at how trendy they'd become in just a year.  It's like Crate+Barrel in there!  But cheaper!  Each of these lamps are under $100 and would easily be $200+ anywhere else (Except Target.  They still win when it comes to lighting.)

P.S. This is the furniture we got (minus the bed).  Isn't it pretty?  I'm thinking light gray walls...

Pardon me, I forgot the shoes

It has been brought to my attention that last night's post left out shoes.  So here goes...

I own lots of heels.  They're so pretty, I feel hot when I wear them, but for work I think they're overrated.  Most of your day is spent with your feet under the desk or a conference room table.  There are tons of cute flats to be had and I wear them almost exclusively at the office.  Right now I'm wearing a pair of black grosgrain flats w/ black jewels on the toe from Gap (and I wish I'd gotten several pair for $12 each!) 

For me, the key to being comfortable is a rubber sole and the addition of foot petals if the back rubs against your heel (Target sells knockoff inserts for cheaper)  The ones below are both on clearance at for under $60.  The left is Dr Scholls and the right is Nine West. 

For work heels, I sometimes wear stiletto, but usually I prefer a stacked heel or wedge like the ones below if I'm going to be walking further than the parking garage.   The ones on the left are by Naturalizer (really!) and the right are by Nine West.  Both are on and say 'I'm here to work but I'm not boring' rather than 'I'd like a cherry vodka sour'.

 In the fall and winter, I love to wear knee high boots to work.  They don't look trampy if you pair them with knee length skirts and the flat riding boot styles are so comfortable.  If you have small thighs (I don't) you can also tuck your jeans into them on Friday.  The only drawback to boots is that the cheap ones tend to look awful.  I think it's because there is so much PVC (unlike on a pump) that you notice right away that it's not real leather.  Make this your splurge.   Hope this helps!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My very first request: A post-college wardrobe

My cousin Michelle has asked my opinon on how to go from college student in a t-shirt to someone who has to wear actual pants and shoes to work every day.  I wish I had known what I know now back when I was frantically buying clothes for my first real agency job waaaay back in 2005: get nice basics that fit and be trendy with your jewelry. 

If I were to repeat that shopping trip, here is what I would get:

All you really need in terms of pants are black, gray and dark denim trouser jeans for Friday's - or everyday if you work in a casual office like mine.  Then, find knee length skirts in dark denim and black.  (The knee length is important... nothing says 'my first job' like a too short skirt and heels)

For tops, you will definitely need a white 3/4 sleeve button down and a thin knit black sweater.  The sweater should be your splurge since it will get lots of wear and you don't want it to pill or fade.  Then, look for 6-7  well made, 3/4 sleeve knits and (of course) cardigans in jewel tones.  These pieces tend to work year round, never look dated, and you can wear them with any of the pants/skirts above.  Get 2 slim fitting, non-ribbed tanks in both black and white for layering. 

The items above can make about almost a month of outfits, which is far more than you need since nobody remembers what you wear anyway.  (Really, they don't)

Then, to stand out, buy interesting jewelry from affordable chains like Forever 21, Aldo, The Limited (they offer buy one get one free a lot), Kohl's, and Martin&Osa.  Think long necklaces, interesting bracelets, and earrings that people will notice as you're walking up to them.  (I actually have the last bracelet pictured, and it was $4!)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cleaning out the closet Tim's way

I will be the first to admit that I have lots of clothes.  Too many clothes.  However, whenever I've tried to pare down my collection to my "signature pieces" and "well made basics" I act like a hoarder on A&E (I"m referring to this show).  I convince myself that I will start wearing that 3 year old button down that looks faded, or that I may lose 10 lbs soon and those jeans that I accidentally shrunk in the dryer will look good again (they won't).  I end up getting rid of a few old t-shirts and about 3 things that are long out of style. 

A few weeks ago I read Tim Gunn's book and was re-inspired to try again.  His main point is that you should really like wearing everything you have.  It's a simple thought, but definitely not something that most of us abide by.  I have a whole collection of pieces that I only wear when the clothes I feel good wearing are dirty. 

I love you, Tim.  Buy the book, ladies.

So I tried again.  I made piles of clothes I love, clothes I like, and clothes I wear when the other two piles are not an option, and things unbecoming for a 26 year old professional.  (Think jeans w/ ripped up hems because I wore my "heels" jeans with flats)  I put the third and fourth piles into bags and left it all to sit for several days.  (I'm not brave enough to load everything in the car and drive off to the donation bin.  I wanted to see if I'd miss it)  Lo and behold, I got along just fine without the stuff in those bags.  I even got rid of two cardigans.

My closet is not going to be featured in any magazines (yet) and it could be a bit neater, but looking at it doesn't make me upset anymore.  I think most all of us can afford to get by with less. 

It all started with an interview...

Hello and welcome to my first foray into blogging.  I've always scoffed at the idea of sharing my thoughts online because frankly, I don't find myself that interesting.  However, everything changed last week when I became a local celebrity.

Yes, I was on the news.  And not just as one of those people they flag down in a parking lot, but a proper interview about my shopping skills and finding deals post-Holiday.  After it aired, I had several people suggest that I start sharing my knowledge (and other thoughts) here so I'm giving it a shot.

You can watch me here:  My TV Debut

This will not be a blog about my day to day life, but I hope you enjoy it and let me know what you think.

P.S. The name of this blog comes from my favorite sales associate at my favorite store, who dubbed me a "cardigan junkie" when I told him that I still had 15 cardigans in my closet after completing my Tim Gunn Guide to Style closet cleanout (more on that later...).  I love them.


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