Thursday, February 25, 2010

Weekend packing in 10 minutes

I used to be one of those girls who packed a bag and shoe bag and a backpack to go away for two days.  Now I pack basically the same thing every time and am done in 10 minutes.   So to answer the question "How is that all you're bringing?", this is what I pack for a weekend with family (like I should be doing right now): 

Dark wash jeans - hemmed to wear with flats
Dark gray layering tee
Black layering tee
2 Bright cardigans
Black hoodie
Sweatpants
T-shirt for around the house
Pajamas
Converse
Black ballet flats
Black leggings
Knit dress for the car ride
Chunky silver necklace and bracelet

Basically, your base layer (jeans and fitted tee) is the same each day no matter what.  If you end up going out shopping or to dinner, you put on the jewelry and a cardigan and the ballet flats.  If you end up just hanging out at home, you've got the hoodie and the converse.  And for the ride home (or in case you get dirty somehow) you have the leggings outfit that doesn't take up much room.


I'm going to put those things in this bag now.  

Shop it to me Thursday - An Emma Outfit

This morning's sale mail was full of great deals if you happen to be my size.  However, my favorite pieces are ones that I'd put together in an homage to Emma Pillsbury from Glee.

The Limited - Grosgrain Flower Cardigan ($31.99)


The Limited - Open Filigree Drop Earrings ($5.59)


J. Crew - Denim Pencil Skirt ($39.99)


Nine West - Angela Slingback (29.99)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My favorite Saturday store

My childhood involved many, many trips to Marshalls.  My mom is also a talented bargain shopper and has a knack for finding great things.  She's the one who taught me to always take a few minutes to look around and see what's on sale and to never pay full price (unless you're in love and it's perfect and you need it now). 

Now that I don't live near a Marshalls, I've converted to TJ Maxx and Homegoods.  I love them so very much.  The merchandise is not junk, except for some of the clothing, and you can end up with some great pieces if you're willing to dig for them.  I've found great pieces for my house (and closet) at a huge discount and it's the first place I look when I need (or want) a new purse or something decorative. 

At one of the larger locations in Dallas, I found two Isabella Fiore handbags for $129 each ($900 purses, if you aren't familiar).  The next week I saw a Ralph Lauren sweater for $29 (regular $90), Le Creuset dutch ovens for $89 (regular $200+) and got an American Tourister laptop bag for $10.   If you know your brands and what the usual prices are, this is heaven.  Luckily, I have the self control to leave them all on the rack or I'd have a real problem...

Moral of the story:  If you don't already shop here, you should.  You'll find lots of high quality things for much less than retail price.  However, it's not a place where you run in and get what you need and are back in the car 15 minutes later.  You'll get sucked in and an hour later, get text messages from your boyfriend asking where you are.  The merchandies is constantly changing, so I stop in every Saturday that I can and see what's new. 

And I recently converted my mother, a loyal Marshall's shopper.

Check them out:  Homegoods and TJ Maxx

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What do you do with old flowers?

Several weeks ago I decided to start going through my stuff and selling on eBay/donating to Goodwill so that I have more room in my closets and cabinets.  I have managed to pare down my clothing to a manageable collection (this was hard but doable), but I have things like my beloved pound puppy and the first roses my boyfriend gave me that I feel like a jerk throwing in the trash yet don't know what to do with them.

I'm not the decorate with dried flowers type, as you can probably tell.   However, I've consulted the internet and I have a plan for the flowers that I thought I'd share with the rest of you since I doubt I'm the only one hoarding old roses:

1. I plan to purchase a few clear acrylic Christmas ornaments from a crafting site ($1.50)



2. I'm going to spray the flowers with whatever spray that Martha Stewart recommends
3. I'm going to clip the flowers from the stems and arrange in the clear ornament (somehow)
4. I'll find some pretty ribbon and make bow for the top of the ornament and stick it on the tree



And that is as crafty as I get.  I'll let you know how it works out!

The elusive $15 gift (that you actually want to give)

A girl only needs so many photo frames, and when you're in your late twenties it is difficult to find inexpensive gifts for successful women that don't say 'Hi!  I was cheap."  That's why I buy things when I come across them, sometimes months in advance, so my friends can have something nice and I don't have to spend $50 on every birthday present.

If you're in the market for such a gift (you should be), check out the 3-piece lotus candle holder set from CB2.  For $14.95, it looks chic and I think it would be very unlikely to be regifted.  ;-) 
 

Monday, February 22, 2010

That necklace sure looks familiar...

I know I've written a lot of jewelry posts lately, but this really amused me today.  I just got an email from J.Crew since I placed an order recently (final sale, of course).  It announced the arrival of "the statement piece of the season" so of course I opened it since I love a good statement.  The devote' necklace is very pretty, but also $150, and features some gold starburst medallions that looked very familiar to me.

 

I couldn't remember where I'd seen it until I went to jcp.com to take a screenshot and remembered this necklace, now $19.50.  Those starbursts are pretty similar, no?  While not identical, I think both achieve the same overall look and the second necklace leaves enough money left over for an outfit.

  


Upon further inspection, several pieces of 'fashion jewelry' at JCPenney could pass for J. Crew if they were photographed better.  I think the earrings below could pass for an expensive pair. (They're $12!)


Moral of the story: If you can get past the dozens of items you don't like, JCP can save you $120 on a necklace.

P.S. I still like J. Crew even though I pick on them sometimes.  I look forward to their catalog almost as much as Lucky magazine.  :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The difference between trend and costume

I consider myself fairly fashionable.  Most of what I wear, while classic, looks like it could have been purchased this year.  However, a lot of the trends this year and last are less about colors and accessories (i.e. 2009 was the year of the scarf) and more about a theme like nautical, lumberjack and safari.  I refuse to look like I put on a costume to go to dinner and don't think my outfit needs to look like I could be going to work and then setting sail afterward.

On Friday I decided to try the nautical look to see how I liked it.  However, for me nautical means navy and white in the same outfit rather than espadrilles, stripes and epaulets.  I felt very preppy and will probably wear it again, but not with navy stripes and shoes made of straw.
               Me                                                    Them

Next, I think I'll try the safari/utility trend.  However, since khaki has a way of washing out those with fair skin (especially me) I will stick with olive green on top and wear khaki as a skirt.  I think a flack jacket and cargo pant is a little too much for one outfit (I still love you, M+O)

                                          
                            Me                                                   Them

However, if you are looking for some safari/utility pieces, there are a lot on sale at Gap right now.  I can't wear a thin shirt dress with cargo pockets but I'm sure a lot of you could pull it off with wedge heels and the right jewelry.  Happy shopping!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Winter sale items to wear to work this spring

In the real life of a young professional (at least not this one), there are not separate wardrobes for each season.  That happens on tv and in magazines.  Limited budgets mean that clothes need to be worn throughout the year and it takes a little bit of creativity to see past the intended purpose of each garment and adapt it to a different season.

Magazines like to do this a lot, but usually the result is not work appropriate.  (Socks with my strappy heels?  Not in this office.  I'd be laughed out of the conference room.)  Today I thought it would be helpful to show some winter sale items that look to be as cheap as they're going to get and how to make them work for Spring.

M+O Pleated Denim Skirt - $29.50
I actually have this skirt, and it's great paired with tights and boots but looks equally good with leather pumps and a cropped cardigan and long necklace.  I'll be wearing this all year round and pairing with tank tops and statement jewelry for the summer.

This sweater is thin enough that it can be worn in an air conditioned office without making you want to strip down in your cube.  You can obviously wear with jeans year round, but this pink color would look great w/ a white skirt or white jeans when the weather changes.  I'd even pair with a tank top, flat sandals and white or black tailored shorts in the summer because I'm usually cold indoors.


This one may get a little cheaper, but I wanted to include it anyway.  I this these colors scream Spring even though it has long sleeves.  It would look really cute with a dark denim skirt or white jeans, or layered over a dress, and you won't get overheated in the office.  Just layer a tank underneath in case you end up outside for more than 5 min.

The Limited Ruched Square Neck Sweater - $29.99
This sweater also comes in black but the picture didn't show the detail.  I think this could be worn with trouser jeans or black pants year round.  It's not thick and would be a great basic piece to wear with statement jewelry.  If your shoes are more spring/summery than nobody will think you're wearing leftover winter clothes (unless they're cable knit).

I know there is only one size left in this particular pant, but there were several similar styles on sale.  Anyway, I am not a believer in the 'gray is for winter' rule.  When you pair it with a bright color like yellow or pink, and the pants aren't made of thick wool, you can wear them to work all year. 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Shop it to me Thursday - A ladylike outfit

Since I want it to be warm, I've made a spring/summer outfit today.

I think the best deal in today's Sale Mail is the J. Crew piazza dress for $29.99.  You can get black or brown, and paired with this ladylike Nine West bag, it becomes a cute outfit to wear to a bridal (or baby) shower this spring or even the office.

I'd pair with statement jewelry and flat sandals.

True confessions: I'm lazy with makeup

I love clothes and jewelry.  I know how to pair things, I can tell you what works for your shape, I read magazines for ideas and watch shows dedicated to fashion (I'm enjoying this season of Project Runway, but Anthony is not a substitute for fierce little Christian).  However, when it comes to makeup I can't be bothered most of the time.

I know this is unexpected.   My main makeup concern is that my skin be somewhat even and that you can tell I have eyelashes.  When I feel like it, I add eyeliner and some eyeshadow and just maybe a lip gloss.  I'm pretty darn boring.

I have perfected a parking garage makeup routine that takes about 2 minutes and consists of:
  • MAC Studio Fix powder foundation
  • Almay 3 in 1 Undereye Concealer (if the dark circles are bad)
  • MAC Paint Pot in Indianwood (a coppery brown).  This is one of few products I rave about - it stays on my eyelids all day and you can put it on with your finger.
  • MAC Powerpoint Eye Pencil in Black (if I have a meeting to go to)
  • Lancome Mascara (I got it for free.  I don't have a strong mascara preference.)
  • Benefit Benetint Pocket Pal (a liquid lip and cheek stain that stays on a really long time) 
When I'm going somewhere nice (this is rare) I bring out my small collection of eye shadows and attempt a smokey eye.  I also hate touching up makeup during the day.

 If all of you makeup mavens are done shaking your head at me, I'd like to get some help.  What are some good products and tricks that will make me look a little more polished?  I'll help you find a great outfit for cheap if you help me out.  Please?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The 10% I can't live without

I think the saying that "you wear 10% of your wardrobe most of the time" is true.  I tend to wear the same items year round, adding coats and tights when it's cold and substituting sandals for spring and summer.  I can contribute some of this habit to laziness in the morning, but mostly I tend stick with what I like.  This evening I made a Polyvore collection of my must-have items that I'd rush to replace if they were lost.  I think it's a pretty nice wardrobe, if I do say so myself.

 
You'll see quite a collection of thin knits (in real life there are way more of them) and jeans.  Add in some work pants, a couple of dresses, and a variety of shoes and a denim pencil skirt and you have the 'casual marketing professional' look.  On the weekend, I swap boots and ballet flats for Converse (and will do so until I'm old) for running errands in more casual jeans and fitted knit tops.  

I think that this year I will experiment more with non-denim skirts and try to wear the ones I have more than once every 2 weeks.  So far my 'wear a necklace every day' resolution has made me appear more polished so I think more skirts will be a step in the right direction.  

How are the rest of you going to evolve this year?  Do you wear all your clothes or rely on your A Team like I do?




Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Need bedding?

If you're in the market for new bedding and your taste leans more towards the understated, check out West Elm as they try and clear out their stock of winter duvet covers and sheets.  I'm a big fan of muted grays and blues when it comes to decorating, so I picked up a Queen sized duvet cover (in fancy organic material) for $100 off the original price!

There aren't many stores, but the website has them (in Moonstone anyway) for about 15% more, which is still a good deal.  If you're in Dallas, head over to Mockingbird Station and check it out!  They have more on sale than the online store.



P.S. The online sale page is here

Monday, February 15, 2010

Even more cheap jewelry

I don't like to spend a lot on things that won't go with many of my outfits.  For trendy jewelry that I may or may not be wearing two years from now I like to browse stores like The Limited, Martin+Osa, and Ann Taylor Loft (still not expensive, but I dont buy $30 necklaces unless I love them) and then wait for JCPenney and Forever 21 to copy the trend. 

Here are a few pieces for this year that you won't feel too guilty retiring before 2012 if they go out of style:

Champagne Bib Necklace - JCPenney - $23.80

Faux Clover Necklace - JCPenney - $15.00


Rhianna-esque Statement Ring - Forever 21 - $5.80


Flower Cuff Bracelet - Forever 21 - $7.80


This is very, very dangerous.

Thursday's post about Shop It To Me led to my discovery of the clothing for sale at Overstock.com.  In about 10 minutes of browsing, I found a few things I'd expect to pay more for.  And since I can't buy them, I thought the rest of you may be interested...

Flyaway Cardigan - $19.99
I'd wear this with a white ribbed tank and dark jeans for work, and then with shorts and flat leather sandals when it warms up 


Kimono Sleeve Dress - $27.99
I'd wear this with some statement jewelry and tights in the winter, and flat metallic sandals in spring. 

Abracadabra Skirt - $19.99
I'd wear this with a black tank and a long necklace in the summer and add a denim jacket for the office.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cheap jewelry - time to stock up!

This weekend M+O is having a President's Day sale offering free shipping and an additional 20% off everything you buy - including sale.

I just checked the sale page, as I often do, and noticed a lot of the necklaces have been marked WAY down and are now under $15 before you apply the discount.  I just stocked up on a few things for those with spring birthdays.  I doubt these will last long...


Friday, February 12, 2010

My third request: A wedding guest outfit


I just got the following request from my friend Katherine, who needs "advice on a cute and figure flattering outfit to wear to an 11 am wedding that won't break the bank."  Challenge accepted.  I've set a $60 price limit on the dress and $30 on accessories.

The goals for a morning wedding outfit (to me, anyway) are: casual fabric, no inappropriate cleavage, the ability to dress it up for a night wedding or dress it down for work.

I'm going to assume that on the day of the wedding it will not be freakishly cold, so a sheath dress is appropriate (not too formal) and flattering for most all figures as long as it skims your shape and fits closely under the bust so you don't look like a rectangle. The one below is $35 from Chadwicks.com, currently residing on a page of frumpier dresses.  It comes in several colors and would look good with a statement necklace and bracelet (but NOT a stack of bangles, they are loud).  Necklace and bracelet are both under $8 at Forever 21.

 
 If you want to cover your arms, add a thin cropped cardigan or go for a dress with a sleeve like the one below from the limited ($60).  The cotton will still be casual enough but the cut is sharp and flattering because of the cinched waist (and the ruffles are just fancy)  Bracelet is also from The Limited ($24)



If you're feeling lucky, go to Target and see if you can find this dress for $39.  The cut is super flattering (not too boobtastic for a wedding) and from the tiny picture, the fabric doesn't look too formal for a morning ceremony. (It says 97% cotton).  I'd pair it with statement jewelry like this handmade necklace from Etsy.




Good luck shopping!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My usual wedding present: Personalized cutting boards

Whenever I buy someone a present, I usually only pick things I'd like to receive myself.   When there's a registry involved, I look to see if anything cool is left but usually I end up picking something more interesting than a few odds and ends or giving a gift card.  (I know going off registry if very controversial and some brides bitch about it, but I'm a rebel that way)

I think the cutting boards below make a really fun shower gift and  the couple will remember who got it for them long after the wedding.  They cost $45 (once you include tax and shipping) at simply-sublime.com and can be personalized to say anything you want.  I tend to substitute song lyrics for quotes about love, but that's just me.  :)  I know the site is full of frumpy country wares, but they have several modern cutting board templates and everyone I know who has gotten one likes it a lot (or claimed that they did)

Deal of the Day: Winter chic

Thursday  means another cheap Shop It To Me outfit!

Since it is SNOWING in Dallas (looks like about 2 inches in my yard... seriously) I thought I'd put together a quick winter look.

Overstock.com has some gorgeous Michael Kors peacoats on sale for $63.99.  If I were getting a new coat this week, I'd go for the aubergine as an alternative to black... but the red is tempting too.


You can also get an Elliot Lucca purse in a pretty, rich brown color for $65.99 (that's more than half off!)



Then, add a pair of hip sling flare pants from Gap for $24.99


Voila!  Winter chic for less than half off... enjoy!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A defined style... totally not boring

I wear the same thing a lot.  Yes, the colors vary, but I would bet that 65% of days I'm wearing a cardigan sweater over a neutral top with a statement necklace. Sometimes I like to mix it up and add large bracelets or a dress under the cardigan (crazy!), but mostly it's variations of the same thing.  For a while I thought this meant I am boring but now I know it means I found my look.

Tim Gunn says we should all find what works for us, and stick with it.  I needed outfits that still said 'professional' in a blue jeans office but don't require ironing (I'm quite lazy).  Button down shirts are hard to find when you're blessed with boobs, and I'm usually cold, so it was like a godsend that cardigans got popular a few years ago and haven't gone anywhere.   I feel the same way about straight leg jeans (why were tapered pants on sale for so long?) and wedge heels. 

I'm not sure what I'll do when these things go out of fashion.  Perhaps you'll see me on What Not to Wear in 15 years, still rocking my cardies while everyone else wears a jumpsuit or whatever else is in fashion.  However, I will have created a clean line and drawn attention towards my face, which Tim says is always in style.

 
A fool proof outfit, I tell you!  Btw, I love polyvore.

Monday, February 8, 2010

I want to be Emma Pillsbury (minus the OCD)

I'm so glad my friend Phoebe convinced me to watch Glee.  After the songs, I love Emma Pillsbury's outfits second most.  She rocks bright colors and cardigans in the workplace with statement jewelry - obviously I would be drawn to her.


Today I decided that my must-purchase item for spring shall be a mustard yellow cardigan.  I'm going to pair it with dark jeans and pencil skirts and colorful jewelry to make outfits like the one below (I put it together on polyvore.com ) 
So far, I've found candidates at chadwicks.com and landsend.com and will be monitoring both sites until one goes on sale.  Until then, I'll make do with what I have and be a little braver with bright color. 

However, if you're looking for a cheap Emma outfit right now, I've put together the pieces below for under $60.  The sweater is $22.80, the skirt is $10, and the shoes are $28.  Wear with pearls.  :)


 

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