Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dreaming of sandals and pedicures

First of all, I am not suggesting that anyone spend $100 on sandals today.  However, if you've got money to burn or a coworker to share an order with, you can get $20 off an order of $100 or more when you buy sandals from endless.com

The weather here in Dallas has been freezing, then 80 degrees, then windy, and now it is about to storm once again.  I know it's odd to say, but I'm almost looking forward to 90 degree days so I know what to wear!

Anyway, here are a few of my favorites:

Wild Diva Waltz Thong Sandal - $25.50
I love the medallions but worry that the super flat sold will kill my feet.  Such a dilemma...
Pierre Dumas Mitzy Wedge Sandal - $30
I'd be so tall in these... and probably walk like a drag queen


Selene Flat Thong Sandal - $39.95
I have a pair very similar to these that I've worn to death, but I can't bring myself to spend this much on flip flops... sigh

BC Footwear Like Mother Like Daughter Sandal - $44.95

MIA Capetown Thong - $49.95

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Clothing dilemma: What to wear when being photographed

I really hate that feeling you get when you see an unflattering photo of yourself.  The ones where your upper arm looks as big as your head, or you went from looking normal to 8 months pregnant literally in a flash.  As the fiance and I gear up for engagement photos next month, this topic has become very important to me.  Seriously. 

This post is a collaboration with my former coworker and a great photographer - Zoe Dennis of Zoe D Photography in Plano (Dallas area).  She's offered some great tips on what looks best in a photo, and I'm supplementing them with outfit options.  We'll also cover what to avoid, and how to dress the men and kids who will star alongside you in the pictures.  This is a long post, but we hope it will be helpful the next time you're planning a photo shoot.

Things to consider

Silhouette
The most important part of a photo-friendly outfit is silhouette.  Although a good photographer won't make you look 10 pounds heavier, the right outfit certainly helps.  If you have a large bust, it is important for your top or dress to fit close to the body underneath so that you don't look larger than you really are.  Drapey tops that look great in person can make you look like you're shaped like a pumpkin.  Not flattering.  On the other hand, you also need to make sure that nothing is too tight and there are no muffin tops or bra bulges that would be noticeable in a high quality photo.  The photo below (taken by Zoe) is an example of how great a defined waist can look and how accessories make the outfit unique.



Silhouettes I plan to try are wide leg pants with a fitted top (to emphasize a small waist), full skirts (to hide thighs completely) and v-neck tops (to draw attention to your face and make you look leaner).  The dress below would really pop in a photo, as well as create a nice shape thanks to the seaming under the bust and the flared skirt.



What Colors look best on you?
In general, jewel tones are a safe bet and make for a vivid image.  No mater what color your skin tone, there's probably a saturated color that makes you look great.  (Be sure to add a little more makeup than usual to make sure your features don't get lost, though)  Pastels tend to wash people out and black or white tops make it hard to tell where your arm ends and your waist begins.  You should also avoid small stripes or graphic patterns since they can appear distorted in photos.  The options below are all from The Limited and cost under $30 (and look very similar when lined up together...)




What do you want your look to be?
Generally, you want to look like the best version of yourself in a professional photo, which means you should still be recognizable!  A good guideline is to pick two outfits: One you'd wear to dinner with friends at a nice-ish restaurant (think dark jeans and a slighty trendy top), and another dressier one that you'd wear to a party (a dress and cute heels).

However, you don't want to try too hard to be trendy and appear dated when everyone sees the photo on your mother's end table four years from now.  Accessories like scarves and statement jewelry are a great way to look current and add interest to the outfit without making the picture scream 'I was taken in 2010 at the height of the nautical trend'   I think the options below from Ann Taylor LOFT are interesting and would look great with a solid top or dress.



For the men in your photos
If you're having portraits taken with your husband/fiance/man in your life the two of you should wear complimentary colors, but not try to match.   If you're wearing a cool color like green or blue, then he could wear a lighter shade or something in the same color family like gray.  In general, men can wear dark jeans and a button down shirt or polo and fit in with whatever outfit his better half is wearing.  I think the couple below (also photographed by Zoe) look like they belong together, but not like they are wearing their best outfit and trying not to mess it up.



The overall goal is that the two of you should look like you're going to the same place.  However, as tempting as it may be to go pick out a new outfit and his dress shoes, you want your man to look like himself in the photo as well.  That means if he wears Converse 99% of the time (as my future husband does), just go with it. 

If you have kids...
The days of posed photos of kids in their best clothes, awkwardly smiling in front of black background, are over.  Now, the best photos (in my opinion) feature kids being themselves.  Don't pick an outfit that makes your child's face the least noticeable thing in the photo.  Crazy prints and shapeless dresses or sweaters will not photograph well, even on a small body.  The solid color and pattern guidelines also apply to kids clothing, and if it's a family photo, their outfit should be in the same color family as Mom and Dad's.  If your photo session allows, bring a casual and a nicer outfit for some variety as well as some props like favorite toys, capes, skateboards, hats or anything else that is part of your kid's life.  One of my favorite photos is of a little boy wearing khaki shorts, no shirt, rubber boots, and a Superman cape - as he does every day.  I also like how the siblings below are wearing the same style of outfit, but are not necessarily dressed up.


I hope this was helpful for those of you planning to be photographed in the near future.  If I've left anything out, please comment and let me know!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

My dress shopping experience - with a happy ending

I'm probably not the first to notice that shopping for a wedding dress is a very strange experience that makes you feel like absolute shit and a princess all in 3 hours.  The whole concept of trying on a sample is strange, because at no other time do we try on things that are too big or small on purpose.  Plus, the odd sizing of bridal gowns means that the size 8 or 10 on a label is more like a 6 in street clothes. 

Now think about trying to fit some larger than size 6 hips into those sample dresses.  Some of them wouldn't go on at all, and the plus size section was too big.  Clearly I fit in a sad middle range of sizes undeserving of samples.  I had a very hard time visualizing a dress in the correct size, much less putting down hundreds (or thousands) of dollars and waiting 4-6 months for it to arrive. 

Thank goodness for off the rack stores.  Today I accomplished my most impressive shopping feat - one that I may not repeat for years.  I found a Maggie Sottero sample gown, in my size, that I LOVED.... for $399.  SOLD!  (I'll post pictures after the wedding - I'd like some of you to be surprised)

Then, I went to the mall with my cousin to check out the sales and browse for bridesmaid dresses.  We walked into The Limited to look at the sale rack and struck gold - I found dresses for all 5 bridesmaids, in their approximate sizes, for $55.  And they're cute!  And re-wearable!


I am on such a high right now, I feel like the most accomplished money saver in America.  :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The 'use it all the time' gift

A few years ago, I received the cosmetic bag below from a former boss and use it all the time.  It's the perfect size to carry full sized toiletries for a weekend trip and fits in a suitcase, unlike the hard carrying case I used before.  I'll use it for years and I love it.


However, while trolling Etsy (as I am prone to do while watching television) I came across Eady Beady Bags.  They come in tons of patterns, including Amy Butler fabrics and other graphic prints, and are only $10!  I just ordered a set in a variety of fabrics for my bridesmaids and may have their names embroidered on them.  There are dozens of patterns, so check them out.  It took me 10 minutes to pick which one I wanted for myself!


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I love lamp

Why are lamps so dang expensive?  The fiance and I just got back from registering at Crate and Barrel where I (naively) said "Let's register for a couple of lamps for the living room and our bedroom."  Everywhere I looked in the upstairs section, I saw a lamp that would look great in some corner, but the cheapest one was $169.99!  Disheartened, I sought similar pieces for less and found what I think to be perfectly adequate lamps for under $100

No thank you:


Yes, please (www.jcp.com)












Tuesday, March 23, 2010

In case you're interested: Spring sale items

I am (sadly) not buying many Spring pieces this year, but can't resist sharing all the cute things I'd be considering if this were a non-wedding year.  Happy shopping!

Martin & Osa - Asymetrical Wave Tee - $14.95
I think this is a unique twist on a regular t-shirt for running errands on the weekend without looking like a slob.  The gathering makes it special, but still not dressy.


Ann Taylor LOFT - Petal Bib Top - $24.99
I love this top (also available in pink and coral), but am not sure how great the petals would look without ironing.  I'd pair with white shorts or pants and metallic sandals for summer, or layer under a blazer for work.


Ann Taylor LOFT - Wrap Shirtdress with Ruffle - $39.99
There's only one size left, but if it's your size you'll get a heck of a deal.  (Also in petites)


I think this is perfect for going out to dinner or drinks with friends in the summer.  The sparkle makes it dressy, but you could still pair with dark jeans and heels.



The Limited - Embellished Flower Top - $29.99
This would be a cute bottom layer under a belted cardigan (cuter if it got marked down some more) or worn alone when it's warm enough



Monday, March 22, 2010

J. Crew dress update: It was bad

Now that I've tried it on and it looked bad, I can show you the J. Crew dress that I was hoping would fit me

J. Crew Sophia Gown




In real life, the dress was a yellowish cream color and made me look like I had reallllly wide hips.  Definitely a no.  : (

Back to shopping for me... any ideas on where to find a wedding dress for under $400 in Dallas?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Honest feedback, please

I want to buy my bridesmaids a statement necklace to wear to the wedding since they may not all be wearing the same black dress.  I really like the one below ($14 at Kohl's) but fear it may be too much for some people.  What do you think?  Would you be embarrassed to wear it?

I wear giant turquoise beads to work without blinking an eye, so my opinion has to be taken with a grain of salt...  :)

Update:  In real life, the necklace is much more sparkly and plastic than I expected.  They may be going back to Kohl's.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Oh how I wish I could wear this...

When I got my Martin & Osa mailer this week, I quickly looked up the dress on the cover because I love the graphic print and touches of yellow.  I pictured it in engagement photos and at wedding showers this summer... until I saw the back.  Poor, busty, me.  That little t-back just isn't enough and even my strapless bra would show.  I could layer over it, but it woudln't be as nice.  Sigh...

However, I'm still posting it in hopes that one of you with less of a chest can wear the heck out of it this summer.  Use promo code 43015854 at checkout for 30% off through Sunday the 21st.


In case you're interested: World Market

I always forget that World Market exists for about 4 months, then I go in there and am impressed by the prices and spend about $30 on something cool before I forget about them again.  They really should advertise more.

The online rug selection is more extensive than Home Depot and Lowe's, and without the awful country/traditional ones that seem to be the only ones on sale all the time.  I wish I had shopped at World Market before buying my Pier 1 rug because it appears I could have saved $115 (still love my chocolate brown/ivory damask rug, though)

If you're looking for some cheap things to perk up your house, check them out (and buy some wine while you're in there - it's cheap!)   Here are a few of the things I'm considering for when I totally redecorate N's house after I move in  ; )


Garden Party Jute Rug - $39.99
I think this has an Anthropologie garden party feel to it, and I love the colors. 


Lotus Canvas Print - $129



Coupe Dinnerware (4 pc set of plates) - $12.76
If you're still eating off of hand me down plates from college, you might consider investing about $50 for some classic plates that you'll feel very proper handing to your dinner guests.  The bowls and mugs are well priced too.



Sarika Spring Floral Table Linens
I saw these place mats by way of the Tipsy Society this morning, but I love the whole collection for summer.  It would be perfect for an outdoor party (with twinkle lights in the tree) or for every day.



Aqua Trellis Bath Towels - $11.98
These would be nice hanging in a guest bathroom where they won't actually be used

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

20% off dresses at J. Crew - 3 days only

In the event that you need a dress for a wedding, a shower, work, or anything you could possibly be attending this spring and summer - you need to check out J. Crew

I make fun of them a lot for charging $98+ for basic items, but right now all their dresses are 20% off.  If you're at all curvy, or wear your dresses for a few years, you could get a good deal this week.  I only have 3 J.Crew dresses but all of them fit great and have held up well after a couple of years of wear.

A few of my favorites...

Solid Embossed Beach Dress - $78  (I'm considering this one in black for bridesmaids...)

Solid Embossed Lorelei Dress - $78

Jessie Cotton Dress - $56


Silk Chiffon Twist Tank Dress - $136  (Also a bridesmaid dress contender if it gets marked down more)

Cotton Cady Alexa Dress - $69  (If you have the skin tone for this yellow color)


I really want to find a nice J. Crew cocktail dress under $100 for my bridesmaids to wear, so this sale was welcome news to me.  I just have to decide who the bridesmaids are... :-/

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I'm in love...

Ever since I interned in London back in 2004 I've had an affinity for all things British.  I've always wanted some crazy Liberty of London prints, but at 100 pounds per shirt they were out of reach.  Even the Christmas ornaments were $35!  Thank goodness for Target!  I usually skip the designer collections because, like most clothing at Target, the quality is awful and the prices aren't that great (I consider $30 to still be a bit of an investment for a top).

However, I've been pleasantly surprised by the Liberty of London line.  The top I did buy ended up fitting poorly and went back to the store but there are lots of other things I want.  It's too bad the upcoming wedding means my shopping days are over... sigh   But if I can't buy, then I can at least point the rest of you towards the lovely things.

A few of my favorites...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Engaged!!

I promise this will not turn into a wedding blog, but from here on out you may see a post a week about some kind of wedding decision I have to make because I hope to be getting married in about 6 months!  Eeek!

I'm so excited and can't wait to start putting all the ideas I've had tucked away in my head onto paper and into the venue.  That said, if you know of any cheap vendors in Dallas please let me know.  This is going to be my biggest bargain shopping challenge ever because this average cost of $13,000 is way more money than I've got laying around.  (Who are all these people anyway?!  Since when is $3500 an acceptable cost for a photographer?)

I've already had my local J. Crew store order me a couple of dresses to try on next week, so keep your fingers crossed that my favorite one looks good on a non-model body!  (And it's on ebay for $169...  so seriously, cross those fingers.)  More on that next week...

Now I have lots of work to do... while I'm not busy staring at my new ring

Cheap and chic maternity clothes

Disclaimer:  I have never been pregnant and am totally unqualified to write this, but my friend Jennifer asked me to give it a shot.  So here goes...

There must be something in the water here in Dallas because it seems like every week someone else announces that they're having a baby.  I've already covered what to buy for the babies and now I'm going to attempt to find things for mom.

Since I've never been pregnant, I am imagining that the following criteria is important but please correct me if I'm wrong:
  • Outfit should accommodate a supportive bra.  Nothing too thin or too bare on top.
  • You don't feel like shaving your legs all the time, especially in the later months. 
  • Fabrics need to be comfy and not require lots of ironing 
  • Pieces should be versatile since you're only wearing them for about 5-6 months (assuming you can still wear regular clothes at first)
 That said, here's what I've found and how it could be worn:


Black Jersey Dress - Overstock.com
Fancy Filigree Necklace - Shop The Look

This material looks like it would be breathable and not constricting, but the cut is chic and the v-neck means you can showcase some crazy jewelry.  You can also take off the black sash and replace with another color.  Pair with rubber soled ballet flats, dressier sandals, or work heels.



Urban Trouser Maternity Jeans - Overstock.com
Low Rise Denim Pencil Skirt - Old Navy

I've never heard of this brand of jeans, but they got a 5 star rating and the cut is what I'd pick if I were to only wear one style of jeans for 5 months.   The dark wash and wider leg can be dressed up for going out to dinner and is appropriate for work on Friday.  I'd hem them to wear with flats, converse and sandals to get the most wear out of them.  (Unless you love your heels, of course)

The skirt looks very versatile as well, and the waist is elastic, but it doesn't look like it would be very comfortable in the final weeks before the baby comes.




Essential Tank - Gap
Marled Cardigan - The Limited
Smocked Solid Cardigan - The Limited
Folk Stone Luxe Necklace - Shop the Look

My thought is that you don't want to look like a different person just because you have a baby in your belly.  If you didn't wear synthetic printed tops before you got pregnant, don't start now.  So, if you're into layers like me, find a thick non-ribbed tank to wear underneath open, flowy cardigans that you can wear when you're not pregnant. 



Low Rise Legging - Old Navy
Tie Shoulder Jersey Dress - Old Navy
Double Layer Front Knot Top - Old Navy
Smocked Jersey Maxi Dress - Old Navy

Next I wanted to find cheap things for the days when you just want to say 'Screw it, I'm pregnant and I need to go to Target.  These sweats are fine."  I'm not sure how high quality these items are, but the prices are right and you won't feel too guilty donating them to a friend after you're done with them.  Both of the tops could be paired with leggings or jeans and all could be paired with a cardigan and fun jewelry if you're going out but want to be comfortable.





Braided Thong Wedge - Ann Taylor Loft
Puma Tinsel Sneaker - Endless.com
Dr Scholl's Graduate Ballet Flat - Endless.com

For shoes, I think that a hard slippery sole and no padding are a big fat no.  Here are a few flats that are stylish but don't look like they'll kill your feet. 


I hope this was helpful, though I suspect I just found things everyone knows about.  Even I am scared at the prospect of finding clothes when pregnant, and I wish all of you luck.  But as hard as it may be, don't give in to the pink gingham babydoll top.


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