Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Lazy Girl Style: Looking Current With Little Effort

I think one of the big misconceptions about being seen as stylish is that you have to construct elaborate outfits and buy tons of new things every year.  Thank goodness that's not true, or very few of us would have anything to blog about.

Lately I've noticed that some of the most popular outfits on Pinterest are actually pretty basic, with small tweaks to make them stand out.  For the rest of us, that means that classic cuts and staple pieces are always a good choice, and you can choose inexpensive ways to mix things up.

To prove my point, I've created a couple of outfits that would be Pinterest-worthy if photographed on the right woman by someone who knows what they're doing.


In each one, the silhouette itself is common, and it's the fabric choice on one piece plus an interesting shoe that brings them to the next level.  That's it! 

Personally, I can't get enough of gray denim and have been wearing my own pair to death with sweaters and cardigans.. and button downs and tee shirts.  They're just different enough from blue jeans that people notice the change, but they're just as easy to wear.  The same will apply to skinny pants with unexpected detailing, or a printed ballet flat instead of basic black.

Now, who else is inspired?  I think I might recreate the outfit on the left for work tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Got holiday reader requests? Not seeing my Facebook posts?

Housekeeping announcement time...

If you have holiday-themed reader requests, please email them to me soon so that I can address everything in time for you to actually go shopping! I just realized that there are about 8 weeks until Christmas and had a little freakout.

How to get the most out of your request:
- Tell me about your style and/or the event you're attending. 
- If you have a body type that calls for special consideration, include that too (don't worry, I'm not going to go on about anyone's large thighs, but I'll quietly pick items that are more likely to fit you)
- If there are things you hate, such as skinny jeans or tall boots, tell me and I'll leave them out of some of the options.


Also, Facebook really wants me to pay for you to see my posts in your news feed.  I'm sorry, but I'm not going to do that, so we'll have to use a workaround.  If you like seeing the link to my posts in your news feed, you're going to need to interact with one of them so that the algorithm will count Cardigan Junkie as a preferred page.  It's as simple as going to my page and clicking "Like" on some of the recent posts, or leaving a comment.  Right now, it looks like about 75% of you are not seeing the posts in your feed anymore.  Thanks a lot, Facebook!

That is all. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Baby Cardigan is...


A BOY!!!

Sorry to interrupt this week's important fashion posts, but I'm pretty excited about welcoming a little guy to our family in March!  I'd be lying if I said that I always pictured myself as a boy mom, but now I couldn't be happier.  Baby Cardigan appears to be healthy, and for that I am beyond grateful.

It's such a relief to be able to make nursery plans, and my head is spinning with ideas.  I spent a good chunk of my Saturday night browsing for inspiration online, and will be starting to figure out what our vision is for the room.  (Tangent rant: Is nobody capable of designing a boy room without blue or gray chevron print?  I'm so sick of it!)

I also made a tiny little impulse purchase at Baby Gap once I discovered that you can find sale items for under $5.  This is going to be dangerous...


 it's maroon and white, and was under $5... whats else is an Aggie mother to do?
 

Now, who all has good advice for raising little gentlemen?  Any good blogs I should know about?  I'm loving Lay Bay Lay (as usual) and Honey & Fitz for nursery inspiration, but would like to check out others.

Friday, October 25, 2013

5 Things Friday

Happy Friday!  I have been waiting for today for months, since I finally get to have my 20 (and a half) week sonogram, and hopefully verify that Baby D is a healthy boy or girl.  Squeeeee!

Until then, here are five things worth sharing on the internet:

1. I love this mirror so very much, especially the gold accents.  Sadly, I have too many mirrors in my house already and even I can't think of a spot for her. 



2. This fall, my style plan (yes, I have one) involves fitted thin knit sweaters and statement necklaces.  I like the vintage, old lady feel of this one.



3. I just came across this recipe for Butterfinger cupcakes and I can't stop thinking about it.  It's not even difficult!  Check it out over at Honestlyyum.com



4. I love to get kids books for Christmas, and if you're buying for small people, I recommend this list of picture books featuring strong female characters.  In a world of sexy looking Disney princesses (even Merida!), I think it's important to provide other characters to be excited about.  

 image and list via No Time for Flash Cards


5. I am definitely not a nail polish expert, but I have performed some field tests recently (sample size of one, no control group) and have hereby determined that Essie nail polish stays on better than OPI.  I'm sure it has everything to do with user error during application, but I just thought I'd share.



Have a nice weekend, ladies!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Real Life: Is the Internet Making Us Mean?

 speak no evil print by jennifer avent

Even though I have built an online presence and enjoy social media, I am so glad that it did not exist when I was a teenager and struggling with confidence.  Not that the late nineties were a magical, innocent time, but there wasn't an equivalent avenue for people to flippantly make hurtful comments without the awkwardness that comes with doing it in person.

I recently deleted over 200 people from my Facebook account, mostly for privacy reasons, but in many cases because I just found them to be mean and I got tired of it.  It seems that women in particular seem desperate to reaffirm their own decisions and status by criticizing others and it is seriously making me sad lately.   "Helpful" comments are carefully phrased to subtly put someone down, and in matters of politics or parenting, opposing views are often mocked.  Has everyone always been this way, or did Facebook give us a platform to be bitches in public without consequences?

I know blog comments can be the wild west of the internet (if you want to find the meanest people with wifi, scroll to the bottom of a Yahoo news article), but I recently starting browsing a few parenting blogs and message boards and was really sad to see so much thinly veiled criticism from moms who felt the need to boast when a fellow mother was asking for help.  Statements like "I'd never run off to work and let some strangers raise my kids for me" are clearly not meant to be helpful to a mother seeking moral support and struggling with the reality that her family situation doesn't allow for a stay at home parent right now.  It's not as though anyone has opted out of raising their child, after all.

As a mother to be, I'm worried that this kind of behavior is becoming the new normal.  Never has it been so easy for someone to be shamed, or rejected, and we need to think as much before we type as before we speak.

Have the rest of you noticed this trend, or am I just having an introspective Carrie Bradshaw moment?  (Sorry, I couldn't work "I couldn't help but wonder..." into the post without it sounding completely trite)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mad for Plaid, Not Lumberjacks

There's something about crisp fall air that makes everyone want to bust out the plaid flannel.  It's a look I personally love, but not when it involves visible legging-clad crotches and outfit combinations that evoke the bounty paper towel man. 

Here's how I avoid both of those situations:


First, I cannot say enough good things about Liz Lange maternity tank tops from Target.  They're basically a long, butt-covering version of the great $12 cotton tanks that you usually get.  There is no ruching on the sides and the cut hasn't been changed otherwise, which makes them perfect for pulling off the leggings and boots look when you shirt or sweater isn't quite long enough to cover everything it should (because leggings are not pants!!)

Second, don't get me wrong, I am not saying that regular jeans don't go with flannel.  I wear it too, but the lighter the jean and the more casual the shoe makes the outfit start to feel rustic.  However, swapping your normal jeans for black denim and a ballet flat with some edge (or not) and a cute clutch makes the flannel feel more chic and on-trend.

Still need a flannel shirt?  Here are some affordable options:


What's your favorite way to wear flannel?

Friday, October 18, 2013

5 Things Friday

Happy Friday, ladies!  I hope y'all have had a great week.  I've been beyond busy at work, and I just want to nap and read books this weekend.  Sometimes I think 4-day weeks are worse than regular ones!

Before I run screaming from my office building, here are five things worth sharing on the internet:

1. Weird or cool?  Even though we don't find out if Baby Cardigan is a boy or girl (and healthy) until next Friday, I've been giving thought to the nursery decor and want to do something that my husband will appreciate as well.  I've been toying with the idea of incorporating screen printed concert posters into the room, since my husband has several of his own, and right now I'm loving this one from We Are 1976, one of my favorite shops in Dallas.




2. Even though I have lots of things I should be doing in the evenings, I keep finding myself playing around on Ancestry.com.  It's really addicting, and this week I got chills when I came across a photo of my great-great-great-grandparents, who I'd not known about minutes before.  I'm sharing this because of how easy it was to find - I only knew my great-grandparents' names and the area where they lived.  If you're curious about your family and don't have a cool aunt who has done all the work for you, I highly recommend checking it out and doing the free trial.

Everyone, meet Wylie and Elizabeth Ann.  I'm not sure if they'd be appalled or proud of their photo being shared around the world today:



3. I am watching the Project Runway finale while I type this post (no spoilers, don't worry, I don't even know who wins yet) and I would just like to say that Dom is one of my favorite contestants EVER.  Also, this promotional ad is just creepy.



4. I am in love with how simple and easy this bedroom feels, even though there's lots of pattern and texture at play.  The image was shot by Nathan Schroder, but I'm not sure of the interior designer.



5. If someone told me "you should really consider a tweed biker jacket"last week, I would have laughed.  But on Monday, I came across this baby in the Girl On A Budget section of Piperlime (the only section I shop in, really) and somehow it works.  I want one, even if it won't look right on me for a while.



Have a nice weekend!



Thursday, October 17, 2013

Game Changer: I found the best (cheap) red lipstick!

I've long admired ladies who can pull off red lipstick on an everyday basis.  Even though I'm old enough to have been her babysitter, I'll admit that Taylor Swift's makeup routine makes her one of my personal style inspirations.

it makes her white shirt and wayfarers look fancy, doesn't it?

Since becoming pregnant and gradually outgrowing my button downs and skinny jeans (Make it stop! I had enough of a chest to begin with!), I've started to rely on little tricks like a red lip to make me feel pretty on a morning where I'd otherwise just feel too big for my clothes.  However, it's hard to find a shade that works with pale skin and dark hair without feeling as though it says "Hey everybody - Haley got some lipstick!"  I also don't like spending lots of money on cosmetics because I am a cheapskate when I wanna be.

That's why I was pretty pumped to discover the Sonia Kashuk Velvety Matte Lip Crayon in Rosey Nude.  It's only $7.59 and goes on more like a lipliner than a sheer balm, which look lovely but don't stay put on me. You can get it at Target, and I highly recommend it!

Here I am wearing it at work, not looking quite like Taylor, but close enough.  It's a little brighter in person, but I am terrible at selfies and felt like a fool taking it in my cube:


And no, this is not a sponsored post.  I'm not going to get rich recommending this to you - I just get excited about important issues such as these.

P.S. You can't really see it, but I'm wearing this Live in Pink by Suzanna Dai necklace c/o LOFT and it's so chic and nicely made.  The proceeds benefit breast cancer research, and I highly suggest you check out the line.  It comes in a big fancy box, and with all of the usual discounts at LOFT, it would be a nice Christmas gift if you don't want to spend much but like to look as though you did. ;-)  


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Maternity Style: The First Trimester

I completely agree with my doctor who says that the first 4 months of pregnancy are just lame.  You may not feel great, and your body starts changing, but you don't yet have the obvious baby belly that makes everything feel real.  I personally just look like I got a little bit fat, and it's not fun. 

However, I decided to approach my maternity style experience as a challenge and so far it's been easier than I thought thanks to a few smart purchases, existing basics, and acceptance of my shape. 

Here are the pieces that have gotten me to 19 weeks (as of today!) and the lessons I've learned:



Buy maternity jeans on eBay and wear them as soon as you need them
I scored two new pairs of Gap skinny jeans for about $24 each, and have been wearing them nonstop since about the 12 week mark.  I did not like securing my jeans with a ponytail holder, and it made for a bumpy silhouette that looked terrible on me.  The way I see it, I'm dressing my current body and since I did not pay much for the pants, I will have gotten my moneys worth even if I outgrow them in month 6-7.  It's better than 5 months of ill-fitting jeans when I can wear them to work and everywhere else. 

Don't forget about tailoring
Like with straight sized clothing, a little tweak to a seam or a hem can make a world of difference.  I noticed that lots of maternity jeans have wider legs than I need, so I had a pair of my jeans taken in at the knees of all places and now they look great.

Pair a loose top with fitted bottoms
Wearing oversize clothing on top and bottom just makes you look large.  In my case, I'd look like a refrigerator if I wore wide legged pants and a boxy top like the Old Navy flannel.  However, when paired with my skinny gray pants and some wedges, it's perfect for my casual office and disguises my changing shape.  (Side note: These maternity jeans from Topshop are the BEST, but the gray isn't online.  I highly recommend them!)

Layer long tanks under shirts that are getting too short
This season, my cardigan collection is getting lots of use.  I have been layering Target Merona tanks (they're perfectly long and thick) under long-ish cardigans, which is possible thanks to my sweet maternity jeans not making my waistline lumpy.

Accessorize!
I have been going nuts with necklaces and scarves along with basic v-neck tees, and not giving a damn about repeating the outfit. 

///////////////////////////////////////

For all the mommies out there - what's your maternity style secret? 

Friday, October 11, 2013

5 Things Friday

Happy Friday, internet! I hope y'all are about to enjoy a long weekend like I am, although I'm not quite sure what I'll do with my free Monday since my husband's company doesn't offer many holidays and he has to work.  Any suggestions?  A White Queen marathon on Starz On Demand?

While I decide, here are five things worth sharing on the internet:

1. Isn't this $7.99/yd Ikea fabric so pretty?  You could make pillows, or just frame panels of it and fake some West Elm-ish art. 



2. N and I want to take a long weekend babymoon in early November, but aren't sure where to go.  We've been to Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and New Orleans and want to visit somewhere new, but I'll be about 22-23 weeks pregnant so winery tours and bars are out.  We are considering Charleston and Portland, but would love some opinions. We like eating, museums, and some light hiking would probably be ok unless I suddenly stop feeling great and exercising.  Thoughts?




3. I made these zucchini tots this week, and they were so easy and delicious!  Next time I'll be adding more zucchini and a little less onion, but I foresee them being a recurring addition to my limited menu of dinner items.




4. If you are in need of a New Year's Eve dress, I would try this one before it sells out.  The price is right, and the style offers enough coverage for winter weather and will look great with tights.


5.  I was clicking through blogs this week and saw this book mentioned, and instantly remembered reading it and loving it when I was in the 3rd grade.  If any of you have daughters (or sons), I highly recommend it.  Hitty: Her First Hundred Years was originally published in 1929 and is still compelling 84 years later.  (P.S. Be sure you get the original text, and not the updated version for kids with no attention span or vocabulary)



Bonus 6th Thing!  This print is bananas!  And it's from Spoonflower, so it's affordable and you can get it printed on all kinds of fabric or even wallpaper.  I'm really hoping Baby D is a girl so it can go in a nursery.

 Jungle Passion by Joan McLemore

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My London Travel Guide

It's no secret that London is my favorite place.  I've been an Anglophile since about 1992, and used to practice my fake accent while on vacation as a child.  Yes, really.  I was an odd little kid.

Anyway, I've been lucky enough to spend a fair amount of time there thanks to an internship in college and subsequent visits, and I know the city fairly well.  Since I am often asked for travel tips, I decided to transform my usual cut/paste email into a post that I can distribute instead.  If any of you have other tips or recommendations, please leave a comment!

[Disclaimer:  I'm familiar with London, but not an expert, and I do not live there.  I'm sharing what has worked for me, and how I save money and time, but you might totally hate it.] 


image by me (as are all of these, unless otherwise noted)

Getting Around
If you're flying from the US, you'll likely end up at either London Heathrow or Gatwick airports.  Both are pretty far from the city center, and unless you've booked in advance for a large group, a taxi is not an economical option.  Seriously, it's about $150 USD for a cab from central London to Heathrow.  

However, the Underground runs all the way out to Heathrow, and you can buy day passes at the terminal and ride all the way to the city center in about an hour, but isn't a great idea if you've got lots of luggage.  You can also take the Heathrow Express train to Paddington Station in about 15 minutes, and then transfer from there via Underground or taxi.

You'll probably find the Underground (aka the tube) and bus system easy to use once you take a moment to sit down and study the map.  The Transport for London site has several online tools and maps that you can download, including bus routes that take you to major sites.  To avoid confusion, I recommend buying a multi-day pass (for Zone 1) and paying the small deposit for the plastic card that you scan in/out of stations and on buses.  It's much simpler than keeping single fares on hand, and you can get your deposit back at any station before you go.  I buy mine at the Heathrow terminal before heading downstairs to the trains.

Only take the official black cabs if you are hailing one on the street.  Unmarked "minicabs" can rip you off, unless you book them in advance through a reputable company.   I use a service called UniCab to book taxis, and they have an app for your phone/tablet.  You can put in your start/end destination and then reserve a cab and pay in advance online.   It's safe and the car companies are legit.  This will be cheaper than hailing black cabs, but you need a mobile phone number to confirm everything if you're booking online.


Where to Stay
You will not hurt for choice in London, and you can rent hotel rooms or flats for a huge range of prices.  However, it's worth paying for a central location.  I recommend a place near a Central line station (the red line on the tube map) because it has connections to pretty much every line you would need and makes coming home at night quicker.

Before you book anything, use Google Maps to see how long it will take you to walk to the nearest Underground station and bus stop. You may be doing this in the rain, and with sore feet.



Sightseeing
Here are my thoughts on the main sites in the city (in no particular order):

Monday, October 7, 2013

Pushing My Style Boundaries: Wedge Ankle Booties

This weekend I was super productive.  I ran a list full of errands, including WalMart on a Saturday, which reminded me why I don't go there very often. This emotional pregnant lady walked past the fish tanks looking for dog beds and teared up a little at the abysmal state of the tanks and all the dead and dying fish.  Today I'll be calling the store manager, who probably hears this often and doesn't care.

As a reward for surviving retail hell, I went across the street to Target where aisles have labels and the employees don't stare at you like cows when you ask where to find the under bed storage bins.  I wasn't planning on getting any shoes, but this pair caught my eye and I tried them on:



They don't make my feet look like hooves (a common ankle bootie problem that you'll notice everywhere now that I've pointed it out).  The quality seems decent - they're not a shoe I expect to wear for years, and I'm not looking to invest $79 - $150 in a comparable style.  However, I need a little inspiration and some closet shopping time to convince myself to keep them. [10/9/13 Update: I've decided to take these back after wearing them around my house. The angle of the wedge hits my foot in an odd place. The hunt will continue!]

Here's the first part of that process:




image via Lands End Canvas (not current)


At the moment, I think these little boots will be a cute addition to my dark denim, gray, black, and olive green maternity pants (how versatile!) and a great alternative to ballet flats and smoking slippers this fall.  Plus, my office is casual, and any of the outfits above are more than adequate. Purchase justified?

Friday, October 4, 2013

5 Things Friday

Happy Friday, internet!  I hope y'all have had a great week.  Mine was wonderful, thanks in part to all the sweet comments and emails I got after sharing my big news.  Thank you for all the well wishes!  Now I'm looking forward to a weekend of housework (the bathroom reno is almost done!) and pinning baby stuff on Pinterest.

Until then, here are five things worth sharing on the internet:

1. In the event that you haven't heard, Domino magazine in back.  For real this time, and Michelle Adams, formerly of Lonny, is the editor. (Hooray!)  However, it's also an online store (ok?) and the magazine will only be published quarterly (dangit), and it costs $12 but is about the same size as other shelter mags (y'all tell me how you like it).

The New York Times published an interesting article on the topic, with quotes from internet mavens Grace Bonney and Jaime Meares.  I'm excited to check it out, but as one NYT commenter put it, it sounds like a catalog that you pay for.  I'll be reading the first issue at Barnes and Noble.

2. I love these little felt masks, and think they'd be such a fun thing to have on hand for little people playing pretend.  The cheap yet confident side of me thinks that I could make something like that, but I know they wouldn't be nearly as cute!



3. These are some kick ass pants.  I saw them in person, and I wish they came in a maternity version for holiday events this year.  Think how chic they'd be with a cozy sweater, or a fancy top for New Year's Eve.  Sadly, there aren't many left online, but you might find them in store.



4. I want my friend with cool handwriting to make me something like this.  I will pay her 5 American dollars.  Are you reading this, Maryam?  ;-)



5. I read a lot of blogs, but as I scrolled through my Feedly this morning, I realized that I don't know of very many mommy bloggers besides the very famous ones.  Do the rest of you know of any that I should check out?  I'm not interested in extreme stances on evil foods, or all crafts all the time, but rather some ladies who've maintained their style after having kids and provide product recommendations or links to interesting information.  I'm sure there are a million, but I haven't found the right blogroll yet.


 I wish Kristen Bell would launch a mommy blog.  She is my favorite.

Have a great weekend, ladies!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Real Life: Things I Don't (Want to) Care About

You know how I said you may see more personal content on this blog now? Well, lucky for you, it starts now.  This is the start of a recurring feature that I'm going to use as an outlet for writing about what's on my mind as I approach some crazy life changes, or less serious things like TV.

Now that you're up to speed, right now I have been thinking about some advice I got from my grandma.  I was going on about work and all the other things on my plate, and she told me "you can't care about everything - you'll go crazy" and she is totally right.  So, here are some little things I've decided not to worry about, and I'm so much better for it:


1. Blog Stats - Did you know that if you get overwhelmed at work and then spend a week in Europe without the posts you planned to prepare in advance, you can lose 30% of your readership?  It's true, and it takes a lot of outfit collages to get it back.  I was sad at first, but when I decided not to look at the Stats tab, blogging got fun again.  I will never have the time to make this site a part time job, but I love that it's become a record of some of the best years of my life and I plan to keep it up.  Even if it starts to feature baby photos and maternity style advice.

 Still worth every lost reader.


2. Repeating Outfits - According to Nina Garcia, style goddess, style has nothing to do with the quantity of things in your closet.  It's about how you mix them, and make choices that are flattering and appropriate for your event.  The idea that people are watching me and keeping track of what they've seen before is ridiculous, when I think about it objectively.  So, as I face several months of limited options, I've decided to quite kidding myself and wear what fits well and makes me feel good.

She knows what she's talking about - just look at the fit of that blazer!


3. Twitter - I've never liked Twitter very much, and I don't think I'm going to do it anymore aside from responding to people who are nice and tweet at me.  


4. Things That Don't Make Me Happy - I know this is easier said than done, but I've started making myself take breaks at work and get some perspective.  I cut back on the overtime, and lo and behold, my life got better and my work performance hasn't suffered.  I was bringing almost all the stress upon myself at the expense of time spent doing things I love like reading, putting in a good workout, and just being with my husband in the 5 child-free months we have left.  If I were less intelligent, I would say my motto is "YOLO", but I'll go with "Carpe Diem" instead. 

Getting enough sleep makes me happy, too. 

 

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