Wednesday, April 30, 2014

OUTFIT: Tones of gray and black

Here is a tone-on-tone look with some texture added using some subtle pattern.  I love this shirt (my go-to stripes) with this awesome Middle-eastern style scarf.  Sadly, still need a wool sweater in late April, but such is life.

Does the backdrop look artistic?  Probably not, but when it's pouring day after day here in the Midwest, we do what we have to....

Sweater: thrifted (similar)
Shirt: thrifted (similar)
Pants: Gap (similar)
Scarf: ebay (similar)
Shoes: Steve Madden via ebay (similar)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

FASHION GOALS: My coveted pieces for warmer weather

Especially when you shop secondhand, but really however you shop, you need some goals to guide your choices.  There are so many things to search for, and don't we all end up with our favorite thing to shop for that we probably have too many of already?  (Blazers and high heels, for me).  

So, here are my goals for this spring shopping season:

1. Nude wedge heels - I actually just found these via ebay!  Just arrived and I can't wait to style them.  (Some unexpected, cruelly disappointing spring snow has delayed my plans!)  I have nude/cognac sandals, but in Wisconsin you get more use out of closed toe shoes, so I've been looking for these for a while.

My new shoes:

SUPER cute flats with ankle strap
Ankle strap wedge
Adorable nude suede with black bow

2.  Navy closed toe shoes.  Can never find these, but would be a great addition to my closet!  Say it with me, no more black shoes.  I have too many of those already....

3. Light colored pants or skirts.  Hard to do my light, bright goals without any bottoms that meet that criteria.

4. White pants.  Maybe?  These are a challenge to find because mostly they are too see-through to be worn without undergarment viewage (the official term).  But, think I might be ready to try!  Love all the looks I've been seeing by J, Audrey and Kendi.

Cropped, on sale
Cream jeans, on sale

5.  Cream or light camel leather jacket.  So want this.  It's a bit of a splurge type piece, so want to find a real leather one I really like and can invest in for the long term.  (Not a big fan of faux leather, but maybe I need to branch out?)  Here are some possibilities.  All are under $250, the faux options are all $75 or less.

Faux leather moto on sale
Super clean lined faux zip jacket
Clean lined camel faux on sale
Sanctuary leather on sale
White moto leather on sale

Monday, April 28, 2014

OUTFIT: Belted military with a pop of neon

I am loving this military jacket - a sale find from Old Navy.  Go get yourself one before they are all gone!

Sorry for so many pics.  I'm not vain, but I actually took pictures other than in my yard and feel like I should show them off.  Plus, you have to see the before salon hair, and the beautiful after (Thanks, Emily!).  I should go to the salon more often...

What do you think?  Good combo?  How do you mix military??  I'm all ears.

Outfit details and similar online finds follow the pictures.

AT HOME (Wavy triangle hair):

AT A PARK (Shiny salon hair):

Jacket: Old Navy (exact on sale)
Top: Old Navy (similar)
Skirt: Relativity via Boston Store (similar)
Shoes: Jeffrey Campbell (similar)
Belt: American Eagle, thrifted (similar)
Sunglasses: Rayban (similar)

Friday, April 25, 2014

HOME STYLE: Adding an accent color to a room

Our living room has transformed over the years.  Our most recent version is my favorite so far!  Here is how it did look, how it looks now, and what I have planned for the future!  I love how adding the pop of turquoise to the brown and orange made everything look so fresh and new.

Looks okay, but LOTS of brown with that big couch, then with the addition of the brown chair, it just seems very two dimensional.  (Plus lots of clutter under the couch, see this post for that story)

The pops of color I started with - a thrifted plastic platter and an ottoman from

Adding color in pillows (homemade with fabric from Joann Fabrics).

 A view of the other side of the room, across the couch.  The red bench was from a former color scheme.  It almost works with the orange in the chairs and curtains only because of the wall hanging (from our trip to Nepal), but I always planned to recover it in a more neutral tone - maybe the taupe from the rug.  Now that we are moving, we will be selling this.  If I get a place where a bench fits again, I would rather find one with storage below it for our gear.  This feels wasteful since there is no storage but it takes a lot of space.


I still plan to add more pops of turquoise.  For instance, in that photo wall grouping, I would like to paint the small frame on the lower left turquoise, to give that a pop of color.  Also, I need to recover the black and silver pillows currently on the right side of the couch.  They really don't add anything to this room, and are showing signs of wear.  I'm thinking something silvery or with some metallic shine, but we'll see what fabric I find.  The entertainment center also needs a bit of color, so I'm trying to figure out what to remove and what to add in that arrangement that has some color. I saw a beautiful turquoise vase at TJ Maxx for only $10, so I may swap out the black vase for that one, but then I want to find another spot for the black vase, as it is a treasured gift.  My preference is always to use items with meaning for the few purely decorative items we display, but sometimes that isn't always possible when you need a specific color.

What are your tips for adding color to a room?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

ODE TO A SWEATER: In a (not puce) color

I wasn't sure when I found this sweater at a thrift shop.  But, J. Crew for $4.29?  Okay!  However, I have been thrilled with all of the things this sweater works with.  I just can't figure out what color to call it...

One friend (shout out Julaina!) and I decided we would call it "Breast-Fed Baby Poop" color, but as appealing as that name is, we realized that wouldn't quite cut it.  We thought the name "puce" sounded perfect, but according to the internet, the actual color of puce is a slightly purplish red, so that's a no go.  So, I'm going with dark mustard.

Here are some options for this color.  Consider my mind... blown.

With mint floral:

Scarf (exact, similar)

With floral and stripes with a pop of maroon:

Peplum top: Painted Threads via Nordstrom Rack (similarsimilarsplurge)
Skirt: Old Navy (almost exact, savesplurgeaspirational)
Tights: Merona, Target (same brand)
Shoes: Jeffery Campbell via Nordstrom rack (almost exact style on sale!, savesplurgeaspirational)

With light blue and black with a touch of leopard: 
(NOT the best photo, but it does show the outfit idea)
Tee: Lands' End (similar)
Pants: Old Navy (exact)
Shoes: Sperry Topsider via Nordstrom Rack (similar)

With white eyelet and red heels:

Dress: thrifted (similarsimilar)
Earrings: gift (similarsimilargorgeous)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

TIP: Taking more flattering pictures (and why you should care, at least a little)

I hate getting my picture taken.  So outfit blogging has been a bit of a problem, because pictures are what really brings a blog alive.  And I am NOT photogenic.  You cannot imagine how many photos get taken for each outfit - most of which are instantly discarded.  Seriously.

Why does it matter?  Well, it does, no matter how shallow it seems.  Do you want to hate EVERY picture of your child or family or friends in which you appear?  What a shame that would be, to taint every precious photo memory with bad thoughts about your appearance.  

That's how I spent decades of my life.  Instead of looking at a photo and remembering that special moment, I would focus on how bad I looked in the photo.  Now, I may have even more challenges to deal with to get a good picture, seeing as how I am (still) chubby and short, but now also old, however, with practice, I have learned how to usually get a decent posed shot that doesn't gross me out completely.  Now I can enjoy our family and friend photo memories more, instead of just obsessing about how ugly and unflattering a shot of me was. (Because how self-absorbed is that?)

Along the way, I have learned some tips I am happy to share.

1. Don't assume you are not photogenic.  Looking good in photographs is to some degree a learned skill.  There is a reason celebrities and bloggers often use the same poses.  They have LEARNED what looks good in photos.  You can learn it, too!

2. Take some pictures of yourself and evaluate what angle suits you best.  Not just facially, although that matters, too.  I had always read that you should stand with your body 3/4 view to the camera to look smaller, but I looked super busty in EVERY photo when I did that (note the before picture above).  Now I've learned to stand straight on to the camera, with shoulders back and arms a bit out from the body (but not too stiffly and artificially) (a la the after photo above).  Then I don't hate as many shots of myself.  That may or may not work for you, check it out.  If you are more apple-shaped, have people take full body poses for the photo (not just from the waist up), so that your slimmer lower body will show and balance out your top-heavy half.  If you are pear-shaped, get poses from the waist up to showcase your smaller upper body.

3.  Have the camera angled down, and tilt your chin down when posing for the picture.  Think shy Di (Remember Lady Diana, or am I completely giving away my age here?).  This avoids some of those crazy double chin photos we all love so much.  If you have a tripod, raise it as high as possible to have a downward angle on the picture.  You'll be pleasantly surprised.  Do NOT take photos from chin level pointing up, or from a lower level looking up.  Trust me, even a supermodel can't carry off that angle (Okay, maybe she can, but still, you get the point).

4. Think happy thoughts while posing, don't just worry about how much you don't want your photo taken.  This does not turn you into a selfie-crazed egomaniac.  Just give yourself a fighting chance.  Don't you deserve a few happy flattering photo memories, just as much as the selfie-crazed egomaniacs do?  You never know when you will get this photo opportunity again, at this place with these people.  Treasure it.  Time moves on, and you may only have this one photo to memorialize this moment.

5. Take lots of photos when you have a photo-op.  Most of us have a digital camera.  We're not wasting film to take lots of shots.  Just click away and give yourself the luxury of choosing from several shots.  You can't always tell from the camera screen which shots turned out well.  Especially when there are lots of people in the picture, more shots will allow for more chances to get everyone (or most everyone) looking photogenic.  (Then, for heaven's sake DELETE the bad photos.  There is no reason to post every picture you took.  Choose one or two good ones and get rid of the unflattering ones.)

6.  Learn to wear flattering clothing, which will take more flattering photos.  Notice the difference in the photos below.  For my body type, buttoning a jacket gives me a more streamlined-looking upper body.  Unbuttoned jackets don't look as flattering in the photo for me.  So, even if I'm really wearing the jacket unbuttoned, I can at least button it for the photo.  Find out what works for you, too.

(And give me props for sharing my less flattering photos for your sake!  Especially that hideous one in the opening collage...)





(Still don't love this shot, but it does illustrate the point of the buttoned jacket)

Last tip:
7. Think about adjusting your habits based on what photos tell you.  To a degree, photos don't lie (unless they are taken from a lower level, looking up with horrible lighting while you are talking or chewing - then they are lying, trust me!).  Maybe you need to change your makeup or hairstyle, or adjust some of your clothing choices, or even work a little bit on your outer appearance.  It isn't shallow.  To some degree, we usually reflect how we feel by the way we look.  If you aren't liking what you see, you probably aren't feeling your best either.  Give yourself the blessing of feeling (and looking, by extension), like the best version of yourself.  

I still have a ways to go on this, but outfit blogging has to some degree already helped me out in this area.  I believe I can improve!  And I hope this blog will show my progress.  And I hope you will progress right along with me.

Friday, April 18, 2014

OUTFIT: Eyelet dress and red shoes

This was a quick, thrown-together outfit for a Sunday meeting, but ended up being one of my all-time faves.  I unexpectedly love this (thrifted) sweater so much, I'm dedicating an entire post to it soon.  Don't know what to call the color, but it goes with a ton (Wondering what?  You'll see!), much more than I possibly imagined.

(I'm not frowning in the final picture, I was squinting - finally got my lighting right later.  And yes, the dress should be taken in a bit, but it's so comfy like this!) 

Dress: thrifted (similar, similar)
Earrings: gift (similarsimilargorgeous)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

OUTFIT: Military and eyelet with a touch of leopard

Sorry for the not super springy outfit, but the weather has not exactly been cooperating.  Started at 30 degrees today, and only got up to 50, so decided to go with the military inspired trend versus the pastel trend.  The eyelet top was a last minute addition (thanks to Kendi's post for today), but helped "spring" up the outfit considerably.

This jacket is adorable and on sale at Old Navy right now!  Go get one (in the store, it's much less)!  More details follow.

Jacket: Old Navy (exact)
Top: Old Navy (similar)
Skirt: Athleta, old (similar)
Tights: J. Crew (similar)
Boots: Calvin Klein via ebay (similar)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

OUTFIT: Primary polka dots and stripes

Please forgive the wrinkled looks (clothes and face). Sunday was a bit of a crazy day, so I had to recreate the look at bedtime after wearing these clothes to our meeting for worship, rolling them up in my bag while we had a casual dinner at a friend's home, then re-donning the same wrinkled clothes (with some fresh lipstick) to try to get outfit snaps at 10 pm.  So, mercy appreciated!

I thought I liked how the jacket's scoop neck allowed the shirts ruffled collar to be pulled out above the jacket, but maybe it's a bit, too...  Elizabean?  (You know, the era where they wore those funny ruffled collars?)  However, I DO like the stripes and polka dots paired together.  

I was going to try my white blazer with this top, per my fashion goals (see this post), but the polka dots were much more cream-colored than the blazer, so I tried this cream and blue striped linen jacket instead.  Not exactly pastels, but no black in sight!

Outfit details after pictures.

Skirt: J. Crew (exact in current colors)
Earrings: gift (similar, similar, gorgeous)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

ORGANIZATION: Ending kid bookshelf clutter

We thought this bookshelf was the bomb at the time (from IKEA), but later realized that children's book storage can be tricky.  Backless shelves are a pain, the books slide down the back, and children's books are all different sizes, so you can straighten them daily and it still won't look nice most of the time.  Plus, those board books are so thick you can't store as many as you think.  

Here was our solution (found on special at Aldi, of all places).  Now, ALL of Gavin's books fit on the shelf, even those I had to keep on top of the shelf before.  Plus, it looks much more organized and less cluttery.  Win-win.

Shopping options for you follow the pictures below.



Low bench with shelves
Six cubby shelf

Cute numbered fabric option
Felt bin
Polka dot bin

Very similar to mine - another color
Wire basket

Monday, April 14, 2014

WHAT I WORE: Saturday morning stripes (and a skirt review)

More stripes, with a demonstration of what a difference a scarf color can make.  I think I prefer the red scarf to give the outfit more life, but as I look at the pictures, there is something peaceful and ethereal about the coordinating yellow scarf with just the shoes being a pop of color.  Which do you prefer?

And, this skirt is actually currently available, so here's a mini review in case you're considering it.  The rest of the outfit details follow the pictures.

Old Navy striped maxi skirt review (25% off online now with code ONSAVENOW):
Fabric: Poly/rayon mix, drapes really well, will probably pill eventually.  Does easily show underwear lines, but is substantial enough to not feel sheer or like it shows every bump. It has a nice crisp stripe, though, and the pattern is woven into the skirt, not printed on.
Length: I'm 5'2", so I have to wear platforms so it doesn't drag on the ground, but I like the length for this skirt so I can use it with heels.  I think taller girls should still be able to have it be a maxi (but I'm no expert!).
Style: I like that it is NOT a fold over waist band, as I don't need extra fabric in that area.
Size: I ordered down a size, for length, and also because this is a flowing style, so I surmised that I wouldn't need the extra fabric around my hips in the bigger size. I was correct, at least for my body type (more apple than pear shape, so keep that in mind if you are ordering this for yourself).
Price: At full price of $34, I think it's a bit overpriced (but I'm cheap when it comes to Old Navy and other bargain brands).  However, with the online discount special that was going, plus using my rewards certificate, etc., I paid only $16 for this, which felt a little more reasonable, plus I earned some Super Cash for a future purchase.  I just wonder how long the fabric will hold up, but I think I'll get lots of wear out of this skirt while it lasts.



Sweater: J. Crew Factory (exact in current colors, similar)
Tee: Boden (exact in current colors)
Skirt:Old Navy (exact)
Shoes: Kork Ease via DSW (similar, similar)
Scarf: yellow and white ombre linen/Marshalls, old that I sewed into an infinity scarf (similar, similar)
red wool/Nepal vacation (similar, almost exact)
Watch: Michael Kors via ebay (similar)