Sunday, November 30, 2014

OUTFIT: Blue and green and glasses, too!

With tall boots:

With booties: 

Activity: Volunteer ministry

Sweater: J. Crew Factory (similar)
Chambray top: Old Navy (similar)
Skirt: Athleta (similar)
Bag: Ashley Brooke (similar)
Glasses: Nordstrom Rack (similar)
Earrings: ebay (similar)
Watch: vintage Citizen (similar)
Tall boots: Calvin Klein via ebay (similar)
Booties: Bussola (exact)

Here are two different versions of this outfit; which do you like better?  I think I like the gray ankle boot version, because it's such a departure for me to wear all lighter colors.  That was the appeal of this entire outfit, actually.  Other than the brown boots and tights, which I had to wear due to the cool morning weather (the gray boots didn't arrive until afternoon), all of the colors were decidedly on the lighter end of the spectrum.  That's a fashion goal from way back that I'm still working on (this post)!  I just purchased a couple of pale-colored pieces, so we'll see if I can get those worked into some outfits once they arrive...  What are your fashion goals?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

OUTFIT: Shirttail sweater and jeans (with a touch of fur)

Activity: Errands and playing outside with Gavin

Shirttail sweater: DIY (see this tutorial) (similar)
Jeans: Old Navy (exact in current washes)
Boots: Bussola (exact)
Fur Collar: Thrifted (similar)
Earrings: sterling silver stud earrings via ebay (similar)
Sunglasses: Ralph by Ralph Lauren (exact)
Bag: Coach via ebay (similar)

These boots and this top have been crying out for a casual treatment.  And, I finally had a casual day!  (Well, a medium casual day.  Truly casual is a tee and lounge pants that don't leave the house.)  Also, any chance I get to pull out my fur collars, I'm happy.  This particular one came off a thrifted sweater.  Cozy!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

REVIEW: Bussola Reikiavik or Roni ankle boot

When you're ready to make a bigger purchase, isn't it great to feel like you did your research? I found it really hard to find reviews or outfit photos of these boots, so in case you're thinking of buying ankle boots during this shopping bonanza time, here's my review of these Bussola ankle boots in the Reikiavik or Roni model (I found different sites called them different names). They can be purchased on the Nordstrom website ($134.95 with free shipping in black, gray, light brown and tan - I didn't see a sale), on Amazon ($116-$135 depending on color, only black and gray available) and (in black, gray or tan - currently the best deal at $105.95 with free shipping).

Size: True to size.  I wore my normal European size and found it fit as expected.
Color: I purchased the "Coal" color. It's a very nice dark gray suede with black leather straps.  There is a slight distressed look toward the toe, but it's very subtle.
Sole: Rubber - for comfort and safety! Much more comfortable and practical than the usual hard, slippery sole I've seen with most ankle boots.
Heel: A comfortable, low height of around an inch and a half.  Made of stacked wood (with a rubber bottom), so it's not delicate, nor is it going to slip with the rubber bottom.
Quality:  Excellent.  The zipper is strong and sturdy with a solid pull, and the suede and leather are great quality and the overall look is very high-end.
Style: Classic but stylish. The extra leather straps add a lot of extra style and make the look more versatile, especially if you choose a color where the strap is a different color (most colors except black)
Comfort:  These are actually comfortable!  There is padding inside the shoe, and the rubber bottom protects the foot.  I wore these two whole days in a row, and walked in them quite a bit, and found them very comfortable.  Finally, a company that actually makes shoes you can walk in all day.  Imagine that...
Comments:  I am SO glad I got these.  I agonized over the decision, after buying so many shoes that didn't end up being comfortable and having nothing to wear when it came time to walk a lot.  I had tried these on in store, but the store only had a size above my size, so I felt like I was taking a chance to try ordering my usual size and hoping it would fit.  It did fit as expected, and I really like the quality.  I also debated over which color to get - black or gray - but in the end, I hoped the gray with the black strap would look good (but not completely blend in) with black tights and not look so harsh with jeans.  I struggle with the ankle bootie look in general.  After putting in much mental energy trying to decide whether to get black or gray, I am happy with the gray.  It isn't quite so dark as black, but still coordinates with black because of the black straps.  I'm sure the other colors are great, too.  I just knew brown or taupe weren't quite what I was looking for.

Here's some outfit looks with the boots - I tried to pick shots that best showed the boots.   I've only had a chance to style them with pencil skirts, can't wait to wear jeans with these!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

OUTFIT: Black and gray

And with a scarf for the cooler morning:

Activity: Volunteer ministry

Sweater: thrifted (similar)
Shirt: Ralph Lauren, thrifted (similar)
Skirt: Athleta (similar)
Tights: Merona (exact)
Boots: Bussola (exact - review coming soon)
Necklace: Nordstrom Rack? Can't remember (similar)
Watch: vintage Citizen via ebay (similar)
Bag: Ashley Brooke via DSW (similar)

Black, gray and white have been my go-to "color" combinations lately.  So interesting how your tastes change over time.  I even ended up with a black and white bag, which leads to even more black and white outfit combinations.  

How do you keep this combination fresh?  A couple of ideas:

1. Use variations on the black and white theme.  Adding grays in various tones (like my sweater and boots above) adds another layer of style and keeps the combination from being too simplistic.

2. Use pattern to add interest.  In the outfit above, the scarf adds a graphic punch to the basics, or the necklace adds an element of "pattern" to an otherwise basic combination.

3. Add one or more outfit item that uses both colors.  The black, white and silver bag helps pull the disparate white, black and gray elements together.  The black and white scarf also makes the color combination look purposeful, and even the touch of black with the gray on the boots adds intention to the combination.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

OUTFIT: Coat and jeans

Activity: Errands on a very cold day

Coat: Guess (similar)
Hat: J. Crew (similar)
Scarf: J. Crew  (similar)
Bag: Coach (similar)
Jeans: Old Navy (exact in current washes)
Boots: Carlos by Carlos Santana (similar)
Socks: Smartwool (similar)
Earrings: small gold hoops (similar)

Sometimes you have to break out the warm coat.  You may even need the extra warmth of a warm hat and scarf.  Can you do it stylishly?  Yes.  Here's how:

Step one: find a cute coat with a classic, stylish silhouette.  
Step two: add warm cute accessories, like a hat and scarf.  
Step three: add a fun pop of color from your lipstick to your bag.

Friday, November 21, 2014

OUTFIT: Blanket-wrap scarf (aka "fake poncho")

Activity: Testing for future outfits

Scarf: gift from India (sort of similar  - you should just go to India and get a gorgeous one like this, or find an Indian section of a big town and find one, or find a lighter weight substitute from a scarf vendor - sorry to say, there's just no replacement for this lovely scarf)
Jeans: Old Navy (exact in current wash)
Bag: Coach (similar)
Boots: Carlos by Carlos Santana (similar)

So blanket scarf "ponchos" are all over the internet.  Probably done better than I did here.  But, I will say I probably have the prettiest scarf to use (thanks, Sam!).  As I experimented with mine, I found a few tips if you want to try this trend:

1. Pay attention to how you tuck and fold your scarf.  I took the short end/corner of mine and tucked it up over one shoulder, then wrapped the rest of the scarf around my front and back  to reach over the other shoulder.  Then I adjusted the neck area to bring the length up as needed.

2. Keep the rest of your outfit simple and classic. I stuck with jeans and a white tee.  You've already got a lot going on with the dramatic scarf poncho, rein it in on the rest.  I've seen others carry this look off with a floppy brim hat, but it was too much for me.  More power to you if you can!

Check out the photo gallery below for some DOs and DON'Ts...

Here's how NOT to wear a scarf "poncho":

Too long for my height and not tucked up for any definition.

Too bulky!  Shawl monster, anyone?

How about this for a better option?

Subtle, but better.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

OUTFIT: Dressing up a down vest (and how to wear those hand warmer sleeves you made from my tutorial!)

Activity: Volunteer ministry

Vest: Lands' End (similar)
Sweater: thrifted (similar)
Scarf: gift from India (similar)
Skirt: Athleta (similar)
Sweater sleeves: DIY (see tutorial here)
Bag: Coach (similar)
Tights: Merona (exact)
Boots: Calvin Klein via ebay (similar)
Sunglasses: Ralph by Ralph Lauren (exact)

When I get (or make) something new, I'm always SO excited to wear it as soon as possible. This is the opposite of my mom, who used to have items with tags hanging in her closet forever.  (I never got that - guess I'm too impatient!)  So, with my newly made fingerless gloves/faux sleeves in mind, I bethought myself of an outfit with them to wear right away. (Don't think that's how you'd use the word bethought, if it's even really a word.  However, I am quite enjoying that sentence, so in it stays.  This is my world, even if it's only a non-read regular old lady non-fashionable blog.)  

Moving on...  (I thought I had better end that paragraph, probably even a few sentences earlier than I did).  What I like about adding the sleeves/handwarmers is how they make a layered look without really having to add another layer.  To me, it looks like either my sweater has cool contrast sleeves attached (an interesting DIY idea, hmmmm...), or that I had pushed the sleeves of the gray sweater up to show the striped sweater underneath.  But in real life, that would be rather bulky, so this idea is better, in my opinion.  Want to try it?  Betake yourself here and check out the easy peasy tutorial.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

OUTFIT: Bright cozy sweater and jeans

Activity: Family errands (getting a new bike for Gavin, among other things)

Sweater: thrifted (similar)
Jeans: Old Navy (exact in current washes)
Tee: Lands' End (exact)
Boots: Carlos by Carlos Santana (similar)
Bag: Marc by Marc Jacobs (similar)
Earrings: craft sale (similar)

Sometimes you need a bit of color.  Looking back at some recent outfit posts, I notice that I've been really into black and white lately, with an occasional pop of red thrown in.  But every once in a while, you just need a hit of intense color.  Especially when it's freezing and more often cloudy than not.  Give it a try.  Color therapy, I recommend it.

On another note, I've been experimenting with cool weather outfits that don't involve a winter coat.  I must admit that's easier when it's not frigid from November until March, but I think I could have used some of these ideas when I lived up north also.  It's just a matter of thinking "outside of the coat" and trying new layering ideas.  Save that coat for when you really need it....  Because this year, unless you live in Hawaii, it looks like you may need it!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

TUTORIAL: From socks to handwarmers

I haven't done a tutorial in a while.  Mostly because I've been moving and haven't had time to DO any projects.  Now that we're mostly settled (for the moment), I got 2 projects off my to-do list (and out of my sewing projects bin!).  Here's the first project - hope you like it!

I had some tall Smartwool socks I loved that held up really well, except for some almost holes at the bottom.  The print was so cute, and the wool such good quality, I really hated to throw away the whole sock because of a small issue with the bottom of the sole.  So, once I finally pried them out of my sock drawer (so I would actually stop wearing them), I tried to think of a way to repurpose the perfectly good parts.  

Handwarmers!  I saw a blog post (here) where someone had some leather "sleeves" you could add to the wrists of your top to add interest.  I thought that would work here, with the added bonus of being able to pull these knit "sleeves" down your hands to use as fingerless gloves.  If you're interested, here are the steps.  It's a less than one hour project, requiring very few sewing skills.

Alternative uses: 
-These could be attached to the sleeves of a 3/4 sleeve tee to make it more fall/winter appropriate.
-Leg warmers (less bulky than the regular type, depending on the look you want)
-Cut these off shorter before finishing the edge and they could be boot toppers (like this)

Tall pair of socks
Coordinating thread
Sewing machine


Cute stripe, right?

But, these needed help!


1. Cut the feet off the socks.  I wanted my "sleeve"/handwarmers as long as possible, so I cut as close to the ankle as possible.  If you want a shorter pair, cut accordingly.

2. Sew along the cut edge.  I didn't bother to roll the edge over and make a real hemmed edge, I just sewed along the edge as if I was using a serger.  My goal was just to prevent unraveling, and I didn't mind the rough look of the edge.  You could make it look prettier, if you like, by folding the unfinished edge under and sewing over both layers, as in a normal hemmed edge.

3. This is how it will look when you're done (if you do it my sloppy way).  Again, I didn't mind having a serger-like edge, I plan to scrunch it under anyway.

4. Slip them on with the sewed edge toward your elbow and the former top of the sock on your hand.  Scrunch as desired.  Voila!

TUTORIAL: From stained shirt to new "layered-look" sweater

We all have those shirts with stains that JUST won't come out.  This time, my husband had one (of course on his brand new J. Crew button-down).  I tried every remedy, and finally decided to try a repurpose project.

I had seen this shirttail sweater at J. Crew and loved it.  I just didn't think I would wear the heavy wool version they created very often, so I thought I could perhaps recreate it with some items I already had.  This is a relatively easy project, and should take less than two hours to recreate.

Here's what I had: 
thrifted cotton sweater
stained shirt from my husband

 Mystery stain....

Sweater in a cropped or shorter length
Larger size buttondown shirt (a woven tunic or popover top without buttons would be even better to mimic this style)
Straight pins
Thread to match the sweater
Sewing machine

1.  Try on the sweater to see how much shirt you want to add to the length.  Find an exact measurement of shirttail you are looking for.  (You should also try on the shirt to be sure there is some extra room at the hips, especially if you want the inspiration look).

2.  Add an inch to your measurement, then cut off the bottom of the button-down shirt to that measurement.

3. If you are adding cuffs from the shirt, cut those off also - be sure to add an inch or so for seam allowance.


4.  Pin the button-down shirt bottom to the bottom of your sweater.  You should have more shirttail than sweater, so you'll have to build in some ease to accommodate all the shirt fabric on the sweater.

5. KEY STEP: Try on the sweater at this stage and view it in a mirror.  Make sure the way the shirttail hem fits and lays, as well as where it ends is flattering.  Adjust pinning as needed.  (I had to adjust a ton at this point - I basically ended up needing to do the pinning while I was wearing the sweater to be sure I did it right.)

6. If you are adding cuffs from the button-down, pin those on to the sweater at this point.

It should look like this at this point:

7. Sew along the outside of the sweater to connect the shirt and sweater, removing the pins as you go.

Voila: your own version of a shirttail sweater...