Sunday, November 11, 2012

From Good to Great: The Power of Details

 What takes an outfit from just okay to extraordinary? What is the difference between an ordinary item of clothing and a designer item of clothing? What makes a boutique shopping experience more memorable than a quick stop at Target?

The answer to this question is attention to detail.

The scarf you throw on before you run out the door will get your outfit compliments. A designer cardigan will have a thoughtful detail like a row of stunning buttons or an unusual ruffle. A special boutique will carefully select store perfumes, tissue paper, and pretty bags to send you home with a special memory (which makes us spend more money; just something to think about!). Details are very important.

If you want your outfits to be special and unique, pay attention to the little things:

1. Challenge yourself to wear an accessory every day
2. Consider changing out the buttons on a coat or cardigan to make it more interesting
3. Be diligent with painting your nails (I struggle with this one, I recently ran out of nail polish remover!)
4. Pay special attention to your shoes, they are one of the first things noticed in an outfit.

It took me a long time to understand the importance of details. Often they are the last thing we think about when we put an outfit together, but strangely they are the first thing noticed by strangers. When I receive a compliment it is always for an accessory; no one ever screams "Oh my gosh! I love your basic black blazer!" (although I would argue the basic black blazer is a very important foundation for your accessory).

The best part? Accessories are usually very inexpensive.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Dresses and Creating Romance

Think about the following questions for a moment. Would you wear a cheap t-shirt and exercise pants on a first date? Do you celebrate birthdays in your pajamas? Do you want to get married in a pair of jeans? No, of course not. We recognize (hopefully) that special events require special clothes because clothing has the ultimate power of setting the mood of an occasion. What is truly astonishing is many of us do not realize the power our clothes have within our everyday life. For this reason I love to create romance in my life by wearing lovely dresses, skirts, long earrings, lipstick, and feminine shoes.

Next weekend I am going to visit Thomas at his college, whom I won't have seen for three long weeks. I am not going to show up wearing some cheap thing from Forever 21. I want to honor the occasion and create a special memory by wearing something beautiful, and although I might have to wear pants (everyone bicycles in Davis!), I will be very careful to keep the outfit romantic.

The fail-proof way to create romance is to just throw on a dress, but not a poorly made, ill-fitting dress. I chose three of my favorite dresses (found all heavily discounted) to show you. One dress used to be $98, marked down to $20, and the other two were about $200 each, marked down to $50 and $18. These are dresses soaked in romance; I think of them as fairy dresses because they are so lovely and unique. These are dresses to be proposed in, dresses to read Jane Austen novels in under a shady tree, and dresses to meet life-changing friends in.

 I found the dress above at Banana Republic on sale for $18. I kept wanting to put a belt around it, but my mom convinced me it didn't need one because the fabric is so delicate and graceful. She was right. To balance out the flowing of the dress I put my hair up and wore my delicate snakeskin sandals.

  I found the orange dress at Marshalls for $20. It is so comfortable, and I love how the unique detailing around the waist emphasizes my figure. I paired it with a cardigan of the opposite color to give the outfit pop. My friend gave me the pretty necklace, thank you, Sarah!

This is my favorite dress. I believe it's by Free People (I'm wearing it while I type this blog, so I am not going to check the tag!). I found it on sale for about $50 at Macy's a few years ago, and I was able to choose it for a Christmas present from my Grandpa. Thank goodness, because I was a cashless wonder, as my mother would say. It is incredibly romantic and lacy. The crystal beading around the neck allows me to forget a necklace. I'm wearing my Born wedges, and my free trade earrings. 

I hope this post inspired you to create a little romance in your wardrobe! I must thank my dearest Dad for taking all these pictures of me today, even though he was trying to watch football and make pancakes. I love you, Dad!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pretty in Prints

There are some fabulous prints out there, but if you are on a strict budget it is essential to follow pattern restraint if you want to optimize the usability of your wardrobe.

Patterns stand out in our minds more than solid colors do, so if you are going to buy an item of clothing that you plan on wearing almost every day, or even once a week, do not buy it in a print. I wear my coats, jackets, and cardigans often so I buy all my outerwear in solid colors. For example, let’s say you are looking at two gorgeous trench coats. One is navy blue, and the other has a red and white polka-dot pattern. If you don’t want to draw attention to the fact that you wear the same old coat every day, the navy blue would be a more practical choice.

If you have limited funds and polka dots are your favorite pattern in the world, buy an inexpensive scarf or shirt with polka dots. Prints are a great way to punctuate your wardrobe if worn sparingly and tastefully. 

Another item I never want to buy in a print (If I can only buy one) is a purse. If I can only afford to buy one purse, it needs to be a solid that matches all of my creative outfits. The crazy purses can come after I have found all my essential pieces and have saved up enough.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Manly Monday: Sunglasses

Occasionally I will create "Manly Mondays" posts, with tips for guys about creating easy, effortless fashion. Today's post is great for both girls and guys.

With my sunglasses on, I'm Jack Nicholson. Without them, I'm fat and 60.  
- Jack Nicholson

Image found on Google.

If you decide to make only one change in your wardrobe, I would suggest finding a cool pair of sunglasses. The logic behind this is that you'll wear your sunglasses every day, and owning a nice pair does a lot for your style. If you are going to splurge somewhere in your wardrobe this would be the place to do it. Let's say you are wearing a plain white t-shirt, jeans,and leather flip-flops, but before you go out the door to buy groceries you put on a pair of aviators:

Instant effortless style.

A word of caution, this is not going to work if you wear any old pair. I have seen enough lame sunglasses out there to suggest taking a good friend shopping with you. The sunglasses must be met with approval (take a stylish friend with you, please), they must make you feel amazing, and they must have 100% UV protection for your eyes. Be prepared to try on a lot of sunglasses to find the best look for your face. Avoid sunglasses with that weird colorful sheen on the lenses; they tend to look dorky on most faces and come in creepy bug-eyed styles. Also, unless you are doing sports, there is no reason for you to wear a neck strap with your sunglasses. Just don't do it.

If you're not sure what to buy, you can't go wrong with classic Aviators or Ray-ban Wayfarers. You could go to your local Sunglass Hut and spend quite a lot of money (it might be worth it if you're the kind of person who takes care of your sunglasses), but if you're on a budget I recommend driving to Marshalls and trying on discount designer sunglasses. You can probably find a nice pair for about $15 to $20.

As a treat to myself for working full time all summer, I went down to the Sunglass Hut to find myself a classy pair of sunglasses. I found a beautiful pair of cat-eye Ray-Bans (half-off on Labor Day!). I love them and wear them every day. I also take very good care of them because they are an important investment piece. If you decide to buy a discount pair of sunglasses at Marshalls instead, I advise finding a case and a cleaning cloth for lenses because they will last longer and look nicer. There's nothing like a pair of lenses with smudges and scratches all over the surface to ruin the mystery.

Happy Monday!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Diversify Your Wardrobe

Don't spend all of your money in one place.

The trick to getting more style out of fewer pieces of clothing is to diversify your wardrobe. You can save lots of money if you keep yourself from buying the same kinds of items over and over again. For example, no one is going to be able to see your creativity if all the shirts you own are the same shade of blue!

I have a weakness for jeans, so now I try to stay away from them. If I insist on buying another pair of pants, they must be colored pants, dress pants, courdouroy, or just something different. Go through your closet and mentally organize your things. Is there an imbalance somewhere?

Do you own six hoodies and only one jacket?

Do you have ten pairs of jeans and no black pants or skirts?

Did you find a drawer full of pink camisoles?

Are there eight graphic t-shirts and only a couple of button-ups?

Granted, it's perfectly fine to have a few items in the same color as long as they look different style-wise. You might have three black cardigans of completely different styles; one that is embroidered, one that is cropped, and one that is over-sized to wear with snugger pants. Just be aware of your tendency to lean towards certain colors and clothing items so the next time you go shopping you can stay away from them and focus on finding something new. You will probably discover a color or style you never knew you looked good in!

Do yourself a favor and go through your closet every few months; be sure to observe everything you own. Please donate duplicates of an item that you don't need, clothes you hate, clothes you never feel like wearing, and clothes that were given to you by well-meaning relatives that aren't your style. Life is too short to have a cluttered, uninteresting closet! You will save yourself time and money, because you will be able to see more clearly what you want to wear, and you can see if you have a tendency to buy too many of one thing. You will also be doing your community a favor by donating your unwanted clothes.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Black Hole in Your Wallet?

It's easy to spend money on things I don't need. A common phrase I've been hearing among friends lately: "I can't believe how fast I go through my money!"
A typical recreational activity among girls is to go mall shopping every weekend. I enjoy the mall, but if I'm spending a lot of time there it's like I'm living my life to shop, instead of shopping to live my life. I don't want to get to the point where I realize that I wasted too much time collecting clothes instead of wearing the beautiful things I already own. It gets scary when I pull out a shirt or dress that I completely forgot about.

Lately I've been focusing on using coupons, clearance racks, and thrift stores as the main strategies to save money on clothes and accessories, but to be honest there is a better way.

Stay out of the stores.

Studies have shown that the more time you spend in stores, the more likely you are to buy more items. And who wants to spend every weekend at the mall? If you're like me, chances are you have what you need already, and even if you need to buy a new clothing item or two, you don't need to go out and buy it right away. Sometimes we tell ourselves we need something when we really just want it. If you haven't been shopping in ages or hate to go shopping, maybe you really do need a few things, but if you keep finding yourself buying clothes then think about the following thought:

Spending more money won't make you happier.

If you are thinking of buying something, ask yourself some questions.

Is this really a good deal? Do I need this? Is it going to be exceptionally flattering on me? Can it be worn different ways? Will it last a long time? Am I being seduced with special packaging, lighting, scented perfume, and tissue paper? Can I imagine buying this used; stripped of the special lights and the cute little gift bag?

If you really want to buy something, wait a week to make sure you really want it. Stay out of the store and just think about it for a while. If you still want it after a week, if you can afford it, and if it passes the test of being practical, flattering, and a good deal, you are probably good to go. Meanwhile:

Make yourself a cup of tea and sit down with a good book.
Get a good friend to go hiking or out to the beach; enjoy the nice clothes you already have out in nature.
Exercise; we buy things when we feel unattractive or stressed.
Learn how to cook a new dish.
Write a list of all the possessions you own that you are thankful for.
Light some candles and have a bubble bath.
Organize a clothing swap party with friends for free clothes and girl time.
Donate your unwanted and unworn clothes, this weirdly results in feelings of contentment. 
Clean your room! This works because you find clothes that you forgot you had. 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with treating yourself and enjoying beautiful clothes, but don't let shopping rule your life: put it in it's appropriate place and you will start to live a more fulfilling life. You will also enjoy the rarer shopping trips more because of it!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Joys of Black and White

I love the color of the bathroom tile with the red pants!

I found my cute brown leather shoes for three dollars and fifty cents at a secondhand store; they looked like they had never been worn before I bought them. Don't be afraid to buy "used" shoes. Often people will buy nice shoes for a special occasion and then give them to charity after wearing them one time because they never end up using them again. Of course, only buy new-looking shoes; if it looks worn it's not really a good deal for you or the health of your feet.

I love to wear black and white with a rich color, you just can't go wrong, especially if that color is red! I wore this outfit with my little faded denim jacket and a pearl bracelet for church today (with comfy leather flip flops; it was warm outside!). You can pair black and white with many different colors, so this look is a good bargain for your basics because you can wear it any time of the year.

This would be a great time to mention the benefits of cleaning out your closet every few months. I did this last school semester and I found this black and white shirt I had bought a couple years ago when I was applying for jobs. I thought it was boring at the time, but when fashion changed I rediscovered it and have been matching it with colorful pants and high-waist jeans. The best bargains are when you find new ways to wear the clothes you already own.

-Rachel <3

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Coupons, Coin Jar, and The Little White Dress

If you go to a dance, you will probably see many black dresses. Don't get me wrong, black is great, but white is fabulous too. You will be sure to stand out!

I was in the mood to go shopping (deadly!), so instead of taking money out of my paycheck, I took my coin jar down to my local Coinstar and traded the coins in for a Gap card. I could have traded the coins in for cash, but if I do this I have to give Coinstar a percentage of my coins, so I always choose a gift-card instead. I went down to Gap on Wednesday because they usually have additional clearance sales on this day, and I found a gorgeous, white strapless dress that can be worn for many occasions (the dress came with optional straps too, perfect!). With the extra 40%-off sale, the dress came out to about $20, which is amazing for the quality of the dress and the many ways it can be worn.

Never ever settle for a cheap dress. You could have taken the same twenty dollars and bought a cheap, thin cotton dress that will wrinkle and become worn-out looking quickly (not to mention, most cheap dresses tend to cling to the skin in the wrong places). I buy one or two dresses every summer, and now I have a beautiful collection of dresses in my wardrobe that will last a long time because I waited for quality. I can always find a nice dress for about $15 or $20 at Gap and other places.

That's not all that happened this week, I also found a free pair of sterling silver and cubic zirconia stud earrings with a coupon. I waited for the ten-dollar Kohls card to come in the mail, and I found these earrings on sale, so I walked away with this beautiful pair without spending a single penny. I lost my other silver stud earrings, so I'll be wearing these lovely earrings all the time! 

Also, this weekend Bath & Body Works is giving out a coupon through your email so you can walk into the store and get a little bottle of lotion for free. Today is the last day the coupon is good for, so my sister and I will be heading over to the mall to use our coupons. Maybe we'll see you there! 


Rachel <3

Sunday, July 8, 2012

My Crazy Weekend, AKA the Helix Piercing Adventure

So, last week I took a break from posting blogs for the Fourth of July; I hope you all had a great week! I decided that for the rest of the summer I will only be posting a blog on Sundays, instead of doing both Sundays and Wednesdays. Working full time takes it out of you!

A Classy Helix Piercing

Yesterday I was very brave.
I made an appointment at Kenny Curtis and got my helix pierced!                                           
In case you didn't make the connection with the picture, this is the upper part of the ear. To keep it classy I'm going to have a single helix piercing in my right ear, and I chose a tiny sparkly earring so it matches all my outfits while I wait for my ear to heal.

What does this have to do with saving money? Well, I decided to go to a professional because cartilage piercings are harder to do (piercing guns are bad for the cartilage area, so Claire's was out of the question). I paid a little more money to have it done right so I wouldn't have wasted the money in the first place. It was only thirty dollars at Kenny Curtis (located in Marina), and that included the earring as well.

I've been wanting a helix piercing for a while now; I waited a long time to make sure it was something I really wanted. I think Rosie Huntington-Whiteley inspired me with all those cute cartilage earrings in Transformers 3. My fun, quirky, older swing-dance teacher has one too; I think I figured if she had one I could be brave and get one too. 

Yes, I almost passed out afterwards from shock, but they had a padded bench for me to lie down on and lots of cold water to drink, thank goodness. Also, if you're going to get your cartilage pierced, take someone with you who can drive you home because you probably won't feel up to driving. I sure didn't. My dad came with me and I felt a lot more comfortable with the whole experience. I almost went by myself, bad idea!

The actual piercing of the ear didn't hurt very much, and it only aches a little bit right now. The woman who pierced my ear was great (her name is Devin); she made sure I knew exactly where I wanted the earring to go, and she gave me lots of good advice on how to clean the piercing (apparently rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide create scars!). I am extremely happy with my piercing and I do not regret it one bit. I am excited to find pretty earrings for my piercing after it heals!

(Images found on Google)




Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Life Style: 5 Dollar Dates

My friend, Abby, had a really great idea for a post. She lives in LA where there are lots of fun places to spend money, but when she goes out with a good friend they each take only five dollars with them and are limited to spending that amount for the whole day. She has a great time with her friends (usually she will go out for yogurt or ice cream), and it's proof that you don't have to spend much to have a good time. You could even go clothes shopping with five dollars; I can't tell you how many great purchases I've made from clearance racks with less than that.

I loved this idea because the focus is not on shopping or buying expensive food, it's about having a good time with a friend. It's amazing the things you can find for good prices if you limit yourself to spending a small amount of money. Another great thing about only taking five dollars with you (I dare you to try five dollars for two people), is that your social time becomes an adventure. You are less willing to part with the money because you are motivated to find the best deal possible (when it's gone, it's gone!), and you have a greater sense of satisfaction from your purchase because you know you spent your money wisely. It can even inspire you to try new things. Also, you might find that a smaller size of something you would normally buy satisfies you. Last night I discovered that the child's hot chocolate from Starbucks is the perfect size for me; I get that delicious hot chocolate and whipped cream taste, but not too much so that I feel tired or bored of the drink. Did I mention it's cheaper?!


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Black Blazer

 This is the blazer I mentioned in a previous post. I tweaked it to make it fun to wear. I rolled up the sleeves and added a feather brooch for a little pizzazz. The great thing about owning a black or grey blazer is that you can wear it with almost anything because it is a classic. This, of course, goes for men as well.

The jacket and white shirt bring the dusty pink pants down to earth. For the shoe interview, my friend Jessica wore a black jacket, a black tank top, and red pants for a fun color blocking example (see here). You have to be careful about the color you choose for your shirt. Since your pants are a bright color, choose a neutral color for the shirt if you want to be sure to get it right (white works every time!). I love wearing a black blazer with colorful pants for a modern twist.

I found my pants and feather brooch on sale at my favorite place in Old Town Salinas, Bliss Boutique (Bliss Facebook page). If you like their page on Facebook you can be updated about their sales and new items.

My shoes are silver. Did you know that metallic is now considered a neutral? This means you don't have to wait until it's dark to pull out a gold purse or a silver pair of shoes.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Little Treasures

If you've owned a piece for a long time, it doesn't necessarily mean you should get rid of it (unless it is really old, ugly, and falling apart). If you're tired of something, put it in a seasonal box underneath your bed for a while, and then pull it out later and surprise yourself. Sometimes when fashion changes you can look at your old pieces in a new light. You might have to tweak something a little to make it work for you. Last week I found a black blazer in my closet I had never really worn before because it felt stuffy. I snipped the shoulder pads off, rolled up the sleeves, and placed a feather brooch on the front to customize it; now I wear it all the time.

Today I wore the vintage style purse shown in the picture above. A few years ago embroidered and beaded vintage purses were "all the rage." At the time, Target came out with a line of vintage style purses and I found this one for about ten dollars online. I've had it for about five or six years now. It's tiny and beautiful, and I love how inexpensive it was for something so unique. I didn't get rid of it when I got bored with it, I just put it away for a couple of years and pulled it out later when I needed some "new" accessories.

Go find some of your old treasures and enjoy them!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Interview with a Shoe-Lover


Happy Father's Day! This blog makes me think about my Dad because he makes time to go shoe shopping with me every once in a while, isn't that sweet? It takes a real man to go shopping with his daughter, especially if it happens to be an indecisive, thoughtful shopper like me. ( "Dad, do you like the green shoes or the brown ones better? The brown would be more practical, but the green ones are just so cute!")

I sometimes have strong opinions when it comes to shoes, but I have only just started to appreciate what they can do for a woman's wardrobe. Since I cannot claim to be the "shoe-master," I decided to pull in an expert. I asked my lovely friend, Jessica, if we could go out to Starbucks and have a fun shoe interview because she is passionate about high-heels and owns a very large collection of beautiful shoes. We had a fabulous time together, and after our Starbucks date I took a couple pictures of her two favorite pairs of shoes. I learned a lot from her answers, and I hope you enjoy~

When shopping for shoes, what is the best advice you can give?

Rule #1: Don't skimp on quality! 
Everyone says beauty is pain, but when it comes to shoes the pain does not outweigh the gain. For special occasions I understand we all can't afford $100+ shoes every time, but buying heels that you could wear more than 5 times is worth a little investment. Bad shoes can cause major feet issues when you are older. 
I have found many of my shoes on sale at Macy's or at Marshalls that are nice brands like BCBG and Steve Madden, and I didn't have to pay full price. 

Are there certain styles of shoes that every woman should have in her wardrobe?     

Rule #2: Own the 3 essentials
We are all told to have the perfect pair of jeans, the little black dress, and a blouse that can take us from the office to a lunch date to a night on the town, but what about the shoes, ladies?! There are 3 shoes every woman should have (the nicer the quality the better). First is the perfect pair of wedges. Wedges are like jeans: you can wear them to too many occasions to list. But since this is the shoe you would wear for hours you should invest in comfort! My second essential pair is what I call my "sexy" shoes. Every woman needs a pair of crazy high heels (mine are typically 4-5 inches with a fun print) for a fun night out. This kind of shoe with the little black dress gives a powerful statement to a simple outfit. Now for number three: a classy strappy black heel (no more than 3 inches); the go-to shoe for any outfit in need of class. 

Of all the shoes you own, which is your most treasured pair?                              

My most treasured pair is a multicolored beaded pair from BCBG. I have worn them with so many outfits for over 3 years now and I still get compliments! They have wooden heels so they are perfect for a fun daytime outfit, or can even be worn for a casual night out. [I have a picture of this pair at the bottom]

Why are shoes your favorite accessory?

Hmm how to explain my addiction... 
When those perfect jeans don't fit, my shoes always do! Plus what other accessory can lengthen my legs and give me a cuter butt instantly?! 

I'm interested in wearing "crazy" high-heeled shoes, how can I tone down my outfit to look appropriate?

As I mentioned earlier, an essential shoe for every girl's closest is the sexy pair of pumps that gives the wow statement to an outfit. Now with that said, I give you my rule #4: 1 part sexy, 3 parts conservative. I never wear my crazy shoes with a sexy outfit. To stay classy, only pick one area to highlight, ladies. Even with a fabulous pair of sexy shoes, an outfit can go quickly from classy to trashy if you show off too much to the world. In the picture of me at the top you can see I wore a black sequin top under a conservative black blazer, paired with a pair of skinny red slacks. This color-blocking technique helps to balance out the very high, brightly patterned heels so I don't look desperate. 

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Rule #5: have fun and wear shoes that are you! 
Wear what makes you comfortable, but don't be too afraid to have fun with them.

Thank you, Jessica!
Happy Father's Day everyone,


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How to Look Put-Together

Maybe you already have a closet full of dependable basic items and you still feel frumpy when you throw on outfits in the morning. What are some easy ways to make your style interesting?

1. Replace Your Sneakers with Cute Shoes:
Okay, some sneakers can be cute, but seriously, hiking boots? Exercise shoes? UGGS?! If you don't believe me, picture yourself in your favorite pair of dark-blue jeans and a white t-shirt. First, imagine yourself wearing exercise shoes with this ensemble. Then, picture yourself wearing black, high-heeled shoes. Now do you understand? I'm not saying you have to buy crazy, uncomfortable shoes, but please, don't disrespect yourself with poor shoe choices. Good shoes are an investment. You can find well-made flats, low heels, boots, and slip-ons that are both cute and comfortable. Put those hiking boots back on the shelf, unless you promise yourself you will only use them for outdoor excursions.

2. Replace Your Hoodies with Cardigans
First of all, I love hoodies. There is something very comforting about finding the perfect hoodie and every girl should have one to relax in on the weekends. However, did you notice the word I chose to describe hoodies? Comforting. Hoodies are comfort clothes and you will look more put-together if you stay away from wearing them too often. The exception to this is when you find an unusual hoodie that looks more dressed up, or if you wear a hoodie as a second layer underneath a nice jacket. Other than this, stick to cardigans for everyday wear. They are just as comfortable and come in many styles and colors.

3. Wear Your Accessories
Many women have accessories they never remember to wear. If you have time, organize your jewelry, scarves, handbags, belts and hats. Give away the accessories you don't like, and experiment with the ones you have left. Accessories have the power to take an outfit from "boring" to "exceptional." If you pair cheap accessories with good quality basics and a designer handbag, no one will know you only spent $1 on that bracelet. Unless you blog about it, of course.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Carmel Sunday Outfit #5

Don't be afraid to wear bright, warm colors. You can always tone down the brightness with darker pieces if you feel like a neon road sign.

I may have mentioned my love for poofy little skirts. They are so feminine and pretty! Full skirts do wonders for those of us out there who want to pretend we have hips, because they balance out a lack of curves. They also look amazing on curvy women as well, so you can't go wrong.

I like to check Aeropostale's clearance rack every once in a while for my cute little summer skirts. I found this one there for $13, and the polka-dot skirt I wore in a previous blog was on sale for $10. The weather is finally starting to warm up so I have been wearing them frequently and have been loving every moment.