One Sweater…Three Looks

Know how to get the best bang for your buck in your closet? Make sure to invest in pieces that can be paired with multiple items in your closet. Sound hard? Not really. I’ll show you how.

Let’s take the following sweater.

Polka dot short sleeve sweater

One might see this sweater and think it can only be paired with a black pair of slacks or ankle length skinny jeans, but there are so many other options that can create multiple looks in your closet.

Pleated skirt

This pleated skirt is a great option for pairing the short sleeve sweater. Although unconventional, this skirt paired with the sweater and over-the-knee boots creates an incredibly fun look for the office or a lunch date.

Leather leggings

These black, faux-leather leggings are a simple way to add a little edge to an otherwise classic-looking sweater. Paired with open-toe booties, hoop earrings and a cropped jacket, this look can take you from a client meeting to happy hour with your girlfriends.

Cocktail dress

Lastly, pairing the sweater with a simple cocktail dress is another way to expand your wardrobe options. This is a fun look that you could wear on a date with your beau or to a fancy brunch with friends.

Now, that I’ve given you a few ideas, take some time and look through your closet. See if there is a random blouse or pair of pants that you’ve never matched before. This can be a fun exercise…kind of like playing dress up in your closet. I’d love to see the new combinations you come up with. Please share below!

xoxo,
shannon b.

Wardrobe Essentials for Today’s Woman

I’m sure we’ve all picked up a magazine in the past 10 years and read an article about the top five items EVERY woman should have in their closet. The list usually consists of a white collar shirt, basic black pumps and a brand name handbag. These are known as classic pieces. In other words, they are fashion items that never go out of style, so making a sizable investment in each item was not only accepted, it was warranted! I will admit, there was once a point in time when I tried to make sure that I had every item in my closet. That was the old me. The new me often rebels against society’s norms…check out my Down with Corporate Suits and An Open Invitation to Judge Me blogs for proof.

Back to the list. It think it was relevant for the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s everyday woman. Women back in those days had more traditional roles…worked traditional 9 to 5 jobs, blah, blah, blah. Today’s woman looks and operates completely different. Today’s woman comes in many different shapes, sizes and hues, and they wear so many hats…entrepreneur, mother, leader, influencer, wife, innovator, sister, boss, friend, activist, blogger, etc. You get the picture. Today’s woman needs flexibility not only in her professional and home life, but in her closet too. Today’s woman wants an outfit that will take her from the school carpool lane, to a client meeting at her WeWork office space, to lunch with her business partner, back to her home office for a conference call over Zoom, and then to the soccer field to cheer on her child star athlete.

All this to say that I think that the essentials list of yesteryear badly needs an update, so here’s my advice.

1. White collar shirt OUT/Blazer IN

What can one say about blazers? They are the quintessential article of clothing that classes up any look in a matter of seconds. And there are so many different variations. From the classic, structured black blazer to a boyfriend style in Heather gray. Historically blazers were always paired with a matching pair of pants or pencil skirt. Today blazers are paired with everything from stretch pants, to joggers to jeans. Tip: Invest in one structured blazer and a more casual style like a boyfriend blazer. Also, try fun prints and colors like this yellow one from my fave J.Crew.

2. Basic black pump OUT/Casual shoe IN

Read my lips…I’m not saying you need to throw out your pair of black pumps. You might need a pair one day when you attend a funeral or go on a job interview. Pumps have a purpose, but they’re not practical for everyday wear. What if you’re a city dweller and depend on subways and Uber’s to get around? Or what if you’re a suburbanite like me who drives barefoot because you’re afraid your heel may get stuck under the gas pedal (don’t judge me)? Heels look amazing and add an extra layer of sophistication to any look, but today’s woman needs practicality. Casual shoes are not only functional, they are extremely fashionable and will take you from a business meeting to the after school bake sale without having to change in the parking lot. Tip: Consider purchasing a pair of causal shoes from Keds. You’ll thank me later.

3. Brand name handbag OUT/Crossbody bag IN

Can I just say that besides dresses that have pockets, crossbody bags are my favorite fashion invention? There are so many benefits to wearing a crossbody. They keep your hands free and even if there is no scientific evidence to back this up, I feel like they are better for your back and shoulder alignment. Crossbody bags tend to be smaller, which means you can’t cram all of the junk you would carry in a normal sized bag. And…crossbody bags deter thieves! How Sway? Think about how the bags sit. The crossbody sits diagonally across your torso instead of vertically on your shoulder like a regular handbag. It is much easier to steal a bag that is just sitting vertically on your shoulder versus one that it is sitting on it diagonally. Boom! I’m sure I’ve just blown your mind! Tip: Trade in that handbag for a crossbody and see how your life will change. Your shoulders and back will thank me.

4. Jeans OUT/Stretchy, casual pants IN

So, I think it’s been almost two years since I’ve worn a pair of jeans. Isn’t that crazy? So what do I wear you ask? I found the most amazing pair of pants at my Holy Grail J. Crew Outlet almost three years ago and I haven’t gone back to jeans since. They are super stretchy, but the fabric is thick, so they don’t look like thin leggings. They have four pockets and come in black and blue. I have two pair in each color and am on the verge of buying two more. They are so comfortable. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to jeans. And don’t get me wrong. There are some really comfortable jeans out there, but nothing compares to these pants. I wear them all the time. They are perfect if you are doing a lot of moving around, getting in and out of the car, going from meeting to meeting or even going to the grocery store to pick up dinner. They are the perfect pair of pants for any occasion. Tip: Find the perfect pair of pants with a great amount of stretch and quality fabric that will take you from point A to point B, and all of the points in between.

Now that I’ve shared my updated list, what do you think? Do you have most of these items already? Are there items I missed? I’d love to hear your feedback, good or bad, so let’s get a discussion going. What’s the one go-to item in your closet that you can wear for any occasion? Let me know in the comments section below.

xoxo,
shannon b.

3 Style Resolutions for 2017

Can we you hear the sound of people cheering, champagne popping and Auld Lang Syne (the NYE song) blaring in the midnight air? I just described what New Year’s Eve looks and sounds like for many of you. Can you believe we are less than a week away from 2017? This year has flown by!

As traditions go, the end of an old year and the start of a new one inspires people to set resolutions. So, in conjunction with the same old resolutions you make every year, like losing weight, eating healthier, saving money and praying more, let’s include a resolution about how we’re going to present our best selves in 2017. I came up with three style resolutions below and I invite you to adopt one or all for 2017! Let’s go!

  1. Only buy or wear what you absolutely LOVE. – Why is this important? Because, we spend a lot of money and closet real estate on items we only feel lukewarm about. Would you stay in a relationship with someone who you feel indifferent toward? Then, why would you want to buy or wear something in your closet that doesn’t make you feel fabulous? And I don’t mean that it made you feel fabulous three years ago. If it doesn’t make you feel like a goddess today then let it go. Clothes are an investment. We wear them everyday. Make sure every dollar you spend on clothes is toward an item that makes you excited to wear it. Do an inventory of your closet. It might take you a while to get to a place where you LOVE absolutely everything in your closet, so start with baby steps and eliminate the pieces that you can live without.
  2. Embrace a new color, print or pattern. – Notice I said “a” new color, print or pattern. I’m not asking you to adopt the whole rainbow! We are all creatures of habit, which is reflective in our closets. If we like the way we look in a particular color, then we’ll buy everything under the sun in that color. Let’s commit to trying out a new color that’s not currently in our closet (for me, it will probably be pink). For example, if you’re partial to only wearing stripes, why not give polka dots or floral print a try?What will introducing a new color do? Glad you asked! It will widen the buying field for you and you’ll have more options of things to wear.
  3. Take better care of what’s already in the closet. – How many of us are guilty of turning a blind eye towards blazers, sweaters, dresses, etc. that are dry clean only? How many of us hang our sweaters instead of folding them? How many of us just kick our shoes off and don’t place them back in their box? How many of us have a tangled mess of necklaces and earrings in our jewelry boxes on our dressers? How many of us throw the handbags that we once treasured on the floor in our closet? Did I just describe myself? I, for one am guilty for committing a lot of these atrocities (too dramatic?). The clothes, accessories and shoes in my closet are an investment and I must admit, I don’t always treat them that way. Sure, when I first get a new bag or pair of shoes, I’m extra careful to store them properly…but after six months, all of the tender, love and care is out the window. Let’s take better care of our investments all year round, that way they’ll last longer!

So as we bring in 2017, think about how you want to present yourself in 2017. It might start with one or all of the resolutions I shared above. Or you might have your own, which I would love to hear. Comment below and let me know if you are committing to these style resolutions or creating your own.

xoxo,
shannon b.

My Top 3 Spring Fashion Must-Haves

Now that spring is officially here, I’m super excited to shed the long coats, black tights (I abandoned them back in February…judge me) and bulky sweaters! Hello to bare legs, open toes and sun-kissed shoulders.  So far, I’m loving all of the spring trends that have sprouted up from the cold winter soil. While my bank account won’t allow me (sigh) to purchase every new, shiny, springy item my heart desires, a girl can dream right? And a girl can whittle her wish list down to three essential spring wardrobe pieces and share it with the masses (aka my amazing readers) right?

So here goes! Here are three items I plan to invest in for the spring season.

1Bell sleeves

Every where I look I see bell sleeves and I love it! I think they are perfect for the transition from winter to spring, when the weather still fluctuates from a nice mild temperature to downright cold. The sleeves provide enough coverage for warmth, but don’t extend all the way to your wrists like most winter wear. I also love the volume and flowiness of a bell sleeve. Nothing is more feminine. Ring my bell!

 


2. Flare jeans

I missed the flared jeans era in the 60s and 70s, but I’m glad they made a comeback (like most styles). Though, I have to be careful as a petite girl in wearing them and making sure they don’t make me look even shorter. I’m still willing to take the risk! I think the trick is wearing some really high platform heels. I can’t wait to add this groovy denim look into my wardrobe rotation. I also think flare jeans go well with the third item on this list.

 


3. Off-the-shoulder top/dress

Maybe it’s me, but don’t off-the-shoulder tops/dresses seem like a mature version of a tube top/dress? My theory is that tube tops/dresses are for teenyboppers and off-the-shoulder tops/dresses are for sexy, classy grown women, right? I don’t have anything against tube tops/dresses, but I’ve never been comfortable wearing them on the account of my more than abundant bust size (ughh). I’m betting that this new off-the-shoulder trend might finally be my opportunity achieve a tube-topish kind of look!

 

As I said, there are so many new looks and trends for spring that I want to bring home, but everything in moderation I guess (sigh). What are your top essentials for spring? Please share! I’d love to see if we’re “eyeing” the same things.

Have a great week!

xoxo,
shannon b.

 

My Golden Rule for Shopping

I like to think that in general, I’m a rule follower. Always wear a shirt and shoes inside of Target…check! Never have nine items in the eight items or less line at Wegmans…check! Always use your signal when changing lanes or making a turn…half a check! But when it comes to shopping, I rarely follow the rules. Don’t wear white after Labor Day…I do! Never pay full prices…eh! Always go to the clearance rack first…nope! But, there is one golden rule when it comes to shopping  that I adopted several years ago that I still practice to this day. In fact, I practiced it this past weekend when I purchased a few (okay, more than a few) pieces for my spring wardrobe at one of my favorite stores, J.Crew Factory.

My rule? Okay, drumroll please…whenever I buy a few new pieces for my wardrobe, I always remove the same amount (or more) of old clothes from my closet and donate them to a local non-profit organization. For example, if I buy 10 new wardrobe pieces, I make sure to remove 10 or more wardrobe pieces that were already in my closet before I went shopping.

To be perfectly honest, I started doing this recycle and replinish process because I found that whenever I brought clothes, I never had empty hangers for my new friends (yes, my clothes are my friends). So, in order to make room for the new, I had to get rid of some of the old. Doing a small purge is really helpful in making room for new clothes, but think about how your new clothes will become new clothes for someone else. It’s the circle of life!

So, how do I decide which items to remove from my closet? Simple. I ask myself one question…”did you wear this item in the last 12 to 18 months?” If the answer is no, then I remove the article of clothing and drop it in the donation pile. If you have more questions about how to painlessly purge your closet, check out my blog post Urge to Purge: Tough Love Tips to Condensing Your Closet.

There you have it. The first, last and only rule I follow when it comes to shopping.

I’d love to hear your golden rule to shopping/fashion. Comment on this post and share your rule!

xoxo,
shannon b.

P.S. I thought you might like to see the new bag of clothes I purchased this weekend and the bag of clothes I plan to donate to Martha’s Table, a local non-profit in Washington, DC.

 

My new friends

 

 

My old friends

 

Where Do I Start?

I recently provided “gentle” counseling to a friend who spent half of the money her husband gave her to shop for herself, on her daughter. If she’s reading this post, I’m sure she’ll laugh at my “gentle” description of our group text conversation.

Although I’m not a mom, one thing I know about the hardest working women on earth is that they never hesitate to put their children first. Especially when it comes to making sure that their little humans have the best of everything. While I appreciate the sacrificial love of a mother, because I am definitely a beneficiary, I think moms, and women in general, should put themselves first more often.

Back to my friend and the “nurturing” advice I provided…I asked her why she didn’t spend ALL of the money her husband gifted her on herself. Her answer was simple…”I didn’t know where to start.” I actually hear that a lot. Shopping can definitely be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what you need or what you should buy first. Here’s my answer…there’s no wrong place to start! Shopping is a journey, not a destination. It’s something that you will do on and off for the rest of your life. So, you have plenty of chances to start in different places.

If you rolled your eyes when I said there is no wrong place to start and are mumbling under your breath that I’m still not helping you, then hold on my friend. I’ve listed a few starting points for you below (in no particular order). You’re welcome…wink, wink!

  1. Bra department – I cannot stress how much a new bra can improve your look. I’m so passionate about it that I posted a blog about bras a few weeks ago. Check it out here.
  2. Jewelry department – When’s the last time you bought yourself a nice new pair of earrings or a new bracelet? They’re the perfect complement to everything in your closet. Jewelry is a girls best friend, so they say.
  3. Denim department – Out of  routine and convenience, a lot of us wear denim on the weekends. Why not invest in a new pair of black jeans or a chambray top? The number of times worn versus the money spent ratio will make the purchase worth it.
  4. Top department – Basic tees serve as the foundation for many looks. Why not throw away those dingy, discolored ones and stock your shelves with a few new tees in different colors? Check out the variety of options here.
  5. Dress department – Believe it or not, wedding season is upon us. Why not get ahead of the game and pick out a new dress in advance. P.S. Unless instructed by the bride, try picking a dress that’s not black and for obvious reasons, stay away from white!
  6. Shoe department – Spring wear is already taking over floor space in a lot of retailers, which means winter boots are being marked down significantly. Try to snag a deal before they’re all gone.
  7. Sunglasses department – Last but not least (and how fitting because it’s my lucky number) sunnies (my absolute faves) are a great investment too. Instead of taking the safe route and buying a black or tortoise shell pair, try a bright color like persimmon.

Whew! Okay, that was a lot. But hopefully now you have some ideas of where to start the next time you have a few hours to kill and some extra dollars to spend. As a reminder, these suggestions are in no particular order. Take your pointer finger, close your eyes and just point to one. That’s your starting point!

You’ve been challenged. Now go!

xoxo,
shannon b.

P.S. I’d love to see what you buy, so please share. In the words of my Parks and Recreation faves, Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle…TREAT YO SELF!!

treat-yo-self

 

 

 

Come on, Brah

Even though the title of this post is an extremely corny attempt to tie my blog topic to today’s cool kids lingo (“c’mon bruh”, get it?), the subject is something we all should take quite seriously…wearing the right size bra.

  
Since it’s the start of a new year, I thought it would be great to get a professional fitting and purchase a few new bras for my collection.  My last blog post was an open invitation to judge one of my recent style choices and I’m still recovering from all of the finger shaking (I kid), so I won’t divulge the amount of time that has passed between my last two bra fittings. Let’s just say it’s rather embarrassing because I know how critical and essential a properly fitted bra is to my wardrobe. The right bra can take that cashmere sweater or v-neck blouse from blah to BAM! Your undergarments are the foundation to any and every look you present to the world each day. 

Not convinced of the wardrobe changing effects a shiny new bra can provide? Check out some of the benefits below: 

1. Wearing the proper size bra can reduce health challenges

As a person who suffers from frequent migraine headaches, it was interesting to learn that my headaches could be caused by bras that don’t fit properly. If the bra strap is too thick and the cup size is too small, then your shoulders will absorb the pressure, which can increase your chances of experiencing headaches and/or neck pain.  Ill fitting bras can also negatively affect your breathing and circulation because of the pressure the underwire or tightness of the bra can put on your bones. Okay, so we have head problems, neck problems and breathing problems, all caused by wrong sized bras. What are you waiting for? Make your bra sizing appointment today!

2. Wearing the proper size bra can make you look skinnier

It’s true. I’m a petite and busty girl and some of my older bras were giving the illusion that I was heavier than I am. I really didn’t notice the difference until I got re-sized and purchased a few new bras. The difference was definitely noticeable. Not only did I not look as bulky, but the new bra made my “girls” a lot more perky and provided better definition between my boobs and my torso. Don’t believe me? Give it a try.

3. Wearing the proper size bra can improve your posture

I think this benefit is pretty much a no brainier. Have you ever wore a bra with straps that fit tightly on your shoulders or underwire that is completely uncomfortable? If so, you know that the discomfort unconsciously makes you slump your shoulders and hunch your back. It’s a coping mechanism for the agitation. Putting on the right size bra takes the pressure off of your shoulders, which enables your back to be appropriately aligned. 

So there you have it! All of the motivation you need to update your bra drawer. I challenge you to schedule an appointment with a bra specialist at a retailer like Nordstrom or Soma Intimates and purchase a few new bras for your collection. I promise, it will change your life!

xoxo,

shannon b.

An open invitation…to judge me

You probably will never ever in your life receive an invitation like this, so here goes. If you’re on the east coast, you like me are finally experiencing winter weather. I think it was 20 degrees yesterday morning! So as I stood in my closet and put on my cranberry colored wool pencil skirt (from J. Crew of course), a black tee, a black long blazer and my new Schutz pony-haired, leopard print pumps (a Christmas gift from my love), it occurred to me that I would probably receive a few stares because a cute pair of tights were not included in my complete look. So here’s my confession…I went bare-legged yesterday and it wasn’t my first offense. Okay, deep breath, bracing myself. Let the judgmental thoughts begin!

  
Why risk the flu and expose my legs to the bitter cold air, especially when my lovely mother just blessed me with several new pairs of stockings and tights in various designs and shades — think leopard and floral print, argyle, fishnet and navy blue. In my mind, there are some ensembles in which wearing a pair of tights or stockings are essential in completing the look. Yesterday, was not that day. I base my style on feeling and yesterday I simply wasn’t feeling wearing leg coverings. 

In my defense, even though it was below freezing yesterday, I technically never went outdoors. When I left out of the house, I walked out into the garage, got in the car and turned the heat on blast. When I arrived at work, I parked in the garage under my building, scurried up to my office and turned on my little space heater. So going bare legged wasn’t too crazy, right? You don’t have to agree, but in my mind it all makes sense and is completly justified. 

So there you have it, my winter time confession and the last opportunity I’ll ever offer for you to openly judge me. 

Now that I’ve shared this tidbit about me, what would you like to confess? 

XOXO,

shannon b.

Cute, Comfy and Cool Cookout Couture 

Do you like my play on alliteration for this blog posts’ title? Cute, comfy, cool, cookout and couture?!?! Do you know how long it took me to come up with that? Not long actually, but I thought it was pretty clever.

So, after attending a fun and fabulous Father’s (more alliteration for you) Day cookout this past weekend in hot, humid and Hades-like (last play on alliteration, I promise) weather conditions it occurred to me that trying to pull off a look that’s cute, comfy and cool all at the same time can be a bit challenging…especially if you’re jumping around on a moon bounce, dodging water gun fights and blowing bubbles (fun, right?) like many of us were at the Father’s Day fellowship.

So, what’s a girl to wear? No need to fret and head to the mall to buy new cookout wardrobe pieces. A lot of the items I suggest below you probably already own variations of in your closet right now.

As you’ll see, all of these suggestions are equal parts cute, comfy and cool:

Cute, Comfy and Cool Cookout Coutoure
These options will definitely help you stay cool and comfortable in the hot heat, while looking cute and as a bonus will camouflage your cookout food baby!

Here are a few additional tips to achieving a great cookout look:

  1.  Stay away from all wearing white, for obvious reasons.
  2. Wear light, breathable fabrics. Think cotton, linen and silk. Lycra and wool are not your friends in the summer.
  3. Think about if you’ll be doing a lot of movement, i.e. jumping in a moon bounce or chasing after little humans. You might want to opt out of wearing a short skirt.
  4. High heels are a no-no. You don’t want to be that girl that everyone looks at sideways or risk the chance of breaking your neck trying to walk through the grass.

Hopefully you found these outfit ideas and tips helpful and won’t have any question of what to wear for the dozens of cookouts you’ll attend before summer ends. Also, if you like any of the items from my style board, please check out the links below and learn where you can purchase any of the items. And please, check out my Polyvore page when you have a chance for more style boards for various occasions.

XOXO,

shannon b.


Cool Change poncho top
calypsostbarth.com

Zara blue top
zara.com

Weekend Max Mara maxi skirt
matchesfashion.com

Paloma Blue green shorts
$165 – net-a-porter.com

Mia shoes
6pm.com

Floppy hat
$24 – newlook.com

Oversized sunglasses
societyofchic.com

Packing Tips from a Last Minute Packer

As much as I love to travel, there is one element about traveling that I could absolutely do without…packing! I’m definitely one of those night before/morning of packers. I always wait until the last minute, but I’ve created and learned a few tricks over the years that have helped me to efficiently pack for trips to Paris, London, Antigua and many other fabulous places. In fact, in a few days I’ll be packing for a cruise to Bermuda (woot, woot), so I thought this post could not only help me, but also guide you as you start planning your upcoming summer excursions.

1. Simple and complementary
Try packing clothes in simple, complementary colors. Consider a neutral or dark (hides stains) palette that you can infuse with colorful accessories (think bracelets and light scarves). Complementary colors and patterns allow you to mix and match pieces and helps you cut down on the number of articles of clothing you need to pack.

2. Wrinkle free is right for me
Jersey, lycra, spandex, polyester (yes, I said polyester) and cotton knit should be a staple in your luggage. They are ideal for traveling because the potential of them getting super wrinkled while crammed into your suitcase is minimal. Also, try rolling all of your clothes instead of folding them for even less wrinkles.

3. Three pairs of shoes are good, seriously
I don’t think you can ever have enough shoes. That is unless you are travelling. Let’s face it, shoes take up a lot of space in your suitcase and they can make your bag even heavier. Another advantage of wearing complementary colors (see the first tip) is that you can pack just a few pairs of shoes that go with all of your looks. You should have a daytime, casual shoe (think flats), activity shoes (think sneakers) and nighttime shoes, heeled or wedge sandals.

4. The great jewelry detangler
There’s nothing more frustrating than packing necklaces and bracelets that get all tangled up as they get shifted around in your luggage. Consider investing in a jewelry holder, like this cute one from Stella & Dot called Roll With It. When you arrive to your destination you won’t have to waste time untangling all of your precious jewels.

5. Ziploc Freezer Bags aren’t just for storing meat
I know it sounds odd, but this is something that I tried years ago and it made packing and figuring out what I’m going to wear each day super easy. Days before I leave for the trip or even dig out my suitcase from the guest room closet, I plan out what I’m going to wear each day. If I’m taking a long trip, I even write down on a piece of paper what I plan to wear each day. When I finally start to pack, I go to the kitchen and pull out a box of Ziploc Deep Freezer Bags. The number of freezer bags I use is dependent upon the number of days I’ll be away. I start with the outfit that I’m going to wear on the first day and roll up each of the articles of clothing and put them in the Ziploc bag. Then, I add the undergarments that I will wear that day along with the jewelery. I repeat the process for the rest of the days I will be away. You’ll be shocked at how organized your suitcase will be and how easy it will be to get dressed each day. After you wear the clothes, you can throw them back in the  Ziploc bag, which helps in separating your clean clothes from the dirty ones.

6. Mix and match wear
Try to pack items that can easily be paired with a lot of things, such as a white tank top, jean jacket or long skirt. You can get a lot of leverage out of those basic pieces and wear them more than once (if the clothing item remains clean). As I mentioned in the first point, if you pack mix and match pieces in complementary colors then you can cut down on the number of articles of clothing you’ll need to pack.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Please share with me some of the tricks you use while packing. I might be able to use them for my upcoming trip! Happy packing!

XOXO,
shannon b.