How to Dress for Wishy-Washy Weather

As I was driving home last week wearing a two-piece wool ensemble in 40 degree weather, I had a quick meeting with God. It went something like this:

“Aren’t we in April? Where’s the warm weather? Why am I wearing wool in spring?”

I’m still waiting on a response from him, but I understand he’s rather busy. I’ll just be patient. In the mean time I started to question myself about how to dress for this crazy weather. And I figured, if I had questions then I’m sure you do too. So I put together a few wardrobe pieces that I think will help us weather this inconsistent season.

Medium-weight scarf

I’m sure I made up the term medium-weight scarf, but I’m trying to emphasize the importance of the material. I wouldn’t recommend a wool scarf nor would I recommend a feather-light weight scarf either. You need something right in the middle. A scarf is a great accessory, but during those confusingly cold spring days, they can provide great warmth. I recommend getting a sweater long enough to wrap around your arms. Since I’m done with stockings for the rest of the year, I even used a scarf to wrap around my legs last week while I was in the office because I’m 100 percent sure the air conditioner was on!

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ASOS Oversized Scarf In Herringbone With Tassels

 

Open-toe booties

Soooo, for many years I was really against open-toe booties. I just didn’t get the concept. Boots were made to keep your feet warm. Cutting a whole at the top, seemed oxymornish to me…until I found a pair that I really fell in love with. Now, I have more than a few open-toe booties in my closet. Now that I’m reformed, I highly recommend open-toe booties for those wishy-washy weather days because they’re perfect in the morning when it’s still rather cold outside and you need something to keep your feet warm. By the time you head out for lunch and it’s warmed up a bit, your little toesies will be grateful to feel the warmth of the sun.

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Vince Addie Sandal

Long sleeveless jacket 

I’ve admired long sleeveless jackets for the past few seasons. They provide just enough coverage on your torso to keep you warm, but don’t extend down to your wrists like a typical jacket or coat. Sleeveless jackets are versatile and allow you to mix textures and colors. For example, the sleeveless jacket might be suede and the long sleeve shirt you wear under it might be satin material. Sleeveless jackets look great with a spring dress, midi skirt, flare jeans, a silky blouse, etc.  The key word here is versatility.

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Glamorous Stone Long Sleeveless Jacket 

Fingers crossed that the weather will stabilize soon, but in the mean time, I think these three pieces will help you get through the inconsistency. What staple item are you relying on during this wishy-washy season?

XOXO,
shannon b.

Where I Like to Shop

Have you ever been out and about and you see someone wearing something really cute? You build up enough courage to walk up to them and pay them a compliment and also to ask where they purchased such beautiful clothes or accessories and they say:

“Oh, thank you! This old thing? I’ve had it for so long, I can’t even begin to remember when and where I got it. Sorry.”

Now, there might be some people out there who genuinely forget where they bought certain things. I’m not one of those people! And I hate to say it, but sometimes I’m skeptical of their, quote-on-quote, “memory loss”. To emphasize my skepticism, I had to both spell out quote-on-quote and also include quotation marks (I’m petty).

My point is, I think most people do remember where they purchased their really amazing knock-out pieces…but (the clincher), they don’t want to let you in on the deal so they fake, quote-on-quote, “memory loss”. Get it? I know I should have more trust in humanity, but typically most people have about a handful of stores that they frequent on a regular basis. All I’m saying is, it’s easy to do a quick process of elimination and narrow down where you bought something.

I definitely don’t have a problem sharing where I purchased specific items in my wardrobe and will even let someone know if I purchased it a while ago (like years) to save them from wasting their time trying to find it. Along with asking where I purchase specific wardrobe pieces, people also ask me where I shop, which is the purpose of this blog. My list of shopping “go-to’s” is below!

1. Anthropologie

Anthropologie’s brick and mortar store is literally one of my happy places. I could actually move in and live there! They have a comfy bed (don’t ask how I know), plates and forks. What else does a girl need? Okay, I digress. The scent, the furniture, the diverse collection of books are all absolutely wonderful and I haven’t even gotten to the clothes yet. Clothing from Anthropologie helps me release my inner free-spirit. Even though I wouldn’t characterize my style as bohemian, I can always find something in Anthropologie that catches my eye…from a quirky blazer to a funky skirt or trendy sunnies. I never go wrong with Anthro!

2. Asos

I’m a big fan of Asos because their prices are reasonable and they have a big inventory of petite sizes. I also like that they update their looks fairly often. I definitely peruse through Asos to find trendier pieces. I’ve scored some nice dresses for work and accessories that I almost always receive compliments on. Asos sells styles for women of all of shapes and sizes. I will warn that it does take a while for their shipment to be delivered, so brace yourself. They help me practice patience.

3. J.Crew (aka the Mecca)

Of course, this wouldn’t be my list if J.Crew was not included. It would have been number one, but I put all of the stores in alphabetical order to refrain from showing favoritism; however, if you’ve even read at least two of my blog posts, you know how absolutely obsessed I am with everything about J.Crew. Their fabrics, colors, cuts, prints, styles, shoes, accessories, cardigans, dresses, shorts, jean jackets, pants, etc. I could go on and on. They are my everything store, meaning I can shop there for all occasions…work, travel, date night, casual day, etc. I love J.Crew!

4. Lulu’s

I can’t quite remember when I stumbled upon Lulu’s website, but I have been hooked since the first visit. Lulu’s is my favorite site to buy really cute dresses, especially for weddings. I think the dresses I’m drawn to the most in my closet (besides J.Crew) are from Lulu’s. They’re fun, flirty and feminine. They also have really cute rompers, jumpers and accessories. When my mother renewed her vows last year on a beach in Bermuda, I selected a dress from Lulu’s as my matron of honor attire. I think that says a lot about how I feel about their dresses!

5. Madewell 

I think the name says it all and their close affiliation with J.Crew doesn’t hurt. I love Madewell clothing for their simplicity in design. Simple patterns, clean lines, basic colors. I also really love their stretch jeans and totes. Madewell is perfect for the person that thinks J.Crew is too preppy, but H&M is too trendy. I think Madewell falls right in the middle. I think what made me love the brand even more was when they selected Solange Knowles as their spokesmodel a few years ago. She gave the clothes extra life!

6. TJMaxx

I am ABSOLUTELY a Maxxinista and have no shame! TJMaxx is one of those stores that I walk into without a real goal, but almost 75 percent of the time I come out with a great pair of shoes, killer dress or fabulous blazer. You definitely have to be in the mood and mindset to rummage through massive amounts of clothes and leave no stone unturned to find the perfect piece, but the takeaway is totally worth it. I usually don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of clothes because I have a strategy. I hit the shoes first, make my way to dresses, over to tops/blazers, I might make a slight detour to home accents and then I’m out. Don’t overlook TJMaxx! They usually always have a few precious gems.

Now, that I’ve taken the time to review my favorite stores and the specific things I love about each of them, I’m questioning rather I’m more trendy than I care to admit. Nah! Since this is a 50-50 relationship, I’d love to read about where you like to shop. If you had a limitless clothing allowance, where would you spend all of your duckets (do people still say that)? Respond in my comments box!

xoxo,
shannon b.

If I Had To Do It Again

As my fifth-year wedding anniversary approaches, I’m reminded that wedding season is upon us and am crossing my fingers that I will receive at least one invitation because I absolutely love going to weddings! I have to admit that I was never one of those girls that dreamed about their wedding day nor did I have a hidden stash of wedding magazines and planners that I secretly obsessed over. I was perfectly happy heading to the courthouse to exchange vows and spending the rest of the money on an over-the-top honeymoon. If I had to do it again, I would pick a courthouse or destination wedding, but one thing that I wouldn’t change was getting a wedding dress.

I absolutely loved my wedding dress!! Truth be told, my mom actually picked it out and I knew it was the one as soon as I tried it on. It was a long, full princess dress with rouching from the bust down the torso and the train was full of silk flower embellishments. It was perfect!!  And my mom (thank you) paid a pretty penny for it. You would think that with all of the love and adoration that I have for the dress, it would be in pristine condition, stored in a glass box, sitting on a pedestal, in our foyer for all to see.

Wellllllll (in my Larry David voice)…that’s not quite the case. Believe it or not, my wedding dress is hanging in a closet in my parents house. I asked them to store it when we first got married because we didn’t have a lot of space in our small one-bedroom condo. Since then, we’ve moved into a bigger place and have more than enough space to store any and everything. So you would think that going to reclaim my wedding dress would have been top priority, right? Not exactly, it’s still at my parents house and in the same condition that I left it on my wedding day five years ago. I never even got it dry-cleaned!!! Isn’t that awful? Did I mention that it rained on my wedding day and my ceremony took place outdoors, which means there was some mud on the train of my dress!?!? And five-years later I didn’t have the decency to even get it dry-cleaned? Yep, that’s pretty much my truth. The dress that I absolutely adored and still do, has sat alone, dirty and probably shivering cold in my mom’s storage closet.

So why share this pitiful, heartbreaking (exaggeration) story with you? To save anyone out there that is planning to get married this season or any season in the future and is willing to spend their life-savings on a dress. DON’T DO IT!!! Especially, when there are so many beautiful and affordable dresses out there to choose from. I found a few that I absolutely love.

All of these dresses are absolutely beautiful and won’t break the bank. You might have to factor in costs for alterations, but depending on the extent of the tailoring, the price should be minimal.

So, the big question is, if I had to do it again, would I pick the dress I wore or one of the lovely gowns above?  I have to say that I would still pick the dress I wore, as long as mom paid for it again (wink, wink). Even though my actions show otherwise, I’m still very much in love with my dress and I couldn’t imagine my special day without it. I guess the moral of this story is, I’m a walking contradiction! I do think it’s wise to get a dress that is financially practical, but I also think you should go with what you love and what makes you feel special. My dress made me feel special from the first time I put it on, through many visits with the seamstress to the last time I wore it walking down the aisle. Look at how happy I was! I mean obviously I was thrilled to marry the best guy ever, but the dress definitely made me smile too!

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

 

 

 

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. 

How to Get Dressed in Five Minutes

Without fail, whether we are going to work, church, on a date or a special event, I’m ALWAYS dressed before my husband. How is that possible, when as a woman I have more items to incorporate into my overall look than my husband does? Think handbag, jewlery, sunnies, etc.

What I am doing that my dear hubby seems to miss?

There is a one-step routine that I’ve followed for several years. I’ve been able to shave time off my own style sessions.

So, what’s my secret? Brace yourself! I pre-plan my looks. So what does that mean? I plan the outfits in my head and store them there until I’m ready to bring the look to life. For example, on Sunday I’m already thinking about what I’m going to wear to work on Monday and Tuesday.

Now, you’re probably thinking, THAT’S IT?  That’s the earth shattering one-step routine that will cut my dressing process down to five minutes? YES! Somethings just aren’t complicated and getting dressed everyday for work or to head out with your girls shouldn’t be complicated. Trust me, I definitely notice a difference when I don’t pre-plan my looks. I procastinate getting out of the bed in the morning and hit snooze because I’m trying to bide time and put more thought into what I’m going to wear. When I finally get out of bed, I spend even more time (that I don’t have) in my closet experimenting when I should be on my way to work. Not to mention my closet ends up looking like the Tazmanian Devil spun his way (minus the wacky sounds) through my racks and floor.

So, when is the best time to do all of this pre-planning? For me, I do a lot of the mind coordination during my long drive to and from work. I will confess, there have been a time or two (or a million) when I’ve planned out a week’s worth of outfits during a conference call or meeting at work (shhhh). That’s what I call effective multi-tasking!

For my mommy readers, the title of this blog may be a bit ambitious. I can’t say that I’ve actually tested this theory with a bunch of little humans running around, but the point here is that advanced planning really helps to save time. Also remember that the five minutes is ONLY for getting dressed. It doesn’t include all of the primping  we do in addition to getting dressed. Think hairstyling, lash curling, make-up applying, leg shaving, etc.

Now, that I’ve let you in on my secret, I challenge you to try and get dressed in just five minutes this week. Pre-plan your looks and see how much time it saves you in the morning before work or at night when you’re headed out on a dinner date.

Take the challenge, pre-plan your looks and get dressed in five. Ready, set, dress!

XOXO,
shannon b.