My Favorite New Accessory

You might think from the title of this post that I’m going to rave about a new scarf I snagged during Black Friday (p.s. I almost never shop on Black Friday) or a beautiful lady handbag I was gifted on my birthday last week. Those are good guesses, but my favorite new accessory is (drum roll please)…my box braids!


I know you’re probably thinking, how can a hairstyle be an accessory? Well, I’ve learned that the right hairstyle can be the perfect complement to any outfit. Think about how a sophisticated updo can elevate the elegance level of a strapless gown or how a high ponytail can increase the sleek factor of a cropped jacket, skinny jeans and pumps. I’ve been experimenting with my new accessory for a little over a month now and before getting them, never really knew how much fun I would have coming up with styles to match my outfits.

From a top bun to a half up and half down style, my box braids definitely get me excited about getting up and getting dressed in the morning. Before getting the braids, I was feeling a little uninspired by the clothing and accessory options in my closet. As crazy as it might sound, my new hairstyle has inspired me to fall in love with my closet all over again.

Now, for a little backstory…I was EXTREMELY hesitant about getting box braids. Working in a corporate environment that lacks diversity really had me second guessing if getting this type of hairstyle would be a good move. I’m not the type of person that likes a lot of attention and I KNEW getting braids would cause comments, questions and stares (all things I wanted to avoid) from my colleagues. After weeks of contemplation, I FINALLY bit the bullet and decided to get my hair braided and I have not regretted it for a minute!

Since getting the braids, I’ve learned two things…

  1. The answer to an uninspired closet isn’t always a trip to the mall
  2. The (potential) reactions from others shouldn’t hold you back from trying a new style

So, if you’re stuck in a style rut or are on the fence about trying something new, don’t be afraid to jump over the fence and look for inspiration in unconventional forms.

Now, I’d love to learn about the new accessories you’re excited about. Leave a comment below and let me know!

Have a great week!

xoxo,
shannon b.

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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.

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.

 

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

 

 

 

My New “IT” Bag!

So, ever since I joined the corporate world almost ten years ago, I have been on an exhausting (insert exaggeration) mission to find the perfect…drum roll please…laptop bag! I know that sounds pretty lame and boring. You probably thought I was going to say the perfect Chanel bag. Don’t fret! A beautiful, vintage handbag from the House of Chanel is definitely on my list, but for once in my life I’ve been pining after something a bit more practical.

You’re probably wondering why it’s taken so long for me to find a simple laptop bag. Anyone can walk down the back aisle of the nearest Office Depot or Staples and find a bag suitable enough to chuck a laptop into. If it isn’t blatantly obvious, I’m rather picky when it comes to fashion, even for something as mundane as a laptop bag. I didn’t want the traditional bulky, black bag with vinyl material and a trolley strap.

Well, I’m happy to report that after tirelessly (more exaggeration) searching for almost a decade, I am FINALLY the super proud owner of the perfect laptop bag! Take a look.

 

Isn’t she stunning?!? It’s the Sydney Work Bag made by Fossil. I’m so in love with the rich camel color. I’m also over-the-moon because it’s not the traditional stiff and boxy laptop bag. There is a lot of storage space, extra pockets and zipped enclosures to hide supplies like a portable mouse, charger cord, pens, business cards, etc. It’s absolutely perfect! I received this bag as a Christmas gift (thanks to my hubby) and even though I was on vacation during the holidays, every day I would look at the bag in my closet and slightly (I mean, minuscule) wish that I was scheduled to work just so I could introduce my new bag to my old laptop.

Christmas was several weeks ago and I’m still really infatuated with this bag. If only I could find a way to wear it on the weekends without looking like I’m heading to the office. Please send me your tips!

Now that I’ve FINALLY checked laptop bag off my list, I’m setting my sights on Coco Chanel! I’m setting up my GoFundMe site as I type this (I kid).

Have a great week!

xoxo,
shannon b.

P.S. Check out this super cute Day Designer daily planner I just started using. I love it almost as much as my new bag.

P.S.S. I feel like this post reveals my inner-nerd and over-zealousness for all things office supplies. Please don’t judge me!

 

Finding New Balance

You probably can’t tell from my current wardrobe, but tennis shoes (or sneakers depending on what region you live in) used to be a MAJOR staple in my closet during my high school and early college years. It wasn’t uncommon to see several boxes of Air Jordan’s stacked on the floor of my closet. I was also very fond of New Balance tennis shoes, which have recently made a reappearance in my life and I’m loving all of the new styles.

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These are the latest pair of New Balance shoes I snagged last summer. Aren’t the colors so much fun? They’re also extremely versatile. I love that you can wear them while you’re out running errands or heading to the gym in stretch pants and a tee or meeting girlfriends for lunch in some skinny jeans and a blazer. What’s even more validation for the awesomeness of New Balance is that they’re sold at my favorite store…J. Crew.  I’m totally obsessed with these tennys and can’t wait to add a couple more to my collection.

If there is a tennis shoe fairy that would like to gift me with a few (or five) more pairs, I’ve included pics of some of the styles I’ve had my eye on, below. 

What do you think? Are you sold? Let me know which tennis shoes you love to rock!

XOXO,
shannon b.

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.