Sunday, March 31, 2013

Casual in Blues & Greens

Another short post to end this weekend. Happy Easter to those who celebrate!
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
scarf: Esprit (similar)
jacket: Abercrombie & Fitch (similar)
tee: Old Navy (similar)
shirt: J.Crew boy shirt in Indian voile (similar)
pants: Gap broken-in straight khakis (this season's sold here)

Photo thanks to DH!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Mellow Yellow

I was all set to write about how today's look is what I call my Charlie Brown outfit. Then I googled for Charlie Brown images... and it turns out his shirt is dark yellow with black zig zags! Not the brown shade that I was envisioning in my head. Cartoon knowledge fail.

My main focus for today's outfit was on color pairings. I wanted a palette of more camel/brown than dark yellow, so that's why I went with a longer wool coat, even though it looks at odds with bared ankles. With moderate temperatures for this time of year (40-50s), unclothed extremities are less of a concern.

Have a good weekend, everyone!
necklace: Forever 21 (similar)
coat: Express (similar)
turtleneck: J.Crew tissue turtleneck tee (sold here)
belt: Express (this season's sold here)
rings: Forever 21 braid & chain stack ring set (similar)
clutch: H&M (similar)
shoes: Jones New York Harlem (similar)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Plaid & Fur

Today's casual outfit is heavily inspired by this Pinterest photo. The fur vest, plaid shirt, and ripped jeans make me feel like I'm all set for a day in the outdoors. Alas, I sat behind a desk instead.

Hope you had a good day!
lips: L'Oreal Colour Riche Lipstick in peach fuzz 417 (sold here)
vest: Zara Girl fur waistcoat (similar)
turtleneck: H&M (similar)
shirt: Gap fitted boyfriend flannel ruffle shirt (similar)
belt: Express (this season's sold here)
jeans: Hollister boot destroyed (sold here)
bag: H&M (similar)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Plaid & Tweed

I originally planned on wearing a red blazer with today's plaid shirt. When I tried the pairing, I felt the blazer's longer length didn't look right with flared, high-waisted pants, even if I did like the red on plaid combo. I swapped out the blazer for a cropped tweed jacket and felt the proportions of the outfit worked much better. The tweed material with the plaid pattern is on the busy side, so I kept the rest of the outfit simple and in neutral colors.
lips: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in wink for pink (sold here)
jacket: UniQUEEN Malang tweed (sold here)
shirt: J.Crew perfect shirt in ivory tartan (similar)
ring: Forever 21 textured horse shoe (similar)
pants: Express Editor (this season's sold here)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

LOFT Pamela Scalloped Mary Jane pumps

The shoes that I wear most often slip on and off my feet easily. I don't like to spend extra time dealing with laces and buckles. There's been enough instances where my boss stops by to drag me into a meeting and I'm sitting at my desk cross-legged in bare feet. By the time I finish putting on my shoes, the meeting has already started.

Despite my aversion to high-maintenance footwear, I absolutely adore Elle, Katherine, and Wendy's YSL suede Mary Jane pumps. The 5" heel is too high for me personally, but I love the suede material, taupe color, and Mary Jane style.

I picked up these LOFT Pamela Scalloped Mary Jane pumps in nude, size 6 (sold here) during one of their recent 30% off promos. The shoes have been out for awhile, so sizes are now limited:
- nude, black are still at full price for $89.50 now $53.70 with code ENJOY40
- royal blue is on sale for $39.99 $31.99 until 3/25 until 10am EST now $47.99 with code ENJOY40
It doesn't hurt to check periodically for popbacks because that's how I found my size and color.
The photo above shows a good representation of the nude color in real life

The shoes remind me of the iconic Manolo Blahnik Mary Jane pumps, with the elongated pointy-toe and strap placement across the middle part of the foot. While the Manolo's have a classic look, I really like the trendy scalloped detailing along the edges of LOFT's. It makes a feminine shoe even girlier, if that's possible.

The shoes are TTS in length and on the narrow side in width (my feet are normal-to-wide). On me, the toe box feels a bit tight and the heel a bit loose. If the shoes were regular pumps, my feet would be slipping out as I walk, but the buckled straps prevent that from happening.

Are there 4" heels that are truly comfortable? I've yet to find any. Considering the heel height, these are fairly comfortable, more so than my Miu Miu pumps but not as comfortable as my Ann Taylor booties. The shoes didn't require a breaking-in period and so I spent the day blister-free. I do have to be more careful about denim transfer, especially at the top of the heel. Even though I cuffed my jeans, I noticed some blue dye rubbed off.
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
jacket: American Eagle peacoat (similar)
top: Modcloth Brandi's Something in the Era (sold here)
rings: Forever 21 braid & chain stack ring set (similar)
jeans: LOFT denim leggings (sold here)
shoes: LOFT Pamela Scalloped Mary Jane pumps (sold here)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Dressed Down

I've been wearing this pair of gray dress pants quite often lately. I treat them like a pair of jeans because mine are feeling a bit tight. In hindsight, the tops I chose are on the casual side, therefore making the overall outfit sloppier. I need to remember that as comfortable as these trousers are, they're still dressy.

Have a good weekend, everyone!
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
lips: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in wink for pink (sold here)
necklace: Ann Taylor (similar)
tee: H&M (similar)
pants: Express Editor (this season's sold here)

jacket: J.Crew Majesty peacoat (this season's sold here)
turtleneck: H&M (similar)
gloves: Lord & Taylor (similar)
pants: Express Editor (this season's sold here)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Shopping & Finances

Instead of an outfit post, I'm switching gears today.

Finances are a big part of most people's lives, so I've never understood why talking about it is taboo (perhaps I'm just nosier than most). It's obvious from this blog that I shop on a regular basis, but what isn't as readily apparent is how I approach spending money on each purchase, whether large or small.

A quick background on me:

I'm extremely fortunate to have parents who paid for my college education (thank you mom & dad). They also let me move back home post-graduation, which is something I'll forever be grateful for. During those few years, I saved up a boatload of money, some due to dumb luck (company I worked for went public and they also paid for graduate school) but mostly because I'm cheap and didn't have expensive hobbies. A healthy savings really helped ease some of the stress that comes with living in a fairly high cost-of-living area. DH and I didn't take the traditional route to marriage, so instead we contributed a sizable down payment on a home, keeping our loan at just over our combined income. A rough estimate of my finances can be broken down to: 45% taxes/retirement/benefits, 15% mortgage, 10% food/bills/necessities. The remaining 30% I bank and/or spend on fun things.

I don't really budget because I'm fairly disciplined at not over-spending. What I do is use Excel to keep track of all household and personal expenses by month and year. This way I have a reference point for comparison purposes across different categories over various periods of time. If need be, I'll make spending/saving adjustments accordingly (ie: save more prior to post-holiday sales in Jan).

When it comes to clothing and accessories (falls under my fun category), I'd describe myself as a practical spender, one who tries to take emotional aspect out of the equation and approach it logically. I haven't always been this way, but over time I've gotten to know myself better, figured out my spending habits, and can pinpoint my spending approach to a few categories:

1) Sleep on it - The bigger the purchase, the more time I'll take to mull over. I think about how the item will fit into my wardrobe, ie: do I already have something similar, does it fit my lifestyle, how often will I actually use it (cost/wear), etc. There's been many times where the high I experienced from wanting an item vanished as fast as it appeared (ahem I'm looking at you PS1). Thank goodness I took my time. I've also learned that if I lose out on an item while thinking it over, it's okay. Something else will come along.

2) Learn from experience - Sometimes it takes missing out on an item to realize how much I really want it. When this happens, I add it to my wishlist, which saves me time when I come across a similar item later on down the road. A list also keeps me organized and helps separate wants from needs, weeding out unnecessary items. I've also found that studying past purchases that never see the outside of my closet have helped me become better at not repeating mistakes.

3) Expensive does not mean "investment" - There aren't many brands/items that hold their value without significant price increases, so buying an item with the expectation of making a profit (especially in the short term) is most likely not going to happen. I used to have this mindset to help justify large purchases, but now I've come to accept that most things depreciate in value and I'd be lucky to break even. Instead, I make sure that I really love an item and can afford it. The enjoyment I get from using the item will justify the cost.

4) Dealing with the brand name game - This is a tricky one and probably the most difficult to rationalize. As my income grew, I found it was easier to spend more because I have the means to (I know, first world problems). The "more" is usually on big-ticket items rather than a bunch of cheaper items. The logical side of me understands that there's a hefty markup for the name on the label, but the unreasonable side doesn't care and falls for the allure of the name. Very few cases are as clear-cut as sunglasses (I don't care much for them, so I don't buy designer brands). I've yet to find a good balance between the two sides (and I don't know if I ever will), but I try my best not to dwell on the name and instead focus on uniqueness, quality (higher price doesn't necessarily equate to better quality), trendiness, and practicality. Most of the time I have a firm hold on my unreasonable side (ie: bought $128 AT perfect pumps over $625 CL Simple pumps) but sometimes I can't help but give in (ie: bought $1095 Burberry Marystow trench over $129 Zara trench).

5) Full price vs. sale price - It used to pain me to purchase items at full price, so I would spend a lot of time and effort (while hoping for some luck) to wait for the best sales, browse popbacks, track down sizes, etc. I became familiar with my favorite retailers through mailing lists or social media, which helped me get a good sense of the type of sales they hold, the frequency of sales, and "reasonable" price points. Nowadays, I still use that knowledge, but am much more ok with buying during a smaller sale or even at full price. The gradual shift in my mindset can largely be attributed to realizing how valuable my time is and how I'd rather be spending my free time on other aspects of my life. It helps that I also don't seem to want as much anymore, so as a result I've cut down on the quantity of purchases. The money I was "saving" through lots of sale items is essentially cancelled out when I'm buying less at higher price points.

Lastly, I always remind myself to love, use, and enjoy every purchase.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Gradient

I bought this pair of electric blue tights a few years back when I was going through a rather colorful phase. Even now, I'm still surprised to see that I own something so bold. Bright tights are a statement piece, one that's already pushed me to my adventurous limit, so I kept the rest of the outfit as neutral as possible. One could argue dark colors just make the blue tights stand out more; I say neutrals make the outfit more wearable.
sunglasses: Old Navy (similar)
lips: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in wink for pink (sold here)
turtleneck: H&M (similar)
rings: Forever 21 braid & chain stack ring set (similar);
Forever 21 textured horse shoe (similar)
skirt: J.Crew Collection circle skirt (this season's sold here)
tights: Forever 21 (similar)
bag: Marc Jacobs large Single - gift from aunt (sold here)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Five More

I can't seem to pass up opportunities to brag talk about myself. So Caroline, thank you for tagging me. Here are five (more) things about me:

1) I've never had a pet because I'm irresponsible (my brother's hamster doesn't count). If I ever do, only the one and only Boo will suffice. Since that's not going to happen, I'm happy with this cutie.

2) I eat Chipotle once a week. I would it eat more often, but my metabolism has been slowing down (see #3).

3) I'll be turning the big three-oh this year and I.am.freaking.out. I wouldn't be surprised if I end up going on a shopping spree. Or cry all day. Or go skydiving. Or all of the above.

4) I type fast (~100 wpm) and apparently melodically (so said a coworker). In my middle school's intro to typing class, my teacher accused me of cheating... by looking at my fingers. Sorry, no, that just slows me down.

5) I'm keeping my maiden name. The thought of jumping from the end of the alphabet to the beginning was tempting, but I'm just too lazy to do the paperwork.

If that's not enough, here are 22 previous tidbits (seven + fifteen). Have a good weekend!
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
lips: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in wink for pink (sold here)
jacket: UniQUEEN Malang tweed (sold here)
tee: H&M (similar)
necklace: stone pendant via eBay (seller's shop for stone, chain)
belt: J.Crew piped glitter (similar)
ring: Forever 21 (similar)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bows & Leather

I kept it simple for today's outfit with easy layers, minimal accessories and a neutral color palette. An outfit like this is probably what I'm most comfortable in.

Hope y'all have a good day!
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
lips: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in wink for pink (sold here)
jacket: Zara jacket with zips (similar)
top: Modcloth Brandi's Something in the Era (sold here)
rings: Forever 21 braid & chain stack ring set (similar);
Forever 21 leaf & feather ring (similar)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Casual in Lace

I've been waking up earlier trying to make up hours from an unexpected day off from work last week. Yes, I can use personal leave but I'm such an unreasonable hoarder <insert embarrassed face> Off to guzzle coffee like it's nobody's business. Have a good Wednesday!
lips: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in wink for pink (sold here)
jacket: J.Crew Majesty peacoat (this season's sold here)
cardigan: Old Navy (similar)
turtleneck: J.Crew tissue turtleneck tee (sold here)
belt: Express (this season's sold here)
bag: H&M (similar)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday Musings

I'm going to ramble a bit today...

I've never been low on confidence when it comes to dressing myself, even in my pre-blogging days where I mostly walked around in a combination of tshirts, sweatshirts, jeans, Uggs, and the like. Sure, I own nicer things, but I've just been lazy about putting together outfits in the mornings, so it's easier to fall back on what's routine. I've always felt that if need be, I'm capable of making myself presentable.

This self-confidence is twofold. The first part is believing in yourself. The other is being comfortable in your own skin and not caring what others think (as much as possible anyway because we're human after all). I'm speaking about life in general, but it translates over to the fashion side too. Enjoy the hobbies you like, even if it's not "cool" in society's eyes. I get surprised looks whenever I mention that I eat at restaurants and watch movies by myself. It's not because I don't have friends (though I am an introvert) but if it's something I want to do, I'll do it. Other people coming along is a bonus.

On the fashion side, I'm still a bit surprised when people in real life offer a compliment. I remember when DH and I took my parents' friends out to dinner to celebrate our marriage, one of my mom's friends wanted to know every detail about my outfit (Zac Posen for Target dress, Valentino shoes, and gold jewelry). After the initial surprise, we chatted about where I bought the items, how much they cost, etc. She then turned to my mom, nodding her head and said, "C really has an eye for fashion." Her reaction stayed with me, but when I think about all the other times she's seen me in ragged jeans and a shirt, I can see how dressing nicer is a huge improvement. I may not have cared what others thought, but that won't stop them from noticing and judging.

When I started blogging, life was simple. I blogged about what I liked without a care in the world. Once I started getting followers, I kind of freaked out. Do I need to buy what everyone else is buying? Do I need to share outfits, fitting room reviews, and everything else under the sun? For a short time, I did it all (or tried to). It was during that time when I realized, what the hell am I doing. Whatever happened to being yourself even if it's not what everyone else is doing? This whole blogging experience has been an adventure, of self discovery, having fun, and spending money. If interested, I'd be happy to talk about personal finance. I lead a rather boring and simple life, so probably can't offer helpful advice.

After three years, I still haven't fully wrapped my head around blogging... and probably never will. What I have realized is that I may have finally found my niche. Constantly buying new things isn't me (though I can see how compared to an average person, I buy a lot). Neither is high fashion. I also still have lots to learn about fit and proportions. But what I am decently good at is mixing and matching items from my relatively normal-sized wardrobe (see examples). Re-wearing the same red turtleneck in consecutive blog posts? You bet. In a way I've come full circle. The self-confidence I've always felt I had is now just documented on a public blog.

Now on to more vain pursuits...

Use code GOODNEWS for an extra 30% off final sale items at J.Crew until 3/15. Items I've worn recently that have popped back in various sizes are:
- lustre lace mockneck tee (worn here, here, here) is now $69.99 with code
- collection circle skirt (worn here, here) is now $97.99 with code
- perfect shirt in ivory tartan (worn here, here, here, here) is now $48.99 with code
- tissue turtleneck tee (worn here, here) is now $6.99-$13.99 with code
scarf: Collection 18 chain via Nordstrom Rack (similar)
jacket: UniQUEEN Malang tweed (sold here)
rings: Forever 21 braid & chain stack ring set (similar)
jeans: LOFT denim leggings (sold here)
bag: H&M (similar)
shoes: Jones New York Harlem (similar)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Yellow/Blue

After the noquester (love a good name) on Wednesday, DC will be experiencing spring-like weather this weekend. I am so stoked. Hope you have a good one!
vest: Zara Girl quilted waistcoat (similar)
shirt: American Eagle oxford (similar)
turtleneck: J.Crew tissue turtleneck tee (sold here)
belt: Express (this season's sold here)
bag: H&M (similar)
socks: Forever 21 (similar)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

10 Ways to Wear a Red Turtleneck

Turtlenecks and I have come a long way, from being the bane of existence as a kid (slight exaggeration) to becoming a staple piece in my adult wardrobe. I wore my black turtleneck frequently last winter, which was justification enough to branch out into bright colors this season.

Incorporating a cherry red turtleneck into my outfits was a fairly easy task, as I own a lot of navy items (denim jeans count too). I also like to start layering with turtlenecks as the base, before adding on other patterns and colors. As the weather warms, I can also see fitted turtlenecks as a great transition piece, thin enough as the only layer on top paired with a full skirt on the bottom.
Outfit details...
Row 1: one, two
Row 2: one, two, three, four
Row 3: one, two, three, four

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Balancing Act

Today's photo is a departure from my left-hand-jammed-into-pocket-with-one-knee/ankle-cocked pose. Unfortunately it's also the best of the batch -- a candid moment caught on camera as I was still fixing the hem. Hey, it's no worse than this memorable series.
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
lips: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in wink for pink (sold here)
scarf: J.Crew (similar)
jacket: UniQUEEN Malang tweed (sold here)
turtleneck: J.Crew Factory tissue turtleneck tee (sold here)
gloves: H&M (similar)
belt: Express (this season's sold here)
pants: Zara TRF cargo trousers (similar)
bag: H&M (similar)
shoes: Ann Taylor covered platform bootie (similar)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Set in Stone

Some kind of gem(stone) on a chain necklace has long been on my wishlist (see right sidebar). Forever 21, my go-to source for costume jewelry, had some I considered, but none of which I ultimately loved. So I turned to eBay to browse for hidden gems (ha ha, get it?) I didn't find any pre-made necklaces to my liking, but did come across pretty gemstones that I could "make" into a necklace. I bought my stone for $5 and a chain for $1.40, so the total is about how much I would've paid at Forever 21. Another item crossed off my wishlist!
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
lips: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in wink for pink (sold here)
necklace: via eBay (seller's shop for stone, chain)
vest: Zara Girl fur waistcoat (similar)
top: Gap Pure longline tunic (sold here)
rings: Forever 21 braid & chain stack ring set (similar);
Forever 21 leaf & feather ring (sold here)
jeans: Hollister boot destroyed (sold here)
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