Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Orange / Leopard

There's a lot going on in today's outfit -- patterns, sequins, embellishments, so I tried pulling them all together by choosing colors adjacent to one another from the color wheel. The resulting outfit is bolder than what I normally wear (no wallflowering for me on this particular day), but I really like it.
sequins + tweed dress, orange clutch, leopard pumps
sequins + tweed dress, orange clutch
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
lips: NYX round case lipstick in NYX (sold here)
dress: By Malene Birger Callinga (similar)
bracelet: Ann Taylor modern classic skinny hinge bangle (sold here - 30% off)
ring: Elizabeth and James Windrose (sold at Revolve Clothing / Shopbop / Bloomingdale's; similar - on sale)
clutch: J.Crew Claremont perforated (check for popbacks; purse version sold here - extra 40% off w/code TREAT; similar)
shoes: Jones New York Harlem (similar; similar - both on sale)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Play Ball

Today's look is a little matchy-matchy, a bit tomboy, and a whole lot of casual. Hope you have a good one!
pink cap, baseball tee, pink boat shoes
lips: NYX round case lipstick in NYX (sold here)
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
top: J.Crew Factory stripe baseball tee (sold here - on sale; similar - on sale)
bracelet: gift from SewPetiteGal - shop her Etsy store
pants: Gap broken-in straight khakis (sold here - 40% off w/code BIGTIME)
bag: Balenciaga city (this season's sold at NM / Barneys)
shoes: Sperry x J.Crew authentic original bow boat (sold here)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Tweed / Snakeskin

The newest installment (previously: reds, yellow/black) in this accessorizing-the-tweed-dress series features blues and neutral snakeskin. I was originally going for a cool color palette, but the gold hardware on my bag couldn't be helped. Aside from that minor blip, I'm glad for the reminder that I need to dust off older pieces more often and stop being continuously enamored with new items.
jeweled tweed dress, blue bag, snakeskin pumps
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
lips: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in softsilver rose (sold here)
dress: Ann Taylor jeweled neck tweed (may still be in stores)
ring: Elizabeth and James Windrose (sold at Revolve Clothing / Shopbop / Bloomingdale's; similar - on sale)
bag: Marc Jacobs large Single - gift from aunt (similar; similar; similar)
shoes: Zara court shoe with snakeskin toe (similar; similar)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Graphic

graphic tee, striped top, crossbody bag, red loafers
graphic tee, striped top, crossbody bag
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
lips: NYX round case lipstick in NYX (sold here)
top: Old Navy "live laugh love" graphic tee (this season's sold here - 30% off w/code BIGTIME)
ring: Elizabeth and James Windrose (sold at Revolve Clothing / Shopbop / Bloomingdale's; similar - on sale)
bracelet: Ann Taylor modern classic skinny hinge bangle (sold here - 30% off)
bag: Chanel reissue in 226 (buy pre-owned; similar - on sale)
shoes: Gap driving moccasins (great dupe; similar - on sale)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Shift and Tied

It's three weeks after Independence Day and I find myself wearing a rather patriotic outfit. As a bonus, there's even an American flag in the background (not planned, but I'll take it!)
striped shift dress, pink metallic clutch, red loafers
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
lips: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in softsilver rose (sold here)
necklace: Forever 21 chain (similar; similar - on sale)
dress: J.Crew Jules dress in stripe silk twill (similar - extra 20% off $100+ w/code SHOPMORE; similar - extra 60% off)
ring: Elizabeth and James Windrose (sold at Revolve Clothing / Shopbop / Bloomingdale's; similar - on sale)
shirt: Gap chambray tailored shirt (similar)
shoes: Gap driving moccasins (great dupe; similar - extra 15% off w/code SAVINGS)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blacks + Brights

Today's "skirt" is actually a sleeveless shift dress layered under a top. I'm thrilled with how the ensemble turned out because now I can remove a leather skirt from the fringes of my wishlist and focus on finding a pair of leather shorts (hoping this one works out!)
black faux leather yoke top over faux leather dress, pearl cluster necklace, blue suede pumps
black faux leather yoke top over faux leather dress, pearl cluster necklace
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
lips: NYX round case lipstick in NYX (sold here)
dress: Zara straight combination (similar - on sale; similar)
bracelets: Forever 21 swirled pearlescent bead cuff (similar; similar);
bag: Chanel reissue in 226 (buy pre-owned; similar - on sale)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Rolled

As fun as it is to "dress up" every now and then, I'm still most at home in loose, casual clothing. I wore this outfit a couple weekends ago to the dentist for my biannual teeth cleaning. It would be too extreme to say I have a dental phobia... but let's just say there's no point in ruining my nicer clothes because I'm always a wrinkled, sweaty mess afterwards.
blue/white striped shirt, boyfriend chino shorts, pink boat shoes
blue/white striped shirt, boyfriend chino shorts, colorblock crossbody bag
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
necklace: Forever 21 chain (similar; similar - on sale)
shirt: J.Crew Factory printed classic button-down (sold here - on sale)
tank: LOFT cotton (sold here - 60% off w/code HOT)
shorts: J.Crew Factory boyfriend short in broken-in chino (similar - on sale; similar - extra 50% off w/code EXTRA50)
bag: Coach mini Borough bag in retro colorblock (similar; similar)
shoes: Sperry x J.Crew authentic original bow boat (sold here)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Gingham / Orange

navy gingham shirt, orange clutch, cargo pants, espadrilles
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
lips: NYX round case lipstick in NYX (sold here)
necklace: Forever 21 chain (similar; similar - on sale)
shirt: Banana Republic Factory (similar - 25% off w/code CHIRP)
bracelet: Madewell knot cuff (similar; similar)
belt: J.Crew Factory (similar)
pants: Zara (similar - on sale)
clutch: J.Crew Claremont perforated (sold here - extra 40% off w/code SALEFUN; similar; similar)
shoes: Tory Burch Beacher flat espadrille (sold at TB - extra 20% off w/code TAKE20 / NM)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Turquoise + Orange Accents

The Nordstrom Anniversary sale has begun! Select fall items are discounted from now until 8/4 (when prices go back up to retail.)

Picks:
1) Tory Burch Eloise Riding Boot (sale $299.90; retail $495) - My TB Nadine riding boots from a few years ago was also a Nordstrom exclusive. This year's version, the Eloise, has slightly different detailing. Measurements for the Eloise look the same as my Nadine, so I'd recommend these boots to ladies looking for taller shafts with narrow-to-normal calf circumference.

2) Burberry Brit Cobridge Hooded Anorak with Detachable Liner (sale $659.90; retail: $995) - The Cobridge looks the same as my burgundy version from last season (outfits: here, here, here), but with the additional interior liner for extra warmth.

3) theory Gabe B 2 Blazer (sale $263.90; retail: $395) - A classic blazer at a discounted price. I bought my navy blue theory blazer many years ago and it's still the one that I reach for most often.

4) kensie Faux Leather Mixed Media Dress (sale $65.90; retail $99) - LBD with the added faux-panel twist looks a lot like my Zara faux-leather dress (outfits: here, here).

-------------------------------------------------------------

I'm channeling my inner prep with an almost-all-J.Crew outfit, with an accompanying scenic background that isn't so random. If I had actually planned ahead of time, I would have used a large tote, because realistically, who brings a clutch anywhere near bodies of water?

Happy shopping and have a great weekend, everyone!
turquoise necklace, blue striped shirt, navy lace skirt, orange clutch
turquoise necklace, blue striped shirt, navy lace skirt, orange clutch
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
lips: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in softsilver rose (sold here)
shirt: J.Crew Factory printed classic button-down (sold here - $34.50)
ring: Elizabeth and James Windrose (sold at Revolve Clothing / Shopbop / Bloomingdale's; similar)
skirt: J.Crew daisy lace mini (similar - $15.99; similar - extra 40% off)
nail polish on toes: NYC New York Color in french white tip (sold here)
shoes: Old Navy faux-leather capri sandals (sold here - 20% off w/code FASHION)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bows / Leopard

I'm sitting in my cubicle this morning wearing practically the same outfit as the one below, but without a jacket. So my concentration is currently split between translating requirements to code and keeping the shivers at bay. It's actually a bee-yoo-tiful day outside, so I figured the office would be "warmer" than usual. No such luck.
bow cropped jacket, distressed jeans, leopard pump
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
lips: NYX round case lipstick in NYX (sold here)
jacket: RED Valentino bow detail (similar; similar)
tee: Everlane the women's V (sold here)
ring: Elizabeth and James Windrose (sold here; similar)
jeans: LOFT super skinny jeans in deconstructed garden blue (same style sold here)
bag: Chanel reissue in 226 (buy pre-owned; similar)
shoes: Jones New York Harlem (similar; similar)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Chambray / Orange

I can guess what you're thinking. This orange clutch... again? I'll respond with, a week's reprieve from this clutch went by way too fast! Kidding... I'll try to do a better job at spacing out the outfits-with-orange-clutch in the future.

Have a good Wednesday, everyone!
chambray shirt, sequins + tweed dress, orange clutch
chambray shirt, sequins + tweed dress, orange clutch
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
lips: NYX round case lipstick in NYX (sold here)
shirt: Gap chambray tailored shirt (similar - 40% off w/code PERK)
dress: By Malene Birger Callinga (different color sold here; similar; similar)
ring: Elizabeth and James Windrose (sold here; similar)
clutch: J.Crew Claremont perforated (check for popbacks; similar; similar)
nail polish on toes: NYC New York Color in french white tip (sold here)
shoes: Old Navy faux-leather capri sandals (sold here - 30% off w/code SAVINGS)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tweed / Satin

My plan is to slowly go through my closet and wear as many bag + shoe pairings with this dress. I don't foresee anything ground-breaking, but I hope they're somewhat "interesting." Last time, the theme centered around the color red. Today's resembles a... bumblebee? I also like how the satin shoes with a bow adornment fit with the feminine vibe of the jeweled dress.
jeweled tweed dress, yellow bow pumps
jeweled tweed dress, yellow bow pumps
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
lips: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in softsilver rose (sold here)
ring: Elizabeth and James Windrose (sold here; similar)
bag: Chanel reissue in 226 (buy pre-owned; similar)
shoes: Zara silk satin high heel court shoe (similar; similar)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Wind Blown

My trick to wearing too-short tops is to layer a tank underneath, preferably one in a similar color to blend in with the rest of the outfit.

Happy Monday, everyone!
striped top, navy shorts, red crossbody bag, pink boat shoes
striped top, navy shorts, red crossbody bag
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
lips: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in softsilver rose (sold here)
top: Saint James three-quarter sleeve tee (similar; similar)
ring: Elizabeth and James Windrose (sold here; similar)
belt: J.Crew Factory (similar)
shorts: J.Crew Factory 3" chino (sold here - extra 30% off + free shipping w/code SHOPSHOP)
bag: Chanel camellia WOC (buy pre-owned)
shoes: Sperry x J.Crew authentic original bow boat (sold here)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Pink / Pearls / Peplum

The post title says it all -- the 3 P's that perfectly sum up today's feminine outfit.

Have a great weekend, everyone!
colorblock peplum top, light wash jeans, metallic rose gold wedges
colorblock peplum top, light wash jeans, red bag
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
lips: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in softsilver rose (sold here)
necklace: Ann Taylor pearlized stone statement (check for popbacks; similar - 40% off w/code FASHION40)
top: LOFT colorblock modern peplum tee (may still be in stores; similar)
ring: Elizabeth and James Windrose (sold here; similar)
jeans: LOFT super skinny jeans in deconstructed garden blue (same style sold here)
shoes: Loeffler Randall Rae in rose gold (sold here - 30% off; similar; similar)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

European VAT Refund + US Customs

I've heard about the VAT (Value Added Tax) refund for European tourists on luxury goods, but never had a reason to fill my brain with specifics until a few months ago. Right before I left for my Europe trip, I made up my mind to buy a Chanel reissue bag overseas because it's cheaper. According to my calculations, the savings should be around $800-1000 (comparing US price + state sales tax vs. European price - VAT refund) for the bag I had in mind. The only uncertain and possibly non-straightfoward part of this process was the VAT refund.

I did most of my research over at tPF in the Chanel Shopping forum. The ladies are full of knowledge and so helpful. Anything you'd want to know about the VAT refund rate (varies by country, usually 10-14%) to current bag prices to boutique inventory can be found throughout their many threads. Other sites that I found to be helpful: Global Blue's refund calculator (lets you enter purchase amount to determine tax refund by country) and Chanel Prices (lists worldwide current prices.)

Looking at the current exchange rate and the VAT refund % for the countries on my itinerary, I would save the most money by buying in Italy, then France (slightly less), then finally England (much, much lower.) If we had visited Italy before France, I would've bought my bag in Rome because the refund rate is 1-2% higher than in Paris. As it was, I didn't want to pass up on the opportunity to buy in France only to find out that the bag isn't in stock in Italy.

Another thing to think about beforehand is whether you want your refund back in cash or on a credit card. Cash refunds are 1-2% less but you get the money back immediately at the airport, whereas credit card refunds are higher but take a few weeks to process. I was greedy so I chose the credit card route, but then later read horror stories from people who never received their refund. It took about 5 weeks, but my refund did eventually show up on my credit card statement. Lets out big sigh of relief. If I were to go through this process again, I would choose to get cash back just for the peace of mind.

The VAT refund process consists of two steps. 1) When you make a purchase, the store will give you VAT refund forms that are filled out. This is also when you have to decide between cash or credit card refund so they can specify that on the paperwork (can't change your mind later.) 2) At the departure airport, have the refund forms stamped at the customs office. Then either drop it off at a designated mailbox (for credit card refunds) or stand in another line to get cash back.

Sounds easy enough, right? So our plan was to just arrive at the airport early in case of long lines at customs. But... right before we left for our trip, a friend (hi A!) asked if we have a direct flight back to the US from Rome? No, we have a layover in Germany... I think for an hour. Then she asked if I plan on putting my new bag inside checked luggage or carry-on? Carry-on. Bag is too expensive to not be with me at all times. Turns out, VAT refund forms must be stamped at the last port of departure out of the European Union. So if put my bag in my checked luggage, Rome would be the last port, but if I carry it with me, the last port is Germany. CRAP. An hour isn't enough time! So I turned to my BFF, Google, and read about people getting their VAT refund forms stamped at the first airport by showing their boarding passes with the short layover time. There were also others who were turned away by customs because it was not their last stop in the EU. Sigh. Nothing we can do now because our flights were already booked. So we decided to just go to the airport in Rome early and try out luck with customs. If that doesn't work and there isn't enough time in Germany, then apparently you can bring the VAT refund forms to the French embassy (or whichever country the purchase was made in) and have them stamped and mailed from there. Since I live in the DC area, the embassy idea could work as a last resort.

So many lessons learned! This is what happens when I don't put in any effort to making planning decisions, so I have no one to blame but myself. It's definitely a good idea to consider direct flights out of the EU and be picky about departure airports (if you can) because some are easier to navigate through than others. I was told (from a department store employee who works in their VAT office) that CDG airport in Paris has clear signs posted everywhere telling you where to go find customs and refund offices. They also have kiosks to scan the forms if you don't mind using a machine instead of waiting in line to speak to a person. I told him we were actually flying out of Rome and he grimaced, saying that airport isn't as easy to navigate. My advice would be to google your departure airport and familiarize yourself with their VAT refund process (where to go first, locations of customs/security/cash refund desk, hours, etc) as best as you can.

For refunds at FCO airport in Rome, I found this post and accompanying comments to be extremely helpful. Of course after reading other people's negative experiences with the refund process, I started feeling overly anxious. What if we can't find this supposedly hidden customs office and can't speak Italian to ask someone? What if we get stuck behind a huge group of Asian tourists at customs? Should we not bother sleeping tonight and just go to the airport extra early? DH just laughed at me before falling sleep. My worries were for naught (thank goodness.) There's no point in arriving before airline check-in counters open (usually 3-3.5 hours beforehand) because boarding passes are needed at customs. When we arrived at FCO, we didn't go very far before we saw a sign that was clearly labeled with VAT refund directions in multiple languages (!) near security:
VAT refund signs at FCO airport (Rome)
There was also no line at the customs office, probably because it was 6am. I asked the customs officer if we can get our forms stamped now because we have a short layover in Germany. No problem, he said. Whew. He didn't even ask to see my new bag (VAT refunds are supposed to be for unused items only.) After he stamped my forms, I took a photo with my camera, just in case my refund doesn't go through and I need evidence to file a dispute. Then I sealed the envelope and dropped it in a VAT refund mailbox a few yards away. I don't recall seeing the cash refund booth nearby, but I wasn't paying extra attention since I had chosen the credit card route. It may have only been open during "normal" working hours whereas the customs office was open 24 hours.

Once we landed in the US, there was another series of steps before we could actually leave the airport. Immigration, pick up luggage, then customs. I declared my bag, so I figured there's a good chance I'll be questioned. I was a bit surprised at the amount of questions, but much more so at the actual questions that the immigration officer asked. I felt like the questions weren't going to trip anyone up, even if they had an elaborate story ready (granted, this was my first time not breezing through the airport, so I have no prior experience to pull from.) What is this number? What did you buy? Oh. That's a very expensive purse. Do you have it with you? What is your job? Did you buy it in Paris? What brand is it? Did you save a lot of money? That's a lot of money to spend on a purse. The grilling was more intense than what I'd imagine my parents putting me through, lol... and this was just the first hurdle! So I braced myself for round 2 of questioning at customs.

Yep, as I'd guessed correctly, I couldn't exit and was waved towards customs. This officer wasn't as nosy and just took out a calculator and said I had to pay 3% tax on the amount I declared. Afterwards, I learned from DH/SIL that everything is at the customs officer's discretion, ie: waiving items, charging between 3-9% tax on goods, etc. Supposedly leather products are to be taxed at a higher rate, so apparently we "lucked out" with our 3% tax.

I don't know how my experience compares to others who've arrived at IAD, or how it compares to IAD's reputation. I remember the consensus among my parents' friends was that customs at SFO is stricter than at JFK, so if they could, they'd try to book flights through NY, haha. This was about a decade ago, so who knows how much truth there is to that... anymore.

Was all the worrying and hassle worth saving money for? You bet. I ended up "saving" ~$950, which was in line with my initial estimate. Would I buy another expensive purchase from overseas in the future? Only if I win the lottery.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Decked Out in Color

I'm pretty bad about sharing new purchases until limited quantities are left in stock (or completely sold out) due to a couple reasons. 1) I mostly wait until there is a promo code and/or items hit the sale section before making a purchase; 2) I don't always start wearing new items right away, and even then there's a delay before they show up on the blog. I'm trying to be better about this though!

The orange clutch that has been making quite the appearance on the blog is one that fell under both categories. I think it sold out after my first post about it (not that I think I contributed to the sales.) Nevertheless, it's popped back on the J.Crew site, though at a $130 price tag (with no additional discount code that I know of) and marked final sale.
pink scarf, yellow tee, orange clutch
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
lips: NYX round case lipstick in NYX (sold here)
scarf: Ann Taylor eyelet (sold here)
tee: LOFT sunwashed tee (sold here - 50% off w/code VACAY)
ring: Elizabeth and James Windrose (sold here; similar)
belt: J.Crew Factory (similar)
pants: Gap broken-in straight khakis (sold here - 30% off w/code JULY)
shoes: Sperry x J.Crew authentic original bow boat (sold here)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Orange / Bows

Today's outfit is one of those that I think looked better in theory, aka in my head. The top half looks fine, but the shoes...! I should've chosen simple brown loafers to wear instead. Not sure what I was thinking there.

Have a great Tuesday, everyone!
bow blouse, orange clutch, tweed + sequins pumps
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
lips: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in softsilver rose (sold here)
top: Modcloth Brandi's Something in the Era (similar)
bracelet: Ann Taylor modern classic skinny bangle (sold here - 50% off)
jeans: LOFT super skinny jeans in deconstructed garden blue (may still be in stores)
clutch: J.Crew Claremont perforated (may still be in stores)
shoes: J.Crew Collection Etta tweed and glitter pumps (similar - extra 40% off w/code SHOPMORE)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Stripes / Chains

green/navy striped top, white shorts, blue scarf + white tote
green/navy striped top, white shorts, blue scarf + white tote
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
lips: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in softsilver rose (sold here)
top: Saint James Galathee tee (similar; similar - on sale)
ring: Elizabeth and James Windrose (sold here; similar)
belt: J.Crew Factory (similar)
shorts: LOFT cotton shorts w/4" inseam (this season's sold here - 60% off w/code FLASH)
scarf on bag: C. Wonder silk chain link printed (similar)
shoes: Old Navy faux-leather capri sandals (sold here - 15% off)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Jeweled

I don't own many any "work" dresses -- ones in an appropriate length and style that fit in most offices -- because there just hasn't been a need for one in my life. There's still no need, but now I'm upping my tally to one after falling in love with this Ann Taylor jeweled neck tweed dress (now on sale for $60!) For reference, I'm wearing size 00, my usual AT size.

The lightweight tweed material and short sleeves make it a perfect warm weather work dress. The jeweled neckline means one less accessory to mull over in the mornings because I already look put-together. I also like how the dress is chameleon-like -- is it black or is it navy? It depends on the lighting, which opens up even more color pairing options to choose from. (Shades of) red is the color du jour.
jeweled tweed dress, red clutch
jeweled tweed dress, red clutch, rose gold metallic wedges
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
lips: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in softsilver rose (sold here)
dress: Ann Taylor jeweled neck tweed (sold here - extra 50% off)
bracelet: Forever 21 cuff (similar - on sale)
shoes: Loeffler Randall Rae in rose gold (sold here - 30% off; similar; similar)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Pastel Sorbet

I felt like a walking sorbet in today's outfit, albeit a watered-down version in pastel colors. Oh the silly comparisons my mind conjures up.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!
colorblock peplum top, gray trousers, red clutch
colorblock peplum top, gray trousers, red clutch
sunglasses: Walmart aviator (similar)
lips: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in softsilver rose (sold here)
necklace: gift from aunt (similar)
top: LOFT colorblock modern peplum tee (may still be in stores)
ring: Elizabeth and James Windrose (sold at Shopbop / Zappos / Revolve Clothing; similar)
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