February 28, 2011

To Spend or Not To Spend: Lady Like Satchels

Matt & Nat "Marvel Handbag, $135, Piperlime
I get myself into these quandaries frequently; I will stumble across an I item I adore which is accompanied by a price tag that I do not adore.  Today's edition of "To Spend or Not to Spend" is centered around this handbag.  This "Marvel" bag is by accessories company Matt & Nat, a cruelty free and socially responsible manufacturer.  I had no idea this bag wasn't leather until I read the description, in addition to the faux leather, the lining is made out recycled bottles, very eco-chic.  What I love about the bag is the size and the silhouette, it's cross-body strap, the two straps on the front and the top handle emulating a mini briefcase.  So chic and lady like. What I'm not loving is the price, currently retailing for $135 (ouch).  I know some women would consider this a pittance. I mean a handbag is used everyday it's worth the investment, but my current budget is a little restricting and would like to keep my purchase under $100.  I love the style, my quest was to find something similar for less. Check out the other options I found below. So what do you think, spend or don't spend?

February 25, 2011

DIY Dose: Peasant Dress Updated

Free People Peasant Dress.  Perfect for channeling my inner flower child.
I recently undertook a massive closet clean out (read the details here) and have begun sorting through the wreckage.  The wreckage was anything that didn't make the editorial cut to stay in happy closet land.  I had a bag of donations, which have been dropped off, yay! A bag of items to list on eBay, have not gotten to this yet. Lastly and probably the smallest bag, was items that I wanted to fix.

The first thing that I grabbed from the bag was a Free People peasant style dress.  I purchased it at discount store at a time when peasant dresses were trendy.  This dress is a representation of the valuable fashion lesson that I unfortunately learned the hard way.  Buying trendy clothing, no matter how deeply discounted, is always regrettable (at least in my case).  Looking back this dress looks more like a costume than something that I could get away with wearing everyday.  I could have preserved it as a costume, but the top half had stains that refused to budge.

The reason I saved it was I saw that the dress was not without redeeming qualities.  The bit of lace about the collar was lovely and in great condition.  Also I liked the pattern, color and cut of the skirt, but it was too much combined with the lace top.  So I decided to operate.  I had to be careful not to cut the drawstring waist portion on the bottom half since I planned on keeping it as part of the waistband. I cut about 1/4" above the waistband staying on the white fabric and in a matter of minutes I had freed the skirt from the top!  A pair of scissors, and a quick snip were all it took to complete this project, no sewing skills required. The bottom by itself will make a great summer skirt, light cotton fabric and flowy cut, perfect with a simple tank top or t-shirt.  It can even be used as a coverup over a swimsuit. An easy fix to turn the unwearable into a practical piece of clothing.  I saved the lace portions from the top to use on another project.
The bottom half once freed from the pirate, hippy top half makes a great skirt.

February 24, 2011

Outfit Chronicles: Raspberry Blues

Ann Taylor Cardigan, Land's End Canvas Oxford Shirt, Loft Jeans, Lucky Brand Boots
It was a day for running errands and straightening up around the house.  Both things do not usually call for getting gussied up.  Today was a day full of must do's and not enough want to's, so I decided to lay on the style when getting dressed this morning.  I am wearing really basic pieces; blue oxford shirt, stretch skinny denim, and a cardigan.  What saves the whole ensemble from boring itself to death is the bright raspberry cardigan, giving the look a much needed one-two punch of color.  The winter is still in full force here in NY and layers are a lifesaver.  The cardigan is a lightweight cotton blend, but by layering the button down over a tank and then adding the cardigan on top, it becomes wearable in the winter.  The boots are a personal favorite, they are a deep army green and hit right at the ankle. There flat rubber soles and sturdy leather make them the perfect footwear for the cold, damp days of winter.  Plus I love the color combination of army green and Raspberry.  I kept the rest of the color palette simple (blues) and let the bright color do the talking. I think it's a perfectly practical outfit for running errands, but the punchy color ups the style quotient and brightens the winter blah's.

February 21, 2011

What I Did Over The Long Weekend

Initially I felt that my first post had to be something really special, something that defined why I was doing this blog, a written prospectus of what my future posts would be.  Then I realized that what I wanted was just to share what was happening right now, whether it is a DIY project, latest fashion or beauty inspiration, shopping finds or to just a great photo I had to share. No grandiose themes, no unattainable content, just relatable fashion, beauty and lifestyle stories.

Closet explosion in my bedroom.
So my first post is about what I did this weekend.  The weekend started simply enough, I went to the library to pick up some movies and while perusing the non-fiction books section I found this, "The Shopping Diet: Spend Less to Get More", by Phillip Bloch.  Reading the bio on the back one can ascertained that Bloch is a jack of all trades, stylist, writer, commentator, the list goes on.  The book is aimed at people with shopping compulsions or addictions, the promise is that by considering what you actually wear in your wardrobe you will become more aware of what you need, what your style is and what looks good on your body, therefore less likely to make those unnecessary purchases that lead to a budget crisis.  I was intrigued. I am not a compulsive shopper, but I always felt like a terribly uninformed or unaware shopper.  Constantly buying something I like without considering what I have at home to go with it or even if it was really flattering to my figure.  As a result my closet was a mish mash, without enough solid pieces to build an outfit with and a bunch of clothes that didn't fit right.  My closet was in desperate need of editing.  Following the steps in Part Two of the book (Part One is about assessing your style, what you wear frequently, etc...) I emptied my entire closet, in season, out of season, accessories, jewelry, socks and underwear.  My bedroom looked like my closet threw up everywhere.  Ahh!! However my closet was completely empty.

Using the tips Bloch outlined, I separated my clothes into categories and then I began to edit.  Trying on everything in front of a full length mirror and deciding if it stayed in the closet, was fixed, was sold on eBay or donated.

My very well edited closet.  Not sparse, minimalist darling.
It took an entire afternoon, but the process was very cathartic and eye opening.  I don't have a lot left in my closet, but what is left are clothes and accessories I truly love and wear constantly.  The pieces that I feel are missing from my, now very well edited closet are written on a list that will go with me whenever I go shopping.  I don't feel like I need a lot of clothes, in fact the more clothes I had the more stifled I felt.  Yes, I thought that all those clothes gave me more outfit choices, but they didn't.  Having too many choices made getting dressed too complicated and overwrought.  I think that the key to style is knowing what works for you, on you, having great accessories to spice up any outfit and carrying yourself with confidence wherever you go.