Thursday, October 25, 2012

European Vacation Preview

I know you've heard me mentioned this vacation over and over again without producing pictures, but that's only because I have yet to upload them on my computer from the camera!  Luckily however, I managed to snag a few photos on my iPhone.

As a preview of some of our trip I wanted to share some of my iPhone photos from Rome, which was my favorite of all three places, although I loved Florence and Munich as well.  But I could not get enough of the history, architecture, culture and sites in Rome! Beautiful Roma!

OK, enough talking! Here is a preview of some photos from the trip, which I promise to follow up with some great photos from our camera once they're uploaded!

Views from the Spanish Steps in Rome.  I loved all the terraces/balconies everywhere.

You can't turn your head in any direction without seeing a duomo (dome of a church) somewhere.

We had a lovely little balcony off of our room which overlooked a church piazza (place/plaza).  This was one of my favorite things to pack with me, a casual dress to walk in for the warm weather.  Perfect tourist wear and it doesn't take up as much space in a suitcase/carry-on as a bunch of separates would.  Summer day dresses = one outfit in one piece!  No muss, no fuss...  Just fab!  Needless to say, I packed quite a few dresses!

Here's the Colosseum.  One of the most awesome structures I've seen!

Below is the Arch of Constantine, the Roman Emperor who adopted Christianity as the faith of the Empire.

And here I caught a lucky bride and groom taking pictures at the Colosseum.  How amazing would that be?

Some views from the Spanish Steps at nighttime.

 There was this really cool rooftop bar by the Spanish Steps too which overlooked the city and, in the distance you can even see the moon!  Yes, it did hit my eye like a big pizza pie, and that was amore!  Amore for Rome!

Finally, I gave my phone a rest from pictures until we were on the flight home and the lovely Lufthansa flight attendants provided us with free Oktoberfest gingerbread cookies!  Great souvenir!

There will definitely be more pictures of this trip to come!

European Fashion Trends: The Big Three

As I mentioned in this post from last month, my husband and I were taking a European vacation to Rome, Florence and Munich.  Boy was it an amazing experience.  We've never been to any of these cities and both of us have never been to Italy so we wanted to make the most of it.  I took it all in.  The food.  The arts.  The architecture.  The food.  The history.  The food.  The fashion.... and oh yeah! The food.  Cannot forget about that! And did we ever enjoy the food, among other things!

But I did pay attention to fashion.  Particularly to the European styles and the fashionable Americans traveling alongside us.  There were three big trends I noticed, two out of three I was dying for and one I could probably leave behind.

Here are the Big Three I noticed:

1.  Flat, Leather (or leatheresque), Equestrian style boots -  Gotta Have!

2.  Cropped Leather (or leatheresque) motorcycle inspired jackets - Gotta Have!

3.  Printed Leggings - Meh!

So the first two trends I've seen over the past couple of seasons but I didn't think of making an investment on them just yet.  I tend to wait around with trends for at least a year to see the staying power!  I've done this with leggings, tucking pants into boots, and skinny jeans among other things.  I love new ideas and trends in fashion but I really don't want to spend money on something that won't last me a while.  Also, sometimes it takes more than a season for me to really even like the look!  Some things just don't appeal immediately.  I guess that's probably why I wouldn't consider myself a true fashionista.  But boy, do I keep on plugging away with this fashion and style appreciation thing!  Perhaps, in a perfect world, I'd be more adventurous but I believe that might take a much bigger wallet...  Sigh!  So until then, the trend-spotting and admiring from afar until I believe something is worth the investment and I really love it will continue.

Anyhoo, the cropped leather jackets, particularly those of the really soft, thin, and well-fitted persuasion really caught my eye in Rome.  Actually, the ones I loved the most were in cobalt blue!  Just like the one I included below!   Another trend I spotted was the equestrian/riding boots with the flat heels.  I'd seen some of these styles in the past, but these boots were everywhere on this trip.  In the airports, on the plane and all over Italy and Germany.  These would have actually come in handy in Munich where we got a lot of cold rain on the third day there!  Needless to say, I was hooked!  I got into the "I must have" mindset.

Where else to get a great leather jacket but Florence, Italy?  The capital of leather goods.  Where every block has at least 3 leather goods stores.  I ended up buying the cropped leather jacket of my dreams in Florence, albeit, for a bit higher price than I expected, but then again, it was my one souvenir purchase for the entire trip!  And actually after trying a few on, I realized that the asymmetrical zipper and cobalt blue didn't strike me as much as this brown ("taupe" as the designer and shop owner had called it) leather jacket.   Just an FYI, the designer and store owner was Davide Cerasi of the Davide Cerasi Leather Factory in Florence, Italy.  While he gave me some of his cards and also apparently sells to Nordstrom, I think advertising via the blog will help me get the word out easier.

This is a picture of my lovely leather souvenir.

I love it!  It's so well fitted (although I had reservations of the size "L" on the label in the back) and it's so soft and already treated for weather like rain so that won't damage it.  It's a perfect lightweight for early fall weather also!  I can't say enough about it.  I do try to wear this thing absolutely everywhere!

The first thing I bought when I came home were these amazing Katie and Kellie "Beyonce" equestrian boots in black with brown buckle detailing from DSW shoe warehouse.  Actually, these are also featured in the collage below in all black.  So I actually fell in love with three styles of a two-tone, brown and black equestrian/riding boot and could not decide.  I usually sleep on it and let my heart tell me which one I really love, but after a few nights, I still couldn't make up my mind.  Then it was time to call in the big guns.  Yep!  You guessed it, I emailed some of my friends I knew would be able to help me decide.  Between the three boots, two friends voted for one style, two friends voted for another, and the third, the tiebreaker, actually voted for the third style left!  YIKES! What was I to do?  I still liked them all equally!  After thinking a bit more, I finally consulted the pros and cons with my husband and showed him all three.  He was more than happy to help, although looking at boots is probably not a man's favorite thing to do!  And ultimately, my heart said yes to these gorgeous Katie and Kelly "Beyonce" boots.  Besides, channeling some Beyonce, a.k.a. Sasha Fierce, is never a bad thing.

I'm loving these boots so far.  I've worn them with both pants and skirts and they go with everything. The long zipper on the side makes them really easy to put on and take off and the brown buckle just elevates the look.  I love the two-tone effect in riding boots! 

The final trend I spotted and decided to pass on was printed leggings.  Actually, a friend of mine and my sister both asked me this past year whether leggings were still in, and since I hadn't gotten rid of mine I said I thought they were still OK...  Although I really had no idea myself! Hilarious!  It's especially funny because I was the most resistant to the legging trend and barely wear mine but I do find them to come in handy still at times, so I'm not completely ready to let them go.  I'm not sure why they asked me if they were still in style but I appreciate the compliment to my fashion sense!  Regular monotone leggings are one thing, but leggings in a funky black and white print (which was the most prominent style I'd seen all over Italy) is totally not going to happen for me.  My nieces look so cute wearing all sorts of plain and printed leggings under theirs skirts and dresses, but I know I cannot pull off what girls under the age of 10 can, and never will!  So I left this one back in Europe with the Europeans.  Unfortunately, the this weird printed (usually black and white geometric printed) legging trend seemed to follow me back here (creepy!) because I saw a girl on the Metro just this week wearing them and more recently at Tyson's Corner mall.  Where the heck did those come from?  Probably H&M or Zara!  Well ladies, if you love it, go for it, but if you don't, you're perfectly alright to leave whatever trends you don't like behind.  We can't rock them all!  Otherwise we'd dressing a bit schizophrenic with all those different and competing styles!

Inspired by my recent trip, I've decided to include a Polyvore collage for you all based on my two favorite trends, the cobalt blue cropped leather jacket and the equestrian riding boot.  I love how these accessories elevate this look to being really cool and polished.  I don't know about you all, but I want that scarf!

Cobalt Blue Cropped Moto Jacket

J Crew loose shirt

Genuine leather jacket
$79 -

Phase Eight skinny fit jeans
$95 -

Vivienne Westwood leopard print scarve
$265 -

Kate Spade metal sunglasses

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fall Neutrals with a Pop of Color

Now that fall is in full swing, I'm really into putting together outfits which I would love to wear this time of year.  Today's outfit is one of those super cute but comfy looks I'm pretty fond of.  I love combining cream, tan and brown neutrals together and these work really well in the fall season.  This color palate has a richness to it (particularly creams and tans paired together) such that, if you wore a more casual outfit, you would still pull off a very chic look.  In this case, I paired a not-so-classic plaid skirt with an over-sized cream sweater, black and brown boots, a brown toggle button peacoat and added in a pop of color with the orange purse.  The black in the boots pairs well with the black details in the plaid skirt and the toggle buttons in the peacoat.  I would not, however, have paired an entirely black boot with this outfit so I really love the brown buckle detail wrapped around the ankle and across the top of the shaft in the back.  I loved it so much I actually bought these boots a few weeks ago and knew they would go well in this style collage! And yes, they are super cute and comfy -- my favorite style match! Also note the orange purse picks up the orange-y/reddish color from the skirt.  From my view, the plaid looked to incorporate an orange so I paired the look with an orange purse, but if you find, on closer inspection, that the skirt actually has some red, go ahead an pair a red purse with this look instead!  Since I tend to get cold easily, I might even add in a pair of dark brown, black or grey tights!

How do you like this look?  Are there any fall looks out there you're dying to emulate?

  Fall Neutrals with a Pop of Color

Scoop neck top

Rag bone mini skirt
$210 -

Kimchi blue

Friday, October 19, 2012

Gorgeous Baltimore Wedding in August

So one of my best girlfriends got married this past August and I know I'm so late in posting some pics of the fabulous details of this wedding.  As one of several bridesmaids, I wore a long strapless dress in orange.  The theme colors were orange and Tiffany blue and the flower colors incorporated bright oranges, reds and pinks.  The combination looked really great together.

Without further adieu, I'll let you see for yourself some of the beautiful details!

The bride wore a gorgeous drop waist ball gown with a fully beaded and sparkling bodice, sweetheart neckline and tulle skirt that was swept up to the side and to the back.  It was a great balance to all that bling on top!  See that tiny bit of orange in the bottom right hand corner?  That's one of the bridesmaids' dresses showing while one of us is helping the bride hold up her skirt for outdoor pictures, in the Baltimore Waterfront area.

The bridal bouquet was full of beautiful reds, oranges and pinks and included a touch of green and some berries which I just loved!  Look at those colors! Wow.

The groom had a single orange calla lilly (one of my favorite flowers) boutonniere and blue patterned tie on a very summery grey suit.

I just love the sparkly hair accessories which included her "something blue" and adorable 1920's style pin curls!

Here's a closeup of my bridesmaid bouquet which made up of orange and pink lilies.

And here are the gerbera daisy centerpieces.

Last but not least are the flower girl baskets with red, pink, orange and yellow petals.  This was a really fun and really beautiful affair right on the waterfront in the Baltimore Inner Harbor.  I had a wonderful time and wish all the best for the bride and groom in their life together.

Date Night Follow Up

As I mentioned in this post back in September, I was trying to find a great date night outfit and mentioned I'd follow up with what I ultimately put together.  Well, my husband got me an amazing purse as a birthday present that I got to wear out with my outfit!  It was a Louis Vuitton Eva Clutch.  After talking about not getting really big gifts this year since our trip to Europe was our big expense, this threw me for a surprisingly happy loop!  Wow!  I don't think I've ever been that close to such a fancy clutch!  That's also how I got that Louis Vuitton duffel bag, which I used in the packing for the weekend trip post too!  That was another birthday present.  Well, this raises the bar a bit higher for me since I was thinking of a personalized photo album or something for his birthday!  Back to the old drawing board...

Anyhoo, since we were going out to dinner at a really good seafood place that wasn't super fancy, finding an outfit to go with my clutch (naturally working backwards since I had to incorporate the clutch in the styling of the outfit now) was a bit of a challenge. I ultimately settled on a great high/low (high end and low end) look that left me feeling lovely and chic!

Here's what I ended up wearing out.

The dress is form Dorothy Perkins online and was under $30!  What a steal!  The shoes are by Oh Deer! and I bought them online, I think on actually.  I love the color on them and the bit of edge they have with the criss-cross (Jump! Jump!) front and the little cut-out detail in the heel. (Sorry, but I just loved that song from Kris Kross and had to incorporate in that last sentence!) Oh yeah, those are sparkly turquoise toenails courtesy of Sally Hanson Nail Polish Strips! Love them!

Because I ended up loving this outfit so much I put together another high-low styled date night look on Polyvore and I love the results. You can see the same Louis Vuitton clutch paired with a dress from Dorothy Perkins.  I added in a cropped leather jacket which is so hot this season and some ankle booties.  How do you like this look?  Does it look a bit similar to the one I put together?  One of my favorite things to do is mix a really nice, high end piece with some of my basic low end clothing.  Diversifying your wardrobe is always key!  Make the most of what you have.  The high end piece can really elevate the entire look but you can also use affordable pieces and achieve the same effect.  Polish comes from how things are put together, not what they cost, and that's what I love about it!  Anyone can look polished!

Oh and if you were wondering about dinner, we went to a place called Black Salt.  The food was excellent! It's got a seafood market in the front, a bar just behind that and a formal dining area in the back.  Most people were dressed pretty casually so dressing up is not a must.  I highly recommend it if you're in DC and love seafood!

Mixing High and Low, Hard and Soft

Monday, October 15, 2012

Can You Do Me A Flavor?

That's what my brother and I used to say when asking for a favor! Yes it's childish, but we did pick it up as children and just had fun with it for years.  The fun part about having siblings is to have your own sayings and rituals that only your sib could understand!  Anyhoo, I'd like to ask all my readers for a special favor.  Since I don't advertise on my site, I'd really appreciate all who can spread the word about the blog if you like what you see.  This can be by word of mouth, emailing certain posts to friends or posting them on your Facebook page, which I've done a couple of times myself.  If you have a comment, suggestion or even a reader request, please feel free to post in the comment section, which I've opened up to anyone to post.  Let me know what you like and what you'd like to see more of!  Also I will keep updating the polls on the sidebar to include different fun topics. I'm interested in getting to know you too! 

Moving on to the Polyvore collage I've put together below, in honor of the fall I'm creating more and more cold weather looks to get us in the mood for that weather transition.  In DC we're supposed to have a pretty chilly winter compared to last year and I can feel the weather starting to get much colder already!  We went from 70 and 80 degree (Fahrenheit) days to dipping down in the 50's and 60's and even down to the 40's last Friday night.  While the weather is back into the high 60's today, I know it's the calm before the storm.  And because it is so easy to dress warm and cozy in the cold weather while picking our more comfortable fall-back clothing over fashionable pieces (which do require a bit more effort!), I hoped putting together some fall looks will help inspire us all.  Check out the gorgeous burgundy peplum blazer and snazzy driver's cap!  Boy, do I love how Emma Watson pulls of the cap! The tee is from Anthropologie and I had seen it in a catalog, paired with blue cropped pants and, since I loved it so much, I had to try and recreate a similar look here.  How do you like it?  Are there any fall trends your particularly into or any fall staples that you believe will always be in fashion?  I'm loving the equestrian/flat heeled boots which had been around for a while but are really prominent this season.  Fashion staples for me include long sleeve tees and knee high boots.  While the style of the boots will change over time in heel height and thickness and from pointy toe to round toe, in the past decade I've always had at least one pair of knee high boots for the colder weather.

Fall Classy

Corset shirt

Dorothy Perkins peplum jacket

NYDJ slim fit jeans

Armani Jeans patent leather handbag
$250 -


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Reader Request: Back to School for Working Professionals

After gorging on amazing foods and taking in the breathtaking sites and history in Europe, I'm finally back to my regular routine.  I will definitely blog more about my European adventures in later posts, including the few stand out fashion dos (and some don'ts) I saw all over Rome, Florence and Munich!

But swinging back into the reality of things I wanted to address a reader request from last month.  This one was submitted by my sister who's been a working professional for years but is always striving to improve upon her skills and learn something new.  This fall she's taking a class at Columbia University and asked me about what to wear to school for people who've already been out of school for years and are going back. This is a bit tricky because school, whether it be your primary education from grades K-12 or college, has its own style rules.  What I see high school kids to wear these days is not what I'd recommend myself to try because I'd basically look like a 30+ year old woman trying to look like I'm 15!  Besides they do look an awful lot like they're wearing some of the things I wore in my high school days anyway! Trends are cyclical... Pass it on!   Another thing to think about is when you're so used to dressing for work every day, you don't want to dress that professionally for a class but also you don't want to dress too young or too casual.  Especially if the class is one for people who, like yourself, have worked for a while and are taking more classes to learn new skills.  But there is definitely a happy medium out there so don't give up yet!

As you can see below, I put together two really cute fall looks for this very particular style group.  I think you can still do the cute casual thing really well but look a bit more adult going to class -- as opposed to copying what you see on MTV!

The look on the left I absolutely love because the jeans are colored, skinny and very now!  Instead of just a regular tee, which would also compliment this look, I decided to plug in a cute, casual blouse and pair the whole outfit with studded flats to keep it hip and comfortable.  Adding in the  wrap sweater and some cute accessories keeps the looks cozy and polished without putting too much effort into it! I'd definitely wear this look on a weekend jaunt to the grocery store or something! How adorable are those earrings??

The second look is just so stylish and cute I can't help wanting to go buy something like it myself!  I love the polka dot sweater -- polka dots are still big this fall/winter season.  Pairing this with a colorful, longer and swishy (technical term) skirt and some knee-high wedge boots will have you standing out in a good way.  A pair of simple stud earrings and gold bracelets finishes off this look which, again, looks comfortable, stylish and polished.

Pairing either outfit with the quilted tote pictured below or a similar cute tote, as opposed to a backpack or messenger bag, will really put the "spit and shine" into any look so that even a drill sergeant couldn't find something complain about.

It's the polished look you really want to pull off to make this a more appropriate look for a working professional going back to take classes.  I'm definitely not saying appropriate as an analogy for old by any means, but this type of a look is appropriate because it's youthful enough without making you look like you're trying to be a college kid again.  I'll tell you, when I was in college, I don't think I wore any jewelry aside from a cuff here and a necklace or earrings there and jeans paired with a tee and/or hoodie was a standard outfit for most people.  Having moved on and up in the world, I've learned the benefit of being polished which highlights anyone's inner fabulousness!  Work it out girl!

I hope my sis likes these!  I can see her looking cute in a million things but I think she'd really stand out in looks similar to the ones below. 

Back to School for Working Professionals

Asymmetrical top

French Connection silk shirt

Alice Olivia polka dot top


J Crew j crew

Flat shoes

Kate spade tote

Plastic jewelry


Kate Spade clip on earrings