July 2011 archive

Women’s Brunch

Here is an example of how I put an outfit together.
I have a function coming up, what’s the first question I ask myself? That’s right, “What am I going to wear?” That’s my favorite question and I usually have the answer.
This particular event is casual, but has some high-brow people in attendance at a all-women summer luncheon. Therefore, sloppiness is not allowed. Here are my options:
1) Casual skirt (aka cotton or other cosy material), casual blouse
2) Maxi dress
3) Capris with casual blouse
Which to choose… Well, the maxi dress although is a “dress” and also casual enough to go to any low-key event, may give the impression of too casual. That leaves options number one and three. When the event is all women, it makes me think wearing something that is maybe in the not so “work appropriate” category. And by that, I do not mean, something I would wear to a club, but something more on the really girly side. Let’s check the closet for option number one.
First, let’s find the skirt. These are more limited in my closet that blouses and therefore with less selection, the blouse will be easier to match. What do I have that fits casual, feminine and conservative?
Answer: a floral skirt from H&M in navy blue. It is girly, casual and yet has a retro feel. Now, what blouse to match? This is more difficult than I thought. The best option would be to find a color in the skirt’s floral print and match it. However, I find a cotton navy tank from the GAP with ruffles on the front. Perfect! Now, on to accessories. This is where you get the most versatility. They can take your basic outfits to many different places. I do believe I will try my new necklace and earrings set. Lastly, but sometime the hardest part, shoes. There are three options to try: grey suede heeled sandals, white strappy sandals with a kitten heel adorned with pink flowers or my heeled nude faux croc strappy sandals. The grey suede matches the best but I choose the white kitten heels for a more demure look. Now I’m set!
Yes, this is really how I think when I put together outfits. And no, I don’t do this on a daily basis (at least to this extreme) but for events when I know I’m going to be representing myself in public. Now think about that one…

Cash and Carry

Recently I attended another at-home jewelry party. This one happened to be for Premier jewelry. I browsed the catalog looking for something I’ve been missing from my jewelry collection, something to wear with the pea green color I love to wear. I found a necklace and earrings set (it also had a bracelet) called “Venetian.” The main color on these pieces is blue, that deep peacock blue that I also love, but the secondary color is pea green. This set caught my eye the first time through the catalog but I was in a bit of a sticker shock at the price. The last time I went to a Premier party, I believe they had some sort of sale going on where the pieces were buy two, get two at half off, or something similar. Premier is not cheap. But the pieces do feel quality and they company stands behind their products. They will replace your pieces if they break. All that said, I still didn’t know how I was going to justify purchasing these pieces. I got up to go look at the display table to inspect these pieces closely and “voila” sitting on the table in the cash and carry box is this very set! Ah, I smell a bargain. I pick up the pieces and sure enough, they are marked down half off. I’ll be purchasing these pieces thank you! And I got to walk away from the party with jewelry in tow. Couldn’t have had a better jewelry party purchase!

Not a fashion victim

Maybe I should make something else clear. While I do feel that fashion is my vice, I hope to never become a fashion “victim.” Yes, I try trends, new and different ways of putting colors and pieces together, but… I don’t ever want to look back on photos of myself and seriously wonder what I was thinking. So, while I may be reading magazines that print articles about the runways of Paris and New York, some club in LA and what to wear to the beach in Miami, I will be focusing on real people, real lives and real style. We all cannot afford to purchase designer labels, nor in the Midwest do we have access to every new “it” label. I don’t want to only stick to your basic mall clothing (although I dearly love Banana Republic and Ann Taylor Loft), my focus is on the truly affordable- the clearance rack treasure, the second-hand find, the garage sale staple. In this economy and in this tough market of Midwesterners, that will be work enough.

Secret Find

I love discovering new boutiques. And although I don’t live far from the city, with three kids I don’t often get to venture out shopping, especially to browse shops downtown. There is a shop I discovered on an adventure that has been around a few years now without me knowing, Runway. Although I do feel the market is for a younger audience than myself (now in my thirties), I do enjoy the clothing options. Reasonably priced, detail-oriented clothes are right up my alley. Not to mention I walked in and they were running a sale on ALL of their jewelry- 40% off. That’s hard to beat. Who can’t afford five dollar earrings? So for the grand total of a mere $20, I purchased four pairs of earrings, one that will go nicely with a chain necklace of mixed metals from a previous purchase (Cookie Lee) and one that I will wear with a black onyx cocktail ring (Lia Sophia). Thank you Runway, I’ll be back for a cute little party dress should the occasion arise.

So I’ve been thinking about what to write in this blog and I’m having a hard time deciding where to start. Maybe I should answer a few questions first.
1) Do I think I have style?
Of course I should answer “yes,” but there are days as a stay-at-home mom where I have to admit, I have gone to the grocery store looking pretty sad. I have run errands in my work-out clothes (gasp). I have even met with a teacher or had a meeting at church looking a little harried. Who hasn’t? That doesn’t mean that I don’t have style, it simply means I’m human. Style by definition is a prevailing mode of expression. Nine days out of 10 I’m dressed in what I view as appropriate.
2) Why is fashion so important to me?
As a little girl, I enjoyed my dress-up clothes and putting on makeup, but my mother chose all my clothes for me. And I recall, I had few variations to the outfits those pieces made together. I do remember desperately wanting a pair of stirrup pants and finally receiving them only to put a hole in them the first time I wore them. I also recall wearing knee-high socks to church with my frilly dresses my mother chose and feeling so embarrassed. During the height of the eighties, it was all push down socks and neon colors, not so much what I was wearing. My mother has a wonderful sense of style; hers is very classic and conservative. Which I have inherited…to some extent. But looking back, her influence on my clothes saved me from the horrid “what was I thinking” photos that would surely come later as I experimented on my own. [Insert dreaded high bangs photo from the 90s.]
As much as I felt I had to try harder than anyone else at my appearance, fashion didn’t really take on a larger meaning for me until after college, surprisingly. I had a teacher in high school whom I remember as never wearing the same outfit twice. This I can relate to. I get bored in the monotony of the same black-pants-and-button-down-shirt type of existence. Above all, I have learned about myself that I strive on variety and versatility. Amazingly enough, I think my first job out of college (a dot com) and the colleagues I had there sent me down the path of the fashion conscious. It was also heavily influenced by my sudden addiction to InStyle magazine’s Instant Style section. More on this later…
3) What do I hope the outcome of all this blogging will be?
Fashion is my passion. You’ve heard that many times. But for me, it is what keeps me going. It is the hobby that gets me through the long days of making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and sitting in the drop-off lane at preschool. Dreaming and planning a wardrobe and outfits for the events in my life only create more living for me to do.

I live in Iowa, the land of the not-so-fashion conscious. However I do believe that many of the people who live here do take pride in their appearance. Fashion is truly my passion. As a stay-at-home mom of three, it is also my outlet. It is an escape to dream up outfits that I may potentially wear to some fabulous venue. If you need to pack for vacation, it is my time to shine. No one else can pack in you as few of outfits, but still have so many options. I am also a bargin shopper, as we live on one income. I am hoping that with this blog, I can find ways to show anyone who stumbles across this blog how easy it is to put together outfits on a shoestring budget, build a wardrobe and have incredible versitility with the clothing they own. It just takes imagination and some forethought!
Enjoy my Style from the Sticks!
Holly