Never Trade A Classic

When I’m working with people to choose the three words that define their style, they sometimes choose the word “classic.” I love classic styles, but I discourage people from choosing that as one of their words because “classic” can span several styles, so that doesn’t really give much direction for formulating a wardrobe (classic what? Classic bohemian? Classic mod? Classic prep?).


Other words I recommend avoiding:

  • Trendy (there are several trends each season, and if you adopt them all, you look more “fashion victim” than “fashionista”)
  • Relaxed (you can buy casual clothing in nearly any style)
  • Casual (see above)
  • Comfortable (comfortable clothing exists in nearly every style)


If you’re drawn to any of these words, dig a little deeper and ask, “What exactly about this word do I feel describes me?” Then try to get at a more specific word to include in your trio.


As with most things in life, a little concentrated thought up front can yield great rewards later on.


As much as I love a night on the town, it’s always great to come home.
The Breakdown:

Black sweater dress, Elie Tahari.

Calf-hair leopard pumps, Ralph Lauren.

Emerald-colored earrings, Sorrelli.

Dark metallic bag, Marc Jacobs for Target.

Photography courtesy of Emily Plank Photography.



Anyone who observed what I wore in my 20s would certainly have noticed my unapologetic love affair with chains (Freud could’ve had a party with that, I’m sure).

As I’ve matured, I’ve moved from dripping in them to adding a few well-placed doses here and there as a foil to more sophisticated pieces (noticing a theme yet?).


0K2A7490This little ivory day dress has pockets! and the most beautifully draped cowl neckline that provides the perfect stage for a necklace with personality. The chain is one long strand taken from a vintage necklace that I simply tied into a bow.


0K2A7438I tend to shy away from prints, but love neutral pieces with unusual design features (like the cap sleeves and back cutout of this dress) that lend a little something extra to the look.


0K2A7477I like to travel light on the weekends, and a black embossed minaudiere is the perfect size for a license, credit card, phone, and lipstick.  A large military-inspired ring brings a little edge to the ensemble.


0K2A7431The camo and buckles on these booties continue the military vibe, but the calf hair reads more “polished.”

The breakdown:

Dress: Fable, via Hattie’s Branches

Bag: Generic; I can’t, for the life of me, remember where I picked it up.

Camo Calf-hair booties: Nine West, thrifted

Necklace: deconstructed vintage, via Black Swan Bazaar

Ring: Lucky Brand


Photography courtesy of Emily Plank Photography.

A Hipper Zipper

Black pants a are a wardrobe staple, and can be an easy outfit starter on those days when you’ll be in a cold office all day, but to keep them from getting boring, choose them in an interesting silhouette or fabric.

Navy and Black

This wide-leg pair is polished, and closed-toed shoes in the same color as the pants creates a long, lean look.

A little something extra

The navy and black tweed peplum top has a bit of shimmer woven in and the texture adds depth for increased sophistication. You could also top this with a statement necklace-the bigger, the better.

Unexpected Pop of Color

Surprise! The pink zipper adds a little wink of fun.



Black pearl earrings continue the polish theme, but a men’s stainless steel link bracelet and leather handcuff bracelets are more devious.

Photography courtesy of Emily Plank Photography.

Sophisticated | Polished | Rebel

In my last post, I recommended choosing three descriptive words to hone your personal style. Mine are sophisticated, polished, and rebel. These are the things I want people to resonate with when they meet me.

As you might surmise, each of those words features in varying levels of prominence depending on the situation. Today’s outfit is one I would wear to work, so sophistication and polish take center stage, with just a bit of smoldering rebel in the accessories.

Navy Dress Hooded Trench Bucket Bag

The demure pleated neckline, lightweight wool fabric, and navy color of this Elie Tahari dress reads “sophisticated,” while the chocolate-piped trench and tasseled bucket bag add polish.

Nine West Navy Bow Shoes

Add a bit more polish with bow-topped blue suede heels.

Gothic Ring

Just because you’re dressed for work doesn’t mean you can’t show off the edgier aspects of your personality. The SFW method involves showcasing them through your accessories. This claw-encased ring lands squarely in the rebel camp…

Pyramid Studs

…while these diminutive pyramid studs further the rebel theme.


Three distinct words, but it all adds up to a cohesive look.
Have you been thinking about your three words?

Photography courtesy of Emily Plank Photography.

Never Have Nothing to Wear Again

Photo courtesy of Emily Plank Photography.

Photo courtesy of Emily Plank Photography.

I love fashion as art; I love seeing the creativity spill off the runways into the stores each season. But here’s the ugly truth:

Clothes shopping can get overwhelming, even for a junkie like me.

How do we distill the array of offerings down to a collection that truly expresses who we are?

We begin with the end in mind.

After hearing an interior designer describe the method she uses to create and decorate spaces, I began using her interior design philosophy to define and refine my personal style.

She explained that when designing a room, she chooses three words to describe the feelings she wants people to experience when they enter that space, and then funnels all of her design decisions through the filter of those three words. The end result is a nuanced but cohesive look that stirs an emotional response.

So if you’re tired of spending more time shopping for your clothes than wearing them,

Choose 3 words to define your personal style.

These words should get to the very heart of who you are as a person, the words you feel best describe you.

Now orchestrate all of your clothing purchases through the filter of those 3 words.

It takes a little more thought up front, but a lot less work from then on.

When you carefully consider your three words and build your wardrobe accordingly, you will always have something to wear that perfectly reflects you as a person. And guess what?

People will get the message of who you really are.

Are you ready to feel madly confident every time you get dressed?

It’s time to feel good in your clothes again.

P.S. Over the next few posts, I’ll give you some tips for choosing your 3 words in case you’re feeling a little stuck. I’ll also divulge my 3 words and show you how I execute them in various aspects of my life.

What IS being well-dressed, anyway?

Navy dress coffee shop downtown

Doing one of my favorite things at one of my favorite places. Photography courtesy of Emily Plank Photography.

“I have heard with admiring submission the experience of the lady who declared that the sense of being well-dressed gives a feeling of inward tranquility which religion is powerless to bestow.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson

What does it mean to be well-dressed?

Is it having the latest look from the runways? Is it shopping at the most expensive stores in the world? Is it having the biggest closet in town dripping with designer labels and stacked high with not-yet-and-perhaps-never-to-be-worn clothes?

Don’t get me wrong—I LOOOOOVE me some Alexander McQueen. I also would not balk at converting a bedroom into a closet (someday!). But these accoutrement a well-dressed person do not make.

I’m often asked to elucidate an easy method for creating/refining a strong personal style. While I admire those style chameleons who put on whatever came down the runways that season and rock it, I readily admit that I have a strong gravitational pull toward a very specific look. Contrary to feeling bored or stale, I feel the most alive, the most “myself” when I’m wearing pieces that fall in line with that look.

At a recent speaking engagement, I shared my method for creating a strong personal style that I learned from an interior designer long ago (I’m pretty sure she intended for her method to be applied to interior design, but it’s my party and I’ll take inspiration from wherever I want to).

During the month of October, I’ll be sharing this method and how it’s helped me refine my personal style. Posts will be illustrated with photography by the crazy-sexy-talented Emily Plank, so I hope you’ll join us and chime in!

It’s Fall…Kinda?

Pumpkin Silk

Fall is here–my favorite sartorial season! Host a bonfire! Mull some cider! Put a pumpkin on your porch! Pull the sweaters and boots from the back of the closet–er, wait–hold up on that last one for a minute. You see, I live in Florida, and the temperature still rises to 80 degrees by 10 a.m. here.

Understandably, many of my fellow Floridians reach for their knee boots at the first whiff of a 60-degree morning. Why should our northern neighbors have all the fun? We want fall, too, darn it! But while initially gratifying, those boots can be a little warm when the clock strikes 2 p.m.
But if we can’t don a sweater in October, how can we get into that pumpkin spice latte mood?
Here are my tips for weathering the Florida fall weather elegantly without looking like you’re holding on to your summer clothes:
  • Wear autumn colors in transitional fabrics. Instead of looking for fabrics traditionally associated with autumn (leather, suede, fur, wool), look for pieces in fall colors rendered in lighter fabrics. (Silk Pumpkin blouse)
  • Wear heavier fabrics sparingly. A wide leather belt, suede heels, or a light bomber jacket can bring a feeling of fall to any outfit without overheating you. One of my favorite tricks for lightly tripping into the season is to switch out my pumps for ankle booties; I get the look and feeling of wearing boots without the sweat of wearing knee boots.
  • Dress in light layers. That way, when the sun appears later in the day, you can shed the jacket or cardigan and remain comfortable (a little more difficult if you’re wearing a chunky fisherman’s sweater).
  • Add autumn colors to your beauty routine. A swathe of wine nail polish or lip color can make you feel more “fallish” even when your sweater is short-sleeved.
I’ve posted a bunch of examples of these on Girl About Downtown’s Pinterest board “Autumn in Florida.” Check it out now for a few wardrobe inspiring ideas!
Now tell me in the comments–what do you do to stylishly participate in fall in a climate that doesn’t seem to want to take part in the festivities?