How to Put Together a Outfit in Black That Stands Out

blue top black pencil skirt 2

Confession: I love black.

I think it started in high school when my 21-year-old drummer boyfriend told me that brunettes didn’t look good in black. My rebellious heart said, “Oh, yeah?” and promptly considered changing my name to Jet (I did, at least, get wise and dump him).

blue top black pencil skirt

I definitely don’t have the stomach for the multiple-piercings-Hot Topic-angstiness or the corporate mausoleum look that often accompanies black, so I’ve learned to get creative with wearing head-to-toe black.

Mixing different textures and cuts (I adore black sequins at any hour of the day), adding analogous colors like charcoal or navy, or injecting a shot of bold color like the cobalt here adds dimensionality to black and keeps the look refined but intentional and  creative.

To add a finishing touch, rock nearly any shade of lipstick you damn well please (I have yet to see one that doesn’t pair well with black) and give a mischevious wink to your ex.


Cobalt Silk blouse, Elie Tahari.

Black (leopard-lined!) pencil skirt, Express.

Sequined jacket, Banana Republic Heritage Collection.

Heels, Cole Haan.

Black pearl necklace, T.J. Maxx.

Shades, The Loft.




How to Get Rid of the Back-to-Work Blues

When I’ve had a particularly lovely long weekend with my family and friends, it can be difficult to head back into the office (and consequently, part with the men in my life). To ease the pain, I like to wear the pieces in my wardrobe that make the day feel a little more special and fun.

black with taupe blouse

I bought this skirt in Belgium earlier this year and have nearly worn it out already! I don’t know how such a voluminous skirt can look slimming, but it somehow manages to make me feel sleek every time I put it on. The ballet pink silk lining doesn’t hurt, either.

Also, there’s something about a V-neck blouse that falls at just the right point. This one has enough beading and bejeweling that it renders further bedecking unnecessary (but not necessarily unwelcome, depending on your taste). I couldn’t resist adding my two currently favorite bracelets to the sentimental wristlet I always wear (with charms bearing my family’s fingerprints).

black skirt with taupe blouse2

I don’t know why moms even try to buy groceries for themselves. I hardly ever get to eat all of my own food anymore; I’m such a sucker for the eyes this kid makes at me.



Bubble-stamped Scuba Skirt, Bitte Kai Rand.

Satin Jewel-encrusted top, Banana Republic Heritage Collection.

Waxed Denim moto jacket, Mango.

Berry pumps, Cole Haan.

Stainless steel chain bracelet, Kohl’s.

Leather and metal square bracelet, Boondock Studios.

Shades, The Loft.

Tuxed Up

cropped white tee tuxedo shorts

A little while ago, I went to a Cyndi Lauper concert and I couldn’t find the exact top I wanted to pair with a high-waisted skirt I love, so I just cut off an old t-shirt. I only planned to wear it that evening, but got so many glances of approval throughout the night from gay men (call me shallow, but I find that’s usually a strong indicator you’re onto something) and then I began  seeing simple cutoff tees in shops all around me, so I thought, “Why not rock it a few more times?”

Here, I pair it with a pair of high-waisted tuxedo shorts. The top’s ragged hem is in accord with the frayed shorts, and the outfit observes the rule of modern midriff-baring: Keep your bellybutton under wraps!


Maternity Tshirt, Liz Lange for Target, similar in V-neck here.

Tuxedo shorts, 5th and Hall.

Coral necklace, T.J. Maxx.

Silver rings, Silpada and thrifted.


Work it, Girl!

bows and culottes

Being relaxed for work doesn’t have to mean looking sloppy. I break out these roomy culottes with loafers on days when I’ll be on my feet for 8 hours. They’re comfortable, but a refined fabric reads more “office appropriate” than “pyjama.”

I (still) love a black and blue color combo-très chic. And in my opinion, it’s impossible to go wrong with a Chanel-esque jacket; it’s appropriate in the workplace and polishes up a weekend outfit.


Black crepe culottes, Banana Republic.

Bow-tie tee, Holly Bracken via 5th and Hall.

Jacket, Ann Taylor.

Silver Loafers, Calvin Klein.

Adorable photographer’s assistant, self-made (with a little help ♥).


Pumpkin, Baby!

orange pants black linen jacket

When I was little, my mom’s nickname for me was Pumpkin Baby (apparently, I had rolls like a pumpkin ♥). It must have subconciously imbued me with a love for the shade, because now I can’t get enough of it.

Here I’ve paired the hue with neutral basics (leopard is a neutral, right, Jenna Lyons?) to let the wide-leg pants be the star.

Also, I finally bit the dust and bought a paper planner. I’m still adjusting to carrying something around the size of a small dictionary, but feeling more organized and reading an inspirational quote each day (yes, I’m a dork like that) helps soften the blow.Update: While setting up the links to this post, I found my “Happy Stripe” planner has a matching pen, so I may survive after all.


Pumpkin wide-leg pants, Whimsy Boutique.

White Tshirt, Target. Buy Now.

Black Linen Blazer, vintage Elie Tahari.

Leopard calf-hair belt, vintage Saks Fifth Avenue.

Black and tan wedges, Michael Kors.

Planner, Emily Ley (monogrammed to help me remember my name on the crazy days).

The Newbies

After an especially productive consignment shopping trip this weekend, it occurred to me that you might like to see how I decide what pieces to add to my wardrobe (yes, there is a method to the madness).

Most of my clothing choices are made quite deliberately. I’m usually looking for very specific pieces (or at least pieces with a specific vibe).

In preparation for each season, I like to check out my local consignment shops to see what pieces on my wish list I can recycle into my wardrobe. Then I fill in the gaps online and in stores. Not only is it a little more ecologically responsible, it leaves me more money for shoes. 😉

leather skirt before alterations

I have been looking for a leather skirt for a while now, so I was especially excited to find this one. It’s a no-namer that has been worn in quite nicely (I love buying vintage leather and denim-someone else has done all the work of beating them up into perfection for you).

While it’s gorgeous, the length is awkward for my tastes, so I’ll have it hemmed to the knee before autumn.

Pro tip #1: A lot of leather can look software-programmer-at-bike-week really quick, so I like to pair leather clothing with suede or fabric shoes to soften it up (like the grey suede sandals here).

Pro tip  #2: When you thrift, you’ll often find pieces that are nearly perfect. Look for pieces that will be bumped into closet rock star status with an easy alteration or two.

ivory forever21 blouse

This Forever21 shirt still had the tags on it and is in perfect condition. It’s unlikely to be a long-lasting staple (it’s made of polyester, and I really like my summer tops to be silk or cotton), but it’s great for adding a jolt of “new” to the closet. I LOVE ivory and have difficulty finding pieces in that color that I adore, so I jump at any chance to pick it up.

tan blazer express

This camel blazer is from Express. It’s a great stand in for the tropical wool one I hope to eventually own.

Pro tip #3: Any blazer will automatically look more expensive with working buttons on the arm. This one’s buttons are already functional (props, Express!), but if your favorite one doesn’t, it’s an easy fix for your tailor.

Black BCBG party dress

Soooo, yeah. I didn’t really have an excuse for this one (and it was the most expensive piece I bought that day), but it has a glam rock n’roll vibe and is so beautifully cut, I couldn’t help myself.

Pro tip #4: Always go for a marriage of love over reason.

In the end, I spent less than $130 and scored 5 items (I’ll show you my favorite one soon). All four items here came from What’s New Consignment.


Leather A-line skirt, $36.

Ivory blouse, Forever21, $8.

Camel blazer, Express, $4 (SERIOUSLY!).

Black Party Dress, BCBGMAXAZRIA, $50.