More or Less

 

Blue shirt2 edited

When I can’t decide whether less is more or more is more, I do less and more. The silhouette and muted colors of this outfit are less, and my rings are more.

Blue rings

 

Unpacked:

Leggings, Zella.

Unravelled tee, Ranemade.

Boots, Brako.

Hat, Brixton.

Necklace, Polk Museum of Art Gift Shop.

Brushed silver ring, Silpada.

Seahorse ring, Mayfair art festival (unfortunately, I have lost the paperwork of the artist).

80s ring, vintage.

Silver bubble ring, Silpada.

Fingerprint charm bracelet, my design.

 

 

 

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We Celebrate No Pants Fridays

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Some clothes create amazing stories, and others come packaged with them.

My best friend (who I rarely get to shop with, which is probably a good thing, because we know how to enable the heck out of each other), came to town recently and met me at a new local boutique I had been wanting to show her for quite some time.

We were immediately drawn to this dress, and I picked it up to try on. As we explored the store, in walked a local stylist acquaintance who was putting together an upcoming fashion show in which I was scheduled to walk.

Seeing the dress in my hand, she exclaimed, “I was going to pull that for you to wear in the show!” (clearly, she has exquisite taste).

 

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Some of us have taken Man Repeller’s decree of “No Pants Friday” to heart!

I tried on the dress, and the rest, as they say, is history. Because of the experience, I always think of my friends when I wear it.

I love a dress that picks one feature to accentuate, and with a dress this tight (as you can see from the pictures, I look 2 months pregnant if I wear it without Spanx after eating anything within the prior week), the length and high neckline keep it from veering out of daytime territory. And the exposed zipper is just sheer fun.

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This dress is also a great reminder that perfect clothes off the rack are rarely  made, they’re tailored. The slit in the back was a little higher than I preferred, but my tailor sewed it partially shut for a nominal fee (I think it was $10).

Tailoring is such a small price to pay for feeling perfectly comfortable in your clothes, which can affect someone’s “look” even more than the exact articles of clothing they’re wearing.

I highly advise creating a line item for tailoring in your annual wardrobe budget (I probably spend about $500 annually, but nearly everything I own is tailored–even if it’s something as simple as getting that perfect-length hem or a sleeve taken in just so–so you may have different needs). It will make a monumental difference in how much you love your clothes!

Unpacked:

Sheer black fishnet dress, 5th and Hall.

Cut-out heels, Cole Haan.

Handcuff bracelet–apologies, I have forgotten where I found it.

Your Next Perfect Outfit is a Cat Haus Harness

“I know I’ve been a perfect bitch, but I couldn’t help myself.”

–Bette Davis

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Every so often, I get bitchy. Usually, it’s because I haven’t eaten in 6 hours, or the driver who just pulled out in front of me can’t seem to find their gas pedal, or someone omitted a serial comma in their latest Facebook post (I take that last one back—that is a totally reasonable cause for offense). But every once in a while, it’s because life conspires to keep me busier than I should let myself get, and I drag other people down with me (I apparently have never read that “poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part” sign).

This “drowning person taking their rescuer down” vignette most recently played itself out in an attempt to procure THE OUTFIT for a weekend getaway to New York, where my husband was attending a work conference, and I would spend the day bumping into Tiffany’s and Manolo Blahnik and calculating (and recalculating) how much money I’d need to make in order to live comfortably there (I think we all know the answer to that question—way more than I make now). I needed THE OUTFIT, however, because we were going to an underground party. An underground party full of New Yorkers, (or, as they are known by us mere mortals, The Style Bulletproof).

THE OUTFIT came to me in the form of an inspired strip of metallic leather.

Earlier this year, I had been introduced to Cat Haus harnesses through a friend whose daughter is one-half of the bad-ass creator duo. I immediately adored them, and owning one of these lovelies catapulted to the top of my short list of “NEED.”

However, if you hang around my Instagram feed at all, you might have noticed I have an almost-2-year-old. So it goes without saying that I have almost no time. Procuring a harness fell to a lower priority on my to-do list until the week of my trip, when I called formerly-mentioned friend in a panic and annoyingly asked if Cat Haus might be willing to ship one of their harnesses to me overnight so it I could wear it to a party that weekend (told you I’ve been a perfect bitch).

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I had some help changing out our decorations.

She put me in touch with Lady Miaou, who, instead of returning my bitchiness with (what would have been a well-deserved), “Girl, you crazy,” informed me that while Cat Haus harnesses are custom-made according to the wearer’s measurements, she would check to see if they had the leather in stock and make me one to be shipped out the next day. She even created a special shipping option for me on the website (told you they are badass).

The best news? Should you want one of these delicious little delicacies, Cat Haus is running a 40% off sale through Monday in celebration of Shop Small Saturday (check out their Facebook page for the promo code).

So you don’t have to be a bitch (even if you’d be a perfect one).

The Ultimate Guide to Designing Your Dream Bag {with Boondock Studios}

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Image credit @boondock_studios

Have you heard the style authorities wax poetic about that legendary bag that is everything one could ever want or need?

This mythical creature stands up next to your most polished work attire, but looks right at home with your casual weekend clothes. It’s a classic, but one that makes a statement. I’ve even heard that it can give you a fashion pass on the days when the rest of your outfit veers toward the schlumpy.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen designer logo bags proferred as the end-all-be-all answer to the legendary bag search, although I never quite figured out why–perhaps directly advertising “I am willing to pay good money for a bag hundreds of other people carry” equals style for some? There are very few “It” bags that will cause me to assign style points (although, I will admit, I’ll endure a tiny twinge of benign jealousy upon encountering a real Birkin).

What will cause me an outright pang of jealousy (sometimes even accompanied by downright swooning)? When I see a bag so perfectly, so lusciously designed and crafted that it seems to be an extension of the wearer herself. With this bag, you notice the style, the luxurious craftsmanship, and the sheer beauty of the bag, but you might have to sheepishly inquire as to the designer, because the bag isn’t a name dropper.

After spotting a few of these beauties in the wild, I decided to hunt down my very own trophy. I was ready to spend a bit more to capture my prey because I planned on having this bag FOREVER (also, you all know my life philosophy–buy less, buy better).

Alas, after a couple of years (yes, years) of looking, I lost hope. I had already formed quite a picture of what I wanted in my head, and couldn’t find a bag that exactly matched it.

Finally, I had a stroke of genius and contacted local leather artisan Boondock Studios about helping me craft a bag that met all my needs and wants. If I was going to invest the amount of a rent payment, I wanted it to be designed precisely to my specifications.

Well, I can’t say my dream was realized, because my dream was too dang small, people! I brought my hieroglyphic design sketches to a meeting with Mr. and Mrs. Boondock (not their real names, but seriously-nothing is sexier than a husband and wife artist duo), who I first met at our local farmer’s market when they were new designers churning out the most fantastical leather masks. Now they make the leather, knitting, and woven dreams of people all over the place come true.

The discussion became very animated as we excitedly bantered about leathers, seams, linings, and studs, while Mr. & Mrs. B threw out design suggestions I hadn’t even dreamed of. I knew they “got me.”

I’ve had this bag for a week now, and I am over the moon. It has exceeded my wildest expectations, and the more I use it, the more I love it, because I’ve realized just how much of my life is spent on the go (and therefore lived out of my bag), and how much easier and enjoyable having one designed just for me has made my life.

I have been plied with so many compliments on it, that I decided to write a post about it and give you:

The Ultimate Guide to

Designing Your Very Own Dream Bag

with Boondock Studios

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Think about your REAL life.

Being a mom to a small child is a huge part of my life now. If you have a small child, might feel, like me, that there’s never enough time with your child. I want to BE WITH my family when I’m with them, which meant designing a bag that not only looked amazing, but had all the practical amenities that would make my life easier.

A few design factors that emerged from that reflection:

  • Backpack style-great for Farmer’s Market, cycling, or errands.
  • Drawstring opening-To have a bag that I could easily get in and out of, I asked Boondock to create mine with a drawstring opening so that I can get into it without taking it off my shoulder (without a flap–who has the coordination for that?).
  • Deep interior pockets-I was so tired of my sunglasses and lip liners falling out into the main portion of my bag. With deep pockets, where I put things is where they stay (including sippy cups and bags of cheerios!).
  • Exterior pocket against my back-When I travel, I wanted a place I could keep my phone and wallet that couldn’t be pickpocketed.

 

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Be open to new ideas.

If you’re collaborating with an artisan to design your bag, they will have ideas that are born out of working with materials that are familiar to them. They know how the leather or fabric will behave in certain situations, so it’s best to listen to their ideas. They also have resources you may be unaware of, so they may be able to create things you couldn’t anticipate.

Ideas from Boondock Studios that made my bag SO MUCH BETTER than I could have dreamed include a curved base (it’s like a backpack hug), exquisitely knotted leather rope drawstring, high-quality features like saddle stitching and heavy-duty rivets and screws so that my bag could take the constant beating of being drug around by a child, and using custom-printed fabric for the lining (how cool is THAT?!)

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Remember what you love.

Being a mom didn’t cause my style personality to change. Designing a bag with rock n’ roll details like studs, fringe, and skulls expresses my style and makes me smile every time I look at it (and really, that’s what a phenomenal bag is all about, right?).

backpack skull

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Image credit @boondock_studios

Don’t punk out.

You want to create a quality bag that you’ll adore for years to come. It’s worth the discipline of saving up for (and totally worth forgoing those 5 H&M shirts you’ll only wear once).

Don’t cheap out and forgo craftsmanship that will make your bag stand apart from the crowd and bring you joy.

Let everyone else carry a Speedy. You have a {insert YOUR name here}.

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Image credit @boondock_studios

 

The Student Becomes the Master

Have you ever met that person you become a complete and utter fangirl of the first time you meet them?

That was me the first time I met Brookellyn James. She was twelve.

We met in a small town in Ohio where I was a recent college grad doing nonprofit work with middle school students, and if Taylor Swift had already penned, “Some day I’ll be livin’ in a big ‘ole city, and all you’ll ever be is-mean…” it would have rang out clearly as her theme song.

I loved seeing her find herself, her voice, her style (really just another voice, right?), and following her journey through the design world.

 

 

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So when I saw her recent endeavor, poundsign.online, a collection of of-the-moment apparel designs dandified with cheeky hashtags, I was delighted, but not surprised.

Of course I nabbed this snapback as fast as I could decide black-with-white text or white-with black text (the Florida heat won that argument).

 

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Feeling like a #happychewbacca? Want to warn passersby that you have #nofilter? Check out her other designs.

And because B loves me and I love you, use the promo code F#F to get 15% off your first order!

Happy #ing!

Unpacked:

White tee, Mossimo, Target.

White shorts, Elie Tahari.

Silver oxfords, Calvin Klein.

#fashion snapback hat, poundsign.online.

Never Trade a Classic (LBD)

Much has been said about that wardrobe staple to end all wardrobe staples, the Little Black Dress. I myself have preached many a sermon on their benefits, and always have at least one in my closet.

“But don’t you get bored wearing the same thing all the time?” clamors the congregation.

No, because I worship at the altar of the accessory (not as skillfully as the Great Master Iris Apfel, but with as much fervor and devotion).

We’ve all heard about the supernatural powers accessories have to transform a look, which is why we must resist the temptation to stick with “what works” lest we fail to discover some uncharted arrangements that end up revealing our original, shimmering selves.

The best thing about accessories (or excessories, as I sometimes like to call them), is that they’re available at all price points. I have an awesome cotton leopard print scarf that I purchased at the dollar store, and a huge silk scarf featuring a hand painted map of the Toronto train system that I, ahem…did not purchase at the dollar store. And of course, a range of everything in between. Discount no temple of fashion when searching for these little bits of heaven, whether it be a chichi boutique or wild street market.

If you’re looking for ways to restore your faith in the LBD this summer, consider the following for inspiration:

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My LBD in its original form, paired with simple jewelry and wedge sandals.

 

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I know bombers are A THING right now, but in this Florida heat, a cotton mesh one with a varsity vibe is the only one I can handle.

 

black dress with kimono belt

Love wide kimono belts but don’t have one handy? Tie a scarf around your waist. If you want bang for your buck, dark florals are a trend that will take you from summer to fall.

black dress with neckerchief

This is the summer of the neckerchief.

Which faithful article in your closet could use the transformative touch of an accessory?

Unpacked:

#1. LBD, Arloh, Hattie’s Branches.

Black & tan wedges, Michael Kors.

Tiger’s Eye earrings, Sorrelli.

Tiger’s Eye & Swarovski crystal pendant, Oreb Lram, PMoA Gift Shop.

 

#2. Sweater, J.O.A., 5th and Hall.

Shoes, Cole Haan.

Earrings, Betsey Johnson.

Mother of Pearl ring, little shop in Belgium.

 

#3. Silk scarf, Yuki Torii, purchased on consignment.

Blue Agate earrings, purchased from a friend’s closet sale.

Pale pink pumps, Circa.

 

#4. Silk square paisley scarf, similar here, Ralph Lauren.

Black pearl brooch, purchased from a friend’s closet sale.

Black pearl earrings, I don’t remember.

Sandals, Michael Kors (or try this pair).

 

Δ 1 Thing-Refine It

Do you ever just want to wear simple classics? I do after running around after a little Tasmanian Devil.

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Sometimes a t-shirt and cutoffs are what it takes to keep up with the other people in your life, and when that happens I like to tsuzj up the combo with a scarf or the accessory of the moment, a bandana.

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But there are also times when you’d like a bit more refinement. In math, Delta (Δ, the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet) signifies an incremental change in a variable. Many times, that’s all it takes to create an entirely different look–one small change–and that’s what I want you to think of next time you get dressed.

To make one small change resulting in an entirely different look here, I swapped out my grey tee for a vibrant silk shell and jewelry to civilize myself a bit.

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Silk is my favorite fabric for staying cool in the summer. This tank’s folds, drapes, and assymetric hemline give it something special. When looking for something to elevate an outfit, look for details like these that make a garment stand out.

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Chokers are having a moment, but if you don’t like something literally choking you, try a banded collar like this one that sits loosely at the base of the neck.

Walking in St Pete holding C hand

 

Next time you reach for a basic t-shirt on a busy Saturday morning, consider switching it out for a more refined top to take your outfit from “boardwalk” to “bistro.”

And then go enjoy this wonderfully wild world!

Unpacked:

White Cutoff Denim Shorts, Target.

Grey V-neck Tee, J. Crew.

Bandana, super old.

Neon yellow & snakeskin sandals, LOFT.

Cobalt silk tank, Elie Tahari.

Necklace, Polk Museum of Art Gift Store.