Make the Scene at Polk Museum’s Art + Music, Rockabilly Style

It’s about time for a little rock n’ roll around here, which is why I’m really excited about the Polk Museum of Art’s next Art + Music event. To celebrate their exhibit “Rebels With a Cause,” PMoA is hosting a rockabilly-themed party on April 15th (get tickets here). Never wanting to miss out on celebrating renegades of any sort (but especially those of the creative variety), I have already marked my calendar to attend. If you live in the Tampa Bay area, I hope you’ll join me!

One of my favorite aspects of themed parties is getting into the spirit of the theme with my outfit, and rockabilly style is especially fun to try your hand at. A smash-up of rock n’ roll and “hillbilly” style, rockabilly clothing was the official attire of 1950s rebels. It combines several elements of classic Americana with the rock edge of skulls and tattoos, and is loaded with optimism and rowdiness.

Ladies, the easiest way to go Rockabilly is with a dress. My all-time favorite modern Rockabilly dresses are made by L.A.-based Stop Staring. Their style is impeccable, and I adore that most of their dresses are available in a wide range of sizes—from XS to 3XL. It was absolutely painful to select only five from their phenomenal collection, but I chose these because you can take them full Rockabilly and then style them more sweetly throughout the upcoming summer months.

Fitted Strawberry Dress, $139.

Fitted Strawberry Dress



Jennifer Blue Cherry, $179.

Jennifer Blue Cherry


Arebela (available in turquoise or red), $175.

Arebela red


Vega Dress, $175.

Vega black


Marisol, $185.

Marisol blue floral

Bonus: Stop Staring offers 10% off your first order when you sign up for their mailing list!

A little short on bread?

You can pull together a cherry rockabilly look in minutes from items you probably already have in your closet.

This simple look photographed by CJ Bartis encapsulates classic rockabilly style. Throw on a plaid shirt, dark-rinse jeans with wide cuffs, peep-toe shoes, and a bandana, and voila–you’re ready to rock around the clock.


Don’t forget these essential elements of rockabilly style!

  • A flower behind your ear
  • Bangs or pin curls
  • Serious makeup (I’m talking about breaking out the liquid liner AND a bright lip)
  • Pigtails
  • Classic-themed tattoo or a half sleeve
  • Polka dots
  • Black and White Stripes
  • Mary Janes or peep-toe heels


Cool Cats

Guys, I haven’t forgotten you. To cook classic rockabilly threads, keep it simple! Start with a pair of dark-rinse jeans with a wide cuff, a black belt with metal studs or a skull buckle, a vintage western shirt (the one pictured is from Fifi’s Alternative on Etsy) or a classic white tee, and of course, tattoos. Throw on a pair of wingtips or creepers, slick back your hair in a high pompadour, and you’ve got it made in the shade.

fifis alternative mens western shirt



wingtip creepers

Now that you’ve got your look down, you’re ready to dance the night away with me at Rebels With a Cause!



10 Things to Spend Your Style Money On Instead of Clothes

Reading on couch

Wait a minute—aren’t fashion bloggers supposed to tell you all the price-of-a-mortgage-payment clothes YOU MUST BUY to be in style? And shouldn’t I be dripping in Louis Vuitton bags and draped in a monogrammed Burberry blanket poncho while I wax poetic on the absolutely life-changing power of Manolo Blahniks (then again, perhaps someday on the latter)?

Potential Sponsors–Stop Reading Here

I’m probably not going to secure too many sponsors with this post, but you don’t need to have a closet full of expensive clothes to exude style (in fact, “logo chasing” can often be a symptom of a severe lack of confidence in one’s personal style; it screams “insecurity” to the style-conscious).

Indeed, phenomenal personal style is built from many sources, and stems from much more than one’s most recent trip to the mall. Hence, here are ten things to spend your style money on that go beyond clothes.

After all, as Grace Coddington, former Creative Director of Vogue, said:

“Keep your eyes open, because whatever you see can inspire you.”

1. Books

I try to regularly banish clutter in my home, but that rule does not extend to my books. I’m happy when wherever I sit, there’s a book within reach. Indeed, “she is too fond of books, and they have turned her brain.” (Louisa May Alcott)


2. Travel

I’m a little biased here, because, as many of you know, my husband orchestrates custom travel experiences through Lugos Travel. But science totally backs me up on this one, because it turns out that experiences make us a lot happier than possessions (or so suggests a  recent study at Cornell University).

Also, travel opens up your eyes to different people, different architecture, different philosophies, and different ways of doing things, all which amp up your creativity in the style department.


3. Patronizing the Arts

Go to the symphony. Visit your local museum. Roam an art festival or a music festival (bonus points if they feature art or music you wouldn’t normally appreciate). Go to an opera or a play. These experiences shape us in ways unlike any other. They speak to the commonality of the human experience (I double-dog-dare you to watch Fantine sing “I Dreamed a Dream” and not be reduced to tears by the hopelessness of her position).

Many times your community will host arts events and exhibits that are low-cost or even free. My hometown has an arts-focused high school that produces incredible plays for less than $15. Do some research to find out what your community offers, then get out there. Truly stylish people have an appreciation for the arts.


4. Learning Experiences

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”– Eric Hoffer

Don’t be satisfied with your current education. Don’t rest on your laurels. Neuroplasticity allows the brain to adjust to new situations and changes in environment-definitely a requirement for an evolving personal style.


5. Exquisite Stationery

There’s been a resurgence in the world of paper lately (on a recent trip to Belgium, I couldn’t begin to count the number of paper artisans operating out of the most fantastical little shops) and for good reason–fewer things can bring a smile to your face than a gorgeous handwritten note from a friend.

Our stationery is like an extension of our personal brand. Quality stationery seems expensive up front, but if you amortize the cost over time and write friends personal notes instead of buying them $8 birthday/condolence/congratulations cards, it actually offers significant cost savings. Bonus: I daresay your friends would much rather receive a few heartfelt sentiments from you (instead of the commercial card makers) on their special or difficult day.


6. Connection

As in, anything that connects you with the people you love. Shared experiences. Walks. Game nights. Drinks. Coffee. Participating in their creative endeavors.

When it comes down to it, your people are all you have. So spend wisely here, but spend.


7. Flowers

In my experience, people who display flowers in their offices and homes tend to be more stylish. But whether or not my perception’s on point, research suggests that at the very least, they’re probably in a sustained better mood (at least according to this Rutgers study) and that can’t hurt their style, right?


8. Tools of Your Trade

Everybody’s got a thing. A thing that might seem trivial to other people but that you love doing. Knitting. Photography. Playing an instrument. Mountain biking. Scuba diving. Tennis. Cooking. Gardening. Pottery. Dancing. Painting. Sewing. Basketball. Geocaching. Writing. Motocross. Hiking. Rowing. Camping. Archery. You get the picture.

People will tell you that spending time on your thing is irresponsible. That spending money on your thing is ridiculous (especially if they perceive that you’re not good at it).

Well, with all due respect for people, screw them.

Your thing makes you YOU. It enhances your creativity and helps you prove to yourself that you can survive challenges and exceed expectations. If you approach it enthusiastically, your thing makes you better than you ever thought you could be, regardless of whether anyone else ever recognizes that.

Your thing informs and enhances your style, so go do your thing.

(If you don’t have a thing, I highly suggest you get out there and try ALL THE THINGS until you find one that’s yours).


9. A Stellar Haircut

“The right hairstyle can make a plain woman beautiful and a beautiful woman unforgettable.” –Frederic Fekkai

Perhaps hair is on my mind because I just took the leap and had bangs cut (check out a full frontal of my fringe game on Girl About Downtown’s Instagram), but PEOPLE, hair can change your life.

While in college, I saw Ann (Audrey Hepburn) saunter into that neighborhood barbershop in Rome and get the chop of her life, and while everything seemed to eventually return to normal (to the relief of her attendees), she flashed those doe eyes at me through the silver screen and I knew her life was forever changed. I immediately pranced into a new barbershop in town and had my long locks sheared off into a bob.

You don’t have to go to the most expensive salon in town to get a hair cut that makes jaws drop, but you definitely don’t want to go the $10 route here. Find a stylist you trust, who continues their education, and gets your hair. Bring them pictures. Talk with them about it. Then close your eyes and leap.


10. Shoes

Oops–I guess some would consider those clothing related. But a girl can’t behave herself all the time now, can she?

nothing but shoes

Stuff for Your Soul

Some time ago, a friend who is uncannily accurate at trendcasting (anyone see a sudden influx of Korean beauty products recently? Yeah, she predicted that) told me about a new online boutique specializing in enchanting wonders called Lesouque. Being the new(er) mom I was, I was able to shoot a few quick peeks at the site on my phone, but then got sidetracked.

While I loved what I saw, I barely had time to bathe, much less shop. But recent events brought Lesouque back to mind, and a revisit to the site seemed to only serve to prove my friend right–many of their offerings had sold out, and their collection has been expanded.

The thing I love about Lesouque is that the site is full of beautifully handcrafted treasures from all over the world. There came a point in time in my life that I suffered from “stuff overload.” I had a bit of a violent reaction to collecting stuff for its own sake and moved into a tiny 500-square-foot apartment with a bed, a couch, and a borrowed table. And even though it has meant going without a full set of matching plates for 3 years, I vowed to only add possessions as they spoke to my soul. And if the objets d’art of Lesouque don’t speak to your soul, you might want to have your soul’s hearing checked.

I originally had 10 “favorites” I wanted to share with you, but since you’ll probably just head over to the site to check it out for yourself after seeing the first couple of lovelies, I submit to you my official “Pining For” list of five:

Riveting Clutch by Ece Pinar Demirel, Instanbul, Turkey

This jade color is everything.


Drops of Color Scarf by Aish by Napur Goenka, Kolkata, India

Made from 100% Cotton Handloom Muslin, this scarf is light enough to wear in the Florida autumn and will pair wonderfully with all the bright lips going on right now.

Geometric Gemstone Bangle in Gold by Jessica Tata, Austin, Texas

For the girl who loves a stacked statement and the girl who favors a more delicate suggestion.

Trifecta Pot (Small) by Lisa Jones, Portland, Oregon

I love beautiful things that can serve multiple functions. Should this bowl be the new home for my keys, bracelets, or a delicate fern?

Navy Rectangular Serving Platter by Sebnem Berker, Istanbul, Turkey

I once had a burlap-impressed bowl I absolutely adored. I loved the feel of the texture on my hands, so I used it all the time. Alas, it disappeared during a move; this platter would be the perfect tactile replacement.

Stretch Yourself

The first time I practiced yoga was years ago at a spiritual retreat. I woke up at 5:00 a.m., hung over from too much religion the day before, dragged my guilty body to Conference Room 1A, and passed the next hour as though it were a minute. All day long, I felt taller, lighter. I vowed to continue practicing come hell or high water. The hell did come in the form of religious people who thought I was being brainwashed, the high water in the form of a demanding job that left me little free time. In spite (or perhaps because) of these things, I managed to keep up a somewhat reasonable level of practice until last year–when I became pregnant.

Having a baby has proven to complicate my life even more than being pregnant (while they’re cuter on the outside, they don’t exactly do things according to your desired schedule), so for the past few months I’ve been trying to participate in my beloved yoga catch-as-catch-can via Pinterest and Instagram.

Enter one of my favorite yoga instructors, Valerie Woodhouse. Val teaches yoga in my hometown, and yet I still have not managed to take a class with her (I’m working on it, though!). However, I HAVE managed to stalk her on Instagram, gathering yoga inspo and a good laugh or two along the way.

I cajoled her into answering a few questions for my readers, in case you need a good reason to hit the mat.


  1. Who are you and how were you drawn to teaching yoga as a profession?

That’s a tough one, who am I? Haha maybe you didn’t mean for it to be that deep. I’m a mom of two first, a wife and I teach yoga. I really love fitness and being active, so my first yoga class I took thinking that I would get in better shape and become flexible. I was a high strung, over scheduled mother of two and I thought maybe yoga would be relaxing, so win-win. I can remember laying in Svasana thinking I want to feel this way every day. I started practicing all the time and soon my practice was more than a physical workout. Yoga literally changed my life. I found myself more patient and able to juggle life more effectively. I wanted to be able to help other people feel that way. I did my teacher training and have been loving teaching yoga in Lakeland.

2. With 2 small children, how do you fit in time for physical fitness?

Having kids, getting to my mat whenever I want is difficult, but I’m lucky to have a super supportive husband that will hang with the kids if there is a class or workshop I wanna take. He will even suggest that I go in days where I’m not feeling the most “centered.” Haha!

3. What is your dream yoga wardrobe?

I’m not really stuck on any one brand of yoga clothes. Most of my clothes are yoga/fitness apparel so I think anything that transitions well from studio to street. I’m loving L’urv sportswear right now and the upside has an amazing range of leggings and sports bras. I’m really a sports bra and leggings or crops kinda girl, but I usually wear a flowy top or tank over before and after class. Oh, and Dry wick is so important so you don’t walk around with sweat all over you.

4. What are your favorite budget-friendly pieces?

Now that people are getting into  fitness and health there are a lot of budget friendly options now. Zara and Cotton On have some really cute options.


One thing I’d like people to realize it remember about yoga is that it is a practice. Your yoga practice kind of mimics your life. Some days you’re full of energy and need to push harder and challenge yourself and other days you gotta slow down and take care of yourself. Your practice lets you come into a place away from everything else and really observe and connect with yourself without judgement, without expectation. It’s absolutely an inward journey.

In case you need some ideas for what to wear when you hit the mat, follow Girl About Downtown on Pinterest and check out “Val’s Yummy Yoga Gear” (you know I’m going to need those smoke plume leggings). To check out some advanced moves, follow @valwoodhouse on Instagram.

To hit the mat with Valerie, visit Yoga Pointe Thursday from 10-11 a.m., Friday from 9-10 a.m., and Saturday from 9-10:15a.m.


Santa is Real

JB cuff

Some people just know how to wear a suit. James Bond being one of them. My friend Derek being another.

I recently received a visual reminder of this as I was perusing a book on a bench in a local shopping plaza after having a pedicure on a whim (a dire necessity now that I’ve reached the state of pregnancy in which I no longer have access to my feet).

I was wearing my best Sunday cleaning-the-house outfit, replete with paint-stained gym shorts from the 9th grade (even the style-obsessive have their moments of weakness), when what do I see walking toward me, but a megawatt smile topped by Derek’s eyes and adorned with his customary level of three-piece-suit splendor that elevates his level of refinement above the sea of Buckle denim and Ed Hardy t-shirts that can sometimes dominate the landscape.

Where was Derek headed on such a lovely Sunday afternoon, I ask (it was too early for dinner or drinks). “Off to the movies” with his lovely wife and children, and as he walked away, it occurred to me that there is no place this man would not look at home in a suit.

Perhaps you would like to be similarly gifted as Bond and Derek, or maybe you are a lady who has been fortunate enough to nab one of these Ed-Hardy-less wonders. Either way, you’ll want to block out some time on your calendar this week for the best thing to ever happen to you (apparently Santa heard your “Santa Baby” pleas made in the shower this morning and has recognized that indeed, you could be really good next year).

Sam Kirad’s shop, based out of Hong Kong and renowned worldwide for their bespoke suits, jackets, and coats for men and women (you can check them out in this Forbes article or simply Google them for tons of eye candy) is in the states (and specifically, Florida) this week.

Gents, how about giving your mother the best gift of her life this Christmas by showing up to dinner in a tailor-made suit instead of that ugly Christmas sweater you break out every year? Ladies, does your man really need another golf club/video game/pack of underwear? Let him get all those accoutrements with the gift cards he’ll receive from his family and treat him to something special that will bring him joy and confidence throughout the year and says, ”Thank you for not wearing that t-shirt with the holes and mustard stains out in public.” (Or perhaps, like me, you are long-waisted and bemoan the frustrating lack of menswear-inspired shirts that are long enough to remain tucked in for more than an hour).

Sam’s schedule and his team’s contact information is listed below. Something tells me that next December, some men in these cities are not going to be able to tell Santa about all the people they didn’t kiss.


Sam Kirad’s Florida Schedule, December 2014

Miami on Friday 5th & Saturday 6th December 2014 (all day on Friday onwards) at the Hampton Inn & Suites Miami/Brickell-Downtown, located at 50 SW 12th Street, Miami, FL 331300.

Naples on Sunday 7th & Monday 8th December 2014 (from 2pm on Sunday to 3pm on Monday) at the DoubleTree Suites Hotel Naples, located at 12200 Tamiami Trail North, Naples, FL 34110.

Tampa on Tuesday 9th December 2014 (all day on Tuesday) at the Tampa Marriott Westshore, located at 1001 N Westshore Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33607.

Orlando on Wednesday 10th & Thursday 11th December 2014 (from 3pm on Wednesday to 4pm on Thursday) at the Aloft Orlando Downtown, located at 500 South Orange Ave., Orlando, FL 32801.

Please book your one on one appointment with our fitter by emailing, or call Sam Kirad at (202) 579-6868.

Shop Small Saturday

Sasha Shop Small Saturday

While a thoughtful, well-worded note is always special, sometimes you want to send a little something extra that says, “I’m thinking of you.” Moreover, the holidays are upon us—that time of year when it seems you can never have enough hostess gifts on hand.

This is when living in the downtown area of my city comes in handy. A slew of perfect little shops with truly unique items are at my fingertips. And since Small Business Saturday is tomorrow, you can be sure I’ll take advantage of the opportunity to pick up a few remarkable prezzies to spread some joy in my travels this season.

For my local followers, some of my favorite downtown Lakeland steals include:

Vintage scarves from Black Swan Bazaar *

Decadent travel-size soaps (all natural, too! My favorite scent is Blackberry Sage) from Rafa Natural *

Handblown glass ornament from Brooke Pottery * (hey, if you’re going to do an ornament, do it right)

Handmade Ceramic Fortune Cookie (add your own personalized message) from Two Hens & A Hound on SoKen *

Whimsical change purse from Pumpernaks*

Travel-sized bottle of luxurious argan oil lotion from Liquid Hair Studio

Gluten-free Heart Thrive snack (for your friend at the party with a sensitive stomach who doesn’t want to miss out on the festivities) from Mitchell’s Coffee House*

A yummy BBQ rub from Whiskey Bent *

Handcrafted leather necklace from Boondock Studios (at the Farmer’s Market)

A blooming orchid, simple succulent, or a bottle of local honey (from the Farmer’s Market)

A gift card to Black & Brew * for the coffee lover in your life

Sofi and Sasha both love this year's Shop Small bag designed by Rebecca Minkoff

Sofi and Sasha both love this year’s Small Business Saturday bag designed by Rebecca Minkoff

Shops noted with an asterisk (*) are participating in Downtown Lakeland Partnership‘s #shopsmalllkld event; visit them (and a host of other amazing shops) tomorrow and you could win big (see the Facebook event page for details).

Follow Girl About Downtown on Instagram to see what goodies Sofi and I score!


1932 Lincoln Judkins Coupe Hood Ornament

2014 Lake Mirror Auto Classic

“As far as I’m concerned, clothes shouldn’t make women into stereotypes; they should represent us, express what we really are. Traveling influences me, as do ballets, books, music, encounters with other people; in fact, just about everything influences me except what I see in the fashion world.”

–Alix Petit, creator of Heimstone


1934 Buick 60 Series Coupe Hood Ornament

1934 Buick 60 Series Coupe Hood Ornament

I love my glossies as much as the next shoe-obsessed girl, but there’s one source of style inspiration that the glossies, with all of their (coveted) glitz and glamour, can’t top–and that’s life. Usually, I am most enduringly influenced by the same sources as Ms. Petit, and this month, inspiration came in the form of the 2014 Lake Mirror Auto Classic in central Florida.

Rivets prompt me to add a bit more metal to this fall's outfits.

Rivets prompt me to add a bit more metal to this fall’s outfits.

For a girl who generally passes over details like broccoli on the way to a chocolate factory, I sure do have an affinity for them in clothes, dwellings, and cars, and it was the detail that caught my eye at this month’s show, inspiring some aspect of every ensemble as of late.

1938 Bugatti Type 57C

This 1938 Bugatti Type 57C makes me want to add a dose of rich cognac to every ensemble.

The Auto Classic showcases everything from American muscle to British roadsters, but every year finds me lingering over the exotics and Pre-war models.

Morgan Hood

Details such as hood ornaments and gear shifts conjure up the grace and elegance of bygone eras, driving the desire for those elements in my current wardrobe.

So if you notice me eschewing sporty pool slides and cheeky sweatshirts in favor of smooth leathers and shiny metals this season, don’t be surprised. Art imitates life (or perhaps vice versa?).