Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sharen: Eclectic, Bright, Versatile

Sharen: Eclectic, Bright, Versatile

Oh wow, am I ever excited to show off my client today!! She's Sharen, big sister to Simmi, and I basically want to be their third sister. Or at least their best friend. Is that awkward? Oh well!

Sharen has a really fun wardrobe because she loves colors and patterns and taking fashion risks. What she wanted from me was a better sense of flexible outfits that fit her lifestyle: she's a mom to two kids under two-years-old, but she didn't want to get stuck in a yoga pants and t-shirt rut. After playing around in her closet for three hours, I can see why! She had so much fun stuff that wanted to be worn!

But, we also really wanted to be conscious of putting together outfits that wouldn't be too revealing, too fussy (no dry clean only, for example), or too chilly. Sharen, like me, tends to run cold, and she wanted some ideas for outfits that would keep her warm while not feeling too wintery.

Here's what we did!

Experiment with Stripes + Florals

We mixed patterns with patterns and patterns with bright solids. For example, I could have easily paired this bright skirt with a black t-shirt or a white one. Instead, I took a pattern that had both black and white in it and put it with that instead. The light black cardigan added some warmth without feeling wintery at all, and the JCrew neckalce tied the whole thing together.

 On the flip side, I also put some of her brighter patterned pieces with solids, too. Here, the blue was a similar tone as the pink and orange (jewel tones), but found on the opposite side of the color wheel. I love how it looks like a dress-a match made in Heaven!

Here, I stuck with black since the pants were so exciting, but she can easily wear them with the same striped top from above. I tend to think about filling in empty space when I choose a necklace, and this green beauty got more attentions since the shirt neckline was so low.

Go Preppy-With a Twist

I funked up some of Sharen's preppier pieces with bright colors. Instead of sticking with just classic combinations (like cream and navy, for example), I picked classic preppy combinations and twisted them. For example, stripes + linen pants with a bright necklace and pop of color on the shoes (left) or stripes, pearls, metallic shoes, and pants with anchors on them in a bright yellow.

Above, I pulled in some plaid and check to play the preppy card but was sure to add yellow pants or distressed boyfriend jeans to keep it a bit more unexpected.

Go with White for Outer Layers

I loved this white blazer that Sharen had because of its instant ability to provide both warmth and a little structure. That way, I could put much more edgy things under it (shoes with spikes, distressed jeans, harem pants) but still make her appropriate for bringing her kids to story hour at the library. 

Sharen and I have a shopping date to plan, and I can't wait to show you the fun stuff we find together!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My Top 5 Posts of All Time

My Top 5 Posts of All Time

Recently I was checking my blog stats to see which posts have been the most popular. Since I regularly get new readers, I thought you might like to see what readers have liked (come back to, read, shared, pinned) in the past almost year of my writing this blog. Here are snippets of my Top 5 Blog Posts of all time!

1. Jeans and a T-shirt Upstyled

Today I'm talking about two of my favorite things: t-shirts and jeans! As my best friends and husband will tell you, I love t-shirts. I may have too many of them, actually, but this isn't about me! Right?

I have many clients, including Miss Mustard Seed, who are creative people who work for themselves and it makes most sense for them to dress casually and comfortably. I also have many clients who are active mothers and grandmothers, and they spend a lot of their time in casual, comfortable clothing, too. But, I think there is a way to be comfortable and wear what is actually (or essentially) a t-shirt and jeans and also reflect your personality and feel more polished. Here's how. Keep reading here.

2. The Post About Jennifer

Typically, my in-person client posts have less dramatic names, but I feel dramatic about this post and this client. Today's post is about Jennifer, my last client of 2013. If you follow me on instagram, you know that Jennifer was an incredibly special client.

To tell you about Jen, I first need to tell you that when I was driving to her house, I was more than a little worried that I was about to be kidnapped-or worse. Or at the very least punked. I take safety precautions before going into anyone's home, but on that day I had extra measures in place. You see, the email that Jennifer's husband sent to me (the day after Veterans' Day!) was, well, seemingly too-good-to-be-true. Here is an excerpt:

I am requesting a personal home and shopping experience for my wife.  She read about you on one of her favorite sites... Mrs. Mustard Seed.  Her 40th Birthday is December 9th and I am throwing her a surprise get together with a few friends on the 7th.  THE ONLY THING SHE WANTS FOR HER BIRTHDAY IS AN APPOINTMENT WITH YOU :)!
My wife is a very special person to everyone, but especially to me.  You see...I am a retired disabled vet.  I went through (and continue to suffer from) medical issues caused while serving.  Just diagnosing the issues was a long drawn out process that took years and let alone the surgeries to try and resolve them.  My wife, Jen, was by my side through it all.  I am sure you have heard stories like that before, but to be honest she was more than by my side.  She saved my life...just by being the most awesome and supportive friend I have ever had.  
This person went on to describe that his wife, Jennifer, is also active military. While he can no longer work, she continues to serve. He told me that they were soul mates. He told me that he wanted to have his family pool together money for me to take her personal shopping in lieu of any other gifts. He wanted to know if I would accept her as a client. Accept her!? If she was real, I would marry her! (Side note: I waived my fee and had Jen add it to her spending amount, which I only mention to tell you that Jen's response was to ask me if I would reconsider and make it a fund for another woman to get six hours with me. She's amazing.)

That is how I ended up meeting Jennifer on the weekend before Christmas. She was real, and this is how she looked when I arrived..Continue reading here.

3. Halloween Costumes for Women Who Don't Want to be Naked?

Today's post is a bit different than the usual. We're talking about a very specific type of clothing to put on our bodies today: costumes! I find what to wear for Halloween to be increasingly complicated: I'm past the point of "going out" like I once did to a club or dancing, but I still want a fun costume. Our neighbors throw the best Halloween party (they start decorating their home over Labor Day weekend), and, oh yeah, it's my birthday...Read the rest here.

4. Reader Q&A: How to Wear Jean Skirts

Earlier this week, I Kelley posted a question for me in the comments section of my post about fresh ways to wear jeans, and I loved it!

Hi! I've not been following for a real long time, and I immensely enjoy your great advice and tips.
I don't wear jeans, but I do wear jean skirts. Could you do a post on jean skirts?
Been wearing more belts, Kelley
I love this question because  I think jean skirts have the potential to be a very versatile piece of clothing for every age, but I also think they can go downhill fast. Here's why.

5. Reader Q&A: What to Wear While I'm Pregnant

Yesterday, my best friend talked about what to wear during early maternity-and beyond-from a mother's perspective. I haven't ever been pregnant (and am not currently, just in case you were curious! Did you wonder?), but I have what might be an abnormal interest in maternity fashion. I just think that pregnant women can get away with things that the rest of us can't when it comes to clothes, and I love that! And there's nothing that says that you must wear clothes from a maternity store while you're pregnant. So darlin', here' are the five questions to ask yourself. Find them here.

That's it! My Top 5 posts of all time. I notice that you all tend to like posts written in response to reader questions and posts that tell a good story like Jennifer's. So please do continue to ask me questions via email or in the comments because other women are thinking the same thing and want to hear an answer! Keep it comin'! 


Monday, April 21, 2014

What To Do When You Buy Something in A Bright Pattern

What To Do When You Buy Something in A Bright Pattern

I hope you all had a nice Easter weekend! My mom surprised us with a layover visit in the beginning of the week, and then my mother-in-law made her annual trip up for the weekend. We had so much fun with one mama after the next! My mother-in-law loves for me to pick out new things for her so we hit the outlets on Friday afternoon. It was pretty busy, but we stay focused when we shop! She even got a couple of things for me that I had picked out, including the wildest pants. They're the Hampton fit, but I don't see the pattern on the Banana factory website.

When I shop, I like to think of how I will wear whatever I'm trying on. If I can think of three ways to wear it, then it's worth it for me to take home. If I can only think of one or two ways, then it better be a real bargain! In my head, all I could think was a white shirt and a black shirt, but I was rushing and knew there were more options than that. So, I decided to take my mother-in-law up on the offer to purchase them and figure it out when I got home. Here's what I did:

1. Start with a basic, but use texture to create visual interest.

In my head, I was thinking that black would toughen up this happy print a little bit. Instead of reaching for the plain black v-neck I had pictured in the dressing room, I laid out a loft tank. You can't see it in this iPhone shot, but the tank has a crochet pattern in the front. Then, I added a thin cardigan (similar here) for the chilly spring weather we've been having. I spotted my Boden wedge booties and thought they'd be more fun than black shoes, and I'm trying to wear them as much as possible before it gets hot.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Roundup: Romantic, Summery, Festival-Inspired

Friday Roundup: Romantic, Summery, Festival-Inspired

Gah, Urban Outfitters has the most beautiful, romantic, let's-go-to-Coachella pieces right now. If I had a smaller chest, I'd be buying several of their bra tops to wear under big, loose tshirts and tanks this summer.

Also? I'm in love with this trapeze dress in white and am currently figuring out where I can wear it to justify buying it. Things that come to mind are a trip to Thailand, Mexico, or a boho wedding. All invitations for those trips are very welcome! It was even better in person, and here's my iPhone shot.

In a similar realm of the imaginary, this cuff is incredible. If you're looking for a statement piece this summer, this should be it.

Much more affordable, but still gorgeous, is this stack of bangles.

Pair the bangles with this stunning red top. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How to Make Mad Men Modern

I had a reader friend ask me a question the other day that really got me thinking: how can she make Mad Men-inspired fashion modern? For those unfamiliar with the show, it has so far focused on vintage looks with high waists, covered arms, and curve-hugging dresses. It's a fun style to play with because it's very flattering for curvy shapes while at the same time being fairly covered up. That makes it appropriate for a wide variety of settings, including work and date nights!

Here's my take on how to bring that Mad Men flair into the modern age.

Play with Unexpected Color

Take a classic shape, like a full skirt and a cropped jacket, but play with color. Try something from your closet that's the brightest thing you can see, and then build an outfit around it. Here, the skirts are the stars of the show, and the pieces they're paired with are much more modern in fit and color.



Add an Edgy Touch to a Classic Shape

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wide Summer Shoes that Are Actually Cute

Wide Summer Shoes that Are Actually Cute

Here's the thing: it took me way too long to realize that I actually have wide feet. You see, compared to a couple members of my family, I don't have super wide feet. I thought, relatively, that I could wear anything. I also thought that blisters, hurt toes, and pinching were all normal. Come to find out, they're not. Thus began my search for medium to wide width shoes that didn't feel too clunky, dated, or, frankly, sad.

For spring and summer, I think I've found a few good pairs that are versatile, comfortable, stylish, and, yes, wide(r). If you have any that you love, PLEASE post about them in the comments! I'm always on the lookout.

Casual but Subtle

I actually purchased the Lucky Brand sandals above after seeing them in a different color on my client, Girls in the Garden. Based on the comments from other purchasers, I went down from my usual half size to the next lowest full size. I buy shoes often from Zappos because I can search by wide width, there are lots of reviews of the shoes, and I can ship them back for free when they don't work.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Client Review: The Crowned Goat

Client Review: The Crowned Goat

I had the opportunity to work with one of my favorite bloggers a few weeks ago, CoCo from The Crowned Goat. If you don't know her blog, you absolutely need to check it out! She has incredible taste and is also one of the nicest people ever. She got a session with me for her mother's Christmas gift, and we finally had the chance to sit down "together." Well, via FaceTime. Here's a snippet of what she had to say. Please link through to the full post because CoCo did a number on her mother's closet after our time together, and the result is enviable!
A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of working with Ella at Start CloseIn. I contacted Ella back in November to help me with a Christmas gift for my Mom. My Mom has great style, loads of chunky jewelry and plenty of shoes from which to choose. But on any given day she’s attending ladies luncheons, church meetings, military functions, family events, dinners with her sorority sisters or making ice cream with the grandkids. It is because her schedule is so packed she needed help transitioning from day to night activities with ease. Enter Ella to give her practical advice on how to best achieve these goals. 

cloths on rack

As soon as we began the styling session, we noticed the closet needed more organization. It wasn't a mess by any means but it needed to be more a functional space. Ella suggested we group shirts, pants, skirts and dresses all by color. It immediately made a big impact because the clothes were much easier to access. Read the rest here!

Make Mad Men Modern: A Loft Skirt Preview

Make Mad Men Modern: A Loft Skirt Preview

Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have seen the striped linen skirt that I got yesterday  at Loft during my lunch hour (for 40% off!). Tomorrow I'll be answering a friend's question about how to wear a "Mad Men" look without feeling too costume-y. While putting together options for how to wear this skirt on Tuesday, I realized that I was putting some of my tips for a modern Mad Men into action.

Sorry for the bathroom selfies-my husband was still working last night and unavailable to take photos of me. 

At first, I imagined that the tomato red cardigan on top would be the perfect fit with the nautical striped skirt. I got that cardigan around Christmas, and in my mind it's been stuck as a winter sweater. I wanted a way to bring it into spring, and my office was freezing today so I thought it could work. However, it felt too much like a literal interpretation of a vintage look for my preferences.

On the other hand, the bright chartreuse cardigan on the bottom did just what I wanted: the full, high-waisted skirt is a nod to vintage but feels modern with a v-neck t-shirt and unexpected color. Oh-and I also put on a better bra for the bottom shot since the one I was wearing on top was feeling a bit droopy. I didn't go for the pointed Mad Men style, though, since that should be saved for Halloween only!

What do you think? I can't wait to show off some modern Mad Men looks later this week!


Monday, April 14, 2014

Summer Dressing for Petites: Five Under $50

Summer Dressing for Petites: Five Under $50

When I go virtual shopping for you all, I try to think about my clients. I have many clients of different ages, shapes, heights, and lifestyles, and so I'm always on the hunt for items that will fit your needs. Recently I realized that I have neglected my petite readers for awhile so today's post is dedicated to universal styles with an eye toward places that carry good fitting petite clothing. For the rest of us, keep reading! I've linked up to some items that we can all look out for.

1. Printed Shorts

I had a pair of Banana Republic shorts like the draped pair above once, and they lasted for about eight years through bike rides, beach trips, and probably to work in the retail world. Banana is a good choice for many women because they offer various lengths and sizes 0-16. Also, they're not under $50 unless they're on sale, but their jeans are incredibly flattering. My mom (who is under the 5'4" petite length cutoff although she'll tell you that she's not!) recently got a pair and sent me several text messages about them! That's a red letter day! 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Inspired By Joy the Baker

Inspired By Joy the Baker

Happy Friday afternoon. Ready for a little snack?

Espresso, Almond, and Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Pudding Cups.  I mean...come ON! Could anything sound more delicious if it tried?! No, Joy the Baker, no, it could not. Over here, though, I can't digest dairy, and I might actually bound through the ceiling like a cartoon character if I had espresso. So eating these is not in my future, although that doesn't stop me from making them and serving them to guests in my voyeuristic way.