Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fresh Ways to Wear Jeans-including for New Years Eve!

Fresh Ways to Wear Jeans-including for New Years Eve!

Yesterday, I talked about a few favorite places to buy jeans. As I said, I typically don't spend a lot on jeans, but that's just my preference. I do think once you have a good pair, you should celebrate them-and how you look in them! We all love jeans for their ease, for their predictable fit, and for their ability to make us feel stylish. Let's talk about that last one. There's something inherently rugged and a bit boyish in a jean, right? Here are a few ways I love that women wear jeans and make it clear that while we're borrowing from the (cow)boys, this look is purely ours. 

Wait, wait, wati-why am I talking about jeans on New Years Eve? Because this year, we're staying home, and I imagine some of you are, too! We've been running around a lot this holiday season, and I'm so looking forward to a warm fire, chocolate fondue in our new set, and a stack of boardgames to play with my husband, dogs underfoot. And what's better for a night home-or a New Years Day brunch-than your favorite pair of jeans? Not much.

Add a short jacket

All links available on my Pinterest
I love a contrast in style. I love the moment where a destroyed denim meets a classic, slightly preppy blazer. I love how the woman on the top right buttoned up her jacket all the way over the jeans, not leaving any shirt showing underneath, and I love how the bottom right has jeans that are a little loose with a very feminine print on top and a winter white blazer. I think all of that makes great style.

So-how to translate these ideas to your closet? Pull out a pair of jeans that you like how they fit. Then, pull out a jacket or blazer or sweater with some structure around the shoulders. Ideally, one that hits you at or below the top of your hip bone. Then, look over your shirts. Is there one that is printed with a same background color as the jacket? Is there a soft tank you could wear underneath and button the blazer all the way up? Is your jacket nubby and soft and could you pair a silkier top underneath it to contrast the two textures? Give it a try!

Wear Brights with Denim-or Bright Denim

Ok, so, I've chopped the heads off these images to emphasize that these outfits can work for women at every age. You might not want the jeans to be skinny depending on your comfort level with fitted clothes, but the premise is the same: try something bright. Yes, this works well in the spring and summer, but why not pull out the brights now? 
All links available on my Pinterest
To keep from looking like a teenager or someone dressing "too young," keep one thing simple: the dark jeans on the left, the basic blue color in the middle, or the classic white button down on the right. Each outfit layers colors or patterns, and that's what brings your personal style in. None of these were likely purchased as an outfit in a store-and they shouldn't look like it!

Pull out a pair of dark jeans or bright jeans. Put it on your bed. Then, add a classic element (yellow cardigan, white button down, neutral bag, classic belt) and then add a second item that's a little cheeky (pink sweater with bright blue scarf, bright patterned shirt, leopard print belt and pink cocktail ring). You won't need a fancy shoe and can add boots or flats depending on your winter weather. Not quite ready for this much color? Try a bright lipstick with your usual jeans and t-shirt instead.

Dress Up Dark Jeans with Layered Visual Interest

All links available on my Pinterest
Here's how to create a layered, interesting outfit like these: lay out your darkest jeans on your bed. Then, add in a statement piece: a red cardigan or a sparkly top. then, pull out anything you own that looks like it would be friends with that statement piece. Oh! Red cardigan, meet red clutch. Classic black-and-white dots, meet bright red pops. Well, shiny black shoes, you of course want to hang out with shiny red clutch. And little dot earrings you would be sad if polka dot top leaves you at home! My clients can tell you, that's literally how I think about it-and do it. On the neutral end, this is a great outfit because it takes the sparkly shirt and reduces it to its basic elements: it's gray. It's a neutral. What other neutral guys do you have hanging out in your closet or folded up in a dresser? Take them out to play with your dark jean base!

Mix Casual with Edgy

All links available on my Pinterest
I don't wear high heels often, but I love this, and it's much easier to wear heels when I'll be sitting on the couch for most of the night. I love the idea of a big, baggy, comfortable sweater or shirt with skinny jeans and high heels. This is the ideal date night outfit, in my opinion, because I'll feel comfortable but also a bit edgy-even sexy. It's that feeling of wearing your boyfriend's sweatshirt in college mixed with a little bit of an edge. You could absolutely swap out cowboy boots or low boots for the heels, which I will do while gathering snacks and drinks for tonight's date night in our chilly weather!

I'm always interested in what you all are wearing so please feel free to email me any ideas or questions to startclosein at gmail.com!

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Best Jeans

The Best Jeans

Today I'd love to show you some of my favorite places to buy jeans. Some might surprise you, others will be easy on your wallet, others are aspirational if you really love to spend on jeans. If you love the jeans that you have, check back in tomorrow for fresh ideas for wearing jeans!

Best places to start

Old Navy

I know, some of you are going to wonder about this choice. Here's the thing: I think any woman looking for a new pair of jeans needs to get out of her comfort zone. Unless you LOVE the way your jeans look on you-and everyone around you does, too-then step away from the store where you've been buying them. Step into a store, like Old Navy or a department store, that has lots of options. Old Navy has the Rock Star (slightly lower rise and skinny legs), the Sweetheart (curvier fit), a good boyfriend style, and others. Since they're not particularly expensive, you might try a style that you're testing out without feeling so worried about the price that you won't go for it. Department stores like Macys, Nordstrom and Bloomingdales tend to have a good selection of sizes, too. If you're a 00-2, start at a department store because you'll be more likely to find styles made for adults rather than the low-rise, whiskered styles you'll find at stores geared toward teens. The same if you're a 14-16 because you might fit in multiple departments and can try on a variety of styles in the same place. Now is the time to get in some good jeans, too, because a lot of department stores have big after-Christmas sales!

Another great place to start? Eddie Bauer. That's right, along with Levi's (which makes sizes 2-24), Eddie Bauer recently released a line of jeans made to accentuate different body types. Oprah loves their jeans made to avoid the gap that sometimes happens when jeans can't accommodate a waistline that's smaller than the butt. And read Marian's review here.

Eddie Bauer

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Gone Christmasing!

Merry Christmas! 
Thanks for visiting.
I'm off enjoying time with my family.
Please check back in on Monday for new posts.
For now, feel free to browse my archives for style inspiration. 

Don't be too sad. 
Check out some of my favorite posts here or  follow me on Instagram.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Pre-Christmas RoundUp

Pre-Christmas RoundUp

This is going to be a light week here on StartCloseIn because my husband and I are going up to visit my mom, her sisters, my uncles, and my cousins in PA and then the two of us are going skiing! (Born and raised in Vermont, I think it's cute that PA has skiing...) So to ease myself into a short break from blogging, here are some of my favorite things I've read about holiday style lately. I hope you like them, too! As always, the links are below the images.

6 Show-Stopping Holiday Looks (That Are Also Comfortable!) on Babble
3 Easy Holiday Hairstyles from Real Simple
12 Gift Ideas for Your Masculine-of-Center Partner, Not-Wife, or Husbutch
Wise Words Jewelry Roundup
Enjoy these last few hours before Christmas! I'm off to pack my bag full of an eclectic mix of plaid, SmartWool socks, faux leather leggings, sequins, and silk long underwear and then make some chili with gluten free cornbread-and maybe some sugar cookies for neighbor deliveries or to bring to work. Or maybe gluten free for me!

Ok, and because I love you all, here are a few more ideas for the last minute parties, gifts, etc!

Favorite Party Ideas from Oh Happy Day
The Perfect Christmas Morning Treat From My Incredible Neighbor
For Those With Snow (Kids Not Required)
Also, I did this with the holiday cards we received last year and put it in the box with our ornaments. It was fun to pull out when we put up the tree and see how much everyone's kids have changed in the past year! And I dream of making this (with gluten free oats) for breakfast the next time we host Christmas at our house!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Client Catch Up: Sandy

Client Catch Up: Sandy

My emails and texts from clients are some of the best parts of my day so I thought I'd share one with you that I received recently.

Hey Ella, I went to a Christmas party tonight the theme was western, so I went and bought some new boots ( I can also wear them with a skirt) and a new belt, so I thought I would send you a photo of me all dressed up in my Ellawear, that's the name I call my new wardrobe!!! I love it!!!!! Thanks so much again!!!! -Sandy

I'm so glad, Sandy! You were so much fun to have a virtual session with! Let's do it again sometime!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Last Minute Christmas Gift Idea

Last Minute Christmas Gift Idea

Not sure what to get still? Need something AMAZING for a family gift exchange with a $50 cap? Have a niece, friend, sister, or Aunt who is hard to shop for? I've got an idea for you. Tie this to her stocking, tuck it into an envelope, or have a few family members pitch in to fund a mini shopping spree. I'll take care of the rest.

The Crowned Goat

The Crowned Goat: "...mixing new finds with cherished family favorites and always on a treasure hunt."

One of the things I'm most excited about with my business is the opportunity to get to meet (in-person or virtually) women all around the country. Sometimes one of you will write to me, and I'll notice in your email address or in the footer of your email that you also have a creative business and/or blog.

That's just what happened with The Crowned Goat. I followed her on Instagram through Miss Mustard Seed, she emailed me asking about my virtual services, and we set up a barter. She sent me some images of her inventory at the time from her store At Out There Antiques in St. Augustine, Florida.

How could I choose? Well, I did, and soon a package arrived at my door...

There was my candy dish, complete with a sweet note from the Crowned Goat! Thanks for bearing with me on the dark pictures! By the time I arrived home, it was dark, but I couldn't wait to see what she had sent me!

And adorned with a bell!

My husband was most excited about this!

While I couldn't wait to find a spot to hang this boy. 

When I told Coco that I'd be featuring her on my blog and asked what she'd say about her business, she wrote back simply, "I'm just a regular girl-living the dream!" I love that.

If you have a creative business and would like to talk about an exchange of my services for you (or a gift certificate for a family member or friend) with your creative services or items, please email me. I'm also always interested in hosting giveaways for my readers!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

For the Love of Polka Dots: Boden USA

 For the Love of Polka Dots: Boden USA

My name is Ella, I have a bit of a polka dot problem. Here is a photo of one of my Sunday night outfit-making sessions where I put together outfits for the whole week. I had just received a navy and white polka dotted button down from my mother-in-law when I realized that I could wear navy and white polka dots for the entire week...

So imagine my excitement when you all reacted so well to my inclusion of a polka dotted skirt in yesterday's post! This is something I can get behind! Polka dots for EVERYONE! Here is the number one place that I think do polka dots really well:

Boden USA

Maybe it's because of their British roots (and, ahem, colours), but Boden does great modern dots like no one else. I love their quality, too. 
Via BodenUSA
If you prefer a smaller dot (I think both are fun! Playing around with proportion is a fun way to create your unique style) then they've got that in this same pullover here, too.

Via BodenUSA
They also do classic shapes for dresses and skirts very well-and with dots! I love a polka dotted pencil skirt (like this incredible one or this larger scale dot), but if you'd like something that flows away from your body more while still accentuating your waist, that's a gorgeous choice.

Via BodenUSA
Ok, so, this model makes this dress look like it would only work for someone very young and very skinny, but the shape really could work for a lot of women. I love the sleeve length, and the high waist would be very flattering! Check out the other colors and don't be sad by how dowdy they look off a model; I think you'd really like this dress.

Also cute from Boden are this denim skirt with dots, this jersey skirt with dots, these cropped trousers that also come in longs so they won't be capris for the taller ladies, this classic shift that also comes in petite sizes, and this best seller that has long sleeves and comes in sizes 2R to 18L. Or, if you're more of a jeans and t-shirt kind of woman, why not spice up those jeans with these amazing desert boots? I have the wedge version, and I would wear them every day if I could.

And no, Boden is not a sponsor. I wish!

Also, my dear friend Love Always Hannah just posted her tips for having fun while preparing your home for a party. She says

"Styling a party or space isn’t an exact science.  If you approach it as something you “have” to do you’re most likely not going to feel that creative.  If you can remove some of the “have to” and realize that there’s no “wrong way” to it then I guarantee you’ll enjoy yourself so much more.  You never know the great ideas you’ll have!  Have fun!"
Isn't that what it's all about? You'll see how she set up my house for our holiday party. I loved seeing our home through her incredibly creative eyes so be sure to check it out!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Jeans and a T-shirt Up-Styled

Jeans and a T-shirt Up-Styled or Jeans and a T-shirt for Adult Women

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.

Upgrade Your T-shirts: Choose a Shirt with Embellishments

The things we all love about t-shirts is that they are comfortable, easy, always fit the same way, and feel laid back. Look for those same elements in a shirt that might have some more embellishments, and it will be just as easy to wear as a basic tee.

I love this laser cut from Asos Curve and this structural detail from Asos.   Even something as simple as these little buttons from Garnet Hill can feel special.

Brighten Up Your Bottoms

I love jeans. LOVE THEM! I think it's great to wear them often, but I also think you might consider boosting the color of your bottom piece in place of standard denim. The result is that you can still wear a basic t-shirt (like gray, black, white, navy) and feel comfortable, but your outfit will feel more purposeful, more reflective of your bright personality. And the times that you do wear blue denim will read more like a choice and less like a default. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My Dear Old Friend Black

My Dear Old Friend Black

People ask me how I got started in this personal styling business, and there are several answers. For years, I've done it for friends. I'm a big fan of the show What Not to Wear. I needed to feel more creative than my day job was allowing for. And...I needed to stop wearing so much black. That's right, folks, I needed to be my own personal stylist. Because my default outfit is the one you see below: all black.

Pants The Gap/Shirt H&M/Sweater TJMaxx/Necklace Lou Lou Boutiques/Shoes JCP
If I haven't picked out my outfits and hung them up before the week begins, chances are you'll see me in all black the next morning-and maybe even the day after that. It's been a huge help to me to inspire myself to get out of my comfort zone and wear some color! And pattern! Well, at least sometimes. Let's not get too crazy here. But now and then, I like to lay back, relax, and wear all black.

If you hardly ever wear all black, it can be a fun change to do it every once in awhile. It would be like me wearing, for example, pastel pink! Eeek! Can you imagine?

And no, Lou Lou isn't a sponsor. They lent me some jewelry for our holiday photo shoot, and I couldn't resist testing some out with my own clothes, too! Especially since lately, in my stylist capacity, I am relying on my dear old friend black to help me blend into the background. Because it's not about me-it's about you! And you can wear pattern, oh yes, you can.

Oh-and thanks for the sweet notes about my mantle! I felt comfortable painting it because it's not part of the original wood in our late 1800s home (the marble isn't, either). I mixed up my own chalk paint using Martha Stewart's tutorial and some paint from Home Depot. Then I distressed it. I didn't wax it because I wasn't sure how flammable that would be, and it didn't seem to need it. That's it!

Monday, December 16, 2013

In Honor of Pantone's Color of the Year 2014: Radiant Orchid

In Honor of Pantone's Color of the Year 2014: Radiant Orchid

Thanks for reading over my silly posts the past few days! I'm writing this from San Antonio, Texas where I have spent a fantastic long weekend celebrating my best friend's birthday and her daughter's first birthday, too! There is nothing as incredible as sitting with friends-old and new-in the warm sun. 

I couldn't stop thinking about you all these past few days! I had a virtual client last week, and I put together some outfits and organized my friend's closet here, but this has been a light week as far as styling goes. I've missed you! And while holiday parties and black and gold and glitter have been on my mind, so has...radiant orchid. I'm sure you've read that Pantone has named "radiant orchid" its color of the year for 2014. I have been very influenced in the past two years, both by emerald and tangerine tango before it so I'm paying close attention. I also LOVE that it's called "radiant orchid." What a whimsical, happy, and yes, made up sounding name! I'm ready to embrace that in the new year!


What this means is that it's not too early to embrace the broad spectrum of purple that has already started popping up everywhere. It's fresh, springy, a bit more pink than a classic purple, and it works for everyone. Here are some ways I'd recommend we all embrace the radiance in radiant orchid. 


Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Lob By Any Other Name...

A Lob By Any Other Name...

I'm off to visit some of my closest friends down in Texas so the next few days will be a change for my blog. Sometimes I get questions about myself and my life so I thought I'd give you a sense of myself in areas other than style! I'll be back to my regular schedule on Tuesday.

Last week, this little mullet was getting v-e-r-y shaggy! (To be read in the voice of your favorite Christmas author).

Friday, December 13, 2013

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

I'm off to visit some of my closest friends down in Texas so the next few days will be a change for my blog. Sometimes I get questions about myself and my life so I thought I'd give you a sense of myself in areas other than style! I'll be back to my regular schedule on Tuesday. 

If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen some of what my life has looked like lately, but I thought I'd share a little bit of what our home looks like this December! According to my iPhone photo gallery, there's been a lot of this...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Easy, Stunning Holiday Style From Head To Toe

Easy, Stunning Holiday Style From Head To Toe

Today, I'm continuing with my ideas for easy, stunning holiday style from the neck up-this time from the top of your body! Here are a few tips for feeling your best this time of year (despite the cracked skin and cold feet-is it that just me?)

Draw Attention to Your Face With a Stunning Necklace and Bold Lipstick


Both of these incredible necklaces are from Lou Lou Boutiques. Check out more of the gorgeous jewelry we used for our holiday photo shoot on Love Always Hannah today!

In the top photo, I paired Anna's bright, happy dress with an eye-catching, but neutral necklace that wouldn't compete with that incredible color in her dress and on her lips. In the bottom photo, I played up the gold and flecks found in Ashlynn's dress with a sharp, angular gold necklace that cleverly looks like two necklaces layered together.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

In Person Styling Session: Christina

In Person Styling Session: Christina

Today's client wrote me such a thorough review of our time together and was so kind and generous that I'm going to do something different and (mostly) turn it over to her! Here's Christina!

StartCloseIn: What were you hoping to get out of our time together?

I have always wanted to do a closet consultation and I couldn’t think of a better time to do it.  I am experiencing a new life season right now – turning 30, recently having been transplanted from the burbs to the city, losing weight due to training for a marathon, etc. etc. etc.  A lot of things are going really well for me right now, which has caused a surge in my self-confidence … I just needed my wardrobe to catch up! Plus, doing a styling session/closet consultation was on my 30before30 list so it simply had to happen!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

How to Knock the Socks Off the Woman You Love at Christmas

How to Knock the Socks Off the Woman You Love at Christmas on a (Zero, Medium, or Large Budget)

Feel free to send this to your friends, your loved ones, and even the ones who love you and might benefit from it. And, more importantly, feel free to add your own ideas in the comments! I'm not going to have a lot of pictures here, let's just get down to it.

Here's what I would do for my best friends if I were their partners. Partners-if someone sends this to you, never admit that you read it. Just take all the credit for yourself.

Put a Belt on it!

Put a Belt on it!

Via Hannah

Sometimes I must sound like I'm on a belt crusade across America. Belts! Belts for everyone! The fact is, I don't think a belt is right for everyone and every situation, but! But! There is a compelling case for a belt in many situations. I urge you to pull one out of the closet and add it to the outfit you already have on, especially if it's one that would benefit from cinching in the waist and showing off your narrowest part.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Easy, Stunning Holiday Style From Head To Toe

Easy, Stunning Holiday Style From Head To Toe

I've got some really special ideas for you this week, guys! I have a new client to show off later this week and some great ideas for you to consider for the holiday season! Today, I'm sharing my ideas for easy, stunning holiday style from the neck up.

Photo Lauren Modny Photography

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Client Sneak Peek: Christina

Client Sneak Peek: Christina

Later this week I'll be sharing some of the photos from the incredible in-person styling session I had with Christina. Here's a little teaser!

She hired me to help her celebrate her thirtieth birthday as a gift to herself. I loved that.

Just a heads up: my rates will be going up on January 1 so contact me soon about holiday gift certificates or booking a session for yourself! My current prices are: $50 for a virtual session and $75 for an in-person session. Both are three hours. Mileage applies over 25 miles from my home. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Virtual Session: Lynne of Wonderfully Made

Virtual Session: Lynne of Wonderfully Made

I have the coolest, most fun client to gush about today: Lynne B from the inspiring blog about sewing and creating a beautiful, homemade life.  She's also the driving force behind ellen j goods, an incredible store that I can't wait to visit! We'd scheming about my visiting her in the spring once all the snow melts!

She emailed me because she had lost a significant amount of weight, but she was still covering up in clothes that didn't fit or flatter...but wait, wait! I'm getting ahead of myself. First, I'll let her pictures do the talking.


These pictures? They're from the same day-actually from within 15 minutes of each other. With the same outfit, plus a belt. She looks amazing, right? Here she is an a dress (that she made!) before our session together...

Thursday, December 5, 2013

And the Rachelle D Giveaway Winner is...

And the Rachelle D Giveaway Winner is...


Done, done, and that piece is so gorgeous! I hope it's not too late to enter the giveaway.

It wasn't too late to win. And you did! 


Please email me (startclosein at gmail.com) with your mailing address!

Thanks to all who wrote, favorited, and liked! I hope to do more giveaways soon. 
Please let me know if you make anything you'd like to send me to give away.

How to Enjoy the Holiday Season-in Style

How to Survive Enjoy the Holiday Season-in Style


I've got some ideas for us-and they've got nothing to do with survival. I don't like the hype that the period from Thanksgiving through the New Year is stressful because I think it sets us up to fail. Instead, I'd like to reclaim this time period as one of hope, renewal, togetherness, and, yes, style.

I think too often we as women put ourselves on the back burner. We believe the narrative that this time period is about doing as much as humanly possible. Somehow, if you're not occupied every moment of the day baking cookies, caroling, or wrapping endless piles of gifts with a glass of champagne in your hand, you've failed. I'm not buying it.

Here's what I'm going to do this year, and it might shock you: focus on me. That's right. What do I like to do? What makes me happy? What feelings do I want to seek out so that on the first and the second days of 2014 I feel healthy, refreshed, and enriched? Here's my simple, five-part plan for my holidays. I'd love to hear what you do every year or plan to start this year to keep yourself balanced and cared for.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

You Sparkle Holiday Shoot

Our You Sparkle Holiday Shoot

Recently I had the most fun day hosting a photo shoot at my house. Love Always Hannah did all of the party styling, and the incredible Lauren Modny shot the film.  We were also lucky enough to get to put the models in holiday jewelry from Lou Lou Boutiques! The theme for this shoot was all about the parts of the holidays that make this time of year special-from time with friends to baking cookies, to the obligatory holiday part photo booth, we captured it all.

Here's Hannah's take on what she accurately called "more fun than should be allowed."

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Win this Rachelle D Necklace and Earrings-Now closed.

Rachelle D Giveaway

Update: this giveaway is now closed. Thanks for participating!

Happy Monday! I'm thrilled to offer you a beautiful giveaway from Rachelle D.  I contacted her about hosting a giveaway for you all because I bought a necklace from her for each of my bridesmaids when we got married. You can see a few of them on my friends here!. I have never forgotten how beautiful those necklaces were, and I knew that you would love them, too!

Rachelle D

Monday, December 2, 2013

Plaid It Up for the Holidays

Plaid It Up

Welcome back! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Now that it's December, I'm going to spend the next few weeks talking with you about ideas for feeling your best for holiday parties, family gatherings, or just baking cookies or doing all of that grocery shopping.

Specifically, I've gotten some questions about what to wear for holiday parties. Soon I'll be posting a ton of ideas from the holiday photo shoot that I did recently, but today I've got two simple ones that incorporate plaid-one casual, one dressy.

Dressy Plaid

What about a plaid shirt, skinny black pants, and a black jacket? Then add a sparkly necklace and some wedges? I'm kind of into this as a fun holiday party outfit.

Necklace Lou Lou Boutiques/Blazer and Shirt TJMaxx/Pants The Gap/Shoes Similar
Of course, if you're not doing plaid this time around, the inside shirt could be another print. Have fun with it!