Sunday, November 30, 2014

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: December Discount for Holiday Gift Cards

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: December Discount for Holiday Gift Cards (and yes, you can get one for yourself)

The gift card can be redeemed anytime. Yes, you can buy more than one. Yes, you can buy one for yourself! Yes, 3 hours is usually $75. Why? Because I love you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

(More) Natural Beauty Buys

(More) Natural Beauty Buys

One of my recent goals has been to clear out my house, to get rid of stuff that just isn't serving me in my best version of myself. This includes makeup. I love makeup, and I'm not interested in letting it go, but I do know that I could be using products that are more healthy for me. I cringe at the thought that everything I put on my face is absorbed by my skin when I read some of the labels of my products.

So I've made a few switches (healthier face wash, sweet almond oil for makeup remover, coconut oil for moisturizer along with lots of Burt's Bees products, etc.) lately that are very easy to have made. Then came the makeup, and I've been resisting change, frankly. When I think of less toxic makeup, I think of sad, beige products that don't work that are sold at health food stores. Having grown up basically in a health food store, I resist.

Boy was I wrong. I've slowly been trying out products, and I have hit on a winner!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Holiday Pieces that You Can Actually Wear More Than Once A Year

Holiday Pieces that You Can Actually Wear More Than Once A Year

We've reached that time of year when everything is basically on sale-and you have 100 things to do. And while I try not to just enable everyone to shop for clothing all the time, that is kind of going out the window right now. Because here's the thing, most of us have some invitations coming in the mail this time of year. Whether we're getting in cars or on planes (headed to Charleston this week myself!) or having people come to us, we're going to be seen. And what will we wear? Most of us can get it together for one event, but when there are a few in a row it can start to feel overwhelming. That's why I'm here! To help. So you can do the fun things-like baking cookies to leave on a neighbor's doorstep!

Here are some ideas for things to buy, but also some things to look out for that you might already own. My idea is that you can look out for one statement piece and then pair it with basics (jeans, black pants, a pencil skirt), or do the opposite and just look for really flattering, simple pieces that you could pair with basics (or get crazy and pair them with sequined pants!), or even wear a monochrome look. And no, it doesn't have to be all red. Or all green.

And I've included pieces for women who wear plus sizes, nursing women (but those choices work for non-nursing too), and women of all ages. Because my friends come over in all shapes and sizes-and sometimes needing a way to breastfeed without a fuss! 

Sometimes all you need is one great piece: 

What about a gorgeous wear-with-everything blouse
an edgy, but comfortable sweatshirt
a sweet graphic t-shirt to dress up or down
a jaw-dropping dress (in curve sizing)
the coolest elastic waistband pants anyone ever wore to Thanksgiving ever
Or their slightly fancier but still cooler than your black work pants twin
A cheeky sweatshirt to wear with a sequined skirt or with PJs in the morning
A stunning top that you can wear with literally anything on the bottom
A t-shirt that's just a joy to wear
A sweet as candy sweater that you could edge up with ripped denim
Needing nursing friendly options? What about a nursing friendly cardigan (love the styling here)

Let's be realistic here. If you're going to wear this more than one time, you need to keep it simple (and washable):  

The most gorgeous, simple dress you can wear every day like it's leggings-or heck, even with leggings!
Just the most simple, stunning blouse
Is there anything sexier than off-the-shoulder? And curves?
Wear these dots with bigger dots on a skirt, with stripes, with plaid, with jeans, with a skirt...with green ham
Nursing mamas: wrap dress with rouching? Oh baby, this is calling your name!
 Moonbeams indeed. This is gorgeous.

Don't be afraid to get down with monochrome (even in a color other than black!)

Who says pink isn't for Christmas?
I love this cranberry multi layered top so much, I want to marry it.
I love the words elegant and forgiving in describing a sweater that I'll eat a huge meal in.

Photography: Lauren Modny Photography
Party & Prop Styling: Love Always Hannah
Stylist: StartCloseIn

Friday, November 21, 2014

Making Spirits Bright: Gift Ideas for the Women in Your Life

Making Spirits Bright: Gift Ideas for the Women in Your Life

This buffalo check cape. It's expensive, but it's gorgeous. This could stand alone as a great gift. Perfect for the woman who is always cold, the woman who loves plaid, the woman who wears fleece a lot but always admires friends' coats that aren't fleece, and anyone who loves fairtyales.

This sequined jacket.  For the woman who loves sparkle but already has a lot of jewelry, the woman who is going to be in a winter wedding (mother of the bride?) or is going to celebrate New Year's Even in a fun location.

This dress in green. It will flatter most every body type because of that gorgeous front. For the woman who had a baby in the last year, the woman who attends lots of events, the woman who wears too many black dresses, the woman who has dark skin or light eyes.

These adorable slippers. Want to know the sweet move? Give these babies to her on Christmas Eve to wear by the tree or in the morning. Maybe stuff a bag of her favorite coffee or tea in there, too. For the woman who likes to be comfortable in her own home-AKA all of us.

These personalized baby pants. For the woman who has a baby or toddler. But listen very carefully if you are a man: THESE MUST GO ALONG WITH A GIFT THAT IS FOR THE MOTHER, TOO. See above for ideas.

This backpack. For the woman who travels with a camera, laptop and/or books. For the woman student. For the woman who is also a mother, especially of twins. Or one of these or these bags if she doesn't carry quite as much stuff.

These most gorgeous earrings ever. For the woman with pierced ears (always be sure!), the woman who used to wear big earrings but hasn't lately, the woman with other gold jewelry, the woman with short or long hair. For the woman you're also getting this for.

These also most gorgeous earrings. For the woman who never wears anything but studs, the woman who wears pearls maybe too often, the woman whose eyes shine when she has a great idea.

These fun prints in black and white. For the woman whose house you love, for the woman who has a sense of humor, for the woman who likes wine.

These heirloom cutting boards in the shape of the state where she grew up or where she lives now (or got married or graduated from college or MD for med school or the letters for somewhere she lived and loved living there). For the woman who appreciates thoughtful gestures, cheese plates, or entertaining made easy.

Stocking ideas: this mug, one of these scarves, this or this necklace, one of these prints rolled up with a gift card to have it framed in the frame of her choice, a subscription to one of these gorgeous magazines. Mingle for the newly engaged woman or the in-the-adoption-process woman (looks like they have a great Gotcha Day party idea!), this or this for the business owner or business owner-to-be, a gift card to Prinstagram or even some of her Instagram photos printed and framed (you'll need her login).  

I'll keep updating this as I see ideas. Feel free to print and casually leave around or email to gift givers who might need some hints!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

3 Tips for Rocking Business Casual

3 Tips for Rocking Business Casual

When people learn that I do personal styling, they sometimes think that I must be judging what they're wearing. And it's not true that I'm judging it, but I am always noticing what women around me wear. And sometimes, the outfits are just so damn good that I take mental notes to share with you what I'm seeing. Here are three ways that I've noticed women of all ages around me just rocking business casual. 

Bye-bye, navy cardigans and beige pencil skirts. Hello, personality! 


Don't shy away from color. With black pants, the above left would be a bit of a sleeper, but those pants! Those pants! And her hair, of course, but I can't buy that. The pants, though, I can help you out there. Once you've got your basic black pants, try something brighter and just sub it into outfits where you'd normally wear black pants or even jeans. Jcrew has some great bright wools (in talls, too) this season, and Asos has brights in crepe and curve sizes, too.

Start with a great dress. What could be simpler than putting on a great dress with a classic shape? The obvious key here is to not wear anything too revealing. The not-as-obvious is to go for statement dresses. I think we can all default to neutrals because we think they're more wearable, but a printed dress can be worn a lot of different ways-and you can start to build your own personal style. I love Modcloth's dresses



Wear a midi length skirt with something edgier like low boots or strappy shoes. The rest of the look should be really covered up (long sleeves, high neck) and then BAM! Fun shoes. I'd need to add tights underneath, but a midi length is really forgiving of all kinds of warm layers you might need to add. If you're looking for a neutral, wear-with-everything work appropriate knee length boot, these are incredible. If you live somewhere warmer or tend to switch into flats at work, I love this yellow. 

And I wrote about it before, but you have to check out this tumblr. Every time I look at it, I choose more fun outfits for at least the next few days! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Girl From the North Country: Inside My Fall and Winter Closet

Girl From the North Country: Inside My Fall and Winter Closet

What I realized in putting away summer clothes and switching closets is that I can sum up my fall/winter clothing into the following categories:

  • red-based long sleeved plaid button downs
  • navy blue and white polka dot blouses
  • black and white striped shirts or sweaters
  • gray sweaters
  • gray, white or black t-shirts, v neck
  • blue-based blazers
  • neutral blazers
  • black trousers
  • jeans, dark wash
  • black dresses
  • striped jersey or knit pencil skirts
  • skinny pants in solid colors
There are one or two things that don't fit into these categories, but really very few. Those that are unusual still tend to fit into a pattern (cardigan? Oh yes, it's black and white polka dots. Sweater material vest? Black and white Navajo print). 

And you know what? I'm loving my clothing lately. I know what I want to wear, and I have it. And now it's organized. This, my friends, is a good feeling. I always tell my clients "you should be able to fall into your closet in the morning and anything you grab will fit and feel like your best version of yourself." I also strongly believe that it's better to have fewer things that you love than lots of things that you feel so-so about or worse. I'm really excited about this pared down version of my closet, and I'm so glad that I donated so much clothing and put my summer duds far away from it! 

If you're curious/worried about my lack of color, my summer clothes have much more of it, and I tend to make up for it with scarves, bright lipstick, and accessories. What can I say? I love neutrals. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

How To: Receive Compliments

How To Receive Compliments
Image via

At work lately, I've noticed on more than one occasion that female coworkers struggle to accept compliments. They'll say things to diminish what they did or say "thanks, but..." and explain why they should have done better. 
I wanted to write about this, but I'm struggling a bit. I've noticed it to be gendered, but I also largely work with women, and most of the women I work with are the ones kicking ass and getting complimented. I have a knee-jerk reaction to the idea that women aren't as able as men to accept compliments, but I think it's worth thinking about. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Client Question: What Do I Wear Pregnant to a Fall Wedding?

Client Question: What Do I Wear Pregnant to a Fall Wedding?

Remember Danae? She had fallen into a bit of a pattern with wearing the same clothes the same way, and she reached out to me to help her style what she already owned and to go shopping with her. While staying inside her modesty guidelines, we bought her skinny jeans, toddler-friendly layering pieces, and jewelry! She recently emailed me because she's expecting a second baby (yay!! I can't wait to squeeze those little cheeks!), and she was wondering what to wear to a friend's wedding here in Northern Virginia. With her permission, here is some of our exchange, and the gorgeous results! 

Danae: To give you some background, this wedding is of a coworker girlfriend, held at XXX, reception following at the XXX hotel. So pretty formal from what it sounds to me. I do know her bridesmaids are wearing an eggplant color. Here's what I have. I've narrowed it down to two options. I have other formal/bridesmaid dresses but they are either quite uncomfortable or would need major readjustments.

She sent me pictures of a black dress and a purple dress with dots. 

StartCloseIn: I love the purple! Styling for the first thought is metallic, long, dangly earrings with your hair up, which I always think looks festive. What about this or this hair idea? 
Or a celtic knot? celtic knot

You could tie the rest back into a low bun?
Or else a bold necklace that will fill the space in the neckline of the dress. Something big and bold can be a nice counterbalance to your growing belly-and no, the metallics don't need to/shouldn't match the belt exactly. This is a gorgeous example. 

After she sent me some earring-necklace combinations based on my suggestions (she found nice choices at Kohl's!)...

StartCloseIn: You're just so beautiful! I like the first and last necklaces most. Think of filling empty space. There's space created by the neckline, and a good necklace fills it in. That being said, I think you could go with the first pair of earrings and no necklace. It would look less busy, maybe more elegant? Or else the first or last necklace with the last earrings, which are smaller.Have so much fun!!

Danae: Here are the final pictures!! Thank you so much for all your help! I felt comfortable and confident the whole time! I really appreciate it! 

Doesn't she look gorgeous? And don't you just die for her little boy in the suspenders and cap?! And yes, she did her own hair in the very top image of this post! My clients are so talented. 

Want your own maternity polka dots? I like this, this in plus size maternity, and this for winter. Another thing you might consider is renting a special occasion maternity dress

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Client Update-Still belting and Scarfing!

Client Update-Still belting and Scarfing!

Remember my beloved client, Lynne? Well, I got this text from her the other day and had to share it with you. It said, simply, "Still belting and scarfing!" With this gorgeous outfit.

I want to be Lynne when I grow up!

LL Bean? Is That You?

LL Bean? Is That You?

Love this Grandpa-look striped number

I won't say that we grew up buying things at LL Bean because it was too expensive for us. But, my aunt always had their catalogue, and the preppier New Englanders I knew loved it. Along with hiking boots and "boat shoes." I never knew what those were, but they seemed fancy. 

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I went to our local LL Bean store in search of fleece lined tights, SmartWool tights, SmartWool socks, or maybe even a sweater or two. My office is so freezing that I've taken up some of the old Vermonter tricks for staying warm. What I expected to see, and did see, were what I called lumpy sweaters. Like this. Who looks good in this style? No one, that is who! Those 379 reviewers are wrong. It's lumpy on the hanger! 

But what I also saw were...could it be...cute sweaters? Adorable dresses? Stylish sweaters, dresses, and shirts in high quality wool and cotton that I'd recommend to my clients and readers? Yup. I saw 'em. They're there. Here's the deal: look at the "Signature fits" not the "Classic fits," and do not, DO NOT, dismiss anything based on the first image. LL Bean's website pictures look crazy and bad in the shots without people wearing them so please look at the other images with women wearing each thing.

Colorblock Sweater
This raglan colorblock sweater was adorable. I'd go a size up from your usual.
 If you're looking for basics, I also loved this classic fisherman's sweater, this merino crewneck, this merino cardigan, and mayyybe this waffle crewneck, but the mid section looks a little lumpy so it would have to hit you just right.  But I love the styling on each of these! Very copiable looks here, especially the sleeves peaking out on that waffle crewneck look. That's exactly how I'm wearing my sweaters and shirts lately, very Zoe on House of Cards.

I also couldn't walk by these dresses and shirts without snapping iphone pictures for you. They're not cheap, but the thing with LL Bean is the quality is good. And they take anything back-ever.

Belt it over the wide part or else pull it up so it slouches over?

The gorgeous plaid above is lightweight enough for warmer climates or to be tucked into a skirt or pants or worn under a sweater. I also loved this chambray plaid and this lightweight flannel.

Add caption
Also, read the comments. LL Beaners are very brand loyal so they know the ins and outs of sizing. LL Bean tends to have real sizing-not "vanity sizing." Rely on what the commenters say so you don't have to return for a new size.

Oh! You want to know what I have purchased from LL Bean before this last visit? Slippers. Because they have the best slippers ever. Add them to your list for Santa.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

To the Max: Maxi Dresses for Fall and Winter

To the Max: Maxi Dresses for Fall and Winter


Do you wear maxi dresses and skirts in the chillier weather? I realized that I don't when I put all of my maxi dresses aside to be store along with summer clothes. I'll often tell clients that they can wear them year round, but I don't really do this myself. I love the idea of a full skirt because it allows me to wear cuddle duds, Smartwool tights, or even fleece-lined leggings underneath along with boots and an number of layers on top. But the thing is, I haven't been very inspired by the outfits I've seen using maxi skirts for cold weather. 

Here's the other thing I realized. I read the other day something about a blogger who "realized she liked asking questions more than she liked giving advice." I'm paraphrasing here, but I am like that, too. My styling sessions are much more about me asking questions, and I'm going to make more of an effort to reflect that here. I don't have answers that no one else has, but what I do have are questions that I think will lead you to looking-and feeling-more like the best version of yourself. Let's do it.

Belt it, Belt it Real Good

ViaSimilar by Torrid here


Ok so I inherently like these images with the maxi skirts. Maybe it's about the belt? I think the belt does something really nice with the proportions here, kind of raises the waistline to emphasize the long legs created by the maxi skirt. 

Also I really like the casual shirts with these skirts that can feel old fashioned and/or dressier by nature. So what if you pulled out a neutral color maxi skirt (petites can be hard to find-here's one!) and a soft t-shirt and a belt or two. Why not try tucking the shirt in and belting the skirt way up high on your waist (at least over the belly button if not higher)? Then, on the other hand, like the top picture, keep your shirt untucked and belt it low on the hips. The third idea, not pictured, would be to leave the shirt out but belt over the shirt to create a higher waist without tucking. 

See how neither picture has belt loops? Just put the belt where you want it, and if there's extra length, tuck it in like the "hello" woman did. I'm also noticing that the belts are a different neutral color so don't do black on black maybe? I think you'd lose the belt visually that way. Oh look! Asos has one with a belt already

Ok, great. Now you're in a tshirt and maxi skirt....basically ready for summer. How will we move this into fall and winter?

 Mix Soft and Hard

Similar gorgeous skirt by GH here

Both via

Here's an easy way: add a long-sleeved jacket or cardigan or other layer that is a stiffer material than the skirt. I really like the way a soft, billowy skirt (like this one) looks with something on the total other end of the spectrum, like a hard, shiny leather jacket. If that's not your vibe, what about a military jacket that's stiffer than the skirt or a jean jacket or boxier blazer with some structure? 

 Stay Monochrome, but Never Boring

Speaking of blazers, I love how this looks. It's two elements (a maxi skirt or maybe a dress? and a blazer) that could feel kind of stiff or Victorian, but the scarf and hat make it feel so boho, don't you think? 


What if you took a maxi dress or skirt that has a print and then repeated one of the colors from the print in a blazer, jacket or cardigan? Then repeat it again with a shirt, all soft, all the same material. Same color hat optional. Here, she picked up a second color from the print and repeated it in her scarf, but I find that to be a little too easy. So did this blogger! The next step up for me would be to introduce a third color, maybe a brown hat or a different color scarf? I'm thinking something related to that second color in the skirt (pink) but more saturated? Maybe a cranberry or oxblood instead?

Try Etsy for fabulous printed skirts like this.

Long, Long Layers


So what do you think about this? Part of me loves it, and part of me wonders if it's too matchy-matchy. I think this is a good starter outfit for wearing a summery maxi dress in the fall and winter, and I think you could do this, then change things up and make it even better. To do this type of look, you can see she's doing the same color palette throughout the outfit: green, cream, and brown. She's also building on another theme, which is long lengths. Her hair is down, her dress is long, her sweater is long, her bag is long, and her boots high. 

At home, pick a favorite long summer dress with a pattern. Pick a long sweater in the same color family (I'm pushing you already not to match exactly here!) and layer that on. Highlight the waist up high on the dress (or follow the waistline of your own dress) with a belt in any color that you like with your dress. Then, you decide about accessories-match 'em up like she did here, or get wild and mix and match colors and textures. Again, the great thing about maxi length in the winter is that you can wear high boots and fleece-lined tights underneath if you need to. I'd also add a long necklace if you're really into the boho vibe here. 

What do you think? If you have great ideas for wearing a maxi length in the cold weather, please email me some pictures to share with everyone! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How to Pack for Five Days in Mexico in a Carry On

How to Pack for Five Days in Mexico in a Carry On

I took very few pictures while we were in Mexico because I wanted to get away from my phone, I didn't bring our nice camera, and I wanted to just enjoy being there. But, I did snap a few mirror shots for you to give you a sense of what I wore, in case you were curious. And here's my original packing list, which I cut down by a lot.

I anticipated buying several things I had my eyes on that I did not end up finding there. To prepare for that, I brought a small rolling suitcase and made sure that everything I brought could fit in my carry on on the way home. Here's what I packed:

(1) wrap for the planes and to wear over dresses (brown and black) and (1) big scarf for the same reason and as a saraong (black and coral, could have done without)
(2) fancier dresses that were still cotton (black and white, orange. I only wore one, could have done without)
(2) maxi dresses (black)
(1) maxi skirt (black)
(3) tshirts (gray, white, black) 
(1) cardigan (black and white polka dots. Never wore it.) 
(2) bathing suit tops, (3) bathing suit bottoms (black bikini, black/white polka dot bikini bottom, black tankini top, white bikini bottom, all interchangeable)
(1) pair of leggings for the plane rides
Vitamins, toiletries, colorful jewelry, bright lipstick in two shades, sneakers (could have done without), sandals, and clogs (could have done without but was nice to wear on the plane for a little warmth).  
And the most important thing I wore the whole time? These soft babies. Hysterically, my husband and I realized we were wearing the ones intended for the other person only after he saw how big "mine" were on me!

That's it! I just looked at my favorite things I wanted to wear (cozy, soft, cotton), and worked them into the days we had, then cut it in half. I noticed I was choosing a lot of black and white and orange so I decided to make that my theme and brought orange and blue bright, beachy necklaces.

Do you have any great travel tips? My other one is to roll your clothes in your suitcase so they get less wrinkled and you can fit more.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fall Boots-an Update!

Fall Boots-an Update!

Remember Rose's question about fall boots? Well, she got some and was sweet enough to send me a picture and an email! And they're adorable. Here's Rose!

I finally got boots! And I am wishing I could show them off to you in person. They are so beautiful (also I have the fleece lined timberland's you recommended from last season for weather). Thanks thanks thanks for advice. The thing that's really great about these is that unlike the last pair of Fryes I bought (seven years ago probably) they have rubber treading on the soles so they aren't super slippery. And they seem like they'd be narrow, but really they aren't! Anyhow, I am feeling great about them with pants and dresses alike.

I'm so glad, Rose! And good to know about Frye-I've been considering some, too, but worried because they always seem so narrow.

If you have a question you'd like answered, please contact me.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Weekly Roundup

Weekly Roundup

Happy Friday, friends. What are you up to this weekend? As I write this, I have no set plans, and I couldn't be happier. I anticipate time with my dogs outside, time cooking for the week, and maybe even tackling my cluttered craft room/studio! 

Great tips that I use all the time via
I'll leave you with some of the things I loved from around the internet this week. 

This is some good advice, and it applies to more than just dating, I think.
I loved what Meg Keene had to say about habits long after they stop serving you.
One of my best friends said the other day that the idea of lingerie had never occurred to her. This is for her-and for you, too, maybe?
I'm now searching for sweaters to make these adorable hats for people for Christmas-and I think you should, too!
"Go to the door! Go to the door!" "It looks like a little forest!" I loved the balloon idea at about minute 7:00.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Just a Quick Note

To share some of our wedding videos with you since last month was our anniversary month! Oh-and here are some of my long-ago thoughts about how we had just the wedding that we needed.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Our Escape to Mexico-A Sneak Peek

Our Escape to Mexico

Every year, I get really excited to have a birthday party and to celebrate Halloween. So the choice to leave the country on my Halloween birthday was made cautiously. But, once we decided to go to Mexico I knew just where. I did not want to fly through Mexico City, and I wanted to be far enough south that we'd be really warm. We chose to spoil ourselves with a trip to Zihuatanejo, and it was incredible. Like most of Mexico, it is a place full of the most incredible beauty-and incredible poverty. We experienced some of both, and we won't ever forget our time there. Soon I'll talk about how I packed for 5 days in Mexico in just a carry on bag, but today I just wanted to share some personal photos with you. 

We flew into the tiny airport on a tiny plane making a connection from Houston. A hotel representative met us at the airport and arranged a taxi for us. Once we got to the hotel, we went straight to the beach. It was Heaven. For the next several days, the most pressing issues we had to decide were along the lines of "pool or beach?" or "mojito or daquiri?" The food was fresh and incredible even for two people with special diets. We explored a little, didn't answer emails or phones, read more than we had in years, and still woke up super early. Old (dog alarm clock) habits die hard, but it meant we got to swing in the hammock before breakfast or enjoy walks on the beach with a cup of coffee and tea in hand once it was delivered to our door at 7:15 each morning. Again, Heaven. 

If you're interested, you can find the resort here.