Friday, February 27, 2015

February Budget (Oops)

This whole sticking to a budget thing gets easier, right?

So I'm in month two of putting my budget into action (you can read about month one here, when I stuck to my goal of not shopping at all) and again, I learned a lot. I'm a glass half full girl, so in some ways it was a total success: I made some of the best purchases I've made in a long time. I love these pieces, I can't wait to wear them, and I think they fit in really well with the rest of my wardrobe.

But on the other hand, I totally blew my budget. No bueno. I've thought about returning some things or pulling from my March budget, but I've decided to just chalk this up to a learning experience. Next month will be better.

Now for the fun part! Here's what I bought this month:

Starting Budget: 

$240 ($200 monthly budget + $40 for clothes sold on eBay)


J. Crew Factory Striped Tee -- $26
Old Navy Short-sleeved Jumpsuit -- $35
H&M Wrap-Style Dress -- $23.00 (after gift card)
Loft Outlet Tweed Pants -- $42 (not online; similar pictured)
F21 Loop Knit Jacket -- $28
Olivia + Joy Hobo -- $30 (love you, Marshalls!)
F21 Colorblock Tote -- $30
F21 Faux Gem Cutout Bib Necklace -- $8.90
H&M Bangle -- $15

Not pictured:
F21 Leather Contrast Trim Blouse -- $25
Target Linen T-shirt -- gift (mom picked up the tab)
F21 Wide Leg Denim Pants -- $16 (not online, sadly)
Ann Taylor Lurex Stripe Tee -- $3 (thrifted)
Isaac Mizrahi x Target Beaded Shift Dress -- $5 (thrifted)

Total: $399
Amount over budget: $159

A few thoughts...

I love black and white. LOVE. Can't get enough! (But, I kind of have enough.)

It's kind of amazing how quickly the little purchases add up. I didn't splurge on any one item or buy anything even a little pricey...but a few tops here, a pair of pants there, and suddenly you've spent 400 bucks.

You should all buy this amazingly cozy Forever 21 cardigan, my favorite purchase this month! It is so chic and cozy (very Chanel), I can't wait to pull it on with jeans, my favorite work pants, dresses, everything. The cashier left to go buy one for herself after ringing me up and my best friend tried to steal it an hour later when I met her for lunch. That's a good sweater.

I bought a number of things that I thought might end up being returned (but weren't), so I wasn't really keeping track of the total number throughout the month. I'm making a note to keep a running list on my phone so I know how much I'm spending.

I saw these H&M sweaters in store last month and have been thinking about them since (also, the white one is identical to the ON toddler sweater I was lusting after; got my own so suck on that, 2-year-olds!). I almost never buy the same item in multiple colors, but each has a unique subtle textured pattern so they don't really feel like duplicates.

I wasn't able to break my habit of overbuying certain favorite categories -- I already have plenty of blouses, so I didn't really need the three that I bought this month (even though I love them!). I couldn't resist another pair of super dark, wide-leg jeans even though I have several pair. It's a bit of a hoarding tendency, so I need to curb it unless I want to be buried alive under a tower of trouser jeans.

As mentioned previously, I'm not a handbag girl -- I could go a year without buying one and not care. It is a bit of a fluke that I ended up with two this month. My black and white obsession contributed to one purchase, and the pink hobo was just such fun find at Marshalls. They both make me super happy.

Returned/Considered and Rejected:

Since I was shopping up a storm all month, it's not surprising I found ended up returning or rejecting a few things:

Boden Eyelet Dress -- $63.20
Target Espadrille -- $25
Old Navy Skater Dress -- $23
Anthropologie Woodland Walk Blouse -- $30
Ikat Maxi Dress -- $23
Anthropologie Shimmered Monarch Skirt -- $60

The Old Navy dress just seemed too costume-y on me. It was also kind of limp and wilted -- I just felt like it would hang in my closet untouched and end up on eBay in a few months.

Loved these Target slip-ons, but they did not love my feet.

I was SO disappointed by the Boden dress -- the color was not as vibrant in person and the proportions were weird. It just looked so WIDE on the hanger, and the skirt and bodice were the same length (in the photo, the skirt is clearly longer). But in a way, I was glad it was such a miss so I didn't hesitate to send it back.

This Anthro top is interesting. I loved it when it was first introduced but knew I didn't want to pay full price. I watched it go through several rounds of price cuts, but by the time it was down to a price I would pay, the luster had worn off. It has just been hanging on the sale rack for too long, you know?

I love the idea of this breezy F21 dress but the top was so unstructured. It is a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen.

Sadly, I waited too long on the Shimmered Monarch skirt and it sold out. Maybe one will find its way to eBay soon.

I'm hoping for a lighter shopping month in March (though I do have another Forever 21 order on the way...). I'm eager to see what else pops up in stores for spring, but there's not a lot that I need right now. And maybe this would be a time to focus on quality instead of quantity -- maybe one of those budget busters wants to come home with me...

I'm linking up with Franish and the Budgeting Bloggers -- be sure to check them out for inspiration/temptation!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wednesday Wishlist: Black and White and Chic All Over

I am having a serious obsession with black and white lately (just wait until you see this month's purchases).

And I can't stop thinking about this great little Zara blouse I spotted at a local consignment store -- a flowy tunic with thin stripes and a little gold detail.  I didn't buy it, but now I find myself drawn to black and white pieces that have that same chic vibe:

1. Stiped drapey tee ($14) -- I don't know this company so I'm not sure that about ordering this one, but I like the idea of this draped tunic-y version of a striped tee. It would be fine with skinny jeans but interesting with the wide leg pants that are everywhere -- a bright tomato red would be amazing.

2. Mango Wool Blend Coat ($130) -- this coat is so stunning, I want it even though there is no earthly chance that I could keep it clean. It would be a nice balance to all of the florals and bright colors we'll be wearing this spring.

3. Charles David 'Ama' Sandal ($79) -- It's sandal season pretty much year-round in Florida, but you might need to tuck these away for a few more months. Still, these are so simple and versatile they'll work with just about everything in your warm-weather wardrobe and they'll let you show off your cute pedicure.

4. Atterly Road Window Pane Dress ($35) -- the window pane pattern is so hot right now, but the silhouette and black and white palette make this a really classic and versatile dress. And it has pockets! At this price, this would be a great piece to snap up so you're ready for all of your spring events -- get out your Easter bonnet!

5. Fiorelli Black and White Enamel Bracelet ($61) -- sleek and perfect.

6. H&M V-neck Blouse ($14.95, on sale) -- this is very similar to the Zara blouse that's been on my mind. A great all-season blouse that you'll wear a million ways. I'm thinking about it with white jeans and lots of chunky gold jewelry.

7. Loeffler Randall Rio Sneaker ($295) -- everyone wants these sneakers, so they'll probably sell out before they go on sale and that's a damn shame.

8. Kate Spade Cayli Crossbody ($198) -- I have a couple of crossbody bags that have become absolutely indispensable in my wardrobe -- this is a great go-with-everything option that is more fun than basic black or brown.

9. Urban Outfitters Brushed Plaid Blanket Scarf ($20, on sale) -- I'd like a good neutral version of a blanket scarf. I'm bummed that I missed out on this great Dorothy Perkins scarf, but maybe this could ease my pain.

10. Clare Vivier Flat Clutch ($235) -- I've seen these pouches everywhere, but this camel version with black and white stripes is the first one to really make me swoon. A lovely piece you might actually use forever.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Thinking Spring (aka: f*ck you, winter!)

Oh, this winter. From coast to coast it's been a real bitch this year. I spent some time in New York this month and got a nice taste of frigid temps, chapped hands, and filthy snow. Not gonna lie, I'm happy to be back in Florida but even we hit a cold spell last week (don't worry, it only lasted 48 hours).

Whatever the forecast, we can all get excited about thinking spring! There are some great pieces hitting the stores right now, and it is fun to dream about what we'll be wearing on those first crisp and sunny days.

What's more fun for spring than a bright, bold graphic dress? These are wake-up-and-take-notice colors and prints that will make you happy to get dressed in the morning. They won't be the most versatile pieces in your closet, but pick one in a super flattering shape and you'll feel like a million bucks each time you put it on.

This Boden shift has such a fresh color palette and also reminds me a bit of Mrs. Roper (in the best possible way!)....I have a lot of striped dresses but the mix of patterns here makes me feel like I could justify just one more...another fantastic option from Boden, who does great-fitting printed dresses better than just about anyone...this Tory Burch dress would be a happy splurge.

There is no one happier than me to see wide leg and flared jeans making a reappearance in stores. Skinnies have their place, but I don't think they are as universally flattering as this silhouette. For spring, there are lots of great relaxed options in pale, watery rinses.

These Old Navy pull-on pants are so comfy, I have two pair and always get compliments when I wear them -- the elastic waist is so forgiving, just keep it covered by a long top unless you want people to wonder about the contents of your uterus (ps - they're hiding under the Pants tab online)....these Madewell flares would add a little drama to any outfit....of course, Forever 21 has a great and affordable way to try out this trend...if you love this style as much as I do, this pair from Anthropologie would be a good investment.

A scarf has this wonderfully magic way of taking the simplest basics and turning them into a pulled together look (i.e., the lazy girl's best friend), and it can come in handy to chase away the chill on those early spring days.

This one from Madewell is simple and chic, perfect for traveling -- think about it with a monochromatic black or white look....just when I thought I was completely over chevron print, this rainbow version makes me reconsider....of course, Boden would make a print that pairs perfectly with a classic trench...J. Crew always has great scarves, make sure you wait for one of their many sales.

I keep seeing great versions of a simple strappy flat sandal. There are plenty of inexpensive options, so this can be a fun way to play with trendy colors and prints -- you'll wear them out before they have a chance to look dated.

These Forever 21 sandals are unbelievably chic and selling out's a higher quality option if want something that will last for more than one season...I'm not big on neon, but this pop of pink is cute....this pair from Target comes in lots of color options, but I'm kind of drawn to the leopard version.

What are you excited to wear this spring?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Weekend To-Do List

Ran my first 10K race and loved it. Perfect weather and a fun course boosted my motivation. So did the Chick-fil-A chicken biscuit I promised myself afterwards (and actually, I ate two).

My favorite sign from the race

Took a nap at 9:30am (early race + belly full of chicken biscuit = zzzzzzz).

Treated myself to a few new lip products. I've been wanting to try this sheer red lip butter for a long time (I have a hard time wearing red lipstick, but I think I like this one!); I've seen this lip stain mentioned on Fran's blog a few times and thought it would be a nice your-lips-but-better option. (Side note: I don't know how CVS stays in business. Between sales and coupons, I paid just under $8 total for both and also received $4 in ExtraBucks to use on another purchase).

Was going to try to catch up on my Oscar movie watching, but got distracted by a Parks and Recreation marathon. I heart Amy Poehler.

Gave myself a classic mani/pedi:


Went on a scouting mission to Target to check out new spring merch but ended up just buying junk food. Here are a few things that I'll be keeping an eye on:

Pillow/coin purse/sandals/jumpsuit

Saturday, February 21, 2015


I may still be pining over the spendy pieces that I just can't afford right now, but I've also come across some great pieces that are fantastic and fantastically affordable. Sometimes you need to fake it until you make it -- it is nice to have some things in your closet that don't remind you that you're a girl on a budget.

1. J. Crew Factory Long-Sleeve Stripe Boatneck Tee ($26, on sale) -- this shirt has been highly touted by some of my favorite bloggers, I'm surprised it hasn't sold out yet. This is a great option for a classic striped tee -- the fit, fabric, and overall feel of this shirt is top notch, like a high end designer version at a fraction of the price. Two notes: first, the color is cryptically listed as "oat navy spring", but the stripes read black to me. Also, the full price of the shirt is almost $50, but J. Crew has been running plenty of sales lately -- I picked mine up in a Factory store for $26 and couldn't be happier, so hold out for a decent discount code!

2. Atterly Road Bladerunner Black Bodycon Dress ($54, on sale) -- you could spend a lot more on a simple but flattering dress like this. Save your money for great shoes or a killer bag to pair it with.

3. H&M Trenchcoat ($70) -- I love the idea of a classic trench, but I'm not sure how often I'd get to wear it. This seems like a great option -- I love the clean lines and sleek silhouette. There are cheaper versions, but unfortunately they often look it.

4. Dorothy Perkins Neutral Check Blanket Scarf ($25) -- Blanket scarves and coats are everywhere this year, probably because it is so damn cold. This cozy scarf is so chic and versatile, and a nice option if you feel like you're seeing the traditional yellow/red/green plaid one on everyone's neck these days (you are).

5. Warehouse Suede Zip Round Crossbody ($63) -- I was surprised by the price of this cute bag -- a real leather purse with classic styling could easily cost two or three times as much. This reddish color is striking but still neutral enough to work with lots of looks.

6. Target Dianne Cap Toe Espadrille ($25) -- I'm sure you've seen these before, they've been heavily featured on other great blogs. They don't work for me (not enough stretch), but I wish they did -- I would take them and myself straight to Italy. How perfect would these be for strolling the windy cobblestone streets of Venice or floating on a boat off the coast of Capri?

7. Target Solid Envelope Clutch ($16.99, on sale) -- I never think about shopping for an evening bag until I need one, and then I'm frustrated with my options: spend an arm and a leg for something I like, or settle for something budget-friendly but cheap looking. This one is shockingly good for the price -- I'm going to pick it up now so I'll be able to shop my closet when I need it.

8. Forever 21 Faux Leather Slides ($13) -- So simple, so chic. I'd buy two pair for this price.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Three Ways: Black Wrap Dress

One of my favorite purchases this month is a black wrap dress from H&M. I'm obsessed. OBSESSED. 

{Fit Tip: Even the best fitting wrap dresses and v-neck dresses can gape a little when you move. I bring these kinds of dresses to my tailor and have them add a tiny hidden snap or hook & eye closure. right where the fabric meets at the neckline. No one ever knows it's there, and you won't have to spend the day adjusting yourself to keep covered. It costs about $10 and is worth every penny!}

Amazing, right? It is incredibly simple but lovely, flattering, and (I hope) really versatile. I love it as an easy work option -- when you're running late, a classic dress like this can be a lifesaver. But I'm so excited about this dress I want more reasons to wear it, so I decided to play around with some other options:

Dressed Up

When you have a blank canvas like this dress, even the simplest accessories will stand out. It's tempting to load up with lots of jewelry (and let's face it, I probably will at some point), but how about just one bold bracelet and bright earrings?

And don't miss an opportunity to break out some sexy shoes. I am still in love with these Zara beauties and look, they work here perfectly! I think I need to buy these shoes.

Dressed Down

I usually live in jeans on the weekend, but this would be an easy way to change things up and still feel relaxed and comfortable. I'd wear this for brunch with friends or just running around the neighborhood taking care of weekend errands. I love the idea of layering lots of different neutrals -- just add a casual little jacket and scarf and then you have the perfect blank canvas to showcase your current favorite accessories (a sharp tote, fun flats, a great chunky watch).

Client Ready

I can think of a million ways I'll wear this to the office, but these chilly winter temps are making me crave a cozy knit sweater and great boots. Mixing black and brown can be tricky -- I think adding warm gold jewelry helps tie things together nicely. I just bought a similar tank-style watch and I love it, and I have my eye on this zodiac pendant (great on its own or layered).

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wednesday Wishlist: Budget Busters

Sometimes it seems that everything I covet has a price tag that looks like this: $$$$$$ This week's Wednesday Wishlist will be a bit of a therapy session where I can try to work out my feelings towards these beautiful budget busters:

1. Boden Dip Dye Cashmere Sweater ($208) -- I'd wear this cozy, dreamy sweater all spring. The watercolor ombre is just gorgeous, like the prettiest Easter egg. It's also a nice alternative to the traditional solid colored cashmere sweater, which we've all seen a million times.

2. Kate Spade Constellation Sweater ($298) Just fun and whimsical and perfect. I'd wear this with jeans and sheer red lipstick on a Saturday for museum hopping or a double feature (except, if I spent $300 on a sweater I'd be wearing it while sitting in my apartment in my underwear eating PB&Js).

3. J. Crew Tippi Candy Stripe Cashmere Sweater ($89, resale) With an original price tag of $238 I guess this is a bargain, but I'm grouchy because even on eBay this sweater seems overpriced. It is adorable but not really all that versatile, so I'd like someone to just sell me one for around 40 that too much to ask?

4. DvF Metallic V Neck Blouse ($298) -- I love a great sheer black blouse, and this one is so glam and sparkly. I always like to consider cost per wear for splurge purchases, and this one makes perfect financial long as I keep it in my closet for about 30 years or so. Seems doable.

5. Tory Burch Gretchen Turtleneck ($175, on sale) -- One of my favorite things about winter is apres-ski. I don't ski -- don't care for snow, don't care for breaking my neck -- but I'll be waiting for you at the lodge, sitting by the fire with with big mugs of cocoa and some tasty snacks. And I'll be wearing this adorable turtleneck and my rosiest cheeks (they're pretty cute -- my nickname in high school was Snow White!).

6. DvF Dolores Dress ($369, on sale) Let me tell you, I would wear the hell out of this dress. This is a shop your closet piece. I mean, imagine showing up at your high school reunion or for your hot date in this chic little Biba-fabulous number. I have no problem spending money on a timeless, well-made piece and this definitely fits the bill...just not in the budget right now.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Closet Inventory - Part II/Final

I was finally able to complete my closet inventory -- the suspense has been killing you, right? ;)

This second round was incredibly eye-opening. As I mentioned, I decided that a full closet inventory was an important step as I try to build the fabulous wardrobe I'm craving. I need to know what I have, get rid of what doesn't work, and figure out what I need.

Still not my closet (source)

You can see my first closet inventory here (this is the closet I'm currently using). I also have a ridiculous significant number of clothes in storage at my parents' house. It's a bit of a hodgepodge of things that aren't appropriate for hot and sticky Florida, things that I haven't worn in years, and things that were simply forgotten. It was really kind of fun pulling it all out -- I found some incredible gems and quite a few dogs (how? why? was I drunk when I bought this??).

In addition to being a fun trip down memory lane, weeding through this closet was incredibly instructive -- as in life, sometimes you learn more from the mistakes than you do from the successes. I lost count of how many things I discarded, but I'd estimate I cut this chunk of my wardrobe down by at least one-third. Here's what I have left:

And here's what I learned along the way:

Fast Fashion FAIL

A lot of the things I got rid of were the cheap blouses and dresses that I've picked up over the years. I wasn't too surprised that a lot of Forever 21 pieces seemed super dated. I was a little sad at how poorly a lot of my Target clothes have held up -- so much piling, fading, and sagging. I got rid of almost everything, save for a few beloved Isaac Mizrahi pieces (that collection was brilliant -- RIP, Isaac x Target!).

After filling a trash bag of highly flammable garments (some still had the tags on, sigh) I was ready to quit Forever 21 forever. Until my new favorite Instagram account made me fall in love all over again.

My strategy now is to be REALLY selective, and to make sure that I'm thinking about the big picture of a cohesive wardrobe (and not be swayed by sparkly beading and low prices, two of my favorite things). And also to recognize that these pieces aren't meant to live in my wardrobe forever, so I need to assume that after a year or two, they need to make their way to eBay or the donation bin.

I Like To Buy the Same Things Over and Over Again

Scrutinizing your wardrobe helps you identify areas of weakness, and it also helps you see what you overbuy. There are a couple of categories of item that I can't seem to say no to:

-sheer black blouses
-dark wide leg jeans
-intarsia sweaters
-striped shirts

{I want them all}
These are all things that I wear often, so it isn't necessarily a bad thing that I have multiples. But when I think about my shopping habits, I think I have this idea that somewhere out there, there is a PERFECT (fill in the blank) that will completely satisfy my urges. That one pair of dark jeans that I'll love forever and will make my legs looks a mile long, that perfect black top that will be just the right combination of flirty and feminine and sophisticated...and I keep buying and buying, hoping to find The One.

It won't happen, and that's OK. I don't need to be in a monogamous relationship with any items in my closet -- I can be a little slutty. But unless I want a striped shirt under a cute sweater with dark jeans to be my daily uniform, I need to keep my urges in check (and try to practice a one in/one out philosophy so closet isn't bursting at the seams).

I Hold Onto Things For the Wrong Reasons

As I was going through my wardrobe, I found myself looking at things that should have been purged years ago. I tried to use some of the recommended methods for a closet clean-out -- don't hold on to things that you hope to fit into some day, only keep things that bring you joy, toss things you haven't worn in a year, etc.

Some of these things worked, but at some point I got a case of Special Snowflake Syndrome and came up with reasons why these rules didn't apply to me:

My weight has fluctuated in the past (more than the usual 10 or so vanity pounds), and I'm definitely on a downward trend. So my smallest jeans don't work now, but they very well may fit in 6 months (and why should I toss them now only to replace them down the road?).

I haven't read Marie Kondo's much talked about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but I'd like to get my hands on it before my next closet inventory. I do understand the basic principle, which is to keep only the things that bring you joy and let go of all of the other reasons (guilt, emotional attachment, etc) we keep things. I did purge some items that didn't pass the joy test, but I confess that I kept a completely non-joy-producing grey fleece pullover that I haven't worn in a long time -- and I can't explain why.

So some purging happened, and I think there is more to come. Baby steps.

So now I've been through all of my clothes in 2 closets. After a lot of sorting, a lot of debating, and a lot of tossing, here's the final tally for my current wardrobe:

And I'm fairly happy with these numbers. I have no idea what's normal (I have a friend who has over 80 sweaters -- that seems excessive?), but I feel like I have the things I need and want to wear, and I have enough space to accommodate everything (for now). I know that I'll continue to add things over the year, so it is really helpful to have this baseline inventory as I consider purchases. I have PLENTY of blouses, so new ones I add need to be really special...but I have room for another skirt or two.

I've decided that I'll make a no-buy January and closet inventory an annual tradition -- it is a great feeling to start off the year with a nice orderly closet and a game plan for shopping in the year ahead!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Three Minute Face

I love makeup and I’m kind of a product junkie – I have drawers full of shimmery, creamy, goopy magic. I love to play and experiment, but for my everyday look I’m quite low-maintenance. With the right products, it takes me about three minutes to look polished and (relatively) awake -- perfect for working from home, casual office days, and running around on the weekends.

Here's what I use in my speedy-but-effective routine:

The Essentials...

I try to remember to dab on a little bit of this first thing in the morning. I absolutely LOVE this product -- makes my skin SO soft, it is really the first moisturizer that I enjoy using. If you're a Bravo fan, you might remember Jennifer Lopez raving about this on Watch What Happens Live. I always take celeb recommendations with a grain of salt, but since this product isn't crazy expensive, and since Jennifer Lopez's face looks like, well, perfection, I thought I'd give it a whirl. Because this is a bit thick I think it would work best as a night cream, so I'm exploring other, lighter options for day (any suggestions?). But for now, this is working fine to prep my skin for makeup.

And I promise, most days I also add this great sunscreen. It is a kind of an interesting texture, much runnier than your average sunscreen, but it provides great coverage for this Snow White afraid of frying in the Florida sun.

In my 20s, I used tinted moisturizers to help even out my skin and give me a polished but not overly made-up look (Laura Mercier and Stila are favorites in that category). In my 30s, I've moved to BB creams. They provide just a bit more coverage and apparently they are good (or at least, not terrible) for your skin. I think this formula by Dr. Jart is incredible, particularly for fair skin. A little goes a long way – just one or two pumps covers my whole face, and I blend it with a foundation brush or even just my fingers. It looks natural all day, and it just covers the little imperfections -- redness, dark spots, blemishes, all of it.

I can skip almost every step in my makeup routine, but the one product I never skip is eyeliner. It’s just my favorite, and I feel it makes the biggest difference in my face. The shape of my eyes makes pencil liner almost impossible (it transfers to my upper lids within minutes), so for me, liquid liners were kind of a revelation. This L’Oreal formula was one of the first I tried and it’s been my absolute favorite for years.

The applicator is a bit unusual in that it’s a true brush, almost like a nail polish brush, which makes it easy to keep your line thin or really lay it on thick. If you're new to liquid liner, I think this is also easier to get the hang of than felt tip applicators. And the staying power is phenomenal – it lasts through a sweaty workout or a long workday. I’ve tried plenty of pricey liners, but I always end up going back to this drugstore bargain.

I’ll be honest, I think we are living in the Golden Age of Mascara. There are truly hundreds of REALLY, really wonderful mascaras on the market – you almost can’t make a mistake. If you ask 10 different women for their must-have mascara you’ll get 10 different answers, and they’ll probably all be awesome. For years, I’ve been loyal to L’Oreal Voluminous. It goes on easily and does a great job of lengthening and thickening (it is a great dupe for the fantastic DiorShow), and it stays on all day. And it is cheap. CHEAP! I often find it on sale at Target for around $5 and grab a few tubes so I can stash them in my purse, gym bag, wherever.

Oh, and definitely curl your lashes. You know the trick about warming your curler up with your hair dryer, right?

If I'm really pressed for time I might skip cheek color, but this is my favorite one to dab on when I do want a natural flushed look. The Multiple is a best-seller for Nars, but I particularly love their matte version. Cream blushes are so forgiving -- I just use my fingers to dab this on the apples of my cheeks, there is truly no skill involved. This might seem a little pricey for blush, but after a year I've barely made a dent in mine -- I am pretty sure this tube will last me the rest of my life.

I dot this on along my brow bones and then across my cheekbones (it makes a little heart shape!) and then blend. It's the lazy girl's contouring and looks pretty when the light catches your face.

If I Have Two More Minutes...

I'll dot my favorite concealer under my eyes. This formula is quite opaque, so it is ideal for covering dark circles. On bad days, it can feel like instant Photoshop.

I'll also use this brightening pencil on the inside of my lower lash line to make my eyes look wider and more awake (and maybe dab a little in the inner corners, too).

And maybe I'll make a half-hearted attempt at putting something on my lips (usually just a good chapstick, like this Nivea one). I love lipstick, but I'm honestly too lazy to put much on during the day.

PS -- Isn't that makeup bag the cutest? Forever 21 has some great ones right now!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Three Ways: Valentine's Day

I stumbled across these beautiful shoes from Zara and immediately started thinking about how surprisingly versatile sandals like this would be. 

Zara Trf High-Heeled Sandals ($59.90)

They'd be absolutely perfect for Valentine's Day, no matter what your plans might be. Here's how I would wear these shoes for a great night out:

Pink and red are obvious choices for a romantic Valentine's Day look, but why not stand out in a super feminine black and white palette? This lace dress is demure but sexy, and it would look amazing peeking out of a dreamy little coat. I love these dangly earrings for a little extra sparkle.

You can add your pop of red with pretty flushed cheeks and then finish with sheer pink gloss and a few dabs of highlighter.

OK, maybe you just can't imagine not wearing red on Valentine's Day. I'd go with something a little different like this flirty midi skirt. You don't need much more than a fitted sweater and a great necklace (and the fabulous Zara shoes!) to put together a fashion-forward look that's perfect for dinner, dancing, or just strolling around town making everyone totes jelly.

I'd play up my eyes with lots of lashes (maybe even a few false ones). And I'd definitely go with a lip stain if you want red lips and you also want to do lots of smooching.

So maybe you won't be spending your Valentine's Day being wined and dined by the love of your life. Me neither -- but that doesn't mean I won't be having fun!

This is exactly what I want to wear as a single girl out and about on a day made for couples. This would be perfect for a night with friends...maybe dinner and a drinks at a fun bar. I'd want something totally comfortable but not sloppy, like a soft jacket and relaxed jeans. The shirt would definitely be a conversation starter...and in the event I meet a potential Mr. Peacoat, he should know right off the bat that this girl likes to eat.

A good chunky watch would be useful in case you're like me and may want to bail in time to catch House Hunters International. I'd stick with very low-key makeup -- fluffy lashes and the slightest hint of lip color (that coincidentally will keep my lips very very soft...).

Happy Valentine's Day...and however you choose to spend it, have fun and look fabulous!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wednesday Wishlist: Perfect Everyday Bags

Confession time: I'm not really much of a handbag girl. Of course, I need to lug my stuff around so I have to have a few good options in my closet, but they're far from the most important part of my wardrobe. I don't need to have a different bag to match every mood, I don't really care about the latest it bag. For my everyday bag, I have a few very specific requirements: it has to be leather (or at least look like it), it has to be roomy but not bulky, and it should be easy to carry (nice long shoulder straps, and maybe a crossbody option).

I don't have a brand preference -- I generally avoid anything with logos and instead try to find bags that convey style and quality while staying kind of anonymous. These bags may share some details with of-the-moment bags (a little quilting here, a tassel there, etc.), but they are definitely not knockoffs. Theory just launched a line of bags and accessories and I love the way they described their aesthetic: "Unbranded is our brand". When it comes to bags, I'm happy to take mine unbranded.

Since my bags get a lot of use, I don't mind spending a little money for something I love. Here are some of my current favorites at around $200:

Wednesday Wishlist 2
1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7

1. Madewell Transport Tote ($168) -- A best-seller and blogger favorite. Even though this generally meets all of my perfect bag's qualifications, the Transport Tote didn't really catch my eye until I saw the black/cognac color combo. Boom: love. The price feels a bit high for me, so rather than wait for a deal I think I'll try the next best thing: raiding my mom's closet. My ever-chic mom was way ahead of the trend and picked up an almost identical Cynthia Rowley tote on sale at Marshalls...almost 2 years ago! I'm sure she'll be ready to retire it soon...

2. Vince Camuto Kat Convertible Satchel ($150, on sale) -- I love the shape of this bag. Marc Jacobs made it popular years ago, and for good reason -- you get a roomy bag that tucks neatly under your arm and goes with almost everything. The poppy red color is my favorite.

3. Deux Lux Basketweave Hobo Bag ($129, on sale) -- Deux Lux is one of my favorite brands for stylish and affordable bags. Even at full price they are pretty reasonable, but I often find great deals at TJ Maxx and flash sale sites like Hautelook. This one is clearly influenced by Bottega Veneta, giving it a modern but timeless feel.

4. Isaac Mizrahi Oversized Hobo Bag ($218) -- Just big and slouchy and great. The only issue is making sure you don't overload it and give yourself a hunchback, but this is perfect for the eternal Girl Scout who never likes to leave the house unprepared.

5. Boden Maida Vale Bag ($228) -- The most classic slouchy hobo shape in a really fresh color. Check out the other options, too -- the silver is great if you love a good metallic.

6. Deux Lux Drawstring Bucket Bag ($105) -- I gravitate towards totes and hobos, but a bucket bag is a fantastic and practical style that would be a great addition to my wardrobe. Keep the strap a little short or wear it crossbody to keep it from going too soccer mom.

7. Forever 21 Colorblock Faux Leather Tote ($30) -- If this looks as good in person as it does online, this is a steal! I love the color combo and the overall versatility of this bag. Forever 21 can be very hit or miss when it comes to handbags, but I've got my fingers crossed for this one.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sunday Morning Finds: Ines de la Fressange for Uniqlo

Sunday mornings usually start with a long run (I am a back-of-the-pack runner who loves every painful, sweaty mile!), and then end with a lot of sitting and re-carbing. I grab my iPad and catch up blogs and head to some of my favorite sites to do some window/actual shopping. This morning, I wanted to share some favorite finds from a great designer collab.

Yesterday I got to spend the morning shopping in NYC. It was chilly and a little snowy and I was out and about early, so the stores were EMPTY. Seriously, it was perfection. I hit the huge Uniqlo flagship and stumbled upon some great pieces from their Ines de la Fressange spring collection. I feel like Uniqlo flies a little under the radar in blog world, but don't overlook this fantastic store. I'll do a broader Uniqlo post at some point...for now, let's honor our inner fabulous French girl.

Ines de la Fressange is a French model and style icon -- she was the darling of Chanel for many years and has, as you would imagine, that effortlessly chic and unmistakable French style. The Uniqlo collaboration captures a lot of the spirit of modern French style in pieces that could work within just about any closet. You don't want to look like you're wearing a costume or playing a character (remember when Brenda pretended to be French to pick up Dean Cain on Beverly Hills 90210? Yeah, that you don't want to do that), you just want to borrow a few of their best ideas. 

This line is full of some wonderful not-so-basic basics. Here are my favorites:

What could be more classically French than the perfect white button-down shirt? This one looks relaxed and comfy but still tailored and feminine. You can spend a fortune on a great white button down, but if you're klutzy and spill-prone like me, you'll appreciate the very reasonable price of this one.

I regret not picking this up yesterday because they are sold out of my size online. So simple but so elegant, right? And I love the idea of a year-round sweater -- I'd wear it with my heaviest wool trousers right now and over a tank and baggy shorts in the summer. Perfect.

In summer, I live in lightweight denim. I don't want to give up my jeans but can't bear the thought of thick, heavy denim so I look for fabrics (and styles) that are airy and cool. Done. 

Tote Bag -- $29.90

I love this collection because it proves that simple doesn't have to be boring. Check out the other color combos, too -- I can't decide which one I like best!

This is so genius. The lightest rain coat imaginable (seriously, you can fold it into a tiny pouch when you're not using it) in a slim cut and a subtle, chic print. I have the cutest bright yellow rubber rain shoes, and I feel like between the jacket and the shoes, I might have a cute enough rainy day ensemble to distract people from the inevitable frizz situation happening on top of my head.

Trench Coat -- $129.90

I'm on the hunt for a classic trench coat and this is a serious contender. This one is from the IDLF Fall collection, so it might be due for a price cut soon. There is no reason you wouldn't want to wear this 10 or even 20 years from now.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Wednesday Wishlist

On Wednesdays, I'll share a roundup of whatever I'm obsessing about at the moment. This week the weather has me thinking about just one thing: coats.

Wednesday Wishlist                                       one/two/three/four/five/six/seven

I have a lifelong problem of never being dressed appropriately for the weather. So much so that random people stop me on the street to ask why I'm not wearing the right coat/shoes/headgear. Utilitarian outerwear can be often be pretty ugly, but sometimes I imagine that if I just had the right (and very cute) options, I'd finally get my act together. So this week, I'm dreaming about coats. I did just add a gorgeous dress coat to my wardrobe, but now I need something that will serve me on a day-to-day basis.

I'm not the girl who can wear a white coat without getting it dirty, but of course, all of the coats that are tempting my itchy mouse finger are pale and not at all practical. Still, the heart wants what it wants, so let's take a look at some dreamy, creamy winter coats:

Zara Padded Jacket with Patterned Lining ($129) -- I own a similar quilted jacket from Old Navy and I love the style. Mine is perfect for winter in Florida, but I'd love this more substantial version for winter...well, anywhere else.

Wool Duffle Coat ($39.90, on sale) -- Uniqlo's take on a traditional duffle coat is simple but perfect. The end-of-season pricing means sizes are limited, but this is a steal if you can find yours. I love this rich camel color, but the cherry red would also be a favorite for years to come.

Princess Coat ($55, on sale) -- A coat fit for Kate Middleton herself. The lines are so very feminine and the color, a sort of mink-y greige, is perfection. Right now is a great time to score a deal on a coat, and this one is firmly on my maybe list.

Heritage Sweater-Sleeve Duffle Coat ($275) -- Just too impractical and just not a wardrobe priority, but lovely nonetheless. After first seeing it on Capitol Hill Style I have developed an irrational, unbridled love for this coat. It's kind of the way it happens, right? Reminds me of a time my college roommate was visiting me in New York City and we saw Lisa Loeb at Chelsea Market, looking perfectly adorable in an ivory pea coat. A few weeks later my roommate called to tell me she went out and bought a similar coat because she just couldn't stop thinking about it. Maybe every woman needs a winter white coat at least once in her life?

Luxe Fur Collar Coat ($217) -- For the Olivia Pope in you, because you need that shit to be HANDLED.

Ultra Light Down Compact Jacket ($59) -- An Ultra Light Down coat has been on my wish list for a while. I've avoided down because I could just never get on board with the idea of wearing what is essentially a full-sized sleeping bag as a winter coat, but Uniqlo has figured out a way to make warm down coats look sleek. The hardest part is figuring out which style and color to choose (there are tons!), but I'm leaning towards this pretty mauve.

Catharine Coat ($178.20, on sale) -- For the Queen Elsa of Arendelle in you, because you want to use your magic to brighten a dreary gray winter day.