Sunday, May 31, 2015

Weekend To-Do List

weekend todo
It was a good weekend around these parts, hope for you as well! Here's how it went down..

1. There are two words that bring a bit of joy to the hearts of NYC's grumpiest office drones: Summer Fridays. My office observes this happy little tradition, and for us it means that as long as your work is done, you can end your workday at 3pm on Fridays. Nice, right?

I used the time to take care of a few personal items (booked some appointments, gave myself a fresh pedicure) and just let myself ease into the weekend. Soon enough it was ready to get freshened up to meet a friend for a perfect Friday girls' night: dinner and a movie. We saw Pitch Perfect 2 (yes, this was my second time) -- I actually liked it a bit better on second viewing, and we had fun singing along to some of the better musical numbers. Dinner was at Sweet Tomatoes, one of my favorite quick and healthy spots in town. It's basically a giant soup and salad buffet, and it is awesome. We both had to be up early the next morning, so we kept it low-key but had plenty of silly laughs.

2. Saturday morning I was on the road by 7am heading to my favorite place -- I had a shift serving breakfast at Give Kids The World. I got to help fill the tummies of some seriously cute kids and their families -- I love any shift that has a lot of interaction with families and this is a great one. I spent the rest of the day running errands and then finished out an unusually mild evening with drinks and dinner outside. Unbelievably it is still very spring-like here in Orlando. Summer, be kind to us.

3. Not that we're hurting for entertainment, but just a few weeks ago we welcomed the arrival of the Orlando Eye, one of those enormous ferris wheel that gives you spectacular city views. It was fascinating watching it being built, and while it is a bit of an eyesore (just like in any other city), it's not going anywhere soon so we're just going to have to learn to love it. Sunday was a such a pretty day, so I grabbed a few adventurous friends to check it out. It was fun! And terrifying!

4. The rest of the day was just a bit of this and that. I took care of a few chores, went to the gym, made a Target run (bought nothing - scandalous!), spent some quality time with the cutest dog in the world (the tiny dachshund above, who looks damn good in a sweater), got sucked into a Jurassic Park marathon, and did some cooking. I had gotten out of the habit of doing food prep for the coming week, but it is SUCH a big help and an important way to stay on track with good eating habits. I made a big salad, steamed a bag of broccoli, and cut up some veggies so I'll have some easy ways to get green stuff on my plate. I also roasted a pan of garlic chicken legs that are great as a snack right out of the fridge or easily heated up for a quick dinner.

I have just enough time for an episode or two of Mad Men (making my way quickly through season one) and then time for bed. I managed to log more than 17,000 steps on the FitBit today and I am feeling it.

Hope your weekend was everything you wanted it to be -- time to get our Monday game faces on!


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

May Budget

Dude. May went FAST. The good months always do, right? January moves like a slug but May...boom, blink and it's gone.

This month was a story of a lot of happy but unplanned purchases. Plenty of things I didn't know I needed until I saw them. I went quite over budget, which isn't super happy news. There were more than a few things (due to sales and limited release collections) that felt like they couldn't wait, and then a few things I just didn't want to say no to. Here are the numbers:

Starting Budget:

$200


Purchases:
may budget




































clockwise from l to r:

Zara Multicolor Yarn Sweater ($59) -- I love this sweater so much, though my brain struggled a bit with the idea of purchasing a thick wool sweater in May. It just makes me HAPPY. It's like they made a sweater out of rainbow sprinkles! Marie Kondo gets it. I'm sure it will cheer up some of those dreary days in winter, but I'm also loving the idea of pulling it on over white jeans in the summer, or leggings and a tank for a comfy/chic travel outfit.

Banana Republic Factory Sun Hat ($20, on sale) -- I have always wanted a fabulous floppy sun hat, and now I have one.

Anthropologie Space-Dyed Jacket (n/a) -- I don't count workout clothes towards my monthly budget, but this jacket was just too cute not to share. I sale-stalked it for weeks until it finally dropped to a reasonable price. Love, love, love.

Milly x Kohl's Floral Scuba Skirt ($30, on sale) -- one of my favorite pieces in this collection.

Milly x Kohl's Dolman Maxi Dress ($41, on sale) -- this color is just so cool and inviting. I think it would flatter so many different skin tones.

Zara Leather Printed Wedge ($120) -- probably the primary reason I busted my budget. I can't even describe how much I love the shape of this shoe -- perfect heel height, perfect buckle, perfect everything. At first I'd wished it was in a more basic color like black or solid gray, but the snakeskin pattern has really grown on me -- a fun twist on what is basically a neutral.

Nike Air Pegasus '83 ($37 x2) -- proclaimed my love for these delightful sneakers in an earlier post. Loved them so much, I bought 2 pair!

Old Navy Striped Tunic ($17) -- sometimes Old Navy just surprises you with a gem. This tunic is great as a beach cover-up, but I could also see it belted over skinny jeans and maybe a pair of bright wedges.

Total: $361

Not really sure what to say, other than that it is funny to see how quickly the numbers add up even during a relatively modest shopping month. When I decided to start tracking my budget, I thought $200 sounded like more than enough on a monthly basis. Now that I'm five months into this process, I'm learning that may not be the case. And my spending habits are so unpredictable -- sometimes I want quality over quantity, sometimes I just have the urge to treat myself in the form of a fast fashion binge.

And I find that I am very quick to fall in love HARD with a beautiful dress, a perfect blouse, an exquisite pair of shoes (funny, I'm not at all like this with human relationships). I convince myself that my beloved item is so special, so perfect, and so life-changing that I need to have it...which is fine, except a few weeks later, the cycle starts all over again.

I have my eye on a few things for June's budget, but I'm going to try to hold off on buying for awhile and try to really enjoy all of the great things I've added to my wardrobe so far this year.

Linking up with Fran and the budget bloggers again this month -- pop over and see what the other ladies bought! And let me know how you did this month!





Monday, May 25, 2015

(Holiday) Weekend To-Do List

Happy Memorial Day weekend to all! Hope everyone enjoyed a bit of summer fun on this holiday weekend (and also took a moment, or several, to reflect on the meaning of this day -- to veterans and to those who have lost loved ones, it is so very important).

My weekend seemed to fly by rather quickly, a good mix of silly fun and downtime:

1. Now that Mad Men has completely wrapped up (I've been avoiding spoilers, but I guess people liked the finale?), I decided to see what all the fuss is about. I've been looking for a good juicy summer binge series, and this seemed as good as any. And hopefully I'll finish it quickly enough that people will still humor me while I dissect all of the details (if not, there's always Tom and Lorenzo). I'm only a couple of episodes in but so far, so good.

2. This weekend I decided to give myself a little tough love about my eating and exercise habits of late (too much of one, not enough of the other). Last year I really worked hard to make eating better and working out consistently a priority, and by the time I ran my first half-marathon in January, I felt better than I ever had in my life. Unfortunately, the past few months have seen me getting a liiiiittttle lazy -- not a complete backslide into bad habits, but enough "I should treat myself" and "I think I need sleep more than a gym session this morning" that I can feel (and see) some extra pounds. I've been getting my workouts in and eating clean for the past few days and I can already feel a difference (even if it is just losing a little water weight, it is awesome motivation to keep going). Whew.

3. I had a pretty fantastic day shopping at the Orlando Premium Outlets on Sunday (following all of my rules from last week's post). I didn't buy too much (my favorite purchase, a super cheap J. Crew Factory School Boy Blazer, turned out to be a bust -- it had some damage I didn't notice when I was in the store, so back it goes), but I had lots of fun checking out the sales and people-watching. The play-by-play (including favorite and least favorite finds) is on Instagram -- check it out if you like shopping and humor, and shopping-related humor.

4. It wouldn't be a holiday without a barbecue, and I got to enjoy a classic holiday weekend shindig with friends. My apartment community has a gorgeous (and rarely used) outdoor summer kitchen, so we grilled some tasty chicken and steaks and had a bit of a potluck. I was a bit annoyed to find some brats in the complex damaged our fire pit, preventing us from making my favorite summer dessert (S'MORES!), so I decided to bake these adorable s'mores cupcakes instead (some people are just so damn creative in the kitchen -- definitely need to try out more recipes from The Baker Upstairs!)  -- mine were almost as cute and very tasty.

Note: for some reason, whenever I decide I need to clean up my diet I have this urge to start baking all kinds of goodies for others. I'd like to think it's because I'm a nice person, but part of me thinks it is a way of testing my own willpower -- sometimes I just make it so damn hard for myself. I had a bite of a cupcake just to make sure I wasn't serving my guests garbage but let them finish off the batch and sat there feeling just a tiny bit smug that I wasn't eating dessert (so dumb, right?). I have food issues, y'all -- anyone else do weird stuff like that sometimes?

And suddenly, it is Monday night again. Sigh. I could use one more day because you'll notice I didn't mention a damn thing about doing any laundry, cleaning, or anything useful around the house. Whoops.






Thursday, May 21, 2015

Everything You Need to Know About Shopping Outlet Malls

I love a good outlet mall. So many stores, so many treasures waiting to be unearthed. If you're planning to some outlet shopping this Memorial Day weekend, you need to keep reading...

A few favorites from a recent trip...
I grew up near a huge outlet center, back in the good old days when outlet stores actually carried last season/irregular merchandise (more on that later). I'll admit when I was in high school, I usually turned my nose up at the idea of outlets. Having to dig through the racks to find the right size, the right color, etc. seemed like a hassle. It was easier to go to the mall and just buy whatever was in the window of The Gap or Express like my friends did.

As an adult, I've developed a new appreciation -- some of the best pieces in my closet are outlet scores, and I hit one of the local outlet malls here in Orlando (we have three!) at least once or twice a month.

At this point, I consider myself a pretty savvy outlet shopper. Here are my best tips for finding the best pieces and scoring the best deals.

Do your homework...


God, this place is enormous...
MAKE A PLAN. Check out the store directory online and decide what your priorities are. There are so many types of stores, you probably don't need to shop for clothing and luggage and housewares and gourmet popcorn and running shoes all in the same day. Decide which stores you want to hit and figure out the most logical route. I usually like to make a second lap later in the day (picking up that pair or jeans I was debating, or maybe even returning something I changed your mind about), and having an efficient route mapped out will make this super easy.

GET THE COUPON BOOK -- BUT DON'T PAY FOR IT. This is the step that makes me feel a bit like my mom -- let's admit it, even talking about coupons feels kind of lame. But you're shopping at the outlets at least in part to score some bargains, so don't leave any money on the table.

Almost every outlet mall has some kind of coupon book available offering additional discounts (they vary by store, and most stores participate). This book is for sale for between $5-10, but there are always ways to get it for free: join the outlet's VIP club, show a membership card (AAA, AARP), "like" the outlet's Facebook page, etc. Dig around and figure out what your options are.

FIND EVEN MORE COUPONS. Check out the outlet's website for additional printable coupons, and check retailer's websites to see if you can get on their outlet's email list -- they'll let you know about new merchandise, special sales, and yes, even more coupons. It's a little bit of work, but sometimes these extra discounts make all the difference.

Make your life a little easier...

DRESS SMART. Taking an extra minute to be thoughtful with your outfit can make your trip so much easier. I have a uniform for any big shopping outing:


*flats or easy to remove, comfy shoes so can easily try on prospective purchases.
*weather-appropriate layers -- I like to wear a good tank under a blazer or sweater so I can slip on items without having to run to the dressing room.
*my favorite jeans or pants -- it will save you time in the dressing room if you can try on tops with the pants you're likely to pair them with.
*no coat (unless it is frigid) -- it will be warm in the stores, and it will just get in the way while you're trying things on.

GO VERY, VERY EARLY. Seriously, if you don't listen to a single thing I say, listen to this. Particularly if you're going on a weekend, make sure you are there when the stores open (even a little early). I can get a whole day's worth of shopping done in just an hour or two as long as I get there first thing in the morning.

Being an early bird is great for SO many reasons: you'll get the best pick of merchandise, you'll have plenty of attention from the sales staff, and you'll get a parking space without having to murder someone.

MAKE CROWDS WORK IN YOUR FAVOR. Holiday weekends always bring out the crowds, and stores often offer their best sales. I love taking advantage of these, but I try to do it in the smartest way possible. On Memorial Day weekend (or really any 3-day holiday weekend), I'll usually try to make my outlet visit on Sunday morning. You'll get big crowds early on Saturday and Monday, but people tend to take their time getting up and out on Sundays. (At Thanksgiving, I'll skip Black Friday -- just so insane -- and show up on Saturday or Sunday morning to find virtually the same discounts and empty stores)

While You're Shopping...

LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS. So, here's the deal with today's "outlets" -- the (now well-known) secret to these stores is that for the most part, they no longer carry the merchandise you'd find in a regular store. Retailers like Gap, Banana Republic, J. Crew, and Kate Spade all make a secondary (lesser quality) line that they sell in their outlets. Basically, they are selling their own knockoffs -- looks sorta the same, but definitely isn't the real deal.

Some stores do this well -- J. Crew and Loft, for example. Generally their outlet pricing matches the quality of their items, the materials are pretty good, and the styling is in line with their namesake brand.

Others struggle -- Kate Spade, Coach, and Michael Kors come to mind. I usually think the leathers look cheap, the colors garish, and styles kind of cheesy. Honestly, the products look like what you'd expect to find at Target (but at very un-Target prices). It makes me a bit sad, I think some brands just trade on their name and figure that there are enough people who are so label conscious that they'll buy almost anything with the right logo, even if it isn't particularly attractive (and maybe they're right -- the outlet stores are packed and people are just buy, buy, buying -- but at what cost? According to this article, at least some brands are starting to see the repercussions).

source
That isn't to say that you won't find things you love -- I've picked up some fantastic wallets at Kate Spade outlets, and I actually prefer J. Crew Factory to J. Crew because I think the Factory items are usually a better value. But just keep this little "secret" in mind when you're thinking about a purchase...and make sure you're not comparing the outlet's orange to the parent brand's apple.

KNOW THE PRICING GAME. By now, every retailer knows that people love a bargain. No one is happy with just getting a fair price -- we need a steal, we need to feel like we got away with something. All retails stores do it, but even more so the outlet malls are more than happy to feed that need. Of course, we're trying to get one over on them while they're trying to get one over on us, so don't be swayed by big sale signs -- if a store is offering 50% off of everything, they never expected you to pay full price to begin with.

When you're considering buying, decide for yourself what that item is worth. Don't pay attention to the inflated original sticker price -- think about what you think is fair and compare that to whatever the "sale" price is.

WORK YOUR RESTING BITCH FACE. You'll lose valuable time if you get stopped by the guy selling dead sea skin products or the fiber mascara lady, so just try not to look too approachable.


OK, so you have some ground rules down, now for the fun part -- the shopping! I always like to keep an open mind, but in general these are some of the best things to shop for:


*Designer sunglasses and watches -- you can find great deals on the exact styles that you'd find in retail stores. You'll find the biggest selections at department store outlets (like Off 5th and Neiman Marcus Last Call), but don't forget to check out specialty shops like Michael Kors, Coach, and Fossil.

*Sneakers -- you may have to sift through odd sizes and color combos, but you'll have your pick of almost every major retailer. Outlets can be particularly great if you wear an uncommon size (hello, 10.5) or need a wide or narrow width.

*Unmentionables -- bras, panties, and tights can be annoyingly expensive; keep your eye out for Victoria's Secret or other specialty outlets to stock up on basics for a bargain.

*Sportswear/Swimwear -- outlet malls are fantastic for finding deals on specialty gear -- hiking boots, ski jackets, bathing suits -- all-year round. You'll often have a few outdoor-type stores to choose from (North Face, Columbia, Bass, etc), and those stores don't seem to follow the same seasonal cycles that traditional retailers observe. So if you're going hiking in Europe in July or heading to Mexico for Thanksgiving you'll be able to fill your suitcase for less.

And probably stay away from:

*Luggage -- everything at the outlets is super marked up, and there are plenty of other places to buy a suitcase. I priced out a 3-piece set at the Samsonite outlet and then drove down the road and found the same exact set in a TJ Maxx for less than half the price.

*High-end fabrics at too-low prices -- I see a lot of really bad cashmere, silk, and leather at outlet malls. It may be 100%, but it lacks the feeling of a great luxury fabric.

*Non-outlet stores -- why is there always a random Forever 21 or H&M in an outlet center? Just a regular old store, selling the same things you can find at the mall. I usually avoid these on principle.

Good luck and happy shopping! If you do any shopping this weekend, let me know what you find -- I'll be sharing any juicy finds on Instagram, so feel free to follow along!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wednesday Wishlist: Flat But Fierce

Have you been following the news out of the Cannes Film Festival this week? If not, here's a quick update: Naomi Watts and Lupita Nyong'o are stunning. Cate Blanchett, beyond perfectionCarol and Inside Out look amazing (for verrry different reasons). And then a weird thing happened.

A few days ago, we heard about some fantastic things that Salma Hayek and others said about women and sexism in Hollywood. Yay! And then this bit of what-the-fuckery: women are being turned away from the red carpet and film screenings for wearing flat shoes.

There are a million reasons why a woman would choose to wear flats: Maybe comfort is important. Maybe you already tower over your teeny male co-star and you're worried he'll throw a tantrum. Maybe they just look damn good.

Heels are great, but today I've got my eyes on some totally fierce and fabulous flats -- they're not all red carpet-worthy, but there are a few pretty pair that I might just bust out the next time I'm invited to attend the most glamorous film festival in the world (next year, I'm sure)...


BRIGHT

1. Duo Karin Court Shoe ($155) -- These sweet round-toe shoes have a 1-inch heel, so perhaps not technically going to get you kicked off the carpet at Cannes, but for me these are basically flats. I love the bow detail. These are a nice option if you've been eyeing classic Ferragamos but haven't saved up enough pennies just yet.

2. Tina Mandarin Orange Dip Dyed Ballet Flats ($199) -- orange is really one of my least favorite shades to wear, but I could have fun with a bright pop of it in these vibrant ballet flats.

3. a.n.a. Sicily Ballet Flats ($40) -- pink always makes me happy.

4. Zoe Flats ($179) -- yellow seems high-maintenance, but it is a surprisingly versatile color -- it mixes well with almost every color and is infinitely more fun than basic black or brown.

LOOK AT ME

1. Chiara Ferragni Lips Espadrille ($319) -- these silly glittery slip-ons would be the perfect thing to add a little fun to your Saturday-running-errands look.

2. ModCloth Chance Greeting Flats ($40) -- why not have a pair of shoes that puts you in an instant good mood?

3. ModCloth Stroke of Genius Flats ($35) -- I don't think I could pull these off, but I'd be happy to catch someone else rocking these.

4. Gap Snakeskin Flat ($25) -- these are so simple but sharp, I'm planning a million outfits in my head that would perfectly show them off.

PERFECTLY POINTY

1. Sole Society Molly Flats ($65) -- black and white stripes just the best.

2. Zara Glitter Pointed Ballet Flats ($20) -- these are a bit over the top, so I'd keep the rest of my look unfussy...maybe boyfriend jeans and a relaxed button down or a simple black shift. They come in a gold/silver combo and an icy blue ombre that Elsa would just love.

3. Loeffler Randall Quinnie Flat Pump ($300) -- just a very ladylike classic.

4. French Connection Doris Pointy Toe Flat ($110) --  want, want, want. Sofia Coppola would rock these on the red carpet and be the coolest girl in the room.

D'ORSAY

1. Halogen Kayla Pointy Toe Flat ($80) - I'm not really a huge fan of the d'orsay style, but the mix of camel and black leather in this shoe is super chic.

2. Ferragamo Prietta Jelly Flat ($255) -- probably the prettiest jelly shoes ever.

3. ModCloth Pretty Promenade Flat ($30) -- a basic little black shoe with a feminine twist.

4. Madewell Snake Spot D'Orsay Flat ($108) -- very drawn to these, even though they're not at all my typical style.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Weekend To-Do List

Another freakin' weekend in the books. Here's how it went down...



1. Let's pretend we're still in college and the weekend starts on Thursday night (oh, those were fun times...). I got to take part in an incredibly fun local event called Orlando Soup, a unique fundraising event that supports cool organizations in the community. Attendees pay $10 for a ticket to the event -- a small portion covers dinner (soup, salad, and bread provided by a local restaurant), but most of the funds go towards a microgrant that's given to one of a number of cool community projects. During the dinner we heard quick presentations from 4 different organizations who are doing really interesting things in the Orlando area -- a contemporary dance troupe, a coding program for elementary school kids, a dinner party social club, and a group that helps enrich social skills for kids through imaginative game play and storytelling. While we ate dinner, we had the opportunity to vote on the project that we wanted to fund and at the end of the night, that group got a check! Such a simple concept and a great opportunity to mix and mingle with folks in the community and help support some of the people who are working hard to make Orlando a better place. The event happens about 4 times a year, and I'm already excited to sign up for the next one!

2. On Thursday night I was feeling a little restless (and also a teeny bit tipsy after post-Soup cocktails), and I decided to set up an Instagram account for this little blog. I have a personal Insta and I love it, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to set up Peacoat-related social media. I need to keep the blog anonymous for now, but I like having a place to share some quick updates and maybe some great shopping finds. If you're into that kind of thing, come find me!

3. Saturday afternoon I decided to tackle some of the un-fun things that I've been avoiding like the plague (a couple of bills, an unpleasant email, a few messy chores, etc.). I just sucked it up, made a list of alllllll of the things I've been meaning to do, and took care of business. It wasn't fun, but it is nice heading into the week with a clean slate.

4. Saturday night was spent hanging out with the boy who's my friend, and we didn't have any particular plans so we headed over to Downtown Disney. DTD is usually a great option when you want a bit of spontaneous fun (lots of food, plenty to drink, all kinds of free live music, a little shopping), but this trip was a bit of a bust. SO crowded. NO parking. So-so music. We were bored and basically decided to alleviate our boredom with excessive food consumption. I ate a pretzel (and then a second), a couple of sliders washed down with a beer, and then hit Ghirardelli's for ice cream. My sundae was fine, but it wasn't really what I wanted or needed and I was annoyed to pay $20 for 2 cups of ice cream. The next morning I hit the local trails for a run to sweat off some of my sins. I'm not training for any particular race right now, but my Sunday long run has become a habit that I really look forward to every week.

5. Finally, Pitch Perfect 2! I think this was probably my most anticipated summer movie, and it seemed like a great choice for a dinner and movie date with girlfriends. We started with a delicious meal of "modern Mediterranean" goodness (local Orlandoans: if you haven't been, check out Carmel Kitchen in Winter Park -- so good, with awesome happy hour deals all week long and a great prix-fixe 3-course menu on Sundays), and then hit the theater for a late movie. The food, drinks, and company were great -- sadly, the movie was only meh. There were plenty of laughs and some great performances, but the plot was a bit strange and uneven, and some of the jokes really missed. Definitely worth seeing if you loved the original, but you'll probably find yourself wishing for a bit of a better movie.

And just like that, a new week arrives. Monday, let's roll...

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Insta-PCD

Hey y'all....I'm on Instagram! You can find me right here -- exciting, right?

I'm still keeping the blog anonymous, but I'll be sharing some fun stuff...shopping finds, travel pics, and some words of wisdom straight out of my little brain. Like this gem:


Truth.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Wishlist/Shopping Bag

I've always had a taste for the finer things. Sadly, I've yet to have a bank account to match. Many times I just have to admire my luxe lusts from afar, but sometimes I luck out and fall in love with some spendy little piece that has a bargain-priced fraternal twin.

Here are some of the items on my champagne wishlist and the beer counterparts that are much more likely to end up in my shopping bag:



























I adore these sweet but incredibly practical Stuart Weitzman peep-toe wedges. I feel like you could walk forever in them without sacrificing some fun and flirty style. At $400, they're probably a reasonable investment (SW shoes are well-made and should last for years), but not really in my budget right now. So I was pretty psyched to see this look-alike option at H&M for just $30. Same lipstick red color, same cork wedge, same peep-toe. This version seems slightly less comfortable -- the heel a little higher, the platform a little lower -- but a reasonable tradeoff for less than 1/10th of the price.

I discovered this cute little waist bag when I was looking for a good hands-free option for hitting the theme parks, and I loved the compact shape and mod perforated detail. Target made a verrrry similar style in a crossbody version that would also be a sleek and practical little bag.

I really love this graphic tote -- just a fabulous summer bag that you'd wear with a million things. It's interesting and practical and perfect in every way except for...wait, how much does it cost? Boo. Enter Forever 21 with very serviceable replica. The spirit is very much the same -- roomy tote, bold photorealistic palm tree print. I'm not sure that I love the pink and purple hues, but the price is definitely right.

Who doesn't dig a big bold crazy-old-lady tropical frond print? In my head I can pull off this funky jumpsuit...not sure I'm brave enough to actually go out in public, though. Again, Forever 21 has a much cheaper (and perhaps more practical) take on the trend. These separates would be fun to mix and match with other things in your wardrobe, and when worn together would give you that great wow factor.

I have the Facebook community to thank for this high-low pair. On the left, a sweet and feminine heel from the SJP line (and there's more than a little Carrie Bradshaw in these puppies). Nordstrom posted a picture on Facebook last month, and I noticed immediately that a number of ladies (and a few men) were lamenting in the comments about the lack of availability in larger sizes (preach!). One helpful commenter suggested checking out the pair on the right...from Payless!? Sure, the Christian Siriano pumps are not quite as elegant, but they could still be very fabulous if styled just right.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Wednesday Wishlist: Twinkle Toes

I'm a girl who likes a little sparkle, especially on my toes. Right now all I can see are pretty, glittery shoes for days. I'm going to need more room in my closet.





































clockwise from top center:

Michael Kors Kayden Jelly Sandals ($69) -- I love a good jelly sandal (perfect in pink for fun summer hijinx), but this gold version is quite glamorous.

Steve Madden Aintso Sandals ($70) - simple leather band sandals are everywhere this summer. This mixed metallic pair is super versatile and interesting.

H&M Metallic Sneakers ($40) -- perfectly comfy and chic, a wonderful combination.

Belle by Siegerson Morrison Wanda Wedge ($225) -- I'm too old to mess around with cute shoes that are painful to walk in. These look so comfortable and would be sexy and sharp peeking out from under wide-leg trousers.

Fillia Cabot Clog Slides ($390) -- I've always loved the classic Dr. Scholl's exercise sandals, and these seem like a slightly more refined take on those cute-but-clunky favorites. 

Alice and Olivia Giovanna Star Booties ($270, on sale) -- these are equal parts "look at me" and "don't fuck with me". In other words, perfect.

Won Hundred Flatform Sandals ($365) -- I want to walk miles and mile and miles in these.

Wedge-Heeled Leather Sandals ($60) -- all business on the top, all party on the bottom.

Kate Spade Leonia Sandals ($198) -- espadrilles are so classic for summer, but the metallic gold leather and rattan-like cutouts add a funky twist.

Steve Madden Rundown Joggers ($109) -- these are part of the Iggy Azalea collection, which helps explain why they are absolutely ridiculous. I have no explanation as to why I absolutely love them.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Weekend To-Do List



This weekend was a busy one -- I need a nap, but lots of good memories were made!

1. (Mouse-party hat-money bag = Disney, in case you were wondering)

I had some good friends in town all weekend and I've been playing tourist with them. It's the best! Roller coasters, fireworks, dessert after every meal, and so many laughs. It is fun to tour the parks with different people because I inevitably end up discovering something new or seeing things in a different way -- my friends keep pointing out some of the interesting landscaping in the parks (I walk by these plants all the time and never notice them) and also how many women are wearing strange and very visible undergarments (as the lone woman in the group I was asked to explain why but sadly, I could not).

2. At the last minute I got a ticket to a fabulous fundraising event (Give Kids The World's annual gala). I didn't think I'd be able to go because of my visitors, but a friend gave me her ticket when her plans changed and my guests were happy to do a quiet dinner on their own -- so I quickly ordered up a fancy dress from Rent the Runway and spent the night dancing and celebrating with some of my favorite people.

3. My hair and skin have been a bit fried lately, so I took some time to indulge in a bit of treatment while I was doing a few weekend chores around the house. I slathered coconut oil on my hair to fight some dryness -- simple and effective (my dog loved it, too -- there was a great deal of head sniffing). I also used a mask I'd picked up at Sephora a few weeks ago -- this perfecting and brightening Pearl Mask from their in-house brand. 

MINI REVIEW: I'd never used a mask like this before: you wear a an actual paper mask that's been soaked in some sort of magical treatment (leave it on for about 15 minutes), and then you remove the paper and rub the remaining product into your skin. The paper was a little awkward to wear -- it never dried, so it felt like cold, gloppy papier-mache on my skin. But my skin felt great after I removed the paper, and it was noticeably bright and glowy for hours. I wish I had used this before the gala -- it's definitely a good treatment to use before a big event when you want to look extra fresh and sparkly.

4. Of course, I spent some time chatting with my wonderful mother on Mother's Day. I hate being too far away to celebrate in person, but it was nice catching up and hearing her open her gift. I had the pleasure of being raised by one of the most wonderful and generous moms on the planet -- I hope she feels special every day, but certainly on the day meant for moms!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Summer Uniform

Last year I made an impulse purchase during one of Loft's fabulous flash sales: a silky black long-sleeved romper. I'd never worn one before, but it seemed like the kind of thing that would come in handy in a year-round summer climate. It was dirt cheap, so even if I only wore it a few times it would be a reasonable investment. Spoiler alert: I fucking loved it and wore the hell out of it.



This romper is so flattering and so versatile, I'm planning to buy a second one because it is just the easiest summer uniform. It is the perfect blank canvas for all of your favorite accessories -- do yourself a favor and buy one (check out some of the best options in store right now).

Here's how I mix and match shoes, jewelry, and bags so that no one even notices that I'm wearing the same thing three days in a row*:

*this may be wishful thinking, but no one has called me out on it...yet

Start With Shoes

I like to start with shoes here because I think they'll kind of dictate the overall vibe of your look -- is it dressy, casual, or something in between? Also, when you're wearing all black and showing a lot of leg, your shoes are just going to pop. They'll probably be the first thing people notice, so make sure they are fabulous!

The question I always need to answer is: how much walking am I going to be doing? I can't stand uncomfortable shoes, and I don't want to be that girl hobbling down the street for the sake of a cute pair of sandals. Play with color, heel height, and style -- almost anything works here (steer clear of pumps -- they have a way of making shorts look kind of trashy). Here are some of my favorite options in stores right now. They couldn't be more different (ranging in price from $11-$800), and yet they would all be amazing.

simple: one/two/three/four  walkable: one/two/three/four  
sport: one/two/three/four  sky high: one/two/three/four


























Add Plenty of Jewelry

The beauty of a simple outfit is that you can truly never have enough jewelry. Pile it on! More is more.

The neckline of this particular Loft romper doesn't lend itself particularly well to necklaces, so I tend to stick to rings, bracelets, and earrings. But just think of the possibilities: an armful of bangles in a rainbow of colors, or Wonder Woman-style thick gold cuff on each wrist.

Try breaking out one -- or a few -- of your big cocktail rings (even during the day), or stack a bunch of delicate ones. At night, I love piling my hair on top of my head to show off a great pair of earrings.

funky: one/two/three  bold: one/two/three  stacked: one/two/three  delicate: one/two/three

Show Off a Great Bag

Once you have your shoes and jewelry sorted out, it should be easy to figure out the right bag. You can get away with anything from a sleek clutch to a big bold tote -- summer bags are just the most fun, aren't they?


classic: one/two/three  graphic: one/two/three   airy: one/two/three  





Here are a few ways I'm going to wear my romper this week summer:




























Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wednesday Wishlist: A Scoop of Sherbet

Last week I found the cutest summer sneakers ever, and they made me realize how much I'm craving bright, fresh summery shades right now...in particular, icy cool shades of pink and orange (preferably together -- it's my favorite color combo!). Here are a few perfect pieces that are just as refreshing and tasty as a scoop of sherbet...
clockwise from l to r:

Joe Fresh Varsity Pullover Sweater ($35) -- I don't have a Joe Fresh store near me, but I stumbled across this bold, preppy sweater on a rare walk through my local JC Penney (tip: I like to check out the mini Sephora boutiques that are located inside most JCP stores -- I find that when I redeem my VIB points there, they don't always get deducted from my account. Shhh, don't tell anyone!). Apparently JCP carries the Joe Fresh line, and the pink/orange color combo immediately caught my eye. This one is about half the price of a similar sweater that J. Crew Factory carried this spring...the only reason I didn't pull the trigger is that we are FAR from sweater season in Florida. But I'm thinking about it...

Tracy Reese Beaded Striped Shell ($398) -- I'm not sure I'm brave enough to pair this pretty top with the matching skirt (that's a whole lotta look right there), but I love the idea of it with wide leg jeans or bright colored skinny ankle pants.

Giorgio Armani Bright Ribbon Sheer Lipstick ($34) -- Giorgio Armani makes some of the best makeup on the market. The color of this lipstick is so bold, but you just know that it will be sheer and incredibly wearable.

Bar III Hematite Tone Orange and Pink Drop Earrings ($30) I don't know about you, but I'm getting kind of tired of statement necklaces -- these statement earrings would be an interesting way to perk up a simple summer look.

J. Crew 4" Chino Shorts ($45) -- J. Crew does crisp but relaxed shorts better than just about anyone, and they have lots of delicious sherbet-y sweet shades.

Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm, Mischievous ($9) -- I have never worn orange lipstick, but this sheer lip pencil seems like a safe way to give it a try.

Jasper and Jeera Azille Slides ($98) -- I love these simple, sparkly flat sandals. They'd be perfect to throw in your suitcase for your fancy European vacation, or just to dress up your summer basics for a late night ice cream run.

Boden Dip Dye Cashmere Sweater ($104) -- I always get compliments when I wear pink (especially near my face), and these soft pink shades would be flattering on a lot of different skin tones. It also just looks incredibly soft and cozy.

H&M Platform Sandals ($30) -- these are from H&M's Coachella collection, but don't hold that against them. Cute, comfy, practical -- kind of the perfect summer shoe, great for throwing on with your favorite little black or white dress.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Review: Milly for Kohl's

I feel like there's a bit of a "tale of two megastores" going on right now. As you may recall, Target launched a special collection with a well-loved preppy designer last month and essentially broke the internet (and many of its retail stores) in the process. In the months before the launch there were blog posts, lookbook sneak peeks, and TV ads with happy models and Chris Noth (no idea why).



In the same month, Kohl's launched a special collection with a well-loved preppy designer and there were...crickets. Until a few days ago, I knew nothing about this line -- it was a random Google banner ad that alerted me to the collection, and I was pleasantly surprised to find loads of pieces available online. Then I saw the adorable Franish modeling a few items (styled to perfection, of course), so I decided I needed a trip to Kohl's. I found racks and racks of clothing right at the front of the store and got to work sorting through the options.

Verdict: good stuff! Bright and happy separates with a beachy Capri theme. Quality and fabric seem appropriate for the price -- not as luxurious as Milly's department store line, but overall the style and fit are solid.

Here are my favorites...

SKIRTS!

1/2/3




















The clear winner of this collection is this vibrant pencil skirt. It is sleek but the stretch in the scuba fabric should make it work for lots of different shapes and sizes. Seems to run true to size (I'm running a medium in most things, which is what I wear in most major brands), but probably best to try on a few sizes to be sure. This skirt is on the longer size (hits below the knee), so if you're on the shorter side or just have short legs (like me), you'll want to be thoughtful about your shoe choice so your legs don't look stumpy. Light colored heels or wedges would be great (stay away from ankle straps and flats).

The print options are amazing -- the far right is a cheeky psychedelic floral/stripe mix (the stripes are actually beach umbrellas), and the other two are super vibrant florals. You can find the same prints as fit-and-flare dresses as well, but I think the skirts are a lot more versatile.

MEDITERRANEAN BLUE!

1/2/3

There are several pieces available in this amazing shade of blue, which is just cool and rich and refreshing -- just like the Mediterranean. These pieces immediately take me back to a fantastic trip to Italy I took with my family a few years ago. We spent a day on Capri, which is as stunning as you would expect:

boats on the shore of capri/the green grotto (don't you want to jump in?)
 I'm particularly fond of the maxi dress, which seems like a perfectly relaxed piece that would be great for warm summer evenings (or a trip back to Italy). The scuba skirt looks pretty great in this electric blue color as well.

STRIPES!

1/2/3

There are a number of great striped pieces in the collection -- these would be right at home on the Italian Riviera but don't feel too costume-y for your everyday life. The dresses are simple but nicely tailored. There are a couple of these cheeky t-shirts, which are kind of perfect -- thin but not cheap. The vibe seems more Kate Spade than Milly, but no complaints about that.

Maybe you're wondering what I bought? Well, nothing...yet. I'm not a frequent Kohl's shopper, so while I was in the store I realized I needed to brush up a bit on my strategy (if anyone has any great tips or tricks, please let me know!). The only thing I know is that you never pay full price for anything -- you need to play the sale/coupon game just right. Also, I recall that when I bought my perfect sneakers I earned some Kohl's Cash...but I don't know exactly what that is.

But I'm sure I'll figure it out, and hopefully one of those amazing skirts and that maxi dress (and one or two other items?) will end up in my May budget post!


Weekend To-Do List

Who else was super happy to see this weekend finally show up? After a long week that included a few days out of town on business, I was ready for some down time...




1. I started the weekend with a bang by...vegging on the couch with some snacks and bad TV. I had hoped to head out for dinner or something fun, but by the time I finished up with work I was exhausted (I actually closed my laptop and promptly fell asleep on the couch for half an hour, and I'm not usually a weekday napper). I decided it would be a good night to chill, so I did a quick 20-minute cleanup around the house, made a grocery run, and was comfortably settled on my couch by about 9pm. I did dinner a la Olivia Pope (big bowl of popcorn and a glass of wine) and found a good episode of Dateline to get sucked into (anyone else obsessed with that show? The Keith Morrison episodes are the best. So are the ones where the killer was someone other than the husband...oh wait, that never happens).

2. Saturday morning found me enjoying what has become my new routine -- a good sweaty workout (PiYo again, though I didn't love this particular lesson) a couple of errands, and then a big old burrito bowl at Chipotle for lunch. I wish I could explain why this makes me SO happy, but it just does. By lunchtime I've worked up a huge appetite, so a bowl of chicken and veggies and brown rice and guac is PERFECT -- just delicious and really filling. I've tried to wean myself off of diet soda, but this is the one time each week I make an exception and get a big cup of icy cold Diet Coke. Then I tuck myself into one of the little cozy booths and eat lunch while catching up with all of my favorite guilty pleasures: blogs, Instagram, GOMI (don't hate me, I only read a couple of threads for bloggers who are just awful human beings and provide excellent fodder for snarking). It is just the best, and I feel all warm and fuzzy and endorphin-y and ready for the rest of the weekend!

3. Chipotle just happened to be near a Kohl's, so I popped in to take a look at the Milly for DeisgnNation line that just launched. I was impressed! I'll post a more detailed review soon, but overall I think it is a nice collection (and some other collaborations, it is actually available for people to purchase!).

4. The weather in Orlando was EXCEPTIONALLY lovely this weekend, so I was glad to spend time enjoying the sun. I spent a few hours laying by the pool trying to get into The Goldfinch. There are SO many reasons why I should love this book (studied art history in college and grad school, The Secret History is one of my favorites of all time), but it hasn't happened yet.

5. I wanted more time outside on Sunday evening, so we headed to Epcot to Drink Around the World. If you're not familiar with this concept, it basically involves sampling some of the many delicious adult beverages available at the pavilions in the World Showcase. It is fantastic! (If you haven't already, check out Caity and Rich at Gawker's take on this rite of passage, and also their million-part series about eating in Epcot. Must-reads if you love or hate Disney...and that covers pretty much everyone, right?).

I mentioned Epcot's concert series a few weeks ago when I saw The Village People, and luckily it is still going strong. This weekend's performer was Taylor Dayne -- remember her? I'm a sucker for 80s 1-hit wonders from Long Island, so we grabbed a beer flight and a funnel cake and caught the last show. It was fantastic! The breeze was blowing, everyone was in a good mood, and Taylor just brought it. She has a great voice and did lots of covers, so it was fun to dance and sing along while shoving bites and sips of deliciousness in our mouths. Just a silly, perfect way to end the weekend.





Friday, May 1, 2015

It's kind of a funny story...

Sometimes inspiration comes from odd places. After the Lilly x Target nonsense, I came across a number of articles that referenced this photo (Tweeted by an annoyed shopper who probably just wanted to buy one damn pillow):


I think I rolled my eyes the first few times I saw it, but at some point I guess I gave it a closer look and noticed something interesting: "That lady may have a hoarding problem, but her shoes are damn cute."

A quick Google search revealed them to be Nike Air Pegasus '83s that were sold by J. Crew last summer, but by now this bit of gray and orange and pink loveliness was sold out. Boo.
Nike Air Pegasus '83 Women's Shoes, Orange
I did a little digging on eBay and Poshmark for a few days hoping to find a spare pair, but I knew it was unlikely because 1) I wear a hard-to-find (i.e., clown) size and 2) they're so damn cute. I wanted to just forget about them, but pink and orange is my FAVORITE color combo. Also, I have an adorable habit of really wanting things that I can't have...I like the thrill of the hunt.

So tonight I was poking around online and feeling good after scoring a cute jacket from my Anthropologie wishlist (grabbed the last one after a major price cut!), so I thought I'd try to hunt down another elusive item. I actually found a pair on eBay for about $100 with shipping and popped them on my watch list, but I felt like I could do better and figured it was worth it to keep searching...and found them in an unexpected place. 

Kohl's? Kohl's.

Right there on the Kohl's website were the adorable shoes I've been looking for. Truly the last place I would think to look. And that's not even the strangest part: they had my size (and one size up!), and they were on super sale. 

Fate? Fate.

So right now there's a pair (OK, two pair -- I really like them and they were super cheap!) on their way to my happy little feet.

Don't you just love when the sartorial gods smile on you?

PS -- If you want a pair for yourself and you too have clown feet, head to Kohl's and snag a pair; 6pm.com also has a few sizes in stock (in the perfect grey/orange/pink as well as a few other pretty combos).