Sunday, July 24, 2011

I'm Loving Your Look: Avalon Food Truck Bazaar on June 24, 2011

After last week's food adventures at TheDailyCity's Food Truck Bazaar, I was looking forward to another tasty event today. We stopped by the CK Jerk Shack where my husband and father-in-law tried the ribs and jerk pork. The food received rave reviews.
The CK Jerk Shack (Their truck actually looks like a shack. Love it!)

Beth Hawley, gal pal and fellow blogger of Preppychick's Quest shared her cheesy grit bites from BigWheelProvisions. Yum! I knew I'd hit up The Traveling Gourmet for their organic pork lettuce wraps. They were my favorite truck at the Orlando Fashion Square Food Truck Bazaar, and I appreciate their local and organic philosophy. Last week I ate so much food that I missed the sweets, so today I knew I would focus on dessert. I had the LAST peach cobbler from The Batter Bowl Truck, and I'm so glad I did. It was delicious! The heat was getting to me by this point, and I wanted something cold. Sunset Ice saved the day with their mango Italian ice.

As excited as I was about tasting some yummy foods, I was dreading choosing an outfit for the evening. Getting ready for a day out in the hot sun is never an easy task. You know that there's no point styling your hair, and it is your natural inclination to just throw on the most comfortable things. However, while I walked around the food trucks at last Sunday's bazaar I spotted some inspiring fashion do's. I decided to include a weekly feature that would showcase the style-setters of the world. It is appropriately named, "I'm Loving Your Look." Check out my favorite outfits from this week's Food Truck Bazaar.

Susette Sumulong and Alison Chin
Susette and Alison both know how to wear floral prints. Susette's ruffled tank is the focus of her outfit, so she kept her shorts simple. Alison chose a fun and colorful pair of shorts and balanced the pattern with a solid black top. Their sandals kept with the casual, outdoors vibe while still being stylish. Now, I want to wear my floral tops and shorts.

Katie Ober
Katie looked fabulous in a printed maxi dress with fun detailing at the waist. Her accessories really caught my eye. The hoop earrings, bracelet, aviator shades, bright hobo bag and flip flops made this a fashion do. The most difficult look to pull off is the one that appears really easy. The maxi dress is a staple in a put together look that seems effortless. Katie shows the maxi dress at it's best!

Tristen Spears
I stopped Tristen on the sidewalk because I loved the vintage feel of her dress and bag. We ended up talking about our favorite stores and shared admiration for vintage-inspired pieces. I had such a  fun time chatting with her and her pals about life. She told me that she bought her dress at Dillard's and let me check the tag to find out the designer: Plenty Frock by Tracy Reese. Her bag has that great well-worn look. I'm ready to hit up the vintage shops or maybe just Anthropologie. 

Aimee Cespedes
Aimee added style to a tank and shorts. The top is the perfect color for her, and the distressed denim cutoffs remind me of a day at the beach. The leather cross-body bag is the easiest way to carry your essentials while out and about. Aimee's bag is practical and stylish. Gladiator sandals are one of my favorite things, and I wish I would have asked her where she bought them. I did learn that her fedora was from a store in Hawaii called Island Snow. Too bad I'm not headed to Hawaii any time soon, or I'd snag one for myself.

Dear readers, I hope you enjoy these looks as much as I did. I'm sure I'll put my own spin on them in the near future. Susette, Alison, Katie, Tristen and Aimee: Thank you all for being kind enough to allow me, a random stranger, to take your picture and talk about fashion. You were the perfect candidates for my first "I'm Loving Your Look" feature.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Love of Freshly-Sharpened Pencils and Pencil Skirts: Back-to-School Shopping

I took my husband shopping the other day because his closet is full of clothes he’s had since high school. My guy knows A LOT about fashion, but doesn’t love the actual shopping. For some time I’ve been researching menswear to figure out my hubby’s style preferences. As I walked by J.Crew the other day, I spotted an outfit in the window that looked perfect for my gorgeous man. Come to find out that there is a HUGE sale going on.

I found a very helpful sales associate that knew his stuff. He was kind enough to take the shirt off of the mannequin as it was the last one in the store. I found some amazing deals on clothes that would liven-up my husband’s wardrobe. When I got home my guy told me, “I like having new clothes. It feels like I’m going back to school.” It got me thinking about one of my favorite things: Back-to-School shopping.

As a child I always looked forward to this time of year. The new school supplies called my name. My parents would take advantage of the tax-free week to stock up on clothes for me and my brother. Shopping ended up being the thing that made me excited to go back to school, and I find that this is still the case today.

While in J.Crew I also spotted some fabulous finds for you ladies out there. There were pencil skirts and silk blouses for $10 each!! All over the malls, stores are marking down items left and right. I’m excited to hunt for deals for my fellow shoppers out there.

If you’re looking for your own back-to-school clothes, let me suggest the outlets. I received an email the other day from the Premium Outlets that their Back-to-School and Fall Preview is July 28th - August 1st. You will definitely find amazing deals there.

Tax-Free Shopping in Florida is from August 12th - 14th this year. Your item must be less than $75 for it to be tax-free. You can apply this to books, clothing, shoes and school supplies.

Other places to go for back-to-school shopping deals:
-Kohl’s (Check out the Lauren Conrad collection)
-Nordstrom Rack
-Old Navy

I wish you the best of luck finding deals on those freshly-sharpened pencils and pencil skirts!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Clutter, Chaos and Crummy Customer Service

Ugh! Have you ever had one of those shopping trips where you leave the store angry and flustered? I'd like to vent about a recent experience that left me promising, “Never again.”

I've been looking for a pair of skinny, ankle-length jeans for 2 years. It has been an exhausting effort, full of disappointments. The jeans I've found have been the wrong length, not dark enough, too expensive or flashy on the back pockets. I have a pair that are perfect but out of my price range this summer. Unfortunately, no other pair can hold a candle to my dream jeans.

Yesterday, I saw my friend wearing what looked like my ideal pair. She proceeded to tell me that she had just bought them on sale for $10.50. What?!

I immediately rushed over to the store (name and address withheld to protect their privacy). As I walked in, sensory overload hit me like a ton of bricks. There were people everywhere. The music was blasting. The place was a disaster! All I wanted to do was find my jeans and leave.

Turning around in circles, I tried to spot the jean section. I wandered around the huge store aimlessly. My goal was to find a sales associate to help me complete my purchase. Finally, I saw two people that worked for the store. They were standing and rearranging clothes on a rack. When I got over to them, they were obviously engrossed in a very important conversation. I stood there patiently waiting for them to acknowledge me, but eventually cut in to ask for help after realizing that they were simply gossiping. The response was, “You’ll have to head over towards the gray wall and find someone with a badge.” I really wanted to comment on the fact that she had a badge, but I held my tongue.

Instead of getting upset I walked over to the gray wall and looked for a person with a badge. I found her folding shirts and asked about the skinny, ankle-length jeans. She told me that they would be over on the wall and turned back to her pile. Excuse me? Having worked in retail for quite some time, I know that this is NOT how you assist a customer. Again, I worked at keeping calm as I searched the wall. I eventually found the pair I was looking for and moved towards the dressing room. The line was unreal, so I decided to have faith that they would fit.

I cannot even begin to describe the line that snaked around the store leading up to the registers. It took me about five minutes to see that everyone ahead of me had piles of clothes. My patience was gone. The jeans went back on the rack as I walked out of the store empty-handed. Although $10.50 was a deal; I was not willing to deal with the clutter, chaos and crummy customer service. So, what would you do? I’m contemplating spending the money and getting what I really want: Perfect jeans and no hassle.
broome street jeans
My dream jeans

Monday, July 18, 2011

How to: Wear Patterned Tights

This is the first installment of a new feature I am working on. I'm going to present "how to" outfits for tricky fashion trends. As this is the trial run, I’m still working out the kinks. Pictures of me wearing the clothes I’m writing about will be a part of my posts as soon as possible. Thanks for the support and patience!

Patterned tights: I know, I know….I’ve come into this trend a little later than I would have liked. It’s not for lack of interest. Patterned tights have been on my radar since they started popping up all over the runways. I think I needed some time to warm up to them because, well, I have toothpick legs. At the tender age of 15, I overheard a cute guy whisper (not so quietly) to his friend, “That girl legs make her look like an ostrich.” I turned around, and he was pointing at me. I was devastated; and since that day I have not been too crazy about my long, skinny legs.

Recently, I came upon some amazing tights and thought I’d give them a try. I keep pulling them out in the hopes of wearing them but chicken out at the last minute. Tomorrow, I’m doing it! I’m going to wear my tights. Not only is it a chic look, but it’s pretty practical. While moving huge furniture all day I managed to create a rotten-peach look on my legs with bruises covering my knees and shins.
sprinkle dot tightsFeatherweight cotton cardiganFactory printed silk pocket tankNaven Greek Goddess Top available in 3 colors

There are two ways to do this: Tights with a simple blouse and patterned skirt, or tights with a patterned blouse and solid-colored skirt. For this outfit, I'm doing a patterned blouse and a simple skirt. In the first picture you can see what it would look like with a printed skirt.

The tights are from Kate Spade. They are dark blue with peach polka dots. A white blazer is easy to find in most stores. The one pictured is from J. Crew as is the striped silk tank. I bought a skirt just like this from J.Crew. FYI: J. Crew's outlet stores are having a HUGE sale this week! These heels are from Target. They look just like more expensive pairs, and they are a fraction of the cost. I have a similar necklace (also from Kate Spade).

I'm so excited to try out my patterned tights! It's about time. Feel free to share any fashion phobias you've gotten over. I'd love to hear your stories.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Good Friends, Hair Ties and Crazy-Awesome Skills

I already shared with you all the importance of dressing to make ‘em want you or want to be you. Remember, you never know when you’ll meet your own Brad Pitt (see “Make ‘Em Want You or Want to Be You”). Today, let me impress upon you the need to always leave the house prepared for any possible mishap. While out sampling multiple bizarre foods at The Food Truck Bazaar today, I got myself into quite the pickle.

Always trying to look my best, I stood up from my comfy foldout chair as gracefully as I could while simultaneously waving my loosely-curled hair over my shoulder. Perhaps the multi-tasking overtaxed my brain, but for some reason I was unable to extricate myself from said chair. Leave it to me to get the strap of my cute and flowery little black sundress caught on a chair! Needless to say, the strap broke and left one side of my dress hanging down in a not so attractive but entirely too revealing way.

Thankfully, I have Beth. She knows how to deal with all types of disasters. Check her out at Preppychick's Quest to Find Mr. Fantastic (and Other Disasters). Beth managed to come to my rescue in the knick of time as I clutched the side of my dress and tried to laugh about my clumsiness. Her resourcefulness astounds me! Using a hair tie that I had in the bottom of my purse, she somehow tied my strap back on to my dress. It wasn’t pretty, but it was better than walking around with my undergarments on display for all the world to see.

Now that I’m home and reflecting on my day I can’t stop thinking about the sewing kit that I proudly house in the glove box of my car. Little good it did me there because my car was sitting in my driveway miles and miles away when I was most in need. Maybe it should have been in my purse. Please heed this advice: ALWAYS be prepared or make sure you have good friends, hair ties and crazy-awesome skills!

Me BEFORE the fashion fiasco

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Top 10 Pieces Every Girl MUST Have

Well, while we have by no means discussed all of the virtues of the LBD, there are several other necessities you must include in your wardrobe. I’m going to break it down. Here are the top ten things you need and the reasons to justify purchasing them.

1. Multi-purpose black pants
The wonders of black pants! If you buy the right ones, you can wear them everywhere. Not only are they appropriate for work, they are a great foundation piece for a night out. Go for a slight boot cut that’s not too tight on the thighs. A mid-rise pant is universally flattering and usually prevents the dreaded muffin top.

2. The perfect jeans for your body and your wallet
My feeling on jeans is that you should buy the best quality you can afford. A cost per wear analysis is the easiest way for me to justify a costlier item. Think about how often you wear jeans. If you buy a pair that costs $125 and you wear them 50 times (easy for me to do in a few months), you’ll see that the cost per wear is only $2.50. In the course of a year, I’m sure you’ll wear them much more than that. I splurged on a pair of Citizens of Humanity jeans on my honeymoon almost five years ago, and I’ve worn them well over 600 times. Due to the fact that they were a quality purchase, they still look fabulous. Go for a dark wash and a classic fit.

3. A cardigan 
Um, ‘nuff said. You can throw this on anytime, anywhere. Stick with a traditional style with pizzazz (bright colors and patterns, flowers, beading, zippers). 
striped kati cardigan

4. Jewelry you can wear with everything
All of this jewelry is loved by celebrities for the style and the reasonable price-point. The designer of this necklace (Me&Ro) has been featured everywhere for years. You may have spotted a similar piece on Anne Hathaway in "The Devil Wears Prada." I loved these earrings so much that I bought two pairs (gold and silver), and I get tons of compliments. A bangle is a classic that can elevate any outfit. Rose gold is huge right now. This bracelet looks very simple, but it's inspiration you can wear. Engraved repeatedly around the outside in cursive is “hand in hand.” On the inside it reads, “THERE‘S STRENGTH IN NUMBERS.” The best thing is that 25% of total sales will be donated to Women for Women International. Check out this amazing project: 
Gold Teardrop Double Hoop (E303)<br>**FAMILY CIRCLE**hand in hand rose gold bangle

5. Pencil skirt
Pencil skirts are one of my favorite things. They are office appropriate but dead sexy, and they are extremely flattering on all body types. The one shown below is a bold color and a looser shape, but nearly every clothing brand has at least one style of pencil skirt.

6. The dress
I love, love, love this dress! It has such a fun print, and I think it would be perfect for all occasions. You could wear this out to dinner, to a garden party or for a meeting at work. Switch up your accessories, and voilá, you look fabulous everywhere you go.
striped betty dress

7. A t-shirt (I know what you’re thinking, but trust me)
T-shirts can be a beautiful thing. They are comfortable, pack well for travel and can be dressed up or down. The tee below is shown with jeans, but can just as easily be worn with a skirt and blazer or shorts.

8. Killer heels
Nude heels are showing up all over the runways and red carpets. Stylists and celebrities realize the benefits of this shoe. Being a neutral, they coordinate with all outfits. When you choose a nude heel make sure it matches your skin tone, and your legs will look a mile long. 

9. Classic white button-down blouse
The white button-down blouse has been around for ages and shows no signs of becoming obsolete. In the look below, the blouse has been styled with a fabulous belt and striped skirt. You can also pair the button-down with skinny jeans and ballet flats or slacks and nude heels. Be sure to add fabulous jewelry.
Jamir Broadcloth Shirt - Lauren Long-Sleeve -

10. A go anywhere bag
This bag is so structured and lady-like. It is much bigger than it appears in this picture and would hold everything you need. If you’re looking for an every day bag, keep in mind that the rules have changed. Tan, cream and black used to be the only colors that fit into the “neutral” category. These days people consider gray, coral and turquoise the new neutrals.
bixby bag

Most designers will agree that these pieces are essentials, so all of these can be found in your price range. Remember the cost per wear analysis and consider how often you’ll wear each item. If you add these ten things to your little black dress, what else do you need? Absolutely nothing!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Make 'Em Want You or Want to Be You

Everyone’s heard the saying, “Dress for the occasion.” Although it seems to make sense, I have to respectfully disagree. Fashionistas do not simply dress for the occasion, they dress up in the hopes of standing out. Now, let me clarify. Dressing up does not mean you should wear a cocktail dress for chilling on the couch. All I’m saying is that you should always work at looking your best. As my mom constantly reminds me, “You never know when you’ll meet Robert Redford.” In my head I substitute Brad Pitt, but feel free to add your own gorgeous guy here. 

I admit that I have my share of grubby clothes that are extremely comfortable but not at all fashion-forward. Those clothes are relegated to the bottom drawer of my dresser only to be brought out for cleaning the house or vegging on nights when I’m home alone.

Let me tell you a little story that will prove my point that you should always dress up. The other day I broke my cardinal rule of looking my best in all situations. I went to the grocery store in my comfy clothes (grungy flip-flops, baggy khaki shorts and an Orange Crush t-shirt). Rushing up and down the aisles, I turned the corner and spotted my first boyfriend at the end of the row. Over the years that I’ve known him, I found it would behoove me to make an effort to look my best whenever we hung out. This guy has always been cute, and he grew into a gorgeous and well-dressed man. 

I spent the next few minutes ducking and covering as I dashed around completing my shopping. All of this could have been avoided had I kept in mind that Brad Pitt may be waiting somewhere as random as the grocery store. Let me put together a few outfits that would have better suited my needs of staying comfortable and looking fantastic.

Hey Shorty!
In this first look you could easily say, “Oh, this old thing?” about each piece. Amp up the look of a casual tank and denim shorts by throwing on a scarf and flashy gladiator sandals. The great thing about a scarf is that it’s the only accessory you need; loosely wrap it around your neck or pull your hair back and tie it around your head. 

 flutter floral scarfivy

Romp Around
Okay, I used to think rompers were only for kids. My opinion changed the first time I tried one on. Who wouldn’t love the breeziness of a dress with the ease of shorts? A bright colored romper is your major statement piece in this look. Simple, fun earrings pull out one of summer’s trendiest colors. Keep your shoes neutral to help make the romper’s pattern the focus.       

Myla Romper Mini Stripes .75" Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Skinny Wrap Hoop (E1368)Click to zoom in.

So, the next time you run out of the house ask yourself, “Does this look make ‘em want me or want to be me?” If your answer is no, then remember what my mother always told me: "You never know when you’ll meet  Robert Redford.” Mom’s always right….

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Free Shopping Contest!

Little Black Dress and Beyond is holding a contest for a free personal shopping experience! One lucky winner will receive a session of shopping for an upcoming event or closet makeover. To enter, "Like" the fan page on Facebook and briefly describe (on the wall) why you are in need of a shopper. Spread the word to your friends!! Finalists will be announced July 15th for public voting, and winners will be announced on July 25th.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Are You In Need of a Personal Shopper?

Little Black Dress and Beyond

I am currently accepting clients in need of a personal shopper. Everyone knows I have plenty of shopping experience, so allow me to hunt down the perfect thing for you. Whatever the occasion, I will procure what you need: The Little Black Dress and Beyond. Feel free to contact me, and please pass on my information.

LBD-Yeah, You Know Me

It is my belief that every woman should own a little black dress (LBD). It is a MUST for all girls that aim to be fashionistas. The LBD is the most versatile piece in your wardrobe: Hot date, LBD; night out with the girls, LBD; Sunday brunch with the parents, that’s right, LBD. Might I suggest a remake of the classic LBD worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
This style works on just about every body type, but make sure you choose a dress that accentuates your assets and hides your problem areas. The trick to making one little dress meet all of your needs is in the details.

Work It, Girl
For that hot date you want to be sexy but chic. All of  your accessories should be traditional and lady-like, but interesting textures and colors will ensure you tickle his fancy. A classic bag made with laser-cut leather will hold all of your necessities. Why not throw on a tassel necklace? It says, “I’m a confident woman that doesn’t take herself too seriously.” The flower ring is a pop of color and appropriately named “Date Night.“ A three-inch heel on the shoes will guarantee that your legs look long and lean, and the black-on-black polka dots add a modern twist.
 burnside avenue metallic evangelinefringe benefits necklace
date night ringkarolina

Paint the Town
A girl’s night gives you an excuse to look amazing. If your hot date turns out to be a dud, this is the perfect opportunity to strut your stuff. Go mod with a wild clutch. By the end of the night (and too many Cosmos) you may want to switch to the cross-body chain. A bib necklace keeps the look trendy. These heels will turn heads and make you the envy of your friends. There is no rule that says your accessories have to match, but they do need to coordinate. Notice how the bag ties everything together?

 fly girl bib necklacechrisette

Sunday Funday
Choosing an appropriate outfit for Sunday brunch with the parents can be a breeze. Save the drama for your mama, and stay comfortable and casual. You can never go wrong with a large, paisley-print tote. For jewelry, let your earrings be your statement piece. Throw on a pair of bejeweled sandals, and you’re good to go.
paley paisley amandafiorella statement earringshula too
It’s easy to see how a little black dress can be a wardrobe staple. Beware, the LBD is addicting. You can never have just one.