Friday, August 31, 2012


The Target fitting room attendant, as she handed me a plastic number: "Okay. Good luck."

She said it with a straight face, like it was business as usual. Apparently, my mission, should I choose to accept it, is to fit into the pants I was trying on. (They were awesome pants, by the way.)

Girl Friday: Kari

This is Kari -- my friend, neighbor, and fashion-enthusiast buddy!
I really value and respect the way Kari's taken time to figure out her style. Through experimentation and research, she has unabashedly come up with a formula that works for her and complements her love of both bohemian & classic styles. She's encouraged me to stay true to what I love, while feeling the freedom to try something new (even if it doesn't end up working in the end... like the autumn we realized that we are not hipsters. There's a story.)

You also need to meet this girl because she's going to be doing a feature on the blog, starting next month: Secondhand September! Kari has a knack for finding unexpected pieces at Goodwill and then either wearing them with flair or innovatively altering them until they work for her. She's going to give us tips for shopping at Goodwill/thrift stores, show off some of her finds (like leather riding boots for $5. I know. I KNOW.), and hopefully inspire and encourage your thrifting endeavors. Her first post will be this coming Wednesday, so stay tuned -- and email me if you have questions about thrift store shopping you'd like her to answer.

Here's her interview!
*   *   *   *   *

The Twenty Ninth: Describe your style in a few words or a phrase.
Kari: Die-hard bohemian with a solidly classic backbone.  

TN: How has your style evolved over the years? 
K: As a child, I wasn't allowed to shop according to preference. When I was finally able to choose my own clothes, I did it all wrong, by starting with what I wanted people to think of me and working backward to what clothes I should wear. It wasn't experimentation - it was people pleasing. I had to go through a phase where I pared down to the skeletal basics and rebuilt, only allowing stuff into my wardrobe that I or my husband loved, with a heavy leaning toward what he loved -- and he loved lady-like classic stuff. It was hard to put my wild-but-feminine side on hold, but it was worth it to convince him how much I loved him. Recently, though, he's told me he's is convinced, and is encouraging my more free-spirited side. The result is a solidly urban-boho wardrobe with cameos by a chic city-dweller.

TN: Any fun/embarrassing clothing mishaps or stories you'd like to share?
K: I was experimenting with pattern mixing not long ago, but my wardrobe isn't well stocked with patterns. All I could manage were a pair of blue, sailboat print shorts with a kelly green striped Breton top. After my husband had been home from work for a few hours, I asked what he thought. He confessed that after discerning I hadn't actually meant to grab my solid navy shorts, he declared that outfit "THE worst one yet." Days later, I thought I'd found a pair of pants at J.Crew that I'd wanted but had been discontinued. When I called to ask about the money factor, he said "I'll OK flexing the budget to buy these, and you'll promise never to wear stripes and sailboats again." I discovered that the pants were NOT available after all, but when I told my husband, his response wasn't to be sad with me about the loss. No, he said, "Nonetheless, your promise about the stripes and sailboats is still binding." Message received, honey.

TN: Who are your style influences? 
K: When I'm feeling like my city-self or really want to score with my husband, Kate Middleton, Audrey Hepburn, Gwyneth Paltrow and Grace Kelly are women I'd love to dress like. For style philosophy, I'm usually of one mind with Coco Chanel. And when I'm feeling free-spirited, I am my only inspiration.
This top & these jeans are from Goodwill!
Dress = another thrift store score.
TN: Where's your favorite place to shop?  
K: Believe it or not: Goodwill. I enjoy altering almost-perfect clothes to perfection, and like that my purchasing saves my family money, provides jobs to those who need them, reduces the amount of stuff being thrown into landfills, and cuts down my own consumerism. In our area, you can find startlingly good quality cast-offs!

TN: How do you pick out an outfit? 
K: I'm SO boring... I have a formula. We have a family joke called The Bohemian National Uniform. The BNU is a white T, jeans, and one tasteful accessory (only one, usually... I feel over-accessorized VERY easily!). All my outfits are just a variation of that formula -- shirt + jeans + accessory. I deviate, of course, but on the main, you can deconstruct everything I wear into those basic parts.

TN: What's your favorite thing in your closet to wear and why?  
K: My white T-shirts. I wear them as often as they're laundered.

TN: Any shopping tips or fashion advice you'd like to share? 
K: Always, ALWAYS be true to your own creative voice. Dressing to please others or merely to be "on-trend" will always show. But dressing in clothes that reflect your personality will make you relaxed and confident -- and WAY more beautiful! You know what you want to look like -- don't compromise!

*   *   *   *   * 

Thanks Kari! I'm really excited for Secondhand September!

If you have questions for Kari (either about her interview or about thrift store shopping), leave them in the comment section below.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

This Summer's Bracelet.

(This year's bracelets. The gold one was a gift.)
I make and wear a friendship bracelet or two every summer, and have since I learned how to make them in elementary or middle school. At the end of each August, the threads are fading, matted, and full of memories from the past 3 months.

A friendship bracelet doesn't just add a summertime vibe and personal touch to my warm-weather outfits. It's also allows me to wear a little collage of the colors that are currently inspiring me, and be a little mismatched.

But these bracelets are mainly about the memories. My sisters and I would spend summer afternoons knotting bracelets together, and now my youngest sisters are carrying on the tradition. Last year, my little sister Laura made me a bracelet. It ended up being pretty special, since I wore it through the last few months of being pregnant with Vi. It's in her baby box now, just for fun.

This year's bracelet carries memories of Vi's first experience with the ocean, her first birthday cupcake, countless walks through the back streets of our neighborhood, a Coldplay concert, sitting in the sun at the pool, and ...starting this blog.

It was a good summer.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Clothes for Cheap: Madewell Dresses

More cheap finds! Madewell and Forever 21 are on the same page this Fall, it seems:

As previously stated, I'm not exactly a polka-dot girl, but I did like the look of this dress from Madewell (on the left). I liked the price of the one from Forever 21 (right) better.
Madewell Artdot Novelist Shirtdress                                 Forever 21 Polka Dot Tie Neck Dress
This striped Madewell dress (right) would be cute under a wooly sweater with tights and boots for the Fall. This similar option (left) at the F-2-1 will only set you back about $20.
Madewell Striped Duet Dress                                                          Forever 21 Striped Skater Dress

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I feel the need... the need for tweed...

Doesn't this picture make you want Fall right now? It's got me dreaming of butternut squash soup and hot chocolate, flannel blankets and drizzly November days, walking through crunchy yellow leaves, and smelling woodsmoke. Mmm.

I think Fall has to be the best season for textures... They're natty and gnarly and chunky and soft, and you can layer them on with reckless abandon. So many Fall textiles tend to be good old classics, too, so they can last you a long time. Here are a couple of pieces worth investing in -- they'll add amazing chunk and gnarl to your cold-weather wardrobe:

Cable knit sweater: Get in touch with your inner New England lobsterman a la L.L.Bean. Cable sweaters are awesome enough that you can even get away with wearing one that's over-sized -- if you pair it with skinny jeans, to keep the Pillsbury Doughboy effect at bay. Big cable sweater + jeans = winning. (Add boots and you get a gold star.)
                                                                                                                                 (via Cupcakes & Cashmere)

Tweed (try a blazer or skirt): Not just for librarians and Harvard professors. If Fall were a fabric, it would probably be tweed. Dress it up or down - you'll always look put together in tweed because it's a stiff textile with a classic "pattern" and color scheme.
(via J.Crew)

Plaid button down: A little Oregon lumberjack to go with your lobsterman-ness. Surprisingly chic if paired with dark jeans, black pants, or a pretty skirt. Plaid is more versatile than you think!

Comfy go-to hoodie: Ain't nobody don't like hoodies (or their hoodless cousins). Have a nice(r) hoodie/sweatshirt on hand to look posh even on the rainy-stay-at-home days... It's probably time to replace that ratty one from your alma mater anyway. 
(via Aerie)

So, when can you start wearing these beauties? Is it kosher to start slipping chunky sweaters into your outfit when it's still August? Mindy emailed me about it, saying that she and a few friends were discussing when it was okay to start wearing boots, now that Fall is near. Mindy suggested, "mid-September possibly, or when the weather cools a little... If you wear them with shorts and skirts you may be able to ease into them earlier." And I agree completely! Of course... you can always be an avant-garde rebel and do whatever the heck you want, too.

Not that you asked, but I personally have an unspoken rule about seasonal changes... I try not to wear straight up cold weather clothes till September rolls around (same goes for warm weather clothes. I wait till March/April). I'm sure it might sound dumb, but you know, I'm the kind of person who hates seeing back-to-school displays in June and Christmas decorations in October. Having that little rule helps me enjoy the season to it's fullest potential, life-wise and fashion-wise.

Note: All images are from my style pinboard on Pinterest -- please go there for original sources for the uncredited pics. Many of them are from previous seasons, so the links would be invalid. I tried to give credit where I could. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Trends for Fall 2012

Erin left a comment saying, "I want to know what are going to be popular looks, trends, and colors for this fall."

Here's the thing: fashion runways are always full of all kinds of interesting things that normal people with normal clothing budgets and normal lives in which they clean the bathroom, feed their kids peanut butter sandwiches, or watch re-runs of The Office instead of working out (I know, sorry, now you're really jealous of my life) probably couldn't or wouldn't wear. Runways to some extent present the extreme version of trends, which then go through a normal-person filter via the commercial market (and for that, we are grateful). So I'm going to focus on the wearable trends for the season, as opposed to the high-end, all-out-crazy trends (like this & this).

Beyond the always-acceptable autumn staples like tweed, plaid, and comfy, over-sized sweaters (hooray), here are the kinds of things you'll see for this fall. Please note... the pieces below reflect my personal taste and/or budget (for the most part). There are lots of other options out there that would fit the bill for these trends as well! 
Fall Trends2

Fall Trends1
(Click the pictures for links to specific items.)

  • Ornate clothing & accessories, courtesy of the Baroque period: think brocade and tapestry-like fabrics, and gilded details like on this locket and this dress
  • Reds: Especially burgundy, which also goes by its not-approved-by-the-PETA nickname, "oxblood." I love burgundy -- excited for this one.
  • Prints: Polka dots, printed denim, prints mixed with prints. (Free advice: the key to mixing prints is matching different sized patterns (big w/ small) and limiting the color scheme (stick with 1-3 colors) so you don't end up looking like a circus.)
  • White & black suiting, & tuxedo pants: Sharp looking.
  • Ankle boots: Try with cuffed boyfriend jeans & an over-sized sweater, or with a little dress.
  • Patent leather: Not just shoes, but outerwear, too.
  • Statement collars: Detachable, kind of strange, apparently acceptable in all shapes and sizes. We've already established the fact that I'm not really into this. (Sorry.) The gold collar necklace is probably the closest I'd get to wearing this trend.
  • Military inspired jackets and vests: Pair with a feminine dress for contrast.

Still in, and not going anywhere:
  • Brights & color blocking: Lots & lots of colored jeans, but not much neon.
  • Everyday sportswear: Raglan baseball tees & baseball caps. (Anyone else happy that baseball caps are having their day?)
  • Peplum: Very retro, kind of Jetsons. If you can pull this look off, rock it hard.

What are you excited to try? What do you plan to avoid?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Girl Friday: Lauren

This week on Girl Friday: Lauren!
As long as I've known Lauren, I've been impressed with how she always dresses true to her taste. She makes clothes work for her, not the other way around. Whatever she wears always looks classic, clean, and just... pretty!

*   *   *   *   *

The Twenty Ninth: Describe your style in a few words or a phrase.
Lauren: Simple classy with a touch of softness.

TN: How has your style evolved over the years? 
L: My style has grown into adulthood as I have. I used to wear more playful glitzy articles when I was in high school and early college. Now when I shop I try to find timeless pieces that can go with lots of items in my closet instead of always seeking out that one wow piece.

TN: Any fun/embarrassing clothing mishaps or stories you'd like to share?
L: Recently I was at J.Crew and the male sales associate had to tell me that my satchel purse was pulling my dress up in the back. I thanked him and left as soon as possible. Now I am always checking myself when I wear a dress or skirt on the shorter side with that purse.

TN: Who are your style influences? 
L: I take visual tips from any fashionable person I see when I'm out and about as well as on sites like Pinterest and in magazines. Although I don't own much of her clothing line, I like Lauren Conrad's chic personal style. Once I sat down at Barnes & Noble and read her book on fashion, "Style by Lauren Conrad" cover to cover. 

TN: Where's your favorite place to shop?  
L: I love Gap, J.Crew and Loft, with an occasional item from Urban Outfitters.

TN: How do you pick out an outfit? 
L: When I have trouble picking out an outfit to wear for the day I try to treat it like a challenge. I love finding new color/fabric combinations that I had never thought of before in my closet. It's like getting a new outfit without having to spend any money. It is always fun to experiment. I usually begin with the top I want to wear and then go from there but I normally have more creative success if I start with an accessory and build from that.

TN: What's your favorite thing in your closet to wear and why?  
L: I love wearing dark skinny jeans with a loose flowy blouse. That is a definite go to outfit in my closet because it is comfortable and a good in-between dressy and casual.

TN: Any shopping tips or fashion advice you'd like to share? 
L: Since I am trying to build a wardrobe that will last a while I try to steer clear of things that are "too trendy" when shopping. I try to use discretion to decide if a trend is going to last a few months or if it could last several years. That said, I do let myself buy trendy things every now and then but they are usually accessories, rather than big items. Another thing I often catch myself doing when I walk into a store is scanning it quickly to see what catches my eye. Then I go to those items and if nothing catches my eye in those first few minutes in the store, I go to the next store. 
Lauren, thanks for interviewing -- I particularly can't wait to try your idea of putting an outfit together by trying to match unusual fabrics. That's a really cool approach.

If you all have more questions for Lauren, leave a comment!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bedazzlers Need Not Apply

(via The Glamourai -- I love the distressed/destroyed look of this jacket.)
Denim jackets will never go out of style. Whether yours is cropped or regular, bleached or dark wash, there are countless outfits you can throw a jean jacket over to complete a look. They're also endlessly personalize-able. I just made that word up -- feel free to use it in your everyday vocabulary. 

To be clear: when I say "personalize," that doesn't mean I condone bedazzling, cutesy embroidery, or puff paint. Jackets, or ANYTHING for that matter, decorated with these travesties should be left in the 80's and in midwestern Goodwill stores where they belong. Below, however, are some fun ideas that are worth a try...

Use pins to add a little personality: Search your mom or grandmother's jewelry box, grab vintage ones from Goodwill, or buy a big flower pin from Forever 21 for a buck. Also, putting a pop of fun fabric under the collar is a great idea... it would take a little sewing know-how, but would be a really cool addition to a jacket.
(Pamela Love for J.Crew)
Decorating the entire back panel of your jacket: You could probably use a sharpie, paint, or your favorite art medium to create your own design, kind of like the jacket below from Forever 21. On Anthropologie's site, I saw these jackets where the panel was replaced with a painting -- an extreme version, but maybe worth considering and emulating in a slightly less dramatic way.
                   (via Forever 21)                                                (via Swarm for Anthropologie)
Classic studs: You can buy studs at any craft store (or even online). Choose a section or two on your jacket (the shoulders or back top panel are good ideas, but consider the collar, down the sleeves, around the bottom, pocket flaps...) and go to town. This is bedazzling done right.
(via The Feather Junkie)
(via ShopFashionStylist on Etsy)

Cool, huh? Now I just need to figure out what exactly I want to do to my jacket. I'm thinking distressed, and maybe a few studs...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Styling a Cropped Denim Jacket

Another question from my friend Mindy -- she recently bought a cropped denim jacket from the AE outlet that she's not sure if she should keep.

My answer, in a word, is YES. I know where Mindy's coming from -- I actually just got a cropped denim jacket too, and I kept going back and forth about whether to keep it or not since it's seems like it's a less versatile piece. But! This jacket will only expand your wardrobe: if you treat it like a cardigan-type piece, it can make any of your summer dresses wearable into the fall, while adding a little touch of prep or punk (depending on your personalization - more on that tomorrow!). Also, since it's cropped, it's kind of like the regular jean jacket's smarter, cuter cousin. It's not as bulky, so it makes your look feminine and more streamlined. 

Over a dress: Pretty much any type! I can't wait to style mine with the thrifted silk Banana Republic dress I found the other day, as well as my black maxi, and this shorter floral dress I have. You can use the jacket to make a little black dress or something with a formal silhouette or fabric/texture (like silk or sequins) more casual.
cropped denim jacket - ideas

With a maxi skirt: The jacket would look cute over an oxford shirt, tank, or tee tucked in. You might have to wear the skirt high enough around your waist so there's some overlap where the jacket meets the top of the skirt, to keep the line clean.
(via Atlantic-Pacific)

With shorts or a skirt: Wear with a tank or tee untucked, or tucked in the front (with a belt) and pair the outfit with wedges (or FINE, whatever shoes you want... I'm not the boss of you). The one caveat would be to make sure that the jacket doesn't chop the look up too much, especially since you're wearing shorts or a shorter skirt, so maybe pick a slightly higher-waisted pair of shorts or skirt.
cropped denim jacket - ideas2

I think it'll take some experimenting, depending on the skirts/dresses/shorts you try. Now we just have to wait for the 90 degree temperatures to move along so we can actually wear jackets.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Clothes for Cheap: J.Crew Talitha Blouse

J.Crew blouse from a few seasons ago that I loved and couldn't afford:
Very similar look-alike at Forever 21 this season:
(But I do not support those gold shorts.)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Gray Morning, Bright Blue Shorts

Goooood morning, my little blog readers! It's kind of gray and... well, gray out. I don't know about you, but for me, Monday + gray = not so winning combination in the productivity/morale department. Makes me want to hook myself up to an IV of color, tropical breezes, and sunshine. Or do the next best thing, which of course is blogging about bright, colorful clothes. Am I right?

Mindy emailed me asking for help with styling a pair of bright blue shorts she has. So far, she's only tried white and black tops, both of which are good options! But let's see if we can get past the... welllll, obvious to something a little more creative.

These are the colors that came to mind...

Gray: I know, not super exciting to start off with (especially given the forecast) -- but when it comes to clothes, it's one of my favorite colors, and it goes with everything. I love gray because it's not as stark as white or black, and it lends a casual, comfortable look to an outfit.
Blue Shorts - gray

Coral: You might not think that a shade of orange would be the best choice to pair with blue, but here's a little tip, straight from your middle school art class: if you look at a color wheel, you can find complementary color pairings by picking a color and looking at which hue is straight across from it on the wheel (as well as the colors on either side of it). So, in basic terms: shades of red complement shades of green, orange complements blue, and yellow complements purple.
Blue Shorts - coral

Navy: You can always go monochromatic -- it usually ends up looking pretty chic. Navy and bright blue is one of my current favorite color combinations. It's fun and a little daring without going too crazy. Plus they just look pretty together... I know. Strong argument.
Chambray or denim: Trendy, and classic -- like gray, denim goes with everything.Blue Shorts - navy

Others ideas would be bright yellow, a denim jacket over a white tank, or a gold or silver sequined top. Hope that helps some!

If you've got clothes you're not sure how to style (or just want some fresh ideas for) give me a holler and I'll see what I can do. David helped me put a handy-dandy query form in the sidebar, making it easier than ever. Give it a try!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Girl Friday: Jackie

I'm very excited. Today's the day I share my first interview!

The plan is for this to be a regular feature on the blog: I'm going to interview my stylish friends and family and introduce them to you for your inspiration and enjoyment. Cool deal? (If you'd like to nominate someone for an interview, email me!)

Without further ado... meet Jackie!

You don't have to know Jackie for very long before you discover that she has a deep love for boots. Also, that she's friendly and sweet. What I love about Jackie's style is that you can tell she stays true to herself and what she likes, but at the same time she takes risks and fearlessly wears and pairs fun colors together in unexpected ways.

The Twenty Ninth: Describe your style in a few words or a phrase:  
Jackie: Colorful; classic for the tall girl who loves heels and likes a splash of sass ;-)

TN: How has your style evolved over the years? 
J: I have always wanted to push my comfort level or try something different. There are styles I learned to love (i.e. leggings, skinny jeans, belts) that I might not have thought would work for my body type or style. So it has evolved by trying more looks... and working hard to stay the same weight :)

TN: Who are your style influences? 
J: I love to stalk fashion blogs (i.e. The Daybook, Until Tomorrow, Atlantic-Pacific) and then seek to incorporate the more abstract high fashion styles into my own daily life.

TN: Where's your favorite place to shop?  
J: Gap, Old Navy, J. Crew -- they are not "high end" but they are stores you can the classics and trends for reasonable prices... plus I know my sizes there -- no trying on required! :) Guilty pleasure is Anthropologie but only with gift certificates and from the Sale section! For my boots and heels, DSW, Off Broadway, and Bass (who has the BEST, B-E-S-T boot sale after Thanksgiving...)

TN: How do you pick out an outfit? 
J: I tend to build an outfit around a specific piece of clothing I want to wear and make everything fit to that (i.e. red heels today, so I picked cropped tuxedo pants and a white top so that the reds are the show stopper).

TN: What's your favorite thing in your closet to wear and why?  
J: BOOTS! Always and forever BOOTS! :) My dad once tried to "shame" me by asking how many pairs I owned... He stopped listening after I listed my tenth pair... Boots can make casual outfits look pulled together and purposeful while being comfortable -- I can wear boots all day and night long no problem; that keeps an outfit the way I want from the start to the finish of the day. Boots can make a statement or compliment an outfit -- they can play a main or supporting role to an outfit.

TN: Any shopping tips or fashion advice you'd like to share? 
J: Always shop on the off season! I will get a few items during the season -- those are more trendy items or replacing the faithfully worn items. Everything else? Outlet shopping during the off season and before/after the holidays -- that is when you get the steals! Like a winter coat for $9 at Forever 21! Or red jacket for $10 at Old Navy! I don't skimp on the price of shoes though! You need quality if you want to be able to walk more than 20 feet!
Jackie, thanks again for being my first interviewee! If anyone has more questions for Jackie about her style, feel free to leave a comment below!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

People Watching: Sundae Sunday

Court D's Look

My friend Courtney was wearing this little outfit this past week at church. I had to share it with you guys mainly because it was one of the cutest ways I've seen to style oxford shoes. I've been on the fence about oxfords -- I figured they're probably cute with jeans and a tee shirt, maybe with the right dress. But I loved how Court matched them basic shorts and a tank, keeping the outfit summery and casual, and then threw in the surprise of the shoes.

Favorite ways to style oxfords? Anyone?

Off, Slightly Amiss, Askew.

One of my favorite quotes, from Nina Garcia (found in her book The One Hundred).

The idea behind this is that fashion isn't about having it all together -- it's about wearing things the way you want to wear them, making choices about what you put on based on how you want it and like it to look. I love that. There are formulas that work and are helpful, but they aren't the only way to go about getting dressed. Your style is unique because you're the only one who can wear something the way you wear it. So don't worry too much about whether something's "okay to do" or not when it comes to an outfit -- if you like the way it looks, chances are you're going to own it and wear it better than something you put on because someone told you to.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It's Good To Be Curious, About Many Things.

Goooood morning! Here's kind of weird post for today... Brace yourselves. Or maybe just your eyes.

I can't say I'd ever seen anything like this dress (?) before I tried it on for kicks at The Mustard Seed on Saturday. It intrigued me, to say the least.
The material is terracotta-colored canvas, there's a hidden zipper that goes 3/4ths down the front of the dress, plus a southwestern bib and a huge buckle belt, reminiscent of a trench coat gone Arizona-retro. I originally thought it was a jacket, but as I pulled it on it became clear that it was truly in a class of its own. My shoes coincidentally happened to match... I wasn't sure how I felt about that.

I think Zooey Deschanel probably could have rocked it... me, not so much. But it was kind of fun to try on something bizarre and different than I'd normally pick out. That's the nice thing about dressing rooms -- you can go wild because only you will ever know what you looked like in something. It's a safe space.

Unless you post the picture on your blog for everyone to see.

Ever seen anything like this?

(PS: The title of this post is in reference to this viral video, which, if you haven't seen, is worth a see.)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Finding Inspiration

On Saturday, I was driving home after a trip with my sister to The Mustard Seed (for those who care: I scored this olive green silk dress with pockets from Banana Republic for $15!), and somewhere between Wisconsin Ave and M Street, I came up with about four different outfits I want to try. Believe me, this doesn't happen every day. And the next time I wake up uninspired and the clothes in my closet look as exciting as a rack of brown paper bags, I know I'm going to forget all about my brilliant ideas from Saturday. Actually... I already have. Heh.

My friend Connie asked, "Where do you find inspiration and higher end looks? Who is putting together fun and fresh looks?" and I thought this would a great topic to cover. I think the answers will vary from person to person based on their particular style preferences. (i.e. I don't look at Hot Topic or Coldwater Creek catalogs when I'm in a fashion rut...) So here are my favorite places to go when I'm looking for ideas, but I'd also love to hear about who or what inspires you when it comes to your closet.

My favorites:
  • Pinterest has to be my number one go-to these days. I use my fashion board as though it were a bulletin board inside my closet. It's easy enough to pull it up on the computer while I'm shopping my clothes and trying to figure out what works with what. Find pinners who like similar styles as you, or who pin things you'd like to branch out and try, and follow them! If you're interested in trends, follow fashion moguls and trendsetters like Nina Garcia, Olivia Palermo, etc. -- many fashion leaders have Pinterest accounts. (This goes for Twitter as well -- I follow several fashion magazines on Twitter, and they're always linking to ways to wear stuff, trends to try, etc.)
  • Website lookbooks -- most sites have an "outfits we love" feature these days and they update it seasonally, if not monthly. My favorite ones to look through are J.Crew and Madewell because they keep things classic and throw in unexpected pieces here and there. Even though I always don't subscribe to their total look, a lot of times one of their outfits will trigger ideas for pieces I already own (i.e. basic ideas like "try a jacket over a dress" or "try a sweater with shorts"). If a site doesn't have a lookbook, they might have their current catalog online. Find your favorite places to shop (whether in reality or in your wildest dreams) and check their sites periodically.
  • Film/real people watching -- I like observing what's around me for inspiration I can use. It might sound lame, but I'll rent a movie based on the fashion in it (The Devil Wears Prada, anyone?). And I'm always watching (which sounds really creepy?) whenever I'm out and about for outfits that are different or incorporate elements I want to try. Then I'll come home and see if I can find something similar on Pinterest, or I'll just write down notes to myself.
Leave a comment and let us know where you look to be inspired! Inquiring minds want to know.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Here We Go.

Well, the cookies worked. (I mean, really, have chocolate chip cookies ever failed anyone?)

Surprise, I'm making more changes! But this time I think I've figured out what I really want to do with this blog and I'm excited about it in a way I wasn't before.

I changed my About page to reflect the new direction The Twenty Ninth will be taking, but here are some specifics on what you can expect. (And if this makes you want to hightail it back to the website you were browsing before you clicked your way over here, that's cool too: fly, be free.)

I really want this blog to be for and about real people who enjoy fashion and/or want to learn more about it. I look at fashion as a kind of art, and I get excited when people discover their particular style and put their own unique spin on what they wear. My hope for this blog is to encourage you to be yourself while inspiring you to be adventurous when it comes to your style and wardrobe. Here's how I want to make that happen:
  • Interviews with friends & family who have honed their personal style
  • Q & A with readers (see below for more on that)
  • People watching: describing & recreating outfits and discussing what makes them work
  • Random personal stuff: style mishaps; clothes & trends I'm excited about and want to try; things I've learned about fashion, the industry, and shopping; tips & tricks; pictures & stories; things that have nothing to do with anything...
  • Clothes for Cheap: high end lookalikes, tips on sales/deals, ideas for achieving your look for less moola

I want this blog to become a fashion-loving community. But to do that, I need your help - I want (and let's be honest, need) to hear from you:
  • With questions about how to work with what's in your closet: if you've got clothes you're not sure how to style, or if you're in need of outfit ideas, I'd love to work with you!
  • With questions about where to look for a particular piece, or where to find cheaper options.
  • Questions about fashion in general - I want to keep learning about this topic, so if you've got questions, I'll do the research for you.
  • About blogs, art, outfits, etc. you've found inspirational and think others might too.

How does that all sound?
I'm excited to get started.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Progress Report

To be honest, I'm still feeling muddled as I blog. But I don't want to stop, especially because I'm gaining traction and honing in on what I want to do with this little corner of the interwebs as I write and delete and post and retract. It's all helping me narrow my focus down, even though that means I'm toying with your emotions, leading you on wild goose chases, and probably making you toss and turn at night as you try to figure out just what I meant when I posted that thing about the shirt that one time.

My point is. If you're still hanging in there with me, know that I appreciate it.

Are there any type of posts in the very short week that I've been doing this that you've particularly liked? I think I know what changes I'm going to make, but if something is working for you readers, I want to know. If you have a second and are feeling loquacious, drop me a line!

Meanwhile... I'm going to keep thinking it all through and probs go make some chocolate chip cookies as I ponder.

Trending: Printed Jeans

Okay, so printed pants might strike some as a little too crazy. Or maybe they just evoke memories of a certain pair of floral jeans you had in elementary school (mine were covered in peach, periwinkle, and mint roses). But I feel like it's a trend that really encourages people to have fun with their style - the fact that it's now commonly acceptable to wear out-of-the-box patterns on more than just shirts confirms that you don't have to take fashion too seriously. 
For other cheap printed denim options, check out Delia's, Target, and American Eagle.
// Update: My sister Erin said she saw some great animal print skinny jeans at TJ Maxx today for $20!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

2, 4, 6, 8, Who Do We Appreciate? Boys.

...Because if you steal their stuff, you can have more clothes. Simple. Words to live by.

I've stolen clothes from the guys in my life for as long as I can remember - mainly from my older brother, Ryan. When I was about 11, I fell in love with a pair of Buster Brown loafers he'd outgrown. Being the fashion-forward thinker that I am, I adopted them and paired them with jeans (also from Ryan - jeans are jeans when you're a kid) and a white Guess button down, worn over my pink dance leotard. I would've tied the shirt tails in a knot at the waist but I think I wasn't sure if I was allowed to, so I just tucked it in. In later years, I wore his outgrown flannel shirts (buttoned up and tucked in like a lady, of course), and, as a middle schooler, I discovered that boxers make excellent pajama bottoms.

Yeah, I'm not exactly proud of that one... It's... innovative at best.

Sophomore and junior year, I moved on to stealing my dad's stuff. He had this wooly tan sweater that I wore one winter, in a slouchy kind of way. Then, that summer, I wore his 25-year-old vintage Ocean City flip flops whenever he wasn't. Recently, I've been mourning the loss of a pair of burgundy hi-tops that he owned and got rid of before I was old enough to filch them.

Now I get to steal clothes from David, and I have an advantage because I shop for him. He's nice; he doesn't mind. So I made a list of my favorite things of his to wear...
  • Baseball hats: Girls' hats are sized too small. His fit loosely over my head and ears, allowing my hair to breathe, so I can rock the messy low bun. I like pairing a baseball cap with a sundress and easy sneakers for a cute, girl-next-door look.
  • Oxford shirt: Classic white is good. Since it's a little over-sized, I wear the first few buttons open and tuck the front into cut off denim shorts, or even tie the shirt tails in the front in a knot. Wear it with heels to keep it glamorous and feminine. 
  • Basic tee shirt: Not just for when you're painting, lounging, or 8 months pregnant. Try one of his striped tees, or a white v-neck tee front-tucked into skinny jeans, with a feminine belt, and heels or flats.
  • Belt: Adds the perfect amount of masculine rusticness to a floaty dress or blouse. I prefer his slightly beat up brown leather belt because I like the unexpected texture it lends to an otherwise very feminine outfit. 
  • Watch: Same idea as the belt - it's an unexpectedly masculine piece that can offset your stack of pretty bracelets in just the right way.
Found anything worth stealing from your brother, father, boyfriend, or husband's closet?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fresh Flowers = Fresh Mind

There's a rose garden on our apartment grounds and it's open to all tenants: anyone can use their key to open the gate & clip a bunch of roses for free, any time.

Up until this past week, I haven't taken full advantage of it, because I always forget my scissors when I'm out on a walk (Kari, my neighbor/friend and I always joke that we need scissor keychains), or I just plain forget there's a garden blooming just yards away, rivaling the Queen of Hearts'.

There's something refreshing about having flowers in the house. It kind of clears my mind. Brings the outdoors in. Adds some unexpected color to the landscape of my apartment. (Asylum-white walls can get to you after awhile. Yes, I could paint, but I kind of hate painting. It's a catch 22 I live with.)

Sorry to go all HGTV on you.

I went small and dramatic for this little arrangement, since it's on my computer desk and space is limited. I love the big/small combination - both the mixture of the two sized roses, and the fact that that over-sized rose is in an old salt shaker.
And one for the dining room table. One of the best things about flowers (and having a rose garden at your disposal) is that you can always try new colors, and combine all shapes and sizes:
Just some pretties for your Tuesday morning!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

So this is awkward...

...but I'm still trying to figure out what the purpose of my blog is. After a couple of evenings of brainstorming and mindmapping, I think I'm inching closer to what I want to do on here. I've yanked some things, changed some features, considered getting a face tattoo...

That last one was an exaggeration.

Hence, I've updated my tagline and about page. Read more here, if you're interested! Annnnd thanks for hanging in there with me. Hopefully my blog will bloom from an awkward middle-schooler with braces into a fulfilled college graduate over the next few weeks.

Up & Aut-umn

I'm not feeling sorry for the pun.

Fall is coming up fast, but living in DC means we typically still experience 70-80 degree days till the beginning of October. So it's always tricky finding the balance between summer and fall, especially when you're not sure what you'll wake up to the next day. For someone who gets excited about wearing fall clothes the second the calendar hits September 1, this can be frustrating. Also, "sweater" can take on a whole new meaning, if you get what I'm saying. Gross.

Tell me I'm not alone. Would it help if I apologized for the pun?

Okay. I'm a little sorry about the pun now.

As we anticipate autumn weather, I thought I'd show you a couple outfits I've been mulling over that would be good for the slow transition into the season - incorporating some warmer weather pieces along with a few homages to the coming cold (if you click the pictures below, it'll take you to Polyvore where you can find the links to each piece):

I'm hoping to try the shorts/boots combo this fall. The sweater is an open knit, so it's not too bulky or warm, but it still adds a textural element. The stripes compliment the salt-and-pepper color of the sweater without going overboard:

I am in love with these leather Chuck Taylors. They're pricey. But amazing. Time will tell whether they'll make it into my closet or not... Anyway. I thought they'd be kind of edgy but classic with the blouse & jeans. (I know. I say edgy & classic a lot. Probably because that's kind of what my style is? Edgy beachy classic?) The leopard print belt adds an element of surprise:
A baseball tee works because it's lightweight, and I like how the red sleeves compliment the floral jeans. The jeans plus the shirt give a slight nod to pattern mixing without going over the top (don't get me wrong - over the top can be awesome). I put two shoe options on this one, canvas sneakers & suede flats, two textures that work with the overall feel of the outfit:

What are your favorite October compromises?

Clothes for Cheap: American Eagle Factory Store

Just discovered that AE now has a factory store online! As with all factory stores, the stock is limited both in selection and sizes, but it's worth a browse. They have both AE and Aerie clothes. Let me know if you find anything good!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Follow Up - Old Navy Copycats J.Crew

So, I did some research because I was curious about just how ethical copying designs & patterns within the fashion industry really is. This TED Talk, as well as this article, helped me understand it better - it's pretty fascinating!

People Watching: In Georgetown

This is my sister, Libby - she sent me this pic of what she wore on her one-year anniversary date with her boyfriend because she knows I love seeing what she comes up with. My sisters and I all have our own very different styles, but we all love to draw inspiration from each other and compare notes. I'm hoping to feature them from time to time on the blog because they have awesome ideas, and while we might not all agree on everything, if someone owns their look, to me it becomes more about the art of it and less about whether I'd wear it or not.

What I loved about Lib's outfit here is that the details she chose really help to make it hers. Not many people I know could pull off a camo dress and make it look classy. The way she used the belt to tie the ruggedness of the dress to the silver of her shoes and jewelry makes the whole thing work.

For those who are curious:
  • Dress was thrifted (found at Tina's - a name I can't say without seeing Napoleon Dynamite fling tuna casserole at a llama)
  • Belt used to be mine (came with a denim skirt years ago)
  • Shoes are from Payless, bought for my sister Erin's wedding last year
  • Necklace, from Lib's boyfriend Matt. He's a keeper.
  • Cow, property of Ben & Jerry's in Georgetown.
  • Also, Taylor Swift is jealous of Libby's hair.

Clothes for Cheap: Madewell Ballet Flats

Madewell's suede Sidewalk Skimmer flats come in an array of gorgeous colors. But for those of us who sadly don't have $100 to blow on shoes (and instead have to buy, oh I don't know... little things like food and deodorant) I've found a cheaper option at H&M! The colors aren't exact, but with a little imagination and $13, I think they might fit the bill.