Month: September 2014
So, I didn’t exactly go to the vacation hot spot of the rich and fabulous, but it was definitely a fabulous trip.
I had a chance to experience a “Pink Bag Moment” at a retailer new to the Birmingham area–Calypso St. Barth. It’s a brand I was relatively unfamiliar with, so I was excited to learn what they’re all about. The brand definitely has a resort, sometimes bohemian feel with influences from cultures around the world, but it really is more than that. There really is something for practically everyone: the edgy, the boho chic, the hipster, the surfer girl, the preppy, there are even some pieces that could work for the corporate woman.
Full disclosure here: as part of my blogger experience, I was able to bring home one clothing item!
Basically, I got to play some serious dress-up! I tried things I never would’ve normally tried (i.e. fur). I also tried things I totally would’ve pulled for myself as well (i.e. leather).
The experience wouldn’t have been made possible had it not been for the help of Brittany and Jessicah. They did a great job pulling different pieces for me to try on. Honestly, when they told me I pretty much had free rein to start putting outfits together, it was a little overwhelming. That’s why I don’t call myself a full-fledged “fashionista.” I guess I need more practice just going into a shop and creating fabulousness. I can totally pull things that work within my existing wardrobe, but it was a little different to start from scratch. So, the Calypso girls were totally my crutch!
One of the first things I saw was a fur vest. Confession: I have never really been a fan of fur. It always seemed too flashy and a bit pretentious for me. But I really warmed up to this rabbit fur vest after I slipped it on over a super soft, slouchy, striped T and black faux leather leggings. It surprisingly wasn’t too bulky or furry! Add the booties, a little bling and I felt way too cool for my own good. Now, it doesn’t come cheap. This is one of the items they called a real “investment piece” that will last a lifetime. Investment to the tune of $600. So, yeah. There’s that. And for animal activists, I also want to point out no animals are actually killed for their fur. They use fur that has already been discarded from places that are already using animals for other things, like restaurants. Not sure if that softens the blow for some people, but hey…at least they’re trying, right?
Another piece that really caught my attention was an olive leather jacket. If you haven’t purchased any leather so far (real or faux), there’s still time to jump on the bandwagon, because this luxe look ain’t going anywhere, folks. One hot new way to wear it this fall, is COLORED! This piece is AMAZING!! I could seriously throw it on with any and everything. It is so lightweight and super soft. It would be gorgeous with some distressed jeans or thrown on over an easy, breezy dress. I paired it with their silk palazzo pants and a horn necklace (the tube cami is my own). The pants were a bit long even for my 5’8″ frame, but I wasn’t wearing any shoes since you couldn’t see my feet anyway. So, a heel, bootie or wedge would have been perfect! I absolutely loved this look!
Next up…more luxe love with cashmere, baby! Another piece you can throw over everything. I’m such a sucker for cashmere. It’s so soft! And I can’t help but feel like I’m jumping another income bracket when I wear it. I paired this cardigan with the same striped T and necklace I had on with the fur vest. To keep it casual for a comfy, cozy look, I paired it with some distressed jeans and brown booties. There’s something about pairing gray and tan that I love!
I was also drawn to a beautiful silk dress with gold embroidery. I love the shape because it’s not too clingy and perfectly hides the belly baggage for this mother of two! I paired it with my favorite new leather jacket of-the-moment for a fall look. I also tried it solo for warmer temps, paired with a pretty, gold necklace to add even more sparkle. I kept the booties for both looks to bring it down a few “dressy” notches. But throw on a heel and it could totally take you to date night or even a cocktail hour.
Now, we’ve covered fur, cashmere, silk. How about velvet? You want luxe? Calypso St. Barth has it, I’m tellin’ ya. This top was gorgeous in person. The bohemian vibe keeps it from being too stuffy. It’s perfect to dress up a pair of distressed jeans (another one of my weaknesses).
Now, if you’re looking for something that will really give you some bang for your buck, they actually have a fun cardigan that can be worn two ways! I had to give it a try. Put it on one way for a more dramatic, full-length look. OR….wait for it… turn it upside down! and then it turns into a more slouchy cardi! How fun, right?!
While I was there, I also saw a customer trying on this beee-u-tiful caftan from the sale rack. So, I HAD to try it on as well. The color is just gorgeous and I just felt sophisticated and fabulous in it! I may not have any fancy tropical getaways planned to wear this beauty, but who knows… maybe I’ll actually get to visit the real St. Barth one day. Until then, Calypso St. Barth will do just fine 😉
As I mentioned, I did get a chance to bring home one lucky addition to my wardrobe. It’s in that pink bag I’m carrying in the pictures below! I’ll reveal what I chose in an upcoming post with different ways I’ll be styling it… but feel free to make your predictions in a comment below! Hint: I posted a peak of it on Instagram!
If anything above appeals to you and you’re experiencing a little sticker shock, or if you can handle the prices and just love a deal, there is a promotion going on right now! Until September 21st, you can save $50 off a $300 purchase with code GCFALL2014. The discount actually increases the more you spend. Some exclusions apply.
I admit, when I was younger, I wanted to be a model. The clothes! The make-up! The exotic photo shoots! I would’ve eaten it up! But that wasn’t in the cards for me.
The closest I came to modeling was in high school as a “Gayfer Girl” for a local department store. Model measurements were not required. But it was a pretty select group and we did do a few fashion shows. One of them was kind of a big deal–it was even held in a casino showroom/concert hall with a huge stage, fancy lights and high-tech sound system. Trust me, it was big time. 😉
Then in college, I tried out for the school’s Fashion Board–twice! And I didn’t make it–twice! The following year an actual board member encouraged me to try out again. I respectfully declined. I figured I’m not going to make it a college goal to be on the Fashion Board (my pride may have kicked in a little as well), so I moved on with my life. Kind of.
I hadn’t had enough rejection yet, apparently! After college I decided I just HAD to be on America’s Next Top Model. It was time for my big break! So, I auditioned. My tape must’ve gotten lost in the mail because they never called me back. hmmph! Tyra, if you’re in search of middle-aged models, you know where to find me!
Needless to say, I’ve given up on that teenage dream. But, I did have a chance to get back on the “catwalk” for a good cause recently. My blogger friend, Rachel (from To Hell in a Handbag), and I got beautified by Laura Mercier experts and showed off some new fall looks from BCBG Max Azria at Saks Fifth Avenue in Birmingham.
It was all in support of The Exceptional Foundation, which is an amazing local nonprofit organization. They provide the mentally and physically challenged with social and recreational activities that aren’t always provided by schools or the community in general.
Some members of The Exceptional Foundation had a chance to work the runway as well and they were rock stars!! They had so much fun and it was such an amazing event to be part of and to witness.
Now, mind you…as much as I wanted to be a model in the past, I am pretty self-conscious about my “strut.” I have scoliosis, so I can look a little lopsided if you look closely. Maybe those fashion board judges looked closely. Regardless, I just sucked it up (and sucked everything in) and tried to make Right Said Fred proud. Here are some pics from the event!
All photos are courtesy of Birmingham area photographers Eric and Jamie from EJ Photography. They were kind enough to share their pictures with me and I think they did a great job (plus, I think their prices are pretty reasonable if you’re looking for a photographer)!
You all know I love a great jumpsuit! I immediately gravitated toward this Simone Strapless Peplum Jumpsuit! What a beautiful color, no?!
A dapper gentleman with a lovely lady on his arm. She is wearing the Printed Silk Tunic Top.
If you’re interested in donating to the Exceptional Foundation, click here.
Being part of a worthwhile cause was really the icing on the cake. It was all such a fun time! And who knows, you may even see more of me on the runway in the future!
Forgive my absence. Instead of rushing to recap my no-shopping challenge, I went on a little vacation to San Francisco (sans kids/avec shopping!) and kind of put the post on the back burner! But, I’m all in now!
My loyal followers know I didn’t technically “not shop.” I need to clarify since someone (who will remain nameless, but I may or may not be married to him) accuses me of being shady for accumulating a few things for free during the 6 month challenge. But as I mentioned when this challenge started, my goal was to not spend money on clothes and not repeat any outfits. I achieved both. Yes, I was able to accept gifts and shop with coupons and gift cards, but I did not spend any money! And yes, I repeated clothing items, but I did not repeat any entire looks!
So, this “no shopping challenge” I loonily gave myself was quite the eye-opening experience. It was strictly self serving–a mission to curb my spending after going on a bit of a shopping binge in December and January. But things evolved from it that I never expected…some good, some bad.
1. I didn’t save money like I hoped. So, you’d think I’d be rolling in the dough with all of that “no spending” I was doing, right? Wrong. (insert sad face emoji here) It’s pretty shameful to admit, but I didn’t really save money by not shopping. I did, however, spend more money on other things. I took the kids out to eat a LOT more than we usually do and that adds up REALLY quickly. I’m not in denial that I’m more of a “spender” than a “saver.” So, I need to figure out a way to reign that in and be more responsible. If you have faced a similar struggle and have rehabilitated yourself, please feel free to share!!
That pretty much sums up the bad! While it’s only one thing, it’s a doozy. I should probably do a “6 months no restaurants challenge,” but honestly, I know I’d fail miserably at that!
2. I was an inspiration, apparently. I hate to type that out because it sounds like I’m Oprah-tizing myself, but it is one thing that came out of these six months that I did NOT expect. But people on Instagram and other bloggers were extremely uplifting and gave me so much positive feedback! Some said I even inspired them to go on their own “no shopping” challenge! I can’t thank everyone enough for all of the support and encouragement along the way! I particularly want to recognize my IG friend, Tess (IG: @thague611)! She joined in for the last three months and she did AMAZING! Thanks for joining!
3. I learned how to be even more resourceful! I utilized coupons, rewards, gift cards and holidays (Mother’s Day) to get some swag. I thought for sure I’d go through all of my gift cards and Banana Republic rewards in no time. But, I actually left several gift cards untouched during the six months. Everything I got, without reaching into my own bank account, is pictured below.
4. My closet is deeper than I thought. I had several people tell me they’d never be able to go 6 months without repeating an outfit, so I started to become a bit concerned that I’d be able to pull it off. I don’t have closets full of clothes. Just one 😉 And I never did a full tally of items in my closet. I just dove in, hoped for the best and monitored what I wore on Facebook and Instagram.
I did have a close call for a couple of potential outfit repeats, though.
5. The Goodwill pile got attractive. I guess it’s like how some girls dump a guy out of boredom, so they toss the guy to the side, but continue to string him along in case nothing better comes along (not that I’ve ever done that!)! Then you realize he’s not so bad after all and you bring him back in! Poor guy. That poor guy was my trusty Goodwill pile. I realized there were some things lingering in there that were worth a comeback, at least for now: the sheer “snakeskin” print top on the left and the black bolero/shrug. I also resurrected a couple of other tops that I wore after the challenge ended: the green top and the off-the-shoulder top.
6. The Goodwill pile needs to expand. Believe it or not, there were still some things in my closet that never got touched! So, if I can go six months without wearing them (on top of not repeating outfits), I probably need to cut those strings and let those pieces go. The items I didn’t wear are either too tight, totally dated or they are just simply too boring. We all have those things we just can’t seem to let go of for some reason, and it’s time for this girl to get a reality check! It’s time to Let go and Let Goodwill.
7. I have a decent stockpile of classics. By classics I don’t even mean black pants, black pencil skirt, black pumps and white blouse. I realized I don’t even own a simple, black pencil skirt or a classic, well-fitting white blouse! I barely even wore my black pants. I’m talking about more classic silhouettes with more of a “wow” factor because of their not-so-basic color or pattern. Take my yellow pencil skirt, for example. The style was versatile and classic enough to pair with a myriad of other different tops, but the color was interesting enough to keep the look from being boring. Same goes for my red, wide leg trousers and white blazer (that I actually wore more than my black blazer!). I would get Instagram comments on how my looks still seemed fresh despite repeating several items and I attribute that to the “unique” factor of timeless silhouettes. I did a post a while back on “non-essential essentials” that I feel expand a closet exponentially.
8. Layering was my best fashion friend. There is no better way to maximize your closet than to layer! Obviously, you can throw on a blazer, cardigan or scarf to a sleeveless dress and freshen up the look, but there are other ways to layer, too! That sleeveless dress can take on a whole new look if you pair a top over it, so you are now wearing it as a new skirt! I did this a few times.
9. Pattern Mixing was my second best fashion friend. Another way to maximize the closet–combine items you may not have combined before. I felt like I was on a fashion adventure whenever I mixed patterns. These are some of my favorite combinations: floral/stripes, dots/dots, stripes/dots, stripes/dots/animal, plaid/stripes. I’ve read different “rules of pattern mixing” but I’ve also seen the rules be broken. I try to be mindful of proportions and colors, but ultimately, it’s all about experimentation and what just flat-out seems to be most cohesive to your own eye. Go with your gut.
10. The Aftermath On August 1, 2014 I was able to shop again. I already told you how it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be to fill my shopping cart and actually pay for the contents. That was unexpected! Another thing I didn’t expect to feel was uncertainty and maybe even a bit of anxiety! This challenge had defined my wardrobe for 181 days and I almost felt like I was having a bit of an identity crisis on day 182. For six months, I had woken up (or gone to bed) thinking about how I was going to change things up for the next outfit. At the end of the challenge, I didn’t feel the pressure to be as creative with my wardrobe. I had no closet obligations. At first, I felt like a zoo animal who is suddenly back in the wild and doesn’t know what to do in the world! That may be a bit dramatic, but hopefully you get what I’m saying. It definitely took me a few days to get acclimated to the shopping world again. But, I’m happy to say I’m experiencing a Celine Dion moment of sorts… because it’s all coming back, it’s all coming back to me now! 😉
Thanks for following me on this journey! I can’t wait to show you some of my first purchases and great deals I’ve already racked up!