Striped Turtleneck Staple

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Do you have a striped black and white turtleneck in your closet? If not, get one. Yesterday. During some after Thanksgiving shopping, I bought this one from Old Navy for a whopping $8. Unfortunately, it’s sold out now, but I found this one from Macy’s for $14.99.

I never realized how much I was missing! I actually have a black and white striped t-shirt, but this turtleneck has quickly become my go-to piece. It’s seriously a game-changer. I’m not even a huge fan of turtlenecks because I don’t like my neck and I think they typically emphasize my double chin! BUT…this style is a thin, lightweight version that doesn’t ride up too high or graze one of my least favorite features.

I’ve worn it by itself and as a layering piece. A lot!


If you still need convincing or if you just need some styling inspiration, here are some pics I found on Pinterest and shared on “My Pinterest Closet” board. Notice, I’ve already used some as inspiration and full intend to recreate all of these looks!



Know what I found while pinning? Some of these images are years old! That just goes to show you how classic and versatile this piece is! (Unless that just means I have outdated style! whomp whomp!) Do you already have a striped turtleneck? What’s your favorite way to style it? I’d love to see new ideas!

As always, thanks for reading!




What I Wore to BFW 2016

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Apologies for how late this is, but if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you probably know what I wore to Birmingham Fashion Week. But I didn’t really share many details.

I was only able to attend two nights, so I went with pretty different styles..both on a budget, of course!

The first night, I opted for a boho look. I was just perusing the mall and saw the dress in Old Navy’s sale section for $18. But they didn’t have my size. Did you know many stores can check a computer database to see if they are supposed to have what you need or to see if a nearby store has it? So, I marched right to the cashier and asked for a “merchandise locator.” It showed the store I was in was actually supposed to have one! So, I poked around and found it hanging with the non-maternity version! It may not be the most fashion forward, but it’s on trend and I was on a time crunch. I added an $8 multi-strand choker from Forever 21 and a straw clutch I have had for probably ten years. My shoes were caged sandals–a $10 clearance find from Target last year. Ideally, I would’ve made more of an effort to make my hair more wavy, but I was late and I threw in a couple of small braids in my hair and called it a day!

Moral of the story: if you see something you like at a price point you like, don’t give up on it! It could actually be right around the corner!

For the final night, I went a little more glam! I actually didn’t buy anything new at all for this look! I wore a non-maternity pencil skirt (see my post about its versatility!), an old Gap maternity tank I’ve had since my last pregnancy (and still wear even while not pregnant!) and some sort of ruffly shrug I got on super clearance from some fancy store in Atlanta that was going out of business. I accessorized with a red Rebecca Minkoff envelope clutch I got last year (on clearance, of course) and Schutz animal print heels I got when my beloved Piperlime was still in business!


Moral of the story: don’t discount your own closet when getting ready for a special occasion! You may actually surprise yourself!

Thanks for reading!

xoxo vanessa





Birmingham Fashion Week 2016 

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Birmingham, Alabama may not be the fashion capital of anywhere.
Still, as someone who can’t whisk away to New York Fashion week, Birmingham Fashion Week is something I look forward to every year. And I’m sad to say, the curtain may be closing on the entire production.

For the past six years, it’s all been thanks to the founders Heidi Elnora and Jeana Lee Thompson. They have VOLUNTEERED their time to make it happen. They have put their sweat, tears, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they bled a little, to make this fashion magic happen. But putting on multiple shows ain’t cheap. So, Heidi and Jeana are looking for someone to fully sponsor it! If no one steps up, we will have to bid it adieu. In the meantime, I can just look back on another (and hopefully, not final) fabulous year!

Heidi Elnora closed out the three-day event with her gorgeous bridal collection. The show started with a Cirque du Soleil-type performance before the models started filing down the runway. Budding super model Baskin Champion was the line leader (I’m sure there’s a runway term for that, but hey, it’s the mom in me coming out!). It ended with Prince’s Purple Rain” and on the last beat of the song, the show ended with a pyrotechnics and a shower of gold streamers. It was pretty breathtaking. Heidi knows how to put on a show!

Other designers included Abbey Glass

Alice and Trixie

and Hale BobBenjamin JayCharles Ellis Sartorial.. Rails… and by Smith.

Local retailers also featured ready-to-wear looks. The world’s first super model with Down Syndrome, Madeline Stuart, actually opened the show for Pretty Wolf.

The Clothes Tree was one of my fave runway retailers!

Here are some looks from fab’rik Birmingham. Always a fun place to shop!

Other retailers include Alchemy 213, Gus Mayer and  Tom James.

A big part of what Birmingham Fashion Week is about, is recognizing young talent and giving aspiring designers an outlet to show off their creations. There are two competitions: one for emerging designers at the collegiate level and another for middle/high school designers who use unconventional materials to create high fashion looks. Winners are awarded scholarships/monetary prizes!

This was last year’s emerging designer winner:

These were a few of my favorite finalists from this year:

Another fun part of fashion week is choosing what to wear! I admit, being five months pregnant presented quite the challenge! But I’ll be posting how I tried to come up with fashion-forward maternity looks soon!

Hopefully, you can see why Birmingham Fashion Week is important to my community. It’s just another way to give us fashion lovers of all ages a way to celebrate creativity and style! I would hate for this to be my last BFW post, but if this does end up being the last year, I guess that will leave me with no choice than to make it to New York!! ;

As always, thanks for reading!


Looking Grand for Less

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“Who says you have to spend a fortune to look like a million bucks? It definitely wasn’t Vanessa Culpepper.” You got that right! That’s what Tracy James wrote about me in the latest Look Grand for Less ad for The Outlet Shops of Grand River in B-Metro Magazine (June).

I am grateful to have been chosen as a recent shopper for the monthly challenge. I got to see what I could get for $250. How exciting, right?! Some people may take the opportunity of getting “free” shopping money to splurge on something they may not normally buy. Not me. I like to stretch my dollars even if they aren’t coming from my bank account!

Everything I bought is featured in this one-page spread. I also added a list of the items with their prices (rounded to next dollar, taxes not included).

  • yellow dress, Forever 21: $17
  • striped midi skirt, Forever 21: $17.50
  • kimono, Forever 21: $5
  • tan purse, Nine West: $25
  • white purse, Banana Factory: $32
  • burgundy moto jacket, Banana Factory: $27
  • gladiator sandals, Charlotte Russe: $41 (promo- buy one get one $10)
  • fringe heels, Charlotte Russe: $10 (promo- buy one get one $10)
  • yellow sweater, Gap: $9

Considering I had previously committed to not shopping until I wore everything in my closet, it didn’t take long for me to wear my new digs! Here’s a look at how I’ve styled the items in my day-to-day life:

I still had some money left over, as you can probably tell, so I plan on getting some new tennis shoes! Not too exciting, but mine are so tired looking, I think it will definitely help put a pep in my step at the gym!

I know I’m a little late posting this, but to get a closer look at the ad and all of the other fabulous spreads in B-Metro Magazine, be sure to pick up the June issue! Time is running out!

As always, thanks for reading!!

Shawl Versatility + Pink Blush Giveaway

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The poncho, shawl, ruana…call it what you want. I love all of the above! 

So, when I had an opportunity to collaborate with Pink Blush for this post, I ultimately decided to feature their colorblock shawl! (Unfortunately, it’s now sold out but they have other amazing deals!)

The shawl is such an easy way to elevate an outfit! I’m all about simplicity with a punch and this piece fits the bill. I can keep my base outfit pretty basic, but the colors and the block pattern really make the outfit pop!  

 But don’t think just because it’s a cover up that it’s strictly for fall/winter. I’ll be featuring a  spring-appropriate styling option soon! That’s when I’ll also announce the winner of a $50 gift card to Pink Blush! 

Say what?! Yes! A $50 gift card to Pink Blush! They have such a great selection of clothes at affordable prices, you’ll definitely be able to find something cute!

Here is how to enter  (Be sure to leave your name, email and your method of entries in the comments so I can verify your eligibility!)

-Subscribe to

For two bonus entries: 

-Follow budding fashionista on Facebook

-Follow Pink Blush on Facebook

Giveaway ends Wednesday, March 2nd. Winner announced Friday, March 4th.

We have a Pink Blush $50 gift card winner! Congrats to Laura Mueller! She was randomly chosen among qualifying entrants. Laura, you should receive an email with more details in the coming days!

Thanks for reading and Good Luck!! 

Sleeveless Dress Struggles 

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I can be a lazy dresser. That’s why I gravitate toward dresses a lot! It’s one and done…for the most part. But now that it’s colder, it’s tougher to find cute, affordable, and most importantly, WARM dresses for winter! For some reason, retailers keep cranking out sleeveless winter dresses. What’s up with that?!

I came across the struggle recently, while doing some winter sale shopping. I found a great deal on a Banana Republic dress in a winter material for only $12 (sold out)! But alas, no sleeves! So, what’s a girl to do? Layer! And I get to share the end result with you in my first blogger photo shoot! Thanks to Tosha Gaines for the great shots!


My first layering attempt included a white button-down, but I looked too much like a schoolgirl. And at the ripe old age of 36, it wasn’t hitting me baby, one more time! Ya know what I’m saying?! Britney Spears knows what I’m saying.

So, I decided to regroup and adopt the KISS methodology:  keep it simple, stupid. A long sleeve black t-shirt ended up working nicely and is much more comfy than a stuffy old button down.


The layering continued with a red coat I got from Banana Republic Factory about 10 years ago! I added tights and trusty old knee boots and voila! A quick and easy way to avoid freezing in a sleeveless frock!


I happened to be wearing the ensemble during another trip to my second home (Banana Republic) and the associate even complimented how I styled it! That’s always a “win” in my book! What are your favorite ways to look cute and work appropriate at the same time? I’d love to get your feedback!

One more shout out to Tosha Gaines photography for such a fun mini-photo session! If you’re looking for lifestyle or family pictures, be sure to check her out!

Thanks for reading!

Cold Weather Work Wear

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Happy New Year, everyone! I’m not doing a silly resolution post. I don’t keep them. Not wasting my time or yours with false promises, hopes and dreams. I’m a realist. What I realistically need is some cold weather work wear inspiration!

I was born on an island (the Philippines) and have lived in the southern U.S. the remainder of my life. Being acclimated to cold weather just isn’t in my blood. It’s not in my genes. When the temperature drops below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, you can rest assured, I’ll be layered up and bundled up.

This is where my problem arises. It’s tough for me to be motivated to look cute for work when all I want to do is stay warm and cozy in pj’s or in my bed! Best case scenario (when you factor in winter weight gain), I am happy to throw on leggings, boots and an over-sized sweater.

So, I did some blog and Pinterest perusing to try and get excited about getting dressed when my inspiration level is about as low as the temperature. For any of you who may feel the same, hopefully this will help you make warm wardrobe decisions that are still office appropriate!

1. Add some color somewhere..or everywhere! It’s a lot more fun to get dressed when your choices are more fun to look at! I’m crazy about color blocking. I particularly love colored pants! All of these really get my fashion mojo going! Bonus style points to Blair Eadie from Atlantic-Pacific for that rocking cape!

Wendy Nguyen from Wendy’s Lookbook can do no wrong. A red blazer is a perfect way to add color and warmth! Leather leggings aren’t the best work appropriate option, but trade those for black trousers…add black tights..def keep those leopard pumps!!… and you’re hot to trot!

from: Wendy’s Lookbook

2. Add patterns to the mix…multiple patterns if you’re feeling bold! One thing I love to see is a patterned top/button-down under a basic sweater. It’s like a peek-a-boo fun house! If you want to push the envelope, merge two prints–stripes and dots are an easy way to mix patterns for first-timers!

Don’t be afraid to try patterns on the bottom, either! Go with a more subtle pattern, which allows you to play with bolder colors. Or go with a bold pattern and keep the rest simple–I love how the black pieces tame these amazing plaid pants!

3. Texturize (maybe I made up that word)! There’s no better way to feel cozy than when you’re wrapped in a cozy, chunky knit! Pair with a leather blazer or skirt to bump up the cool factor a few notches. Or just keep it safer, yet still chic, by pairing with a fun blazer or coat. Are you dying to try leather leggings at work? Try the look Kat pulls off (3rd image). The layers are long enough to cover everything tastefully and the suede knee boots provide extra coverage while balancing out the texture!

4. Pile It On! One theme that seems consistent with staying chic in cold weather: layering! It adds that much-needed warmth and also elevates the overall look. To keep from feeling like you are being restrained in your own outfit, keep the bottom layer on the fitted side and go up a size in your outer layers to give you some breathing room!

Now, I need to head to my closet and start playing dress up! If you have any warm weather favorites for the office, I’d LOVE to see! Feel free to tag me on Instagram: @buddingfashionista or share a pic on Facebook!