budding fashionista

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!

Vanessa

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!!

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!

Vanessa-5

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.

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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!

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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!

Fur Real, Though!

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So, fur.

I’ve had mixed feelings about it in the past. But I’m definitely softening up to it!

It all started during My Pink Bag Moment at Calypso St. Barth last year. Their luxurious rabbit fur vest just got to me! It was so soft and I felt undeniably cool in it. But I’d be undeniably broke if I made the purchase.

Still, it got me thinking about adding fur to my closet. Just entertaining thoughts, not committed to making a purchase.

Then I saw an Instagram post featuring Kristin Cavallari sporting a fur vest and gorgeous Cassie OTK boots from her collaboration with Chinese Laundry.

source: radaronline.com
source: radaronline.com

The look is totally effortless, chic and just killer! I knew it was time to incorporate some kind of fur into my wardrobe (sidenote: I need some OTKs in this color, too!). But I didn’t want to break the bank at the same time.

Then my choice was clear when I visited South, a local boutique. A generous blogger friend gave me a $75 gift card she didn’t plan on using, so it was the perfect reason to browse buy!

I immediately saw a rack of fur vests. But what really caught my eye was a faux shearling vest. I felt like it was the perfect piece to dip my toe into the trend without going all “abominable snowman.” I put it on and fell in love! And at $56, I still had funds to put toward something off the sale rack!

shearling vest try-on
shearling vest try-on

 

I was concerned about my ability to style it, but the handy dandy Internet came to the rescue!

Styling tip: just google the item you need help styling and you’ll get a ton of ideas. I googled “shearling vest” and a plethora of options popped up! Do the same for Pinterest and you will not be short of fashion “inspo.”

Below are some ways I have worn it in the past few months. Yes, I’ve worn it several times and have no shame in my fashion game!

1. I first went with an H&M black jersey midi dress and open-toe booties. I tried to make my hair look effortlessly natural to complete the boho chic attempt, but it just looked more effortlessly unbrushed. (p.s. I’ve since received a curling wand, so that issue has been corrected! Thanks to my little sis, April for that gift that keeps giving!).

boho wannabe

boho wannabe

2. I also paired it with the ever-necessary wardrobe staples: Banana Republic chambray/denim button-down, black Gap jeans, black booties and we’re good to go. This is an organic blog, folks so this dressing room pic was the only full-length shot I had in this outfit. And say “hello” to my little munchkin having a dressing room dance session!

with the basics
with the basics

3. I also paired it over an old burgundy sweater dress with Sam Edelman booties…. I found pairing the vest over a dress is the simplest styling option!

 

over a sweater dress
over a sweater dress

 

4. I really love it contrasted over black, so here is this color combo again. I wore it over a chunky Old navy turtleneck and quilted Dolce & Gabbana skirt for a Spring Fashion preview at Belk Department Store (blog post on that coming soon).

at Belk's spring fashion preview
at Belk’s spring fashion preview

5. And let me not forget how I branched out and tried it with an animal print dress and booties!! Probably my wildest combination so far!

fur and animal
fur and animal

I’ve also discovered one thing about this vest I have yet to try–I can flip it around and wear it as more of a full fur vest! It does have pockets, so all I have to do is flip them inside out! I’ll be sure to post a pic to Instagram and Facebook when I try it that way!

Do you love the fur trend? What are your favorite ways to style it?

Thanks for reading! xoxo

 

 

 

“Saving” is the Name of My Game

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I love spreading the word about great deals I come across. It’s part of the reason I started blogging.

For example, I recently posted on Facebook and Instagram these great deals:

–at Banana Republic, I used a store coupon (not credit card-related) and also got an additional 40% off markdowns to get two sweaters and two semi-precious stone necklaces for $46! The necklaces retail for $98.50 each and the sweaters retail at $69.50. $336 value for…that’s about 86% off! Pat on the back, please!

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–online at Forever 21. I utilized a promotion for free shipping and 50% off markdowns to score these two necklaces and two bracelets for $13! I know it’s not Tiffany & Co. but come on, I’m on a budget!

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And now, there’s an amazing deal going on in the Birmingham-area to keep those savings coming! A local organization, the Junior League of Birmingham, is selling a Shop Save & Share coupon. The $40 price tag allows coupon holders to save 20% at hundreds of participating establishments until November 2nd. They offered to let me give the coupon a “test run.” It took me less than 24 hours to put it to use.

I scored these pieces at one of my fave new boutiques, fab’rik in Homewood.

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Those fierce, red caged sandals were marked down to $24. I got the tank as well because they were having a Buy One, Get One Free promo on sale items! So, with the Shop Save & Share coupon, both purchases were under $24!

I’ve also used the coupon at Old Navy for children’s clothes and for gifts. Yes, it can be used at major chains locally, like Old Navy, Gap and Belk.

It can also be used at luxury retailers that recently opened up at the Summit shopping center in the Birmingham area: Kate Spade, Calypso St. Barth, Kendra Scott and Lilly Pulitzer ! They were featured at a special kick-off event for the Shop Save & Share coupon. The 20% off could add up really quickly at these stores! Here are a few highlights from that event I attended on behalf of B-Metro Magazine!

beautiful event!
beautiful event!
I wore my dress from Calypso St. Barth and jewelry from Kendra Scott
I wore my dress from Calypso St. Barth and jewelry from Kendra Scott
beautiful cuff at Kendra Scott!
beautiful cuff at Kendra Scott!
a customer tries to decide which of these hot new ring sets to buy at Kendra Scott!
a customer tries to decide which of these hot new ring sets to buy at Kendra Scott!

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dress I fell in love with at Calypso St. Barth!
dress I fell in love with at Calypso St. Barth!
trying on faux fur for fun at Calypso St. Barth
trying on faux fur for fun at Calypso St. Barth
how fun is this chicken cardigan from Calypso St. Barth?! I love it!!
how fun is this chicken cardigan from Calypso St. Barth?! I love it!!
Not everything at Lilly Pulitzer is pink, floral and preppy! I loved this chic shirtdress!
Not everything at Lilly Pulitzer is pink, floral and preppy! I loved this chic shirtdress!
sparkle tank at Lilly Pulitzer is perfect for the upcoming holidays!
sparkle tank at Lilly Pulitzer is perfect for the upcoming holidays!
Lilly Pulitzer jewelry
Lilly Pulitzer jewelry
classic bags from Kate Spade!
classic bags from Kate Spade!
bows are everywhere! always a big hit for Kate Spade
bows are everywhere! always a big hit for Kate Spade

Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to make a small investment to get a big return! If you’re in the Birmingham area, there is still time to get a Shop Save & Share coupon and take advantage! It expires November 2nd. A bonus, the proceeds from the coupon go toward projects that benefit women and children in the community. You can shop with a good conscious, knowing you’re helping others in need!

Pink Does Not Stink, I Think

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I used to think Pink really did stink.

I thought it was too girly, too prissy, too meek.

I thought it was a color that represented the weak.

But I gave it a try and began to think.

Maybe Pink does NOT stink.

I’ll try Pink with animal and feathers!

pinkleopard

I’ll try Pink with neon and leather.

pinkneon

I’ll try Pink with a red hue.

pinkred

I’ll even try Pink with florals, too.

pinkfloral

I’ve dabbled here, and dabbled there. I’ve dabbled nearly everywhere.

Pink has grown on me, I must admit.

With my complexion, it’s actually a good fit.

So, now my thoughts on Pink are done.

In my battle against Pink, Pink may have won.

“Rumer” Has It

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One thing I have learned in the past year of blogging: the importance of accessorizing. So, when I had a chance to partner with Kendra Scott for this post, I jumped at the opportunity. Kendra Scott gifted me a pair of earrings to review, but the contents and opinions in this post are my own.

I used to play it extremely safe with jewelry, sticking to simple gold and silver pieces. If I branched out, it was venturing into black and gold. Statement jewelry would be reserved for nights out and evening wear. And frankly, I never thought it was worth the investment, so my collection was not really much of a collection.

But I have seen the sparkling, shimmery light!

After following so many other bloggers and fashion lovers on Instagram, I have a better vision of how to incorporate statement pieces into my every day wardrobe.

Kendra Scott is one jewelry collection I have admired online for a while–like, since the beginning of my Pinterest days.

But I don’t have to ogle online anymore! The designer recently opened a store in my area, so I happily paid a visit. I was immediately impressed with the beautiful, fresh layout filled with baubles organized by color and style. The staff was also friendly, knowledgeable and well-dressed, might I add.

 

The designs are right up my alley! The pieces are not too flashy, yet they’re still impactful and perfect for enhancing every day outfits. There are also pieces that can stand on their own to dress up a simple T or add a finishing touch to an evening look. All of the jewelry is made with either real glass or stone, so the quality is superb!

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While everything in the store was truly beautiful, one pair of earrings immediately caught my eye: the Rumer.

Rumer - gold
Rumer – gold

I was drawn to them with animal magnetism. They reminded me of a pair of earrings I used to have from one of my favorite retailers. But my old pair were poorly made and fell apart after a couple of wears. So, I just had to give these beauties a try.

They may not contain jewels, gems or a lot of bling, but they will hardly go unnoticed. The double teardrop shape allows for beautiful movement. Each teardrop is also adorned with gold beads (also available in silver.) The design is simple enough to pair with more casual looks, yet there are enough intricacies to support an outfit for a night out on the town. The quality feels exceptional. They are coated in 14kt gold. They aren’t flimsy and do not feel like they will fall apart after a few wears. They are now one of the most beautiful earrings I own and I know I will be getting a lot of wear out of them! I love how they look with this Calypso St. Barth dress I styled in a recent post.

 

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If you like what you see…stay tuned! I have a Kendra Scott giveaway coming up!!

And, if you entered the Fab’rik Denim Giveaway….I’ve chosen a winner at random (technically, a co-worker drew a name from all eligible entries). Congratulations to Alexandria (acroom90)! Please email me at buddingfashionista@yahoo.com so we can get you your new jeans!! Thanks so much for everyone who entered.