Fall Wardrobe Staple: Boutique Tunics

Fall Wardrobe Staples 2 Tunics

Yesterday, I wrote about how to style your leggings with tunics, and I showed you some tunics and dresses available in your favorite retail stores.  Shopping large retailers has many advantages. Nationally known stores like Nordstrom, Target, Anthropologie, and Gap have massive inventory, stocking plenty of sizes for each garment. If a store doesn’t have your size, a salesperson can usually find it at another store, or you can order it online. Many large retailers have free shipping and generous return policies; they can afford to do that because of the volume of business they do.

There are drawbacks to shopping at places like Nordstrom, though. If you need help finding clothes that fit well and flatter your figure, there might not be a salesperson available to give you feedback. And many people have a hard time wading through so many choices to put together a look that is stylish and budget-friendly. I love to shop, and even I get overwhelmed sometimes at the selection at large department stores! The solution? Shopping at local and online boutiques that have a smaller inventory but offer more personal service.

Houston is home to thousands of local boutiques. From Project Runway 2 winner, Chloe Dao’s DAO Chloe DAO boutique in Rice Village, to women selling unique clothing out of their homes, there is an abundance of styles available to the discerning shopper. I enjoy shopping at relatively unknown places; I like having clothes that stand out from the crowd. Developing a relationship with a boutique owner is helpful, too. Once she knows your style and favorite brands, she can recommend clothes you may like, which makes the shopping experience more efficient. The biggest drawback to shopping local and online boutiques, in my opinion, is that boutiques carry limited inventory, often stocking only a couple of pieces in each size. If your size is sold out, the owner may not be able to recorder it. Boutique brands can be pricy, too, but with so many choices, you should be able to find one that carries clothes in your budget.

Today, I’m going to introduce you to some of my favorite brands of tunics and long tops to wear with leggings and where to find them. Since tunics are a staple of my fall wardrobe, I need (!) to have many choices hanging in my closet. Here’s a reminder about what to look for in a tunic:

Anatomy of the Perfect Leggings Outfit

Thee are a couple of brands that fit me well, flatter my figure, and follow the rules of a great leggings and boots outfits; it’s so hard for me to resist buying when a store receives a new shipment! Knowing there are limited pieces in my size puts a little pressure on me, too. If someone else comes in and buys that super cute XL tunic, I’m out of luck! (Maybe I shouldn’t share my secrets with you – then you’ll know where I get all of my cutest clothes!)

Tunics Tunics and more Tunics

Clockwise from top left: Joy Joy, Ivy Jane, Ivy Jane, Gretty Zueger, Jude Connally, Ivy Jane

I absolutely adore these lines. Most of them are wholesale and only available through boutiques. They range in size from small to XL and from $139 to $179 in price. You could wear most of these as dresses, although I always pair them with leggings. You can find those brands in small boutiques across the country; I get mine at Marlo Miller Boutique in Houston (she will ship to you!) If you do shop at boutiques, be sure to ask about the return policy. Most small shops limit returns to 14 days, sometimes less.

Gretty Top Turquoise

If you’re looking for less expensive tunics and dresses, there are lots of options. I haven’t purchased anything from these boutiques, so I can’t comment on the fit and quality, but everything looks cute! I realize that the models are a (little!) youngish, but I wanted to give you some under $50 options. Anyone can pull off these looks, though, so don’t let your age stop you from looking cute!

Boutique Tunics Under $50

1. Finders Keepers Dress

2. Deep Pockets Tunic

3. Secret Admirer Dress

4. Double Take Oatmeal Tunic

5. Last Frontier Tunic

6. Famous Tunic Sahara Desert

7. Into the Night Tunic

8. Essential Piko Tunic Long Sleeve

Do you like these tunics? Would you wear them? If you decide to buy one of them – or any tunic from a small boutique – I would love to get your feedback on fit, quality, and price point. And please share if you have a favorite local boutique. I think it’s important to support small business owners!

I am going to a blog conference this weekend, and I’m going to pretend it’s fall and wear my tunics and leggings and boots. It’s usually cold in conference rooms, right? I should be able to get away with it!

14 Staples for Your Fall Wardrobe series label

This is the fourth post in a series. Click HERE to read other posts.

Fall Wardrobe Staple: Tunics

Fall Wardrobe Staples 2 Tunics

I am a HUGE fan of leggings and tunics/dresses/long tops. Tunics and leggings work for all seasons – you can wear cropped leggings with a light-weight tunic and flats or wedges in warm weather and long leggings with sweater dresses and heavier tunics and boots in cold weather, and you will be casual, comfortable, and chic all year round. (Read about my favorite brand of leggings here.)

The challenge with this style of dressing is figuring out what to wear with your leggings. Because, stylish readers, leggings are not pants. They may look like pants and feel like pants and act like pants, but they are not pants. They are underwear, not outerwear, and as such, they deserve their own special kind of top. One that fits and flatters, is not too big and definitely not too short. Something that looks like you put an outfit together, not just rolled out of bed, threw on yoga pants and an oversized sweatshirt, and stumbled to your local Starbucks for a Venti  triple-shot, two SWEET’N LOW latte (not that I’ve ever, you know, done that.) Properly styled, leggings (and tights) can go everywhere – a casual lunch with the girls, date night with your sweetie, and even the office. It all depends on what you wear with them.

But how can you tell what makes a good companion to leggings and what doesn’t? There are so many choices, and most of us don’t have a lot of time to go shopping with our girlfriends/personal stylists/therapists like we used to do. Who will make sure our leggings are thick enough so nothing shows through? Who will tell us if a top covers everything it needs to cover without looking frumpy? Never fear, stylish readers, your virtual personal shopper is here to help!

First: to Pinterest, for inspiration.

How to Style Leggings

First picture source HERE. I couldn’t find sources for the other two pictures.

All three outfits follow the cardinal rules of leggings:

Rules for Wearing Leggings

Picture source unknown.

You probably have a long shirt, a cardigan, or a dress in your closet – maybe one that’s a little too short to wear by itself – that you could wear with leggings and flats or boots for a stylish fall look. I’ll talk about the t-shirt/sweater and button-down shirt options a little later in this series, but today, it’s all about the tunic.

Anatomy of the Perfect Leggings OutfitPicture source HERE.

The great thing about this tunic is its versatility. You could wear it sans leggings with wedges or sandals in spring or summer and with lighter-colored leggings and flats in early fall. I say lighter-colored, because while the black leggings look great with the brown boots (it’s okay to mix black and brown, I promise!) the black leggings without the boots would look too heavy. Light brown leggings or denim would look good, especially with bright red-orange flats. I get a lot of wear out of my tunics by pairing them with different colors and styles of leggings and wearing them with flats as well as boots. I don’t wear tunics by themselves, though. At my age (45) and with my curvy body shape, I’m just more comfortable with my knees covered.

I get my tunics from places like Nordstrom, Ann Taylor, Anthropologie, and other nationally known clothing stores. I also shop local and online boutiques for unique tunics from my favorite  brands. Here are some options from the stores you know and love:

Fall Wardrobe Staple Tunics Retailers

 Tunic 1 – Lace Vent Tunic from Anthropologie

Tunic 2 – Nic + Zoe Road to Riches Tunic from Nordstrom

Tunic 3 – Caslon Pocket Tunic Sweater from Nordstrom

Tunic 4 – Oakdale Tunic from Anthropologie

Tunic 5 – City Chic Bam Front Print Tunic from Nordstrom

Tunic 6 – Caslon Knit Tunic from Nordstrom

Tunic 7 – Endless Blue Cashmere Tunic from Ann Taylor

Tunic 8 – Scrolled Stripe Tunic from Anthropologie

I have a tunic similar to the Caslon Knit Tunic (number six) from last year. I actually have it in two colors – one in cobalt/black and one in back/grey. It’s lightweight, soft, comfortable, and the perfect length for me. I ordered the Lace Vent Tunic from Anthropologie and the Caslon Pocket Tunic Sweater from Nordstrom to see how I like them. They are both from “regular” size departments, so I’m not sure if they will fit me. Anthro and Nordy’s have easy return policies, so I can take them back if I don’t like them.

If you don’t have a tunic and you don’t want to buy one, take a look at some of the knee-length dresses hanging in your closet. You can probably wear one of them with leggings and boots or booties and get the tunic-and-legging look for practically nothing (remember – you should invest in a good pair of leggings if you don’t already have one!)

Turn a dress into a tunic

Dress 1 – Printed Boatneck Dress from Gap

Dress 2 – Polka Dot Chambray Shirtdress from LOFT

Dress 3 – Plaid Shirtdress from Gap

Dress 4 – Women’s Denim Shirtdress from Target

The key to looking fabulous in a leggings-and-tunic outfit this fall, regardless of your age and body type, is to start with a great pair of leggings, then add a tunic that fits well and covers your rear end, and finish with flats or boots, depending on how cold it is.

In tomorrow’s post, I’ll share some of my favorite boutique tunic brands and where I buy them. I hope it’s starting to feel like fall where you live!

14 Staples for Your Fall Wardrobe series labelThis is the third post in a series. Click HERE to read more.

Fall Wardrobe Staple: Leggings

Fall Wardrobe Staples 1 Leggings

The most important piece of clothing in your fall wardrobe is a good pair of leggings. Leggings should be thick, hold their shape, and not roll down when you bend or sit. It’s harder than you think to find a good pair; not all leggings are created equally. It might be tempting to buy cheap leggings, but high-quality leggings will look better and last longer. Trust me on this, stylish readers!

Finding leggings you like takes a bit of trial and error. What looks good and feels comfortable on one person may not work for another, so you might want to try a few different brands to find your favorite. If you are buying only one pair of leggings this season, I recommend getting black or brown, depending on the colors and patterns you wear most. I have black, brown, aubergine, and denim leggings for fall and winter. I wear leggings three-to-four times a week, so I like to have more than one pair and color.

I’ve tried several different brands of leggings the last couple of years. Some were too thin or too loose and bagged at the knees after I wore them a few hours. Others were too tight, making it hard to breathe. A few brands are just right and worth recommending to you.

Fall Wardrobe Staple Leggings

The first option, Assets by Sara Blakely, is a good one. These seamless, slimming leggings come in black or grey and are $28.00 at Target. They have a wide waistband that smooths our your stomach, hips, and thighs. And, according to the Target website, they make your butt look fantastic! Sizes range from small to XXL.

The second, better option is the Hue Ultra Wide Waistband Leggings. They come in come three colors – black, espresso, and graphite heather – and are $36.00 at Nordstrom. These leggings have a nonbinding waistband that creates a smooth, flattering silhouette. Sizes range from XS (0-2) to XL (16.)

The third and best option, in my opinion, is the tummy-control leggings from Lysse. I cannot do fall fashion without these leggings. They retail between $56.00 and $98.00, depending on the style and material, and range in size from XS to XL. You can get them from Nordstrom and Lysse, although Nordstrom’s selection is limited. I buy my leggings at Marlo Miller Boutique in Houston because Marlo carries a variety of styles and colors, and I like to support local  businesses.

You may think I’m crazy, suggesting you buy leggings that cost $60.00 or more, but allow me to extol the virtues of the tummy-control leggings:

Why Lysse leggings are the best leggings

Although leggings are not pants (more on that later,) you can consider them pants for the purpose of wardrobe-building. Like a pair of slacks or jeans, leggings are a basic item around which you rotate other pieces. Leggings are to tunics as pants are to tops!

The next fall wardrobe staple on my list is a knee-length dress or tunic. In tomorrow’s post, I’ll explain the difference between leggings and pants (it’s crucial that you learn this information!) and give you some ideas for what to wear with your leggings.

Do you have a favorite brand of leggings? What do you like about them? What do you wear with your leggings? I can’t wait to show you some great tunic and dress options!

14 Staples for Your Fall Wardrobe series label

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14 Staples for Your Fall Wardrobe

 

14 Staples for Your Fall Wardrobe

We Houstonians love flip flop weather and enjoy it almost year round, but when the temperatures dip below 70 in September, we get excited about the possibility of sweater weather. The challenge with fall dressing here is that it might be chilly in the morning, but it will probably warm up by noon, leaving you sweaty and uncomfortable in heavy fall clothing. The solution is layers – long shirts and tunic dresses you can wear over leggings or tights, with boots or flats. Throw on a jacket, scarf, or cardigan on a truly cold day; you can always take it off if you get warm.

Keeping in mind the importance of layers, I created a list of fall wardrobe staples that every woman should have in her closet.

Fall Wardrobe Staples

I live in leggings and tunics in the fall, and I have lots of colored and patterned leggings and tunics in my closet. It’s such an easy way to dress – put on flats or boots, accessorize with some cute jewelry, and you’re out the door, looking effortlessly chic! This fall, I want to add a button-down shirt I can wear with jeans or leggings, a neutral striped shirt, and a few solid color tops to my wardrobe. I’m also looking for a lightweight jacket or cardigan I can wear when it gets a little chillier.

What are your fall wardrobe staples, stylish readers? Do you have a go-to outfit for chilly days?

This post is the first in a series. Follow this blog to see my recommendations for everything on the list!

14 Staples for Your Fall Wardrobe series label

 This is the first post in a series. Click HERE to read more.

Fashion Friday: Lacy Night Out

Lacy Night Out

 Tallulah Bib, Sparkle Studs, Double Clutch, Pave Arrow Cuff, Pyramid Stud Cuff 

I love the look of this little purple dress, from the vibrant periwinkle to the lacy texture. The triangle panels create a flattering waistline, a sexy silhouette perfect for a cocktail party or night at the theatre. Hand embroidered with silver-plated chains, hand threaded crystals, and glass beads with delicate spike fringe, the Tallulah Bib Necklace is a casual silver statement piece you can dress up or down. The red lipstick, color-block stilettos, and Pyramid Studded Cuff keep this outfit from looking too sweet. Going to a luncheon? Wear nude or metallic pumps, delicate bangles, and a rosy lip color for a more demure look.

OOTD Lacy Night Out

Shoes, Dress 1, Dress 2, Dress 3, Dress 4

To recreate this look for curvy figures, I searched for dresses with similar silhouettes and textures. I didn’t find a plus-size dress in periwinkle, but these purple dresses are just as pretty. Dress one is a vivacious v-neck sheath with all-over lace, a matte wraparound waistband, and a silhouette similar to the periwinkle dress. Dress two features an empire waist and a flirty skirt. It comes with a printed bolero jacket if you like more coverage on your arms. Dress three is the least like the inspiration dress, but I love the 3/4 sleeves, the v-neck, and the triangle panel at the waistline. The shape and silver-flecked swirls in the fourth dress resemble the lacy inspiration dress, but the drawstring waist gives it a more casual feel.

I recently ordered this dress from Nordstrom, and I love it! It doesn’t look like the Outfit of the Day dress, but it is purple. :) I wore it to dinner Friday night with the Callie Necklace and Nancy Studs in silver.

Gabby Skye Dress, Callie Necklace, Nancy Studs

Dress, Nancy Studs, Callie Necklace

What do you wear when you’re dressing up for a night out? Would you wear one of these purple dresses or go with a traditional LBD? Whichever you choose, add a little sparkle with Stella & Dot!

Disclosure: I am an Independent Stylist for Stella & Dot. This post has links to my personal Stella & Dot website. I receive commission on orders placed on my website. I am NOT affiliated with any other stores.

Fashion Pinspiration: Green + Gold + Leopard = RAWR

Green, Gold, Leopard

 Source

I saw this outfit on Pinterest recently, and I pinned it to my fall fashion inspiration board. Animal prints have been popular for a while, and I was feeling kinda over them, but paired with a bright green jacket and gold accessories, leopard looks fresh again. I went virtual shopping at some of my favorite plus-size retailers and found some pieces to recreate this outfit. Of course, I would wear Stella & Dot accessories.

GreenGoldLeopardCollage

Jacket, Top, Pants, Shoes

Dorothy Pearl Studs, Pave Chevron Cuff, Gabrielle Pearl Necklace

How do you feel about animal prints? Do you have any in your wardrobe? The next time you go to your closet, think about new ways to combine prints and solids. Mixing a favorite print from past seasons with a bright, new color from this season keeps your wardrobe current and extends the life of each piece in your closet.

Disclosure: I am an Independent Stylist for Stella & Dot. This post has links to my personal Stella & Dot website. I receive commission on orders placed on my website. I am NOT affiliated with any other stores.

Fashion Friday: Bold in Black and White

Bold in Black and White

 Rory Necklace, Renegade Cluster Bracelet, Cady Wrap, Madison Tech Wallet

I have a lot of pattern and color in my wardrobe. I like to wear neutral bottoms with vibrant tunics and tops. If you could peek inside my closet, you would see an artful arrangement of colorful tanks, tops, and dresses (in ROY G. BIV order, of course) next to basic leggings, jeans, and pants in the oh-so-thrilling colors of black, blue, brown, and white. I select jewelry and accessories from the Stella & Dot boutique in my other closet (the perks of being single with no kids!) and I often pair colorful statement necklaces with bright blouses in complementary or contrasting hues (see here, here, and here.)

Sometimes, even this color-crazy girl likes to keep it simple with a classic look, and Stella & Dot’s Outfit of the Day, Bold in Black and White, is the perfect inspiration. I am comfortable shopping in the plus-size section and upper end of the regular women’s section in my favorite stores, so I looked for pieces that anyone – regardless of size – can use to replicate the look.

OOTD Old Navy Sweater

Sweater, Jeans, Booties

The Fluffy Heart Jumper in the Stella & Dot outfit is from Top Shop, and it doesn’t come in anything over a size 10, so that’s out. I found the grey and white sweater at Old Navy – more sizes and less expensive than the one from Top Shop. I’m not a big fan of distressed jeans, but these from Lane Bryant look pretty good. I still don’t know how I feel about booties and shooties. I mean, shooties? Really?? File these under the category “they look good on other people; me, not so much,” although these from Dillard’s might be a good training shootie.

What do you think of this look? Are you a color person or a classic-black-and-white girl? You just might see me sporting this outfit around Houston this fall!

Disclosure: I am an Independent Stylist for Stella & Dot. This post may have links to my personal Stella & Dot website. I receive commission on orders placed on my website. I am NOT affiliated with any other stores.