The Latest Craze: Nail Art

I’ve been seeing a lot of crazy, decorative nails everywhere, especially on fashion blogs and Pinterest. I’ve loosened up a lot about nail polish over the years, getting older AND more liberal and open-minded :), but the craziest thing I ever did was paint my toenails blue and pink before my sister had her first baby, Anna Jane.

{My sister and her husband didn’t find out what they were having, and when my mom, sister, and I got our second pedicures before my niece was born (she was two weeks late – my poor sister), we each got our toenails painted to show our prediction about the baby’s gender: my sister got blue, my mom got pink (a grandmother’s intuition!), and I did pink and blue. I wish I had a picture, but suffice it to say, it was very daring for me at the time.}

The nail art craze pushes the boundaries even further; I’m not sure if I’m ready to embrace the trend, though. I’ve been toying with the idea of doing neon blue or purple or green, but I’m afraid that might look a little silly on a 42-year old, so I’ve held off. I never get polish on my fingernails – I hate it when it chips and end up taking if off most of the time – but I love a good pedicure. Now that we’re solidly in flip-flop weather in Houston, it’s time to make those regular pedicure appointments!

Here’s a round-up of some of the nail art tutorials I’ve found:

What about you? Thumbs up or thumbs down? (Get it? Thumbs? Never mind.) Do you get wild with your nail polish or stick to the classic colors? Let me know in the comments!

Third Time’s a Charm: One Necklace, Three Ways

For this Thursday’s Third Time’s a Charm post, I’m styling our Third Time’s a Charm Necklace three different ways.

Take a look!

Red belted sheath with red flats

Red and white striped shirt and boyfriend jeans

Graphic dots wrap top and red pencil skirt

For the first and last sets, I like the way the necklace gives each outfit a bit of an edge. You can look professional and pulled together but keep it light and fun with a touch of the unexpected. The middle set is a classic: comfy boyfriend jeans, a cozy sweater, and espadrilles. Perfect for window shopping on a weekend and holding hands with said boyfriend. :)

Which set is your favorite? Which one is closet to your personal style? Do you have a junk charm necklace you can add to your favorite work or weekend outfit to give it a little kick? Experiment with your jewelry – wear something classic and feminine with boyfriend jeans and a white t-shirt. Spice up a skirt-and-blouse combo with a trendy necklace. Mix metals!  It’s okay – I promise!

P. S. I didn’t realize I used red in each set until I finished the last one. I must be having a red letter day!

P. P. S. You can find the Third Time’s a Charm Necklace and both pairs of earrings on my website.

Happiness is…

…colorful jewelry! This showed up on the landing page of my personal website today. I want to put it all on right now! Instead, I’ll style some outfits for your viewing pleasure:

Spring Wedding

{necklace, bracelets, earrings, dress, shoes, Chanel handbag}

Ladies Who Lunch

{necklace, earrings, ring, dress, shoes}

{P. S. If the style of the green dress looks familiar, it’s because it’s by ISSA, one of Kate Middleton’s favorite designers!}

Reset Button

Political ramifications notwithstanding, I like kind of like Eric Fehrnstorm’s idea of starting over:

“Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign,” Fehrnstrom said. “Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch-A-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again.”

Have you ever had an Etch-a-Sketch moment, a time when you wished you could turn your life over, shake it up, and start drawing a new picture? I had mine last year when I decided to quit teaching. It was an emotional decision – I started teaching when I was 23, and before that, I babysat, volunteered in the church nursery on Sunday mornings, and had a summer job as a teacher’s assistant at our church’s Child’s Day In program. My mother was a teacher; so was my great-grandfather.

My friends and family thought I should major in education at Trinity University, but I stubbornly clung to the idea that I could do something besides work with children (I am a Leo after all) and pursued sociology and psychology as my major and minor, respectively. I loved studying group and individual behavior but had no idea how to apply my knowledge of Death and Dying, Sociology of Sex Roles (thanks, O. Z. White, for introducing me to my first transgendered person), and Insanity in a Troubled Society in the real world -could I get a job as a gender roles watchdog? Wisely, I decided to wait a few years to apply to grad school, and I put my Trinity education to good use as a cocktail waitress and professional picture framer (I’m not kidding.)

After a car accident necessitated a move back to Houston, I spent my recuperation cross-stitching, playing handbells in our church bell choir, and contemplating my future. I reluctantly concluded what everyone else knew all along: I was meant to be a teacher. I got a job at the preschool I attended as a precocious 4-year-old (someday I’ll tell you about the Barbie doll incident) and applied to the teacher certification program at the University of Houston.

It was Dr. Mountain, my Foundations of Reading Instruction professor, who encouraged me to go to graduate school, and after two and a half years, I received my Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (with a 4.0 GPA, thankyouverymuch, which had absolutely no impact on anything but made up for my occasionally lackadaisical approach to academics at Trinity and was a source of pride for me and my sweet grandmother, Oma, who paid for graduate school with the caveat that I would have to pay her back if I didn’t finish the program.) I got my first job at Liestman Elementary in Alief ISD, the school at which I did my student teaching and began 15 years of dedication to the children and families at Liestman, Smith, Briargrove, and, finally, Presbyterian School.

My passion for education was all-consuming – I worked late and on the weekends and spent countless hours and thousands of dollars buying books and educational materials for my classroom. When I packed everything up last May, I had hundreds of boxes of books, games, resources, manipulatives, and school supplies, most of which I donated to Presbyterian School. I stacked the boxes on either side of the hallway, and as I left, walking past 15 years of my life, I pretended I was Sam Malone, closing down the bar for the last time.

The Closet Wizard: MA’s Wardrobe Makeover

I did my first virtual wardrobe consultation for my friend, MA. She lost weight recently (go, MA!) and wanted to replace some of the basics in her wardrobe as well as buy new pieces for her work as a pastor and writer and her home life as a busy wife and mother of 3 children. She had black and khaki cropped pants, black and khaki slacks, a flared black skirt, a black blazer, and some new black riding boots. I recommended buying a pair of trouser jeans and a black pencil skirt, and I focused on adding tops, sweaters, and dresses to create a variety of casual and professional outfits.

MA’s style is classic, tailored, and unfussy, so I wanted to inject a bit of color, pattern, and modernity into her wardrobe. She will be able to mix and match the separates, depending on her activity (leading worship, facilitating a meeting, presenting at a conference, working at home, or shuttling children to lessons and playdates.) Knowing MA, she does not want to spend a lot of time figuring out what to wear each day, but I want her to look polished and feel confident when she walks out the door.

The basic formula is this:

  • 1 bottom (skirt or pants)  + 1 top (tank or printed blouse) + 1 layer (sweater or jacket) = an outfit
  • Add shoes (boots, pumps, or flats) and accessories (I couldn’t resist sneaking some Stella & Dot in!) and you have an effortless look!
  • dress functions as a top and bottom; wear alone or with a sweater or blazer.
  • Remix and rotate the pieces as often as you like!
With this wardrobe, MA can easily go from cold or chilly weather to warm weather – she can wear a light cardigan and flats in lieu of a heavy sweater and boots, and when it gets really hot, she can wear the middle layers (tanks, blouses, dresses) without something over them. I’m happy with my first virtual wardrobe consultation, but I wish I could shop with MA in person!

The Side Dishes of Fashion: Video Clip from The Chew

Clinton Kelly, co-host of What Not to Wear on TLC and Style Expert on ABC’s The Chew pulled thee women from the audience recently and showed them how to accessorize according to their body types. All the accessories he used were from Stella & Dot!

Clinton recommends a simple formula: 1, 2, or 3 bold accessories for the day plus 1 more bold piece at night. Take a look:

Click to watch video

I put together sets based on each woman in the video clip. I tried to find dresses that were close in color and style to the ones the women were wearing, and I used most of the same accessories as Clinton. I added handbags and shoes, because what woman would leave the house without the most important accessories of all?

Click on the pictures for shopping details or shop with me on my personal website.

First, I recreated the petite outfits:

Petite Figure - Daytime

Clinton used a different pair of earrings for this outfit (Deco Drops), but I liked the matching earrings and necklace for simplicity since the bracelets are very bold together. I could DIE for those shoes!

Petite Figure - Nighttime

I switched out the earrings to our Glint Flower CZ Studs because I thought they worked better with the bold necklace. I played by Clinton’s 1 bold + another for night rule, but I would probably leave out the bracelets and substitute a colored clutch in a contrasting color so the focus is on the stunning necklace.

Next, I dressed the medium frame:

Medium Figure - Daytime

Since the red belt was bold, the earrings take center stage in this outfit. I opted for black ballet flats and a brown – yes, brown! – handbag. I didn’t want the shoes, dress, and purse to match, and I didn’t want to use another  bold color because it would take away from the red. I think the touch of red in the bag relates to the belt, so it keeps everything in balance.

Medium Figure - Nighttime

For the nighttime outfit, Clinton added blue to the mix with the Bahari Necklace, which is why I matched the shoes and the handbag to the dress. The Chanel bag has gold chains, which ties in with the gold in the jewelry. This outfit shows that blue and black do look good together, and it’s also a good example of how to wear blue and red without looking like you’re going to a 4th of July Parade.

Finally, I adorned the curvy figure:

Curvy Figure - Daytime

I had a hard time finding a dress like the third audience member’s – I loved the way her dress gathered at the side and draped over her curves. I ended up using a plainer (probably less-flattering) dress in a similar color. Clinton put the Campari Necklace – one of my go-to pieces this season – on this model and used the Aurora Cocktail Ring and the Garbo Link Bracelet in gold to complete the set of three accessories. The gold Garbo Link was a limited edition, and we are sold out, so I used the leopard kitten heels for the third bold accessory and kept the handbag neutral.

Curvy Figure - Nighttime

For the nighttime version, I switched the studs for  the Valentina Chandelier Earrings. I don’t really have a fourth bold item, unless you call pairing the black pumps with the ivory bag bold!

I went to lunch today and followed Clinton’s rules for accessorizing. Since I’m a curvy girl, I used three bold accessories.  I tried to take a picture of my outfit, but my arms are too short to hold the camera far enough away for you to see my jewelry, and I don’t like those cheesy “picture in the mirror” poses. So I created a set with the pieces I wore (or similar.)

Curvy Figure - Daytime

I wore this Michael Kors top; dark, flared denim trousers; and wedge sandals similar to these. I wore all jewelry as shown.  At lunch, the man next to my table started to reach over, like he was trying to grab something. I thought he wanted the ketchup. He said, “Those bracelets are so pretty!” and his wife chimed in, “They are so sparkly!” The couple oohed and ahhed and I told them I sold the jewelry, and they asked me to mail them a catalog. They don’t have a computer. Can  you believe that?

I should write Clinton Kelly a thank you note. Not only did I learn some great styling tips, but I also got a lead on a potential customer!

What is your body type? What one, two, or three bold accessories would you wear during the daytime? What would you add at night? Leave a comment and tell me how you would style your jewelry to flatter your figure!

The Closet Wizard: Susan’s Closet Reorganization

Last weekend, my mom and I went to Seattle to visit my sister, Susan, and her family. My brother-in-law was out of town at a conference, and my sister wanted some help with my precious niece and nephew, ages 2.8 and 6 months, respectively. And since Friday was my sister’s birthday, we got to celebrate with her in person!

My mom’s present to my sister was lunch and shopping at Nordstrom WITHOUT the kids! I’m not sure what Susan was more excited about: shopping for new clothes or spending 5 uninterrupted hours sans children! Before we went to Nordy’s, Mom and I helped Susan go through her closet and decide what she should get rid of – most of her clothes are in good shape, so we focused on eliminating clothing that was either outdated or something she had worn a lot and didn’t love anymore. I made a list of what I thought she needed so we could look for specific items and avoid wandering around aimlessly.

At Nordy’s, we got some basics – several different pairs of jeans, some tops, and some cardigans, and some shoes she desperately needed. (We made her throw away her tried-and-true ballet flats, promising she could replace them with new shoes from Nordy’s. Honestly, who wouldn’t jump at that deal???) After the shopping trip (and a take-out Chinese dinner and birthday cake – lovingly made by Mom, my niece, and me), I set out to transform her closet so that she could make the most out of her new wardrobe.

Is this not the most pitiful cake you’ve ever seen? We had fun making it, though, and it still tasted good with ice cream!

My sister and brother-in-law live in a 105-year-old Victorian-style farmhouse. It is two stories with a basement and sits on a narrow lot. The original hardwoods, solid wood doors and banister, and leaded glass windows give it all the charm and character you would expect to find in one of Seattle’s oldest neighborhoods. There are three bedrooms and one bathroom upstairs and limited closet space, typical of older homes. Susan’s closet is in her daughter’s bedroom, and, tucked under the eaves of the wall opposite my niece’s bed, it is a narrow, unusually configured space.

I wish I had taken a before picture, but suffice it to say, it looked something like this:

only half this size

I started by grouping items together – dresses, skirts, pants, tops, sweaters/jackets/coats (living in Seattle, she has a lot more of these than I do.) The trick to organizing this closet was to embrace the odd dimensions rather than fight them. I think it’s easier to describe what I did using the pictures instead of saving the big reveal for last, so, here it is:

Susan’s new and improved closet!

You can see how pitched the roof is and although there is a lot of hanging space, a third of it is hidden behind the door and isn’t easily accessible. I slid over-the-door hangers on top of the closet door on the right because there is plenty of depth for bulky items when you close the door. Susan wanted a place to hang her robes, and the nifty thing about these hangers is that you can hang clothes behind the hooks. {I would hang clothes back from the cleaner on these until I got rid of the plastic bags and put them on proper hangers. (Yes, I’m of the “no wire hangers” persuasion.)}

To increase the amount of space available and make sure delicate items don’t slide off the hangers, I used these slimline hangers from Real Simple (you can buy them at BED BATH & BEYOND.) I only used them for dresses, tops, and delicate sweaters. You can use clips to turn the hangers into skirt/pant hangers, but I don’t think they hold skirts and pants as well as these (also at BBB.) For jackets and coats, I used wide plastic hangers from the cleaner to keep the shape in the shoulders.

L-R: dresses, pants, skirts, tops with shoes behind

On the far left, I used scarf hangers to organize her scarves (must-haves in Seattle) – one for black, brown, and grey scarves and one for colorful scarves. (Yes, I’m that picky. Sue, if you’re reading this, remember to hang all the pretty colors together!) I put the bulkier scarves and gloves in a clear, plastic box and slid it under the jackets. The scarf hangers have notches on each side for belts. I’m all about visual clarity, so I organized the clothes right to left according to type from solids (black, white, then ROYGBIV) to patterns.

YES!

Ahem.

Close up of shoes on narrow shelves

The shelves behind the hanging rod are the most logical place for shoes, but they are completely hidden behind the clothes. I didn’t want Susan to have to fumble through the wardrobe to find the shoes she was looking for, so I hung the long items to the left and reserved the shorter items for the right so some of the shoes could peek out from the bottom.

Looking down narrow space to window

When getting dressed, I envision Susan going from left to right: select dress, pants, or skirt; select top; select sweater and/or coat, so I decided to hang all the outerwear on the rod behind the wall. Layers are essential in Seattle, so she will probably wear a cardigan, sweater, or jacket/blazer every day, sometimes adding a more substantial coat. I organized the outerwear according to what I thought she would use the most, relegating utilitarian and athletic gear to the back.

Sweaters on narrow shelf

There is an itty-bitty space for folded sweaters, so I folded them in thirds and stacked them by color. (I know, I know!)

Close up of window, handbag shelves, hat shelf

There are shelves at the end of the low rod with plenty of room for hats and handbags and other items Susan won’t use daily. I also hung extra hangers, although I notice we didn’t have any slimline hangers left. (Note to self: buy more hangers the next time I’m in Seattle.)

Ahhh! A thing of beauty!

I think this project turned out pretty well. I enjoyed doing it, and I love knowing that Susan will be able to create outfits with her new clothes and the ones she already had in her closet, giving her a whole new wardrobe.

Happy birthday, sweet sister!

The birthday girl!

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