Sunday, 22 December 2013

Bon Voyage Giveaway

I'm leaving on a Jet Plane... and since I don't want y'all to miss me too much during my blogging vacay, I thought I would leave you with a reason to browse through the VV Boutique Style archives - a giveaway!

You've seen her amazing pieces featured here before and now you have a chance to win your very own She Does Create jewelry! 
 $50 Gift Certificate for She Does Create pieces!

Here's what you need to do:

1.Click below to have more than 50 chances to enter!
2.Enter by following the prompts to:
To help you out, here are links to some several many of my favourite posts from 2013...
Bon Chance!
Merry Christmas!

Friday, 20 December 2013

Juanita Shops

This has been a whirlwind week.  Sick kids, wrapping up work before the holidays, trying to think, doing laundry, trying to pack.  Luckily I had a thrift-guiding appointment this morning to look forward to - time in VV is always relaxing and rejuvenating for me especially when it's spent shopping with a great woman like Juanita!

Juanita is the mother of another great VV Boutique Style client, Deb the farmerette who got a new thrifted wardrobe back in October.  Juanita helps on the farm, works for a local paper, is a mother and grandmother and in her "spare" time she writes science fiction!  She was looking to update her casual work wardrobe with "new" jeans, sweaters, and blazers, and learn how to add scarves to her outfits for winter warmth and style.  With such broad shopping goals, no wonder we ended up with two heaping carts of options!
Yep, that's all Juanita's!  Luckily, the fitting rooms weren't busy and the staff were patient as usual!

Though I usually recommend the "rule of 3" - including three elements to the upper body portion of your outfit - Juanita gravitated toward a simple fashion formula of neutral bottom + top with interest and found plenty of pieces for plenty of unique pairings!
Juanita scored a chambray on her first trip!!  No fair!  I mean, I am so happy for her.
Though it can take some adjusting, chambray shirts make for a stylish layer under sweaters, and are incredibly versatile!
Click here for one of my favourite blogs on styling a chambray.
This short sleeve chevron shirt works with cardis and blazers.
The blazer/jean look is contemporary style, but the duo on the right would look great with slacks too.
Turns out Deb's affinity for plaid is the apple, and Juanita's love of plaid is the tree.
Like mother like daughter!
All the tops Juanita selected have interesting details, for example, the pattern of these three.
The most important detail is fit!  Juanita looked slim and trim in tops that fit 
compared to reaching for baggy tops that don't flatter her figure.
Juanita loves wool and natural fabrics.
We found several wool or wool-blend and cotton tops in great condition.

Juanita is not one to wear many belts or accessories and does not like turtlenecks or fussy necklines, however, she found 6 scarves that she can loosely loop or tie in different ways, such as this interesting but simple method:
For more scarf tying options, go to the ultimate source here.

Juanita was open to trying new things - like striped tops - and had to try many pieces because she fits different sizes in different brands.  In the end, she found at least one of everything off her list:
  • jeans (black in particular)
  • green jeans/pants
  • pink, black, grey, red
  • jackets/blazers
  • sweaters in natural fibers
  • shirts/blouses
  • scarves
She found 36 pieces at an average cost per piece of  $5.44, or $7.94 including my fee.  When was the last time you found a beautiful wool sweater for eight bucks?!!  At that price, there's no reason not to gift yourself during the holiday season!  Her favourite finds include the blue floral scarf, patterned blouses, blazers and a couple of the jeans that FIT!  Juanita looks awesome! 
Thank you for the pleasure of winding up my week shopping with you, Juanita!  I hope you enjoy your pieces!  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Vacation Capsule Wardrobe

This year my family and I are amazingly blessed to be able to go away over the holidays.  We are heading to sunny California to enjoy Christmas in Disneyland and take in all the other awesome family adventures!  I can't hardly think I'm so excited!!!!!! Thankfully, I started considering my vacation wardrobe before excitement took hold of my brain!  Things really started taking shape when I got my floral scarf of perfection from Anthropologie...
I can't help it when scarves follow me home.

I decided then and there in the Anthro sale section that I would focus my vacation packing on mustard, teal, raspberry, and orange(If we can call that "focused.")  Then, on a miraculously-free afternoon, I hit VV to see what I could find and ended up with a perfect collection of vacation pieces!

My goal is to keep my packing to under 20 pieces, er, not counting things like accessories, outerwear (2 coats, 2 shoes 1 bag and 1 hat!), layering tanks or leggings (which are basically underwear as far as I'm concerned, because they sure as heck aren't pants).  Here's what's going in... 
3 dresses
Gap green/blue shift $9.10, Joe Fresh orange/purple $7, George creamsicle $5.60 all VV Boutique
3 pants and 1 skirt
Ann Taylor cargos $6 VV, J Brand denim from my closet, oxblood skinnies $3 VV, Icebreaker skirt from my closet

3 light sweaters
 Esprit orange stripe $6.30 and teal slouchy $4.20, both VV; Stylemint raspberry stripe

2 short sleeve tops

Land's End polka dot $3.50 VV, Icebreaker gray v-neck from my closet

2 long sleeve tops
Stylemint chambray and Mexx blue from my closet

5 cardis
Floral $7, mustard $2, teal $4.90, raspberry $4.90, oatmeal $4.90

My amazing and talented jewelry-designing sister made me a custom jewelry trifecta (necklaces, bracelets and earrings) to complement the 3 scarves and 3 belts I'm taking, and coordinate with my entire vacation wardrobe!
Jewelry by She Does Create
 Stripe infinity scarf $4.20, teal pashmina $7 from VV Boutique; floral scarf from Anthro
Flatter Me belts in sage and black, brown belt from my closet

Inspiration from Outfit Posts makes me confident that I could easily mix these pieces into 40+ outfits!  I suppose this is not exactly a "capsule" wardrobe unless I was going for more like a month or two!  However, it seems like lighter packing than usual, and I still have plenty of room in my suitcase.  I have never been anywhere warm at Christmas so I have no real concept of what 20 degrees will feel like to a Canadian in December!  Worst case scenario, I am sure I can find a thrift shop somewhere in California!  What do you think?  Anything glaringly missing?  Anything you'd leave out (and don't say a cardi because I absolutely *need* them all)?  I am hoping to mix and match, resulting in a style aesthetic that says something like "Anthro-Disney-Chic."  I plan to mostly unplug while I'm gone, but will snap some shots and share when I return.  Meanwhile, stay tuned to VV Boutique Style on Instagram - you never know when I might share a sneak peak!

Monday, 16 December 2013

New Suede Boots

Blue Christmas
Blue Suede Shoes
New Suede Shoes
New Suede Boots

That was my thought process as I put these beauties on last week; from Christmas classics to thrifted awesomeness in 4 steps!  And now I can't get Elvis out of my head.
 $10 Hope Missions Bargain Shoppe

Though these she-booties have a small heel, the tread is made for outdoors!  AND they were unworn, in perfect shape and totally awesome.  The cool retro details on the boots called for a dress to show them off properly...
Tights and accessories from my closet

What I love about thrifting is that you find totally unique pieces like the boots
and cardi
then you find designer or high-end label pieces like the dress 
and you can put it all together and look stylish but unique, not like the store windows or catalogs, but all the better in my opinion!  I went to the mall to pick up some gifts and felt like I was going to perish.  It was just too much!  I know people say Value Village and thrift stores are overwhelming, but for me, the sights and sounds and people and prices of the mall make it barely tolerable, even just once a year.  I will take VV Boutique any day!  This year is a minimal-gift Christmas (you'll see why soon) but next year I think I will take up the challenge (love me a personal challenge!) to thrift my Christmas shopping list!!  How about you?  Would you consider giving thrifted gifts?  Would you like to receive a thrifted gift?  Discuss.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Dressember Do's

After my Dressember Don't, I have four Dressember Do's to share!  Get your coffee and sit down, because this is a long one!

DO #1: The Real Dressember

I have something important to share about Dressember.  I started my Dressember project oblivious to possibility that other Dressembers may be occurring and that there may be a higher purpose other than "amusing style challenge."  Turns out there's a much more valuable reason to wear dresses in December: to raise vital funds for International Justice Mission, a human rights organization that works to combat human trafficking and end sexual slavery.  The official Dressember has raised more than $70 000 between the US, Canada and Australia!  Since December 1st!!!  That is astounding.  While I've been busy Instagramming cute outfits, these girls have been changing the world.  What can you do?  
  1. Keep wearing dresses this month and tell everyone about the official Dressember mission.  
  2. Consider donating to this worthy cause.  Every little bit helps.  Canadians can click here to donate.  Americans can click here.   
  3. Follow Dressember on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and keep using the hashtag #dressember.
DO #2: Lightweight Layers (and skirts, shhhhh)

While the official Dressember has drawn a hard line about wearing dresses specifically, I decided from the start that skirts could count and have been enjoying styling them for the cold Canadian North!  I was on my own last week so didn't have much time to breathe plan my outfits, but I was pleased with how this one turned out...
 Gray polka dot skirt $7, green sweater $10 , white sheer top $2.50, necklace $2 all VV Boutique
Tights and Miz Mooz pumps from my closet, earrings by She Does Create

I picked up the sheer white button-up at the November 50% sale and thought it would be perfect to layer under sweaters and dresses because it is so light and long. 
Also, since white is a dangerous colour to wear in my glamorous life, the cheaper the better.

Do #3: Read a Good Book in a Dress

In between painting rooms and wrapping up work for the holidays and doing a million other things like every mom, I finished my latest book from Book Sneeze and it was awesome, just like my Dressember casual outfit below.
Tights from closet, accessories by She Does Create
I always stand around casually holding books like this.
Oh my those are beautiful teal walls.
Somehow plaid is the perfect reading pattern.  I'm going to coin the term.

The book is Wounded by God's People by Anne Graham Lotz.
Why did I choose this book: 

Anne Graham Lotz is Billy Graham's daughter so she gets immediate cred in my opinion.  Then I noticed that the forward is by Beth Moore and that sealed the deal.  I knew it would be an invaluable read.  Lotz uses the story of Hagar and Ishmael from Genesis to weave her story towards the redeeming power of Jesus to bind up our wounds and heal the brokenhearted.

"...the evidence of her forgiveness would be when she could love the wounders as God loved them."
  • It was surprising to me to learn that someone like Lotz could have experienced wounding at the hand of other Christians, but after reading the book, I realize this is a very common experience.
  • Lotz's emphasis throughout the book is to move past wounds into true healing.  She doesn't just talk the talk; she has walked the walk and she gives specific ideas of how you can find healing.
  • Focusing on your wounds, nursing them and holding onto them doesn't "punish" the wounder but only keeps you stuck in blindness, bitterness and unforgiveness, which is exactly opposite of what the Bible commands. 
  • Lotz gently helps the reader to examine both the wounds you've experienced and inflicted (on others and yourself).  She even helps readers understand that sometimes God not only allows wounds but wounds us in order to "prune" us, forcing us into new growth and fruitfulness.
  • Lotz emphasizes that wounds don't heal themselves nor do we have the power to heal our own wounds; we need to turn to God for true healing.  She also emphasizes that there is no expiration date on God's offer to heal us.  Anytime, anywhere, anyhow, He is ready when we are.  He is standing by waiting for us to call on Him to experience the full blessing of His presence. 
  • Instead of focusing on our circumstances, Lotz encourages readers to focus on God's Word and God's character.  
Bottom line: 

My copy of this book is covered in underlines, stars, double underlines and boxes!  I could not say enough how much I loved it.  I don't even want to put it on my bookshelf, but think I might need to keep it handy for easy reference!  Though I think God prepared me to be able to hear and accept the messages in this book, I also liked when Lotz noted that "wounds can be healed.  Quickly.  You don't necessarily need years of therapy and counseling."  Not that those aren't valuable too, but just in case, why not pick up a copy of this book as a starting point towards healing, joy and peace?! 

I am a member of
In exchange for writing a review, I received this book for free.

Do #4: Host a Holiday Sweater/Dress Party

I wish I had thought of this sooner because I am hosting a little party tomorrow and it would have been fun to make the husbands wear holiday sweaters and the wives search not only for holiday sweaters, but holiday sweater dresses.  Alas, I ran out of time to get it organized but thought I would still share about a Goodwill campaign and holiday resource called Snapguide.  Snapguide shows you how to host a festive holiday sweater party for a good cause—using clothing purchased from Goodwill.  Click here for the link and let Snapguide walk you through the steps of hosting a holiday sweater party—from finding the perfect sweater to fit your personality using Goodwill’s online quiz and then getting outfitted at your local Goodwill store. After the party is over, all your guests can donate their sweaters back, to support Goodwill’s mission to provide job training and community services to people in need.

There are five Goodwill locations in Edmonton, and through Goodwill’s Donation Impact Calculator, you can see how every item you give has supported people who are seeking to earn jobs and build careers.  Last year, Goodwill provided employment training, job placement, financial education, youth mentoring and more to 6.7 million people in the United States and Canada.  I think that's awesome!  AND all donations to Goodwill are considered charitable tax-deductions!  

I hear people debating about which thrift store is better, and my stance is, I love them all!  All of the thrift shops I know of benefit the community in some way, and all help to re-use, recycle and reduce the impact on landfills, so as long as you're shopping second-hand and donating rather than throwing out, you're doing good.
 If I had time to organize a Holiday Sweater Party, I would go for something like this.
This woman inspires me.  She is wearing Christmas balls AND a hat WHILE vacuuming.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Dressember Don't

When Tyra recommends to her hungry girls to move around while they're modeling, I think she has something subtler in mind than what I have to do when there's a three-year-old behind the camera.  Basically, my girl points and I jump into range!  Makes for fun times of Mommy trying not to look cross when the shutter clicks.  It's a beneficial process though because every once in a while, the photos show me that my outfit isn't quite right, while there's still time to do something about it.  This happened Monday - my first Dressember Don't(er, at least, as far as I know...)

Attempt No. 1
Skirt $4.90, leggings $4.90, Clarks she-booties $10 all VV Boutique
Long sleeve tee from my closet and crochet top gifted

Not every skirt transitions to winter but I really want to at least attempt most if not all of my skirts and dresses this month!  I love this skirt anyways - such pretty colours and a non-floral pattern...
 After seeing the amazingly well-dressed ladies at my Bible study wearing socks peeking out of boots, I decided I could do the same.
 I'm smiling but I know something isn't quite right with this ensemble.

As soon as I saw the pics, I knew it was just too much.  The texture, the colours, the layers.  It's not that it's ALL wrong, it just didn't suit my mood that day.  So, much as I hated to ask the photographer anything to do more shots, I quickly went to adjust my outfit.
 The camel sweater from my closet instantly felt more comfortable.
 Maybe it was the solid colour, or less of the blue tee showing; whatever it was, it was better.
 Adjusting my pieces allowed me to reach for my gorgeous new scarf!

In conclusion, it never hurts to snap a photo before you leave the house!  What do you think?  Which look do YOU prefer?! 

Monday, 9 December 2013

Festive Casual Dressember

If I hadn't already roped my friends into as many clubs as they are willing to entertain, I would start a Christmas party club so that I would have a good excuse to thrift a fancy dress!  As it is, I am fortunate to have several festive events but all are more casual than formal.  Still, I want a little something festive in my ensembles to hint of holidays!

This weekend, I had two holiday casual parties.  Here is what I wore to my work party...
Red wool skirt $4.90 VV Boutique
Blue sweatshirt $2 Hope Missions Bargain Shoppe
Scarf of every-colour-I-adore is from Anthropologie.  
It jumped right in with my bedding.  Don't know how that happened.

I could have alternately titled this post: "I couldn't bend at my party" or "The skirt that fit for a day that I wore anyway" because that beautiful red wool pencil skirt is a mighty tight fit!  I bought it a while ago, got it cleaned then wondered if I bought a skirt I couldn't do up or if the dry cleaners shrunk it.  Pretty sure it was them.  Anyhoo, after Whole 30, it fit!  Ten days later, it was a Christmas miracle I got it done up!
 You may think I'm just rocking the pretty festive red skirt and sweatshirt combo to be trendy, but in reality, I needed something loose on top in case I had to undo my skirt! 

The theme for our party was "Favourite Things" which I've done a few times and love it every time!  We each chose one of our favourite things, then brought two of them, then drew two names to give our favourites to!  I love to see what everyone considers a favourite!  It is as good as Splurge Sorority reveals in my opinion!  This time, I landed a Bath and Body Works candle and soap that smells like baking.  Maybe that plus the skirt will deter me from the holiday 5 10 7.  Naw, who am I kidding.  My second favourite take-home was a beautiful pottery candy salad cereal bowl (her hubby is a pottery artist, so lucky) and the perfect little Tupperware container for cereal salad candy.
Tank and tights from my closet, though I have no clue where those tights came from.
Anyone missing blue printed tights?

I wore my elephant pendant from She Does Create because my selection for my favourite thing was an elephant pendant in MUSTARD with red accent beads!  I would have taken a photo but I didn't think my work colleagues would like their busts posted on the World Wide Web.  It was a little hard to share because I don't have a mustard elephant myself!!  However, my work peeps are so awesome that I really was happy to send the elephants off to good homes!

For my second Dressember festive casual party, I chose lace and gold and texture as the festive elements of my ensemble...
Lace top $6, polka dot skirt $4.90 VV Boutique

The party was hosted by my friend, fellow thrifting enthusiast and hands-down most amazing day home ever (she has even won awards so it's not just me that recognizes her extraordinary skills) and I knew she would appreciate my pattern mixing! 
 This skirt is considerably more forgiving, and good thing too because I ate.
And ate and ate.
And ate.
(My friend is an incredible hostess.)
I didn't realize how much I would love this skirt with tights but man oh man, I felt Sassy!

I have a couple more festive casual events this month so we shall see what else Dressember pulls from the closet!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

To Splurge or Not To Splurge

If you've been reading VV Boutique Style for a while, you've probably heard me talking about Splurge Sorority.  This is a group of 12 women who contribute $40 monthly then take turns collecting the pot and shopping for something special.  Whoever shops hosts the next gathering to show off her splurge for a fun girls' night out!  Last spring, our little group even hit the Edmonton Sun fashion Friday pages so now we are all uber famous.  This is our second round of Splurge Sorority and our only rules are:
  1. The splurge has to be something for you.  (Sorry, you can't use your splurge money on your kids, but if you want to buy a top of the line iron for YOU, go for it.)
  2. The splurge has to be a splurge!!  Something you wouldn't normally spend $480 on all at once!
This group has been so much fun!  I love everything about it!  I love getting together with all my friends and I especially love seeing what everyone splurged on!  In our second round, the ladies got very creative.  One friend used her splurge towards very meaningful and stunning custom-designed tattoos.  One friend is on holiday as I type using her splurge money for a luxurious spa day with all the extras!  One friend amazed us all with her grace and strength with her splurge item!! 
Splurge Sorority Cirque de Soleil artist

After months of waiting, I finally had my turn to splurge.  Awesome, right?  Well, I was as shocked by my response to shopping regular retail as I was by my friend's incredible strength above!  It stressed me out.  So much.  I have been shopping second-hand for so long that I built up regular retail as this epic mountain to be tackled and conquered.  I was constantly weighing what I should use my splurge money for, trying to find time to shop amidst solo parenting and blizzards...  all in all, I was not enjoying myself.  Weird, but like I've said before, thrifting changes you.  I simply could not deny the "wanting" that my splurge turn brought out in me, and I didn't really care for it.  All the pleasurable things I enjoy about thrifting - the thrill of the hunt, the unexpected treasures, the inevitable not finding what you'd hoped for but being open to wherever thrifting leads - were lost in regular retail.  Everything I was considering - fancy boots, designer bags, perfect jeans - I have found at VV Boutique.  I tried buying a pair of gorgeous boots, and ended up returning them almost immediately.  I'm not sharing this to make everyone around me feel bad about their shopping!!  I'm just sharing my splurge process because I learned a few things!
  • We live in a culture of want (most of the time anyway)  and that is the nature of a splurge.  It's not a need, and that's okay.  It's not supposed to be! 
  • If you try to sneak a need into your splurge, some of the magic is lost.  I'd rather save my other money for needs and reserve splurge money for true splurges.  That means, if I need a new pair of winter boots and can't find any when I need them second hand, it's okay if I fulfill that need via regular retail with non-splurge money.  If you need new clothes for work, that is not a splurge, though gorgeous ECCO ankle boots are a definite want and a worthy splurge!
  • Almost everything you could need or want you can find second-hand, and for me, reaching first for regular retail is cheating.  If I buy gray tall boots, then what fun is it to shop around and wait patiently for that perfect pair to cross my path at VV?!!  I was so close to buying a cardi today because it was an amazing deal BUT I knew that doing so would steal some of the joy from my next visit to VV.  For me, it's not just about the bottom line, it's the process.  This narrowed what I was willing to splurge on to things that I wouldn't likely find second-hand.
  • That being said, some things are worth splurging on IMHO because they result in great cost per wear.  Some of the things I have splurged on in the past that were worth every penny include my J Brand denim and my black Miz Mooz boots, both of which I bought before starting my second-hand shopping adventure.  Nowadays, I would look first at VV.  Case in point is my brown Kenneth Cole boots.  I wanted new brown boots and expected to use splurge money for them but then found them at VV. 
  • There are some things you rarely if ever find while thrifting.  For example, I had been searching for some Ice Breaker Merino wool pieces and finally caved and bought during their best on line sale.  Though I didn't use my designated splurge funds for these pieces, I still consider them a worthy splurge.
  • If you're not in a club like me, you gotta consider budget when splurging.  If you can't afford it, the splurge will be bittersweet at best.  Better to save up a bit and splurge with a free heart!  Or start your own Splurge Sorority! 
  • Splurge is relative.  For me, in regular retail, spending $100 on shoes is a splurge; a colleague of mine would consider $100 shoes inexpensive.  It's not just relative to your income; it's relative to your sensibilities and style. 
Is that enough rambling?  Want to see what I finally decided to splurge on?!!!  Here's the before:
 Had this comforter for the past 4 1/2 years...

Here's the after:

Now now, you can get bedding at VV Boutique but I have never seen Anthro bedding there.  Once I finally decided to use my splurge money on bedding, I couldn't sleep (the irony) because I knew as soon as I found bedding I would want to paint my room (shocking news: beige does not suit me) and my hubby was gone and did I mention I was quite sick?  I finally decided that if I found something I liked I would take that as encouragement to go full monty... so, with a little a lot of help from my friends, I managed to paint the room and get everything ready to surprise my hubby upon his return. 

I love love love this bedding and my new teal walls!  If I keep this comforter for the next 4 1/2 years, the bedding works out to somewhere around 30 cents per useCOME ON!!!  That is the best cost per wear yet!!

To simplify, here are my splurge-decision-making guidelines:
  1. It is a want or a need?  If it's a need, it's not a splurge.
  2. Can you find your want second-hand?  If not, it's a splurge.
  3. Waiting makes the heart grow fonder for splurges.  Save up or wait your turn to splurge.
That's it.  I will enjoy this splurge until my next turn!

Special thanks to Beth and Chantel for their help!

So, what do YOU consider a splurge?  What would you spend splurge money on?!!