Monday, 30 September 2013

Mixing Neutrals

I was going to call this post "Neutral Soup" to amuse myself, but then decided no one would ever search for such a soup so went for straight-up descriptive.

Today's outfit concludes my September "Mix Not Match" focus.  I started by mixing brown and navy, so thought it fitting to conclude by one-upping myself by mixing brown, navy, black, cream and gray.  Prepare to be amazed...
 Skirt $4.90, sweater $6, she-booties $10
All VV Boutique
Joe Fresh tights because I decided they're like underwear therefore okay to buy new.
Though I will look at VV for tights as well.

Neutral Soup is delicious!  It is much more interesting than Matchy-Matchy Soup and it garnered at least one compliment from a stylish acquaintance who wears Miz Mooz shoes.  (I learn these things about people.)  Also, my inspiration for this look was Aritzia so it must be okay.
Me and this 20yo model are practically exactly the same.

The sweater has interesting embellishment and the polka dots are raised, adding texture to my outfit.  That's a good strategy to make layers of neutral more interesting.
More pieces from VV in perfect condition!
The tights were pretty bright in natural daylight.
I likey.

I confess, I added a dose of colour - just for my coming and going!
Peachy coral $8 RW coat from VV Boutique was the exact length I needed!
And it worked to add the colour since everything else was neutral!
Okay, okay, I kept a touch of colour in my arm party!
Never leave home without one!

It's been a good month of style stretching - so much so that I don't think I'll ever let go of #mixnotmatch, though you may catch me with the odd bout of M.M.S.  Like tomorrow.  Shhhh.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

A Better Me

As #mixnotmatch month comes to a close, I'm finding it hard to stick it out these last few days.  I keep reaching for matching pieces only to tell myself, next weekJust hold off till next week!  And then, after I reach for my second choice, I am glad because the result is always better.  By "better", I don't mean that my style is better than someone with M.M.S. (Matchy-Matchy Syndrome - it happens to us all.  Wine is the cure.)  I mean that the result is a better representation of my unique-self-style expression.  It's better because it's more me.  

That's why I love VV Boutique shopping.  You find one-of-a-kind pieces not available in other stores and you're forced to style them in your own way.  This $3 vintage sweater I recently scored is the perfect example:
Cobalt and emerald, stripes, colour-blocking, gold accents.  This beauty has been waiting since 1989 and its day has arrived!
I just so's happen to have a gifted 80s -vibe necklace that goes well.
It does does NOT match, it just looks like it does.

Now, I could've reached for a safe neutral bottom, a printed skirt (if it wasn't 11degrees and if I had tights) or even my fave green pants.  Instead, I headed straight for a third trendy colour in a stretchy pant perfect for 2 days of unexpected school staff luncheons (now THAT is scoring!!).
 Oxblood pants $3 VV Boutique
 These pants are made for walking...
 I, Nicole, hereby admit to wearing matching shoes and necklace today.

Cool day, comfy outfit.  Cool SIX DOLLAR outfit, I should say.  Thanks VV Boutique for helping me be a better me.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Big Picture

On Sunday, I attended the "Fall Fashion and Beauty Trends" event organized by the amazing Shirley Borrelli in support of the amazing organization Suit Yourself.  Shirley is an image consultant and a entrepreneur extraordinaire.  She has helped countless women look and feel their best and is a generous mentor to many new and established business women.  She is yet another smart, savvy and funny woman that I am blessed to know!  Suit Yourself is a non-profit free service that collects and distributes quality wardrobe items with the mission to "increase the confidence and self esteem of disadvantaged women searching for employment or making a transition into the workforce."  I attended to help my talented sister She Does Create who was vending at the event (and donated 10% of sales to Suit Yourself!), and had a great time - inevitable when surrounded by so many wonderful people!
Sister selfie

I was running late Sunday morning - solo parenting, trying to get 3 kids to church, packing for a picnic, no time to shower... did I mention I was late?!!  In the 5 minutes I had to get myself ready, I reached for my current favourite style formula and was just thankful I was leaving the house clean (which is not a given; hands up if you've ever wiped off a smudge and called 'er "good enough").
Snakeskin belt $2.10, Anne Ross shoes $9.10
Lana Lee skirt new with tags $7
All from VV Boutique

Turns out my formula hit on a few fall trends identified by Shirley - the ladylike look, leather and leather accents, longer skirt length, lace and texture, emerald...  It also fit with my mix-not-match mission and was my second-choice pairing (though I didn't have time to snap my first choice!)
 Any mirror will do to keep up the VV Boutique Style traditions!

While I was watching the fashion show, listening to Shirley and observing the crowd, I pondered fashion and style in general.  We women have A LOT going on in our busy lives and we are all doing our best!  Though I love all the tips and tricks shared, it is important to remember the big picture.  Maybe every last element of your style didn't come together in the morning; maybe you're wearing something not quite on-trend; maybe your manicure is chipped and your skirt has a stain and your hair isn't just-so, but the big picture says: I care about myself and I care about others.  That is the best fall trend that everyone can embrace!

Phew. That sounds like the end of my post but it's not because this event gave me direction about something else on my mind: my capsule wardrobe giveaway Despite my best efforts, I have not found a recipient from those affected by the Alberta floods.  I still feel the call to donate those pieces, and now I know that Suit Yourself is the perfect place for them to go!  I will include the two $25 gift certificates donated by Value Village for the cause, and rest easy knowing that the clothing and gift certificates will go to a woman in need and help her look and feel fabulous! 

Regarding the StyleMint credit I was trying to give away, well, what can I say.  It was late, there was a sale...
StyleMint chambray $30 including shipping and everything
Will include this as a Splurge purchase in November!

Also, since I'm ethically obligated to wear my new VV pieces two days in a row...
Lana Lee skirt, mustard tank $4.20, belt $3.50, Clarks shoes $10
Accessories from my closet

By the way, I learned a great new term for these ankle boots from the stylish and friendly Kathy of Katwalk Shoes: she-booties!  Fun to say, fun to wear!
 Fall trend big-picture summary:

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Style Formula

Hands up if you were late this morning!  Please say it's not just me!  Back in 2004, I was punctual.  I would arrive at work before everyone else just for the productive peace and quiet.  Nowadays, at the time that I used to be busy being the beat-the-clock professional, I'm busy begging a three-year-old to wear clothes while ushering two others out the door to the bus and  making sure everyone has their bags, lunches, coats, and shoes.  You'd think you can't forget shoes, but you can.  Not that I know from experience or anything...  Parenthood is humbling, I tell ya.  So anything that makes the mornings go smoother is my friend.  Enter the Style Formula.

A Style Formula is your fashion default, your signature look, your "uniform," your no-brainer.  What exactly is a Style Formula?  It is the sum or mixture of pieces that you know will work, so you can reach for them when you have only 2 minutes to get yourself dressed.  Most women default to pants and a top as their basic "formula" yet often still have troubles finding an outfit and end up standing there with a pile of rejects on the bed getting more and more exasperated by the second because nothing feels right.  Not that I know from experience or anything...  I have given this some thought and have a couple considerations:

1. pants + top = incomplete

This formula doesn't leave room for the "Rule of 3" to be fulfilled, it doesn't give you a chance to finish off your look and feel polished.

2. pants + top = predictable

This formula is prone to matchy-matchy-syndrome and is sometimes a little boring...

The good news is that there is more than one formula to get the sum of style!  For example, I absolutely love these equations from Redbook for easy style.  Redbook's September issue also has a great feature on outfit formulas including:

1. little dress + big necklace
2. fitted sweater + full skirt
3. blazer + v-neck tee + jeans

These are formulas that everyday ordinary women like you and me can compute!  I recently realized I have a style formula:

short sleeve top + skirt + belt = VV Boutique Style default

Here's my formula proof (I cannot stop with the math puns):
Late + 3yo photographer = blurry + selfies
Gold top $5.25, skirt $4.90 VV Boutique
Flatter:Me belt, necklace from my closet
Gifted-originally-thrifted shoes and arm party by She Does Create

And the very next day, a variation on my formula:
 Land's End top $3.50, silk skirt $5 VV Boutique
Belt and shoes from my closet
Pendant and cross bracelet by She Does Create

Proof enough?  If not, I wore it here, here and here to name a few more.  How do you determine your style formula(s)?  Like me, you can start to take note of what you reach for, what you feel most comfortable in; you can work through the discovering-your-style exercise; you can borrow Redbook's suggestions and give some new formulas a whirl!  Once you have a basic formula, there are many variations - change the print/texture/accessories and you've got a whole new look, same formula!  Need help?  One of the many fun aspects of thrift-guiding is helping people discover new formulas!

So, what are your favourite style formulas?! 

Friday, 20 September 2013

Fashion's Night Out Flashback

I shared on my Facebook page a while back the shocking news that NYC and the powers-that-be cancelled Fashion's Night Out 2013!!!  You may need to sit down a moment to take that in.  I only learned about FNO last year after starting this thrift style blogging adventure, but apparently it launched in 2009 with the intention of putting the joy back in shoppingAKA getting people to shop and spend money.  It was quite a big deal; lots of parties and designers and hobnobbing.  (I'm pretty sure saying "hobnobbing" gets you removed from the invite list.)  Last year, I focused on the nobler intention and invited all my peeps to join me on FNO at VV Boutique for some joyful shopping!  We had a great time and I scored many great pieces and converted my friends into thrifting enthusiasts!  One of my favourite pieces from that night is my leopard print blouse...  It is vintage so the cut is a little tricky to style in a contemporary way, but where there's a will there's a way: tie it!
 Leopard blouse $6 VV Boutique

FNO 2012 also started my obsession quest for a mustard cardi which looks good with everythingGuess what?  I finally found one at the September 50% off sale!!!!!!!!  
 Please ignore the hip spot light.
Is that an angel? (I see dead people.)
No, it is a 5yo photographer insisting on taking the shots from the van.

This beauty is Joe Fresh and was only $2!!  TWO DOLLARS.  Hall of fame welcomes you, Mustard Cardi.  We've been waiting for you.

All you people who say you can't wear yellow, I once thought the same thing and I now believe this to be an an old wives' tale!  I think yellow (and pink for that matter) look good on anyone; the right tone and shade brightens you.  Go ahead and claim to be THE exception but I won't believe it till I see it.  I have yet to meet someone who really cannot wear yellow.  The end of my rant.
Haven't forgotten about #mixnotmatch so I choose brown booties instead of the expected black flats.
Red accessories add a contrasting element and round out my "rule of 3."
The red seed necklace is from my inaugural VV trip, $2.
The red seed bracelet was a gift but was also thrifted.
 The black skirt is an Icebreaker early splurge item.
More on that in a couple months but I *had* to take advantage of the sale while I could.
Cool shot.

Guess what?  Manchester picked up where NYC left off and is hosting Fashion's Night Out 2013 after all on October 10.  So I am too!

I hereby invite thrifting enthusiasts and fashionistas everywhere to join me for "Fashion's Night Out VV Boutique-Styled" on Thursday October 10th at your nearest VV Boutique or other favourite thrift shop!  If you are in the Edmonton area, I will be hitting the 34th Ave location around 6 and closing down the store, and I would love for you to join me.  It is (now) FNO tradition to go out after for a bevvie and snacks to review purchases, for me to tally amounts and cost per piece and, of course, to draw for some of the goodies I will have on hand for the occasion!  If you are an off-site ex-officio shopper, please post your best pics on my Facebook page!   
Save the date!  Thursday October 10...
Tonight's gonna be a good night!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Super Su Style

Back on my blog birthday, when I launched my "hire me" page, I thought to myself, if I could even work with one woman as a thrift-style consultant, I would be satisfied.  Since then, I've already worked with two amazing women: the first was showcased on Instagram and is now *the* image of the hunger-games-esque contest: Urban Infant Best of Instagram #YEG (go there and "like" my shot of Alanna's thrifted style and help me with my underdog victory and likely-ensuing made-for-TV movie.  Or series.  Don't limit my dreams).  Then last night, I met up with my Twitter friend Su for a fantastic evening of VV Boutique shopping!  Su is one of those women who does really cool things.  She has a cool job in nuclear medicine, which I would be printing on a t-shirt and then spouting off every opportunity; she is a City of Edmonton Master Composter; she is involved with all things Edmonton foodie; she volunteers and organizes volunteers for various events including the repair-a-thons.  She makes these awesome reusable napkin/cutlery bundles and gives them to random people to use in place of disposable.
Guess what I'm keeping in my purse from now on?!
Thanks Su!  You'll always be with me now.
Wait, that sounds creepy.

Su has been shopping second-hand since long before I even discovered the wonderful world of thrifting.  Su doesn't just talk the talk, she walks the walk.  And she is a smart, savvy and funny woman!  I just knew we would have a great time and we did!
This is one shirt.
We wore it together for the rest of the shopping trip.

Su was shopping specifically for an upcoming event as well as for general pieces to round out her out-of-work wardrobe.  We started in the dresses and spent about an hour and a half going through the racks and pulling different options.  Lucky for me, Su is Easy Going and willing to try on anything.  Not that I can't handle a Diva; I live with a Threenager, I can handle anything.  But it was fun to play dress up and give unexpected pieces a chance to work...

and work they did!

I had studied Su's Pinterest style board and had an idea of what she is drawn to.  I was delighted to be able to find pieces that were a fair interpretation of her pins.  Here are some of my favourite looks from the evening:

This Land's End dress is comfortable and so flattering.

Su scored this chambray perfection right off the bat!  I was incredibly slightly jealous, but I maintained my professional decorum barely.  Many of Su's pinned looks featured a chambray so this was a major find!  Now, sit down folks because I am going to reveal something about Su: prior to last night, Su had no belts.  She in fact doubted they would work for her.  Upon seeing this outfit, I tweeted the following.

The belt is awesome.  So are the other 4 I made her buy, and 100% necessary!  For example, here's the same dress with a different outer layer and a different belt.
 The blue and caramel print acts as a neutral so you can wear any colour as an outer layer.

We discussed the idea of styles per cost, and with 4 different looks in the store alone, this dress is bound to add excellent value and style to Su's closet!  This next Jones dress also looked awesome with another different belt!
I was blown away by the cut and versatility of this dress!

Su borrowed my She Does Create pendant so I could illustrate the importance of the "rule of 3."  You need at least 3 layers or 3 elements to your upper body to have a polished look.  The pattern of this dress makes it a basics+.  It could be worn alone (with accessories or you'll be getting a tweet from me) or easily styled for winter with tights and boots.  Su could wear it with any cardi, a crew sweater over or even a statement tee over top (I saw the statement tee/skirt look on your Pinterest board Su!).  Another great piece!

Su has such a vibrant personality, it's no surprise that she loves colour, and colour loves her back!

Another outfit, another belt.
Su's pins indicated layers, patterns and belts as desired style elements.
Check, check, check!

This jersey dress was so soft and comfy, easy to layer and a hot fall colour!  Leggings will take it straight into winter.  The seaming hits in just the right spot so the dress falls away without looking schleppy.

I wanted to give Su a pants-option for her upcoming event and found these black striped trousers, another basics+.  More interesting than jeans and black dress pants, but subtle enough to wear just like you'd wear denim. 

That teal belt is so pretty, and another hot colour for fall!

Those tops have gorgeous colours and patterns.  I was again jealous happy for her.  Without a belt, the tops are essentially tunics, perfect with skinny bottoms.  And lo and behold, a great pair of orange skinnies in Su's size!  Leave 'em down, cuff them, roll them; wear them with flats, ankle booties or tall boots.  If you're anything like me, Su, those orange pants will become your closet MVP! 

In total, Su scored 5 belts, 4 dresses, 5 tops, 2 layering tanks, 2 pants, 1 cardi and 1 bracelet with colour themes of orange/pink/red and green/blue at an average cost per item of $7.13.  From these pieces, she has several options for upcoming events and countless ways to remix them with each other not to mention her existing wardrobe.  

All in all, Su was satisfied, I was right, and the night ended in smiles and style!  If you want to see what Su had to say about her experience with VV Boutique Style, click here!
Su met me straight from work and then I worked her to the bone, 
but she left with several bags of fruit from her labours!

Su, you look amazing - stylish, polished and happy!  Thank you for the pleasure of shopping with you!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Crop for the Cure

I have come to the conclusion that blogging is like an ongoing digital scrapbook.  You crop and edit photos, add captions and journaling...  That is scrapbooking; that is sharing stories and I love it any way you call it.  

This weekend I had a blast at "Crop for the Cure."  This fabulous event organized by survivor Cathy Hopcraft has been running for 6 years: 10 different crops raising between $2000 - $4000 each time for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.  I don't go every time but when I can, I get tons done, meet new friends, visit with old friends, eat well and, of course, win door prizes.  The highlight of the crop is the Pink Out contest and photo on Saturday night.  I happened to have the perfect thrifted piece for the occasion...
Tommy Hilfiger top $4.90 VV Boutique
Scarf, jeans and shoes also from VV Boutique

I snagged this awesome top in perfect condition because of the hot fall trend colour, which I happen to love all the time, trend or not.  You may think it's a bold colour, but it's really only bold if you wear it like this:
These ladies endorse a cause near and dear to husbands everywhere.
This is how I get my pink on...

I figured the Pink Out was a good reason to briefly break my mix not match September pledge, so I choose coordinating pink accessories.
Hope bracelet and earrings by She Does Create.
You knew this was coming.
Bathroom selfie.

This crop is bound to be positive when you're surrounded by women who embody the faith, courage and strength it takes to battle breast cancer and keep on not just living, but thriving.

I was moved seeing the Sea of Pink walking out for the traditional Pink Out photo.

And here we are, showing our Pink Love...
Full grown pink sock monkeys take the prize.

Great weekend, great cause!  If anyone would like to be added to the email list to be notified of upcoming Crops for the Cure, contact Cathy.  Thanks for the good time, Cathy!