Wednesday 31 October 2012

Big Hair, Bad Roots and Blue Satin - My Halloween Costume from VV Boutique

As I sit here eating my kids' Halloween bounty, I'm a little relieved that the day is done and my VV Boutique can return to what I think is its true glory (in my humble opinion!) - great finds at great prices for everyday style.  However, I do acknowledge that Value Village is known for good reason for their awesome Halloween costume and decor selection.  Naturally, my costume came from VV Boutique!
Timeless Beauty
 You're jealous, I know.  

I actually had a few different costumes (this one wasn't exactly preschool appropriate, though last year, some moms thought a skimpy cocktail dress was preschool appropriate as long as you had wings and green eyeliner), but I wore this one to an adult-in-disguise family party!  Preparing for it, I tried on this blue satin number that I purchased from VV Boutique way back in 2003 when a group of friends and I went together as a "White Trash Wedding Party."     
 Here I am as bridesmaid - complete with side ponytail, bad posture and missing teeth -
 with my husband who was the HOT groom! 

2003 was a long time ago my friends.  Since then, I gained 50+ pounds with each of my three pregnancies and this blue satin number has sat in the dress-up clothes with little hope of ever fitting over my rear end.  But lo and behold, when I went to try it on recently just for funsies, it fit!  My 2-year-old daughter looked up at me and said, "Mommy you're beautiful.  How'd you do that?"  Must be the dress!
If ya got it, flaunt it.

She doesn't know anything about trends or style, but she knows a beautiful dress (and a beautiful mommy!) when she sees one!  Wise girl.

Monday 29 October 2012

Brooch Styling

Today was not my most inspired look.  I wanted to wear my blue VV Boutique brooch and finally settled on a simple backdrop to let this pretty pin stand out.
Flower brooch $3 VV Boutique
Olive cardi $11 Joe
Navy tee from Reitmans circa 2008

Unfortunately, the look was a little plain.  Once I tucked the kids in bed and abandoned my husband to iron his own shirts, I decided to do some style research and see if I could do better...  I love the brooches from Anthropologie but can't easily find styling examples.  FYI (especially if you live in the US), I found this website for whole sale brooches!  Who knew!  But again, no styling tips.  Most blog posts I came across were not current, but still interesting - there's this one from Ask Style from 2010 and this nice video tutorial from Extra Petite (meaning I would be like a giantess next to this sweet girl) from a year ago.  Here's a comprehensive guide from Avalaya which I enjoy though I still think you have to be careful that you don't look like you just plunked a pin on.  Having said that, I also think the brooch (or pin, if you prefer a more phonetic term) is an under-valued under-utilized accessory.  So go ahead and plunk it on!  It will be your statement for the day so just enjoy it!  Here are some of the other ways I styled it:
 To close a cardi...
 To embellish a necklace, like this pinkish faux-pearl strand from Accessorize...
 or this copper-strand also from Accessorize...
 or this colourful strand $2 from VV Boutique...
or this gray strand $18 from Avenue Clothing!
 To decorate a low side pony... 
And no, I did not add a felt backing or anything.  I just pinned 'er in as if my hair were fabric.
On a skinny belt...
I also came across suggestions to use it on or near the buckle but I felt that looked too umbilical-y.

Overall I was pleased with the results of my style-experimentation and felt just taking it up a notch made a big difference! 

I immediately was drawn to a couple of the looks but before I reveal my opinion, which is your favourite?  Sure you can easily swap out the tee or the cardi for a whole new set of looks but I thought it was fun to take the same two plain pieces and show how they can give so many looks with one simple $3 brooch from VV Boutique!

Sunday 28 October 2012

Vintage Irish Wool

I am finding myself craving warm baked goods, stew and chili (made them both in the past few days), and I am pondering how I could put a little fireplace in my bedroom!  Why?  Because we are now in a state of permanent snow.  This requires cozy sweaters:
Millar "Made in Ireland" Pure New Wool Woolmark sweater $7 VV Boutique
Gap blue long sleeve tee $6
Part Two Belt $67

Cozy sweaters are not exactly slimming.  This beauty is a bit bulky and might be a smidge big but I adored the colours and striped pattern, the buttons, the three-quarter sleeves so I make it work with the belt.  I have already worn it several times!
It goes with everything!  Including my J Brand skinnies and my Frye's!

I also used a little trick I learned in the hunger days of the early nineties when I actually did a bit of modeling (poorly, in case that's not obvious).  There was this one time when the photographer's assistant duct taped my flesh to create a more defined waist line and hold everything in place for the shoot.  Worked like a charm - because no one saw the back.  No, I did not use duct tape here, but I applied the concept and skooched the excess fabric to the back to keep the front view clean.  If you spend your time looking at my back view, there are bigger problems than my bunchy sweater.  So there.
I love these wood bead hoops with this sweater!  $1 from VV Boutique!

A recent post by Goodwillista inspired me to think about the vintage potential in my VV Boutique treasures!  She shared this link to look at the tags to determine if a piece is vintage.  Sure enough, my sweater has a couple indicators:
The tag notes the origin of make and is decorative with that fancy squiggle in the background!  I did some googling and found another Millar wool sweater listed as vintage... but not much else - no webpage or retail links that I could find.  Thus, I hereby determine, by the power self-vested in me by VV Boutique, that this awesome sweater is vintage!

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Transition Turmoil

Ever have one of those mornings that ought to go smoothly, but before you know it, you have a mountain of rejected outfits on your bed as you're running out the door late for everything and you realize too late that you do not even have shoes for one kid?  No?  Just me.  Sigh.

You see, last night I tried on some summer-to-fall-transition ensembles and ask my style adviser if they worked...

Option One:
Fave summer colourful zigzagy stripe dress with tights, long necklace and a gray v-neck.
And Frye boots since the dress has some mustard in it!
Verdict: too country
 Option Two:
Add a cobalt belt, mustard scarf and brooch, and swap out Frye's for black boots
to create a clean leg line.
Verdict: too carefully coordinated
 Option Three:
Swap out everything.   
Jax skirt, Gap mauve sweater and mustard scarf with different brooch because it goes with everything.
Verdict: some skirts are just for summer

Then, I gave up and went to bed and watched my PVR'd ANTM and felt grateful for the attitude and confidence of my thirties!  Blissful sleep till this morning when every single thing I tried on didn't feel right.  I'm talking, I walked my son to the bus, came back in and changed for the 6th time.  Even though I wasn't completely satisfied, I had to leave so here it is:
I guess I was in the mood to wear a dress, sweater, tights and boots in some form or another.  Even though this fab high-low dress is light-weight, the colour is perfect for fall and I love it with the Bordeaux Merino wool cardi.  But what I really couldn't wait to wear (and probably why everything else I tried felt all wrong) was this statement necklace:
Necklace $3 VV Boutique

I know bubble necklaces are all the rage, and I do love them - trust me, when I spot one at VV  Boutique, I will snatch it up - but I think there is more than one way to make a necklace statement.  This necklace has great shape and weight, the brushed gold is current and the colours go with everything.  Broken record, I know.  
I adore this belt!  It was one of my splurge pieces back when it was my turn and it was around $70, which you may or may not think is pricey... It is leather and I think the three different hooks are unique and interesting, and I have worn it over and over.

I wonder if some coloured tights would have been better, or the Frye boots (too much mustard?) or my imaginary desert booties or the practical brown boots that are next on my list...  No matter, because what I have is black leggings and black boots so that's what I wore.  I was comfortable and felt stylish so in the end, it was good enough!   

Today's post over at Everyday Mom Style just happened to be all about transitioning summer dresses - great minds think alike AGAIN!

After reading Megan's post, I thought, what the heck, I could have worn options 1, 2, or 3 after all!  What do you think?  Let me know, or face the possibility of having to look awkwardly away when you bump into me wearing my summer dress in the frigid fall!  Or snow.  

Hmmm, maybe I'll just stick to necklace statements. 

Monday 22 October 2012

Mustard Everything-But-A-Cardi

After a week of solo parenting, concluding with the great 3-Day Potty Training adventure, I really needed some time with just me and VV Boutique.  I didn't have long, just enough to swing past the shoes and sweaters, scanning for desert ankle booties (I have hope, People) and the elusive mustard cardi...



No luck.  Sigh.  However, I squeezed in one last drive-by of the scarf aisle and am I ever glad I did!  Meet my newest mustard friend:
 Brand new, tags-still-on scarf that will go with everything
$6 VV Boutique

I wonder if people are scared of yellow.  That is the only reason I can imagine for giving up this beauty!
This magnificent pose is immediately pre-jig,
which WAS caught on video but there is no way y'all will ever see me
rapping and dancing in my top-model glory.
I couldn't help myself; I saw Pitch Perfect last night.  
It goes without saying that the scarf is going to compliment everything, but today I paired it with my fave striped Calvin Klein dress, leggings and my BFF's for reals, my mustard Frye's.  I added the long vest because I needed to fulfill the rule of 3 and without it, it was too matchy matchy.  Even this ensemble is pushing the matchy matchy boundaries, but I'm willing only because these mustard friends are new to my closet and a bit shy, and they feel more comfortable going out together.
Recovered from the dancing...

As for the brooch (a poor spelling of a word if I ever saw one), I have been wanting to try accessorizing my scarves since seeing the latest brooch trends from Anthropologie and others.  I knew I was hanging onto those pins for a reason!! 

I have, eh hem, a *few* scarves and it is just awesome that I can add some inspiring novelty to the collection for the price of a fancy coffee thanks to VV Boutique.

And just a quick note in case you feel the same: I find VV Boutique a little scary right now with such an emphasis on Halloween...  There are some neat Halloween things but it is a little overwhelming!  However, it's easy enough to steer clear of that madness if what you're really after is some stylish pieces, so don't let that stop you from your regularly scheduled therapy shopping!

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Take Two

This may come as a shock.  I wear my clothes more than once.  AND I don't even take pictures every time.  I know.  Hard to believe.

Today I gave my vintage-y small-head-hole top a day out.  A very windy brisk day out, thus I paired it with my cream wool cardi.  A layering tank and my fave Accessorize necklace to complete the look. 
Top $5 VV Boutique  
Wool cardigan $7 VV Boutique

 I totally felt like one of the competitors on America's Next Top Model with my photographer - my 4-year-old son - yelling at me, "THIS IS IT.  ONE MORE SHOT."  Only it wasn't exactly one more shot; it was more like, he took four pictures and here are three of them. 
 Beggars can't be choosers.  Here is the ensemble from the perspective of a 4-year-old
standing on the coffee table.
 I love the bold teal of this necklace.  It is the yellow pants and mustard cardi of necklaces.
It goes with everything.

This top has enough detail going on that I don't mind it plain, but I did feel better having three layers!  Or maybe I was just cold.  All I know is that I wore a $21 ensemble (not counting my shoes!) and was completely comfortable and satisfied thanks to VV Boutique

Friday 12 October 2012

Mustard Fryes

I know I already posted my leopard top earlier today, but I just couldn't wait to procrastinate share my incredible find - a dream come true!
What you are looking at is "Banana" Frye Sabrina 14L boots!!  The story goes like Splurge club was trying to decide who would go next and my name was in the draw.  Since I am only shopping for myself at VV Boutique or other second-hand venues (including hand-me-downs!) until September 2013, I was mentally preparing for a whole schwack of stuff ($480 goes a LONG way at VV Boutique especially on a sale day!), or making the case for one major exception - Frye boots.  So I started looking at the Frye website and pinning my faves.  I came across a banana pair and audibly sighed - so pretty, so awesome!!  I thought to myself: if I could have any Frye boots without worrying about cost or practicality, I would want yellow ones.  But I knew deep down that if I were to spend $400+ on boots, they should probably be more "practical" (i.e., brown).  Later that day, I even had the discussion with my pal about how the yellow boots would be a true splurge because you wouldn't otherwise get them....  Then, I started browsing for local retailers and lo and behold, a second-hand pair in my size was posted on Kijiji - in yellow.  Talk about fulfilling the desires of your heart!  I got to honour the rules of my adventure, score a fab pair of boots in great shape for less than half the retail price, and find another key piece in the colour that goes with everything!  Mustard!   
 Yep, I'm renaming them "Mustard."
Why Frye chose 'banana' as a descriptor is beyond me.
Not everyone likes bananas.  But mustard is another story.
I've always liked a lot of mustard, come to think of it.

I have a special fondness of mustard and red, (well, okay, I have a special fondness for mustard and everything) so I paired my new BFFs with the StyleMint Charlton tee ($40 - but currently on sale!), a long sleeve Gap tee ($6), black Oxmo tank ($40) and my J Brand skinnies ($125).    

This necklace completed the look and for only 99cents from VV Boutique!

I am calling this my "happy being a mother for seven years" gift to myself (it's my son's birthday today - sniff!).  I'm sure I could spin a great cost-per-wear analysis out of that one, but I really don't need to.  These Frye boots are an awesome deal all on their own.   
One last look before I say goodnight...
Did I mention how many compliments I received today?!!!  A lot.
Back away from the boots!!
And if I or anyone I know EVER sees Frye boots at VV Boutique in any size, get them.  Trust me.

Leopard Learning

This wild thing has been sitting in my closet for a while...
Dillard's blouse $6 VV Boutique
This photo is from Oct 10 and YES that is a good covering of snow on the trees.

Even though I love the blouse, purchased on Fashion's Night Out at the advice of my fashionable friends, I have been having a hard time styling it.  The shiny fabric felt too dressy for work most days, too expected to pair with plain old dress pants (in fact, I felt compelled to call them "slacks" when I tried them on together...).  It is not a contemporary cut, probably been around for a while - which is not necessarily a bad thing, since it demonstrates the good quality of the piece and that animal print is a timeless neutral.  I finally tried them with my skinny cargos and was satisfied (though not wowed):
Ann Taylor cargos $6 VV Boutique
Black pointy flats $6 VV Boutique
Purple cardi ~$19 Joe circa 2009
Black Flatter Me Belt $40 C'est Sera

Initially I put a black cardi and scarf with the ensemble, but fresh from some schoolin' from my stylish friends, I thought better and added colour!  Purple is the colour of royalty, so I thought it a good aesthetic fit with the leopard print and sheen of the blouse. 
I like the square scarf shape and the light pink/purple ties in nicely!
Some pretty accessories finished it off, including an inexpensive bracelet from my closet and
these gorgeous earrings ($14 from Plaid Giraffe) from my turn in Splurge Sorority!

I was comfortable all day at work throughout the chilly snowy fall day!  But looking back on the photos, the pants are a bit ... "happy".  You know, that look when they "smile" at you from the crotchular area?  It was the end of the day, so they may have stretched out a bit, but that was the case too the last time I wore them and I didn't notice the happy.  This morning it dawned on me - the last time I wore them was about half way into Whole 30 and I think I'm just a smidge slimmer now.  I am sharing this to make an important point: skinnier isn't always better when it comes to clothes!  Fit is what counts!  These pants look better with a bit more booty to fill them!  Luckily, we have a high-cake weekend approaching so I'm sure that will be taken care of, and if not, I may just throw them in the dryer for a bit, and/or style them differently - maybe even with this leopard-print blouse in a different way!  I'm learning about style... slowly but surely...and the process is a lot easier with VV Boutique there to provide these inexpensive pieces!

Monday 8 October 2012

Splurge Sorority

I am full of thanksgiving today!  Full and overflowing with wonderful things to share so get ready for a fall-Vogue-sized VV Boutique Style post!

First, something I've been waiting to share since starting this adventure: Splurge Sorority!
This is what I wore Saturday night to Splurge Sorority.
I love this dress.
Styled differently today with Oxmo leggings, Miz Mooz boots, Joe cardi and a leopard scarf.
Let me explain Splurge Sorority:  A group of ladies gets together.  Each contributes $40 (that's the amount we decided on!) and one person takes the kitty and uses it for a special splurge just for her!  Then, she plans and hosts the next gathering and shows everyone her splurges!  We meet about once every 6 weeks and just had our first gathering for our second round of splurging!  This round, we have 12 fabulous friends in our group, which means at some point each of us will get to go shopping with $480!  Awesome!  In the meantime, we get a lovely evening out on a regular basis!  We are pretty flexible in how we decide whose turn it is; sometimes we draw names, sometimes someone has a special trip or event planned and requests a turn ...  As for the gatherings, I just enjoy the chance to get together and visit with my friends, but in our first round, several of the ladies added special touches - like a chocolate theme, a pedicure artist, esthetician evening, and a mixology party!  These gatherings are always wonderful, but my favourite part is the "fashion show."  Here are some of the items my friend picked up for her splurge! 
The famous mustard cardi and incredible dress!
These made their style-blog debut on Fashion's Night Out!
And I've been going on and on ever since.  Sorry.
 The belt is a sturdy stretch cord - interesting, delicate and versatile!
I love this fall look - shorts, patterned tights, short boots and of course, a scarf!
 A variation of the same look, embracing the polka dot trend.
Oh, and notice the mustard cardi helping this cute summery dress transition to fall.
She didn't know whether she should keep these awesome boots.  
I attribute that to lack of wine sleep and maybe a postponed optometrist appointment because these are fab!  
Here are a couple links to informative posts on the matter - 
Ain't No Mom Jeans' take on ankle booties and their advice on styling a similar pair to these.  
They also discuss patterned socks - a trend I'm loving!  When you live in the cold north, socks are not optional 
and it's nice to see them looking cute instead of playing camouflage.
These black pants are the perfect skinny crop,
paired here with boots for fall.  And you know what would be the perfect addition up top...
 Such a pretty pleated skirt...
 And this trendy polka dot skirt is the same style, same fabric,
but this one is from VV Boutique!
 This style of dress is so becoming on my pal!
You know what's missing.  Mustard-cardi was on break.
This stunning dress was a FNO find.  It looks great belted or loose, has pockets, 
and yep, I bet the mustard cardi would look good too.  Or her future denim jacket.

For this gathering, my friend had the AWESOME idea of a "Coming Out of the Closet" PartyIt's not what you think.  Let me explain: she asked us all to bring 5 outfits with pieces that we can't bring ourselves to get rid of, but they're not quite working for us - so that we could try them on for our fashionista friends and get some advice.  So much fun!!  We all had a great time trying on our outfits and getting some tips.  I snapped a few shots throughout the evening:
Here is my favourite Megan learning how to style a pre-pregnancy dress!
When you finally fit into those clothes, you hate to give them up so she added a belt, scarf and...
Soft brown corduroy swing coat!  Some tights and boots will seal the style!
ANMJ loves blush+white colour combo, so I'm wondering what some 
textured white tights or a white cardi might look like...
 Megan also resurrected some long skirts by treating them like a maxi skirt
which are a warm and comfy yet pulled together mom-drobe option.
 I know, going on and on again, but SERIOUSLY!
Look how the mustard cardi (borrowed from another guest for demonstration purposes)
takes the outfit up a notch.  Add some tights and a scarf from home and she's good to go!
 This ended up being the Splurge Sorority officially-coveted scarf!
These two pieces are dull on their own but the cuffed sleeves add interest, 
and the scarf brings in pattern, complimentary colours and texture! 
 This jersey high-low striped skirt is awesome.  Megan, like many of us, has a tendency towards 
matchy-matchy, so she typically wears it with a teal top and tried it here with a black top and leggings.
We thought that was too much black (and a bit boring), and suggested instead contrasting colours.
Any of the colours in this fab scarf would look great with her skirt - either in the top, or why not try
cute coloured or patterned tights or leggings.  That trend won't be around forever so have fun with it!
BTW, ANMJ says a denim jacket and ankle booties make the high-low hem perfect transition for fall!
 This gal was wondering whether her Citizens of Humanity flare jeans were still doing it for her...
  Uh, yeah, they're doing it and doing it well, my friend!
I didn't get a good shot of the full jeans, but here is a link to some great flare styling info.
Not everyone can pull them off, so if YOU can, you should!
BTW, she borrowed the cardi and belt to explore different styling options.
We decided that they looked best by pairing simple pieces with them, 
or pieces that have a bohemian vibe for consistency in the ensemble.
 She was about to ditch this long denim jumper dress, but with the addition of 
a cute top from Old Navy and a shape-defining belt, we liked it! 
 This friend wasn't in love with the red tulip skirt, but pairing it with an interesting neutral pattern,
and adding a shape-defining belt looked great!  A jacket or cardi will add a third layer, 
and the belt could even go on the outside!  She shared that she doesn't often reach for a belt, thinking it won't flatter a larger-top-than-bottom figure.  I am so glad she tried it because what I see is a defined waist and an added interesting detail to the ensemble.  Now she needs to hit VV Boutique and buy 75 belts like I have.
 The hostess was wondering if this white tie shirt was too wing-y in the sleeves...
We decided her boobs looked too nice to give up on this shirt ;) and she had already thought of an 
easy solution to stitch the sleeves down.  Then it will be more balanced with an a-line or flared skirt/bottom.
 I was up next and gave up some dress shorts and pants that were a bit too big and unflattering,
as well as some cute tops that are too short in the torso for me but look great on a more petite frame.
I had another chambray shirt that I had tried DIY bleaching but it still felt too stiff on me.  
However, it suited my friend's style just right!  It pleases me immensely to see my clothes go to a good home!
 I also scored a pair of shorts that didn't look as good on the smaller frame as they did on me, 
AND I scored this cool top!
 Which I then wore the next day to Thanksgiving Sunday church...
 I paired it with my Banana Republic gray snakeskin belt and charcoal cardi, both from VV Boutique,
(since I was apprehended before I could escape with the mustard cardi) 
along with accessories from my closet.
You know what I'm thankful for?  
Another guest's suggestion to try this SKIRT as a top because I think it looks awesome!
This friend brought pieces that she recently scored from VV Boutique!  This is a Calvin Klein coat.
 A perfect Gap denim jacket...
 Pretty striped scarf with some bulk to it...
 And this tweed/cord bag!
 There was more, but what was most important is that she had 
a great time shopping  at VV Boutique and added some inexpensive variation to her wardrobe!

The evening was wonderful!  Here are our conclusions after "coming out of the closet!"
  • Wear what you love!  That will lead you to pieces that exude your individual style, and the confidence and contentment you get from that override any trend or "expert" advice.
  • Know your body and DO get pieces that flatter.  However, DON'T be afraid to try something different - like a belt, a complimentary rather than matched colour, wearing a piece differently than it was intended, etc.  You will probably be pleasantly surprised like we were!
  • Keep in mind the "rule of 3" when layering.  Without exception, our "questionable" pieces were much much better when layered.  Two isn't enough!  Three layers or three parts to your ensemble are essential!  I say, keep adding stuff till it looks right!
  • When you aren't sure what to pair with a piece, especially in this season of coloured denim and colour block items, consider complimentary colours!  Think colour wheel!  I also enjoy the the monochromatic trend - different tones of the same colour mixed in an ensemble.
  • Small details pack a big punch!  Cuff your sleeves or hems, juzj (? how do you spell this 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy' term for pushing up your sleeves in a cute scrunchy way) your sleeves, include pops of colour/pattern/texture!  A little leopard detail makes for a lot of wild in your style!     
  • Consider the balance in an ensemble.  Blousy with fitted, neutral with patterns or colours...  Keep it interesting, but not so interesting that the eye doesn't know where to look!  It is a fine balance though - because sometimes taking things you would never pair together ends up looking good (this is what I find browsing through StyleMint!).  I think the "internal consistency" or vibe of the outfit is important here - if they don't match but feel consistent, it will probably work.  And it will probably help to differentiate your look from everyone else!  
  • Most importantly, try it on!  Don't let the size on the tag or any preconceived notion stop you from having fun with your wardrobe and your style!
  • If you are ready to part with an item, consider a clothing exchange with your friends - it is amazing to see something look totally different on someone else!  Of course, at the very least, donate them to your local VV Boutique, Goodwill or other second-hand shops.  These places are usually affiliated with local non-profit organizations and do a world of good for the environment.
I had other notes jotted down including "spank" and "no bonnets"... perhaps I had more wine than I realized because I have no idea what that means!  Eh hem.  Anyhoo, I think Splurge Sorority is about more than clothes - it's about community, and so it was the perfect Saturday night out on this Thanksgiving weekend.  And yes, I am restraining myself from hitting VV Boutique today to search again for the elusive mustard cardi and other treasures that bring a little joy - no splurging required!