Tuesday 30 April 2013

Pantone Challenge - Violet Tuesday

This morning when I discovered that Marissa from The Modern Austen - one of the two innovators of the Pantone Spring Colour Challenge - had already posted before I even put mascara on, I boldly tweeted that I would be posting within 14 hours.  Yes, I was quite specific.  Well as I type, that was 17 hours ago.  17 hours of violet-loving-life!  Here was my African Violet ensemble for the day:
 Violet crop cords $2.50 from VV Boutique
Patent Sperry's $9.80 from VV Boutique
Banana Republic sheer top, hand-me-down from my Splurge Sister/Dayhome Extraordinaire
Layering tank and accessories from my closet archives

I had to wear socks because it was snowing when I left.  Not flakes that melt as they fall but snow that I would've Instagrammed if it hadn't been so depressing.  The purple pants helped though and the crop length held an unspoken promise...
 I won't give up on you, Spring.

The print of this top makes an interesting neutral, or a "basics+" as I like to call them.  Plus it has a tribal feel so I think that gives me bonus points for representing the "African" of African Violet!
This shot snapped in the hotel bathroom where I was taking a course this morning shows the colour a little better than at my Dayhome Extraordinaire's place earlier in the day.  Yes, in the name of style, I snap pics in a variety of environments that might be questionably professional/imprudent.  Because I am dedicated.  
 Violet pants + sparkles = AWESOME

I also think I should get bonus points because, from what I can see, no one else linking up to this fab challenge wore violet pants.  Bonus points for what, I don't know.  Bragging rights?  Well if we're going there I might as well mention this outfit basically cost $12.30 if you don't count the pieces that have been around for eons.  Surely that cancels out public bathroom photography?

literate & stylish

Monday 29 April 2013

Pantone Challenge - Emerald Monday

Oh how I love clever ideas and challenges, like the Take One and Pass It On challenge back in February!  So good!  Well guess what, there's another one happening this week hosted by Literate & Stylish and The Modern Austen - two lovely ladies with great style and great ideas!  The challenge is this: each day of the week, we wear a Pantone-inspired spring color and link up. 

literate & stylish

I've already established that emerald, otherwise known by its plain name of "Green," is my fave and here's how I wore it today.
Emerald H&M pants $9, black pointy flats $7
Esprit white and black print top $3.50 
Baby blue Mexx cardi $5
Earrings are from Accessorize (still miss you!).
Arm party by She Does Create.  
It's a small party but who else needs to come when these two show-stoppers are hanging around.

I got the spring trends going on!  Colour of the year, coloured pants, spring pastel, spring white and black!  You can officially call me trendy in head-to-toe VV Boutique for a grand total of $24.50!

Saturday 27 April 2013

Post Baby Transition Styles

I am blessed with awesome friends, like my favourite Megan, whom I reference here all the time because of her sage style advice, mommy advice, generous friendship and all-round awesomeness.  (She has even passed along some pretty pieces like this, this, this and this...!)  Megan has a gorgeous 11-month old daughter and I figured it was time to do an updated VV Boutique feature!  She has been working hard, but reasonably, on shedding her pregnancy weight and then some.  Mommas, we all know there is a huge range of what happens after babies.  Some are blessed to bounce back quickly, even if things are a little, er, displaced.  Some take a little longer, or a lot longer.  For me, I didn't start shedding the final 25lbs until my last babe was 18months old, and even now, the number might be what it was, but the body ain't.  I wanted to write a book on post-partum weight loss, then realized it was less of a book and more of a statement:

The Kindergarten Diet for Post-Partum Moms

You aren't going to have enough time or energy to tackle diet or exercise in a significant way until your youngest child is in kindergarten, so give yourself a break, love the amazing YOU you are, put a little time and effort into the YOU you've got right now, and get to it later.

The End

That's my soap box and now I'll get off.  Wait, one last thing before I reveal the latest Megan in her awesome VV Boutique styles...  This is a style blog, but I hope it doesn't come across as superficial because, ladies, it doesn't really matter what you look like; it matters what you act like and feel like.  I'm sharing my journey here and hope that in doing so, I can inspire others to feel their best, in line with their character and style, however that manifests for each woman. 

Enough of all that serious stuff.  If you recall, Megan showed us all how to use second-hand pieces to add novelty and variety in her wardrobe as she transitioned through post-partum sizes, without spending a dime!  She has since done some shopping, both regular retail and thrifting.  I consider her an expert in wearing things right now, for "momming" rather than saving them for when she returns to work (with me, not that I'm counting the days or anything...) or other "dress-up" occasions. 

Remember the purple blouse...  Well Megan is still wearing it but it fits differently now!  
Styled with an emerald cardi, 
scarf from China (gift from her Mom), 
necklace from She Does Create 
and vintage pastel scarf that was originally part of a dance costume!

This purple top teaches good lessons - it can be worn in a variety of ways and it fits a variety of sizes.  Look for something like this when you are thrifting and you are guaranteed to get great cost per wear!

A little scarf segue way using Megan's China scarf as demonstration.  
It adds flair just tossed on, but taking an extra moment to tie the corners together then wrapping it as an infinity scarf is more modern and a great way to wear light-weight scarves in spring and summer.  (VV Boutique has a TON of such scarves out right now.  Get 'em soon while the getting's good!)

Megan paid $4 for this VV Boutique top that she has worn countless times. 
 We see your coloured denim, Megan!   
Congratulations on embracing bold colours as neutrals!

The print is surprisingly forgiving and the length is perfect for skinny jeans or leggings.  Megan doesn't have much floral in her closet and raised a good point that VV Boutique is a great way to experiment and take risks with your style without spending much - if you don't end up liking something, you can just donate it back.

While shopping at VV with some splurge sisters, Megan scored this pretty Eddie Bauer dress for $10.
The sweaters are from our Splurge Sorority clothing swaps and give styling options to a basic dress.

These three pieces were all passed onto Megan from another sister with a different size and shape, proving that you must try on!  You just never know by only looking at a garment how your body might fill out a piece in all the right ways!

Case in point, Megan's skirt from Aeropostale.  This is not a store she normally shops in but the skirt looks amazing!  Let go of any preconceptions about stores, pieces or styles, says Megan!  She bought some coordinating pieces as well, but I encouraged her to try with some VV Boutique tops and of course, I was right.
The VV Boutique pieces above were under $6.

I love the look of pairing a pretty skirt with a casual sweat-shirty loose top and I am hunting for such a top at VV Boutique.  Megan's striped top is actually a long tunic tucked in.  I've been wanting to try this myself because it is AWESOME.  Stripes are the match for florals, and the denim jacket from VV finishes the ensemble.  Denim, you complete me.  (I couldn't resist.)

Megan also scored this "army" cropped jacket for about $6 from VV and has been waiting patiently for the weather to wear it.  She almost passed it along to me, but I suppressed my selfish desires and encouraged her to keep it because it is the perfect edgy complement for spring ensembles.
Blue dress from Megan's closet and necklaces by She Does Create.

Megan has been wearing this French Connection top from VV throughout her post-partum size journey.
The fit and length are so flattering and those jewel tones were made for you!

I had passed on another VV Boutique French Connection top that just didn't work for me, but looks awesome on Megan, especially with the mustard tank peeking through (also from VV, also passed along by moi!).
It is a good thing to pass clothes back and forth amongst friends.  And so I gave my beloved vintage Irish wool sweater to a new home where it just fits in better.  ;)

Megan, I think I can speak for everyone and say YOU LOOK AMAZING!  You are beautiful inside and out and that is your signature style!

Thursday 25 April 2013

Mama Blogs

I love new experiences.  I love knowing that each new experience will knit me with new people and places I encounter and make us each different.  Better.  New.  Renewed.

So naturally I signed up for the local Mama Blogs evening and had a great time last night, listening and learning from local successful bloggers.  The first order of business was: what should I wear to represent the awesomeness of VV Boutique...
Aquamint crochet top, gift from VV Boutique
These shoes have been waiting a long time to go out with Mommy.

If I were giving an award speech here, I would have to thank my sis for tolerating my numerous outfit-option texts, and my favourite Megan for tolerating my ungraceful skin flashes as I tried on 500 things.  This award is dedicated to YOU!  Wait.  There is no award.  Sorry.
Thanks for coming and for designing my necklace and arm party, She Does Create.
I'm still in shock that I didn't win the door prize but your name got drawn twice!

I have never been to such an event before.  I network for my day only job but that is a little different.  We talk shop and there are never any lap apps...
I actually wish there would have been two mingling sessions; a mingling sandwich, if you will, before and after the panel discussion with Frugal Edmonton Mama, The DIY Mommy and This Bird's DayMy wish has nothing to do with my desire to have a second glass of wine...  I really enjoyed making the IRL connections and would have liked more time for that.  It is pretty cool to be tweeting to these engaging women and actually have a personal connection.  The panel discussed setting goals; well, that is a goal of mine - to connect with people in a meaningful way.  That may be by making sincere comments on other blogs, having an amusing Twitter exchange, supporting local business and so much more.  For me, connection is key.
If you find this bad photo of my seven-mile-away-feet funny, we could probably be friends.
If you think posing behind palm fronds in a Canadian restaurant is a fab idea, we could probably be friends.

I do have goals - like shopping second hand for a year.  That's a good example.  ;)  As for this blogging hobby, I will have to further ponder my goals and all the other great advice and information from Mama Blogs.

It was a thought-provoking evening, all palm trees aside.  I did note something, er, notable.  There were no other style bloggers there.  I guess since that's my genre I assume everyone and their dog has a style blog; not so.  There are many many excellent style bloggers out there as evidenced by my humongous  Bloglovin feed, and there are many great mommy style bloggers out there, many great thrifting style bloggers out there and some great local style bloggers, but as for local mommy thrifting style bloggers - looks like I've got the corner on that niche(But by all means, if you fit this niche and I'm missing you, let's connect!)  In the meantime, I'm going to rest on some of the recent VV Boutique Style successes, like my son asking me to pick him up some new things "at VV Boutique," or my friend telling me this morning that of all the style blogs she reads, mine is one of the most informative.  Meaningful connections, joy, renewal.  Amazing what a little VV Boutique will bring!    

Monday 22 April 2013

Camel Houndstooth Coat of Awesomeness

I have never been disappointed by my favourite VV Boutique, but some trips are more successful, like the Oscars of thrifting.  A couple weeks ago, I stopped in to make a donation and get some stamps on my stamp card, and then walked the red carpet* right to a couple amazing finds.

First up, this perfect condition, perfect fit, perfect lightweight wool Jax camel houndstooth coat for $10!!!!
I love this coat.  
It puts the finishing touch on anything I wear in this pseudo spring weather.
 "Come to work with Mommy" day for my new baby!

I have no idea why I can't find on-line information about Jax but even if you knew nothing about the label, you can just tell that this is a quality garment.  The tailoring, drape and feel of the fabric is just... dear.  (you have to use words like that when you wear double-breasted camel houndstooth)  Houndstooth is a timely pattern that has been on my hunting list for a while and the camel colour will transition between seasons better than basic black.  And it looks great on a blonde, what can I say.  (Or should I say "blonde?"  Don't answer that.)

Next up, my sis scored this silk Nicole Miller scarf in great condition in perfect colours for $8. 
I tried to explain that a "Nicole" scarf belonged with a Nicole, but she didn't fall for it.
Should've amped up my legal act...
"I object on the grounds that this scarf would look great with my camel coat!"

These two amazing finds may or may not be all we bought that day at regular price since my stamp card wasn't full I will stop obsessing over that any day I promise, but they embody what I love about thrifting - finding unique pieces at great prices!   

*Okay fine if you're still reading, I will admit that I was not the hunter of either of these finds!  I passed them both by but luckily I brought the Thrifting Master and she had my back!  Thanks Sistah!

Saturday 20 April 2013

BCBG Goes Out

I have been holding onto the BCBG dress I picked up back on the February 50% off sale, hoping to debut it without tights.  Well, I'm tired of waiting.  So I wore it for my Friday Night Book Club dinner and theatre date, then after we took the backstage pass tour through the courthouse to get to the car.  There were fob swipes, strange floating back doors and private offices with private bathrooms, to which I gesture below.
 BCBG Dress $12.50 VV Boutique
VV Boutique Style is duly impressed.
Naturally, I had to do my Law & Order miming.

It was a great evening, and even though I had to wear tights because it snowed AGAIN, the dress was super comfortable yet felt chic and even a little artsy. I can't wait to wear it again, hopefully without tights... Here are the many outer layers I tried in the 3.5minutes I had to get dressed:

Order in the court!  Hee hee.  Simple dress, great price and so many styling possibilities are sure to cause a stir!  Which way should I wear it next?

Thursday 18 April 2013

Easy Does It

These are busy times and busy times call for easy outfits.  Hence my easy combo of fave green pants and a new top from VV:
 Green H&M crops $9, Sperry's $9.80 and top $6 from VV Boutique.
It is hard to see in the photos, but the little flowers are cut-outs, like giant lace.  I consider this top a "basic+" - basic piece with interesting details.  Early in the day, I threw on a black cardi but otherwise a few simple accessories were all I needed to feel put-together.  
Three cool things happened today.  (Maybe more, if I start counting...)
  1. I wore shoes without socks and was comfortable. 
  2. I found a very promising stylist close to home.  No weird colours in my hair.  No awkward conversation.  Very promising indeed. 
  3. My work friends talked about my blog with me.  As in, they read it.  That's pretty cool.  And even cooler: they were inspired.  Re: coloured pants, they said, "We said to each other, Nicole does it all the time and looks good.  We could do it too."  To that I say YES YOU CAN.  We could be a rainbow every day.  
That is all kinds of happy, right there.

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Splurge Sorority Lessons

In case you missed my forty thousand tweets this weekend, I had another moment of local fame!  The Edmonton Journal featured me and my Splurge Sorority sisters in the Friday Fashion section!  So much fun!  Marta Gold (journalist extraordinaire) and Megan Voss (photographer extraordinaire) joined our last Splurge Sorority get-together where my awesome friend Kim showed off her signature style and her splurge selections.  Check out the story to peek at Kim's gorgeous dresses!
I love your stye,Kim!

The theme for our Splurge night was "How to Wear It" - we all wore or brought pieces that have gotten the most and the least wear.  I took notes.  Not photos.  I have no idea why I snapped so few photos but still, this is important stuff!  It is wisdom to learn from others so I will do my best to capture the expertise of 12 amazing women here so that we can all learn and make the best future shopping decisions.
Most Wear:
  • cardis - another no brainer!  One sister brought her infamous mustard cardi and another brought her longer cardi in this year's colour of the year - emerald.  Blazers are all the rage and look great, but I don't think Cardi will give up her place as *the* outer layer of choice for most women.

  • inexpensive versatile pieces - one sister wore her $3 mustard cords from VV Boutique and another wore her $1 moto jacket from a garage sale.  This is the thrill of thrifting!  Finding the gems that knock cost per wear out of the galaxy! 

  • high quality basics - one sister has worn her Ice Breaker black hoody everywhere from camping to corporate!  These pieces are more expensive but totally worth it.

  • stripes - one look through the 5 Days 5 Ways links and you will see that stripes are here to stay.  They rival chambray for versatility and are the natural choice to mix with any other pattern.
  • basics + - these are basic pieces that have some sort of interesting detail like pattern, colour or embellishment that allows you to remix with flair and express your individual style while staying in your comfort zone
  • colour comeback - we have already discussed neutrals here and the style blogging world reiterates over and over that colours and prints can be treated like neutrals and mixed in many ways.  That being said, the Splurge sisters find that they reach for navy pieces as a current neutral and we passed around the turquoise, concluding that it is the mustard cardi of accessories for 2013. 

Least Wear:
  • fussy clothes - we've all seen the "wear it a gajillion ways luxury fabric boutique store wrap/scarf/dress/curtain" piece and they DO have their place.  But are you really going to wear it all those ways or are you going to stand in front of the mirror trying to recreate the chic sales associate's flourish with flinging one side like-so and the other side like-so without ending up looking like a bridal-shower-toilet-paper-wrapped sausage?
  • bad fit - I wore my $7 H&M dress only once, making it the highest cost per wear dress in my closet.  Another sister brought a pretty top with a band hem that she had never worn.  Try it on and no matter how it tries to entice you with its colours or bargain price, do not take it home if it doesn't fit well.
  • large leopard print - none of us wants to look like a large cat.  Bad connotations all round.  We helped our splurge sister come up with ways to style the leopard print top she got on her splurge turn, but the lesson might be that smaller doses of leopard print in a scarf, belt, flats or peeking from under a sweater are easier to wear
  • patterns that don't jive - no matter how much I like a lot of chevron, if it doesn't speak to you, you won't wear it, so don't buy it.  Save your money to go towards something that makes your heart sing.
  • the half-likes - these are the pieces where you like the colour but not the shape, you like the shape but not the pattern, you like the pattern but not the fit.  One sister had a skirt in a beautiful colour but the bias cut and other details limited its potential.  Liking part of a piece isn't enough for it to earn wearing time in your everyday.  
So let's end by answering one of life's greatest questions: if it's cheap, should I buy it anyway?

Answer: it depends.

The end.

hee hee just kidding

It depends on why you're buying it, what makes it interesting, what is the brand or quality like, will you have a chance to come back for it if you change your mind, can you return or exchange it, are you broke, have you got something similar at home, does it just speak to you? If you don't get enough wear out of it, are you comfortable donating it or will it occupy closet real estate for the next 20 years out of your guilty conscience?

There is no right answer!  Hopefully the Splurge Sorority lessons will help you think about your purchases and make good decisions for happy closets!  Style on, Sisters!

P.S. Check out these great bloggers for inspiration on mixing your wardrobe and getting great wear!
P.P.S. There are so many awesome bloggers and a Bloglovin' account is an easy way to manage all your favourite reads!  You can follow a ton of blogs, categorize them into lists and get a once-a-day email of that day's posts with an intro and thumbnail.  Just go do it now.  (And while you're at, follow me on Bloglovin'!)