Fall Fashion with Style Encore

If you’ve been following my blog since summer, you’re likely to remember that I fell in love with the Personal Shopping Experience offered by Style Encore. Style Encore is a local consignment store specializing in name brand clothing and accessories. They sell everything from Michael Kors blouses to Tory Burch shoes and Kate Spade purses, among many other brands. All are in barely used, great condition — I have purchased several items with the original tags still attached — and all are sold for a fraction of their retail cost!

I love fashion, but I actually hate to shop. I don’t like fighting crowds in busy department stores. I don’t like combing through racks searching for a style that I really am not sure even exists. If I do find something unique, I never know if it actually looks good on me. I do like the idea of boutiques but the prices are a big turn off. It’s hard to be a fashionista with all of these negatives in my way.

That’s why the Personal Shopping Experience is perfect for me. Style Encore reminds me of a boutique, only better with really great prices. Everything in the store is “one of a kind” since the items are purchased piece-by-piece from many individuals throughout the year. The store isn’t overwhelming in size. And I don’t have to fight the crowds or search the racks! The ladies at my local Style Encore in Winston Salem do that… and cater to me like I’m a celebrity. With a keen eye for current trends, they style numerous outfits in advance and I just show up and try them on! The best part is that I’m assigned a stylist who will give me her honest opinion. No more second-guessing the fit alone.

A Personal Shopping Experience will be perfect for you, too! This is a FREE service offered by Style Encore. Whether you’re looking for a specific outfit for a special occasion or whether you’re like me and just love seasonal updates to your closet, you should consider being styled at Style Encore. Going on a cruise and need cute dresses? Starting a new job and need business attire? Just started a new relationship and need some great date-night pieces? No matter the reason, the Personal Shopping Experience is your must-use styling service!

If you live in or around the NC Triad, you have two location options: Winston Salem and Greensboro. If you live elsewhere, click here to find a store near you.

Here’s how the Personal Shopping Experience works:
1. Stop by Style Encore to pick up a Style Guide (or give them a call, they will email it to you!)
2. Complete the style guide and return it.
3. Schedule your Personal Shopping Experience.
4. Show up and have fun trying on everything!
5. Don’t bother trying to narrow down your options. Their prices are too good to be picky!

Below are photos from my Fall Personal Shopping Experience. I am including three of my favorite outfits, and a summary of my purchases.

  

When you buy or sell clothing to Style Encore, you receive a punch-card. For every $10, you receive a punch. After 20 punches, you receive 20% off your next purchase. I used my punch card on this purchase and saved $46.


Old Navy blazer $10
Mossimo blouse $6
LuLaRoe skirt $12
New Direction shoes $12
Total outfit $40


The Limited blouse $12
Ann Taylor Loft slacks $13
Vince Camuto shoes $18
Total outfit $43


Jennifer Lopez blouse $13
Joe Fresh jeans $9
Naturalizer booties $18
Black necklace $8
Total outfit $48

All of the prices above do not reflect my discount. My final purchases were 18 pieces for $231. After my 20% discount, I paid a grand total of $185. That’s roughly $10 per item! And I received 18 punches on a new card. Over the course of the next couple of months, I should be able to sell back at least $20 worth of clothes so that when it is time for my Spring Personal Shopping Experience, I’ll have another 20% to put toward a new wardrobe! Win-win.

So what are you waiting for? Contact Style Encore for your Personal Shopping Experience today!!

I was not compensated for this post, and it contains no affiliate links. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way. 

Office to Evening: Layered Summer Fashion

With the recent heat dome covering most of the United States, many of us are dealing with record high temps outside. But what about inside? For those of us lucky enough to work in an office, the climate can be quite different. Look familiar?

heat
It is always freezing in my office because a coworker keeps the air conditioning set to subarctic levels. Every morning I stand in my closet and ponder, “What do I wear today that will be appropriate for the forecasted triple digit record highs, knowing that the office is going to feel like I just walked into a refrigerator?” Staying warm in the air conditioning doesn’t have to be unfashionable. And you shouldn’t have to pack a second set of clothes to change into if you’re meeting friends for dinner after work. I have compiled a list of essentials for the professional to help win this battle.

Women’s Essentials


LEGGINGS: Leggings are the perfect complement to the cute summer dress. I prefer leggings over tights for two reasons; they come in both a variety of thickness and length. It is very easy to customize a degree of warmth that is perfect for you by selecting a thicker ankle-length legging or a thinner capri-length. Don’t forget, if your dress is solid color, add a splash of fun with a patterned legging. Bonus: Leggings don’t cover your feet so you can easily slip out of your leggings quickly, and without having to unbuckle and take off your fashionable sandals. You’ll shed that layer and be ready for a warm summer evening in less than a minute!


ANKLE BOOTS: Ankle boots are so adorable, and can pair with just about any outfit during any season of the year. They’re fashionable and functional! Those of you like me, who can never get warm unless your toes are warm, will appreciate that ankle boots can discretely hide a pair of no-show socks! Toss a pair of thin sandals or flip flops into your purse, and change out of your ankle boots and socks before heading out for the evening.


KIMONO: The kimono has to be one of my favorite new fashion trends. They look great paired with a blouse and dress pants or with a white tank top and jean shorts. A kimono can be worn over a sundress or a semiformal dress. This piece is so versatile; every woman should own one! Admit it… layering has never been more chic.

Men’s Essentials


HOODIE: Hoodies aren’t just for game day! Layers can sometimes be uncomfortable, but hoodies provide a lot of comfort and warmth. I mean, who doesn’t love wearing a hoodie? They’re also extremely easy to care for. A classic black, navy, or gray hoodie is very acceptable in an office setting. Leave one hanging on the back of your office door for warmth and style.


VEST: Men’s vests are always in style. This classic piece is perfect for layering. They come in a variety of styles and material, and are probably as versatile as the women’s kimono. They can be worn over both t-shirts and button down shirts, and are an easy transition for the cold office.

UNDERSHIRT: Undershirts, like women’s leggings, come in a large selection of styles and thickness. Although it isn’t as easy to remove this layer, companies like Tommy John create awesome undershirts that can be worn as a single layer t-shirt. With its premium, stay dry fabric, this comfy and cool option is perfect for a casual night of drinks with the guys. [Tommy John not only specializes in t-shirts, but they offer a great selection of men’s underwear as well.]

Essentials for Both


CARDIGAN: The Cardigan will always be a favorite of mine. Classic and comfy, it speaks for itself. Originating in the 1800s, the Cardigan proves that it is here to stay. It is an office staple for both women and men.


SCARF: Scarves are typically thought of as a winter accessory for both men and women. However, if you’re looking for an easy layer of warmth, consider the scarf as an office accessory too. Scarves come in an array of lengths, fabrics, and colors/patterns to complement any outfit. And they are extremely trendy for guys and gals!


JACKET: The number one office go-to for layered summer fashion is, without a doubt, the jacket. The ultimate in class and versatility, a jacket pulls together an outfit while offering an extra layer of warmth. However, when you think of jackets, you shouldn’t only think of suit coats. Consider all cuts and materials, including the Summer Blazer for men. They come in a variety of styles, even offering different sleeve lengths, and fabrics, including linen and seersucker as popular choices. Ladies, don’t rule out denim. A tailored jean jacket over a sleeveless blouse adds style and comfort to white dress pants or a patterned pencil skirt. Slip the jackets off for the easiest of transitions to a dinner date or an evening out with friends.

I hope that my list of Office-to-Evening essentials have been helpful. If you’re still a bit overwhelmed, consider incorporating one or two pieces at first. Not sure you can pull off a scarf or leggings? That’s okay! Start with classic pieces and build from there. The thing to remember is that layers are key in helping you transition from a frigid office setting to a hot night on the town.

 

 

I was not compensated for this post, and it contains no affiliate links. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way. Photo credits can be viewed by hovering over each image above. All sources found online.

Third Time’s A Charm {Stitch Fix Review}

As a baseball fan, I usually give things three chances before I strike them and move on. After last month’s Stitch Fix that left me feeling less-than-hopeful about the service, I was already anticipating a “You’re out!” when I scheduled my July Fix. There were a couple of reasons why:

1. I was very specific when I requested my Fix. I wanted a complete outfit. I wanted a jacket, a blouse, a necklace, a pair of colorful capri pants, and a pair of black flats. I wanted to be able to open up the box, put everything on, and head out the door. I had read on a Facebook group page that if your requests are too specific, you won’t get what you’re looking for. But I had also seen YouTube unboxings where subscribers had requested all dresses and they received exactly what they wanted. I admit… I was skeptical.

2. A friend of mine [Kristen at Four Hens and a Rooster] blogged last month about her experience at a local consignment store called Style Encore. She explained that they have a FREE styling service where, after reviewing the style profile/questionnaire that you submit to them, they pull outfits for you to try on in their store. It seemed too good to be true, so of course I had to try it. I did. I loved it. And I bought a LOT of things. (More details will be listed below.) Aside from the items I had specifically requested, I didn’t think Stitch Fix could provide me with pieces I hadn’t already purchased.

On July 1, four days before I expected it to arrive, my wonderful mail carrier delivered my third Fix. I had already peeked at the app and knew that my request for an entire outfit had not been granted. I opened the box, and went straight to the note. I wanted to know who my stylist was, and just what she had to say about being unable to fulfill my request. Sam’s note was very personal, she had read my request and taken it all into consideration, and she had tried to pull something together. I was very appreciative of the effort that she put into selecting pieces for me AND the time she took to explain why she was unable to send the capri pants and black flats.

As I dug into my Fix, I realized just how awesome each piece was and how carefully it was selected. Sam had singlehandedly fulfilled my ongoing request of versatile pieces that work for both the office and in a more casual setting. I was looking at five items that I could willingly keep and wear. And she also kept my box total under $200… another request that I wasn’t sure would be met. There was no striking out on this third box; it was all charm!

In my third Stitch Fix box, I found:
Margaret M Deandra Textured A-Line Skirt $78 {size XL}
Pixley Nelda Halter Blouse $44 {size XL}
Market & Spruce Kristah Ruffle Knit Blazer $78 {size XL}
Papermoon Heather Lace Detail Tab-Sleeve Blouse $48 {size XL}
Bay to Baubles Gene Coin Layering Necklace $34

The total price of all items minus the discount ($70.50) and the monthly fee ($20) was $191.50.

I am so excited to share these outfits with you! (You can click on the photo to enlarge them.)

blueskirt
JCP Blazer $10
Tommy Hilfiger blouse $8
Textured A-Line skirt (from July Fix)

gaucho
Blouse & Necklace (from July Fix)
Sunny Leigh Gaucho pants $14

haltertank
Halter blouse (from July Fix)
Maurices Hydraulic jean capri (purchased years ago)

jacketdressjacketback
Blazer (from July Fix)
Apt 9 dress $13

jackettarget
Blazer (same as above, from July Fix)
Merona blouse ($22.99) and ankle pants ($27.99) from Target

My decision:
Textured A-Line Skirt – returned
Halter Blouse – returned
Knit Blazer – returned
Tab-Sleeve Blouse – kept
Necklace – returned

So, I’m sure you’re confused. After all, I just said that I loved this month’s Fix and could see myself keeping all of the pieces. I did love everything! However, I have a confession to make. Remember my consignment store shopping experience? Let me tell you a little more about it…

Do you see all of this?


These are just a few of the outfits that my Style Encore stylist pulled for me. Crazy, right? Who knew that a consignment store would have this many options in my size. If you’re luck enough to have a Style Encore nearby, email them about their Personal Shopping Experience. Again, this is a FREE styling service… and it was so much fun!! I completed the questionnaire and submitted it via email. I was given an appointment and when I arrived, the dressing room was packed full. I had a dedicated employee devoted just to helping me mix and match pieces, search for items to replace ones that I liked but didn’t quite fit like I had hoped, and who would tell me honestly if the outfit worked for me or not. It took me an hour to try everything on, but it went by so quickly. When it was all said and done, I walked out of the store with 21 items, and had spent $213. Many of the things I purchased still had the original tags on them! Do you want to know the best part? The day after my styling, I took a bag of clothes and shoes to the consignment store to sell. {Note: They purchase your items on the spot, any season, and give you cash before you leave the store.} They bought $40 worth of clothing from me that no longer fit me or that I just never wore. That made the previous day’s $213 more like $173!

Here are two of my favorite outfits from my consignment shopping:


Blazer, blouse, skirt, and shoes: $31


Dress: $14

I could not be more pleased with my Stitch Fix for July, and I will be using their services again… some day. However, I admit that Style Encore has spoiled me too. For practically the same amount of money as the five pieces I received in my July Fix, I was able to purchase FOUR TIMES as many name-brand items. My closet has been refreshed for the season and I feel like I have plenty to work with this summer and fall. I am going to take a few months off from Stitch Fix, and clothes shopping in general, but am now looking forward to shopping for winter clothes this fall… now that shopping is fun again!

If you’re interested in trying Stitch Fix for yourself, please click here and use my referral code: 7952845

Stitch Fix #2

I know I promised a video but once you read this post, you will know why I didn’t record one.

I was so excited about my second Fix because I had such a great experience last month when Cindy selected five great items with zero guidance. I just knew that, since I provided feedback with my returns and created a StitchFix pinterest board in an effort to assist my stylist, my June selections would be dreamy. I even left a note for my stylist requesting a particular shirt [Fun 2 Fun Renauld (?) front pocket blouse $44 — sleeveless, white with navy anchor pattern] and something youthful and fun, yet still somewhat age-appropriate for my birthday. I anxiously awaited the email letting me know that my Fix had shipped. That’s my cue to head over to the app to peek at the selections heading my way. In case you missed it in the last post, I’m not a fan of surprises.

I received the email on June 8 and when I opened the Stitch Fix app, I was thrilled at what I saw. There was one shirt and one dress that I immediately knew that I would keep.

My box arrived on Friday, which happened to be my birthday! Could life get any better? I was planning to celebrate that night at a local winery and began pondering which outfit I would wear; the new shirt with white capri pants or the new dress. While I was ripping into my Fix, I kept thinking, “I can do a video next month. I don’t have time to prep for a reveal today. I have to see these items in person and decide what I’m going to wear tonight!”

And then…

I tried everything on. Just like that, my heart sank and my bubble burst. Details below.

In my second Stitch Fix box, I found:
Brixon Ivy Zedd Lace Overlay Blouse $58 {size S}
Level 99 Sandy Bootcut Jean $98 {size 14}
Market & Spruce Accio Cold Shoulder Top $58 {size XL}
Market & Spruce Aerin Dress $64 {size XL}
Pixley Verleen Knit Burnout Maxi Dress $68 {size XL}

The total price of all items minus the discount ($86.50) and the monthly fee ($20) was $239.50.

My decision:
Lace Overlay Blouse – Y’all, I loved this top when I saw it on the app, and wanted it desperately. However… do you see the problem here?

It’s tagged as XL but clearly is a Small. I was so disappointed. After speaking with some folks in the SF B/T/S Facebook group, I understand that I could choose to keep the top and just request a new size but it sounds like a hassle. I’m too bummed to even deal with the exchange at this point. I will return the top.

Sandy Bootcut Jean – I can say that I love these jeans! Remember in my last Stitch Fix post, I mentioned that one of the key things I wanted to “test” with this service is just how well their products cater to us larger gals. I was convinced that their jeans wouldn’t fit me since my body shape sometimes bounces between a size 14 and size 16 pant. This particular pair of jeans fit beautifully, felt amazing, and were my favorite piece from this month’s box. However, the frugal girl in me absolutely could not justify paying $98 for them as we get ready to head into a very humid NC summer. Maybe they will resend them to me in the fall, when I’m freezing and more likely to blow my budget on some cute and comfy jeans. That said, I will return the jeans.

Accio Cold Shoulder Top – As you can see from the photo, this shirt paired with the jean really makes for a great outfit. I was pleasantly surprised by this shirt, given that it was my least favorite item on the app. (I’m not a fan of the open shoulder tops.) I am glad that it was sent to me. I want pieces that I wouldn’t select in the stores for myself. That’s a major reason why I chose to use this styling service. Ultimately, I will return the top simply because I couldn’t see myself wearing it to work. I like to have blouses that are a bit more versatile.

Aerin Dress – I fell in love with this dress the second that I saw it on the app. The color, the pattern, and the style all appealed to me. I was convinced that I would wear it to the winery for my birthday celebration. However, when I tried it on, the belt tied right at my problem area (belly) and the length made me a little nervous. I’m 5’10” and generally go for dresses that fall at least at the knee, not above it. I couldn’t believe that both pieces – that I had already decided in my head that I would keep – let me down. On Sunday, as I was packaging up my items to send back, I tried this dress on again. I stood in front of the mirror, trying to make it work. I glanced in my closet and realized that I had a blue jacket that was close in color to the blue accent in the dress’s pattern. I threw it on, along with some nude wedges, and finally saw the potential of the dress. The jacket helped to mask my belly. I still struggled with the length. So I did what anybody would do… I took this photo and tossed it up on Instagram for opinions. 🙂 Most folks liked it. Some even loved it. One practical friend reminded me that if I wasn’t completely comfortable in the dress, there was a chance that I would never wear it. Part of me knows that I should send it back. The other part of me thinks I should step outside of the box and go for it. After all, this is my birthday Fix! I requested something youthful, yet age-appropriate. I feel like this is it. Yes, I just turned 40. But that doesn’t mean that I should dress like Dorothy from The Golden Girls, right? After much deliberation, I’m trusting the Instagram masses. I plan to keep this dress.

 

Verleen Knit Burnout Maxi Dress – This is a beautiful dress. I loved the color, I was okay with the fit, and the fabric was soft and comfortable. But what I am learning quickly is that I’m not much into maxi dresses. I am not completely against them, but I am extremely picky when it comes to them. This particular one just didn’t blow me away. I will return it.

So there you have it; my second Stitch Fix review. I should note that, this month, my stylist was Jessica. I feel like I should give this service another month, so I will request a July box when I checkout. If you’re interested in trying Stitch Fix for yourself, please click here and use my referral code: 7952845

 

Here’s a quick rundown of how Stitch Fix works:
Create an account and fill out a questionnaire.

The subscription is $20/month and that fee is deducted from your total, should you decide to keep any or all items delivered in your monthly fix.
You receive a box with five custom-selected pieces.
Try them on at your leisure (you have three days to make your decision) and send back the ones you don’t want to keep in a postage-paid envelope.

My First Stitch Fix

I have friends who have used Stitch Fix for years; some who have been subscribers since the launch of the service in 2011. I have enjoyed hearing about their experiences, reading their blogs on their latest fix, and watching their unboxing videos. I never had the desire to participate, though… until recently.

There are a couple of reasons why I decided to finally give it a try. Since my reasons are probably pretty far-fetched in comparison to the majority of Stitch Fix subscribers, I thought I would give you a quick insight before I reveal today’s package.

I like to think that I am fashionable, but the truth is — I struggle with fashion. I blame it partially on this “turning 40″ thing that is happening soon. (I’m starting to blame a lot of things on it, actually. haha) I love fashion, but fashion doesn’t always love me. I see a cute outfit on Pinterest and I attempt to replicate it, only to find that my body type  just isn’t compatible with the clothing style. It reminds me of all the years I took hair photos to my stylist and – every time – she would tell me that the cut was for someone with straight, thick hair… and that the same cut on my thin, curly hair would not produce the same look. Most cute, fashionable outfits simply do not produce the same look on me.

I’m tall (5’10”) and long-waisted. My legs are actually an average length. I am also about 20lbs overweight. I am most annoyed by my belly. It seems to be where most of the extra weight is stored. Sometimes it’s a struggle to find the right sizes and cuts. I feel like I often settle for clothes, particularly dress clothes for work, and I get stuck in a certain look that isn’t necessarily the best for me.

I’m not a fan of shopping. I loathe having to try on clothes in a dressing room. When I do shop, I typically have an agenda… I’m looking for one particular piece to pair with something I already own. The thought of shopping just to browse is a bit daunting to me.

And y’all know that I’m a self-proclaimed Budget Queen. I am so frugal. If I buy one article of clothing, I pull a similar piece from my closet to sale or donate. I only allow an extremely small amount into my budget for clothing. I don’t shop often, and when I do… I shop thrift stores and consignment shops first. It has to be on sale, and it has to be a needed item.

All of that said, the four reasons I finally subscribed to Stitch Fix are:

  1. I am hoping their stylists can recommend the appropriate cut/style/look for me.
  2. I want to see if Stitch Fix caters to someone with my body shape/size.
  3. The clothes come straight to my door and I have a few days to try them on at my leisure.
  4. I want to see if the clothing offered is affordable and well-made.

A quick rundown of how Stitch Fix works:
Create an account and fill out a questionnaire.
The subscription is $20/month and that fee is deducted from your total, should you decide to keep any or all items delivered in your monthly fix.
You receive a box with five custom-selected pieces.
Try them on at your leisure (you have three days to make your decision) and send back the ones you don’t want to keep in a postage-paid envelope.

Simple enough, right?

So… on to my first fix! I’m sorry this isn’t as entertaining as other Stitch Fix reveals. I wanted to get this blog posted quickly, so I didn’t have time to edit a video or even slap on some makeup to be presentable in photos. I’ll do better next time.

I purposefully did not give my stylist any suggestions aside from the basic questionnaire at registration. I wanted to see just how in-tuned the stylists are before I even created my Pinterest board with suggestions. I was vague… and Cindy nailed it!

A few days before the fix shipped, I learned that I could download the Stitch Fix app and preview what was on its way to me. A lot of folks wait until their package arrives to see what was selected for them. I, however, don’t like surprises. When I saw the items that were selected for me, I was impressed. Cindy did a great job… and I got even more excited about getting my fix and seeing the clothes in person.

What I was a bit disappointed in was the price. At registration, I selected “The cheaper the better” option, hoping I would get some discounted items. However, the average Stitch Fix items seem to be in the $50 range. That is very high for my general budget. I was leery as to if I would even purchase anything, or even use the service again, but I decided to wait until the package came to make my decision. Especially since I also wasn’t convinced that I would fit into the clothes. [Stitch Fix sizes range from 0-14 and XS –XL. I am on the upper end of that scale, and sometimes 14s aren’t the best fit depending on the cut of the clothing. I’m a generally apprehensive person anyway.]

In my first Stitch Fix box, I found:
Daniel Rainn Ginnie Lace Trim Knit Top $58 XL
Loveappella Liette Embroidery Detail Knit Top $48 XL
Gilli Kimberly Maxi Dress $64 XL
Margaret M Christiana Textured Pencil Skirt $78 XL
Romolo Lea Leaf Collar Necklace $28
The total price of all items minus the discount ($69) and the monthly fee ($20) is $187

My decision:
Lace Trim Top – I love it. The fit. The feel. The pattern. The versatility. LOVE. I’m not a fan of the price, but when I deduct the $20 I’ve already spent (and won’t be refunded) then the top will be $38. That is still way more than I would typically spend on tank top but I really do love it. I can wear it with shorts for a casual look in the summer, or pair it with black dress pants, heels, and a blazer for work. I’m going to keep it.

img_8497.jpg

Embroidery Knit Top – It is a pretty top, but the fit was a bit snug for me… and the design was a bit plain. I couldn’t see wearing this to work so I’m going to return it.

Maxi Dress – I love the fit of this dress! It was comfortable and slimming. I considered keeping it, but there was something about the hemline that bothered me. If it didn’t have the asymmetrical bottom, I probably would have kept it. At $64, I decided to return it.

  
Pencil Skirt – I was surprised at how comfortable this skirt was. I liked the color/texture and length… but it was a bit too snug for me. It really accentuated my curves, particularly those in the rear, and I didn’t feel like that would be appropriate for work. I also couldn’t fathom paying $78 for a skirt. I’m going to return it.

Necklace – I thought the necklace was adorable, but between the length (too short) and color (I have a couple gold ones already) I decided to return it.

Since Cindy did such a fantastic job selecting items for me with little direction, I have decided to give Stitch Fix another try. (That’s huge folks… I really thought I would be cancelling my subscription right now!) This time, I have created a Pinterest board at their suggestion, and plan to send back a note with my returns to let my stylist know what I loved about each piece and what I didn’t. Although I’m still not a fan of the pricing, I do love the anticipation and convenience that comes along with this service. So be on the lookout for my next Stitch Fix post. Maybe *just maybe* there will be a video too.

Let’s Bounce

Five Products for Curly Hair

I have naturally curly hair… and it drives me crazy! A lot of people tell me that I’m lucky to have it. But those people always have smooth, straight hair. They have no idea what kind of work goes into achieving a perfect curl or the time spent trying to straighten our frizzy mops. I spent years fighting my hair. I cried many tears over bad cuts, bad chemical treatments, and heat damage. I have a lifetime of trials and errors that have resulted in me nearly-perfecting both straight and curly hair. Although there will always be work involved in styling my hair, I am finally starting to see that having curly hair can, indeed, be a blessing with a little help from the following…

1. Garnier Fructis Style Curl Sculpting Cream Gel

I love this for a couple of reasons. It really enhances my curls, sculpting them into bouncy ringlets without the crunch of most gels! The cream formula also delivers moisture for all-day frizz control. My favorite part, though, is the smell. There isn’t a harsh alcohol smell, like many haircare products have. The lime scent is tropical and pleasant. This retails for around $4.

2. Redken Smooth Lock Stay Sleek

This product is awesome for curly hair, no matter how you decide to style it. It isn’t a straightener… it’s a leave-in smoothing cream. Costing around $15, it is worth every penny! Smooth Lock is weightless, provides unbelievable frizz control and smoothness, and lasts up to 3 shampoos. Yes! You read that correctly. It really does! When I flat-iron my hair, this product seals and nourishes to leave my hair straight and sleek.

3. Moroccanoil Luminous Hairspray

This is the BEST smelling humidity-resistant hairspray ever! It’s important for those of us with curly hair to protect it from humidity. Whether we’re rocking the bouncy curls or looking chic with our straight tresses, humidity is our number one enemy. It seconds, humidity can make us look like a monster. So this hairspray with argan oil provides long-lasting natural hold without flaking, build-up, or stickiness. And the amazing shine is icing on the cake. The retail for a large bottle averages $20.

4. Hair Dryer Diffuser

No matter what kind of product that you put on your hair, you will NOT get defined curls if you use a hair dryer without a diffuser. The best way for me to get perfect curls is to allow my hair to dry naturally… but I seldom have time for that. Not many people do. So, I strongly encourage purchasing a hair dryer with this attachment. If you already love your hair dryer or if you travel a lot, you can purchase a travel diffuser that attaches to most hair dryers. I love my hair dryer diffuser set, purchased at my local CVS for under $30. The diffuser securely clicks into place and disperses the air. For a guide on diffusers and how to use them, please check out this great Folica article.

5. Chi Flat Iron

I spent year using flat irons from drugstores and department stores. I wasn’t willing to pay over $50 on a straightener. The brands that I used were popular, well-respected brands in hair dryers and curling irons, so I assumed I was getting a good product to straighten my hair as well. I had terrible results. I could never get my hair as straight as my hair stylist. And what straightening I did achieve turned to fuzz several hours later. Recently, I finally broke down and paid for a top-of-the-line flat iron. Boy! Am I glad that I did? There is absolutely no comparison between the straighteners I had been using and my new Chi Air. Chi has a large assortment of flat irons. After reading reviews, I chose to purchase the more economical Air. Right out of the box, I got amazing results. This flat iron delivers smooth, long-lasting results for under $100. I suggest you visit Chi’s website to see all of the different flat irons and decide which works best for you. You will NOT be disappointed in this product.

I hope that, if you try my suggestions, you receive the same great results that I have. I would love to hear from you! Please head over to our Facebook page and leave a comment if you have any other recommendations for fellow curly-tops.

Carolina Girls

Cool weather has replaced the steamy days in North Carolina.  This time of year it can be really difficult to choose daily outfits.  After all, it can be a frigid 45 degrees in the morning and zoom fairly quickly up to a balmy 70 by your lunch hour.

Here are a few things to consider for your wardrobe:
1.  Layering is critical!  Pair a cardigan with a long sleeve button up shirt.  You’ll be comfortable in the morning without being over bundled.  As the day heats up you can shed the sweater completely or drape it over your shoulders.  If need be, you can roll up the shirt sleeves for another look.  (Hint:  ¾ sleeves make you look more lean and taller!)

2.  Scarves are also a must!  There are tons of colors, textures, patterns, and fabrics so no one has an excuse not to wear them!  A scarf can tie an outfit together making you look more polished and put together.  They can also be worn as belts.  I found a great website with videos if you need tips on how to wear them. Scarves are a great way to express your fashion sense.  You can select whimsical, conservative, bold, or themed scarves to spice up any look!

3.  Color is not just for a box of crayons!  It is really easy to stick with those go to black, brown, and grey pieces in cold weather.  Don’t fling all those items out; just add some unexpected pop with a vibrant pair of shoes.  I remember the fashion patterns of the 90’s and how everything had to be matchy-matchy.  These days, your fashion is an extension of your personality, so let everyone see who your really are!  A fun, funky, or even quirky pair of shoes can make any woman feel confident and light-hearted.  Think of it as a stress reducer!

4.  She’s got legs!  It’s also really easy to stick to a “pants only” routine during these cold months.  Don’t push all those dresses to the back of your closet during fall and winter.  Like I mentioned earlier, layering is a huge trend this season.  Pair a knee length dress with leggings, tall boots or even booties, and a great jacket.  Tights and leggings allow you to wear cute dresses in cold weather.  You can show off those legs that you may not have shaved in a couple of days!  (There is no way I am the only one that does that!)

5.  Clean out your pocketbook and go lighter!  Cross body bags are a hot trend right now.  I adore them because it is not a distraction while I am running errands or shopping.  (This is must-have for mothers with young children.)  It is securely placed against my body and forces me to carry around fewer items which in turn is much better on my back, neck, and shoulders.  Even if you like more classic styles like Liz Claiborne or Coach, you can find one that works for you.

6.  Top it off!  For some reason, women are scared of hats.  I’m not sure what horror movie featured hats to cause us all to be terrified of them, but it is okay, they won’t hurt you!  There are as many different styles of hats as there are scarves or handbags.  A hat can add a twist to your outfit that showcases your hair and draws attention to your beautiful face!  Check out a store like Charming Charlie.  They have an incredible selection and staff members that can help you determine the right hat for your build and face shape.  If you have a specific outfit that you would like to match, be sure to take it with you.  (Hint:  you lose tons of body heat through your head.  If you are cold-natured like me, you can solve a problem while looking fabulous!)

It’s been proven that we are more likely to be depressed during the winter season because of lack of outdoor activities exposing us to sunshine.  Help out your mental well-being by wearing accessories and clothes that make you feel good about yourself!  After all, Carolina girls are the best in the world!

Nailed It!

Since my last post, I have become a little obsessed with nail polish. But don’t let that statement mislead you. I’m still quite the amateur when it comes to the topic.

I guess I should give you a glimpse into my past. I was a nail biter. Not just as a child. I gnawed my fingernails well into my young adult life. I’m guessing it was a nervous habit. It took two drastic changes in my life to break it: nursing school and braces. Ultimately, all it took was one day of 12-hour clinicals in the surgical unit of a local hospital to make me realize how disgusting the habit was. And after finally getting braces in 2008, it literally became impossible to bite my fingernails between my teeth’s new alignment and the overall pain. (The thought of eating mashed potatoes sometimes brought tears to my eyes, so chewing a nail was certainly out of the question.)

I also used to be a lot more impatient than I am now. After my nails started to grow, I found myself attempting to paint them, only to rush the process. The paint was applied in a very sloppy manner and without proper drying time, things got pretty messy! I decided polish just wasn’t for me.

If I ever splurged on a manicure, I always opted for nude colors or French tips. It just seemed weird to me to call attention to a part of my body that, for years, was a complete embarrassment.

I blame Pinterest for my new-found love of nail polish. You can’t scroll through that website without seeing a lot of pins featuring nail polish trends. The more I viewed, the more the designs became art to me. Then something clicked in my head. Hey! I went to art school. I’m an artist!! I know how to paint meticulously, it just takes time! And color is a great way to express mood and personality! So I attempted the purple nails and glitter for Relay For Life. I was shocked that they actually turned out pretty cute! After a few compliments, and a quick chat with my Twitter friend Dana, I ended up purchasing several new bottles of nail polish. Dana said that she paints her nails on Sunday evenings, while she is watching TV. That works perfectly for me as well. That way, I can take an hour to trim, file, buff, paint, and allow the layers to dry without being rushed. I’ve decided every Sunday I’ll post a photo of my weekly nail fun.

This week, I went a little bold and chose Confetti’s Bayou Blue and Milani’s Teal glitter. This is two layers of Bayou Blue with one layer of Teal glitter added on my ring finger only. (This is one of the big trends in nail polish right now. It has no significance… it is simply a way to add a little pop of fun.) Again, I’m still a noob at painting my nails and I’m still trying to get used to the attention they’re getting, so I wanted to do something fun but still subtle. I will try to take it up a notch next week. 🙂

The Foundation of Makeup

Makeup is a huge industry.  If you don’t believe me, while you are watching TV tonight, pay attention to the number of commercials there are for mascara and foundation!  There is nothing more frightening than being on vacation or out with friends and out comes the camera/cell phones.  You take a peek at the pictures and gasp because your face is 10 shades lighter than the rest of your body. (Trust me, I speak from experience.)  Your foundation is the support system of your face!  If it goes screaming downhill, sliding off your skin like a ski slope by 2pm, is there hope?  If it lets too much light in for pictures and you look like a close relative of Casper, should you wear a paper bag in all photos?  Let’s discuss…there are 2 key factors to the art of finding the foundation that works for you.

•     Complimentary Colors
There are as many different skin tones as there are people in this world.  Your foundation should even your skin tone out without looking like you painted it on.  A good rule is to match it to the underside of your wrist or along your jaw line.  There are many great professional lines in department stores with staff that are trained to match skin tones if you feel like you need some direction.  Some require you to make an appointment, so be sure to do your homework!

•     Skin Types
No matter what age you are, whether you have dry, oily, or combination skin, there are foundations out there for you.  It may take some trial and error, but with a little patience you will find the product that is the best for you.  Foundations come in liquids, creams, and even loose powder.  These allow for a wide variety of coverage types while keeping your particular skin types/conditions in consideration.  If you have oily skin it is a good idea to apply foundation with a foundation brush.  This will make your purchase last longer and keep finger oils off your skin.  Powder-to-cream foundations can be applied with a sponge for even coverage.  Loose powder foundations work best with large round brushes.

We are all looking to balance our lives and our foundation is crucial to the equation!  With a little research, possibly an appointment at your local department store makeup counter, you can feel more confident and put together.  The most important thing is finding what works for your lifestyle and running with it.

Getting the Most Out of Your Wardrobe

These days we are all more cost conscious and hopefully on the track to going green.  We use coupons, shop around for the best gas prices, recycle, and purchase energy efficient appliances.  We even buy vehicles based on gas mileage instead of looks alone.  Our wardrobes are no exception to the economy!  I am constantly searching for ways to use pieces in various seasons so I can get the most bang for my buck.  Here are a few things I have discovered along the way:

•     Clean out those closets!
How can you evaluate your wardrobe if you closet is so full that you must wear protective gear and notify a family member before you enter it?  My rule of thumb is that if I have not worn/used it within the last year, it’s time to let it go.  This includes handbags, shoes, belts, jewelry, hats, scarves, and clothing.  Any gently used or even new items that still have tags on them (don’t act like you don’t know what I am talking about!) are perfect to take to a consignment shop.  I personally use the money I make from selling items to reinvest into my son’s wardrobe.  Let’s face it, a seven year old can change clothing sizes overnight!  I also consign items from his closet after he outgrows them.  Shop around for a consignment store that has the overall look of things you like and has the best pay arrangements for you.

•     Organize!
Now that you have your closet cleaned out, take some time to organize your pieces.  This will save you tons of time while choosing daily outfits.  Find the system that works best for you.  For example you may like to separate items by type:  pants, shirts, jackets, sweatshirts, etc.  I prefer to separate my items by season (warm weather items, cool weather items).  I am obsessed with shoes so when I purchase them, I keep the box to store them in.  This way I am not spending time digging through a pile of shoes.

•     Multi-seasonal pieces!
There are many items that can transition into cold weather.  Let’s clear up the first one—white pants CAN be worn after Labor Day… but beware; you have to be brave to pull this one off!  For those of you in the South like me, this has traditionally been a “no-no” and people will look at you funny—be prepared!  Wear white pants with a bold, sassy shirt –and you better have some killer shoes to pull it all together OR a really trendy handbag.  Dresses are a great summer essential, but don’t forget about them during the winter.  Pair them with tights, an ankle bootie or a tall boot, and hit the road.  Sleeveless summer shirts can also be worn in cold weather.  Layer it over a turtleneck or even under a cardigan or jacket.

•     Multi-use pieces!
Work pieces can double for evening, church, or special event attire.  However, there are lots of casual pieces that will not work for the office or other venues.  The best advice I can give here is, if you have to ask if an item is appropriate, it probably isn’t.  Keep multi-use pieces in mind when you are shopping.  If you can wear an item in more than one situation you will get more use out of it, thus it is a good investment.  You can also mix and match office pieces like suit jackets with a great pair of dark washed jeans for a date night—but please, I beg you, don’t forget the heels!

•     Shop end of season sales!
A great way to take advantage of store coupons and discounts are to shop end of season sales.  This is not the time to buy a super trendy outfit that may not be in style the next time that season rolls around though.  (That’s how we all end up with stuff in our closets with the tags still on them!)  Use these sales to invest in classic designer pieces that will not go out of style for a long time.  For example:  pant/skirt suits in clean, classic cuts, cardigans, layering shirts, button up shirts, etc.  Spend some time looking for pieces that transition from summer to winter.  You can also save a lot of money buying things like swimsuits, cover-ups, and summer footwear near the end of summer.

I hope these are some tips that can help you get more organized and realize you have more outfits in your closet that you thought you did.  Maybe you even learned something you can take with you the next time you hit the mall!