Fashion Fridays: Interesting Items

I’m often asked “what are the trends” in fashion in any given year.  I might embrace a color or pattern that’s trending, but I rarely make entire fashion style choices based on trend because it may not work for my style, size, or age.

What I love to find, instead, are interesting items.  Unique pieces in a particular boutique or city or even a quirky item in a larger set of stores that might add some flare to an existing ensemble.

I realized how much I’m drawn to distinguishing characteristics when I was enjoying girl time at Allume in Greenville this past weekend.  My darling friend Kristen and I found a little time to shop Friday afternoon and here are a few of the items we spotted:

1.  We each picked up one of these incredibly soft infinity scarves for $30 from a local Greenville boutique, but mine was this irresistible dove gray chevron pattern:


2.  We popped into Anthropologie and they had two wonderful items:  first were these gloves with uber feminine leather bow details at the wrist (in lavender and teal!!) and the second was this double sided neck scarf/ascot that had faux fur on one side and a lovely patterned sweater fabric on the flip side:



3.  Booties are everywhere, but these gorgeous burgundy boots from Nine West are crazy with lovely details; besides the rich fall color,  they have this lovely scalloped cut out detail and a zipper in back – distinctive from most booties on the market:


Don’t you love stumbling on something that doesn’t look like everything else in the market?  Tell me, what’s your favorite hidden boutique in your neighborhood?

Yes Means Less – The Best Yes Book Study


I introduced you to the first little snippet of The Best Yes when I was having a hard time deciding between a yes or no response this summer.

As I’ve decided to pull back from the swirling requests for commitments and dug even further into The Best Yes, it struck me that this would be a perfect book for us to study for leadership Tuesdays for the remainder of the year.  Sometimes it’s hard to see how saying no positions you to become a more effective leader, but strategic nos position you to have room for spectacular opportunity yeses.

We have TEN Tuesdays left between today and the end of 2014.  What if, instead of waiting until January 1st, we outlined a plan now to tackle 2015?  What if we took the next ten Tuesdays to connect with one another and decide what we have room for in our life, what needs eliminating, and how to prioritize what we will say yes to in 2015?

I have always struggled with no.  No, to me, felt like I was missing out on a potential opportunity or adventure.  “No, I can’t attend your party,” meant I would miss out on the fun of being with friends even if it took me away from something more important.  “No, I can’t lead that committee,” meant that I might forego an experience that would be valuable later on.  I failed to realize that saying yes to an invitation or adventure did mean I was saying no to something else – my family, my job, my health, my priorities.

Well Lysa TerKeurst, who wrote The Best Yes, understands:

I struggle with decisions too.  I don’t want to miss out on opportunities, mess up relationships by disappointing people, or misstep out of God’s will.  I struggle with keeping some sense of balance in my life. I struggle with worrying about what others think of my decisions. I struggle with feeling like I can’t quite figure out how other women seem to do it all…  Chapter 1

I invite you to walk with me for the remaining Tuesdays in 2014 as we read and discuss two chapters each week.  Chapter 1 is just a five page introduction, so next Tuesday we’ll cover Chapters 2 – 3, and the following week 4-5, and so forth.  I’d love for you to comment each Tuesday on what you’re learning so we can share how we are learning to “make wise decisions in the midst of endless demands.”

And today I’m giving away a copy of The Best Yes!  If you don’t have a copy, just leave a comment on the blog and one reader will be picked (with Amazon Prime – you’ll have it in time to get ready for next Tuesday!).

I quoted this when I read the first chapter this summer, but it rings so true I don’t want you to miss it:  “In this great day when most women wave banners of authenticity about our pasts, we crouch back from honesty about our presents.  We’ll tell you about our broken places of yesterday but don’t dare admit the limitations of our today.  All the while the acid of overactivity eats holes in our souls.”

Let’s be brave enough to admit the limitations of our today so that we don’t mistake counterfeit yeses for The Best Yes. {===>Click to Tweet}

Fashion Fridays: What To Do When In Transition Sizes

So my amazing college sorority sister and I were going back and forth on Facebook and I said, “I need some fresh ideas for Fashion Fridays!”  So she sent me some great ideas!

Drumroll please…she has lost FORTY FIVE pounds!  Y’all, how inspiring is that?  But she is working on the rest of her goal, about 20 pounds, so she doesn’t want to invest in an all new wardrobe just yet.  As you can imagine, her current wardrobe is not fitting.  Hence today’s Fashion Friday: What To Do When In Transition Sizes

You do have to buy a few pieces.  Since you know you won’t camp out at that size, you can find lower cost items, second hand retail, as well as purchase a few key pieces to get you through the remaining weight loss process.

I’ve gone through this myself before when I lost a fair amount of weight in 2011, and I had a transition size between my original size and my ultimate weight loss size (which I’m working to get back into now!).  So what’s a girl to do to look snappy but still keep from throwing money away?  Here are a few tips:

1.      Consider tailoring a handful of items.  My friend bought some clothes when she lost 30 pounds, and now those are too big.  However, those are likely just one size up from the clothes she needs now and something like a skirt or a dress may be easily tailored by pulling in an inseam to take it down one size.

Get recommendations for a local, reasonable, tailor.  You need a good tailor even after arriving at your final size just in case a must-have item you purchased needs a nip or tuck.  Ten dollars to shrink a waistband is far more reasonable than $80 for a new pair of pants.

2.     Buy a couple of quality basic pieces that can be the foundation for your work wardrobe.  She works in a fairly conservative environment, so buying two pair of pants or skirts in a black or camel that fit beautifully now (and might be tailored in 10 more pounds) will help you feel better about how you look.  Consider a simple shift dress that you can change up with a cardigan, blazer, or scarf.

This simple A-line dress can work across sizes and is on sale for $75 at Macy’s:


3.     Buy a couple of fun trendy pieces.  Since this isn’t your permanent size you can go nuts with trends, but buy them at low cost places.  I recommend second hand like on ThredUp, a great online second hand store where you can return what doesn’t work, or consider Target, Kohl’s, Marshall’s, or even AnnTaylor Loft with coupons (always search on line for coupons before buying).

This gorgeous snow leopard jacket was 50% of at Ann Taylor Loft yesterday which moved it from the too pricey to the just right category:


4.  Accessorize!  The greatest way to make your handful of items work for this interim period without looking repetitive is to mix up your accessories.  Bold scarfs or fun necklaces or interesting wedges.  You can invest in some quality pieces too because these will fit regardless of your size.

If you want to splurge, this gorgeous multi-blue strand necklace via Stella & Dot would go with any ensemble:


Or for less than $10 (WHAT?!?!?) you can add this lovely fall cranberry scarf to an otherwise simple outfit:


And keep up the good work.  Hang in there – you are almost there.  Keep to the basics until then and just mix it up with a few additions that fit your size now!

When I Write About Failing Miserably

I had no intention of broadcasting this very personal failure.

I didn’t even need to.  I had a poetic Alaskan post in the queue for today.  I went to format it last night and sat staring at the screen with this failure on my soul.  And I wondered what I had learned from it.  Then I wondered if what I was learning, still in the steep sadness, might help anyone else.  Because these private failures often offer some serious teachable moments as I sit with God in the quiet wondering why I have to be so stubborn.

You see, we rescued a dog two months ago.  Bandit.

The kids had been begging for a dog since their fourth birthday a year ago and both my husband and I grew up with dogs of assorted mutt and rescue lineage.

As August approached this year, the kids started in again in earnest, and I thought this fifth birthday would be a good time to explore the option. I researched breeds.  We met a bunch of rescue dogs over a few weeks.  I got feedback from friends in real life and on Facebook.

There were some warning signs that maybe this wasn’t the best time.  One, my hubby is not a fan.  Staunchly in the “I’d be fine if we never had a pet” camp.  Two, I am fried.  I have a million things going and am already worn pretty thin as I’ve written about some this fall.  Three, I have triplets that are only turning five.  Not fifteen.  We weren’t experimenting with a goldfish but a whole dog.

However, I plowed ahead, and we kept returning to this one precious rescue mutt so we adopted her.

And then everything after that was just really hard.  I almost took her back within our two week trial period.  She ate everything – like our furniture and swim trunks and my high heels (and yes she had bones and balls and yes she slept in a crate and on and on – all the stuff we were told to do).  She was super high energy and we didn’t have much of a backyard.  But I dug in.  Partly because I’m stubborn.  Partly because I didn’t want to emotionally scar my kids.  Partly because I was embarrassed about failing and being judged.  {Here’s where I ask you kindly to please keep your judgment to yourself.  Feel free to judge, but just don’t share it because I’m smarting from how I mucked this up right now.}

Twice more I almost took her back but didn’t.  Two of the three kids were even okay with it because this precious mutt who was wonderful with my kids was still wreaking a fair amount of havoc in our home.  I tried to find her another family.  I checked with folks in all sorts of avenues.  I consulted with my hero friends who regularly, and successfully, rescue dogs.

Yesterday, after agonizing and going back and forth, I finally took her back.  We could not provide her with the attention and space and energy that she really needed.  And the rescue I had worked with, who I finally, tearfully, called Sunday afternoon, said they always take their own dogs back and try to find them a new family.  So as the boys worked at the ranch and little bit napped with my mom, I returned our family rescue mutt and cried the whole way home.  I cried that we couldn’t make it work.  I cried that she might not find a wonderful family.  I cried that I’d let my kids down.  I cried that I’d failed.

Here’s what I’m learning as I sit here trying to figure out how to do better:

1.  Make sure your spouse is on board with big decisions.

If something goes south, then at least you are in it together.  Do not press hard into something if your partner is in full resistance.

2.  Listen to people who are wiser than your preschoolers.

I’m not saying there’s not some sage wisdom to be had in preschoolers, but we can let their untested idealism trick us into believing that’s what reality might look like.  It’s not.  I followed my kids visions of happy playful pups piled in wrapping paper during our holidays, and I did want them to have it, but didn’t weigh all the other competing elements in our life or ability to juggle new responsibilities.

3.   Don’t parent out of guilt – from my very grace-filled and wise friend Christine

Instead of chiding me for making wrong decisions, she called out the right one – making the very hard, but right, decision for our family that we couldn’t accommodate this sweet doggie.  If I’d allowed guilt to keep guiding my choices, I’d have been two months further down the road having the same struggles but with all the more heartbreaking attachment.

4.  Just because you let something go, doesn’t mean you don’t grieve the loss.


Fashion Fridays: Steal This {Casual Fall} Look

I’m in a fall kind of mood girls.  You probably picked up on that from my last Steal This Look!

This is not an outfit I would normally select.  First, it has stripes running horizontally which typically only works if you’re slim or the stripes are covered up.  Second, it involves a color pretty darn close to mustard which is hard to pull off for most folks.  Finally, it involves the knee high boot which I love but can’t make work without paste-on jeans because I end up with wrinkles around my knees, and I try to avoid looking like an elephant.

However, here’s today’s Steal This Look for fun fall weekends:

fashfri1 fashfri

(And also, I’m totally in a steal her hair mood on this first woman! Any ideas on how to achieve that?)

For the sweater, there are lots of great options out there this season at lots of price points.  Take this steal of a deal from Target for $20:


For not much more, you can get this cable knit boyfriend cardigan from Mod Cloth in Honey which feels just perfect for fall:


Or, for a twist, if you want to formalize this look for work, you could swap out the jeans and trade the sweater for this stunning velvet blazer from J. Crew (which I am TRYING to keep myself from buying, especially since it is ON SALE THIS WEEKEND):


For the striped layering piece, I am in LOVE with this cashmere tee sweater from Land’s End but can’t bring myself to spend this much money on a top:


In the much more reasonable category, you can get this striped boatneck from Ann Taylor Loft for $39 in either the dove gray stripe or a darker navy stripe:


For the jeans, I leave it to you to find your best worn skinny jeans that work with a knee high boot because I am NO jeans expert!  Then, you will need a pair of knee boots to complete the ensemble, but you probably already have several pairs.  Just in case yours are a little dingy and in need of a revamp, I recommend either these cognac Sesto Mucci Boyle pair or burgundy Franco Sarto pair – both from DSW and run under $200:

boot1 boot

To cap off the outfit, try either an oversized scarf (if you’re less comfortable with the stripes layer) or an oversized necklace as your accessory to tie it all together.  With this relatively neutral palette, you can go as bold as you want with patterns and beautiful fall colors.  This leaves and blooms infinity scarf only runs $15 at Charming Charlie’s:


Better yet, (y’all may think I am nuts) try this evergreen scarf with NAVY HEARTS (um, PRECIOUS!) from Old Navy to add visual interest to this ensemble (it only has to coordinate – so don’t freak out that it doesn’t “match”):


The sparkle in this Courtyard necklace from Charming Charlie’s probably makes it a smidge dressy for this ensemble, but it could dress it up for date night.  Plus, I love the way they use the mustards and olives against gray – great color combo for this outfit!


Even more in keeping with the feel of this steal, try adding an element of texture to your outfit by topping it with this wooden disc necklace from Mod Cloth (I have got to remember to shop there more often – such cute stuff at reasonable prices!).


What’s inspiring you this fall?  Happy shopping friends!  Share your tips, tricks, and troubles for upcoming blog posts!


Fashion Friday inspiration this week via All Things Katie Marie and Stylin’ Mommies.