Fashion Fridays: To Mix or Not To Mix Neutrals

Thank you to ALL of you who answered the call for new Fashion Friday topics; I’ve got enough material to last two months, YAY!

This question came in a few weeks ago and is one I’ve confronted myself:  What are matching guidelines? I was always taught not to wear black with brown, brown with gray, blue with black – but I see all of these things regularly and they (usually?) look good.

There are five basic neutrals (all of which you should have in your career wardrobe): ivory/white, gray (everything from dove to charcoal),  black, navy, and brown (this is the messiest one to manage – from tan to taupe to chocolate).

Let’s tackle the easiest two first:  gray and ivory.  You can literally match any color, including any neutral, with these two neutrals.  I’m particularly fond of the gray/black or gray/navy combo.  It always reads super sophisticated.  Also, most women look universally good in navy and yet, of all the neutrals, tend to have it in their closets the least.  If you’ve wondered if you can mix neutrals with other neutrals, these two shades should put that worry to rest.

Are you dying over the gorgeous examples below that mix ALL these neutrals?  This dove gray cardigan paired with a black belt, white button down and navy pencil skirt?!?!  Then the buttoned up military inspired navy blouse with ivory pencil skirt and taupe accessories – mercy, it’s just perfection.

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Next we’ll tackle black.  I personally don’t love to pair navy with black, some folks do, because all too often the shades are so close that it just looks like you grabbed the wrong jacket when you were getting dressed in the dark.  If it’s done intentionally in something like a cocktail dress (I’ve seen pretty pairings of midnight blue and black), then it’s easier to manage, but I don’t do it in separates.

My theory on black with other neutrals is contrast.  If you can find a lighter shade neutral to pair your black piece with, so there’s a marked contrast between the shades, or even break it up with a bright color (like this green blouse breaking up the black jacket with taupe trouser), then that’s the best way to mix black with other neutrals.

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Then we get to our pesky friend brown.  Let me admit to a predisposition to dislike brown.  I’ve never worn it much.  Tan/khaki can come off bland and uninspired.  Middle brown shades can read badly on an assortment of skin tones.  Darker browns like cocoa are better but somehow hard to pull together in an outfit for me personally.

You see examples of way to mix browns and blacks above – I emphasized contrast.  With this color, so much depends on the shade that works for you.  It’s less important in bottoms, but it’s critical if you’re dressing your top half.  Brown and black, in my humble opinion, is VERY shade dependent.  If you’re pairing very dark brown with black you run into the same problem you do with navy.  Yet I think taupe and navy or black combinations are incredibly sophisticated as are even lighter shades of brown paired with black.

But as these gorgeous ensembles illustrate, brown does work with virtually every other neutral if the shade is right (think this gorgeous caramel and navy dress, or using an animal print to bring a brown and black outfit together).

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What say you?  Sound off?  How do you (or do you) pair neutrals?

Fashion Fridays: The Leggings Debate

When’s the last time you saw this?

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This afternoon probably, right?

I mean not at the office.  (Hopefully.)  But you saw it somewhere else this week.  At the airport or the grocery store or the birthday party or the movies.  It’s sort of everywhere.

So what’s the verdict on leggings?

This might be the point where I say all views expressed here are my own and not necessarily reflective of the most edgy fashion advice in the marketplace. I’m not 20 and I live in Texas and I have a career at an oil company – not exactly the hallmarks of cutting edge fashion.  But I do think I have a good sense about sense.  That’s right, a little common sense in a fashion marketplace that seems to be losing most common sense.

However, I don’t wear leggings and would love to master them because without them, as I’ve mentioned, wearing riding boots over my jeans give me elephant knees.  Here are the rules I have gathered based on my market research:

1.     Leggings are NOT pants.  If the occasion calls for trousers do not substitute leggings/jeggings/or any other eggings.  This includes anything work related if you have a desk career and are ambitious (in the best way).

2.     Cover your rear.  Y’all, there is nothing that bugs me (and certain of my friends) more than seeing someone wearing leggings with a shirt that stops at her waist.  Uh-uh.  No sirrie bob.  Cover your rear.  It may be a sweater or a long tee or a blazer but cover that up.  (See rule 1, leggings are not pants!)

3.     Test drive fabrics.  Leggings intentionally cling to you.  You may not have one spot of cellulite in which case you don’t need super heavy duty fabric but a lot of us, me chief among us, do have it.  And you can see that stuff right through leggings if you don’t test drive fabrics and materials.

4.     Don’t buy cheap.  Not only does the fabric often come too thin (see rule 3), but it doesn’t wear well, it fades or pills, and it cheapens your outfit.  Not to mention, all too often cheap comes in an assortment of bad patterns.  Please avoid bad patterns on your legs.  There’s WAY too many out there.

If you’re going to do leggings, here’s some great ways to do it:

The jegging with oversized top and boot. 

Perfect for running the kids to a party on Saturday or for meeting a girlfriend for shopping.  And think of colored denim when you’re investigating jegging options – a great way to combine several fun trends.

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My girlfriend recommends Jag Jeggings from Nordstrom’s.  Gap has an assortment, and they have them in black as well as denim.  From Anthropologie (for the budgetless among you) to Express, you can find a panoply of options just be willing to make returns if you buy on line.

Winter cozy.

Combine a patterned sweater and oversized scarfs or layers to make your outfit downright huggable.  For those of you in the great north, this look could work for you all the way til April.  For us Houstonians, we basically have one more month of this – by rodeo we’ll be done til next November.

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Sophisticated chic.

The best way to do this is with a gorgeous blazer.  Dress it up further with great accessories like oversized pearls.  (Are you dying for that gorgeous orange jacket?  I can’t find it!)

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The legging option with footwear other than a boot.

From chic flat to sophisticated pump – the legging can be paired with something other than a riding boot though that’s the look dominating the fashion field.

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So tell me, what’s your take on the legging?  Do you wear them?  What’s your favorite brand and way to keep them sophisticated?

Fashion Fridays: Fashion That Makes You Smile

Help!  I’m out of ideas right now.

C’mon girls, what do you want to tackle?  What thorny fashion questions should we explore?  I need some fresh material for the new year!

Truth be told, I’ve just been a little light on the writing altogether this past month.  Hence the fewer posts and the addition of vlogs to December.  But I’ll manage to get back, and in the meantime I need your fashion issues or findings to cover on Friday – send ‘em my way!

Until then, we’re covering a very light topic: how to inject a little joy in your wardrobe.

Do you ever buy an item that just downright makes you happy?  Well, I’ve run across a few recently and I thought I’d feature them here.  Even in professional settings you can incorporate them subtly.

I just bought this seriously happy sweater on sale at Talbot’s over the holidays and it does just make me smile.  All these happy colors.  And if you partner the sweater with a blazer and a pair of slacks, it’s perfectly appropriate for work.  Look how happy this outfit becomes when featured with a yellow blazer!  (They have several fun, whimsical sweaters on sale right now.)

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Half of what ModCloth has featured in its store makes me happy.  Their shoes are sheer joy!  I got adorable purple fox flats (my kids love and I only wear them on the weekends or Fridays) which made me smile, but they have several pair that infuse that kind of happiness into the piece.  From foxes in red polka dots to fuchsia wedges, their shoes will make you smile!

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This scattered steps necklace brings me joy for reasons other than how beautiful and colorful it is – it’s from Noonday Collection!  Noonday does such good – in their words, “Your fashion sense can now restore dignity to abandoned women in Ethiopia, empower communities in Ecuador, and create business opportunities for Ugandans.”  If that doesn’t bring you joy when you put it on, what will?

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So how about you?  What makes you happy to wear?  And what are your fashion dilemmas for 2015?

Fashion Fridays: The Best of 2014

I didn’t have but a few minutes to write today, so here’s a few of my favorite finds from 2014, many of them discovered through you dear reader so keep the tips and requests coming!

1.  Favorite new face foundation/powder/cover product – changing from MAC Studio Fix to a daily BB cream was revolutionary for me.  I have chronically dry skin so even with moisturizer under my MAC, I still ran dry.  My favorite for really making myself up is Dr. Jart’s Black Label Detox BB Cream (particularly if you are pale like me – it looks so finished without foundation).  If I’m looking for something lighter, I like both Smashbox and Mary Kay’s CC cream (the former runs a little dark in the travel size).

2.  Interesting trend – Creative Camo.  Y’all, I’m a girl surrounded by some camo in my life – a husband and two boys and the lot of them are hunters.  But camo is popping up in some unique female adult products these days.  In everything from these (dare I say) adorable Betsy Johnson pumps to this Chelsey silk and wool scarf.  Alas, I can’t bring myself to purchase it – I’m just too city.

3.  My ultimate timeless designer – Still Kate Space friends.  Would someone slimmer than me please run out and buy this gorgeous A-line bow skirt that is ON SALE at Nordstrom.  Yummy!  And her handbags are always perfect for the polished career woman – this gray number is perfect.

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4.  Best new face cleanserPurity by Philosophy.  Smells every so light and fresh and my face is squeaky clean.  I just got their intense overnight moisturizer but don’t know enough about if I like it yet.

5.  Where I’m late to the party – the Colored Jean!  Thank heavens for Kristen showing me the way.  You can find them everywhere from Macy’s to Anthropologie (depending on your price point).

6.  Lovely color trend- claret or Bordeaux.  You have to hit the shade just right, particularly careful of your skin and hair palate, but when you do it’s just lush and elegant.  The darling Ashley showed us how to use it best.

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So what about you?  What was your favorite fashion discovery, shop or trend of the year?

Fashion Fridays: A Fairy Tale Christmas List

Alrighty, I have asked for a new front door for Christmas.  Because, well, I’ve wanted a new front door for almost nine years.

That means NO other presents as a new front door is sort of an extravagant Christmas gift for our family budget.

However, if there were no front door, these items would be on my Christmas list.  From big to small, you might spot something to pick up with your Christmas gift cards.

I’m sort of obsessed with finding boots now that I’ve helped my friend Christine, and while these red Western pair aren’t on the short list for a new chocolate brown knee boot set, I still find them fabulous and I love everything Frye makes these days.

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My girlfriend just started selling Chloe + Isabel – have you all seen their stuff?  It’s probably not for the super understated jewelry lover, but since I love statement pieces I want everything I see!  This gorgeous snake choker is on sale for $77 and would go with everything.

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I may have mentioned that I sort of LOVE blouses.  And this gorgeous Kate Spade ruffled blouse is practically perfect in every way.

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(And not to be overly partial to Kate Spade, which I totally am, don’t you love these polka dot notecards?? Even though they aren’t fashion!)

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I seriously need to upgrade my make up brushes and these Sonia Kashuk brushes from Target are a great way to go – top of my list is the multi purpose brush (for $18) and this travel blush brush (for $10).

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I did a favorite night cream poll on Facebook and on my short list is some Obagi Night Cream.

By way of back story, I had a baby rip out my pierced earrings (clean through my ear lobes) when I was in college, and I have worn clip earrings ever since.  It’s nearly impossible to find cool clip earrings that are simple or that dangle.  I like these linear clip earrings from Chico’s for less than $30.

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Wrapping up, this whole look is super chic and I have the ankle pants and heels, but I’d love to pick up this Snow Leopard Coat from Ann Taylor Loft (currently 40% off)  as a perfect topper for work outfit in any season.

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C’mon, your turn – what’s on your Christmas fashion wish list?

(And it may be pretty quiet around here for a few weeks. I’ll post when I can, but I’m going on “vacation” and may not check in much.  So Merry Christmas friends!)