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Category - Reviews
March 10, 2017
You guys! I’m blonde! Since our wedding I’ve been feeling like I could use a drastic change, and the thought popped into my head that I could go blonde again (during my college years I was a blonde as well) and yesterday I decided to take the plunge.
I thought I’d share my experience with you in case it proves to be useful. Apologies in advance for the low quality pictures–they were all taken with my phone in low-light settings.
Rue La La, a members-only online designer retailer, recently released a handbag guide that I think is an amazing jumping off point for anyone interesting in handbags. I particularly like their advice about designer labels (I often buy vintage handbags, and it’s important to be able to spot a fake) and their history of handbags. I thought I’d share my own four favorite handbag shapes and what I carry in each as a bit of my own handbag 101.
The Clutch / Wristlet
I probably have more of this type of handbag than any other due both to cost and versatility. A good wristlet is an easy, inexpensive accessory that can add a great pop of color to an outfit.
Mine generally contain my wallet (bonus points for the Kate Spade in the upper left that actually is a wallet), my phone, and some lip color (or just chapstick).
I use my clutches and wristlets primarily to accent evening and formal wear. They make it easy to keep your things on you while dancing and squeezing through packed bars. I also use a wristlet to keep my work keys together–my office has a beep card I need to use all the time. A wristlet keeps it handy.
The Small Carry All
This is my go-to purse for errand running and daytime activities. Its got slightly more room than your average wristlet or clutch, but not so much as to be bulky and get in the way.
What goes in? Add wristlet contents plus fast flats (if I’m wearing heels) and sunglasses and their cases.
Behold, the queen of the handbag world (in my opinion). Nothing trumps a good satchel in my mind. They have all the space you need without looking boring (see next: totes). You can take a satchel to work, to a party, shopping, out on a date, pretty much anywhere.
What goes in here? The most important item of all: shoes. Satchels have saved me from so many evenings of foot distress. If you’ve only got a small purse, but you’ve worn heels out, what do you do when your toes are aching so bad that you’d rather just go home than keep walking on them? You go home, and miss out on the rest of the evening. But if you’ve brought a satchel, you can quickly swap out your heels for flats with ease.
Other than shoes, I often keep a spare cardigan, a water bottle, a granola bar, winter accesories (hat, gloves, scarf), and miscellaneous items in there (pens, change, receipts, etc.)
Big, utilitarian, and slightly boring are the adjectives that come to mind for me when I think about the tote. I’m a bit left of center in the fashion blogger community on this, I think. Totes are all the rage these days–when I look around the city, totes are the most common designer bag I see. I find them to be undeniably useful (my trusty Longchamp accompanies me to work almost every day) but ultimately a bit homogeneous in style. My recommendation for totes is to by one in a neutral color that’s built to last, and spend your big bucks on a unique, beautiful satchel.
On the average work day my Longchamp contains a wristlet with my wallet and cell phone, sunglasses case, lip balm, breakfast and sometimes lunch, and my gym clothes.
DAVID’s BRIDAL – Taffeta A Line Gown with Sweetheart Neckline
Apologies for the blurriness of these photos. After reading Jean’s wedding dress shopping post I opted for a less conspicuous camera than my SLR and had one of my friends snap photos of me using my phone’s camera. His hands must have been shaking from excitement. :)
Let’s dive right into the important details:
- Wedding date: March
- Wedding location: a beach in the Caribbean
- My price range $300 – $400
- Requirements: strapless, pure white, beachy
While I could certainly afford a more expensive dress, I personally feel that it is ridiculous to spend a fortune on a dress I will only wear once (I think I’m an anomaly in the fashion blogging community). I was open to spending more when I began my search, but I decided to see what I could find at a lower price point. Ultimately my idea was to spend less on the dress and more on the accessories that would go with the dress–accessories that could be worn again.
My research for where to go included Yelp and various blog posts. I found that there’s an overwhelming amount of information out there, and that it’s easy to get sucked into thinking you have to spend a fortune on your dress to be even remotely happy with it. Despite this, I kept a level head and decided on some lower price range shops and boutiques. My search took me to David’s Bridal, Glamour Closet, and House of Brides. David’s Bridal was, by far, the best location I visited.
Lets look at some dresses.
You may remember Firmoo from this post I did with them this past summer featuring a pair of oversized sunglasses. I’ve worn those sunglasses everywhere, so you can imagine how happy I was when they asked me if I’d like to do a post featuring a pair of their regular prescription frames.
I’ve worn glasses since I was in grade school and contacts since middle school, so I’m familiar with the glasses-buying routine. You get your prescription updated, you wander around Lens Crafters or a similar type store trying on whats available, you pick something you vaguely like, you be appalled at the price they quote you for those frames, and then you buy them anyway.
I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Firmoo as an alternative to all that, especially since my glasses prescription hadn’t changed in years but I wanted an update to my eyewear. They had lots of different options for frame style and most of the various frames had sub-options for colors or patterns. Rather than being pushed by some sales associate into paying huge amounts for various lens options you get to pick them yourself. The only challenging bit for me was calculating my pupillary distance (just the distance between your pupils). Generally this will be done for you at a store, but with Firmoo I had to calculate it myself (well, rather, my fiance had to calculate it for me). I was a bit worried that we didn’t get the number right and the view through the lenses would be skewed, but it was totally fine. They fit well and the lenses are great.
Ok, enough proselytizing. Firmoo didn’t even tell me what to write in this review, I just genuinely really liked the process and the result. Have you ever ordered glasses online? Were you happy with the experience?
BLAZER – New York and Company || DRESS – Nordstrom Rack || PUMPS – Zara || Jewelry – Sparkle and Sophistication
Official photos from the Sparkle and Sophisticaiton launch have now been posted on Facebook (that’s a link to the photographer’s page–you’ll have to scroll down to find the album–I couldn’t find any way to actually link to it). I thought I’d share with you those that feature me. Not much more to say, I hope you like them! :)
Last weekend I was invited to the launch party for Sparkle and Sophistication, a small jewelry line from a local Chicago designer. As part of the event, I got to model several of their pieces for the S&S lookbook. It was a ton of fun. I’ll be sharing the official pictures with you when I receive them, which should be sometime this week. For now, here are a few pictures I took at the event. Many thanks to my friend Brandon for accompanying me to the event and snapping many of these pics. You’re the best!
I arrived and was ushered into the hair station.
Next came makeup. I’m not much of a makeup artist myself, so I was amazed at the transformation! She started light…
…then things got a bit heavier. I’ve never outlined my cheekbones before, so I had no idea this was how it’s done. She blended these harsh lines in later to make them less defined, but still, it’s pretty neat to see how these things are done.
And finally she added the finishing touch–a bold lip the likes of which I’d never worn. I thought it looked great for a photo shoot, but probably too severe for real life. And that’s not to take anything away from her amazing work–I think she did a fabulous job (which I doubt I’d ever be able to replicate).
These necklaces were my favorite pieces from the collection. I love the bows–very dainty and cute. I should note that they feel very much of quality–they are not light and chintzy like some necklaces I’ve seen in this style.
I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to pick up one of these bracelets. I love the big heart charms–in the light, they were just gorgeous. I can’t decide if I like the silver and blue or rose gold and clear better. Decisions…
These were probably my least favorite items in the collection. They were a bit too bulky and boxy for me. That said, they still looked fabulous in the bright lights.
Before the shoot, I had Brandon snap a few pics of my makeup and outfit.
The setting for our shoot.
This is us shooting the cover of the lookbook. Nusrat, the owner of Sparkle and Sophistication, is to my left.
One big, sorority-style shot of everyone who came. Thanks again to Sparkle and Sophistication for a fun Saturday afternoon!
hands – valerie
feet – storm
I was lucky enough to win Mash Elle’s Zoya nail polish giveaway a few weeks ago. I was pretty thrilled, and decided to get a mani-pedi when they arrived. I went to Allure Nail Spa in the west loop and got their $35 classic mani-pedi. It was nice, though slightly lower budget than the place I used to go in Ann Arbor. And saying that I “used to go” to a place is pretty misleading–I’ve only gotten two mani-pedis in my life, and this was the second. The lady didn’t wear gloves when she did my pedi, which I found a bit disconcerting, but it seemed to work out just fine–it was a week ago and I don’t have any infections or problems with my feet or hands. She did use this callus cutter that was a bit like a handheld planer to tackle my (bigger than average) calluses. It freaked me out a bit, but damn, my feet are much softer. Ultimately, I’d highly recommend it.
Anyway, about the nail polish. I’m not a seasoned nail polish expert, so I can’t give an incredibly detailed review. What I will say is that I found the color to be interesting and the polish went on easily and dried quickly. It lasted about four good days before it chipped and I had to remove it, but that’s about average in my experience. I did find these colors to be much more appropriate for winter than summer, and frankly, I would never have chosen either of these colors for myself. I tend to stick with girly pastels and pinks. I’m a huge fan of the classic french mani-pedi, and I’ll likely stick with that in the future. That said, it was fun to try something new.
One last thing to note–Zoya says it’s an all natural polish, which I can get on board with, though I’m not entirely sure what that means or what the difference is between Zoya and a run-of-the-mill polish. On their website they say it’s free of toluene, formaldehyde, DBP (phthalates) and camphor. If anyone reading this does know the significance, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
And thanks again, Mash Elle!
I’m a runner, and, as is typical for most runners, I’m dealing with an injury. It’s called metatarsalgia, and it essentially means I’ve got inflammation in the base/ball of foot joint of my second toe on my right foot. It’s ok–it’s healing and I’m almost to the point where I can run again. What this boils down to in terms of fashion, though, is that I can’t wear anything remotely flip-floppy. I can’t wear anything that puts pressure on that second toe joint. This wasn’t an issue last summer–or any other summer of my life for that matter–so I currently have no sandals I can wear as I own entirely thong-type sandals. I decided to remedy this situation, and what I found surprised me. I like non-thong sandals a lot. They look much classier than thong/flip-flop style sandals. Here’s what I ordered from Zappos:
My favorites of the order. So chic, and the rose gold/nude color goes with everything. Sadly, they were sightly tight on the right foot toe area. I decided to order the next half size up, so I’ll keep you posted on how they fit. Verdict:
pending keep. *UPDATE* The 9.5 fit perfectly. Just wore them out for a day of shopping yesterday and they felt great.
I’ve got a major gripe with sandals like this. They’re cute, right? And metallic goes with everything in the summer. But check out the sole. It’s hard as a rock. It’s a totally flat board of plastic/cardboard type material. Why do they make women’s shoes like this? Are there men’s shoes like this? It’s entirely unacceptable. These are flat sandals meant to be worn everywhere, and yet they feel like walking on concrete. Verdict: return.
I was so disappointed with these sandals. Online, I like the way they look. The slight wedge/heel is very fetching, and the cut looks great. In person, the toe area is far too long and looks like a silver lip sticking out beyond my toes. Furthermore, Naturalizer as a brand prizes themselves on comfortable shoes, and yet the leather on these sandals was the stiffest of all the leather on all of the shoes I ordered. I didn’t even have to take a step in them to feel that they were uncomfortable. They cut into my feet while I was just standing in them. Verdict: return. Very return.
I loved these from the moment they hit my feet. They’re a soft, rubbery material and have a nice, cushy insole. And they’re cute. Nothing says summer like bright white, and while they won’t go with everything, they’ll look great with a lot of things. Combining these with the Lucky Brand sandals above will cover all my bases in terms of color. Verdict: keep.
I ordered these thinking that they woud make good replacement flip flops for when I want something ultra cushy that I can just slip on. They are very cushy. But sadly, as I walk they slowly slip off my feet. Maybe ladies with less narrow or taller feet than mine would have better results. They were quite nice–good craftsmanship and very soft and comfy–but they just didn’t fit me. Verdict: return.
bag – asos tassel bowler bag
Recently I went to a White Sox patio party/game. This is usually fun in terms of fashion because you get to see lots of people heading to the stadium straight from work in interesting/nice clothing. While I was admiring various outfits people had on, I noticed a lady who had a blue boxy bowler bag. It looked fantastic, and the next day I scoured the web for a similar bag. What I found was this, and I quite liked it.
ASOS tends to have nice bags, and though this wasn’t designer quality it certainly was well put together. The faux leather fabric was soft and realistic, the bag had a nice shape and good construction. I thought the scotty dog fitting was a bit much/gaudy, but it still adds a bit of charm to the bag. I didn’t quite like how big it is. you can see in the pictures above that it’s quite boxy and fat. Depending on the type of bag you’re going for, this could be a good or bad thing.
Ultimately I ended up returning it, but that’s mostly because between when I ordered it and when it arrived (which was a good 10 or so days since it came from the UK) I bought my Kate Spade Pippa. The Pippa is a really similar shape, so I decided I didn’t need two bags that were pretty much the same. That said, if I hadn’t bought the Pippa I probably would have kept this guy. I also really like it in nude and with a cute little bun fitting in adorable rose pink.
Happy Mother’s Day, everyone! I’m not a mother (and have no plans to be), so I usually just celebrate this holiday by giving my mom a call. This morning, though, we went to breakfast at our favorite local diner. They were giving out flowers to all the women to celebrate Mother’s Day, so I got this little yellow carnation. I stuck it into my bag and was struck by how great and vernal it looked, hence the photo shoot.
Also, this is my first big designer bag purchase, so I thought I should feature it in its own post. Hope you’re all having a great weekend!