Monday, June 29, 2015

Up and Away: ootd

Perhaps the obvious choice for a title, but I am loving this balloon purse by Sleepyville Critters.  True it's not big enough to hold much more than my wallet and phone, but it is such a great accessory.  Also, I need to mention that this dress by Geode is currently 50% off at ModCloth.com

This dress is slightly roomy in the bodice, but nothing too serious.  On the pros side of the dress, it has lovely details and color and is very easy to dress up or down.  Overall, I highly recommend it.  These shoes are also on sale at ModCloth right now.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Par Avion: ootd

    Not a new dress, but a new style.  This dress by Fervour was my first ModCloth purchase and still my favorite after two years.  I usually wear it as-is or with a pale pink cardigan, but I had a notion that this little beauty might look even sharper with a blazer and a crossbody purse.  I can't over sell the need for a blazer or two in one's wardrobe.  Cardigans are wonderful, but they'll never give you the shape or polish that a good blazer will.
























Shop the Look:
For these hairstyles  I used Kayley Melissa's tutorials

Par Avion Dress by Fervour

 Academia Ahoy Blazer by Sunny Girl at ModCloth



From the Round Up Cross Body Purse by Nila Anthony at ModCloth

Stacked Ring trio made by me.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Oh, My, Oh, Myra

    This is the Myra dress by Esley and it's available at ShopRuche.com  It's a soft cotton and falls just above my knees, so those are two pros if you're looking to buy this little beauty and overall, I'd recommend it.  It's also worth noting that new members at ShopRuche get 20% off their first order.
    I really like ShopRuche.  Their prices are really good and usually they charge less than places like ModCloth for the exact same dress.  Their sales are also pretty good and their coupons are constant.

    I happen to fall outside the range of S-M-L, so my options on shops that carry my size can be limited.   When I saw this Myra Embroidered dress was 25% off of the regular price, I decided to buy it even though it didn't come in my size.  It was a good price, there's always a chance I can tailor it and if not, I can return it.

     I don't shy away from a little tailoring, and I encourage everyone to be bold in that regard.  A few darts in the back can fix the top and a new seam down the side can fix the waist.  
 
    Dresses that go lower than my knees really aren't flattering for my height, so I always take up the hems of longer dresses.  Sometimes, you have to work with a piece to make it just right.  And, it's worth the extra effort, especially if you really love it.

And I do love this dress, so I ordered it in a bigger size and I'll just make a few adjustments to make it my own. 



Shop the Look:
Myra Embroidered Dress at ShopRuche.com 
Qupid Heels
Kling Purse
Earrings & necklace, and rings are made by me.





Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Artist Spotlight: Debra Poth with Deebs

Today my featured artist is Debra Poth of Deebs.etsy.com   Debra creates beautiful "paintings" without any paint.  Instead she uses wool fibers to bring to life her portraits and landscapes of nature.  I am so excited to be able to share her work.

Bleu Avenue: Hello, Debra, thank you so much for joining me today.   You say that art was a way of entertaining yourself as a child. Are you self-taught in the many mediums you use?

Deebs:  Thank you Leandra for the interest in my work and for the interview.  My only background in art as a study was in high school. I am self taught in many mediums and am an avid cross stitcher and needlepointer. I do embroidery, counted needlepoint and other forms of stitchery. My love of fiber and threads lead me to needlefelting, and I was hooked from the start. That was about 8 years ago when I taught myself. I had seen some needlefelted animals being produced by others, but I was more interested in the 2D form. I have collected books on different art forms, and love the magazines as well.

B:  You create these beautiful portraits and landscapes out of wool. When you began working with wool fibers, was that where you intended to take it or did these paintings come about as part of a progression?

D:  Some of my creations come from photographs, and I use at least part of a photograph for inspiration. I've been known to start a felting thinking I'm going to make a seascape, but it ends up being better as a landscape! I start with a background and let it take me where it wants. An artistic license lets me do whatever I want or feel, and that's OK. Sometimes I will have a newly purchased batt of wool and I start something because I want to use that color or texture. Then I figure what would look good on top of that background. I do many pieces just out of my head. When I first started I was worried I would run out of ideas. But now years later I have done over 700 pieces!

B:  Wow!  You know you've found your passion when you just keep getting inspired.  What themes do you pursue and what emotions do you most want to convey with your work?

D:  My love of the natural outdoors is my favorite theme to work. I've never been a portrait artist, so the seascapes and underwater scenes are fun for me. I love the streams, rivers and lakes I suppose because my husband has always been an avid fisherman and our house is full of those things. I love doing birds for whatever reason...doesn't really matter, they just make it fun, especially the chickadees. I love flowers as well and I have a big garden of them every year that I tend to. I like the emotion of tranquility and peace and just an overall feeling of 'sweetness' in my art. 

B:  That definitely comes across, your paintings feel so serene.  You live in the Pacific Northwest, how does that influence your designs and do you think the overall look of your work would be different if you lived somewhere completely different? 

D:  The Pacific Northwest has always been my home. I've always lived in the burbs or the country and love it. Washington State has so many different areas to visit. The west side is ocean and rainforests, islands and mountains. Then the valleys where we live, then more mountains before going to the arid dryness of eastern Washington. Totally different looks from one part of the state to the other. A little bit of everything here. If I lived elsewhere I'm pretty sure my art would take on that scene as well. Especially in the southwestern rocky areas. But my love is the trees, birds, and rivers.

B:  What is the most memorable response you've had to your work?

D:  I've had many compliments from people that have purchased my work on Etsy, and it has worked out well for me. My husband and I have a business that we tend to, so my time for selling is very limited. Etsy has provided my with a way to share and sell my work. I don't do fairs and such at this time because of the time it takes to do those things. I also have donated several pieces to fundraisers, and have given many items as gifts. Those gifts provide some of the best compliments. I had one lady who purchased a felting for her mother for her birthday, and she wrote me and told me how happy her mom was to receive the gift. That makes me happy, when people are happy with my work. That makes my day....and why I still produce my art. It has become my love, my relaxation.

 That is the very best kind of pursuit.  Thank you so much for talking with me.


Find Debra's art at www.deebs.etsy.com 
or at http://www.flickr.com/photos/DeebsFiberArts/

Sunday, June 21, 2015

On a Barrel Roll: ootd

    I finally managed to purchase this dress by Bea & Dot.  I've been interested for a while, but not enough to make a move.  Then it went on sale...and sold out.  Then one came back in stock in my size...and sold out again.  The next time one came in stock, I bought it.   Sooooo, after months of watching and waiting, it's finally mine, and I kind of wish I hadn't waited so long.  I love the color and the print isn't overwhelming like I thought it might be.  The strongest strike against it was all the reviews that complained of a tight fit.  By the time I bought it, it was a final sale, so if it didn't work, I was stuck with it.   But, never fear, this dress is a great fit for a small chested girl like me.  It is snug, but I kind of like that.  Maybe now I can bend over without having to hold my hand against my dress to prevent the peep show that inevitably happens if I don't.

     My first idea for this dress was a simple orange grosgrain ribbon as a belt and a muted orange purse.   They don't exactly match, but too much matching is kind of boring anyway.  For jewelry I opted for pearl earrings and necklace, and though you can barely see it, my favorite carnelian cameo ring that I made a few years ago.

    I really can't sing the praises of cameos enough.  Yes, I do own roughly one bazillion and I made most of them myself.   There is something so classic about them, I'll wear them with anything. 
    I also tried this darling envelope purse by Kling with this outfit, and while it goes great with the blue, in the end, I preferred the orange bag with the orange belt.  Still, I am really happy with this purse.  I haven't had the chance to put it to the wear and tear test, but I love the design.  Plus, the strap is removable so it can be a shoulder bag or clutch. 

It's available at ModCloth for $49.99 or at Unique-Vintage for $48.00






 Shop the Look:
Dress by Bea & Dot from ModCloth
Heels (old) are by Nine West
Pearl Earrings are from Walmart Jewelry Counter
Ribbon Belt available at craft stores
Lipstick is Cover Girl 307 Seduce

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Too Much Fun in Airplanes: Dress Review

    I should really title these posts "ootw" (outfit of the week ) since I don't do them daily.  Let me start my post with the dress review and it is this: Don't Buy It.  It's currently still retailing for $89.99 and is no where near being worth that much.  I purchased it on Ebay from a seller who said she'd only worn it once.  Yet when it arrived there were places all over the dress where the dye had bled.  It was especially noticeable under the arms and around the belt where she had evidently been sweating.  I need to point out here that I contacted the seller right away and she immediately apologized for not noticing the marks and offered me a full refund if I returned the dress.
 
    I went to ModCloth and looked at the reviews for the dress and basically everyone who had a problem with it said the same thing, the dye runs when you wear it.  So, I contacted customer service and told them the problem.  They instructed me to wash the dress in cold water with a detergent made for dark colors.  Now I had to decide whether to return it, since I never would have paid even $30 for it had I know about the dye stains, or, try to save it since it is one of the rare dresses by Emily and Fin that actually comes in my size.  I decided to try washing it and it worked pretty well.  The worst stains are very faint and the rest aren't visible anymore.  I'd like to applaud ModCloth for the great customer service, I only wish they'd do a little better job with quality control on their dresses before slapping a $100 price tag on them.



For this dutch braid crown, I used Kayley Melissa's Tutorial on Youtube.com

Summer Strawberries & Cream: ootd


    Ah, June.  Summer is here and we're already enjoying a few ripe strawberries from the vine.  Almost time to bring out the blankets and baskets and go out picnicking.  It also means it's time to dust off those airy white dresses and find as many ways and opportunities to wear them before summer ends and they go back on the shelf.


    I love to buy basic pieces and then see how many different combinations I can create.  This Ivoire dress by Tracy Reese is one of my all time favorites.  I want it to get as much wear as possible, so I'm always looking for new combinations.
    I love the way a cropped denim jacket can make a dressy dress (which this certainly is) look more casual.  So, I had an idea to put this dress with my denim jacket, some red canvas wedges, and a strawberry woven purse.  I started searching for the right shoes and purse, but before I bought any of them, I made a quick collage of everything to see if I liked the look.  This is the combo I landed on:


    I tried different purses and shoes in this collage until I found exactly the right formula and then I purchased.  Unfortunately, since the purse was a resale item, the seller took my money and then never shipped the item.  Not to worry, I did receive a full refund from the resale marketplace, but since this purse was so important to the look, I was kind of stuck.  

    I decided to press on with my idea and make my own version of the purse.  I purchased a simple basket for less than a dollar and using the photo of the purse as my guide, I made the strawberry scene out of felt.  
    I sewed all the felt and then glued it to the basket along with a strip of red felt to the handle with high-temp hot glue.  

    So, I didn't get the cute, funky purse, but I do have a great basket for berry or flower picking and all for about $2 and one hour of my time.  And I still put together the outfit I was dreaming of.

My chunky cameo ring is from this trio set that I sold in my Etsy shop:  BlueSunEmporium.etsy.com

I'd love to see your do-it-yourself accessories!  Send them to me and I may use them in a future post.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Style to Admire: Sarah Clark

I'd like to introduce a new feature to my blog called Style to Admire.  In this section I'll intereview fellow fashionistas about their personal style.

For this first article, I'm so excited to chat with Sarah Clark of Sweaterandapen.com 
I like Sarah's style because it has a very classic feel with a modern edge, and her outdoor photos are stunning.
  
Bleu Avenue:  Hi Sarah, thanks for talking with me.  Tell us how you became interested in fashion?
 
Sarah Clark:  For a long time, I wasn’t interested in fashion at all. I was a t-shirt and jeans type of girl. Truthfully it was laziness on my part. I already had to get up at 5:30 every morning to catch the bus and I didn’t need another reason to get up even earlier. So, I just slipped on whatever was clean and comfortable. I think maybe I was in eighth or ninth grade when I finally started to pay more attention to clothes. Most days I still stuck to my casual jeans and tee but I started to dress it up a bit with a few accessories. 
     
    It’s funny, for years and years I absolutely hated the color pink. It was way too girly for me. Hah! Now, light pink is one of my favorite colors. My wardrobe is basically skirts and dresses—such the contrast to my closet in elementary and middle school. 
    Also, I think another way I became interested in fashion was through my art. When I was a little girl, I would always draw little mannequins and then later dress them in beautiful wedding gowns. A little girl always dreams of her wedding you see, and I wanted to design my own wedding dress. I still have some of the drawings somewhere in my attic. As I grew older, I started to draw other clothes, such as sundresses and blouses. I think it would be fun to be a designer. I’ve attempted actually sewing clothes myself—I got a sewing machine this Christmas—but I have yet to create anything that I would be proud to wear.
 
B: I wholeheartedly encourage you to use that sewing machine.  My daughters have started bringing their fashion drawings to life that way.  I never got the hang of it, but they've taken to it like ducks to water, so they're currently teaching me to use it.  
You are also a photographer.  Has the marriage of these two interests helped you to hone your skills?
 
SC: Yes, I am a photographer! Honestly, I never really considered fashion and photography together. My parents are photographers and they are the ones that kindly photograph my outfits for the blog.

B:  Your photos are so lovely.  Who are your style icons and/or what are your favorite places to shop?
 
SC: Ooooh! I’m so glad you asked that question! I am a major thrifter. One of the main thrift stores that I shop at is my local Plato’s Closet. If you bring in top brand clothes in good condition, they will go through them and possibly purchase some from you. They pay—in cash—a certain percentage of what they will sell that item for so that they can make a profit. I have been able to do this countless times and then use that money to purchase new outfits. They have great deals. 
 
    Another store that I completely love is ModCloth. I have more than a thousand items on my wishlist from there but I have yet to purchase one. I’m sure then when I finally do, I will love it. I have several style icons that have inspired some of my outfits. I have been following Rebecca from The Clothes Horse for awhile now and she was one of the main reasons that I decided to start my blog. Our style’s are somewhat similar and we’ve chatted a little bit through email about blogging. She is so sweet :) Another is Susanne Waglen. I adore her style and the girly vibe about all her outfits. The fact that her entire wardrobe is made up of all pastel colors makes it seem like they all come straight out of a fairytale.



B:  Ahhhh, pastels, you're so right about them.  I wish they loved me as much as I love them, but most of the time I just can't pull them off.  
   On the subject of styles where the feeling isn't mutual, I remember when everyone was wearing those ultra-low rise jeans and they looked terrible on me.  I hated them (or rather I hated my body when I was in them) so much that I switched to buying boys jeans until that trend was over.  Are there any past fashion fads you really regret being a part of, or current trends you wish would go away?

SC:  I know that skinny jeans have been in style for quite some time now. I wear them myself and couldn’t imagine wearing any other type of pants. I’m not sure when this fad will end or how we will look back on it—with embarrassment or not—but I know that everyone loves them nowadays. Okay, now a trend that I am not very fond of… I think one is probably overalls. I’m not sure what all the craze is about but I just don’t see it. But that’s not to say that it doesn’t look good on some people. Another blogger that I follow can pull them off magnificently. I think it’s all about your personal style and what best suits you.
B:  When I was younger I could never find clothes that fit me well.  I also loved a certain style that is all wrong for my shape, and even today I hate doing my hair.  So, I've had to learn (and am still learning) to overcome a few things before I could really find my way.  Are there any areas like this in which you struggle?  Any advice for women in the same boat?

SC:  I struggle a lot to find clothes that fit me, especially pants and shorts. Skinny jeans always look great around my calves, but always seem to be too tight around my thighs. Ugh! It’s frustrating. Also, there are some shorts that I would love to wear but no matter how I try them on, they don’t look good on me. Have you ever picked up something off the rack and thought, ‘This is so cute! And it’s totally my style! Eek! I must try it on.’ ? So you try it on and then—oh. It doesn’t look quite how you pictured it in your head. I cannot count how many times this has happened to me. And no matter how adorable the short or skirt or blouse or dress is, I just can’t bring myself to buy something that doesn’t look absolutely amazing on me. 
    At first, I used to get so irritated because of this, but now I’ve come to realize that maybe it’s a good thing. Instead of having an overflowing wardrobe of tons of clothes that look meh, okay, on me, I have tons of clothes that make me look amazing! It will take you awhile to find out what best suits you and your body type, but when you do, you will feel so much better knowing what you’re looking for. For example, I recently learned that high-waisted shorts flatter me much more than normal ones do. And so with that information, I always keep my eye out for high-waisted shorts when I am shopping now. 

    And my advice is this: be yourself. And surround yourself with honest friends and family. You don’t know how good it feels to have an honest opinion about your hair or outfit or makeup. You don’t want someone who tears you down, no not at all, but you need someone who you can ask whether your hair looks better up or down. They shouldn’t be afraid to be honest. And you have to take the criticism with the praise. One time, I was wearing an outfit that I was so excited to wear out that night and I asked my dad his opinion on it. He said he liked it but he didn’t think the shorts that I was wearing looked good with the rest of it. I didn’t have another pair of shorts that matched and so I changed into an entirely different outfit. At first his opinion was unwelcome—even though I had asked for it—but then I accepted it and I’m glad that I did change. 

    And also, my last piece of advice is for a day out shopping. Girls, when you try on a new dress in the changing room and look at yourself in the mirror, if you are not absolutely head over heels in love with the way it looks on you… don’t get it. I have learned this through piles and piles of unworn clothes tucked away in the back of my wardrobe collecting dust. 

B:  That is some of the best advice I've heard.  Thank you so much for sharing that with us.

You can also find Sarah's work at http://sarahamber.com/ and check out her style gallery on ModCloth.com

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Connect the Dotted Dress

Connect the Dotted Dress from ModCloth for $69.99 in sizes XS-XXL.  Originally from and also available at DownEastBasics for $44.99

I thought I'd try something a little different with this coral and polka dot dress, but the results were mixed.  The dress arrived with what looked like an ink spot surrounded by a glue spot.  I tried it on to see if it fit so I could exchange it and the waist was so snug I could barely wiggle it over my chest.  However the chest was so big it looked like a circus tent.  So, this may just be the first time I've ever just given up on a ModCloth dress and I'm thinking of heading out to the post office today to send it back.










While I was trying to make up my mind, I did try a few different looks and here are the results:


On the plus side of this little experiment, I also ordered these cute flats by Rocket Dog and they are officially the most comfortable shoes I own.  They'll get their true test today as I walk about 3 miles to the post office and a party, but I have very high hopes.

My Stroll Mate flats Available at ModCloth for $24.99