Sunday, December 27, 2015

One Plaid Skirt, Three Outfits. Plus, How to Layer Your Look!

    When looking for real estate the key aspect was "location, location, location."  In fashion one of the the most important aspects is versatility, versatility, versatility.  That gorgeous dress or stunning top is going to gather a lot of dust if you can't wear for lots of occasions or with lots of other things in your wardrobe.  
    Now, if you see something and you really love it, but don't have anything to go with it, get it anyway and then make an effort to find things to go with it. Such was the case with this plaid skirt from ThredUp. ( If you're new to ThredUp, use this link to save $20 off your first purchase.  )
    At the time I bought it, I had nothing in mind to go with it, I just loved it and knew it would be a great piece.  Sure enough, when it arrived I found lots of ways to wear it.  In this post I'll show you three looks with this skirt.
Outfit A:   
    For this first look I paired the skirt with a burgundy sweater.  Burgundy is not one of the most notable colors in the skirt, but by pairing the skirt with this sweater, it really brings out the burgundy. The sweater, even though it's a solid,  has some interesting things happening in the ruffle neckline and the buttons down the side.  The shoes are a neutral black and the purse, though neutral as well, is a novelty purse, so very interesting all on its own.  A sweater and a wool skirt are cold weather items, so I wanted to demonstrate the way to winterize this look without losing any of its appeal. 
 Let's Start Layering!
     Adding layer upon shapeless layer can mean ending up with a very bulky, buried look.  But, layering an outfit doesn't have to mean losing the shape or compromising style.  It simply means looking for items that have a shape or visual appeal to be that top layer.  While this skirt was in my cart I kept browsing on ThredUp and I stumbled onto this great gray ruffled jacket.  I knew they were a perfect match.
    A regular gray jacket like a pea-coat would have detracted from the overall look of this outfit.  But, with a fitted waist and peplum, the outfit still has great shape.  And, the ruffle and bow at the shoulders give this jacket a very classic feel.  This gray jacket is anything but boring and it brings so much to the completed look.  To this, of course, I added black tights for warmth, and though I kept my heels, ankle high booties would have made this even cozier for those long walks home from the train station.

Outfit B:
    Since the colors for Outfit A were all fairly dark, I decided to use something brighter for this outfit.  I chose my orchid cardigan by Mak to bring out the bright purple cross hash on the skirt and then went with neutral white and black for the blouse and heels so that the eye isn't overwhelmed with color.  A little goes a long way with this shade.  The black bow at the neckline of the shirt also helps to break up all the solids on top.

Outfit C:
    The temptation for me when it comes to casual wear is to go so low key that it's boring.  If it's possible to overboard on neutrals (and, yes it is possible) then this is the time when I do it.  So, my solution is to limit the number of neutrals that can be a part of my outfit.  My rule is that there cannot be more neutrals than colors in an outfit.  So, if my outfit consists of just three things like shirt, pants, shoes, only one of them can be neutral.  If it consists of four items, like this one, then only two things can be neutral and that second thing should be something small like flats, not two big things like neutral shirt and neutral skirt.  Even a great skirt like this can look plain with too many black or gray items surrounding it.

I hope this post has inspired you and feel free to post your layering pics in the comments section or send them to me through the contact page and I may use them in a future post!

Shop the Look:
H&M Plaid Skirt, Forever 21 Gray Jacket, Merona Gray Sweater, all purchased from 
Delia's Burgundy Sweater, Forever 21 White Chiffon Blouse, Black Soda Flats purchased from Ebay 
Purple Cardigan, Black Tights, Black Heels from
Jewelry is handmade by me

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Beda Dress: ootd

    As I mentioned in last week's post, has seemed to suddenly have almost all the anthropologie dresses that I've been drooling over on other resale sites for the last two years.  The big difference is that ThredUp had them all for $25 or less instead of $70-$100 like the other sites.  
    So, this is the second of four Anthro dresses purchased there in early December and its bright cheery green seemed in keeping with the Christmas season.  If you're new to ThredUp, use this link to save $20 off your first purchase  (
     Titled the "Beda dress by Maeve" it originally sold for $118.  It's bright emerald color makes it feel more appropriate for spring, but since the cotton has a bit of weight to it, with some tights and a cardi I'm making it work for winter wear.   
    Since this is my last post before the big day, I want to take a moment to thank you for reading my blog and sharing in the love of fashion with me over the last year.  I wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a blessed and happy New Year!

Shop the Look:
Dress from ThredUp
The Zest is History Heels from ModCloth
Locket Earrings from ModCloth 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

White Christmas: gift ideas

I haven't seen a snow-covered Christmas morning in many years, and it looks as though this year will be the same.  But, that doesn't mean it can't be a white Christmas.  In the spirit of keeping my holiday posts light and simple, here is a quick collection of ethereal alabaster pics from my favorite Etsy shops:

1.  'A Dream Lighter Than A Cloud' Silk Tunic
2.  White Horse Art Print
3.  Edible Oyster Shell Chocolates
4.  Cast Iron Mermaid Dish
5.  Edible Chocolate Seashells
6.  'Was It a Dream' Beach Print
7.  Ivory Wedding Corset

8.  Bedtime Pillow Cover
9.  Custom Neutral Bridesmaids Dresses
10.  Natural Solid Perfume Vanilla & Jasmine
11.  Cardinal on Snowy Branches Print
12.  White Linen Tea Dress
13.  New York Art Print
14.  Edible Sand Dollar Chocolates

Friday, December 18, 2015

Asbury Park in Bloom: ootd

    As a hobby felt-er I often admire the work of others, especially that found at SugarSnapBoutique (shown above).  Her delightful arrangements have inspired me to finally branch out from cakes and tarts to flower arrangements.  Last week I sat down one evening and started work on a flower or two just to try my hand at it.  After about two hours I had a complete basket arrangement and was eager to complete another.   My second arrangement is featured with today's outfit photos.  
     I know felt flowers and fashion seem unrelated, but for this post, they are closely intertwined.  After months of admiring this Asbury Park dress by HD in Paris, I finally bought one.  I held off on buying one for so long, because it was too expensive.  For some reason this month ThredUp has been inundated with Anthropologie dresses and I managed to score this dress for about $25.  
    Compared to its original price of $158 and its Ebay price of $35-$85, you can see why ThredUp is my favorite online thrift shop.  (If you're new to ThredUp, use this link to sign up and save $20 off your first order.
    When thinking of how I wanted to accessorize this dress, I wanted to do something different than a cardigan or a great purse, which is why I decided to sit down and try to create some flowers.  While not wanting to copy someone else's work, I felt it was important to look at many talented artists work to get a feel for floral composition and that is how I discovered SugarSnapBoutique
    I have enjoyed this endeavor so much, I think I'll work on a few floral hair wreaths next for some upcoming outfits.  For now, this sunny yellow dress and this basket of poppies have turned my thoughts away from the blustery storm out my window and on to the warm days of springtime ahead.
     As far as the dress goes, I'm sorry to say I don't have a glowing review.  The fabric is thin, the criss-cross on the bust is unique but awkward, and the cut isn't terribly flattering.  The sizing is a little hard to figure out since the bust runs small, but the rest runs big.  The color is cheery to the point of being borderline obnoxious.  I wish I could love this dress, but my feelings are only lukewarm.  I do however take great comfort in the fact that I only spent $25 and not the $80-$158 I would have paid else where.  So, thank you ThredUp for saving me from buyer's remorse. 

Shop the Look:
 Asbury Park by HD in Paris dress is from ThredUp
Shoes are from ModCloth
Jewelry is vintage and handmade 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Plaid Santa: ootd

    I wish I'd had this outfit in time for Thanksgiving, but shipping times made that impossible.  It will just have to be a rustic kind of Christmas style.  This outfit all started with the sweater.  I'd been looking for a nice long vintage wool skirt, but with all the options out there, I just couldn't decide.  Plus the prices for great vintage skirts can be about as much as new wool skirts, so that search was stalled.  Then I came across this sweater on a resale site and suddenly I knew exactly what kind of skirt to search for, something with plenty of autumn spice colors.
    Even though this sweater is a solid, it has so many great details.  The lace neckline, belted waist, and my favorite part the buttons scattered along the shoulder and sleeves made this top a must have. Since the top had these embellishments, I didn't feel that it was necessary to add much jewelry.  A necklace, for example, or dangle earrings would have taken attention away from the sweater.
    I chose this skirt because it shares the brown color palette, but no shade exactly matches the sweater.  The same goes for the heels, they're in the same palette, but don't exactly match the brown in the skirt.  Remember that using lots of matching colors has no visual interest.  The goal is to create something harmonious not boring.  Using related colors, similar to the ombre method I've been posting about lately, creates something very interesting to the eye.    
    As far as interesting goes, this skirt has it all.  Not only is this a gorgeous pattern, I love the fact that this is a full skirt and comes just below my knees which makes it great for winter wear with tights and flats or even boots.  However, long skirts aren't a necessity for colder months.  In my next plaid skirt post, I'll be winterizing the opposite of this skirt, a mini wool pencil skirt. 

Shop the Look:
Sweater is second hand Anthropologie
Skirt is second hand ModCloth Simple Math by Pink Martini
Heels are from ModCloth
Earrings are from ModCloth
Ring is Handmade by me

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Cardinals in the Snow

Photos from Left to Right are by NatureIsArt  LilyShihPhoto  &  PhotographyWithChris
      Just a short post for today.  I know the classic color combinations for winter are red and green or silver and gold, but whenever I see pale blue and red I instantly think of cardinals in the snow.  Something about that dash of red against the chilly landscape cheers my heart every time.  When I bought this dress, my intention was to take it apart and make something else out of it.  But as soon as it arrived I couldn't help but think that this pale winter sky blue with its snowflake eyelet would look just lovely with with a warm red sweater and a cozy wrap.

Shop the Look:
Cardigan is from ModCloth
Dress is from TopShop
Wrap is from Ebay
Heels are by Nine West

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Fair Isle of Ugly Sweaters: ootd

    In Japan they use the term "kimo-kawaii" for anything that is both creepy and cute.  But, to be honest everything I've seen labeled as kimo-kawaii is really just creepy.  I've had this term on my mind lately while experimenting with my latest fashion endeavor; Fair Isle sweaters.  
    Tis the season for ugly sweaters and Fair Isle is the technique that makes them with a little style.  For the longest time when I thought of Fair Isle sweaters I instantly went back to memories of 80s holidays and my rich, snotty cousins always wearing them, so I've always hated them, (the sweaters, not the cousins).  But, now that they've come back around and gained popularity again, I decided to put my past bias aside and give one a try.  
    I searched long and hard for an inexpensive piece and finally found this cream pullover for $15.  The conclusion of this little experiment is that I kinda really like my ugly-cute sweater.  I wonder how I say that in Japanese :)

Shop the Look:
 Forever 21 Fair Isle Sweater
Size Small New With Tags for $15 + $5.50 sh
Size Small New Without Tags $20 + $3.99 sh

Earrings and Tights are from ModCloth

Skirt is by Meadow Rue from Anthropologie.  Here are a few on the resale sites
Size 6 Pre-owned $45 + $3.99sh
Size 4 Pre-owned $14.99 + $5.75
Size 4 Pre-owned $29.99 + $5.95
Size 2 NWOT $64.95 + $3.75 sh

Monday, December 7, 2015

Scarving Artist

    I've heard it more than once, "I'm just not a scarf person."  It always makes me pull a face and ask, "why not?"  No one seems to have a good reason; they just think it's not for them.  If you're one of these folks, I implore you to reconsider.  A good scarf can not only bring an outfit together, it can bring a whole lot of outfits together.
    It's true that I'm biased.  I love scarves.  I have way too many, but they all make it off the rack at least once a year, so I tell myself I don't have a problem.  I love scarves because they're usually quite inexpensive and can add a lot of visual interest to an outfit (and they keep my neck warm).  Choosing a scarf shouldn't be a hassle; if it's never been your thing, but you're looking to try something new I have a little advice to help.
    First of all, it should be beautiful.  When you look at it on the rack you should have a "wow" reaction.  And it doesn't really matter so much if you have anything that matches it right now.  The second thing is that a great scarf should go with lots of outfits.  My most worn scarves have a great pattern with lots of colors.  Another thing to consider is the season.  Scarves are more common in winter, so that's the best time to experiment.  Lastly, start small on this investment. 
    When it comes to solid color scarves I usually go right to ebay and type in Scarf and dozens of inexpensive options come up.  My fave places to go for printed scarves are Target and Charlotte Russe.  I don't usually pay more than $5-$10 for a scarf and these stores usually run good sales on scarves around October or November and again in the spring.
    Unfortunately this year, these shops didn't  really have anything that caught my eye, so I'm left drooling over these pricier wraps and waiting for their spring sales.

My favorite scarf picks this season are first and foremost from

Ibaraki Scarf $138
Shefali Square Scarf $98
Manali Scarf $148
ModCloth's pretty prints

One Pine Day Circle Scarf $24.99
Prettiest Girl in the Plume Scarf $24.99

Outfox the Eye Scarf $49.99

Gorgeous wraps from Asos

Johnstons Oversized Merino $105
Blank Tassel Detail Oversized Scarf $81

Asos Oversized Square Scarf in 70s Check $33

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Dec-ombre Shades of Green

    I think I've decided to officially make this a theme month, Dec-ombre.  Since last week's post about creating ombre outfits only dealt with purple, I felt compelled to do one more outfit in a different color and using only items I already owned.  No shopping for that perfect thing to make it complete.  With December here, it felt only right to use a festive color like green, and the dropping temperatures make it the perfect time to experiment with layering so I can keep wearing my cotton dresses through the winter.

Shop the Look:

Cue the Cute Tights from ModCloth
Ombre green scarf is old
With Haute a Doubt Heels by Qupid from ModCloth
All jewelry is handmade by me
Black Bow Belt is vintage

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Travel: Snow Monkeys

    This trip was at the top of our list and while we missed it our first year here, we didn't want to put it off to the end, so it became top priority for 2015 travels.  It was a looooooong day.  We woke up at 3:45 a.m.  to make breakfast (thanks to food allergies we have to pack most of our food to take along with us) and get everyone ready to catch the bus at 4:45 a.m.
    Our first stop was to Matsumoto Castle.  Shoes of course are not allowed inside the castle but socks are and complimentary slippers are available.  It was an even split on those of us who took slippers and those who thought that sharing slippers with thousands of strangers was kind of gross.  It was so early in the morning that although we kept our socks on our feet were frozen stiff as we walked up each narrow stairway to the top.  At one point we started sharing slippers just for those who hadn't taken them to have a few minutes of...I won't say warmth, but of slightly less cold.
    The castle is amazing and on this cold clear morning with the snowy mountains framed behind it we could imagine ourselves back in that long past feudal age.

After lunch it was time to put on our snow suits and hiking boots for the long uphill walk to the natural hot springs where the snow monkeys lounge. Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park is in the Nagano prefecture, a day trip from Tokyo.  Jigokudani roughly translates to "Hell Valley," due to the numerous hot springs in the area, and receives thousands, possibly tens of thousands of visitors each year.
With so many visitors the snow on the trail was tightly packed into a solid, icy sheet.  It was a slow, slippery climb to the top.  We frequently had to pause to let others come down.  Eventually we left the path to hike in the ditch where the snow was still crunchy.  We knew we had reached our destination when a small monkey darted across our path.  There are no fences separating viewers from the animals they've come to see, only a few park employees scattered about to enforce the rules.  And of course, if someone gets out of line, the monkeys aren't shy about defending themselves.  We saw one little girl  chase a baby monkey only to find herself being chased by an angry mother monkey. 
For the most part, the monkeys just soak in the warm water and occasionally groom each other, so after an hour or so it was time to head back down the trail.  It was a very long but very wonderful day and worth braving the cold and the slippery slope which we found out was even more treacherous on the way down.  Our day finally ended at about 10:00p.m. with memories made and a nice warm bed feeling better than ever.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Seapanes: Dress Review & ootd

    Oh, how I loved this dress when I saw it on Anthropologie's site.  How patiently I waited for the day it would go on sale.  That day finally came and of course my size sold out.  But this dress popped up on a resale site for the same as it would have been on sale, so I bought it as part of my blue dress buying spree in October.  
    While it is a lovely dress, I'm actually pretty disappointed in several key features.  The dress has a slip sewn into it, which creates an odd, puckering fold at the waist.  This would have been easy to avoid this by simply having the slip be a separate piece.  The other glaring flaw is that this same slip does not go over the bra line at the back, so the bra shows through unless you want to add yet another layer.  
    I can't see myself wearing this dress much without some modifications.  I'm still thinking about how to fix these flaws, or if it's even possible.  I'll keep you posted.  In the mean time, if you happen to come across this dress on a resale site or market place like Ebay, I would not recommend paying much for it even in new condition.  This is an instance of a really cool design that was poorly executed and over priced.

© Bleu Avenue. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.