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You know that old saying about the kindness of strangers?  I've been really thankful for that lately.  Starting this blog has brought some really lovely people into my life, and although I may never meet them in real life, they have inspired me and helped me in ways I never would have imagined.  I started this blog A) because my husband told me I needed a hobby, and B) because I was frustrated with the way my face and body were changing after I turned 40, and I wanted to become comfortable with and accepting of myself as I aged.  I've always prided myself on trying to be fashionably dressed, and I wanted to still be that way while dressing appropriately for my age.  I have learned so much in the last year: I realized after years of fighting it, I had to do some form of exercise, and even if I will never be a size 4 again, I need to make conscious decisions to eat a healthy diet.  Those lessons or should I say my realizations of those facts I'm thankful for, but they were things I hear everyday.  I just had to accept them which I have.  Some recent lessons though have been far more exciting.

I received a lovely email from a new reader of the blog recently.  She was very kind, thoughtful and complimentary.  Then she challenged me: "It seems like you spend a lot of money on clothes.  I don't have extra money.  It's easy for people like you to look good."  I know the part I've quoted here may not seem lovely to some of you, but it really was a kind email, and it shocked me because I say that about celebrities all the time.  Of course actress X who is the same age as me looks like she's 30, she has a personal trainer, nutritionist, chef and stylist.  I would look that good if I had her life too.  I know I don't live that life, and I know that I don't look that good, but I do have a lot of clothes.  I knew immediately that the reader is frustrated and not so much at me but at circumstances.  The reason I knew this (or maybe it's just an assumption): I've lived that life.  I've written about my life before here, but to quickly review, there was an 11 year period of my life when my annual clothing budget was around $500, and I never had more than $100 to spend on myself at any one time (and that was a rarity).  During that time, I always held management positions at a Fortune 500 company (where the rest of my money went is not on topic for this kind of blog, but I assure you it was not illicit or illegal).

How did I manage to go to work dressed professionally from my late 20s to 30s on this budget?  I narrowed my wardrobe down to four basic colors, black, white, beige and grey, shopped at stores like Target, TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Ross, and only bought basic items.  My uniform every day was trousers or a skirt, a tee shirt or blouse, a blazer and basic black pumps.  When shopping for my uniform pieces, I would always be looking for a unique cut or extra detail like contrast piping around button holes or ribbon trim.  I became a pro at sticking to my color palette and my uniform pieces while shopping clearance racks but having unique details kept my outfits fresh and made me still feel as though I was expressing style.

Back to the letter from my lovely reader.  She questioned if I could dress like "me" if I were on her budget.  In my defense, I have quite a bit more in my closet from H&M, Zara and Forever 21 than I do from Neiman's and Sak's.  On a daily basis, I mix high and low and usually have a lot more low to mid-priced items in an outfit than high, but having lived on a strict budget, I completely acknowledge that the price point of a mid-priced item from Ann Taylor can seem like a fortune.  The outfit I put together here was pulled from things already in my closet and some of them for a long time, so I had to estimate the price but here goes: Vintage Jag dress $17.00, Target jacket $19.99 and shoes $21.99, H&M bag $12.99, JewelMint rings $29.99, Brighton necklace gifted (I wouldn't have worn the Coach sunglasses in order to make my price point, but I was squinting unattractively without them.  Please pretend they aren't there).  Total for outfit $101.96.

I wrote back to my reader to ask her what a reasonable budget for an outfit would be for her.  I really wanted to give an example that was true to her world, but I have not heard back from her.

Here is where the learning something part of the story kicked in for me, and maybe I'm just stupid or naive.  There are truly a lot of people who struggle with this and they shouldn't have to.  Send me a homework assignment.  I love to do this.  The focus of this blog will still be my personal style outfits, but maybe there is another home for me to do this and I just have to pull it together.  Until then, post a comment or send an email if you want to talk about body types or party clothes.  If this post wasn't already making you yawn, I would tell you about my training in Image Styling in the 80s.  But that's a whole new post.  

Linked to Monday Mingle

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Contrasts


Blazer: DKNY
Dress: H&M
Shoes: Shoe Dazzle
Necklace: Bauble Bar
New Scent for Fall: Byredo Gypsy Water







Every outfit starts with the first piece, right?  No matter how you put your outfits together, you have to take one piece out first to build from.  I know that sometimes it's hard to even figure out the first piece, and that's what leads to the "I have nothing to wear" syndrome.  But if you can get past the first piece, you are on your way.  Sometimes the outcome is better than others.  Let's face it, even the highest paid stylists sometimes don't get it right.  If they did, why do people end up on the worst dressed lists?  I'm happy with the way this outfit came out although the journey to come up with this was convoluted and difficult.  Thank goodness the following events happened on a vacation day otherwise who knows how late I would have been to work.

I love this blazer.  Last year, it was the one piece of DKNY I made it my mission to buy.  It has leather trim, it's boucle, and it has a faint metallic thread running through it.  I eventually bought it on sale at Last Call by Neiman Marcus for a ridiculously low price which made waiting for it worth it.  I planned all summer that as soon as the temperatures fell below 80, I was going to bring it out.  We had a few cool days seen here and here, and I still never wore it.  Then I went to a luncheon and the woman I sat next to had a blazer with a fur collar on.  If she could break out the winter-wear on a 70+ day in Southern California, I could wear a boucle blazer.

In my head, I had styled this blazer for work at least five different ways, but I wanted to wear it on a day off.  I turned to a J Crew catalog for inspiration where I saw a similar blazer style with skinny pants and a denim shirt.  Looking for denim in the wardrobe, I came across this denim dress with velvet trim which I've had forever.  Perfect I thought.  Then I tried it on.  Somehow the dress had miraculously shrunken to ridiculous heights just by sitting in my closet (no, I'm not that obtuse, but it's a lot easier to delude yourself with that then the real reason it's four inches shorter than you remember it).  I stubbornly wanted to wear the dress though, so I started trying on skirts to go under it.  Nothing seemed right, so I abandoned the dress and went back to this black H&M dress which I was going to wear with the blazer originally.  Teamed with pointy-toed pumps, I felt fully dressed for work on a vacation day.  Feeling ridiculous, I decided to abandon the whole thing, put on jeans and a tee shirt and wallow in self-pity.  Instead, I pulled the denim dress on over the black dress.  The pumps suddenly didn't work, so I pulled out the pair of boots which I had only worn once before here.  I'm really happy I didn't shell out more cash on the spike trend than for these inexpensive boots.  I've also tried the tread with the shoes worn here and on a bag from Zara which I haven't used yet.

This outfit actually consists of elements that I pair often and think look good on my body type: long under short, booties with a dress, texture of any kind somewhere in the mix.  I also favor a dress over another dress if it doesn't add too much bulk.  I'm a huge fan of layering which is why I probably struggle so much with summer outfits.  It's hard to wear four layers in 100 degrees.  I liked this outfit, I felt comfortable in it, I received complements on it.  Would I wear it again?  Probably not.  I don't have a simple reason why except that I had to work really hard for this, and that takes some of the fun out of it for me.  I enjoy my style the most when it feels effort-less, and this was far from it.

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Noir


Shirt and Pants: H&M
Bag: Chanel
Shoes: Sole Society
Necklace & Bracelet: JewelMint





This is one of those disjointed, random thoughts, stream-of-consciousness posts because I have absolutely no organized thoughts in my head right now.  Isn't it amazing how sometimes you really want to do something and everything seems to work against you to do it?  How it's like there is some message that you are supposed to be getting that maybe this isn't a good move.  And then there are other times when things just click and work and go smoothly.  I'm thankful to be in that later place right now, but things are going so smoothly it's a little overwhelming.  I'm going to have to be extremely self-motivated on the work front for a while to keep things happily chugging along.

Now if the diet and exercise would only start moving along the same way...my husband will happily point out to me that I ate two Tootsie Rolls, three Dots, had two bites of pasta and one of bread stick last night thus breaking weeks of hard work eliminating sugar and white food from my diet.  In his defense, I have asked him to be the food police, yet when he was acting in that capacity, I ignored him.  In my defense, we were trick-or-treating with the family at Disneyland.  I carried an enormous bag of candy around for five hours and only had two Tootsie Rolls and three Dots.  Oh yeah, there is that frozen yogurt I had on Friday night too.  Back to the beginning again.

Linked to: Monday Mingle

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Risky



Jacket and Dress via Stitchfix
Bag: ASOS
Necklace: JewelMint





So many risky things about this outfit, where do I begin?  Okay, with the obvious: the white bag again. I have never been a big fan of white accessories.  I once upon a time had white leather boots with fringe.  In my defense, it was the 80s.  Ever since, I've cringed when looking at white bags, belts and shoes.  This year, it just seemed like something was lacking in the wardrobe, and I tried to find one, but not convinced that I would like it, I didn't want to make a huge investment.  Then the summer was gone (except in southern California where it is again in the 90s this week), and I felt like I had to have one or I would be a complete and utter failure.  I bought this ASOS bag still unconvinced, but the price was definitely right.  It arrived on a grey and rainy day, and I was so upset thinking my chance to use it was over.  I found a way to fit it into one of the Fall outfits I managed to squeak in before the weather turned again, and now I'm piecing together outfits with fall colors in light fabrics to at least pretend that we have seasons here.  The other risky moves?  I came to the realization this week that I probably shouldn't wear A-line dresses anymore.  They just aren't flattering on me with where I'm at with the figure.  I love the pattern on this one though which is saying volumes for me because I don't like patterns AT ALL.  To make the A-line less noticeable, I tried belting it here, but I actually like it with the short jacket much better.  Next time, I might try belting it and wearing a jacket.  I know, how much risk can one person take?  Look at me acting all crazy.

Linked to : Monday Mingle

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Shades of Grey


Blouse and Skirt: Forever 21
Shawl: Loft (Old but similar here)
Bag: ASOS (on SALE)
Boots: Shoe Dazzle
Necklace and Bracelet: JewelMint







This is not going to be one of those posts.  You all have dirty minds.  A keeps asking me if I've read the book, and I think I'm highly disappointing her when I tell her no.  This was the last day of cool weather.  We are spiking back up into the 90s as I type this.  At least I got in two good cool weather outfits while it lasted.  Inspired by the cool weather, I started doing some serious on-line window shopping.  I simply can't justify buying all the goodies I found, but if you want to see what I'm gazing at longingly, I've added a Wish List page to the blog.

This is my new favorite way to pull my hair back which I sported for most of the week.  It's actually a fishtail braid pulled into a messy, low bun.  It has great staying power while still having texture.  I was worried that the white bag which took me all summer to find and which just arrived would get no use.  I found a way to work it into a Fall outfit, and now I shouldn't complain too much because the warmer days will make it seem purposeful.  Thanks goes to Joseph Maria-Badia who did a lovely feature on me on his blog Sense Corbata (No tie).

Linked to Two Thirty-Five Designs
                The Molly Buckley

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Function


Sweater: H&M
Shirt: Vintage
Jeans: Topshop
Bag: Coach
Eyeshadow: Estee Lauder Blue Dahlia





It's finally cold enough to wear a sweater around here.  Only problem, it will be back in the 90's again in the next day or two.  I'm bundling up while I have the opportunity, and as I write this, we actually had torrential rain this afternoon.  I immediately wanted to come home, start a fire in the fireplace and eat soup.  Instead, I drove to a meeting, read email in my office and came home to eat a quesadilla while watching Veronica Mars.  Living the dream.  I have to admit that these shoes and this bag may not be part of my closet for much longer.  It's funny how I'm posting about things I'm getting rid of lately.  These shoes aren't worn out like the pair I wore here, but they are very awkward to walk in.  The bag suffers from awkwardness too.  It's my least favorite that I own from Coach because I lose everything in it because of the depth but narrowness of the bag.  I drop things into it and can never find them.  Functionality has become more important to me lately, and these may just have to go.  I'll keep you updated.

Linked to: What I Wore Wednesday on The Pleated Poppy

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Fashion Bloggers Weekly Round-Up

I'm honored to again be part of the Fashion Bloggers Weekly Round-Up. Please try to visit all the other links this week.


Fashion Blogger Weekly Round Up

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Trenched


Trench: H&M
Dress: Calvin Klein
Bracelet: Bauble Bar (Old but similar)
Bag: Dooney & Bourke





Quite a bit of wishful thinking went into this outfit.  We've been at or close to triple digit heat all this week with no moisture in the air.  At least it's not humid anymore.  We do have some cooler temps in the forecast, and I'm hoping that the end of this miserable time of year is in sight.  I love Southern California, but I hate the heat.  Had to say goodbye to this pair of pumps today.  I had worn through the heels again, and they are so old and a little tight, so they just aren't worth going to the shoe repair.  This gives me an excuse to be on the lookout for a new pair of pointy toe pumps.

Linked to Whatever Whenever Wednesday on Rolled Up Pretty

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