Fall Feelings in Warm Weather

It almost feels almost like fall in this Banana Republic burgundy windowpane plaid skirt with Madewell radio tee and INC International Concepts boots.
It may be September, but that doesn’t mean that sweater weather has set in.

Officially, fall begins with with the fall equinox. According to the people who decorate the stores, the seasons of changing leaves begins September first, even if no one tells mother nature. As a Southern California native, I’m used to the possibility of summer weather through October. Here in Seattle, however, the fall feeling is (intermittently) in the air, and I’m already pulling out my (limited selection of) fall pieces. As a result, I wanted to quickly share this outfit with you. Here’s an easy idea for to embracing fall pieces without overheating.

Here’s the easy trick to dressing like it’s fall when the weather doesn’t quite agree: bring in the colors and textures of the new season without the warmth or layers.

To get in the spirit of autumn without melting, I opted to pair this Banana Republic skirt (a favorite from fall 2015) with my black Madewell radio tee. I added my INC International Concepts black booties, whose gold heels coordinate well with the gold zip on the skirt. I finished things off with my Fitbit Charge HR (of course), gold studs, and this gold and green pendant necklace from my great grandmother. You could throw a cropped jacked on top if the temperatures did dip after all. For sunny days, ice tea is the only thing missing from this outfit!

Get that fall feeling with this Banana Republic burgundy windowpane plaid skirt with Madewell radio tee and INC International Concepts boots.
This skirt updates the classic A-line silhouette with pleats and pockets.

You’ve seen this tee before, paired with jeans. Similarly, these black leather boots are a staple in my closet that I’ve also paired with cuffed jeans and with tights. With its high quality construction, this Banana Republic skirt is a wardrobe staple. The fabric is a beautiful weight, with a full lining. Best of all, this skirt has pockets!

 

What item are you most excited to pull out for fall? Share below!

When people tell you how incredible you are, believe them. 

– Casey

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How to Balance Black Leather

Banana Republic top, Abercrombie faux leather mini skirt, and Hinge Drea peep toe leather sandals from Nordstrom.
This black on black leather look could have gone biker chick rather than casual chic, but it’s all about balance.

As my birthday approaches each year, I start to reflect on my life thus far and the year to come. This year, even as I chase my goals, I need to simultaneously slow down and enjoy being in my early twenties. It’s so easy to keep worrying about the next steps and forget to enjoy the now. So when I spotted this faux leather mini on the sale rack at Abercrombie (and it fit at the natural waist with an A-line shape), I figured now was the time to rock a piece like this!

I know that when you hear Abercrombie, you probably think of brightly-colored, branded t-shirts. They still have some of those shirts, but they also have some great pieces, like this satin bomber in black or burgundy. They have also introduced petite and tall sizes online! I’ve actually found enough worth looking at lately to add the store back into my online rotation. If you want to avoid shipping costs, you can pick up online orders in store (and immediately make a return if it doesn’t work out).

Skirt

This fully lined, faux leather mini includes a functional full-length zipper up the front. (That could be helpful if you’re currently rocking a bootie of the medical variety). A tab snaps on either side of the zipper, so I’m not worried about accidental unzipping. I was a little worried about the length, so I put a small pair of shorts on underneath. The waist also comes down to a slight point on either side, which is an interesting touch.

Banana Republic top, Abercrombie faux leather mini skirt, and Hinge Drea peep toe leather sandals from Nordstrom.
It’s texture rather than color that really makes this look.

Top

I told you that this staple piece would be making a reappearance! In addition to sitting well under a blazer, this Banana Republic favorite looks great on its own. As I mentioned previously, I never found it online, but if you find a similar piece, let me know! (I’ll buy three more.) I like the simple, flowy top to counteract the leather skirt and add balance. With the black top and bottom, the overall outfit has a sleekness to it while relying on texture for visual interest. The soft nature of the top counteracts the potential harshness of the bottom and keeps the look firmly in my aesthetic.

Sandals

If you’ve been reading this blog since the beginning or following me on Instagram, you’ll recognize these Hinge Drea Peep-toe Leather Sandals from Nordstrom. This outfit would have also worked well with black sandals, but I love the leg-lengthening effect of the nude sandal. See a close-up here. As it gets cooler, I’ll swap out these sandals for tights and my black INC booties.

Banana Republic top, Abercrombie faux leather mini skirt, Fossil Georgia leather watch, and Danforth pewter squirrel necklace.
Black and silver (and pewter) accessories tie in nicely together and with the silver snaps on the skirt.

Accessories

I paired this outfit with my black leather, silver hardware Coach purse, which I believe is an earlier iteration of the Dinky bag. This year’s version reimagines the interior slightly with a coin-purse-style pocket, and has more pronounced topstitching in a contrasting color. A well-cared for Coach purse will last for years (my other Coach purse is approaching 40!), so buying a preowned classic is a great option.

I’m also wearing my black and silver Fossil Georgia watch for a little wrist sparkle. (A few years ago, I rarely wore anything on my wrists. Now my Fitbit tan line is pronounced enough that I almost never go without something.) As I have mentioned before, I love the large, readable face of this watch paired with the small band.

Little touches like a charming necklace add a personal element to an outfit and even serve as a conversation starter. The distinctive squirrel I’m wearing here (on an 18″ chain) is from Danforth Pewter, made in Vermont. The squirrel cast shown here is still available in a pin. You won’t find any more charms because but I bought out all their remaining stock after they discontinued production. They made great little gifts!

There are a number of other shapes of charms to choose from, and they have a warm, handcrafted quality in your hands. The best way to pick out your charm is by going through the big wooden chest with all the little drawers in store, but online shopping works as well if you aren’t planning a trip to Vermont anytime soon. (I adore this little tree frog!) I paired this necklace with simple brushed silver studs.

Where nail polish is so much less expensive than paying for a manicure, I don’t feel too guilty about picking up a new color every other trip to Target. This medium berry tone is a Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear polish in 189 – Mauve Over. The color on my screen is pretty true to the color on my nails, which makes a perfect transitional color between the fresh brights of summer and the deep tones of fall.

Banana Republic top, Abercrombie faux leather mini skirt, and Hinge Drea peep toe leather sandals from Nordstrom.
This black leather purse with shiny silver details pairs equally well with my everyday aesthetic and special occasions, with plenty of room for the essentials and more.

#onthecusp

I ended up immediately wearing this outfit for an On the Cusp event at Neiman Marcus Bellevue. Five Seattle area bloggers had pulled pieces for the fall season, including Pumps and Plaid, AikA’s Love Closet, Story of My Dress, and xxKarlieRae. While most of their gorgeous pulls won’t be joining my closet anytime soon ($$$$), it was fun to look. I had a wonderful evening meeting other bloggers and thinking about how I could incorporate some of the elements.

IRO Han Jersey-Knit Motorcycle Jacket in Pink Grey from Neiman Marcus
IRO Han Jersey-Knit Motorcycle Jacket in Pink Grey, available at Neiman Marcus

One of my unexpectedly favorite pieces was this IRO Han Jersey-Knit Motorcycle Jacket in Pink Grey pulled by Megan of  Sort of Style and paired with a crisp white shirt. This subdued, neutral pink is popular with many of the bloggers I follow, and the texture was buttery soft. While I’m not going to convert to a light-colored closet anytime soon, this pin-worthy jacket had me giving this color further consideration. If you love the light-leather moto look, this BLANKNYC Faux Leather Moto Jacket in might do this trick!

 

What are your stop-and-smell-the-roses moments? This week, mine was remembering I’ll only be in my early twenties once and rocking a (faux) leather skirt. Share yours in the comments below!

Be even more amazing than you ever thought you’d be.

-Casey

Be Bold in a Blue Romper

ASTR deep V romper with Hinge Drea Peep Toe Sandals in blush leather.
Occasionally, you find that piece that begs you to be a little bolder.

This is one of those looks that turns heads. The compliments come pouring in (some more welcome than others), and you stand up a little straighter.

Romper

I’m an advocate for trying things on, as they often look very different on the rack than on your body. I picked up this ASTR romper at Nordstrom and knew I wanted to buy it the second I put it on.

First, finding rompers for a petite frame can be difficult, and this fit me like it was made for me. The waist hit where it should, the crotch wasn’t too low, and the shoulders were narrow enough.

Secondly, the color was bold, although not quite as vivid as photographed. The Nordstrom photos do a better job of capturing this lively blue-with-a-hint-of-periwinkle color ASTR is calling Bright Blue.

Third, the sleeves were fun. They are full length but slit open from just above the elbow for a fun, floaty effect. It’s not particularly practical (I’m certainly not cooking with them!) but adds to the knockout feeling I had while wearing this.

ASTR deep V romper with Hinge Drea Peep Toe Sandals in blush leather.
This piece might have been a little outside my comfort zone, but it’s great to try something new on occasion — you might just love it!

There was just one problem: The V-neck. Online, this is listed as the Deep V-Neck Pleated Front Romper, and the neckline was certainly plunging. Much of my bra was exposed, and I wasn’t about to rely on fashion tape.

Solution number one would have been to simply wear something I was willing to show off, like a camisole or lacy bralette top. Black, white, and nude are obvious choices, but one of my favorite aspects of the look was the clean neckline.

Instead, I went with a needle and thread! With a fair amount of pinching and turning, I saw that the loose, flowing fabric would help disguise my alteration. Additionally, the open back meant that I could pinch together the front and not worry about the bust becoming too tight. Ultimately, the back is now more open that it was before (showing a little more of my nude bra in the back), but it was a fairly safe alteration to make. I ended up stitching up 3-4 inches, and you wouldn’t notice unless you knew to look (and got inappropriately close to my bust). The result is a more wearable deep V that maintains the same clean lines.

ASTR deep V romper with a bright red lip.
Would you suspect that I’d altered the neckline if I hadn’t told you?

Sandals

One of the other great things about a romper over a dress is that you can have a shorter length without worrying about gusts of wind. That means legs for miles. In taking advantage of the last few warm days, I opted for my blush-toned Hinge Drea Peep-Toe Leather Sandals. (As it gets cooler, I’ll switch to tights and booties.) As the outfit that already had enough bold color going on (just look at that red lip), a nude shoe was a good choice.

Accessories

On another occasion, I paired this romper with sparklier accessories, but I had recently received this delicate silver dot necklace from Silver Cup Studio on Etsy and was having fun pairing it with a range of looks.  The necklace pairs well with a pair of silver button studs I picked up at Macy’s last year.

Have you ever taken a risk and pushed your fashion boundaries? Did it feel like a new you or like dressing up in someone else’s clothes? Share your story below!

Do a happy dance; you’re worth it!

Casey

(Net)Work It with these Networking Tips

Go networking casual with this Nordstrom BP piped blazer with Banana Republic black shell, Madewell skinny jeans, and Ralph Lauren black and gold leather belt.
Black and denim is my default aesthetic for a reason. Here, I mixed it up with a blazer for a conference-casual look.

For a day-long women in tech conference, I opted for a classic look: a black blazer with dark jeans. In my experience, people at tech events will wear everything from jeans and a tee to full business professional attire. I like to stick to a middle ground, wearing some of my professional pieces while showing a little more personality. For networking, you need comfort and confidence, and I share some tips for getting yourself there at the end of this post.

Blazer

This blazer is a high quality find from Nordstrom’s B.P. brand. Although it’s a few years old, a classic look is always relevant. I love the addition of the white piping to add a little interest. The front pockets, although smaller, are real, and are well-suited for quickly stashing my phone or having business cards handy.

The cropped fit means that this blazer is also an excellent option to add a little definition (and warmth) to wear a summery dress in the slightly cooler days. I also like how a white shirt can make the piping pop, but for a professional event, I opted for a higher neckline and don’t have one in white yet.

Top

This black top from Banana Republic serves as a professional base layer in this outfit, but it’s an all-around staple piece, so you’ll see me wearing it again! Here, I have it tucked in (so as not to hang out below the blazer), but it also looks great untucked. I’d link to it, but it was a purchase from fall 2014, and I never found it online. If I did, I’d buy a few more in all the staple colors. I’ll let you know if I find anything similar.

Perfect for a casual networking environment, this Nordstrom BP piped blazer hangs well over a Banana Republic black shell, Madewell skinny jeans, and Ralph Lauren black and gold leather belt.
As you can see, this blazer has a cropped fit, which makes it better paired with higher waisted bottoms or a dress. This top also has great movement to it, and I would buy it in many more colors if I could.

Jeans

You’ve seen these Madewell 8″ skinny jeans in Quincy wash before, as they are my current default pair. While I had previously rolled the cuff, this time I tucked the cuff on the inside to keep the dark line (okay, so slightly broken by my very fair skin in these photos).

Boots

Depending on the size and format of your conference, you may be standing on your feet all day or even walking miles around the location. These INC International Concepts boots look classic from the front, with smooth black leather, and a short stacked heel. I like the 1.5″ height as an everyday shoe.  Not shown: the metallic gold band above the stacked heel, which adds something special to an otherwise unobtrusive pair of shoes. See it here.

Side note: As in a typical shoe-buying experience, I saw these in Macy’s, liked the look, and tried on a pair. I walked around the (carpeted) shoe department, did a little dance, and decided to buy them. However, when I wore them out, I discovered that they were loud. The heels made the classic high-heel noise on any sort of hard surface, but it was magnified to the point where I became self-conscious wearing them. Thankfully, when I had the heels resoled, they became much quieter. They still make that classic heel clack walking down the street but at a much more reasonable volume. Lesson learned: take a three second spin on a harder floor material before checking out!

Accessories

I finished off the look with my classic pearl studs (read my recommendation for a dupe) to complement the white piping. This black leather belt with gold buckle coordinated with the gold heel on the boots. (When belt shopping, remember that your “waist” size according to your pants doesn’t directly correlate to how long you’ll want your belt to be. My belts vary several inches between those I wear at my true waist and those I wear in my lower to mid rise pants.)

Additionally, I usually wear a watch (or a Fitbit) to these events, but I forgot this time. I can’t tell you how many times I glanced down at a bare wrist!

Networking doesn't have to blow you off course with this Nordstrom BP piped blazer with Banana Republic black shell, Madewell skinny jeans, and Ralph Lauren black and gold leather belt.
It’s easy to feel a little frazzled at networking events, especially when you enter a huge room full of people. If step 1 is a great outfit, step 2 is a game plan.

Networking

One of the reasons I began blogging was that I believe the right clothing can help you feel a little more comfortable in your own skin. However, there does come a point when you need a little more help than a great outfit can provide. Networking events are certainly one of those cases for me.

At conferences, I am regularly reminded that I can be introverted when faced with large numbers of unfamiliar faces. This is different from shyness, as it mostly manifests in how exhaustion. After hours (or even days) of meeting new people, I feel drained and need some alone time.

One of the biggest things I do to combat this people-fatigue is to hit the networking first, while I’m still fresh. If the schedule allows, I’ll make my rounds before going to the talks. In my experience, it’s better to feel drained while sitting and listening to a talk than when trying to make intelligent conversation with an important connection or potential employer! That said, conferences are usually very loud, so if you zone out for a moment (it happens!), asking someone to repeat themselves is perfectly normal.

I also recommend taking a moment for a deep breath before entering the room. Remind yourself that you’ve got this. Shake hands, introduce yourself, and make eye contact.

If you’re currently talking and notice someone nearby attempting to enter your little circle, try this easy trick. First, reintroduce yourself (and everyone else if you’re sure you remember their names). Then, briefly recap the conversation. This can be a welcoming way to bring in other people and give off a more confident vibe. (On the flip side, we’ve all been there, outside a conversation, waiting for the right moment to jump in!) It only takes a few seconds, but can make you look good, make someone else feel more comfortable, and briefly take the pressure off you. A win-win-win! Try it out: “Hi, I’m Casey, and this is Laura and Alex. We were just talking about how great the keynote was this morning. What did you think about her conclusion?”

Do you also get exhausted after being “on” at these types of events? What are your best tips for networking events? Share your stories and tips in the comments!

You’re amazing. They just don’t know it yet.

-Casey

DIY Distressed Denim

Banana Republic black wool sweater with delicate silver necklace, Fitbit Charge HR, distressed Levi's jeans, and black leather INC boots (booties).
With delicate silver jewelry, a mid-weight sweater, and these black leather booties, these newly-distressed jeans fit right into my fall look.

Distressed denim is back in a big way, with rips, slits, and scuffs adding visual interest to skinny jeans. I’m normally one for dark denim, but after seeing so many cute posts from other bloggers, I wanted a distressed pair of my own! Unfortunately, the extra attention that goes into aging that denim often comes at a price. My bank account took a hit recently with pricey standardized tests, so I decided to opt for a little DIY.

If you don’t have an extra pair lying around, this is a great time to hit up those thrift stores. Quality denim is durable enough to still be great second-hand, and for the distressed look, a little pre-wear only helps. I dug into the back of my bottom drawer (where things go on their way out), and found this pair!

My canvas is a pair of Levi’s Curve ID low-rise skinny jeans in demi curve, size 25. (Side note: my all-time favorite jeans were another pair of Levi’s Curve ID skinnies in an extra low rise and 99% cotton. They did amazing things for the rear before tragically ripping in the crotch after many years. Levi’s, if you’re reading this, bring them back!) This pair was a little stretchy for my taste because I prefer a thicker, higher-cotton feel, but I appreciated the dark denim look.

Levi's demi curve curve ID jeans size 25
These Levi’s served as my canvas. The knees were already thinning, but I added some more character.

Lighter washes are typically recommended for distressing, but I figured it was better practice with what I already had (cost: $0). My mother would probably cringe at the idea of intentionally attacking a pair of jeans (her distressing and paint splatters are all 100% authentic), but this pair is already pretty thin in certain critical areas, so there aren’t too many wears left anyway.

Step 0: Know what you want

I decided to aim for a less-is-more look. I knew I could always add more distressing later if I wanted, but I wasn’t interested in a completely shredded look. Looking for inspiration online, I found these pairs from AG, Hudson Jeans, and PAIGE, all around $200. I liked the subtle knee tears and the upper thigh patch. I thought it looked odd that the distressing was restricted entirely to the front, so I decided to add a little wear to the back pocket as well. Those four elements became my todo list, and I decided to start with what I thought would be the easiest:

  1. Back pocket (right)
  2. Upper thigh (left)
  3. Knee (right)

Step 1: Get what you need

My online research suggested that you could use a number of different tools, but that sharper was better when it came to making the little slits. I opted for a box cutter as my cutting tool, and I also gathered sandpaper and tweezers. (Side note: if you don’t already have a pair of Tweezerman tweezers, do yourself a favor, and get a pair. They come in a variety of colors and also make great stocking stuffers!) It’s also important to put some material between the layers of fabric so that you don’t cut through to the back. I went for folded up paper grocery bags.

Two slits with some denim fibers removed reveal the white fibers within. Black Tweezerman tweezers rest at an angle just above the distressing.
Usually reserved for brows, these Tweezerman tweezers were perfect for this DIY because they have excellent grip, a sharp tip, and a comfortable handle.

Step 2: Make it happen

I tried the sandpaper on the edges of the pockets, but even after vigorous effort, all this produced was a soft, fuzzy effect.

The white patches are produced by making two parallel, horizontal slits with the box cutter. Make sure that you have some kind of thick buffer between the front and back of your pants. I used rolled up paper grocery bags. The bags were pretty sliced up in the end, so don’t try to use your hand or anything you like. (This should be obvious, but I’m saying it just in case.)

You want to do your best to align these cuts so as to break the fewest number of the white threads as possible. Making the cuts as close to the same length as possible will also make things easier later.

Two slits with some denim fibers removed reveal the white fibers within.
As you pull out the blue threads, you will reveal more white fibers.

Then, slowly pull out the blue vertical threads between the slits with the tweezers. For the first few, I found it helpful to look at the underside to better distinguish the blue from the white. Then it was a matter of working out from the middle until reaching the end of the cuts. You’ll notice that if you go any further, the threads won’t pull out as easily because they are still attached. This method will produce a rectangle.

Levi's jeans with DIY denim distressing
This little bit of distressing was one of my favorites and quick to do. Two short slits approximately 3/4″ apart create this elongated rectangular patch.

Up close, I love the elongated little rectangular accents. However, for the key features, the rectangles looked a little too crisp. For a more organic look, along the lines of the thigh distressing on the Hudson Jeans, I added slits of decreasing length above and below my original rectangle; pulling the threads between the new slits and the existing ones produced a staggered shape. Keeping the slits close together softens the gradation.

I won’t lie, this took longer than the 15 minutes promised in some of the tutorials I read. Be careful about pulling the blue threads without damaging (too many) white ones. I put on Netflix and good lighting and worked carefully. The results were immediately satisfying, and it would be fun to do this again.

In the end, I distressed the right knee, the upper left thigh, and the back right pocket. I also added three small elements: one to the outer right thigh, one outside the left calf, and one on the right thigh, just above the knee.

Banana Republic black merino wool sweater with DIY distressed Levi's denim jeans, INC black booties, and Fitbit Charge HR.
Per my black-and-denim uniform, I paired my newly distressed jeans with a black Banana Republic sweater, and stacked heel INC booties. You’ll also notice my near-constant accessory: a Fitbit Charge HR.

Step 3: Enjoy!

While the distressing didn’t fix the reasons I hadn’t been wearing these jeans in the first place, I now have more reason to wear these before they wear out. In short, I’ve added a pair of attractive distressed denim to my rotation without spending a dollar!

Want to recycle your denim? Bring a pair into Madewell, and they’ll give you $20 off a full-priced pair of jeans!

Have your own DIY distressed denim? Leave a pic below!

 

Reduce, reuse, recycle!

Casey