Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Wardrobe's 2011 Defining Pieces

I started this blog in the latter half of 2011, and I know it's already changed the course of my wardrobe and my style tremendously.  With 2011 wrapping up, I thought it would be fun to stop, evaluate my closet, and get a sense of what the building blocks of my wardrobe have become.

I made a list of items that I've accrued since starting this blog which have become defining pieces in my closet.  I wouldn't necessarily categorize them as my list of favorites, my staples, or my list of go-tos, though that is true for many of them.  I don't really know how to categorize them, actually.  They aren't quite foundational, yet they are the pieces that have shaped and defined my outfits.  For lack of a better description, and so we can just get on with the list, I'm going to call them the defining pieces of my wardrobe.  Okay?  Okay.  :)

You ready?  Here they are!

It's hard to believe that not even 7 months ago my wardrobe was without any of these items!

Many of these surprise me because they are so basic, but I suppose that's a lesson I finally learned this year: basics are essential.  They provide a solid foundation on which you can mix and match other pieces, which increases the versatility and depth in your closet.  

1. striped tee  |  2. denim shirt  |  3. grey v-neck tee  |  4. gingham shirt

These are my workhorses.  You can click on the links to see the various ways I've worn them.  (You kinda have to dig through other outfits under that label, though...)  When I bought these pieces, I had no idea how much I'd be wearing them, and in how many different ways.

I've never worn the grey tee on the blog, but I'm not exaggerating when I tell you I grab for it just about every Saturday to complement my skinny jeans.  And believe it or not, that is my husband's favorite outfit I ever wear.

One of my wardrobe focuses this year was to get more colored bottoms and especially more skirts.  I head neither until this blog, from which I learned that one of the best ways to change up my wardrobe is to have different colored bottoms.

When I bought my yellow pencil skirt I didn't know that I'd be able to remix it as much as I have so far.  I've worn it 4 times on the blog and have a handful of other outfits in mind that I have yet to show you!

The burgundy pants win over my red pants.  I like my red pants, but I've realized that I prefer a more muted shade for pants.  You live, you learn.

1. blazer  |  2. army vest  |  3. mustard cardigan

Black blazers.  I've only worn them a couple of times on the blog, but I love throwing them over a dress for evening wear.  And I LOVE them with skinny jeans, a simple tee, a scarf, and a strong shoe.  I can't believe I didn't own one before this year!

Army vest.  This is one of the items that constantly surprises me in how much it changes the rest of the pieces in my closet.  Before, I would have felt like I was wasting money buying a vest, but I've discovered how versatile it is and how much of an impact it can have on outfits.  It totally changes the outfit!  So, get one!

Mustard cardigan.  Don't even get me started.  I know it's only been on the blog a couple of times, but I've worn it plenty more than that!  It instantly adds a twist to an outfit in place of a neutral colored cardi.

1. cognac boots  |  2. ankle booties  |  3. belts  |  4. gold necklace

Boots.  I'm such a fan of how much they add to an outfit.  It's so easy to feel like your outfit is stylish when you have a good pair of boots on.  My latest pair are the ankle booties.  I recall hating the bootie trend long, long ago, but I've since changed my ways!  I made sure to find a pair that I could wear with jeans, skirts, and dresses, and my only problem with them is that I love them so much that I'm worried I'm gonna run them into the ground.

Belts!  I scarcely owned any belts before this year, and now I have to consciously try to not belt every outfit!  I wrote a silly little post around this outfit in which I marveled at how much a belt can change an outfit...but it's so true.

Gold necklace.  It's probably the smallest accessory I own, but I often reach for it when I feel like my outfit is missing something, and this tiny little piece has a significant affect on my outfits.  It's incredible to me how that works.

There you have it!  These are the pieces I bought this year that have been significant in defining my style as of late.  I'm excited to do this again in another 6 months or year and see where I've gone from here.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful new year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Hunting for Specs: GlassesUSA Review

I’m as blind as a bat, but I always wear contact lenses because I haven’t found the right pair of glasses for me at a price my cheap-o self would agree to.  When GlassesUSA.com asked me to write a review for them, I initially thought I’d turn down the offer.  However, once I checked out their site, I was thrilled with their wide selection of glasses and more thrilled with their prices.

I had to tell you guys about it in case you were on the hunt for cute, cheap eyeglasses like me!

GlassesUSA has so many types of eyeglasses.  I was actually overwhelmed while trying to choose, but you can easily shop by frame shape, material, color, etc.  There’s also a virtual mirror to help you visualize what the glasses will look like on you (like in my pics above). 

They offer a 110% lowest price guarantee and a 100% satisfaction guarantee along with a generous refer-a-friend program.  I have my eye on a couple of their glasses, and I’m so happy because I think GlassesUSA will finally end my very long search for the right pair of glasses!

Don’t wait to buy your new glasses!  Until Dec 31st all glasses are 55% off with code BEST2011!  If you miss that short window, don't worry!  You can get 10% off any order of prescription glasses with the code BLOG10. 

Disclaimer: This review was sponsored by GlassesUSA, but I expressed my honest and sincere opinions.  I really am excited about having found this company!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Habits and Hair

Top: Target (shop)  |  Skirt: Marshall's  |  Belt: Kohl's  | Tights: We Love Colors (shop: maroon) |  Boots: Target (shop)

You would think after the One Piece Different Ways posts involving plaid shirts and this grey pencil skirt that I'd retire those items.  But, no.  I'm a creature of habit, and I will work these pieces to the bitter end.  

Along those lines--and this has nothing to do with my outfit--I need your input on something.  I've come to that crucial junction in life at which I'm forced to ask myself a very important question: Do I trim my hair and keep my current cut, or do I endure the awkward growing out phase and go back to long hair?  Being a creature of habit, change doesn't come easily for me, and it takes me a long time to decide on something, but I've been thinking of growing out my hair for a while now so that I can do more with it.  Though I had hair to my waist 5 years ago, I left it completely unstyled--not even bangs.  I can't imagine what my hair would look like long and with a proper style, so I don't know if I'd like it, especially after having this awesome cut.  What do you think?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It Ain't Broke

Top: Old Navy  |  Jeans: NY&Co.  |  Cardigan: Old Navy  |  Boots: Dolce Vita via Macy's  |  Scarf: JCPenny

I was hesitant to post this outfit because it's basically this outfit.  I wore this and other versions of it all last week because it's so easy and it works.  Sometimes you just need to get out the door but still want to look cute.  A plaid shirt, a big sweater, boots, and a scarf, and I'm set.  If it ain't broke, why fix it, right?  Call it a go-to, call it a uniform, call it whatever you want, but it's here to stay and it's better than sweatpants!  

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

X5 Hair Dryer Review

A couple of years ago I was on a rampant search for a new hair dryer.  I was looking for something that was powerful, could get really hot, and could shape my hair well lest this hairstyle fall flat and look like a sad sack of wilted weeds.

While the right hair dryer is important to me, I always bought cheap $25 dryers because they did the job.  I really liked the previous dryer I owned, but after two of them in a row caught on fire, I decided I needed to branch out.  Yes, I caught two hair dryers on fire.  Two.  It's a gift, what can I say?

I tried 10-15 different dryers ranging from $20-$100, and to my surprise, the expensive ones weren't any better than the $25 ones.  I decided that expensive dryers were a hoax, and managed to land on a $40 from Target.

When Misikko contacted me asking me to review one of their hair dryers, I said yes because I wanted to give expensive dryers another run, and I was curious to see how it would compare to my $40 dryer.  I was originally going to review the HANA Air Premier Hair Dryer or the X5 travel dryer, both of which are the top of Misikko's line in full size and travel dryers respectively.  However, since both were sold out, they sent me the full size X5 to review.

It came in a box filled with other sample products: makeup and beauty samples, a flat iron bag, and a cute little teddy bear.

On to the hair dryer!  These are the X5's specs:
  • 2000 Wattage Power
  • Superlite
  • Ion Technology for antistatic, smooth, shiny hair
  • 2 Speed Settings/3 Heat Settings
  • Slim concentrator nozzle
  • Free Volume diffuser with soft tips

I decided I'd use the X5 dryer for a week before I wrote it off, and that was good because upon first use, I hated it.  HATED.  It felt too powerful and wild, and since I wasn't used to how to control it, it made my hair a little crazy.  You'd better believe I was ready to write a review ranting about the facade of expensive hair dryers.  But, after a couple of days of getting used to the X5 and learning to use the slim concentrator nozzle, it really grew on me!

What I like:
  • Powerful.  At first, I wasn't a fan of this, but now having learned to wield it, I appreciate how powerful it is because it gives me more control of my hairstyle.
  • Lightweight.  It's a big dryer, but it weighs less than my $40 dryer.
  • The hot air is really hot, and the cold air is cold.  This thing gets pretty dang hot.  If you can't handle that, it's okay because there are 3 heat settings.  Also, the cold air shot is actually cold, whereas with some dryers the cold shot is really just air that's warm rather than hot.  
  • Makes my hair silky and helps keep its shape.  The main reason I like this dryer is because it styles my hair really well.  I noticed that my hair hardly loses its shape when I use this dryer, whereas with my old dryer it's hit or miss, depending on whether I have a good hair day or not.  With this dryer, I could have what I think will be a bad hair day, but at the end of the day my hair is still looking good.  And, it makes my hair silky.
  • Long cord.  It's nice not to feel like you're on a short leash...
  • Only the attachment nozzle gets hot, and nothing else.  Not that it matters that much, but it's a nice touch.

What I don't like:
  • Not really that quiet.  It claims to be quiet, but to me, it's kind of loud.  Louder than my old dryer, for sure.  It doesn't actually bother me except that the box claims that it's quiet.  
  • Price.  While this dryer is great, it's $165 and my old one is $40.  I don't know if the X5 is $125 better than my $40 dryer.  But for what it's worth, I've had the X5 for over a month and have reached for it over the $40 dryer every single day.

In the end, I don't know if I could spend $165 on a hair dryer, but who knows?  I'm growing to like it more each day, and before I know it there might be no turning back.  It was the same for me when I went from playing a guitar that retailed at $450 (which is still pricey to most people) to a $3,000 guitar.  (Don't think I paid retail for either of those guitars!)  I couldn't tell the difference until I used the $3k guitar for a longer period of time and my ear grew to hear the subtleties of the sound.  Maybe it'll be the case for hair dryers, but as of now, I wouldn't be able to throw down $165 for a hair dryer.

I AM actually considering purchasing the X5 travel dryer at $56 (via Amazon).  To me, that's still expensive, but I travel a ton, and a good travel dryer is hard to find!  If the X5 travel dryer is anything like this full size X5, I'd be happy to invest in it.

You can check out the X5 travel dryer, the HANA (premier brand I was originally going to review) of their hair dryers, and other hair dryers at Misikko.  I've also seen great reviews from other bloggers about Misikko's flat irons, especially comparing them to the CHI straightener.

Kinda curious...do you buy expensive hair dryers and if so, what do you like about them?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a very merry Christmas filled with love, peace, and joy!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

5 Ways to Wear an LBD from Merrick's Art

You should know by now from these One Piece Different Ways posts that I'm on a mission to get the most out of my closet and to help you do the same.

Today, I want to introduce you to Merrick from Merrick's Art, who just created an amazing post with 5 ways to wear a little black dress (LBD)!  I only recently found her blog, but I've been in love with it ever since.  And this post made me more in love with it...and her!

Isn't this awesome?  Click on the picture above to head over to Merrick's Art for the full post with descriptions of each outfit and all!  

Also, is anyone thinking of going to the Texas Style Council Conference in March?  I'm thinking about it, but I don't want to go alone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Swap Partaay!

This weekend, nine friends gathered at my house with all of our unwanted clothes to swap with each other.  As you can see, we had TONS of clothes, and I think everyone came away with fun stuff.  Swap parties are so awesome for refreshing your closet without having to spend any money!

We grouped everything and laid them out all over my little house.
Bottoms on the couch, sweaters on the table, jackets on the chair.

These are just the tops.  So many clothes!

We spent the first 20 minutes perusing.  
Then, all at once, we each got to grab 3-5 things we had our eye on and try them on.  
If we liked them, we kept them.  
After a few more rounds of that we eventually went free-for-all style.

I've only been part of one other swap party, which was also at my house.  There were way more people, but way less clothes, and not as many pieces I wanted.  I definitely like what I scored this time more than last time.  In fact, I passed on all the pieces I got from my last swap party to people at this one!  Shh, don't tell people from the last swap party...

Here's what I came away with this time:
1.  Black shift dress
2.  Light pink dress - brand new, with tags!
3.  Polka dot ruffle tank - so cute.
4.  Brown boots - Can you ever have too many pairs of boots?  Especially when they're free.
5.  Green sweater - still not sure about this.  Thoughts?
6.  Teal scarf - I love this color!  It has a stain on it, but if I can't get it out I can at least hide it.
7.  Faux pearl bracelets

My favorite is the pink dress.  Can you believe it still has its tags?  I can't wait to pair this with some boots and a moto jacket...too bad I need a moto jacket first!  You'd better believe it's high up on my list of future purchases.  Or better yet, maybe someone has one they don't want anymore that they'd wanna swap?  ;)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

On Board

Polka Dot Top: Old Navy  |  Sweater: Old Navy  |  Skirt: Buffalo Exchange  |  Boots: Dolce Vita via Macy's  |  Socks: Target  |  Necklace: World Market  |  Belt: Forever 21

I've been trying to get more use out of my skirts, especially since the chilly weather makes me want to default to jeans.  A bright yellow skirt screamed summer/spring to me, so I tried pairing it with neutrals, a grandpa type sweater, and boots here.  I've always been a huge fan of dresses and boots, so I don't know why it's taken me a while to jump on board with skirts and boots, but I think I've finally caught on.

I already have a post lined up about the swap party that my friends and I held over the weekend.  I came away with a pretty good haul, and I can't wait to show you!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Paddington Bear Coat

Green coat: Nordstrom Rack  |  Jeans: NY&Co.  |  Boots: Macy's  |  Scarf: Banana Republic Factory

Oh, hello there!  I would like you to meet my favorite coat ever.  I don't usually take pics with my outerwear on, but I have been wanting you to meet this green jacket for some time now, so here's a post for an old fave.  

This thing is amazingly comfortable, surprisingly warm yet not bulky, and it has a hood, which is great for the typical day in San Diego when it kind of rains but doesn't really rain enough to wear a raincoat or carry an umbrella that day.  Plus, I love its color!  But the best part is that it reminds me of Paddington Bear's coat.  (Can I get a holla for Paddington Bear?)  I'd wanted a coat like Paddington's for so long, and while it doesn't have toggle buttons like Paddington's coat, the sleeves and the hood are enough to satisfy me.  Though I bought this a few years ago, I still see them at Nordstrom Rack from time to time, so you can feel like Paddington too, if you want.  :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Swapping Around the Christmas Tree

Top: Old Navy  |  Skirt: Anthropologie  |  Tights: We Love Colors  |  Ankle Boots: Target  |  Belt: Forever 21  |  Necklace: Anthropologie, gifted

I cannot wait for the weekend because some friends and I are having a Christmas clothing swap!  If you've never heard of a swap party, basically everyone brings clothes they no longer want that are still in good condition (and preferably somewhat in style) and you trade clothes.  Free clothes!

I've only done one before, which I hosted at my house over a year ago.  Since I've been blogging and redoing my closet for the last 5 months, I have tons of unwanted clothes to swap.  I've been saving them all for "the day I might go to another swap party," and this will finally end my husband's perpetual questioning of when the piles of clothing will be gone.

Anyone have tips or fun stories to share from any clothing swaps you've been part of?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Party #2

 Top: H&M |  Jeans: NY&Co.  |  Red Heels: Target  |  Clutch: Macy's, gifted  |  Necklace: Anthropologie, gifted

A couple of days ago I posted a holiday party outfit that I plan to wear this weekend, but this is an outfit I wore last weekend to a holiday party for the leaders at my church.  My church is super duper casual--(it started in the late 80s by a bunch of ex-hippies, and there are still traces of that in our DNA!  haha)--so I tried to dress up in a casual way.  Oxymoron, anyone?  

I went with a jewel toned turquoise top and used one of my favorite colors to pair turquoise with--red!  On another note, yes, I wore a short sleeved top to our holiday Christmas party.  Welcome to Southern California.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ways to Dress Down a Pencil Skirt

I know I've done a couple of posts on this, but I've been very surprised by how many hits this blog has gotten from people searching for ways to dress down a pencil skirt.  It seems like I'm not the only one who's been wondering how to do this, so I thought it was time to do a real post on it.

A few pencil skirts have been sitting in my closet for embarassingly long periods of time without being worn, so I was on a quest to figure out how to wear a pencil skirt in a casual way.  All articles I'd seen on pencil skirts talked about how to take it from office wear to evening wear...but what about everyday wear?  I couldn't find much on that.

I've had this post brewing for a couple of months, but it took so long to create it because, let's face it: it is hard to create looks with a grey or black pencil skirt that don't look like you're going to the office and don't look like you're going out for a night on the town.  I also wanted to do this in a way that highlighted basic principles that anyone could apply with their own wardrobe.

While these might not necessarily be good outfits to copy, you can use the basic principles as a starting point from which you can easily add your own twist and style.  Here they are!

Above are the major things I noticed worked when trying to create casual outfits with a pencil skirt.  I also noticed that each look used at least one, and usually more than one, of the principles listed above.

For example, Look #1 incorporates a graphic tee with a striped cardigan to give it a little more pizzaz.  (Do you like my Coca Cola shirt in Thai?)

Look #2 uses denim and cowboy booties.  I chose to pair it with a cognac messenger bag to keep the casual vibe going.

Look #3 uses a typical formula for office wear--a cardigan and flats.  But I think adding the loud graphic tee and using bright pops of color like magenta and yellow make it more fun, and they help move it away from office wear.  

Looks 4-6 show different ways to utilize pops of color and jackets in casual textures like corduroy or denim.  

There you have it!  It's a simple formula with simple concepts, but it opens up a range of possibilities.

I hope this is helps you make more use of that dusty old pencil skirt sitting in your closet!  :)

For more posts like this, see the One Piece Many Ways page.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

EBEW: Sequins and Sparkle

Top: American Eagle ($15, shop)  |  Blazer: Macy's ($21)  |  Jeans: Forever 21 ($9.50)  |  Grey Pumps: Target ($8)  |  Necklace: Charlotte Russe (?)  |  Earrings (gifted)  |  Ring: c/o Ellaine Calas of Stella & Dot (shop)

Truth?  I haven't worn this outfit yet, and even though I'm backed up on outfit posts from last week, I snapped pics and posted this outfit early for Everybody Everywear.  I plan to wear it this weekend for a holiday party...that counts, right?   I was actually going to sit out EBEW again this month, but AE had a 40% off sale, and this top was available.  I was planning on buying a sequined top someday anyway, so this was a no-brainer. 

As you can see, today was a cloudy, rainy day.  I wish I had better self-portrait skills so that you could see the ring more clearly because I kept the clothes neutral so that the ring would pop, and for me, the ring makes the whole outfit.  It's still fascinating to me how such a tiny accessory can, at least in my mind, pull together an outfit.  

Sequins + Sparkles | Everybody, Everywhere

Monday, December 12, 2011

Found 'em

Dress: Forever 21  |  Cardigan: H&M  |  Tights: We Love Colors  |  Boots: Target (shop)  |  Necklace: World Market  |  Belt: H&M

Happy Monday, everyone!  I'm a little backed up on outfit pics, so this is from last week.  I had work meetings all day, and then we celebrated with dinner and a gift exchange.  

I'd been searching for a pair of boots like this for a few weeks and tried on many to no avail.  Then, without intending to look for any at Target, I saw these boots from the corner of my eye.  I kid you not when I tell you I didn't just see them in the corner of my eye--I sensed them.  Do I spend too much time at Target, or what?  Anyway, they were exactly what I was looking for, and for a lot cheaper than the others I tried.  Don't you love when that happens?  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Top: Target ($8)  |  Blazer: Target (gifted, $8)  |  Jeans: NY & Co (?)  |  Shoes: Target $25 (shop)
Scarf: H&M ($3)  |  Ring: c/o Ellaine Calas of Stella & Dot (shop)

Am I really pattern mixing again?  Already??  Who am I, and what have you all done to me?  

I want to say a little hello to all the new readers as of late!  It's a weird feeling that as the blog grows I feel less of a connection with you all.  I love when you comment because it gives me a sense of who you are and helps me feel connected.  But, whether you follow from afar or you comment everyday just to say hello, I'm so glad to have you as part of this journey!  :)

Coming down the pipe, I have a handful of ideas for posts in which I talk about what I've learned over the last 5 months and how I've been redoing my closet.  Hopefully I can get them out of my head and start pumping them out on the blog!  

P.S. I love our Christmas tree!  Even though Kimmie told me on Twitter that her 2 year old does this, I'm not ashamed to tell you that every time I walk by our tree I inadvertently shout, "Hi, Christmas tree!"  <3

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Little More Love

 Lace Top: Forever 21 ($17?)  |  Tweed Blazer: thrifted ($5) |  Red Skinnies: Buffalo Exchange ($8)  |  Flats: Target (?)  |  Belt: Forever 21 ($2.50)  |  Rings: c/o Ellaine Calas of Stella & Dot (shop)

Not much to report here.  I had a laid back day.  I ran errands, made some gifts for a gift exchange at work tomorrow: these and these, and watched the holiday episode of The Sing Off.  (Did I ever tell you I was the musical director of an a cappella group all 4 years in college?)  

Aside from that, I thrifted this tweed blazer a couple of years ago and only knew how to wear it one way.  At one point it sat in my closet for months without being worn because I forgot I had it.  I think it's a testament to how my style has grown over the last 5 months that I can now imagine this piece with lots of different items in my closet.  So, with some concentrated effort I hope to give this little guy some love this fall.  He deserves it.

Just curious...what are some pieces in your closet that deserve a little more love this fall?

Monday, December 5, 2011


Top: Banana Republic  |  Army Vest: Old Navy  |  Jeggings: New York & Company
Bag: Target  |  Boots: Dolce Vita via Macy's  |  Necklace: H&M

This is what I wore on Saturday to buy our first Christmas tree as a married couple!  It only took us 3 years to do it.  And it's my husband's first live tree, EVER.  Can you believe that?  I think this outfit is magical, too, because not only did we buy a Christmas tree...I rearranged the guest bedroom closet, and then I reorganized all of my craft supplies.  I also made great headway on our Christmas gift list, thanks to this amazing DIY gift guide I found on Pinterest.  Basically, I was a to-do list machine on Saturday, and it felt oh so good.  

Did you all have a good weekend?

The winner of the Bashly giveaway is...

Sandy from Sandy a la Mode!  Congratulations, Sandy!
I'll be in contact with you.  :)

Don't forget, if you want an ear warmer or a cute beanie with a bow or a flower on it, Bashly's owner, Tracie, is offering a special promo: spend $25 and receive a free flower headband!  REALLY cute, and great prices!

Shop now at Bashly.

Thanks for the giveaway, Tracie!
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