Thursday, October 31, 2013

Work Wear: Chunky Sweater

Sweater- J.Crew Factory, Skirt- Loft (similar), Booties- Tahari (similar), Necklace- Forever 21 (similar) Watch- Fossil

I love mixing silhouettes, and a very easy way to do that for fall and winter is with a chunky sweater paired with a slim skirt or pant. For my take on this mix, I grabbed a striped pencil skirt and paired it with a coordinating sweater. I didn't want to lose my waist, so I decided to tuck my sweater in. Sometimes, this can look a bit bulky at your middle, so to combat that, tuck your sweater in and then pull it out a little so it hangs over your skirt. This looks a little more intentional than having your sweater be lumpy and bumpy underneath your skirt!

Linking up with Three-for Thurdsay: BethanyMeghan | Spotlight of the Week: Jacqueline & Elle | Tres Chic Thursday |  Mix and Match Fashion | Working Girl With Style

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sweatshirt Chic

Sweatshirt- Forever 21 (similar), Skirt- Zara (similar), Boots- LC Lauren Conrad, Bag- Phillip Lim x Target, Necklace (worn as bracelet)- Nordstrom, Earrings- Forever 21

Embellished sweatshirts are a big hit for fall, so I was very happy to find this one in the back of my closet and come up with some more creative ways to style it. Embellished sweatshirts easily take you from day to night since they are a really casual piece, but the embellishments dress up your look just enough for a night out. This season, I've seen sweatshirts styled with leather leggings, pencil skirts, full tulle skirts, and tons of other ways. I chose to pair mine with a striped mini skirt. I tested out the "half-tuck" and rolled up my sleeves in attempt to achieve that effortless J.Crew-esque look that I am always aiming to replicate. I really liked the end result!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

No Shop October

Images {1 | 2 | 3 | 4}

The past two months, I have been on a journey to recover from shopaholic-ism. In September, I didn't shop AT ALL. It was tough, but I felt great at the end of the month when I accomplished my goal. Because I was trying to teach myself that I don't really ever NEED new clothes, I decided to continue my shopping ban in the month of October. I wanted to completely abstain from shopping so that I could discover what my bad habits were that left me a frantic shopaholic, spending and buying more than I needed, and I also wanted to put myself in a bit of a timeout for past bad shopping behavior.

Halfway through this month, I really started to get the shopping itch. Its the itch that says, "You really need this." "You didn't shop in September! You deserve to buy this." "If you don't buy it now, it's going to be sold out." At first, I tried to ignore the itch. When it kept rearing it's ugly head, I started to think about why I decided not to shop in October. Was I being too strict on myself? Being a person who really enjoys shopping, blogging, and following trends, did I really need to deny myself those simple pleasures for two months to "teach myself a lesson"? I had already learned so much about my shopping habits and how I needed to change them in the future.

I started thinking about theories around dieting, and how people always say "everything is okay in moderation." So, what about shopping in moderation? I equated shopping to eating carbs. In the past, I have done the South Beach diet, where you start off by cutting out carbs from your diet completely for two weeks. By doing this, you train your body not to crave them as much. After two weeks, you gradually add carbs back in moderation. And that's what I decided to do with my shopping.

A month or so ago when I created my shopping budget, I decided on a set amount I would spend monthly on clothing. I knew that if I came out of my shopping ban without a plan, I would probably go a little overboard with my shopping in November. I decided I would split November's budget in half; spend half in October, and half in November; therefore, gradually getting back in to shopping, and having to be smart about it so that I didn't go over budget right off the bat.

I picked 2 of the items from my wishlist that I wanted the most, searched for coupons to get the best deal, and then I pulled the trigger. Unlike before, when the majority of what I was buying was on impulse, making carefully thought out purchases felt good.  I had given myself time to think about whether I was really going to get use out of the item, or if I just wanted it because "everyone else had it," or for any of the other reasons I used to justify my clothing purchases in the past. I knew that when I was still thinking about and planning outfits with this skirt and this dress after two or three weeks of staring at them online, they were going to be worth adding to my wardrobe. You'll see them styled here soon. :)

I want to share with you the shopping habits I discovered that I had during my shopping ban.
  1. I was an emotional shopper. I used shopping as both a coping mechanism and a reward system. Having a bad day? Buy something! Oh, it's your birthday week? Go shopping!
  2. I shopped when I was bored. These days, its so easy to buy things online, which lead to me buying a lot of things that I wouldn't have had I done something more productive in my down time.
  3. When I found an outfit I wanted to copy (on a blog, Pinterest, etc.), I immediately set out to purchase the pieces I was lacking to complete it. And then I'd wear that outfit once.
  4. Sometimes I buy things I like, style them and photograph them for the blog, but never end up wearing them in real life.
  5. I was an enabler. I frequently told friends that they NEEDED to buy things that they liked. And my little inner enabler voice was telling me the same thing.
So, am I fully recovered? No. But have a made some progress in discovering why I was shopping so much and how to put a healthy limit on it? Yes. While my shopping cravings are still there, I stopped myself from several online impulse buys by placing the item on my wishlist and closing my web browser. If I want to use my November budget to buy that item, I can. Otherwise, the initial impulse is gone, and I saved myself from spending money on something I didn't really love. I consider that a major success.

Along with putting into place a shopping budget for myself, I also want to stop my tendency to be an enabler. What does that mean for you as a reader? I will still link the items that I wear on my blog, and if I link a similar item, I promise to find the most affordable dupe that I can. I will also share any coupon codes or sales on the items I provide links to, so if you do want to purchase anything I share here, you can get the best deal possible.

One huge lesson that I came away with during this process of self-improvement, reflection, and change is that it is very important to celebrate your successes. When you accomplish your goals, do a little something to treat yourself, like I did when I ended my shopping ban a little early. Tell your friends and family who supported you in your goal about what you accomplished. Positive reinforcement will keep you on the right track.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Spotlight of the Week: Boots and Booties

I'm so excited to be co-hosting the Spotlight of the Week linkup with Jacqueline and Elle! Our theme today is boots and booties. I'm new to the concept of over-the-knee boots, but I'm really excited I gave these a try. Here I paired them with a very casual outfit, but because they are over-the-knee, I could definitely dress them up by wearing a skirt or dress (as long as it isn't knee-length).

Sweater- Forever 21 (similar options here), Pants- H&M (similar), Tee- Forever 21, Boots- Chinese Laundry, Sunglasses- similar


1. We kindly ask that you follow the two hosts: Elle from Living in Color Style and Jacqueline from Stylin' In St. Louis via Bloglovin or GFC, and our co-host Katie from Style Diary(The first three links in the link-up.)

2. Use the button provided on Elle or Jacqueline's side bar or link back to the link-up on your blog.

3. Enjoy reading other blogs and make new blogger friends!

Linking up with Three-for Thurdsay: BethanyMeghan | Tres Chic Thursday 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mixed Moto Jacket

Jacket- c/o Oasap, Shirt- Old Navy (similar), Skirt- Forever 21 (similar only $11.98!), Heels- Shoemint (similar), Spike Necklace- Nordstrom, Chain Necklace- similar

This outfit was inspired by a picture I saw of Sarah Jessica Parker in the November issue of People StyleWatch. She was wearing a black leather jacket with a black pleated skirt. As soon as I saw the photo, I knew exactly how to style this moto jacket I got from Oasap. I love mixing edgy with feminine (which I also did here) to create fun looks with a bit more interest than when you stick to one style. A plaid shirt seemed to be the perfect compliment to this fall look, as did my cutout peep-toe booties.

If you are looking to add some affordable outerwear to your fall wardrobe, be sure to check out Oasap. Here are some of my favorites, all under $60!

Don't forget to enter my $100 Nordstrom giftcard giveaway!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

You've got your wishlist in hand, budget amount in your head, and you are ready to shop. It can be a bit overwhelming, and really easy to get off track. Here's how to make the most of your time and  money.

Shopping for me is all about the visual. There is temptation everywhere, due to strategic product placement and pretty displays. Instead of wandering through the mall, being enticed by every pretty thing you see, start by going to your favorite stores, or the stores you normally have the most luck at. If you tend to spend more money when physically going into stores, stick to online shopping where you can shop by category or color instead of being able to browse through every item at the mall. If you are familiar with the fit of a particular store and are know their return policy, you may be more successful at sticking to your wishlist and your budget.

Don't get too caught up in labels. Tons of celebrities and bloggers alike have said the key to their style is mixing both high and low end pieces. Don't shy away from Forever 21, Old Navy, or Target because of their low price points. You can find some real gems in there! Its more important to buy something that you love and will wear than what brand is on the label.

Look for the items on your wishlist first. Its easy to get side tracked by all the other pretty things in the store, but if you stick to the pieces you have already decided you need/want and know you will wear, you will feel better about the purchases you make.

Try things on. I know it can be annoying, takes too long, whatever, but this will ensure that you won't go home with anything that looked better on the rack than it did on your body. This is especially important if you are the type of person who doesn't like the hassle of returning things.

These are the questions you should ask yourself in the dressing room:

1. Do you love it?
If you don't love it, don't buy it. You will find something better.

2. Does it fit?
If yes, great! If the answer is no, don't put it back on the rack just yet. If its an item that can be easily tailored, like a new hem in a pair of pants or skirt, it may be worth it. But if its something that will take a lot of work and could potentially be expensive, you may want to reconsider. Check out this post for the story of my $35 sale dress that ended up costing $135 after tailoring. If I had realized it would cost that much to get the proper fit, I probably would not have bought it in the first place.

3. How often will you wear it?
You can probably bet that a black pencil skirt will get a lot more wear than a pair of hot pink stiletto sandals will. Fashion magazines support the "cost-per-wear ratio", and while I think there is some value to it, I don't think you need to break out your calculator in the dressing room. Nor do I think that just because you will wear that black pencil skirt once a week for the next year, you should make it a splurge purchase. You can buy a really nice pencil skirt for $60 at The Limited that will do you just as much good as the $150 J.Crew version.

I think the real answer to this question is if the item will be a practical part of your wardrobe. Maybe you love those hot pink stiletto sandals, but you know you will only wear them once. In that case, you may want to settle for a more practical pair of heels, something you can wear to work and out on the weekends.

4. Do you have something to wear it with?
I've read that you should be able to come up with three ways to wear an item of clothing before you buy it, and I really love that theory. I think we've all found ourselves buying something really eccentric just to realize that we don't have anything to wear it with after we bring it home. Just be realistic about items like this, realizing that you may have to purchase more to make a complete outfit.

5. Is the price right?
Just because something is on sale, doesn't mean you should buy it. Would you buy it at full price? If not, you may want to rethink the purchase. If the price is too high, wait for a sale or coupon code, or shop around to find a similar item at a lower price.

After you get your items home, keep your receipts, and don't remove tags until you have worn something. This way you can return the item if it doesn't look as good hanging in your closet as it did in the store.

If any of these tips just don't work for you, don't follow them, or rethink them to make them fit your needs. I've frequently heard the advice, "If you like something so much that you are still thinking about it the next day, go back and buy it." That would give me license to buy everything I see! It's really easy for me to fall in love with something quickly, only to forget about it after I buy it, so I don't follow this bit of advice. For me, it is more practical to wait a longer time period before buying something, like two weeks to a month. By waiting, it helps me to decide whether I really like something and will wear it, and gives me time to find something I may like even better!

For those of you who have followed my recovering shopaholic mini-series, I sincerely hope that some of the tips and tricks I presented are helpful! I will be following my own advice as I get into the habit of shopping smarter, and doing less of it. If any of you needs an accountability buddy, or want to discuss smart shopping habits, feel free to contact me! I'd love to help.

Check out the other posts from my Recovering Shopaholic series!