Sunday, July 31, 2011

Shopping for Bday Dress...?

That's right - the title of this post is 'Shopping for Bday Dress...?'  So I happened upon some other things in the grueling process of dress shopping.  I am SO excited about all of these shoes!!  During the 11 hour shopping MARATHON to find a dress... discovering each of these little gems along the way helped keep me going ;)

I'm thrilled to say that I did finally find the perfect dress - can you guess which of these shoes I'll be wearing on my birthday with it?? :)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Quick and Casual

Quick post before my 3 day weekend shopping trip (so exciting!) - I'm so thrilled to feature this pink bracelet, which is a giveaway item that I won from Bravoe Runway, one of my favorite fashion blogs!!  Wore this outfit last weekend to dinner and a movie, SUPER comfy and the jeans keep me from freezing to death in the movie theater (why must it be so cold in there??).

I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!

AT Loft bracelet (giveaway WIN from Bravoe Runway!), GAP outlet vest and tank, NY&Co jeans, Calvin Klein wedges, Michael Kors watch, old necklaces, F21 bangles, Rebecca Minkoff bag

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mixing Pleasure with Business!

“The rule of my life is to make business a pleasure, and pleasure my business.”
-Aaron Burr

So excited to introduce the newest Pencil Skirts & Lattes feature: Mixing Pleasure with Business!  Since starting this blog, I've been posting both professional attire and weekend wear looks.  Recently I realized that I can incorporate most of what I have fun wearing on the weekends into a business-appropriate look during the week.  So the concept of 'Mixing Pleasure with Business' was born! :)  I'll admit that I used to view all of the pieces in my wardrobe as one category or the other and rarely mixed the two - but an unintended bonus of this blog is that I've become much more creative with styling my outfits, so I started mixing it up and I'm LOVING the result!  Another benefit of this concept for me is cost avoidance.  I used to get into slumps where I would stare at my closet in the mornings and think "I have NOTHING to wear to work - I need to shop this weekend."  Well now that I'm more open to blending in some of my weekend pieces, I have limitless potential for creating new, authentic looks for work... and spend way less money on "work only" clothes.

I'm so excited to share this with you and hope you all enjoy this new feature.  Let me know how you blend your wardrobe to create new looks, I'd love to see how you all mix pleasure with business ;)

F21 jacket, shirt, necklace, earrings, and bracelet; AT Loft skirt, Vince Camuto pumps, Rebecca Minkoff bag, Michael Kors watch 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Time for a change

Happy Monday, friends!  Those of you who follow me on Twitter already know that this Saturday, I decided to take the plunge and chop my hair off.  After over 3 years of patiently growing it out with only minor trims to shape up the ends occasionally... I decided within 24 hours of my hair appointment to go for a pretty drastic change.  Luckily for me, my super fun friend and hair stylist was up for the challenge and made the new cut/color look so fab that I didn't have any regrets!!  Even when I saw the 6 inches of hair on the floor (okay, that made me a little uneasy - but only for a second)... (alright, it was a few seconds).

The moral of this story for me:  it was time for a change.  I wasn't into styling my hair anymore with the length it was before.   The whole point of having long hair for me was to be able to do so many more things with it, curl the ends for going out, etc.  Well my hair was so heavy that curls would fall out within an hour, and I was wearing it either in a ponytail or a bun EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  Blah.  I wanted to feel excited about my hair again.  

Another thing I learned from this haircut?  This blog makes me take so many more chances than ever before.  I'm so inspired and touched by the feedback and encouraging comments I've gotten so far, and I feel accountable to my readers.  I feel the need to make every photo and post a constant evolving reflection of who I am and what I'm loving, even if it's just for the moment.  Right now I'm making some changes in my life... I wanted my hair style to be an expression of that.    

For those of you reading this thinking "seriously? it's just hair...." I should admit that a big part of me agrees with the fact that it isn't this big of a deal.  However, that part of me is too busy enjoying how simple this new haircut is to manage to comment right now :)

Victoria's Secret t-shirt, GAP shorts, F21 necklace and bracelet, NY&Co earrings, Francesca's sunglasses, Rebecca Minkoff bag, Michael Kors watch

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Blue and Gold

Sometimes I throw caution to the wind and dress up on casual Friday (as I type this I think of the movie Juno and that "whoa, dream big!" quote). Especially in the summer, even though jeans are allowed on Friday, it's way too hot to wear them so I wear a more casual dress or skirt like this one.

I absolutely love these colors together... this mustard-yellow/goldish tone and this shade of blue are one of my all time favorite combos.  I want to blame it on the fact that these were my high school colors, but considering that I hardly possessed any school spirit back then (let alone now), that isn't likely.  I think this combo appeals to me because it looks very classy, it is bright and cheery without being LOUD, and these colors just compliment each other so nicely.

Urban Outfitters cardigan, F21 tank and shades, Target skirt, Calvin Klein shoes, Charming Charlie's necklace, NY&Co bracelet, Francesca's earrings, Michael Kors watch, Rebecca Minkoff bag

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Let me explain.

I just wanted to get away for a few minutes on my lunch break but didn't feel like eating. Of course, the only other thing that makes sense to do on my lunch break is shop (you know you agree).  So what if I was taking a break from my extensive retail therapy to try to shop my closet and to save some $ for a fabulous Rebecca Minkoff bag?  I was just going to "look to see if TJ Maxx had any good stuff."  Yeeeeah.

So I enter the store and head directly to the purses.  Mind you, I'm saving for a purse I really want... and don't need a purse otherwise.  But I head for the purses.  Good sense, I tell you.  Anyway, I go through all of the purses, aisle after aisle of a decent selection of bags, when suddenly I see this BEAUTY on the very last hook on the last row of purses.  "No, it couldn't be.  There is no way.  I've never known this TJ Maxx to even carry that brand!" I think as I dart toward the bag, shoving anyone between me and the object of my affection completely to the side without regard.  As soon as I picked it up, I just knew.  (I imagine this is like the feeling I hear about when people experience love at first sight.)  This was a LOVELY Rebecca Minkoff handbag, in the perfect style and perfect color for which I had been saving.  And at the perfect price.  Was this meant to be?  I'll just say fate isn't necessarily my thing, but I believe in meeting the perfect handbag at the perfect time...    

Michael Kors shirt (THRIFTED!!) and watch, AT Loft skirt and ring, Vince Camuto shoes, F21 earrings and bracelet, Coach sunglasses, Rebecca Minkoff bag 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer beauty essentials

I don't wear a lot of makeup typically - especially in the summer.  However, I do feel that this is an appropriate time to admit that I am an absolute SUCKER for Sephora.  I buy so many things from that store and could spend hours online reading reviews of products that I admittedly do not need/nor will I ever use more than 3-4 times.  Something about promises of improved skin tone, plump lips, a false-eyelash effect.. and I'm hooked.  I also buy drugstore brands of eyeshadow/liner/mascara/gloss that I think very highly of - so in my mind I just know that for me, there isn't a huge difference in what I get there versus Sephora.  But still my heart just yearns for that black-n-white decor, chic product displays, cult faves, and dance-beat soundtrack that is Sephora.

Onto the point of this post - time to introduce my summer favorites.  Some from Sephora, some from various other cosmetic boutiques...these are my every day, go-to, must-have products for looking polished but not too overly 'done' in the steamy summer heat.

Before I get into makeup, let me say that as far as skincare goes - I have a VERY simple routine.  I wash my face with Noxema (yes, and have used it most loyally since I was about 16), then I use Clinique All About Eyes Rich eye cream and Philosophy Hope in an oil-free SPF (30) EVERY SINGLE DAY.  On to the fun stuff:

First things first - I know roughly half of the world is into this product. And you should all know that while I might try a cult fave product just to see if it's at all worth the hype, I would never stick with it if I didn't love it. Without this little magic golden stick by YSL, I would look like death warmed up every single day. I put a few strokes of this under my eyes and all of a sudden - it's like I got a full night's sleep. It's that good, people.  I use the #2 color... whatever that means.

  Next, it's onto cheeks and lips.  Feel like I skipped a step?  Well I did - but I don't wear any primer or foundation.  Ever.  It's not that I don't need it - I just don't like it, and I'm willing to deal with any potentially glaring facial imperfections as a result of that decision.  My mom is almost 60 and has never worn foundation at all - and I can only hope that I inherited some of those genes and could possibly have skin that stunning and flawless at her age.

So I do use bronzer (this Chanel one is Soleil Tan De Chanel in #62 Terre Epice) and I can't say enough about how lovely this is.  It blends well with my other makeup and looks very natural... also good for contouring my face.  I typically contour with this and put a bit of this Tarte Cheek Stain in Tipsy on the apples of my cheeks - then I blend them together with a brush as to avoid any harsh lines. Also, this summer I'm wearing Chanel gloss on my lips in #277 almost religiously. It looks like a glittery coral color in the tube (and in the pic) but it looks really pretty and natural on.

Okay, now for eyes. I really only wear a few key products there... one eye palette that I'm loving for summer is this Smashbox Softbox Eye Palette - so many different colors for shadow and liner, I'm loving it. Just the right mix of matte and shimmery colors to come up with so many different looks. And if I want a more dramatic summer night look - I use this YSL 5 Color Harmony Palette for Eyes palette in #3. Most importantly - I must talk mascara. I was an avid drugstore mascara user for years. I never saw the value in spending more money on this particular beauty essential just to get an upscale brand. Then, the Diorshow cult finally drew me in. I tried and tried, but it was a clumpy mess on me (and the tube). So I searched for something different (better) and I'm so glad I did - this Lancome Hypnose Drama is the BEST mascara I have ever used.... hands down. Mine is in 'excessive black' and I love the definition and length it gives while still allowing me to look natural. LOVE IT.

Lastly, I do finish my basic summer look with a light dusting of mineral powder - this just helps set the other products and reduce any shine. I have used Laura Mercier Mineral Pressed Powder SPF 15 for several years - and in the summer I use the 'Natural Beige' color.

There you have it, my simple (yet definitely wordy) summer makeup routine.  What are some of your summer makeup must-haves??

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Track Lighting

The best thing about the weekend is simplicity.  It feels great to be able to wear anything I want, in this instance a pair of shorts and a lightweight top.  This look isn't exactly the 'neon and neutral' trend, but close - these shorts are BRIGHT.

Hope everyone is having a fantastic, relaxing, beautiful weekend... I know I am! :)

GAP shorts, F21 shirt, Franco Sarto shoes (from TJ Maxx), Ann Taylor Loft necklaces, Charming Charlie's bracelets, Michael Kors watch, old earrings, boutique rings

Thursday, July 14, 2011

BDIB Challenge - the Maxi skirt!

Of course I've seen the other Bloggers Do It Better challenges in the past - but this one was my first opportunity to participate in one since starting my blog... so exciting!

Then I saw the challenge - The maxi skirt.  OH DEAR, I thought.  Okay, let me explain.  I love maxi skirts and maxi dresses... this is one of my favorite trends for 2011.  But I had NEVER found a maxi skirt or dress that looked even remotely decent on me.  I tried and tried - it just wouldn't work.  That was until I found this little pleated one at my favorite local thrift store.  That's right - of all the places I'd searched and shopped hoping to find one that worked for me, I ended up thrifting this one!  This could have something to do with the fact that I didn't think they were flattering on me at all.  I would never commit to paying retail for one just to follow a trend, so I felt better about buying one at a thrift store.  But honestly, I just liked this one the most.  It's comfy, I love the pleats, and it's black... which makes this non-figure-flattering trend easier to cope with :)

PS - this skirt must have put me in a super-thrifty mood.. with the exception of my watch, not one piece of this outfit was over $20!!

Thrifted maxi, F21 top and sunnies, Soda sandals (TJ Maxx), Francesca's belt, Charming Charlie's bracelets and earrings, AT Loft necklace, Michael Kors watch

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How To: Business Professional with STYLE

If you've read my 'About me' tab - you already know that this blog is partly about me embracing my corporate dress code and styling it my own way.  I've gotten lots of questions (and seen questions on lots of other blogs) about how to incorporate your own unique style into a business professional or business casual environment.  People - let me tell you - this is one topic on which I feel highly qualified to offer my opinion.  Not only do I work for a southern, ridiculously conservative company - I also meet with executives all day, and the dress code is even more strict than any other corporate job I've had.  One tiny example - I can't wear capri or cropped pants unless I have a matching jacket.  While I'm not a huge fan of capri pants - I do LOVE the look of a good pair of cropped trousers with heels for work.  Challenge extended....  

For this outfit - I not only met the dress code.. I did a fresh take on the classic suit.  I love how both the cropped pants and jacket look more modern than a classic suit.  I also added a statement necklace, work-appropriate red lips, and a messy bun to give it my own twist.

A few of my rules of thumb on incorporating your own unique style into a business professional look:

1) Put a modern spin on a classic suit:  My suit in these photos is basic black... but I did a cropped pant and 3/4 sleeve jacket to make it both summer-friendly and modern.  Also, so many stores have suits with cute details right now - a different color seam, pleats, ruffles... if you tend to gravitate toward any of those details for clothing outside of work, try getting a suit with one of those elements so you can still feel like yourself when you're wearing it.  (Someday I will post my 'styling for a job interview' tips which speak to the importance of still feeling like YOU when you're dressed to impress) 

2) Make a statement, but know when to shut up.  This one may seem obvious, but sometimes I see people go overboard - when if they had stopped at 1 or 2 flashy pieces, it would have looked a bit more classy.  In this outfit - I picked statement jewelry in one bright color to make this look pop.  Could I have added a leopard-print belt? Sure.  Could I have worn more colorful heels? Absolutely.  Could I have styled an additional color (turquoise, for example...) with this red jewelry for more of a trendy look?  Of course.  But for the environment in which I work, I chose to stop while I was ahead.  None of those other things would have been over-the-top or tacky looking (I'm actually re-thinking the turquoise jewelry decision as I type this) - but this goes back to feeling like yourself and being comfortable.  I have to perform under pressure in my job - and the last thing I want is for my personal style to distract from my ability to do that.  I want my look to ENHANCE my performance - and let me tell you - if I wasn't already sassy enough at work......... this red jewelry and lipstick did the trick :)

3) Comfort is key.  This is honestly the most often forgotten rule of looking great (already judging those 4 inch heels I have on in these pics? not so fast...).  I wear heels to work almost every single day.  I love the way they make me look and feel at work.  I never buy a pair of heels that are intolerable from a comfort perspective.  That being said, EVERY pair of heels starts to feel uncomfortable after a while (especially when you have to walk back and forth between several different buildings for your job) - so I bring matching flats to work in my bag every day also.  The majority of the time, I don't even change in to the flats - but knowing they're available if my feet start aching gives me extra peace of mind to feel confident in my heels all day.  Also, I make sure my clothes are easy to wear, breathable (this is CRITICAL for summer in the south), and I don't wear anything fussy.  You all know what fussy clothes are.  Fussy pieces are those shirts that the buttons gape open when you sit down (FYI - either buy a bigger size or invest in some double-sided fashion tape to adhere the fabric in between the buttons), pants with a hem that drag the floor, jewelry that clanks around on your keyboard all day, etc.  People - fussy clothing and/or accessories will ruin your day.  It doesn't matter how great you look - if you are irritated that your shirt won't stay tucked in or that one of your shoes slips off the back of your heel when you walk - PLEASE do yourself a favor and don't wear it again.  One thing I've learned from this blogging experience is that some people look fabulous all dressed up, and some look just as fabulous in shorts and a tank top.  If you are uncomfortable and feel awkward in anything you're wearing - you can't be confident in it.  Everyone wants to look confident in their stylish ensembles...and comfort is confidence.

So there you have it, my rules of dressing for success.  Take 'em or leave 'em, these are 3 things that have always worked for me.  I'd love to hear if any of you have any tips on styling workwear!!  

Banana Republic cropped trousers, camisole, and belt; F21 jacket, necklace, and red ring; NY&CO earrings (old), AT Loft bangles,  gold ring and Eliza B clutch (from Coco Bay boutique), Vince Camuto pumps, Michael Kors watch, random old sunglasses