Thursday, March 31, 2011

and the shopping gods were against her.

I had an unexpected free night last night, so I took a stroll down to Michigan Ave to see what I could find for my "color" ensemble. Let me just preface this post by saying I was wearing 3-inch heels, a pencil skirt and tights- not the optimal outfit for trying things on or walking all over the city.

My first stop was Zara. I had gone to the State St store on Monday during lunch, and the sales associate there told me the Michigan Ave store had a much better selection/variety of sizes. And he was right- they had a ton of great pieces in bright, fun colors. My fitting room looked like the rainbow by the time I was done with my first lap around the store. I literally tried on 15 different things- dresses, skirts, tops, pants, you name it. However, they only let you bring 6 things in to the fitting room at a time, which was annoying because I like to mix and match and see what looks good together. Even more annoying, they never have my size!!! They sell out so quickly, they don't have an online store AND they won't take ANYTHING off the mannequin even if it's your size and you are begging/whining/crying. Long story short, I'm boycotting Zara for awhile. Here are some of the things I tried on:

Super cute skirt that I knew I'd wear again and again (sandals in the summer, tights in the winter/spring), but surprise, surprise they didn't have my size.
Really liked this dress, but they didn't have my size.

Loved this! So comfortable, and I could dress it up or down. But what do you sizes for Lauren.

Almost bought this shirt when I was shopping at lunch on Monday, but when I tried it on again it just looked baggy and blah.

The one thing I tried on that fit like a glove, but I was hesitant to buy it without an idea for bottoms.

The only thing I bought! It was $30 and very soft, I also love polka dots :) I'm thinking this would be great with an orange dress...

Feeling a little down after leaving Zara, I decided to head to Water Tower for Akira (Chicago based store), Aritzia (boutique originally started in Canada) and Cusp (by Neiman Marcus). I tried on a dress in Akira and a skirt in Aritzia...neither worked. I absolutely love Cusp, but a lot of their dresses were above my budget (I only have $110 left after the scarf and yellow tank from Target). They were, however, having an awesome sale and I thought I might hit it big, but these two dresses didn't work out:

Really soft material and I loved the color, but it did absolutely nothing for my figure.

This DVF dress was a little too long for my liking :)

Feeling even more depressed at this point, I headed to my mecca: J.Crew. I saw this skirt there over the weekend that I thought might work, but I decided it was a cop-out. The polka dots (which are hard to see in this picture) are bright pink and orange, but it's mostly black and didn't fulfill my desire for color.

I also tried on this orange silk blazer at J.Crew, and while adorable, it was over $150 and I just couldn't blow my budget on my second attempt (I am very pleased with my self-control).

I walked out of the mall feeling very defeated and very tired. But today is a new day and I'm ready to go again! Hopefully the shopping gods are on my side this time...

Monday, March 28, 2011

for the rainbow.

I wasn't going to do another "project" shopping trip until after Easter, because I gave up shopping for Lent...but that lasted for 5 days, a valiant effort on my part. There's always next year :)

Now that I'm back to my sinner, shopaholic self, I can't wait to get started on phase two of my project. My favorite magazines are InStyle and Real Simple, and as I was flipping through them this month I saw one major trend- COLOR. Considering everything I've worn for this blog so far has been neutral (ahem, boring), I thought this was a perfect time to kick it up a notch and find some obnoxiously bright pieces. Here are the pictures that inspired me:

I especially love the cobalt and yellow combo (shown in the "plays well with" box). I have a cobalt clutch from Club Monaco that I bought a few years ago and have only used a handful of times, so I'm excited to break it out again. Cute, right?

I set my budget at $160, but I'm down to $140 because I saw this adorable yellow top at Target over the weekend. For $20, I figured why not??

It's a bright, sunny day in Chicago (still freezing, don't be fooled), so I'm going to head out to some shops at lunch to see what I can find. Doesn't get any better than shopping in the middle of the day.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

and comes out ahead!

I went shopping after work on Friday, in hopes of finding some mini-moon outfits (my fiance and I are going to Napa for a few days right after we get married, and taking a longer honeymoon in the winter). Anyway, the most absurd thing happened to me...I was returning a dress to J.Crew and I couldn't find something I wanted in exchange. I settled for a new animal print scarf, because my other one got caught on a bridge in a gust of wind and I had to rip it free. To make a long story short (too late), the scarf was cheaper than the dress, so I got money back, as in I made money! This is the first time such a thing has happened to me, and I'm so happy to have a place to document it for the world to see. I am THRIFTY and FRUGAL!

I was so impressed with myself, I celebrated by buying Sprinkles cupcakes (heavenly) and taking a cab home...pretty much negating my surplus, but who's counting :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

with her new friend Lou.

Recognize this cardigan?? I worked one of my first project purchases into my outfit for work yesterday, and I loved the look! The neutral animal print can go with anything...I'm predicting we'll be seeing a lot of this sweater in the coming months.

Oh, and that shiny new Louis Vuitton is my new best friend Lou, a very generous, surprise bridal shower gift from my wonderful stepmom. Some of you may question the idea of receiving a purse at a bridal shower, but I don't, for obvious reasons :)

H&M cardigan from my first project outfit, J.Crew ruffle tee, J.Crew studded skinny belt, DL1961 Milano jean, J.Crew cutout pumps.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

to bridal herself up.

This entry is not a "project" post, but I got some bargains so I thought I'd share!

My wonderful family threw me the perfect bridal shower this past weekend in New York. I had no doubt it would be wonderful, considering my sister is incredibly creative and a master planner/secret-keeper.

I stressed about my outfit for a good month or two, but when I saw the ivory pencil skirt in J.Crew, I knew we had a winner (it was on sale for $50)! I got the ivory cashmere t-shirt for $80 from J.Crew when they had one of their many 20% online discounts. The shoes I've had for awhile (also J.Crew), and I got those on sale too! I guess when you're on every other day (and in their stores on the off days), you're bound to find some deals...

My favorite part of the look is the awesome necklace I got at an online Kate Spade sample sale for $60 (it's regularly $200)!! It's so sparkly and fun, and it complimented the skirt beautifully.

I can't wait to wear every single piece from this outfit again and again! You're probably going to be seeing a lot of these items :)

Taking some glam shots at home before the shower.

A few of my lovely bridesmaids: Ali, Erin (sister!) and Jenn (L to R).

Friday, March 11, 2011

jingling all the way.

I wore my first outfit to work yesterday, and it was a great success! I still had to wear my UGGS for the commute and change shoes; I guess I was wrong with my "spring is just around the corner" statement...

These were the inspiration pictures I used:

And here's how I interpreted the look:

The navy H&M pants were a little short, but super comfortable, and they'll be great with sandals in the summer. The nude pumps are mine (Calvin Klein), as is the skinny gold belt (J.Crew). I loved the tie on the blouse, and the animal print cardigan (to play off the model's animal print bag) fit like a glove. It was also an awesome buy for $25- I know I'll wear this sweater to death (both the shirt and cardigan are also from H&M).

Last but not least, the F21 cocktail ring and bangles, mixed with my David Yurman bracelets, added the finishing touches to my outfit. Their clanking and jingling let everyone within a 50 yd radius know I was a-coming :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

in the pouring rain.

At least I can say my first shopping trip was somewhat successful- it taught me that I am committed to this project. It was dark, cold and rainy, and I walked about 2 miles from my job in the Loop to Michigan Ave (public transportation scares me, I always think I'm going to get lost). I was a little pressed for time, because I had to work the upcoming weekend and I decided to give up shopping for Lent (eek!! I'm marrying into a Catholic family, so I decided to give up something that I would actually miss. I plan on shopping in my closet for those 40 days, and pairing my new items with old favorites).

My first stop was Zara, and I found some great options right off the bat. It's a bit difficult to take pictures in their tiny fitting rooms, but I did my best.

So cute and comfortable, and definitely the look I was going for. Unfortunately, too big.
Blue pants! Very silky and different, but again, too big.
Loved this shirt! I knew I would wear it again and again, but it was $80, more than half of the budget.

My next stop was H&M. I ended up buying a pair of pants (they had tons of 70's inspired styles), but when I put them back on in the J.Crew fitting room (to see how they'd look with some shirt options), I had a "what in the world was I thinking??" moment. They were definitely too tight! Tucking a top into them made the look so unflattering. Bummer.

After stopping in American Apparel and Urban Outfitters with no success, I dragged my feet home, feeling very defeated. At least I got some great chunky, silver bangles and a cocktail ring from Forever 21 (for $10!!)

The next morning, I was up and at the stores at 9am (had to get my shopping in before work). I misread the H&M receipt and thought they didn't give refunds, so I was set on getting my pants there as to not blow my budget (I spent $60 on the pants, meaning I only had $50 left). Luckily, I ended up finding my entire outfit! I got a pair of navy, linen blend wide-leg pants, an adorable animal print cardigan and a white blouse with ruffles and a tie. Not exactly like my inspiration pictures, but I think I'll get much more use out of a navy pair of pants, as opposed to khaki or ivory. I'm also aware that I bought another cardigan. Shush, baby steps.

Here's the look I'm going for, and I got all 3 pieces for $85!

Some other shirt options I was considering. Ultimately I thought I could wear the blouse more.

I spent a total of $95 for the entire outfit ($85 at H&M and $10 for the accessories at F21). Coming in under budget isn't really my style, so I stopped in F21 again on my way to work. I ended up finding a long, taupe skirt for $20 and couldn't resist. The high waist and movement in the skirt reminded me of the wide leg pants from my inspiration pictures, and I thought I could definitely take some risks with this skirt. I spent the last $5 on a thick, off-white woven belt.

My long skirt (ignore my sub-par photography skills!)
I can't wait to wear my new outfit!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

for 70's flair.

I found my first inspiration ad! I've been wearing jeans and leggings constantly for the past few months, so I love the idea of having another pant option in my wardrobe. I also love the high-waist, wide leg style- bring on the peace signs, baby.

I also set a $120 budget for this outfit. Wish me luck!

Taken from the March issue of Vogue.

to rid herself of the winter blues.

A girl doesn't feel her cutest in the middle of a Chicago winter. I'm so sick of my boots, my endless parade of long-sleeve shirts and cardigans and my long, puffy jacket (it is impossible to be any kind of sexy in a long, puffy jacket, just impossible). There is a short list of things I do when I'm not feeling my best- drink a glass (ahem, bottle) of wine, girl talk with my family/friends, cuddle up with my fiance or, last but definitely not least, go shopping. I tend to go shopping quite a bit, as it happens that this is my go-to activity when I'm in any mood, actually.

This particular winter, I found myself buying and wearing the same things over and over again. I won't tell you how many J.Crew cardigans are living (yes, my clothes live with me) in my drawers, and the amount of times I've worn my plethora of sweater/t-shirt dresses with tights and boots is just embarrassing. I'm also guilty of buying things just to buy things, wearing them once and then banishing them to the back of the closet. And buying things without thinking about what they would go with my wardrobe? Guilty again. You would think with shopping online it would be easier to actually check what you already own, since you're home anyway, but somehow I missed that boat.

Thank goodness I wasn't so far gone that I didn't realize I needed to shake things up. With the first hint of spring around the corner (and my puffy coat gladly retired for the season), I decided I needed to challenge myself and my shopping habits. I came up with the idea of this blog, and even though the idea of writing and posting pictures to the WORLD is incredibly intimidating (to say the least), I decided to just go for it.

Here are the rules I've developed for this little project:

  • Choose an "inspiration" picture from a magazine/website/friend, etc. I'm going to challenge myself here, by picking something that's not what I would typically wear.
  • Set a budget to buy the pieces of the inspiration ensemble.
  • Go shopping!! My favorite part, obviously.
  • Wear the outfit anywhere I wish. Take pictures :)
  • Create 4-5 other outfits with the pieces I purchased by combining them with things I already own. My goal here is to not buy something, wear it once and then forget about it. I want to incorporate the things I buy into my wardrobe, and make them last.
I'm so excited to start this blog and my clothes are even more excited to welcome some fabulous new friends. Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for my first shopping trip!