A tale of DIY Halloweens

*Sale update: Nordstrom's Half-Yearly Sale started today! A few fairly classic Burberry coats are included, but sizes are going quickly.*halloween4
Left: 1st photographed Halloween  Right: Nick & I in thrifted and altered costume pieces (can you spot Abu?)

Last night, my mom dug out a photo from almost two decades ago. I've never been a fan of Halloween, and this photo kind of explains why. As a child, I remember scrounging around the house before October 31st, picking up bits and pieces for an ensemble. That year, I scored an amazing cardboard crown from a cereal box, procured some gold tinsel, and found a floaty scarf. I remember assembling all the pieces over my best dress and twirling around, feeling like a princess. That is...until I got to school and was surrounded by classmates decked-out in elaborate, purchased costumes, asking me what I was supposed to be.

Although some tears may have been shed back then, I look at this photo so fondly now. It embodies the spirit of making the most out of what you have, despite not having very much. I'd like to believe that spirit encourages me to be more prudent (shopping-wise) and resourceful with my wardrobe as an adult, even if times have changed.

On a lighter note - I can't remember the last time I got dressed up for Halloween since Jasmine, but this year my friend Khatu convinced me to be her other half...

Autumn Wedding Wear: Jewel-tone floral & necklace as a belt

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H&M dress from Khatu (semi similar), Louboutin Simple 85 pumps, Chanel WOC, Talbots jewelry

Last weekend, I had so much fun in Dallas for a close friend's wedding. The forecast showed sunny skies and a high of 85, but my mind was in full-on autumn mode. The night before my flight, I was still at work with no dress, and texted Khatu in a panic. She was a lifesaver and swung by my office with the perfect solution.

I absolutely loved the rich, dark hues on this dress combined with the floaty chiffon layering. Ruby red pumps and hunter green stones were an easy choice for accentuating the colors in the print. On a whim, I held my necklace up against my waist and rather liked the look of a jeweled belt. Despite all the opinions received from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram friends...I couldn't make up my mind, and ended up doing belt for the ceremony and necklace for the reception.
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The necklace only reached partly around my waist, so I rummaged around for a connector of sorts. A navy, full-bodied chiffon sash would've been ideal, but in my last-minute searching fury, I couldn't find sash, ribbon, or neck ties of any color. I ended up taking a pair of old black stockings and cut out two strips with angled ends to sew together. After temporarily removing the clasp on the necklace with small pliers, I simply strung the stocking sash through the two chain link ends of the necklace, and finished with a festive bow.
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My date in a Theory suit and shirt, with yet another pocket square made out of thrift store project scraps.
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Autumn at Work: Pumpkin swing jacket + hunter green lace

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H&M swing jacket (similar), Gap bow blouse (similar), Ann Taylor lace pencil skirt (similar)
Louboutin nude simple 100 pumps, Talbots necklace worn as bracelet, Revlon "Vixen" polish

As stores are currently saturated with burgundy, I’ve been enjoying other autumn color favorites in my existing wardrobe. This time of the year, I love wearing rustic orange -or pumpkin- almost as much as others love their pumpkin spice lattes. The color reminds me of fall foliage at its peak...which is sadly very short-lived.
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Orange is a color I don't see on many women (probably have Elle Woods to blame), but can be fairly easy to pair. Just stick with shades that are less stark (like Halloween orange + black) and color combinations that appear naturally. Safe pairings include hunter green, brown / neutrals, or a soft ivory. Referencing my trusty color wheel, neighboring colors like red or yellow can create bold yet harmonious combinations that are still reminiscent of nature, like turning leaves.

Navy and Neutrals

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Ann Taylor factory lace dress (similar), H&M knit blazer (similar), Crewcuts boys gingham shirt
Ferragamo Vara shoes (similar), Prada Saffiano Tote, belt borrowed from Nick's dad

Earlier this evening, I had the pleasure of hosting a local workshop on "Maximizing your Work Wardrobe." After some nervous mulling in the shower, I threw together a list of some of tips learned over the years.

One topic that we discussed was shopping for versatile pieces, including items beyond "traditional" office wear that one would love just as much on the weekends. When I was an intern, I loaded up on button-up dress shirts, trousers, and suit-style blazers. I didn't enjoy shopping for them, did not feel compelled to shell out for alterations, and almost never wore them outside of work. Although those are still the most conservative and foolproof pieces for a corporate office, I've had much more fun shopping and dressing outside of that realm.
navyandneutrals2 This outfit is comprised of various pieces collected over the years, none of which are traditional work pieces bought for work. The lace dress has worked beautifully for cocktails or a garden party; the comfy gingham shirt was guiltily plucked from the boys department; the waffle knit blazer is a fave for pairing with denim. Worn together, these pieces give off a feminine yet academic vibe that is conservative enough for my office.

Review: Ann Taylor Petite Silk and Silk-like Blouses

In continued pursuit of petite-friendly silk blouses, I ordered a few to try on during Ann Taylor's last 30% off sale. They currently don't have white, my top choice, but do carry a range of jewel tone and wintery colors. A nice long-sleeve collared blouse can be a workhorse for the office and on the weekends, both worn alone and layered under something for a pop of color. Here are the ones I tried on, in the order of slimmest to loosest cut:
1. Petite Silk Legacy Blouse, 2 colors, 91% silk/95 spandex. Untucked:
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Tucked in:
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Likes: The fit for me was perfect as a dress shirt. The blouse is cut to be close-fitting and tapers in at the waist, allowing for minimal poofing when tucked into skirts. The sleeves hit just at the right length. Touch of spandex makes the material stretchy and didn't pull on the buttons when I moved my arms around. The other rose quartz color looks beautiful, like a blush pink.

Dislikes: The material in purple had too much sheen for me and reminded me of silk charmeuse. The fitted dress shirt style makes this more appropriate for the office and less for wearing casually over denim. Also on the pricier end of their blouse options.

Measurements of a 00P: 11.5" shoulder to shoulder, 15" across underarms, 22" long sleeves, 22" total length, 13.5" across waist.

2. Petite Covered Placket Long Sleeve Shirt, 4 colors, 100% polyester. Untucked:
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Even though I was looking for a silk blouse, I loved the look of this top online and wanted to give it a shot. I've had luck with Ann Taylor's polyester - one of my favorite blouses from there looks and feels like silk to me, but is actually 100% polyester. I wear it much more than I probably would with silk, because it's so easy to maintain and wash.

Ann Taylor Fall for Work: Jewel Tones & Fun Textures

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Peplum top, exotic block heels, floral top, tweed skirt (sold out but jacket here) thanks to Ann Taylor
Silk Camp Shirt in "Rich Verdigris" (recent purchase, review coming soon)

A while back, I got to peek at Ann Taylor's fall collection and pick out some favorites to try on. It was hard to choose, but I went with a vibrant color family and fabrics that were fun variations on familiar textures
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I wasn't ready for this, but opaque tights season is already upon us here in New England. To get the most out of cold-weather work clothes, I look for items that pair just as well with bare legs as they do with dark hosiery. I am loving jewel tones for that precise reason, and the teal blue hues from Ann Taylor this fall do not disappoint.
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Go-to fall polish: Revlon "Vixen" (stays good for years

The texture of this skirt is listed as "tweed," but in-person is a thick yarn-knit that seems more like boucle. It has a soft feel to it like felted wool, and the blend of colors are beautiful.

Honeycomb, tweed + dots (& "Oktoberfest" in New Hampshire)

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J.Crew honeycomb sweater (similar) & Edie bag, Ferragamo flats (similar)
Polka dot blouse and tweed skirt, both from Savers thrift store & DIY altered

Last month, the director of my group invited our small team to his cabin for a mini Oktoberfest, hiking, plus hunting. We drove 3.5 hours outside of Boston to a serene part of northern New Hampshire, where he owns a few hundred acres of land. It felt wonderful to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a weekend.

I wore this outfit for indoor social activities, and packed green jeans and old sneakers for the wilderness. Layers are necessary for staying comfortable in fluctuating weather, and also to shield sensitive skin from itchy sweaters. As long as my vital organs are warm and toasty, my legs can tolerate being bare up until late fall.
newhampshire10Mixing textures and adding a hint of pattern keeps a basic outfit from being too basic.
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The host went all out and ordered massive amounts of food from GermanDeli.com...the sausages hot off the grill, tangy sauerkraut, plus sweet and hot specialty mustards were delicious together.
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Casual Fall: Olive jeans, soft cashmere & scalloped lace

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Seven olive legging jeans (similar available in short inseam), Gap kids lace top
Vince cashmere cardigan (similar), Calvin Klein leopard pumps (this year's version)

Every so often, I like to rifle through my closet for pieces that have not been getting much love. Sometimes the lack of wear is due to seasonality, but sometimes it's indicative of a poor purchasing decision. Such is the case with this top - I bought not one, but two very similar lace shells, neither of which were touched in the past 6 months. This is also the reason why I now try to deliberate over every purchase (whether it's $15 or $1500), because each new item that adds little value is just unnecessary consumerism and wasted closet space. That being said, mistakes still happen, and hopefully the item(s) can just find a better home.
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This sweater, on the other hand, is an old favorite found years ago while combing eBay for "100% cashmere" treasures. It was stowed away for the summer and I was thrilled to re-discover it. Each time I cuddle up in the soft and cozy material, I'm reminded of why one should not settle for itchy, pilling-prone knitwear.
 
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