What's black, white, and red in exactly one spot?

Think about it for a moment.

Do you know?

If you guessed a furry snow leopard print jacket at H&M for 70% off, you are right!

I didn't go crazy with the after Christmas shopping this year, as I was feeling guilty about buying more things for myself. But this jacket was only $18, and I was smitten the moment I tried it on. I also have this weird complex where when the last one of something happens to be my size I feel like there is some sort of cosmic plan at work.

I even sought out further conformation that it was a good purchase by polling people waiting in line - which was very long because H&M only had one person at the register. I got four 'yes'es from people in the queue and a big 'no' + 'eye roll' from my little sister. So I got it.

I also got this super long black bead and chain necklace from Aldo because I didn't get it for Christmas and it was only $10.50 (nearly half off!)

Did you find any great after Christmas sales?

Out of my sugar coma

Christmas always goes by in a flash - a whole month of crazy preparations and anticipation, then within 35 hours, it's over. So here's a little taste of my Christmas:

What I wore - A black dress with a lace top (which turned out to be a problem with every bra I own, so I had to put a shrug over it!), a red cinch belt, my beloved red mary jane pumps, and lacey tights to mimic the lace of the dress.

Black Lace dress, Black shrug, Red Mary Janes, lace tights

What I ate - One of many scrumptious cookies, the chocolate muzzette is my favorite! Click through to Flickr for the recipe!

Chocolate Muzzettes

What I received - I always feel so spoiled at Christmas, this year some of my favorite gifts are: an apple green coat with a furry collar, a multi colored flower ring, and a carrot necklace. I'm also excited to play my new Seinfeld Monopoly, and read Heat Wave, a book written by the fictional character of the show Castle. I have no idea how a fictional character writes a book... but I'm sure it will be a fun read!

I hope everyone had wonderful holidays!!!

Black Velvet Boyfriend Blazer

I probably have an undiagnosed case of OCD.

As previously mentioned, I've been on the hunt for a black velvet blazer, and after scrutinizing every one I found online, trying to find one in a store, and spending hours searching ebay, I finally decided I liked the Urban Outfitters Silence and Noise boyfriend blazer best.

So two things happened the other week, first the UO blazer went on sale from $78 to $49, making it buyable. The second thing was that it went out of stock the next day.

Called my local Urban Outfitters, but they didn't have it in stock at all. So rather than just letting it go, I'm suddenly checking the website every hour to see if my blazer comes back in stock. This seems very possible to me since they are offering free returns and exchanges.

So I check. First there is a large, next extra small, then nothing. But I keep checking, and checking. Thankfully, three days later a medium was back and I was able to nab it. I probably would have deteriorated into a crazy person if I'd had to obsess over it any longer.

The blazer has arrived and while I do really like it, I'm a little disappointed that it isn't lined (I supposed I should have assumed that they would have mentioned it if it was!) and the sleeves are way too long for me. Should be an easy fix though. The general fit of the blazer is more relaxed and roomie, as it is meant to be a 'boy' cut.

So my question is:
Good things come to those who wait, or She who hesitates is lost?

Mixed metals chain necklace

Last season the knotted chain necklace at Urban Outfitters was new and unique. This season you can't twirl around a jewelry stand in any store with out inadvertently knocking ten of them to the ground. I regretted not getting the chain necklace last year; I was in the store, it was in my hand, and I thought "let me just wait for it to go on sale." And I missed out.

That said, it should have been an easy task to find its equal now that every retailer has a version (or three). Only none that I found could hold a candle to the Urban necklace, be they too chunky (simply vera), too skimpy (forever 21), or just kind of strange.

The necklace that has the best resemblance is this mixed materials version from the Gap. Ignore the plaid fabric and focus on the chains. A thick group of thin chains, both silver and gold, with a strand of crystals.

Since the necklace was on sale for $10 (in the B&M store), I decided it would be worth altering. So I ditched the plaid fabric, replaced it with some chains, and vola!

To be even more accurate to the Urban necklace, you could unhook the chains, braid them, and knot the crystals.

Plus, now Chloe can enjoy the necklace as well.

New Years Eve for Under $100

While browsing Express.com's extra 20% off clearance, I spotted this slinky silver dress and felt inspired to put together a new years eve look.

Total: $98.40

(on a completely random note, why can't I ever seem to make my polyvore sets fill the whole space? Is there some secret trick I don't know about?)

Forever a copycat

If you've spent the last eight months waiting for Anthropologie to put the Stormy Sea Necklace on sale because you aren't crazy enough to spend $48 on jewelry made from acrylic and jersey; and you're even more unhappy because the color you wanted is no longer on their web site and is being sold for $90 on ebay, then you might be happy to know that Forever 21 now has their own version of this necklace.

The Pear Shaped Collar is available in three colors, jade, black and cream. It is selling for $8.80, nearly $40 less than the Stormy Sea - and a far more logical price for plastic and ribbon.

So Anthropologie, what do you have to say about that?

Gift Guide - $30 and Under

I really enjoyed the challenge of finding things I would want to give for under $10, but during the process I came across so many other things that were a bit more expensive! Here are my favorite under $30 picks.

1. Crushed Glitter Magic Wallet at J.Crew, $16.50 - In both silver and gold, the magic wallet is the perfect choice for the itty-bitty clutch. Just enough room for your ID, a few credit cards and a little cash.
2. Paint-By-Number Dessert Plate at Anthropologie, $12 each - The bright colors and playful motif make these plates really stand out. They come in six different designs and I suspect you'll want them all.
3. LaCie imakey (4 gig) at Amazon, $21 - A discrete low profile USB flash drive for a key ring, that looks like key. Very cute. (I felt the need to include a more masculine gift, so I borrowed this from my brother's gift guide.)
4. Gap Icon Gift Set at Gap, $18.50 - Perfume and body lotion with a matching cosmetic bag in one of the classic Gap fragrances.
5. Wine Color Earrings at Klara Design Jewelry, $22 - Handmade earrings with crystal beads are subtle in their eggplant color, but so full of shimmer.
6. Mixed Stitch Scarf at Urban Outfitters, $28 - Who doesn't have a black wool coat that could use a shock of electric blue? And check out the dimensions - 72" x 26" - this scarf is massive, so you know it will keep you super warm.
7. PostSecret Hard Cover Book at Amazon, $15.65 - Comprised of submissions to the popular website, PostSecret is a collection of people's most private thoughts, written on postcards, and then published with anonymity. A mix of dark and beautiful, it's so intriguing to be in on someone else's secret.
8. Faux the Love of Sparkle Necklace at Mod Cloth, $30 - This necklace certainly makes a statement. A big sparkly one, and nothing says 'holidays' like sparkle.
9. Coaster Skirts at Pier 1, $13 - These clever coasters can actually be slipped on to the bottom of stemware, so you won't have to worry about your guests forgetting to use them. The set includes six different colors, so they are also a convenient way to remember which glass is yours.
10. Little Birch Jewelry Stand at Urban Outfitters, $28 - I love this little tree. Even without using it to display jewelry it makes a lovely addition to a room. I only hang bird and leaf jewelry on mine, because I'm silly like that.
11. Penguin Cocktail Shaker at Pier 1, $25 - What is better than a functional device disguised as a cute animal?

Black Lace and White Ruffles

Black lace skirt, White ruffel top, Red Pumps
Today was my work Christmas party, and I was excited to wear my white tiered ruffle top. I decided to keep it very simple and paired it with a black lace skirt, a black cardigan, and my red pumps. For accessories I wore two necklaces, the pre-strung pearls I made into a necklace and a small gold bow with a single rhinestone in the center.
pearls and bow
My efforts of course went unnoticed by my coworkers (most of whom were wearing jeans and sneakers) - but just because I work in the the worlds most causal office, doesn't mean I shouldn't always dress my best.

I also am proud to say that this outfit cost under $100, and I put together a polyvore set to that effect. The only item on it which is exactly what I'm wearing is the lace skirt, but all the others are very similar.

Stocking Stuffers

Some gift ideas for $10 and under - perfect to be that extra something you might need to add to a gift, or for that someone who you aren't really sure if you're exchanging gifts with, or for yourself... why not?

1. Measuring Cup Set at Pier 1, $10 - Butterfly printed mugs that are actually measuring cups? Adorable!
2. Airmail pouch at Fred Flare, $9 - for anyone with Jolly Post Clutch lust, here is a mini version.
3. Starbucks Cup Ornaments at Starbucks, $10 - I like to pretend mine is a grande triple peppermint mocha.
4. Get Your Mac On Pin at Mod Cloth, $10 - It's the classic Happy Macintosh!! I can't imagine any Apple lover not wanting this pin.
5. Fiery Glimpse Dishtowel at Anthropologie, $8 - Ball fringe. On a dishtowel.
6. Simple Gifts Ring at Mod Cloth, $10 - Put a bow on it and it's a present. This cute little ring is subtle enough to wear everyday, and hopefully the recipient will, because then they will always be thinking of you.
7. Spike Jewelry Holder at Urban Outfitters, $10 - This hedgehog isn't quite sonic, but he's still kinda cute.
8. Love Actually DVD at Amazon, $7.50 - My favorite 'new' Christmas movie, this is one of the sweetest romantic comedies there is.
9. Purse Hook at Amazon, $9 - Keep bags off the floor and close at hand with this clever contraption.
10. Belle of the Ball lip balm at Avon.com, $5 - A shiny Christmas ornament shaped orb of lip balm in three shades.
11. Bloomsberry Chocolate Bars, at supermarkets and TJMaxx, $3 or over priced online retailers - I love these chocolate bars so much, and not just because their packaging is amazing - the chocolate is good too! I've already bought a bunch to give out this year.

Wish List

Items in this set:

'Tis the season to be greedy? 
For several years I've kept a wish list at Amazon.com for benefit of my family and for a little self indulgence. Sometimes it's fun to fill it up with beautiful expensive shoes I know I'll never buy, dreaming that someone will actually get them for me. Of course I put sensible things that don't cost too much on it as well, like books and sweaters from the Gap.

Each year at my church there is a christmas tree full of gift tags with things written on them like "3 year old girl - Sweater". The tags are for a family who can't afford to give their children Christmas presents this year, so members of the church take a tag and buy a gift.

This is something I've done for the past few years, and I've really enjoyed it. Last year shopping for the three year old girl, I went to H&M and was able to get a ton of clothes for her because of their $5 and $10 sale items. I loved choosing all the clothes, and knowing my gifts were going to make a little girl's Christmas morning wonderful.

This morning when I looked at the tags on the tree I felt like they seemed a bit greedy. A pair of Ugg boots, a silver heart necklace from Tiffany's, a Wii.
I know there are a lot of people in this world with these things on their wish lists, and I know many of them will get them. I also know there is a good deal of wealth in my town, and it would be nice to know that an unfortunate family would be benefiting from that.

Yet, I'm bothered.
Perhaps because in my own family we never do extravagant gifts - I wanted an iPod, I had to get a job and buy it myself. Christmas isn't supposed to be about that.
A family who can't afford christmas asking a church to give them a Wii, sounds a little greedy.
Am I wrong?

But I like being able to put myself into the gifts I give. So I chose "13 year old girl, lip gloss and nail polish" and I'm going to have a ton of fun picking those out.

Perhaps I should redo my wish list, and take off those overpriced items that make me seem like a spoiled greedy child - even though when I put them, I do so knowing I wont ever get them.

Do you have a sensible wish list, or are you a little greedy too? What do you want that you know you'll never get?

Saturday Shopping

Better check the naughty box for me!

Today I went out shopping with the intentions of buying for others, and all I managed to do was buy more things for myself. Horrible, I know.

At a church fair I found this black and white beaded clutch for $10. It might be super cool vintage, or it might have been made in China last year, but I'll never really know. No labels of any kind can be found on it. Wouldn't it be so cute with a little red dress?

Yes, the iPhone dressing room mirror shot!
At TJMaxx I had two great finds to indulge my ruffle obsession: the three tiered white chiffon top was $17 and the black jersey with chiffon ruffles was $14. Both would be great for any holiday parties, and I wonder if I could dress them down enough for work as well?

I was also hoping to find a black velvet blazer out in the wilds of TJMaxx, or at least try on the Urban Outfitters boyfriend blazer, but my local store didn't have it. All I found at TJ's was this bright pink one for $40 - cute, but not at all the look I want.

Makeup Routine

For years I didn't wear makeup; seeing it through the eyes of an outsider as a waste of time and money. The disconnect between makeup and I prompted me to study it, and I spent six months photographing anyone who would let me, put their makeup on.

My first photographs could be described as 'graphic and unsettling', but as the project progressed and I began actually scripting the makeup routines I found myself loving the high fashion, theatrical aspects of it.

Gradually I came to appreciate makeup and the large roll it plays in the fashion world. I now actually enjoy wearing and experimenting with it on my own. Most days I keep it pretty simple - some silver eyeshadow, mascara, blush, and lip gloss. And while I enjoyed my photographic documentation of my subject's MAC shopping sprees, I buy my makeup from Avon - their Mark line is trendy and cheap.

Cyber Monday Splurge a.k.a. The Last Pair of Shoes

I almost made it through the post turkey day shopping chaos without buying anything just because it's on sale. Almost!

It was a pair of cute leather congnac booties, with an additional $25 off their already reduced price that I could not resist.

The Jessii boot by Steve Madden was originally $130, and I got them for under $80. Fifty dollars is a very persuasive reduction, and of course I wish they were less, but it has become tremendously difficult to find leather boots - that I really like - for $50 or less. Even at TJMaxx, I'll pick up a cute boot, look at its $50 price tag, then read its "All Manmade Materials" stamp inside! If my desire for a leather boot means occasionally paying a little more, I think it's worth it.

The boots also mark the twelfth pair of shoes I've purchased this year, so if I'm going to be true to my New Years Resolution, I can not buy another pair until January. It's only one more month. I can do it.

Did you make it through the biggest shopping weekend of the year without damaging your bank account, or did you find some sales just too good to pass up?

"I would drape myself in velvet if it were socially acceptable."

I am never without a quest to find the perfect 'obsession of the moment' - a shoe, a hat, a coat - as soon as I find and purchase it, I almost immediately realize there is something else I must have.

Right now, it is a black velvet blazer. Rich, dark, and soft. Something with versatility to go from day to evening. The J.Crew/Banana Republic/Victoria's Secret options are beautiful but at $118 (sale), $152, and $98 (sale) they are a bit more than I want to spend.

The Urban Outfitters Silence and Noise boyfriend blazer is a little better at $78, as is their Urban Renewal one at $58.

Newport News has four velvet jackets, all $70 or less, and all of which have a weird detail that I hate: Patch Pockets, Satin Lapel, Charmeuse Accents, Bell Sleeves.

Forever 21 has a jacket for $30, but I fear an F21 version will be lacking in quality than can not be overlooked on such a piece. $30 is my ideal price point, but I'd probably go higher if I really loved it.
Clearly there is no shortage of black velvet blazers this season, but will I find one I love in both style and price?

And anytime I think about wearing velvet, I think about George Costanza. Jump to the five minute mark and enjoy!

Where can I find these damask print tights?

Whilst browsing the polyvore pages I spotted these uber cool metallic damask print tights. Sadly they are from Oasis, a european store which, as far as I can tell, doesn't offer its goods to the USA.

So I began searching everywhere I could think of to find, if not the same, than an equally awesome pair I could get here.

At Anthropologie they have a pair that is very subdued as prints go, a black opaque tight with a black design that is equally spaced around the leg in quadrants. They are $18.

Emilio Cavallini has a pair called the Damask Boudior Tights, which I prefer to the Anthro ones because of their bold, contrasty, all over design. They come in both red and black, and are $22.

Ebay has these leggings, which are rather unimpressive, but I'm including them because I found so few options.

And that's it! That's all I could find after checking F21, Urban Outfitters, ModCloth, Free People, Hue, and a bunch of others.

So if anyone knows where I can get the awesome metallic damask tights, I'd love to know!

Sea of Sequins

It seems that you enter a single store this winter without be bombarded by sequins. Every possible surface that could be affixed with a shiny plastic disc, has about 100.

My magpie like tenancies cause me to covet nearly everyone of these glittering items, and I keep telling myself I need to resist.

I did allow myself a $13 indulgence with this sequin beret by the California Hat Co., but I now know that Forever 21 has a similar hat for $7.80. Darn.

Here are another 20 items all equally saturated with sequins, hand picked from the millions out there. Needless to say, I want them all.

Plaid Strapless Dress

I purchased this cute plaid dress from American Eagle last fall, with the knowledge that it would need some work before it was wearable. So it sat in my closet, collecting dust until I finally took the initiative to transform it into something I could actually wear.

Strapless things which rely on structure rather than stretch are always tricky for me, because I have to buy a size up to fit my bust and then take in the waist. Fortunately, alterations are something I feel comfortable doing myself, partly because of years of experience, and mostly because the dress was only $13 (so if I managed to completely botch the job I could get over the loss pretty quickly).

In addition to taking in the waist, I also needed to shorten the dress about 4". The original hem line had a really beautiful blind hem, but since I struggle with those, I just did a regular hemline in pink thread, so it felt like it was showing more intentionally.

The final issue with the strapless plaid dress is the fact that it is a winter dress. So here are some thoughts on how to warm it up!
Red pumps from Nine West, gold shrug from H&M, necklace by Daisy Fuentes at Kohls, and trying out some navy socks with my heels!

red plaid dress, turquoise blazer, pink flats
My love affair with turquoise and red continues with this corduroy blazer from TJMaxx. Pink flats from bakers and the super trendy mulit chain necklace are what I'm wearing today!

This is one of those instances when I was looking at a fashion magazine where they throw pretty much anything on and it somehow looks good and then I try to emulate that and it sort of fails.
The satin bell sleeve button down with the peep toe pumps (both from kohls) were making me feel the sexy librarian vibe, so I threw on my glasses that I never, ever wear.

Motorcycle Jacket

My $20 motorcycle jacket from Target has arrived!
What I like is, as faux leather goes, it has a believable appearance. I like that it has a full lapel on both sides so you can zip it all the way to the top, or leave it wide open, and the lapel will adjust.

On the down side, the jacket isn't lined, so I'll have to wear lots of layers if I don't want to wait until spring to wear it. It's also shorter than I thought it would be -- it looks short on the model, but I know she's about 6" taller than me, so I was surprised when it hit my waist at the same spot.

Styled it really quickly for a photo - love it with the endless scarf and gloves, pretty happy with the mustard cords, but the suede fringe boots don't work at all.

Also put together two more looks with a lovely polyvore collage.

I also noticed that Express has a similar jacket, and that they stopped making their leather jackets out of leather and cleverly renamed them (Minus the Leather) Jacket. Funny, this didn't seem alter their prices much. Their "leather" jacket is lined and does come with a fun detachable fur collar, but for $118 is it worth it?


Socks with heels. Socks with boots. Socks over tights. Socks with sandals. Socks with flats.

Do you let your socks play a main roll in your outfit? Would you wear them with your peep-toe pumps? How about bright, printed, and fishnet socks?

With tights, I would answer a resounding 'yes' to everything, but with socks I feel a bit more reserved.

I think I'd like to be a bit more experimental with my socks, and my toes might end up being a little less cold this winter.

Layered Cardigans

Layered Cardigans, originally uploaded by LyddieGal.

I've been seeing layered cardigans in magazines and catalogs lately, and have been wanting to try it. This is my most successful attempt, because both cardigans are pretty thin, and I opted for tights over pants.

Previously attempts yielded rather lumpy looks, where it just felt like there was too much fabric. Magazine models with their super thin limbs can pull off the chunky knit in multiple layers, but not me!

I feel these cardigans work because the deep v on the navy cardigan keeps the lines long, the cropped (and rolled-up) sleeves expose the arms and balance out the very covered neck, and the tights, rather than pants allow for a clean line.

I may have gone overboard with three patterns in one outfit (I blame my recent Ugly Betty marathon), but they are all fairly neutral, as patterns go.

Lucky Mags website has some cardigan layering suggestions, which are very different than my own, so you could check those out too.

Asymetrical Hem Top (or dress)

grey asymmetrical top, black leather boots

I am always more likely to take a chance on something if it's $10 or less; that way, if I wear it once and decide I can't pull it off, I don't feel guilty about it.

I found this top at TJMaxx and thought it's uneven hemline could be really cool as a dress, however it is somewhat of an ambiguous length - probably meant to be a top, but since I'm so short it's almost long enough to wear as a dress.

Rather than wait for next summer to figure it out, I decided to winterize the dress by putting a long sleeve shirt underneath, thick knit tights and knee high boots. With my leather jacket on I was practically sweating.

I really like it as a dress, but I need to think of some other ways to wear it, both now and during the summer.

It's kind of like saving money, only it's spending money

Great news, the faux leather motorcycle jacket at Target is on sale for $19.99! As if $30 wasn't a good deal all on it's own.

Unfortunately my local target only has sizes xs and xl in stock, so I had to order it online.

And in order to get free shipping you have to spend $50. I'm not going to just pay $7 to ship something if there is the possibility of getting it for free. So I thought I'd just throw in a pair of their cute boots for $30 and be all set. However the boots weren't really $30, they were 29.99, and that meant my total was only 49.98 which in Target land means no free shipping for you.

I then spent about an hour trying to find something else, anything else to buy, anything to get my free shipping! But I was stuck.

Then I remembered Amazon wishlists, and my wonderful friends and family who actually keep theirs up to date. Since Target sells many of the same things, I ditched the boots I wasn't completely in love with and got Christmas shopping done instead.

More about my new jacket in 5-7 business days.