Thursday, May 30, 2013

Summer Essentials

Summers are a glorious time of year but they can also wreak havoc on your summertime gear! With all of the sunshine and time for fun, you can easily pound your favorite sandals into the ground or wear holes in your favorite beach towel. It's time to replenish your summertime staples so that when you head to the beach or the boat, you're not scrambling for your essentials.

Luckily one of the sites featuring a product above is willing to help you get ready for summertime. I had the pleasure of visiting Hampden Clothing and its neighboring sister store James when we visited Charleston a month ago. Pretty much all of my favorite designers hang out there, including Carven, Alexander Wang, Loeffler Randall, Lizzie Fortunato...I could go on.

Now, Hampden Clothing and James are giving away one pair of shoes with a $350 value or less! Check out the rules in the jump and those espadrilles could be yours. Good luck!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wednesday's Look For Less: Panama Hat

image via Pinterest

About two years ago, I worked on a little show called "Eastbound and Down" where some of the crew had been shooting in Puerto Rico and then joined us here in North Carolina to finish the season. My art director came to town with the most awesome Panama hat and later forgot he had left it in the office. Did I wear it for a week before reminding him about it? Maybe. Then last year, I almost sprang for one at J. Crew to wear to a Derby party but, in the end, talked myself out of it. Being charmed by the Panama hat twice now has made my obsession official. 

Not only are they practical (helloooo UV protection) but they also look super stylish. We've seen celebs wear them from the airport to the sidewalks. Their Panama hats go everywhere from pushing strollers on a sunny day to sunbathing yacht-side on the Mediterranean. Call these hats classic or call them trendy, but their popularity has yielded affordable prices and easy accessibility. 

The two options above look nearly identical. The hat on the left from Free People is $38 while the J. Crew hat on the right rings up for $20 more. I have to say, though, the J. Crew hat appears to be a bit more structured. But it's all about fit. In the end, you have to go with the hat that is the most comfortable and the best size for you. Otherwise you end up looking like that kid at the end of "Big" when Tom Hanks has reversed his wish.

Will you join me in the quest for chic sun protection by way of the Panama hat? 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sale-ing Away

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Yes, it's unofficially summer and, yes, lots of us just had fabulous long weekends. But it's really and truly wonderful because it's the beginning of the biannual Net-A-Porter sale!  

NOW is the time to spring for some serious fashion pieces that maybe were out of our reach before. Seriously, ladies, Net-A-Porter does not offer items on sale throughout the year. Their sales only run at the end of May and December and they carry the best. Valentino? It's on sale. Carven? Come and get your discount. DVF wrap dress for less? You betcha. 

 I know I'll be looking for swimsuits and summery tops at the sale. What about you? Keep in mind that items go fast here but Net-A-Porter also will gradually add more items and offer deeper discount. Happy sale-ing!! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Weekender

Yesterday's fixation revolved around a fantastic trip to the French Riviera. Maybe it was a sign from God (maybe not!) but today I discovered the most adorable and functional weekender bag. Okay, so maybe we'll need more than a tote for a transatlantic flight but for all those shorter, more realistic trips, this bag turns out to be just about perfect! 

Meet the weekender from Kate Spade Saturday. I know, at first site, it's not exactly eye candy. It looks like something straight out of L.L. Bean (which I also happen to adore for the appropriate moments). However, Saturday lets its customers customize their bags. Say what?? 

First, you select the color of the bag's body. I chose black and white stripes. (Duh.)

But my practical side said, "Wait, a light colored base will show every inch of dirt." Well guess what...

Oh yeah, you can change that, yeah! Need to have matching straps too? No problem.

You even get to select the color of the pocket and for $10 more, you can add a monogram. Stop it. My customized, truly unique, finished product? 

Adorable! And functional! Don't you love the separate space on the bottom of the bag. Hello shoes and dirty clothes. 

I will say that considering Saturday is supposed to be an affordable line, I was surprised this bag cost $300. So stay tuned for a discount code in the future. Saturday recently offered 25% off and I feel confident they will have more deals over the summer. 

How would you customize yours?

Wednesday's Look For Less: Sheer Insets

The sheer inset trend has officially gone from Runway and Red Carpet to Retail. The fashion world saw Alexander Wang's parade of sheer cutouts last September at Fashion Week and now the items have trickled through the award shows and movie premiers into department stores.  

Rihanna via Fashion Spot

Kelly Rowland in Georges Chakra via PopSugar

When this look first appeared, it certainly made a statement- it wasn't just the good old sheer chiffon you layered to make your prom dress. Cut precisely and geometrically, the takeaway was futuristic and edgy. (No pun intended.) But attainable? It certainly didn't seem to be...until now. 

A sheer inset tee offers up high style with perfect function at the same time. You don't have to worry about bending over and exposing your rump although you might need to be careful of lifting your arms. (For God's sake, please wear at least a bra.) You can probably figure out which look is straight off the runway and which is the bargain. The Alexander Wang top on the right rings up at a whopping $425. Ouch. It is quite fabulous though. The ASOS blouse on the left looks similar but costs way less- just $38. Score.

So how much do you adore this trend? If you feel like this style is just what your closet is missing, then the investment might just be worth it. Please proceed with caution, though...and some sensible undergarments. There is nothing fabulous about a nip slip.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

La Vie Chic

Warm weather and sunny days have me dreaming of nothing but vacations! Blame it on the Cannes Film Festival, but I'd like to park my derriere on the French Riviera. Net-A-Porter's recent Edit featuring Rosie Huntington-Whitely in Brigitte Bardot inspired looks did nothing but make my craving worse...and increase my awareness to cut carbs. 

via Glamour Espana

Audrey Tatou in Cannes via Never Under Dressed

The chances of me getting to France this summer happen to be slim to none, leaning heavily toward none. But that doesn't mean I can't add a few accents grave or aigu in my wardrobe. Think crisp neutrals cut in lightweight fabrics highlighted by impeccable tailoring. Throw in a dash of retro for good measure.

Do you have vacation plans this summer? Please tell me so I can live vicariously through you!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Kitchen Before & After

While these photos certainly don't demonstrate the most dramatic of transformations (not yet, at least), the new paint job in my galley kitchen is definitely an improvement! I've owned this house for five years and have repainted nearly every room except the kitchen...mainly because it needed the most work and felt the most daunting. Take a look at these before shots- peeling paint, mismatched finishes, a dull color to begin with, a ceiling that scared/scares me...

Oh my gosh- it gives me anxiety to look back at it! It was time for a change...a big one at that. So onto the Benjamin Moore site I logged and began to weigh my options digitally. I initially was leaning toward more of a greige but quickly realized that this space needed more cheerfulness after such a dull, drab green existence. 

The color Beach Haven with a Mascarpone trim won out in the end. Beach Haven is a great sandy beige with just a hint of yellow. I liked that it brought out the lighter tones in the travertine tile and kitchen counter...not that I picked those out to begin with but sometimes you gotta work with what you've got.

Now where to go from here? All of the drapes in the kitchen were handmade by moi just a few weeks after I moved in five years ago. They were my first project but they should probably be switched out now. I also keep referring back to Jessie Epley's fabulous home feature on the Glitter Guide. Her kitchen was such a cute and well decorated space. As you can imagine, I'm now in the kitchen styling zone...

So now we officially enter phase 2, styling the space. I can't wait to show this little kitchen some love and give it the attention it deserves. Maybe then all my work will be done...probably not though. ;)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wednesday's Look For Less: Striped Blazers

There's not much more refreshing than stripes in the summer except for maybe an ice cold lemonade or a quick dip in the ocean. Dressing for the workplace or a more conservative environment in the summer can be a bit of a challenge. You still want to feel footloose and fancy free but you need to cover up. Welcome to the world of the striped blazer. It's nautical, Parisian-chic, preppy, classic, all of the above. Both versions below are cotton- KEY in the hot summer months. Can you tell which costs more? 

The jacket on the right is a budget buy from Gap for $69.95. Not bad for a blazer! The option on the left from J. Crew, currently on sale, rings up at $168. Personally, I like the horizontal stripes on the Gap jacket better. What about you? 

Regardless of whether you spend or save, the striped blazer will add sophistication to a chambray top and navy shorts or will polish up a breezy floral skirt and solid tee. Could you work one into your wardrobe this summer?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Porch Pondering Part II + A Fab Find

Summer has officially arrived. This weekend in Wilmington, we saw temperatures in the 80s. Woohoo! Needless to say, my beau and I tackled a lot of outdoor projects to get the house warm weather ready. You may recall this post from a month ago where he and I started painting my front porch. Well, I'm happy to report that we finally finished. Phew! I think our hard work has paid off with a clean, fresh and appealing (instead of peeling) porch and, more importantly, an outdoor space we can enjoy this summer.

Of course, now that the porch floor is perfectly painted, I feel like covering and swanking it up! I headed to Target on Sunday to pick up this rug in hopes of getting one step closer to the look below. (Outdoor bart cart + basket chair swing? Heck yes!) 

 But when I got to Target, the website had lied- the rug was nowhere to be found. Lucky for me, Target had better things in store.

Does anyone else feel like a good lamp is hard to find? Sure, you find fabulous options at $400+ but a seriously great buy in the lamp department is a rarity. As I debated whether this impulse purchase would pay off, I just happened to run into my favorite decorator friend. Her mutual affection for this find had me officially sold and we strolled around until the lamp found itself a great textured lamp shade. Now the lamp has found its permanent home in my living room and couldn't be a better fit. What do you think? 

The other table lamp in the living room is a World Market find from five years ago. Its mother of pearl finish has a glamorous but organic appeal to it. I've always wanted something to complement it without being matchy matchy. Mission accomplished? I think so! 

So on to the next task- today my kitchen gets repainted! Hallelujah! Peeling paint must be my lot in this phase of life as the kitchen ceiling and walls currently reflect crack house status. Maybe after it is finished I will post before and after shots. Moral of the story: a homeowner's work is never least this time someone else is doing the painting!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Gatsby Style

Tomorrow is a big day. Tomorrow, the highly anticipated "The Great Gatsby" makes its debut on the silver screen. For this Fitzgerald/Luhrmann fan, it's about time! 

There must be others like me who are just itching to get dolled up in their sequins, sip a little champers and watch the twisted tale of Jay Gatsby and his frenemies unfold against the backdrop of the Roaring '20s. Obviously the costumes in this film are what I'm looking forward to most but it will also be interesting to see in the coming months if a resurgence of decadence emerges from this Gatsby revival.

Should you want to put on your glad rags this weekend, the fashion world has already produced some fabulously opulent'll be the bees knees!

Chin chin, Janes!