Co-ords: Two Becomes One Thanks to Your New Summer Staple

Photo credit: Margaret Murphy

Photo credit: Margaret Murphy

Two weeks ago I celebrated my 25th birthday. Surrounded by friends both old and new, I savored the day by sitting outside at my favorite bar and sipping beer between fits of laughter. It was exactly the celebration I wanted. It was also the first day in a while that I received constant compliments about my outfit. This obviously prompted me to contemplate why, specifically, this look resonated with so many people.

After much evaluation, I concluded that it’s because of how amazingly easy to wear, versatile, and chic co-ords are. That’s when I realized that this is the only addition you need to make to your closet this summer!

Birthday celebrations at American Ice Co.

Birthday celebrations at American Ice Co.

The best part about this trend? There are so many different style options to choose from. Skirt and bra top; shorts and crop top; pants and jacket. It’s a way to add two cute and highly interchangeable items to your closet with just one outfit. Plus, sites like Nastygal, ASOS, and Reformation have super reasonably priced, adorable separates that will leave your wallet feeling plentiful even after you hit ‘purchase’.

Wearing brightly-colored or printed co-ords together is a cool, modern look, but it’s equally fun to mix and match them with other pieces. Pairing my printed midi-length skirt with a structured black crop was a great little brunch look. Wearing flats helped keep the overall feel casual, but paired with a pair of sky-high strappy sandals and a different necklace, this look could have easily translated to a summer cocktail party. It’s always great to buy an outfit that gives you a lot of wiggle room to experiment with what’s already hanging in your closet. You’ll find that you can get very creative!

When I purchased my outfit from ASOS, I knew I wanted something summery, light, and easy to wear that still made a statement. I fell in love with the pattern on this skirt and crop top; it sort of reminded me of 18th century Chinese porcelain. I’m not usually a huge advocate for prints, but a very chic print is ideal to make co-ords really stand out as a bold outfit choice. I would, however, recommend staying away from neon colors (you’ll look like a child) and bland earth-toned prints (you’ll look like a floor rug at grandma’s).

As you can probably tell from both photos in this post, I’m getting a lot of use out of my co-ord purchase already! I can’t wait to pair the crop top with a pair of high-waisted trousers for a night on the town this weekend, too.

If you love the look but can’t be bothered to search for an outfit, you can still purchase the crop top and skirt I wore on my b-day from ASOS! Click here for the top and click here for the bottom.

Ready to to explore the fabulous world of co-ords? Yes, yes you are! Check out all of the great looks available at these sites right now:

ASOS

Topshop

Pretty Little Thing

Saks Fifth Avenue

Happy shopping!

 

#FashionFriday: Spring Jackets to Step Up Your Weekend Look Plus a Weekend Mix Filled with New Music

Photo by Margaret Murphy

Photo by Margaret Murphy

Spring may not officially be here yet, but there’s a discernible feeling of relief throughout DC now that temperatures are inching back up. Patios are open again, down coats are tucked away in the closet (hopefully for good), and icy sidewalks are finally melting; everything is just splendid. Flowers may not be blossoming yet but the entire city’s mood has flourished!

The drastic temperature changes that happen in spring are a blessing and a curse. The mid-day spikes are a delightful taste of the sun-drenched summer days ahead but the morning chill requires way more than just the cute lightweight sweater you’ve been waiting all winter to wear. No matter how thick-skinned you are, morning temperatures in the 30s require a jacket.

Now that my unflattering, puffy winter jacket is back in storage — yes that’s right, I’m taking a stand, I REFUSE to take that thing back out — I’m so excited to start rotating my selection of lighter jackets, accumulated with extreme care over the past couple of years. They’re a fun way to dramatically change-up your street style. You could be wearing just black skinny jeans and a grey sweater — but topped with a variety of jackets, you can make that one outfit look like several fresh looks.

These are the key spring outerwear pieces every woman needs in her closet:

The Trench

As you can see from my photo, I love an edgy spin on a trench! If the clean silhouette of a classic Burberry trench is more to your liking, go for that, you can’t go wrong with a staple. I fell in love with the leather sleeves on my Rag & Bone number. A trench is timeless and elegant; you can wear it to the office, out to brunch, for a weekend jaunt, and pretty much any other event you can think of.

Burberry Brit - Hooded Packaway Trench Coat $750

Burberry Brit – Hooded Packaway Trench Coat $750

Vince Camuto - Draped Wrap Long Trench Coat $190

Vince Camuto – Draped Wrap Long Trench Coat $190

Mackage - Leather Trim Asymmetrical Zip Long Trench Coat $390

Mackage – Leather Trim Asymmetrical Zip Long Trench Coat $390

The Leather Jacket

A leather jacket goes with anything and will instantly give you an edgy look. The best part about a leather jacket is that it actually looks best when worn in, so toss it on before hitting up a concert this spring and try not to spend too much time worrying about it getting ruined. My All Saints jacket has been through hell — and now it looks fabulous as a result.

All Saints - Cargo Biker Jacket $540

All Saints – Cargo Biker Jacket $540

Top Shop - Premium Belted Leather Biker Jacket $370

Top Shop – Premium Belted Leather Biker Jacket $370

Rebecca Taylor - Washed Leather Jacket $895

Rebecca Taylor – Washed Leather Jacket $895

The Parka

These are perfect for days where the weather seems more than a little unpredictable. They’re easy to weather proof (a lot of them even come that way) and usually much easier to clean than other materials. Plus there’s an effortless sense of cool to these jackets — like you could just as easily be heading out for a hike as you could to the nearest bar.

ASOS - Summer Ultimate Parka $98

ASOS – Summer Ultimate Parka $98

Zara - Hooded Parka with Leather Sleeves $99.90

Zara – Hooded Parka with Leather Sleeves $99.90

Laver - 365 Parka $556

Laver – 365 Parka $556

The Cropped Jacket

Perfect for layering over chunky sweaters on colder days or thin long-sleeved shirts when the sun is shining bright, this silhouette gives you plenty of cool options for experimentation. Opt for an interesting texture or pattern if you feel particularly bold!

Nasty Gal - Moto Zip Crop Jacket $88

Nasty Gal – Moto Zip Crop Jacket $88

Rag & Bone  - Black Marshall Cropped Trench $695

Rag & Bone – Black Marshall Cropped Trench $695

ASOS - New Look Cropped Jacket $30

ASOS – New Look Cropped Jacket $30


 

Since I didn’t post a Turn Up Tuesday playlist this week, here’s a weekend mini mix to get you through till next week. Tunes, tunes, tunes! New tracks from three of my favorites —  Fehrplay, Gorgon City, and Oliver Heldens — plus lots more seriously groovy stuff.

I promise you’ll be dancing with those headphones in. xo

 

#FashionFriday: Lessons in Minimalism, Why Buying Less Can Add More to Your Closet

Photo by Elissa Merola August 29, 2009

Photo by Elissa Merola August 29, 2009

“Ain’t no stoppin us now, we’re on the move!” — these are the lyrics I’ve been joyfully singing to myself all week as Anita and I prep to vacate our Columbia Heights apartment and migrate to our swanky new U street digs. We’re so excited about our new spot, but my mom is the one who’s particularly thrilled; having described our CoHeights apartment as, “comparable to a shitty college dorm.” Harsh words, but truer words were never spoken.

Now, we’re moving to the palatial pad of our dreams, but before we get to live out our fairytale roommate ending, we have to go through the tortuous process of hauling all of our stuff from point A to point B. I don’t like the process of packing for a weekend trip, let alone a lifetime. Needless to say, Saturday’s move sounds about as fun as a prison shower.

It’s not until you’re forced to evaluate everything you own that you realize just how much shit you’ve accumulated, even in a short period of time. Anita and I discovered gadgets and gizmos brought over in our move more than a year ago that were never even used once. A fourth coffee maker, when did I even buy that? A second iron still in the box, where was that sneaky devil hiding this entire time? The anthology from that 20th century American poetry class junior year, why did I take this class let alone keep the damn book? These questions (plus far more embarrassing ones that I’ll keep to myself forever) seriously occupy the mind as you pack up your belongings..

Americans love “stuff.” From an early age, we’re almost indoctrinated into believing that the more we have the happier we’ll be, because the accumulation of material goods is a measure of success. Maybe the culture of celebrity is partially to blame for that. The people the tabloids obsess over are the very people constantly peddling us more stuff and if they aren’t peddling it, they’re aggressively flaunting it. The more wealth you amass the more stuff you can buy; thus, stuff = wealth. I’ve never liked that idea, and once I started packing up all my “stuff” getting ready for this move, my love for a minimalist approach to life only grew stronger.

Growing up, I spent every summer at my grandmother’s house in a tiny French town called Aix-les-Bains. There wasn’t much to do there and I knew nobody my age, so my brother and I wound up spending most of our time with family. Even though she was in her 80s, my grandmother got up every morning and put on a knee-length skirt, perfectly pressed blouse, and a pair of loafers. Her closet wasn’t filled with elaborate quantities of clothes, but she looked splendidly put together and so chic, without ever looking tired or boring, every day. It’s because the few items she owned were exquisite. She and I didn’t necessarily get along, but my minimalist philosophy was definitely born watching her, day in and day out, each summer.

Wrapping your head around maintaining a minimal closet can be really difficult, especially if you abide by the “I like having a lot of options” philosophy. But I propose that fewer options isn’t necessarily a bad thing. How often do items just sit endlessly in your closet? Hardly ever worn when you bring them home from the store. When you buy less, you end up buying pieces you truly love; pieces you WANT to wear over and over again. I don’t know where the phobia of being seen in the same outfit multiple times originated, but it’s just silly and everyone really needs to get over it. A standout piece will always be a standout piece, even if you’ve worn it before. The wow factor and fabulousness of an item does not dissipate over the course of times worn.

The best part about downsizing your closet is that once you start to buy less stuff, you can start to pay more for what you do purchase. Instead of going to Zara and spending $400 on four cute (but fairly standard) sundresses, you can spend $400 on two really well-made dresses by up-and-coming mid-range price designers or just one amazing dress by a higher-end brand. It may sound like a drag, but that’s how you build a collection that you’ll want to keep for years and years as opposed to accumulating clothes for a season and then never wearing them again. Minimalism is for the long haul.

Once you start focusing on acquiring a few key pieces at a time, you can also turn your attention to what ought to be the most important aspect of everyone’s purchasing decisions: fit. I don’t understand why this goes overlooked so often, because it’s more important than brand, seasonality, style, and pretty much everything in between. You could buy a $1,000 dollar dress, but if it doesn’t fit correctly it’ll look cheap. The reverse is also true, you could find a $50 dress that fits so perfectly it looks expensive. I’m a fit freak. If I put something on and it doesn’t make me say “wow” when I catch that first glimpse in the mirror, it’s not coming home with me. I always think back to my grandmother’s skirts, sitting perfectly on her waist. Fit is the best way to start whittling the unnecessary things you buy just for the sake of swiping your credit card.

None of this means that you have to reduce your closet to a museum-like state of empty space. Unless that’s your thing, in that case by all means, reduce to the bare minimum! But there’s something wonderfully harmonious about having less “stuff” around you. Clutter has been scientifically proven to increase levels of stress — and that includes an overstuffed closet. It overloads your senses and impairs your ability to think creatively. Once you give it a try, you may find that the “less is more” philosophy is the key to calm you’ve been ignoring for way too long.

#FashionFriday: Haute Couture 2015 Runway Looks to Inspire Your Spring Wardrobe

Every time I check the Weather Channel app on my phone, it tells me that I may as well cry because it’s way too cold to leave the mattress palace. Not in those exact words, but even numbers are open to interpretation. I know that I’m a fair-feathered Floridian, but this winter has felt particularly brutal (and I even escaped to Miami for three weeks!). It seems like we have such a long way to go before our coats are put back in their rightful place — the storage box under the bed.

I’m sick of my winter clothes. Even the Sandro sweater I obsessed over for days after purchasing! There’s something about a winter wardrobe that eventually gets frustrating, no matter how many fabulous sweaters, ponchos, and jackets you own. In my opinion, it’s the tedious act of piling on layers ad nauseam just so that you can leave the house without acquiring frostbite. I needed something to remind me that spring is almost within reach, which is why I spent most of my free time this week lusting over the Spring 2015 Couture shows.

Some collections were enchanting; a wonderful reminder that designers still take the art of couture very seriously. Others were less technically impressive, but still eye-catching and surprisingly wearable. There were plenty of extravagant looks that will likely never leave the runway, but also some noteworthy trends that I can’t wait to try this year as the temperatures rise — along with my morale!

Not Your Ordinary Jacket

Effeminate takes on men’s tailoring have been a runway staple for a while now, but some of the jackets presented this week were out-of-this-world stunning. Several cuts and styles were on display at Jean Paul Gaultier’s show, but this uniquely crafted jacket-dress was my absolute favorite. It’s such an interesting take on a staple, plus the generous v-neck cut and single sheer sleeve add just a hint of sensuality. Also, as a girl who loathes heels, I love that it was styled with flats, this kind of piece would translate well from day to night.

jean-paul-gaultier-couture-spring2015-runway-06

Schiaparelli also explored the versatility of the jacket with a cool modern interpretation of the classic jacket and skirt combo. In the aftermath of creative director Marco Zanini’s departure from the brand after just one year, I expected a mediocre collection at best. For the most part it was very underwhelming, I especially disliked the pop-art Arabian nights look, but I’m obsessed with this high-collared burgundy jacket. I’m not usually one for bright contrasts, but I think the fringe skirt is a charming way to give a serious jacket a more youthful appearance. And, of course, once again, I love the flats!

schiaparelli-couture-spring2015-runway-12

Big, Bold Prints

These are not your grandmother’s prints — unless she happens to be on the cutting edge of fashion. Valentino’s show boasted large pastoral-looking patterns splashed across long, flowing dresses, giving the looks a very earthy feel. The high-end farmhouse look was present throughout many of the looks, but this caped dress was a stand-out. I love the contrast of the heavy cape with the airy gown. Let’s all agree to throw a burgundy cape on everything this season. On a related note, this up-do would be a great idea for just about any wedding you’re planning to attend in the spring. It feels so fresh and youthful, without being overly casual.

valentino-couture-spring2015-runway-111

Since taking over as Dior’s creative director, Raf Simons hasn’t missed a step. This couture collection is no exception. The prints were eclectic without crossing over into the dreaded territory of kitsch. It was a gorgeous assortment of moving art pieces, and that’s what couture is all about. This strapless midi-length skirt was electrifying. It’s such a playful take on a traditional cut, and the combination of blue hues contrasting each other gave it just the right amount of visual interest. But I will say, without shame, that I loathe these boots with every fiber in my being. Patent? Red? tight? Mon dieu, non.

christian-dior-couture-spring2015-runway-37

 

Bare It

If you love flaunting what you got, rejoice — cutouts and crop tops aren’t going anywhere any time soon. I love me a crop top, I think they’re sexy and fun, plus when you pair them with a perfectly-tailored pair of high-waist pants it elevates the look completely. For Chanel’s show, Karl Lagerfeld took the crop top to new levels of sophistication by re-imagining the classic tweed jacket in a cheeky short version. Paired with a skirt sitting low on the waist, this could be a very cool day look. Not necessarily work appropriate, but you can always throw a tank top on and then shove it in your purse before heading to happy hour. Though I’m once again very stumped at these patent leather socks. Yes, to me that looks like a very expensive sock. That hat though, that hat is everything.

chanel-couture-spring2015-runway-16

 

Atelier Versace usually doesn’t appeal to me as a brand in general, but I’m loving the hyper-sexy dresses that came down the couture runway. This dress in particular. Oh. My. Stars. What I would give to own this dress. The cutouts are so perfectly placed and the intricacy of the design is gorgeous. Granted, Amber Valletta is a statuesque beauty who would make a potato sack look like couture, but I just love the minimalist femme fatale aesthetic of this gown. Plus, it’s equally stunning from the back.

atelier-versace-spring-2105-couture-47

None of these trends have re-invented the wheel, but they’re still stunning new interpretations of that which has been done before. I can’t wait for Topshop, NastyGal, and Revolve to stock up on some similar pieces so that I can fill my wardrobe appropriately.


I usually like to do a full Friday mini mix, but I didn’t find enough tracks that I really loved for this week (especially since Turn Up Tuesday was so fruitful!). Thankfully, Zeds Dead and Oliver Heldens’ new collaboration was released on Spinnin’ Records! It’s an awesome track, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from two such talented acts. Hope you guys and gals like it as much as I do xx

 

#FashionFriday: A Formal Affair, Winter Wedding Inspiration

Wedding ready! Photo cred: Anita Ferrer

Wedding ready! Photo cred: Anita Ferrer

It often surprises my friends to learn this about me, but I have a secret Peter Pan complex. I’m terrified of “growing up” in the traditional sense of the word — job, spouse, baby, burbs. And though it’s nice to know that the cookie-cutter version of that narrative doesn’t have to be the model anymore, the pressures of fitting into that mold are still embedded into movies and TV, fodder for conversation at family gatherings, and splattered aggressively across Facebook feeds.

Thankfully, there are plenty of small milestones along the way to help us ease into young adult life. Tonight, I’m taking a new step along that journey. I’m attending a friend’s wedding. That may sound uneventful and silly, but it feels like a significant step to me. Sure, I’ve attended weddings before — aunts, uncles, cousins, even distant older family acquaintances — but never the happy union of two close friends. It’s a reminder that things really are moving forward. No matter how much I’d like to freeze these days of total freedom, those around me are in motion, full-steam ahead.

My (probably unnecessary) deep analysis of the situation aside, I also had a bigger problem to deal with leading up to this wedding — dressing for a black tie affair in the midst of winter’s frigid grasp. When I think of wedding-appropriate dresses, I imagine gorgeous flowing chiffon gowns and delicate silk cocktail dresses, neither of which feels particularly appropriate when it’s 20 degrees outside. But there are ways to keep it chic and sexy without looking wacky and out of season.

Stick to the Classic Color Palette

A really bright color in the middle of winter may seem like a novel and festive idea, but it’s inappropriate. During spring/summer the majority of lady guests will be sporting bright hues, but in the winter you’ll be seriously outnumbered, which draws attention to you and away from the lovely bride. If you don’t want to stick to standard winter colors like black, navy, or grey opt for a darker hue of a favorite color; a deep red, gorgeous burgundy, or forest green piece are super chic alternatives to their bright counterparts.

Experiment with Texture

I’m a big fan of mixing prints and textures, but that can be a little loud, especially if you’re attending a more traditional wedding. In the wintertime, I would lean more towards picking a dress with an interesting texture. As you can see from my photo, I decided to opt for a dress that is 100% beaded. In the spring or summer, it would feel way too heavy, but it’s perfect for winter and totally festive without being over the top. If heavy beading isn’t your thing, try a dress made of dark, intricate lace or crafted from an intriguing fabric — I’ve seen some beautiful plaid-patterned felt gowns that feel very modern yet maintain an aura of elegance, Michelle Obama totally pulled it off.

Ditch the Pumps

If you’re going to a stuffy, formal affair, this one may be a no-go. I personally hate pumps. I think they were sent by an evil force to destroy women’s ability to really get down on the dance floor, plus they’re super boring. Winter gives you the perfect opportunity to swap out your pumps for fabulous boots or sleek wedges. I don’t mean military boots and cork wedges. I’m talking about sexy Valentino rock stud booties and Theyskens’ Theory wedges (as seen in my photo!). They’re so much more unexpected than a standard stiletto, and much friendlier when it comes to navigating potentially dangerous, slippery winter streets.

Top it Off

What better excuse to bust out a statement coat or fur than a winter wedding? Or, better yet, what better excuse to buy one! Honestly, I would rather dig a dress out from the depths of my closet and put the money allowed for a new outfit towards a piece of ultra-luxurious outerwear. You’ll get way more use out of it going forward than you would from buying yet another dress, so at least some of the guilt associated with spending a small fortune will dissipate.

Perfect Your Pout

When all else fails, there’s nothing like a vampy dark lip to add drama during the winter months. Deep reds, purples, and browns may feel silly in the spring and summer season, but they’re gorgeous for winter months — especially when contrasted with a simple dress. I worship NARS and Christian Dior lip products and hardly ever use anything else. These colors would be splendid for any winter affair.

NARS lip pencil in 'Cruella'

NARS lip pencil in ‘Cruella’

Dior Addict Lipstick in 'Brown'

Dior Addict Lipstick in ‘Brown’

Rouge Dior Couture lipstick in Pied-De-Poule

Rouge Dior Couture lipstick in Pied-De-Poule

#FashionFriday: New Year’s Resolutions for Your Closet & the First Weekend Mini Mix of 2015

We may only be two weeks into the new year, but I already feel like 2015 is filled with prospects for growth and happiness. After spending three weeks basking in the glow of Miami’s delicious weather and vibrant atmosphere, I came back to DC excited for what’s to come over the next 11.5 months. There’s nothing like 85 degree weather to really brighten up your perception of the world – especially when cold winter days await for the next two to three months. I shiver at the very thought.

As is almost always the case this time of year, my social media feeds have been flooded with typical New Year’s resolution fodder. Everything from January detox diets to inspirational declarations to completely futile statements have made their way to my news feed in one way or another. It’s certainly the time of year that prompts us all to re-evaluate our typical behaviors and habits, in the hopes of identifying and modifying those least beneficial to our lives.

That being said, not all resolutions need to redefine the course of your existence. Sometimes the smallest changes end up contributing the most positive effects on our everyday lives. Which is why I think today’s segment will be particularly helpful for those of you who don’t want to make a grand declaration for 2015.

Any of my friends will testify to the fact that I am an obsessively organized human (to the point where it may even borderline qualify as OCD, as opposed to just attention to detail) ESPECIALLY when it comes to my closet. I don’t expect anyone to follow my lead in microfolding or organizing by color, cut, and style, but purging your closet and figuring out an organizing system that works for you personally can help you feel much happier about the state of your home. For that reason, here are my 2015 New Year’s resolutions for your closet:

1) Buy space-saving hangers

Hey, absolutely nobody is judging you. I’ve had periods of time in my life where every single one of my hangers was either from the dry cleaning business around the corner or found in some corner of my childhood home. But the truth is you’re wasting a lot of valuable space with bulky hangers and potentially ruining your clothes by leaving them wrapped in dry cleaning plastic for too long. So, head to Amazon or your local target where you can buy great, thin space-saving hangers in bulk. Your small closet and silk blouses will ultimately thank you.

2) Treat your nice things kindly

As soon as things get a little hectic with life and work, it’s normal to let simple tasks (like putting your clothes away) fade into a distant memory. So instead of driving yourself insane attempting to keep absolutely everything in its right place, try to take better care of your higher-end pieces. If you have a sequined dress snagging the fabric of the items on either side of it, place it in a garment bag. Those beautiful pumps and purses you spent a small fortune on? Store them in dust bags to keep them looking perfect. These small efforts will reward you in the long run by keeping your nicest items looking their best, extending the lifetime of your investments.

3) Stop buying things you don’t love

This is a lot easier said than done. Sometimes you really just feel like buying something for the sake of that little high you get every time you swipe your credit card and take home a new item. Don’t. Stop it right now. Wonderful as it may feel in the moment, you ultimately end up hoarding things you never really wanted or needed in the first place. As you’re analyzing an item you think you want, give some strong consideration to the following questions: Where will I wear this? How frequently will I wear this? Do I already own an item very similar to this? Will I feel the harsh pang of devastation if I walk away from this? If after answering those four questions you conclude that it’ll add significant value to your closet, go forth and purchase. But otherwise, leave that dead weight item behind!

4) Purge

Hoarding is bad. I don’t care how sentimental a piece of clothing is or how aggressively you cling to the notion that ONE DAY you’ll wear it. If something has been sitting in your closet for 6 months without ever being worn (gowns, interview suits, bikinis are exempt) there’s a 99% chance you’re always going to pass on wearing it — because you don’t really love it. I personally purge constantly. I like keeping my closet as minimal as possible! But if you don’t innately love to throw things away, start slow. Purge your closet every six months of those items you know deep, deep down you’re never going to wear. Donate them to Goodwill, consign them to a local re-sale boutique, or sell them yourself online. In the end, having a closet filled with carefully-chosen items you love is way better than holding on to tons of meh items taking up precious space.

5) Organize your clothes your own way

There is no one specific way to organize your clothes that’s better than the rest. Some people, like yours truly, create elaborate categories (and even sub-categories) within their closet. Long-sleeved dresses| Short sleeved dresses| Skirts| Formal pants| Dark jeans| Bright Jeans| Silk blouses| Party shirts| Etc.| Etc.It seems crazy to some people, but it works perfectly for me. The most important thing is to come up with a system that you think you’ll actually stick to. Even if that just means picking your stuff up off the floor and finally putting it away – that’s a great place to start.


 

Weekend Mini Mix 1/16/2015

#FashionFriday: New Year’s Eve Dresses at Every Price Point

Photo Credit: Margaret Murphy

Photo Credit: Margaret Murphy

New Year’s Eve — An evening wrapped in a singular sense of magic and excitement conjured from the depths of our sentimental souls. I think even the most cynical of people can understand the impulse to romanticize this particular night. It offers the potential for a new beginning, a promise that things can and will be different if you make a cognizant decision for it to be so. It’s hardly a concrete turning point, yet it’s become an unofficial bench mark of accomplishments and failures within the various chapters of our lives.

My 2014 chapter was, not surprisingly, filled with a series of joyful highs and frustrating lows. I danced until 5 a.m. at U Street Music Hall with the greatest people I know, had my heart broken for the second time, took a life-changing trip to Iceland where I explored untouched nature, abruptly lost my job, found an exciting new job, and experienced so many small successes and setbacks in between.

Like most people, no matter how hard I’ve tried to avoid thinking back on the past year, I couldn’t help myself. I found myself watching every video I took at Ultra Music Festival, recalling the important conversations that pushed me to stand up for myself, and reliving every moment I spent laughing with Anita in our couch cloud. That was when I realized that no matter how many crappy things happened, these were still another amazing 12 months in my life. And now, with a little less than a week left in the year – and the joyful madness of Christmas behind me – I too have inevitably turned my attention to New Year’s Eve.

I may not have a 2015 resolution in mind yet, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t given extensive thought to what I’ll be wearing! After all, there’s nothing more fun than dressing for a festive occasion and New Year’s Eve is the perfect excuse to buy a feisty little party dress. In my case it will likely be another perfectly-cut pair of black skinny pants. But if I’m itching for a different look, there’s a white tuxedo dress on Nasty Gal (see under $200 section) beckoning me to hit purchase.

The best New Year’s Eve dresses aren’t necessarily the most ornate or risqué, though if that’s your shtick, this is the perfect occasion to own your style. Some people like to break the bank and purchase something totally unique, others prefer to remain frugal and buy an outfit that can be worn again with ease. Personally, I think there’s a balance of wow factor and usefulness that can be achieved without spending a small fortune. Yes, some of the dresses I’ve chosen are a little over the top, but none of them are so inaccessible that they would just sit in your closet for years to come.

So, whether you’ve had the best year of your life – or eagerly await the arrival of what will hopefully be a much happier one – embrace the opportunity to add a fabulous new piece to your closet. Though it’s frequently argued that New Year’s Eve is just another night, who cares? Take advantage of the night’s excitement to buy something that makes you smile. If you need a little inspiration, these looks will carry you from chic house parties to wild club outings in style.

 

 

Fashion Friday: The First Date (You too, Dudes!) & Weekend Mini Mix

A couple of weeks ago, my girlfriends and I were talking about the simultaneous excitement and anxiety that accompanies the anticipation of a first date. Staring into her closet, Nicole contemplated outfit options as I sat on her bed eating pita chips supporting or vetoing the items. We couldn’t stop cracking each other up as we revisited tales of dating trial and tribulation, which got progressively more comical as the wine bottle diminished. She was hitting the town to meet up with a cutie and, as always, the question of “what do I wear?” was of utmost importance.

It was at this moment that I confessed the very point of this post to Nicole: I’ve worn the same outfit, with minor tweaks based on seasonality, on almost every single date I’ve had the honor or horror to attend. “You only need one!” I insisted, “It’s not like future suitors will be alerted.” She laughed at my explanation, but I stand by my philosophy! Either you’ll go out with someone again and change it up, or you’ll never hear from him/her again and the next guy/girl will have absolutely no way of knowing you’re in a first date uniform. Fact. So why drive yourself crazy planning or buying something new? Tried and true is always best.

There are many reasons I stand by this way of thinking. Primarily that it eliminates the stress associated with the question “what should I wear?” because you’ll know exactly what you’re going to sport and that you look amazing in it. But also because it eliminates the potential for Doing the Most. It’s a phrase you’ve probably heard thrown around a lot, but in this context it’s of extreme importance. Why? Because trying too hard (i.e. Doing the Most) is frowned upon on a first date. And if you don’t frown upon it, you may want to reconsider your point of view. Ideally, you want to convey a sense of  great personal style without the perception that it’s extensively crafted. Doing the Most propels an image of insecurity and overcompensation. Neither of which is attractive to a relative stranger. Refined simplicity will help you proudly present yourself to someone for the first time.

Whether you’re meeting the girl you met at your favorite bar last weekend or the guy who prompted you to “swipe right” and won you over with a clever pun, you want your clothes to convey who you are without becoming the focal point of your personality, because that’s what the art of conversation is for. Striking that balance can feel challenging, which is why I’m sharing my date uniform template as a great starting point for putting yours together.

Date Night: Women

                         
The beauty of this outfit is in its simplicity. From coffee dates to drinks to dinner, this ensemble is perfect for most first date occasions. You can’t go wrong with a sexy flowing blouse over a pair of jeans that fit just right. Give yourself a little height with a pair of booties, but try to stay away from an extreme stiletto heel unless you’re going somewhere upscale. Incorporate a statement piece like your favorite necklace, big earrings, or a fab scarf to inject your personal style into the look.  It’s effortlessly cool without sacrificing a fierce sense of style. Don’t forget to throw your favorite essentials into your bag — signature scent and lip color, mandatory!
Date Night: Gents
     
Men, there is no excuse for laziness! Especially since it’s so easy for you to look put together. Impress your date with a pair of perfectly-cut jeans like these from Rag & Bone. Don’t be afraid of a straight leg silhouette, they flatter your legs (and butt!) more than boot cut and look more dapper. There’s nothing more important than fit, so go the extra mile to find pants that are actually the correct size! Ditch sneakers or boat shoes for a pair of leather desert boots. Keep it simple up top with a button-down/sweater combo — but add some visual interest with a pattern, a plain sweater is a little too boring. Fun socks are always a plus in my book, so don’t be shy about adding a pop of color to the ensemble.

Got an exciting date planned for this weekend? Here’s a mini mix to rock out to:

Fashion Friday: How to Look Chic at an EDM Show

The transformative nature of music has always had a unique effect on the fashion it yields. From the dirty grunge of rock and roll to the flirty silhouettes of American pop, the music we listen to inevitably affects the way we dress – even if only for one night at an amazing show. As my girls and I gear up to see Dillon Francis tonight, I started thinking about the expressive nature of the EDM culture. Wild outfits planned weeks in advance, neon-colored furry boots, and bold makeup are just a few examples of the sights to behold at these events. But as I inch closer to my mid-twenties, more closely defining my own sense of personal style, I can no longer imagine myself running around a venue in neon spandex and feeling okay about it.

So, what’s a girl to do? Is there a way to look eclectic and fabulous at one of these shows without looking like an old fart that doesn’t belong? Oh yes, there are plenty. You can feel confident, comfortable, and chic as you dance the night away under those strobe lights and lasers. It’s not surprising that most of these compilations are black (or some variation of black) but you really can’t go wrong with a streamlined, modern look. Even at an EDM concert. Here are a few looks so that you can rave for your age:

1) I love the contrast of a sleek crop top and sporty track pants. Full disclosure, I am obsessed with these bottoms, they give the outfit a little boost of kitsch that’s so appropriate for a rave. Paired with a pair of colorful wedge dunks, this look is basically perfect.

2) Layering a sheer top over a simple bra immediately elevates the sophistication of your look. Over a pair of faux-leather shorts you’ll look super sleek. Add a gold chain for a fun effect and boom – you’re ready to take on the night.

3) This one is a bit cheeky (quite literally). The sequined booty shorts are definitely only for those brave enough to bare their bottom. The contrast of textures with a cropped flannel shirt adds a fun element that really stands out in its originality. Personally, I’d pair this with thigh-high leather boots, but it would look just as adorable with a pair of white converse.

4) You can’t go wrong with denim, so why not choose a pair of unique jeans to rock for the night? These are a high-waist, ankle-length, distressed pair that add visual interest to the look. Pair ‘em with a sculptural crop, short silver chain, and leather cap for an updated take on schoolyard cool.

5) Okay, okay. I know that not everyone is on board with overalls. But I love these. Wear a lace bra underneath for a sexier take on this American staple and incorporate a gold choker for even more sex appeal.