Monday, December 31, 2012

To the New!

This holiday season has been a whirlwind of good things all around. Engagement, birthday, Christmas with family, outings with friends visiting from out of state. So much to celebrate as I close out 2012 and ring in 2013! And it wouldn't be a proper celebration without a great dress (thank you Kiyonna!) and all the trimmings. And a frosty winter's night background that somehow complements it all perfectly.

Betsey Ruched Dress  - c/o Kiyonna / Shoes - Kelsi Dagger / Coat - Larry Levine

Truth be told, Bob and I have gone back and forth about how we wanted to welcome the new year. In many ways, our engagement only just 2 weeks ago has brought us so much excitement that there doesn't seem to be any way to make the end of the year much better! We have forgone our traditional NYE/anniversary meal at our favorite local restaurant in favor of Potbelly sandwiches and cookies (our bank accounts need the reprieve after so much holiday spending anyway) while Bob clears out the DVR and I whip up this blog post. (Full disclosure: the party gear, complete with Spanx, was donned earlier for the photo shoot and now lies in wait...while I've spent the last few hours relaxing in comfies.) Instead, we'll venture out late to share a bottle of wine and the festivities of downtown just in time for the stroke of midnight. Mother Nature brought plenty of snow, so I just know the sights will be lovely (even if the sidewalks aren't...)

Clutch - ? / Earrings - Anniversary gift / Necklace - LOFT / Ring - Banana Republic
Nails - Essie "Waltz" and OPI "Mauve-ie Star in Making"

But here's the kicker. I'm all dressed up with places to go, looking and feeling fabulous, but that's not even what excites me tonight. What excites me most is the fact that I've been blessed with such a wonderful partner in life - and now for life - to share it all with. We'll start the new year together, with so many more wonderful things (and the not-so wonderful, too) to look forward to.

I hope all of you will start off the new year in ways that make YOU the happiest!


Thursday, December 20, 2012


In lieu of a regular outfit post (which I'm once again behind on), I wanted to share with you all some special news... I'm engaged!

My boyfriend of 8 years popped the big question last Friday at our favorite restaurant in town. It began as a casual night out and turned into a truly memorable evening. It came as a complete shock! He did indeed get down on one knee, and the ring is better than anything I could have imagined. =)

It's been a great way to get a jump start on the holiday season - and my birthday, which happens to be today! So many wonderful things to celebrate this year. =))

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Blue Ribbon

Day 4 of 5 of Nutcracker madness: rather than Christmas red or green, I went with Hanukkah blue!

Melrose Mesh Top - c/o Kiyonna / Pencil skirt - Charter Club (Macy's)

I saw a few other bloggers tuck in this top (the Melrose Mesh Top from Kiyonna), which would seem to negate the point of all that strategic ruching, but I wanted to try it anyway - maybe with a grey pencil and some funky pearl statement jewelry. But then I remembered how I rocked the polka dot version of the top with the coral version of the skirt and figured I should just apply the same formula here. When it ain't broke...

Necklace - LOFT / Ring - Ruche / Earrings - The Limited / Nails - Essie "Midnight Camii (via Ulta) 
Handbag - Furla

I just love pairing statement shoes with outfits, though. A seemingly simple outfit of solids makes a perfect backdrop for some stand-out, notice-me heels. Snake print with coral trim? Just the ticket.

Shoes - Guess

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday Leopard

Believe it or not, this was the only holiday red I wore for my holiday work weekends. I figured I couldn't beat the off-the-shoulder red sweater from last year, so why try? Well, you may notice I kept the same basic elements - red, black and leopard - just mixed up a bit. You can never go wrong with a little leopard.

Black tee - Dorothy Perkins / Red pencil skirt - Lane Bryant / Belt - Lane Bryant

And no, you're not crazy for thinking I'm crazy for donning short sleeves and a skirt outside in December in the Midwest. It just so happens, however, that it was mid-60s that day, and short sleeves and an easy ponte skirt were kind of ideal.

Handbag - DKNY (via TJMaxx) / Shoes - Nine West

To be honest, though, I'm not crazy about the outfit. Its simplicity made it easy to wear, but it seemed much too simple for all the festive merriment surrounding me. (No competition with the girls in velvet and tulle today!) I blame laziness exhaustion confusion and lack of inspiration due to a 60° December day. And maybe a liiiiiittle resentment toward having to get dressed up at all on a Sunday when all I wanted to do was sleep in very late and watch football in comfies...

That's right. I stick it to The Man by wearing a red pencil skirt and leopard print.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Velvet Crush

One of the best things about working multiple shows of The Nutcracker is the high number of darling little girls that come all dressed up in their holiday best for the occasion. Velvet, glitter, bows, and full skirts; red, green, winter white, black - everyone is a Christmas princess for the day. It's absolutely endearing. I'm happy to say that the boys set the bar high this year, too, donning bow ties, fancy shoes and little manly suits and vests. One little boy even wore a fedora. A FEDORA! He won, hands down - yes, even over all the little girls in tulle. Presh beyond words.

I wasn't inspired by much red or green in my own wardrobe, so I went for velvet in a rich, royal blue, sweet little sheer cap sleeves and princessy peplum. I totes fit in.

Velvet peplum top - Dorothy Perkins / Pencil skirt - Simply Be / Heels - BCBG (eBayed)

The sheer yoke sure does make bra choice difficult, though. Even a nude bra was visible, and that just wouldn't set a very good example for all those impressionable young girls! I refuse to wear a strapless bra if I can help it, but it many ways it was the only bra style I owned that didn't peek through the top sides. My girls need straps though, so thank goodness for the clear strap option!

Ring - TJ Maxx / Earrings - The Limited / Nails - Essie "Fair Game" (via Ulta)

I almost saved this outfit for a potential NYE ensemble (the jury's still out on exactly what that'll be), but I couldn't resist wearing it to work for these events. I'd like to think that, if I were 6 and headed to The Nutcracker with my grandmother (a wish I always had but one that never came true), I'd don a little (or a lot of) velvet too.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pumpkin Glaze

I just finished this season's (rather harrowing) run of Nutcracker. Glory Be! Aside from reveling in that fact and trying to calm my nerves from the seemingly never-ending stresses (cue a mighty potent raspberry pepper margarita or two), I've realized that I haven't yet posted a single outfit from those days. And so I present to you outfit one...of five!

Pencil skirt - Lane Bryant / Jacket - LOFT / "Pretty Cami" - SWAK / Heels - Nine West
Handbag - Coach (gifted) / Belt - Talbots

Since the run opened on the last day of November, I figured I could get away with a more autumnal rather than holiday-focused attire. Plus, I had just acquired the the SWAK "Pretty Cami" in the most perfect shade of pumpkin orange, and I simply had to find a way to wear it.

Necklace - Anthropologie / Rig - Ruche / Earrings - Banana Republic /
Nails - Essie "Fair Game"  (via Ulta)

Competing for its affections were both leopard and teal. My leopard pencil skirt only lost by virtue of its slight fit issues, so teal it was. I loves me some happy color combos, and this was colorful to be sure. But don't worry - holiday colors will get their due!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Indoor Games

Ah, indoor pictures. I both love and hate you. I love the fact that I don't have to venture somewhere outside and play the "I'm just looking down at the sidewalk over here, while that random tripod is just standing in front of me" game every time cars drive by. I hate the fact that I don't have an empty wall or a neutral backdrop anywhere in my cramped little apartment and that getting the right lighting will always be a challenge. For better or worse, however, indoor pictures have only been an occasional occurrence so far this "winter."

Top - Banana Republic / Pencil skirt - eloquii / Shoes - Max Studio (via DSW)

Burgundy and leopard continue to inspire all my fall wardrobe choices. It is been my favorite fall combination, that's for sure, and one I'm not done with yet! I grabbed the top online with one of Banana Republic's weekly 40% off coupons to (partially) appease my obsessive hunt for more burgundy goodness. I sure didn't need it, but I obviously had to have it. Obviously. It's difficult to tell from the pictures, but the yoke of the top is a panel of sheer material, creating a unique mixed media effect that makes it much more than your average top, burgundy or otherwise.

Ring - Banana Republic (gifted) / Necklace - The Limited / Earrings - The Limited

Speaking of BR, has anyone else taken advantage of their totes amazing "Twelve Days of Joy" campaign? Special offers and free gifts December 1-12! My faves? Samples for Benefit Cosmetics (as a true Sephora junkie, I can never pass up make-up samples), a $10 voucher for movie tickets to see Les Misérables (a no-brainer!!) and a sample of Garrett's Popcorn (Chicagoans will know the well-earned fame behind their cracktastic bites). I'm just stunned by the freebies going around this holiday season!! Sign me up! (Says I, as I slather my lips with the Fresh Mini Sugar Lip Treatment I got from Sephora for my birthday reward.) It makes it easier to spend money on other people during the holidays if I can still stock up... =7

Handbag - DKNY (via TJMaxx)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Side of Eggplant

What better way to end the night than with a little blogging, tea and The Holiday? Now if only it was snowing outside and I had hot chocolate. (Instead, it's a balmy 63 degrees and windy. I neither understand nor like this weather.)

I'm so glad that I decided to splurge on these (sale) tops from Anthropologie. They're just the kind of pieces I like to have in my wardrobe: unique, feminine and flattering. I first wore this top with my favorite jeans (not yet blogged), which itself has become one of my go-to night-out outfits, but I love it just as much with a pencil skirt. Come to think of it, imma wear it again with jeans this week.

Side-Gathered Cowlneck - Anthropologie / Pencil skirt - eloquii / Shoes - Nine West

At first, I was worried I didn't have a good pencil skirt pairing for the top as I did for its sister, in part because there weren't as many colors to work with this time. I hesitated against browns or tans for fear of blandness, but once paired with the brown, I realized I had just the pair of shoes to draw out all the lovely purpley eggplant tones. (Oddly, the Anthro description once again calls this colorway gray. It's just not so!) And I sure do loves me some purple.

Ring - Banana Republic / Earrings - Lane Bryant / Nails - Essie "Wicked" (via Ulta)

This was the outfit I wore for my guest lecturer stint last month, by the way. I just knew the outfit I wore needed to involve a pencil skirt, the one article of clothing I always feel confidently myself in. The modest coverage of the top was a plus, but the overall look was exactly what I wanted - eye-catching, but not overwhelming. A successful day in the classroom all around.

Handbag - Tano

Monday, December 3, 2012

Double Duty

Oh, hello there! Once again, an extended vacation gets the best of me. Also, weekend 1 of 2 of Nutcracker madness. As far as events go, this one is so aptly named - we never get through unscathed... But here I am! The first half of the season is winding down, and so am I. In spite of 70 degree weather December...I have Christmas decor up and have already watched my favorite holiday movies a few times. Now if temps could just drop back to the 30s and, you know, it would snow. (I'm not hopeful.)

When I rotated my closets for fall, I decided I would keep a couple of my favorite maxi dresses on hand and challenge myself to style them for cooler weather. Since one of my favorite layering options for a maxi was a belted cardigan, I knew where to start. Add a scarf and flat boots, and done! It's so easy, so cute, and so shamelessly comfortable, that I plan to find a few permutations of it with the many cardigans/belts/scarves I own...

Maxi dress - Old Navy / Jackie Cardigan - J. Crew / Boots - Coconuts (gifted)
Scarf - Banana Republic / Belt - The Limited / Earrings - Ruche / Nails - Essie Smokin' Hot

I love the rich blues and purples of this rendition the most, though. (It even inspired my current blog template!) It feels autumnal all on its own.

Handbag - Steve Madden / Ring - H&M