January 30, 2012

Cozy Cardigan & JCrew Cece Suede Ballet Flats

Happy Monday! I hope you had a great weekend. I spent mine catching a great flick (Incredibly Loud & Extremely Close), attending a fun work event, and spending time with friends. I love the weekend...

Today's casual look is anchored by two of my new favorite pieces:
1.) JCrew Cece Suede Ballet Flat - These flats are so cute and comfortable. I don't wear flats all that often, but I love this pair so much that I also picked up the black studded version. A bit excessive?  Maybe.  :)
2.) Express Sweater Cardigan - I also found this great Express cardigan on sale for $30; it's cozy and perfect for any fun and stylish weekend. I picked this up recently, so it may still be available in stores.

Need a Monday pick-me-up? Check out the song that I have on repeat:  White Lie by Jhameel.

Linked up at the Monday Mingle.

Sweater:  Express
T-shirt:  American Apparel | shop
Jeans:  Bullhead Black The 55 Denim Legging in Jean Blue, PacSun | shop
Shoes:  Cece Suede Ballet Flats, JCrew | shop
Earrings:  Charlotte Russe

January 26, 2012

LOFT Favorite Ruffle Puff Sleeve Top

The weather is crazy this winter; first the Midwest is hit with heavy winter snow storms, and suddenly it seems like spring time.  The warmer weather already has me lusting for the brighter colors and warmer patterns of summer, so I pulled out a summer staple and remixed it for cooler weather.  Using darker colors--like black, navy, or grey--as layering pieces is an easy way to bring your favorite summer look into winter weather readiness.

Top: Favorite Ruffle Puff Sleeve Top, Loft | shop
Cardigan: Gap | shop this season's version or this one with piping in lots of fun colors
Skirt: Victoria's Secret (old)
Boots: Melissa Button Boots, Frye | shop

January 25, 2012

The Limited: Soft Tailored Jacket Review

I couldn't resist this fantastically vibrant blue tailored jacket from the Limited!  Cobalt is all the rage this season and This jacket fits similarly to a cardigan; plus, you can't beat this baby's versatility, as it's perfect for a busy day at the office, as well as a fun night out with the girls.

I'm a big fan of The Limited's workwear pants; they fit my body really well and manage to lengthen my legs.  Though I'm partial to skirts, the pants I'm rocking at work usually have a Limited tag.  The Drew Bootcut Pant cut is a particular favorite because it slims the figure and gives a clean, tailored look.

If you love this blazer as much as I do, then I want to let you know that The Limited is running a 50% off almost everything promotion with code: FRENZY + free shipping, no minimum on all orders.

Linked up with the Pleated Poppy, G-Rated, & the Transatlantic Blonde.

Coat:  Old Navy, 2010 
Jacket:  Soft Tailored Jacket in Cobalt, The Limited | shop
Shirt:  J.Crew
Pants:  Drew Bootcut Pant, The Limited | shop
Bracelet:  Lia Sophia
Shoes:  Orra, Nine West | shop
Earrings:  Target

January 24, 2012

DIY: How to Paint Wooden Furniture - Adventures of an Old Dresser

Dresser Makeover

Using a Bosch Circle Sander
Circle Sander FTW
Supplies:  Wood primer, Semi-gloss acrylic latex paint, Glossy black spraypaint  
Supplies; Paint in Inland SW6452
Original hardware refinished with Krylon spray-paint (black)
Primer (1 coat)
Primer on dresser drawers
Green paint (Coat #1)
Green paint (Coat #2)
Ta-da...the finished dresser!

Occasionally, I'm motivated by a creative project; you may remember my bridesmaid dress remix last October. Growing up, I loved Martha Stewart, watched her religiously, dream of having a craft room, but that's another story...

During the holiday visits home, my parents mentioned they were getting rid of an old dresser, and recently inspired by DIYs seen on Pinterest, I offered to take it off their hands. (Sidenote: We <3 Pinterest! Check out our favorite board--pinned with brilliant hacks, organization tips, & storage solutions.)

After hauling it home, I was excited to rework the piece, but before diving into the project, I did a little research.  A few conversation with friends and a few helpful YouTube tutorials later... it was on.

Step 1 - Sanding (1.5 to 2 hours)
First, sand down all components of the furniture, as this helps the paint stick to the wood.  Luckily enough, my dresser was bare of paint, but still retained its wood finishing/varnish on top.  It is important to sand in the direction of the grain; I found the circle sander to be a great tool for this projet.  After sanding, I wiped down the piece with a wet rag to clear off the dust and debris, and waited for it to dry. A big thanks to my friend, Ben, who kindly lent me his sander.  

Step 2 - Priming (45 minutes)
I was tempted to skip this step, but after reading this article, I was convinced I should prime before painting.  I used a paper plate as my painter's palette to make for easy cleanup, a roller for the larger surfaces, and the brush for some of the detailed areas to evenly apply 1 coat of primer (I skipped the back of the dresser).

Step 3 - Painting (45 minutes to paint + 4 hours of drying time)
I used a roller to apply the majority of my green paint to the dresser. Going with the grain of the wood, I applied coat one and finished the detailed areas with a paint brush. Four hours of drying time later, I painted on coat two, and waited another four hours for drying.

Step 4 - Hardware (5 minutes + 45 minutes to dry)
I simply spray painted the dresser's existing hardware black, but changing up the hardware is an easy, affordable way to give furniture a totally different look.

This DIY was time consuming work, but let's keep it real team, sweat equity = a frugal, beautiful project. :)  Special shout out to Will, Laura, and Ben for helping with this project! Thank you!

Project Timetable (You need a period of time that allows 4 hour intervals of drying time; I put a weekend to good use.)
Sand down furniture:  1.5-2 hours
Wipe clean with wet rag:  10 minutes
Apply one coat of primer paint:  45 minutes to apply, 4 hour dry time
First coat of green paint:  45 minutes to apply, 4 hour dry time
Second coat of gren paint:  45 minutes, 4 hour dry time
Spray paint existing hardware:  5 minutes (repeat 3-4 times for even coating), 45 minute dry time

Total Cost: Under $50 (Significantly less than a new dresser!)
Dresser:  Mom & Dad's House Find: $0
Bosch Circle Sander:  Borrowed from my friend Ben :): $0
Sherwin Williams Store
Premium Wall & Wood Primer (quart):  $10
ProClassic Paint for Interior (quart - Inland SW6452):  $20
2" XL Trim Brush:  $5
6"x 3/16 Mohair Roll Brush (2):  $6
12" Roll Brush Frame:  $3
Krylon Spray-Paint (Black Glossy):  $4

January 23, 2012

Happy Lunar New Year!

We're celebrating with lots of amazing food, quality family time, and of course our lucky red envelopes! Cheers to the year of the dragon; we hope it's filled with luck, prosperity, and joy! Happy Chinese New Year! :D

Image via Nick Jr.'s Ni Hao Kai-Lan

January 19, 2012

Cold Hands, Warm Heart

Cold hands, warm heart.  Not so much, apparently.

A few years ago, Ailyn picked up these surprisingly warm, fuzzy-lined mittens when she was studying abroad for just $1 USD.  I've always been a mitten girl; in my humble opinion, they're much warmer, though admittedly much less functional than gloves.  I actually keep a different pair of arm accessories (gloves, mittens, fingerless gloves, arm warmers--you name it) in every piece of outerwear so that I--like many boy scouts and Scar--am always prepared.

A big thank you to Ying of MyDressyWay's for her Jewelmint giveaway! If you're new to the jewelry subscription site, Jewelmint, then use beauty guru hollyannaaeree's code: HOLLY for 60% off your first purchase.

Stay warm and safe in the midst of any winter snowstorms coming your way. :)

Mittens: Taiwan
Coat:  Banana Republic, also styled here (old)
Top:  H&M
Skirt:  Gap (2010?)
Tights: Spanx | shop
Shoes: Minas Ankle Bootie, Jessica Simpson | shop
Earrings: Crystal Cascade Earrings, Jewelmint | shop

January 18, 2012

I can see clearly now...

I must really enjoy this purple and ruffly white combo because I have been known to repeat it.

In other news, I'm thrilled that my LASIK surgery was successful!  Admittedly, my vision is slightly blurred, but it's pretty freakin' miraculous that I can suddenly see clearly!  The experience was a little more traumatic than I had prepared for, but I'm already trying out eyewear that I avoided when my vision was awful since I'm definitely too clumsy for expensive prescription sunglasses.

For those currently sporting four eyes scoping out a new look, I suggest checking out Warby Parker and sending out for a few different frames.  Warby Parker offers an online shopping junkie's favorite service of free shipping & free returns; Warby Parker and other online glasses retailers are a great alternative to stopping by your local Lenscrafters to get a true feel for the fit, comfort, and style of a prospective pair.

Just wanted to gives you a heads up regarding a few great sales going on now at Gilly Hicks (extra 50% off redlines & free ship+free returns w/minimum purchase of $50), several markdowns at Zara (free ship + free returns), 40% off everything + free shipping, no minimums at Talbots (with code 019588431 - Thanks Gigi!) and deep discounts at Land's End + free shipping with code: BLIZZARD and pin: 1038 (Thanks Chloe!).  Are you shopping the MLK & end of season sales?

Cardigan: Jackie Cardigan, JCrew | shop
Top: Cotton Voile Cascade Ruffle Blouse, LOFT | shop
Belt: JCrew (old)
Pants: 1969 Ponte 5-Pocket Leggings, Gap | shop
Shoes: Abalene, Nine West | shop

January 17, 2012

JCrew Double-cloth Lady Day Coat Review

January is in full swing with plenty of snow and blustery winds. It's the perfect time to pull out one of my favorite coats. 

JCrew comes out with a version of this classic lady day coat each winter in a variety of colors. You also have the option upgrade to the "3M Thinsulate" version of the coat. I highly recommend the more costly Thinsulate because I believe it really does keep you warmer than a coat without Thinsulate. This technology is neat because it does not add any bulk to the coat, but has a thin layer that protects you from the elements. I must confess I've not tried the non-Thinsulate version of this coat, but have confidence in the 3M innovation. Plus, who doesn't love technology?

3M technology aside, the coat is classic, chic and it's always fitting for any venture into the cold!

Coat:  Double-cloth Lady Day Coat with Thinsulate, JCrew | shop
Dress:  Rue 21
Boots: Erynne Boots in Black Suede, Nine West ($189 currently on sale for $94.50) | shop
Tights:  Gray, Spanx | shop
Ring:  Express
Earrings:  Express
Lipstick:  Round Case, Chaos | shop  

Happy Birthday to one of our top style icons:  Mrs. Obama! You can follow all of her great looks on one of our favorite blogs - Mrs.O.com. She, too, is a Crew fan!

Linked up with the Pleated Poppy & Transatlantic Blonde!

January 12, 2012

ASOS Review: Part 2

Dress #1
Dress #2
Dress #3
In the beginning of the week I did a review on two ASOS looks. Today, I'm trying out another round of ASOS frocks. 

Dress #1
In this photo the dress looks hot pink, but it was really more of a magenta color. The long sleeves are different, and make for a great fall/winter piece. I appreciated the bright color because it will keep things cheery once the snow hits. 
Dress:  Mini Dress with Double Layer Skirt in Magenta, ASOS | shop
Shoes:  Perfect Patent Platform Court Shoe in Blue, ASOS | shop
Belt:  Gap
Earrings:  Target

Dress  #2:  
This dress is kinda crazy. The beadwork on the dress is cool, but it makes the dress really heavy on the sleeves and on the skirt. I'm not a fan of this dress because the material held no shape and it's hard to wear. I'm compensating a bit for the shape -- as you can tell from my poses.  :)
Dress:  Scattered Sequin Dress, ASOS | shop
Shoes:  Guess

Dress  #3:  
This red, one-shouldered number seemed like a good purchase when I scoured the website. I'm underwhelmed with this look. Though it's a nice dress -- I didn't love it. 
Dress:  Pleated Dress with One-Shoulder, ASOS | shop
Shoes: Perfect Patent Pumps, Ann Taylor | shop
Belt:  Thrifted
Earrings:  Charlotte Russe

Overall, my ASOS experience has been a good one. Their quality is pretty comparable to an Akira, a popular boutique that started in Chicago. Truly, I liked their website and love the free shipping & free return/no minimum policy. I will definitely keep ASOS bookmarked list for future purchases.

Also, Happy LASIK Day to Ailyn! She is going to be glasses free in 2012! Designer sunglasses, headbands, eye patches, monocles? So many possibilities! <3  

January 11, 2012

LBD & a JCrew Popover

This is my second attempt at styling this LBD with pieces already hanging in my closet.  See the first one here.  Of the two looks, I much prefer this look to yesterday's... mostly because the puffy princess sleeves and Peter Pan style collar give this look a touch of primness that I dig.

To counter the prim and proper factor, these vibrant red glasses are a fun accent to a rather conservatively colored look, and I'm excited to say that in the near future, I'll be able to further experiment with eyewear!  After more than a decade of being a glasses & contacts wearer, I'm getting LASIK very soon!  I'm super excited (and a little nervous).  Wish me luck!

Dress: Gap | shop similar
Shirt: Puff-Sleeve Pop Over in end-on-end, JCrew | May still be available in stores - The collar on this bad boy doesn't always stay in place, which is a little annoying.
Bracelet:  Banana Republic (old)
Tights: Spanx via Ann Taylor | shop
Shoes: Abalene, Nine West | shop (If you find this cheaper elsewhere, don't forget that Endless price matches.)
Coat: JCrew (2008?)

January 10, 2012

ASOS Review: Good Meets Evil

I have been giving ASOS a go with their wonderful free shipping/free return, no minimum policy. I especially appreciate the "runway" view on their website which allows you to access a runway video. This is helpful because you can see how the clothes move, as well as the item's proportions as while the model walks the runway. Needless to say, I have big crush on ASOS. <3

For this ASOS review I wanted to juxtapose looks representing good (white) and evil (black). Each outfit has its own flavor, but which (if any) do you prefer?  As always, Ailyn and I love hearing your thoughts.

The white dress is very sweet, but the real star of this look are these creamy blue platform pumps. I was surprised by how well they pair with other pieces already in my wardrobe; plus, they are very high--measuring in at a more than respectable 4.7" with a 1.1" platform (according to ASOS.com, at least)--yet strangely comfortable!

The black dress is interesting, and you've got to give ASOS points for putting out pieces that you don't see too often, but overall I'm not a fan of the look. This dress is a definite return as it wasn't the sophisticated but fun and sparkly dress that I was expecting; instead, it's a bit too revealing for my taste. 

Dress:  Lace and Mesh Midi Dress, ASOS | shop
Shoes:  Perfect Patent Platform Court Shoe in Blue, ASOS | shop
Earrings:  Target
Necklace:  Thrifted
Ring:  H&M
Bracelets:  Express (accessory review)

Dress:  Mini Dress with Sequin Mesh, ASOS | shop
Shoes:  Guess
Earrings:  Charlotte Russe

January 9, 2012

LBD & Gingham

This week, I'm styling this basic black ponte dress from the Gap with wardrobe staples that are probably currently living in your closet.  Look out for another look featuring this dress later this week.

Aili and I actually both own this dress; it has proved to be a versatile, comfortable, and travel-friendly piece that is appropriate for many an occasion.  However, in recent months, I've kind of forgotten about this dress (among other pieces in my wardrobe), so I'm making more of an effort to shop my closet.  I thought this gingham button down would add a little funk to the unrelenting black.  And the pattern does add a little flavor to the look, but the effect isn't exactly what I was going for...  I still wanted to share, though! :)

Also, today is Kate Middleton's 30th Birthday! Check out Jane's look inspired by the Duchess of Cambridge.

Dress: Gap (2010)
Necklace: JCrew (old)
Top: Old Navy (old) |  similar (in a fun pink & yellow)
Cardigan: Embroidered Chiffon Back Cardigan, AE | shop
Shoes: Nine West
Lip Color: Colorburst Lip Butter in Berry Smoothie, Revlon | shop

Black + White | Everybody, Everywear