Thursday, August 30, 2012

$5 Grey Zara Dress 5 Ways

Back when Alex and I lived in Connecticut I purchased this grey Zara Basic piece at Stiles Consignment, now renamed Miso Chic Boutique, in Unionville CT for $5.  Okay... I think it was actually $10, but I had a Groupon so I paid $5! Woot! I know that the dress doesn't look like much on the hanger, but the combinations in transforming this basic piece was endless. Here's 5 different looks that I threw together as some inspiration.  




Fierce Bow Peep
Belt: $2, Women Helping Women, Santa Ana CA
Black and White Polka Dot Scarf: $2. Women Helping Women, Santa Ana, CA
Yellow to Orange Mix Scarf $2: Women Helping Women, Santa Ana, CA
BCBG Shoes: $8 Salvation Army, Fountain Valley, CA

I was really drawn to these scarves for their bold pattern, but together they just scream fun and feminine. The giant bow makes a great alternative statement to a traditional necklace. I snitched my waist with a cute braided belt that I thrifted and paired it with these killer pointy nude BCBG heels. A pair of pointy heels will make any outfit look fierce!

Now that I think of it, I think adding a dark denim jacket would have really added more pop to this look.  Unfortunately, at the moment mine is no where to be found :( Use your imagination, close your eyes and visualize this look with my favorite Guess jacket and Voila! The complete look!


Alice In Wonderland 
Flower Headband: $4 Forever 21, New York, NY
Equipment Lace Button up: $4, GoodWill, Westminster CA

Lace instantly make any outfit girly. Add a white flower head-band and you're ready for afternoon tea.  Traditionally I use this lace button down as a light weight outerwear, but with Fall coming up and temperatures dropping I thought the collar is a great accessory and the lace sleeves adds texture to the outfit.



Preppy Geek Chic  
Equipment Lace Button up: $4, GoodWill, Westminster CA
Argile Sweatshirt: $4, Women Helping Women, Santa Ana, CA
Pearl studs: $5.50 Claires, Boston, MA


I use to think that argile was grand-fatherish, but after living on the East Coast for several year I've grown to appreciate the pattern. I used the same base as the Alice in Wonderland look and added a nice v-neck sweatshirt to contrast the grey. This look is perfect for students on the east coast as it gives individuals the much needed warmth but also instantly make you appear more studious.  Now you're ready to hit the books! 



Simple, but Bold
Betsey Johnson Sunglasses: $19 +$6, Groupon Goods 
Banana Republic Scarf: $4, Miso Chic, Unionville CT  

For those of us who can still enjoy the a warm summer day and refuse to admit that summer is ending, will enjoy this look simple chic look. Thrown on your favorite sunglasses and tie an animal print scarf for that puur-fect edgy look.   



Office Appropriate
White Belt: $.5, Lutheran High Thrift Shop, Orange, CA
Floral Blouse: $8, Fashion Unlimited, Corona, CA
Bruno Magli Shoes: $25, Palos Verdes Resale, Lomita, CA 
Pink Tear Drop Earrings: Gift 

I wear this pairing the most at the office as it's simple and elegant. The flowers on this blouse are muted and soft, and the bright white belt with gold accented buckles ties the whole look together.  This is my go-to outfit when I'm running late or not feeling inspired to try something new.    


Which outfit pairing if you favorite? Do you have suggestions on other ways to wear this grey dress?


Summary of Today's Tips
1. Clothes on a hanger often look terrible, but if you give it a shot you might be surprised at how flattering it makes you look.
2. Get the most mileage out of your wardrobe and go shopping in your closet. All of these pieces were items I've already owned and with Fall quickly approaching you can layer garments to add even more character to your pieces.



Wednesday, August 29, 2012

August Favorites

Summer break is winding down, which translates to students returning to school and cooler temperatures for much of the country. But for me, the end of summer means one thing-- Major Sales!!!(especially with Labor Day weekend quickly approaching) It is this time each year when retailers are trying extra hard to push out their inventory with promotions and various marketing tactics to make more room for Fall merchandise.

I'm a somewhat unconventional shopper, so waiting till the end of any season for intense savings works for me. Here's a list of a few favorite purchases/ services that I patroned.

Photo Cards
Working on Christmas cards in August isn't typically the first thing that comes to mind but
Winkflash, an online photo and card company, offered a promotion that I couldn't pass up--30 free photocards (+4.99 shipping).  This past Monday (Aug 27th to be exact) the promo code: 30FREE (case sensitive) allowed for any of the holiday cards which included both cardstock and photopaper designs.  The cardstock options are typically twice or three time more expensive than the photopaper options ($2 vs $.50) as you're able to customize the front and back of the card with text and photos, so this is definitely the better bang for your buck if you ask me

Here's a peak at two of the images I used for my holiday cards. I think the hand-sewn heart  add a nice personal touch from each of us. Credit goes entirely to my husband, Alex :)



Currently, they're offering 30 Free Baby annoucments (Promo: 30FREEBABY) and often have different weekly promotion. Be sure to check them out!

My only precaution for purchasing out of season products is to make sure to look closely at the text of the cards.  When I was browsing through the holiday cards section there were quite a few designs that I loved, but had the pre-printed previous year on it. Bummer! 


Curling Wand
I've seen a couple of different curling irons/wands all over the internet with generous discounts so I speculate that these styles are near the end of their cycle.  Anyways, after multiple attempts at curling my hair with a traditional curling iron I threw my hands up and decided to invest in a curling wand.  I saw this 4-in-1 curling iron offered by Groupon Goods for $59 and decided to give it a shot. I am now a believer in wands.  Not only does it actually curl my hair, but the curls stay without any haircare products. It's already been 2 days and my hair is still curly, hallelujah!

Amazon sells this for about $70ish dollars if you're interested. And I know I know the price is a bit steep but it works! I cannot tell you how many times I've tried regular curling irons and just having the ends curled :(


Bubble Necklace
The J Crew Bubble Necklace is all the rage, but the $150 price tag can easily intimidate many shoppers. I bought these two beautiful statement pieces from DressU, an online shop based in Georgia for a fraction of the cost. Aren't they beautiful?

 


On a random note...

If you're in the Orange County area and don't have plans for the Labor Day Weekend you should consider visiting the Bowers Museum to visit the free Caribbean Festival. There's also free admission to the musuem thanks to a generous grant from Target.  Who doesn't love a educational, fun and free event?!

Summary of Today's Tips
1. Summer is the shortest season for retailers and there are bargains to be had!
2. Often times I have a difficult time justifying a purchase if I know I can get it for less some place else. However, spending a little more on investment pieces is a better use of your pretty penny vs. paying less for a product with a lower quality.  Not only will you likely make multiple purchases to make up for the poor quality, but you'll be unhappy at it.
3. Plan ahead and think about doing things ahead of the season. Ie. making holidays cards in the summer!      
4. View retailers trends and fashion statements as inspirations.
5. Museums often have free admission days. So check out their websites to be in the loop!

Yours Truly,

Irene


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Betsey Bounces Back!


I am overwhelmed with emotion as I write this as I recently found out that my long-time fashion icon is returning to the fashion world. After filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy earlier this year, I was beyond devastated to learn that new creations would cease to exist. The crazy, bold, and girly, and sometimes edgy garments really speak to me, and I'm sure you can see her inspirations in my pairings.  But like a phoenix she rose from the ashes and is making a come-back!


To kick off her rebirth, Betsey Johnson will make a personal appearance at Nordstroms at The Grove in Los Angeles, CA this Saturday August 18th from 3:00pm- 4:30pm.  She's celebrating her 70th birthday, so be sure to shower her with love.  Click here for more info.
 
Her clothes are very bold and by no means a cheap. Both of these items (The red thriller-esc jacket and the black/white tutu dress) were major splurge pieces. Methinks... $45 for the jacket and $125 for the dress?  Yes, still pretty steep by my standards (even for outlets), but the way her clothes make me feel--priceless.  I've worn the thriller jacket at least twice and the black tu-tu twice as well.

Summary of Today's Tips
1. Sometimes you can't really put a price tag a creative genius' work and a splurge every once in a while is okay.  Just don't make it a habit :)
2. If you're planning to make a major splurge plan out the days when you're going to wear them so they don't just sit in your closet and you'll feel better about your investment.


Yours Truly,

Irene









Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sea-foam Green Penny Loafers


My shoe closet is pretty dull as it mostly consists of some variation of Black, Brown, White, or Nude. But when I saw these Seafoam Green Penny Loafers I instantly fell in love.  The masculine structure combined with the feminine pale blue green color is the perfect combination and can give any outfit an unexpected fresh look.  Additionally, they're also extremely comfortable--win! 



The Limited purple/white strip collared shirt: $4 Women Helping Women, Santa Ana, CA
Enzo Angiolini Seafoam Green Penny Loafers: $4 Laura's House, Lakeforest, CA
Blank NYC Khaki shorts: $15 Ross, Cypress, CA 

Total: $19


Summary of Today's Tips
1. You don't have to choose between fashion and function. Take the best of both worlds.  
2. Match a girly top with a masculine bottoms (shoes in this example) so that it balances the outfit.  
3. You don't need to buy a completely new outfit to match a new purchase. Experiment with your clothes at home. Playing dress up is a great way see what clothes you do have, but to challenge yourself in piecing outfits together too!  

Yours Truly,

Irene


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

OC Fair 4 Less

Attending the OC Fair is annual tradition that I look forward to each year as it rekindles childhood memories. And while some fair guests rave about the deep friend (fill-in-the-blank) options, my all time favorite fair activity is getting inspired by all the entries. From teapot collections to themed caked decor to quilts, there's incredible talent in the OC!  I especially love the table decorating contest and have an immense desire to enter as a contestant. Next year!

But through it all going to the fair can be a very costly trip. The tickets alone are $11 per adult, so if you're not careful this mini vacation can wind up costing you an arm and a leg. So I decided to compile a Top 10 list to not only help your wallet and improve your fair experience. :) 
                

1. Bring your own water:  The fair charges $2.75 for a bottle, which is beyond ridiculous. So it seems only logical to bring your own. However, ice cold water is always more desirable than room-temperature. My suggestion is to throw 2 or 3 bottles in the freezer the night before so you can enjoy the cold water throughout the day.
2. Wear a hat or bring a parasol: A parasol is a fancy word for day umbrella. It's going to be scorching hot and it's an easy way to look trendy and keep cool.
3. Sample the products, but hold off on buying: Yes the vendors are definitely going to tell you that the price is only good now. That's a marketing technique to lure consumer to increase sales.  My recommendation is to hear the pitch, walk away, and wait till the end of the day to see if you still want it. If you do, you can go back or you can go home and (most likely) buy it online.
4. Check out Discount Days: When I was a student I would often go on "We Care Wednesdays" because a specified donation would get you complimentary admission. Now as a big girl who doesn't get summer vacation off, this option is not as convenient. However, the OC Fairs offer a $2 admission for weekend early birds.  Definitely a great bargain!




5. Carpool: Parking is expensive and if you're going with friends, go together instead of meeting them there. Not only will you be able to have everyone in one place but you can all split the parking ticket cost.
6. Bring hand sanitizer and a small pack of tissues: Let's be frank. The fair isn't the best place to eat with your hands, especially with all the adorable baby critters that we'll be petting throughout the day. So be safe and bring hand sanitizer. You can buy them for less than a buck at the dollar store. Also, bring toilet paper or napkins of some kind, because we've all been in that situation where we go use the restroom and there's no toilet paper :(
7. Bring cash: Not only is it more convenient to do business with the vendors, but it will help you stay on target with how much you want to spend that day. Once the cash is gone you can't spend more, which doesn't really have the same impact when you spend with a credit card.





8. Enjoy the free events: This may sound like a no-brainer but plan to watch the entertainment versus paying to ride rides. It's included in your admission ticket there are some and interesting things to see.  My cousin and I watched the camel milking demonstration, which was not only a cool thing to watch, but educational as well.


9. Bring snacks: Yeah yeah the fair has food, but most items start at $7 and if you snack throughout the day that snack it will add up.  Be more selective about the food you try at the fair so you can save some serious dough.
10. Take pictures with your own camera:  Like all amusements parks/fairs they will charge a premium for photos. Instead bring your own camera and print them yourself online.  Not only will you get to edit your photos you'll treasure the fun memories.


Yours Truly,

Irene       

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Day 5: Quirky with an Edge


A loose comfy tee with a fitted pair of pants is a household staple, but what I love about this tee is the contrasting stripped sleeves with the basic gray foundation.  Additionally it was super soft and comfy so how could I resist! I decided to fold up the full length sleeves to a three quarter length contrast the loose base more.  To edge up the look I paired it with this a necklace with similar silver tones and a bright blue bag that I snagged at a Women Helping Women Sale for $4. Did I mention it's genuine leather too? :)

 








J Crew Stripped Tee: $4, Women Helping Women, Santa Ana CA
Rock and Republic Tuxedo Dress Pants: $25, Designer Fashion Clearance 
Leather Blue Clutch: $4, Women Helping Women, Santa Ana, CA
Necklace: $8, Boutique in Santa Ana, CA
Black Strappy Heals: $4, Women Helping Women, Santa Ana, CA

Total: $40
Summary of Today's Tips
1. You can still look put together with comfortable clothes. Just remember to contrast your top and bottom. Fitted top, loose bottoms and vice versa.  
2. Add a pop of color in your accessories (ie. shoes, bags, jewelry)


Yours Truly,

Irene 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Day 4: Denim Day

I love a great pair of jeans, but today I felt like spicing things up and went for the denim dress.  The sweetheart cut is especially flattering and the flower detail at the rim of the dress made the piece look extra girly. I paired both looks with a chocolate colored belt and nude shoes to elongate my legs and only swapped added one item to change the look.  The sunglasses add a bit more edgy while the cardigan added the needed coverage for an office appropriate attire.  Voila! What do you think?     



Brown and Gold Belt: $1.50, Assistance League of Irvine, Irvine, CA
Light Denim Dress: $5, Women Helping Women, Santa Ana, CA

Look 1
Betsey Johnson Sunglasses: $19 + $6 Shipping,  
Nude Open Peep Toe Shoes: $15? Forever 21, New York, NY 
Total: $46.50

Look 2
Strappy Nude Heals: $4, Women Helping Women, Santa Ana CA
Jones New York Green cardigan: $6, Palos Verdes Resale, Lomita,  CA
Total: $16.50


Summary of Today's Tips
1. A cardigan will often help make your look more conservative  
2. A high waisted belt is your best friend. It will instantly make your look curvy in all the right places 
3. Mix hard and soft elements. It makes your look more complete and balanced.

Yours Truly,

Irene 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Day 3: Timeless

Ralph Lauren and Kenneth Cole are two of my favorite designers because their pieces are classic and timeless. I scored both of these at the Women Helping Women Sale in Santa Ana and was thinking of ways to wear both in a work environnent and a casual BBQ potluck that I would attend later that evening.  Here's what I came up with.  


For work I decided to scrunch up the sleeves for a casual vibe and added a belt to define my waistline.  I pulled my hair back into a messy bun for a sophisticated office look.

After a long day at the office I rushed home to pop my cupcakes in the oven and pulled out all the bobby pins to let down my wavy hair.  My hair is naturally straight so this is a quick way to curl your hair without any heat!  I swapped my closed-toe shoes for some strappy heals that I also thrifted, and drapped my sweater over my shoulders for an elegant feel.  



Kenneth Cole Dress: $5, Women Helping Women, Santa Ana, CA
Ralph Lauren Cotten Sweater: $4, Women Helping Women, Santa Ana, CA
White and Gold Belt: $.50
Earrings: $5.50 Claires, Boston, MA

Shoes
Flats: $10 (Clearance), Payless, Cypress, CA 
Strappy Nude Heals: $4, Women Helping Women, Santa Ana, CA 

Total:
Look 1: $25
Look 2: $19





The bible study reunion potluck was awesome. Complete with juicy and tender tri-tip, ribs that fell of the bones, homemade potatoe salad, BBQ beans. corn on the cob.... and the list goes on and on.  Oh and the company was good too :) 

This feast was made for a king. Thanks Dave and Patty for hosting!  



Rewind before party...
When I opened my oven and saw that the cupcakes bled chocolate I was astonished and didn't know what to do. This is not what the picture on the box looks like!! 

But as I took them out and arranged them in a glass tray I began to like the chocolate swirl look. It started to grow on me and I actually got a lot of compliments from the party. 

Fundamiddles Cupcake Mix: $.25, Grocery Outlet (Closed), Fountain Valley, CA
60 Cupcake wrapper: $1.80, Big Lots, Fountain Valley CA
Gallon of Milk: $2.89 Ralphs, Fountain Valley, CA
Dozen Eggs: $1.69 Ralphs, Fountain Valley, CA

Unfortunately Grocery Outlet is no longer opened in Fountain Valley. However, I have seen this type of mix at Big Lots.  



Here's a peak on what we feasted on. Yes you have permission to salivate. :) 


Summary of Today's Tips
1. You can completely change your outfit simply by wearing your sweater over your shoulder.
2.  If your recipe detours from the original arrangement, make it work!

Yours Truly,

Irene