Sunday, June 30, 2013

Madras Menswear Makeover

Shirt (American Living); Pique Polo (Kohl's); Shoes (Talbots); Monogram Necklace (Ross Simons)

         If you saw my recent Mad About Madras post, you already know I'm a big fan of madras, and that I can't sew (a most regrettable fact, because I have "sew" many ideas in my head I'd love to create).  Thus, I was intrigued by a recent Pinterest find from the blog Ashes of Laughter about a no-sew way to turn a men's button down shirt into a skirt, and decided to try it with an oversized madras shirt  I picked up on clearance a few summers ago.  I really like the fabric, but I've only thrown it on occasionally to ward off the chill of a late-night pontoon cruise, so I was excited to discover a new way to wear it.  I'm still trying to decide how I feel about the outcome of this experiment.  It's very comfortable, and I like the slightly "tulip" shape that results from the shirt-tail hem, but I don't think it morphs as easily for every day wear as the maxi-skirt I turned into a dress (see prior post).  I do, however, think it's a great option for an easy swimsuit cover-up (it looks like a preppy sarong), and I'd probably also wear it for a casual summer picnic.
          You can see the simple instructions for turning a shirt into a skirt here.  What do you think?  Would you wear a button down as a skirt?
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Friday, June 28, 2013

IN Fashion Friday: Indiana Tomatoes and Aunt Kate's Consignment

             Fresh, ripe Indiana tomatoes are one of summer's sweetest treats, and since I'm not a good gardener (despite being raised on a farm), I'm always on the lookout for roadside farm stands and farmer's markets that have a good selection.  Southern Indiana has some of the best, and Harriman's in Spencer is definitely worth a visit.  YUM!  Last summer, I bought more than 60 pounds of tomatoes at Harriman's on my way to Bedford for a weekend with my in-laws.  We ate some of them sliced and sprinkled with more salt than we need, and we used the rest to can homemade salsa.   
  •          That same weekend, my mother-in-law also introduced me to Aunt Kate's Consignment in Bedford, where I was surprised to find these like-new
  • ripe tomato red
  • suede loafers by Franco Sarto for $3.50!  Score!  I'm in love with the off-white leather whipstitching, and they turned out to be the same unique hue as a pair of pants, bag and watch that I've owned for years but had always paired with navy shoes.  This shop is a hidden gem, and stopping there is a little treasure hunt I look forward to whenever the opportunity presents itself.  The clothes and shoes are upstairs, while the main floor has furniture, home decor, and assorted oddities.  While not a destination in and of itself, if you happen to live in Monroe or Lawrence County or find yourself visiting friends or relatives who do, consider hunting a bit of treasure at Aunt Kate's.  
  • Aunt Kate's Consignment
  • (812) 277-1815
2811 Washington Ave, Bedford, IN 47421
Do you shop at consignment stores?  What's your best fashion consignment find?  Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mad About Madras

Dress (J. Crew); Monogram Tortoise cuff (Tagged Designs); Shoes (Lindsay Phillips); Monogram Shoe Clips (Initial Perfection)
         I like this J. Crew madras dress so much I bought it twice.    Well, I didn't actually mean to buy it twice.  I found it on eBay, new with tags, and bid on two available in my size.  I was fairly confident I'd be outbid on one of them, so I hedged with a bet on the second one.  As it turned out, I won both.  I'll probably just resell the one I haven't worn yet, though it is so comfortable and fun, I plan to wear it a lot so maybe I'll just keep it.  It also coordinates perfectly with the customized navy and green monogram shoe clips on my Lindsay Phillips switch flops (see prior post for a close up of these shoes that are getting lots of wear this summer).  I'm also getting lots of wear out of my recently acquired faux tortoise cuff from Indiana business Tagged Designs, featured in a recent installment of IN Fashion Friday, as well as here

         Madras fabric is one of my favorites for summer.  It's a timeless, preppy classic, and I love how breathable it is in the hot summer heat.  I've collected lots of madras pieces over the years, from shorts and watchbands to a purse and button downs.  I've also used madras fabric to add a bright, slightly nautical element to a guest bedroom at our lakefront home, and a few summers ago I had chambray-backed madras napkins made to coordinate with the invitations and complement the table settings for a lakeside lobster boil with dear friends (big shout out to my Mom for sewing these fantastic napkins!)  Here are a few pics that showcase her mad madras sewing skills (something I really, really wish I'd taken time to learn from her when I was younger):

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Friday, June 21, 2013

IN Fashion Friday: Zoobilation Sparkle

Shoes (Nina Bryyce, Zappos); Dress (Yaprak Design); Necklace (Aronstam Fine Jewelers); Makeup (Makeup By Sparkle); Special thanks to Sola Adelowo of ImageCube LLC for helping me choose the perfect Zoobilation look.
        Coco Chanel once said that "before leaving the house, a lady should look in the mirror and remove one accessory."  I generally think this is sound advice, but fashion rules take flight when it comes to Zoobilation, a wildly popular annual fundraising event for the Indianapolis Zoo. It's described on its Facebook page as "a black-tie, outdoor dining event that highlights 50+ restaurants & raises money to support the care and feeding of the Zoo’s animals & plants, as well as the Zoo’s internationally significant conservation & research efforts."  Tickets sell out within days of going on sale, and it's the kind of event that people clamor to attend whether they are zoo supporters or not because it is just that much fun! 
        This year's theme was "Safari in the City" and, as always, there were many inspired and over the top ensembles on display.  Zoobilation is not your typical black tie affair, and it's not uncommon to see men sporting animal print vests, bold bow ties, kilts, and even madras plaid shorts with their tuxedo jackets.  The women often showcase animal print gowns or  theme-appropriate accessories that might seem garish at more traditional soirees (like my leopard nails and lizard ring), and flip-flops under one's gown are not only acceptable, but expected (I always carry flip flops with me to Zoobilation).  This year, I even saw one risk-taker rocking Chuck Taylor's with a short and sparkly cocktail dress.  I might question that choice for other events, but I'd expect nothing less on an evening where guests were treated to chocolate dipped bacon on a stick (rolled in liquid nitrogen and smoking, no less), glow rings, and the cheesy musical stylings of the Naked Cowboy (in addition to eight very talented bands performing on stages throughout the venue).
        Today's installment of IN Fashion Friday features Makeup By Sparkle and Aronstam Fine Jewelers, two local Indianapolis businesses that added sparkle to my Zoobilation experience.  Sparkle Myers, owner of Makeup By Sparkle, did my glam makeup for the evening in her new Mass Ave studio.  I was thrilled with the smoky copper colors she used to play up the green in my eyes, and her all-natural, vegan makeup line stayed put all night (lipstick included) despite 80 degree weather and copious amounts of food and beverage.  Getting ready in her studio was also a real treat - I can't think of a more fun way to prep for an event than jamming to Prince while she played with lipstick colors I'd never have tried on my own!  If you've never had your makeup professionally "done" before or your experience is limited to semi-qualified department store clerks who make you feel guilty if you don't purchase every product they put on you, I urge you to make an appointment with Makeup By Sparkle next time you have a big event, or if you simply want to learn how to apply makeup.  It's worth the splurge!
        Aronstam Fine Jewelers also amped up my Zoobilation sparkle with a 138 carat, checkerboard-faceted madeira-citrine necklace that perfectly complemented the sunset copper gown that had been hanging in my closet since I was asked to model it on the Stepping Out In Style runway.  Marc Aronstam, owner of Aronstam Fine Jewelers, is as much artist as jeweler, and his unique designs and perspective result in truly special pieces for budgets big and small.  One of his specialties is "reworking" customers' existing pieces to create something fresh.  Aronstam also carries several designer brands, and visitors to the Keystone at the Crossing store are treated like royalty.  Check it out next time you're in the area, or if you're looking for a special piece of wearable art!

        I'd be remiss if I didn't also give kudos to both Makeup By Sparkle and Aronstam for their inspired philanthropy and dedication to "giving back."  In fact, I first learned about these businesses through their support of Dress for Success Indianapolis and Stepping Out In Style (see prior post for more about that event).  It's a pleasure to support businesses that support our community!  From the archives, here's a picture of the dress and necklace from the SOIS runway:
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Anthropology of Chambray

Skirt (Anthropologie); Chambray shirt (Kohls); Shoes (Poetic License); Belt (Nordstrom); Bag (Brahmin); Watch (Fossil); Carnelian, blue topaz, lapis, citrine, peridot, and amethyst torsade necklace (Ross Simons);  Mandarin garnet ring (Aronstam); Tortoise Monogram Cuff (Tagged Designs, Etsy)
              I love this rusty red Anthropologie skirt.  I wore it this winter with a turtleneck and tights, but couldn't wait until fall to wear it again.  It hits a couple of major current trends - featuring heavy crocheted lace and a "high-low" style, longer in the back than in the front.  It's also a perfect match for my brick-colored Poetic License pumps (one of my favorite brands) - the color is dead on and the woven leather of the shoes echoes the lace of the skirt.
        Lace can look a bit precious, so I paired it with a weathered chambray shirt.  The chambray shirt might be one of the most versatile, seasonless, timeless shirts in existence, perhaps second only to the crisp, white button down or the classic white T.  It never goes out of style, and its popularity spans across generations and occupations - my grandfather wears it on the farm, and I wear it to the office!  I still remember purchasing my first chambray shirt in 8th grade.  It was a light blue and white striped Guess button down - my friend Kelly and I split the cost and we swapped custody of it and a coordinating dark denim Guess mini-skirt from week to week!  I'd probably still wear a similar outfit today, but without the white leather fringed moccasin ankle booties I favored at the time....
        My closet holds a few chambray shirts now, in varied shades and styles acquired over a number of years (see a different chambray look here).  How long have you been wearing chambray?  What's your favorite way to wear it?

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Blackwatch & Baseball in Omaha

Bag (Ralph Lauren;) Shoes (Lindsay Phillips switchflops with custom monogram buttons from The Preppy Patch; Watch (Anne Klein) 
        We are headed to Omaha this morning to support the Indiana Hoosiers in their inaugural appearance at the College World Series.  As a life-long baseball fan and a Hoosier alumni, I am excited about this little road trip with my husband and my father-in-law, who was a star pitcher for IU in the early 70s.  I'm carrying my blackwatch plaid cross-body tote and sporting monogrammed blackwatch flipflops to complement a pair of vintage red jeans and a Hoosiers baseball shirt I recently "rediscovered" while cleaning out my closet.  I've also packed a blackwatch umbrella, just in case....
        The plaid Ralph Lauren bag is a "go to" carry-all for sporting events.  It's lightweight, casual, and easy to clean, so I never worry about plopping it in the grass or on dusty stadium flooring.  It also has an exterior zip pocket that's perfect for holding ticket stubs.  I rarely clean that pocket out and, as a result, it's become a time-capsule of sorts.  Currently, it holds stubs from last year's BMW Championship; the Ryder Cup Championship; a Pacers game; a handfull of Colts games; a 2011 Chicago Blackhawks game; last year's NHRA championships at Lucas Raceway Park (I loved watching Courtney Force beat the boys!); a Notre Dame / Michigan football game; a Florida / Georgia football game (aka the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party); an IU / Ball State football game; and a Barenaked Ladies concert (I also sometimes use it for outdoor concerts).  It wasn't an intentional decision to leave the ticket stubs in the zipper pocket, but looking through them each time I reach for the bag brings back loads of memorable experiences!
        As for accessories, the ball cap is the perfect way to show my team spirit while also covering up my post-Zoobilation bedhead (no time to wash and style when you get home at 1 am and leave for a long roadtrip just six hours later).  The baseball themed charm bracelet is, admittedly, a little cheesy, but it has a special place in my heart because I've had it since my own days as a batgirl for IU's team when I was an Undergrad.  Go Hoosiers! 

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Friday, June 14, 2013

IN Fashion Friday: Tortoise and the Hair

Tortoise Cuff and Pendant (Tagged Designs); Dark Green and Cognac Spectators (Not Rated); Bag (Brahmin); Belt (Nordstrom); Cognac silk blouse (Boston Proper); Dark Green Gouchos (XCVI)
        I think it's important to support Hoosier businesses and champion tenacity and talent from the great state of IN.  Today's post kicks off "IN Fashion Friday," a regular feature that will focus on fashion finds from INdiana stores and designers.  Today, I'm showcasing a fantastic faux tortoise shell cuff and pendant from Evansville business Tagged Designs.  Tagged Designs specializes in custom monogrammed pieces like this cuff and pendant.  They also create other great monogrammed pieces for the home, weddings, and other special events (read more about my love of monograms here).  Their customer service is impeccable, shipping was lighting fast, and owner Heather Kent was friendly and accessible.  I hope you'll check them out!
        I was particularly excited to get these tortoise pieces.  I love tortoise accents because they're classic and timeless, and because tortoise looks great with my red hair!  I still remember my first tortoise accessory - a pair of Liz Claiborne glasses that I talked my mom into splurging for my freshman year in high school.  The stylish frames made the fact that I needed glasses at all just a bit more palatable.  Sadly, I misplaced the glasses shortly after I got them.  I was panicked about losing them, and knew my mom would not be willing to foot the bill for a replacement.  So, I called the optometrist "on the down low" and worked out a payment plan to procure a second pair on my own.  For six weeks, both my allowance and a substantial portion of my lunch money went home with my friend Jill, who delivered it to the optometrist's office down the street from her house.  Of course, just one week after I finished paying for the new pair, my tennis partner mentioned she'd seen a pair of glasses just like mine in the office lost and found.  Guess who they belonged to?!  I didn't tell my mom about my "extra" pair of glasses until I was in college!

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Watercolor Sunrise

Dress, Cardi, Belt (Worth  New York Collection); Shoes (Apt. 9, Kohl's); Bag (vintage); Watch (Michael Kors, Nordstrom); Ametrine, Amethyst and Citrine Rings (Majesty Jewelers, St. Maarten)
 The folk singer Willy Porter has a song called Watercolor Sunrise that always makes me smile - it's one of those songs I never skip when it comes up on my iPod.  This silk Worth dress makes me think of the song because it looks so much like a watercolor, and it also makes me smile.  I paired it with a fun, inexpensive pair of platform shoes that embodies two current trends - mint green and laser cut-outs! A mint green cashmere cardi and leather belt complete the look.  Are you wearing mint green this year? How do you keep it from looking too "cutesy pastel?" 
The neckline of the dress is beautiful, and without the cardigan could easily be transformed for evening cocktails or a party!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Safari Chic

Giraffe Pumps (Nine West); Sandals (What's What); Bag (Michael Kors); Watch (Fossil); Bracelet (handmade gift from American Military personnel); Leather and metal necklace (Silpada); Skirt (Focus 2000); Belt (; Camp Shirt (Macys)
       The invitation to the inaugural fundraiser for the Escape Foundation called for "Safari Casual" attire.  I love a theme party, but sometimes dress code terminology can be perplexing.  I've recently seen "casual chic" and "casual elegance" on invitations to other events - I know what those terms mean to me, but I have no idea if my own idea is consistent with the vision of the planners responsible for these events.  When in doubt, always go with your instinct and what makes you feel good (it's also better to err a bit on the side of over-dressed).  If you're comfortable with the way you're presenting yourself, you can forget about what you're wearing and focus on what's most important - connecting with other people and enjoying the experience!
       For the Escape Foundation event, a fundraiser for the organization's African Elephant Program, I knew immediately that I'd sport khaki and brown; my canvas and leather croc embossed Michael Kors bag (which I fell in love with in a magazine and later purchased for a song off eBay); and a beloved safari animal ring that I picked up at an art fair in Australia fifteen years ago but haven't worn in some time (I forgot what a fun piece it is).  My only dilemma was the shoes, which is unusual for me since I often build my wardrobe from the feet up.  I was torn between my desire to wear a fantastic pair of giraffe print hair calf pumps, and my knowledge that said pumps were not a practical choice for an event held in a barn and outdoors.  
       Ultimately, practicality won out, because I knew I wouldn't be able to focus on the important things if I spent the evening trying to keep my heels from sinking in the ground and fretting that dewy grass would damage the hair calf.  While I prefer the look of the giraffe pumps, and the "barn" turned out to be an immaculate and beautiful event venue, I didn't regret the choice for a minute because I was far too busy meeting new people, enjoying the fine food and dramatic decor, and learning more about the plight of the African elephant and the important work that the Escape Foundation supports to preserve and protect these empathetic and marvelous creatures (read about the African Elephant Program here).  
       Here are a few photos of the event decor and delectable dishes from Kahn's to which event guests were treated (the ceviche was some of the best I've ever had!):
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Modeling Success: Indianapolis Women Step Up for Dress for Success

Shoes (Poetic License - featured in prior post); Skirt (; Spectator Bag (Anne Klein); Citrine Ring (David Yurman); Sapphire and Diamond Ring (Ross Simons); Bubble Necklace (; Watch (Anne Klein); Cardigan (Old Navy); Tank (Kohls)
       On Friday, I attended a lovely luncheon hosted by the Conrad Hotel for Dress for Success Indianapolis.  This luncheon is an annual event that brings together all of the past and present models that have graced the runway at the organization's largest annual fundraiser, Stepping Out In Style.  From the spicy shrimp cocktail first course to the delectable dessert to the Aveda goody bags from Evan Todd Spa & Salon, the Conrad gets it right.  My fellow "runway role models" also get it right, and there were lots of stylish shoes and inspired ensembles on display!(See Kathy Kightlinger's article about the luncheon in the Indianapolis Star here).  More importantly, these women understand and champion the critical importance of raising funds to support this organization that promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support, and the career development tools to help them thrive in work and in life.  
       This September will mark the eleventh anniversary of Stepping Out In Style - a night of high fashion, great food, critical fundraising and loads of fun!  The evening includes a cocktail reception sponsored by Bedel Financial Consulting, Inc., dinner, a fashion show, and an after party sponsored by Citizen’s Energy Group.  Dress for Success Indianapolis will welcome community leaders as models to the stage for  the fashion show, which features unique clothing from upscale local boutiques.  See who's who in Stepping Out In Style 2013 here!  If you'd like to join the fun, you can learn more and purchase tickets here.  I'd love to see you there!
       Here's a throwback photo of yours truly from the SOIS runway in 2011:
...and a few of the saucy shoes sported by the stylish women at Friday's model luncheon:
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Buy It In Every Color?!

Chances are, you've seen a meme or t-shirt bearing the following footwear fanatic's adage, "If the shoe fits, buy it in every color!"  When I got dressed this morning, it occurred to me that I actually follow this tongue-in-cheek advice, not just with shoes, but with other wardrobe staples, as well.  For instance, I also own a pink version of these brown and ivory Bandolino spectators; and I own a black version of the ivory lace skirt (see it here, paired with black and ivory spectators - have I mentioned spectators are my favorite shoe style?!).   Another example would be my Lindsay Phillips snap shoes in both nude (see them here) and black (featured here and here).

While some might criticize owning multiple versions of the same item as formulaic or boring, to me it's merely an indication that I know my own style and, when I find pieces that really catch my eye or fit me perfectly, I seize the opportunity to see how many different looks I can squeeze out of them, mixing and matching at will (especially if the price is right).  How about you - do you "buy it in every color?"
Bandolino Shoes (Zappos); Finity Jacket (Parisian); Lapis Skirt (Steinmart); Michael Kors Watch (Nordstrom); Statement necklace (The Limited)

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Calamity Jane's Left Shoe

Bag (Fossil); Shoes (Aldo); Editor Pants (Express); Vest (Kasper); Bracelet *Lenny & Eva); Bronze monogram pendant (Pink Monogram); Turquoise, smoky quartz and freshwater pearl torsade (Ross-Simons)
The first time I wore these shoes, I took a header on some brick pavers while rushing to make a 6 am flight.  If you happen to know me at all, you are probably not surprised.  Translation:  I trip, stumble, run into inanimate objects, and fall down.  Regularly.  This has earned me a few affectionate monikers over the years, including "Grace" and "Calamity Jane."  As a fair-skinned redhead, I also bruise easily, so I often wear my lack of coordination like temporary tattoos in hues of black and blue on my toes, shins, and knees.  

My last calamitous fall involved my barefoot big toe getting caught in the cuff of my slightly too long but super cute Alexander Henry pin-up print pajama pants.  The result was one broken coffee cup, three coffee-stained stairs, and one enormous purple goose egg on my leg. I'm fairly certain I could be a regular on America's Funniest Home Videos if someone followed me around with a video camera.  Even so, I actually walk quite well in heels, which is to say, I walk at least as well in heels as I do in sneakers or barefoot. This is a good thing, given my penchant for elevated footwear, and I truly think nothing ruins the look of a beautiful pair of heels like a woman who cannot walk normally while wearing them.  Of course, for me, walking normally means I still stumble on occasion.  

When I tripped on the brick pavers last summer, I was much more distraught about the ripped fabric on my new left shoe than I was about the bits of brick dust and gravel embedded in my palms or the small trickle of blood running down my right shin.  So, I did what any self-respecting shoe lover would do - I waited for them to go on clearance and bought a replacement pair!  But, by the time my UPS man (with whom I may or may not be on a first-name basis) delivered my shiny new shoes, the season for sandals had passed so I stowed them safely away in my closet for the next year.  

Imagine my surprise, then, when I eagerly opened the box this Spring only to find that it contained...TWO RIGHT SHOES!!!  Are you kidding me?!  At least if they'd sent two left shoes, I'd have been able to cobble together one unblemished pair.  Instead, I am now the proud owner of three beautiful right shoes and one boogered up left shoe.  Not to be defeated despite the fact that the time for returns had long passed, I turned to plan B - the brown Sharpie. I'm actually pretty pleased with the results.  Thankfully, I haven't had any more missteps while wearing these shoes, but if I ever do, I hope it's the right one that takes the brunt of it because I've got two backups waiting in the wings.

I guess it's fitting that today I'm sporting a "Calamity Jane" quote bracelet with my Sharpied left shoe! 

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Modern Crochet

When I was a child, my Grandma Coy gave me hand-crocheted gifts nearly every holiday.  She made afghans, doilies, Christmas ornaments, and ponchos.  I'm fortunate enough to still have some of her beautiful designs, but the ponchos are long gone.  I know she'd have loved this top and its layer after layer of delicate handwork.  It's a little flamenco, a little bohemian, and one of my favorite tops for summer (though it definitely requires a tank top underneath for modesty).  I've paired it with dress pants before, but this is the first time I've dressed it down with denim.  
Crochet Top:  Boston Proper
Bag:  Anushka (similar)
Necklace:  Laura Gibson (similar)
Earrings:  Erica Lyons (Carson Pirie Scott)
Wood and Bead Bracelet:  gift
Ring:  Aronstam Jewelers
Watch:  Michael Kors (Nordstrom)
Shoes:  Bandolino (TJ Maxx)
Orange is also one of the most prevalent colors in my wardrobe, so these Bandolino leather platform sandals and the Michael Kors watch are in heavy rotation.  Like the crocheted top, the hand-painted Anushka bag and Laura Gibson carnelian, blue topaz, and moonstone necklace (a cherished gift) are crafted one at a time, which makes them feel extra special.

What would you pair with a crocheted top?

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!