Accessorizing Your Holiday Outfits

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‘Tis the season. Holiday parties are right around the corner. What should you wear? I’ve noticed this year that women are seeking ways to add a little glitz without going ”over the top” for their holiday events.

Two years ago I wrote about the sequined cardigan and last year it was the sequined tank. Both are still stylish options.

If you want to make an outfit you have in your closet look different, and give it a little holiday sparkle, consider some accessories. It is also a great choice if you don’t want to spend a great deal on a new holiday outfit.

There are lots of great accessories out there. For this post I went to White House Black Market which I feel has very affordable and fun accessories. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Do you have holiday events that require a little dressing up or will your get-togethers be casual and comfortable?

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How to Dress as a Mother of the Bride/Groom

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I’m very happy to feature a post written by guest blogger, Missy Tidwell, personal stylist and creator of Styles 2 Love. I got to know Missy last year through a mutual friend when I helped with her stylist training here in Portland. Although miles separate us (Missy lives in Denver, Colorado) it has been fun to keep in touch about styling and bounce business ideas back and forth. I was excited to hear that Missy had started her own blog. I think you will enjoy her perspective. She has an amazing sense of style and is extremely creative in the way she puts things together.

Recently, Missy’s oldest daughter Aubrey got married in Austin, Texas. I asked her to share her thoughts about the search for the perfect Mother of the Bride (MOB) dress. We discussed this last summer when she began looking. Now that I’ve had some experience working with a few MOB or MOG clients myself, it’s fair to say that together we’ve come to the conclusion that designers have not completely kept up in this area. The choice is limited!

When you think of MOB dresses what comes to mind? Dresses with jackets and thick, heavy fabrics that can look matronly. We encourage you to “think outside the box” and steer away from what the industry deems “Mother of the Bride.” Your dress doesn’t necessarily need to come from the formal department. The photos below are results from a Nordstrom MOB dress search. Some women would feel very comfortable in these styles, others not.

Boutiques can have unique pieces. (keep in mind that the return policy is not as generous) Bridal shops are a possibility, but you will see many stereotypical dresses there as well. The most important aspect is that you feel FABULOUS in whatever dress you choose! 

Now, on to Missy’s advice. Her pictures are stunning with a little Texas flair!

As a recent MOB myself I thought I would take a few moments to go over some precious lessons learned. I hope the advice is helpful and will make your journey through this most important event as seamless as possible. 

 Lesson #1: Know your body type and style. I cannot express this enough. When you work alongside a stylist and have her go over what necklines, styles and materials are best suited for you, the results will be in your favor. If you are lucky, you and your daughter will be very similar in style. If not, don’t change just for her. When the style of dress you choose isn’t right for you, it will show!

 Lesson #2:  Picking the right color. I found this to be harder than I thought as I watched my daughter pick out her flower colors and bridesmaids dresses. Are we supposed to match, complement or doing something totally different? There is no perfect answer for this question so as you start shopping for that perfect dress.You may end up with one of the above and have no choice in the matter. My dress happened to complement the colors in the wedding. The only mistake would be wearing white or matching the bridesmaids perfectly. You want to set yourself apart as the “mom”, not trying to be one of the girls or competing with your daughter.

 Lesson #3:  Picking the right formality. This also can be tricky as you consider the time of day of the wedding and the formality of the bridesmaids along with the wedding gown. These days it is unusual to see full length bridesmaids’ dresses. The cocktail length is very popular and can be worn day or evening.  One thing I don’t recommend is a full length gown for you while the bridesmaids are tea length or to the knee. Again, the goal is to complement the wedding party, not draw attention away from it.

 Lesson #4:  Take care of yourself like you do the bride. I can’t tell you how easy it is to neglect yourself as you take care of every little detail for your daughter. As she gets her fittings, you should be too. As she does dry runs of her hair style and make up, you should too. As she shops for just the right shoes, you should too. As her dress is getting pressed and steamed for the big day, yours should too. She needs help and so do you. So do it together. 

 Lesson #5:  Enjoy the day. This is the biggest “party” you have probably ever hosted so enjoy it. Know that once the big day arrives, nothing more can be done, so let it go. You have family and good friends all there to enjoy the day with you so be there in mind AND body and enjoy every minute!

 Here is how our big day turned out. Aubrey’s shoulders are broader than her hips so we kept that in mind when choosing.(note the dress is fuller at the bottom which balances her shoulders) I am hourglass in shape. We both favor a romantic/chic  style so that worked out well as she chose “cowboy/chic” for her wedding theme with light pink bouquets and black and ivory bridesmaids dresses. Shopping for MOB dresses was frustrating to say the least as most department stores were very similar in style with lots of classic taffeta and/or chiffon. I happened to stumble across a designer in Austin that was perfect for my style and body shape so it was just a matter of finding a store here in Denver that carried the same line. 

Looking back, Aubrey and I have no regrets. Her dress was amazing and so perfect for her and I felt so pretty in my dress too. And now that we have our wedding photos to enjoy and cherish forever, it’s just a reminder of what a privilege and honor it is to be a part of this new chapter in our family’s life (with well thought out style and flair, of course!)

Karen’s Note: I think you will all agree –what a gorgeous Bride and Mother of the Bride! Thank you for sharing Missy. Whether you are reaching the MOB stage or it is years away, we’d love to hear what you think.

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Birthday Weekend Celebration

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I’ve been on a blogging hiatus. I wish I could chalk it up to being away on a two week European vacation. In reality, I was gone four days.

I was fortunate to spend those days with eleven High School classmates. The occasion? We were are all celebrating a significant birthday year.

A couple of years ago I mentioned going to a class reunion at my workplace. They mistakenly thought it was my 20 year reunion. Last year some new friends thought I was approaching my 40th birthday. These were nice compliments. At the time it made my day. I love being able to “fool” people about my age.

However, I’m coming clean. The significant year is 50.  My birthday is actually not until August; I’m still 49 and holding!

Our destination was Whistler B.C. It was a good choice since most of my classmates still live in our hometown (Lynden) just miles from the Canadian border. Since I live in the Southwest corner of Washington, I drove up the night before we were to leave and spent the night at my friend Kathi’s home.

That day happened to be her actual birthday. Instead of handing me the remote control to the TV for the evening, Kathi and her husband Jeff whisked me away to a special dinner party in her honor. It was a semi-formal affair. I always love an excuse to dress up! The setting for the evening was this beautiful home with covered/heated patio. (an absolute must in the Northwest) The table decor, the food, the hosts… everything about this evening was top notch!

This IS a fashion blog, so on to the fashion. A good blogger would be well prepared. I didn’t think about blogging about this event until AFTER the fact. A big thanks to other guests who helped me fill in the gaps.

Black was the color of the evening as expected. It truly depicts a semi-formal event. Here is Kathi, the birthday girl, and Stacy, one of the hostesses. Both looked stunning in black.

Kathi’s sister, Tami decided to go with a great neutral color. I LOVE this dress. Her shoes were “cut” off but you’ll see those later–a find from Target last season.

I also broke the black mold and went with a dark red dress I’ve had for years. I tried to make it look different with the pearls/brooch.

NOTE: I get asked frequently about the variety of ways I wear pearls. I promise a video is coming. In this photo it looks like I have a lightweight “coat” of some sort with sleeves. It is actually just a larger scarf used as a wrap! Many women feel uncomfortable about their arms in a sleeveless dress. This is a nice solution. It also can drape across the middle hiding more flaws. Ok, I know–another video!

My shoes were from Van Eli ordered last minute. Thank goodness for 24 service because when I went to put on the shoes I orginally wore with this dress, I could not get my foot in them. These are size 6.5 WW. Horrors! I love a high heel, but I have to say my feet did not hurt all night.

Jordan and Jana. She had the same idea with a wrap and it looked beautiful with her dress! Nice to see the guys get dressed up too.

Randy and Janice, our wonderful hosts for the evening in their beautiful GREEN yard. There are some advantages to all the rain! Janice spent most of the night serving all of us so she went a little less formal. I thought she made the perfect choice with the fabric, style and I LOVED the blue.

Dan and Marla finally had a minute to pose for a photo after spending most of the night in the kitchen preparing the delicious food. Marla’s dress is one of my favorite shades of green and it complemented her hair and eyes beautifully.

Kathi has on a super cute gray cardigan with black lace which was necessary as the evening cooled off. She admitted that her husband thought it looked a little like a “grandma sweater” and not to wear it. I quickly vetoed that idea and told her to take it along! Her husband is not alone in this mindset. I run into that often–even from my own husband. I realize I’m a biased cardigan fanatic, but this was the right choice Kathi. It’s all in how you wear it!

As the evening went on, it was time to put up the feet and take a rest from hours in “killer” heels which we all know look fabulous (but don’t always feel that way.)

A good time was had by all. I’m so glad I was able to part of this special evening.

Coming up Tomorrow: Part 2 from the Whistler Weekend with Eddie Bauer Store Review

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Holiday Dressing… a little more advice

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Wow, it’s a busy time of year isn’t it? I decided to repeat a post today from last year since many of you are new readers. It also covers the topic of dressing for the holidays a little more thoroughly. I hope you have enjoyed the back/back posts with all the ideas for the holidays the first week of December.

A word about Christmas sweaters. I still stand behind what I said in this article. YOU CAN DO BETTER! Another blog I read was a little more blunt. She explained that now young people make fun of these with “Ugly Christmas Sweater” parties. The sweater in the post was pretty darn stylish in the day. I’ve seen and owned uglier ones. However, my teenager has a different perception. This one has already made an appearance this year at a high school event.

Here is what I wore Saturday night to my Christmas party. My son is becoming a better photographer. We still have a long way to go when it comes to attention to details. (closing the shade on the window) In addition, I need to learn to be ready 10 minutes earlier so we’re not rushed and I can notice the details. And I need some modeling lessons. This outfit did get the rare “you look nice Mom” comment which is always a bonus.

Sequin tank in Mocha by Pleione from Nordstrom: $39. (Note: this one is much more comfortable and doesn’t scratch under the arms as the one from Halogen)

Sweater: White House Black Market: $98 (35% off with an online/store special last week) Seeing it in the photo, it looks a little big. It actually has a very nice drape to it and hugs the small of the back which is key. Many styles now are longer in the front or sides and have the cascading, draping effect. This can be very flattering. However, if it does not fit nicely in the back, it can look baggy which immediately adds pounds.

Bree Jean: Cabi 2010 Fall Season

Roselie Coin Purse from Brighton

Fidji Shoes from Lily Atelier (last season)

Jewelry: Ribbon Necklace is from J Crew last spring. I purchased it before this look was in every store. I’m sure I’ve shown it before. It’s one of those pieces that I get a dozen compliments every time I wear it and it goes with so many things.

Gold necklace: Stella & Dot

Long Pearls: Nordstrom Rack

Unfortunately, the photo does not show how well the jewelry caught the light. Normally I would go for more of a contrast instead of the same tone with the top and jewelry. Because of all the sparkle this worked.

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Holiday Dresssing on a Budget

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For many women the idea of formal wear conjures up dollar signs in their eyes. I wanted this post to show that there is way to put on the glitz without breaking the bank.

For ten consecutive years my husband’s company hosted a formal Christmas party. During that same time period I earned 5 incentive trips and attended conventions with formal nights and leadership events affiliated with my job. We have also took 4 cruises in that same ten years. What was worn to a party one year was worn to another event several years later. I learned how to Dress to the Nines on a budget and I loved every minute of it. I thought it would be fun to share some of the photos over the years. They are not the greatest professional shots. The close up poses don’t show the full length dresses/outfits, and the full length poses don’t show the jewelry. You’re just getting a fraction of the photos–most aren’t digital and scanning is time consuming. I cringe a little at some of these, but in order for me to explain the good deals and recycling from event to event, you have to see it. Hope you get a good laugh from the change in styles–clothing, hair and even jewelry!

Here are my tips:

1. If you have a formal company event every year, hit the stores in January. Many times I found my dress for the following year on the clearance rack 50-75% off. I remember walking out of Macy’s one time with a dress for 19.99! I rarely paid over $50. Don’t forget consignment stores!

The last photo of the red dress is the only one I paid full price for because they implemented a color scheme last minute when I had the perfect dress from a Christmas party months earlier. We felt like color coordinated high school students going to the prom!

2. Pants are a great option and just as dressy. While it’s difficult to see, I’m wearing the same pair of palazzo pants purchased half price at my CABI party in a couple of photos above. When looking through all the pictures, I think I wore those for 5 different events and they’re still in my closet. It’s easy to change the top, and that is what makes the statement (along with the shoes) Speaking of shoes, I bought that pair shown at Ann Taylor Loft one year and wore them many times. No, they were not at all comfortable–a ONE HOUR shoe at best, but they looked good!

3. Purchase jewelry with lots of sparkle. I would go much with much bolder styles today, but what I had worked for what was in at the time. I still have many of the pieces and loan them out to friends. And then there were the small handbags that most of the time didn’t make the photo. I used to love finding unique ones. Sam Moon was a great source when visiting Dallas. I also recall finding one at a kiosk in the mall.

4. Formal styles are classic. I kept the red top and dress and could pull those out today and wear them (provided they fit!) Several years ago I sold everything on E-bay and consignment shops. My husband changed jobs, we weren’t going on trips. It seemed senseless to store all that formal wear.

The BEST suggestion I have: When you see something unique that you love and the price is right, pick it up–especially things like jewelry and bags. When you find that flattering dress on the sale rack-BUY IT.

My husband and I celebrate our anniversary the end of this month. Perhaps it’s time to break out that red dress again even if Portland is the “casual capital” of the country when it somes to dressing for dinner. I’m anxious to hear if any of you have holiday events planned that call for a little dressing up. I would love to hear.

Next week: Reports from Target, Kohl’s and JC Penney.

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