step on the gas (aka shirt dress gone shirt)

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Readers, I know how to drive, but I spent many years not driving. One of the joys of living in an urban area is that you can survive without a car. Recently, I started driving more and found myself not feeling all that comfortable behind the wheel. I mean, I can get the car from point A to point B, but that was basically the extent of it. Don’t even get me started on the expressway (aka a terror of people moving at insane speeds or a complete parking lot). Anywho, so, last weekend, I took a car control class; the bf and his dad are instructors and gently encouraged me to come on down. On the days approaching the class, I kept thinking, “…I’m going to really embarrass myself out there.” So, I get to the class, and it’s a full day event. The instructors teach a small class, and then you hop in your car with an instructor and take it out to a mini course that is wet down with gallons upon gallons of water. The goal is to learn how to get your car out of control and then bring it back under control.

At first, I was super timid and basically refused to get my ABS brakes to turn on. At the “stop light” exercises, I would chicken out, go slow, and then try not to run things over (mostly cones). After the lunch break though, I busted out my gym shoes (unheard of in the world of the Fashion Huntress), put my hair in a ponytail, ditched my coat, and got out there and just hit the gas, then hit the breaks, then hit the gas, and tackled the course. And you know what? I had fun! I went fast! I didn’t embarrass myself! I’m even going back for the next class! There’s something about trying new things that is very empowering. I’m not a racecar driver, but I can officially drive with some confidence, and I know I’m going to feel more and more confident over time. First sewing, now driving? What’s next? Okay. Well, this is fashion blog, so let’s bring it on home with fashion. Today, I wore a dress as a blouse. I layered on greens, blues, and yellows, and added patterns and prints and animal print shoes. I mean, why not? Why not try a new outfit? Why not try doing something different? Why not step on the gas? Worst case scenario? You drive over some cones, or you go change your outfit. Let’s do this.
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Shirt dress/shirt: Gap ($22 marked down from $60)
Pants: Ann Taylor Loft ($2.50 marked down from $60) (yep. 2.50)
Cardigan: Banana Republic ($15 marked down from $110)
Scarf: Gap ($15 marked down from approx $25)
Heels: BCBG via DSW ($11 marked down from approx $100)
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Fashion Huntress tips:
1) Thin shirt dresses can definitely be worn as tops. If they are a little bulkier, I recommend wearing the shirt dress with a skirt. For less bulky tops, you can tuck the shirt dress right in to your pants and make the dress into a blouse. This is a great way to get more use out of your dresses. Here you can see how I wore this dress as a dress versus the look today:
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2) If you’re not already a member at DSW, I definitely recommend signing up. You get coupons for your birthday, and accrue points to earn additional gift cards. I’ve already gotten a few gift cards, and I’m not there all that frequently, so it shows you that it’s not that hard to accrue points. My strategy for DSW is to start one half size down from my shoe size, in the clearance section, and then go from a half size down, to my size, to a half size up (all in the clearance section). The sizing there is so varied, you can often find shoes slightly up or down from your standard size. Don’t forget that the yellow sticker isn’t on the signs, but it means 80% off the sticker price. I’ve found some real gems there for around $10! 
Anyone else have dress/shirt tips?  Hope everyone is having a good start to the week! Thank you so much for stopping by!
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fancy floral (suit of armor)

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One time, I wrote a whole post about About a Boy and the song “Rainy days and Mondays.” I’ll spare you guys rehashing that story again (I mean, if you’re really interested in hearing that monolouge, here’s the post). So, instead of talking about my love of About a Boy and rainy days, I’m going to just chatty chat about rainy day trenches. You may find this hard to believe, but I do not have a lot of coats in my fashion repertoire. I’m not really sure why, but for some reason, I don’t really feel drawn to coats like I do, for example, shoes. Despite this somewhat ambivalent attitude towards coats, I tried on this statement trench and realized I had officially fallen for a coat. …oh my…I hope this doesn’t open a whole new can of worms. But for now, my statement coat collection is limited to this trench, and I feel really good about it. It’s like a fancy floral suit of armor for walking around town- and, really, you just cannot go wrong with a fancy floral suit of armor out there in the world.

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Peplum top: Express (approx $11 marked down from $30)

Denim top: Forever 21 ($20)

Pants: Banana Republic ($20 marked down from approx $90)

Necklace: Banana Republic ($12 marked down from $80)

Jacket: Banana Republic ($30 marked down from $175)

Shoes: Gap ($12 marked down from $40)

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Fashion Huntress tips:

1) I had a somewhat odd experience at Banana Republic when I picked up this jacket. I found it in a size small regular for almost $75 more than the medium petite. Confusing, right? So I asked the salesperson and she told me that the regular sizes were more expensive than the petites and that they generally don’t get the same markdown. Huh. Okay. Well, I tried on a size up in the petite and it fit just fine. So, if you’re looking at pieces in a store, go through all of the sections and remember that you can always size up or down as needed. I think coats are a lot more forgiving than other pieces, but certainly it can’t hurt to look various sale sections for a lot of other pieces as well.

2) Denim under a peplum top? Yep! It totally worked, too! I saw a few other bloggers doing this; so, thanks for the tips! Adding the layer underneath the peplum allowed me to wear this “summer” top in spring. I did go ahead and fully tuck-in the denim shirt underneath the peplum to make sure the peplum kept its original shape. You can also layer a lot of tank tops this year, especially those with thick straps. Try it out!

Anyone else have layering tips? Sizing quirks when sale shopping?

Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

 

mad about magenta

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Readers, I found myself reaching for a sweatshirt this morning. Let’s face it. This whole winter weather in spring thing is kind-of a downer. On the other hand, it’s sunny. So, I had a mini talk with myself while getting ready:

“Self. You can’t wear sweats today to work. It’s not okay to violate a dress code just because it’s cold out. I know, I know. You want to stay in bed and stay warm. But you can’t do that either. You need to just go ahead and pick out a grown-up outfit. I know, I know. Times are tough. Now. Get moving. Oh, shoot. Now you’re late. Goodbye, Starbucks. I’ll miss you. GAH! Go go go! Oooo, that jacket looks FAB! Alright, day, let’s do this!”  I think that monologue says it all. Another day, another look, always just trying to make it work, right? Toss on something bright, a fun pair of shoes, and head right on out that door to take the world by storm all over again.
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Jacket: Gap ($25 marked down from $130)
Top: Ann Taylor Loft ($14 marked down from $60)
Pants: Gap ($8 marked down from $50)
Heels: BCBG via DSW ($11 marked down from approx $100)
Necklace: Mango store in Spain many years ago
Bracelet: J Crew ($10 marked down from approx $40)
(nails: Parka Perfect by Essie)
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Fashion Huntress tips:
1) I saw this jacket many months ago, and figured it wouldn’t even make it to the sales because it was so cute. But lo and behold, it sure did. The funny thing is, it took months go on sale. I think I initially saw it in November? So, it just goes to show you. Most things really do go on sale eventually. There were very few winter items left, but the Gap sale continues, readers. If you are interested, most items were marked down to at least $20. 
2) It seems like many of us remain in areas that are still experiencing fairly cold weather. It’s remained in the 30s here in Chicago. It really makes spring dressing challenging! I’ve decided to stick with winter brights, as a result. This jacket is probably a “winter jacket” but the bright color really made it work for a spring look. I then added another bright to the look with the lace top. Together, the look is “spring” but still layered and warm. 
I would really love anyone else’s tips for how to dress in this really odd transition time! This is unseasonably cold, even for Chicago, so I feel a bit lost some days!
Thanks for stopping by, readers! Your comments, tips, and words of encouragement always make me smile.

surprisingly sewn

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I wouldn’t consider myself a seamstress by any stretch, readers, but I do like to sew. I decided it was high time to try and mesh my love of sewing with my love of fashion- the outcome? My first-ever handmade grown-up skirt. Admittedly, it has what I would call some “structural issues” mostly because I had to sew it on myself (patterns? eh. that seemed complicated) and then hem it while half way on (again, this is what happens when you don’t use a pattern), but nonetheless, this bad boy is my first creation! I think my pride in having done something I hadn’t done before outweighs any structural issues there may be. Belts really help make a lot of things work, right? Anywho, my point is that it’s really fun to surprise yourself sometimes and do something different. You never know ’til you try…

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Skirt: made it! (fabric $6 at Joann’s, had a coupon, of course!)
Top: Forever 21 ($20)
Tights: Hue via Nordstrom Rack ($3 marked down from $15)
Belt: Urban Outfitters (approx $5 marked down from approx $60)
Shoes: Express ($20 marked down from $70)
Necklace: Vintage via resale ($6)
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Fashion Huntress tips:
1) Clothing DIY is a great way to use creative energy and try new things. However, I’ve noticed that fabric can really add up, so I like to remember that it’s not always the most cost effective way to obtain new clothes. On the other hand, I always use coupons at places like Joann fabrics. Their app has daily coupons for 40-50% off any cut of fabric. Additionally, the creative part of it is well worth the cost of the fabric. I’m guessing skirts must be the easiest thing to make and take minimal fabric, though shout-out to any of the sewers that read the blog. I’d love your feedback and tips!
2) Denim is a big staple for me. I would pretty much wear denim daily if I could. With all the patterns that are popular right now, denim is an easy way to wear bold patterns in a more casual way. Because I cannot wear denim pants at work, I tend to collect denim tops instead. I recommend having one light version and one dark. Gap is known for their denim, and tend to have great sales on all of their denim (pants, jackets, tops). I also like Forever 21 and Old Navy for denim- they both have denim that is surprisingly very durable!
Anyone have denim tips? Sewing tips for a novice like me?
Thanks so much for stopping by, readers! I appreciate it an all of your tips and feedback!

divine diane

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I’m a huge fan of designers, in general, but a few of them really have my heart. Diane Von Furstenberg is one of the designers that really has my heart, my respect, and my admiration. Having started her company in the 1970s, she invented the wrap dress in 1974. Wrap your brain around that, readers. The wrap dress didn’t exist before she came up with the concept. What? …Wow. The most universally flattering dress design (if you ask me) came out of her brain. Aside from that, she’s had a life that always made me think, “wow…nothing will stop her.” I always heard that you “feel like a lady in a DVF wrap dress.” Well, I’m here to confirm that, readers. That woman has some serious talent! If you want to read more about her and her life, you can read more here.

Here are some of my favorite DVF quotes:

“Personal style is accepting who you are.”

“Attitude is everything.”

“You’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.”

Diane, girl, if you are reading this (erm…a wee bit unlikely), shout-out to you and your fab self.

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Dress: Diane Von Furstenberg via consignment ($35, retails for approx $400)

Shoes: Moschino via consignment ($24 marked down from approx $400)

Necklace: Charming Charlie’s (approx $10 on sale)

Tights: Simply Vera, Vera Wang for Kohl’s ($7 marked down from $14)

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Fashion Huntress tips:

1) I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, if you are all about finding great designer pieces at a good price, I strongly suggest consignment. I found this dress just hanging out on the “designer” rack in a consignment store outside of Chicago. The dress was marked at $60, but was on sale, so I got it for $35. I know, it’s hard to believe, but even resale and consignment shops have sales! Ask the shop owners what their policies are for pricing and sales. I know whenever I’ve asked, I’ve been shocked! Deals on top of deals!? Fashion Huntress heaven. I bought the dress and brought it to my local dry cleaner- and ta da! Ready to go!

2) Kohl’s. Let’s have a moment. So, I have not ever lived very near a Kohl’s, which has limited my ability to report on their clothes. However, I visited one recently and, wow, they have a lot of designer collections there! I wasn’t super impressed with their prices, to be honest, but they have a LOT of sales and coupons there. The Simply Vera line had great dresses that were still about $70-$90. Eh. But, on sale and with coupons? The dresses were much more accessible, price-wise. I think it’s definitely worth a visit and you can sign up for their coupons in advance here.

Anyone else have Kohl’s tips? Feedback on their lines?

Happy Monday, readers! I hope everyone is having a good start to the week and thank you so much for stopping by!

controlled chaos

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“Start every day as though it’s on purpose.” -Hitch

I mean, maybe that quote came from another source, but I know it from the movie Hitch.  For some reason, that concept really resonates with me. I have a dear colleague and friend who told me that every morning she puts two feet on the floor and says, “Thank you for letting me walk another day.” …Wow. Right? Now that is starting the day on purpose.  Well, we all know that the Fashion Huntress is a blog about fashion (and life, but mostly fashion). So, in true Huntress style, let’s talk about how this applies to fashion. Well, my sister called me yesterday and explained that she had worn an outfit to work that she didn’t really like and she felt like it just put a damper on her day and the tone of day. Yes. I hear that. I really do. When I am in an “I give up” outfit or I’m rushed to get ready and didn’t lay out my outfit the night before, my day is started with a not so great tone. I just didn’t start the day like it was on purpose.  Some may say I’m an overthinker (guilty as charged), but I’ve given that idea a lot of thought. I think getting up, getting dressed, liking what you wear, having something to eat/drink, and a grateful attitude, all contribute to starting the day like you mean it. When the rest of the day is generally chaos, I think a little bit of control and intention goes a long way. I think we need some semblance of control to be able to best cope with whatever else comes our way.  Often, I think that takes the form of deciding what to wear, what we project to the day, and frankly, what we project to ourselves. Alas, the Fashion Huntress is not a master of this process….but you can bet I’ll be striving to wake up everyday like it was on purpose. This outfit is my best version of controlled chaos- a mix of colors, patterns, and textures that is slightly chaotic, but also completely on purpose.

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Sweater: Banana Republic ($7 marked down from $100)
Button down: Gap ($7 marked down from $50)
Skirt: Gap ($5 marked down from approx $50)
Tights: Limited (old, maybe $10)
Ankle boots: Marshall’s (approx $20 marked down from approx $100)
Necklace: vintage via resale ($6)
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Fashion Huntress tips:
1) Gap has one serious sale going on right now. Pants were marked down to $5-$6, as were a lot of tops and shoes. My skirt was $5 and that price was pretty much standard in the store. So, if you’re around a Gap, I recommend checking it out! In more confusing online versus in-store issues, I found a dress that was $50 in the store, but $20 online (the reverse of what I normally see!).  The salesperson told me that they don’t match their online prices to the store. So, it’s official, readers. It pays to look online and in the store for items, or just ask in the store if the price is lower online and save yourself some time!
 
2) Pattern mix-ups and color mash-ups are pretty much my happy place for getting dressed in the morning.  When I think through the outfits a little more than, “I like how this looks together,” I notice a pattern. For example, all the colors in this outfit are either neutral (black) or shades of blue and green. You can totally power clash, if you want to! Stick with one color palette, or color hues (ex. pastels or jewel tones), and then keep everything else neutral. When I doubt, I always just add black or denim as my neutral pieces. I plan on doing a power clashing post soon- but I’ve been saving up enough photos to do so! Stay tuned- that should hopefully be up soon.
Anyone else have tips for mixing and matching colors and patterns? Happy mid-week, readers! And thank you so much for stopping by and hanging with me!

seeing snow (and spots)

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There’s not much to say about this incident yesterday:

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Yes. That is officially a mid-April snow. At first, I was a little disheartened by this unpleasant return to winter (and lack of promise of Santa coming soon). But, then I remembered I had these awesome tights that I hadn’t gotten a chance to wear yet. So, readers, I can say that clearly this is not a spring outfit, but on the other hand, I’m working what with what we’ve got around here. Maybe it’ll warm up by tomorrow, and Mother Nature just really wanted me to sneak these tights in before summer. I think that attitude is known as “turning lemons into lemonade…” but for me, it’s “turning spring pastels into snowy gold metallic spotted tights.” Eh, tomato tomatoe.
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Top: Forever 21 ($20)
Cardigan: Ann Taylor Loft (borrowed)
Skirt: Maeve, sold at Anthro, via resale ($5, retails for $100)
Tights: Hue via Nordstrom Rack ($5 marked down from $18)
Ankle boots: Marshall’s (approx $20 marked down from approx $100)
Bracelet: gift (from Africa)
Necklace: vintage via resale ($6)
Ring: gift
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Fashion Huntress tips:
1) There are times where I find something and think, “where am I NOT going to wear this?” because I think I will wear the item everywhere. These tights are one of those items. However, I will say that these tights were a little more difficult to style for work than I had anticipated. Then again, black tights with gold animal print sounds like it would be difficult to style for a conservative work environment, so I’m not sure why I thought otherwise anyway! Either way, if you’re going to sport something this bold in a conservative work environment, then go neutral basically everywhere else. I also thought of wearing them with taller boots, but I felt too sad covering up the tight pattern that much. However, that would have been another way to tone them down a bit. I love Hue tights, as you all know- and I generally find them on clearance at Nordstrom Rack. I also always buy them at least one size up than my normal size- it really makes them much more comfortable to wear all day.
2) I always heard that resale/thrifting was addictive, and wow, I have really discovered how true that is, readers. I guess once you see how you can get great quality for a really, really good price, it does make you wonder a little about what you pay for things when you shop retail. The black skirt was basically new and is normally sold at Anthropologie, but was $5 via a local resale shop. The pros of resale are that you really can get the absolute best prices on items and you are contributing to local charities. The cons, for me, are that you may go and find nothing, or spend time digging through racks to find just one gem. Personally, I like a good dig- but if you’re not into digging through racks of clothes, I recommend shopping consignment instead of resale. Yelp.com has great reviews for finding shops near you. You can type in “resale” or “consignment” to pull up stores in your area. 
Anyone else have tips to share about tights or resale hunts?
Thank you so much for stopping by, readers, I appreciate it so much and hope everyone can enjoy some sun and warmth on our behalf here in Chicago!