Making a House a Home

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this stage was rough on everyone!

When Josh and I first moved to Texas, we had a lot to do in a short amount of time. The apartment we’d selected was gorgeous, on the twelfth floor of a highrise in Uptown Dallas, with stunning city views and plenty of space to spread out. But he started work right away and I was working from home, lost in a sea of boxes. I had no local friends, no one to talk to between the hours of 8 am and 6 pm, and nothing to do but unpack. And clean. And cook. And unpack some more.

In addition to the pounds that gathered around my waist (thanks to My Fitness Pal and daily yoga, they’ve disappeared), I never really felt we got it right with the house. For all Joshy’s efforts at hanging our beloved art on the walls, and the sweet dining table and chairs we purchased, things never came together. By the time he returned from a day at the office, we were both tired and just wanted to spend time relaxing together. Eventually, things got organized, but there remain bits and bobs in boxes from one corner to the next that never found a place to stay.

Then, we started hunting for a house and all bets were off. I suddenly didn’t care as much about getting things in order in our current home. After all, I’m planning a wedding, working full-time, and we have a puppy in addition to our sweet cat. It’s chaos in this apartment!

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an open space for storing cosmetics has made me a very happy beauty blogger indeed. however, i would prefer something lower and easier to maintain. adding that to the list for the new place!

When we got home from Paris Sunday night, we both felt it right away. The disorganization we’ve been living with for the past few months feel unnatural and frustrating to both of us. Despite my efforts at cleaning (remember this post?) the tasks are never fully accomplished and we both would rather just snuggle up with Law & Order an a 100-calorie ice cream bar and chill at the end of the day.

So, new goals. Because this is a home, but it needs some help. We’ve hired a new cleaning service to come once every two weeks and do what my mother calls the “deep clean.” I hereby promise to do more laundry and to fold that laundry, and then put it away soon afterward. And I will do my very best to keep paperwork filed and knickknacks up off the floor and in their allotted places.

And tonight, as Josh experiences his first evening of bachelor party festivities in a foreign land, and I await tomorrow’s arrival of my Pookalina Ballerina, I will be organizing the closet. Arranging my new treasures from last week’s trip to Paris, lining up my swimwear in rainbow order, and so on.

When we move to the new apartment next month, a storage unit will be necessary. I can’t unload anymore important items now — last year’s purge is still too recent. But I will make more of an effort for the house that we will live in as man and wife, and if he chooses to start picking up his dirty socks off the floor, that will also be grand.

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our brooklyn apartment, which we still own, is lovely. small, but filled with character.

Looking Up

541439_10152752650185051_1484194530_nI’ve always been told I look like my mom, which I hold as one of the highest compliments. Sorry to brag, but my mom is truly gorgeous… I’m lucky to have an ever-so-slightly traceable likeness to her. So, how does she look this amazing? (Note: I would never reveal this goddess’s age, but she was not a teen mom).

In her high school and college years while her friends laid out in bikinis wearing oil and hoisting reflectors up under their faces, my mom wore sunscreen. It was not the cool thing to do, but she did it. When she was broke in her early twenties, living in Manhattan and eating boxed macaroni with ketchup for dinner alongside my dad, she squirreled away to buy high quality face and eye cream. Mom has also never smoked a cigarette in her entire life, which clearly hasn’t hurt that gorgeous complexion.

Of course, the big blue eyes, thick golden hair, lovely nose, etc were just given to her. Don’t hate! But taking care of your skin, hair and bod are important if you want your beauty to last. My mom moisturizes day and night, gets deep conditioning treatments on her golden locks, and does Pilates. She also visits the doctor for frequent check-ups and eats tons of heart-healthy leafy greens (but of course, no one can be blamed for the occasional sweet treat or glass of wine).

When I had my first facial at age 15, Mom bought me some of the products the technician used. At the time, I thought it was a little silly, but I used them because my mom suggested I get a head start. I remain a strong believer in looking up to our mothers’ beauty routines. What you don’t like, throw out. (I prefer a TON more eyeliner than she does, and bronzer over blush any day). But what works, heed. You’re likely to have a similar chemical makeup of the skin and hair to your mother, and keeping her beauty secrets close to your daily routine will only help you to have a chance at her glory.

Thanks for the inspiration, Mommy!

Easy Tip: Smooth Your Lip

imagesWell, yes, this advice works well on both lips, but for rhyming purposes I left it singular above. Apologies. In any case, I’m sure I’m not the only one who is finding her post-winter lips in disarray. The forced air heating and constant licking may be things of the past, but my lips take a long time to heal and also become sensitive in sunlight, so it’s an uphill battle getting them soft this time of year.

In my former life as a major lipgloss junkie, my constant reapplication made for a generally smooth situation. But these days I tend to favor lipstick that will hold its color for hours, letting me feel pretty through the morning and then again in the afternoon with little thought or effort. I only really wear lipgloss for a night on the town when I want to look extra juicy and don’t mind putting on a new coat after every cocktail. But lipstick, especially of the matte variety, can look cakey and not its best if you’re starting with a dry base. Here come the solutions:

I’ve shared this hint before, but exfoliating your lips is so easy. Just take a toothbrush, wet the bristles in warm water and brush your lips. Pat dry with a hand towel and smooth on some Karmex, Rosebud salve, or another moisturizing treatment. Do this twenty minutes before you leave the house. Then, on your way out the door, apply two coats of lipstick and you’re good to go.

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here’s me in paris this past weekend with just a swipe of revlon super lustrous lipstick in primrose, my ultimate favorite.

For ultra-moisturizing, non-glossy color options, scope out the slew of lip products new to your nearest makeup counter or drugstore aisle. I really like Revlon’s Just Bitten Kissable balm stain in Darling, a lovely lavender. Maybelline Baby Lips is a great option, too. If you’re up for a splurge, I recommend the entire line of Chanel Rouge Allure lipsticks, which are creamy and rich. The pigment lasts hours without drying your lips in the slightest, and men adore this look. For an affordable stick, the one I’m wearing in the photo above is another Revlon product, Super Lustrous lipstick in Primrose. It happens to be my beau’s fave.revlon

For extreme cases, you can’t go wrong with Vaseline or Aquafor morning and night. Just make sure not to let it spread out to your upper lip or chin while sleeping, as the excess oil can cause pimples. Now, go out and find somebody to kiss!VPJ

Pack Naturally

deltamagazine_packed_suitcaseHave you ever found yourself unpacking a suitcase when you arrive on vacation and wondering, What was I thinking?. I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately (the fun is coming to an end! After this weekend, I’m grounded till September) and in so doing, I’ve found myself making some packing mistakes I’d like to share.

Similarly to how I sometimes shop (for the imaginary person I want to be and the circumstances of that imaginary person’s life!) my packing habits leave much to be desired. I am known for coming up with an idea about how the weather will be on the trip (ie. I’m going to California! Sunshine, here I come!) and not actually checking. (Ie: Northern California in early September is actually freezing, and this hoodie is in every single photo I have from the trip).

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always pack a clutch, no matter where you’re going! this way, you can save your shoulders from your heavy purse when you go out at night or hang by the pool.

Another issue is how things are going to actually look. I might have a dress hanging in my closet with the tags on, because it’s still a hair too small. But if I’m headed to Miami, the dress is too. Then I arrive and hope for the best–only to find myself forced to wear some other stupid dress I packed because news flash, this one is still too small.

A few things to keep in mind: always check the weather. If you are going somewhere notoriously hot like the Caribbean, you might need to be prepared for rain. Pack a “just in case” cardigan that goes with everything, so you can throw it on in a gust of wind or even pack it into your purse should the AC be cranked too high at dinner.

Also, try everything on according to itinerary. If you have, say, one formal dinner and two days of casual sightseeing planned, pack a fancy cocktail dress and some shoes that will work in your destination city. Pack two outfits that you always feel good in and can walk around in, and then, if you tend toward the whimsical, throw in one extra dress or two fun separates that you can sub in should you feel especially inspired.

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a guazy, floral sundress like this one is a great choice for most trips. it packs up small, pairs expertly with black tights and a cardigan for cooler climates, and works in warm places for dinner with heels or museum-hopping in a pair of brogues.

Finally, remember your feet! My feet swelled up so badly after my trip to Miami, I sent my physical therapist into a tailspin and have been mandated to wear those old lady compression socks on all future flights. Make sure when packing that you toss in one pair of shoes that is very comfortable and not the least bit hideous. Black or nude Ferragamo Vara flats always serve this purpose for me. Then, when your tired feet have had enough, they can find their way back to Comfyville and not ruin your outfit.

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hands-down best travel shoe. all colors, $425, nordstrom.com

Rock Candy

art-lips-candy-candy-lips-girl-Favim.com-492480Recently, some girlfriends of mine were chatting about their respective makeup ruts. I get it. As much as I love cosmetics, I, too have been known to fall into rhythms from time to time. One famous phase included a face adorned with the exact same products in the exact same hues every single day for over a year. Clinique acne solutions foundation, the obligatory under eye and pimple concealer, brown eye shadow by MAC or Estée Lauder, black Lancôme eyeliner, black Diorshow mascara, pink gloss from one of the above brands. And done.
prom-makeup-for-blue-eyesBut as I’ve gotten older and a little more adventurous with my beauty routine, I truly enjoy mixing it up. Of course there are some standards (many from the list above) that always work and can come to the rescue in a pinch, but these days I am loving experimenting with unexpected colors. Anything that reminds you of a piece of candy you loved as a kid will do. So, what do you think? Ready to have some fun? Here’s how to do it, without looking or feeling even the slightest bit ridiculous.
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Eyes are gorgeous with mint, purple, even the adventurous orange. You might also be delighted to know that blue eye shadow is not, in fact, reserved for drag queens and beauty queens. These days, rocking a blue shadowed eye is as easy as two swipes or can be as fun as layers of metallics and solids. Greens are also nice; I am quite addicted to the minty color you see above, NARS Cream eyeshadow in Carioca, $24. Build a base with your pale blue or green of choice and skip liner for day. At night, add soft gray pencil against the lash line for more definition. Finish up with gobs of black mascara. You will get compliments. Many. Trust.
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Lips should appear kissable at all times. This does not imply that they should actually be kissable at all times. Perhaps for you this means an opaque hot pink that stops men dead in their tracks but might feel quite dry on contact. Maybe it’s a juicy, ombré gloss that would get all over the mouth and chin of your kissing partner, but hey, we are just trying to look hot here. Who cares if it ends up in a hot mess post-makeout sesh? This is precisely why a lady stashes at least two lip options in her bag at all times.
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Cheeks are more versatile than you might think. If you love bronzer, try a burnt sienna for stronger color this season. If you’re open to blush, come join in on the fun. A punchy peony like Bobbi Brown’s, $25, above, is divine on any skin tone. Hot pink might seem scary in the palette but a sweep on each cheek gives instant glam. Try a powder or a stick, applying a small amount at first and layering until you achieve your desired effect.
bottle_serviceNails are the easiest way to introduce color. Anything goes these days, and throwing a few fun hues together always works. Is there a color you’d love to wear in clothing but have always felt is not your best? Orange, bright purple, hot pink? Here’s your moment.
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Nail polish is the universal beauty product and a great way to experiment. Essie’s spring colors are fabulous! Try a pungent peach on all nails but your pinkies, making one of them cerulean and the other fuchsia. Do a DIY French with lavender topped off in lime. And so on. Delicious fingernails remain a fresh and fun way to accessorize your outfit. Let’s play!
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MoonWalk NYC: Get Ready to Show Some Love

Scan001Do you have boobies? Do you like boobies? So many Americans have been affected by breast cancer within their lifetime. My family has lost precious loved ones and friends, and it’s likely yours has, too. Rather than sitting around and fretting, it’s time to spring into action and do something. But what? That’s where MoonWalk NYC comes in.

If you haven’t heard of this fun and spirited charity, here’s a little background. I love a good story, and this definitely is one:

Walk the Walk started sixteen years ago when thirteen women including founder Nina Barough walked the New York City Marathon in their bras to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. This simple act of charity and care turned into a multi-million dollar charity, with sponsored walks in New York and beyond.

Walk-the-Walk-Bra-LogoIn January of 1997, just after the first walk, Nina found out she had breast cancer herself. The Walk then spread to the London Marathon, where celebs like Paul Smith, Mary Quant and Richard Branson got involved. Soon, it became a phenomenon, with a nighttime walk occurring on the eve of the London Marathon. Today, Walk the Walk is an official charity and the MoonWalk NYC on July 20th promises to be an epic event.

Grab your friends, grab a bra, and sign yourself up. This amazing charity is only thirteen years old and has already spawned unique, important studies in the research of breast cancer. Walk the Walk has changed lives and you can be a part of the fun and the glory. Sign up here http://moonwalk2013.one2onenetwork.com/SH12 and be a part of something magnificent.

WTW-2013-Moonwalk-IJ-0431This is a sponsored post from One2One and Walk the Walk. All opinions stated are my own.

Matchers Anonymous

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maria sharapova rocking mixed metals on the red carpet

I recently told a friend that she belongs in Matchers Anonymous, because she suggested going out on a Saturday evening without her wedding and engagement rings–she didn’t want the metal to “clash” with her gold-tone bangle. Ok. We have a situation here!

I actually hate to “match.” I believe that the elements of an outfit should relate to and/or complement each other but matching perfectly is just an unnecessary waste of time in my life. I like surprising details, whimsical bursts of color or pattern that throw the outfit from the predictable into the unique. I don’t try to dress weird, in fact much of my stuff is pretty “trendy” or classic. But I love combining things in interesting ways. Even my bridesmaids are wearing all different styles and colors of dresses. Our groomsmen’s ties bring in yet another color… and the list goes on. But away from the wedding and back to real life, I find asymmetry and a bit of power clashing — or at least a lack of matchy-matchy, quite appealing.

Navy and black? Bring it on. Even before that was the cool thing, I always did it. Do brown shoes require a brown bag? Um. Do they require brown eyes?? I mean, come on. Just wear what looks good together, what bounces off each other. I am not saying one should walk into one’s closet and just throw together any random assembly of items and leave the house… but I do think that matching to a fault can wind up leaving you looking cartoonish and ridiculous.

Case in point: today’s nail color. Now, many of you know that I paint my nails most nights. Last night, coming off a weekend in Miami, I craved bright, girly color. I ended up with a combination of Essie’s Play Date (a bold purple), and Pink Parka (a neon pink). This morning when I was getting ready, feet still swollen from some combination of wine, sleep deprivation, air travel, and possibly shellfish, I was in a pickle.

You see, the high in Dallas today was 90 degrees. That kind of limits one’s ankle-and-foot concealing possibilities. The only solution I could find was to wear a maxi dress, but as you know, I only own one. And as chance would have it, it’s purple and pink. Like my freaking nails. In order to mix things up, I threw on a navy cardigan, but the only flat shoes that my puffy feet would fit into are… you guessed it!

Lavender flats with pale pink Gucci G’s on the toe. So from head, to toe, to the tips of my little fingers… I am a pink and purple mess. Whatever. This outfit is comfortable, chic enough for a fairly slow day at work, and easy to prop my swollen little feet up in. My options were limited and I did what I had to do.

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Of course, you might not be surprised that this morning, when my buddy who has yet to actually join Matchers Anonymous met me by the water cooler, her first words were, “Ooh, your nails match your dress. Love it!”

Miami: My Naked Truth

white-ocean-miami-beach-fashion-shoot-10I expected Miami to be hot, loud and a place where my comfort level was not only ignored but obliterated. However, with a particularly lovely group of girls in tow and an especially wonderful bride-to-be at the helm, the trip was set up to be epic in the very best way. As I wrote this post in my Notes on the iPhone, I sat on a plane (aisle seat, thank god) with feet swelled up like loaves of bread and eyes that refused to open all the way. But the memories are worth it. And as I “detoxed” Sunday night on a diet coke and Evian with a side of fashion magazines, the morning’s bloody Mary’s a distant and delightful memory, I peacefully relived all my favorite moments from the weekend. Most importantly, the clothes. Or lack thereof.

The fashion in Miami was seriously fun to observe. I don’t always think that a sartorial scene needs to be chic in order to be fashionable. Women are more free in this beach city and what you throw on in the morning makes sense by the pool, in the street, and for many, at work. Sheer tops are the norm, butts are hanging out of cutoff shorts on line for the ATM at Walgreens. You get the idea. Everything in Miami, even the hair, just oozes sex appeal. For our big night out on Saturday, we had blowouts.  We each asked for something different and all ended up with the same look. Luxe, bouncy beach waves plucked fresh from the pages of Cosmo. No argument here, even though I’d specifically requested a bone-straight look. Those Miami beach waves were a better choice. Who am I to argue with a woman in a skin-tight turquoise maxi dress and winged black eyeliner?
nic-del-marAdmittedly, I awoke our first morning there to discover a drafted but unsent text to my fiancé stating, “Hunzy,  I want boobs.” However, I honestly believe that whatever your bod looks like in Miami, you totally fit in. Nudity was major on the beach and in the streets. From the super-skinny chick with butt implants we spotted in a white thong bikini (I’ve never seen butt implants in person! Crazy!) to the saggier, or curvier, or more natural, or less natural, everyone let it hang out from the brunch table to the dance floor.
Hey, that’s cool. I rocked a one-piece (albeit it a skimpy one), and at night, a flowing chiffon dress with my Frye platforms. Do I own sluttier outfits? Certamente! But they have no place on a trip where my fiancé is not present, so I was content to be the demure girl with the bouncy waves in a dress that forgave my expanding waist line after a dinner of fish, beef and coconut sticky rice with myriad wine and cocktails. (Hey, Fitness Pal. Happy Monday… I’ve missed you, too).
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If I’d been in town longer, I would have loved to shop a bit, take a ride on a boat, and explore. But for a 40-hour trip, we packed in a lot. Including, might I add, an hour of (girls-only!) skinny dipping that had us momentarily in really deep sh*t with hotel security. Luckily, I talked us out of that one while strategically hiding my naked bod in the shadowy water. Hey, you can take the girl to Miami, but you can’t break her modesty in the space of a weekend.

Try Something New: Accidental Ombre

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drew is the queen of ombre hair. this look is easily achievable with a half to full head of tone-right highlights.

Ombre hair is definitely not new. It’s been a Drew Barrymore fixture for well over a year, and long before her, there were models, actresses, and chic mommies the world over rocking this style. Remember season 4 of Sex & The City? You see my point.

But the funny thing with ombre hair is that it’s finally reached the masses, and it’s doing so valiantly and with ease. A recent commercial for boxed hairdye confirms it; the world’s gone ombre, and you are next. But here’s a question. Why purchase a box of ombre hairdye when you can achieve the look in a much easier way?

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jessica’s is more subtle and only requires a few foils. if you’re new to the trend, i’d try this route first.

Giselle’s stylist has been placing her highlights two to three inches from the roots for years, creating a naturally sunkissed look. On your next appointment, ask for the same. If you normally go super-light with the highlights but are naturally dark, consider warming them up a bit so the contrast is not so stark. If you color your own hair at home, a highlight kit works just as well. Have a friend do the back so you aren’t wonky-looking, but again, space each one south of the root.

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gisele’s is divine. just go ahead and bring this photo to your stylist– you’ll leave happy, no questions asked.

If you want a bolder look, you still don’t have to purchase that silly, ombre-specific kit. Instead, purchase a box of the color of your choice (red works, black is cool for a reverse ombre, the possibilities are endless!) and just don’t dye all the way to the roots. Pick a point where you want the fade to happen and apply color specifically south of that line. If you want to blur it a little for a funky look, use a smaller touch of dye in sporadic bursts above that line, then wash out as you normally would. Ta-da!

So, here’s my naturally, accidentally ombre story. I have not had my hair colored since August, and I have to admit, it looks fabulous. I am constantly getting compliments and questions. “How did you get that ombre hair?” Well, I got blond highlights nine months ago and then got lazy and let them grow out.

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here’s my hair the day after i had it highlighted in august…

I’ll have a few more done next week and then not touch it again till the fall, so I have this lovely ombre alive for the wedding. Really, girls, this look can be as easy as laziness and a budget. Your best bet for on-trend ombre hair is to skip your next couple appointments.

Freedom!

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…and here it is nine months later!

Mastering the Art of Casual Chic

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i’d hire these floral beauties. would you?

An article in this month’s fabulous Marie Claire @ Work (their glam new professionista insert which is a welcome freebie to this recently transplanted, former work-from-homer with a new corporate job) struck my fancy. The Problem with Casual Fridays carefully unfolds the pro’s and con’s of the concept, something that is rampant in offices from coast to coast, whether officially or by chance.

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if you have glasses, WEAR them at work. it can’t hurt!

It seems we spend much of the day on Friday day dreaming about tonight’s margaritas and tomorrow’s mimosas, longing to feel the sunshine that’s just beyond our grasp, outside the professional grade window. Along with a chill internal vibe, many of us lean toward more relaxed outfit planning for Fridays. And while this can go very well (dark denim, trend-right top, comfortable wedges), it can also go very poorly (ripped jeans, revealing top, scary flats).

The article asserts that while “casual” dressing may be encouraged on some (or in my case, all) days, there is a line and it’s important not to cross it. Also, dressing in a sharp manner at all times will still make you likelier to get that big promotion, or at least prove to your boss and the higher-ups within your company that you mean business. This is not to say you can’t have fun with fashion. But it’s all about balance.

So, how do we toe the line? And, um, what happens if you, like your friend here, work in an office that has a casual dress code all of the time? Gone are the days where my aching feet wept silent tears as I forced them into three-inch, pointed toe stilettos and began my trek by foot and subway from 103rd street to the Lower East Side. And here to stay are the days when I look in the mirror, knowing my proposed outfit of stirrup leggings, embroidered tunic and Ferragamo flats would be perfectly acceptable… but I just can’t wear it. I just can’t. Be. Sloppy. At. Work.

Thank you, Marie Claire @ Work for giving us some rules– flats are mostly not okay, but instead consider a kitten heel. Jeans can be done in dark, fitted *but not tight* varieties, but heels are really a must then. Bold colors are best on Fridays. Ditto whacky patterns. And spaghetti straps? No. Just, no.

I would hereby like to lengthen the list for those of us who work in perpetually casual environments. You can be comfortable, trendy and cute all at once. And the bottom line? When in doubt, wear a dress.

A maxi and a cardi
This combination will have you feeling pajama-comfy but will allow you to walk into any meeting feeling confident. If you’re going for a jersey knit, keep the pattern simple and chic. I really like silkier fabrics in a maxi, as they dress it up a little while keeping that same comfortable factor. Pair with a fitted cardigan or cropped blazer and work-appropriate slip-ons. A statement necklace or armful of gold bangles won’t hurt here.

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this maxi remains polished despite its sweeping length. a white cardigan and these exact shoes make it office-perfect. Cynthia Steffe, bloomingdales.com, $278

A color-blocked Oxford shirt and happy jeans
For the truly casual office, you can have a ton of fun with color while sticking to traditional cuts and styles. A two-tone Oxford shirt is professional yet cool, and these peach skinny jeans add humor. In lieu of her rope bracelets, though, I’d go with a gold-tone watch. And on the feet? Brogues or kitten heels, for sure. No flats with these pants!

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BDG printed button-down, urbanoutfitters.com, on sale for $29

Short dress and low heels (or vaguely masculine shoes)
Yes, as temperatures climb, so do hemlines. It’s okay to wear a shorter dress (be classy, here, ladies) at the office. The key is making sure you still look professional. A short dress that you would wear to the beach is likely not a great option for the office. (Except in a case like this, which I wrote about last week). But if you stick to classic prints like nautical stripes, shirt dresses, polka dots, or understated florals, you’ll be in great shape. Lace can work too, as long as it is paired with the right accessories. I like to add a chunky belt, dramatic earrings, etc. Hairbows are wrong with flirty dresses. It’s too little girlish, and not womanly enough for an office environment.

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this works because her gladiator-style low boots are subtle and funky. i would definitely throw a blazer over this though. and for happy hour, the back of the dress has a pretty openwork design you’ll love. needsupplyco.com, $88

Peplum top and cropped jeans with platforms
Okay, so to go ahead and break MC’s denim rule, I think a slightly faded jean can work. But the pairings have to be impeccable. In this case, she is wearing a sharp, white peplum top with a necklace-inspired yoke, and sky-high heels. Her cuffed jeans work, despite their lighter wash. Make sure if you go this root that your heels are incredibly high (but that you can walk in them) and that your accessories are chic and contemporary. And, ladies, definitely save this one for Friday.

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rag + bone jeans, $242; giuseppe zanotti platform wedges, $850; DKNY top, $89; all, bloomingdales.com