Another Hot Day in Texas

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Red lips and massive sunnies serve as a great summer accessory pairing for any casual dress.

As my East Coast friends post endlessly on Facebook about the ridiculous temps, I can’t help but think, Now you know my pain! When we landed in Texas, Josh and I had been warned about the summers but we figured we’d get through it by racing from one air conditioned space to the next. And so far, we have. But yesterday… oy!

This jet-setter (I’ve been to two weddings on the East Coast in two weekends, and arrived home super-late this past Sunday evening) did not feel like a dress Monday morning. Instead she reached for the only clean jeans around, a skin-tight pair with polka dots. Being gone the past two weekends also means being out of dry cleaned and/or recently washed summer tops so it was slim pickings. I ended up in a white Theory button-down (long sleeves) with a black American Apparel tee over it. Ferragamo skimmers.

I nearly died.

The more I’ve looked around my dress code-free office in recent weeks, the grander my “Toto, you’re not in Manhattan anymore” realization has become. There is no need to wear endless mounds of black, smart little shoes, and very carefully curated hemlines. While I miss the daily runway show of Wang, Posen, et al. on the New York City subway each morning, it is more than a little bit freeing to know that I am now fully justified in showing up at work in a little, breezy sundress and platforms, or even (gasp) shorts.

No, the shorts have not happened yet. If you’ve ever seen me in shorts, you know that my collection belongs nowhere near a professional environment. I will likely need to purchase a longer pair before I can show up at work in them. And, um, I don’t really want to do that!

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This liquid jersey maxi from J Crew is a lovely choice for the office or the weekend. But, lose the hat! ON SALE for $55, jcrew.com

So, to keep things classy, I’ve been reaching mainly for sweet sundresses and comfortable flats or platforms. I’m also loving the look of a black or gray cocktail dress in an airy chiffon or silk, paired with great heels and a cardigan. And while the walk from the parking garage to the inner sanctum of this frigid building remains grueling, at least it’s hot enough (everywhere) in Texas that you don’t mind baring your legs in the AC. That delicate balance is one thing I definitely don’t miss about home.

Got some cute summer style tips? Email me at sparklesnfun@gmail.com and share!

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Tuck a shirt into a longer pair of shorts and swap out her flats for a pair of heels. You will look fantastic! Caslon shorts, nordstrom.com, ON SALE for $29.90

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Jonesing for a splurge? These amazing graphic stilettos in black and white from Manolo Blahnik are just to thing to amp up your summer duds and keep you utterly on-trend for fall. $655, saksfifthavenue.com

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Outfit Ideas: A Black Dress in Summer

There’s nothing I love more than a sweet black dress with black tights and low heels on a crisp fall day. But with the onset of summer, I’ve been all about pastels, florals, neons and whites. However, last week’s Target visit led me to purchase this unnecessary but adorable, little black dress. Its white metallic pattern and Peter Pan collar made it simply irresistible. And while it’s an easy sell for any cocktail party, black doesn’t necessarily work in a day dress this time of year. Wait four months to rock this one before 5pm? No way!

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Please excuse the lack of makeup; I do mine in the car on the way to work.

Tuesday morning, I pulled it on and actually liked the way it looked with bare legs. First envisioning flats, I soon decided that sandals were wrong and my go-to Ferragamo’s made the look too “cool-weather.” Alas! Out came the cork-bottomed peep-toe Cole Haan’s I scored recently, followed by some dangling silver earrings and a pop of red lipstick. (Maybelline Color Sensational in Neon Red, if you’re curious).

redThe look earned multiple compliments and definitely made me feel secure that the little black dress can, in fact, do double-duty for day…even under the Texan sun.

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Cole Haan Mariela pump, on sale now for $169 at zappos.com

 

Outfit Ideas: Meet the Heat

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Photo courtesy of blog.denimtherapy.com

It is scorching in Texas! We’ve been in the high 90’s all week. And while this Long Island-born tanorexic has never shied away from warm weather, there’s a major difference between hanging poolside in a minimal amount of fabric and having to put on an actual outfit, go to an office, and be a professional person. Eek!

Breezy summer dresses are fun but we need to make sure our hemlines aren’t too short. I’ve seen some pretty interesting looks going on lately in the corporate cafeteria. If you’ve got the legs and the confidence and want to rock a micro-mini skirt to work, girl, go for it. But I am just a tad too buttoned-up in the personality department to wear the same thing to the office that I would at a barbecue. Call me provincial if you must.

How to survive the summer heat and still look stylish? I’m learning by experience and am certainly no expert yet. While those New York summers blazed, and the subway was truly unbearable, I’ve never lived in a place that reaches 110 with any frequency. Here’s what I’ve picked up from the chic locals:

1. Open-toed shoes are a must, but keep them classy. Flip flops have no place in your office, so leave them at the door. But sleek sandals with plenty of room to breathe will keep your look professional and comfortable at once. I recently nabbed these BCBG numbers at the Bloomie’s outlet and I’m obsessed:

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Harry never misses an opportunity to jump into the photo…

2. Cotton. Cotton. Cotton is your very best friend. It breathes, it forgives you if you sweat, and it cleans easily in the washing machine for frequent wear. One of my current go-to’s is a Joe Fresh trapeze dress from JCPenney that’s white with navy stripes and does not hug the body at all. Perfect for the scorching temps and totally cute with a low pump and red lipstick. I also like to dress it up with a punchy pair of platforms.

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Now on clearance for only $13.99, jcpenney.com.

3. We’ve spoken about maxis and the fact that I don’t like them. Well, if politicians can change their stances seasonally, I see no reason why this fashion blogger can’t. And so I will now reveal that I am developing a rather massive crush on the maxi. I still believe that one must always turn around and check out her toosh in the mirror before leaving the house in her maxi–many of them are made of such clingy fabric, you can see everything on the rear-end. Yikes. But a nice sturdy material and great fit? Perfect for summer heat at the office and can be professionalized instantly with the right accessories.

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This is a great fit in a maxi for a more casual work environment. If your dress code is stiffer, pair with a black cardi or cropped blazer and heels. Still more comfortable than sweating in a poly blend fitted number! Aqua, $88, bloomingdales.com

Here are some more inspirational photos of summer looks that work at the office. Share yours with me, too!

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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!”

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

Outfit Ideas: A Casual Cotton Dress Suits Up

I really didn’t feel like getting dressed this morning. I barely slept last night thanks to having a Diet Coke way too late in the evening on top of a pretty searing headache. Uninspired and running late, I threw on my go-to for mornings like these: a base of black tights (in this case, footed. It’s 80 degrees in Texas) and a fitted black tee. Now what?

Usually, in my slimming body armor, I can just sidle right up to my dresses and pull on whichever strikes my interest. But I was still feeling blah and couldn’t find one that would be comfy enough. I just needed comfy this morning, as I’m sure we all sometimes do.

A-ha! The genius idea struck me like sartorial lightning. My new cotton weekend dress. Initially envisioned paired with cowgirl boots and likely not even a bra underneath, suddenly this cute little dress was all I wanted to wear to work.

I recently got a shipment of Free People dresses (Josh’s absolute favorite brand of clothing on me, so I can get away with shopping there a tad more heavily without being scolded). Among them is a fabulous little navy dress in the absolute comfiest cotton I’ve ever felt. It features a racerback and a drop waist for a dose of California-cool but is not so lax that it can’t be made luxe. I dressed mine up today with my favorite little hot pink Marc by Marc mouse flats, and off I went.

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All day, I felt like I was wearing pajamas, but that didn’t stop the compliments from rolling in. And this dress is so lightweight and breezy, it will work just as well over my bikini in two months when Josh and I steal away to go floating down the river with our friends. Talk about the place where fashion meets function! This is one happy girl.

Get yours now, before they sell out! It’s on sale, too, people.