Sunday, September 26, 2010

Style Sunday: Business Trip Attire

I had such a good time on my business trip! (More on that soon, I promise! Always the professional, however, you'll have to call or e-mail me for all the juicy details as I will not be posting the full story online.)

Anyway, without further ado, this is what I wore...

In transit, I wore a brown sweater with a dark pink cami underneath, dark blue jeans and knee-high brown heeled boots (which is not the smartest thing to wear to go through the airport security checkpoint!). After arriving at the hotel, I changed out of my jeans and into a brown wool skirt. That night we went out to a fancy dinner.

My Beloved Brown Wool Skirt from Ann Taylor LOFT

The next day, the dress code was "Professional Business Casual." I wore my black suit jacket and pants with a light blue striped shirt tucked in. That evening for yet another fancy dinner, I switched to my (super cheap) Target black sheath dress with a (not-so-cheap) wide black belt. My roommate complimented me on my dress. I also topped it with a black cardigan that I didn't take off. I paired my plain black pumps with both. Walking to all these dinners, I topped everything off with my H&M black trench. This is a whole lotta black for the evening, but, hey, I try to pack lightly.

On the third day, "Business Casual" was recommended. I wore a printed pink, red and black silky wrap top over a black cami. I just wore my black pants again and not the black pencil skirt I brought. This is the day we were away from the hotel, and I so wished I had brought my cardigan because I was freezing! Remember, people, layers for travel! On the bus en route to dinner on a yacht, I took off the wrap top and threw on a dark pink v-neck 3/4 sleeve sweater (which I left on the bus so was unable to retrieve during the day).

The last day I wore a lavender striped shirt over a white camisole with khaki pants and pewter ballet flats. Of course, I wore a name badge on a lanyard the whole time too. I didn't change before heading to the airport.

I felt really good in these beautiful clothes. And professional, which is really important to me, especially since I am much younger than just about everyone else. I could have brought more clothes to change, to go out at night for example, but I just had a beer at the hotel bar a couple of nights. ...and I would have been partying with a couple of my superiors. What would have been right, then? ...what the heck am I saying? I'm so modest and my closet certainly reflects that!

We're having a family dinner today to celebrate the September birthdays. My dad's making lasagna and I can hardly wait! What should I wear? Probably not the white tee I'm currently wearing because...

Michelle + white shirt + tomato sauce + red wine = potential disaster

LOL, so maybe that printed pinkish wrap top? It is really cute.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Style Sunday: Recent Closet Additions and Subtractions

I've been trying to create the perfect wardrobe for awhile now. Specifically, a simplified small one that is full of classic pieces and basic staples is what I've had in mind. I've given a whole lot away and, because of a limited budget, I am slowly adding carefully considered, perfect pieces.

My latest thought on the subject is that I want to wear more neutral colors that I can accessorize, especially white paired with black, dark denim, chocolate brown or khaki topped with scarves and jewelry. With my next paycheck I hope to buy a few white tops, possibly from the Gap if their Favorite Tee (of various sleeve-lengths and all) is, in fact, my favorite. Religiously adhering to the "1 in, 1 [or 2] out" decluttering philosophy, I just donated several clothing items to charity. This included three medium blue tops which I wore often, reaching for them whenever I wanted to feel casual. ...but why not feel chic with a more ideal color? The white and dark denim offers striking contrast, a more aesthetic casual. Plus, I can add a colorful scarf to it, not being a bit concerned that a bold color doesn't go with (blah) blue.

In addition, I seriously need to replace my very worn black boots. Hopefully the stores will be overflowing with options by payday Friday. After that, I won't have any more money allotted for clothing for awhile. ...which sucks when I just so happen to be losing some weight and could use some more jeans and work pants... In fact, I told my associate that because of budget, I can't lose any more!

When I posted my sixty-six style staples, I discovered some holes in my desired wardrobe. Filling one of these holes, I bought a knee-length faded denim skirt. It happens to be a pencil skirt since that's what is so ubiquitous right now. I scored it cheap at Old Navy. Already having had a chance to wear it, I feel that my selection is just what I wanted. I also needed a suit for my business trip tomorrow. I sure had perfect timing because The Limited held their suit event recently (where I truly saved with not one, not two, but three fantastic coupons). After trying on several suit jackets, the sales associate helping me out brought another option from the back and it fit me perfectly. It was definitely one of those "ah ha" moments. I am now proud to possess a classic black suit that fits me well. I already had the pants hemmed an inch. At 5'8" I'm average in height but my torso is alittle longer than average and my legs are alittle shorter. So I definitely buy my tailor a whole lot of dinner!

Providence City Hall and the Biltmore Hotel

My business trip is to Providence, Rhode Island and Mansfield, Massachusetts. I'll be staying at the historic Biltmore. I'm pretty excited! It seems to be quite the event, and I think it'll be fun. In addition to just getting the heck out of town, I would love to hang out with some of my colleagues who I speak with on the phone but have never met. I need to publish this so that I can finish my laundry and pack! ...pack my totally kick-ass suit! I plan to update with what I wore each day next Sunday.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Movie Recommendation

The movie "Letters to Juliet" came out this week. I really have to love something to buy it, and I'm so glad I did! In fact, I've watched it a couple times already and simply left it on in the background other times. The movie's actually two love stories in one romantic comedy. There are accents everywhere, which I adore, including the male lead... The characters are just so hilarious! It's set in Italy. Verona, Siena and the Tuscan countryside to be exact. I totally want to be in Verona's warm-hued and lit up piazza at sunset, one of which was beautifully captured in the movie. What more could you ask for? I highly recommend this movie!

Unfortunately, not the image in the movie. ...but isn't it beautiful? This is Piazza Brá.

I actually saw it in theaters. I was off one day in the spring and drove down to Annapolis, Maryland to hit the Amish food market, shop for books and tops in the shopping center there, eat at Potbelly for the first time (delicious!) and catch the matinee. The movie was better than I expected. It was a perfect morning and afternoon.

Verona was my very first stop on my very first trip to Italy. It was a basically a lunch break traveling from Malpensa airport in Milan to our first major city, Venice. A group of us ate Margherita pizza and drank white wine at a sidewalk cafe right across from the Roman amphitheater. The highlight of the stop was seeing Juliet's balcony and her statue in the courtyard below. Juliet can help you find a lover if you simply rub her right breast, which is bright and shiny when compared to the rest of statue. It was also our group's opportunity to check out the teeny Smart Cars up close.

I said I wanted to spend more time there someday, and, hopefully, I'll get to when I make my triumphal return to Italy next spring. If I can afford to purchase a plane ticket this fall, then I think I manage to finance it. (If so, I will also update with more details on my trip budget.) It would definitely be Verona, Venice with a stop in Padua. Giotto's decoration of the Scrovegni Chapel is in Padua and is pretty big stuff in Art History. I need to be in Italy, to have that awe-inspiring aesthetic beauty surround me... 

A girlfriend and I talked about it at a happy hour yesterday, and she's interested in meeting me there, as part of a bigger European excursion for herself. I would love to share it with someone! We had wine and appetizers at a local Italian restaurant. It was cheap ...and fun. Food and friends, what else do you need?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Style Sunday: Murano Glass

I love love love Murano glass! This is colorful blown glass that originated in Venice. This material can be shaped into many forms like jewelry, vases, glasses, and sculptures. Its composition is more elastic, therefore, it is less fragile than regular glass. According to the law, the workshops moved to a nearby island called Murano. I love shopping for it in Venice. Right now, I only have a couple of pieces. You see, the last couple times I was there, I was thrilled to pick up cute pieces of glass to give close friends and family. a little goldfish inside a solid bowl for example. So next time I hope to pick up lots of jewelry, beads to fill clear vases, and home decor items for myself. I plan to have a Murano glass chandelier over my dining table one day...

I hope to visit Italy again next spring! The only thing holding me back is financing it. Even if it's under a week in Venice in March, staying in hostels, that's okay! Heck, I'd still be there! I certainly have enough motivation to save money. I haven't been to Italy since 2007 and can hardly wait to return! Rick Steves' Venice 2011 just arrived in the mail. So, now, I'm getting even more excited at the possibility! This could be my chance to visit Murano, for the first time. I could also visit the nearby towns of Verona, Vicenza and Padua. I hope to post about my travel plans after having purchase plane tickets, hopefully later this fall...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Style Sunday: The Sixty-Six, An Outline of the Pieces Michelle Must Own

Inspired by Nina Garcia's book "The One Hundred, A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own," I've created my very own list. You'll notice that many of these items are considered classic. Nina's list is similar. She writes," Simply put, these items make me feel classic. And there is no substitute for feeling this way. Ever " (xiv). I completely agree. Without further ado...

Michelle's Ultimate List of Style Items:

1. A-Line Dress. Nina writes that this item will always work for you (2). This shape works well on my hour-glass figure. I even hope my wedding dress will be this flattering silhouette one day.

2. A-Line Skirt. Again this works for my shape. Right now, a lot of my A-line skirts happen to be black or graphic black and white, but I have nothing against color! I also have a lovely tweed skirt in brown for the winter.

3. Ballet Flat. I love this shoe! Nina calls them chic, timeless, simple and elegant in just two lines (16). My recommendation is to invest in $40+ pairs. The cheapest ones don't provide enough support for everyday use and don't typically cover my long toes. I have a black pair for work and a silver (currently pewter) pair for play.

4. Bangles. I love lots of skinny silver bangles, but every once in awhile a few thicker color ones are okay. I also have one with quatrefoil cutouts. Nina writes," Your bangles are your bells, announcing your stylish arrival" (18).

5. Belt. This helps to finish off an outfit, I prefer skinny to medium-sized ones, but I do own a wide braided black belt to add to a plan black sheath dress. I prefer these in classic, neutral colors. I often wear a pewter one because I was really into pewter this past summer. I really wouldn't allow one to drape low over my hips because that would be drawing a long line over (and thus accentuating) my widest part.

6. Black Top. This is my go-to casual going out top. My favorite one in my closet is a very sheer v-neck top, with a second layer of fabric at the smallest part of my waist. I wear a plain black cami underneath. I scored it on clearance at JC Penney.

7. BlackBerry. I don't own one of these yet but would love to! Hopefully next August... That would be my first smartphone.

8. Book. Nina lists several items that one does not wear, which I like. I always have a book on me. This last statement reminds me of an old study abroad friend who said it because you never know when you'll have spare time, so always have it. I love to read.

9. Boots. This is the next item I need to purchase. I have a knee-tall heeled pair in brown, but need an everyday heeled pair in black. My short black boots are so very worn! I've had them for years now... Every time I take a step, I sink down alittle more after my foot hits the ground because the sole of the heel has been replaced with a softer version. Like the commercial says, "The search is on for cute boots." Additionally, I may want to browse for a pair of flat black boots to wear to work in the winter. My feet get cold in ballet flats!

10. Cardigan. Black is a must-have. I also like to have one in a favorite color of that season. I love to layer this one top of a pretty cami or even a plain white one for a casual look. I prefer a fitted one.

11. Charm Bracelet. I love to add my own personal touch to things and this is such an obvious way to achieve just that. I have a silver one that has plenty of space to add to! So many of my charms are travel-related. In fact, my favorite is a roaming gnome.

12. Chocolate. Hopefully I don't wear this! ...but I always have it in my handbag.

13. Clutch. I love a clutch for evening. I don't have a lot of anything, but for loving these so much, and using one every week, I only own three plain ones, a red, the same one in black and another in silver. Etsy has beautiful ones and maybe I could purchase an embellished clutch for Christmas or my birthday.

14. Diamond Studs. These are so classic. Mine happen to be fake, which I don't really mind. For a couple Christmases my parents went into a jewelry store for them and came out with something else they thought I would like, so maybe they'll finally make it happen for me...

"My Summer Earrings"
So fun! They do move when I do.
15. Dangling Earrings. I usually wear big earrings most days, not huge though. I got my ears pierced for the first time at age 21 just to wear big earrings.

16. Flat Iron. This is something I use everyday. Girls with wavy or curly hair want it straight, and I am no exception.

17. Gloves. Be warm, wear gloves! I would love to purchase a leather pair in Italy...

18. Investment Bag. This is something I believe to be worth it because you'll have it forever and a classic selection is timeless. (Of course Nina agrees!) I own a single handbag that costs over $200. Coach. I would be thrilled with just that one or maybe just one other... (A limited number to keep it special, plus I'd rather spend on experiences than things.) Perhaps a Prada purchased in Italy? Or a classic Chanel bag? Since my mom knows I don't want kids, it's kind of a joke that I promised her grandchildren if she got me that Coach bag at an outlet for one of my birthdays while in college. It's a medium-sized tote of black fabric with large, almost graphic C's on it. It was an everyday bag for awhile, but now just when I dress up in black or have a job interview.

19. Jean Skirt. Believe it or not, mine is actually on the short side right now! It hits me just below mid-thigh. I am a pretty modest gal! (You won't see shorts on this list because I don't even own a pair! Truth is, my legs are fine, just muscular over feminine. I should really get over not liking them.) Still, if I come across a jean skirt that hits at the knee, I may have to consider it.

20. Jeans. A Michelle staple. They must be dark, without a whole lot of fading and whiskering. I love boot cut jeans. I also wear blue jean capris when it's warmer.

21. Khaki Blazer. This is what I call "my second skin" much of the year. I love jackets and coats. This is my go-to jacket for everyday or casual going out. I love a fitted one, without pockets on the chest. I would love to own many more blazers than this but, because of a budget, often do not.

22. Lace-trim Cami. A girl should have a pretty camisole. Bonus points for lace trim. Even more points for a silky fabric. I picked up three lovely pieces at White House Black Market. I love these under a cardigan.

23. Leather Handbag. I love a polished look and that's a leather handbag for me, especially a structured shape. My favorite is my dark red Kenneth Cole structured tote, but I loved a slouchy pewter one last summer and a big slouchy chocolate brown one the summer before. It's nice to have a change during a laid-back summer. This red bag is my everday one ...for fall. Fall is more serious, isn't it?

24. Lingerie. A girl should own beautiful things. More for you, than him (...or whatever your situation may be!).

25. Little Black Dress. Is this not the most classic piece of a wardrobe? This is definitely go-to. Nina suggests you own two, not just one (140). I have one absolutely perfect one right now.

26. Little White Dress. This is another thing I have yet to acquire... Nina says you should wear it to show off your tan (144). I'm always trying (and mainly failing) to get a tan! This is a perfectly summer item I'd love to have. ...perhaps a grecian-inspired one...

27. L.L. Bean Tote. A classic tote that will last me forever. I haven't used mine yet, but I think it will hold anyth... everything! I like to pack light, but still want to be the hostess that makes sure everyone has everything and enough.

28. Mascara. One of my best features is my long eyelashes, so I love my eyelash curler and mascara. I always used the plain pink and green tube, but just this past week I wanted to try a volume formula for going out. I tried Define-A-Lash Volume Mascara by Maybelline and love it! It can still be a natural look, so I might switch completely! My lashes do seem more defined and this product helps me create a fuller look.

29. Nail Polish. I invest in OPI because I like that a couple of coats on my toe nails will last me 2-3 weeks. Plus I adore the names! Right now, I own "Big Apple Red," "Florentine Fuchsia" and my favorite "It's All Greek to Me." All travel-related. Since nail lacquer doesn't last forever and I'm not constantly changing my color, I posess a limited number of bottles. I know there's a color called "Italian Love Affair" (I've owned it before) but it's a very faint pink and I prefer bold color.

30. One-piece Swimsuit. And throw in a pair of cheap flip flops (or the pair of sandals on this list) and a cute towel. Even though I'm not a beach bum, I still think that everyone should have at least one perfect beach or pool day a summer. Nina says confidence is key to wear a bikini, but I think that applies to swimwear in general. Because I don't wear this item so often, I use one for several years, 'til I change sizes. I had to replace mine last summer (because I went down in size actually!) and purchased one in a vibrant green-blue.

31. Pajamas. I love cute pajama pants with a coordinating top.

32. Pashmina. This is an item I associate with Italy. You can easily find them in a market. I love them as a wrap over a dress (as well as a pop of color over a LBD) or as a scarf during the winter.

33. Patterned Trouser Socks. I like these exclusively for winter, exclusively in black with black pumps or ballet flats. You know, a hint between pants and shoes. I like the designs, they're kinda French...

34. Peacoat. I love coats and prefer a heavier peacoat for winter much more than the lightweight cropped style for the fall. A single column of buttons makes me look less wide, but I still like the classic double-breasted look.

35. Pearl necklace. Another classic thing I adore. I wear a single strand more often than the multiple (layered look that Nina happens to encourage (187)). Multiple ones work better for special occasions anyway.

36. Pencil skirt. This is an item I didn't buy 'til this year. My thighs are very muscular and I don't like them bulging out of a smooth silhouette. However I found a black one that fits me fairly well, and it was cheap at a thrift store so if it doesn't work out, it's not a major loss. Anyway, pencil skirts make curves sexy.

37. Perfume. Nina and I are fans of a signature scent (191). I wanted the ultimate classic and was so pleased that I liked Chanel No. 5. I wear the new formula called "Eau Premiere" which is lighter. I wear it everyday and love it. Nina included a quote from Coco Chanel who stated, "Where should one wear perfume? Wherever one wants to be kissed" (193). ...which works in my experience!

38. Plain White Camisole. I remember my college friends teasing me for always wearing little camisoles under plain v-neck tees. Oh well, they're very me. I still wear these under lots of things.

39. Plain White Tee. This is something I got from Nina who is "obsessed with Hanes three-packs" (194). Very versatile.

40. Push-up Bra. I love wearing a push-up bra on a date. Makes me feel sexier. I also prefer a demi cup.

41. Quatrefoil Jewelry. This is a shape that is so me. It reminds me of Italy and architectural decoration. It is simple, yet bold and distinctive.

My Safari Jacket
42. Safari Jacket. This is a high fashion item for me! I feel fashionable wearing it. Nina reports that it never goes out of style (214). I picked up mine from The Limited this season. I like the description of it... safari yet urban. I like that I can cinch my waist with a belt.

43. Samsonite Luggage. I love luggage, so I don't mind selling it as a temporary gig right now. Yay for an employee discount! I hope to be a world traveler in life and prefer this dependable brand.

44. Sandals. I love my metallic silver flat sandals with the straps in a perfect loop. And my silver strappy sandals with a kitten heel. Nina's take on the matter is: "A metallic stiletto sandal (gold or silver) is really the only option for a summer night on the town" (216). Well, Nina, a kitten heel works better for me after a margarita or glass of red wine!

45. Scarf. I love scarves. They're really common in Italy. And you'll commonly see me in one almost three seasons of the year. This is a way I love to add color to my look.

46. Sheath Dress. This is a classic dress shape. I usually own one in black as an option for a number of occasions.

47. Shirt. In a color or in vertical stripes. I try to stay away from ruching, ruffles and pleats that add volume where it's just not needed on me. A slight princess cut at the start of the sleeve is fine. This type of top is nice for a business casual work environment without specific color rules. I love colors that work well together, such as a purple shirt with grey pants and jacket.

48. Sneakers. I love to walk for exercise. I'm lucky enough to live near two bike trails. Out and about, however, you will most likely see me in ballet flats.

49. Spanx. Proper undergarments are crucial! This really slims you down. Target carries a cheaper knockoff brand called Assets.

50. Stilettos. I prefer a skinny heel to a chunky one. So I own a black pair of pumps on a moderately-sized heel (for job interviews), a true black stiletto (for various occasions including my college graduation) and a sexy pair of red patent peep-toe pumps (for birthdays out and for hot dates!).

51. Suit. " all about sleek sophistication" says Nina (237). I need a new one that fits me. I am really hoping to purchase a black suit jacket that I can pair with black pants I already own for my first ever business trip I have coming up this month.

52. Sunglasses. Instead of suggesting a particular style of sunglasses, I propose finding a pair that works well with your face. I have a full square face with no cheekbones, so I need a pair or shades that the top is longer than the bottom, so that the outside end create a diagonal line up and out. I love my brown pair, but also have a big black pair because that is very Italian. Since it is a novelty pair for me, they were novelty priced at $9.99.

53. Tote. I love a tote for a beach or pool day, a daytrip, class, or a visit to a market. ...and I love my totes!

54. Trench. I have two I love, a khaki and a black, both affordable, Old Navy and H&M respectively. I like wearing my khaki one when it rains and the black one for a night out. These are classic too!

55. Turquoise and Coral Jewelry. This is one of Nina's, but I've always felt that the fashionable yet artsy women I wanted to look like wear statement pieces of these more natural materials. I have a pair of big turquoise earrings and coral jewelry that I've altered to work better for me.

56. Umbrella. I have wavy hair that I like to keep straight, and so I hate to be caught in the rain! I have umbrellas of various sizes and always one in the car.

57. Underwear. I love to wear pretty, and, sure, sexy, underwear. I also try my best to wear kinds promising to reveal no panty lines under dress pants.

58. V-neck Sweater. A v-neck looks nice on me, helps lead the eye down, for a slimming look.

59. V-neck T-shirt. Preferably in a favorite color of the season. This fall season, it might be dark purple... I always feel good wearing my ultimate favorite color, a particular shade of dark pink.

60. Valid passport. I love to travel, especially internationally! this is important.

61. Watch. I'm always on time and keep my watch set a bit early. The one I wear everyday is silver, the face is a slim rectangle, with a pink, mother of pearl background, lined with round cubic zirconias.

62. White button-down shirt. This is part of dress code for work, which can get to be boring, hence the accessories on this list. ...but I love it! It's classic and I want to wear it more outside of work.

63. White Bottom. I especially like this with a black top. I wear white on top and black on bottom 5-6 days a week, so this is like I'm rebelling! I currently only have a pair of white capris, but wouldn't mind a white A-Line skirt... or even the perfect pair of white pants, if they truly opaque and flatter me.

64. Wide-Leg Trousers. Preferably in black, but charcoal or pinstriped are completely fine as long as it goes with anything, no worries. Wide-Leg Trousers (or possibly boot-cut pants) work best for me to balance out my hips and create a rather straight line from hip to floor. (I picture Stacy and Clinton from TLC's "What Not To Wear" when I say that. They are primarily concerned with fit. I love them!)

My New Wrap Dress
...though since I have more curves than this girl, I think it looks better on me...
65. Wrap dress. I keep saying this, but this is yet another classic I adore. Plus this one is made for curves. I own a super easy blue cotton one with t-shirt sleeves. Wouldn't mind having a half-sleeved black number.

66. Zippered hoodie. My everyday one is lightweight in black, but I have a warmer one in red. I often wear the black hoodie over a white camisole with dark blue jeans (or jean capris) around the house.

Only 66, not 100 like Nina. Nina is in the fashion industry, so having 2/3 the number of her must-haves is probably more than enough! I prefer a simplified wardrobe where I adore and use everything anyway. 
All three images come from The Limited.