Thursday, June 12, 2014

DIY: Valentino SS14 Embellished Leather Headband

        One of my favorite Spring 2014 collections as a whole was Valentino. It had all the cornerstones of my spring wardrobe -- lace, crisp collared shirts, bohemian prints, suede and strappy sandals. But what really finished every look was the red headband atop each model's head, embellished with studs. The studs reminded me of some gold crest buttons I had and I immediately decided to recreate the Valentino headband.

Photo credit:
        You can create your own embellished headband by following my DIY "how-to" below. To start, you will need a plain thick headband, red suede or leather fabric, fabric glue, a sewing needle, thread, fabric scissors, and gold buttons.

Step 1: Cut the leather fabric into a rounded strip that will cover the headband.
Step 2: Position the fabric on the headband and tack it in place with glue on just a couple edges. 
Step 3: Sew each button onto the fabric, matching the Valentino pattern. The number of buttons you use is up to you, depending on how closely you space them. Make sure they are sewn securely. 
Step 4: Once all of the buttons are sewn, glue the rest of the fabric edges to the headband. Pull the fabric taut as you glue to ensure everything will stay in place. 
Step 5: This is an additional step, so you may not find it necessary. The buttons I used are a bit bulky so they moved around and jingled on top of my head. Since I'd rather not sound like a Christmas caroler, I tacked each button in place with fabric glue.

       Once I finished my headband, it was time for a photoshoot! I put on my most Valentino-esque outfit -- a sleeveless oxford, a new patterned maxi dress and t-strap pointy toe heels. I figured I couldn't go this far without the ear-covering, low ponytail, so I sprayed back any flyaways and completed the look. Thanks to my talented brother for the photos!

Photographs courtesy of J. Ortakales Photography

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

First Look: Karlie Kloss x Warby Parker Released Today

          Warby Parker is well known for their thick framed glasses, but now they're offering a delicate collection of sunglasses with help from supermodel, Karlie Kloss. A driven, businesswoman herself, Kloss collaborated with the brand to create three styles for $145 each. Proceeds will benefit Edible Schoolyard NYC, an organization close to Kloss that provides kitchens and gardens to low-income public schools so students can develop healthy and sustainable habits. And as always, for every pair sold, Warby Parker will donate a pair of glasses to someone in need.

          Not only can you buy these sunglasses with a clear conscience, but they're some of the most stylish pairs I've seen in a while. I was just out shopping for sunglasses today and noticed how prominent thick, bulky styles are. But I've recently grown to prefer thinner, aviator styles, so I like that Kloss' are a trendier take on classic aviators. Each pair has a unique lens shape -- Clara is round, Marple is angular and Julia is the standard aviator. The lenses also come in colors like indigo, sepia, copper, slate and violet clover.

Peruse the exclusive product images below and shop the collection online or in stores.
Check out all of their women's sunglasses here.

Clara - heirloom silver with sepia wash lenses

Clara - heirloom gold with copper fade lenses

Marple - heirloom gold with violet clover lenses

Marple - heirloom silver with faded slate lenses

Julia - heirloom gold with copper fade lenses

Julia - heirloom silver with indigo wash lenses

Photos courtesy of Warby Parker

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Vintage Naeem Khan Beaded Top

         Whenever I move to a new place, it's important that I find the nearest thrift store. Not only is half my wardrobe thrift and vintage, but I love the thrill of finding old pieces I can make new. Even though my family's been living in western New Hampshire for a couple years now, it's taken me this long to discover Go Lightly, a consignment shop in nearby New London. Among a large inventory of old lady clothes and early 2000s trends, they have a surprisingly wide range of vintage and designer pieces.

          I found this gorgeous, beaded top hidden in their vintage racks and was stunned by its detail. Then I looked at the tags -- silk, Naeem Khan, Neiman Marcus, and less than $30! I couldn't let this steal slip from my hands!

          Now to be clear, the top is vintage Naeem Khan. This may be confusing to those who know the designer for his red carpet gowns that launched him into popularity only a few years ago. What many don't know, and what I didn't know until I researched the label on the tag, is that Khan created the Riazee Collection in 1981 and it lasted for fourteen years. He didn't begin designing purely under his namesake until 2003.

          With such an elegant top, there aren't many places in New Hampshire worthy to wear it. But I didn't care! My family took a trip to try The Revolution Cantina in Claremont and that was a good enough excuse for me. I paired it with distressed jeans, a gold shoulder bag I found on another recent thrift excursion, black caged heels, and a beaded collar necklace my mémère gave me for Christmas. I finished my look with copper eyeshadow, inspired by makeup in a Roberto Cavalli runway show.

Left, makeup at Roberto Cavalli. Right, my copper eyeshadow rendition.

Monday, March 24, 2014

JustDon't - A Not So Fabulous Review of JustFab

Whenever a college student is told they can have something for free, we generally don't mind going one extra mile if it's worth it. This was my mindset when I received an email from shoe subscription company, JustFab (formally known as Justfabulous), telling me I could get a free pair of shoes. Of course, I immediately read the fine print. I had to sign up for VIP membership and I knew I would have to pay for shipping. However, their website told me I could cancel my membership at any time with their 24 hour customer service. So I figured I would order my pair and cancel as soon as they shipped. Not surprisingly, only select styles were valid for the offer, but I found a pair I liked enough to pay five dollars for. Little did I know, those shoes would cost my bank account and my sanity much more!

Timeline of My Experience

Friday, March 7th...
I received my shoes in the mail and promptly cancelled my VIP membership. Customer service was a pain, as they desperately try to keep you on board even after telling them, "Yes, I know I can cancel anytime. That's why I'm canceling now!" It took twice as long as it should have, but I didn't mind it too much since I'd just gotten myself a $5 pair of shoes.

Six days later...
I get an email from JustFab saying, "Congratulations! You have a credit on your account!" At first, I was thinking they'd sent me a nice little present to beg for my return. Nope. My card was automatically charged $39.95 because I hadn't "picked my shoe for the month," even though I'd canceled my membership before that time was up. Thanks to this lovely gift, my account was now in the negatives. I called customer service right away. They told me there had been "a glitch in the system" and my cancellation hadn't processed. They would cancel my membership right away and process a refund to arrive in my bank account in 5-7 business days. I told them seven days wasn't good enough and asked to speak to a supervisor. They weren't able to get a hold of said supervisor but told me they would call my bank and get my refund to me in 3-5 business days.

Six more days later...
Nothing was in my account yet and I was growing more impatient everyday. I called them again to ask what was taking so long. The customer service representative told me my refund hadn't processed yet because there was yet another "glitch in the system." She immediately processed my refund and told me it should be in my account in 5-7 business days. I was furious. How was I to trust them when apparently their "systems" couldn't handle my account? I told her how upset I was and asked for a supervisor. I actually got a supervisor on the phone this time! She was apologetic, blah, blah, blah...but I told her how dissatisfied I was and demanded she do something else. She dodged around the problem with scripted PR words until she finally said she could speak to my bank representative. Of course, I was talking to her at 11pm, so there was no way to make this happen until I visited my bank the next day. She gave me her name and work hours and that was that for the time being.

The next day...
I arrived in Boston for the weekend and visited my bank. They gave me the line to call for electronic claims that's open 24/7 so I could talk to them at my convenience. I was busy settling in and visiting friends so I put that phone call off for the time being.

One more day later...
I finally received the refund in my bank account, without having to call my bank. I was so relieved to finally be finished with JustFab and all their "glitches."

The Shoes
I ordered a pair of sandals, called Ernesta, in size six. They were cute for five dollars, not much more. The materials were cheap -- the suede was fake, the satin thin and the woven-style platform was shedding its fibers. They were slightly big and fit closer to a six and a half. They looked cute on me though, and were surprisingly comfortable. But they were certainly not worth two weeks of high anxiety and a low bank account balance.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Packing Tips From a Neat Freak

          It's easy to get overwhelmed when you're faced with an empty suitcase to pack for a long trip. For me, it's an exciting time to invent new outfits and play dress up! I'm all about organization, so I used a simple way keep everything neat and minimal when I packed for NYFW last month. I'll be packing for another trip to Albany and Boston this weekend, so I figured it was an opportune time to share my packing tips!

1. Plan your clothes in outfits and actually try them on. I can't begin to remember all the times I've packed a top and bottoms I thought would look great together, just to find out during my trip that they didn't work at all! This also minimizes the amount of clothes you'll need to bring. If you've already tried on your outfits you'll know which ones need an an extra layer and which ones don't. There's no use in throwing a bunch of random tees or shoes in as back-ups if you already know what you need. Lastly, this method is super helpful when you're in a rush during your trip. Simply pick whichever ensemble fits your mood or the weather, and you're ready to go!

2. If you want to get super organized, you can plan each outfit for a specific day. I used my Page-a-Day calendar to lay out my clothes, then looked up the weather report to sort my outfits accordingly. (In most cases this ended up being a general guideline due to changes in weather/temperature/mood, but it's a great idea if you have big events to plan for).

3. Pack a rotation of jewelry and accessories, with a few key pieces. While it may be more exciting to pack different accessories for each day, it becomes a lot to keep track of. Only bring a few simple necklaces, rings, earrings, belts, etc. that you can rotate through during your trip. If you have room, add a couple statement pieces that you're only going to wear once. Not only will this keep the amount of small, easy-to-lose pieces to a minimum, but it also creates a collection unique to your trip. Well after your trip is over, these pieces will be more special because they'll remind you of your travels.

4. Bring one pair of shoes for every three days you'll be gone. Shoes are my weakness when I pack, yet they take up the most amount of space. I always think of all the scenarios I might need a bright pump or a chunky platform, then I end up wearing only half of the shoes I bring. A girl only needs a few basic shoes. My theory is that the longer your stay, the more shoes you'll need. (I'm also willing to make an exception if you have a wide range of events to attend, from super fancy dinners to walking through slush and snow for a meeting).

5. Even if you aren't flying, bring all of your toiletries in travel size. There is no reason you will need a full sized bottle of shampoo. And if for some reason your stay evolves into three months, it isn't hard to find more shampoo. You'll be amazed by how much more space you'll have in your suitcase once all your creams, washes, and hair products are in 3oz. bottles.