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Posts from — July 2011

In or Out? Finding Classic Investment Pieces

I frequently get asked what’s in and what’s out. In fact, I can’t tell you the number of times someone says, “No one told me [X item of clothing] is out now!” But, is it really? I’ve seen a sea change in fashion over the years in that nothing is ever “out” anymore.

Extreme fashion is always trendy, such as oversized shoulder pads and overly detailed, costumey items. Colors may come and go, but if you stick to classic colors and simple styles, your wardrobe will stay timeless. Whenever I buy an expensive item, I consider the timelessness of the item. I believe in investment pieces and am willing to spend more on high quality classic pieces that I know will be in my wardrobe for years to come.

A great example of classic style is Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. Can you believe it’s been 12 years since she and John Jr. passed away? But, check out pictures of her outfits, they can all be worn with ease today.

Click on the image to enlarge.

So, what makes an item something you’ll hold on to for years to come? I’ll tell you!

1. Color: Stick to neutral or classic colors such as black, tan, caramel, brown, white, cream and red.

Magpie Styling Tip: The Cafe trousers from J Crew are a super example of a classic color. In a wool, they’d be perfect work pants. These are cotton. Many of these classics seem only appropriate for work but that’s not completely true. Look at Bessette-Kennedy, many of her outfits are casual.
2. Cut: If you’re truly going for classic staples that will last you for years to come, forget the exaggerated flares and super skinnies and opt for boot cut, trousers with a slight flare and straight cuts that hit just below the waist. High and low waists come and go but a standard fit is forever. For tops, go with straight lines and blouses that are slightly fitted. You can’t go wrong with a pencil or a-line skirt or a sheath, wrap or shirt dress.

Magpie Styling Tip: Just because an item is classic, such as a pencil skirt or wrap dress, doesn’t mean it looks good on you. Stick to the styles that fit  your figure and expand from there.

3. Fabric: Wools, jersey knits, cashmere and silk are all classic fabrics but quality is important. When buying a classic item, I always look for the highest quality fabrics I can afford. Here a great article on how to spot quality clothing. You don’t have to go designer to get quality. You can find excellent cuts and quality in clothing at stores like Ann Taylor and JCrew, which sell shoddy items as well. It’s up to you to pay attention.

July 31, 2011   Comments Off on In or Out? Finding Classic Investment Pieces

Preppy Stripes

Love this easy Libertine for Target dress! Editing Florida Realtor’s October issue, running errands and lunch with my kids…just another Friday. In my previous post I mentioned that I needed more of these dresses–casual and easy to throw on in the summer!

The Outfit Deets
Dress: Libertine for Target (no longer available)
Belt: Banana Republic
Shoes: Steve Madden
Necklace: Alisa Michelle

July 29, 2011   1 Comment

Build Your Personalized Wardrobe Checklist

I can’t tell you the number of wardrobe checklists I’ve seen over the years and the truth is they’re just guidelines that can help you find your missing pieces, but they aren’t the end-all be-all. After all, a mom in Florida doesn’t need the same wardrobe basics as a career woman in Denver.

But, if you want a wardrobe checklist suitable for my mother, check out the one at REAL SIMPLE magazine. I mean, seriously, who wears this stuff? I don’t see myself donning a cotton waffle robe. Wardrobe basic, uh, no. And, it doesn’t get cold enough here to buy a winter coat (which I own only for traveling to colder climates), a black cashmere wrap coat AND a down vest. I also don’t consider chinos a staple, nor do I wear raincoats–call me irresponsible. 🙂

A good stylist will help you suss out your true needs based on the life you live. Don’t have the money for a stylist? Then, do it on your own. I know, I know, it takes some time but once you get into it, it’s fun, promise!

Ok, so what makes a good checklist? Take these steps:

Step 1: Take a good look at your closet. Make a list of the items you go-to all the time and divide it by casual, dressy and work. You don’t have to do it all at once. Do you work full time in an office and find those are the hardest outfits to get together? Then, do your work list first. Ask yourself: Do you tend to throw on dresses when you’re in a rush out the door? Or, are you a jeans gal? Do you avoid items you have to iron? Doing this will help you figure out your style whether you’re the girl who’s always overdressed or the one who lives in leggings. And, if you’re the girl who lives in leggings, it’s time to pump up the jam gurl.

Magpie’s go-to CASUAL list reads like this:

1. Jeans-bootcut Paige & Citizens, Tory Burch skinnies, J Crew dark ankle, skinny dark Genetic,  and J crew trousers
2. Jackets-black blazer, DVF leather blazer, white Theory blazer
3. Shorts-J Crew jean shorts (long & short), J Crew gingham shorts & DVF white linen shorts (this made me realize that I never reach for the shorts that need to be ironed, so I really need to pay attention to this when buying anything new.)
4. Tee Shirts-Grey, white and black Target Boyfriend tees, J Crew grey embellished tee & J Crew purple tee (this made me realize that I have a drawer full of embellished tees that I don’t wear as well as the fact that I don’t really wear colored tee shirts.)
5. Dresses-Black, eyelet dress. This is actually a missing piece in my closet. I have lots of dressy or work dresses but nothing casual. I can only think of one that I go to all the time.
6. Pants-Lucky Jeans olive cargos, Theory black pants (this made me realize I really am a jeans girl, I hardly wear any of my pants.)
7. Blouses-Alice & Olivia Leopard print, J Crew pink print, white button down, Alice & Olivia butterfly print blouse
8. Shoes-(Spring/Summer) Steve Madden sandals in black or cognac, silver J Crew sandals, black flip flops, silver, black and nude J Crew espadrilles. (Fall/Winter) Frye tall boots, J Crew black and cognac ankle boots, Balenciaga flat tall boots
9. Cardigans-J Crew black boyfriend, Banana Republic short white cardi, Ralph Lauren tan cardigan

Do any of these items on your go-to list need updating? If so, put them on your wish list.

Step 2: Write it down. Keep a notepad and pen handy and write down an item every time you think, “I wish I had..” Do you find yourself wishing you had a pair of black pants that you can wear with flats? Do you think life would be better with a white linen blazer? Why, yes, you say? Would your kids love you more if you had that perfect, casual denim skirt? I think they would.

Magpie’s Wish List

1. Denim or military vest to layer over long sleeve tees, dresses and button downs
2. Thin black skinny jeans (the ones I have are too stiff)
3. Some casual dresses, ones I can just throw and go and wear with flats.
4. Tall cognac/caramel-colored boots
5. A snakeskin accessory
6. More scarves
7. Grey leather jacket

Now you have your want list and your go-to list. That will help you formulate your personalized wardrobe checklist. What I suggest is taking a Wardrobe Checklist (click to download the PDF) like this one and cross off what you already own, then cross off what doesn’t apply to you. Now, take a look at what’s left. You may discover items on the list that weren’t on your wish list or your go-to list that you would find useful. If your wish list items aren’t on the list, add them.

Carry this handy list around with you to help you stay on track. Easy peasy, right?

July 28, 2011   1 Comment

It’s in the Bag: J Crew Loves

I’m loving the colors from J Crew this season. Here’s a peek at what’s in my bag. I haven’t pulled the trigger on any of it and it’s unlikely I will as I think J Crew charges way too much for their stuff! I may be tempted to buy the cashmere wrap and skinny belt if they have a discount code soon though.

From top, left to right:
First Row: Tippi Sweater in Bright Dahlia, Cafe Trouser in Desert
Second Row: Mona Leather Pumps in Brick Red, Nolita Jacket in Great Lakes Wash
Third Row: Silk Lucida Blouse in Roasted Chestnut, Refined Silk-Cashmere Wrap in Bright Dahlia
Fourth Row: Skinny Leather Belt in Autumn Blaze

July 28, 2011   2 Comments

I Want It, Need It, Gotta Have It Fall Edition

Yep, it’s freakin’ 100 degrees out, and I’m thinking about Fall clothing. I am a sucker for all things leather, sequin, tweed and denim, ’nuff said. While my closet really isn’t in need of any updating, I still can’t help but have a few things on my want list. And, this is just round one as new collections come out, I’m sure they’ll be more wants to come! Here they are, in no particular order:

Vince Leather Dress

Ann Taylor Faux Chinchilla Scarf

1. Another leather dress. Never mind the fact that I have three now and I haven’t worn two of them, I spotted this black Vince shift dress and LOVE! Unfortunately, that style will just make me look thick, so I will pass, but I still want it!

Magpie Styling Tip: While it may seem intimidating, wearing a classic leather dress like this one can be done comfortably. Think classic style—like a shift or a sheath—and classic color—like black or caramel. Take a step out of your comfort zone. I would wear this with black tights and booties and a long silver and leather chain necklace or textured scarf. Or, in warmer weather with peep toe pumps, sans tights, and classic pearls.

DVF Yoko Boots

2. Tall Caramel/Cognac-colored Heeled Boots. I love these by DVF. They’re a classic style that won’t go out of favor anytime soon. Plus, the color literally goes with everything, seriously. I have a pair of flat Frye boots that I wore constantly all last year. The higher boots will go better with going-out outfits.

Magpie Styling Tip: Remember when wearing tall boots was something seen only in the fashion magazines? Not anymore. These boots are here to stay. What will change are the toe (round vs. pointy vs. square). Square-toed boots are the trendiest and probably look dated today. But, in my book–and I am pretty cool you know :)–pointy-toed boots are classic, like pearls and black. I would wear these DVF boots with today’s in colors such as orange, teal blue and red.

Theory Snakeskin Leather Pants via Ebay

3. Snakeskin anything. I really like this belt from Ann Taylor. But, I would also like a thicker one that I can wear with jeans, like this one on ebay. And, I like to go a little edgy, so the above leather pants (there’s that damn leather again!) I bought from ebay will do the trick. They are from Theory.

Topshop Snakeskin Belt

Magpie Styling Tip: Want to try this trend but aren’t one to go outside your fashion box? Try a slim snakeskin belt or a clutch. I plan to wear these cropped Theory snakeskin pants with tall boots and a drapey sweater or with a tucked-in blouse, a bold necklace in orange or red and some fab substantial sandals.

Ann Taylor Orange Skirt

Ann Taylor Red Crop Pant

4. Something Red, Orange or Yellow/Gold. I am dying over these super-in colors right now! Ann Taylor has a pair of cropped red pants that I want (and I think they’re already sold out which stinks) and a super cute orange skirt. I already own a gold leather skirt, which I haven’t worn yet. I recently had it transformed by my tailor from a vintage Bill Blass high-waisted, pleated, too-tight skirt into a streamlined pencil, thank you very much. I’m not particularly fond of cropped pants, but I think the AT ones would look awesome with a nude-color or animal print bootie. And the skirt is so very 70s—perfect with caramel-colored boots and a tie-neck blouse.

Yellow Gold Leather Skirt

J Crew Schoolboy Blazer in Poppy

Magpie Styling Tip: Think outside the box when wearing these colors. Most people automatically go to brown or black, but fuchsia, teal and navy can all work. I would wear the AT red pants with a leopard top or leopard booties. The orange skirt would look awesome with cream and navy.

Target Tortoise Link Bracelet

5. Tortoise Jewelry. I love the look of faux tortoise shell. This one from Target is awesome, and sold out online. But, I saw it in my local Target just the other day. I not only love the color but I like the links too. I’ve posted pictures my Kenneth Jay Lane necklace before.

Kenneth Jay Lane Tortoise Link Necklace via Shopbop.com

Magpie Styling Tip: While bold, this jewelry is very versatile! I would wear it with a poppy red sweater and jeans or with military/olive green. Because it has a casual vibe, you can throw it on with jeans and a tee shirt. The tortoise link bracelet would look awesome with a white tee, dark denim jeans and neutral boots.

Things I already have in other versions but highly recommend!

1. A faux fur or animal print jacket. I love this one from Ann Taylor.

Ann Taylor Faux Cheetah Coat

2. Leather or faux leather leggings. I bought a pair of cheap, final sale faux leather leggings at Target last year. When I got them I seriously needed some nerve to wear them. But, I slowly got more comfortable with them and now I own a pair of Helmut Lang Grey leather leggings as well. They look awesome with a tunic or slouchy sweater and black booties, seriously!

Helmut Lang Leather Leggings

3. Sequin Shorts. My friend Adrea broke out a pair on New Year’s Eve last year and I knew I was destined to own a pair at some point. I found a pair of DVF shorts on ebay and am in lust. They look awesome in the summer with peep-toe pumps or open-toe booties and in the fall with tights, booties and a blazer. Swoon!

DVF Dax Sequin Shorts

July 27, 2011   1 Comment

Miami Vice

OK, so I feel a little Miami Vice-ish in this white suit. I’ve had it for about 6 or 7 years but don’t wear it very often because it’s just so hot. I broke it out for church, since church is always freezing. I had a royal blue top underneath but it just didn’t look right, so I went with the classic black and white.

The Outfit Deets
All clothing and shoes: Banana Republic
Bracelets: Enamel peacock: Dillards; Black Toy Watch; pearl and leather bracelet from NM

July 25, 2011   Comments Off on Miami Vice

A Little More Leopard

Hi! Ahhh…back to school shopping. It brings back so many wonderful memories as it was about the only time of year my parents would buy my sister and I clothing in mass quantities. And, by mass quantities I mean maybe five outfits. I vividly remember the excitement (yes, I’ve always been a clotheshorse!) of going to Sears and picking out new dresses. I was in 5th grade when I found the outfit of my dreams: a denim vest with faux leather piping, a striped blouse with super flowy sleeves and denim gauchos, whooo mama! Alas, my own children wear uniforms so it’s not nearly as fun.

Anyway, I digress. I actually wore a version of this outfit in NYC last winter, however I put a turtleneck underneath and wore it with skinny jeans and knee high boots.

The Outfit Deets
Top: Nanette Lepore
Jeans: J Crew High Heel Flare
Belt: Target (I love this color with leopard print.)
Shoes: Banana Republic Espadrilles
Necklace: Banana Republic

July 22, 2011   1 Comment

So Mod!

I bought this dress at Century 21 in NYC and had to have it altered. The smaller size fit in the body but was too tight under the arms. So, I sized up and had the rest of the dress fitted. Remember, alterations are your best friend!

This dress just screamed out tall boots because of the mod 60s style. I will not be wearing boots until the weather gets cooler. But, when you have a dress like this, it’s always fun to change it up to avoid looking costume-y, so I may go with tights and booties or some other shoes to mix it up. I didn’t have time to experiment, so you’ll see this dress again once I do.

The Outfit Deets
Dress: Milly via Century 21
Necklace: Banana Republic
Boots: Coach Scarlett Knee High

July 20, 2011   1 Comment

Lilly Love

So, here’s the Lilly Pulitzer dress I bought at the antique flea market last weekend. I don’t think it’s vintage and it wasn’t being sold as vintage. This vendor had a ton of Lilly clothing and some fabulous jewelry, purses and furs. I was going to have this cut to a tunic length but I don’t think I need to. I can just blouse it more to wear with skinny jeans or leggings.

The Outfit Deets
Dress: Lilly Pulitzer
Belt: Ann Taylor Loft
Bracelet: Can’t remember
Shoes: Banana Republic Espadrilles (2007) These are NOT good long distance walking shoes. I wore them one night in NYC and about died. They dig in to your toes…

July 19, 2011   Comments Off on Lilly Love


I bought this top (new with the tags attached!) at a local consignment boutique. Love!

The Outfit Deets
Blouse: See by Chloe
Jeans: Paige Premium Denim
Necklace: Vintage Disco necklace
Shoes: Espadrilles from Banana Republic

July 18, 2011   1 Comment