Five Ways to Build a Royal Wardrobe (On a Not-So-Royal Budget)

I have always respected Kate Middleton’s “put-togetherness.”  She always looks great.  Never interesting enough for me to follow her on any social media feeds, but great.  Then Meghan Markle came onto the royal scene.  That was the impetus for me to click that Kensington Palace “Follow” button.  Now, I truly look forward to the weekly photos, from baptismal portraits to international tours.

Princess Kate surely has her traditional “go-to” looks, and Meghan (although less predictable) is beginning to as well.  Although they have very different styles, they both ALWAYS look polished, put together, timeless, “classy”… whatever you want to call it.  They always look like a million dollars.

We may never have the clothing budget of a royal, but hell… fake it ’til you make it, right?  Here are five tips to polish up your wardrobe on a not-so-royal budget.  Details are in the links under the photos.  Remember, many of these items are offered in a variety of colors and prints so be sure to click through for all the options!

Make a neutral suede heel your “go-to” shoe.  Have you ever heard that expression “You can tell a lot about a person from their shoes”?  Well a perfect neutral suede heel will not only go with just about any print, color and style, but it ALWAYS looks great.  Whether low, high, block or stiletto heel, you can count on this closet staple to be there for you no matter what the non-royal occasion.

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  1. Sam Edelman Margie Pointed Toe Suede Pump in Oatmeal Suede
  2. Marc Fischer (Zappos)  Zala Pointy Toe Pump
  3. Lord and Taylor Steve Madden Heart Tied Suede Pump
  4. J.Crew Lucie Suede Pumps
  5. Nine West (Macy’s) McFally D’Orsay

Choose unique items with interesting details.    Nobody wants to be boring.  Choose pieces that have unique piping, pintucking, lining, ruffles, trim, buttons, bows… or anything that makes it even a tiny bit more special.  You don’t have to pay royal prices to find details like these.

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  1. ZARA Basic Sweater with Metallic Buttons
  2. Boden Anya Waterproof Jacket
  3. Brooks Brothers Ruffled Crepe Blouse
  4. Boden Mia Ottoman Dress
  5. H&M Tie-Front Blouse

Structured blazers = instant polish.  Blazers are what excite me most about fall.  When paired with everything including trousers, jeans, skirts and dresses, they always make you feel put together… even on your schleppiest of days.

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  1. ZARA Double Lapel Frock Coat
  2. WHBM Tweed Moto Jacket
  3. J.Crew Regent Blazer
  4. Chelsea28 (Nordstrom) Plaid Blazer
  5. H&M Short Woven Jacket

Wrap it up!  Kate Middleton very often steps out in a wrap dress, whether it be “faux” or the real deal.  They are comfortable, easy, flattering on most shapes and such a timeless wardrobe staple.  I personally love a true wrap dress for its ability to fine-tune the belt to perfect the fit.

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  1. Patty Boutik (Amazon) Long Sleeve Knit Faux Wrap (Steal!)
  2. PURE Collection Jersey Faux Wrap Dress
  3. Boden Elodie Jersey Wrap Dress
  4. J. Crew Wrap Dress is 365 Crepe (Many Colors Available!)
  5. EVERLANE Japanese GoWeave Wrap Dress

Grab a structured bag and go!  No matter what type of event, a gorgeous structured bag always completes the outfit.  Meghan usually chooses smaller satchels and mini bags with handles, which have been known to sell out within hours of her appearances.  You don’t have pay for a Strathberry or Chloe to achieve the look.  If you choose the right combination of color, shape and hardware, your less expensive handbag can look just as good as its designer counterpart (with, of course, the right outfit AND attitude).

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  1. Rebecca Minkoff Small Darren Messenger
  2. Michael Michael Kors Ava Satchel
  3. J.Crew Harper Mini Satchel
  4. Kate Spade Hayes Street Suede Sam Satchel
  5. MANGO Round Small Bag

Now go treat yourself to a little something.  Everyone deserves to be a princess for a day.

 

Wearable Fall Trends for 2018

It’s almost 90 degrees today and how on earth can I be thinking about fall fashion?  For me, it’s really, really easy.  Each year at this time, I’ve had it with the flowy florals and am so eager to bust into my wools, tweeds, blazers and boots.  This is the season that excites me the most, and the clothing associated with it plays a critical role in these heart palpitations.

Each week, I scroll through my Pinterest feed, anxious to see where next season’s fashions are going.  And each season, I can rule out about 80 percent of these runway looks because…

1. Most women don’t look like that.   AND…

2. Where on earth would any normal person wear that?

Fortunately, there are still plenty of “trends” remaining that would translate well into OUR closets.  Attached are “Five Wearable Fall Trends”, with several examples of each.  Direct links for items shown are listed below each photo.

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MANGO Faux Fur Hooded Coat

Nanette Lepore (Saks) Crusader Plaid Trousers

GAP Plaid Block Heel

J.Crew Oversized Blazer in English Herringbone

Boden British Tweed Pencil Skirt

 

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H&M 3-Pack Snakeskin Bracelets

ZARA Snakeskin Print Blazer

Nordstrom 1901 Utility Leopard Shirtdress

AQUA (Bloomingdale’s) Victorian Leopard Print Top

Vince Camuto (Bloomingdale’s) Snakeskin Embossed Leather Booties

 

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Alice and Olivia Arie Sleeveless Tie Neck Top

Calvin Klein (Nordstrom) Ankle Strap Pump

Likely (Neiman Marcus) Strapless Midi Cocktail Dress

Anthropologie Fall Forward Beret

Banana Republic Logan Trouser Fit Wool Pant

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BCBG Alexandria Faux Leather Dress

Michael Michael Kors Blaze Open Toe Bootie

Neiman Marcus Leather Collection Ponte Skirt

Andrew Marc Felix Asymmetrical Leather Jacket

SPANX Faux Leather Pebbled Leggings

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Free People Funnel of Love Pullover

Banana Republic Scalloped Essential Cami

EVERLANE Foldover Pouch

J.Crew Slim Broken-In Boyfriend Jean

UNIQLO Crepe Pleated Skirt

Considering all these style options and price points, I’d say it’s time for an update, wouldn’t you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 Dresses That I’d Love In My Closet

I can honestly say that I live in dresses during three of our four NY seasons.  I can’t get enough of them.  I am constantly taking screen shots of ones worth noting (I call it “earmarking” for my STYLE FILE).  Just perusing my IG feed, you’ll see that my dresses span a spectrum of “looks”,  including super-preppy shirtdresses, Bardot body-cons,  and boho tunics.  It all depends on my mood and type of event I’m attending.  And, who am I kidding… how much I feel like sucking in my belly that evening.

Here are 12 dresses (mostly casual, day-to-night dresses) that I’ve come across recently that would be well-utilized in my personal closet.  I hope one of them finds a home in yours.  As always, the dresses will work on a variety of body types and vary in price point.

Click on any image to open and scroll through the slide show with dress details, and links below.

 

Madewell Denim Covered Button Dress

Anthropologie Benay Shirtdress

Trina Turk (Saks) California Wrap

Michael Stars (Nordstrom) Reversible Cotton Midi

J.Crew Navy Midi Slip Dress

H&M Pleated Dress

Ralph Lauren Twill Utility Dress

GAP Short Sleeve Tie Belt Shift Dress

EVERLANE Japanese GoWeave Wrap Dress

Cloth & Stone (Anthropologie) Wilson Chambray Shirtdress

Gal Meets Glam Vanessa Dress

H&M Baby Blue Off the Shoulder Dress

 

 

By Request: My Workout and Eating Habits. And a Few Insecurities.

When I launched this style-based blog at the start of the year, I surely did not envision that I would EVER be writing about fitness or food.  MAYBE athletic attire, but not the others. After many comments, messages and questions about my workout and eating habits (likely more than STYLE questions I get!), I will reluctantly share a bit about my current lifestyle and history (hell, even a few insecurities).  Reluctantly, because I’m A: Far from perfect and B: No expert here.

THE BACKSTORY: I struggled as a young girl with my weight.  I was the only one of our family of seven that seemed to.  Eating pasta almost nightly, followed by my mother’s homemade desserts, I simply didn’t understand how to manage myself.  This continued through college, making poor decision after poor decision.  It wasn’t until post-college that I started truly appreciating how proper nutrition and a consistent fitness routine positively impacted both my body and MIND.  As I began having children, my fitness “hour” was scheduled into my day.  I knew, with the craziness of baby years, that if I didn’t SCHEDULE it, it wouldn’t happen.  Then I hit a few tough years where my son (with a few minor special needs) hit a very challenging phase.  With two other babies at home, I HAD to exercise to mentally get through my day.  By the time I had the fourth baby, I knew what exactly I had to eat and do to shed those pounds fairly quickly.  HOWEVER, it’s not magic.  There’s no quick fix.  It’s hard work, and it takes a LOT of time and discipline.

FITNESS ROUTINE.

exerciseI spent years jogging alone, then pushing a single jog stroller, then a double.  When my back started giving me trouble (no surprise) I turned to more of a HIIT (High Impact Interval Training) / cross training routine.  Nothing else has been as effective in making my body look and feel as strong as a HIIT workout.  I put my workouts together myself using Pinterest tips and core-strengthening exercises I got from my YMCA personal trainer (Michele Cameron) a few years back.  I’ve never been a class person.  I consider this MY time.  Time by myself, in my “zone”, is sacred to me these days.  I am VERY disciplined and consistent.  It may be sleeting and I may have four children in tow, but I’m at the gym (five times a week).  I want to be in and out, so I’ve gotten my current routine down to about 30 minutes, with seven additional minutes for abs.  I started using an EMOM timer about a year ago to keep me moving during workouts (versus stopping for 5 minutes to chat).  Without boring you with every detail, the types of specific exercises include things like:

  • jumping rope
  • kettlebell (goblet squat, snatch, etc.)
  • burpees
  • dumbell exercises (renegade rows, overhead press, etc.)
  • weighted ball slams
  • workout ropes
  • box jumps

You get the gist.  When I’m travelling, I start my day with a workout.  If they don’t  have a gym, I go for a jog.  If the gym is very basic, I do speed intervals on a treadmill.  And if there are kids on the trip, I NEED TO DO IT to have the energy to get through my day.  If my kids are sick and home from school?  It’s a cob job of a sweat in the small space on my family room floor.  If my day is packed, I do it at 5 before the kids wake.  Whatever it takes, I try to get it in.  With me, it’s truly as mental as it is a physical need.

DIETARY HABITS.

food.jpgOver the years, I’ve learned what works for me and my body, and I’m fairly consistent in my eating habits.  I eat a lot of salads and lean meat, fish, good fats and limit my carbs and sugar intake.  I wouldn’t say I deprive myself of anything, but I AM realistic.  For example, while out, I may skip the bread because I know they have my favorite dessert.  Or pass on getting my own cone on our afternoon family Ben and Jerry’s run because I know we’re eating out later.  At home, we grill salmon at least two times a week.  The other nights are usually also a high protein lean meat or fish, tossed salad and veggie.  While out (we eat out quite a bit), I almost always order a salad and high protein appetizer. I don’t drink much wine anymore and generally choose a low-sugar cocktail (Stoli Orange and club is my “go-to”.)  I do snack, grab a cookie here or there, and eat the occasional fried chicken finger off the kids’ plates.  Not perfect, and no magic formula.  Just management and awareness.

A few things that I would consider my “cupboard essentials” include:

Last but surely not least: my favorite indulgence.  Dark Chocolate Almond Coconut Bark Thins.  But be careful… you can’t stop.

INSECURITIES  IN THIS “PERFECT” WORLD.

I feel obligated to end on this note.  Yes, I’m obviously TYPE A, and do a lot to take care of myself.  Of course there are still imperfections and insecurities.  We all have them.  It used to just be my muscular, stocky legs.  Well… those have given me the ability to walk MILES and MILES with these babies.  Now my belly.  It can be in the best shape of my life and it’s still going to be a little droopy and poochy… but for FOUR darn good reasons.  The giant veins on my legs?  I consider them the tattoos I never got, symbolizing motherhood.  The bags under my eyes?  Late nights with great friends.  I’m blessed to be older, wiser, and able to embrace those imperfections more than ever.

My advice to you and these poor young girls growing up in this unrealistic world of Kardashians and social media filters: don’t strive for perfection because it doesn’t exist.  Try for your strongest physical and mental self, and I can assure you that much happiness will follow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Style Essentials

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There are a few items in my summer wardrobe that I just can’t live without.  You’ve likely seen many similar things on my Instagram feed.  I thought I’d share some of my personal essentials, along with some links to items available today.

  1. “Wear-anywhere” shirtdress.  I got this J.Crew one last spring and was thrilled to see several new colors and prints just released!  I love the long, wide tie that helps to cinch the waist.   J.Crew Striped Shirtdress
  2. A great, basic cover-up.  I love the adjustable shoulder ties and feminine details of this one by J.Crew.  J.Crew Tie Shoulder Dress with Embroidery
  3. A versatile pair of sunnies.  I’m currently loving big, round, retro designs and LeSpecs always offers cool options at reasonable prices.  LeSpecs “Last Dance” Sunglasses
  4. A large, woven bag.  I love the size and shape of this bag by Anthropologie.  Fill it for a day at the beach or accessorize a sweet sundress for a night event!  Anthropolgie “What a Catch” Tote Bag
  5. A white, cotton, off-the-shoulder top.  As you may have noticed from my IG feed, I am riding this off-the-shoulder trend as long as I possibly can.  And, I always love the look of crisp, white cotton in summertime.  Show me your MUMU (Bloomingdales) Off-the-Shoulder Top
  6. A classic navy pencil skirt.  I just love Boden’s pencil skirts.  They are well-made,  most have stretch and always include some interesting details, like this exposed zipper and grosgrain pull.  Boden Hampshire Navy Ponte Skirt
  7. A “feels like nothing” pair of pjs.  Check out these beautiful ones by LAKE Pajamas.  You’ll fall in love with the sweet stripes and feminine, classic designs.  LAKE Pajamas “Island Summer Dress”
  8. A neutral block heel that goes from sundress to cocktail dress.  I love these super-versatile suede Oatmeal “Yaro” heels by Sam Edelman.  Similar “Yaros” available locally at Violet’s of Saratoga.     Sam Edelman Perfect Neutral Block Heel
  9. A “go-to” summer scent.  I love Tom Ford’s perfumes, and Costa Azzurra is absolutely heavenly.  It will immediately transport you to white sands and blue waters.     Tom Ford (Sephora) Costa Azzurra
  10. A fabulous sun hat.  I can go days without doing my hair in the summer, thanks to this essential accessory.  I’m obsessed with this hat shown by Eric Javits.  A more practical, affordable option is linked here.    Eric Javits (Neiman Marcus) Giant Floppy Sun Hat in Peanut
  11. A lightweight, button-down casual dress.  I love the tie (helps to cinch your waist) and sleeve (able to wear a normal bra) on this dress by MANGO.  There are lots of button-down dresses out this summer, all which easily go from day to night.  MANGO Bow Cotton Dress
  12. The easiest AND comfiest of summer dresses: a soft, midi tee-shirt dress.  Pair with some slides, sunnies, and a small cross-body bag… and you’re ready to go!  Madewell Horizon Midi Tee Shirt Dress 

Stay cool in this August heat and remember… there’s ALWAYS air conditioning in retail shops. (wink wink).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Crush: The Slide (Not the Playground Kind)

Get those long overdue pedi appointments made ladies, because sandal season is here.  Slides, in particular, are my sandal of choice.  Not only are they the absolute easiest summer shoe to “throw on”, but did I mention THE MOST flattering of all summer sandals?  Any type of shoe without a back helps to add a few extra inches of leg for those of us vertically challenged.  Choose a skin-toned shade and you’ll maximize that effect.

There are SO many fun slides out this summer in a variety of prints, colors and materials.  You’ll find ones appropriate for your most casual of barbecues AND for your most formal of cocktail parties.  Below is a “slide show” (I had to) of my favorites this season.  As always, the choices reflect my wide range of personal “looks”, from ultra-preppy to bohemian.  Note that most of these designs come in a variety of colors, so be sure to click through the links below the photos for all the color options available!

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Tory Burch (Nordstrom) Brannan Studded Sandal

Frye Nadia Slide

Madewell Boardwalk Post Slide

Everlane Bridge Sandal

Ted Baker (Bloomingdales) Beauita Satin Bow Sandal

Seychelles (Zappos)  Total Relaxation Slide

JCrew Multistripe Cora Crisscross Sandal

GUCCI (Nordstrom) Querelle Sandal

Jack Rogers Diamond Monogrammed Sandal

SARTO Ginelle Slide Sandal

 

Happy summer and sliding… whatever kind you choose to do.

XOXO,

Ally

 

Strolling for Style in Saratoga Springs

Last week I took a quick stroll down the main street of our beautiful city, Saratoga Springs.  This is something I only wish I had more time to do.  With the four littlemonsters, it’s so hard to find time to shop (the old-fashioned way, like in a store), nevertheless “stroll”.  Whether it’s track season or the middle of a frigid winter, I ALWAYS find some gems in my downtown travels, even if I only have a few minutes to Continue reading “Strolling for Style in Saratoga Springs”