Nine Pretty Spring Tops Under $50

I find myself making more purchases during the spring months than any other time of year.  My wallet hibernates for winter since I’m rarely removing my go-to sweaters and heavy wool coat.  But as soon as those spring looks hit the magazines, blogs and stores, I have  the MAJOR itch to shop.  I’m aching to replace all those heavy layers (even if it’s not practical yet in upstate NY) with some pretty, feminine details and signature spring prints and colors .  Think ruffles, pintucking, flowers, lace, nautical stripes, and other delicate “extras” that foreshadow the May flowers.

I often purchase my tops in the trendy, less expensive stores, but I always look for details that give the top a higher-quality look.  Something as simple as a covered button can transform your piece from shabby to chic.  Here are nine pretty tops, under $50, that can help you bring a little spring into your closet without breaking the bank.  Click on the thumbnail to enlarge the top and scroll through the slideshow, with link and details below.

Socialite (Nordstrom) Ruffle Seersucker Crop Top

Forever 21 Off-the-Shoulder Striped Top

H&M Off White High Neck Ruffled Blouse

GAP Sleeveless Victorian Blouse in Rosehip Swiss Dot

Zara Die-Cut Embroidered Blouse

Vero Modo (Bloomingdales) Floral Kimono Top

JCrew Striped Boatneck Long-Sleeved Tee

Express Notch Neck Button Blouse in Sage Mist

Target Blue Flutter Sleeve Top

Okay, now that we’ve done our part beginning the transition to spring, maybe Mother Nature can do her part?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trench Coat: 7 Picks, 3 Ways to Wear

The trench coat.  Versions of this wardrobe staple have likely been around since the late 1800’s, but the coat got its name when WWI British officers in the trenches replaced their existing bulky raincoats with these lighter weight, more breathable designs.  Burberry designed its first soon-to-be “trench coat” in the early 1900’s, but didn’t begin to line them with the iconic Burberry check until the 1920’s.

As with Burberry’s designs, the classic trench hasn’t changed all that much in the last century.  It continues to be a closet essential of women, men, actors, street style stars… why?  Because of its combination of light weight, classic look and versatility. The first collage below shows my favorite picks this season, with the classic Burberry Sandringham front and center.  I’ve included both traditional and contemporary designs at a variety of price points and functionalities.  I’ve also included three very different ways to wear a trench, giving you a visual of just how versatile this wardrobe staple really is.

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  1. Badgley Mischka (at Nordstrom) Faux Leather Trim Long Trench
  2. Mackage Estela Asymmetric Belted Trench Coat
  3. London Fog (Macy’s) Hooded Double Breasted Belted Trench
  4. Burberry London “Sandringham” Long Trench
  5. MANGO Linen Trench
  6. Missguided (ASOS) Camo Belted Coat
  7. Banana Republic Water Resistant Modern Trench

 

You can throw a classic trench over just about anything and look instantly cool (and you don’t have to wait for the rain).  Below, I’ve created three very different looks, built from basic pieces you may already have in your closet.

 

C173F1BB-A0E4-46B6-9D78-A623ACD34C4AFRENCH CHIC

  1.  Burberry London “Sandringham” Long Trench Coat in Stone
  2. JCrew High-Rise Cameron Pant in Four-Season Stretch
  3. AJMorgan (ASOS) Round Oversized Sunglasses
  4. GAP Long Sleeve Striped Boatneck Tee
  5. Mark & Graham Monogrammed Daily East/West Tote
  6. French Sole “Certain” Ballet Flat

 

E0FA0D72-C3BA-4B83-99EB-A41D5ADF03CCLAZY SUNDAY BRUNCH

  1.  Same Burberry Trench as above : Sandringham in Stone
  2. Coach Saddle 23 Crossbody Bag
  3. GAP Super High Rise True Skinny Jeans in Dark Indigo
  4. Women’s Core Classic Yankee Cap by LadyFanatics
  5. H&M Denim Shirt
  6. Keds (shoes.com) Triple Kick Sneakers 

 

1874AF41-1C56-4DFE-A3F7-E05B4CCBB206CLASSIC EDGE

  1.  Same Burberry Trench as above : Sandringham in Stone
  2. Banana Republic Skinny Stay Black Ankle Jean
  3. Rebecca Minkoff Chevron Quilted Small Love Crossbody Bag
  4. Square Frame Sunglasses by Quay X Design (Topshop)
  5. BP (Nordstrom) Slub Knit Black Tee
  6. Jimmy Choo Romy 100 Black Classic Pump

 

The result?  A super easy, instant transition to street style star.

Five WEARABLE Spring Trends

Yes, I’m doing the unthinkable.  As I write, I’m looking through a window that shows at least four inches of snow on the ground, along with a continuous flurry that’s lasted two weeks.  I’ve been delaying this post because it JUST DIDN’T FEEL RIGHT.  It still doesn’t.  But it’s at this time each year, when SAD has officially kicked in, that dreams of new spring outfits create that happy bridge to the other side.

One of the main goals of this blog is to help you keep your wardrobe updated, but also wearable.  Sometimes great looks come down that runway, and they’re just not all that practical for our personal lifestyles.  This season?  PVC Plastic looks from head-to-toe (I’m sweating just thinking about it).  Or… Daytime Sequins (maybe for lunch at Cantina with my four boys?)  How about the “Transparent” trend?  (It’s possible I could get some very strange looks around here if I ventured out while exposing nipple.  Not sure about where you live.)  Fortunately, there are plenty of spring trends that can be worn by ALL women, and I’m happy to share my five favorites, along with some great seasonal finds.  Links are under each trend.
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205DE495-085B-40BB-9992-652218588E7BFEMININE RUFFLES:

  1. Felicity and Coco (Nordstrom) Ruffle Sheath Dress
  2. Banana Republic Bell-Sleeve Navy Jacket
  3. H&M Flounce Sleeved Top
  4. Ted Baker Ruffle Peplum Top
  5. J.Crew Factory Ruffle Front Top
  6. Anthropologie Rehobeth Striped Jumpsuit

 

18A14548-5C87-4987-8294-9382752704A4BOLD FLORALS

  1.  Alice and Olivia Blooming Garden Fitted Mock Dress
  2. J.Crew Classic Popover Button Down in Ratti Floral
  3. Zara High-Rise Buttoned Shorts
  4. Anthropologie Myrna Floral Skirt
  5. H&M One-Shoulder Floral Blouse
  6. Kate Spade Blooming Mikado Dress

BE0D4A83-12AB-46A6-8DFF-7F49AC8C9677GIRLY GINGHAM

  1.  MANGO Gingham Suiting 
  2. Express Gingham Off-the-Shoulder Belted Top
  3. MARK & GRAHAM Calistoga Mongrammed Insulated Tote
  4. Superga (at 6PM) Navy Gingham Sneakers
  5. J.Crew Outlet Skimmer Pant in Gingham
  6. Lauren Ralph Lauren Gingham Knit Pencil Skirt
  7. Leith (Nordstrom) Strapless Gingham Dress

42CA55EE-14D7-43FF-A197-7E40CA68F869EASTER BASKET PASTELS

  1.  Topshop Linen Bardot Midi Dress
  2. J.Crew Perfect Pink Rainjacket
  3. Club Monaco Blue Striped Bindell Tie Waist Top
  4. Forever 21 Yellow Linen Long Blazer
  5. Salvatore Ferragamo Mini Vara Crossbody Bag
  6. Lauren Ralph Lauren Ruffle Sleeve Shift Dress

2E27C85A-E3E1-404D-AEEF-C9DB612EBAEBSTATEMENT EARRINGS

  1.  Ryan Storer Lily Rose Gold Plated Earrings
  2. MANGO Face Earrings
  3. Kate Spade Vibrant Life Leather Studs
  4. Meridian Ave. Konrad Acrylic Earrings
  5. Miguel Ases (Bloomingdales) Circle Drop Earrings
  6. BAUBLEBAR Ronaleah Drop Earrings

I personally can’t wait to add many of these items to my closet.   I hope you, as well, find something that helps you spring ahead, and QUICKLY.

Little Black Dress Part 2 : My Favorites

Last week I wrote about the many ways you can style a basic “Little Black Dress.”  After several requests for more LBD recommendations, I’ve put together a quick post with some of my current favorites. These dresses, in addition to the Everlane one featured last week, span a range of shapes, fabrics, formalities, price ranges and fit a variety of body types.

Obviously, the simpler the dress, the more versatile it is, the more ways you can wear it. I’ve included a few basics designs but limiting my choices to only these seemed a bit boring.  There are too many amazing LBDs out there to not include the ones that REALLY excite me.  (Click the thumbnail for larger views with details linked below.)

 

  1. Adrianna Papell Mikado Midi Dress
  2. Nookie Dolly Off-the-Shoulder Midi Dress
  3. Vince Open Shoulder Dress
  4. Old Navy Sleeveless Sheath Dress
  5. Nicole Miller Ruby Lace Dress 
  6. Boden Kaia Ottoman Dress
  7. BCBG Catier Faux Leather Trim Dress
  8. BCBG Layla Asymmetric Leather Dress

When choosing fitted styles, never underestimate the power of undergarments (and I don’t just mean Spanx here ladies). The right shapewear (if that’s your thing) in addition to the right bra and panties can truly transform your body (and I can assure you that a future post will be entirely dedicated to this topic).

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The Little Black Dress, Five Ways

Everlane LBDLeave it up to Coco Chanel. In the 1920s, she took a look, traditionally linked to servants or people in mourning, and made it a fashion staple for decades to come. The LITTLE BLACK DRESS. We all have one that’s been hanging in our closets for years. The one that we turn to when we get a last-minute invitation. Or when the dress that arrived for the wedding just isn’t cutting it. Or the one we grab when we’ve gained a few extra winter pounds. The best part of all? That same dress can be styled SO many different ways.

This week, the Junior League of Albany launched their Little Black Dress Initiative.  The LBDI was first launched in 2014 by the Junior League of London during London Fashion Week. Members of our local League have committed to wearing the same black dress for five consecutive days to raise awareness of poverty levels in Albany and New York State.  Details about the program, local poverty levels, and how to donate can be found here.

In honor of our lovely ladies who are participating in this fashion-focused fundraiser, I thought I’d share five ways to style the same little black dress (link to the super versatile dress shown above).  Maybe you’ll be inspired to pull out your “go-to” LBD… and wear it very differently than before.

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LADYLIKE LUXE

  1.  ZARA Embroidered Collar Blazer
  2. Chanel Classic Caviar Black Wallet from Lola Saratoga
  3. Cole Haan “Tali” Ballet Bow Flat

 

D11C3152-C98E-4574-99BD-4ADF5BB8B736GOLDEN GIRL

  1. Ted Baker Glitter Bow Clutch
  2. Schutz Cady-Lee Shoe in Metallic and Rose Gold
  3. Givenchy Pearl and Crystal Chandelier Earrings

 

FC9FEDDD-A59D-4703-B56C-DA2B1C87001FSTREET STYLED

  1.  H&M Moto Jacket
  2. Eye Buy Direct Ivory Tortoise “Havana” Sunnies
  3. Adidas Stan Smith Original in Colored Graffiti
  4. Henri Bendel Jet-Setter Mini Convertible Backpack

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CORPORATE CHIC

  1. ZARA Long Blazer in Nude Pink
  2. Everlane Day Market Tote in Pale Blush
  3. Schutz Caiolea Pump in Nude Suede
  4. Tory Burch Crystal Pearl Earrings in Ivory and Gold

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SAFARI-READY

  1. H&M Cotton Cargo Jacket 
  2. Elise M. Woodland Stitched Leather and Elastic Belt
  3. “Laurel” Peeptoe Bootie by Kristen Cavallari
  4. Leather and Hemp Boho Bracelet by BohoHippieShop

 

Go ahead… try something you’ve never tried before.  I dare you.

Ally

Pretty In Pink

February brings many things… longer days, dreams of warmer places, and that dreaded Hallmark holiday.   Few people in my life have expressed their love for Valentine’s Day.  Maybe you use it as an excuse to get a sitter and enjoy dinner with your partner?  Or it’s yet another reason for a girls’ night out?  Or maybe you consider it just another day.  No matter how you celebrate this “holiday”, why not use it as an excuse to buy a little something pretty for yourself!?   Something pretty… and PINK.

Move over Molly Ringwald… and make room for some of my favorite pretty, pink things (links below photo).

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  1. BR Heritage Moto Jacket : A limited edition, and perfect transition piece.
  2. Kate Spade Bow “Lottie” : So sweet!  Wear it cross-body or use the top handle.
  3. Elie Tahari Feathered Top :  The gorgeous mesh design and feather trim is perfect for a special night out.
  4. RayBan Pink/Gold Customizable Aviator  : Choose your shape, metal and lens color.  Even engrave a personal message inside!  How great is that?
  5. New Balance 520 “70s”:  Old-school meets modern with a pink and gold twist, and the prettiest floral liner!
  6. MAC “Patisserie” : This has been my “go-to” nude for years.  Just a hint of sheer color.
  7. Sam Edelman “Hazel” Pump : J’ADORE this pale pink suede.

Anything inspire you?  You deserve it, Valentine.

XOXO, Ally