What Gretchen Wore

Plaid is going to be everywhere this fall, so I found this cute and comfortable red, black and white plaid sleeveless dress at Steinmart to get me through the season.  I will be adding a jacket or cardigan as the weather chills.  For today, I just added a red bubble statement necklace and black peep toe heels.  Bring on fall!!

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Fall Jackets

Our sweet summertime is dwindling and fall almost upon us!!  This means it is almost time to start thinking about the ultimate feel good purchase of the season ~ Outerwear.  You will need that elegant mid-length style to pair with skirts and dresses, and you definitely need a casual option or two for your casual days. But where do you start? From leather jackets to bombers; whimsical leopard prints and classic camel alike; these are the jackets and coats you need this upcoming fall season.

The Bomber Jacket ~ It is the perfect combination of fashion and sporty when you are looking for a warm topper for your casual denim or T-shirt dresses this fall.

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The Robe Coat ~ A robe coat is so effortlessly chic it is hard to say no. The wrap-and-tie closure gives off that woke-up-like-this vibe, but the subtle tailored silhouette keeps your look ladylike, no matter where you are headed.

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The Motorcycle Jacket ~ Every girl should have a leather motorcycle jacket in her life. Go for an oversized fit if you are looking for something a bit more casual, but keep in mind that a cropped or shrunken option is a great topper for cocktail dresses or night-out looks.

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The Camel Coat ~   If you are searching for that wear-with-everything neutral coat for fall, the buck stops at the camel coat.  This is the ultimate classic coat.

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The Denim Trucker ~ If you are dying to wear that dress that may be a little too dressy for everyday wear, try throwing a jean jacket into the mix. It is the simplest cool-girl approved way to dress down any look this fall.

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The Utility Jacket ~ For casual days, just throw the lightweight button-down on over a flirty floral dress, or keep it casual with a pair of jeans and T-shirt. An army green or camouflage option is a great way to infuse a little military dressing into your everyday wear this fall.

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The Plaid Coat ~ If you shy away from bold prints, but still looking for that statement coat, try a houndstooth or plaid option. Keep your palette fairly neutral, though—go for blacks, whites, and browns with hints of bold color.

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Inspiration from Pinterest.

Make the Most of Summer Sales

August means celebrating the end of the summer with BBQs, pool parties and days on the river.  However, let me get real with what I look forward to during August….it is the summer of end-of-season sales. By August, stores need to clear out their inventory for fall, and that means you have the opportunity to get some amazing deals. As great as the sales can be, who among us has not been caught up and bought something totally unnecessary just because they were 80 percent off or a dress that did not quite fit right because the deal was just too good to pass up?  I am guilty!!  So, here are a few tips to consider before hitting the sale racks this weekend.

1. Bring a trusted friend with you ~ Chances are, your worst shopping decisions have happened during sale time when you were blinded by huge discounts. Combat the act of buying things you are on the fence about by bringing a friend who you trust, and who will not let you out of a store with that ill-fitting dress just because the price seemed to good to pass up.

2. Go on the hunt for items you know you wear ~  Use the end-of-season sales as a time to scoop up designer items that rarely go on sale or designer versions of items you know you wear often like jeans, blouses, or pencil skirts. The discounts might not be as steep as they are on trendier pieces, but these are the items that will not scream “sale rack” and will get plenty of use.

3. Shop pieces that work year round ~  When you are shopping end-of-season summer sales, keep in mind that fall and winter are just around the bend so that crochet maxi dress is only going to take you so far. Instead, look for pieces in darker colors and fabrics that work year round to avoid only being able to wear your great sale find for a few more weeks.

4. Compare prices at multiple stores ~ Just because that handbag you have been eyeing is 50 percent off at one store does not mean that it is not being offered at an even steeper discount somewhere else. Always shop around.

5. Ask sales associates for some extra help ~ Just because you do not see a particular item you are gaga over on the sale rack in your size, does not mean it is not available. Make sure to check with sales associates during sales to see if there are additional items in the back of the store, or to see if the item might be available in your size at a different location.

6. Check with stores on when their final markdowns are ~ The very best deals during sale time happen during final markdown, the holy grail of sales. Call your favorite stores to find out when their final markdown period begins so you can be sure to be there, and watch out online for words like “last call,” the buzz word for this is as good as the price is going to get.

Keep Your Strapless Dress From Falling

The strapless dress is universally flattering, accessory friendly and perfect for showing off your bronzed shoulders during the summer months.  Strapless dresses are a classic go to summer staple. But here is the issue……they can be incredibly annoying.  When going strapless, it feels impossible to make it through the day without having to pull up your dress at least a couple dozen times. But actually, constantly tugging at the fabric is only going to make your dress more likely to fall down, since you are stretching it and creating a looser fit. Do not give up hope though. To help cope with the woes of this warm weather favorite, here are some tips that will make wearing a strapless dress as fun and carefree as it was meant to be.

It is all about the boning ~ A tube dress does not offer much support up top, but a dress with a bit of boning in the bodice will be more structured.

Layer a shirt underneath ~ Try layering a tshirt underneath your strapless dress. The extra fabric will hold up better against bare skin, plus it will add some visual interest.

Rubber is your friend ~  Some strapless dresses come with a thin silicone rubber strip that lines the entire inside top seam. This provides a bit of resistance against your skin so that it will less likely to fall down.  If your strapless does not have that thin rubber band, use a bit of fashion tape instead.

Pin it ~ When you are running low on the double-sided tape, try a few safety pins instead. Just take some safety pins and pin your bra to the dress….simple and easy.

Do NOT go without a bra ~ Strapless bras can be finicky, but they are generally a good idea when you are opting for a strapless dress. It will give your frock something to grab onto and it will also add some shape to the bodice. There are a ton of different options on the market these days, so pick a style that suits you. And no matter how tempted you might be to wear a bra with straps underneath your strapless dress……just don’t. It is not a good look.

Even using one of these tricks will improve how you look and feel in a strapless dress. Here is to hoping that there are many more bare-shoulder days ahead of us!!

 

Four Simple Tips to Improve Your Summer Style

In addition to rising temperatures and weekend getaways, summer brings with it the urge to shop…..or maybe that is just for me?!  I always have the urge to shop!  Summer parties and weekend jaunts down the coast require a cute new outfit, right?  I understand that new summer outfits are not always in the budget, so here are four simple tips to improve your style without breaking the bank.

1. Buy summer shoes a half-size or a full-size larger than you normally would.  It is not the most flattering of facts, but our feet swell during the summer. That is why it is key….when shopping for new shoes this time of year, buy shoes a bit larger than you would in winter.  Natural materials like leather, canvas and suede will definitely stretch, so going up half a size should be fine. Of course, you should always try them on!!

2. Pay close attention to your fabrics. To stay cool on steamy days, it is best to seek out materials like cotton.  Linen also is a solid summer material….it is stronger than cotton and a better conductor of heat, making it the most breathable fabric. Contrary to popular belief, silk is a good choice for summer as well, since it is natural, breathable, and cooling. The only downside is it has to be cleaned frequently if you sweat.

3. Reinvent your clothes. As you know I am a huge proponent of using a tailor for alternations.  A tailor can also inexpensively transform a item, making it look totally different.  I had a maxi dress that I had shorten to make it knee length, added a denim vest, and the entire look was different.

4. Keep your actual makeup from melting.  You are always hearing about ways to keep the makeup on our face from melting, but how about the products we tote around with us in our bags?  Try this trick: Freeze a Zip-Loc freezer bag overnight, and before you leave for work, toss in the cosmetics you normally take for the day (a lipstick, a foundation, etc.) While it is not a long-term fix, it will keep your products cool until you get to work, or whichever air conditioned place you are headed.