Finding Your Own Vintage Style

I hope everyone is keeping cool! It is so hot out here in Philadelphia!

Just this past weekend, I sent my little brother back to Michigan after his two week vacation here… but not before he could do one more men’s look for me, which will be featured at the end.

This is going to be my last entry with me modeling for a few weeks, because I’ll be going behind the camera for a few entries. My good friend Dorothee will be taking my place as a model for a while. I loved her in past entries, and I look forward to shooting with her soon!

I’m currently in full swing working on my new site, Down To Utopia, which launches August 8th. It is a site dedicated to mental health and wellness, and though it is for all women, it will be heavily written from the perspectives and viewpoints from Women of Color. Writing about a serious topic, but de-stigmatizing and rewriting it so it is not all one voice while making it feel welcome… well, that’s a challenge! But I hope you like it.

One more shameless plug, before I get to today’s entry: I was in a great article where I talked about the behind the scenes of Beauty & Britches! I am so fortunate that Mikey is now the EIC of Geekadelphia, so our Sundays have changed a lot since the article. We are actually going paddle boating this Sunday!

Any who, with summer time, for me, comes summer dresses, but this time I wanted to go for an easy look that is colorful, vintage and easy to pull off. My vintage style is still being developed, but I have come to like color, clothes that breathe (no corsets or anything too rigid or stiff), patterns and if possible- easy care. Dry cleaning gets expensive, so I only go to places that offer anything that has the words ‘Get One Free’. I love seeing other people’s vintage style, especially if they are dedicated to only one era, style and work every aspect of their outfit into it.

When shopping vintage, my biggest pieces of advice are:

1. Try everything on! Don’t go by the sizes, because sizing has changed drastically over the years. Also, if you love a dress or top and it is made well, letting it in or out may be easily done and worth the investment.

2. Don’t go by the brand, go by the fit! I love vintage Sears dresses, only because how they fit and how well made they are, but I will never buy something vintage solely on the brand name. There is nothing wrong with doing that, but you will feel so much more confident and love the garment if you look great in it over it being vintage Dior… who am I kidding, you can love vintage Dior all you want!

3. Don’t force yourself to love it! You find a dress and it looks ‘eh’ on or you find some pants, but they are just a tad too short, just keep moving. I use to be guilty of this and trying to fix something I wasn’t totally in love with. Imagine my horror of what came out after trying to alter a pleated skirt. There are tons of beautiful finds out there and hunting is the fun part!

What advice would you give for vintage shopping? Sound off below!

colorful vintage dress

Honeycomb Zip-Up Dress 708 Antique, 708 5th St. Philadelphia ($45)

I bought this dress at a little shop two doors down from Philly AIDS Thrift. The shop had no official name and asked me not to review it on Yelp (but they are on Four Square) since they liked their low profile. They are a Mother-Son owning duo and even when I tried to look up the shop on Google Maps, all I could see is an insurance store, so either the shop is no longer there or the Google Car hasn’t updated that block. They mainly sell dishes and great kitchen items, but if you go into the back they have a secret and AMAZING section of well, everything! I only left with one dress-surprisingly.

Green Vintage Sunglasses Heaven Gallery, Chicago ($10)

If you live in Chicago and love fashion and art, than you should definitely check out Heaven Gallery in Wicker Park. I haven’t gone in a few years, but they use to have vintage clothes for sale in their space every Sunday. I have also been to some amazing fashion shows from new artists and checked out so much awesome art! It is a non-profit and provides a space for new artists show their work. Also, it brought on some awesome nights in Chicago! I might have to dig up my ‘going to runway show for free wine’ look one day, ha.

Earrings Hello World (gift)

I still don’t know the price of these earrings, but I LOVE them and these cute leaf earrings are $14!

My hair becomes extremely dry in the summer and it grows out of shape. I need a protective style or I need braids, but for sure I need a hair cut! I found out about an awesome salon and stylist on Lauren Mechelle’s blog where she shows videos, has tutorials, giveaways and all sorts of awesomeness!

Turquoise Sandals Moda on 1523 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia ($16)

I usually hate any sandal that shows my foot or has a bar like this, but I love the color of this sandal and I wore these under an evening gown last year. They add a fun pop of color and the price isn’t bad either. I buy a lot of cheap sandals and flats with little support and walk forever in them, but this may not be good for other people who need that arch support.

I am wearing my regular blue shadow and added a blue eye shadow using a thin brush half way around my eyes. That is about as technical and creative as I get with my make-up.

Cream Woven Clutch Nova Ice, 441 South Street, Philadelphia ($16)

I usually hate walking down south street, just because I am not a large crowd person and you have to spend too much time in some of the stores to find something, but I loved that I found this purse and love how easy it is to add some pattern and texture to my outfit. As usual, I love the price!

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Here is Ali again, modeling a summer look he put together from stores here in Philadelphia. I love his risk taking with mixing up patterns! What do you think?

Ali

Hawaiian Shirt  Wilbur Vintage ($25)

Blue Wave Shorts H&M ($25)

Navy Ditmars Steve Madden ($100)

Photography by Eric S. (last photo by Nena B.)

Simple Summer Style & Bonus Men’s Look

Happy Summer! I am a little late on my post because I was back in Michigan, which I will be traveling to for much of my summer. Even though Michigan is about ten degrees cooler than Philly, I had very, very little internet and was waking up with mosquito bites, but I was able to drive (which I don’t do here) and went to visit my Uncle in the country (where two young women were riding their horses while carrying on a conversation. I am not use to sharing the road with horses).

I came back to Philly’s heat, but to the mosquito free land and an awesome summer place called Spruce Street Harbor Park. With hollowed out train cars holding food and games, hammocks and nets to lay on over the water (if you can get one), paddle boats across the river and tons of other fun things, it will definitely be a go-to spot all summer for me. Eric, my little brother, Ali and I, decided to all go check it out.

As for my outfit, It was hot! I mean, super hot. I am from Michigan, so imagine me saying, “It’s so hot” with a Midwestern accent and it being only in the 80s. I decided to go with a simple sundress I have owned forever and to style it as lightly as possible. I use to wear this dress all the time in Chicago, so the first photo is from when I first bought the dress (back when I had an A-symmetrical cut that only lasted three weeks) followed by how I styled it this week.

What is your go to dress for the summer? Do you keep it simple? Sound off in the comments below!

I use to wear these with my sandals before they become what I call ‘the broke down sandals’ in my other entry.

floral dress, statement necklace, gold wedges

Floral Strapless Dress With Pockets  H & M 

This dress is no longer available, but there are currently similar dresses in the store. I think this is H&M’s MO when making dresses. I couldn’t find a similar one on the site. If you can wear a bra with the dress and it has pockets, than I will mostly likely buy it. If it covers my horrible upper back tattoo, than it is sold!

floral dress, statement necklace, gold wedges

love necklace, statement necklace

 Love Necklace  Smak Parlour ($20)

As you know, I collect all necklaces Philadelphia, Pennsylvania State and Love, but I also love curb link and cable chains (I say both since I am not savvy on chains and honestly don’t know which one this is. If you know, feel free to let me know, otherwise I am going to call it an old school chain for the rest of my life).  

I started trying new products on my hair since Shea Moisture stopped working as well as my hair became longer. I am currently using the Kinky Curly line on the recommendation of Tresses and Treats, a natural hair blog I am following. She posts a lot of product reviews and ways to use a product (I overuse my Shea Moisture, but I still wanted to try something different).  What I really need is a haircut. I see you, heat damage! Update: I cut that curl off finally.

Lexii Gold Wedges Steve Madden ($80)

Black Purse Smak Parlour ($68)

I love the look of these sandals, but for the first two days, I wore the strap too tight and caused two bruises above my heel. They are alright if you are use to walking with straps and on wedges, but I don’t think I can say they are as comfortable as the sandals I usually buy. I buy Steve Madden because I like sandals that cover my feet and don’t have a bunch of straps between my toes. Maybe I have to break these in a bit more.

Even though I have some cute clutches, I throw them into my big purse and usually just carry one purse. I had a sweater in my purse and some flats, so I decided to go with my new ol’ faithful.

BONUS: Ali is visiting for two weeks, so I decided to try a little men’s styling on him. My Dad complains that I never feature men. Everything Ali is wearing was bought this week, so should be still available in stores, though the pants were on clearance. He is using Shea Moisture products in his hair and his necklace is his own. Ali is 20 and attends Lansing Community College (he also attended Temple for one year) as a Computer Science Major concentrating on Digital Media. He is single, but not ready to mingle.

Grey Shirt  H & M  ($10)

Floral Pants Zara ($20)

Navy Ditmars Steve Madden ($100)

Photography by Eric S. (last photo by Nena B.)

Interviewing in Style? You Tell Me!

I was on my way home and ran into Evan and Alex of Reading The Streets. I thought Alex was stopping to say ‘Hi’, but they were actually stopping me for a few photos for Shoppist’s Street Style section in Philadelphia Magazine. I really didn’t think I would make the cut, but I did! See, me in Shoppist here and be sure to check out more amazing fashion at Reading The Streets!

I usually don’t venture into talking about interview clothes because, to be honest, I was that person who wore amazing, killer, and totally inappropriate heels to my first training outside of grad school. So I really have no business being the voice of reason.

Fortunately, I learned a little bit over the years. However, for all of the young ladies headed to college this fall, Project ALOE (Assisting Ladies Offering Essentials), has you covered where I don’t. Project Aloe not only gives college bound women care packages of beauty and lifestyle essentials (to quote my undergrad brother, ‘deodorant ain’t cheap’ to quote me, ‘natural hair products aren’t cheap’), but also networking opportunities, mentorships and connections to peers who are currently attending their chosen university.

You can find out more or sponsor a student here.

As for me, I was called in last minute for an interview for a social work position in a federal facility. It was at an organization I worked for before, and interviewed with previously. Why aren’t I wearing a suit? I’ll tell you.

Based on my information on the organization and my previous experience with them, I knew it would be okay. That and they had complimented my style previously, which is certainly a plus. There is a debate in social work over suit or no suit. I have read message boards on it and I would maybe have gone with a suit if it were an outside non-profit, agency, or a place I wasn’t already familiar with. But what about your industry? What do you wear to an interview? Suit? Cardigan? Do you disagree with my choice? Feel free to sound off in the comments!

pink dress, polka dot cardigan, warby parker glasses

Black Polka Dot Cardigan H & M ($14)

My friend, Devaney, gave me a piece of interview clothing advice I still use today. “Wear a jacket, but if somehow you can’t, cover your shoulders.” Or something that meant wear a cardigan or something similar. She probably didn’t know she would create a cardigan addict. I should probably ask her the direct quote. I thought this cardigan was dark blue (I would have preferred it in blue), but I don’t have anything colored or patterned like this

pink dress

pink dress

Pink Dress H & M ($35)

I love this dress because of the length and color. It can easily transition with sandals and fun jewelry.

pink dress, polka dot cardigan, warby parker glasses

pink dress, polka dot cardigan, warby parker glasses

Crosby Frames in Greystone  Warby Parker ($95 with prescription lenses included)

These glasses aren’t for fashion, I actually need them, but I don’t need to walk around all day in them. I brought them to go over paperwork if needed and driving. I love my glasses and actually wrote about Warby Parker once here.  I will have to show you my VA issued glasses in a different entry.

scout and boo necklace

My nails were a shade of coral for the interview, but I switched them yesterday to this color. I love the sparkly candy accents to pieces. I did hide my septum piercing, of course.

scout and boo necklace

‘Scout and Boo’ Necklace  Out of Print Clothing ($30)

I kept the jewelry simple instead of my usual layering by wearing this simple necklace. Out of Print Clothing has teamed up with Books For Africa to donate a book for each purchase. What I love are the hard to find book t-shirts on the site. I ordered myself a ‘Song of Solomon’ tee and Eric the ‘Invisible Man’. They even have my Dad’s favorite author, so I know what he is getting for Father’s Day!

micheal kors pumps

MICHEAL Michael Kors Pressley Pumps Akira ($100, but cheaper here)

I am pretty sure I probably read in some magazine that you had to own one pair of patent leather pumps with a low heel to interview in, and then I justified purchasing these pumps for that purpose. I like them a lot now, but they honestly rarely see the light of day.

I always wear opaque tights due to my tattoo. I bought these on the way to the interview at a CVS for $7 since mine picked up some lint I didn’t notice until I got into the car.

black purse

Black Purse Smak Parlour ($68)

I carry a few clutches, but I usually stick to an every day bag that can fit my laptop. That is why I don’t feature a lot of bags. This is my every day bag which holds my chrome book, chargers, lotion, three notebooks, sunglasses, umbrella, a book and a small clutch. I am currently working on my own project (which is why I wasn’t expecting to interview) focused on mental health and wellness for women of color. It will be launching in July and I am working on the site currently. I will keep you posted.

pink dress, polka dot cardigan, warby parker glasses

I wore my hair in the remnants of a two strand twist with a moisturized seal, so it looked like a mixture of this week and last week’s blog’s hair, but I definitely don’t change my hair. I know some people do and are not a fan of this and I use to wear a headband or a pinned up style, but I wear my hair like this every day.

Photography by Eric S.

Rockin’ Out With Hard to Style Must Haves

I am so excited to be back in Philly! Not that I didn’t love being in Lansing, MI and Chicago. I loved seeing some of my oldest friends in Chicago and my wonderful cousin, but I am glad to be back home with Eric and back into my regular and quieter routine. This week, I decided to not only shop in my closet again, but to see what I could match with a top that I bought without thinking about how to style it.

When I buy clothes, I usually try to have some sort of idea of how I’ll style them using clothes I already own, or at least figure out what I’ll need to make the look complete. I break this rule seldom, and usually when I do, it doesn’t go very well (see: clothing with sale tags still on them in multiple colors). The only time I always break this rule is if David Bowie (excluding him as the Goblin King, even I have my limits) is anywhere on… well anything. I am obsessed with David Bowie. Obsessed! I have been in love with him since I was about nine or ten. Not for his music at first, but because of a conversation I had with my Mom.

Even though Lansing was quite progressive when it came to interracial relationships and biracial children (my brother and I weren’t the only kids in our class, though you go about twenty minutes outside of Lansing, that is another story), I still went through being super embarrassed over my parents not looking alike. I was nine, cut me some slack. So my mom, as usual, directed me to every example she could find from The Color of Water to one of the few couples she could find: David Bowie and Iman. I was in love! The couple was my everything and as I aged, I still can’t help but buy a David Bowie shirt. I am sure I can’t be the only one. Well, maybe when it comes to David Bowie, but I am sure someone out there buys something all the time they have no idea how they will style. What is your must have item?

pink blazer, david bowie, tulle skirt

David Bowie Boyfriend Tee (Aladdin Sane)  Smak Parlour ($42)

The David Bowie top is actually a hand made halter. Smak Parlour made a line of deconstructed halters in-house of different bands they love. The back has multiple knots and the top is knotted. I don’t usually wear halters, but I like how this covers my whole front and can be worn with a bandeau and jeans. I am more of a ‘Thin White Duke’ fan, but ‘Ziggy Stardust’ definitely has more color to work with.  If you ever want to karaoke with me, I do a great ‘Space Oddity’. I also do way too many knee slides.

david bowie, rayban aviators, pink blazer

 Hot Pink Blazer H & M ($35)

I have a love/hate relationship with H & M blazers. My arms are always, and I mean always, too long to fit into them, so I roll or push up the sleeves. I love the colors and cost, but you get what you pay for comes with paying for not a whole sleeve. I can no longer find this exact one, but here is a similar cut.

pink blazer, david bowie, tulle skirt

Black Tulle Dress Philly AIDS Thrift ($22)

This actually isn’t a skirt- it’s a dress! I usually try to find my gowns for The Philly Geeks Awards either at vintage/consignment or second hand stores; I just don’t wear black tie enough to invest. I went to Philly Aids Thrift last year and found this all black dress. The top is a sparkly tank, nothing fancy. It wasn’t dressy enough for the awards, but it definitely was a must buy for some other occasion. I am still on the hunt in Philly for an actual tulle separate skirt for the summer. If you know of anywhere, please share!

Also, if you have not gone to Philly AIDS Thrift to shop or donate, than you are truly missing out on an amazing organization and store.

septum

14g Septum Piercing Infinite Body Piercing ($48 with jewelry)

Twist Defining Cream As I Am ($13)

I had my septum pierced by Kali, who is very professional and knowledgeable, about four weeks ago. I have gone back and forth on it in the past and since I can hide the piercing easily, I decided to go for it and see how it would turn out. I like it a lot and it doesn’t hang very low. It didn’t hurt, but it does require a bit of care while healing. Would I have been fine with not getting it? Sure, but it is easy to hide and won’t scar when removed, so why not?

I have switched over to As I Am products (I bought the care package at Walgreens) and used their Twist Defining Cream for my two strand twists. I am not a two strand twist aficionado. I couldn’t two strand twist myself out of a paper bag, but I do like how my hair remained moisturized throughout the day and the twists were easier to do. I twist into sections at night, cover with a silk scarf and then untwist and pull in the morning.

septum

spike earring, septum

Two-Tone Earrings Smak Parlour ($16)

PIXI Beauty Shea Butter Lip Balm in Coral Crush BirchBox ($10 for monthly box, $8 for lip balm)

You can’t really see, but one earring is silver and the other is gold. I love having at least one pair of earrings to match multiple metals since it makes layering necklaces a bit easier. Best purchase ever!

I received this lip balm in my birchbox and the first time I wore it I wasn’t a fan. The second time I really do love the color. I still wish it was a bit more long lasting, but I might just put a chapstick under it or use my M.A.C. Lipglass over it next time.

Pennsylvania Necklace  Smak Parlour ($16)

Love Necklace  Smak Parlour 219 Market St, Philadelphia

Silver & Bronze Custom Initial Necklace  Tselaine 1927 Walnut Street, Philadelphia ($98, but varies on options)

Gel Manicure with Glitter Gel Accent Top Nails ($58 with pedicure)

I collect a lot of ‘Love’ and necklaces or clothing that have to do with Michigan or Pennsylvania. I don’t know why I don’t collect anything from any other state I lived in, but I guess I don’t want my wardrobe looking like a sad map. Not a map of sadness, but a map where someone gives you two minutes to name as many states as possible. Anywho, I love my Pennsylvania and Love necklace as part of my collection. The top necklace, is one I had made at Tselaine. It is a necklace with Eric and my initial (I hear the groans) and got the idea when Tselaine posted a different customer making an engagement necklace. For Mother’s Day, I made my mom one to match mine with her children’s initials.

Don’t hate, my nails are fly! I use to only go to Top Nails in Logan Square when I lived there, so I decided to stop in and say ‘hi’ to Aileen. When I was going there, I was always on an OKcupid date or some miserable equivalent, so you can imagine the surprise of my engagement news. I use to be extremely outgoing in Chicago, so Aileen couldn’t believe Eric talks more than I do. Aileen will soon be on the market as a theatre interior designer after her internship, so someone scoop her up in Chicago!

black textured pumps

Black Dumond Pumps AKIRA Chicago ($100)

Aviator Sunglasses Rayban ($150)

Another way to find Rayban Sunglasses is go to the many Philadelphia festivals and see them all over the ground once everyone has had too much to drink. I have no idea how people lose their glasses when alcohol is involved.

Oh, wait, I do…

Photography by Eric S.

Flea Markets & Splurge Items

Hello from Michigan! I return to my hometown of Lansing almost every year, but this year is special. I picked up my wedding dress, I’m looking at venues for my wedding next June, and I’m celebrating my birthday in Chicago over the weekend with my cousin, Jessica (who is a lifestyle blogger)! Most importantly, I was able to spend Mother’s Day with my Mother and Grandmothers.

Before heading back, Eric and I were able to check out all of the various festivals going on and I found some great items to create one of my favorite vintage looks. I went with a mixture of flea market finds and small boutiques along with affordable purchases and splurge items. It took awhile to find each item for this look, but was definitely worth it.

So, my questions this week are… what is your favorite look and where do you shop to find a piece to complete your look? Do you have a favorite splurge item?

vintage dress, necklace

dress 3

1960s Vintage Refurbished Sheath Dress Things I Like 1038 Pine Street, Philadelphia ($90)

I love this dress! Nazareth, the owner, use to work for Urban Outfitters refurbishing their t-shirts. She has awesome refurbished shirts I will feature in the future and I’ll definitely talk to her about her process. She found this dress and decided to alter the silhouette a bit to give it shape. It is a beautiful textile and isn’t as heavy as it looks (though will easily transition into the fall). This dress is made to last, so I don’t know if it counts as a true splurge item.

necklace

Threading  Anju Threads 1126 Walnut Street, Philadelphia ($13 eyebrows $7 lip*)

I was invited to come to Anju Threads to try out their threading services. I jumped at the chance because I used to get my eyebrows and lip threaded at the salon I went to in Chicago. Threading, though it takes a bit more time, lasts longer and can create a more defined arch and pull those small lip hairs wax seems to miss (I have no shame in my lip waxing). Kabbone did my eyebrows since she specializes in what I like: fuller brows! She was amazing to talk to and puts you at ease. I can’t wait to return. Helpful hint: your skin is more sensitive before and during your cycle, so book your first appointment after if you can!

cardign2

Broke Down Sandals Steve Madden ($40ish?)

I had a close up photos of these sandals, but I am going to spare you looking at the reason why I stay in sandals. I use to buy my sandals at the Wicker Park Steve Madden store, but DSW has a low price and amazing selection. I like sandals to cover my whole foot and the sides over, but a full back. I have owned these sandals since 2010 and wish I could find another pair. They have been through a lot! 

vintage cardigan sheath dress

60s Cardigan  Edna’s, Philadelphia ($20)

I found this sweater at the Philadelphia Flea Market, which is every weekend in different locations around the city. Edna’s is a vintage stand with tons of great clothes for men and women including accessories. You can find out where she will be by asking to be on her mailing list at donnaschaeffer@gmail.com. It is just a blank email listing the location. She had tons of great items and as I walked up she said three little words I love, “I have Sears!” It was a treat taking this sweater home and my Grandma saying she remembers it and had one the same color back in the day. I also learned you can’t wash wool (a different sweater taught me that).

necklace

Grandma’s Buttons Desert Grandeur Necklace  Tselaine 1927 Walnut Street, Philadelphia ($64)

I may be a few dollars off, but you can actually still buy this exact necklace on their website. I love the look of this necklace, but didn’t know it was made of buttons found by the owner (the buttons she started the company with were her grandmother’s). Now, as a family business, she looks all over the world for new buttons to create new pieces. I love Tselaine and have the most beautiful necklaces from there including a lot of local one of a kind pieces. I can go in there and shop and talk for way too long!

My hair is just a messy twist out. I sit and twist it in sections without parting and tie it up at night and then untwist in the morning. I don’t use any special twisting creams, just whatever was in my hair that day for my wash and go. I might spray it with a bit of water, but I try to keep my hair as low maintenance as possible.

cardigan

*services were provided gratis with no obligation to promote or write of the experience; the views expressed are completely my own.

Photography by Eric S.

What Gives You Style Inspiration?

So much happened in these last two weeks! I had the mole under my chin removed and got my septum pierced. I went to a corset fitting, tried out a new beauty routine with Anju Threads, joined Indy Hall to start work on a new project, and now I’m in Baltimore on a surprise vacation with Eric.

Fortunately, during all of this, I still have the second part of the photo shoot from Edny Photography in one of my favorite outfits! I really appreciate Nathaniel and his assistant and great photographer in their own right, Mel, for taking the time to take my photos and teach me a few tips about lighting and getting better photos. They did a breathtaking job and I really hope to work with them again. It was a huge fun favor (there needs to be a word to mesh those together) and I will forever be appreciative!

Now enough gushing! On to what we did!

I usually mix my era of clothing and just go with whatever looks good. I favor the 60′s and 70′s, but after watching American Hustle, I just had to run over to Wilbur’s and see if Daniel had anything a bit Jennifer Lawrence. Of course he did! I loved my end result, but Nathaniel pointed out that it looked more WWII inspired. I never thought of that!

What do you think and do you ever look at movies for inspiration?

Red Yoki Pumps Ragstock ($8)

I bought these at Ragstock so long ago while going through their basement, that I wouldn’t  be surprised if I convinced myself I bought these in Ragstock instead of some other vintage & new shop, but Yoki heels are so easy to find and cheap, that I am not going to sweat it too much. You can find them on Amazon, Sears, Kmart- they are all over. I just started wearing mine recently since I have more dresses to match them with and have a nice vintage look, unlike my patent leather red stilettos that have a ‘I bought these in my early 20s when was able to wear heels non-stop and didn’t know what a bunion was’ look. Yes, I said bunion.

Cream Vintage Dress  Wilbur Vintage ($20)

Daniel said ‘all the dresses 20 percent off except for that one. The dress was $20! I repeat,$20! I can’t remember if it was labeled 70′s or 60′s, but I want to lean more toward 70′s based on style and material, but I will find out. Every time I go in there, I am either told by another customer that if I put the dress down that they will take it or I am trying to talk someone into giving me their dress (I tried very hard one time to no avail). Wilbur’s I love since I don’t have to dig, but definitely try everything on no matter what the size looks like or says.

 Vintage Scarf  Wilbur Vintage ($10)

I collect vintage scarves. They are perfect when my braids are growing out and I wore them non-stop two summers ago, but I thought about how would it look with a bang? Daniel has a great collection and I love the scarf I found- I just need more practice tying it, but I still look the look!

 Hair James Brown Studio ($100)

Cheetah Necklace  Smak Parlour ($34)

This necklace is actually not heavy, which I like and I have been really digging the thick curb chain look.

Here are a few 40s inspired and vintage dresses that made me see what Nathaniel was seeing. I only have one 40s dress because it starts getting pricier and harder to find once you start going that far back, but the quality of clothes are killer.

See you next time with my curls back in action, some eyebrow talk and with spring back, warmer photos and flea market finds!

 Photography by Endy Photography

Making A Statement…with Necklaces!

Happy holidays for those celebrating! I’m so glad it is finally spring! I couldn’t wait for the warm weather to return so I could return to dresses and sandals. There’s nothing like only having to worry about one item to match and a pair of light shoes. Actually, for me, it is always two items.

I am a sucker for statement necklaces. I don’t collect clutches or care for bags, but a necklace gets me every time. When I buy a very large necklace, I usually try to think about how I am going to wear it (honestly, I just buy what I like and then think later… which I know is what you shouldn’t do, but I DO WHAT I WANT!) so the bigger the piece, the softer the style.

Do you have a favorite style necklace, or have a place you’d like to recommend to buy them? Let me know in the comments!

 Love Necklace  Smak Parlour ($20)

I saw this necklace and had to have it. Living in Philly, I do collect some ‘Love’ pieces, but I love finding anything that reminds me of late 80s style or something Salt-N-Pepa would wear (actually, I was obsessed with Spinderella). I match it with very simple looks because it overwhelms the eye. 

Mesh Mint Shirt  Smak Parlour ($48)

I love the lightness of this shirt and how I can wear it through out the seasons by changing it up a bit. It is completely made of this tight mesh material, so on this particular very windy spring day I am wearing a nude colored camisole underneath. The front piece covers my chest for the most part and my navel. I feel like you can feel the wind hitting me through these photos.

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BCBG Satin Capri Pants Crossroads Trading Co. ($40)

I have owned these pants since 2010 and bought them from a great store called Crossroads, which is like Buffalo Exchange, but I always found more stuff. The zip down and up on the side, which I love.

(Story on my tattoo: I got this tattoo in Lawrence, Kansas many years ago when I was fresh out the military. My Grandma told me not to get it even though I thought it would be a cool ‘Grandma I got the Tryzub with your name in Ukrainian in the middle because you are Ukrainian even though you were born here and etc etc etc’. She doesn’t like it. Not only does she not like it, but I have been stopped and asked if I was an African student in Ukraine and a ton of other things that sound positive when written, but actually got pretty mean. I love my Grandma, I love her culture and what I learn through her and my family, but I wouldn’t do it again. I wish I would have waited and learned that you can show love and appreciation for someone in a different way. It is definitely a reminder of a point in my life where I was still developing the ability to think outside myself.

Or I would have just got a tattoo that said ‘Grace’ like those old school sailor tattoos with the heart with ‘Mom’ in the middle.)

AK Klein black sport flats

AK Anne Klein Sport Black Flats DSW ($60)

These flats, like most of my flats, have been through the ringer. I use to wear heels constantly and really should donate a lot of them to someone who wears heels, but I love my flats since I walk whenever possible. Though AK flats are more than I usually spend, they are extremely comfortable and well made. I also owned a pair of gold ones, but I had to let them go. I need to get back into loving shoes, but flats (and bags) to me are the frame and I am still trying to work with the big picture (though I really think investing into a few pairs of shoe which can easily be changed out is important.)

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Hair James Brown Studio ($100)

It is super windy in this photo, but I got an amazing cut, blow out and flat iron there and loved my complete experience.

love necklace

statement necklace love necklace mint top bcbg pants

I had to end on me smiling at least once! So happy the warmth has returned!

Photography by Eric S.

Making Trends Your Own

Before getting into today’s post, I would like to thank everyone who is reading and has taken the time to comment.

In the last few weeks I have had to step away from this blog a few times and scratch whole entries due to larger health issues and all of the things that go into that. Eric and I would take photos for a shoot only to notice that the quality wasn’t as good as it could be. I always want to come across as thrilled about what I am wearing and sometimes, even when I love my clothes, my face just isn’t cutting it.

For me, style isn’t just about wearing something fashionable or expensive, but feeling good about yourself and in your own skin. It is also a way to say what you can’t say with words, and bring on the confidence you may not have at the time.

So, I am curious to know… what is style to you? What makes you wear what you wear? For now, Beauty & Britches will be posting style on Tuesdays bi-monthly, but hopefully, you love the looks more! Now on to what you read this for!

I saw a commercial about Mod coming back (didn’t it just return not too long ago?) and I was not thrilled. My hair can’t take too many blow outs and I just don’t know how I am going to pull off the bold looks. I needed help to see if there was anything about this 60s style I could groove with and I needed help on multiple fronts.

I headed to fabric row to my favorite vintage shop, Wilbur Vintage, which has been featured on this blog a few times before. Daniel showed me multiple looks, but I decided to focus on one look I usually write off: the shift dress. I feel like they are too short on me and I don’t wear knee high… well, knee high anything. With Daniel’s stern opinions and ideas on embracing simplicity, I ended up loving my results!

If you follow me on Instagram or know me in person, then you know how much I love Nathaniel Dodson’s Endy Photography. I follow his Instagram and he was one of the photographers at The Philly Geek Awards last year. Eric and I have a beautiful black and white he snapped in one take (impossible for us to do). I mentioned how much I love his photos and only a few weeks later, on his break, him and his assistant Mel were in Fitler Square taking photos. The results are beautiful and I appreciate him taking his time off to help me out. It was amazing and I learned about lighting!

So, does the shift dress work and what do you think of Mod?

60s Party Dress Wilbur Vintage ($65)

Pantent Leather Mary Janes Carvela Kurt Geiger (100 GP)

Bracelet Macy’s

Usually I can find a replica or who made the dress online through the dress tag, but the only dress this tag has is a International Ladies Garment Workers Union tag, which is pretty awesome, but I don’t know who made the dress. The dress was folded in the bag a few times, but will be fine with a good dry clean and is light enough for spring and fall weather.

I bought these pumps in London in May 2009 at a Stuart Weitzman store, which is ridiculous since I was in London, but I made a lot of ridiculous choices that year. Fortunately, these shoes weren’t one of them. I have worn them enough to pay for them ten times over.

The gold bracelet is just a random bracelet I have owned for years. I am sure a different bracelet in a color would have looked great with this dress, but I don’t like wearing bracelets or watches.

Hair James Brown Hair ($100)

James Brown probably would hate me for saying I got my hair done there and then posting photos of my week old blow out, but I can’t resist. I have been talking about getting an appointment with James for at least six months. He is well known in Philly for his ability to cut natural hair and reshape a ‘fro. I went in to get my hair cut and he gave me a cut (I had a lot cut in to balance the length), blow out and flat iron all in 1 hour, 11 minutes. Yes, I timed him because I am curious how fast I can get out of a salon. I made my appointment online and was the only one in the salon until his assistant stylist was applying highlights to someone else. He did teach me a trick to avoid heat damage: blow it out once and do not apply to heat to your hair again for the duration of press/blow out. This seems like common sense, but I always break out the flat iron to go over my edges or curl my ends, but this is my hair only wrapped, with no heat a week after my blow out. I am not amazing at wrapping, so I am sure someone who wraps every night and actually does it correctly could push this out longer than I did. The curls came back on the first wash and I love my cut!

Earrings Smak Parlour ($16)

You can’t see in the photos, but one earring is gold and the other is silver. I wanted these earrings so so so so so so (did I say so?) much to coordinate with when I want to mix metals or add a soft edge. The detailed embroidery around the neckline didn’t call for too much jewelry, so I opted for these to go with my gold bracelet.  

Photography by Endy Photography

Wear It Or Bare It?

I own a lot of small dresses. If you look in my closet right now, you would be forced to listen to me justify why my three white dresses are not all identical. Surprisingly, I also wear these dresses year round. Though this winter I had to box one up with the summer clothes.

I am use to balancing my dresses a bit here and there either by adding bright tights or blazers or skipping out on heels all together. Even though I own a ton of heels, I usually wear flats or sandals whenever possible. I am almost 5’9″ and I feel like heels make my skirts look shorter. Plus, my feet feel so much better in flats. But sometimes I have a dress that I don’t mind breaking the rules with. I always ask myself, ‘wear it layered or bare it as is?’

I recently was invited to a fantastic shoot with Asya Shirokova of Asya Photography and Elizabeth Terenchin, a well known make-up artist who completed many of the ladies’ fabulous looks at The Geek Awards. Clifford Scott and Company styled all of the ladies hair (and can work a weave and flat iron in his sleep), but my hair had been braided for over two months at this point (Go Briana!).

So what are your rules for baring it and wearing it? Cover everything, but your favorite feature? Flaunt it? Layer away?

Wow Couture Smak Parlour ($68)

To be honest, I can’t remember if this dress was $68 or slightly less, but as usual, I go with the higher price, BUT I did see the black and copper version of this dress on their sale rack not too longer ago, so it is probably even cheaper. What I like about Smak is they are consistent with the popular designers or styles they carry, so a variation of this dress is there somewhere. 

Bronx Taste Ankle Boots Akira ($65)

These are the only boots with a heel I have been wearing lately (other than a pair of black heels). Even though wearing this dress with gold sandals won’t make it any longer, I feel like it creates a different look once you change the footwear. This summer I will be going with gold or my nude and jeweled sandals. For the winter, (when not in the warmth of a studio) purple tights, black boots and a over sweater would be cute IF I DIDN’T BREAK THE ZIPPER ON BOTH OF MY FAVORITE BOOTS!!! 

Briana’s twists held up for two and a half months before I took them down! 

With so much gold going on with this dress, I decided not to wear any jewelry. I thought I at least wore some skull studs, but I guess not!

 Thanks to Asya for such an amazing shoot in her studio and for all of the great pics and huge thank you to Elizabeth for putting it all together and actually thinking I would be a good addition to her professional models. It was my first time wearing fake eyelashes and I have to tell you- AWESOME. Eric and I head back out into the cold this weekend for a new shoot!

Statement T-Shirts and Interview with Heart of XXiV

I am torn on statement t-shirts. They either have too many words on them, won’t be in style (or make sense) the following year, or I fear that someone will start a random conversation with me about whatever is on my shirt.

On the other hand, I have a few t-shirts I just adore: my 517 t-shirt with my hometown’s zip code, my ‘LOVE’ t-shirt with my new city’s symbol on it and my ‘Love Over War’ camouflage t-shirt, which needs a little explaining.

Prior to going to school for way too long to study social work, I was in the Air Force. Once I was in graduate school and focusing my studies and field placements on veteran- well, veteran everything- I was giving a presentation to my classmates about some surveys, outreach and lit review stuff I did for a project. Then came the anonymous classroom feedback:

It was more about the classroom’s feeling on veterans than on how much I sucked at presentations. The one that will always stand out to me was, ‘I would have liked to hear from a veteran who is against war’.

Hello! I was standing right there! There are many collaborations and writings and interviews with veterans, but many can be one dimensional.  They say, I worked with getting the realities of war out, but they don’t get the realities of veterans out.

Anyway, getting back to the shirt, it kind of was my statement tee. My ‘I am standing right here’. The shirt was made by a website I like and it is not only because one of my cousin’s is the founder (I still pay full price), but in Michigan, to be able to be an entrepreneur is hard.

Garrion Lang and Jovon Young first stated their fashion line as as painted t-shirts and hoodies in the place where fashion comes to evolve, thrive and die: high school. They were athletics, but popular in their own way, they thought of ‘making it’ through creating their own brand called ‘Black Catz’.

Deciding a paw print and name had to be more distinguishing; A combination of Garrion’s design and Jovon’s logo began ‘Heart of XXiV™’ (or Heart of 24 representing gold). The brand took off in places where many big ideas take off: the high school hallway. Soon people wanted to know where they could get the shirts from and Lang and Young had to make a decision: What if we could show our city that you CAN do what you want?”

From here, Heart of XXiV™ went on to create more styles of clothing, a website, and is now in collaboration with their local minor league team. They are most excited about this helping the community through the money they receive, but Lang can’t give out too many details just yet. I was able to get him to answer a few questions about his brand, his personal clothing choices and what is behind the Love Over War shirt.

 

Camo Tee

More photos below

1. What is your mission?

With that mindset and the help of Aarika Walton we formed our mission statement:

It is a lifestyle that started with dreams and individuality. Engaging in the way people redefine their style through an array of quality products and creativity by encouraging people to stand out rather than fit in. Provide the consumer with a sense of self-worth, confidence, love, and most important to be one’s self!

2. Where did your slogan come from (When Your Heart Is Gold, You’re Forever Rich)?

WYHIGYFR came from the logo it’s self. We had to find out ways to mix the positivity we create and our name together. When you break it down it’s saying no matter what you do as long as your heart is in it, the success of it will come. I personally believe when you put your everything into something, there is no way you can fail because you’ll keep going until you find a way for whatever it is to work.

Heart XXIV sweater

Photo provided by Garrion Lang

3. What is behind the Love Over War shirts? Were you making a statement with the camo background?

I was inspired by a “mind over matter shirt” that Wale (the rapper)  had on. I thought it was a great concept to play with. So I used different words “love” and “war”. The meaning is self-explanatory, Love over War, peace rather than fight. Just pushing the positive energy objective through clothes. As far the camouflage background for the words, I just thought it best fits the shirts with play on “War.”

4. What sort of fashion advice would you give out to men and women?

Fashion advice I would give, is to wear what you want, what makes you feel good, in season or out of season because the way you dress is just an extension of yourself. If you have 1000 different styles, then great. If you have 1, then cool. It’s not what you wear it’s how you wear it. Another thing, I’m a firm believer that it’s the simple things that make an outfit.. Which is why I stick to my saying “simplicity kills”.

5. What makes you decide to do limited editions?

The whole reasoning behind limited releases is funding. Jovon and I work and we pay for everything. It’s been a blessing though because since we have funded out own projects it lets people know the level of seriousness we have about Heart Of XXiV. We are open to investors, although that’s something different for us. But hey you don’t live until you leave, your comfort zone.

6. Pick one piece of clothing for each: what do you invest in, thrift for, and buy on sale?

For me, I invest in the common t-shirts because it’s multi-seasonal and it can be worn under or above your outfit. I don’t do too much thrifting but when I do is usually for old Ralph Lauren pieces (usually the sweaters), I love the longevity of the brand. To me it’s like grabbing a piece of history. I love buying the heavy knitted items (Cardigans, Jackets, sweaters etc) on sale because those are super expensive regular priced!

7. Is there anything else you want me to make sure I include?

I’d like to give a shout out to my partner Jovon Young. Thanks to Brad Young for being a bridge in most of our projects. To EVERYONE who has supported us with a purchase, word of mouth, or a simple “like” in social media and also, to the people of Britches & Beauty for taking the time to interview me.

Love Over War T-shirt

‘Love Over War’ Shirt  Heart of XXiV ($30)

paper bead necklace

Paper Bead Necklace Darwin, Australia (gift)

My Aunt Michale works in Child & Family Services in Australia, but also volunteers with refugee families.  One family came to Darwin from a Refugee Camp in Kenya, but are from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The father would make these necklaces for a bag of rice while in the camp and continued making them once in Darwin. They take a long time to make and she received one as a gift.

She asked him if I could have it and now it is my favorite necklace. She wanted to try and get his work into local boutiques in the States, but when I looked on Etsy, it seems the necklaces are quite popular at an affordable price. I am going to buy directly from him (excuse me for not knowing his name, it is rude of me to say ‘him’) and I will do a free-trade round-up and give away with more info.

love over war t-shirt

Green Rain Boots  Pay/Half ($10)

Stella Skinny Leg Jean Express ($80 & buy one/get one $30)

Do not walk into Express paying full price for anything. Just don’t do it. I don’t think I ever paid $80 for a pair of jeans. I love Express jeans and colored slacks, but I love their deals more.

The rain boots from Pay/Half are ones that were made in a boot factory for kids who lose or eat their boots. I am both. They are super cheap and functional.

paperbead necklace

Hair update! I took down my twists and have a bit of heat damage still there from Halloween’s flash dance fiasco. My hair is wet in this photo and it is a little over 30 degrees out, so no hiding what needs to be chopped off.

I received two more BirchBoxes since the last time I posted and I still am receiving hair products with either alcohol or sulfate in it, so I have to change my preferences. I would not recommend the ‘hair products’ option if you only use natural hair products or if your are all natural, but I do enjoy other items in the box. So far, still work $10 a month.

camo shirt

Be sure to add Heart of XXiV to your Twitter and Instagram @HeartofXXiV!

I wrote my first post for Geekadelphia about the social impact and the style factors of Warby Parker. Check it out!

Photography by Eric S.