Boots, Pockets & Dressing For Fall

It is officially Autumn and I don’t want to admit it! As the weather is becoming a bit cooler, I am trying to decide how I can hang on to a few of my dresses by giving them a different edge than last year. 80s throwback? Industrial look? Or just a love of skirts with pockets- whatever works, I just love the simple style of a heavy fabric to match my heavy fall boots. Now is the time to break out my sweaters to throw over my dresses and to hand wash my million pairs of tights.

How are you preparing for  Autumn?

burnt orange dress


 Burnt Orange Taylor Dress Nordstrom ($83- still available online in select sizes)

I love the pattern and the heavy material on this dress! I found it on sale and still have to take it in a bit (my dress is clamped in the back for this shoot), but the pockets are what sold me. I am not a huge clutch person, so whenever I see a dress with pockets, I automatically swoon!


Paper Bead Necklace Darwin, Australia ($20)

My Aunt Michale brought necklaces with her from the same artist who gifted me one in a previous entry. I adore my necklace, and you can find a similar one on Etsy, but it was decided that my Aunt’s friend would make more selling his jewelry in Australia than in the States. The necklace is made out of paper and is a long process. I am very fortunate I was able to buy two necklaces and a pair of earrings from him during her Stateside visit.

brown leather boots

Brown Leather Troopa Boots Steve Madden ($100)

I have been looking for the boots since my cousin bought them some time ago. I love how heavy they are and I ended up buying another pair in stone (they didn’t have wine in my size), but they do hurt my left heel after walking in them for awhile. I am going to see if a sticker insole helps. The boots are still available on Steve Madden and on Amazon for an even lower price and various additional colors.


Rosin Bracelet Darwin, Australia (gift)

My Aunt brought this bracelet as a gift from an artist she works with Australia. The bracelet is made of rosin, so if you have ever been in middle school orchestra, you know the feeling. I wish I had more information on this artist, but my Aunt made it seem like her pieces wouldn’t be in my price range (my Aunt keeps it real, though I did have to explain to her what shade meant after that).


Laura Mercier Lip Glace’ in Quartz Birchbox ($10 subscription sample/original price $25)

This lipstick came in my Birchbox months ago, but is no longer available in Quartz. I looked everywhere since I broke my only tube after the shoot! There are similar colors available on Birchbox and Laura Mercier. I did cancel my Birchbox subscription after ten months because too many of the samples in the box were unusable for me even after adjusting my settings. I think there is a disconnect when it comes to women of color and Birchbox (I spoke to them in email about this and they stated ‘they are working on it’) and instead of being frustrated with my ‘nude’ nail polish or sulfate hair products, I decided to move on.



Box Braids J.P. Hair Perfection ($90 not including hair)

I am leaving for St. Marteen in a little over a week, so I decided to get my hair braided. I found Mia online and I love my braids! They took a little over six hours, but Mia was completely professional, accommodating (I was able to work while getting my hair braided) and easy to get to. She uses all natural products (she makes her own peppermint spray conditioner spray) and she is natural! I definitely recommend her to anyone and look forward to returning to her in the future.

tall wall

orange dress, brown boots

My friend and fashion inspiration, Devaney, opened her own store on Etsy called, Sew AuCourant , she makes fabulous pillows and home décor items and takes custom orders as well. She is making my linens for my wedding. Check out her site and I have to do a feature on her work and how I am saving money on my wedding at some point on my blog!

Photography by Eric S.

Mixing It Up With Online Shopping

Hello from Michigan! Can you believe August is almost over? I need more summer!

I had an amazing time at the Philadelphia Geek Awards and can’t wait to see all of the photos from that amazing night! Philly Mag has a great round up of the night’s awesome and creative looks! My hair is still straight from that night and I don’t know what to do with it. I only use heat on my hair a few times a year and in order for my curl pattern to remain intact and to avoid heat damage, I don’t reapply heat. I have been wrapping and sponge rolling like no other. Can’t wait for braid season.

Thank you all for supporting Down to Utopia! It is still getting it legs, but thank you so much for your support and great messages. I really appreciate it! Please take a moment to check out my new mental health & wellness site if you haven’t yet.

On to this week! I don’t online shop often. It scares me and is time consuming when it comes to figuring out if sleeves will be long enough and what will fit. I do like the True Fit tool on Nordstrom’s site, which shows you how close the fit will be based on your style and size, but if you know me, I am cheap- so I decided to see how shopping on Amazon would work.

I wanted a white blazer for the summer and decided to see if I could find at a price I could live with. I destroy white on a regular basis, so I would only buy a jacket I can spill a ton of stuff on and not cry for days. I think it turned out well! Where do you online shop and what are your tips? Sound off in the comments below!

white blazer and checkered sheath dress

White J. TOMSON Boyfriend Blazer Amazon ($20)

I like this blazer! It is very light weight, but kind of hard to iron- I probably have to take it to the cleaners to get pressed. It came with the sleeves rolled up and I will probably keep them that way. I would prefer a bit longer sleeve, but I like the sleeves longer than they should be. Definitely worth the $20 (free shipping with Amazon Prime). 

checkered sheath dress

 Blue and White Forever 21 Dress Once Worn Consignment, 906 N. 2nd st. Philadelphia ($10)

This was my first time in Once Worn and I found this dress with the tags still on it. The clothes in the store are a little young for me (I know, I sound like a Grandma), but I did find some cute items for a cheap price, so I will check them out again when I am in Northern Liberties. I love a good sheath dress since they are so easy to dress up or dress down. The sandals are the same ones from my Vintage Style post.

  Lime & Turquoise Beaded Necklace Greene Street Consignment 3734 Spruce St. Philadelphia ($12)

If you know me then you know I love turquoise! Well, I just love saying I do; this necklace is actually looks like a different shade of blue, but I love it. I really adore Greene Street and have a good amount of clothes from their South Street and University City locations. I like the University City location because it has a lot of  clothes from the local college students, but more of a grad student feel. The South Street location has an eclectic vibe to it. I have been to the Manayunk location a few times and love their dresses. They have a lot of high end pieces at a low price. If you aren’t in the area, you can shop online!

beaded necklace and bracelet

  Burnt Orange Bracelet  Once Worn Consignment, 906 N. 2nd st. Philadelphia ($5)

I love this bracelet! I rarely wear bracelets, but I couldn’t pass it up!  The necklace doesn’t match perfectly, but I think that is what makes the pairing work. It looks fun and adds much needed color. 

beaded necklace and bracelet

I love this photo! I am not punching myself in the face! I was trying to show the necklace and bracelet together, but it turned into something a bit more cheeky (pun intended).

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

Things I Like

Goin’ to the chapel and I’m…

Don’t worry, I am not going to sing! I recently received my amazing engagement photos back from Jackie at Clever Girl Photography (and you can like her Facebook here). I am thrilled with how they turned out and can’t wait for her to catch us jumping the broom, but but but! I am not here to talk your ear off about my wedding.

The dress I am wearing in the photos is one that I receive the most questions on. The thing is, I bought the dress from a small boutique that you may or may not have heard of. It has no yelp page, no website and a small Facebook page, but it is… everything.

The boutique is called ‘Things I Like’ because the owner buys new and vintage clothing that she likes. She only goes off what she likes, so you get an interesting, but beautiful mix. Her Facebook page shows items in the shop and walking by her window I always see something I want. The owner, Nazareth, is extremely helpful and kind (I talked natural hair for so long with her while trying on dresses) and not at all pushy. She also holds great gatherings to check out the store including Valentine’s Day and Halloween candy.

So check out the boutique on 1038 Pine Street, Philadelphia and like on Facebook, but don’t buy the colorful sequin dress-I need it in my life!

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 Hot Tomato Dress Things I Like 1038 Pine Street, Philadelphia ($72)

Eric Smith Elizabeth, NJ (priceless)

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Red Patent Leather Flats  Eternity Fashion on 1522 Chestnut St, Philadelphia ($12)

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Tree Earrings Bangkok, Thailand (gift)

These earrings were a wonderful gift from my friend, Megan. I wear them so much and they are extremely light; I love them 

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Hair  Tammy at Big Wigs Studios ($40)

My hair is in finger curls and the price will probably vary depending on your natural hair. Finger curls (on natural hair ) are a method of taking pieces of the hair and defining curls either with the end of the comb or with your finger while wet and then drying. My curls were seperated after they dried. The method, at least for me, takes a very long time, but is a good protective style

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Engagement Ring Etsy (I don’t care)

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Thanks again to Jackie from Clever Girl Photography for not only capturing such beautiful photos, but making the experience fun. She does multiple kinds of photos, so definitely check her out!

Photography by Clever Girl Photography

Sweater Weather

Why, yes, I am a fan of The Neighbourhood, but this post actually is about sweaters.

First I want to share a few exciting and not so exciting holiday moments. Hopefully all of you enjoyed the holidays, whether you’re still celebrating or wrapping things up. My favorite part of this time of year, is how it brings families together.

I went to Michigan thinking I would get a a few entries done and would be able to shoot with Heart of XXiV, but then Michigan turned into this:

photo (14)

We had the largest ice storm in the Board of Water & Light’s 100 years of recorded history. A large portion of the city was out of power. I am so glad my Grandmas had power, but other family- from my Dad to my Uncle, didn’t. The upside (if there is one), is that it was the largest Christmas at my Grandma’s house I have ever been to. It brought a lot of people together.

The other thing which brought people together was:

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I found my wedding dress! In my quest for deals, I thought I would have more options for my budget in Michigan. With my cousin Jessica in tow, we went to Fantastic Finds with me being a bit skeptical. Seven dresses later, the initial dress I fell in love with the first one. I returned with my Grandma, Aunt, Mom and Jessica the next day and thought I would go with a more traditional dress only to change my mind and go with the first one. Not wearing white is something my Grandma wasn’t certain of, but she is completely on board.

So, to stop rambling because I probably lost you at ‘The Neighbourhood’. On to sweater weather!

I love sweaters, but I hate thick layering. I can’t remember who said it, but I have heard it many times: fashion over comfort. I like to wear my own style, but try not to freeze. There are certain parts of my body which take cold better than others. I am sure everyone is different, but mine include my shoulders and back. This is why I am so excited about the various sweaters at Smak Parlour which still bundle, but give the element of surprise.

webbed back sweater

Webbed-Back Sweater Smak Parlour ($58)

webbed back sweater

Bandeau Top (Red)  Smak Parlour ($15)

Awful Back Tattoo Sedalia, Missouri ($75)

webbed gray sweater

Grace Pendant Art Fair, Chicago ($12)

Red Earrings Temple University Student Center ($7)

The Student Center has various stands where usually student organizations are rallying up members or selling baked goods. Almost every other Friday, there is a wonderful stand where various hand made and bought jewelry, oils and incense and other items are sold for a very, very low price. I use to stock up as much as possible. Another place I love to buy jewelry is outside of 15th street station in Philly. Bracelets are as low as $5. Oils are also sold, so if you are looking for an oil to add to your spray bottle without going to the health food store , than this can be a great alternative.

red legging jeans

Legging Jeans  Gap ($30 at 50% off)

DKNY Active “Hi-Speed” Leather Moto Boots Macy’s (over $100)

I went on a tangent about these boots in my Winter Dresses post, but did finally find these boots on for $50. They have the boots retailed at $198, but I know I did not pay that much. They are sold out on HSN and you can find similar boots for much cheaper online. The other entry gives a few examples. 

close up

Havana Twists using Marley Hair by Briana

Photography by Eric S.

In other fun news, I was quoted on the amazing Melissa Alam’s blog! She asked me and three other bloggers what our winter must-haves in our purses were. I am interested in what your winter must-haves are too, but definitely check out my answer here. If you run into me than I might tell you why I can’t figure out where my winter must-have came from.

The Perpetual Page Turner likes my little blog! How exciting! I made her list of best of 2013 non-book list! I usually just Google Toni Morrison or something similar, but I found this awesome music to book entry which turned into a half hour of me pointing to books and asking Eric which ones he read or finding ones he gave me. He finally said, “Jamie reads a lot of books”.

Check her out if you want to read a lot of good books too.

Shopping In Your Closet: Part 1, Clothes You Rarely Wear

Moving is always difficult for me. I always cram my clothes into unorganized suitcases, bags, and various boxes. I end up losing track of shoes along with clothes that I usually wear. What always ends up being left are the clothes on my hangers.

The problem is, the only items I hang up are clothes I usually don’t wear and I happened to hang up during a stint of cleaning a year prior. Think evening gowns and unique accessories that don’t go with much else (or that I bought for a few specific outfits). Not the most practical way to organize, but hey, I had to make due.

Though a bit frustrating, shopping in your own closet can actually be a lot of fun (with a few ‘what was I thinking?!’ moments) and you may look at your wardrobe in a whole new light.

fence outfit

AKIRA Knitted Hooded Kimono Wrap AKIRA Chicago ($35)

I haven’t worn this hooded wrap in almost two year (I can’t even begin to tell you where the white tank underneath came from; I’ll go with ‘dark alley’)

fence earrings

Beaded Tribal Teardrop Earrings Loopty Hoops ($24)

Handcrafted through the Zulu Beadwork Project, I bought these gorgeous earrings as gifts for family and friends. After I placed mine through the washer I didn’t think I could wear them again, but they seem to be fine

fence scarf

My Favorite Scarf Ambiance  (under $25 per to Dev)

This was a gift from my friend, Devaney, from when she visited San Francisco. I wear this scarf so much that I have it dry cleaned. This is one accessory I keep hanging up and unpacked

fence shoes

Blue Patent Leather Flats  Eternity Fashion on 1522 Chestnut St, Philadelphia ($12)

To be honest, I have worn these flats into the ground

fence smirk

Tomato Modern Boot Cut Pants Gap ($20)

I am almost positive I paid less than $20 for these pants, but I would rather over than underestimate. I have only worn them a few times since I bought them, but I might just add them back into circulation

fence scary and earrings

Photography by Eric S.

My Beef With Matching

Matching makes me feel like this:

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Maybe it isn’t that dramatic. I do love matching certain elements of my wardrobe (like my jewelry color to my shoes) but maybe it was growing up with my Grandma’s insistence on matching every aspect of her wardrobe… including her eye shadow to her blouse.

Maybe I don’t like matching due to sheer laziness mixed with budget. I have numerous shoes, but not enough purses to keep up and after living in a life of all grey, mixing textures and patterns is a bit more fun.

Burnt Orange Sweater Gap (On Sale for $30)
Multicolored Striped Flats Moda on 1523 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia ($12)

Blue and White Slim Fit Pants H & M ($15)

Yellow Fair Trade Earrings Outdoor Vendor,1801 Walnut St, Philadelphia ($15)

Photography by Eric S.