Big Hair and Work Wear!

Happy Belated Thanksgiving! It has been awhile, but I have a good reason: I am back to working full-time! Back to the social worker life, which I love. I am still learning my job and still trying to figure out my own work style. I know that takes a back seat to learning my position, but as I said in my About Me, bringing my own style to work makes me feel more confident and shows a bit of my personality.

Do you have a work style and what is it? Do you have a go to piece? Sound off in the comments below!

grey dress

DSC_0614

Polka Dot Cardigan  H & M  ($25)

I absolutely love cardigans and I wear them to work a lot, both at my new job and my old job. It seems every office I am in the temperature is never consistent, plus it is an easy way to transition a dress along with tights. Though I am wearing solid flats and black opaque tights with this outfit, I would easily mix it up with these tights and these shoes. What do you think?

DSC_0690

DSC_0636

Grey Dress with Pleather Detail  H & M ($40?*)

West Loop Opaque Tights Walgreens ($8)

*I lost the receipt for this dress, but I bought it recently and it should still be in the store. I won’t pay more than $50 for an H & M dress, so I think it was between $35 and $40.

This dress is a little more fitted than I like. I bought it without trying it on to wear to my interview, so I didn’t have time to exchange it for a more flattering fit. I do love it, but I definitely wouldn’t wear it without a sweater to assist with the back slit riding up a bit.

In colder weather, I wear two pairs of tights for added warmth. Though two pairs can start to get uncomfortable after awhile, I love these tights! They are super cheap and last a long time. I found them when I couldn’t get lint off of my tights before an interview and had to run into a drugstore to see what they had. Surprisingly, they have an amazing selection!

DSC_0688

Big hair, don’t care! I wear my hair natural to work and have been switching it up with a few simple styles. I pulled it back once and everyone missed it in its usual fantastic fro-ness. I actually went back to using Shea Moisture for my shampoo and conditioner due to cost and how much product I use, but I found a perfect mix with Miss Jessie’s Leave-In Condish and Miss Jessie’s Pillow Soft Curls. The Pillow Soft Curls is a bit much in cost, but I use a little more than a size of a quarter on my hair (and my hair is thicker than it looks).

DSC_0715

 Lion Necklace Wilbur’s Vintage  716 S. 4th St, Philadelphia ($25)

Express Gel Manicure Yuya Nail Spa, 624 Market St, Philadelphia ($25)

I absolutely love my necklace from Wilbur’s Vintage! I don’t know what else to say about it since it speaks for itself. It gives me a little vintage style to take to work (other than my engagement ring)!

I love my new nail salon by my work. I didn’t realize how much cheaper it is to get gel done in Old City than by my house. The punch card is a dangerous thing, because I love a good deal! I have been twice so far!

DSC_0555

glasses

These glasses were issued to me from the Philadelphia VA Medical Center (love ya’ll!), but this style ALWAYS breaks pretty quickly. The arm gets all wonky, so I am now wearing my back up pair. They have some cute women’s frame options and it is easy to find out if you qualify for low-cost or free glasses and eye care; start here! My Warby Parker glasses lost under a pile of clothes in my bedroom. I will send an SOS.

DSC_0724

 Breckelle’s Flats  Eternity Shoes 1522 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia ($14)

These shoes look way more blue in this photo than in person! These flats are run of the mill, cheap, but get the job done. I go through flats so much that I really stopped looking for shoes with supports, but I probably should start. I see you, bunion!

polka dot cardigan, grey dress

Photography by Eric S.

Autumn Fun With Layers,Texture…and Bunnies!

Hello! It has been awhile! I went on vacation, a trip that was fabulous and warm, and returned to cold weather!

 I don’t know about you, but I hate breaking out my coat. Last autumn, I was all about dresses and tights. This year, I am all about switching it up with layers and textures. So I was really happy when my new sweater came in the mail, along with a cute new accessory.
rabbit sweater, red jeans
rabbit sweater
rabbit sweaterCotton Rabbit Sweater in Beige Sammy Dress ($9)
Now, on to that sweater! My new sweater from Sammy Dress FINALLY arrived. I ordered the sweater on August 19th and was emailed September 5th letting me know that they were out of stock. I could wait or receive a refund- I am glad I waited! Currently, the beige I am wearing is out of stock, but pink is available for $10. I absolutely love it except for one thing… the sleeves are too short. They hit a little below my elbow. My cousin Theresa, who lives in Japan, bought this exact sweater in a store there and she also reported the same issue. At over 5’8” (I think Theresa is also my height) I have a feeling all imported Sammy Dress clothes are going to be short in the sleeves. I was going to give the sweater away, but I think I am just going pull up the sleeves. 
gold septum ring, rabbit sweater
Brass Septum Ring Purity Jewel on Etsy ($17)
I went on Etsy looking for a new septum ring for fun and adore this one! It was easy to put in, but feels a bit lighter and thinner than my previous retainer (I wear a 16g). The length of the ring makes it hard to wear daily (as well as the style). The shipping was cheap, only $3, but did take ten days to arrive. 
DSC_0306
Legging Jeans Gap ($30 at 50% off)
I bought these soft legging things (they are like a jean/corduroy mix, but softer and less awful) last year and the color and material has held up well. 
rabbit sweater, red jeans out of print necklace
‘Scout and Boo’ Necklace  Out of Print Clothing ($30)
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’ and ‘Native Son’ tee while I ordered Eric the ‘Invisible Man’ tee. which he has yet to wear!
Not RayBan Aviators Pelican Key, St.Maarten ($15)
I love my sunglasses. These I picked up in St. Maarten! I bought these at the Flamingo Bay Resort gift shop and love them. I definitely love my aviators style.
brown leather boots
Vince Camuto “V” Front Tights Macy’s ($18)
I love my textured tights. I love buying my tights from Macy’s since they seem to last the longest and Hue brand tights are always buy two and get some sort of discount. These aren’t Hue, but they are a great length and the pattern is holding up fairly well. These aren’t available online from Macy’s, but are available from Vince Camuto for the same price. 
brown leather boots
Brown Leather Troopa Boots Steve Madden ($100)
I went on and on about these books on my previous fall post
What is your go to fall style this year? Sound off in the comments below!
nena and eric
Photography by Eric S.

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!

IMGP4248

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.)

The Joys Of Shopping the Sale Rack

I love sale racks, sale items and any great deal I can find. Unfortunately, while this can be a great way to find unique items to add to your wardrobe, for me it was also a not so great way of spending money on things I would never wear and realize why they were placed on sale or clearance in the first place.

When shopping in the clearance section, I had to give myself one rule:

Would I buy this if it weren’t on sale?

This question alone eliminated 80% of the clothes I ‘oooed and ahhhed’ over. I was more transfixed on the prices than the actual item. Now, I look at the item and think about how I would fit it into my current wardrobe or easily style it before looking at the price. It you have to think for awhile on how to style the item in a way you would actually wear it, than just move on.

Michael Kors Jacket

Michael Kors Jacket  Burlington Coat Factory ($100)

Burlington Coat Factory is it’s own sale rack, so it is easy to say no if you don’t like something, but whenever I want a Michael Kors (or rather MICHAEL by Michael Kors) coat than this is where I come. I feel like this is the place he brings a dump truck with employees dressed in all black to bring coats which I love.

Rehab Leggings from Aoki

Rehab Clothing Leggings Aoki Boutique ($32)

Aoki Boutique is usually a bit too pricey for me. I first checked them out for ‘Philly’s Fashion Night Out’ and loved a lot of items, but still was unsure. I returned a few weeks ago and decided to check out their sale rack. Eureka! I struck gold! These leggings are, you got it- my everything! The beading is secure enough where it won’t fall off and the side fishnet is hot. 

Black Leggings

Funky Leggings

Different views and a close up on the fishnet and beading

Statement Necklace

Beijo Brazil Necklace Tselaine ($44)

This necklace made by a local Philadelphia artist, caught my eye immediately. I love the design and the detail even in the chain. She has many more one of a kind pieces at Tselaine.

Statement Necklace Skull Earrings

Skull Earrings Smak Parlour

I found these cute skull earrings at Smak awhile ago, but you can find them for a bit more online. Nordstrom even has them for $40.

*Note: I did not pay $40 for these earrings.

Fingerless gloves Smak Parlour

Fingerless Elbow Gloves Smak Parlour ($14)

Color Club Cocktail Hour Collection in On The Rocks Birch Box ($8 full price)

I joined the population of Birch Box subscription buyers and receive samples once of a month of items including nail polish, hair products, lipstick, lotion (which my ashy hand obviously didn’t take advantage of) facial products and so much more. So far, I like it. I stopped getting manicures and I think nail polish cost a lot for how little I paint my nails along with the lotion samples, so the box, for me, pays for itself. If you have natural hair and do not use sulfate,isopropyl alcohol or other chemicals, than I am still apprehensive on the hair products preference choice. The first box I could not use the hair product, but the second they did include ‘Hair Rules Curly Whip’ which was awesome. I will keep you posted on the hair item next month. 

White Jersey Top

 Natural White Jersey Top H&M ($10)

H & M clearance racks use to be my downfall. Shorts in the winter? Sure! I will just save them or wear tights or….No I won’t! I haven’t worn shorts since the 6th grade. Unless the item is a basic or it was something I was eyeing in the past, but couldn’t justify spending the money on, I just can’t walk over there. The pants in my Beef With Matching post are currently on clearance. 

Wedge Black Booties

Blowfish MALIBU wedge booties Akira ($65)

Michael Kors Jacket

Michael Kors Jacket Black Studded leggings

Photography by Eric S.

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!

Striped Dress Image via http://www.clevergirlphoto.com

Image Via

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

Eric Smith Elizabeth, NJ (priceless)

Striped Fall Dress Image via http://www.clevergirlphoto.com

Image Via

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

Tree Earring Photo via http://www.clevergirlphoto.com

Image Via

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 

Striped dress image via http://www.clevergirlphoto.com

Image Via

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

image via http://www.clevergirlphoto.com

Image Via

Engagement Ring Etsy (I don’t care)

image via http://www.clevergirlphoto.com

Image Via

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:

photo (15)

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 HSN.com 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.

Staying Warm In… Dresses?

I am back in time for tons of Philadelphia snow! If one thing hasn’t changed, it is not wanting to look like I am wearing a ton of layers when I actually am.

In Michigan, we use to have snow suits, tons of socks, boots, these boot insert things, gloves, hats and everything else my Mom could fit on us that would make the prospect of having to use the restroom cringe. As I became older and my hair styles began to change, the prospect of putting anything other than satin on my head became a huge no-no.

Well, dressing warm for the winter and yet still feeling warm, became an art form. I am still learning, but here are a few things I have picked up along the way.

snow tree

Paradox Wool Dress  Wilbur’s Vintage ($75)

When I found this dress at Wilbur’s, I had no idea how much I would love it and wear it. It is 100% wool, extremely warm and super comfortable

owl 2

Owl Necklace  Forever 21 ($10)

This little owl necklace was actually less than $10, since I was doing one of those buy five million, get one free deals. I love everything owls (blame Temple), so if I see something cute with an owl on it, I will most likely buy it. This didn’t turn out so well when I came home with four ceramic owls one day

boots

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

I usually know what I paid for things either through receipts, finding it online or through memory since I return to the store five times to decide on something or the price is so low that when someone asks where I got it, I automatically include how little I paid for it (yet another way my Grandma has rubbed off on me). When it comes to these boots, I remember buying them at Macy’s Water Tower (2009) at the same time I bought my favorite Naturalizer ‘Cerenia’ boots.

The total was under $200, but I can’t remember which boots cost what. I would usually wear the Cerina boots with this, but the zipper broke today. The thing I like about these boots is they hold up in snow and have seen two Chicago winters with not too much damage. Also, they aren’t bulky, but extremely warm. When it comes to my legs, I wear tights under everything and when wearing a dress, I put on two pairs of tights saving all of my worn out or torn tights to use as insulation.  Amazon has limited sized of a different DKNY boot that I like for well under $100, but isn’t descriptive on materials

outside

Havana Twists using Marley Hair by Briana

My curls are gone for the winter and I have gone into full protective style. After 7.5 hours (1 hour of me nodding off and her still braiding), 7 bags of Marley hair, lots of laughter, Dr. Phil and Lifetime, these are the results. If you spent hours looking for someone to braid your hair in the Philadelphia area and like mine (mine are usually tied up, so ignore my ends) feel free to email me for her info

snow

jump

Photography by Eric S.

 

Bundling Up For Autumn

Growing up in Michigan, I remember trying to go without a coat as long as possible. From tights under shorts to simply running out screaming with no coat… and promptly being dragged back to put on a coat and learning not to run out of the house screaming.

Living in Philadelphia, I love that the temperature is just a bit warmer this time of year to rock one of my favorite items: leggings!

Patterned leggings are the easiest way to make a plain sweater or t-shirt pop.

Tree 7

Cowl Neck Sweater H & M ($25)

Tree 6

Galactic Leggings Smak Parlour ($28)

Tree 4

 Breckelle’s Flats  Moda on 1523 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia ($16)

Flats can also be found online

Gold Clutch Nova Ice on 1508 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia ($20)

Tree 2

Orange Necklace Old Navy ($5)

Tree 3

Photography by Eric S.