Sweets and Smiles: Little Party Dress

Hello, everyone! I hope you all have had a lovely week. I, for one, am glad it is over–so many tests.

For those of you who have been following along with the Little Black Dress 30 Day Challenge, we’ve passed the half-way point! Yay! So, maybe it’s time to look into said dresses?

lbd challenge photo

I’d like to point out that the little black dress isn’t the end all, be all of dresses. In  reality, not everyone looks great in black (sadly, there are no universal colors–black can wash some people out, for instance), so maybe we should be looking for the ultimate workhorse, whatever color it may be. An eggplant shift that can be dressed up or down works just as well for those purple lovers out there.

Or maybe you want a party dress for the upcoming season of parties. Many of us will be going home and going to parties with family, work functions, and catching up with old friends. Why not reward your work toward toning with a dress you look killer in?

Here are some of my favorites from Modcloth (note that I just like to drool over the site–I have yet to buy any of their gorgeous frocks. But I like to think that changes this season):

Luck Be a Lady Dress, in Black: This dress is a super simple, crying to be dressed up with something sparkly or for going out to meet friends in that super warm cardigan you live in during the winter. Not a fan of black? There are a bunch of color options–even more than are listed in the “Other Haute Hues” section! Did I mention pockets? $79.99, Modcloth

Stun, Moon, and Stars Dress: This dress looks really cute–I am a sucker for a sweetheart neckline (with straps! and this has them!) and a full skirt. Check and check 🙂 Available in sizes 2 to 26, if you are looking for a red stunner, this could be it! $99.99, Modcloth

Shimmer in the Candlelight Dress: This lovely blue number is way out of my budget (ever so sad!) but it’s lovely to look at. $239.99, Modcloth

Round-Up: The INTO MIND Capsule Wardrobe Edition

The chill of winter is descending rapidly (at least for me–girls with circulation problems are always cold) and it’s time to take another look at my wardrobe. Before, I have written about my love of capsule wardrobes, but as far as I know, no one has written about them better than the lovely Anuschka Rees behind INTO MIND.

This week is crazy busy, so I thought I would direct you all to this lovely resource which has everything to do with feeling pretty. Capsule wardrobes are about having good quality clothes that you like–no fluff, no filler–which means that you always like the way you look.

In case you don’t want to just go loose looking around over there, here are a few of my favorite posts.

Upgrade Your Wardrobe in 30 Minutes a Day: a 2-Week Programme. This is my favorite post just for its inspirational do-ability. In just two weeks, you can have a beautiful wardrobe that you love. There are lots of good ideas here for just getting started.

Building the Perfect Wardrobe for Work. For those of us who can’t fathom a capsule wardrobe for all of our needs or those who just can’t invest in a total wardrobe makeover right now, there is this post on dressing for work (or school, as the case may be).

Mood Boards: The Complete Guide. In the INTO MIND method, mood boards are essential–they are used to help you define your own sense of personal style. Here is an in-depth look at how to make a mood board–don’t worry, there is a whole set of posts on how to interpret them!

Developing Your Signature Look: Part I and  Part II. I love, love the idea of a uniform to wear for most things. It sounds so simple and easy. These two articles are on the longer side, but are totally worth the read.

Love your closet? Morning dressing a chore? Tell us about it in the comments 🙂

Sweets and Smiles: Feeling Pretty

Hello, lovelies! I have found some cute beauty ideas! But first, this week the blog has finally reached 1000 page views total and I am so happy. I have to thank all of you for your interest 🙂 Everyone who writes into the vast reaches of the interwebz is hoping that someone will find her ideas captivating and her stories interesting–or that it will at least reach someone.  So, thank you all for reading here in my corner of the internet.

hair milkmaid braids

Aren’t milkmaid braids just adorable? And they are great for wearing under a hairnet if you work in food service.

On to feeling pretty! This week, I have done some crazy stuff. But only with my hair. Long and curly, I don’t often break my routine for my crowning glory. But this week, I finally tried french (and Dutch) braiding my own hair, followed this tutorial, and tried the milkmaid braids look. I like it all!

hair messy updo tutorial

A super easy tutorial to follow from Seams for a Desire

And, I have been looking into perfume. We did a clove oil extraction in organic chemistry and, I am not gonna lie, it smelled amazing. In the midst of my research about essential oils and perfumer’s alcohol, I found this lovely tutorial on perfume oils (as opposed to the standard, alcohol-based eau de parfum). I can’t wait to make a signature perfume!

What cool stuff did you find this week? Tell us in the comments!

Sweets and Smiles: Cute Scrubs

sweets-and-smiles-cute-scrubsThis month, I am going to begin volunteering with the Registered Dietitians at the local hospital. I am so excited! It is going to be so lovely to help people–one of my jobs will be to help patients choose their meals. This is a great opportunity to get clinical experience and see where I will eventually want to go in my career.

One of the requirements is to wear scrubs–so, of course, I have been looking for some. There are so many cute ones, contrary to my expectations upon walking into the uniform store. Scrubs are also expensive (even the ugly ones). Trying them on was fun, though–it felt like I was really taking a step toward my future.

I thought this week, I’d do a round-up of some cute scrubs I found (on Pinterest–so some of the really cute ones I found were no longer available).

Top Right. This pink number from the Grey’s Anatomy line of scrubs. It’s pretty cute (even though I am supposed to wear solid colored scrubs). It can be had for $31.99 (out of my price range, for now at least)

Bottom Right. This one is the cutest as far as I am concerned (not terribly practical for a volunteer who is supposed to be sporting solids), but it sadly is no longer available. It was made by Cherokee.

Bottom Left. This is my favorite of the solid options I found–I like the tie-waist, but I imagine that might be impractical to have it kind of hanging there all the time. In any case, it is really cute. It’s called the Katelyn and it costs $23.99. It comes in so many colors (I am a sucker for purple, so I like the Merlot color the best).

Top Left. From Koi, the Justine scrub top is simple and it has some shape (especially when compared to those boxy square scrub tops). Available for $27.99

The Pretty Manifesto

Pretty is quite literally health. And being pretty healthy has a wealth of meaning. Here is a manifesto that I have worked on for a while, which you can see on this page. Over time, I am going to work on adding artwork, but for now, I am letting the text speak for itself.

The Pretty Manifesto

Health is pretty. Treating your body well by moving and eating well are integral parts of any beauty routine or fashion statement.

Pretty  is a state of mind–joyful and positive. It’s the positivity that turns bread and water into toast and tea.

Pretty is intelligent–a well-exercised mind is a thing of beauty

Pretty is a spot of blush, a swipe of mascara. It’s a full-on red lip. It’s going barefaced. It’s whatever beauty regimen you like (as long as it includes at least SPF 30).

Pretty is wearing things you like, that you feel good in. Maybe it’s a dress, maybe it’s a t-shirt, and maybe it’s just knowing you are wearing nice panties. To each her own.

Ultimately, being pretty healthy is an 80/20 affair–you won’t always eat in moderation or go for your morning run. Remember spontaneity and celebration and doing things simply because they feel nice.

Remember you are always worth the effort–to make a healthy lunch, to finish that run, to wear something you like.

This manifesto is central to Pretty Healthy–it’s a declaration of values. It’s what I want this blog to be about and how I want it to make people feel. So, I want to hear about your opinions in the comments: what do you like, what could be better, and what would you add?

Sweets and Smiles: Frocks for Frolicking

sweets and smiles 3

My third edition of Sweets and Smiles (in the mood for travel or camping? Take a look here and here)! This week, I scored some lovely, blue gingham fabric and I really want to make something cute out of it, so I turned to Etsy (and of course Pinterest. You can probably tell that I use it like a search engine just based on this weekly post 🙂 Pinterest is a great resource, though).

1. I did find the perfect dress on Etsy, but it sold a long, long time ago. This lovely, lilac confection is gone, and I am left drooling over it. But, can’t you just imagine a lovely little picnic? Or a field of flowers calling out for you to skip through it?

2. Speaking of that field of flowers: how about a flower crown? Doesn’t she look so elegant? And who would expect carnations to look so pretty?

3. A lovely, full-skirted, backless dress. Nothing quite like a floral dress, right? Sadly, this dress is no longer available either, but it is there for posterity on my Pinterest account.

4. Now, I have to be honest: none of the dresses that really caught my fancy this week can be had on Etsy–all of these lovelies are gone. There is something very elegant in a laid back kind of way about this dress. Here is a link to the shop where a lady hand makes simple, pretty dresses like this.

5. And finally, after a day of skipping through flowers and running about (looking ridiculously cute, I might add), it is time for an afternoon snack in the sun–a veritable feast of summer fruit (a little early for blackberries, yes, but a girl can plan, right?)

Here’s wishing you a fabulous week, full of sweet moments and great, big smiles!

DIY Couture, or an exercise in capsule wardrobes

As someone with finicky taste in fashion, finding something that fits right and looks like it I want it to isn’t easy–that is why I am interested in sewing. Well, more accurately, pattern drafting since my sewing is a cry for help. But the other day, I found this book, DIY Couture: Create Your Own Fashion Collection.

The book is divided into 10 separate pieces and each piece has 8 different incarnations. It is a great look at how people with different personal styles can create such different looks out of the same basic shapes. Of course, the “collections” do not offer and exhaustive list of styles.

The book’s 10 pieces are: 1) the straight skirt, 2) the Grecian dress, 3) the skater skirt, 4) the waistcoat, 5) the cloak, 6) the slouch top, 7) the goddess dress, 8) the hoody, 9) the trousers, and 10) the romper. These pieces got me thinking–this is a tiny capsule wardrobe. So, what would my “ten” be if I’d written the book?

Personally, I am pretty big on skirts with flare–how I wish that petticoats were still standard. So, my first few would be 1) the full skirt and 2) the full day dress. I’d keep 3) the skater skirt as well. Then there is outerwear–I’d go for a three-quarters length coat (4) and the caplet (5). A non-fitted top is great for tucking into those skirts, so the next is (6) the loose tank. Of course, a nice button up would be nice, too, making for (7) the simple oxford. A t-shirt is a workhorse, so it would be (8) the short-sleeved tee.  Then, it would be 9) the little black dress and 10) the perfect jeans.

Another cool thing the book shows is different treatments of collars, pockets, and closures. You could scallop hems or substitute peter pan collars for notched collars. You could embellish skirts and shirts with ruffles or bows, use color blocking, or use different patterned fabrics to achieve different effects.

For me, this book was a great source of visual inspiration and a nice exercise in imagining a capsule wardrobe.

What would your “ten” be? Tell us in the comments!

Two Fabulous Links

In the past couple of weeks, I have stumbled upon two really interesting and informational resources—one on capsule wardrobes and one on bras.

First things first: what is a capsule wardrobe? It is a highly-curated, seasonal collection of clothes—about twenty to thirty pieces. And, no, it does not mean that you will only own thirty pieces, period—separate seasonal wardrobes (though, they will likely have some overlap), and perhaps specialized clothes, whether for special occasions or pieces for a specific sport or function.

However, at this point, allow me to direct you to the genius that is Into Mind. As someone interested in capsule wardrobes for years now, I am surprised (and a little disappointed) to have only recently found this gold-mine of information. I am still making my way diligently through the site and there is so much to learn! There are interesting articles and concept illustrations, like signature looks (parts one and two), proportions, and choosing a color palette.

In a similar vein, I came across a most interesting subforum on Reddit—ABraThatFits. This is quite literally a godsend for the ladies out there. Not only is there a measurement technique that actually works, but threads about fit for girls with different shapes, a host of guides, and measurement checks. To anyone tired of searching for the grail that is the prefect bra, I suggest heading over to put yourself a substantial step closer.

I suggest looking into both since clothes fit better when the foundational garments fit well (or, better yet, perfectly). The right foundation garments–bras and panties, even without any shapeware–can smooth out your shape (like that bra bulge) and improve your posture.

Looking for Trends in All the Right Places

Let’s talk about trends. No, I don’t mean, “Listen as I tell you what to wear.” There are easy ways to find the forecasts for what will be in style as spring rolls around: just read the nearest magazine at the checkout at the local grocery store for that. The more “difficult” ways tend to yield better results, though.

What are these difficult ways? How does one master them? Well, I would first recommend looking at blogs. And Pinterest. I know—difficult, right? But, not just any mindless, entertainment-seeking pinning. This is targeted. Look at several blogs (that you like—that is key. For those not following blogs, you may have to look at lots to get a feel for what you like), spend an hour on Pinterest. Are you seeing patterns?

While most blogs will show lovely outfits and pieces, Pinterest offers a unique look into the world of fashion and design. I suggest looking at several individual pages on Pinterest. Look at art and design pages for color ideas.  The design feed is especially good for ideas about the feeling this season. For instance, you can look at the shapes in the typography. Thin, spidery writing says delicate, script says feminine, and thick strokes say bold (in more ways than one).

Check out women’s fashion for ideas about individual pieces and outfit ideas (yes, I know; but I have been putting the *b* in *subtle* for years now). Architecture might sound strange, but it is great for ideas about where style in the most nebulous sense is going—crazy, sculptural, modern megaliths and traditional housing indicate very different things. And, my last recommendation, the weddings page; it can be a gold mine of trends (shabby chic, anyone? Ombre?) and most can be transplanted into your weekday wardrobe.

The more practice you get, the faster you will be able to see trends. As you begin to see the patterns, you will also be able to see what draws you to a particular photo–was it the color scheme, the design elements, the “feel” of the image, or those really nice leather boots she is wearing? And that is the most important aspect of this exercise. From there you can identify your style, and after that, figure out which trends you want to try on, not because they are the hottest new things, but because you like that look.

Where do you look for fashion inspiration? What trends have you seen recently? Write about it in the comments!