Monday, October 31, 2011

The Barbie Reveal

The weekend before last, I asked for your help in choosing an outfit to wear to a wedding - going so far as to call myself your Barbie.  Thanks to everyone who weighed in - your input helped me decide to go with a combination of elements from two of the proposed outfits.  I went with...
 

The Lucie Lu Party Dress (in Mint) with my ruffled bolero shrug and corset belt.  It was the perfect outfit for a terrific evening of marriage, dinner and dancing. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Behind the Seams- SWAK Animal Print Top

One of my favorite plus size brands, Sealed with a Kiss, tasked me and T Minus, T Plus blogger Tina with a style assignment this month: take one of their new arrivals and put our own  spin on it.  The new arrival that we were to test drive?  The Animal Print Tunic

Tina and I went in totally opposite directions with this piece; you can see how we wore it by clicking here.   Go ahead, check it out.  I'll wait....

So you've seen how we wore the top and you might have some ideas on for how you could incorporate it into your own wardrobe.  Before you take the leap and order it, I'd thought I give you a little review on the tunic itself.  I know it can be a little daunting to order clothes online without having any idea on the fit, material, etc.  Here's what I think of the Animal Print Tunic


The Print
I don't naturally gravitate towards mixed animal prints.  This one is a combination cheetah/zebra that looks pretty flashy on Sealed with a Kiss's  model.  So I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's actually more tame in person.  Don't get me wrong- it's still a stretch outside my normal print comfort zone!  But it's wearable and fun, not over the top and flashy.

The Fit
The material of this top is sheer - you'll have to wear a camisole or something else underneath it. That sheerness makes this a great layering piece.  The bell sleeves are very dramatic; something I wasn't expecting.  I had fun channeling Stevie Nicks and swishing them all over the place, though I did get hung up a few times on the arms of my office chair!   The built-in elastic waistband hit at my natural waist, and looked cute on its own or was easily hidden with a belt.  And finally, this truly is a tunic length- it's nice and long.  Your bum will be covered, no problem.

The Verdict
I would not have chosen the Animal Print Tunic on my own, so I'm really glad the decision was made for me.  It's a fun piece that will infuse my wardrobe with a shot of something unexpected.  The fit is great and the price is reasonable - especially since it's on sale right now.  

* The Animal Print Tunic was given to me by Sealed with a Kiss.  My opinions on this top are uninfluenced and completely my own.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Shop Translated Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered for a chance to win the item of her choosing from Shop Translated.  It looks like you were all as inspired by their Fall Look Book as I was!

And thank you, too, Shop Translated for offering Bombshell Beauty readers the chance to get to know you.  The winner has been contacted and has until Monday to get back to me.  If for some reason she does not, I'll choose another winner.

Have a great weekend, Bombshells!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Comfortable Style - Is It Possible?

Bombshell reader Christine emailed me last week asking for some advice on how to put together outfits that are as comfortable and easy as they are stylish.  Christine is headed back to work after being on maternity leave with her two boys and wants to look great but still feel comfortable enough to do all the things a mom has to do. She wondered if this was possible...yep!  It sure is.

I've heard from a lot of my friends with children that once you have a baby, your priorities shift (as they should!) and life becomes a juggling act - with baby's needs coming first at all times.  But what a lot of women with demanding lives don't always realize is that time invested in making yourself feel good pays off in the long run.  It can be easy to forget the restorative power of a great outfit! 

So with that in mind, here are three outfits built on the same basic principles:
  1. Durable Knits- Choose clothes that are a blend of cotton and polyester.  Polyester is not as scary as it once was.  Blends today can be soft on the skin, and really easy to launder.  
  2. Wear Color- I know it can be tempting to fall into the mental trap that black is easy to wear.  Sure, it can be.  But it can also be dull and life-sapping.  When you've had no sleep, throw on a rich shade of pink or yellow, green or purple to detract attention from the circles under your eyes.
  3. Built-in Embellishment - Cut down on the time it takes to accessorize an outfit by choosing clothes that have built-in embellishment: ruching or a twist-neck top; a jeweled neckline or a great print can all go add instant polish with no extra effort. 
Just as polyester isn't what it used to be, so too has ponte knit evolved.  Comfortable as sweatpants, but polished enough for the office, especially when paired with a low heeled pump and a lacey top. 

Liana Lace Tunic, Kiyonna;  Ponte Knit Classic Trousers, Lane Bryant; Sabrina Sueded Button Pump, Avenue

There's something inherently crisp about the navy and red color combination.  The bow pattern on this A-line skirt is fun but understated, especially when paired with a simple tee shirt and metallic flats.

Bows and Whistles Skirt - eShakti; Merona Plus-Size Long-Sleeve Crew Neck Tee in Cayenne, Target; Rebecca Leather Ballet Flat, Jessica London

I own this dress in a light cameo blue, and it's pretty much impervious to stains. Mixing it with a pretty purple cardigan seems creative adds a layer of warmth & a dose of extra color. Flat knee high boots are stylish but easy to run around in.

Nicolette Cardigan, Sealed with a Kiss; Classic V-neck Dress in Gray, Sealed with a Kiss; Sota Bread Tall Boot, Jessica London

And since everyone has to get dressed on the weekends, here's a cute option for running errands and playing with baby - a soft, cozy sweater and a pair of really comfortable jeans.  This outfit could work for casual Friday, too, if your office goes in for that.

My friend, Stephanie, is a jeans expert and she assures me that this pair from DKNY is the best out there.  I like it paired with a soft pullover and a pair of animal print ballet flats.
Criss Cross Pullover Sweater, Avenue; Soho Crosshatch Bootcut Jean by DKNY, Lane Bryant; Animal Print Ballet Flats, Lane Bryant

Monday, October 24, 2011

Shop Translated Give-Away

Oh Monday.  Monday, Monday, Monday.  Here you are again. How to make you more bearable? Let me think...a give-away.  Yep, that should do it!  And we're in luck. 

Shop Translated wants to give one Bombshell Beauty reader one item of her choosing from their web site.  Take that, Monday!



I love these three looks from the Shop Translated Fall Look Book.  The dresses are cut in such figure-flattering silhouettes.  And how cute is the styling!  I could see myself mixing up the accessories for each of these dresses to make them work for date night and the office. 

To enter for a chance to win this superb give-away, you need to do three things:
1.) Like Shop Translated on Facebook or Follow them on Twitter (@ShopTranslated)
2.) Check out the full Shop Translated Look Book
3.) Let me know which of the looks is your favorite and where you'd wear it

All entries must be in by midnight CST on Thursday, Oct 27th.  Winner will announced on Oct 28th and the winner will have until midnight Oct 31st to respond to me with her email address.  Shop Translated will contact the winner and make prize arrangements. 

One entry per person.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Everyday Bombshell

Isn't it funny how easy it can be to fall into habits of getting dressed?  I initially reached for my black equestrian-style boots to go with this look, because they're black.  And I they're easy.  But then I thought better of it and pulled on my camel colored boots instead.  It was a better, more interesting choice. 

  

 The Outfit:
Gray sweatshirt blazer- Gap
Purple Twist Neck top - Kiyonna
Jeggings- Avenue
Camel Boots- Jessica London
Necklace- Entourage (in Athens, GA)
Diamond earrings- Grandma Kappy's
Cocktail Ring- Mark

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pick My Outfit

I'm off to another wedding this weekend, this time as a guest instead of a member of the wedding party.  The youngest brother of my sister-in-law is getting married; it's so crazy because I think Alex was...13 or 14 when I first met him?  No way he is grown up enough to get married.  Because that would make me in my 30's or something.

Oh wait.  Yeah.

Anyway, it's going to be a fantastic shindig for one incredibly cute couple.  So what the hell am I going to wear?  Here are all the pertinent details:
  • Wedding is at 3:00, reception at 5:00
  • It's cold here in MN - so I will probably need some kind of jacket
  • There will be dancing, so a swishy dress is a plus
  • Although the non-swishy dress of the bunch here fits me perfectly so that's a plus
I've been playing around with three different dresses - keep in mind here that the styling is not perfect because this is "play mode."  But overall - which of these three looks do you like the best?

 Lucie Lu Party Dress

Sealed with a Kiss Gloria Dress

City Chic Striped Top Dress

Thanks for your help!

City Chic Blogger Look Book

A few months ago, I was selected by City Chic's Facebook fans to appear in their next Blogger Look Book. The look book was launched on the Inside CC pages of the City Chic website yesterday. 

I love it when clothing companies put together look books with real customers, because it's a great way to show how their clothes look on different body types.  It's also a fun way to get inspiration around how to wear a particular piece of clothing. 


I chose the Red Rose Kiki Dress, in part because both Tina and I had been lusting after it for months and in part because one of my best friend's nickname is Kiki.  Seemed like two good reasons to me!

Bartlett_2

Bartlett_1
The Outfit:
Red Rose Kiki Dress - c/o City Chic
Filigree teardrop earrings- FredFlare.com
Black cutout slingbacks- Jessica London

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Everyday Bombshell

I want to let you guys in on the the trend of the moment.  You might not have seen it splashed across the pages of Harper's Bazaar and Lucky yet.  But I predict that you will. 

 Yep, the ultra-stylish ace bandage is going to be huge this fall/winter!  Here I am wearing one in a very flattering nude tone.  You can snap yours up at any pharmacy or medical supply store for about $5.  
Actually, I sprained my ankle.  Playing football.  In my bridesmaid dress at my friends' wedding reception this weekend.  The reception was held at the home of our Golden Gopher's football team, TCF Bank Stadium.  The banquet area was gorgeous, and a perk of being in the wedding party was that we got to take pictures and play around on the football field.  My lack of coordination got the better of me when I tried to tackle the groom and fell down. 

Thankfully, one of the other bridesmaids managed to capture the exact moment that I fell down...(over in the left hand corner)
To detract attention from my sprain, I wore dangly earrings and created a sparkly purple smokey eye.
  
The Outfit:
Green cotton turtleneck- Talbots
Tiger print cotton skirt- Talbots
Dangly feather earrings- Forever 21
Nude bandage- Ace
Black ballet flats- DesignerShoes.com

Monday, October 17, 2011

Skirt Crazy at eShakti

I thought I out-grew the whole "going through a phase" thing when I was 15.  Phases at that age included:
  • Super long, ultra highlighted hair
  • Baggy Mossimo jeans and t-shirts
  • Punctuating every sentence with "like" and "no way!"
  • Matchbox 20
  • Ben Affleck
  • Wearing pajama pants outside of my house
  • Adidas soccer sandals.  With everything.  All the time.
  • Calling my best friend so we could watch TV together.  Over the phone. 
Phases at 31 apparently alternate between the desire to wear only dresses, then being all about skirts.  I'm officially in a skirt phase.  And I've found none cuter than those at eShakti(Insert 15-year old girl squeal here). 













I was thinking about how I would style each skirt. And you know what?  I would wear each of these skirts with a simple white tee shirt (or tank top, depending on the season).  Does it get any easier than that?

I know that might sounds overly simplistic, but I love what each of these skirts brings to the table enough that a classic white tee balances each one perfectly.  Add a statement necklace with the tulle layered skirt; go for major platform wedges with the long silk stripe skirt; a tough leather jacket and ballet flats play against the sheer girliness of the 1000 moons skirt.  They're all so unique and versatile.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Everyday Bombshell

Gray is one of my favorite neutrals against which to pair rich colors.  It goes with every color I can think of...or at least every color that's in my closet.  Today, I paired a soft gray dress with an even softer teal green cardigan.


The Outfit:
Gray tunic dress- Old Navy
Green ruffled cardigan- The Limited
Black knit leggings- Avenue
Black equestrian boots- Avenue
Jeweled medallion earrings- Forever 21
Murano bead bracelets- Red Envelope

I'm going to make it a point to add more gray to my wardrobe.  Here are  two outfits that are fueling my inspiration. 


Frenzy Pump- J. Renee

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Maximizing Coupons at Lane Bryant

Lane Bryant has really stepped up its promotional activity in the last year or two.  And I, for one, am a big fan.  Especially when I'm able to combine coupons for maximum savings!  I mentioned a few weeks ago that I would be picking up a few more bras during the Buy 2, Get 1 Free sale (going on now).  So how thrilled was I to get my coupon for $25 off a $75 purchase at the same time?  (Pretty freaking thrilled!).

I bought two more Back Smoothing Bras, which have become my absolute favorite for everyday wear, and got a Cotton Molded No Wire Bra (a.k.a. the lounging pajama bra) for free free. With the Buy 2, Get 1 Free promotion I was getting $102 worth of bras for $80...then subtract $25 for my extra coupon and I got all of that for $55!  That works out to about $18 per bra.  Yes, I know - basic math.  But it's still something to get excited about. In my world.

So - share!  What coupons and deals have you made the most of lately?

Adventures in Bridesmaid-ing

I've had the good fortune to support numerous friends as a bridesmaid.The most recent bout  takes place this coming weekend.  There are a lot of things that I can look back on in my life, with the perspective of being 31, and think, "Boy, I wish I had known then what I know now."  One of those things is being a bridesmaid - especially a plus size bridesmaid. Here are my top three lessons learned.

Try Hard Not to Gain 20 Lbs Before the Wedding
It can happen, for one reason or another.  For my friend Stephanie's wedding, I gained a bunch of weight in the months leading up to the event.  And then I waited until the last second to have my dress altered.  And then I didn't try on the dress at the tailor's...so did not realize until I tried the dress on 2 days before the wedding that it still did not fit.  Which leads me to my second lesson...

Go to a Good Tailor
Sure it's annoying to take a dress that you'll wear once (and yes, you will only wear it once no matter what the bride tells you) in for alterations.  But if you're going to be a bridesmaid, go all the way.  Pay attention to the little details.  Have the bust taken in so it fits perfectly.  Add gussets to the sides if the dress is a little too snug.  Hem the skirt so it hits you at the perfect spot on your leg.  The dress might last one night, but those pictures last a lifetime. 

Test Run Your Complete Look
 I have two perpetual issues that I agonize over when it comes to building my complete bridesmaid look.  Every single time, I spend hours poring over photos of up-dos; searching for something that looks chic but not overdone.  HOURS, people.  My second issue?  Shoes.  For some reason, I always spot the same ugly pair of shoes at Payless and think, "Oh - yeah, those will work."  I have literally bought the same dorky pair of sandals for the last three weddings I've been in.  

Aaaand I did it again for this one.  Behold - the look that did not work:

 I thought wearing my hair up would be perfect.  But the halter top and the cut of the dress conspire to make me look a little wide at the shoulders and hips, so my head looks very small with an up-do.  And do I even need to say anything about those shoes?  The ankle strap that cuts my legs off...it's just not good.  Thank goodness for digital photography!  I was able to remedy both the hair and the shoes after seeing this picture.
A fuller hair style (essentially a fancy side ponytail) makes me look more proportional from head to hips.  And the pointy-toed slingbacks create the illusion of longer legs.  Now that's worthy of an I-Do!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Everyday Bombshell

I thought about titling this post "Not So Everyday Bombshell" because it centers around two somewhat special events.  The first...I finally found my perfect polka dots!  I've been trying to find for about 2 years now a polka top that fit very special criteria.  I wanted a blouse, preferably tie neck, that was black with off-white polka dots no bigger than a pea.  Do not ask me how I came up with all of that. Thanks to my specificity, there's no mystery around why it took so long to find.  But find, I did! 



I wore this outfit to a luncheon fashion show presented by St. Paul's most fabulous plus size boutique, Bombshell (no relation to me).   We enjoyed a nice lunch at W.A. Frost, then saw some of the latest fall fashions from Anna Scholz, Damn You Alexis, and Elena Miro. 

The Outfit:
Beloved new polka dot top- Talbots
Ponte tuxedo blazer- Gap
Jeggings- Avenue
Cutout slingbacks- Jessica London
Earrings- Entourage Boutique
Red purse- somewhere in NYC a really long time ago

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Everyday Bombshell

After going back and forth on the jeggings bandwagon (should I, shouldn't I?) I finally caved. My desire to branch out into more casual styles outweighed my fear that jeggings look cheap and chintzy when compared to either true leggings or jeans. 


I have to say that I love them.  LOVE them!  My body looks better in tight pants and flowy tops than it does in tight tops and bootcut pants.And my fear that the jeggings would look chintzy was alleviated by Dan's reaction to them: "Those are jeggings?  Huh.  They look like real jeans."

I bought my pair at Avenue; they fit perfectly and are true to size.  AND - they come in tall. Perfect!

The Outfit:
Ponte knit tuxedo jacket- Gap
Turquoise Laura top- c/o Sealed with a Kiss
Jeggings- Avenue (Note- the color shown online is a lot lighter than the actual product, thank goodness)
Ballet flats- Designer Shoes.com

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Everyday Bombshell

A couple weekends ago, Dan and I headed down to Des Moines to visit my parents.  Well, it was a little more than that.  

We were summoned by my parents.  As in, "Get down here and take out of the garage all the tubs of stuff saved from your childhood that we've been hauling around for the past 20 years.  Because we're moving one more time and your stuff is not invited!

So we came home with 7 tubs of Barbie dolls and Babysitters Club books; milestone clothing (Brownie uniform, baptism gown, First Communion dress), pictures and soccer trophies and art projects from elementary school and high school year books.  Going through all of that stuff was a lot of fun.  It made me realize how lucky I was to have the childhood that I did.  And the parents/brother that I do. 

I helped my mom clean out her closet - seriously, for a woman who claims to not really "be into" clothes...she has a ton. There were several pieces in her "No" pile that I'd given her.  Like this gray tunic from Old Navy.  Does it look familiar?

 I wore the heck out of this little dress two years ago.  And then one day, I was tired of seeing it in my closet and on myself.  So I gave it to Mom. And then she tired of it. And now it feels fresh and new, but comforting and familiar all at once.   I wonder how many more years we can pass this piece back and forth?

The Outfit:
Gray tunic/dress - Old Navy
Faux snakeskin belt- Lane Bryant Outlet
Pink open cardigan- c/o Sealed with a Kiss
Silver hoop earrings- Lia Sophia

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Everyday Bombshell

I had to laugh when uploading outfit photos today...there's a reason that blogging daily is a good idea.  It keeps me from repeating pieces too often!  Within the past week, I've worn my lavender knit vest twice.  Whoops.  At least the outfits were completely different, save this one distinctive piece.

Outfit 1 - Worn to Work
Outfit 2 - Oh look, also worn to work!

Outfit 1: 
Striped cotton dress- Gap Outlet
Black corset belt- c/o Torrid
Knit vest - Sealed with a Kiss
Purple slingbacks- Jessica London

Outfit 2:
Plunge tunic - c/o Sealed with a Kiss
Knit vest- Sealed with a Kiss
Reversible belt- Gap Outlet
Black knit leggings- Avenue (available in tall!!)
2 sets of mixed metal necklaces - c/o Lane Bryant