DIY portable ironing pad

A solid 50% of my private sewing students do not own an iron or ironing board…true story! (I was shocked at first, until I realized that the only time I use MY iron is when I’m sewing…not to iron my actual clothes!)

So I found myself toting an iron and mini ironing board to my lessons. This quickly became tedious and unpleasant, and so I switched to a makeshift canvas/muslin combo that was effective, but both unattractive and unwieldy.

Obviously I needed something more convenient and prettier…and here we are!

 

DIY portable ironing pad

 

The truth is, I need this in my home sewing room just as much as I need it when I work with my students in their homes! My ironing board just isn’t big enough for most things I need to press; so I end up using an old towel/scrap muslin combination that is truly hideous. Now I don’t have to!

If you have the type of sewing space that doubles as something else (the dining room, someone’s office, the guest room, etc.), then maybe you’ll find this useful as well!

 

step 1: gather materials

 

materials needed for diy portable ironing pad

 

You only need four things for this project, and you probably have three of them already! I cut my fabric 21″ x 32″, because that’s the size of my cutting table. I made the edges curved because I’m extra like that. ūüôā Make yours any size you like!

The backing: I used terrycloth, but any cotton fabric would work, too.

The batting: I used a layer of Insul-Bright, which is a fluffy, insulating interlining that is used for potholders and coolers and such. If you’re worried about heat or steam damage to the surface underneath your mat, you might want to use a second layer of this, or another layer of something absorbent/heat resistant between this and the backing.

The top layer: I have this vintage red and white ticking that I adore (and that I love to paint on), which I thought would be perfect for this project. Ticking is technically “utility fabric” (most often used on mattresses and such), so it feels very appropriate for an ironing surface. Plus I just like the look of it. As long as you pick something 100% cotton with a smooth finish (nothing with pile or a shine to it), you’re good to go!

The binding: I used extra wide, double-fold bias tape to finish the edges. (Take note in step 3 if you want to skip the binding…)

 

step 2: draw quilting lines

 

ticking marked in 45 degree squares

 

I love me a good windowpane check, so naturally that’s the design I wanted to quilt into the pad. I do a lot of drawing on fabric, and¬†two of my essential tools are a clear ruler and my Frixion pens/highlighters. The highlighters make an excellently bright line to serve as a stitching guide, but will disappears under a hot iron when I’m done stitching.

It does not matter how you quilt the layers together…you could even do just one giant stitch down the middle in each direction. But do some kind of stitching to hold all three (or more) layers together, so your interlining isn’t shifting around in there all willy-nilly.

 

step 3: pin & stitch all three layers together

 

three layers of the ironing pad stacked and pinned together

 

Sandwich your Insul-Bright between the ticking and the terrycloth, and spend some time making all three layers smooth and even. With the lines 6″ apart, it was easy and convenient to leave the pins in while I stitched on the orange lines. If you’re afraid of sticking yourself, use safety pins instead.

If you want to skip the binding, only quilt your top layer and the Insul-Bright together, and leave your backing separate! You can then sew the backing onto your quilted top with right sides together, and then turn the whole thing right side out. Close up the hole with a hand stitch or a simple edgestitch on the machine. Done!

 

step 4: trim and baste

 

trim excess fabric after quilting

 

Once you’re done quilting (and ironing away the lines you drew), it is very likely that the edges of your fabrics will no longer meet. That is okay, we are just going to trim until they are nice and neat and matching again!

Don’t worry if you have to trim both your backing (the terrycloth in my case) AND the top layer (the ticking). Just make sure all the edges are matching exactly.

 

baste all layers together very close to the raw edge

Next, you’ll want to baste the layers together, very close to your newly-trimmed edge.¬† You might even find you’ll need to trim AGAIN after basting…that is totally okay.¬† This will make the binding step much easier!

(p.s. basting just means use a long, straight stitch to hold something together temporarily. In this case, it is holding the layers together so that they do not move during the next step.)

 

step 5: apply binding

 

bias binding pinned to quilted ironing pad

 

I hope you don’t cheat when you apply bias binding by just slipping the binding over the edge and topstitching…! The right way (and the easier way, honestly) is to unfold one fold of the bias tape, and pin it right sides together with the thing you are binding. Make sure the raw edges match exactly.

When making the ends meet, make sure you fold over the beginning spot just a bit and pin it it place. Then fold down the end on top of it. This ensures that no raw edges of the bias tape will be peeking out when you’re finished.

 

end of bias tape folded down over the beginning for a clean finish.

 

When you start sewing on your bias tape, you will stitch directly into that first crease…it is usually about 3/8″ from the edge, sometimes as much as 1/2″.¬† DO NOT start where the ends of the bias tape overlap, but rather slightly below that spot…where I have the double pins in an “X” shape in the image above.

Why? Bias tape can very easily stretch as you sew (regardless of the shape or size of the thing you’re sewing it on to).¬† If that happens,¬† you will want to be able to adjust the tape at the end, to eliminate any bulges or buckles that may have appeared along the way.

 

step 6: finishing topstitch

 

finished bias binding on edge of ironing pad

 

Once you’ve stitched down the bias tape, you will wrap it around to enclose the raw edge of the pad, and pin the other fold to the back of the pad. You might have to fiddle with it if your pad is very thick (I used very thick terrycloth so mine took some wrangling). Then, you’ll want to topstitch the bias tape in place from the front, making sure that your stitch catches the fold of the bias tape on the back.

While I’m pinning the bias tape for this last step, I like to test it as I go, using a pin to imitate what my machine needle will do, making sure the pin goes through the fold of the bias tape on the back.

And you’re done! Now you have an easily portable ironing pad you can use anywhere in your sewing studio, whether you have to pack up your sewing gear after every project or not. Having the right tools always makes sewing easier and more fun!

 

 

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new year’s resolution sewing

This is the year you finally learn to sew! Don’t worry, I’m going to help you.

private in-home sewing lessons in Washington DC

Maybe learning to sew is your new year’s resolution, or maybe it’s finishing that one project, or learning to sew better.

You’re going to be able to do all of the above with my expert guidance, so this is one resolution you can consider done.

 

learn to make garments using commercial sewing patterns

 

For the month of January, I’m having a big sale on all my private sewing lesson packages – from 25% to 33% off!

Since your lessons never expire, now is a great time to stock up at this awesome price, and then enjoy your private sewing lessons all year, on your own schedule, at your own pace, and in your own home.

Unlike learning in a group setting, or having to travel to a studio, the in-home private sewing lessons I offer are all about you: completely tailored to your individual sewing interests, experience, and time constraints.

Click here to see all the lesson packages, and purchase the one that’s best for you.

 

Gutermann thread all in a row!

 

Not sure how much time you’ll need for what you have in mind? Just contact me and we can figure it out together. You won’t be able to find a better deal on private sewing lessons in the DC area.

The sale ends January 31, so don’t miss out!

 

 

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save the dates for 2018 events & promos!

2018 holiday events and promos at Holland Cox!

 

I hope to see some of you locals at my upcoming events this holiday season! But don’t worry if you’re not from around here, you can always shop online. First up is the launch of my fall collection, which happens this Thursday!

There will be new versions of everyone’s favorites, the 517 totes and the crossbody bags.¬†You can also get a head start on your holiday shopping, as the new collection includes the extremely gift-able neckties and the best-selling button scarves. (You are probably going to want to get at least one of the new scarves for yourself…I totally won’t tell anyone!)

If you are already on the Insider’s List, you’ll see all the new goods first, plus you’ll get an email from me that morning with a coupon code for a special introductory price on the new collection.¬†Subscribe now if you haven’t already!

 

 

new hand painted button scarf coming to Holland Cox

 

November 17 & 18 will bring me to Bethesda, Maryland for Urbn Market’s Holiday Pop-up Shop at Bethesda Row! I’ll be there both days (11 am – 4 pm) with so many other local makers, you will definitely want to check it out.¬† Here’s the Facebook invite for more information!

 

The following weekend, for Small Business Saturday (November 24), I’ll be at the first-ever District Rebel Market in Washington, DC. We will be at Union Market from 11 am – 5 pm, and there’s lots going on at the market besides shopping! It will be a perfect antidote to the “black Friday” scariness. Visit the website for details!

 

Next up, I’ll be heading back to Richmond for the Richmond Craft Mafia’s Handmade Holiday Show! I have lost count how many of these awesome shows I’ve done with the RCM ladies, it never gets old.

This year I will be there on Sunday, December 2 only, although the show is still two days. Check out the Facebook invite for details.

cassandra crossbody bag in red and black

 

On Tuesday, December 4 the biggest sale of the year begins at Holland Cox! Everything will be on sale (including items from last season that are already marked down).

Fun fact for y’all who might be new around here: aside from the special introductory price on brand-new stuff (that only subscribers to the Insider’s List get), most of my products NEVER go on sale, except at this time of year…so it’s kind of a big deal! Make sure you are subscribed to the list so you get notified of the coupon code ASAP that morning!

 

The finale of the holiday season will be my anniversary party and trunk show, where I will be celebrating 14 years of designing and making for Holland Cox! If you’d like to attend, you must be a subscriber to the Insider’s List, and indicate that you live in the DC area to receive an invitation.

It will be an afternoon of sweets, champagne, and shopping, hosted by one of my best friends and customers, and will be great way to finish off another awesome year!

In addition to the big sale that starts December 4, I’ll have special promotions at each event as well, so it will definitely be worth it to shop in person! Hope to see you at least once in the next few weeks!

xox
Valerie

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the most wonderful time of the year: fall preview

It’s that time…the best time of year for dressing well! I’m talking about fall, of course.

You guys…I LOVE the summer and I LOVE warm weather, but there’s something about fall fashion that makes me swoon. It’s my favorite time to get dressed, and my favorite time to design for.

Soon, you’ll see all my love in the shop!

 

the andromeda button scarf in gray and blue

 

A new batch of my best-selling button scarves, featuring new fabrics, new paintings, and new stitched motifs (like “andromeda” shown above).

Some will be lined in flannel to be cozy and warm, and some will be lined with linen, for a lighter weight way to feel happy and stylish. Last year we had 70 and 80 degree days well into November, so there’s no reason to think that won’t be true this year…you might as well be prepared either way!

Most people don’t know this, but I do actually make awesome stuff for guys, too. I’ll be adding a new batch of handmade neckties to the shop this fall as well!

 

stitched, handmade neckties from Holland Cox in red, black, gray, and blue from Holland Cox

(The neckties are stylish and colorful enough for ladies too, of course.)

I will also be adding new mini-collections of my most recent handbag styles, the 517 totes and the crossbody bags. I’ve gotten so much great feedback on both styles, I can’t wait to show you the new motifs and new fabrics! One of the crossbody bags is going to be in the same delicious pewter metallic leather as the sheba wrap belt, check it out:

the sheba crossbody bag in pewter metallic leather

 

As always, subscribers to the Insider’s List get to see the newest designs first, and always enjoy a special introductory price on the newest collection.¬†Sign up here so you don’t get left out!

 

 

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how will you wear the color of the year?

The people at Pantone are obviously on my side…ultraviolet is the color of the year, and as you know purple is one of my favorites!

I love to wear it, I love to look at it, and I love to design with it.

But maybe you’re not so confident when it comes to wearing such a bold color? Let me help: here are six outfit ideas on what to wear with the color of the year.

 

wear purple with navy blue

the natalie scarf from Holland Cox with a navy dress
Purple can do anything navy can do, which makes them perfect for each other. I picked this very conservative navy dress, because I bet you already have something similar in your closet (maybe a navy skirt? or a navy blouse?).

Whatever your navy item, the natalie button scarf will flawlessly coordinate, and you won’t even have to change any of your other accessories.

Instant upgrade, and instantly on-trend: what’s not to like?

 

wear purple with bright blue

the natalie scarf from Holland Cox with a stripey sweater and royal blue pencil skirt
This is a much bolder option, of course! But it works on the same principle: blue and purple are natural allies, and will generally look great together.

Mixing prints is always going to be an easy way to upgrade your outfit. Since stripes go with everything, this little stripey sweater was an obvious choice.

The tonal print of the natalie button scarf means that it will mix well with lots of different prints, in lots of different shades of blue, purple, gray, and black…making it the soon-to-be star of your capsule wardrobe!

 

wear purple with a print

the aida button scarf from Holland Cox with a purple dress
Speaking of prints…I know you have that one thing in your closet that is some bold color that you very rarely wear. Maybe you’re not sure what it works with?

The aida button scarf is the key to getting that dress (or top, or skirt, or whatever) back in rotation!

The small-scale crosshatch is super easy to wear, and the black and white means you can wear it with literally anything! Add your favorite shoes and accessories and you’re good to go, with a new, upgraded look.

 

wear purple with gray

the raina crossbody bag from Holland Cox with a gray sweater dress
I love wearing purple with gray, because it guarantees your gray will never look dingy or dull.

(It also guarantees your purple will not overwhelm you…if that’s the sort of thing you worry about!)

Bold amethyst jewelry (yes, you can wear a long necklace with a scarf!) makes the purple in the natalie button scarf pop. Try the same look with your gray blazer, blouses, and pencil skirts!

(Also shown: the raina crossbody bag.)

 

wear purple with gold

bold purple print dress with a gold button scarf from Holland Cox
As I was putting together these outfits, this dress called out to me! It is totally something I would wear, and is exactly the kind of bold, graphic print that I live for!

But you don’t have to pick a bold print for this combination to work. Purple and yellow are complimentary colors, which means they are literally meant for each other!

The maya button scarf is a gold tonal print with a subtle shine, that can be paired with pretty much any solid color for an instant upgrade.

Wearing it with purple guarantees you’ll be best dressed in any room!

 

wear purple with red

the rosetta scarf from Holland Cox with jeans and a striped sweater
Confession time: I cheated with this one. First, the only purple in this outfit is on the trinity everyday bag.

Secondly, this outfit works for the same reason the first one does: because purple and navy are like fraternal twins (only one twin is just a bit more glamorous and a bit more bold)…they naturally go together!

The rosetta button scarf perfectly compliments the stripey sweater, and bam just like that, you’re walking around on your day off, looking stylish, on-trend, and confident, without even trying.

 

Even if you’re not as excited about the color of the year as I am, you can use these same ideas to experiment with any bold color! Try thinking of your trusty neutrals in a new way, and using some bold and bright accessories as a way to wear new colors and new color combinations.

For more ideas, subscribe to my Insider’s List. Subscribers get a short series of posts full of all kinds of style experiments and new ways to think about color, print, and what you wear everyday. Click here to join up!

 

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25 outfit ideas for what to wear to the office

Getting dressed is supposed to be fun! Given that most of us have to get dressed for work more than anything else, figuring out what to wear to the office should be especially fun.

It’s usually not, though. Office outfits tend to be utilitarian, practical.

But my friends, practical does not mean plain. Here are 25 outfit ideas to try, so you can feel happy and confident everyday…yes, even on Monday mornings!

 

try upgrading your accessories

 
chevron tote from Holland Cox with leopard print accsesories
A plain bag is not as practical as you think. What use is something that makes you blend into the background? How can you feel happy and confident while you’re invisible?

The cassandra tote is a significant upgrade to the plain brown or plain black briefcase…big enough to carry all your work gear, but interesting enough to make sure all eyes are on you…right where they belong.

You could wear a plain brown belt and plain brown heels…or you could upgrade to an eye-catching leopard print!¬† Mixing prints is an awesome way to stand out, and it works in this case because the color scheme is the same.

(Subscribe to the Insider’s List to get more advice on how to mix prints.)

 

try dressing up a denim mini skirt

 
metallic leather wrap belt from Holland Cox with a denim skirt
You might think you can’t get away with a denim mini skirt in the office…but it’s all in the styling.

The jezebel wrap belt¬†is bronze metallic leather, and can upgrade pretty much anything you wear with it! Along with great jewelry and a serious tweed jacket, your denim mini is ready for 9-5. The fact that everyone will be jealous that you can “pull it off” is just a bonus!

(Also shown: the anjelica 517 tote.)

 

try wearing your off-season clothes

 
Holland Cox infinity scarf with a sleeveless top
I never put away my clothes when the seasons change, I just re-style them for the new season whenever I can! This sleeveless blouse doesn’t need to be exiled to the back of you closet, you just need something warm to wear with it.

The naomi infinity scarf is lined in warm cotton flannel. It can give your outfit both a season-appropriate upgrade and a style upgrade with it’s bright and bold print, and subtle shine.

 

try bold graphics

 
the anjelica tote from Holland Cox with a striped blazer
This is the type of jacket you see in the store and love it, but then don’t get it because you think it’s not “practical.”

But, practical does not mean plain. In reality, boldly printed pieces like this are the perfect upgrade for all the plain things you already have!

A jacket this awesome effortlessly upgrades all your plain black (and gray) skirts and pants.

(Also shown: the anjelica 517 tote.)

 

try a denim dress

 
Holland Cox button scarf with a denim dress
 

The secret to wearing denim at the office is to pick a dark wash, a tailored silhouette, and of course, the right accessories.

The katherine button scarf is just such an accessory! The subtle black and gold print is sophisticated enough to elevate any denim dress…when paired with beautiful jewelry (yes, you can wear a necklace with a scarf!) and gorgeous boots, you have an outfit worthy of any c-suite.

 

try contrasting textures

 
the anjelica tote from Holland Cox with a leather skirt
 

A tweed jacket is a professional wardrobe staple! Whether yours is colorful like this one or more plain, it can benefit by being paired with contrasting textures.

That’s why I chose to style this one with a leather skirt, and the denim and vinyl¬†anjelica 517 tote. Even in so-called “neutral” colors, the contrast elevates the outfit into something interesting rather than ordinary.

 

try a little edge

 
Holland Cox tote with leather and leopard print
 

Now here is a way to make sure every eye is on you! Leather and large-scale animal prints are guaranteed to be eye-catching, even in the most creative and fashionable offices.

Good thing you have a great statement bag like the cassandra tote to stand up to such a bold outfit Рanything less would just be a waste!

 

try upgrading your plain trousers

 
the anjelica tote from Holland Cox with camel trousers
 

You probably already have a good pair of trousers in a color you thought was “practical” when you bought it – camel, gray, navy…et cetera. Instead of putting on a plain white blouse, why not pick a bright color?

Instead of a plain bag, why not something with more presence and style? The anjelica 517 tote is dark blue denim with classic gold stitching, perfect to set off your CEO-worthy jewelry, and upgrades your entire outfit instead of bringing it down.

 

try high style denim

 
high style denim
 

You’ve probably noticed I love designing and making with denim…I just love how versatile it can be!

This outfit is an excellent example. Stella McCartney trousers, Louboutin booties, and very expensive designer jewelry look great together, and are perfectly set off by the denim and vinyl¬†anjelica 517 tote – but only because of it’s unusual style, classic stitched details, and bold red accents. A plain denim bag could never do that!

(Stella would definitely approve of the vinyl on the back!)

 

try mixing warm and cool together

 
the sofia tote from Holland Cox with a plaid skirt
 

The sofia 517 tote is a mix of black, gray, and bright blue, so you might think that only cool tones could be paired with it.

This delightful plaid skirt proves that a warm gold can fit in just fine! Don’t be afraid to mix tones like this, especially if you have a spectacular piece (like the skirt or the necklace) that does all the heavy lifting for you.

 

try metallic leather

 
metallic leather wrap belt from Holland Cox with a gray skirt
 

What could be more deadly boring than a plain gray skirt and a plain white sweater? This is not an outfit that says “I’m the boss,” or that is likely to make you feel confident enough to take charge.

The sheba wrap belt¬†is the perfect upgrade –¬†pewter metallic leather means that it can make even the plainest outfit into something extraordinary.

Pearl jewelry and the eye-catching gloria tote (with a hand-drawn mandala motif) completes the look. Your plain sweater has never looked this good!

 

try wearing the color of the year

 
the raina crossbody bag from Holland Cox with a ultraviolet blazer
 

According to the Pantone people, ultraviolet is the color of the year, and you have to know that I’m thrilled by this. Purple (in all its manifestations) is always going to be one of my favorites!

The raina crossbody bag is a great way to wear it! Even though you’re going to see ultraviolet everywhere this year, you probably won’t see much of it on metallic leather, and certainly not on a bag as practical and useful as a crossbody…it easily fits inside your briefcase or tote bag, and seamlessly transitions to your weekend outfits, too. What’s more practical than that?

 

try adding stripes

 
the trinity bag from Holland Cox with a striped blazer
 

I’m a firm believer that stripes go with everything, and that black and white stripes in particular are a great way to break into wearing prints…a gateway drug, if you will. An easy, painless, and fool-proof way to make any outfit more interesting.

And here’s the proof: this striped blazer will go with literally everything you already own…it’s just like wearing a solid black or a solid white blazer, only much more interesting!

The trinity everyday bag¬†matches this purple sheath dress exactly, but is certainly interesting enough to stand on it’s own (more on that, next)…you could really wear this outfit with any color dress!

 

try letting your bag be the star

 
the trinity bag from Holland Cox with a striped dress
 

A bold color-block bag like the¬†trinity everyday bag is the perfect type of bag to be the star of your outfit – it almost doesn’t matter what you wear with it. Especially if your closet is already full of lots of red and purple, or full of lots of neutrals…it will work either way.

That’s the benefit of finding “your colors” and sticking with them…you can find bold and bright accessories that work with your entire wardrobe!

 

try wearing red

 
the moira tote from Holland Cox with a red sweater
 

I know you already have a black pencil skirt. Instead of pairing it with something else “neutral,” why not bright red? There’s nothing like a deep, saturated red to make you feel confident and fearless!

The moira tote is mostly black and white, but has some red accents that make it a perfect accompaniment, and certainly more interesting than a plain black bag.

 

try wearing a necklace with a scarf

 
the cassandra scarf from Holland Cox with a long necklace
 

The secret to styling a necklace and scarf together, is to make sure both can be seen. That means with an infinity scarf like cassandra here, you need a long, pendant-style necklace.

With a longer scarf, you might want a shorter necklace that follows a the line of a crew neck, or even a choker. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

 

try a monday dress

 
the moira tote from Holland Cox and a Monday dress
 

The “Monday Dress” is the dress you can wear without thinking about it – it fits like a dream, it’s your favorite color, and you always look great in it. That’s what makes it perfect for Monday…painless, effortless, and foolproof. Everybody needs a Monday Dress!

Even if your Monday Dress is not red, you need an awesome bag like¬†the moira tote¬†to go with it. The whole point of the Monday dress is effortless style. A plain, boring bag just isn’t good enough for the kind of impact you need on Monday mornings!

 

try a maxi skirt

 
the rosetta scarf from Holland Cox with a maxi skirt
 

Even though I’m short, I love to wear maxi skirts! Even one with a dramatic, full silhouette like this one can be appropriate for the office, especially if it’s in a sober and traditional tweed, or a classic print like windowpane check.

I know you’re afraid to wear so much skirt with anything but a plain black top, but that’s okay. To keep warm, and to add a little something special to your outfit, try a boldly colored scarf like¬†the rosetta button scarf¬† – a tonal print is always going to be easier to wear than a multi-colored print, and the traditional roses pair beautifully with the classic windowpane check.

 

try a button scarf

 
the natalie button scarf from Holland Cox for the office
 

The button scarf really is the best type of capsule accessory…that is, the type of accessory you add to your capsule wardrobe to make it more versatile and interesting! It can be worn in so many different ways, that it’s like having several accessories in one.

The natalie button scarf in particular is great. The book marble print is subtle but interesting, and easily works with so many of your neutrals: gray, black, white, and navy.

(Also shown: the gloria tote.)

 

try upgrading your gray

 
the sofia tote from Holland Cox with gray pencil skirt
 

It’s so easy for gray to look faded, dingy, or boring…and I’ve already shared several ideas on how to avoid that.

Whatever strategy you choose, you’re going to need a great bag, and the¬†sofia 517 tote¬†is perfect. Subtle color and an interesting silhouette save the day!

 

try adding texture

 
the sibyl bag from Holland Cox with a ruffle blouse
 

The sibyl everyday bag is a great example of how texture adds interest and style. The black stitching and the red ultrasuede turn the plain gray denim into something extraordinary.

The same can be said of the red blouse – you could wear something plain, but pleats, ruffles, embroidery, or other surface design are so much more interesting, and will guarantee you won’t look like everybody else!

 

try a bold print

 
dragon print button scarf from Holland Cox upgrades a plain office outfit
 

The lucille button scarf pairs an extremely bold dragon print in black, white, and gray with bright red for a truly unique accessory. It is the perfect upgrade to a plain black skirt and a plain gray blazer.

Without the scarf, this is the type of outfit that will have people mistaking you for hotel staff, instead of recognizing you as the keynote speaker.

(Also shown: the moira tote.)

 

try a sweater dress

 
the sofia tote from Holland Cox with a sweater dress
 

Like the Monday Dress, a sweater dress is a great short-cut to an awesome outfit. If your sweater dress is a tad too casual for your office, adding a jacket with stylish lapels is the easiest way to upgrade.

Sophisticated jewelry and a great bag like¬†the sofia tote¬†finishes the look. Now you’re dressed to impress!

 

try a bright color

 
the sofia tote from Holland Cox with bright blue pants
 

Even if you’re brave enough to regularly buy bright colors, I bet you rarely think to try brightly colored pants.

But they’re really not any harder to wear than anything else…I know you already have a ton of black tops to wear with them (don’t lie!). Add some stripes and a great bag like the sofia tote,¬† and you’re guaranteed to stand out from the crowd of gray trousers and black pencil skirts.

 

try mixing prints

 
how to effortlessly mix prints with Holland Cox handbags and accessories
 

Wearing a print is a great way to upgrade your outfits, but mixing prints is definitely the next level.

The absolute easiest way to do this, is to keep a tight color palette. No matter the scale or the nature of the motifs, you’ll always look put together. In this outfit, the¬†fitzgerald button scarf¬†ties all the colors together, and keeps you warm, too!

(Also shown: the the sofia tote.)

 

I hope I’ve inspired you to experiment with your wardrobe, and try upgrading the outfits you already have with some awesome accessories.

Need some inspiration? Subscribers to my Insider’s List get a series of posts on style experiments to try, including ideas on how to find “your colors,” how to mix prints, and much more. Click here to subscribe.

 

 

 

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what are you wearing new year’s eve? here are six ideas for you!

New Year’s Eve is sometimes one of those holidays that can be more trouble than it’s really worth…but only if you do it the hard way.

The easy way is to not stress about what to wear on top of where to go (and how to get there, who to go with…et cetera). You can totally wear something you already have!

Here’s some outfit ideas based on items you might already have in your closet, that just need a little bit of an upgrade to be NYE-worthy!

This time, the upgrades come in the form of my reversible wrap belts. Check it out:

 

your fave LBD

the cassandra belt from Holland Cox with your fave LBD
When planning your New Year’s Eve outfit, your favorite LBD party dress is the obvious place to start. But you don’t want to go to that fabulous party in a plain dress, do you?

The cassandra wrap belt to the rescue! For this outfit, I showed cassandra on her spectacular bright metallic gold side, but the reverse is pretty amazing, too (more on that later). Even though there’s nothing more classic than black and gold for evening, nobody else at your party is going to have a belt like this one!

(Also shown: the phoenix small perfect pouch as a tiny clutch.)

 

your fave fitted sweater

the cassandra belt from Holland Cox with a sweater and mini skirt
I distinctly remember the year I decided it was more important to be warm on NYE than to wear something skimpy and revealing.

(This not-coincidentally coincided with learning that something doesn’t have to be skimpy and revealing to be sexy and interesting.)

This outfit is all about a comfortable, fitted turtleneck and a cute skirt. I styled it with a mini skirt (imagine tights to go with), but of course a maxi works just as well.

This time, the cassandra wrap belt is worn on the stitched side, showing off the unique chevron wave pattern. Pile on your fancy jewelry and wear a killer pair of booties, and you will own any party you go to, without having to cower in the corner for warmth!

(Also shown: the naomi infinity scarf.)

 

that dress you never wear

the Holland Cox wrap belt in sparkly denim
I bet you have a dress in your closet that is some awesome color that you’re afraid to wear…maybe it even has a pattern on it. Guess what? Now you have somewhere to wear it!

Denim goes with everything, and four of my wrap belts reverse to this awesome dark denim with gold metallic accents…just enough sparkle to turn a regular dress into something NYE-worthy!

The nina, selina, sheba, and jezebel belts all have this sparkly denim on one side. Pick the one you like the most, and you’ll have an incredibly versatile accessory that you can wear far beyond New Year’s Eve!

(Also shown: the felicity small perfect pouch, which has the same denim on the reverse.)

 

your denim mini skirt

the selina wrap belt from Holland Cox with the raina crossbody bag
Maybe you’ve got a more casual destination this New Year’s Eve, like a rock concert or a house party. Why not wear your little denim skirt? I know you want to just throw on a black top with it, and I’m not even going to tell you not to!

But how about pairing it with the selina wrap belt? Selina is made from my favorite metallic gold essex linen on one side, and my beloved sparkly dark denim on the other side. Both sides have a very subtle sheen, so you really could wear it on either side, and still look amazing.

A casual NYE destination is the perfect place for the raina crossbody bag…the hands-free style means you can easily carry both your champagne and hors d’oeuvres without losing track of your gear, and the gorgeous purple leather means you’ll look amazing doing it!

 

your skinny jeans and your good pearls

metallic leather wrap belt from Holland Cox with skinny jeans and pearls
You can totally get away with dark wash jeans at all but the most formal of New Year’s Eve parties…just make sure the rest of your outfit is on point!

In addition to your heavy duty evening jewelry, what about a belt that can stand up to all that bling? The sheba wrap belt is a gorgeous pewter leather on one side, and my favorite dark sparkly denim on the reverse.

She is the kind of show-stopping accessory that will make people wearing cocktail dresses jealous of your outfit!

 

your fave silky top

the calliope wrap belt from Holland Cox with a maxi skirt
You probably already have a silky top in your closet…maybe you wear it under a jacket, or you bought it for some other party and haven’t worn it in forever.

Break it out, and pair it with a skirt (or even trousers) that works with it. It doesn’t even matter what the colors are, because the calliope wrap belt goes with everything!

One side is in an all-purpose dark blue denim, and the reverse is in a lovely and soft black suede, with gold sparkly pin dots. Instant outfit upgrade!

(Also shown: the felicity small perfect pouch as a tiny clutch.)

 

Getting dressed should always be fun (and not stressful), but it should be extra fun for a special night out like New Year’s Eve! I hope I’ve inspired you to upgrade what you already have, rather than stressing about a completely new outfit.

 

Check out all the reversible wrap belts and imagine which ones will deliver the best upgrades to your favorites…don’t forget to scroll through the pictures to see both sides!

 

 

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save the dates!

save the dates for 2017 holiday events from Holland Cox

 

As always, there’s lots going on this holiday season, and I don’t want you to miss anything. If you’re already an Insider, just look out for emails from me and you’ll always be in the loop!

First up, the Black Owned Small Business Expo is on Small Business Saturday this year, November 25.

The Expo will be held at the Waldorf Culture Center (109 Post Office Rd, Waldorf MD 20602), 9:30 am – 4:00 pm. Drop by to see more than sixty small business owners from the DC area, representing a wide variety of products and services. Come by and shop small, and support your local community this Thanksgiving weekend instead of big box stores!

 

The following Tuesday, I’ll be launching another mini-collection of a new handbag style, plus a restock of favorite gifts from the shop like the neckties and the perfect pouches. As always, Insiders will enjoy a special price on these limited edition accessories.the small perfect pouch, the mini perfect pouch, a keychain and the 19th st wallet

That weekend, I’ll be in Richmond for the Richmond Craft Mafia’s Handmade Holiday Show! It’s now a two day show, so make sure to come out both Saturday and Sunday to see me and a ton of other amazing independent makers.

The show will be held at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, from 11am to 6pm on both days.

 

Tuesday morning is the start of the biggest sale of the year at Holland Cox, when everything goes on sale (even handbags from last season that have been marked down). You surely don’t want to miss this, so make sure you’ve subscribed to the Insider’s List so you get notified bright and early that morning!

 

I’m thrilled to again be a vendor at GRUMP, surely the most interesting holiday shopping venue in DC. The GRUMP Arts & Crafts Show will be happening 12pm to 5pm in the Crystal City Underground.

the crossbody bag, small perfect pouch and mini pouch

The finale of the holiday season will be my anniversary party and trunk show, where I will be celebrating 13 years of designing and making for Holland Cox! If you’d like to attend, you must be a subscriber to the Insider’s List, and indicate that you live in the DC area to receive an invitation.

It will be an afternoon of sweets, champagne, and shopping, and a great way to say thank you to my customers, and finish off another awesome year.

In addition to the big sale that starts December 5, I’ll have special promotions at each event as well, so it will definitely be worth it to shop in person! Hope to see you at lease once in the next few weeks!

 

 

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three ways to wear the crossbody bag this weekend

The crossbody bag is the newest addition to the Holland Cox family. I designed it to be big enough to use everyday, but not too big…it’s still quite compact and petite.

So while it’s a stylish and hands-free way to carry your essentials during the day, it’s equally awesome at night…it’s actually the perfect day-to-night bag!

Here are three times when the crossbody bag could be the perfect accessory for your night out:

 

date night

the Holland Cox crossbody bag for date night
I know you love to wear black on date night…but that doesn’t mean your outfit has to be basic black! A lacy top and some dramatic jewelry go a long way to elevate a little black skirt into something spectacular.

The calliope crossbody bag is the perfect compliment, with it’s subtle shine, and polka dots that are a little too bold to be sweet.

Why carry a plain bag when you could have this look instead?

 

ladies’ night

the crossbody bag from Holland Cox for ladies' night
When you’re out with your besties, you want to look good, but you also want to be at ease. What’s more comfortable than your favorite jeans? That was my inspiration for this outfit.

A stripey blouse is an awesome way to add some interest to your outfit (imagine this with a plain top instead), that is also completely painless. You don’t have to worry about what it matches, since stripes go with everything.

Jeans plus a stripey top is a great beginning for all sorts of outfits, but here I added the bold and colorful felicity crossbody bag to create the perfect ladies’ night outfit. Sexy shoes and playful jewelry complete the look, and you’re good to go!

 

a night at the theater

the crossbody bag from Holland Cox at the theater
As much as I love denim, you will never catch me wearing jeans to the theater! I’m old-school that way, I firmly believe you have to dress up for certain occasions. And what’s more dressy than black and gold?

I bet you already have a solid colored dress that is more-or-less plain (is it black? you can tell me, I won’t be mad), that is just dying to get dressed up to go out. It might even be a dress you’d normally wear to the office!

Just pile on some shiny, eye-catching accessories and you’re ready for the best seats in the house! The phoenix crossbody bag is a dramatic black and gold damask that can instantly make any outfit worthy of your box seats.

(Also shown: the naomi infinity scarf)

 

As always, I want you to think about versatile and practical in a new way.

What could be more practical than your new favorite bag making you feel confident and happy all day and all night? 

Check out the rest of the crossbody bag mini-collection, and think about what you’re going to wear this weekend!

 

 

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why a statement bag is the most practical bag in your closet

Practical just means something that you can use and wear all the time…so how did we start thinking that practical has to mean plain?

Here are six outfits I styled around the persephone 517 tote, to show you how a bold, bright, and unusual handbag might just be the most practical accessory in your closet!

(Imagine how much more dull and ordinary these outfits would be with a plain bag…)

 

with your trusty navy dress

a statement bag from Holland Cox as your work bag
You probably have a navy dress (or one in brown, gray, khaki, or white?) that plays a key role in your professional wardrobe. It could be solid, striped, polka dotted, tweed, or in houndstooth. It’s probably the dress that you default to when you know you want to look sharp, but you don’t want to spend too much time thinking about what to wear.

I call this the Monday Dress! You roll out of bed on Monday morning, and put it on without thinking. It looks great, it makes you feel great, and it’s a painless way to kick off an awesome week.

Why would you wear your awesome Monday Dress with a plain, boring bag? Why would you want to undermine it’s power like that? A statement bag like the persephone 517 tote can only add to the style and professional impact of your Monday Dress, and it’s just as easy to wear!

 

with trendy denim & accessories

a statement bag from Holland Cox with trendy denim
I styled this outfit with several trendy elements. Patchwork jeans (with an asymmetrical hem), embroidered boots, and tassel jewelry are all huge right now.

A bold, colorful bag like the persephone 517 tote can stand up to trendy accessories, and coordinate perfectly with them. But, it’s classic lines and colors (red and denim will never go out of style, friends!) mean it won’t look tired and five-minutes-ago when you get bored with your tassel earrings and patchwork denim.

 

with statement jewelry

a statement bag from Holland Cox with statement jewelry
Statement jewelry is not a trend. Long before Coco Chanel piled on ropes of pearls, or Edie Sedgwick wore earrings that brushed her collarbones, women have been adorning themselves with eye-catching jewelry, and that is not a tendency that will ever go away.

I styled this outfit to show that just because you’re wearing one outstanding item, doesn’t mean everything else you’re wearing needs to be plain! Every part of this outfit is a showstopper, even the solid, khaki-colored top…the modern silhouette and over-sized cuffs make it much more interesting than any plain top could ever be.

The overall effect is bold and impressive: you couldn’t help but feel confident in an outfit like this! It would be impossible to fade into the background.

 

with your LBD

a statement bag from Holland Cox with your LBD
My friend, I hope you don’t think you can only wear black with your LBD (little black dress)!

Your black dress goes with everything, yes? So why pair it with a plain bag when you can wear it with an eye-catching superstar instead? My favorite color is red, so I’m always going to want to pair red accessories with my LBD. What’s your favorite color? What color makes you feel happy and confident every time you wear it?

need help finding your colors?
Subscribers to the Insider’s List get an exclusive series of posts from me, all about easy style experiments to try, to help you figure out your personal style.
Click here to subscribe!

(Also shown: the veronica button scarf)

 

with your favorite t-shirt

a statement bag with your favorite tee shirt
What could be more versatile than a bag you can wear whether you’re casual or formal? I styled this outfit with a t-shirt and jeans to prove the persephone 517 tote can do both.

Sure, a plain bag might be able to do both, but would you look as good? Would you stand out, or fade into the background?

(Also shown: the lola mini pouch)

The most practical parts of your wardrobe will always be the parts you want to wear again and again…and who wants to wear something plain every day? How could that make you feel happy and confident?

Imagine your favorite outfits, and how you might give them a little boost with some bold and bright accessories!

 

 

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