Category Archives: how to wear it

how to shop smarter this fall

Even if you’re not technically going back to school, this time of year is still about starting fresh! You might be eyeing your closet right now with a mind to update, but without having an idea of how to go about such a thing…here’s some ideas to get the most out of your “back to school” shopping!

The bottom line is, remember that practical does not mean plain. Next time you go shopping, walk right past the plain, “neutral” basics and try these three strategies instead:

 

shop for interesting textures

 

the cassandra tote with an embroidered top and dark blue jeans

 

The easiest way to escape from the trap of plain is to look for interesting textures when you go shopping. You might find this easier and less intimidating shopping for bold prints or bright colors. In fact, you can be totally monochromatic with an interesting texture, and you’ll still probably be the best dressed in the room!

The outfit above assumes you already have a pair of jeans you love, and cute booties to wear with them. Instead of shopping for a new, plain top to wear with them, how about something with embroidery, applique, beading, lace, or some other kind of surface design? A top with more visual interest will instantly elevate anything you wear with it, and will coordinate with more things in your closet than a plain version ever could.

I love the effect of an interesting texture, which is why I designed my latest handbags with high-relief quilting. The cassandra 517 tote is shown above, featuring my favorite chevron wave motif stitched in black thread on natural canvas. Click here to see more details on the cassandra tote, and think about what plain thing from your closet you could replace with a textured version!

 

shop for your colors

the persephone tote with navy trousers and a printed blouse

You probably already have navy pants, and a pair of “nude” pumps from a few years ago when everyone insisted you must own a pair. When you’re out shopping for a way to update them, think about color instead of more plain. What colors do you like to wear? Which colors look great on you? What colors make you feel happy and confident?

If you’re afraid of bright colors, an accessory is a great way to experiment. I would totally feel comfortable wearing the outfit above with a bright red blouse, but maybe that’s scary to you! A bag like the persephone tote is easier to wear than clothing in the same colors. If wearing red makes you happy, now you have an awesome bag to carry everyday that will get much more use than a plain black bag. See how that works?

 

shop for interesting silhouettes

 

the sofia tote with a black bell sleeved dress

 

I can hear some of y’all complaining but Valerie I love wearing all black that’s ~my thing~ and you can’t make me stop! Good news my friend, I am not going to tell you to stop wearing black!

But next time you go shopping, how about looking for new and interesting silhouettes?

The bell-sleeved dress in this outfit is an excellent example. Dramatic sleeves have been a thing for a while now, and I don’t think they’ll be going away anytime soon. This same dress with plain sleeves would be absolutely nothing to write home about, and not a way to make yourself feel happy and confident when you get dressed in the morning! The interesting sleeves make all the difference.

This is what I was thinking when I designed the 517 totes…I wanted a simple tote design that was nevertheless dramatic and interesting, and worthy of being your new favorite bag. One of the ways I chose to do that was to make them a slightly unusual shape: they are slightly taller than usual, and have gentle curves where most totes are built on straight lines.

You can do the same thing with your fall shopping! Just remember that practical does not mean plain, and you’ll end up with a new wardrobe that will make you much happier than anything basic ever could!

 

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how to experiment with color: red and purple

If you’ve seen my latest collection, it’s no surprise to you that red and purple are two of my favorite colors, and that I love mixing them together!

Maybe the idea of mixing these bold, confident colors is daunting to you? Here are five ways you can give it try, starring the simone everyday bag from my latest collection.

 

try a print

 


The easiest way to wear two colors is inside the same print, of course! Purple and red are neighbors on the color wheel, so it’s not just me who says you can wear them together, it’s science.

When you pick an interesting print, all the work of creating an interesting outfit is already done for you! Just add awesome accessories like the simone everyday bag, and you’re done.

 

let your bag be the star of the show

 


It would be so easy to wear a plain black bag with this outfit. But if you’re interested in creating outfits that make you feel happy and confident, maybe a plain black bag just isn’t good enough.

Purple is one of my favorite colors, so wearing it gives me an instant confidence boost. For anyone with the same love of purple, the simone everyday bag is the perfect addition to this (and any!) outfit.

 

Want some help finding “your colors”? Click here to subscribe to the Insider’s List, and I’ll send you a short series of posts on how to define your personal style, including one on experimenting with color!

 

coordinate, don’t match

 


The great thing about this outfit, is that nothing matches. 🙂 The blouse isn’t even really purple and red – it’s a very dark navy blue with wine and light gray pinstripes. Paired with a great pair of jeans, it is already making a pretty awesome outfit!

There a many bag/shoe combinations you could wear with this striped blouse and skinny jeans, but I chose bright red booties and the purple simone everyday bag to prove to you that coordinating is so much more interesting than matching.

In fact, if you love red and purple (like I do), you could wear your red booties and your simone bag with everything. That’s how you create a signature look, rather than looking like everybody else!

 

mix it up

 


Mixing prints is a great way to create an interesting outfit, and therefore guarantee that you stand out in a crowd. If you’re the boss (or just want to be), blending into the background is not an option!

The easiest way to mix prints is to start with a black and white stripe, because stripes go with everything. And windowpane check, like on this awesome blouse, is just another way to wear stripes, after all.

The scarf brings everything together, in the form of a contrasting pattern and coordinating colors. Eye-catching shoes and gold jewelry finish off the look, and you are ready for the C-suite!

 

the denim dress formula

 


The denim dress formula to creating a great outfit is simple: a denim dress, an awesome bag, and any shoes. The wool and ultrasuede of the simone everyday bag make it a perfect candidate for a winter iteration of the formula. Suede boots (and maybe some tights) add texture as well as bold color, and your favorite jewelry and hair accessories make the perfect finishing touch. Easy!

Have I inspired you to try a new color combination? What do you have in your closet and what outfits do you like to wear that could be elevated by pairing it with a bold and colorful bag like simone?

 

 

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how to wear gray without fading away

Gray is a neutral that is often hailed as being softer than black but just as versatile…which is true, but I think it can very easily look deadly boring as well.

(sometimes even a little dingy or dirty…nobody wants that.)

Here’s five outfits I’ve styled starring the sibyl everyday bag, with five ways to wear gray that will highlight your style, not make you fade into the background.

 

choose a print

 

The best way to make any outfit interesting is to choose a print, of course! Think how boring this outfit would look with a plain t-shirt and a plain cardigan.  The sibyl everyday bag isn’t printed, but the design stitched in has the same effect…much more eye-catching than solid gray.

This outfit is also a great example of the versatile style of the sibyl everyday bag  – even though it has a very sophisticated air, it works just as easily with super casual weekend wear.

 

choose interesting tailoring

 

By “tailoring” I mean both the style and shape of a garment, as well as how it fits. Wide leg jeans are definitely coming back in style, but you don’t see them everywhere yet – you’ll still stand out in a crowd of skinny jeans and baggy, boyfriend-style jeans. When you don’t blend into the background, it’s so much easier to feel confident and stylish!

You can’t beat Haider Ackermann for interesting tailoring, and this jacket is so eye-catching that it almost has to be in unassuming gray to really show off the design. Way more interesting than a more conventionally styled top!

 

choose interesting texture

 

Texture can elevate any outfit in the same way a print does – by adding visual interest, and providing a little escape from the ordinary.

It’s why I added stitched details to the sibyl everyday bag, rather than just creating a bag in solid gray and solid red.

Texture can be added to plain fabrics with techniques like embroidery or applique, or can be a part of the fabric itself, like the eyelet lace of this top (or the nubby texture of wool tweed, for example).

 

choose outstanding accessories

 

 

It is absolutely okay to have your handbag (or some other awesome accessory) be the star of your outfit!

These pants are pretty amazing on their own (the interesting design details is what does it), but imagine for a moment plain gray trousers, and this feature-less black top. Pretty dull, and not something that’s going to help you feel confident and stylish when you wear it.

But add a great handbag like sibyl and some gorgeous pearl jewelry, and it’s a completely different story!

This is the whole concept behind a capsule wardrobe, of course. The key to making your capsule wardrobe work is having versatile, interesting accessories that work for lots of different looks!

 

choose to not wear gray at all

 

 

 

Remember friends, coordinating and matching are not the same thing! This outfit is a great example of how neutrals can be mixed and matched together indefinitely. It’s also another great example of making your handbag the focal point of your outfit.

The gray and red are actually the accents of this outfit, rather than the starting point. With everything else black and white, the bright red of the sibyl bag really stands out!

 

Have I given you some ideas on how to experiment with your style? For more ideas, subscribe to the Insider’s List and I’ll send you 7 Style Experiments to try right now, and you’ll never feel like a wallflower again!

 

 

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four more ways to wear your button scarf

New button scarves are now available in the shop, designed especially for those autumn days that quickly shift between hot and cold. Not only do they make a great accessory for your transitional outfits, they make an awesome addition to your year-round capsule wardrobe!

I’ve already shown you 7 ways to wear your button scarf with some winter varieties, but here are four more ways to make all your outfits bold and bright.

 

with both buttons + the lining folded inwards

the Holland Cox button scarf in gold chevron

This is the carmela scarf, shown with both buttons done up, and the top edge folded inside. This is a great way to show off the print on the scarf, and hide the lining if you’d rather not incorporate the contrast into your look.

It also makes the scarf look a bit fuller, even with the lightweight linen/cotton blend lining. This is also a great way to show off the pretty akoya shell buttons!

 

with one button + the lining folded inwards

handpainted button scarf in gold and black essex linen from Holland Cox

The persephone scarf is perfect for this look, as it really showcases the abstract petal shape to the maximum! With only one button done up, they are both hidden, so this look is all about the scarf itself and not the buttons.

This is the kind of accessory that could easily be the star of any capsule wardrobe, as it would look amazing with pretty much any solid color top or dress. Imagine the possibilities!

The persephone scarf is perhaps best example from my latest collection of how neutral doesn’t have to mean plain or boring.

 

Interested in making the most of your wardrobe?

Subscribe to the Insider’s List and I’ll send you 7 Style Experiments to Try right now. You’ll be well on your way to looking effortlessly stylish & feeling happy & confident!

 

with one button + styled asymmetrically

the anjelica button scarf from Holland Cox

Instead of starting with the flat part against your neck, you can start with the curved edge instead, and you get a completely different look!

This shows the anjelica scarf with the curved edges against the neck, and styled with one button done up, so the scarf sits asymmetrically around your neck. It’s a very dramatic look, and perfect for the scarves with an all-over pattern stitched in, like the anjelica scarf and the cassandra scarf.

You’ll want to wear your scarf this way when your outfit is otherwise very sedate and conservative, but you still want to make a big impact! This look is guaranteed to turn heads, and make people wonder who you are and why you’re so impossibly stylish and confident. 🙂

 

styled asymmetrically + the lining folded down

hand painted button scarf from Holland Cox

A variation on the previous look, this style option will let you show off the lining of your button scarf. It adds another dimension to your look, and can help tie in the scarf with other elements of your outfit. Shown here is the octavia scarf, featuring hand painted gold stars with black stitching, and lining in a natural flax color.

All the autumn button scarves are lined in essex linen, a linen/cotton blend that is soft and flexible, making them easy to wear through the autumn and early days of winter.

Are you inspired to try some of these looks? Check out all of the button scarves in my shop and figure out which ones will work best with your wardrobe! Imagine how each one could elevate your capsule wardrobe, and transform your favorite outfits into something outstanding.

 

 

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five ways to dress yourself between seasons

Even though the magazines and stylists and organizational experts say I should, I never “turnover” my closet when the seasons change. Instead, I re-style! Let me show you a few ways you can do the same, starring the trinity everyday bag from my latest collection.

 

add a layer on top

 

 

The easiest way to make your summer clothes work for the fall is to add a layer. I especially love a denim jacket for this! Denim looks great with nearly any color and any fabric, and works with any complexion or coloring.

If you need a more formal look, choose a dark wash, and more tailored details (something that looks more like a blazer than a motorcycle jacket), and you can even wear your denim jacket to work!

 

add a layer underneath

 

 

 

Global warming means weather is more unpredictable than ever, and can be strangely severe at the most unexpected times. Around here in the DC area, it is no longer unheard of to hit 80 degrees in November!

But 80 degrees in the fall does not feel like 80 degrees in the summer! You’d be cold in just a tank top, but it’s way too warm for a jacket or sweater. The solution? Layer your lightweight garments for the perfect in-between effect.

 

remove a layer

 

 

You might be saving your sweater dresses for the serious cold weather, when we’re past this transition time and truly into winter. But you can totally wear them now.

Instead of piling on a chunky scarf and wearing thick tights with your sweater dress, skip the scarf and go with bare legs. You’re only half-way to winter, so you can totally wear a half-wintery outfit!

 

switch out your shoes

 

 

This one’s easy: take an outfit you might normally wear with flats, sandals, or open-toed shoes, and wear it with boots (or ankle booties) instead.

You could also try wearing tights or socks with shoes you normally wear bare-foot. You’d be surprised how much warmer your whole body feels when just your feet are covered up!

 

mix it up

 

 

Why not try taking one element from your “winter” wardrobe and mixing it with one from your “summer” wardrobe?

This outfit is built on a wooly pencil skirt, that you might normally wear in the winter with a sweater, or a blouse and a jacket. In between seasons, try wearing that same skirt with something from your summer closet. Maybe something that you’d normally put underneath something else, like this lightweight ribbed top.

 

Are you inspired to look at your closet in a new way? You can always get more out of your favorite clothes if you get creative about styling, and have the right accessories! Then you can make your capsule wardrobe work year-round, and still have plenty of different outfits to express your personal style and make you feel happy and confident.

Visit the shop for more on the trinity everyday bag, and think about how it might make the favorites from your closet look new again!

 

 

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how to style a maxi skirt for the weekend

maxi skirt on the weekend

 

 

Two words: easy and stylish. That’s why I love wearing maxi skirts on the weekend – maximum style for minimum effort!

I have several featuring different types of wild prints in bold colors, but a black and white striped one will of course go with everything.

Add a pretty top (plus a bit of denim if you need a second layer) and an amazing bag, and you’ll be the best dressed wherever you go, even if it’s just to run errands.

 

Check out the regina tote for a bag that is pretty and stylish enough to make an impact, but big and versatile enough to carry all weekend long.

 

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how to style a maxi skirt, part 4: oooo shiny!

black and gold and roses

 

 

Even solid colored maxi skirts can feel quite dramatic when you’re used to a more subdued silhouette. But what about a maxi skirt that’s bold, bright, and shiny?

Just because something has a little shine doesn’t mean you can’t wear it during the day!

As always, it’s in the styling. Paired with a tailored jacket and the classy and understated moira tote, this rose print skirt is ready for daytime wear. If at the end of the day you find yourself at a cocktail reception, even better!

See more of the moira tote here, and think of how she could elevate some of the outfits in your closet!

 

 

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how to wear maxi skirts to the office

how to wear maxi skirts to the office

 

 

A wrap top is something simple and easy-to-wear that looks great with maxi skirts. When you pick one with tailored details, you instantly elevate your whole outfit to something worthy of the C-suite!

A maxi skirt is definitely a more dramatic option than your average pencil skirt in the same fabric. And sometimes that’s exactly what you need…a little bit of drama to help you stand out from the crowd. Something a little unusual that sets you apart from the masses. When you are the boss (or just want to be), blending into the background is not what you want!

That bit of drama is what I love most about wearing maxi skirts. I styled this skirt (with a really great hemline, so it’s hardly plain even though it’s a solid color) and wrap top with the gloria tote, a bag that shares the same type of drama.

The giant mandala-style motif will stand out in a sea of black and brown briefcases, and make every eye in the room settle on you: where did she get that amazing bag? is not something you hear when you choose the plain one!

Classy jewelry and interesting shoes round out the look, and solidify your position as best dressed and most confident in the room.

Check out some other ways to style the gloria tote, and pick it up for yourself here.

 

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how to style a maxi skirt, part 2

bold and bright maxi skirt

 

 

You might look at a maxi skirt like this – with a bold print, and bright color – and think it’s impractical. What could you possibly wear with it? Where are you going to wear it?

Friends, I’m here to tell you that practical does not mean plain.

I LOVE maxi skirts with bold prints, and I wear them all the time! Yes, me, with my 5’3″ self! My favorite top to pair with such a skirt is a wrap top. They are stylish, comfortable, and can work with pretty much anything and go anywhere. With a skirt this bright and bold, solid black is all you really need!

I styled it with gold jewelry, black booties, and the felicity tote (which is big enough to be used as a briefcase) to make this maxi skirt work for the office.

But imagine this same skirt and top with heels and a little clutch, and you have a perfect outfit for a night out!

Don’t think something has to be plain to make it practical. If you love hot pink, then a tote bag like felicity is going to be the most practical bag you own, and a skirt like this might be your favorite thing to wear.

Subscribe to the Insider’s List for more inspiration like this…let me help you figure out your personal style so that you always feel happy and confident, no matter what you wear!

 

Click here to see the next part in the series on how to style maxi skirts.

 

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how to style a maxi skirt

khaki doesn't have to be boring

 

 

I hope I’ve inspired you to try wearing mini skirts, but maxi skirts can be just as versatile, and sometimes just as intimidating!

If you’re short like me, you’ve probably been told that a maxi skirt will “overwhelm” you. If you’re tall, you might have been told a maxi skirt will only exaggerate your height (as if that’s some kind of bad thing).

 

Click here to subscribe to the Insider’s List, and I’ll send you a short series of posts on how to define your personal style, including one on how and when to ignore fashion “rules.”

 

The truth is anybody can wear a maxi skirt, and you can make one work for any occasion. You just have to pick one that makes you feel happy and confident, and then style it in a way that works for the occasion!

I’m always preaching against khaki, but this skirt has way too much personality to be boring! I styled it with a black and white striped top, because stripes go with everything.

The anjelica tote and a pretty scarf add color and more interest to the outfit, and classy gold jewelry and amazing boots finish off the look.

You could absolutely wear this to the office! You could wear cute little kitten heels and wear it on a date. You could switch out the shoes for flats and wear this outfit all weekend.

Have I convinced you to think about maxi skirts in a new way?

 

Click here to see the next post in the series!

 

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