Category Archives: inspiration

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!



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 – anything 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.





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!




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!




versatile style: six outfit ideas featuring the cassandra 517 tote

I wear my favorite outfits over and over again because they make me feel happy & confident…they feature my favorite patterns, my favorite colors, and cuts and styles that make me feel good!

That’s the secret to solving your ‘what to wear’ problems forever…falling in love with your favorites and sticking to them. But how can you fall in love with something plain?

Check out these outfits I’ve styled around the cassandra 517 tote, to show you practical does not mean plain. None of these looks would be nearly as great with a plain bag!


with a sweater dress

the cassandra tote from Holland Cox with a sweater dress
Fall seems like it’s finally here, so you can pull your sweater dresses out of your closet! This one is a perfect match for the cassandra 517 tote, but your sweater dress can be in any color and any pattern.

I designed the cassandra tote as an interesting and bold way to wear neutrals – black and off-white go with everything, but that doesn’t mean they have to be plain. The stitched details and unusual silhouette guarantees it stands out from plain and boring tote bags. I picked the other accessories because they do the same, even though they’re all in neutral colors.


with a floral motif

the cassandra tote from Holland Cox with florals
This outfit has a floral theme going on – the blouse and jewelry all feature different botanical motifs, that work perfectly together because the colors coordinate. When mixing prints, I always say that stripes + florals are a foolproof way to go (because stripes go with everything)!

Chevron stripes are in fact stripes, even if they’re wavy, like on the cassandra tote. Want more ideas on mixing prints? Subscribe to the Insider’s List and I’ll send you a short series of posts all about style experiments to try!


with another chevron print

the cassandra tote from Holland Cox with a chevron skirt
The chevron wave motif on the cassandra 517 tote is one of my favorites, and has kind of become my signature. I always start by hand-drawing on the fabric, and then stitching over my drawing with heavy duty thread. It’s a modern and unusual take on the chevron pattern, but it still coordinates perfectly with more traditional chevron stripes!

Imagine this outfit with thick tights, and you’ll definitely be the best dressed at any fall or winter event. Mixing the same print in different scales or colors is a really sophisticated way to style your outfits.


with a spot of red

the cassandra tote with a circle skirt and black sweater
This is a pretty bold skirt. You might be tempted to think only plain accessories could accompany such a skirt, but I think the opposite: something plain could never be good enough for a skirt as awesome as this one!

Letting bold motifs and accessories play off one another is what turns individual pieces into outfits, and what turns clothes into fashion. When you start with accessories that are bold and bright instead of plain, it practically happens automatically. What’s better than effortless style?


with a bit of gold

the cassandra tote with a metallic black and gold blouse and jeans
Who doesn’t love a little bit of shine? Metallic accents are very trendy right now, and the black and off-white of the cassandra tote will look amazing with all of them. Warm tones like gold, bronze, and copper will look just as great as the cooler tones of silver or platinum.

The best part is, when you’re tired of the metallic trend, your tote bag will still look amazing with whatever comes next!


with the denim dress formula

the cassandra tote from Holland Cox with a denim dress

The denim dress formula is this: a denim dress + an awesome bag + any shoes = instant awesome outfit. The beauty of the formula is that denim dresses come in so many styles and fabrics these days, you can find one for any occasion!

This one is perfect for the office. A sheath dress with clean lines is all-purpose and all-season, and can be made to work even in a conservative work place. The cassandra 517 tote is sophisticated enough to double as a briefcase, and will surely outshine your colleagues’ plain black and brown bags!


Imagine any of these outfits with a plain bag…would they be as eye-catching? Would they make sure all eyes are on you (where they should be)? Could you fall in love with these looks enough to make them your go-to outfits, your favorites that you can depend on, so you don’t have to think so hard about getting dressed in the morning? Click here to see more details of the cassandra 517 tote, and imagine her with your favorite outfits!






six more outfit upgrades with a button scarf

I’ve already shown you how to upgrade your wardrobe basics (like a pencil skirt) with a button scarf. Now that the new collection is out, here are six more outfit ideas for you, proof that accessories as bold and colorful as a button scarf can also be versatile and practical!


your date night outfit

the anjelica button scarf with your date night outfit
I feel very confident guessing that your go-to date night outfit includes something black.

(Am I wrong?)

The anjelica scarf in black metallic essex linen is pretty much a guaranteed show-stopper. Pair it with anything black, and suddenly your favorite thing (which you already love) is even better! A little bit of shine and a little bit of style goes a long way.

(Also shown: the felicity small perfect pouch)


your favorite dress

the rosetta button scarf with a black and white dress
The button scarves are a great way to add a shot of color, and the rosetta button scarf is a perfect example.

This fabric is actually a very subtle tonal rose print, in shades of red that are intense rather than extremely bright. Picture it with every black-and-white item in your closet, and visualize the instant upgrade!


your classic trench coat

the cassandra 517 tote and the cassandra scarf with your classic trench coat
Naturally, the button scarves integrate seamlessly with your outerwear, regardless of the weather.

With a trench coat this classy and stylish, how could you pair it with a plain scarf? The cassandra button scarf (available in winter and autumn versions) is worthy of your designer outerwear, and will instantly upgrade anything else you wear with it.

(Also shown: the cassandra 517 tote)


your skinny jeans

black and gold button scarf from Holland Cox with your skinny jeans
The carla button scarf is bold simplicity at it’s finest: a sweet floral print is rendered in metallic gold, on a black background for maximum impact.

Think of every black dress, shirt, and sweater you own, and imagine wearing them with this dose of glamour and style, instead of all alone.

Your skinny jeans and favorite black top will never look the same again!

(Also shown: the phoenix small perfect pouch)


your floral blouse

the aida button scarf from Holland Cox with your favorite office outfit
The button scarves are a great way to experiment with mixing prints, especially the aida button scarf, which is in a subtle crosshatch pattern in black and white. It will look amazing with lots of different prints in different scales and colors, because stripes go with everything!

Afraid to mix prints? Afraid to wear even ONE print much less mix them? Get on the Insider’s List…subscribers get a short series of posts from me about how to find your personal style through easy and creative experimentation…click here to sign up!

If you want to experiment with mixing prints but are afraid to jump in, know that black and white stripes (FYI: checks — like on this skirt, and on the aida button scarf — are just stripes in a different shape) literally go with everything. You can’t get this one wrong, so don’t be scared to give it a try!


your favorite t-shirt

a gold button scarf with your favorite t-shirt outfit
Just because the button scarves have a very elegant and stylish vibe, does not mean you can’t break one out on the weekend, when you’re wearing your favorite snarky t-shirt! High style doesn’t have to be a lot of work, especially when you have a bold, easy-to-wear accessory like a button scarf.

(Shown here: the nichelle autumn button scarf, and the lola mini perfect pouch)


Want some ideas on how to wrap and button up the scarf? So far, I’ve come up with eleven different ways to wear them (check out 7 ways here, plus 4 more ways here), and I can’t wait to show you more! In the mean time, What’s in your closet that could do with an upgrade?




how to wear gray, part 2

Most of the time, plain neutrals can be too dull to make you feel happy and confident.

But there is definitely a way to make neutrals amazing, and to wear them without fading away (check out part 1 of how to wear gray)!

Here are a few more ways to wear gray (starring the simone 517 tote) that will make you feel fabulous, not like you’re fading away!


choose a contrasting color


how to wear gray: with bright red


The last thing you want is to look dingy or dull, and gray paired with other neutrals can lead you right down that horrible path.

What you need is something that pops against the gray, and nothing pops like bright red! The simone 517 tote is backed with bright red vinyl, and is lined in red quilted cotton, so clearly red is my favorite color to contrast with gray!

The McQueen tartan suggests gray without matching it exactly, and the peplum top echoes one of my suggestions from the last post about choosing interesting silhouettes.

Wear this outfit to the office, and everyone else wearing black and gray and brown will be the ones fading into the background!


play with patterns and shapes


how to wear gray: with contrasting prints


One of the best things about the 517 tote is its unusual shape – gentle curves instead of straight lines make it a bit more stylish than your average tote bag, and the radiating lines of the simone tote in particular are both eye-catching and oddly demure.

I chose this top (instead of something plain) for this outfit because it achieves the same effect.  Black and white gingham is a subtle but interesting pattern, and the ruffled half-sleeve is an unusual silhouette in a world of three-quarter sleeves and cold-shoulder tops.

This outfit wouldn’t be the same with a plain t-shirt, would it?


wear a denim dress

how to wear gray: with denim


The whole point of the denim dress formula is to get you thinking about denim dresses the same way you think about your jeans: your go-to thing for effortless dressing.

Since this dress is slim fitting with very clean lines, it compliments the sleekness of the simone tote beautifully!

Classy gold jewelry and red d’orsay heels give this outfit a very ladylike look. But both the dress and the bag would work just as well with more casual accessories…such is the power of a great bag and a denim dress!


Check out my Pinterest boards for more outfit ideas on how to wear prints and high style denim!.




denim high style

You’ve probably noticed I love to design and sew with denim. I have used it in every single collection since I started Holland Cox in 2004! I’ve used it on every accessory and every style of handbag.

I use it so much because I love to wear it, and I truly believe it can work for nearly any occasion.

Here’s some outfit ideas that epitomize high style denim:


at the office

how to wear denim to the office: with the anjelica 517 tote
What to wear to work is a constant worry for anyone who doesn’t have a uniform or a home office…it never ends! The anjelica 517 tote is a great example of a denim bag that is sophisticated enough to coordinate flawlessly with a professional outfit.

Here I’ve paired her with a crisp white shirt, an asymmetrical skirt, and polished details like amber jewelry and a silk scarf. The back of the anjelica 517 tote is bright red vinyl, so red accessories are the perfect finishing touch. A plain brown or black bag just wouldn’t look as interesting!


on date night

how to wear denim on date night: with a cute denim clutch and mini skirt
Everyone counts on denim to be casual, but it can be cute and sexy, too! This date night outfit is built on a classic denim pencil skirt. Along with a cute top and killer shoes, all you need is a stylish clutch, here in the form of the Holland Cox perfect pouch.

The simone perfect pouch is only 8″ wide and not quite 6″ tall, so it can easily double as a petite clutch that sits in the palm of your hand. Perfect for your wallet, keys, phone, and lipstick!


on the weekend

how to wear denim on the weekend: with a stylish handbag
One of the things I love about denim is that it will effortlessly mix with absolutely anything, including any and all shades of blue. This casual weekend look is proof! Black, navy, royal, cornflower blue, and gray all easily coordinate with the denim on the holland everyday bag.

You should never feel the need to match, but it’s especially not necessary with denim. What could be more versatile than that?

Check out my Pinterest board on high style denim for more examples of how versatile and stylish denim can be!




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!



get inspired: free coloring page!

I try to find something to get inspired about (or get excited about!) every day, and it’s always been my goal for this blog to do the same for you: to offer a little bit of inspiration (or maybe even education).

Last week, I found inspiration in many places, and actually had a pretty amazing week, making-wise (more on that later).

One bit of inspiration came courtesy of the always amazing Meryl Streep, and our dearly departed rebel princess, Carrie Fisher.

Carrie Fisher quote mandala coloring page

Meryl’s speech was amazing in lots of ways, but that closing quote hit me hard in the feels! I was surprisingly weepy and pretty heartbroken when I heard about Carrie Fisher’s death, and I had considered myself more-or-less recovered until I heard that speech.

The sentiment alone is so powerful…I’ve always felt that creativity is transformative, and that making things can literally change your life (it changed mine). But to know it came out of the mouth of one of my favorite people ever? A personal hero of grade-school Valerie and real life role model for grown-up Valerie? The phrase was stuck in my head all last week.

I did a sketch on Thursday and I hated it, but I went back to one of my favorite mandalas from my sketch book (the one that ended up on the regina tote bag), and this coloring page is the result.

Click here to download it, and spend some time this week (or whenever) with your markers, crayons, or colored pencils. I’d love to see your finished versions!