Category Archives: new stuff

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!




how to wear your new button scarf

The things I make for you should make you feel happy and confident, not stressed! (There’s nothing stylish or fun about anxiety.) That’s why I designed my fabric button scarf to be worn in pretty much any way you like. There’s no wrong answer!

I add new ones to the shop all the time, so check out my latest button scarves and see which ones fit in to your wardrobe best.

Still, I know you want to know how I’ve styled them in the photos, how they’re “supposed” to be worn. Guess what, it’s really simple!

step 1: hold the flat part against your neck

the astrid scarf

step 2: wrap around your neck and button in front. Done!

astrid scarf buttoned in front

The button scarf is very versatile, and can be worn lots of different ways. Let’s look at some variations!

Try wearing it with the buttons in front, as shown here on the dragon button scarf:

the dragon button scarf

Or, you could twist it a bit around your neck, so the buttons sit on your shoulder, like on the milano scarf here:

purple twill scarf with windowpane check stitching

Maybe you want some of the flannel or fleece lining to show, or maybe it’s just not that cold.

You could roll over the top edge a bit, as shown on the radiance scarf here:

button scarf with hand drawn mandala

What if the temperature drops suddenly!? You’re going to want that cozy, warm lining right against your face.

Maybe you just want to show off the lovely print on your new scarf. Maybe you’ve spotted a frenemy across the coffee shop and you’d rather not engage. Hide behind your awesome scarf and stay incognito!

Check out the astrid scarf in action:

the astrid scarf in action

Another way to show off the lining: unbutton one of the buttons and let the front of the scarf hang down. This is a nice way to highlight the button, too!

Check out this look on the coveted scarf:

coveted scarf with lining showing

Once you’ve tried all those variations, you can start from the beginning and try them all again, this time with the curved edge of the scarf against your neck.

You’ll get a completely different look!

Here’s the paris scarf with one button left undone, and the lining folded down to form a sort of collar:

paris scarf with the lining folded down

With the istanbul scarf, you’ll want to show off that bold gold chevron, so wear it unfolded and high against your cheek for a very dramatic effect!

black and gold chevron button scarf

I hope I’ve given you some good ideas, but remember these are just the beginning. Experiment and figure out your own way to wear your new button scarf! You’ll know when you get it right when you look at yourself in the mirror and can’t help but get excited at how awesome you look. 🙂

Send me pictures of you wearing yours, or tag me on Instagram or Twitter!




you’re invited: small biz saturday trunk show!

I’m doing my Thanksgiving weekend sale a little differently this year: live and in person!

evolved zipper pouches

Come out to the small-but-awesome Covet boutique in Arlington, VA to see the latest from my evolution collection, as well as fan favorites from previous years. I’ll have lots of pretty things for everyone on your list, even the guys!

As always, everything is limited edition or one-of-a-kind, and of course, everything will be on sale!

Where: Covet // 5140 Wilson Blvd // Arlington VA, 22205
When: Saturday November 28 // 11am – 6pm
Why: handmade awesomeness // holiday shopping // support indie business

Tell your friends (or drop hints) by sharing this post, or the Facebook invite.

If you’re not local, no worries: all the pretties will be available online, stay tuned!



drawing inspiration

doodling with Sharpies

One of my new year’s resolutions was to draw more. I wanted to get into the habit of drawing regularly, but also I was intrigued by the idea of drawing on fabric, which I had never done before, and figured I could use some practice before I jumped in.

I started by delving into my collection of Sharpies, and just mindlessly doodling. I learned on Pinterest that these days, that’s called zentangle. Along with adult coloring books, it’s become a popular way to relax, and a simple way to meditate. I can confirm it is completely addicting! (Check out my Instagram feed to see some examples from earlier in the year.)

mandala-style floral doodles

Eventually my doodles turned into more mandala-style florals, and paisleys reminiscent of henna tattoos (it happened by accident, but I just went with it).

Some of those doodles became useful when I did Pattern Camp this summer, but I still wanted to draw directly on fabric.

I really like the idea of using hand drawing as a way to make a single product completely unique…truly one-of-a-kind, in a way that something made from plain or commercially-printed fabric couldn’t be.

This process is clearly not practical for any kind of mass production, but that has never been my goal, anyway.

watch roll with hand drawn details

This watch roll was the first item for my shop with a hand-drawn element, and the first thing I made with floral style doodles, rather than the more graphic, geometric designs of my gold leather experiment. (Click here to see the details on this watch roll.)

So far, I’ve experimented with fabric markers, Sharpies, and paint pens on twill, canvas, denim, and linen, and I’m currently trying to talk myself out of buying fabric paint as well!

(I’ve always loved drawing, and therefore have always been in love with markers and pencils and crayons, but for some reason paint brushes intimidate me.)

fabric dopp kits with vintage, upcycled, and hand drawn fabric

I’m still drawing almost every day, and figuring out the best ways to get my doodles onto fabric and then on to Holland Cox products! There will be new dopp kits next week, one of which will have hand drawing (sneak peek above).

The drawing probably won’t end up on everything…it really isn’t practical time-wise, but it’s so much fun! So you’ll probably see it on a few handbags this fall and other things as well. Get on the list to stay in the know…newsletter subscribers always see the new goodies first!



pattern camp is the only camp for me

It has been my secret desire for a very long time to design fabric!

blue flower scatter repeat

I have an entire Pinterest board about pattern and textiles. Shopping for fabric (including window shopping) is my #1 favorite past time next to actually sewing. So when I found a link (on Pinterest, of course!) to Jessica Swift’s Pattern Camp, I knew I had found the only summer camp for me!

An intense, hands-on approach to learning how to make repeating patterns was like a dream come true, and I jumped on it right away.

paisley sketch in green sharpie sketch rendered in black via photoshop


I learned SO MUCH that honestly my head is still spinning with it all! Camp was especially thrilling not only because I was learning something completely new (it’s been a while for me!), but something that I’ve wanted to learn about for such a long time (nothing like satisfying that burning and pining).

So here’s the process…first you start with a sketch. The green ink drawing above came from my sketch book, and was done in bright green Sharpie sometime in May, when I was obsessed with drawing these mandala-style florals and paisleys.

After spending lots of quality time with Photoshop (and learning the hard way that it’s best to start with a drawing in black ink), I was able to turn it into the clean, clear, black and white image on the right. Somehow it rotated in the process of scanning and cleaning up, that was not at all intentional!

inspiration chair and color swatches

Next came color! I used this image (from another Pinterest board of mine) as color inspiration. I remember being intrigued by those particular shades of green and blue when I originally pinned this chair to my “pretty places and spaces” board.

Using the nifty eyedropper tool in Illustrator, I extracted the colors on the right from the chair image, and then altered them a bit to suit my whimsy. I had absolutely NO plan in mind, and it was incredibly freeing and fun to just play with the color wheel. I added a purple because I love purple (obviously) and because why not? Then I went to town on my mandala-style sketch.

second attempt at repeating pattern

I ended up removing the paisley portion of the image, and focusing on the flower and the leaves. After much experimentation, this is the repeating design I came up with. The process of coloring an image and then manipulating it (adding and removing elements, adjusting the colors, rotating, rescaling, reflecting, et cetera) was completely addicting and I could easily get sucked in and just do it all day long.

This is not even the final version of this pattern, I went back and played with the colors quite a bit more. I’ve also gone back and used the full image (and altered it in other ways) to make other patterns. But I love the idea of preserving my first try, so here we are!

What am I going to do next? First thing is I’ve got to sell a kidney to get a major computer upgrade and the new Illustrator and Photoshop software. It’s pricey but amazing. I used a free trial during the course of the camp got completely hooked.

Then, there’s lots and lots of practice in my future! Stay tuned for more patterns, and hopefully some pretty things made with fabrics I designed!




a sneak peek at the Holland Cox satchel

The best part of my job is making the pictures in my head come to life. The thrill of being able to hold something that started out as just as an idea will never get old!

the phoenix satchel from Holland Cox

My new collection is all about a brand new handbag style: the satchel. The first versions of the satchel appeared in my sketchbook two years ago, and I have since drafted and tested four version of the pattern.

custom woven fabric in red and orange

The results are the six handbags of my evolution collection, which will be available next week!

Even before I settled on the satchel style, I knew my next collection would be all about red. And as always, my favorite way to make handbags is to make them about combining color and texture in interesting ways.

But with evolution, I wanted to experiment even more: with shapes, with construction techniques, with the details and with accessories.

the eventide chain strapthe eventide satchel, with matching chain strap

The satchel is not only the first new handbag I’ve designed in two years, but it’s completely new: unlike anything I’ve made before, and thankfully unlike anything you’ll see at the mall.

Stay tuned to see all six…they’ll be on the website next week, and only Insider newsletter subscribers will get an awesome introductory price. Click here to sign up for the Insider list, and don’t miss out!



a sneak peek at my spring 2012 collection

Last summer, when I first started thinking about purples and blues for my la acquabella collection, I already knew that my next collection was going to be all about green.

green and gray fabrics, for Holland Cox spring 2012.fabrics for the spring collection: green & gray

I’ve been in love with a certain shade of bright, apple green for a long time…probably since 2005 or so. I’ve used it very often in previous collections, but this is the first time that green will be the star of the show!

reverse applique in progress, for Holland Cox spring 2012
reverse applique in progress, for an envelope clutch

This is the best part of my job…I’ve been having the most fun mixing fabrics and textures, and coming up with new ways to create a handbag worth coveting. I never want to make anything that’s too much what you could find at the mall…what’s the point of that?

patchwork envelope clutch in progress, for Holland Cox spring 2012patchwork envelope clutch in progress

The collection will be out on April 26. As always, newsletter subscribers will see the goodies first, as well as get a pretty sweet introductory price. Become an insider and don’t get left out!

circle applique in progress, for Holland Cox spring 2012
applique on a wristlet in progress

Check out my Pinterest board to see some of my inspirations for this collection…and stay tuned for lots of awesome ways to wear one of my favorite colors…how do you like to wear green?




the story behind the fall collection

The 2010 fall collection is finally here! It’s something completely new for me and for Holland Cox, and I had a lot of fun (and lost a lot of sleep) putting it together.

My goal was to see if I could ease up on my dependency on bold, wild patterns, and instead express my love for deep, saturated color through texture (above: the ankara wristlet).

It was a challenge to come up with eighteen (six each of my three flagship designs) unique expressions of texture, but I’m pretty happy with how they all turned out.

I found myself particularly attracted to ruffles, specifically tuxedo-style (above: the salamanca wristlet). I also used embroidery, quilting, applique, patchwork, and vintage notions like zippers and buttons as surface decoration.

Especially exciting was using materials from fellow makers, like hand-dyed silk ribbon from Crystal J. Silk of Richmond, VA, and wool felt from Giant Dwarf of Philadelphia, PA.

I wanted to make all eighteen completely unique and one-of-a-kind. I didn’t totally abandon the patterns, either…some of my favorites from past collections showed up here and there (below: the singapore classic handbag, featuring a pair of blue lagoon prints from 2008).

Working on something completely new like this is the absolute best thing about my job…there’s nobody around to tell me not to take risks, to question why I want to do something different, or to tell me that breaking from the norm will be “too hard.”

While being a solopreneur gives me unlimited freedom, it also means I have to do everything myself (for now anyway!), and friends, I will not lie, this collection was an unheard of amount of work (below: the helsinki envelope clutch).

I learned a lot about myself putting this collection together, not the least of which is that I am officially too old for the all-nighter. Seriously. Also, back-to-back-to-back 18 hour days are probably not the best idea, either.

But there was no other way to get it all done, so I have no regrets! Also, I know myself, and I’m pretty sure that as time passes, the pain associated with the process will diminish, and I’ll only remember the warm fuzzy feelings I get when I make something that I love.

Unfortunately I mean pain in the most literal sense…one memorable evening I had to go to bed early, because my entire left arm was tight and itchy, hurting from about 4-5 hours of nonstop embroidery, sewing on buttons, and tacking down ruffles by hand (below: the bombay classic handbag). Ouch.

Some of you familiar with my older collections have probably noticed something else new about this one…the names of the handbags.

From the very beginning I resisted the urge to name my handbags after women, which a lot of indie handbag designers do. Instead, I chose somewhat random words and phrases, like “temptation” or “seize the night.”

This time, I chose to name each handbag after an international city. This fall is perhaps the first time I consciously tried to create a unified collection (in concept anyway, if not in colorways), and I wanted the names to reflect that. Also, the names of faraway cities have always sounded exotic and seductive to me, two words that I associate with the best kinds of fashion accessories (below: the casablanca envelope clutch).

Well friends, that’s the story of my labor or love! I hope their new owners love having them as much I loved making them. Two of the classic handbags are already sold out (remember the whole collection is one-of-a-kind, so now is not the time to hem and haw if you fall in love with one of them).

Since this is something completely new for me, I’d love to hear what you think! What techniques, materials or vintage notions should I use next time?


are you joining the syndicate?

Okay, I don’t know that I’m actually going to call it “the syndicate,” but I sure do like that word. Sounds mysterious and slightly illegal. But my new thing is neither of those things.

My new thing is a brand new division of Holland Cox. Don’t worry, I’m still going to be making all the lovely handmade classics that you’ve grown to love. This new division, whether I call it the syndicate or not, is going to be all about sewing.

Even though all the little parts aren’t in place, I thought I’d go ahead and mention it, because September is National Sewing Month!

To celebrate National Sewing Month, I’m introducing the first element of the syndicate, a super-fun, stress free way to learn to sew and make cool stuff to wear.

This is something I’m super excited about! You all know how much I love to sew, and how it’s a personal crusade of mine to get as many of you sewing too. Well, what better way to make that happen than to teach you myself?

Click here to get all the details on the personalized, one-on-one sewing clinic that I am now offering.

I have big plans, my friends, and I hope you’re as excited as I am! Coming soon, as part of the syndicate:

  • more free tutorials and simple patterns for sewn accessories
  • patterns for sale for more complex accessories that are still a breeze to make
  • lots of tips and advice for using simple sewing skills to create awesome things that only look complicated

The patterns and the sewing lessons are just the tip of the iceberg, friends. Want to be notified when the syndicate is fully operational (or when I decide on it’s real name)? Sign up for my special sewing-news-only newsletter, and get in on the ground floor.

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Any questions, suggestions, concerns? Hit me up in the comments, or send me an email at valerie (at) hollandcox (dot) com. I always welcome suggestions on what types of tutorials you’d like to see next, or what kind of patterns you’d like me to develop!

Also? Tell your friends!


fall 2010 preview

My fall collection is going to be a little bit different this year. The bright colors you’re used to seeing from me will definitely be present, as will the familiar shapes of the wristlet, the classic handbag, and the envelope clutch.

But this time, instead of wild patterns, I’m focusing on texture.

Hand-dyed silk ribbon (from Crystal J. Silk of Richmond, VA), vintage mother-of-pearl buttons, vintage upholstery zippers, and wool felt (from Giant Dwarf of Philadelphia, PA) are just some of the interesting textures that I’ll be incorporating into my three flagship designs this fall.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment of inspiration, but images of the silk ribbon, piles of buttons, and layered felt have been dancing around in my head at least since April. A few weeks ago it all came together, and it has been really exciting to work on something new (and hard to keep it under wraps)!

new look, new deal.
Stay tuned for the final result! The fall collection will be out on Tuesday, September 21.

But, the look of the handbags isn’t the only new thing about the fall 2010 collection. Because each of these handbags will be so unique, they will all be one-of-a-kind.

That’s right! Only eighteen of you will be able to have one of these pretties! Because of the limited nature of the materials, it’s just not possible to make more than one of each.

Also, because these are all particularly labor-intensive, they will be significantly more expensive as well…fair warning.

You might want to get on the mailing list, since newsletter subscribers will not only get the first look at the new collection, but an extremely sweet exclusive price. Stay tuned!