Category Archives: versatile style

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?

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(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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versatile style: the anjelica 517 tote five different ways

Your most versatile accessories are never the plain ones. Your favorites get worn the most because of how they make you feel. How can you feel happy and confident in something dull? How can you fall in love with something plain?

Do yourself and your wardrobe a favor, and pass by the plain! Here are five different ways you could wear the anjelica 517 tote…proving that practical does not mean plain.

 

with distressed jeans

 

denim 517 tote from Holland Cox with distressed jeans and peasant top

The anjelica tote is all about the classic look of gold stitching on dark blue denim. But it’s also bright red on the back (Click here to see all of anjelica’s details)…don’t think that means you can only wear it with red!

Denim anything can be treated as a neutral (you wear your favorite jeans with practically every color, right?), and the anjelica tote is no different. The windowpane check and gentle curves give it a very classy look, but that doesn’t mean you can’t wear it on the weekends, too, with distressed jeans and a cute tank top!

 

with an embroidered mini skirt

 

denim 517 tote with embroidered mini skirt and tank top

Intricate embroidery is very trendy right now, and depending on what motifs you go for, those items may not last too many seasons into the future.

You don’t have to worry about that with the anjelica tote…there’s no motif more classic than a windowpane check, and classic means it never goes out of style. So break out your trendy miniskirts now, and when you’re tired of them, you’ll still have an awesome bag to wear with whatever comes next!

I’ve also styled this outfit with the small perfect pouch and mini pouch in a vintage black and gold damask, which echoes the embroidery trend (and coordinates with the skirt) without being too matchy.  The perfect pouches are designed to work with the 517 totes to corral your smaller goodies, and look great doing it! Check them all out here.

 

with a ruffly maxi skirt

 

denim 517 tote from Holland Cox with ruffly maxi skirt and blouse

This outfit is all about contrasts. The voluminous skirt and fluffy blouse are very romantic, but the knee-high boots and the anjelica tote are much more modern (I like to think the accessories are a little of both!).

They all work together because each piece is quite dramatic, even if they achieve that drama in very different ways. This is not what a wallflower would wear!

 

with a preppy dress

 

denim 517 tote from Holland Cox with striped sun dress

The anjelica 517 tote is automatically going to look amazing with anything in black and white – denim, red, and gold all set off black and white beautifully, so you can’t lose.

This cute little dress is especially a great fit because of it’s shape. Its A-line skirt and fitted bodice echo the gentle curves on the tote, making them perfect for each other!

Girly accessories like sky-high scarlet heels and a flower for your hair round out this cute and flirty outfit. Check out the matching small perfect pouch as well, to hold all your goodies inside your tote!

 

with tailored trousers

 

the anjelica tote from Holland Cox with tailored red trousers

Finally, the anjelica 517 tote makes an amazing work bag. Miles away from the basic black and boring brown briefcases your colleagues will have, anjelica guarantees all eyes will be on you (which is exactly where they should be).

It’s stylish enough for the C-suite, but practical enough to elegantly haul all your office gear around.

 

Knowing all the other ways you can wear it, what could be more versatile? Can you imagine any of these outfits being as eye-catching and interesting with a plain bag?

 

 

 

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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!.

 

 

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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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versatile style: the gloria tote six different ways

You might think something has to be plain to be versatile. I rather like to think the opposite: that the more interesting your accessories, the more useful they become. I’m going to prove it to you, with six very different outfits, all starring the gloria tote bag.

 

Imagine wearing the gloria tote…

 

with distressed jeans

upgrade your distressed jeans

Distressed jeans are super-trendy right now, but wearing them doesn’t mean you have to look like a slob. Pair them with bright colors and interesting prints, and it will look like a purposeful fashion statement, and not that you can’t be bothered to take care of your clothes!

The gloria tote is half denim so of course you can wear it with any pair of jeans. With a pretty floral top and an interesting bag, you have an effortless casual outfit that is a hundred times better than a plain tee and a plain tote!

 

on vacation

on vacation

 

A giant tote bag is always going to be useful while on vacation, whether you’re seeing the sights or just hanging out at the beach. This outfit is all about the classic nautical colors (red, blue, white, and gold) combined in new and interesting ways.

You could absolutely replicate this outfit with a plain maxi skirt and a plain bag. But then you’d look like a mannequin in an outlet store window, and nobody wants that. Choose a boldly striped skirt (stripes go with everything!) and a tote bag with an interesting motif, and you end up looking amazing instead!

 

with leggings and flashy accessories

purple, gold, and blue

 

Even though the main colors of the gloria tote are indigo blue and aubergine purple (both dark and cool-toned), she coordinates beautifully with warmer colors, too.

This would be a great outfit to wear out with your girlfriends – simple and comfortable leggings and tunic, but with eye-catching accessories, bold makeup, and amazing shoes. It would be a crime to wear a plain bag with this look!

 

with leather pants

how to wear leather pants in the summer

 

I hope you don’t think a bag that is mostly denim can’t be upscale and high style as well…

Leather pants and spindly, shiny heels are doing all the work for making this outfit glam. The gloria tote coordinates effortlessly with its eye-catching and bold design. A plain denim bag probably wouldn’t be worthy of this outfit!

 

with sequins

black and gold and denim

 

My absolute favorite flats that I wear nearly every day are gold and sparkly, so I love the idea of shiny during the day. When I saw this sequinned top, I knew I wanted to style it with a denim skirt and the gloria tote bag!

The flower-like mandala motif is very pretty and feminine, so a nice counterpoint is a classic leather motorcycle jacket and some black aviators, for just a little edge.

This outfit is so awesome the shoes almost don’t matter, but if you can wear gold heels, why wouldn’t you want to?

 

at the office

neutral but not boring

 

Some of you are thinking yeah but Valerie, I don’t have a sequinned top or leather pants. Fair enough. But I bet you have some traditionally “neutral” office wear like a navy blouse and cream or gray trousers?

What’s great about this outfit, is that it proves neutrals don’t have to be boring (the windowpane check on the pants and cut of the blouse make both pieces really interesting). The classy accessories and bold tote bag will guarantee you’ll stand out in your office full of dull black suits.

Click here for more details on the gloria tote, and imagine how you’d style her with some of your favorite outfits!

 

 

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