Sunday, January 31, 2016

Polka Dots and Lace: A Night Out with My BFF!

Today I woke up super hoarse. Mike says it's because anytime I hang out with Mandy, the first 20 minutes together we just shout with glee. HA! I have to agree. I used to teach with Mandy, but we are now at new (different) schools in the area. Our time together is not as frequent anymore, but it's always so fun and special! Love you, twin! I always look forward to those nights when we do get to reunite!

Getting ready for our dinner for 2-- prix fix menu for Geneva Restaurant Week!
Check out El Molcajete if you've never been-- phenomenal! 
I love how Mandy styled her polka dot collared shirt. Simple and polished, this look is easy to duplicate!

Lace shirt on me (old Limited): similar herehere and here.
Love this eyelet option: from Banana Republic
Jeans on me: Banana Republic

Mandy's polka dot shirt (old Gap): similar here.
Mandy's jeans: Gap.
Mandy's shoes: Sperry booties.
My nude pumps: Corso Como.

Mandy's teal earrings: similar here
My Vince Camuto earrings: here.
Mac lips on me: Impassioned.

Bestie hugs!!!

Always laughing sooo hard together :-)

Gotta fix the hair! 
Crystal J. Crew bracelet on me: here

Monogram necklace: Moon and Lola in mirrored gold (thanks, Anna!). 

Mandy's coat (old J. Crew Factory): similar here in Sandstone or here in Saddle. 
My coat (old J. Crew Factory): similar here in South Pacific. 
My embellished blush gloves: Ann Taylor

What are your favorite Saturday night activities? I love trying new 'straunts in town. :) 

Happy Sunday! 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Belle On Trend(ing): Current Obsessions


Here's a little look at what's trending in Belle On Trend's world...

[1.0] Express Olive green fit-and-flare dress (online exclusive)
My cousin, Ashley, and my bestie, Mandy, always find the cutest pieces at Express. They motivated me to give Express another try (it had always been my favorite store growing up and through college, but I hadn't been there lately). This fit-and-flare shirt dress would be perfect for a winter night out. With tights and knee-high boots, you'll be warm enough through winter. Come spring, you could ditch the tights and swap out your Fryes for some peep-toe pumps and a fresh pedi.

[2.0] Express Off the shoulder ruffle dress (online exclusive)
How darling is this off-the-should ruffle dress? I am melting for it! It will be ideal for your spring break trip (if you're in a colder climate) yet ready-to-wear for my southern Belles!

[3.0] Kate Spade Bow Neck Workout Jacket
Beyond Yoga has teamed up with Kate Spade to create some of the most adorable workout pieces I have ever laid eyes upon. So many gals tagged me on Instagram for this workout gear (you girls know me well!). It combines three things I love: bows, Pure Barre gear and Kate Spade. Check out this bow neck jacket in the vibrant red (necessary for Fridays at work-- it's a school color!).

[4.0] The Nanette Dress by Camilyn Beth
Absolutely in love with the Nanette Dress by Camilyn Beth. The navy and chiffon is elegant enough to pull you out of the doldrums of winter.  Gray, suede over-the-knee boots would look amazing with this frock. Bonus: look at those dainty, ruffled-flare sleeves!

[5.0] Scalloped ballet flats-- 2 price points
I have been searching far and wide for a pair of scalloped ballet flats. I love all things scalloped; there's no exception when it comes to ballet flats. These Jack Rogers camel flats will welcome spring quite well, as I live in ballet flats at work once the temperatures hit 40 or above. I have three pairs of Jack Rogers sandals from over the years;  the quality is superior, and they remain in impeccable shape.  For an even more phenomenal deal, check out these Athena Alexander ballet flats from Nordies.  The scallops add femininity to any outfit.

[6.0]  J. Crew Tweed Dress (or the blazer version!)
SO many winners in the new J. Crew catalog! On my list to purchase post-tax refund (haha) is this tweed stunner. I can wear it to work AND pair it with fabulous pumps for date night. The color screams "spring," but the weight of the fabric will keep you warm throughout the winter months. Navy tights would be on point with this dress for work. A navy shell underneath and navy pencil skirt would flawlessly pair with the blazer version. Also, essential spring interviewing attire!

[7.0] Banana Republic Shirt Dress
I saw this beauty in stores when I was spending $36 total on four (I KNOW, RIGHT?!) shirts at Banana a few weeks ago. It was originally $118, and it has been marked down to $58. Pair it with navy tights and brown or camel booties (these suede ones are to die for!) until the temperatures stop dipping below comprehensible. :-) Then, pick up the coral, teal, or pink flowers from the dress and pair ballet flats, wedges or Jack Rogers sandals with this dress for spring and summer.

What's on your clothing "shopping list"? Happy weekend!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Valentine's Day Gifts (under $100!) for the Men and Women in Your Life!

Valentine's Day is quickly approaching (insert "eeek" emoji here-- where did January run off to?), and you want to be sure you're ready for the day with your significant other. Your SO could be a new beau in your life (fresh relationship) or it could be the man or woman you've vowed to spend the rest of your life with (Hi, MTF!). No matter if your relationship is days or decades old, Valentine's Day is a romantic day to go above and beyond the normal "showing you care" duties.

For her:

1. 5-Year Question a day journal
My ND bestie, Caitlin, gave all her bridesmaids this amazing gift in 2013 when she got married to her ND love, Tom.  At first, I hesitated to begin using it. I thought I had to wait until the beginning of the month or maybe even the first of the year. I finally went for it-- do not feel like you have to wait, that's the beauty of it-- you can begin your entries on literally any day of the year!  It has been something I look forward to writing in each day.

"What's your favorite accessory?"

"If you could acquire a talent (without any extra effort), what would it be?"

You answer the same question on that particular day for 5 years. It's so fun to see how it changes with each year! I often write down little tidbits, too, like "it snowed today!" because that's so bizarre for April 14! 

2. A Lilly Pulitzer printed bangle 
I am totally in love with these (under $50!) print bangles from Lilly Pulitzer. They'd be adorable for stacking with your lady's watch! It's a little bit of sunshine on her wrist in these long winter months. The doldrums of February can get you down, but with Lilly P's help, you can bottle some of that sunshine and wear it (near) your sleeve. 

3. A fun Kate Spade phone case
Add some pizzazz to your love's iPhone. These new Kate Spade phone cases are perfect for Valentine's Day! She will think of you with every text she sends and every filter she puts on that selfie of you two!  This option and this option are so adorable and romantic!   

Both links listed have a little bling on the phone case-- so fab!

4. A witty graphic tank for her workout of choice
I just discovered Everfitte thanks to my friend Rachel! These tanks are comfortable, hilarious and perfect for hitting up Pure Barre classes or brunch and mimosas with friends. Here is a great one: somewhere between kale and cronuts (amen!). LOVE!  Your gal will love your sense of humor! I just purchased this one: Barre Belle (totes appropes, right?). 
Amy and me at Pure Barre Geneva with our matching Beyond Yoga leggings (on sale for $79!) and 100 Club Pure Barre socks

5. A bouquet of fresh flowers
Check out The Bouqs online! It's a company founded by Notre Dame graduates, and we have had such great luck with their flowers. Every woman loves to receive flowers (any day of the year) but particularly on February 14. It's a fact of life! Bonus points to you, men, if you have them delivered to her place of work! For my birthday, Mike had a vase of my fave flowers (Gerbera Daisies) delivered to Villa Verone so they were awaiting our arrival! It was the kindest and most thoughtful gesture, ever!  Men, good luck! (Bonus: 15% off your first Bouq and free shipping!). 

For the men in your lives...

1. A personalized book about why you love him
What I love About You book (you fill it in!). This is similar to the mom and dad books I mentioned in my Christmas gift ideas blog post (my mom just completed hers for me, and it is hilarious! I am savoring the entries, so I only read a few a day, but her "voice" comes through loud and clear! LOL!). This is personalized and a keepsake that your man will cherish for years to come.

2. Creative books for light reading
Mike has gotten into Randal Munroe's website, and he loves his books. Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words and What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions are two of Mike's favorites. 

3. Unique cuff links
These glasses cuff links are adorable for a man (like mine) who is always bespectacled.  Pretty obsessed with these Millennium Falcon blueprint cuff links! And how darling are these Bow Tie cuff links? Any time your other half dresses up for an occasion, he will think of you buying him these fun cuff links! 

4. A brewery tour! 
From any town you are reading this blog, there will likely be a brewery within 30 miles of you! You can sign up through the website (I highly recommend Penrose's brewery tour! You get a pint of beer for the tour and a growler to fill at a discounted rate). When we went on the brewery tour at Penrose, the brew-masters were incredibly knowledgeable. This event is interesting and memorable. Sometimes events are even more precious than tangible objects. (Hint: try Groupon for excellent deals!). 

5. Personalized beer glass/wine glass
Uncommon Goods has amazing glassware for the man in your life. I love these personalized tree trunk etched glasses. This is something your boyfriend/fiance/husband will treasure for years to come. Each time he sips his favorite Malbec or drinks his desired craft beer, he will think of the two of you. You can add initials and a date (first date, the day you met, the day you got married? The choices are endless) to the "trunk" on the glasses. 

What are you getting for your SO this Valentine's Day? 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Valentine's Day Date Looks

If you're like me, you enjoy a good plan. (Okay, maybe I LOVE a good plan; let's be serious here). I asked my hubs what we were going to do for Valentine's Day last week, and being the incredibly patient and understanding man he is, he knew that was a nudge to make some ressies. Again, he knows me so well!

Mike chose Villa Verone for our romantic dinner (we ADORE VV; we went for my birthday this year and a few times over the last three years of knowing each other).

I have already purchased Mike's Valentine's Day gifts, and I'd love to share them, but it's going to have to be post-February 14. (Hi, babe!). But I'll conjure up some ideas of great gifts for the men in your life for Valentine's Day in a coming entry.

Now for the fun part: dressing for Valentine's Day!

Last year I wore this outfit:
How cute is my man in that bowtie? <3
I get so much wear out of these red pants and polka dot shirt! The pants are perfect for Fridays at my school, as our colors are red and blue! 
Equally adorable shirt (with cherries!): here.

Lauren and I, accidentally twinning! 

Last year, Mike and I had dinner at Fiora's (another phenomenal restaurant in Geneva), and I remember the wind chill being (literally) 40 below 0.  It was PAINFULLY cold. My fingers are crossed that this year's temperatures will be slightly less torturous, but you know how Northern Illinois can be! Thus, the range of outfits for this Valentine's Day will vary, as I know some of you are in much warmer climates! (Hi, Mom in Florida! Hi, Kelly and Sarah in California!).

Here are my top 4 picks for Valentine's Day looks this year:

1. This Lovers + Friends fit and flare dress
I first saw it on Megan Runion's blog, and I knew I had to have it. Particularly at that price point! Check out her fabulous blog-- she's so stylish!

Similar dress idea here (in blush-- currently 50% off!), but it could also double as a work outfit (since the back isn't cut out like the Lovers + Friends find).

2. I talk about the BB Dakota Rhianna Illusion dress in practically every three blogs, but it is just THAT amazing. Mike recently purchased the green for me for my birthday, and here I am in the red for my friend's wedding at Notre Dame in December.  It would be perfect with tights and a cardigan for Valentine's Day!
My recommendation to you is to buy this dress in the Crimson pictured here or the Fuscia/Rose here. You will not regret this purchase! It's perfect to wear as a wedding guest, too!

3. This Camilyn Beth scalloped dress would be absolutely romantic for your Valentine's Day evening! I have to say, if I had the means, I would buy every. single. Camilyn Beth dress ever made. I swoon over every dress she creates! The team at Camilyn Beth is extremely helpful (they helped me decide on a size in my scalloped dress) and truly personal. If you are looking for a dress that is extremely high quality and a company that cares about you as a customer, go to her website and make a purchase.

Side note: her spring line can be pre-ordered, but the pieces would come in post-February 14. Otherwise, this would be the best V-day dress, ever! It is worth every penny, I promise you. Check it out! Love that blush with the ruffle! To die for!

I wore this Camilyn Beth scalloped dress for my wedding shower hosted by my sister and bridesmaids. I received so many compliments! I also wore it for my engagement photos by Blossom Lane Photography

Perhaps, a lower price point would be more appealing (trust me, I know!). If so, this and this (under $20, OMG! and that back!) are two other awesome scalloped options for Valentine's Day. The scalloped detailing is to die for, and that red is va-va-voom!

I wore a much more affordable coral scalloped dress for my friend Leah's wedding and again in Jamaica on our honeymoon. It was last season from Loft, but this Adrianna Papell dress (for under $60!) is very similar!

Wow. I want to be that tan again!! 

If you prefer a dressy blouse for your Valentine's Day and still want to incorporate scallops, Banana Republic has you covered. Here is my blue scalloped shirt in pink and red. Adorable! And 50% off currently!
There's something so dainty, fun and romantic about scallops! And the blush and red will be perfect for February 14!

4. My mom recently got her first Lilly Pulitzer items the other day in Florida. Of course, I was super jealous! But it has encouraged me to start shopping her new pieces. Check these out for warmer climates for Valentine's Day. This dress looked so cute on her! #BuyMeLilly

This shirt dress incorporates pink for the holiday! Throw on some black tights and black pumps if you're in colder climates or pop on your pink Jack Rogers sandals down south.

Monogrammed Jack Rogers from our Jamaican honeymoon! 

My mom also purchased this top, which I am totally lusting after! How fabulous would that look with a pair of punchy pink pants and gold wedges? (Can you tell I am daydreaming for warm temps? You're so lucky out west and down south!).

I'm already looking forward to a romantic dinner with my hubs. I can't believe this will be our third Valentine's Day together. :) Here's to 85 more.
Who are you spending Valentine's Day with? And what will you wear?


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Dressing for a Job Interview

I have been on my fair share of interviews both for my teaching career and my past retail experience through college (fortunately there were no interviews for my high school summer job at the fruit stand... bahaha!).  Additionally, I have been on the other side of the interview: the interview committee. Of course, no legitimate interviewer should judge his or her prospective employee by his or her outfit, but clothes are the certainly first piece of the presentation in any interview; it's just an inevitable fact.

Thanks to the suggestion of our dear friend, Maggie, I've decided to write about some fashionable options for any job interview. Let's get started!

Black dress:

You can never go wrong with a classic black dress. I own this sheath by Ann Taylor. I bought it last spring for 50% off. Hint: always wait for Loft or Ann Taylor sales-- I have never paid full price for an item from either store! A polished LBD (watch the length-- be sure it's "school appropriate" as we say in the education world-- this sheath hits right at my knee; I am 5'6 for reference and bought a size six) impresses your potential employers because you look put together and quite refined.  You can add a cardigan and tights to complete your look (and perhaps your pearls?) if it's colder. Fun cardigans/jackets that are also interview appropriate: here, here (with this navy skirt) and here with this navy sheath dress (an updated version of the LBD).

This Cabi cardigan is last season's from my dear friend, Caitlin, but this would be an appropriate option for on top of your LBD. 

Fitted Black Pencil Skirt:

Another ideal option would be a pencil skirt with a crisp collared shirt tucked into it. I own this Ponte Pencil Skirt from Ann Taylor. The black is versatile and will be on heavy rotation once you nail your interview and secure the job. Again, in colder climates (cough, ILLINOIS, cough), you can add black tights and sophisticated black pumps (of a respectable height) like these by Born.

Blazer/tailored shirt:

While I am an advocate of the LBD and black pencil skirt, I do think you have some options when it comes to blazers and button down shirts. Here, herehere (my fave!) and here are some great colored blazers that would pair nicely over an elegant black dress or with a black pencil skirt.

If you feel more comfortable in a black blazer (I adore this one from J. Crew Factory), by all means, stay monochromatic. But I do encourage you to add a pop of color or pattern (try this from Loft!) to your collared shirt beneath the blazer. The J. Crew Factory Classic Button Down in any of the three colors would be perfect for an interview! The incorporation of a bit of color will make you even more memorable to your interviewers! Or, try this Embroidered Dot Perfect Shirt from Ann Taylor. I have it in yellow, and it's truly chic under a blazer.

I love this navy and gold striped blazer from Ann Taylor (it's about two years old). See above for several options if you're ready to branch out into stripes or patterns on top. 

I adore this chambray and pink striped blazer from Gap a few seasons ago. It was $16 on clearance! Such a steal. 
My mug: Ashley Brooke Designs from my bestie, Amanda! 

This jewel-collared sleeveless shirt (that I wear QUITE regularly under cardigans, blazers, sweaters and crewnecks or just as a stand-alone piece), is another option for an interview, underneath a black or navy blazer. It is about 3 or 4 seasons old from J. Crew Factory, but here and here are some other fabulous options for under $30.  This is a beautiful silk option from Nordies, if you have the means for a splurge. Check out this top and its variety of adorable, bright colors! 
Above: me, Fran and Angela (congrats to Ange on her recent marriage!) in downtown Indy! 

Another use of the jewel-collared sleeveless shirt. My only regret about this shirt is that I didn't buy it in the navy and white, too! 
Celebrating Mike's 31st birthday last April at Bien Trucha (amazing! You MUST go!). 

Above: the night before my wedding shower in Geneva last summer, paired with white denim.
My sister, Fran (came all the way from Indy!), me and Mandy. 
The reason I love this sleeveless shirt under blazers is because sometimes blazers can be tight or stuffy in the arms/body. This let's you feel a little "freer" inside a fitted blazer. 

Any interviews on your horizon? What will you be rocking for the 'view?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Gold Polka Dots and a Stella and Dot Statement Piece

My sweet friends (and sisters) Lauren, Steph and Melissa (in conjunction with Scott!) bought me this beautiful Stella and Dot necklace for my 29th birthday. (SO THOUGHTFUL!!!) It is truly a statement necklace; I have already received numerous compliments on it with my first wear! It can be worn three different ways. You can have 1, 2 or 3 pieces to it. It's very simple to maneuver and remove the sections. However, I LOVE it so much with all three parts! But, it's nice to have that option in case you do want to scale down the statement. 

 I chose to wear this foil dot shirt from J. Crew (a lovely Christmas gift from my mom) with the Stella and Dot stunner. It fits so well! I could totally see this gold polka-dotted shirt under a crisp, black blazer with a black pencil skirt for a polished interview (or observation, teachers!) look. Something that is slightly different than a plain collared shirt, yet still completely appropriate to wow your interviewers. Also, don't you think an interview committee would remember those fun polka dots on you?  :-)

I wore my (newly resoled!) favorite Tory Burch Reva Ballet Flats. Unfortunately, these are super old. BUT, fear not! Here are some similar flats. Do keep in mind that Tory Burch *often* hosts 30% off sales. Never pay full price for your Revas! I have had these particular flats since 2011. A $25 insole fix, and we are good to go for a few more seasons!

I kept this look simple on the bottom with a classic black pant from Ann Taylor. 

I hope you all had a marvelous Monday; as a teacher, I loved having the extra day in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.!  Our wind chill was -21 today, so it was a little rough, but I will take a long weekend at any temp! I am keeping this short tonight as I am trying out the ShopStyle Collective (thanks to my friend Krista's tutelage!). Please let me know what you think! (See below!). 


Friday, January 15, 2016

The Best $11 I've Ever Spent and My 29th Birthday

I recently tried on this fringe tank top from Banana Republic when Mike was doing some after-Christmas shopping for himself (LOL, of course I went rogue, trying on my own things, haha!). I did not buy it that day, as it was still about $50.  I actually walked away from B-Rep without purchasing anything for myself, and I was having some major not-buying remorse (#BloggerProbs). I had also tried on this ruffle front tee (it was $20 at that time) and again talked myself out of purchasing it.

Fast forward a few days after our original Banana Republic shopping trip, and I was feeling like I needed something to wear for my birthday party at Penrose Brewery. I decided one day after work I would pop into Banana Republic and pick up the ruffle front tee. It was a practical purchase because I could also dress it up for work (I typically only buy clothes that can double for my work wardrobe, too).

I walked to the back wall to simply *admire* the fringe tunic, and I saw that everything on sale was an additional 60% off! I couldn't believe it! I crunched some numbers and realized the fringe tunic would be well under $20. I was sold.  The cashier rang me up; the tunic was $11!  I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT! And the ruffle front tee? $8! I picked up 3 more as gifts!  It was the CUTEST shirt!

On me: Skinny jeans
On Mandy: Express silk top  

Sisters Molly and Mandy were nice enough to come over before to help me primp. Molly is so talented at curling hair-- I seriously want her to move into our spare bedroom and curl my hair on the daily. Haha! Hair By Mols! Thank you so much, girl! I loved my curls!

Pensive, haha! 

Molly hard at work. She curls my hair with a straightener, and I absolutely ADORE the result!

The beautiful Molly! Thanks for making my hair so pretty!
On Molly: Eileen Fisher silk tunic, similar here in black

Our sweet neighbor, Kelly, came over, too!

Shoes on me: Glitter Darron Pump, BCBGeneration. Sold out in rose gold, but linked here in black and silver! 

Bundling up for the trip over to Penrose in the snowy weather! 
Molly works in downtown Chicago, and she says the Aritzia coat is the ABSOLUTE best option for her commute on the El and for her walk. 

On Molly, far left: Aritzia 
On Kelly, gray: Similar, here

Sissies! Molly and Mandy 
Black suede booties: similar here and here.  

My neighbor, Kel, and my Hair By Mols! LOL! I adore these two!

My lovely FFC! 
From left: Sarah, me, Jenny, Kelly, Andrea and Mandy 
My girls are so wonderful! Even though we aren't working together anymore, I know our friendships will always last. 

My beautiful Chicago besties
From left: Leah, Alison, Julie, myself, Jackie (due in April!), Libby, and Anna (my sis, also due in April!).
These city gals (and Shawn, Mikey and Andrew) braved the snowstorm to take the Metra out west to my birthday party. I am so blessed to have them just 40 miles East! 

I know I mentioned this in my (actual BIRTH DATE) previous post, but my 29th birthday was the best I've ever had. I was showered with love and support from friends all over the country (even the world! My friend Danielle lives in Geneva, Switzerland!), from high school and college and grad school and my various jobs and beyond.  Friends and family made me soooo happy and enveloped me in so much love. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you, friends and family for being so kind to me and making my 29th birthday the best of my lifetime.