Friday, February 27

my winter blog loves {three years of love!}

Three years ago, Ginger from Literally Inspired asked us to share our "blog-mances" - the blogs we were absolutely, head over heels, gotta-read-every-post obsessed with. I still love rounding up the impressive blogs that cover a range of of my favorite topics - art, lifestyle, home decor, cooking, DIY, reading - and that I think you should add to your reading list ASAP!  Here are five blogs I'm loving this month...

Putting Me Together - Apart from the style challenge that I'm currently way behind on, I love new mom Audrey's blog because she's all about staple pieces, and most of her outfits are totally affordable - for instance, she recently shared a look she copied from an Old Navy ad.  I can't tell you how many times I've been browsing Putting Me Together and thought, "I totally have everything to make this outfit in my closet!"

Un-Fancy - capsule wardrobes are a hot topic in the fashion blogging world right now, and Caroline's 37-piece wardrobe is streamlined and chic. Along with guest bloggers Jaana and Jacquelyn, she shares outfit ideas and shopping advice.

The Life of Bon - Bonnie is a secondary English teacher like me, so I loved her lifestyle blog pretty much automatically. She keeps it real about marriagestress, teaching teenagers, and even has her own book club!

6th Street Design School - Interior designer Kirsten features bright, beautiful photos of her family's home and her work for clientslovely homes from around the web, and a fun link round-up.

Sarah's Scribbles - I discovered Sarah Andersen's cute webcomic when I saw this comic (which is so me!) posted on Tumblr, and now I'm hooked.  Sarah is 22 and many of her comics deal navigating adult life with anxiety.  I can so relate to her comics about going to bed on time and procrastination. I also love her adorable doodle about being a bookworm.

Which blogs always put a smile on your face?  Do you have any recommendations this month?

Thursday, February 26

style challenge: new hairstyle, oscar inspired casual outfit, and grace

Audrey's fourth style challenge over at Putting Me Together was to try a new hairstyle.  I decided to go big or go home with this one and booked a color and cut appointment. You see, my Pinterest hair and makeup board had started to look like this...

so I booked an appointment to get two inches cut off the bottom of my hair and attached a picture of beautiful balayage highlights. My stylist Tess loved the idea of very subtle dark caramel highlights. She did use foils, so these aren't strictly balayage highlights, but she did go from subtle at the roots to more intense on the ends for an ombre effect. Instead of painting highlights on the top layer of my hair (where roots growing in would be really obvious really fast), she did three "peekaboo panels" on each side and a "mohawk section" at the crown.  She also left the toner on for a bit longer than usual so that the highlights would be fairly dark, since it's still winter - they will lighten over time with repeated washing.

I love it so much! My hair gets so dark in the winter that the white hairs that are coming in around my temples really stand out. I don't hate aging, and I don't really hate my white hairs, but highlights make them a lot easier to live with until they grow out enough to be in full Susan Sontag/Bonnie Raitt/Stacy London/Rogue from the X-Men cool streak mode:

Here's the very casual outfit I put together for Oscars night dinner with Mr. Q and Breeze - I definitely wanted to get some gold in there, and my art deco necklace always reminds me of Old Hollywood glamour.

Cardigan: Merona for Target  Tank: Old Navy (Similar, Similar
Necklace: Lia Sophia (Similar, Similar) Jeans: LOFT  Boots: Merona for Target

I also wanted to share something from a celebrity I love this morning. I have a little addiction to Fashion Police and usually agree with Giuliana Rancic on all things red carpet. However, I thought young actress Zendaya had one of the most beautiful looks at the Oscars this year with her faux locs, rosy makeup, and goddess-worthy dress.  G, on the other hand, made some comments that were meant to be humorous but came off as reenforcing negative stereotypes. I saw her apology to Zendaya on my Facebook feed this morning, and thought, "Now that is an example of grace." Check it out:

Linking Up With:
PMT Style Challenge at Putting Me Together
I Feel Pretty at Get Your Pretty On
Manic Monday at More Pieces of Me and The Daily Express
Style Sessions at Style Elixir
Style to Inspire with Rhea Et Cetera
Style Me Wednesday at Shopping My Closet
Oh Hey Girl at Pumps and Push-Ups
Let Your Light Shine Thursday at Made With Zeal

Wednesday, February 25

Favorite Pins

If I ever did find the willpower to give up technology, I think the hardest things for me to let go of would be Pinterest. I mean, I know I could get dressed, decorate my home, or cook a meal without it, but I don't want to! Nor do I ever want to have to go back to having binders stuffed full of ideas from magazines, tons of folders on my hard drive, or a million bookmarks on my browser. Viva Pinterest! Here's what I'm currently inspired by...

Tuesday, February 24

2015 Oscars: My Favorite Looks

I haven't been quite as award-show crazy here on the blog as I was last winter with the Grammy Awards and the Golden Globes, but I couldn't resist Hollywood's true night to shine, The Oscars. I always like to see how the looks on the red carpet reflect runway trends and influence fashion for the rest of the year! I found information about fashion and jewelry  designers on People. For image sources, check out my winter Pinterest board.

Best Dressed Ladies

I love coral and I love Anna Kendrick, so I fell head over heels for her sophisticated halter dress. It's a 70's-inspired look that is totally contemporary.

There were a lot of black dresses and white dresses on the red carpet as well, and I loved Margot Robbie's 70's-inspired v-neck dress and 30's-inspired Van Cleef & Arpels tassel necklace, along with Lupia Nyong'o's pearl-encrusted Calvin Klein halter dress.

Lovely Lace

Texture was popular in Oscar dresses last year, but ruffles have given way to lace that is both elegant and sensual. Gone Girl's Rosamund Pike looked every bit the movie star in her red lace strapless dress with a dramatic slit. I thought Kelly Osbourne's dress was stunning and ladylike while still perfect for rock royalty.

Trendy Taupe

Last year nude dresses with fabric appliques were a huge trend at the Oscars, with Cate Blanchett and Idina Menzel both rocking the look, and this year a similar tonal color was popular, but in sleek shapes that accented the actress' figures. Viola Davis' boatneck Zac Posen dress was perfectly elegant paired with a diamond and pearl Van Cleef & Arpels necklace.

Guardians of the Galaxy's Zoe Saldana and Cake's Jennifer Aniston both showed off toned figures in tonal dresses that were both from Versace - I love the sheer bottom part of Jennifer's dress.


Metallic sparkle was also a hit, with Anna Farris looking great in gold and Jennifer Lopez stealing the show in  with her long copper train.

Best Dressed Gentlemen

I love when a man's not afraid to break the basic tux mold, so I loved David Oyelowo's take on Pantone's color of the year, Marsala, accented with pops of bright red in his vest and tie.

Celebrity Doppelgangers

Kevin Spacey and Jason Sudeikis both rocked navy tuxes on Oscar night last year; this year the bold color belonged to Best Actor winner Eddie Redmayne and The Fault in Our Stars' Ansel Elgort in nearly identical looks.

One of last year's most memorable Oscar looks was Matthew McConaughey in a dapper white jacket; this year, Benedict Cumberbatch and Adrien Brody both managed to pull of white jackets without looking like cater waiters.

Best Beauty

I'm not really sure why Zendaya was at the Oscars, but her pulled-back faux dreadlocks and draped gown, paired with soft, romantic makeup made her look absolutely gorgeous. Kerry Washington was glowing as always with rose-hued makeup.

Jenna Dewan-Tatum's makeup also stood out to me - her smoky eye and tangerine lipstick looked great with a pulled-back, sleek ponytail and statement earrings.

 Best Accessories

It looks like last year's ear cuff has some competition: both Big Hero 6's Jamie Chung and Best Actress winner Julianne Moore wore half round fan-shaped earrings. I hope this style catches on.

Other notable bling: Marion Cotillard's interesting earrings and Jessica Chastain's simple but stunning Piaget diamond necklace.

Monday, February 23

Style Review: Moon Cats Scarves

Attention Beyond the Aisle Readers: this is a re-post of my review that was previously published in January - updated to include a discount for YOU!

Financial compensation was not received for this post. A sample product was gifted from Moon Cats. As always, opinions expressed here are my own.

As you all know, I love fashion but I also love sticking to my budget.  I'm drawn to classic style, and my Pinterest boards are full of outfits that include scarves.  Scarves are definitely my favorite winter accessory - they can add a pop of color to a monochromatic outfit, introduce a complimentary color or pattern, and, yes, keep your neck warm!  They make casual outfits feel a little more sophisticated and dressy outfits a little more cozy.  If you could take a peek into my closet, you'd see that I may or may not have an actual scarf addiction.  

Moon Cats is a New York Fashion District brand that specializes in high quality, affordable scarves for both men and women, and when they offered me the opportunity to add another scarf to my collection (did I mention that the hanger on my scarf organizer recently broke from the weight?) I couldn't say no.  I fell in love with the company when I was introduced to them as a "client obsessed brand" - how awesome is that idea? Don't you wish all companies had that philosophy?  

Earrings: High Point Market  Scarf: c/o Moon Cats  Top: H&M

I've been searching for the perfect lightweight neutral scarf, and I fell in love with this design called "Glowing Future."  It features two textures - a woven, cozy pattern combined with shimmer!  The champagne color makes it the perfect accent for rich colors, other neutrals, and even black.  I wore my scarf to run errands on Sunday, to my dentist's appointment and lunch with my mom on Monday, and to school today... so yes, I think it's safe to say I'm obsessed with Moon Cats. Most of their super trendy scarves are less than $40 from  chunky oblong scarves to wraps and oversized capes, trendy light weight scarves and super lovely infinity scarves, and even some styles for men. They also have a line of elegant gloves, warm knit winter hats and stylish headwraps, starting at $24.95. Moon Cats offers free shipping to the USA for orders over $50.

Beyond the Aisle readers can take a 30% discount on ALL the scarves. Use the code NOTJUSTBRIDES30OFF when you check out!

Here are a few other favorite styles from Moon Cats... 

Linking Up:
Manic Monday at More Pieces of Me and The Daily Express

clicks of note: color in the snow...

get your week off to a colorful start...




Friday, February 20

My February {Fab} Favorites

I usually try to have my favorites up at the beginning of the month, but this month I'm going to go with better late than never. Blame work, blame the snowstorm, blame my laziness... anyway, here are the new things that I'm loving this month.  Disclaimer: Amazon product links include an affiliate code. Thank you for supporting Beyond the Aisle!

My February Favorites

1. C9 Champion scoop tee from Target - Last time Target had a cute workout top with a cutout detail in the back, I missed out on my size, so this time I didn't wait around. I've been looking for exercise clothes with what Athleta catalogue calls a "CYA" fit (aka long in the back) for yoga and the moisture wicking material is great for the gym.

2. Pave circle earrings - Mr. Q really surprised me with some beautiful diamond pave circle earrings for Valentine's Day - honestly, I think the man is a mind reader. Or he looks at my Pinterest. Amazon has a Sterling Silver Cubic Zirconia version that won't break the bank, and LOFT's gold toned version is currently on sale for less than $5!

3. Burt's Bees Milk and Honey Body Lotion - My winter addiction. This stuff smells amazing and works great. I even use it as a facial moisturizer on extra cold, dry mornings.

4. Spin Class - I have a love/hate relationship with spin class. Mr. Q is a cyclist and decided to start going to spin class at the Y to stay in shape during the winter months. I decided to check it out and go at least once a week even though sometimes I feel like the instructor is trying to kill us. On the upside, the music she plays is always on point (Pitch Perfect soundtrack! Katy Perry!) Mrs. Q's best friend, his sister, and her husband have all started coming, too - I guess the tribe that sticks together works out together, too. 

5. Love Lust or Run (TLC, Fridays 9/8c) - At the end of a long, hard work week I love some mindless television, and that's where this new Friday night fave comes in. Remember Stacy London from What Not to Wear? Now, instead of just schlumpy, her fashion victims are truly... um... unique (goth chick, "Jerseylicious," aging punk rocker), so she goes out to the streets to ask people what they think - would you love this person, lust after them, or run away? Stacy strips the wackadoodles down to real people, takes them shopping to find ways to incorporate their uniqueness into styles that are appropriate for the real world, and then takes it to the street again.

6. Stitch Fix - I got my second fix this month and I am officially in love with this service. You can sign up to have a personal stylist select five items just for you for a $20 fee that can be used toward any items you purchase (here's my affiliate link). No more fighting crowds at the mall or finding something you love that's not in your size. Since I live in a rural area and can't always find trendy pieces, it's fun to see what my stylists choose for me based on my requests and interests.

Linking Up:

Style Elixir

Tuesday, February 17

style: my second stitch fix (february 2015)

Since I enjoyed my first Stitch Fix in January so much, I was pumped for my February shipment - in fact, I think waiting for that box with the teal tape to arrive on my doorstep was what got me through a particularly tough week at work. 

Following my first shipment, I'd taken other bloggers advice and tweaked my style profile.  I had requested classic, work appropriate pieces in January and gotten a box of mostly black pieces, so I made sure to express my love of color and patterns in my feedback, and I think it worked!  I think I squealed out loud when I saw this:

I had a different stylist for this shipment - who just so happens to be named Heather as well! She chose the Pixley Edmond chevron print Henley shirt, Mystree Halima asymmetrical zip jacket, Papermoon Jonie printed elastic waist dress, 41Hawthorn Iris striped a-line skirt, and Zad Adrianna Necklace. I had been really anxious to see how my stylist would handle the special request I had made - for something to wear to the Fleetwood Mac concert I'm going to with my cousins next month - so I was excited when Heather mentioned my request in her notes, and that she'd checked my Pinterest board. Blogger tips work, y'all!

The first piece I wanted to try on was the Papermoon Jonie dress, which will heretofore be known in my household as my Fleetwood Mac dress! Stylist Heather recommends pairing it with booties for the concert or with tall boots for a different look.  I definitely love the way it looks with my Kasia riding boots from Target. After figuring out from my fist shipment that Stitch Fix pieces tend to run small, I had changed my dress size on my Style Profile, and I'm so glad I did. The material is super soft and comfortable, like a thick t-shirt, the colors are gorgeous, and the print is fun without being too over-the-top for me. Additionally, I love the conservative cut - this will be a great dress to add to my work wardrobe. The only drawback for me is that the "tab sleeves" are fake - the button is sewn on rather than there being an actual buttonhole, so the sleeves aren't actually adjustable. Yes, I tested whether I could raise my arms, spin around, and jump up and down in it. This one was definitely a keeper.

Now that my inner Stevie Nicks had come out, I wanted to try on the Pixley Edmond chevron print Henley - a piece stylist Heather had seen pinned to my Stitch Fix Pinterest board. I love Henley tops (and dresses, apparently) and think the cut of this one is very flattering while still being modest enough to wear in the classroom. The thing that kept this one from being a keeper for me was the color scheme - coral, teal, purple, and brown. All fine and dandy colors on their own, and even perhaps in pairs, but all together? I am not a fan. I wanted the top in the color scheme I had pinned after reading Jaime's review - beautiful purple, blue, and gray. I guess the lesson here is to be SUPER SPECIFIC in your captions when adding items to a Pinterest board for Stitch Fix stylists.

I felt good about the Mystree Halima asymmetrical jacket when I saw it in the box and on my styling card. I knew the color would work with a lot of my other clothes and I'd been eyeing similar pieces, as evidenced by several jackets I'd pinned. My excitement abated when I put it on - believe me, the picture looks a lot better than real life. Instead of a waterfall effect, the collar just sort of hung like a bib. And do you see how long those sleeves are?

Maybe it will look better zipped up, I thought. Nope, it was worse. Finally, I realized what it was that bothered me the most: the raw edges. I felt like they made the whole piece look cheap, and Mr. Q pointed out that little threads were shedding all over my other clothes. Definitely NOT a keeper for me.

I was on the fence about the 41Hawthorn Iris a-line skirt: I liked the stripes, nautical color scheme, elastic waist, and POCKETS! However, it was twenty degrees in Virginia at the time so it was hard for me to think about spring and summer pieces. When I went downstairs, though, Mr. Q instantly said, "Summer festival outfit!" That settled it - I would keep this skirt for sure! I can also see this being a great piece for vacation packing. My "keeper" last month was a 41Hawthorn piece as well, so I hope my Stitch Fix stylists will continue to send me pieces from that brand!

The final piece in my shipment was the ZAD Adrianna necklace. I was happy to recieve an accessory since I did not receive any in my first shipment. ZAD is a jewelry wholesaler, and their Adrianna necklace is a really pretty silver matte bib style with abstract circle designs. Stylist Heather suggested pairing it with the Papermoon dress, but for me that ended up looking too busy. Since I went on a bit of a jewelry buying bender last year and already have several statement necklaces, I decided to send this one back.

Let's talk money: when you sign up for Stitch Fix, you pay a $20 styling fee. That fee can be applied toward any items you decide to keep from your shipment. Everything else goes back to Stitch Fix in a prepaid Priority Mail envelope. I noticed that I didn't really shop for clothes in January or this month outside of my Stitch Fix shipments - I was even able to resist browsing at Target. For me, the anticipation of waiting for my next Stitch Fix seems to cancel out my tendency toward shopping when I'm bored or stressed out. When I'm online, instead of adding items to a cart, I can pin items to my Stitch Fix board and leave the work to my stylist!

In terms of Stitch Fix styling, I am still hoping to achieve a happy medium between "classic" and "unique."  The pieces in this shipment didn't go together like the pieces in my first Stitch Fix did, and I missed that sense of getting a mini capsule wardrobe all at once. The style suggestions on the cards included with my shipment were cute, but the items weren't things I already had in my closet like most of the suggestions from my January Stitch Fix.  On the other hand, I really appreciated that my stylist pushed me to take more fashion risks with this shipment. After checking out this month, I went into my Style Profile and changed my preferences to reflect what I'm learning about my own style.

Do you think you'd like to try Stitch Fix? If you follow this referral link to sign up, I'll receive credit toward my account when you receive your first shipment!

Linking Up With: