Saturday, August 30, 2014

Dutch Wax Print

In the Spring of 2012, Marni designed a collection for H & M with this print being the most recognizable. I remember liking it because it is very peacock like. I know I have touched on high end designers collaborating with retailers before, so I won't explain it all again. But if you are interested, you can read about it here. Since I don't live near an H & M (I'll be about half an hour away from one when we move) I didn't put much effort into getting a Marni piece either in person or online.
Fast forward to this year, where I was reminded of this type of print when Anthropologie launched a partnership with Legend & Song and offered several items made with dutch wax fabric. To further my peaked interest, while in Chicago with Kristen back in May we wandered through a fair trade market where many dutch wax clothing items were being sold. I had decided then, that at some point, I would like to own a piece of clothing with a dutch wax print.
To get the history of dutch wax prints, you can read about them here. The best way that I would describe them is ethnic and bold. Truly statement pieces. The prints are so vast, and all so lovely, it can be overwhelming to settle on which one you like best. You can find pieces that are manufactured by companies like Anthropologie or H & M, or you can also find artisans who make handmade pieces both on eBay and Etsy. I casually started looking around, in no rush, and knew when the right item came along I would know it.
Usually, when people are selling the designer collaboration items on eBay, they are looking to make a profit because they have sold out quickly at the store. So finding a piece, the right size, with tags, for less than what it retailed for at H & M was rare! But that is what I ended up finding with this skirt.

Since it has generous pleating in the front, I was able to get it over the bump. But I cannot wait to wear it lower on the waist later on.
Just look at these colors! Eggplant purple, peacock teal, kelly green..... so many possibilities for tops and such. I settled on pulling an eggplant tank (Kohl's) and teal cardigan (Sears) that I already had for this styling session. I think it will look cute with tights and boots too for the colder months.
Time and patience, time and patience. I think that truly is my motto when it comes to creating my dream wardrobe!
Linking up with The Pleated Poppy

Friday, August 29, 2014

Get the look for less..... home edition.

I love being creative with home decor almost as much as I love being creative with my wardrobe. So of course, my money saving skills are carried over into this as well. Since our move is coming up, home decor is heavy on my mind so I thought I would share some fun posts in the upcoming weeks of my tastes and how I "get the look for less".
I love cubbies...... cabinets with lots of drawers....... pretty much any type of item that stores or displays things in a deliberate yet artful way. Several years ago, I feel in love with a cubby from Pottery Barn (referenced below) but I was not willing to pay their prices. I found this little shelf at a rummage sale for $7. It was white with a few scuffs on it. I painted it an ivory, distressed that paint a little with sandpaper, and then tacked some metal brackets onto each space that I had in my scrapbook supplies. I knew I was going to use the shelf to display the collection of shells and sand that we'd collected on all of our trips together. Since it was going to be a beachy theme, I gathered a bunch of random glass jars and containers in pale green/blue tones to hold everything. I got the shell picture holders at Kohl's. Once I was pleased with how I had placed everything, I printed out the text to go in the brackets to label where each collection was from. I love how it turned out!
 It currently hangs as the first thing you see when you walk up the stairs to our upper level. In the new house, I am planning to put it in the first floor bathroom. I do have those fancy beaded nautical show towels to go with it, you know. Hee, hee.
 In the years since I have created this, it has only been about trips that Jon and I have taken. But after our family vacation this summer, I am happy to add some shells/rocks/sand from that (they weren't added when I took these pictures). I also let Richard make it own "memory jar" with a plastic peanut butter jar. I let him select a favorite picture from the trip, and then add sand, shells, rocks, and some pine cones he found at the resort. He enjoys this kid friendly version.

 My inspiration: Potty Barn cubby for $149
 This one is at Target right now for $49.99. Use a coupon or wait for a sale/clearance is what I suggest!
With Pinterest, a little imagination, elbow grease, thrift shopping..... you can usually create any look you want for a fraction of the cost!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Last Hurrah

 Keeping in mind that I will be moving an hour further East next month, and with the new baby on the way, I knew I would not be making it to Chicago as much as I do now. So Richard and I met my Mom there on Sunday for one last "hurrah". It was a hot, but beautiful day. It might seem daunting to some to think about being in a big city while so pregnant and with a 3 year old. But I have been there so much it is like second nature. I have my favorite parking ramp, and know where the important things are for Moms of little ones like good places to eat and bathrooms. Richard just loves going and I am glad that I can expose him to a big city at such a young age.
 We started our day at the Laurie Gardens. It's so peaceful that you forget you are in such a busy place. I wore a maxi dress I've had for a few years (Apt 9 from Kohl's) since most all maxi dresses are maternity friendly. I absolutely love the print and colors of this one - black and white with yellow, red and cobalt blue. I find myself especially drawn to tribal / geometric prints lately, which you can probably tell if you've been a reader for a while. That being said, I do think this dress in particular made me look bigger than I am. The top is so wide in fact, that I had to wear my black tank under it. It's my reversible one from Motherhood Maternity, and I wore it on the v-neck side for the first time to align with the neck of the dress. I am not discouraged though, and that is the key - fashion can be trial and error. I plan to try styling this dress again when the temps cool with something over the top to treat it as more of a maxi skirt.

Since I knew it was going to be a humid day, I opted for only earrings even though I would have wanted to wear a big ole' statement necklace. Comfort is key right now!
We lunched at our new favorite little cafe from our last visit, hit up a few stores, and then headed over to Daley Plaza where Richard could explore. Urban play at it's best! 
I adore his little legs. And how blonde his hair gets in the summer!
We see a Picasso sculpture, he sees a slide!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Where do prints come from?

I often wonder where prints come from. Of course, many designers have their prints trademarked (think Coach or Louis Vuitton). But what about everything else? For instance, Anthropologie's in house designers : do they design the print for the fabric themselves, or do they just go to a big fabric warehouse and pick out what they like for the garment? Some recent finds of mine may have answered this (or made it more confusing).
I love shopping at places like TJ Maxx and Marshalls. I'm not going to lie though.... to find good deals and unique pieces can be time consuming. You have to stop often, because the merchandise changes quickly. You also have to remember that the TJ Maxx in your town might have something that the TJ Maxx in the next town over does not have. You also have to be okay with having an unsuccessful outing where you don't find anything. But then, when you do find something, it is so rewarding! I have found actual Anthropologie pieces at TJ Maxx before (here and here). The 2 pieces featured here though really have me stumped. They are prints that I've seen at Anthropologie, but the labels are not that of Anthropologie brands.
For some reason, I have a photographic memory when it comes to shopping. I can usually remember where I have seen things. And, if I am unsure, pulling something up on my iPhone to confirm is a huge help (or to check sales, coupons and prices). I really should be pursuing this (something in fashion, personal shopping, etc.....) as a career because I enjoy it so much. I may not remember Algebra from high school, but this kind of stuff??? This, I know.

 First up is Anthropologie's Moorea Maxi Skirt by "Maeve". When I saw the skirt at Marshall's, I knew it looked familiar so I pulled it up on my phone to compare the details. I had seen the skirt in person at Anthro in the Spring, and it is exact down to the side slit and mesh lining. The label in the Marshall's skirt is "nine 1 eight". And of course, the other difference was the price. The skirt retailed for $98 at Anthro and sold out on sale for $49.95. I paid $19.99 at Marshall's. It's stretchy nature allows me to wear it now with the bump, and I love the richer colors that will be great for Fall with tights and boots.
Here is the interesting thing though (to me at least). When I was doing my "research" for this post, I looked up the skirt on Pinterest. As I scrolled down the page, I noticed one pinner had captioned it, "My print has made it into Anthropologie". So I clicked on it to find UK based print and pattern designer Katie Clement. How cool! So that answers one question : Anthropologie purchased her design to use in this skirt. But the question that is unanswered is what about the label at Marshall's? Did they purchase the design too? Or did they buy the leftover skirts at discount from Anthro and re-label them? These are the things I'd like to learn more about when it comes to the fashion industry.

 Next up are Anthropologie's Tiled Wide Legs by "Elevenses". They retailed for $118 and sold out on sale for $39.95. The pair I found at TJ Maxx are labeled "Kenar" and I paid $24.99. Once again, I pulled them up on my phone to confirm the print was exactly the same. The only design difference I can see is that Anthropologie's were numerically sized with a button and zipper closure, and mine are an elastic waistband with S, M, L sizing (which I prefer). Y'all know how I love my crazy printed, wide leg pants but these are probably going to have to wait to be loved until after baby now. While many of my pants like this have worked with the belly, these go into the category of being a little bit too snug. But, I wanted to show them for this post so I apologize for the look not being the best that it could be. I know I will have so many options for tops with these when I am not pregnant. I could not find the same kind of info on the print as I did with the skirt, but it most definitely is the same.
It's really intriguing to me that I have found two instances of this within such a short time period. As much as I love getting the Anthro look for less, it leaves so many questions. And it leaves me even more excited for future lucky finds!
Linking up with The Pleated Poppy

Saturday, August 23, 2014

My Left Foot

My left foot really does not like me being pregnant. Last time around, I developed an ingrown toenail on my big toe. Something I had never had before, and hope to never repeat. Last Sunday, Jon and I were out for a date and I was not watching where I was going. There was a hole in the parking lot that "rolled" my foot and brought me to the ground. I was wearing Crocs.... well, my Croc wedges...... but still, aren't those supposed to be sensible shoes!?!?!? Besides my pride, I didn't feel too hurt. Once we got home though and I took my shoe off, things were different. It really hurt! We put it up and iced it (a great excuse to use my peacock ice pack from TJ Maxx). The next day, it did not feel any better however it was not bruised and swollen like we expected. To have peace of mind about broken bones, I went into Urgent Care to get xrays. Everything checked out fine so I just had to deal until it got better. Luckily, it was pretty much back to normal after a few days! Whew! With everything else going on, a broken foot was the last thing I needed!
 Since we are on the subject of feet, I thought it would be fun to share 2 shoe styles that I have been keeping my eye on. As always, I am having fun finding less expensive versions of these.
 You know my love of buckles. I already own several pairs of boots/booties that have them. This collection is a bit different because it has the opening up the center and open toe rather than being closed. Similar, but different. Plus, I think these features will make them great for my third trimester, late summer/early fall, swollen feet. I can make the straps bigger to accommodate me now, and then tighten them up when I am back to normal. Anthropologie has 3 versions of this right now:
1. Suede Cadet Bootie by Jeffrey Campbell : $218 on sale for $174.40
2. Edinburgh Shooties by Freebird by Steven : $195 on sale for $156
3. Ladder Wedges by 67 Collection : $180 on sale for $99.95
While I would love to own any of the Anthro versions, even on sale they are too expensive for my current budget. So I found...
4. Journee Dixie. The link is for Kohl's where they are $89.99. Normally, I love shopping at Kohl's with their sales and coupons, but this is still too high. Once you have the brand and style name of a shoe, you can just do a search for it on Google to find the lowest price. The most common sites that come up are Amazon, 6pm, Overstock, Shoe Buy, etc.... So far, the cheapest I found these were on eBay for $39.99 plus free shipping.
Up next, I need to replace my most favorite black wedges that you see so often in my outfit posts. I've had them for about 3 years and they are starting to come apart in a few places. #1 shows the Unlisted "Webpage" ones that I currently have. Since the style is several years old, the only place I found a pair was on eBay and they are half a size bigger than I need. This classic style - material across the toes and a buckle strap around the ankle - is my absolute favorite. What I've really loved about my Unlisted ones, is the extra material that comes up around the entire foot, so that was what I was looking for again. Here's what I found:
2. Kelsi Dagger Heels - these are called Forte on Anthropologie's website but can be found elsewhere in black. $130 on sale for $104.
3. Nine West Julissa Pump - look how close they are to the Anthro ones! These are on several sites, but the cheapest I found was $49.95.
4. I am really leaning towards Chinese Laundry Sneek Peek. They are the closest to my Unlisted ones, plus they are the cheapest. They retailed for $109 but I've seen them as low as $34.99 plus free shipping.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Maternity Musts


My main goal for the blog has been to give people ideas on how to dress while pregnant..... how to stretch your existing wardrobe....... what to buy/not buy. So I thought I'd do a post on "other" maternity musts that I have enjoyed. When I went to compile a list, I realized that I am not really a high-maintenance pregnant lady. Don't get me wrong, I am not void of extreme emotion, usual symptoms, or severe cravings (will Jimmy John's deliver one sandwich 15 miles away?). What I mean is I don't like spending money on something that is only a temporary time in your life.
Case in point, Item #1
When I was pregnant with Richard, I resisted buying a specialty body pillow. Sure, I had some uncomfortable nights, but I made do. This time around, I was on a site where one caught the corner of my eye in an advertisement. Can you see why? It had *gasp* peacock feathers on it!!! I quickly clicked on over to read about Bump Nest and started rationalizing why I needed to buy one. I cannot rave about this pillow enough! I absolutely love it..... look forward to going to sleep every night....... can't imagine life without it even when I am not pregnant. It is that good. It is so soft, and the case comes off for washing. I do not have any of the aches and pains I had with Richard and I sleep very well. Best investment ever!
Item #2
Being bombarded with advertisements for stretch marks, how do you know which one is best? I like Bio Oil. I think I had first bought something from Mederma with Richard and I was not impressed. Bio Oil was my second purchase and I really liked it. I am not a habitual body lotion user as it is, so just doing this one extra step in the morning is saying a lot for me. I honestly do not have a single stretch mark on my belly from my last pregnancy. I have marks on other places of my body from way before baby, but I was surprised that becoming a mother was very kind to me. Hopefully that will hold true with #2!
Item #3
Knowing that I planned to wear a lot of dresses and skirts this time around - and go through a summer - the one problem I wanted to avoid was chafed thighs. Sorry if I am being TMI, but there is nothing more unpleasant than walking around on a gorgeous summer day and having your legs sticking together. I figured pregnancy would only intensify this. Let's face it - that unrealistic thigh gap that makes women feel bad about their bodies is in fact just that - unrealistic. I wanted to find an undergarment that would help with this. Enter the Jocky Skimmy Short. The link takes you to Macy's but I've gotten mine at Kohl's and I am sure there are even more places to purchase them. Now, I know what you are thinking - that they look like tight, uncomfortable shape wear. Not at all. The material is a really thin mesh and it stretches like crazy! They stretch so much that I can pull mine over my bump for a nice seamless look and a little bit of support. It honestly feels like you have nothing on. They are pure comfort!
The best part? I still plan to use these products after baby. None of them are so maternity specific that they cannot continue to be of benefit. I will still sleep with my pillow. I will still use bio oil. And unless I am wearing tights, I will probably always wear these shorties under my skirts and dresses. As long as I have enough chocolate and foot rubs from my hubby (and the occasional prenatal massage he books for me) I am all set to ride out the last trimester!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Vine Visit

I had a doctor's appointment today. The office/hospital I go to (and delivered Richard in) is in the neighboring city of Kalamazoo which is about 30-40 minutes away. I absolutely love my practice and the birthing experience I had so the drive is totally worth it. When we first moved to Battle Creek, I had tried out a few local doctors and did not really care for them. This makes the though of changing again, when we move another hour away next month, very difficult. Especially so late in my pregnancy. After talking with my doctor today, I may just go ahead and stay with them. He said he has patients that are even further away - even in the neighboring state of Indiana - so that goes to show how wonderful they are there! I am usually not picky about this kind of stuff, but when it comes to having a baby any stress you can take out of the situation is key. I mean, after all, this is the most UN-MODEST time you will ever have in your life so you'd better feel comfortable with who takes care of you and your baby.
My appointments are usually in the mornings, so I make a point to stop at Bagel Beanery for a breakfast. I should probably add that anytime I am going to a different or new city, one of my first thoughts is about eating. I love taking advantage of finding a new place or going to an old favorite that my home city does not have. You can imagine this is magnified times 100 with pregnancy. When I was there last month, I noticed this mural on the wall behind the building and made a note that I should take some blog pictures there on my next visit.  
 The mural is that of rams, chairs and party lights. Hmmmm.
 Later in the day, I did some research on the area which I found out is the Vine Neighborhood. Just on the outskirts of downtown, it has a very "indie" vibe. I often feel too old and uncool to be here. It has a mix of businesses that you would expect in any eclectic college area : laundromat, tattoo parlour, used book store, restaurants, etc.....
 My outfit was very simple. You can never go wrong with classic basics!
Reversible Tank - Motherhood Maternity
Gap Jean Jacket - local consignment shop
Sunglasses - Zulily
Beaded Necklace - made by me
 As I was reviewing my pictures, a guy on his smoke break asked me if I was taking pictures of the ground (see what I mean about my "uncool" status). I explained to him what I was doing and he offered to show me another mural on a neighboring building. It's a little edgier but I enjoyed posing with it too.

 Sorry Mr. Ram, I didn't save any of my bagel for you.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

One more thing.........

We had yet another drama with the house buying, which caused several days of unrest this past week. I....... just don't even have the energy to talk about it anymore. Everything is now resolved and I just hope there is nothing more.
Geez! Why has this whole process been so hard? It's only the second time we've tried to buy a home, but shouldn't it be fun and exciting at some point? I've often wondered what the universe is trying to tell me.
We have a close date/time. We have the movers all scheduled. It's hard to believe it is really happening!
So I knew I was going to forget something the other day when I did the post about Jon's obsessive house staging. Remember when I did this little project over the Winter? Rearranging the guest bedroom to make it appear bigger? Jon liked it, but thought that we should angle the bed from the corner so that people could get in on both sides. I argued that this would make the room look smaller again and to remember that this was just for "looks" not function (especially since a guest room is only used a few times a year).
Didn't matter.
Here is my before and after. You can click on the link above for more pics.

And here is how it looks now that Jon took over. Instead of getting a headboard, we moved the shelf behind the bed but that resulted in having to take some of the pictures down. He also wanted to get a new bedding set that was "brighter" even though I argued that the stark white did not go with the room at all (pulling my hair out now). We also got a cherry blossom rug. I do not know what I am going to do with this bedding set in the new house, as it is not something I would ever pick out. I am hoping our neighborhood has a yearly garage sale!
So what do you think? What version do you like best? (You are going to take my side, right?)
All I can hope is that he will be so occupied with his new garage space that he will forget about decorating in the new house. Otherwise, I plan to just hide out in my new closet!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Maternity Jane, Mama Jane

Over the years, I have come to love the brand Matilda Jane..... My dear friend who got me hooked on it refers to it as "MJ". So I thought of how those initials really encompass "maternity jane" or "mama jane". The clothes are not meant to be maternity, but I have found many of my pieces are bump friendly. They fit the Mama title perfectly because they are so comfy and perfect for a busy lifestyle with little ones while still keeping you looking unique. I've been wearing their stuff well before I had kids too. These aren't your typical yoga pants ladies! I guarantee you will get compliments when you wear MJ stuff. Also, if you have a little girl you will die at the cuteness of their clothing line, which is mainly directed toward little girls. I guess one of the reasons I am glad I am having another little boy is because I would seriously go broke dressing a little girl! Especially if we could have coordinating clothes!
The company releases new items every Spring and Fall. But if you are looking for retired pieces, eBay is a good bet. I've pulled together two looks that I've worn over the past couple of weeks that feature MJ bottoms. Ironically, they also both feature my basic maternity tank(s) and staple jean jacket. The waist on both the pants and the skirt are yoga style, so very bump friendly. Their big ruffle pants used to have a traditional elastic waist, and I am so glad they changed to the yoga style as it is much more comfy and smooth.
There are the Young Wheat big ruffle pants. I love the extra detail of lace on them! This outfit has been on repeat a lot over the past few weeks.

And this is the Homeward Bound skirt. I just love their prints, especially when they mix them!

Some of my other favorite Matilda Jane looks (some maternity, some not) here, here, here and here. Looking at the non-maternity ones makes me miss wearing those outfits, as much as I love dressing with this baby.