Springing Forward

Winter is over. Boot weather will soon be a distant thing of the past. It’s damn near time to lose the tights. The humidity will soon return. I might as well crawl under a rock and hide in the shade until September. Booooo, spring.

I could sulk about warm weather all day, but Macey of MHK in STL made me snap out of it. She was kind enough to include me in her STL Spring Style feature, which made me think about all the things I enjoy this time of year. Springtime breezes are nice, as is sitting outside with Lance and the pups. And while I may not tan, the sun does feel really nice. Saying goodbye to boots means saying hello to pedicures and cut-offs — and maybe it’s a fair trade. With spring literally on the doorstep, perhaps it’s time I retire my monochromatic wardrobe for the winter. (Or at least try to not wear white, grey, and black every day?) I could squeeze a few transitional pieces in while I wait for the temperature to rise.

There may not be any spring flora and fauna yet, but that warm-weather sun keeps trying to peek out. I can provide the flowers for now.

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Currently wearing… Kimono, c/o Pitaya [SIMILAR] | Dress and necklace, sweet garage sale finds from my bargain-hunting mother | Boots, c/o Naturalizer [SIMILAR] | Hat, World Market [SIMILAR]

Flowers on flowers on more flowers. Whaaaaat? #mindblown #extremespring

Repeat after me, Julia: A little color never hurt anyone, a little color never hurt anyone, a little color never hurt anyone…

Wedding Wednesday | My Recycled Engagement Ring

If you’ve ever thought you wanted your engagement ring to be a little different than the norm, consider recycling.

I always knew I wanted a petite engagement ring with simple details. It’s a combination of small fingers and constant typing; most rings leave me uncomfortable after an hour or so, which is the worst when you plan to wear one for literally the rest of your life. And the price for large rings always rubbed me the wrong way. To each their own, but I’d rather we use those few thousand bucks towards the house. Besides, something too showy might look odd with my perpetual loose button-up/skinny jeans wardrobe — and even weirder on my beloved pajama day. We can’t have that.

So, when Lance and I became serious, I started thinking about recycling a piece of jewelry into my engagement ring. My mother was kind enough to give me the perfect piece.

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That’s my mother’s engagement ring, attached to the wedding band. (As a note, my mother pointed out that this ring is upside down, so… picture it the other way. Whoops!) My father, who passed several years ago, bought it for my mother in the 1980’s. Financially, recycling a stone made perfect sense for me. Add in the sentimental value — and the fact that reusing a stone removes the potential ethical issues — and it was our clear winner.

Only problem: It was the wrong size, the wrong style, and the wrong color.
Simple solution: I brought it back to the store, easy as that.

If it’s possible to bring the piece back to the original jeweler, do! Since my mother’s ring originally came from Shane Co., the fee for removing and resetting the diamond was waived; the only charge was for the band, which was more than reasonable.

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To decide on a look, the sales associate found a similarly-sized stone and placed it in different bands for me to try. Having the ring made took about an hour of in-store shopping and paperwork, plus a two-day waiting period before pick-up. And, of course, the Shane Co. guarantee — from cleanings to future re-sizings — was included. Oh, and the box. Shane Co. of course gave me a box. Every gal wants to keep the box, no?

My recycled engagement ring is probably the most sentimental way I have ever saved money. When I look down at my hand, I’m not only reminded of the love between me and Lance, but the love between my parents and our families. Not to get too sappy, but it’s a pretty spectacular feeling.

Would you consider recycling a stone for your engagement ring? Have you? Tell me in the comments!

Twenty-Five

♪ ♫ ♩ ♪ It’s my birthday, and I’ll wear sequins if I want to, sequins if I want to, sequins if I want to…And if I have my way, I’ll eat cupcakes all day. ♫ ♩ ♪ ♫

Growing up is for the birds, so I decided to spend my birthday wearing my favorite things: silly necklaces, animal print, and excessive amounts of sparkle. We grabbed some cupcakes, I picked up a latte, and we’re heading for my favorite pizza soon. Excluding the excessive caffeine, it could be my fifth birthday party, and those activities would still be spot-on. Twenty-five isn’t as mature as I thought it would be. What a relief.

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Currently wearing… Skies Are Blue skirt, Dillard’s [on sale HERE] | Shirt, Target [SIMILAR] | Booties, c/o Naturalizer [on sale HERE] | Sunglasses, Blue Bird Apparel [SIMILAR] | The Giving Keys Dainty Bangle Bracelet, birthday gift from the lovely Sara [HERE] | ‘J’ charm c/o August Abroad | ‘Oh Hey’ necklace, American Eagle | Slider necklace, c/o Pitaya | Bag, c/o Anthropologie [HERE]

Is there a better excuse to don floor-length sequins than a birthday? It was practically a sequin safari, with the animal print booties and olive tank. The gold key bracelet was a thoughtful birthday gift, as we’re working on buying a house. That’s a big change for twenty-five! Oh yeah, and I’m starting a new career tomorrow in marketing…and we’re planning a wedding. To quote one of my now-former co-workers, “When you decide to make a life change, you make a life change.”

Needless to say, things are a bit chaotic. There’s menu sampling and vendor shopping, home inspections and mountains of paperwork, benefit changes and new commutes…Holy moly, at least we have coffee. But as Lance keeps reminding me, those are all exciting things. And, they’re all things that are happening in the next twelve months. Looks like twenty-five is going to be pretty rad.

‘Dabble’-ing in Leatherwork

While sitting at a particularly long stoplight after trying my hand at leatherwork, I started thinking about what I would say if someone complimented my new handbag. “I like your bag,” they’d say. “Oh, thanks, I made it!” I would cheerfully reply. “You do leatherwork?” they would inquisitively ask. “I dabble in it.”

Ooooooooooooooh, that’s why it’s called Dabble. Now I get it.

OMG!

Let’s backtrack. I was just invited to try a Dabble class, and — despite apparently not thinking twice about the name until the drive home — I immediately jumped at the chance to make my own purse.

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Here’s what you need to know about Dabble: Dabble is like a phone book of budget-friendly classes taught by your neighbors with serious skills. Or, as Dabble eloquently says it, it’s “an online marketplace for fun and affordable classes in the community.” Programs are currently set up in St. Louis, Chicago, San Francisco, Denver, New York, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Zurich. Current St. Louis offerings range from Scotch 101 to Beginner Bike Repair to Shibori Happy Hour. Classes vary in price, with some as low as $5.

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My first Dabble class was the BYOB two-hour Functional Leatherwork course, taught by local artisan William Rae Hatch. There were a few handfuls of attendees, and we all made a laptop case, tablet case, or purse. We started by trying out the tools on scrap leather — turns out, once you screw up leather, there’s no going back, so practice was key. We decided on a pattern we liked, grabbed our real pieces of leather, and got to work. The instructor pre-cut the leather before the class so we would have as much time to work on the designs as possible. After the pattern was perfect (or rather, done; mine is perfectly imperfect, I’d say!), it was dyeing and water-proofing time; we then added the grommets to close up the sides. Lots of mallets were used throughout, which somehow makes me like leather more. (And using said mallets all evening was weirdly therapeutic.)

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Hatch warned that we should let the items rest for at least a week to allow full drying time. I am ecstatic to report that it’s finally time to start using mine; it has been so hard to wait.

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Would I ‘Dabble’ again? Absolutely! With their one-time nature, these courses offer a commitment-free way to try something out while supporting a neighbor. I’d love to learn lots of new skills, or find out more about appreciating things my taste buds ignore, or try my hand at a new exercise class — and I’d really, really love to make another purse.

Wedding Wednesday | David’s Bridal creative director Robert Barnowske talks trends

Meet Robert Barnowske, David’s Bridal Creative Director. This Parson’s School of Design graduate has worked with David’s Bridal for the last five years to oversee the White by Vera Wang Collection — a line that all us budget-enthusiasts are well-aware of, as it brought the top name in white gowns into a price-point attainable by a larger audience. He is now the Creative Director and VP of not just White by Vera Wang, but the newer Truly Zac Posen collection. Barnowske recently visited St. Louis, and I was invited to a one-on-one tour of the store, led by a man who sees the dresses from idea to completion. For those of us getting married soon — or daydreaming of future nuptials — he offered to share some of the top trends in bridal attire.

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[Barnowske pictured with the Strapless Tiered Tulle Ball Gown, White by Vera Wang, $1498]

Timeless, classic looks are back in style, Barnowske explains. This includes trains, veils, lace — picture a plastic woman on a white cake and her outfit is probably perfect. But what are the specifics? Let’s get to the nitty-gritty.

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Strategic seams | Can we talk about how sexy this dress is while maintaining some coverage? That’s because of the “sensual seaming,” he says, noting the femme lace that really takes it over the edge. [Lace Trumpet Long Sleeve Illusion Neck Gown, Truly Zac Posen, $1350]

Sleeves | This dress brings us to our next point: sleeves. Brides are looking for more than strapless, and options are available.

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Over-the-top embellishments | Love tulle? Try nearly 100 yards of it. More into beading? Grab a dress with some 50,000 pearl-like seed beads. Go big or go home. [Strapless Lace Sheath Gown with Pearl Beading, $1650]

Illusion necks and backs | This standby is sticking around. It’s a comfortable way to show a little skin, and it offers a great backdrop to beading and the like. Vera was the first in bridal to use stretch illusion fabric, he explains, so expect to see it on dresses for many weddings to come.

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Colors | Maybe white isn’t your color. Champagne, ivory, and other hues that still look traditionally bridal are available, and might be more favorable or flattering. [Long Sleeve Lace Trumpet Gown, $1450]

Sashes | This is hardly new, but Barnowske says sashes also aren’t going anywhere. Tie at the natural waist for the best effect; any lower and it might slip out of place.

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Pockets | Can I get a squeel from all lady readers who obsess over pockets, much like I do? Whether you want to hide your phone or put your hands somewhere to keep from fidgeting, pockets are always the answer — and they now come in bridal. [Tank Satin Ball Gown with Cartridge Pleating, Truly Zac Posen, $1150]

While all these trends have accompanying expectations — sleeves for winter, ball gowns for black tie, so on and so on — Barnowske picked up a particularly heavy dress and mentioned he once had a bride-to-be select it for a beachy event. Does sand and satin sound comfortable to me? Not in the least. But was it my wedding? I was most touched by the emphasis on inclusion while I visited the store: all weddings, price-points, and sizes are welcome, and the dress is for the bride, not the wedding. I believe that’s permission to do whatever we want, straight from the horse’s mouth. Grab the Champagne; that deserves a toast.