The Stand-Alone Collar

I have a bad habit of keeping everything.

A few years ago, my mother picked up a couple of dollar shirts for Lance at a garage sale. One didn’t fit quite right, so I threw it in the pile of items to sell. Some time later (before I’d sold anything from the sell pile) I needed a few buttons fast, so I haphazardly took them off that shirt—and tore it in the process. Whoops. That makes it a little harder to sell. So, to avoid unnecessary waste, I put the shirt in a pile of scrap fabric… that somehow made its way to the hamper, where it sat at the bottom unwashed for, I don’t know, like two years. Ha. Ha ha ha. Hahahaha. That’s sad to admit aloud. But last week I actually removed and washed every item from the hamper, which is how I re-found the shirt.

I decided it was time to act, so I snipped off the collar and promptly put it on my cat. He looks hilarious wearing a collar. So. Funny. Once he was done rocking business attire, I put it on me. Less funny, but still good.

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Currently wearing… Blouse, Halogen, Nordstrom Rack [SIMILAR STEAL / SIMILAR SPLURGE] | Collar, DIY | Jeans, AE [HERE] | Boots, Steve Madden [SIMILAR] | Sunglasses, QUAY, Nordstrom Rack [SIMILAR] | Cuff, vintage | Earrings, c/o Pitaya [SIMILAR] | Purse, Coach [SIMILAR]

Stand-alone collars are far from new, but I rarely loved the way they looked. Wearing a boatneck blouse makes the collar pop against the bits of bare skin. I’m so glad I never threw the shirt out.

Messy apartment for the win! I’ll happily remember this next time I get rid of anything.


Don’t forget to vote in the Saint Louis Fashion Blog Awards TODAY! Oh, Julia Ann is nominated in five categories. Click HERE, then click VOTE NOW. Voting closes today! Thank you for your support!

Layering By Numbers | A Basic Introduction to the Magical World of Layering

After a long fashion talk with a coworker on my lunch break, I decided today is the day: Today, darlings, we’ll talk about why layering works.

Run! Head for your closet! Grab every knit item you own! It’s time!

Okay, let’s start with something simple. Sticking to an all-black (okay, mainly black) outfit makes layering super easy; you can focus on the shapes, not the colors.

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Love it? Sweater | Jeans | Knit Vest | Booties | Leather Vest | Bag | Necklace

Now here’s the million-dollar question: Why does it work? Let’s think about the shapes. The oversized sweater with the skinny jeans is a cute contrast that plenty of people rock regularly. But, it can make you look a little boxy. The loose vest extends past the waistband of the pants, which lengthens you out; the booties add a bit of volume at the bottom for balance. A leather vest tightens the shape on top, while the knit vest softens its hard edges. A long necklace and simple tote complete the ensemble.

That was easy! You’ve totally got this. Okay, now let’s add some variation.

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Need it? Top | Tights | Skirt | Shoes | Scarf | Earrings | Watch

Again, ladies: Why does it work? Using a scarf is layering at its easiest. The top dresses down the skirt, but the skirt’s short hem keeps the top from seeming frumpy. The scarf adds extra length, additional warmth, and a pattern; the fact that the color matches the shirt just makes it an easier match-up. Dark accessories pop against the lighter grey and gold.

Feeling super brave? Let’s mix some patterns.

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Gotta have it? Shirt | Tights | Dress | Booties | Vest | Earrings // Graphics: Polyvore

Alright, you know what’s coming: Why does it work? The patterns are three different sizes in colors that all go together—ahem, a variety of neutrals. We start with a (large pattern) leopard print shirt and (small pattern) polka dot tights, then add (medium pattern) stripes. The grey vest adds length, and the earrings add color. Ta-da! It’s a dynamic combination. Annnnnnd, all of the pieces would be fun as stand-out items in simpler outfits.

Ah, layers. How I love thee. Let me count the layers…


Don’t forget to vote in the Saint Louis Fashion Blog Awards! Oh, Julia Ann is nominated in five categories. Go to STLFW.com, click BLOGGERS, then VOTE NOW. Voting closes soon. Thank you for your support!

DIY Rhinestone and Pearl Statement Necklace (And Bracelet!)

Going out is great, but my all-time favorite weekend activity is crafting. This chilly weekend is absolutely perfect for jewelry making, decorating, sewing, creating, and all other forms of pajama-wearing arts ‘n crafts. Need a new project? Try your hand at the easy and affordable DIY Rhinestone and Pearl Statement Necklace.

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I made this rhinestone and pearl statement necklace out of desperation—I couldn’t find the perfect (affordable) necklace to wear with a dress. The project took about an hour to complete, and cost significantly less than the statement necklaces I’ve seen for sale.

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You’ll Need…
5 Rhinestone metal slider beads
6 Plastic pearls
1 Drop pearl bead (here’s an option)
Thick chain
3 Jump rings
1 clasp
White embroidery floss
Embroidery needle
Wire cutters
Scissors
Jewelry pliers (depending on your type of jump ring)
Glue
Rubber gloves (optional, if you don’t want glue on your fingers)

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Thread your needle with the embroidery floss, and string together the beaded part of the necklace. Alternate pearls and rhinestones. Once strung, leave a few inches of extra thread on each side of the beads and cut.

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Use wire cutters to snip your chain into two equal pieces. Take one end and attach it to your beaded embroidery floss. To do so, wrap the floss around the last chain link a few times, then thread it back through the pearl and half-way through the rhinestone. Tie the knot on the backside of the rhinestone so it is not visible from the front. Make sure to triple knot.

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To tie off the other end, wrap the floss around the last link on the second piece of chain. Tie a knot between the chain and the pearl, making the bead as close to the chain as you can. This will leave you with a visible floss tail sticking out of the side.

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Snip the extra floss so it is just a bit shorter than the pearl.

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Grab your glue and dab the end of the extra floss. Thread this into the pearl with your fingers (use glue that you’re comfortable getting on and washing off of your skin, or grab those gloves) and leave to dry. This won’t necessarily keep the pearl permanently over the knot, but it should keep the extra thread from popping out.

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Use jump rings to attach a clasp on the other two ends of the chain. Take your third jump ring and attach the drop pearl from the middle of the center rhinestone.

You’ll have a few extra pieces, so if you’re in the mood, use them to make a matching bracelet.

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You’ll Need…
Jewelry elastic
Plastic pearls (enough to wrap around your wrist twice)
1 Rhinestone metal slider bead
Scissors

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Using jewelry elastic, thread enough pearls to wrap around your wrist. Add the rhinestone and tie the knot under it, so it is not visible from the front.

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Repeat the process, making a second strand of pearls. Thread it through the second set of rhinestone loops, and tie off in the same place.

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On to the next craft! Happy weekend.


Don’t forget to vote in the Saint Louis Fashion Blog Awards! Oh, Julia Ann is nominated in five categories. Go to STLFW.com, click BLOGGERS, then VOTE NOW. Voting closes soon. Thank you for your support!

Layer up, pretty! | Multi-Season Madewell Dress

As I write this post, I’m cuddling my pups and watching Parks and Recreation. Why? I really like multitasking.

I love reading magazines while eating dinner. The car is both a mode of transportation and a place to eat lunch (not at the same time). I like to fold laundry while watching movies. My lipstick makes a great blush substitute. Sunglasses are eyewear and headbands. Nail polish is good for fingers, toes, and crafts. The jumbo Scrabble tiles on our wall make for fun art and an entertaining pastime. Call me crazy, but two activities, or uses, are often better than one.*

Clothing is no different, and this Madewell dress I recently fell in love with is a perfect example. It’s a thick fabric in a dark color; plus, it has pockets, which may not be related to season but does mean it should be worn a lot. Take a summer frock, layer a blouse underneath, add a few fall favorites—like boots, tights, and a felt hat—and get ready for the briskness of approaching autumn.

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Currently wearing… Dress, Madewell [HERE] | Blouse, The Limited [SIMILAR] | Tights, Francesca’s [HERE] | Boots, Steve Madden [SIMILAR] | Hat, World Market [SIMILAR] | Tote, Jacobs by Marc Jacobs [SIMILAR] | Scarf, freebie | Jewelry, vintage

Note: I might be irrationally happy about the arrival of cool weather. Did I stand outside our apartment, yelling “It’s BOOT season!” while laughing maniacally? That’s for me (and my neighbors) to know.

*Some exceptions to the two-uses-are-better-than-one rule apply. Toothbrushes are coming to mind. Oh, and everything on this list. But summer dresses? Definitely perfect for multitasking.


 

Don’t forget to vote in the Saint Louis Fashion Blog Awards! Oh, Julia Ann is nominated in five categories. Go to STLFW.com, click BLOGGERS, then VOTE NOW. Voting closes soon. Thank you for your support!

What’s Cooking: Easy (Like, SO Easy) Chicken Lettuce Tacos

When Lance first moved in, I cooked all the time. I was convinced Lance had only been fed tuna fish while in the Marines, and our long-distance relationship made it hard to impress his belly with mad rad culinary skills.

Fast forward to now. Like so many, I work full-time, I blog part-time, and I’m broke and exhausted. If I cook anything it has to be fast, cheap, and easy. (Put your best punchline to this accidental joke set-up in the comments. You’re welcome.)

Lance stepped in a while back and started helping with the meals. Now we bounce fast-cheap-easy meal ideas off one another, which is where this delicious treat came from. This is probably our new favorite.

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Easy (Like, SO Easy) Chicken Lettuce Tacos

Let’s not pretend to be better than we are: You’re using frozen chicken and you’re too lazy to dethaw it. Just me? Whatever. Bake the frozen chicken thoroughly; for these, it was about 35 minutes at 425 degrees.

Is it done? Good. Remove the baking pan from the oven, then the chicken from the baking pan. Let it cool off enough to not burn the crap out of yourself, then grab those great big ol’ kitchen scissors (shears, or something) and start snipping. You want the chicken to be as close to shredded as you can comfortably manage. It’ll fall apart a bit more in the skillet, never fear.

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Now treat this chicken like you’d treat ground beef: add your taco seasoning and water, per packet directions. Also add the red pepper. Then cook that bad boy down and prepare for the smell to overtake your apartment.

Now, have your buddy start washing the romaine lettuce. Dry those leaves like you’re going to lose one taco off your life for every drop of remaining water. Plain and simple, these things are gross when damp.

Once the chicken is taco-smelling and evenly coated in a thick sauce, it’s nearly time to eat. Grab a slotted spoon and scoop meat onto your lettuce leaves; avoid getting too much sauce, as there’s no tortilla to soak up those tasty juices. Throw on your favorite taco toppings, pour yourself a skinny margarita, and enjoy.

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I know what you’re asking yourself: Does she use decorative baking sugar to coat the rim of margaritas? You bet your buns I do.

Looks tasty, right? In case you want the food and not the wordy story, here ya go…

Ingredients
Frozen chicken breasts, 1 lb.
Taco seasoning, 1 packet
Water, per taco seasoning instructions
Red pepper, 1 tsp.
Romaine lettuce

Optional
Cheese
Sour cream
Tomato
Onion
Hot sauce

Directions
Bake the chicken at 425 until cooked through, approximately 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let partially cool. Cut chicken into bits using kitchen shears. Cook in skillet with taco seasoning, red pepper, and water according to package directions. Drain excess liquid. Serve in romaine lettuce leaves with desired taco toppings. Don’t forget the margarita.

What’s your favorite fast, cheap, and easy meal?


Don’t forget to vote in the Saint Louis Fashion Blog Awards! Oh, Julia Ann is nominated in five categories. Go to STLFW.com, click BLOGGERS, then VOTE NOW. Voting closes soon. Thank you for your support!