The Unvalentine

It’s time for an Unvalentine’s Day. I’m not cynical about the day, don’t get me wrong, but I think it’s time to look at this whole celebration a little differently. I was inspired by this blog, which pumped me up! It kind of made me think, “Oh yeah! I’ve been so steeped in the hype I totally forgot about enjoying my life!”


It was a good reminder that I need to take a step back and have some love for lil’ ol’ me, too. Disclaimer: I am not trying to get out of loving and spoiling my husband! I love the man and I intend to treat him to the candy bar and foot rub he gets every year. But this year, I’m not going to forget that there are different types of love that everyone can celebrate, whether it be the love between friends, family, spouses, or the healthy love I have for myself.
Eliminate the whole misconception that this day is about couples. It’s not. It’s about love. It’s about caring about people and letting them know it. When is the last time you let yourself know that you love you?

So here is my to-do list. Use it for inspiration and then make your own:
-Give myself a pedicure (Yes, I will use the PedEgg. I’m not ashamed, it works!) Paint my toenails an unseasonably cheerful color

-Open my shades to let the sun in

-Brew a cup of tea in my adorable green teapot

-Plug my iPod in and turn on some of that fabulous 90′s music I miss. (Maybe “I Will Always Love You” in honor of the late Whitney Houston)

-Light a fresh and clean-smelling candle

-Cuddle up with my fabulous Dane, Toby

-Pop open a magazine that makes me feel creative

-Just love being me for an afternoon
What’s on your Unvalentine list?

The Grammy Awards! Just the flops.

I usually try to keep things positive around PLandL. No one needs more negativity in their lives. So let me just use my “teacher language” and say these stars just “aren’t quite there yet.” Maybe musicians are just crazier than actors and actresses, but I found a ton of wack-o outfits walking down the Grammy red carpet.

Take this one for example:

Did you know it’s now totally normal to wear a swimsuit in the middle of winter? Don’t worry about all those people who say it’s a little chilly. Or those that say you have to dress up a little for an awards show. All you have to do is slip into a construction-worker orange lace dress. No one will even know it’s under there! Oh wait. You can definitely tell it’s under there.

Wait! There’s more:

Sasha Gradiva in concept design by Leonid Gurevich

I just can not decide on an accessory to wear with this lovely pastel gown. Silver bangle? Designer clutch? Oh wait! Here’s a bunch of guns! I’ll wear those.

Bonnie McKee in Falguni and Shane Peacock

It’s not just the awkward length, busy pattern, and the out-of-place tassels. There’s nowhere for the eye to land and appreciate a nice design. It’s a little seizure-inducing.

Lady Gaga in Versace

I know I’m supposed to think Lady Gaga is ahead of her time and fashion-forward, but you can’t argue with the fact that she’s weird. Whether that’s good or bad is up to you.

Robyn

I don’t even know where to start. Usually I imagine people carefully selecting their red carpet wear with the help of stylists and friends, mulling over the options in their minds, and finally landing on the outfit that will make them stand out as the most ravishing belles at the ball. It would appear that Robyn had 15 minutes between her racquetball tournament and the Grammy arrivals. So she tucked her over-sized t-shirt into a spandex mini she had laying around from 1985 (taped half of the longer version on the back) and threw a jewel over her ear to add a little touch of fancy. Oh. And then she wanted to be taller and go for a hike in the mountains so she slipped on those delightful suede platform hiking boots. Ta da!

Nicki Minaj in Versace


Caption ideas for this one?

Bags in Brights

Recently we’ve been experiencing some unseasonable weather here in Nebraska. Now that it’s officially ended with a weekend blizzard, I’m not afraid of jinxing it by bragging about its awesomeness.

IT WAS AMAZING!

I wore sandals to work, folks. Sandals!
I had to paint my toenails because they made an appearance!
I could sit outside and read a book without even a goosebump.

Simply. Delightful.

That whole week (yes, week) of spring-like weather has had me thinking ahead a little. One of the fabulous trends I’ve seen come out recently is the colorful leather bag. I think a candy-colored bag is the perfect way to top off a cute springy outfit. Here are some of the truly rapturous options I’ve seen thus far:

I'll Be Briefcase Bag: ModCloth, $49.99

Rosette Clutch: Forever 21, $15.80

Classic Leather Madison Satchel: Coach, $358

Cordoba Clutch: Elliott Lucca, $98

Vintage Valise Kendra Tote: Cole Haan, $448

Jolie in Sky Blue: Adeleshop, $145

Source: luxefinds.com via Molly on Pinterest

Jessica Alba wearing a Gerard Darel Sac Midday Midnight, 390 euros


Hot Fuchsia Bayswater Bag: Mulberry, $1,330

Miss Sicily Bag: Dolce & Gabbana

See any favorites?

Cozy Places and Spaces

I’m what you call a product of my environment. If the sun is shining, I’m your best friend and everything’s coming up daisies. If my house is clean and my sheets are freshly laundered, I can’t stop smiling. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. My husband knows to stay away when it gets cold or gloomy outside and I’m a wreck when I feel like I haven’t kept up on my housework. I’m likely to be quite the bear. I think that’s why I’m so attracted to cozy spaces. I would love nothing more than to curl up with a good book or some good music and glass of wine if I feel safe in warm. Over time I’ve collected lots of examples of what I picture a safe and warm place to be. I don’t have a house yet, but when I do, you can bet there will be some remodeling down the road so I can have me one of these:

Source: duitang.com via Molly on Pinterest

Source: houzz.com via Molly on Pinterest

Source: bhg.com via Molly on Pinterest

Source: digsdigs.com via Molly on Pinterest

SAG Awards! Faves and Flops

I’ll admit I’m no expert. I’m one of those couch critics that just watches the red carpet show before the big awards ceremony. Maybe that makes me more of an expert than I thought! You know, because I don’t waste all my important opinions on the actual awards? Either way, here’s my two cents on last night’s SAG Awards, expert or no.

Big Yes to this Dress!

Ashlee Simpson in Jenny Packham


This, my friends, is my absolute favorite. Love the silhouette, love the color and sparkle, love the accessories. Brava, Miss Simpson. Brava.

Julianna Margulies in Calvin Klein


I usually am not a big fan of Julianna M’s style. Everyone loves this look from the Golden Globes a couple years ago but I just thought it was weird. And if she’s not wearing something like that, I feel like she’d be wearing velvet. However, this time, she hit the nail on the head. She’s not wearing black, there’s no weird sleeves, there’s interesting texture, and it hugs in all the right places. Simply gorgeous!

Jayma Mays in Reem Acra


I love how this dress just hugs all the way down. It’s got some flow to skirt but not so much that it looks frumpy. Keeping the silhouette simple makes the all-over sparkle really pop. The back is awesome, too! It has such an unexpected lace cutout. Love it!

Ariel Winter in Collette Dinnigan


I think this is a totally perfect choice for a young actress. It’s just unique enough to be interesting, but sweet enough to make sense for her.

Julie Bowen in Temperley


Keeping it going with the Modern Family hits, Julie Bowen shows up in this fabulous find from Temperley. I love the color (it was what my bridesmaids wore!) and those bejeweled details on her shoulder add just enough sparkle.

Emma Stone in Alexander McQueen


Just for something different, I have to applaud Emma Stone’s choice here. The whole thing is just perfection.

Honorable mentions:
Sophia Vergara in Marchesa
Viola Davis in Marchesa
Rose Byrne in Ellie Saab
Stacy Keibler in Marchesa (anyone noticing a trend?)
Kyra Sedgwick in Pucci
Amber Heard in Zac Posen

The Flops

Lea Michele in Versace


It’s not that I don’t like this dress. On the contrary, I think it’s a great color, very flattering, and a perfect fit for Lea Michele. It’s just so very annoying that Lea Michele consistently had her leg sticking out of it ALL NIGHT. I dare you to find a picture of her on the red carpet with that leg put away. I couldn’t do it. To me, that means one of two things: she was trying to get noticed using one awesome leg (read: cry for attention) or the dress just doesn’t look right without her gam sticking out. If that’s the case, this probably isn’t a great dress anyway.

Michelle Williams in Valentino


I’m going to get in trouble for this one. It seems to be a big hit with most of the fashion world. If you love this dress, stop reading because I’m about to ruin in it for you. I’m just warning you. The shoes are way too matchy-matchy, not to mention they remind me of the shoes I used to wear to prom. Second, the hem is just weird. It ends at the most awkward place; not quite above the ankle and not far enough below it. To make it worse, it’s slanted. I’ve seen that called unique by some, but it isn’t an elegant, gradual swoop like Dianna Agron’s. I think she could have done much better with just a longer hem.

Heather Morris in Masai Payan


Ew, Heather Morris. Don’t do this to yourself. Please realize that you have mixed short leather with curtain sheers and wore it out to an awards show. This is a look that only Madonna can pull off. Even then…

Kristen Wiig in Balenciaga


I think Kristen Wiig’s dress is fabulous. So why is she on my flop list? Well, because her choker is awful. That’s all.

Shailene Woodley in L'Wren Scott


The dress has a nice shape, but it reminds me of a swimsuit I had when I was 9. She could’ve made this a hit by wearing it in a bold solid color. I know I’m adding salt to the wound, here, but she needed to do something else with her hair. The low pony is what I wear when I vacuum my house.

And now for the absolute floppiest flop:

Busy Phillips in SIMONE


Let me start off by saying that I love Busy Phillips. She’s so hilarious on Cougar Town and has such a strong, fun personality that I love. However, this choice for the SAG Awards was awful. It’s not just that it isn’t my style, it’s actually an awful dress. I think cinching in at the waist is one thing, but when you have elastic three more times between there and the hem, you’ve done something wrong. The dress doesn’t do her curves justice and it’s simply way to casual for the red carpet. Also, I’m pretty sure I saw this dress on clearance at the mall once.

(Dis?)Honorable mentions:
Amber Riley in Badgley Mischka
Meryl Streep in Vivienne Westwood (Please never wear a giant brown leather belt around your waist to an awards show)
Jessica Chastain in Calvin Klein (Not bad, just boring)
Maria Menounos in Dolce&Gabbana

Any faves or flops I missed?

Must-have Wardrobe Basics: Teaching

Today, as I was once again stock-piling solid white camisoles, it occurred to me that when I was a brand-new teacher, I would have loved for someone to take me shopping and tell me all the the things I absolutely needed to have for my upcoming job. I feel like I have a closet full of clothes that I naively thought would be totally school-appropriate, comfortable, stylish and fun. I have to admit it was hit-or-miss most of the time. It’s true, there are some items that I bought for my first teaching job that still make an appearance in my weekly cycle of dress. There are a lot more that, unfortunately, have gone in the Goodwill pile after one or two wears.
It’s difficult to find the balance between style, function, and propriety, but I promise it can be done. Whether you are building your teaching wardrobe for the first time or just refreshing one that badly needs it, here is my basic list of must-haves:

White Cami:

Be careful. You can’t just go out and buy the first cami you find. I wear a solid white camisole underneath my shirt almost every day. It covers up cleavage and saves you from “plumbing” (showing your crack when you bend down to your student’s height). It also smooths out any bra lines and sucks you in a little when you shouldn’t have had that extra scoop of ice cream after dinner last night. Many camis are too short or low-cut on their own to help you out at all. Try to find a long-line camisole that isn’t too loose but doesn’t cut off circulation, either. This one is from Kohl’s. I’ve also seen some good ones at The Gap. I try to buy about 6 at time. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Chinos in black, gray, and khaki:

Classic Khaki Pants: The Gap, $49.99

I love these things for sooo many reasons. First, the chino is a really classic pant that’s super-easy to wash and generally has a flattering fit. If one cut isn’t your style, there’s a big possibility that you’ll be able to find your favorite silhouette in the same type of fabric. Also, you can wear heels, flats, or sandals with them so they’re pretty versatile. They’re also really comfortable and allow you to go from floor to desk without a lot of wrinkling or readjusting. Luckily, unless you have a big meeting or a conference with parents, teaching doesn’t require fancy shmancy suits that can be uncomfortable and difficult to care for. At least in my school, the dress code is more casual than that. So, I wear these at least 3 days a week.

Cardigans in all colors:

Solid button-front cardigan: The Gap, $39.95

I know, I know, the cardigan is tell-tale nerd wear, but it allows you to be a lot more flexible with what you already have in your wardrobe. I bought a lot of fun tank-tops over the summer that I love but they just aren’t practical school or cold weather attire- unless you have a nifty cardigan to go over them. Also, when I teach, my body temperature fluctuates a ton. For some reason, I feel like the school is always cold but moving around a lot with the kids warms me up quickly. It’s nice to have the ability to take off or put on layers when I feel like it. I buy basic cardigans in several colors, but it’s nice to have a few fun ones to be the centerpiece of your outfit, also. My favorites are from The Loft, The Limited, and The Gap.

Flats:

Tipsy Pink Flats: Kate Spade, $198

I know several of you girls practically sleep in heels but trust me when I tell you, at the end of a long day on your feet, you will be thankful you wore flats. While I don’t think a bit of a heel will hurt (especially if it’s a wedge), I save my stilettos for the weekend. Still, my shoes are where I can let most of my personality come out and fortunately, there are so many styles, prints, and patterns out there that I can really do that. Invest in some high-quality black and brown flats and then go crazy with some colorful shoes that will really pop. A little hint: the pointy-toed version will immediately dress up a more casual outfit.

One or two nice pairs of jeans:

1969 Perfect Boot Jeans: The Gap, $69.95


Even on casual days (Yay for casual days!) you can’t wear your ripped, too-tight weekend jeans to work. Having one or two nice pairs of jeans on hand helps give you a casual, polished look on Fridays.

Leggings:

Classy Leggings

Cashmere cardigan, £125
Marc by Marc Jacobs embroidered shirt, £29
Plein Sud skinny pants, $226
Flat shoes, 20 AUD
Heart necklace, $5.99

I have never been comfortable wearing leggings under a tunic or long sweatshirt, but that may be because I’m tall. Many of my teacher friends have put together some fabulous outfits with the ever-comfortable legging. I especially love the belted sweater, legging, and high boot look. I prefer to wear mine under dresses to extend their life into a little bit chillier weather. Either way, you can’t go wrong as long as you follow this one rule. Right hand up and repeat after me ladies: “I will not wear leggings without a top that covers up my pelvic region.” Even if you are rail-thin, this is just not an OK look. Leggings are not pants. Sorry.

Accessories:

Ink Blot Scarf: The Limited, $32.90

This is my favorite (and I believe one of the most important) parts of my teaching wardrobe. If you don’t have something fun to dress up the basics you will go nuts with boredom! I promise to do an entire post on the perfect accessories for an awesome teaching wardrobe, but for now, just know that there are a few key pieces: scarves, belts, and jewelry. OK that’s it. You’ll just have to read the accessories post when I write it for more.

Remember: These basics are where you are going to need to splurge a little. Think of it as an investment. These are the pieces that aren’t going to go out of style. Year after year, you will need cardigans, flats, chinos, etc. You don’t want them falling apart after six months or you will be shopping all the time and probably spending more money in the long run. Stick with simple stuff that looks good and you can build your accessories around those basics to make your wardrobe more exciting.

Now for a little freebie!!! When you do take the plunge to put together your awesome new wardrobe, print out and take this list with you to make sure you get all the little details checked off. Keep track of your expenses, too. That way you’ll know about how much is reasonable for a nice cardigan when you need to rebuild your wardrobe (way) down the line.

Shopping List

Click here for a larger downloadable pdf version of the above document.

Why I love…chambray

OK. Don’t get scared. This is not your boyfriend’s too-loose version nor is it the 90′s floral patchwork that looks a tad too much like denim. By the way, chambray isn’t denim. Who knew? It has to do with the way the fibers, cotton in both fabrics, are woven together. Essentially, you get a lighter, softer fabric with chambray than you do with denim. Visit Unsung Style’s blog for a more scientific explanation.
So where are we seeing this denim-look fabric? In my opinion, it tends to be a very relaxed, comfortable look but can be combined with the right accessories to go for a preppy or even nautical vibe.
J.Crew Selvedge chambray shirt

Topstitched oversize pocket shirt, The Gap


I’m one of those girls who likes to get the most out everything I buy. If I’m going to spend good money, I want to wear that thing to work, on a date, on a Saturday afternoon, and out with the girls. It doesn’t always work, but it’s nice to have a goal in mind. I feel like chambray is one of those unique materials that can do it all, as long as it’s done in the right way.

Date- probably a casual lunch or something. DKNY Jeans strapless chambray full skirt cargo pocket sundress


Work outfit inspiration thanks to the Bows and Sequins blog. Click on the image for the link


Casual Saturday outfit from J. Crew


Yup, you can even go running in the stuff.

It seems to be the style for spring and fall, so it’s a good thing it is so versatile. How do you wear chambray? Is it a comfortable fabric for curling up with tea and a good book or is it inspiration for a night out?

Why I love…chevron

Lately I am craaaazay about chevron. They are not just for your letterman jackets, folks. There’s so many ways that you can incorporate it into your home and style. The great thing is, you can go very subtle with the look, or really bold and Missoni-circa-1960′s-zigzags. I especially love the combo of preppy colors with a more muted gray or beige. If you’re like me and you are just introducing your home to fun colors and patterns, than this look is for you. Here are some of my faves:

Imagine this against a sunflower-yellow sofa.



A little texture in case you need to man it up a bit.


Chevron when you want it, silver when you don't. Two clutches in one!


You can MAKE this fabulous skirt. Click on the image for a link to the Ucreate blog with directions.


If going all-out zig zags is too crazy for you, but you still like the look, try using small statement pieces to introduce it to your decor.


As cute as it is, chevron doesn't always flatter everyone. A clutch is the perfect way to incorporate the pattern into your wardrobe without overwhelming your look.

Miss Sixty dress

Miss Sixty dress (see more print dresses)
How do you use chevron in your style?