Splurge Or Save… On A Lace Sweatshirt?

Even though I’m stuck in the thick of winter, along with the rest of the east coast, I’m still looking ahead to spring for some style inspiration. One of the favorite trends that started coming up during the winter & is making its way into stylish spring wardrobes in the lace sweatshirt. The feminine combination of elegance & casual makes for a fabulous way to reinterpret what it means to be chic. This is an essential separate for a casual Friday at the office, which can also be turned into a night our piece with leather leggings & ankle boots or skinny jeans & stilettos.

Keeping a budget in mind for any Style Darling shopping the sale rack, I wanted to direct your attention to a pair of lace sweatshirts, in different price ranges.

lace sweatshirtsThe lace sweatshirt ($110.00) to the left is from White House Black Market, & while it will make an investment in quality craftsmanship, it’s not exactly budget-friendly. However, on the right, the floral lace front tee ($44.50) @LOFT, which is a lightweight option, but still shares the same idea. To maintain the classy look of this shirt, mix these up with various accessories, like a string of pearls, stud earrings, & a headband, especially with modern bottoms like distressed jeans & ballet flats, menswear-inspired trousers & studded boots, or cigarette pants & ankle strap platforms.

What trends are you looking forward to this spring? What looks caught your eye during New York Fashion Week? Which pieces are your favorites to mix & match? For more fancy sweatshirts, check out designer duds like these from Tory Burch @Nordstrom & Valentino @Net-A-Porter! Other more affordable shopping options include sweatshirts from Delia’s, Macy’s, Bluefly, & Kohl’s. Happy Styling!

2013 Black Friday Style: White House Black Market’s 25% Off $100 Sale!

One of my favorite stores (in life!) is White House Black Market, so needless to say, I was super psyched to see what was going on in celebration of the Black Friday excitement. If you’re looking to update your wardrobe, for now or later, this sale is a great way to snatch up stylish deals on the most classic & contemporary separates that you can mix & match with many different looks. These items include: patent snake embossed reversible belt ($14.99) in black, floral scarf ($19.99) in imperial, blanc couture slim ankle jean ($19.99) in pink, & removable tie silk blouse ($19.99) in white.

White House Black Market - snake belt $14.99, slim ankle jean $19.99, floral scarf $19.99, & silk blouse $19.99.

Wrap the belt over a sweater dress with knee boots & hoop earrings. Or try the floral scarf with a pullover tee & skinny jeans with ballet flats. I love the bright pink jeans for a tunic sweater & pointy toe pumps. Lastly, the uber-elegant blouse would upgrade any work look with a pencil skirt, patterned tights, & a cardigan.

For more Black Friday-related posts, check out sweater sales from Dress Barn & The Limited, fabulous flats from Steve Madden & Forever 21, cold weather accessories from LOFT & Zara, little black dresses inspired by Jennifer Lopez & Natalie Portman, & ankle booties from Nine West & ALDO. Happy Styling!

2013 Black Friday Style: Fashionable Flats For Your Shopping Frenzy!

Whether you’re spending the holidays with family or hitting up the stores in search of the biggest & best deal, you’re definitely going to need a fabulous pair of shoes to help you along the way, which is why I’m happy to feature flats as a part of my 2013 Black Friday Style series. Having so much retail experience, I can tell you that flats are a stylish lifesaver to the working woman’s feet. I’m most inspired by details print & pattern, texture, shine, & menswear inspiration, which are essential ingredients to make any holiday season all the more special.

Forever 21 - plaid flats $16.80, GOjane - glitter flats $23.80, H&M quilted ballet flats $9.99, Steve Madden - patent KINGG flats $41.98, & Payless - Christian Siriano smoking flat $26.99.

Shop these: bold plaid flats ($16.80) in red multi @Forever 21, chain-ge glitter flats ($23.80) in gold @GOjane, quilted ballet flats ($9.99) in beige @H&M, patent KINGG flat ($41.98) in fawn @Steve Madden, & Christian Siriano crimson smoking flat ($26.99) in black @Payless.

I know I’ll be breaking out my most comfortable & stylish flats this weekend (working the 2nd job!), thinking about all the ways that I can style my flats with leggings & tunic sweater, blouse & skinny jeans, & a cardigan & A-line skirt with tights. How do you like to wear flats? Which style is your favorite?

For more suggestions on must-have flats, check out these picks from White House Black Market, LOFT, Nine WestCharlotte Russe, Kohl’s, Wet Seal, & Tilly’s. Happy Styling!

Basics For A Bargain: Little White Dresses Inspired By Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez, & More!

Little white dresses are a go-to for this spring & summer, which make for a fresh take for a date, as well as night out with the girls. Of course, white at a wedding is for the bride only, but some of the most photographed celebrities have been spotted in figure-flattering silhouettes of LWDs! This includes actress / model Rosie Huntington-Whitely at the Cannes Film Festival in a strapless silk bustier dress by Christian Dior with Christian Louboutin stilettos & Kerry Washington‘s Giambattista Valli frock at a screening of Scandal with a gold-accented wristlet. Also, Bond-girl Gemma Arterton is all smiles while visiting BBC Radio One in a Talbot Runhof dress with classic black pointy toe pumps & a colorblocked handbag.

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Kerry Washington, Gemma Arterton, Jennifer Lopez, Angelina Jolie, & Samantha Barks.

Next, Jennifer Lopez shows off her shape in a curve-hugging Louise Goldin pencil dress with matching Casadei pumps at a press event for Verizon Wireless. Everyone’s talking about Angelina Jolie‘s return to the red carpet in a gold-belted Ralph & Russo peplum dress with feminine rose gold jewelry & white pointy toe pumps. Lastly, Les Miserables breakout star Samantha Barks contrasts her white lace sheath dress with a strategic black belt & adorable fuchsia heels at a Royal Academy of Arts event.

Personally, I think you can get away with wearing a white dress any time of the year, depending on the material & cut of the dress. For example, something in eyelet or linen is strictly for the warmer months with metallic sandals or peep toe pumps & a tweed fabric would work best in the winter with suede ankle booties.

My first pick is the embroidered sundress ($50.00) from Dress Barn, which not only cinches in at the waist, but also will work with any pop of color in a cardigan, boyfriend blazer, ballet flats, or espadrilles. If you like to show off your arms, check out the sleeveless ecru ponte dress ($39.99) which is currently marked down from its original $150.00 price @White House Black Market. For a sleek look, the eyelet sheath dress with patent belt ($35.00) from New York & Company offers up a variety of looks, especially with a sophisticated built-in accessory that can match with other staples like a printed shrug sweater or opaque tights.

The midi strapless dress ($36.50) from Lulu’s is definitely sexier is matched with a blinged out necklace & stacked bangles, while the cut-out makes for a flirty show of skin. For my plus-size Style Darlings, I picked out the mesh back chiffon dress ($24.80) from Forever 21‘s Plus 21 line, which creates a classic hourglass figure for day & evening, & is sold in sizes XL – 3X. My final selection includes the detailed dress ($17.95) from H&M, which is also available in black, & will certainly turn heads when you walk in the room.

Which is your favorite little white dress? How do you like to accessorize white dresses? Do you like to wear white over the summer? For more posts on affordable fashion, check out luxury look-alike flip flops, summer-ready striped maxi skirts, must-have sale items for $100, & a behind-the-scenes look at 3.1 Phillip Lim’s Target collaboration! Happy Styling!

Color Me Style: Winter White Dresses Inspired By Rooney Mara, Nicole Richie, & Runway Looks Of Michael Kors, Rachel Zoe, & More!

Winter white is a big trend right now, especially when it comes to LWD (little white dresses). I’m a big fan of dresses- no surprise there- but I’ve yet to find a winter white dress that works for me. Whatever I have is definitely too summer-friendly in eyelet, cotton, or linen, however I’ve been very inspired by what’s happening on the latest runways when it comes to feminine white looks, featuring dresses of skirt outfits.

For example, take a look at the chic cocktail & casual white dresses, which were shown for seasons other than winter, but are certainly inspiring fashionistas everywhere. These looks include Rachel Zoe Spring 2013 Collection‘s shimmering shift dress, J. Mendel Pre-Fall 2013 Collection‘s old Hollywood sweetheart dress, Michael Kors Spring-Summer 2013 Collection‘s button-down shirt-dress, a slitted peplum dress by Marios Schwab Spring Ready-To-Wear 2013 Collection, the strapless bow-bedecked dress from Christopher Kane‘s Spring Ready-To-Wear 2013 Collection, Erin Fetherston Pre-Fall 2013 Collection‘s sheer lace mini dress, & Hervé Léger by Max Azria Pre-Fall 2013 Collection‘s belted body-conscious frock.

Rachel Zoe Spring 2013 Collection, J. Mendel Pre-Fall 2013 Collection, Michael Kors Spring-Summer 2013 Collection, Marios Schwab Spring Ready-To-Wear 2013 Collection, Christopher Kane Spring Ready-To-Wear 2013 Collection, Erin Fetherston Pre-Fall 2013 Collection, & Hervé Léger by Max Azria Pre-Fall 2013 Collection.

In addition, some of the most photographed stars have been hitting the red carpet in the last month while wear white dresses. Side Effects actress Rooney Mara hit the premiere of her latest film in this flower-embellished dress by Alexander McQueen, which she paired with neutral patent leather Nicholas Kirkwood peep toe pumps. This month’s Self magazine cover girlEmmy Rossum, took a break from promoting her new album, Sentimental Journey, in Santa Monica in this pleated Andrew Gn dress with sparkling pumps. Everywhere it-girl Kerry Washington attended an after-party for Django Unchained in a white lace Dolce & Gabbana shift dress with pointy toe Christian Louboutin stilettos.

Rooney Mara, Emmy Rossum, Kerry Washington, Taylor Swift, Emma Stone, & Nicole Richie.

Award-winning singer-songwriter, Taylor Swift, hit the blue carpet for the  40 Principales Awards in this plunging Kaufmanfranco three-quarter sleeve design with mixed-fabric sandals by Christian Louboutin & geometric drop earrings. Everyone’s favorite girl-next-door & Gangster Squad star, Emma Stone, helped announce this year’s Oscar nominees in a belted 50s-inspired dress by Andrew Gn with black patent leather pumps. Lastly, the always polished Nicole Richie stepped out for a party in Los Angeles in this white zip-up m ini dress with embellished leather accessories by Salvatore Ferragamo.

For the budget-conscious Style Darling, I wanted to find pieces that are perfect for wear now in the winter, given some mixing & matching of accessories, as well as dresses that’ll work for the upcoming spring season, although that seems to be getting further away from us on this Groundhog’s Day.  The first is the sheer sleeve lace dress ($24.80) from Forever 21, which would be perfect with black opaque tights or neon pops of color in a belt or pointy toe heels. Next, for a curve-hugging dress, I found the long & lean dress ($19.00) from Venus, which will also pair nicely over leather leggings & under a plaid button-down. While white is sometime bridal-looking, it can also be worn to work, like with this sleeveless ecru ponte sheath dress ($39.99) from White House Black Market.  I’d recommend wearing it with a red blazer & loafer-detailed pumps.

white dresses & accessories

I found this simply sweet & feminine shirt dress ($29.95) from H&M, & it’s the perfect foundation for a metallic braided belt, patent leather accessories, or classic lace & pearl details.  Lastly, for my plus-size readers, I was so happy to find this modern Alyx belted twist neckline dress ($40.00) from JC Penney, which is available in sizes 14W-24W.

White is such a stunning & pure color for a dress, but I was successful in searching for white accessories that will make any all-white, monochromatic, or trendy printed look stand out for every occasion. There’s never any reason why you shouldn’t have a pair of white shoes on hand, which is why I’m suggesting the pointed silver toe pumps ($32.50) from Charlotte RusseC Label Divine flats ($19.99) from 6PM, & the Wentzell pumps ($44.98) from ALDO shoes. Also, I’ve selected the patent skinny belt ($29.50) from Banana Republic, bejeweled bib necklace ($12.80) from Forever 21, & the Jennifer Lopez gold tone disc drop earrings ($12.00) form Kohl’s.

Which white pieces are your favorites? Would you wear a winter white dress now? How do you like to wear white? Which celebrity look do you like the best? For more Color Me Style posts, check out monochromatic looks in coral, neon, berry, & teal inspired by Penelope Cruz, Victoria Beckham, & more, as well as all-black outfits featuring Jennifer Lawrence & Kate Moss, & the best of yellow as seen on Kate Mara, Lauren Conrad, & Olivia Palermo! Happy Styling!

Splurge or Save… On Polka Dot Pants?

Polka dots will always & forever exist as a classic pattern on any article of clothing. This means shoes, bags, dresses, tops, & certainly pants. So, with my latest Splurge or Save? post, I wanted to feature polka dot pants, a trend that just isn’t going away for any season. It wasn’t surprising that I could find polka dot pants when I was searching the web since there are so many different ways to wear them.  Without breaking the bank, I’m happy to share pairs from under $20 – just about $100. Of course, you need to always consider your cost per wear when investing in key pieces, especially ones that will continue to pay you back over time.

First up, I wanted to share my most affordable selection, which is the polka dot print pants ($19.80) from Forever 21. These range in sizes X-Small – Large & while I love most polka dots in black & white, you can always get away with a black & ivory color combination. An awesome sale deal can be found at Gap with the slim cropped refined dot pants ($24.99), which have recently been marked down from their original $49.95 price. Available is limited since this is an older items, but my plus size Style Darlings would be happy to know that these run up to size 20.

Next, @Dillards, the Soulmates polka dot skinny pants ($39.00) are perfect for wear with bright colors like magenta, red, kelly green, or lemon, especially when matched with pointy toe heels, rounded platforms, or quilted ballet flats. As we move higher in price, the polka dot slim ankle pants ($84.00) from White House Black Market caught my attention. I simply love this story more than I can say & find that their designs are super sophisticated & well-made, so at the end of next season, I will be hunting them down to add to my wardrobe. Lastly, the polka dot ankle pants ($99.50) from Ralph Lauren are classic to wear with a white button-down, tunic sweater, or dolman top. If you were to wear these pants at least once a week, estimated at about four times a month, then each wear would be around $25.

Most of the patterns & prints that I love are in black & white (like zebra & houndstooth), but polka dots will always be number one for me! Would you wear polka dot pants? How much are you willing to spend? Would you only wear these during the warmer months or do you think they serve a year-round purpose? For more posts about affordable fashion, check out Rachel Zoe’s ShoeDazzle favorite picks, a black & silver cocktail or date night look for under $100, Prabal Gurung’s uber-chic & must-have Target collection, & stylish scarves for $10 & under! Happy Styling!

Basics For A Bargain: The Hottest Tops & Pants Looks Worn By Kristen Stewart, Alexa Chung, Kate Hudson, & More!

I’ve never been a dress pants kind of girl- until lately.  I was always the girl walking around in a skirt or dress b/c those pieces were just always easier for me to find since I wear petite bottoms in most cases, but also have a curvy shape.  However, I’m inspired by these tops & bottoms (pants, more specifically) looks that I’ve been spotting on the most photographed & stylish celebrities.

This includes actress Rashida Jones in jewel-tone trousers by Theyskens’ Theory paired with a studded blazer, an eggplant blouse, Graziela earrings, a Dana Rebecca Designs ring, & metallic cap toe pumps.  This look says so much about her edgy, but conservative style.  The rich hues combined with the luxe fabrics make looking like you’re wearing pajamas with an 80s-esque jacket look super cool.  Next is K-Stew herself, Kristen Stewart, wearing a daring Balenciaga design with a Cartier bracelet, & sleek Christian Louboutins. Critics are calling this look a ripoff of the barely there bra-top & bare midriff look that the blonde-coiffed Miley Cyrus has been sporting, but I think The Twilight Saga star has got it right here. French import / Bond girl Berenice Marlohe is ravishing in colorblocked black with feathers & a white top by Alexander McQueen, Norman Silverman studs, & Sergio Rossi pumps. I love her smoky eye, yet mature Blake-Lively inspired beachy locks, providing a fresh take on an unlikely pairing.

Kate Hudson is a vision in Alexander McQueen menswear with towering Brian Atwood pumps at the Glee premiere in September, while donning a sexy lace cami underneath.  Style icon Alexa Chung has never looked sleeker in this Maje button-down shirt & slacks with minimalist black pumps- again another menswear-ish look that couldn’t be more fabulous.  Lastly, reality star Olivia Palermo is getting on board with the volume trend wearing an Elin Kling for Marciano oversized sweater with cropped pants, ankle-strap Gucci sandals, & tribal-inspired accessories.

I gave myself the daunting task (while the power could hold out during the crazy snow storm that hit the Northeast on Wednesday) to try & replicate these looks- all in one post! Of course, I’m still working on those PhotoShop skills, but I’m happy to share affordable versions of these six looks, which cost b/w $41.50 – $124.99. If you take a look below, you’ll see that I’ve recreated the pieces of clothing from Rashida’s look, including a textured Lark Lane foil-print zip jacket ($45.00) from JCPenney, the Honey Punch ‘high-waisted hopes pants ($42.00) in red from Lulu’s, & the LC by Lauren Conrad embellished chiffon blouse ($26.40) from Kohl’s. Kristen’s look was tougher to put together, but a daring Style Darling can certainly pull off the stretch lace bralette ($24.50) from Victoria’s Secret & pair it with White House Black Market‘s legacy bi-stretch modern bootcut pant ($49.99).

For Berenice’s look, I couldn’t find feathers, but the peplum trend was easy to put together when I found the laser cut dot peplum tank ($21.99) from Charlotte Russe & the Lauren Jeans Co. Biltmore trouser pants ($44.99) @Macy’s. A winter white tuxdeo on a budget was an even trickier ensemble to recreate, but Kate’s look wasn’t too far off when I found the Bar III three-quarter open-front tuxedo blazer ($26.99) from Macy’s & the White House Black Market modern bootcut tux pant ($98.00). Alexa’s look is comprised of pieces from Forever 21, including the tail hem shirt ($18.90) & coated trimmed trousers ($22.80). Lastly, Olivia’s look was perfectly timed now that heavy knits are in stores, & I selected The Limited‘s cowlneck poncho ($49.99) & Logan fit slim ankle pant ($49.99) from Banana Republic.

For more celebrity-inspired posts, check out features in Red Carpet Review, Darling Of The Day, & Top 10 Celeb Sightings.  Also, if you’re looking for the best ways to acquire an affordable wardrobe, take a look at updates blogs in Basics For A Bargain, Luxury Look-Alikes For Less, The $100 Challenge, & Splurge or Save?! Happy Styling!

Color Me Style: What’s Black & White & Chic All Over?

My last post in Color Me Style was published just days before my trip to Italy earlier this year, so I thought that since I don’t have a third go-around to look forward to for 2013, I’d revisit the category in a way only appropriate for this Style Darling. My favorite color combination is black & white, which is what I’m featuring- although quite impressed with the fall collections that celebrities are sporting since this season doesn’t typically see all-white looks.  Of course, the beach-filled party days of summer are long gone, but white is still thriving, black has never looked better, & when you put them together, there’s a serious style moment happening.

It wasn’t very hard to find some celebrity inspiration for these colors & this is what I’m sharing. Gwyneth Paltrow looks demure & ladylike in a white knit, wool Misha Nonoo skirt with bright Sergio Rossi pumps. It-girl Olivia Wilde is bold-shouldered in a figure-flattering LWD, House of Lavande jewelry, & metallic platform pumps. 666 Park Avenue star Rachael Taylor wears a head-to-toe Calvin Klein Collection look, including silver lace-up heels & a box clutch. British actress Felicity Jones looks flirty & cool in an all-black sweater & skirt outfit with bowed pumps at the Miu Miu show. Olivia Palermo continues to catch my eye in an all-black leather Dior look with Giuseppe Zanotti pumps. Modern Family bombshell Sofia Vergara shows off her curves in her Sofia by Sofia Vergara for KMart black sparkling dress with tights & suede platforms.

As for black & white looks, I love the variety here when it comes to feminine dresses, vintage-inspiration, as well as nods to menswear with separates all in my favorite color combination! Jessica Alba goes androgynous sexy in a Narciso Rodriguez blouse with loose-fitting trousers & cap-toe Jimmy Choo pumps. French import Laetitia Costa shows the softness of a slim-fitting black suit & sandals, all by Dolce & Gabbana. The sultry Penelope Cruz is elegant & statuesque in an embroidered black & white cardigan by L’Wren Scott with cuffed trousers & Salvatore Ferragamo pumps. Rock of Ages actress / former Dancing with the Stars dancer Julianne Hough is mod in a black & white mini dress with silver pumps at a Henri Bendel party. Scandal star Kerry Washington is as pretty as ever in a white feminine sheath dress with black accents, rose gold Anita Ko studs, & metallic cap-toe pumps.

Black & white has also made the Spring 2013 runways, with especially fabulous designs from Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Chloe, Yves Saint Laurent, Carolina Herrera, & Catherine Malandrino Black Label.

Naturally, I’m excited to share with readers how you can achieve the perfect black & white looks while on a budget. From LOFT, you can find the polka dot wedge top ($39.99), or if you’re looking for a more streamlined look, try New York & Company‘s contrast trim banded collar blouse ($39.95) which will pop against any pencil skirt, colored jean, or slim leg pant.  For a more feminine touch, I love the dolled-up darling ruffled bow blouse ($28.99) from Ruche, which I’d wear to work with a lacy tweed skirt & textured tights, or for a fun night with the girls wearing my favorite dark wash jeans & metallic sandals.

However, if you’re looking to add an unexpected edge to any fall/winter ensemble, try the Danielle seamless skirt ($12.48) in white from G by Guess, which is also available in black.  Also, I’m always a big fan of zebra, which is why I picked the knee-length zebra print skirt ($19.80) from Forever 21. Black & white dresses are perfect for any occasion, especially with a modern graphic print or something in a classic polka dot.  I love the Ronnie & Nicole short-sleeve mitered stripe dress ($35.00) from JC Penney & White House Black Market‘s strapless dot dress ($29.99). Also, Superfly flats ($49.00) from Nine West are a fun touch for the office or a day date, especially when worn with brighter pieces like skinny cords or dark denim jeans.

How do you like to wear black & white? Do you prefer one color over the other? Which staples in these colors do you wear for day & night? For more posts on affordable & fashionable finds, check out posts from Quickie Darling Deal & Steal, Fabulous in 4 Ways, The $100 Challenge, & Splurge or Save! Happy Styling!

Fabulous In 4 Ways: A Metallic Faux Leather Pencil Skirt For The Ages From New York & Company!

I was so excited in August to share one of my newest categories, Fabulous in 4 Ways, especially since the debut post was dedicated to my good friend Laurie, as inspired by her fabulous lace-up knee boots from Victoria’s Secret!  Now, I’m talking about faux leather & pencil skirts, but before we dive into the outfits, I turned to some of my favorite celebrities to get some inspiration in how I would style such a classy & modern take on the figure flattering piece.

Kate Bosworth rocks a Proenza Schouler leather-trimmed pencil skirt at the brand’s New York boutique opening with a relaxed white blouse & strappy sandals.  The First Lady, Michelle Obama, wore a high-waist pencil skirt in navy with a cropped cardigan & purple top, while visiting a Wisconsin school.  Mad Men bombshell Christina Hendricks mixes her old school glamour with a Dolce & Gabbana blouse, red clutch, & classic black pencil skirt.

Total Recall star Kate Beckinsale plays with colorblocking with a chic H&M tank, Diane von Furstenberg turquoise skirt, & spiked neutral pumps.  Rashida Jones is polished & professional with a touch of menswear while making an appearance on Good Morning America, wearing a printed button down shirt & white pencil skirt.  Aussie starlet Cate Blanchett showed her support for Givenchy in a head-to-toe look with Roger Vivier heels.

Also, at Fashion Week for the upcoming Spring-Summer 2013 runway collections, the pencil silhouette was everywhere, as seen in Runway Rundown posts, including Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry Prorsum, Christopher Kane, & Oscar de la Renta.  Also, these pieces were shared by more fabulous designers like Nina Ricci, Tadashi Shoji, & Salvatore Ferragamo!

To recreate a pencil skirt look, I’ve selected the faux leather bronze pencil skirt ($59.95) in metallic bronze from New York & Company, which challenged me to find a way to wear this for work, day, date, & cocktail occasions.  If you want to get the most out of your wardrobe for the office, check out the zippered contrast sweater ($24.80) in black from Forever 21 with the short tab sleeves top ($24.80) in teal available @Windsor Store.  The colorblocking & relaxed details tone down the metallic texture of the skirt, especially when paired with Express‘ diamond texture body shaping full tights ($22.90) & suede cap toe chunky heels ($21.50) in black from GOjane.

The look to the right (above) is fun for a day with the girls or feeling like mixing it up because of the contrasting details in Lord & Taylor‘s CK JEANS cable-front cotton cardigan ($29.99) in black over the tab-sleeve plaid-chiffon shirts ($29.94) in black combo from Old Navy.  Of course affordable pieces like these can be reworked with skinny jeans or leggings & chunky accessories.  @Payless, I’ve found the Dexflex Maye strappy boot ($59.99) in black & Minicci micro fiber tights ($6.99) in burgundy to add some extra dimension while playing with trends this fall.

Depending on where you’re headed for a date, this kind of pencil skirt is perfect for an elegant & upscale look, without breaking the bank.  I’ve chosen pieces with luxe details to put this look together, including the Jennifer Lopez pleated mesh overlay tank ($19.80) in tuffet from Kohl’s & glitter lace almond tow pump ($38.50) in champagne from Charlotte Russe.  To complete the ladylike feel, I’ve added the round stone drop earrings ($13.60) @Cache & The Limited‘s zip around wallet ($29.90).

Don’t forget that pencil skirts are perfect for building a sexy cocktail look. Of course, a dress will save you lots of time, but to get the most out of your wardrobe, why not play with separates in unexpected ways with the snake-print tiered bustier ($88.00) in amethyst from White House Black Market, paired with the Emma WP platform pump ($39.99) from Bakers Shoes.  Also, I love Forever 21‘s looped drop earrings ($7.80), which look red carpet ready, especially with the Mossimo basket weave print clutch ($16.99) in black & white @Target.

How would you wear this pencil skirt? Are you following the metallics trend? What are your favorite work, day, date, & cocktail looks? Happy Styling!

Fabulous in 4 Ways: Over-The-Knee Boots From Victoria’s Secret (Dedicated To Laurie)!

Attention Style Darling Readers: We have a new category alert! Fabulous In 4 Ways is my latest in offering the best style advice that I can, while keeping a budget in mind. Of course, I’ve had this idea (taking one item & showing how it’s worn in 4 fabulous ways) for a while now, just sitting away & linkless on my categories page, but just recently, a good friend has come to me w/ a deal on a killer pair of over-the-knee boots, asking for help on how to wear them once the temperatures cool down & heavy knits emerge from the depths of our closets.  Said friend, Laurie (who I’ve dedicated a total of 4 blogs to now- Jordana Brewster’s style, how to wear turtlenecks, & the best day-to-night blazers) has challenged me in a very good & very stylish way. Let’s take a look…

As I usually do in my Basics for a Bargain posts, let’s start off with some celebrity inspiration to see how some of the most photographed & stylish stars interpret their over-the-knee boot looks. The City star / socialite Olivia Palermo looks Upper East Side chic with her navy suede boots & fur-lined jacket, mixing neutrals with a sweater tunic. Mom-on-the-go Kourtney Kardashian wears her boots with a flowy blouse under a menswear-inspired blazer & floppy hat, keeping accessories like her bag matching in texture with her footwear. Supermodel legend Claudia Schiffer goes casual in jeggings & a cobalt cable knit sweater with a coordinating bag for her tan suede over-the-knee boots. Former Spice Girl / designer Victoria Beckham keeps her polished posh persona in check with ultra tight leggings, a black top, & satin-trimmed blazer while traveling through Heathrow airport. Lastly, Project Runway host Heidi Klum offers an edgy approach to her leather Jimmy Choo over-the-knee boots by completing her look with a graphic tee & abstract print blazer.

The boots inspiring this post are the Colin Stuart over-the-knee boots ($94.00) from Victoria’s Secret, which are on sale for less than their original $118.00 price tag (pictured below, to the left).  These are fierce confections of footwear meant only for the confident Style Darling (for example: Laurie!).  Even though these may seem much pricier than your average pump &/or ankle bootie, I can’t emphasize enough that this is an investment piece, especially one that you can dare to wear from the beginning of fall, all the way to the end of the winter.  Since we’re talking boots, VS is currently having a 20% off sale on all Colin Stuart boots, which you can shop here.

However, let’s get down to business in putting together these outfits wth some of the celebrity inspiration seen above.  Typically when I see boots, I think of sweaters & leggings b/c they’re both just so comfy & very on-trend for effortless fall looks.  My first ensemble includes the asymmetric hem sweater ($59.90) from Express, which is available in orchid, black, grey, & blue.  The loose fit is perfect for recalling that 80s off-the-shoulder bulky sweater look, as well as hugging your curves to show off your legs.  Just so you know, Express is currently having a mix & match BOGO 50% off sale this Labor Day weekend, so if you really love the look pictured, then check out the short metal stick necklace ($44.90) to go with the sweater. I’ve selected Forever 21‘s pebbled pointe knit leggings ($17.80), which will add some texture & shine against the rich suede of the boots.  Of course, any solid legging will do, but if you’re going for something with a print, keep it subtle since you’re dealing with a sexy lace-up detail in the back of the boots.

My second outfit is perfect for an office environment where jeans are allowed.  The Faded Glory jeggings ($12.88) from Walmart are a steal & can work with so many other wardrobe staples all year long.  The colored denim trend is obviously not going away & pairing it with White House Black Market‘s tweed trophy jacket ($188.00) is a professional & elegant way to dress up denim.  When shopping @WHBM, of course the regular prices are on the high side, but if you sign up for their seasonal catalogues, you can get discount codes, as well as earn points for reductions on future purchases. I find that comes in handy around the holidays when in a pinch for a cute cocktail dress.  For an extra feminine splash, I’ve selected the graphic checkered strips tiered cotton tank ($39.99) from LOFT to add some dimension- which also just so happens to marked down another 30% at checkout.

Look #3 required a little more attention since I wanted to find pieces that would work for more than just the over-the-knee boots challenge.  I started with this streaky knit t-shirt dress ($39.99) from The Limited, which has been marked down 50% on the store’s website. With a solid sheath-like dress as this, I immediately thought of a belt & found this duo of ivory cheetah & glossy black skinny belts ($10.79) from Bluefly. To keep warm during the cooler fall days, I picked out the basic, yet affordable Style & Co. three-quarter ruched sleeve cardigan ($14.99) in black from Macy’s. If you’re headed out to happy hour with the girls or going from the office to an evening function, this look is perfect with the boots, especially when the Minicci scroll weave tights ($7.99) from Payless are hiding underneath your layers.

Lastly, the forth look is my favorite, but perhaps not too far of a departure from the previous blazer look above.  When I saw the Merona tailored blazer ($34.99) @Target, I immediately loved the idea of mixing the plaid with the laces, as well as navy & black, along with integrating the fall’s best new neutral deep red hue with New York & Company‘s satiny roll-tab shirt ($39.95). Of course you can complete the look with skinny pants, but Style & Co. skinny stretch jeggings ($36.75) from Macy’s looked too good to be true in a classic dark wash!

What do you think of these looks? Would you wear over-the-knee boots? If so, how would you style your look with them? What boots are you shopping for this fall? Happy Styling!