The Stylish Five: Invest In These Fall Must-Have Dresses!


Typically, my posts in The Stylish Five  under s feature bargain items under a certain price point & while I’m still budget conscious, I have to talk about these five dresses, which range in price from $40.00 – $60.00 @Dress Barn.  As some of you may know, I’ve been spending a lot of time at that store, reveling in the new fall fashions, readying my wardrobe for some refreshing updates & getting inspired by details like leather trims, lace overlays, colorblocking, structured silhouettes, & flirty prints!

Dress Barn dresses

This post features the following dresses: Faux leather trim ponte dress ($46.00), Belted zebra dress ($46.00), Peplum sheath dress ($40.00), Belted houndstooth dress ($50.00), & Lace & faux leather dress ($60.00). Of course, there are plenty of ways to get around the original price tags, but I’d like for my readers to consider the usefulness of an all-purpose dress. This means that it can be worn to the office, for a special occasion, during a night out, & transformed with different accessories. This also includes statement necklaces, drop earrings, textured clutch bags, embossed peep toe pumps, or animal print ballet flats.

What’s on your must-have fall shopping list? Which stores do you hit up first when dress shopping? For more shopping-friendly posts, check out affordable flats from Old Navy, Emmy Rossum in a Banana Republic dress, Phillip Lim’s lookbook for Target, & Gisele Bundchen for H&M’s fall ad campaign! Happy Styling!

Basics For A Bargain: Leather Has Never Looked Better, Inspired By Mandy Moore, Sandra Bullock, Heidi Klum, & More!


Leather really had never looked better! Each summer I’m surprised to see many looks worn by celebrities with leather, as well as dresses that have recently hit the runway. Of course, most of these runway looks are for the upcoming fall / resort seasons, but playing the game of fashion always means that you’re looking ahead with your wardrobe. For example, here we have leather dresses that offer texture, femininity, elegance, & modernism from Barbara Bui Pre-Fall 2013, Alice + Olivia Fall 2013 Ready-To-Wear, Tibi Pre-Fall 2013, & 10 Crosby by Derek Lam Pre-Fall 2013.

Alice + Olivia, Tibi, Barbara Bui, 10 Crosby by Derek Lam.This also makes me think of recent red carpet appearances by some of my favorite celebrities who’ve worn leather dresses, including Naomi Watts in a leather dress by Alexander McQueen with jewelry by Jennifer Meyer at the Los Angeles premiere of Ray Donovan. Also, my girl crush, Mandy Moore, attended a Helmut Newton event in a leather LBD with gold jewelry & sexy ankle-strap heels. Byzantium actress Gemma Arterton showed off her shape in a curve-hugging letaher dress with 3/4 sleeves, black pointy toe pumps, & a metallic clutch at the film’s screening in London. Scandal star Kerry Washington walks the red carpet at an ABC event in a red Marc by Marc Jacobs leather sheath dress with black & gold accessories, including House of Lavande studs.

Naomi Watts, Mandy Moore, Gemma Arterton, & Kerry Washington.Shopping for leather, or faux leather in this case, dresses is tricky sometimes b/c you always want to make sure that it fits you properly & doesn’t require an abundance of care or cleaning. I found these chic options that are both timeless & edgy to mix & match with accessories like pointy toe pumps, platform sandals, a metallic clutch, or drop earrings. First, I selected the BB Dakota Kira perforated dress ($68.00) from ShopBop, which definitely plays up the lasercut trend with playful peek-a-boo holes. Also, I found the Sanctuary Clothing faux leather shift dress ($55.65) from Dillard’s. It’s especailly flattering with strategic colorblocked panels.

leather dressesMy third pick is from Forever 21, the studded faux leather dress ($27.80) is the most affordable, & also offers plenty of styling possibilities with a boyfriend blazer, cropped bolero, metallic belt, or suede knee boots. For a change of color, the Anne Klein faux leather dress ($42.99) from 6PM brings a gritty edge to any office look, especially if paired with strappy sandals or printed pumps.

When it comes to leather, we’ve also seen a great deal of separates, especially in the form of skirts & leggings, which always cause a stir on the runway. The mixture of the tough material in sophisticated silhouettes makes for a memorable show, especially with skirts of varying lengths for a date night, the office, or an instant update to other basics. I found trendy leather separates in collections from SUNO Resort 2014, L.A.M.B. by Gwen Stefani Fall 2013 Ready-To-Wear, Altuzarra Fall 2013 Ready-To-Wear, & Michael Kors Pre-Fall 2013.

Suno, L.A.M.B. by Gwen Stefani, Altuzarra, & Michael Kors.Celebrities continue to once again mirror the runways when on the street or red carpet with leather pieces to accent this look. Sandra Bullock heated up the premiere of The Heat in an affordable leather pencil skirt from ASOS with a button-down blouse & strappy leather sandals. Rashida Jones was all smiles in a striped top with a cobalt blue leather mini skirt, which she accessorized with a statement pendant, colorful clutch, & towering platform sandals. Project Runway judge / supermodel Heidi Klum looks every bit the style icon in a head-to-toe midnight blue look, including a zippered pencil skirt, blouse, pumps, & snakeskin bag. Lastly, the always effortless Zoe Saldana attends a Chime for Change event in a Gucci floral blouse with leather leggings, jewlery by Repossi, & strappy sandals.

Sandra Bullock, Rashida Jones, Heidi Klum, & Zoe Saldana.As for wearing leather bottoms, you have a chic choice of skirts or leggings. Of course, there are shorts out there, as well as cropped trousers, but here I’m focusing on recreating skirts & leggings as seen by the celebrities above. This starts with the Rhyme Los Angeles perforated vegan leather skirt ($46.99) from Piperlime, which not only serves the environment, but also offers an upgrade to your professional office look. Also, for a pop of color, I love the Glamorous PU patent faux leather mini skirt ($42.43) in wine from ASOS, which adds a futuristic vibe to any button-down shirt, studded tank, or scoop neck pullover.

leather separatesFor a flirtier look, BonTon‘s Blu Pepper lasercut faux leather skirt ($47.20) will instantly make a silk blouse & fishnets look like you’ve just stepped off the runways of Paris. Lastly, these faux leather zip leggings ($13.80) from Forever 21 are perfect for pairing with a printed tunic top, knit oversized sweater, & sequin mini dress.

Would you wear leather this summer? Which is your favorite leather look? Do you experiment with leather in different colors? This isn’t the first time I’ve featured leather looks on Style Darling, so if you’d like to read more to catch all the trends, check out previous posts including inspiration from Jessica Chastain & Lucy Hale, red carpet looks from Julianne Hough & Zoe Kravitz, & leather pant looks on Gwyneth Paltrow & Fergie! For more posts from Basics for a Bargain, check out little white dresses as seen on Jennifer Lopez & Angelina Jolie, luxury leopard & metallic flip flops, floral favorites on Dianna Agron & Selena Gomez, striped maxi skirts from Vince Camuto & BCBG Max Azria, & peplum looks inspired by Amy Adams & Cate Blanchett! Happy Styling!

Basics For A Bargain / Red Carpet Review: The Look Of Summer Leather!


Instead of posting yet another click-worthy gallery, I’ve selected these five outstanding red carpet looks, worn recently by some of my favorite celebrities.  Each of them are showing how leather isn’t just a material for the cooler months.  The sexy skin is also no longer just for jacket & bags, as seen in these above photos. Designers are all about texture this season, showing leather off in all sorts of articles of clothing.  This includes dresses, as most frequently seen on the likes of rivaling stars like Angelina Jolie & Jennifer Aniston, but here I’m featuring Rock of Ages actress Julianne Hough in a blue leather dress at the film’s premiere & the always adorable Emma Stone in a red frock by Monique Lhuillier for an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

In addition, trendsetter Alexa Chung mixes her leather motorcycle jacket with a menswear-inspired look, paired with a printed mini skirt, embroidered clutch by Charlotte Olympia, & patent leather flats. Model Karolina Kurkova hit the streets of New York in leather leggings, Monika Chiang sneakers, a printed blouse, & chic double-breasted jacket.  Zoe Kravitz plays with leather & tweed in a black & white ensemble at a cash celebrating Chanel.

For the rest of us on a budget, real leather may not be as tangible, but while keeping animal-friendly, faux leather is always an option, especially with these cute & affordable options to mix up your wardrobe.  Check out the faux leather sheath dress ($27.00) from Venus, which makes the idea of an LBD all the more sexier.  While I was searching through the Venus website, I came across this super sweet faux leather circle skirt ($24.00) in brown, which will toughen up even the most feminine of blouses or dress up the most basic silk camisoles for a stylish night out!

If you’re daring enough to wear leather on your bottom half, head over to Sears for the faux leather leggings ($25.99) which will pair nicely with any bohemian-inspired tunic top, a dolman top, or your favorite tank & blazer.  For more subtle ways to wear leather, Cynthia Steffe has created this Maggie draped faux leather trim top ($47.00), available @Saks Fifth Avenue. To keep a classic faux leather look in your wardrobe, I’ve found this chic faux leather zip front jacket ($27.49 – $29.99) from Fashion Bug, which is sold in sizes Small – 4XL.  This can make any pair of trousers & blouse fiercer & more fashionable because of the front pinhole details & rugged zippers.

For more celebrity-inspired style for the budget buyer, check out previous posts of Basics For A Bargain, as well as Luxury Look-Alikes For Less to get the latest & greatest in affordable fashion! To see more of what the celebrities are wearing & what trends are hitting the red carpet, take a look at Red Carpet Review, especially Charlize Theron’s latest looks & who wore what at the MTV Movie Awards! Which faux leather pieces are your favorites? Do you often wear leather or faux leather in the spring & summer months? Happy Styling!