Splurge or Save… On Summer Gingham Tops!


When it comes to summer, there are so many prints that make for a fashionable look, but among them, gingham gets top billing! The typical gingham button down is classic for a variety of outfits, but this summer is all about the trendy, off-the-shoulder, ruffle, or halter gingham top available for shoppers of all sizes! Celebrities even love gingham, as seen on Baby Driver star Lily James, style blogger Olivia Palermo, singer / actress Vanessa Hudgens, A-lister & fashion mogul Reese Witherspoon, & Shameless actress Emmy Rossum.

For a trendy, one-season item like a gingham top, you don’t have to break the bank. There’s so much fashion out in the world & online for shoppers of all budgets, but I do love checking out high-end designer duds for a little inspiration when it comes to finding something to write about, as well as putting together my next outfit. Here are a few examples that range in price from $88 – $265, but still worth keeping an eye on for an end of the season sale item.

SHOP: Carmen blouse @White House Black Market, McGuire Florentine top @Saks Fifth Avenue, Rag & Bone off-the-shoulder Drew top @Neiman Marcus, Draper James Cloister top @Nordstrom, & Mindy Cindy one-shoulder top @Nordstrom.

The six gingham tops below are much more affordable & perfect for styling with white skinny jeans, red chino shorts, a denim skirt, or with bottoms in a bold pop of color like yellow, green, or orange.

SHOP: checked top @H&M, gingham tie top @Saks Off 5th, Design Lab blouse @Lord & Taylor, flounced gingham top @Talbots, plus off-the-shoulder lace-up top @Charlotte Russe, & plus one shoulder ruffle top @Lane Bryant.

Which summer trends are on your wardrobe wish list? Do you prefer the black, navy, or red gingham color scheme? Where are you shopping for summer favorites? Happy Styling!

Magazine Must-Haves: Kate Mara’s Playful Dramatic Photo Shoot For ELLE!


When flipping through the pages of next month’s ELLE magazine, I was pleased to see Shakira returning to the spotlight as the magazine’s cover girl. However, in the pages of the fashion mag, I was most intrigued by he 12-page photo shoot & accompanying article on House of Cards actress Kate Mara, whose stylish red carpet appearances & career on both the big & small screen has always seemed to catch my eye.

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Of course, I’ve learned that the actress, who formerly co-starred in the first season of American Horror Story as Dylan McDermott’s psycho dead mistress, comes from NFL royalty, & was the first of the Mara sisters to hit up Hollywood with acting dreams. However, Kate proudly talks about little sister Rooney who snagged her first Oscar nomination for her gritty portrayal in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Also, Kate discusses her role as Zoe Barnes & working with acclaimed director David Fincher on the Netflix series, House of Cards, alongside Kevin Spacey & Robin Wright.

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The shoot features plenty of enviable high fashion looks from designers like Valentino, Chanel, Rag & Bone, Dior, Ralph Lauren Collection, Donna Karan New York, Prada, Michael Kors, Giorgio Armani, J Brand, Calvin Klein Collection, Versace, & Louis Vuitton. What makes this an especially interesting fashion shoot is the combination of luxe labels with novelties like stuffed animals, adorable puppies, & showcasing the difference stellar accessories make for an ensemble.

Kate Mara for Elle July 2013 03 Kate Mara for Elle July 2013 04 Kate Mara for Elle July 2013 05 Kate Mara for Elle July 2013 06

Click here for more on the entire ELLE profile on Kate! What do you think of the shoot? Are you a fan of House of Cards? Which Mara sister’s style do you like best? For more fashionable photo shoots, check out previous posts including Burberry Prorsum’s Resort 2014 collection, Adam Levine’s debut fragrance ad, Lily Collins on the cover of Glamour‘s July issue, Prada’s Menswear Fall / Winter 2013-2014 campaign starring Christoph Waltz, Ezra Miller, & Ben Whishaw, & Vogue‘s homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window with Tobey Maguire & Carolyn Murphy. Happy Styling!

3/26/2013 Darling Of The Day: Copy Drew Barrymore’s Spring-Ready Look By Alice + Olivia & Rag & Bone!


During an appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Hollywood’s glamorous flower child, Drew Barrymore, hit the stage all smiles in a rag & bone Hillary blouse ($395.00) & Alice + Olivia by Stacey Bendet 5-pocket skinny jean ($198.00). The actress & wine entrepreneur looks youthful, on trend, & ready for spring in this outfit, which features some really famous & acclaimed luxury brand names in fashion today. Spending that kind of dough on separates can work if your main focus is quality, but for the rest of us, we can admire Drew’s polished & flirty look with similar separates that cost less & can mix well with other wardrobe staples any time of the year!

First, I picked the Merona pintucked long sleeve blouse ($16.08) in black Target, which is availble sizes XS – XXL. Not only will wearing this lightweight blouse look great with a patterned pant, but consider this for dressing up a denim skirt, headed to the office in a leather pencil skirt, or want to keep a monochromatic rocker look with liquid leggings & pointy toe heels. Also, I’ve been raving about floral pants for quite some time now (& really patterned pants all together), as seen in previous posts including Ashley Madekwe in Mulberry, pieces from Rihanna’s debut collection for River Island, must-haves for your spring break vacation, & Diane Kruger’s Stella McCartney look. Here, I’ve selected two pairs of floral pants from Forever 21, including the Aloha floral ankle pants ($22.80) & plus size rose print skinny pants ($24.80), which share a cimilar color scheme to Drew’s. Not to mention that these feminine flower-power bottoms will look darling mixed with a striped top & cork wedges or a polka dot peplum top & peep toe pumps, if you’re daring to try something new!

For more celebrity-inspired posts, check out Marion Cotillard’s return as the face of Lady Dior, Nikki Reed’s embellished blouse look for less, Beyoncé’s debut ad for H&M, & behind-the-scenes with Katie Holmes for her Allure cover shoot! Happy Styling!

Basics For A Bargain: Best Coats To Buy Now, Inspired By Gwen Stefani, Victoria Beckham, Michelle Williams, & More!


The holidays are over, but the big sales are just starting. In an effort to wish the warmer spring weather on, retailers are getting a head start on their markdowns, especially when it comes to outerwear. If you live in the Northeast (like I do!), then you’ll know that the weather outside is quite frightful. After spending the day in NYC on Friday, I was plenty thankful for my recent investment in a new wool coat to keep comfortable amid gusty winds down the fashionable streets of the Big Apple. 

Celebrities are even breaking out their best in outerwear, including Kate Middleton in a belted Reiss Angel coat with suede knee boots. Supermodel Claudia Schiffer looks cozy in a retro 70s-inspired poncho-style coat with a middle part & suede-accented bag. Katie Holmes arrives for her appearance on Broadway in a knee-length coat, eggplant Dolce & Gabbana bag, & suede Rag & Bone booties.  Socialite & reality star Olivia Palermo hits the streets of Brooklyn in her fur-trimmed coat over leather leggings & knee boots.  Gwen Stefani always stands out, especially in her printed plaid coat with matching red lips & white-rimmed shades for a day out in London. Kate Middleton, Claudia Schiffer, Katie Holmes, Olivia Palermo, Gwen Stefani, Alexa Chung, Victoria Beckham, Leslie Mann, Jessica Chastain, & Michelle Williams

Alexa Chung enhances her shape with this waist-cinching grey coat, which is made all the more feminine with ankle-strap heels & a leather clutch.  Victoria Beckham never gets it wrong, offsetting her menswear look with a plum trench coat & pointy toe heels.  This Is 40 star Leslie Mann reinvents the look of a modern working mom with this tan coat over a leopard print dress for an appearance on Good Morning AmericaJessica Chastain poses for photogs after a performance of The Heiress, wearing a tan piped trench coat with grey knee boots & a leopard scarf.  Michelle Williams plays up her bombshell style with this fur-trimmed double-breasted coat & towering peep toe pumps.

Of course, you don’t have to be a celebrity to look great in outerwear, especially when so much of it is currently on sale.  I’ve selected ten coats of varying styles, all under $100, perfect for any shape & look. I start with $100 b/c a winter coat is something that will last you up to five months out of the year, which means that’s about $20 a month on a coat if you go out everyday to brave the elements. It’s always a good idea to consider how your clothing investments can pay you back, especially when looking for a basic necessity like outerwear.

First, if you’re looking to throw on something chic over your winter sweaters, check out the fur military cape ($67.99) in brown from Gap. If a printed coat is more your style, then the VS peacoat ($59.99) in plaid from Victoria’s Secret is great for dressing up basics like a pullover & jeans. @New York & Company, you’ll find the knit collar wool coat ($41.98) in black, which is currently marked down from its original $139.95 price.  By checking out the Juniors’ department @Macy’s, you can spot the Levi’s faux-fur collar anorak ($35.99) in navy, however it’s also sold in khaki if you want to avoid a denim-on-denim disaster. LOFT‘s blanket stripe wool blend zip coat ($129.99) is listed rather high in price, but due to the site’s current sale, upon checkout, the price automatically reduces to $65.00!

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I’m such a big fan of houndstooth in the winter, which is why I was excited to spot the Jaclyn Smith houndstooth coat ($51.99) from KMart, recently reduced from $129.99. For more fun with color, @JC Penney, the a.n.a. hooded peacoat ($30.00) in sangria/black is a must-have clearance item & is also available in ivory/black, which will contrast nicely with leather leggings or a skirt & knee boots. A classic silhouette can be found in the faux-fur trimmed puff sleeve coat ($69.99) in red from Express, which is also sold in pink & navy. The wool-blend cape coat ($29.97) in warm stripe from Old Navy is a great buy for the color-savvy Style Darling & sold in sizes XS – XXL. Finally, the most affordable of all is the quilted self-tie coat ($19.99) from Forever 21, which offers that regal Chanel look with a contemporary twist, especially when worn with a striking scarf in animal print or paisley.

Where do you find the best prices on coats? Do you like to shop after the holidays when there are big sales? What’s your favorite outerwear style? For more posts from Basics for a Bargain, check out 4 ways to wear floral pants from H&M, an LBD look for under $100, & pointy toe heels inspired by Miranda Kerr, Kerry Washington, & More! Happy Styling!

Basics for a Bargain: Leather Pants Inspired by Gwyneth Paltrow, Ciara, & More!


Part of what I love about fall fashion is how stylishly we can embrace texture!  Wearing leather is a fabulous way to upgrade any cotton button-down from day-to-night, but when it comes to leather pants, we have some really awesome celebrity inspiration for a number of very fashionable looks.  Leather pants can certainly be made into an item for any style & it’s a great basic, if worn the right way.

If you’re preppy, add a gray cableknit sweater with some patent leather mary janes.  Or let the diva in you show off a lacey bustier top with your skinny leather pants & some major platforms.  Leather pants aren’t necessarily just for a rock & roll look, but they definitely add that extra splash of edge with a blouse, tweed jacket, or tunic top.

Jennifer Lopez is on the set of her latest music video, wearing Balmain leather pants with a metallic sweater from H&M & studded Christian Louboutin pumps.  With extra zipper details & stacked bangles, this look is very high-profile for day, but also party-ready for evening.  Fergie takes in a day of travel in caramel colored leather leggings, a Balenciaga printed top, gold sandals, oversized shades, & hoop earrings, all while sporting a tight bun, perfect for letting your outfit get all the attention.  Ciara leaves a New York City hotel wearing destroyed Rag & Bone trousers with a shirt by Equipment, Louboutin platforms, & tote by Givenchy. She looks effortless & veyr natural, not pairing her rich pants with anything too flashy.  Gwyneth Paltrow made an appearance on The Early Show, doing a cooking segment while promoting her new cookbook, wearing straight leg motorcycle pants by The Row & finished off her look in a printed silk top & feminine ballet flats.

I went on a hunt to find affordable leather / faux leather pants to upgrade the bottoms in any Style Darling’s wardrobe.  My main goal was to find something $100 or less & I came pretty close to that with these chic finds.  @Victoria’s Secret, the pencil pants in black are $59.50.  You could take a cue from the model in the picture & try on this style of leather pant with a heavy knit.  What makes leather look even more luxurious is the combination against neutral shades like gray or cream.

For $66.00, head over to Topshop for these faux leather skinny trousers which would look perfect with a graphic tee & menswear vest for day.  If you already wear knit leggings or jeggings, then you’ve got to have leather-inspired bottoms like these!  Marked down from $130.00, Bluefly has on sale the BCBGeneration faux leather skinny pants for $77.35.  These slim fit bottoms are especially stylish for a girl’s night out or date night with your beau.

Of course, I haven’t forgotten about my plus-size Style Darlings who can take advantage of the Jessica London leather jeggings @One Stop Plus.  These are available in sizes 12-28, but range in price from $119.99 – $139.99.  Considering that leather pants are a must-have basic, investing the money in just one pair will last you a long time & can be worn just about any season (but be careful on sticky, humid summer days!).

Since our celebrity-inspirations were also wearing leather pants in the brown family, I searched high & low to find affordable look-alikes, but could only come across the rich brown leather pants from Jamin Leather for $55.00.  Break out your favorite black tank, metallic accessories, & pointed toe pumps to dress these up & you’ll be on your way to a very luxurious fall!

Who do you think wears leather the best?  Would you wear leather or faux leather pants this season?  How much would you spend on them?  Do you think the leather leggings trend is over or just getting started?  Happy Styling!

Luxury Look-Alikes for Less: A Rag & Bone Blazer from Saks Vs. A Kmart Deal Under $30!


A striped blazer recalls a breezy, nautical feel that can make any casual outfit appear more polished & work-friendly, as well as help you play down a more elegant piece.  A strapless summer dress is refined with a blazer for dinner with a beau’s parents, or a casual romper & open toe flats are dressed up with this style of jacket for a lunch date with friends.  Here are two similarly designed blazers, full with a blue & white palette, but one if nearly $400.00 by Rag & Bone at Saks Fifth Avenue, whereas the other is an affordable investment from KMart by Covington for under $30!  Happy Styling!