Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I'm a winner of the PETA essay contest yay!!

So I didn't tell anyone, but I entered an essay contest that PETA was giving with the first prize being a free Urban Expressions handbag or clutch from their Fall 2011 line.

And I was one of the winners!

So I want to share my entry. They sent me a beautiful snakeskin clutch, which I found in brown online, but it's really more of a pale tan.

Urban Expressions Clutch

What does cruelty free mean to me?

            They say the world is dog eat dog, but in reality we are the only species that takes pleasure in bringing others down, or continues to prepare meats and skins for anything other than survival. There was a time when slaughtering an animal was an essential need for the human race, but we seem to conveniently forget that the peoples who hunted animals also gave them something else in return, this was an enormous amount of respect. They respected animals and gave thanks to the leather they provided for their clothing and shelter, the meat they provide to their family and their health. Today women buy up leather bags, not ever thinking or thanking the cows that provide them that luxury. And it is a luxury, not a need. We constantly want, more and more in order to have the “right” look, or the rarest delicacy. We are never happy with what we have.
            For many people, it is no longer necessary to buy leather or eat meat, because we have alternative options. These options, to some, seem to add up to a bland lifestyle, but if we never strive to change and try new things, we will never discover happiness in our own lives. Cruelty free does not only mean not doing harm, it means being thankful for what you have, and giving those who have less an opportunity to live happy lives. I own tons of shoes, bags, coats, blouses, jeans, and there are so many people in the world who have one, or less of those things. Animals are happy with a shady tree for shelter, food to survive and access to water. These are the things they need, and they want no more than this. 
            People often say it is barbaric to live like animals, but if we lived more like animals, and respected animals, we would live simpler, happier lives. We can still have those things that we want every once in a while, but it doesn’t have to come at the price of an animal’s life. Would you slaughter your best friend for the latest leather it-bag? If the answer is no, then you shouldn’t slaughter an animal for it either.

$23 - windsorstore.com

Monday, September 26, 2011

Building a Classic Wardrobe: Series 2

The Basics 2

The Basics 2 by aliciablyyours featuring a drape front cardigan

Building a Classic Wardrobe: Series 2
The Pencil Skirt, The Print Scarf, The Ballet Flat, The Belt, The Solid Cardigan, The A-Line Skirt

The Pencil Skirt
This skirt produces a silhouette which is fitted enough to be called sexy, but covers enough to be professional. The perfect Pencil Skirt should hit right at the kneecap but also have a high waist to hide the belly. A plain black or navy blue Pencil Skirt can be worn with a white blouse, or a polka dotted tee for semi-casual edge. It looks great with heels, flats, or even some boots. Every woman must have a Pencil Skirt in her wardrobe which works for her body type. Some come in a stretchier material, and despite my smaller frame, I definitely depend on spanx when I leave wearing this style. 

The Print Scarf
I'm learning that some people just aren't scarf people. Some people don't like the feeling of having something on their neck (hence the non-turtle-neck people), but I also think that some people just don't think they can pull off a scarf without looking like they're trying too hard. Tip number one is to learn how to tie a scarf. There are hundreds of tutorials on youtube of people tying scarfs and with a little practice, it's really simple. 
Tip number two is to keep everything else simple. Throw a scarf on over that basic white tee I talked about last series, or the long sleeved black top. A larger print over a plaid shirt can even work, as long as the pattern on the scarf is larger than the one on the shirt and they contrast enough to look like you did it on purpose. 
Like 'em or not, scarves are a classic.

The Ballet Flat
I have millions of these pairs of shoes. Ok, maybe not millions, but enough that I'd be able to go 2 weeks without repeating the same pair. The truth is though, you don't need that many ballet flats (I admittedly have a problem.) One or two great pairs can liven up a wardrobe. Black patent leather looks great in any season, and a neutral color, like blush, or cognac, looks great with browns, or against blues. Gold is also considered a neutral and can add some flair. 

The Belt
Belts. I don't have too many, but you don't need to. I have one go-to belt, and a couple of thick cinch belts I wear around sweaters. Belts are relatively inexpensive and last forever because they are usually made strong. Belts not only help one accessorize, but keep your clothes from falling off, which is just great because no one should rock the naked look in public. 

The Cardigan
The Cardigan is amazingly functional. It keeps you warm, which is great because I'm cold in July. It hides sleeveless tops, also great because I'll be teaching 10 grade boys soon. It makes any outfit look a little more grown up, as opposed to a college sweatshirt which, sorry, does the opposite. (If you have more than one in your closet, save one for sentimental reasons, or hangover days, and toss the rest now.) The go-to cardigan should be a solid neutral, white, black, brown, navy, or grey. And it should be whatever length you choose that fits your style preferences. 

The A-line Skirt
The less up-tight sister of the Pencil Skirt. It's flowy, has a nice length and makes a professional outfit look a little more feminine. It also looks great with any type of shoe and lets a lady feel young but out of high school. Pair it with loafers and it's best friend, the cardigan, for a really cute fall look. I'm also a tad bit obsessed with polka dots, so I love this A-line I discovered at Forever21. 

Drape front cardigan
$40 - topshop.com

Forever21 a line skirt
$23 - forever21.com

Forever21 cotton skirt
$7.50 - forever21.com

Steve Madden ballet flat
$60 - heels.com

Aerie loop scarve
$20 - ae.com

UO leather belt
$13 - urbanoutfitters.com

Friday, September 23, 2011

An All Vegan Outfit for Fall 2011

Vegan Chic

I have a lot of friends who are vegetarian and vegan, and it’s a life style I’ve tried on and off again. It’s a little hard for me to give up chicken, but I try to buy cruelty free whenever I have the option and I have recently fallen for a new handbag line, Urban Expressions, which is carried in DSW and several online boutiques. Urban Expressions sells all vegan handbags, which are trendy, fashionable, just as glamorous as leather, and of course, cruelty free. Shopping for vegan fashion is no longer the task it once was because there are more and more designers choosing to use synthetics rather than animal based materials.
 Unfortunately, synthetics get a bad rap since a lot of people are under the false impression that fake leather looks “cheap.” A lot of the times the “cheap” look is not due to the material of the handbag, boots, or jacket, but rather the quality and craftsmanship. When synthetic materials are of high quality, the end product is just as nice, or better, than a “real” product.
The problem is we need to stop looking at the products as “real” vs. “fake.” The truth is because synthetic products are manmade, and usually silicone based, they are better for the environment since they can be recycled later on. 

Vegan Chic by aliciablyyours featuring a leather biker jacket

Leather biker jacket
$40 - tillys.com

Steve Madden leather slouch boots
$100 - bloomingdales.com


TopShop leather watch
$30 - topshop.com

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Building a Classic Wardrobe: Series 3

Untitled #80

Untitled #80 by aliciablyyours featuring capri leggings

Building a Classic Wardrobe: Series 3
The Leggings, the striped shirt, the sunglasses, the statement necklace, the career pant, the patent pump. 

The Leggings
Leggings have become very popular in the last couple of years under tunics and longer shirts and sweaters. It's easy to see why when it's pulled off the correct way. But there are more times than others that girls fall into the trap of wearing leggings as pants. 
Leggings are not pants.
Leggings are a thick pair of tights and fit that way. 
Leggings will creep up your no-no spot and make you look repulsive. And fat.
You need to cover your butt and your girl parts thoroughly, or you do not look chic. You look gross. And no one can look at you. And you don't even realize it. 
But leggings are a basic. Wearing leggings with a beautiful tunic and boots will make you look fantastic. Just stop wearing them with crop tops and short sweaters, or your right to wear leggings will be revoked.

The Striped Shirt
Always in, although every season some fashions enthusiasts from these beauty magazines always find some way to take a classic style which was ALWAYS in and say it's a trend. They did this with the striped shirt last year, even though I've always owned more than 4 in my closet. This year they're doing it with polka dots. I've always loved polka dots! Not bragging, just stating a fact. 
But whatever.
Striped shirts are great. Contrary to popular belief, only some horizontal stripes make you look wider. You just have try on the shirt to see what you think about how it lays across your frame. 

The Sunglasses
There is a reason models and celebrities don't get photographed without them. They are always on the run to jobs and photo shoots where people do their hair and make up for them, why would they do their make up before hand just to wash it off? So they throw on a pair of sunglasses and make a run for it. 
If you have to cry, go outside, but bring your sunglasses.

The Statement Necklace
Play it the right way and a loud piece of jewelry can be tamed to a soft whisper of "wow." Keep everything else simple and a statement piece will pop. Trust me.

The Career Pant
Make sure it fits well and buy it in a neutral. You'll get more use out of it than you realize. 

The Patent Pump
In any color, this one is here to stay. I have a red pair, and a pair of black patent flats. Patent leather has a lovely sheen that dresses up casual outfits, and really stands out. Also patent leather can be worn in literally any season, so you'll get a lot of bang out of your buck. The look great with skinny jeans and a charcoal sweater. 

That's the basics for now!

Michael Kors striped sweater
£825 - harrods.com

Wide leg pants
$90 - topshop.com

Capri legging
$12 - kohls.com

High heel pumps
$35 - modcloth.com

White necklace
$48 - fantasyjewelrybox.com

Mango round sunglasses
£23 - mango.com

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

When in doubt . . .

When in doubt
When in doubt dress like you're french.

Something I've noticed about myself as of late is that I've been coming up with a lot of "When in doubt," rules for myself. The truth is that in life there is a lot of doubting. Doubt about the economy, doubt about the government, doubt about the education system, and for a lot of people doubt about themselves.

Doubt is a tricky thing. It's not really a very negative sentiment because you just aren't sure about something. Being 100% certain about something always feels a whole lot better than being in doubt. So in order to lead happy lives we sometimes need to trick ourselves into feeling confident and certain about our choices. So I've made a list of some of my "When in doubt," rules and maybe you'll take some into your own way of thinking.

1. When in doubt, eat a banana. 
Women starve themselves as punishment. I know because I do it. If you overindulge on the weekend, you feel like you need to fast for 3 days in order to make up for it. That's crazy. I do it, and it's crazy.

Well, I used to do it. 
One night when I had a particularly busy day and hard work out, I had a small dinner and went to bed, then could not fall asleep because I was still hungry. I knew if I ate something over 200 calories I'd go over my goal for the day (I calorie count) and that it's also not that great to eat before bed. So I wandered downstairs and grabbed a banana. I was out 10 minutes later.

Why a banana?
Banana's are a serious fruit. Seriously. They are high in potassium, which is great for your body, and are digested quickly which boosts your metabolism, but still satisfies your hunger pains.
I tend to grab one before the gym because I'm not a huge breakfast person and don't like to eat a lot in the morning, but if I don't eat before I work out I'm dying within the first 15 minutes. 

So when in doubt, eat a banana.

2. When in doubt, buy it in black or white.
I have so many tops that I have given away because it just didn't go with anything else in my closet. I'm in the process of trying to develop a more adult, classic wardrobe, so I've purged anything I haven't worn in the last 6 months. My new rule is if I am unsure of an item, and it comes in several colors, I buy it in black or white.
Black and white go with everything. So if you find something you really think you can't live without in a crazy color, like plum, you know you have things to go with it. (#Cream, AKA off white goes great with plum.)

3. When in doubt, write it down.
I'm a huge self-talker, and I journal all the time about really stupid things. I've gotten distressed about wanting to lose 4 lbs of water weight, or wanting to wear suspenders. But if I write about these really stupid things, I find that when I go back and read it, I realize what issues were really important, and what was stupid and I appreciate my life more and find it easier to improve as a person. I figure out when I was the most confident about myself, and when I was the most insecure, then I look at the factors around them and really analyze how my mood, and other factors might affect my life. 

4. When in doubt, wear a blazer (or bring a sweater)
I'm always cold and I lived in my New Paltz sweatshirt in college. As comfy as that thing is, it's gross. Those sweatshirts are never flattering on anyone. They're over-sized, they make everyone look pregnant, and they scream "I've never grown up."  I have a vast collection of cardigans and 3 really good blazers. Anyone that knows me knows I'm huge on blazers. I think they make everyone look awesome, stylish, but laid back. I could be wrong, but I don't care. I love them. Seriously, wear a blazer. Or at least a really nice cardigan.

5. When in doubt, bring flats.
I am notorious for carrying large bags because I carry my life in them. I carry my Barnes & Noble Nook, or whatever book I may be reading at the moment...(right now it's Oedipus & Night by Elie Wiesel for the classes I'm student teaching) a journal, for keeping notes, a planner, a wallet, keys, and whatever touch up stuff I might need for make up (although I don't usually reapply during the day), and a pair of ballet flats if I'm wearing shoes higher than 3 inches. 
I love heels and am working my way up to wearing the 6 inchers to work again, (I'm starting out small and working up) but sometimes you gotta rip them off and shove on some flats. 
I love my gap-city flats I got 2 years ago because they fold up and come in a pouch.

That's my 5 when in doubt rules for now. I'll probably follow up on this in other posts. Hope you enjoyed my rambling and crazy ideas!!

H m blazer
£30 - hm.com

GAP ballet flat
$40 - gap.com

ASOS drop earrings
$11 - asos.com

Pashmina shawl
$20 - modcloth.com

Advice for Student Teachers (And younger teachers with jobs!)

The past 3 years I worked for a wonderful organization named AHRC which provided educational services to children with disabilities who might not be functioning high enough to attend a public school. I worked in the autism program, something I had limited knowledge about before I started working there, and am now somewhat fascinated by, and met some really great people in the field. I wouldn't give up the experience for anything, and while I'm uncertain whether I want to teach special education or English (I will certified to teach both) I am so, so appreciative of everything i learned there.
THAT being said, teaching in that type of field is very different from teaching in a public setting, and the dress code is a huge contrast. I spent the last 3 years in sneakers, flats, jeans and very casual tops. Even though I love jewelry, I had learned to wear things you can pull off quickly if a child is having a behavior outburst. Long story short, you can't dress like that when you teach high school.

As a teacher, you need to look somewhat professional, and as a student teacher, you should step it up a notch, just because you ARE there to make an impression. 

But professional does not mean frumpy. You can wear beautiful clothes for a business-casual setting. My first purchase was a really good wool blazer from Zara. I also have one from H&M and one from Lulus, but one really nice one is great to have because it will last for a couple of years. 

Comfortable shoes are important, and I have A LOT of ballet flats, but shorter heels are also great for 2 reasons. The style part is a given, but have you seen those high school boys? They're HUGE! And I'm not that short, I'm 5"5, bordering 5"6 and all of those kids tower over me. 

At the head of the classroom, you want to be taken seriously, so here is one good style rule, you do NOT want to look like your students. It's ok to shop at H&M, Forever 21, and other places you usually shop at, but be wary about those blouses! Go for simple things, nothing too trendy or loud because any student could walk in wearing the same top. Always bring a blazer, or a sweater if you are unsure about how much skin you are showing. Never have low cut tops, sometimes v-necks are fine, but if you are unsure put a tank top on under it.

With business pants, lose is better! The wide leg style has been in for the last couple of years, but it's supposed to be wide throughout the leg, not tight at the top. I had to exchange couple of pairs at H&M because i'm usually a 4 in their jeans, but their pants were just a little too tight in my butt area. I know that I work for my butt ( I go to the gym frequently) and you may too, but you do not want the high school boys thinking you have a nice ass. 

Skirts should fall at the knee, depending on the style. An inch above may be ok, if you plan on wearing boots, but longer is better. 

When in doubt, find a really stylish teacher and look at how she puts her outfits together then model after her. Don't get the same exact stuff, but if she has small suede heels in olive, maybe get a pair in black. If she wears long a-line skirts and chic tights, try that look out for yourself. You're not throwing your money away because a business casual wardrobe is an investment, especially if you plan on teaching for a long time. 

Even when you do buy casual tops, make sure they can look polished if you put on a blazer with it. That way you can double a lot of your clothes as weekend stuff too. 

NEVER wear sneakers with dress pants. EVER. I see so many girls doing this when they run to class after teaching, they must change their shoes in the car, it is so, so tacky and ugly. I don't get it! Even flip flops looks gross. If you need to be at class that quickly after student teaching, just bring a pair of ballet flats, or jeans in the car and change in the bathroom. 

Wear jewelry but have some quality pieces. Once again you do not want to look like your students and a lot of what they can afford are at those stores like Forever 21, because a this point, they are closer to being 21 than you are and that is their domain. Zara, Express, H&M, Ann Taylor Loft, Banana Republic, & even Anthropologie have a beautiful, affordable, selection of jewelry. Anthropologie also always has things in their sale section of their website, which is easier to navigate through than a clearance section of the store. 

You can look classy, and stylish, without looking sexy or too young. Or look like you're playing dress up in your grandmother's closet. 

Another Day in the Classroom

Another Day in the Classroom by aliciablyyours featuring brown shoes

This is a really easy style to pull off. Find a polka dotted shirt with ruched sleeves ( I found mine at H&M) and tuck it into a pair of wide leg pants of a contrasting color. So if the shirt is black and white: tan pants. If the shirt is brown and cream (but mostly cream): go for dark brown or black pants. Put a blazer on over the shirt and find some good short heels (the chunky heel is in right now) with a mary jane twist. Bring a black bag, with lots of room for a notebook to take notes on your lessons, classroom protocol, and other things you may want to note while observing the school. I plan on wearing this exact outfit when I start my field placement next week and I wish luck to all of the other student teachers all over the country that are headed out in the world to make a difference!
Dorothy Perkins navy tee
£20 - dorothyperkins.com

Zara blazer
$100 - zara.com

Brown shoes
$28 - lulus.com

Monday, September 19, 2011

Building a Classic Wardrobe

I'd like to feature a section on this blog which will help guide people in building a classic wardrobe that has plenty of go-to pieces during those "I have nothing to wear" moments. 

I was inspired to do this after seeing my younger sister struggle with finding the right outfit when going out. She, like me, is a teacher, and figuring out things to wear in and out of work can be tricky. She is lucky enough to work for a company that has a daily t-shirt, so she only has to figure out the pants & shoes for a work day. However, a lot of young girls just coming into their own fashion sense are at a loss when it comes to the classics. 

I'm a pretty eclectic person when it comes to style, so I like to follow trends and try out a lot of new looks, but still, in order to do this successfully, you need a strong foundation. I'm going to block about 6 items at a time under the title of "Building a Classic Wardrobe," as I am also trying to add some more classic pieces to my closet. 

Some items will be on the more affordable side, while some will be splurges, and I'll also feature a lot of my own purchases. 

The Basics 1
The Basics 1 by aliciablyyours featuring long shirts

Building A Classic Wardrobe: Series 1
The White Tee, The Black Shirt, The Riding Boot, The Blazer, The White Button Down, The Blue Skinny Jeans

The White Tee
The White Tee-shirt is about as basic as you can get. It's important to make sure that it fits really well and flatters your body type. Depending on your style preference it can be more feminine or sporty. A feminine tee can lend a more professional edge and work as a good layering piece at work without looking too casual or too career-oriented.

The Black Shirt
The Black Shirt is similar to the White Tee, in that it is a simple staple, but stylistically can be found in many different ways. A higher quality black shirt is important because black can fade pretty quickly if washed with other colors. Black works for all seasons and most outfits so is extremely versatile.

The Riding Boot
This style of boot is really very trendy right now and started getting big in the last 3 years, but there is a reason it's a classic instead of a come and go trend. Riding boots have a polished look because of their history. Think of a polo player. They are preppy, polished, and functional because of their low heel. A lot of boots on the market right now are a bit on the expensive side, but I found a really beautiful boot from the Shoe Dazzle boutique for under $40, which really is a steal. It's my opinion that people really need to get over the fact that some boots are made out of fake leather, because economically, and environmentally, it's the better choice all around. There are plenty of high quality boots made from fake leather, as well as boots made from real leather that fall apart within a year. 

White Button Down Shirt
The White Button Down is the cousin of the White Tee. It can be worn with jeans, slacks, skirts, under a sweater, over a camisole, just about with anything really. Like the White Tee, fit is important. Even though the boyfriend style is in right now, sloppy is sloppy any way you cut it. A crisp, well fitting white shirt always makes a statement, without even trying.

Blue Skinny Jeans
The darkest pair of Skinny Jeans you can find will pull your casual pieces together and make you look like you lost 15 lbs, no matter what size you are. This is an obvious classic.

The Black Blazer
At work with a skirt or jeans, a black blazer always gives off the professional vibe. It can be dressed up or down and can be found in Bloomingdales or off the rack at Kohls. It's impossible to not find a blazer that will fit your style needs. 

Jack BB Dakota cut out top
$54 - lorisshoes.com

Knit top
$30 - anthropologie.com

Long shirt
$35 - shopruche.com

Forever21 skinny leg jeans
$25 - forever21.com

Product Detail | H&M SE
£15 - hm.com

Friday, September 16, 2011

My favorite Nine West picks for under $100

My Favorite Nine West Picks For Under $100

I have only become a fan of Nine West in the last couple of years. I was admittedly a little obsessed with Michael Kors and Marc Jacobs, but couldn’t afford the very expensive price-tag anymore (even though I do come across amazing finds at Annie Sez and Marshalls.) So I started shopping for more affordable pieces that still can be eye catching and pull an outfit together. After taking a look at Nine West’s fall line, I am happy to announce that I won’t be buying any absurdly expensive designs this year, because there is clearly no need. I own two great bags from NW, a smaller cross-body that converts to a clutch and a larger shoulder bag. Both have held up great and are in the same condition as my numerous Michael Kors handbags.  I’ve also gotten more compliments on them than any of my expensive bags as well. Here are some of my favorites from NW’s new line. I hope you like them too!

My Favorite Nine West Picks For Under $100 by aliciablyyours featuring animal print bags

Nine West animal print bag
$120 - ninewest.com

Nine West shoulder hand bag
$85 - piperlime.gap.com

Nine West shoulder handbag
$28 - ninewest.com

Nine West crossbody handbag
$59 - ninewest.com

Nine West clutch hand bag
$17 - ninewest.com

Nine West chain handbag
$69 - ninewest.com