B is for Brooch

Buttons, zippers, buckles, hook & eye, and velcro. Before the advent of these modern fasteners, there was the brooch.

brooch fashion jewelry

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Although brooches are merely just decorative jewelry pieces nowadays, they once had a utilitarian purpose. The earliest form was called a fibula brooch. Resembling a safety pin, it was used to hold garments together on the body. From the draped peplos tunics of Roman yore to the heavy cloaks in early medieval dress, brooches were used throughout history and in many cultures. Sometimes, even the design of the brooch served to reveal something about the wearer, like their rank or affiliation in society.

fibula / peplos / cloak

Eventually as innovation ensued, the functional necessity of the brooch was no longer needed. Yet the brooch still remains one of my favorite go to accessories to adorn the shoulder of my cardigan or the lapel of my coat. Vintage brooches can be found at thrift shops, but even department stores like Macy’s have great options for inexpensive costume jewelry.

With buttons fastening the front of my blouse, I can focus taking my brooching to a whole new decorative level.

1. All tied up: A feminine take on a masculine necktie, excessive accessorizing is key.
fashion jewelry brooch

2. Belt it out: A fabric belt or a wide ribbon tied around the waist will also do. The result is a burnished belt worthy of the wrestling ring.

fashion jewelry brooch

3. Beret, oh hey: A classic Chic Vic move, even the rookiest of broochers can pull this off.

fashion jewelry brooch

4. Off the chain: All you need is a chain with links large enough for the pin of the brooch to needle through. Voilà, that brooch has become a pendant necklace.

fashion jewelry brooch

And there you have it, the fascinating history of fasteners! How do you like to wear your brooch?

Preppy Stripes & Casaual Chambray

Chain reaction fashion /CHān rēˈakSH(ə)n ˈfaSHən/ noun: a series of outfits, each created by an item from the previous one.

“I’ve never seen you wear anything more than once!” is a phrase I’ve become quite familiar with. If you’re doing a double take on some of the outfits in my recent posts, I can assure you that you are in fact seeing double. In a new series I shall call, “chain reaction fashion,” each month I will feature an item from the previous month, styled differently into a new outfit. Finally, I am going to prove that I DO wear things twice, just like how I put my pants on one leg at a time.

Old Navy chambray (similar) | Banana Republic striped tee (similar) | Zara jeans (similar) | vintage flower brooch (similar) | vintage belt (similar) | vintage handkerchiefs (similar here & here) | vintage purse (similar) | vintage Ferragamo slingbacks (similar)

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This outfit challenge proves that dressing up a simple striped top isn’t so black and white. While the high contrast graphic print makes for a striking fashion statement, there’s room to add a soft touch of casual chambray in there too.

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Jazzing up the basic stripes required a few small accessories: a skinny belt and a brooch. I rolled up the sleeves of my chambray top, and got right to work on fashioning a neck scarf, which is just two small handkerchiefs tied at the ends. Not only does this create a longer scarf to drape in the front, but it also incorporates two times the pattern play. My tiny red purse adds a pop of color to the outfit and brings out the specks of red in my neck scarf as well.

And the finisher to this outfit? None other than a classy pair of toe cap slingbacks. The only thing that could beat these vintage toe caps is a night cap.

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Old Navy chambray (similar) | Banana Republic striped tee (similar) | Zara jeans (similar) | vintage flower brooch (similar) | vintage belt (similar) | vintage handkerchiefs (similar here & here) | vintage purse (similar) | vintage Ferragamo slingbacks (similar)

stripes

Brrr for Fur

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Everyone is all about sequins and glitter every New Year’s Eve. To these gals I ask, isn’t it a bit nippy for that skimpy number?

In search of an alternative way to be stylish while not sacrificing frozen nips, I looked no further than to our furry friends. Brrr for fur!
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It’s hard to wear this faux fur leopard coat without feeling just slightly posh, even it is synthetic. There’s something about a fur coat that makes it too fancy for the everyday. But NYE is the perfect time for this type of fancy. Heck, if you don’t wear anything else, at least wear a fur coat. And if you don’t own one, check out my picks for under $100:

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fur

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To get it ready for a night out on the town, I fancied it up with a statement feather brooch I salvaged from my Mardi Gras mask in a post from a while back. If it’s large enough to merit having its own float at the Carnival parade, then it’s perfect for NYE – even if I might have to ruffle a few feathers.

I won’t be taking this fur coat-dress off tonight, because baby, it’s cold outside, and I have nothing on underneath.

See you in 2016!

Gold Digger

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Although my new year’s resolution is to become more of a fashion minimalist, deep down I ain’t nothing but a gold digger. Oh I’m a thrifting friend indeed.

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When you’re thrifty, every trip to Goodwill is like panning for gold. I struck it rich and found this gold laden, sequin encrusted cardigan during one of my routine first-donate-then-shop trips. It has become my designated statement cardigan when I need a quick way to glam up a pair of jeans with minimal effort. To let the cardigan shine, I wore all black and played up the color of the sequins by adding extra gold toned accessories to the rest of my outfit.

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Feeling bold and empowered by gold, I decided the outfit needed a superhero’s touch in the form of a cape. The black cape adds subtle drama and also allows the sequins to peekaboo through the front. The arm holes help frame sequined detail on the sleeves that would otherwise be hidden from sight with a regular coat.

My outfit isn’t suited for the snow, but this snow bunny wasn’t really planning to hit the bunny slopes anyway. Black diamond you say? Where can this gold digger get her hands on one?

Zara cape (similar) / vintage cardigan (similar) / Silence & Noise blouse (similar) / Forever 21 pillbox hat (similar) / Kimchi Blue suede boots (similar) / vintage belt (similar) / vintage flower brooch (similar) / vintage bow brooch (similar) / vintage cape clip (similar)

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cape

Silver Linings Lookbook

All the single ladies, all the single ladies, now put your hands up!

Oh, the dreaded bouquet toss. There’s something embarrassing about parading up to the dance floor like a herd of cattle. You’re up there with all types of single ladies: the flower girls, the teenagers, the eager to be wed ladies, and maybe an old maid or two. I never actually go out of my way to try to catch the bouquet, instead opting for a blasé approach to guarantee that no bouquet will land in my closed fists. However, there was one traumatic occasion when this strategy failed. With my eyes wide in shock and mouth agape, I was so caught off guard that the beautiful bouquet dropped from my clutches and onto the floor. I stood there frozen in disbelief while a small scuffled ensued around me. A seven year old victor finally emerged from the crowd of single ladies and she proudly held up the flowers above her head while smiling from ear to ear.

I’ve already attended a few weddings so far and with a couple more still to go before summer is over, what should I wear? I’ve got 27 dresses in my closet, but it’s hard to choose one. A floral frock or a powder blue 70s’ gown? My head was spinning with so many choices. Luckily, every cloud has a silver lining, and this was a golden opportunity to cool it down with head to toe silver for a recent summertime wedding.

With diamonds and crystal beads on my wrist and roses at my feet, this silver sheath dress, once long forgotten in my closet, was brought back to life. I got excessive with all my rhinestone brooches that rarely see the light of day. The result: a blinged out right shoulder that was so heavy it caused my dress to droop. I love me a good cardigan with all my vintage frocks, and this one with a lace inset and tiny diamonds embedded throughout is perfect for my 1950s inspired silver look.


silver dress (similar dress) / vintage cardigan (similar cardigan) / Nina rose heels (similar heels) / various rhinestone brooches (similar brooch & brooch) / crystal bead bracelet (similar bracelet)

Who says silver comes second? Once wedding season is over, I think I’m going to incorporate silver into my everyday wear. Whether its a whole lotta silver, or just a sliver of silver, checkout my gold medal first place worthy looks here.

Silver Look 1

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Silver Look 2

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Silver Look 3

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Chambray for Days

Gonna dress me up in chambray, all over all over. From my head down to my toes.

I’ll be having naysayers of a head to toe chambray ensemble saying touché by the time I’m done with this post. I rarely go monochromatic in my outfits, but I was inspired by my recent purchase of a pair of chambray jogger pants. The natural lightweight hand of the soft fabric coupled with the relaxed pant silhouette means that I will be wearing these pants down to the threads.

I paired the jogger pants with my one and only chambray top and a wide belt to help create the illusion of a jumpsuit. I couldn’t have topped my look off better than with a chambray floppy hat. If my times tables is correct, and I’m normally pretty glam, then chambray x 3 = glambray, correct?

Chambray is the new neutral, which means this outfit is the perfect blank canvas to be punched up with some color. A lemony yellow cardigan helps brighten up the outfit with the all-over felted flowers acting almost as a print. Both the color and flower “pattern” of the cardigan helps compliment the solid monochromatic look. Checkout my chambray lookbook for ideas on how to piece together your head to toe chambray outfit.

Normally, I don’t like to over accessorize, but I couldn’t refrain from wearing this cute cork beaded necklace and earring set from the 1970s. Not only are the shades of Easter pastels enchanting, but the necklace itself is as light as a feather. I also couldn’t stay away from this darling 1960s daisy brooch. It serves a functional purpose to keep the floppy hat from being so floppy over my face.

I recently wore this outfit to a friend’s picnic in the park. The weather was gorgeous, the food was delicious, and I got to mingle and meet new people. The best part was when I found out the bocce ball set she had brought matched my necklace precisely. I had a ball doing a photoshoot with them, so much that it caused a scene. I guess I’m just a ball hog.


H&M hat / Old Navy blouse (similar blouse) / Urban Outfitters pants (similar pants) / Natural Comfort shoes (similar shoes & shoes) / Fossil bag (similar bag) / vintage daisy brooch / vintage cork bead necklace & earrings

Lucky in Gold and Green

This 1960s golden brocade shift dress was my lucky find at the end of the rainbow. The A-line silhouette is most flattering and the long sleeves help balance out the short flared hemline. My favorite detail is the button on the back. It provides an unexpected surprise for when heads turn to watch as I walk away. I’m cute as a button, quite literally.

To prevent me from looking too washed out in light gold from head to toe, I opted for a pop of color in a bright tight. Ruby red, midnight blue, or plum purple? Any jewel-toned hue will do, but my choice is emerald green, perfect for St. Patty’s Day.

Although the dress is plain in style, the brocade fabric is what elevates it. Brocade is a fabric woven on a loom, typically with multicolored silk threads. To identify brocade, check both sides of the fabric: the topside should look like embroidery throughout while the underside has layers of thread. For these reasons, brocade was a luxury fabric worn by nobility since way back in the Middle Ages. No wonder I feel royal in this dress, even though it don’t run in my blood.

To finish the royal look, I must adorn myself with baubles fit for a queen. Jewels on my ears and an emerald stone on my finger – how do you do? How about a gold blingy brooch with a bangle to match? Your royal highness requests it. Only the finest shoes will do for my regal feet; these velvet rhinestoned beauties simply beg me to kick up their heels in song and Riverdance.

Cute as a button in my noble gold dress and lean green legs, don’t you dare pinch me. Unless you want to be pinched back tenfold.


thrifted jacket (similar jacket & jacket) / vintage dress (similar dress & dress) / Xhilaration tights (similar tights) / Poetic License shoes (similar shoes) / vintage Dooney & Bourke purse (similar purse) / vintage brooch (similar brooch) / vintage bangle (similar bangle) / vintage ring (similar ring)

Dirty Flirty Birthday

When I was 17, I did what people told me. Did what my father said, and let my mother mold me. But now I’m in control ’cause I’m all growns up.


Today marks a milestone birthday. As I reflect on turning the dreaded “dirty,” I must give thanks to two of the most important people in my life: my mom and dad. They are the reason that the world is graced by my wonderful presence. It was their unspoken love, support, discipline, and sacrifice that has helped shaped me into the woman I am today.

It only felt natural to dedicate this birthday post to them by literally clothing myself in their clothes. These unwanted items were collected from their closets over the years. I bet they never foresaw their daughter to have such a keen interest in “old” clothes – the concept of vintage still falls on their deaf ears. I can only imagine how my mom used to wear this blouse and purse while toting my siblings and me around. Or my dad who only wears ties when attending a wedding and always dons a sweater vest under his shirts because he gets cold easily.

The similarly striped tie and blouse look as though they were made for each other. The direction of stripes going every which way makes the combination even more charming and keeps it from looking too intentional. My dad never saw the need to teach me how to tie a full Windsor knot, but I learned anyhow thanks to YouTube. I added gold toned and pearl accents for a touch of femininity to the balance out the “old man” sweater.

I can count on my mom to embrace me with a hug and my dad to bestow some words of wisdom on this day. No matter how many birthdays come and go, I will always be their little girl in their eyes who still has a lifetime of learning to do.

What can I say? I get it from my mama (and papa).


dad’s vintage sweater cardigan (similar men’s cardigan & women’s cardigan) / dad’s vintage tie (similar tie) / mom’s vintage blouse (similar blouse & blouse) / mom’s vintage Mervyn’s purse (similar purse) / Cooperative trouser skinnies (similar pants) / Pour La Victoire pumps (similar pumps) / vintage belt (similar belt) / vintage sweater clip (similar) / vintage earrings (similar earrings) / Express brooch (similar brooch)

Surprise, Surprise, Faux and Hide

Things aren’t always what they seem.

From across the sales floor, this dress appeared to have a delicate lace overlay in a beautiful contrast of hunter green and pale blush pink. Yet once we met up close, I was surprised to discover that it wasn’t lace at all, but rather a lace print. This faux lace meant that it would be easy to care for because it was machine washable. No expensive dry-cleaning bills and purchased on sale, this dress was a score.

While the fit and flare silhouette of this dress is reminiscent of 1950s fashion, the length is not. The flared skirt combined with the stiff fabric make for an inappropriate flashing opportunity. I won’t be going bottoms up in this dress, unless I have a drink in my hand.

Like the faux lace, this bracelet was also deceiving. I picked it up at a vintage show, thinking it was just a pretty blingy bangle to add to my collection. Oh, but it was so much more than that: when hinged open, the rose uncovers a watch. Since it was made in the good old days, I was able to wind it up and use the watch immediately. And it just so happens to match a brooch I already had – were they part of the same set and somehow separated long ago? It was serendipity that brought them together in perfect harmony with my dress.

Whether it’s faux lace or a hidden watch, keep the surprises coming. Except for a surprise stain, which I am guilty of overlooking for the love of vintage. Don’t judge me!


Zara dress (similar) / Nina shoes / vintage brooch (similar) / vintage watch (similar)

Circus Circus

Circus Tent

Come one, come all! I may be a lady, but let the freak show begin!

I went to my one and only circus show when I was ten years old. It was actually my dad who really wanted to attend, so he insisted on taking my sister and me. As much as I protested against going, I actually enjoyed the show – minus the smell of elephant poop.

While the circus I visited took place in an indoor arena, I am still enchanted by the whimsically striped circus tents from the olden days. The dizzying array of vertical and horizontal wide stripes on this dress is reminiscent of just that. The crisp blue and white can only be complemented by bold pops of cherry red in my belt and shoes. I kept all other accessories to a minimum except for a bracelet, a brooch, and a blue headscarf to match the blue stripes.

I know what you’re thinking and the answer is yes: beneath this tent is the greatest show on earth. That’s what he said.

Where’s a lion tamer when you need one?


thrifted I. Magnin dress (similar) / thrifted Selby shoes (similar) / thrifted scarf (similar) / vintage brooch (similar) / red belt (similar)