Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A little this and a little that....

Guess what this is?!  It might not be EXACTLY what you think it is.....and I will fill you in at the end of this post....

but for now.....

Does this picture look like a mug shot?  LOL!
Very simple outfit for a rainy day; thrifted gap turtleneck, Lia Sophia jewelry, New York and Co. houndstooth stretch trousers (pictured below)
I think the "Shoplifters will be Prosecuted" sign makes it look that way!

My friend Maria and I had lunch together and worked on some things for school on Tuesday.  When we finished we treated ourselves to a trip to the Goodwill store and she helped me get a couple of pictures.  

Maria found an Oscar de la Renta silk scarf for a dollar!
...and I sweet talked her into letting me take hers.  We stepped into a dressing room to take the photos because people were looking us a little funny; perhaps we should have considered how the "shoplifters" sign in the picture would look!!!  

My outfits this week have been really simple.  The weather has been temperamental; one day its cold and freezing rain, the next day its warm and stormy, the next (today) its rainy and warm but then the temp dropped and it snowed.  I've just wanted to be cozy and effortless these last couple of days.

The long leaf necklace is LS "Whisper"; I love the delicate leaves and I'm happy I ordered it because its now discontinued.  So is the pendant.  The chain that I put the pendant on is a triple strand from the current line.  Its really cool; each of the strands is detachable and there are two double clasps so that the necklace can be configured in so many different ways.  Its kind of like having 5 or 6 different necklaces  in one.  You will be seeing this worn in many different ways on my blog!

The collar can be work flat or stand-up
Love the stand up collar on this 'Neon Budda' jacket.  This is one of my recent, rare non-thrifted items.  It was about 65 degrees yesterday and I was happy to wear this spring-weight jacket!

I love the big buttons! The fabric is buttery soft and its so easy to wear.  I will love this for many years to come.

...and here my super comfy houndstooth stretch trousers.  

On Monday, I dresses simply for school.  Black NY& Co. stretch trousers and a thrifted lavender Izod cable sweater.  
Oh, how I love this sweater. Lavender seems to be a very flattering color for me; I would never have thought that it would be.  I went to the Goodwill last week SPECIFICALLY to find a lavender pullover to replace an itchy one that I could not wear comfortably. Hard to believe I found exactly what I was looking for.  Thank you thrifting fairy!

I paired the sweater with a lightweight leopard scarf and two LS "panorama" necklaces.  This necklace used to be called 'reflections'; its very shiny and reflective.  I found a you tube video of a woman demonstrating 12 ways to wear this necklace; most of them were pretty cute!

Here's close up of that de la Renta scarf Maria found on our Tuesday outing.  The colors are so pretty in person and I think she's going to get a lot of use from this scarf.  Maria is a little camera shy, but I would really like to feature her on my blog someday.  She has an amazing sense of style that I think you would all enjoy.  I really think she should write a blog of her own, but she has just returned to school to get her Masters in mental health counseling this semester so she probably won't have too much free time!  Maybe someday. is the full size picture of the dress in my teaser picture at the top of the blog. 
Yep..its a dance dress.  Its a Latin dance competition dress.  And its for me!  I'm the girl who does not do Latin competition or Rhythm competition.  I haven't taken lessons in Latin or Rhythm but I've attended a few group lessons and I've picked up a lot of it at social dance parties.  
I don't have the same skill level as I do in American Smooth and International Standard.  But, I'm going to take a few lessons before the competition and enter in the novice/newcomer division and compete in a couple of  American Rhythm dances.  I'm not focusing heavily on it and I actually won't be wearing this dress yet.  I'll explain that below.
NOTE: International Latin and American Rhythm styles are similar and share some of the same dances.  There are technical differences between the two that distinguish them from one another and some different dances.  Latin dances are: Rhumba, Cha Cha Cha, Paso Doble, Jive, Samba.  American Rhythm dances are Rhumba, Cha Cha Cha, Bolero, East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing and Samba.

I'm going to be dancing Rhumba, Cha Cha, East Coast Swing and maybe Bolero.  I won't spend a lot of time working on them, because my focus is MY style (Standard and Smooth)...but I wanted to try it out for fun.
I won't be wearing the dress pictured at this comp, but I did buy it.  It was a REALLY, REALLY GOOD DEAL.
The dress is pale lavender and it needs some additional color.  I'm going to be adding many Swarovski crystals in a variety of bright colors.  I'm thinking that I will add fuchsia, aqua and dark purple.  The goal is to take this pale dress from a "cute" to a "WOW", and the way to do that is by adding colorful stones.  Also, because I'm so pale, the light color washes me out.  Its a great base dress that is going to be even greater with personal touches. I will also be adding wider straps.  Spaghetti straps just don't flatter me, so I'm adding a one inch strap on each shoulder.  They will also be heavily stoned. Many dancers do this with dresses; buy a solid used dress and customize it.  
Its a money saver if you start with a good basic dress.
For the competition, I will be wearing a simple black dress that I own with some very blingy ballroom jewelry.  Because I'm entering in a novice division, I don't need a 'real' ballroom dress.
There is something else that needs some work too before I wear this dress...and that's me.
I need to work on the soft parts of me and tone them up again.  If I'm going to be this underdressed, I'm going to be more fit.
That's why I've started Jillian Michaels 30 day shred.  So far, she's shredding me!  

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Day of Coaching........a dream dress

Yesterday I spent several hours with Marcel at a studio receiving coaching with the highly regarded ballroom dance coach and adjudicator, John Swick.  Every time I do dance feels better.  I'm hoping to bring some of the tools he's given me to sharpen my skills and being the best dancer I can be to the floor.  I'm getting excited about putting this dress on again.  
I haven't lost any of the weight I've wanted to lose.  But I have a month to still lose a few lbs. to look my best in the dress.

Here's where I am with the fit right now.  In your face curves that I'd like to tame a bit.  Acceptable, but not as polished and fit as I need to be.

On the way home from the coaching, Peyton and I pulled over by the lake near my home and captured a picture of the sun setting behind the water.  I brought extra clothes to wear home because I knew I would get really sweaty working with John...and it was cold.  It felt great to change into warm dry clothes for the drive home.

I don't wear a lot of vibrant color, but I love this limited sweater and this color combination.

Hi, there!  

Lia Sophia 'Demure' earrings and necklace.

Delicate and not as bold as my usual jewelry choices, but it worked well with this sweater.

  You can see John's legs in the background; under his watchful eye, Marcel and I are working on technique.  
*This photo clearly shows the...ummmm.....challenge I face when dressing every day. 

I wore this Lia Sophia 'Aristocrat' necklace and peach shell  during the lessons.....the dark colored stones are actually a pale blush, but photographed so much darker.  In person, its really beautiful and delicate.
.....and this very bland grey pants and cardi.

.....and now for a little dreaming.........

I am in love with this Elle designs gown.  Its on my wish list. I have long desired a black gown; its the first thing I ever really wanted gown-wise.  I was shut down by Marcel who says that black gowns make you blend in with your partner.  Sigh.  Someday, I'm getting one.  I'll put lots of AB crystal stones on it won't look so dark and so that I will stand out from my partner.  
Its my dream dress.
I need to win a few more comps to earn the money to do buy this dress...and perhaps find an extra part time job.  
I've been working on curbing my wardrobe spending, cutting back on magazines (I'm addicted to them) and paying of the last of the credit cards.  I'm buying 95% thrift.  
Dance is my passion (as you might have figured out).  I'm willing to cut back in other areas to spend more time competitive dancing.  Can someone please make me this dress?  ;)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Countdown to Competition

The Indiana Challenge Ballroom Competition is less than a month away.
I have so much work to do to get up to par its not even funny.
The IC is my favorite comp; I've done quite a few but none has the level of excitement for me that this one, near my hometown, does.
Its a pretty large competition, lasting four days.  There are many, many events packed into those four days and I try to take in the whole experience.  Although we only live about 10 miles from the hotel in which the competition is held, we still rent a hotel room, because it really is a marathon experience.

Tomorrow I am meeting my instructor and professional coach, John Swick for a 2 hour intense coaching session in Illinois.  I love taking coachings from John because he awakens a greater understanding of how to create the desired movement.  Its a treat and a necessity.

I have much work to do, so I'm keeping this post short.

I really love ballroom, but all of you already know that.  I've said this before, (more like I've droned on and on about this) but I hope to inspire you to dance if it is what your heart desires.  Don't let the lack of a willing partner stop you.  I don't!  My instructor is my competition partner and it just brings me so much joy compete with him.  I love dance, I love competing, I love the sparkle, glamour, dresses makeup, the music and watching the other dancers.  I love everything about it.

This competition is my sweet Valentine.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A few more outfits with the ruffle hem skirt...

Still playing with the ruffle hem skirt...

This is one of the first tops I thrifted.  Its from NewYork& Co.  It has a vintage vibe that looks really sweet with the ruffle hem skirt, red Mary Janes (Nine West) and Sweet Romance necklace (which somehow flipped backwards!).

...another of my early thrift items.  It really looks much better in person then in the picture.  Ann Klein stadium pumps.

I had no photographer to take this picture, but this was one of my favorite looks with the ruffle hem skirt, so I had to do the mirror shot.  I wore a black pullover (Mossimo/Target) on top of the silk leopard print button down shirt.  The silk shirt is Ann Taylor and it was only $2.00 in a thrift store!  I normally don't like the feel of a button down shirt layered under a sweater--it feels to binding, but with this silk shirt I didn't feel at all uncomfortable.

 LS Endeavor necklace (they have since re-named it Poised).  

I didn't have a photographer again today...but that was OK because I wasn't crazy about the way my outfit looked today.  I wore a simple black turtleneck and a pair of ponte' pull on stretch pants.....and THESE delightful shoes.  Precious Born oxfords.  So comfortable, flexible and lightweight I decided to wear them to Zumba class today!  There were fine!
I love my oxfords; the gender-bending quality, the velvet laces.

.....I also wore this LS necklace with today's un-photographed outfit.  It has an art deco feel which I love right now and it works really well with the oxfords.

Though I would just try a few more looks with this precious skirt.  I think its going to be one of the workhorses of my wardrobe!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Using Pictures to Help Put Together Outfits

Over the weekend, I enlisted my husband's help to take some outfit photos.  The goal was to put together outfits, and use the pictures to give me an accurate idea of how they really look and how well I like them.
We had  lighting issues; it was getting dark outside and the big light we were using quit working.  We decided to take pictures anyway.
They're not high quality photos, but they are good enough to give me an idea of how well these pieces work together.

I've had the pink pencil skirt for well over a year and have never worn it.  It was a retail purchase, before I converted to 'thrift first' shopping. I was never sure how to style it, but I'm very happy with the simple black turtleneck, heels and tights.  I've accessorized the outfit with a very pretty LS necklace that I didn't get a close-up shot of...but I will be sure to do that soon.  The necklace has pretty pink and pale green beads nestled among black beads. Its very feminine.
I'll definitely be wearing this outfit in the future.
I've had this blouse for at least 15 years.  I love it, but its not very practical with the big flouncy sleeves.  I really like it paired with this pretty asymmetrical skirt, so I will probably be trying to find a more practical variation of this blouse to try and recreate a similar look.  I love the skirt.

I did a special effect fade on this picture...kind of for fun and kind of because I don't love this outfit.  The sweater is very pretty sitting folded in my dresser drawer, but its not flattering on me.  I'm going to say goodbye to it.  The skirt is one of the new ruffle hem skirts I acquired recently and I you'll be seeing a lot of it!

I'm so enchanted with this Ralph Lauren dress.  I need to wear a body shaper with it..and it will definitely look better minus the 10 lbs Im', trying to lose, but I will still wear it at my current weight.  I would definitely wear my hair in a soft up-do, but I wasn't trying to create a look here; I was simply trying to assess the fit of the dress on my current body.  I love it.....but I'm going to love it more when I can get this weight off!  I adore the lace up back. I see this with lots of arm candy and a statement necklace.

If I look a bit unhappy in this picture, it might be due to the fact that I had just busted my shopping ban.  I enjoyed wearing this outfit and wanted to post it; I was super comfortable all day.  I think this Eiffel tower sweater will look great with the ruffle hem skirt.  What do you think?
To accessorize my shopping day outfit, I tied a short silk scarf into a bow at my neck.  I like the touch of pattern mixing.

The picture above and jewelry picture below were taken this past Saturday night at the dance party.  I wasn't really feeling up to dancing that night, so I chose my favorite DKNY fallback dress, my suede knee boots and two identical Lia Sophia necklaces.  The Lisa Sophia style guide pictures these two necklaces together, but I found them very uncomfortable to wear this way.  They didn't stay in place and I was frequently adjusting them.  The necklace is far more beautiful than in the picture and next time I will wear only one.  It's striking enough to stand alone.

Thought I would share this hilarious photo that Peyton took; it was so windy over the weekend that my hair was blowing straight up in the air....and stayed up until we were inside the building.  

This puts a smile on my face and I hope it puts one on yours too.  My Peyton went with me to the Saturday social dance and hung out with one of the instructor's daughter.  Lexie is quite the accomplished dancer and she and Peyton had fun hanging out together.  Peyton has a long way to go to catch up with Lexie, but she was a patient teacher.  Peyton LOVED dancing at the party.....he learned "the Wobble"!
I'm so happy he's dancing and enjoying it!
Sunday, my husband and Peyton will be joining me at an afternoon pot luck dance party at the studio.   I'm looking forward to all of us being there together. 

Have a wonderful week, my lovely readers!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

One black ruffle hem skirt

I recently found TWO adorable black ruffle hem skirts at a consignment store (yes, on my shopping ban binge on the 7th day of the month).  One was velvet and the other a rayon/knit blend.  I love them.  Playing on Polyvore today, I configured many different looks for these skirts.....I can't wait to play with them!One black ruffle hem skirt