When a dress works in a casual setting, a smart setting and a few more in between you've got a pretty good deal. This Zara dress is the perfect style to turn into a host of different looks effortlessly and effectively and it's less than $50. But, you can just as easily take a plain dress you may already own and turn it into a stylish chameleon with a few tricks and inexpensive accessories.
This dress has a sporty vibe, almost a Lacoste style theme to it. The fabric is 100% polyester and best of all it doesn't crease, so it's a great dress for travelling in or with! It's cool and airy, doesn't show perspiration if you happen to live in the desert as I do, and the color scheme opens up the style barometer to a myriad of possibilities.
What doesn't go with navy and white, well let's see... black maybe! This is the only time black happens to be the third wheel at the party! Navy is a surprisingly good summer color. It's a softer hue than black and looks amazing with almost any pastel color or neutral shade, when black may look harsh and out of season during the summer months.
In the photos above, the tan accessories and heels elevate the dress to a sophisticated look. An old Mondi navy and white silk scarf tied around the bag strap turns an in-expensive tote bag into one that looks like a couple of hundred dollars or more.
In a nutshell, the dressing up of this look was down to a few small details, mainly the pairing of a sophisticated color scheme. This dress would look good with any contrasting color like red, orange, yellow or hot pink, but the tan makes a classic and traditional statement.
The jewelry was kept to a minimum. Simple gold hoop earrings, and a watch with a tan leather strap sharing the arm party with a dainty chain bracelet offering just a hint of bling.
Taking this look down town was easy. Plain white sneakers, always on trend and particularly on point right now to wear with dresses. My favorite summer sneaks - Superga as shown here. Flat sandals would also take this look down easy street! A back pack with the right color scheme. I chose navy, white and beige. It offers a youthful vibe and pairs perfectly with the sneaks.
An up-do or pony tail with a puff or two of Oribe Dry Textural Spray to give texture and stretch your unwashed hair an extra day. A sporty watch to keep in line with the overall laid back look, in this case a porcelain bracelet white watch. Throw in some fun mirrored sunglasses, a tassel beaded bracelet or two or three and you've turned a simple dress into a worthy street style look.
The easiest way to transition a dress from up town to down town is with a simple straight forward cut and a plain (not patterned) fabric. This dress is a winner for the double duty challenge. The boxy loose fitting shift style with high- low hemline and the navy choice of color offers an abundance of wardrobe possibilities.
I've added links below in the thumbnail pictures to some of the same or similar accessories used in both of these looks. The exact same Zara dress is linked right HERE as there is no thumbnail picture available.
Have a wonderful week and thank you for reading!
Beside the obvious things like cleaning the house from top to bottom, the patio furniture, manicuring the garden, there are a host of other things you can do to make your guests feel loved and welcome. I moved to Arizona from England in 1999, so I've had more than my fair share of guests come off an eleven hour flight to visit me and inevitably stay at least two weeks to make the long journey worth their while! The truth is I love it, so I do everything I can to make them a return visitor - having a background in the hotel industry helps!
The Guest Bed
It's important for guests to have a comfortable bed. Plenty of squishy pillows, a plump duvet, fresh bedding, extra blankets if necessary. Even if you never do this for yourself, you should iron your guests' sheets, pillow cases and duvet cover. This makes it obvious that the bedding is absolutely clean and fresh, plus it makes the bedding feel smooth and luxurious.
Make sure the pillows are clean. You can have them professionally cleaned if you don't want to do this yourself. I have down pillows and have always washed them myself at home in the washing machine with a gentle non biological detergent. They can go in the dryer on a medium heat, and although they take quite a long time to dry thoroughly, they will return to life plumped and like new. Always use pillow protectors. Plain cotton is best (it breathes better) and you can pick these up at Target or Bed Bath and Beyond.
Finish by "dressing the bed", in other words decorate it! Once the bed is made... perfectly, add some big euro pillows that your guest can sit up and lean against if they want to read or watch TV in bed. Add some smaller decorative throw pillows in a matching color scheme or contrast for a pop of color. Perhaps a cosy throw folded neatly at the end of the bed that can be used as an extra layer to snuggle up with if it's a little chilly.
The Night Stand
Ensure the night stand is clean and uncluttered with most importantly a lamp that has an easily accessible on and off switch. Put out a coaster that they can place their water or morning coffee on and a clock so they can see the time easily if they wake up in the night. Perhaps a trinket tray for safe keeping of rings, watch and jewelry.
If possible, remove any of your own clutter from the drawer or cupboard (if there is one). This way your guest can use the space for their own odds and sods. This is my thing and it may be very old fashioned, but it's a tradition that stems from my younger years when I both worked and stayed in hotels often, there was always a bible in the drawer of the nightstand, so for me a guest room isn't complete without it.
The Room Ambiance
Make sure there is sufficient lighting in the room besides the bedside lamp on the nightstand. Check that all light bulbs are good and replace any that are blown out.
If you have carpet in the room, make sure it's clean. If you have a heavy traffic area that gets heavily soiled, you may want to have the carpet cleaned a few days before your guests arrive.
Remove personal clutter unless it's aesthetically pleasing. Piles of papers, old magazines, general rubbish and household goods that accumulate and are dumped in the spare room are unsightly and not conducive to a relaxing getaway for your guest. It's fine to place family photos, or interesting treasures around the room as these add character and personality, perhaps symbolic of your relationship with your guest. When Kirsten my BFF comes to stay, which is almost every year, I place a picture of Ringo in her room. He was my dog in England before I moved to the US and Kirsten would babysit him when I traveled and so became very fond of him. It's a nostalgic comfort to see his photo.
For guests who are visiting you for the first time in your current location, it's always nice to place some local books or magazines of interest in their room. When I have friends visit who haven't been to Arizona before, I put a selection of books about the history of Scottsdale, the Grand Canyon, things to do and see in Arizona. If jet lag causes them to wake up in the middle of the night, at least they have something useful to do until they fall back to sleep!
Fresh flowers go a long way to making their vacation accommodation feel extra special. A vase of fresh colorful tulips, fragrant roses or showy lilies can make the room feel like a five star resort. For a bedroom bouquet I prefer a monochromatic theme - same color, same flower. It's okay if the color contrasts to the color scheme of the room, the bouquet may be the pop of color you need!
Make sure there is sufficient space in the closet or wardrobe for your guest to hang their clothes. Your spare bedroom closet may be full of your own stuff which is fine, but clear some space for them. Also make sure the closet is clean, you may not have been in it for a few months, so the rails and shelves probably need to be dusted.
Also make sure you leave a nice selection of hangers for your guest. I always put out some padded hangers, skirt grip hangers, some strut hangers and some regular caped hangers.
Ensure your guest has some drawer space for their t-shirts, underwear, and other folded items. Also some surface space to place their personal bits and pieces on.
If your guest is travelling from abroad where the voltage is different, it's a good idea to have an electrical converter available so they can plug in their electric toothbrush, flat iron or other electronic gadgets.
Amenities and Refreshments
Bearing in mind that guests have different needs to yourself, try and cover everything so they will be at their most comfortable possible whilst away from their own home.
Put an amenities tray in their room. This should consist of a bottle of mineral water perhaps in a small ice bucket if you have one. A glass to drink their water from. A bar of dark and/or milk chocolate. Perhaps a small plate of cookies, and/or a piece of fruit. You don't have to put this out every night of their stay (perhaps the water), but once they have found their way around your home, they can help themselves to snacks when you're not available.
Don't forget the bathroom amenities, some fancy soap or other unique beauty products you may want to share with them.
The Guest Bathroom
Make sure you have soft plump fresh towels for your guest. I keep a set of towels for guests that hubby and I are not allowed to use. Put them out the day of arrival, folded neatly over the towel rails, hand towels, bath towels and wash cloths.
Buy a nice bar of soap for your guest. Perhaps a nicely wrapped French milled soap that you can place by the sink in a soap dish and another by the bath or in the shower tray.
Make sure you have plenty of extra toilet rolls stashed in the bathroom cabinet under the sink. The last thing your guest wants to do is wake you up in the middle of the night to ask for toilet paper!
A hair dryer is a useful amenity to keep under the bathroom sink for your guest. It's unlikely they brought their own and it saves them having to bother you to borrow yours.
Ensure there is a waste bin lined with a plastic bag so your guest can throw away bathroom products without worrying about spoiling your canister.
Place a plant such as an orchid in a rustic container so your guest can have a spa like zen feeling each time they visit the bathroom! Plants or flowers in the bathroom also add ambiance.
If you have a shower curtain, make sure it's spotlessly clean and ironed, and the liner is clean and fresh and set inside the bathtub so your guests don't have to negotiate how to work the curtains!
Check in advance if your guests have any allergies. Also check what they like to eat for breakfast. Breakfast is probably the one meal of the day that throws a person off kilter if they don't get something close to what they're used to. For example, do they prefer tea or coffee, do they have a diet soda addiction, do they eat cereal or toast and what do they have on their toast. When people eat a breakfast they are comfortable with, it sets them up for the day ahead. This is very important for your guests' comfort.
Always get a few of your guests comfort foods in, even if they're not your own. I never drink diet soda, but my best friend is addicted to it, so I get a family pack in for her visit.
Whilst you may go out for lots of meals with your guests, go shopping prior to their arrival and get in at least two or three possible meals that you can make at home. That way you have something that can be rustled up in the event of an unplanned stay at the house.
Schedule some fun events or trips you can do with your guests during their stay which you know (or think) they might enjoy. Have some plans or ideas up your sleeve to entertain them so you all have some fun activities to share and look forward to.
Have a selection of restaurants to hand that you think your guests would like. I make a note of some of our favorite restaurants that would be good for different meals that we might want to go out for whilst our guests are in town. Bear in mind cost, style, ambiance as well as food likes and dislikes.
In addition, I always schedule a few gatherings with various of my local friends so that my guests can have interaction with other people besides the hubby and myself. This often leads to new life-long friendships being made.
The ultimate cherry on top is to have a gift or gifts awaiting your guests after their long arduous journey. This is my favorite part. Between visits I accumulate small gifts for my girlfriend when I am out shopping and I see something that I know she would like. I set them aside and by the time her next trip comes around I have a fun array of gifts to wrap up and set out on her bed. The first thing we do after picking her up from the airport is unpack her suitcase whilst sipping on a glass of wine, share outfit ideas from the things she's brought with her, and then open our presents (she always brings me loads of gifts too!).
Other gift ideas for guests might include a graphic t-shirt representing your local city or state, Walgreens has these for less than $10. You can estimate what size your guest would need, but it's a fun thing to wear when they're just hanging out or for bed time. Fridge magnets are another fun type of souvenir that are representative of your locale, maybe a coffee table book of photographs from your part of the country. Wrap the gifts up nicely and place them on the bed for when they arrive.
One last thing... buy or make a card in advance ready for their departure. This is your opportunity to turn this visitor into a repeat guest or ensure they never come again. Just kidding! I always like to leave them with a goodbye note, just a few words to say how much we enjoyed their visit and here's to looking forward to the next time - you get my drift. Inevitably this card brings my girlfriend to tears when we say goodbye to her at the airport on her way home, but they're good tears!
Thank you for stopping by!
On a recent business trip to Houston staying two nights and two days, I was advised to take carry on luggage and dress comfortably as the days would be long and action packed. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect so I wanted to cover all my options and ensure I would feel confident and comfortable. Somewhat nervous that I wouldn't fit everything I might need in a carry on suitcase, I knew I had to be strategic in this effort. I'm happy to say I pulled it off with room to spare and an outfit for every occasion. Here are my tips on how to pack your carry on luggage to get the most into it, and ultimately the most out of it at your destination!
Years ago in my corporate life I traveled extensively for long periods of time and very often long haul, so "carry on" is a whole new experience for me. At short notice, recommended by my sister-in-law, I purchased this Kirkland brand carry on case from Costco for $99 and it turned out to be a gem. It's very sturdy, has a ton of compartments inside and out, and is well within the carry on size limitations of the airline I was flying with (Southwest). It's smart looking, the wheels work well and it has 4 wheel drive! It has an inch or so extension capability (still keeping within the size limitations) and comes with a removable laundry bag and a spring loaded hide away name tag. I highly recommend it (if you're a Costco member or know a member).
Tip #1 - Even though you are keeping the case with you, add some sort of distinguishing signage if it's not already stand out noticeable. (I attached a laminated Above and Beblonde business card to the top handle). There were three black carry on cases in my overhead bin, and when people are in a hurry or a little anxious, they may grab yours by mistake. Keep a watchful eye as everyone departs the plane.
Tip #2 - Roll up your underwear, socks, pajamas (things that don't matter if they're crumpled) and stuff into the grooves created by the retracting suitcase handle. This creates a level surface upon which to lay your smart clothes out flat. Jewelry can also be rolled up in a jewelry pouch and placed into the grooves.
It's a good idea to decide in advance what you are going to wear. I had already decided what to wear to travel in, for the next day, the formal dinner, and the last day which would also include traveling home. Despite this, I wanted to take some additional options in case I needed to dress an outfit up or down. So I went with an overall neutral color scheme (leopard is now a neutral ha ha) and black. This way I could mix and match tops to create an elevated or casual style depending upon how I felt once I was there.
This was my daytime outfit. Smart neutral pants, a chic and trendy yet casual top, and black suede mules that are walk all day comfortable.
Anne Taylor pants // Zara top (sold out) // Nordstrom Halogen Mules
This is the outfit I took for the group dinner. It's super comfortable, on trend, and the fabrics do not crease easily, so it remained in great shape despite being folded for travel.
Top from Top Shop (sold out) // Zara wide leg pants (similar here) // Shoes (old) // Purse (vintage) // Earrings Banana Republic (old)
In my effort to cover every scenario, I took these additional tops. One I was going to wear for the journey home, and the other three were "just in case"! Each one of them would pair well with both the travel pants and the tailored pants, plus a plain black off the shoulder top in case I wanted to down play the wide leg pants I wore to dinner.
Tip #3 - Choose clothes smartly - those that can offer double duty and are lightweight and therefore don't take up too much space. Even the wide leg pants above, due to the nature of the fabric folded down to a wafer.
Tip #4 - Back to packing - once you've created your level surface, fold your outfits neatly and pack them next. Constantly aim to keep the surface even whilst placing the items in the case. Lay the laundry bag, or if your suitcase doesn't come with one, a plastic bag flat on top of your outfits. This will protect and keep them clean from the next layers you pack.
Tip #5 - Put each shoe into an individual shoe bag. This keeps them from soiling anything else, as well as protects the shoe from any scratches or scuffs that occur in transit.
I decided to travel in sneakers as I wasn't sure how much airport walking (or running) would be involved as I had never been to Houston before. This meant I had to pack two pairs of shoes, a comfortable pair for daytime activities and a fancy pair for dinner.
Tip #6 - Place your shoes around the edge. There tends to be some wiggle room around the edges, so the soles can sink down just a little bit adding to more space in the middle.
Tip #7 - Purchase travel size containers of your essential beauty products, for example, body lotion, toothpaste, mouthwash, soap/bodywash etc. Target, Walmart and other Pharmacy stores have a good selection. I cannot live without my Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray and thankfully they have a 2.2 oz travel container that I was able to purchase from my local Cosbar. If you cannot get a travel size of your favorite shampoo or conditioner or other such item, then purchase the small plastic containers and put some of your favorite products in these. Don't forget to label the containers - body lotion and hair conditioner can look the same!
Tip #8 - As you fill your makeup bag, set aside all the items that are either liquid or gel. For example mascara, foundation, highlighter, concealer. Do the same thing with your wash bag. Put all the makeup and other wet/gel beauty and makeup products in a clear plastic freezer bag. Since the airlines are very cautious about liquids and have strict restrictions, it's best to keep these items separate and to store them so they are clearly visible. The plastic clear bag will go in the outside zipped pocket of the suit case so it can be accessed and viewed easily without having to open the case and rummage through all your other personal items.
Your makeup and wash bag now containing only dry items can be placed strategically in the middle here between the surrounding shoes.
Now you should have sufficient space to pack your final items. I took a small cross body bag that I could use as a clutch bag for the evening. Most hotels have a hairdryer in the room (check this out online to be certain) and I could handle using an unfamiliar hairdryer for a short trip. My flat iron is another story (which I actually use to both straighten or put curls in my hair). Even if the hotel had this amenity I would not use it, ugh, the thought! My magnifying makeup mirror (even though the hotel has one attached to the wall in the bathroom, I feel more secure with my own free standing one, I know, this is weird!) and my electric toothbrush (protected in a freezer bag) and the toothbrush charger, hairbrush, media chargers and other odds and sods!
Tip #9 - To create more space, you can also stuff small items inside your shoes before putting them in the shoe bags, and/or stash a few small bits in your packed handbag.
Tip #10 - Take a large handbag that works for the journey as well as the daytime during your visit. I took my large black Mulbery Tote bag, which is a flexible vinyl type of material so it's very hardy. Unlike a structured bag it can be squashed without causing damage and is large enough to hold my tablet, reading material and a bottle of water.
Looking a little terrified, about to check in for my journey to Houston! I also took a long black cardigan seen here over my arm. It went well with all my outfits and I'm so glad I took it - the air conditioning in some buildings was on par with a refrigerator!
I hope you were able to glean some useful information from this article. I will be travelling again very soon, and plan on taking much the same as here since I found myself to be well covered for any and all circumstances.
As always thank you for stopping by and hope the month of May has started well for you!
Living in a warm climate generally lends itself to casual attire, Arizona is no exception. It ranks high on the list of flip flop wearers despite there being no beach! However, there comes a time when a closet full of casual clothes isn't going to suffice. A pair of tailored pants is all you need to take you from meeting with your accountant to dinner with the girls!
French women have long been known for wearing silk scarves in the most stylish manner. Today the scarf seems to have regained popularity especially the little neck ties. I've recently found myself enjoying some silk scarves I've had in my closet for thirty years or so, as well as new ones more recently purchased. So here I share some of those looks and how I've used the scarf to change up an outfit.
A casual spring, summer and fall ensemble made up of two perfectly easy to wear items that are so on point not just from a trend perspective but also on price. A flat buttery soft slide shoe with decorative bow detail and a cold shoulder flow easy tee shirt. If you're not a pink fan, no worries, this tee shirt also comes in six other colors, and the shoes are also available in black.
Let's take our rock solid, dependable go-to denim and offset it with flirty feminine lace. It's easy, casually chic and totally dresses up a pair of jeans so you can take them almost anywhere!
This latest trend of high low hem jeans, also known as the step hem is not something I saw coming! Initially it seemed bizarre, but as with all things fashion if seen often enough, it inevitably catches on. The drawback is how expensive this style is to purchase, I've seen prices ranging from $150 to well over $200. So, I decided to take a very old pair of jeans and risk the alteration experiment. I'm glad I did, it was easy, they turned out well and pretty authentic looking.
My obsession with the kimono began a few years back, when I saw one of the "Real Beverley Hills Housewives" wearing a brightly colored sheer floaty cardigan on the show and I knew I had to find something similar. It took a year to find one I really loved, and this is it.
Here's a simple outfit that works for a casual get together, lunch or dinner. It has a rustic feel to it with the black and tan color scheme. The saddle bag and tan suede shoes add to the somewhat "country" theme, but the leopard print sends it "down town" along with the ballet style lace up sandals.
If you live around Scottsdale or have passed through recently, you may have noticed the giant white tents standing alongside Loop 101 and Hayden Road. For ten weeks at the beginning of every year as many as 100 of the finest artists from across the country gather in this enormous arena to display their work. Many of the artists create new work whilst visitors, art lovers and art collectors meander the studios taking in spectacular art in various forms from paintings to sculptures, and can chat with the artists and see how their work is created.
Upon observation, it seems the most recent styles from last summer through to the present have transitioned from off-the-shoulder to cold shoulder, to bell sleeves, to drama sleeves - and I've enjoyed every minute of it! All of the above are still going strong, but the latter is the new kid on the block. Here's my favorite find thus far to throw spotlight on this newcomer.
Popular new stores were emerging as I was hitting my midlife. For a few years I would march on past these shops discarding them for "teenagers only". One day I decided to venture in even though I didn't have a teenager with me to use as an excuse. I braved it by myself and realized that in among the frivolous and many tiny clothes, were some pieces that were not so tiny and worked for me too. I've never looked back, and whilst I don't buy tons of clothes in these stores, I do find adorable items for fantastic prices.
There is always somewhere good to be in Arizona at any time of the year, despite the soaring temperatures in the summer. It's a state with it's own climate control. A couple of hours north or a couple of hours south, we've got it all covered, just find your comfort zone. At this time of year, you want to be right here, Scottsdale and Phoenix, the places to be, weather included. With so much going on, from music festivals to rodeos, art shows to championship golf tournaments and everything in between. It's alive with life, the State's own entertainment capital.
A jumpsuit is a great way to elevate a casual style and to offer up a change to the jeans and tee shirt look. For the casual style jumpsuit, cotton or chambray denim fabrics are very popular. Whether you prefer plain or patterned, they're super comfortable, tres chic, and make a bold style statement. There are a few key notes I would recommend when wearing a jumpsuit so to keep the overall look in proportion.
Karen Serino is a life and style blogger, sharing fashion, fitness and fun for youthful women in their forties, fifties and beyond.