On the Naughty List

These gifts are banned…from giving and receiving. 

It’s easy to pick up any magazine or watch any show featuring top gift picks. I’m gonna go a different way. Here’s what NOT TO BUY FOR THOSE ON YOUR LIST .

For your kids:

1.The Doggie Doo game.

This “game”  says on the front of the box “Feed and walk your little pup. When he makes a mess you clean it up!” Defecation is not fun people!  My 7-year-old son is already obsessed with the words butt and poo. He doesn’t need any more encouragement to bring out his inner Beavis and/or Butthead. He can follow our real dog around the yard if he really thinks this is fun.

2. The iPotty.

That’s right. Let’s start those boys young on taking hours to go the bathroom.  I thought it was bad enough I had to bribe my daughter with candy. I shouldn’t judge a parent in the desperate throes of potty training. The whole process stinks, literally. I just think this could lead to future issues.

2. The Gooey Louie.

 

Gooey Louie Game

Really? Really? This is a game? And someone out there is making money out it? I am desperately trying to get my kids to keep their fingers out of their own noses, let along something or someone else’s nose.  This is the description on Amazon:

  • “Pick” a winner with Gooey Louie
  • Put your finger up his nose and try to pick a winner
  • Watch out, if you pick the wrong gooey Louie’s eyes will pop, he’ll flip his lid and his brain will fly out

No, I didn’t make that up.

For your mom/sister/friend:

1. Anything with a numbered size.

Vintage Check Boyfriend Blazer Oversized Street Style fashion

I have not so fond memories of a certain Christmas where my father ventured out on his own to buy my mom a jacket to wear to work. He picked it out because he “like the pattern.” He failed to read THE SIZE. The size he chose was about 6 up from what my mother usually wears. This didn’t go over well. After several hand gestures, choice words and tears my father learned to not by anything with a number as its size. Did I mention it is also the same Christmas we decided to record us opening our gifts. It’s like watching a dark comedy.  Women are offended by a poorly chosen size. And men, most men, are clueless about a women’s size. So just don’t go there.

2. Bacon scented cologne.

bacon classic fragrance from fargginay

Friends don’t let loved ones smell like bacon. At least they shouldn’t. So not right. Unless your friend/sister has a biological clock that is ticking like a time bomb this is gross. Even then there is no telling just who or what they could attract. They may be followed home a pack of wild dogs, who will be very angry to find there is no actual bacon.

For your husband/brother/father:

1. The Ostrich pillow.

Do you like this person? At all? Even if they are a dog tired constant traveler no good can come out of this “nap-on-the-go” head contraption. There is a good case they will be detained at the airport for insanity. This gift basically just says “I want others to make fun of you.”

2. Keeping up with the Kardashians complete box set. 

Want to give the man in your life a lobotomy? Here is your non-surgical answer.  This is just cruel. Women can handle it. Kind of. Men are not equipped for this kind of stuff.

So are you done your shopping? I am not. I am close but the mission is not yet completed. I am spending too much time rewriting Beastie Boys songs. (See last week’s blog post if you missed it)  I’ve also been busy obsessively editing all the stuff we already have in the house to make room for more stuff. My organizational tendencies tend to go into a panic mode this time of year. Plus I want to work on a petition to keep Christmas lights out all year long. It makes me so happy to see them when I am out and about.

*Insider Tip – Go to the source.

Stuck on a gift for someone? Sleuth out where they like to shop. Many stores, especially smaller businesses, know their customers and what they have been eyeing up. Some stores are so organized they have wish lists that people can fill out. Locally Ashley Austin, Chantilly Blue, DeChic Boutique and Elizabeth Maar Boutiques all provide the opportunity for customers to fill out wish lists. Does it eliminate some of the mystery? Yep. But it also eliminates some of the misery. It really sucks to spend tons of time searching for that special something only to settle on anything, not even knowing if the person really wanted or needed the gift.

And don’t forget, a wardrobe consult from Suzie Gaffney Wardrobe Consulting can include any range of services including, but not limited to:

Trip Packing

Virtual Shopping Packages

Closet Clean Outs

Personal Styling

Private Shopping Outings

Personal Shopping delivered right to your door

Gift certificates can be mailed or hand delivered!

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As always, thanks for reading!

Suzie

Halloween inspired outfit

How to take a skull sweater from spooky….

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to sophisticated.

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Do you dress up for Halloween? I generally don’t. Even when I was little I just didn’t love the costume part. But there is something about wearing a skull on your sweater that will make you feel like a total badass. In last week’s post I emphasized the importance of not labeling yourself. I also believe we shouldn’t label our clothes. If that was the case this “badass” sweater would only get worn 1 day a year. And nothing is worth purchasing to wear one day a year.

So how to give it a different vibe? It’s all about what you pair it with. In the first pic, the black jeans, leopard wedge boots and the funky jewelry all work together to give an edgier look. In the second pick, I added a navy blazer with gold buttons, cuffed a clean pair of straight jeans, added classic gold hoops and finished with leopard driving mocs. Suddenly the look is almost preppy, save for the gold foil skull peeping out from the jacket.

I believe our clothes should multitask, even if at first they appear to lack the ability to do so.

OUTFIT DETAILS

Skull Sweater – Just Girls Boutique

Black Jeans – Chantilly Blue

Black and Leopard Wedge Ankle Boots – Ashley Austin Boutique

Gold Spike Bracelet  – Stella and Dot

Gold and Black necklace – DeChic Boutique

Navy Blazer – Marshalls

Gold Hoops – Elizabeth Maar Boutique

Straight Jeans – Chantilly Blue

Leopard Driving Mocs – Ashley Austin Boutique

*INSIDER TIP – IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS

Sometimes we know an outfit feels “off” but don’t know why. It’s amazing how the smallest of details, say a carnation pink manicure versus deep dark purple nails can convey a whole different message. Don’t be afraid to experiment with tweaking your look to get the most out of your wardrobe. Because some days we want to feel badass, and some days we want to feel sophisticated. For my friends and clients who cook I often relate it to how just a teaspoon of a certain spice can change up the whole flavor of a dish. And it’s really up to you what flavor you choose!

Do you have a special occasion coming up? Maybe you know the impression you want to give, but you are not sure what pieces in your wardrobe to pull together to achieve that look? Call me up for a mini or express session. In 1 hour we can find the pieces to give you the presence you want!

Are women born stylish?

Think back to when you were in school. Remember that one teacher, the one who felt class participation was oh so important? They usually said something like this on the first day of class:

“Welcome students! I’d like to begin by going around the room and having you introduce yourself. Please tell us your name and something about yourself.”

HATED that. This is usually the part where I would start to look for the exit trap door under my desk, or a safe place to throw up. I begged for aliens to come by and beam me up to their mother ship. What do you mean something about myself? I never played sports, I had no hobbies. I was terrified I would get social tourettes and blurt out something like “I love snails!”

Our son is obsessed with all things hockey. Without any push from us he decided this is where his heart is. So we started him on skates last year and now he is in a learn to play program.  I give him so many props. If he wants to do something he will figure out a way. He doesn’t worry about if he is the best, or the worst, if he looks stupid, or if he has to ask questions. He doesn’t get nervous or embarrassed. He doesn’t even care that he doesn’t know any of the other kids there.

I went to watch one of his practices. He was falling down but kept getting back up. Overall though he was doing really well. Then the coach told them to find a partner. “Oh No!,” screamed the pathetic introvert hiding in my soul, he doesn’t know anybody! I watched in fear as my stomach churned. I grabbed my husband’s knee in the stands.

“What exactly is wrong with you?” said my husband.

“But he doesn’t know anyone!” I pleaded.

“So what? He’s fine,” assured my even-keeled husband.

The whole horrible (to me) ordeal was over in about 4 seconds. He found a partner and they skated off for a drill.

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That’s my fearless offspring in the blue.

Thank goodness he takes after my husband instead of me. People like my husband, and now our son, were just born a certain way. They are comfortable in their skin. There may be things they are unsure of, but they never really doubt who they are. They are naturally self-aware and self-assured.

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The confident couple.

Then there’s the other type. People like me, and unfortunately probably my daughter. We are the people who dip our toes in the water, then our ankles, slowly, cautiously. I’ve tried to change this behavior. I’ve tried to examine why I am like this. But in my late 30’s, as Popeye would say “I yam what I yam.”

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The cautious couple.

This doesn’t mean that I cannot change. It just takes me longer. And that’s okay. When I first started working in a boutique I had never ever shopped in one before. Sure I’d been to malls, department stores, all that stuff. But just the word “Boutique” intimidated me. When I went in for my interview I wore my best Ann Taylor-I-just-got-laid-off-from-my-job-in-finance-suit. I knew I loved fashion but I didn’t feel I had style. I definitely was not “born with it.”  Fast forward 10 years later and I could compete with a project runway contestant and make a dress out of a scarf and a belt. But it took 10 years.  During that time I tried and failed many times. Red shiny leather pants? Not a trend I should have rocked. Beaded denim? Not comfy or cute. But it was okay. In my safe haven at Elizabeth Maar Boutique I worked with so many fabulous women. I learned what worked for me and for other women. I saw trends come and some gladly go. I learned that the word boutique does not mean snobby and unaffordable. It is has been the best internship of my life.

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The wonderful women of Elizabeth Maar Boutiques.

I took this picture just this week. I went in to celebrate the birthday of the owner, who has been my friend and my boss for a long time. This is the first year in 12 years that I am not a regular on the schedule. I always scale back in summer to be with my kids, but this year, when fall came around, I found I was busy with my fledgling business. A good, crazy, chaotic kind of busy. I was so scared to step away from the comfort and warmth of this place and these ladies. But I knew I needed to let go of my safety net. Even if I was going to fall down and fail. I had to be forced to get back up. I had to go against my nature and jump in the water.

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The cautious child acting very confindent.

For the record, if that same teacher asked me to tell a few things about myself, I would stand up and not be shy.  I would  proudly say that I love shopping and I hate cooking. I love monster trucks and want to learn to drive a tractor-trailer. I don’t have time for rude people or people who invade my space at the grocery store checkout register. Really, back up and let me finish my transaction.  I love dogs and most animals. Snakes paralyze me with fear.  The ocean is my holy water and the beach is heaven.  I really, really, really, love pizza. I am a baked goods whore.  I love 80s movies. I think HGTV is perfection. I think music soothes the soul. I believe in love at first sight, because I experienced it with my husband.  My friends and my family mean everything to me.

*INSIDER TIP – YOU CAN LEARN HOW TO DO ALMOST ANYTHING.

Not everyone is naturally gifted like Tiger Woods in golf. That doesn’t stop them from taking lessons, learning to play, and  to love the game. Sometimes it takes a long time to learn a new concept.  Learning to fly a plane might be out of the limits of your wallet, but you can certainly grab a book and read about it. I am pretty sure there are even tutorials on-line with simulators. I was not born with a Kate Moss type of fashion intuition. I studied hard and I learned to experiment with style. I gobble up every book and blog on fashion I can, because it fascinates me and I love it.  When I created my own business around it I poured my heart and soul into it. I still do . I was not best dressed at my high school, and I don’t aim to be the best dressed mommy at my childrens school. I just want to have fun with fashion.   When I meet with a client my goal is to give them tools to use within their wardrobe to make them feel more put together. Everybody needs and wants that. Don’t get discouraged. Treat yourself like a 7-year-old going out for ice hockey.

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*INSIDER TIP – ERASE YOUR LABEL

It is great to know yourself and know what you like. But don’t pigeon-hole yourself. We so often want to label people.

“Oh I’m not athletic.”

“He’s not good at art.”

“I can’t wear that color.”

“I’m too old for that skirt.”

“My style is conservative.”

Remember when you were little and your parents would tell you that you could be anything you want to be. That is still true.

Fashion is your chance to express yourself. And you are allowed to change your expression. Allow yourself a little wiggle room to be uncomfortable out of your comfort zone. You may like it and expand your zone.

who do you want to be today?
via Pinterest

Thanks for reading!

Suzie

Step Away From The Mom Jeans…Fall Must Haves from Lisa Baldwin, owner of Chantilly Blue.

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image via pinterest.com

I had often thought it would be a fabulous idea if you could walk into a jean store and leave with a perfect fit in under a half hour, without any sweating or crying, or beating someone as you leave the fitting room. Enter Lisa Baldwin.  In the past I have referred to her as the Denim Doctor, or the Denim Whisperer.   She is the owner of Chantilly Blue in Kennett Square Pennsylvania and mother of 5 children. I include the mother part because I think it is integral in her understanding of women’s’ bodies and the lifestyles they lead. I drug my miserable post pregnant body, oversize baby and baby stroller into her store about 7 years ago. I was desperate for a pair of jeans that did not have a 6 inch vertical elastic panel at the waist. She was so helpful and I was able to get the perfect pair of jeans, and I still have them today. I guess that doesn’t say much for my ability to move past my post pregnancy body but the point is that she knows every brand and how they fit. This saves you heaps of time in the fitting room and avoiding throwing things at a mirror. Don’t be surprised if she asks you to come out of the fitting room so she check out your butt, and your waist, and your thighs.She is not hitting on you. This is how she sees how they fit on your body, then she can recommend the best cut to flatter you. It needs to be an interactive experience to be a successful one so don’t hide out alone in the fitting room.

“Does this trailer make my butt look big?”
image via horseswithamie.com

Since I value her opinion in fit and style I wanted to know what Lisa considered to be the three must have items for this fall season. I asked Lisa what is the best that fall has to offer at Chantilly Blue. In her own words I will let her take it from here.

“So as always, the perfect pair of well-fitting, flattering jeans.  In most
cases, this fall, it’s all about a long, lean leg paired with any kind of boot.
So the jean should fit well thru the waist, hip and thigh.  And then in my opinion it
should have some wrinkle at the ankle.  This way it will lengthen the leg with
flats, short boots, high boots, heels, wedges… pretty much everything.  the
important piece is that the jean should look AND feel perfect.  The kind of jean
that you hate to have to launder bc it means that they’ll be out of the rotation
for a couple of days….

All images via chantilly blue

Next, dresses.  simple, flattering, well, that’s always in style.  A woman’s
lifestyle will drive this one.  If she’s a professional woman working outside
the home, it should be elegant, powerful, current without being trendy.  Top
colors driving the season:  aubergine, mustard, moss, teal.  And always black.
If there were a print trend, it would be classic scarf prints or digital
prints, either of those works well in a top too.

Lastly, the cardi.  It’s taken a bit of a break for a couple of years, but the
layering piece in the form of a cardigan, either structured or not, is once
again a great staple to complete a look.  Faux or real leather is everywhere,
and the cardi is no exception.

But if there’s one thing that makes me crazy, its women thinking they MUST buy
trend.  Push a bit beyond your edges, but don’t go crazy.  If a woman isn’t
comfortable in a garment in the fitting room, she’s never gonna wear it in
public, no matter how many celebs are wearing it.  It’s about
finding YOUR personal style.  Buy what you love, and fits well, and you’ll
always be in style.  Keeping it simple ALWAYS works.  Find a perfect black top.
or white.  Layer it.  Accessorize it.  It should be the best quality that
one can afford to wear day/night, dressy/casual.  Add a scarf.  I always call
scarves “cheap jewelry.”  Also try color blocking… wearable, versatile, current.”

I think Lisa’s tips are perfect. And I promise you will never feel pressure to buy. If you aren’t happy then she isn’t happy.

*Insider Tip – I have to add one of my favorite parts to the Chantilly Blue store…MAKEUP!!! Smashbox and butterLondon are all available right in the store. There are no snooty ladies behind the counter or over eager ones with purple eyeshadow up to their forehead. No pressure, just fun makeup. THE perfect compliment to a new pair of jeans or just when you want to treat yourself to a small pick-me-up treat.

Chantilly Blue

120 West State Street

Kennett Square, Pennsylvania 19348

P :: 610.925.4644

E :: chantillyblue@gmail.com

Store Hours

Monday 10am – 5:30pm

Tuesday 10am – 5:30pm

Wednesday 10am – 5:30pm

Thursday 10am – 5:30pm

Friday 10am – 5:30pm

Saturday 10am – 5:30pm

Sunday 11am – 3:00pm

You’ve lost that summer feeling…

You’ve lost that summer feeling…

image via kdhamptons.com, photography by Arthur Elgort for Vogue

You know that time of year. It may still technically be summer but even if it the temp hits 98 degrees and Nick Lachey pops out for a reunion tour you are not wearing a sundress any more (and word is the boy banders are coming back… ) Summer is over. It is done. At least on the fashion spectrum.

image via televicious.com

My kids went back to school today. Probably a good thing because it was starting to become like the Hunger Games around here with my children ready to fight each other to the death, all for control of the right to decide to watch Sponge Bob or Good Luck Charlie on tv. I want to kill myself when I hear the theme song for either show and was very tempted to toss the tv altogether, except with my love of trashy shows it would have been like cutting off my own nose to spite my face, or however the saying goes.

image via fermentationhouse.com

Summer may be winding down but transitioning out of that summer wardrobe can be tricky.  You may be done with summer but don’t forget to double-check those sales racks. There ARE fabulous finds.

Try your very best to be a buy now wear now and wear later shopper.

image via pinterest

I scored an AH-MAH-ZING silver sequin jacket at Chantilly Blue in Kennett Square for $25!!!!!!!!!!!!  And yes you will see me wearing  it right now with white skinny denim (in my opinion white denim is a year round classic) and again in the fall over black.

image via bbdakota.com
 

When it is still sticky and hot I love looser shorts in a light fabric because they are so comfortable. They are wonderful right now with a simple white t-shirt and necklace, and perfect as it gets cooler paired with a black blazer, pointy flats or heels. Bonus points for extending your summer tanned legs before the pasties of winter take over.

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“now and later” by sgaffney on Polyvore
Pinned via pinmarklet

Elizabeth Maar and the Just Girls Boutiques in Newtown Square and Haverford still have their steal of a deal of 50, 60, and 70% off of their sale merchandise (buy 1 item get 50 off, 2 get 60 off, and 3 or more get 70%). That is only 30% of full price!! I work at the Newtown Square location on Wednesdays and it is so much fun to make complete ready for fall outfits right off of the sales rack.

The MVP of every wardrobe – a black tuxedo jacket, black lace tank, and Habitual classic dark denim, all for 70% and right on trend for fall.

*INSIDER TIP –

Many stores offer deep discounts not only on summer sale but also on the start of their fall merchandise. How not to miss out? SIGN UP! Make sure you are on the email lists, like the store on facebook, etc. You will then be among the first to know when a sale is and you won’t miss out.

 Stay tuned for some fall must have features!

I will be posting interviews and guests posts from some of the most amazing and stylish women (inside and out!) that I know, click on the links below to like and follow them on Facebook and be the first to know about promotions and events. Not only are the owners fantastic but their staff are all kind, helpful, and knowledgable, allowing for your shopping trip to be an enjoyable experience. While you’re at it feel free to like my Facebook page as well in case you haven’t yet. Nothing like a little shameless self promotion!

Also if you are local save the date for a ladies night out shopping event in Kennett Square on Thursday night, September 27th. I will be helping out at Chantilly Blue and available for any styling questions and/or advice! And if you are not local? All of these stores below are happy to mail you anything fabulous you see on their site!

Ashley from Ashley Austin Boutique

Lisa from Chantilly Blue

Nellie from Elizabeth Maar Boutique

Kristen from Just Girls Boutique

Suzie Gaffney wardrobe consultant