Accessory Anxiety

I have been very open about my fear and loathing towards cooking but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like to accessorize my kitchen. Hence my desire for a shiny bright red  Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I didn’t really know what I would do with it but I longed just to look at it.

Pretty…now what do I do with it?
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I got my wish as a birthday gift from my mom and my sister a couple of years ago. After feeling overwhelmed by the sheer size of this beast of a machine I got up the nerve to try to make cookies. I made a mess. I broke down and called my friend Lauren. Lauren is one of those people who will bake all night long. She is crafty and creative and makes it all look effortless. But she is sweet as can be so you have to like her. Since she was kind enough to talk me through my mixer so I am happy to help her about with a little dilemma.

“My husband and I actually managed to get out for a date night (so very rare) and of course I was trying to pull something together that was a) clean and b) didn’t look like I’ve been living under a rock for the past 8 years!  Anyway – long story short – I managed – but it got me thinking that at some point you need to write some advice for those of us who feel like our 5-year-old playing dress up anytime we try to accessorize with more than a gold chain and our wedding ring.  You post all these pictures of pretty chunky necklaces or cool boots, etc – and I love the LOOK of them but I feel so silly when I put them on… almost like I’m playing dress up or trying too hard.  I can’t be the only one who suffers from this!  Anyway – just food for thought if you ever get writers block – you can just share for us your tips on not feeling ridiculous with accessories! 🙂  I love the look of a scarf or necklace or belt ON SOMEONE ELSE, but whenever I put it on me, I just feel silly :-(” – Lauren

I do know what Lauren means. When my kids were really little I almost stopped wearing any kind of jewelry. Big necklaces would be pulled on by toddler hands and dangling earrings look a toy to a baby, one that I don’t want pulled through my ears.  Once my kids got a little older I had to get back into the practice of accessorizing again.  And yes, at first it feels weird. But practice makes perfect. So here’s some tips to help you find your inner Holly Golightly.

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Start Small.

I mean this in the financial sense. There are fabulous accessories in the under $50 range. It could be as simple as a scarf in a bright color.

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The outfit below looks clean and polished. But the gold chains really pull the look together and finish the outfit. Chains like this are sold anywhere from Target to Nordstroms.

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Keep it Simple.

Want to try a big necklace? Skip the earings or go for a simple stud. And don’t worry about it matching. The less effort it looks like you put into it the more casual it will feel.

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The reason the outfit above works so well is because she kept everything else simple. Her hair is pulled up into a simple ponytail and she skipped earrings. Even her bag and shoes are understated.

Here’s another example.

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Here she has one of my favorites, the “Bubble” necklace. But she paired it with a simple button down and casual shorts and ballet flats. She looks comfy and stylish.

Mix it Up.

Use dress up jewelry but dress down your outfit. I love the look of a fancy pearl necklace with something opposite, like a broken in denim shirt.

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A glam necklace with a simple gray t-shirt.

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Or the simple elegance of this white on white combo.

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Coordinate with Color.

If the glitz and the glam is not your thing go for a pop of color.

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I love how leopard can read as a neutral and go with every color. Here’s the bubble necklace again and it looks amazing!

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This black dress goes from beautiful to beyond by adding in the orange for summer color.

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Still feeling unsure? Remember, as long as you pick out something you like you really can’t mess it up. There are no rules except to have confidence in what you are wearing. If you look like you like what you have on other people will see that in how you carry yourself. If you feel really uncomfortable accessories are easy to take off, they are not as big of a committment as a jacket or shirt. Sometimes you try something and we just know it’s not for you. I love the look of red lipstick but I end up looking like I made out with The Joker. I have no lips so it ends up everywhere, on my face, my teeth. Now I just stick to the sheer stuff.


Host or attend a jewelry party. Stella and Dot is a fabulous company and their stylists are trained to help you find out what looks good on you. My sister is now a rep for the line and we are having so much fun with their spring collection.

Go to a boutique. Bring your outfit with you! The sales staff will be happy to help you accessorize your outfit perfectly. And if they aren’t then you are in the wrong store. Personally this is one of my favorite things to do to help a customer when they come in shopping. Picking out the accessories is like putting the icing on a cake – it makes everything look perfect!

Need a specific color? Try Charming Charlies. But be warned you will be overwhelmed. They are thousands of pieces and everything is organized by color. I don’t love everything but I love the idea of when I am in a rush for a specific color I can quickly scan a particular section.

Yellow jeans meet Yellow necklace.
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Oh and remember, if anyone looks at you funny or asks you why you are “all dressed up?”

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Shopping like a boss

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Holiday shopping requires a different kind of finesse to navigate the sea of stores, sales and crowds. This is where the women are separated from the wimps, the pros from the amateurs,  it’s the big time. You need to have a plan. Get in, get it and get out.

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Here are some techniques to help save you some time and patience.

Shop at off hours. Most stores have crazy extended hours. Most people use those hours the day before Christmas. Use them now. Walking around Target at 9:30 at night with a piping hot Starbucks all by yourself is dare I say relaxing. Walking around Target at 9:30 in the morning on a Saturday with a cup of Starbucks you waited in a 30 minute line for is dare I say dangerous to your mental health. And go in your pajamas if your more comfortable. No one cares, it’s late and we are all tired.

Maybe you’ll run into Ryan Gosling while he’s wearing his pajamas and you two will have something to talk about.
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Shop with the invisible baby – or two. Take your jumbo stroller (the travel system works nicely) or even a double umbrella will do the trick and turn it into your own personal assistant. It will hold your bags, your coffee, your jacket, your phone. All the essentials. It will clear through crowds like a tank. Don’t have one? Borrow one from a friend. They won’t think it is weird if you explain it. I know it is annoying when your kids are little and you are lugging that dirty crumb collector everywhere but there will come a time when your kids are older and you miss that extra helping hand to store all your stuff.

Look, Gwen Stefani even makes pushing a stroller look cool.
image via Just Jared

Will you get weird looks? You betcha. Especially older people. They love to stop and make a comment like “Looks like you’re missing your baby!” Since it is sometimes hard to tell if they are joking or not you can politely explain that this is your shopping cart or for added fun you can act shocked and start to frantically shout “Kevin! Kevin! Where are you!”

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Wear layers.Even if the weather outside is frightful the inside of crowded malls is usually warm. Wear basics and layers to make it easy to try on clothes (you know you will still be doing a little shopping for yourself). Pick shoes or boots that slip on and off and are comfortable.  Don’t bring in a bulky jacket that you have to carry around, instead opt for a cozy heavier cardigan or sweater.  Use a crossbody or messenger bag to keep your hands free. You can wear a scarf to keep warm and if sale and crowd pushing  makes you work up a sweat just tie it to the strap of your messenger bag.   (all images below via pinterest)

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I personally avoid the malls as much as I can. I prefer smaller stores. The staff is knowledgeable and the customer service is excellent, it has to be these days to compete with online pricing. My neighbor and friend owns a toy store called Wackadoodles which is every bit as fun as it sounds. She has saved me in many situations where I have simply called ahead, told her the age of the birthday boy or girl, price range etc and she will have it wrapped and ready to go. I have pulled up my car curbside so I can simply grab and go. I have even paid over the phone to save time.

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*INSIDER TIP –  If you need help ask. Some stores, especially smaller specialized boutiques, have very knowledgeable sales staff. They can make recommendations quickly based on your price range. And if you don’t see what you need out on the floor they may be able to special order it or check their back stock. Sometimes the stores get so busy and do not get a chance to restock the merchandise. And be nice to the sales people. They go through some serious hell this time of year. If you are the least bit nice to them they will be really nice to you.

 *INSIDER TIP –  Find out what the return policy is. This is so important. Keep your receipts together in a special place and mark the return date in highlighter. If Aunt Marge tells you she is a small but turns out the small won’t fit over her head you want to be able to return or exchange it. Most stores have different exceptions to their usual policies, with varying extended dates.

*INSIDER TIP – Still stuck on the perfect gift? Give the gift of a clean closet. I have done many closets where I was hired via a gift certificate. Not in a your-style-is-awful-so-here’s-a-makeover-way but in a I-know-you-are-sick-of-your-closet kind of way. I can send the gift certificate all boxed up and pretty directly to you or the recipient. You can purchase a one hour mini/starter session for $75.00. It sounds counterintuitive but when you have less stuff you wear more of it. It actually saves you money from going out and buying more stuff. Plus many clients get a decent amount back after we consign some of their items. You could end up making money!

So grab a latte and get going! I wish you Godspeed in your shopping.  BRING IT.

image via Not Another Teen Movie

These Boots Were Made For Walking – Ashley’s top picks from Ashley Austin Boutique

These Boots Were Made For Walking – Ashley’s top picks from Ashley Austin Boutique

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Go grab a coffee. Or a cocktail. This post is about shoes and there is no way it is going to be short. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Imagine you are having the perfect dream. It’s about shoes, tons of shoes. And they are displayed like works of art in a museum.

And all of your girlfriends are hanging out in the museum laughing, chatting, and having a blast. There is wine. And there are cupcakes. This is exactly what it is like to step into the Ashley Austin Boutique in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

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Hey, it’s my dream and if I want a tub made to look like a high heel I can have it.
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To start the place is beautiful. And everyone that works there is beautiful. You almost want to dislike them because it all seems too perfect but you can’t. They are nice, super nice. And funny. And magically you feel beautiful, funny, smart and nice when you are there. It is like a magical dust that sprinkles over you as soon as you step through the door.

I used to feel awkward going into smaller boutique type stores. I always felt like I had to buy something so it didn’t look rude. Kind of like going into someone’s home and you feel you have to find something nice to say. Even if it is a hoarders trailer on the edge of a swamp I feel compelled to find something, anything, nice to say.”Wow, I love the pretty home sweet home sign you have spelled out with cigarette ashes on your table!” But I promise you Ashley Austin is not that kind of place. (That you feel like you have to say something nice OR that you feel like you have to buy something – trust me you will want to do both!) There is no pressure ever to buy but I dare you to leave without anything.

Funny Cry for Help Ecard: 'Ugh I can't believe I have to go out and buy a new pair of shoes!' ...said no woman ever.

I stopped in the other day to see what Ashley had handpicked for the Fall season. Each and every shoe is picked out by Ashley and reflects her taste for something that is wearable and unique. These are not the shoes that you will see on everyone else everywhere you go, so be prepared for some serious shoe envy when you are out and about. I couldn’t wait to get Ashley’s input on what she considered must-haves for Fall.

Up first, THE Hunter Wellie.

I bought mine a couple of years back and they are the best. And trust me, I tried to buy the cheapie version rainboot but it was uncomfortable and fell apart. These boots last and are sooooo comfortable. The very best part? Purchase the sock insert as an add on and Voilà!, now you have a snow boot.

Next, the Bootie. Not to be confused with the Booty.

The Booty, courtesy of my most adorable nephew Mason.
The Bootie, courtesy of Ashley Austin.

This shoe is perfect with just about everything. Have you seen pics of Katie Holmes rocking hers all over NYC? They are perfect for on the go because they are totally comfortable on your feet, and, they give you just enough height so that your jeans are dragging on the ground. Perfect for walking away from ex-husbands and Scientology.

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Also a must have for boots? The Frye boot.

This classic company has been making boots since the late 1800s. Originally made as a classic harness workboot they now range to all different heights, colors, and even sleek styles. I purchased my first pair last year and you will have to pry them out of my cold, dead hands because I will have them forever.

I think I’ll take both….

Smoking loafers aka smoking slippers.

If there was a current “it” shoe for the season it would be these flats. Pretty AND comfortable, and in a leopard print they are too cute for words. And your feet will thank you.

Don’t forget the extras…


And more bags!

Ah-May-Zing scarves, jewelry, perfume, candles….

I grabbed this before I left.

It is reversible!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love that!!!!

And I desperately want these but cannot settle on colors – too many good choices. If I was less selfish they would make a fabulous personalized gift.

Did I mention they get new deliveries almost every day? They were just unpacking these cuties before I left.

*Insider Tip – Take care of your shoes. It is a small price to pay if you invest in the proper care product up front. Condition your shoes and protect them at the beginning and middle of each season, and in a perfect world before you put them away at the end of the season as well. You will be so happy you did when your small child spills milk on them. I am speaking from experience. Frye has a wonderful treatment sold right at Ashley Austin.

*Insider Tip – Store your tall boots properly. Again, given unlimited resources a true boot tree insert is wonderful.

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Under my normal person circumstances you can use an empty wine bottle (they magically appear in our house….), an extra-large water bottle, a “swim noodle”, and rolled up magazines (the large Fall Fashion issue size).

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Okay so now I know you are dying to get into Ashley Austin. Here’s all the info….

106 West State Street Kennett Square, PA 19348


Like them on facebook to receive the updates on their new finds.

Mon – Fri: 10:00 am 6:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am 5:00 pm
Sun: 11:00 am 3:00 pm
And if you needed an excuse to get out….

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

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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?”
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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 ::

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, 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
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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.


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