Elegance With a Dash of Daring

Looking for a fun way to dress up your office wardrobe this summer? Try a tropical print pant to add a dose of fun to your style! These gorgeous print pants not only have a great print, but the touch of neon in them makes them look really current, as well. Pair them with a solid blouse or top in white or a neutral tone to keep it looking professional. Finish off your look with some gold tone accessories and a structured handbag and you are ready to take on the world! And look pretty amazing while doing it! Cheers!
Elegance With a Dash of Daring



Investment Bag on a Budget

Hello, again! Last week on the blog we were talking about wardrobe basics. As a follow up I wanted to discuss one of the most important basics: an investment bag. An investment bag is really an investment in yourself.
According to an infographic from Highest Paying Careers, 65 percent of bosses say that     dress could be the deciding factor between two similar job candidates. And you want to dress for the job you want, not the one you have.

Mostly, though, it’s a representation of yourself. Fashion is more than how we dress, it’s a form of self expression. It is how we tell the world who we are, what we are about and how we feel about ourselves. We want the world to know we value and respect ourselves, because we set the bar for how we are treated by others.
Now, when talking about investment bags, a few items stand out in most people’s minds as classics i.e. the Hermes Birkin, the Louis Vuitton Speedy or the Chanel Quilted Flap. And although the Kardashians make it look like you can pick up a Birkin at your local Target, some of these bags cost more than my car. A Birkin starts out at $7,000 and goes upwards of $35,000. So what’s a regular gal to do? Read on.
There are most certainly some quality bags out there for much, much less but before we delve into the options let’s discuss what to look for in an investment bag.
Brand: To be an investment bag most people say it must be a big name designer, and for the most part, I agree. However, there are some smaller Italian brands that make gorgeous quality, leather bags. So, yes, look for a designer bag but if what you find is a quality piece you love, buy it.
Material: Leather, period. Sorry ladies, but canvas or nylon do not make an investment bag.
Shape: Seek out a classic tote or satchel shape, even a hobo for a more relaxed style. The focus here should be a timeless style as you want it to take you from year to year without looking dated.
Color: Mostly neutrals. Black, brown or tan are typical and will go with most of your clothing. Red is powerful color, but also a classic, so that would work as well. Any color will do, but be careful as you may tire of that turquoise or eggplant bag very quickly.
Here are some fabulous ‘budget’ options for bags under $500 (except one that I LOVE that is just over)
1. Brahmin Kathleen $325 Brahmin
I love the laser cut leather in this stunning bag and the tan color is a very flexible option to have in your wardrobe.
2. MICHAEL Michael Kors Selma Studded Tote $428 Zappos
This is a fresh approach to a classic tote, the studs really make it contemporary and add a bit of fun to this style.
3. Dooney & Bourke Button Slouch $525 Dooney & Bourke
I’m in love with this bag. This rich leather is soft and supple and the button detail on the sides is so very pretty.
4. Alice + Olivia Quilted Leather Bag $495 Neiman Marcus
This satchel’s quilting is so lovely, it offers a fresh approach to a timeless shape.
5. MARC by Marc Jacobs Too Hot to Handle Hobo $438 Marc Jacobs
Hobo’s are excellent day bags and this lovely piece here is no exception. Marc Jacobs’ mid range line offers up quality construction and materials.
6. kate spade new york Oxford Street Sloan $495 kate spade
If you like a croc look, take a peek at this fab tote from kate spade, it’s shoulder strap makes is a wonderful length and it comes with a detachable cross body strap.
7. Tory Burch Thea Satchel $475 Tory Burch
This satchel is so gorgeous, the pom pom on the side adds some visual interest and the color here is perfect for any season.
8. Coach Legacy Courtenay Hobo in Leather $278 Coach
This one is on my wish list! Love the color and the option to carry as a shoulder bag or a cross body bag. It has a bit of slouch to it, which makes it work as a casual style but its overall structure keeps it office appropriate also.
9. Coach Poppy Colorblock Tote $348 Coach
This is indeed, a timeless style. A simple black tote has enough room for all your stuff (including an iPad pocket!) and its shape will remain a classic.
Investment Bag on a Budget


Capsule Wardrobe Styles

So while only a few outfits in this collection showed up here on the blog, if you click on the link “Capsule Wardrobe Styles” it will take you to Polyvore and the full collection. I came up with 100 different options before I started to go crosseyed looking at these items! I hope you enjoy and maybe these will give you some ideas for your own wardrobe at home! Have a beautiful day. 
~ Sara



Unlimited Possibilities

There are a few basic items that every woman can benefit from having in her wardrobe. I have created what is called a “capsule wardrobe” which is a collection of essential clothing items designed to be interchangeable in order to maximize the number of outfits which can be created. With a capsule collection this large, there are dozens upon dozens of possibilities for outfits. Let’s take a look at the pieces:
  1. T-Shirts, 3 in neutral tones. I like to find ones that have different silhouettes to mix it up a bit. Here I have a standard scoop neck, a slightly cropped boxy one and a drapey, off the shoulder style.
  2. Button-down shirts, 2. While white is a classic that most people recommend, I hate white shirts. I always get them dirty. So, I chose an absolute must, the denim shirt and since a sleeveless option is always good to have on hand, I picked this really vibrant magenta blouse for a pop of color.
  3.  Sweaters, 3 in neutrals. There are three basic types of sweaters but they don’t have ‘basic’ at all. Provided you are coordinating with your other capsule items, just choose a pullover, a turtleneck and a cardigan. This cardigan I chose is an awesome boucle fabric with silk sleeves so its warm, but not too warm for spring or fall.
  4. Tank tops, 2. Now, I say tank tops, but I don’t mean your average, run of the mill cotton tank. Those should be considered disposable items and be replaced every year. These nice tank styles I have picked are sophisticated enough for the office or going to dinner, but still easily dressed down.
  5. Dresses, 2. This is pretty basic for dresses, but having an LBD (little black dress) that is versatile enough to wear during the day and in the evening is one item EVERY girl should have. Also, a maxi dress is pretty handy on a day when pants just won’t do.
  6. Jackets, 2. I really like this blazer and leather jacket combo here. The white blazer is super versatile and will add a little office polish to whatever you’re wearing. The black leather jacket is light enough for spring or fall, but can be worn as a blazer in winter.
  7. Purses, 3. Ladies, listen up. If you are over 30 and don’t have an investment bag yet, start saving. Look for a timeless style (like this tote below) in a quality material – it will last you a lifetime! I won’t say you need to spend thousands, but a quality leather bag is, indeed, a necessity. Also, a cross body bag for errands, concerts and casual days as well as a clutch for your more dressy affairs.
  8. Accessories, varies. I chose some basic gold jewelry here that mixes well with all my clothing items. A pair of drop earrings, a chain necklace, a watch and a statement necklace can be enough. Add some Spanx, a pair of footless tights, a scarf, a belt and a couple pair of sunnies and you are good to go.
  9. Bottoms, 4. Every woman should have a quality pair of boot cut jeans that fit like a glove. If you haven’t found them yet, seek out some expert advice. And invest some money in a good pair. One pair of $300 jeans that look amazing and last for years, are a lot cheaper than buying 2-3 pairs of $50 jeans every single year. Welcome to the Finance of Fashion. Also a pair of skinny jeans (less expensive!) an ankle skimming pair of black pants and a neutral toned maxi skirt will round out your intermixing possibilities. 
  10. Shoes, 6. Finally! Some you should consider buying on the high end, like pumps and boots, others like sandals and flats you can pick up for less. I, personally need to replace my sandals every year, as summer lasts like 8 months here! So look for the following for your collection: Pumps in a neutral tone, knee-high boots, a pair of booties, some sandals, flats you can walk miles in and a pair of comfy shoes, like these TOMS.
I will put up a collection of outfits I made using just these items so you can see for yourself just how many options there are! Tell me, do you have a slimmed down capsule wardrobe or is your closet overflowing with tons of items?
Unlimited Possibilities



Brilliiant Blogger Sets of the Week

Rainy Day Chic

Well, the rain has passed here in Austin & will likely be a while before it rains for days like that again. I rather enjoy the rain, though, must be my east coast roots. While it was raining buckets over central Texas it got me thinking about fabulous rain boots and frilly umbrellas. What better way to beat the rainy day blues than looking amazing, right?
Who could feel glum while wearing this gorgeous Metro dress from the TIBI pre-fall 2013 collection? It’s bright neons will surely inject some light into to the dreariest of days. Paired with the lovely Champery wedge boots from Hunter, you’ll be sure to stay dry while still looking chic. And I really like the way this Michael Kors Grayson tote in patent leather matches the look of the wellies. The Elvira Sazesh Purple Python necklace adds a dash of color and interest at the neckline and pairs very well with the coloring in the dress. Top it off with some accessories like these drop earrings, a watch and this Ruffle Umbrella from Lisbeth Dahl and you have yourself a stylish look that is sure to make you shine even when the sun won’t. So what’s your rainy day style?

Rainy Day Chic




MICHAEL Michael Kors monogrammed tote bag
$365 – harveynichols.com





Lisbeth dahl umbrella
$38 – johnlewis.com





The Hourglass Body Shape

For the final installment of our “Dressing for Your Shape” series we have the Hourglass figure.
The Hourglass figure is the fashion ideal. Shoulder and hips are very close in measurements with a well defined waistline. Waist is between 9″ & 12″ smaller than hips or shoulders. As the fashion ideal, an hourglass figure does not need to rely on clothing camouflage tricks to create a proportional silhouette. An hourglass can wear many styles with ease. Lucky you!
Goal: Enhance waistline and flaunt curves!
•Stay away from high necklines and waistlines
•Try to add waist definition to your outfits with seam lines or belts
•Wear fitted clothing that skims your body
•Use embellishments wisely, details on the bodice will emphasize the top half and draw the eye to the upper body
•Avoid baggy and shapeless styles
•Consider an open neckline to flatter shoulders and draw the eye upward
I hope you have enjoyed this series of posts as much as I enjoyed drafting them. With any luck, this information will have helped you to identify your shape so that you can utilize the tips I have included to flatter your silhouette. Feel free to contact me if you have further questions about body shape! Have a beautiful day!

The Hourglass Body Shape


Nicole Miller sheath dress
$430 – question-air.com


Frilly top



Kurt Geiger pointy-toe pumps
$375 – johnlewis.com


ALDO high heel shoes


Sperry Top Sider straw purse





Metal jewelry



Valentino silk scarve
$315 – harrods.com


Jeepers peepers sunglasses
$27 – asos.com



The Inverted Triangle

For the third installment of our “Dressing for Your Shape” series: the Inverted Triangle
Inverted triangles have shoulder measurements that are wider than the hips. This is typically an athletic shape.

Goal: balance shoulder width, create visual waistline and add width to lower half. This will provide the illusion of the ideal shape.


•Wear darker colors on top
•Avoid boat neck and off the shoulder styles
•You wear halter tops and strapless styles well
•Choose styles with a horizontal line across the hip to create balance
•If wearing loose clothing, belt at the waistline for definition
•Patterned bottoms look great on you
•Gathered skirts and flared hems look great on this figure
•Look for wide leg trousers to create visual balance on the lower half

When choosing accessories seek out long necklaces and scarves that can elongate the torso. You also wear wide belts well, this can be used to create visual interest in the lower half and draw the eye downward.

Don’t forget to check out The Fashion Refinery on Facebook (facebook.com\thefashionrefinery) or Pinterest (pinterest.com\fashionrefinery) for more information and tips on dressing confidently in today’s best styles.

The Inverted Triangle


Alice Olivia alice olivia dress
$440 – harveynichols.com






J by Jasper Conran high heel pumps
$61 – debenhams.com




Post earrings


Susan Caplan Vintage clip earrings
$490 – harveynichols.com


Marc by Marc Jacobs gold watch
$245 – johnlewis.com




A X Armani Exchange zip belt