DIY Floral Headband

25of365_2015In preparation for an upcoming photo shoot, I’m making pretty floral hair pieces for the girls’ hair.  Today was my first attempt at this, and it went really well and wasn’t that difficult!  I perused Pinterest and YouTube for tutorials on how to do this and watched several to get ideas.  Here’s a step-by-step of what I did:

You will need (all of these were bought at JoAnns with a coupon, but any local craft store should carry these):

  • Silk flowers (various sizes and colors to your liking)
  • Paper covered 18 gauge floral wire
  • Floral tape
  • Wire cutters
  • Multi-purpose scissors

*Note: I have 26 gauge (thin) floral wire pictured here as well, but I ended up not using it.

DSC_0858Step 1: Using the wire cutters or scissors, cut the flowers from the long stems, leaving 1-3 inches of stem.  Remove the leaves – generally, I just pulled these off of the stems unless it was a very leafy arrangement.  I put the flowers and leaves in separate piles.

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Step 2: The pieces of wire I bought weren’t quite long enough to go all the way around my head, so I twisted two together. After that, I bent it into a circle and twisted a loop on one end and made a hook on the other.  I left the hook rather long to account for different sizes of heads.

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Step 3: As you can tell, the twisted wires didn’t hold together very well and had somewhat pointy ends, so I wrapped them with a bit of floral tape.  Floral tape is really odd in that it doesn’t feel sticky at all until you start to stretch it.  It will then stick to itself rather nicely.

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Step 4: Lay out your flowers how you think you’d like them to go around your headband.  It took me a few tries to decide how I wanted it to look.  For aesthetic purposes, I recommend using an odd number of flowers.  Also, you can choose to have flowers go all the way around or just part of the way.  I just did part of the way.

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Step 5: Starting with the middle flower, put the stem on top of the headband and pointing towards the back.  Using floral tape, and starting at the base of the flower, wrap the tape around the stem and headband to connect the two.  Continue thusly until you have placed all of the larger flowers.  You may need to point the stems towards the middle to get the flowers to lay properly.

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Step 6: Place leaves and smaller flowers between the larger flowers to your liking, and use floral tape to attach.  I didn’t find this necessary, but you may need to attach thinner floral wire to some of the leaves to give you a base to connect them to the headband.  Note that as you place more flowers/leaves, it will get a little harder to maneuver the floral tape…it’s fine but something to be aware of.

Voila!  A pretty head piece for photo shoots!

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Tulle Skirt for a Photo Shoot!

I’m getting ready to photograph a few of my gorgeous friends in modern glamour style.  In preparation, I’m making tulle skirts, similar to the one I wore during my photo shoot with Sue Bryce.  Today, I made the first of the three that I’ll be making before our shoot (I already have a red one that I made a little over a year ago to use as well).  To make this skirt, I followed the method that Sue used on her blog (here).  Sue’s blog has a great tutorial, but I thought I’d still show you step by step what I did:

You will need:

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  • 30-40 yds of tulle (I used two different colors, just as Sue did to give it some more texture in photos. My tulle came in 40 yd bolts from Paper Mart.  I used beige and ivory for this skirt and had plenty of each left over.)
  • <1 in. wide satin ribbon (I used 7/8″ double-faced ivory ribbon, again from Paper Mart)
  • Thread in a matching color
  • Needle
  • Pins
  • Tape Measure

My dress form is one that you can convert to multiple sizes.  Sue mentioned on her blog that she likes to tie the tulle skirts on the hips of her clients – that way the waist is still visible.  I wanted to make sure that this skirt would fit anyone, so I adjusted the hips on the dress form to be the largest it would go (46″ in this case).  Then, I cut a piece of ribbon so long that it would wrap around the hips and then have both ends touching the floor.  This is SUPER long, but it’s great to have that extra length to make the skirt more convertible for different sizes.

I placed the ribbon around the hips of the dress form LOOSELY and pinned it in the back only.  If you don’t pin loosely, then you won’t be able to get the tulle through the ribbon.  For the tulle, I pulled off a length that went from the hips of the dress form to the floor and then doubled it.  I had the dress form set a couple of inches taller than me (to account for tall clients).  The lengths of tulle I cut measured ~90″ total, and I left it doubled as it came off the bolt.  Then, place it behind the ribbon on the dress form, and adjust until both layers are around the same length.  I started in the middle on the front.

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As you can see in the photos above, I alternated tulle colors – every other one was beige then ivory, etc.  I just pulled/measured the length of tulle, gathered it, cut, and placed it as I went.

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You may need to adjust the pins holding the ribbon a few times as you go.  It will get tighter as more and more tulle is looped through it.

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I ended up using 14 total pieces of tulle, but I think I could have gotten away with 12.  It makes the skirt very full, and I adjusted the sections so that they overlapped each other slightly.  Then, you thread a needed and start stitching the layers of tulle and ribbon together all the way around the waist.

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That’s it!  I am showing it here with a simple ivory tank top that’s one size fits all and a cute floral accoutrement that I purchased from Trim Expo Online.  I’m thinking about modifying this tank next weekend by adding tulle to it similar to what Sue did with the corset in her blog post.  That way, if I have two girls where this skirt, one could wear that top, and another could wear a simple fitted tank, and it would look like two different outfits.

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Work Fashion – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you have already seen the pictures of my new work outfits, but I thought I’d write a blog post about professional/work fashion and hopefully impart a few tips/tricks.

By now, you probably know that for work, I do several presentations and professional meetings with orthopaedic surgeons.  What this means from a fashion standpoint is, I wear A LOT of suits.  I’ve often complained that there are no places (or at least precious few) where one can find women’s suits that actually fit properly.  And, what is up with selling jackets and pants together for women’s suits?  How many women are actually the same size on top and bottom?  Precious few, I would argue.  My husband can go into Joseph A. Bank, and they will fit him perfectly for a suit (pants and jackets separately) or whatever other work wear he desires.  I have yet to find such an awesome place for women, which is really frustrating.  I know that there are places that will make custom suits for women, but they tend to be super expensive ($500+), and I’m not sure that I’m willing to spend that much, since my size tends to fluctuate (a common problem for women).  In my next life, perhaps, I’ll start a company that is basically the Joesph A. Bank for women 🙂

Anyway, in the mean time, I have been able to find some fashionable suits/work fashion at a couple of stores, which makes me pretty happy.  The two places where I shop most frequently are White House Black Market and Chicos.  A not-surprising coincidence is that these two stores are owned by the same company.  What’s great for me about that is that the pants from Chicos tend to fit me better, and I like the suit jackets more from White House Black Market.  Since they are sister stores, they often use the same fabrics.  So, I can cobble together a suit that looks great from two different stores, and no one is the wiser.

Last weekend, my in-laws were here to visit, and one of the main events of their visits is that my mother-in-law and I go for a shopping trip…mainly because she doesn’t have any good shopping where she lives, and she likes Chicos as much as I do 🙂  During our shopping trip, I was able to find some great business clothes, which were perfect for my trip to Dallas where I had to speak in front of a big group (that trip happened this Friday and yesterday).

Here was the result (apologies for the crappy cell phone pics):

photo 1-2A very Jackie O. look.  Top, skirt, and belt from White House Black Market.  Shoes are Sam Edelman, and I got them at Von Maur.  I absolutely love this outfit with every cell of my being.  Each piece can be worn with other things, but as an outfit, it looks so put together and figure-flattering.

photo-2Typical black suit, made fancier with the beautiful lace top and necklace, which are sadly under-represented in this photo.  Jacket and top from White House Black Market (both perfectly cut for me), pants from Chicos (again, no one is the wiser because the fabrics match), shoes are Cole Haan with Nike technology in the sole, which makes them super comfy.  They are patent leather and awesome (also bought at Von Maur).  I felt powerful in this suit, which is good because I wore it the day I was scheduled to present to about 50 people.

When I posted these photos on Facebook, some commented that they needed me to come help them shop (which I would love to do by the way!).  And, I’ve heard from a few others at work that I “always look very put together.”  I am forever indebted to my mother for this trait.  She is ALWAYS put together, even when she’s in casual clothes.  And, I know I picked that up from her.  So, for those who wonder how to gain such a skill, here are a few tips from me for how to look put together at work:

  1. Probably the hardest part, but know your body shape and what looks good on it.  You can hide a multitude of sins just by wearing things that flatter your figure.  For me personally, I am very curvy, and I have a big booty and thunder thighs, but I have a tiny waist.  So, I know that anything that emphasizes my waist will make me look great.  That’s why that A-line skirt in the first outfit works so well (and why I have such trouble finding pencil skirts that look fabulous on me, no matter how much I want them to – I have found a few that work, by the way, and the key is stretchy fabric).  I digress though…another reason why I like the White House Black Market for jackets – they are all cut to define the waist, which is my best asset.  Also, a little trick with jackets and blouses alike: if it fits in the shoulders, it will look amazing…check out the shoulders on that black jacket on me.
  2. Know what colors work on you and what doesn’t.  Generally speaking, if you are attracted to a color, it will look good on you.  It is good to have a friend with you when you’re shopping, or even just ask the sales person…”does this color look ok on me?  Does it make me look to pallid?”  To be honest, I was a little scared I’d be washed out by the first outfit, but it’s a light enough color (off-white), that I actually look like I have color.  Also, adding the pink belt (it came with a tonal fabric belt), adds just a pop of color, which elevates the whole look.
  3. Speaking of pops of color, add a pop of color when you can.  I wear an awful lot of black.  I am forever adding a shock of color wherever I can.  It’s amazing how much this one simple thing can elevate your look.  This can be as simple as wearing a magenta or royal blue shell under a black suit to adding a bright scarf to the neck (P.S. I plan on doing a scarf tutorial at some point this year to show everyone how to tie/wear scarves.  If you don’t have scarves in your life, you are seriously missing out on a simple accessory that makes you look like YOU are a stylist).  If you are afraid of color, then make sure that you have some interesting jewelry or a cool pattern somewhere in your outfit to add flavor.  In that second outfit I showed, I had a fabulous necklace that just made the whole thing a lot less drab.  It’s not shown well in the photo, but trust me, it was the key piece.  And, on top of that, the lace top added some interest.  Because the jacket is closed in the photo, you can’t tell, but this is a peplum style top, with some grosgrain ribbon to define the waist.  It made the whole look very dressy and put together.
  4. Don’t over accessorize.  If you have too many pieces of jewelry, or if your outfit is too matchy-matchy, you look like you’re trying to hard.  For example, when I tried on the first outfit at White House Black Market, the sales girl gave me a very intricate beaded necklace that had some of the coral of the belt as well as coral shoes with gold heels.  It was just TOO MUCH.  I like the idea of a nude shoe with pretty much anything.  And, the simple white gold/yellow gold necklace (that William bought for me forever ago, and I wear with just about everything, by the way) just works.  It makes the whole outfit seem effortless and not fussy.  The necklace/shoes they gave me in the store looked great, but the whole outfit looked overdone.
  5. You should be comfortable.  Where is it written that work clothes need to be uncomfortable?  They shouldn’t be.  Now are they going to be as comfy as jammie pants and a big t-shirt?  Nope, but you shouldn’t be uncomfortable or tugging at anything.  If you are, it doesn’t fit properly.  Any way you slice it, if you are comfortable, you will be much more confident in your outfit, and that confidence is a good thing, especially in a professional environment.  With any presentation, I can tell you, if I’m comfortable in my outfit, the presentation automatically just flows much better.  The good news is that clothing companies have started to figure this out in recent years – they are making suits with stretchy fabrics (i.e. knits instead of wovens), and shoe places are putting arch support and other cushioning in the soles of high heels.  What a concept!

I don’t proclaim to know all of the ins and outs of fashion, but hopefully, these little tips will help you on your next shopping trip 🙂

Gel Nails – A Review

My poor, neglected blog!  Last year brought TONS of work travel (as in every week), which left no time to really blog 😦  This year is looking much the same, but I’m going to try and make a better effort to blog this year.  At any rate, I thought I’d start off the year with a review of the increasingly popular gel nails.

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I had gel nails put on in late December for the first time (see image above).  I just took them off today (3 weeks later!), and they weren’t even chipped.  That’s probably the biggest pro to these things…they last forever and are pretty much indestructible.  My nails started growing out, which is why I decided to go ahead and take them off.  The biggest pro is also related to their biggest con, which is they are a pain in the ass to remove.

I consulted good old Google for tips on how to get them off, and to my surprise, I learned that there are TWO different types of gel nails.  The first kind (which I had) are called “soak offs.”  These are put on in thin layers with what looks like normal nail polish.  They only difference is that they are cured with UV light.  The other kind are also called “shellac” nails.  They are put on with layers of thick gel and also cured under UV light.  Luckily for me, the soak offs are a bit “easier” to remove than the shellac nails (one site recommended that those only be removed professionally).

No matter how you look at it, you are supposed to soak your nails in pure acetone for 5-7 minutes in order to “loosen” the gel.  Then you scrape it off.  I wasn’t really keen on this idea because acetone is hard on your nails but also on your skin.  With it being winter, my hands are dry enough as it is. Apparently, someone else felt the same way because I found a blog that recommended soaking a small bit of gauze in acetone, and putting it on the nail only.  Then, cover just the end of your finger with foil to hold it on there.  This created minimum exposure for your skin.  Genius idea!  So, I followed this method, with a few minor modifications.  I didn’t have pure acetone, but I did have acetone nail polish removal pads.  These things are brilliant…they are little felt pads, loaded with nail polish remover.  You can get either acetone or acetone-free.  I had the acetone ones, which aren’t 100% acetone but diluted with water and a few other ingredients to “moisturize.”  So, I used those.  Here’s a step-by-step of what I did:

  1. Cut a piece of foil into 10 small squares, one for each nail.
  2. Cut nail polish removal pads (I used 2) into 10 small squares.  (Note:  Do these only 5 at a time to prevent drying.)
  3. Place the small square of the pad on your nail, and cover the end of your finger with foil. (Note:  I did one hand at a time because it is difficult to do much of anything with your fingers covered in foil.)
  4. Wait approximately 7 minutes.  The longer you wait, the easier it will be to remove.
  5. Remove the foil on one nail at a time, an using a metal cuticle pusher, scrape the gel nail polish off.  If you can’t get all layers the first time, put the foil back on your finger for a few more minutes, and then scrape again.  It took me about 2 rounds for most of my nails.
  6. Your nails will be rough.  Use a file to smooth them out.  I then used one of those square nail buffing/shining things to smooth them even further.  (I bought mine years ago when they first came out from one of those annoying kiosk people in the mall who were all, “Ladies, can I rub lotion on you?”  As it turns out, this nail buffing thingy was a good purchase…the lotion I threw away a long time ago.  Anyway, I think you can buy these just about anywhere now).
  7. Repeat on the other hand.

Seems simple, right?  Key word in that sentence is seems.  I think this process still took me about 45 minutes (or longer).

The bottom line…would I get gel nails again?  For a special occasion, probably so.  For every day, definitely not unless I had them professionally put on and removed each time.  I did LOVE how long they lasted and how great they looked for SO LONG, but I’m a little too impatient for the lengthy removal process.