Fashion: What to wear to any holiday party

Fashion category banner BelleBy Meredith Bollinger, Style Coach and mama of 1

Have you ever been so stressed/annoyed/dumbfounded about what to wear to an event that it takes ALL of the fun out of even going? Let’s get real, some of you may even skip outings all together because you have, “nothing to wear!” Does that phrase sound familiar? I might have screamed that at my sweet mom a few times in my teenage years (sorry, mom!). Since I’m now a mature and emotionally controlled woman in my 30’s, closet melt-downs are a thing of the past. Ok, maybe that’s not totally accurate…but this isn’t about me.

While throwing a closet tantrum may not be your current avenue for relieving stress, getting dressed for holiday parties can bring out your inner 14 year old.  To hopefully take the edge off of holiday dressing, I’ve put together a few of my go-to looks for every party on your list, including an idea for the tween girl in your life. After all, this time of year should be about bigger things than “having nothing to wear.”

casual partyTHE CASUAL PARTY: For all of those relaxed holiday gatherings, I always want to be extra warm. So I recommend going for an embellished sweatshirt and killer ankle boots, or a bold sweater dress/tunic. It’s festive without being so obvious. I pulled this sweater dress, with a hint of shine, from Belle Boutique.  You could add almost any boot in your closet and opaque black tights to be extra cozy. Belle’s cowl neck tunic is adorable styled over a leather legging or skinny black pant. And you should be comfy enough to enjoy all of the holiday food involved.

work partyTHE WORK PARTY: can be tricky because you want to stay appropriate but be festive at the same time. This look strikes the perfect balance. If you’re a working professional, you probably have a few of these pieces in your closet already. And if you’re the guest of an employee, this looks puts the spotlight on them and not you. There are a lot of embellished pencil skirts around, so you can surely find one that suits your style. Go for all-out sequins or just a touch of lace. And almost any blouse can work since your skirt is carrying most of the flair. I love the idea of a classic white tuxedo shirt and a bag with some sparkle.  But you could also do a blouse with color or a small pattern. [See below for some adorable bags and jewels at Belle Boutique to pull your look together.]

dressy partyTHE DRESSY PARTY: It’s always a no-brainer to wear a dress to your holiday party. Because it’s the season for party dresses, this is your best chance at finding THE ONE. Almost every retailer has something festive on the rack. Look for simple silhouettes in festive fabrics or embellishments. If you can’t find THE ONE, or just don’t want to mess with it, try a simple dress you already own (a black dress is a great choice) and add a bold heel. If you just can’t stand to wear another dress, try a dressy jumpsuit. Jumpsuits are fresh but totally acceptable for cocktail attire. You can go all-out fancy, or keep it more basic and up the glamour with your accessories.

pants partyTHE PANTS PARTY: I have several clients, different ages and shapes, who just don’t like skirts and dresses. They each have their own reasons, but showing their legs is one of their least favorite things. Maybe you don’t mind a bare leg, but your holiday outing involves time outside and you’d like to avoid freezing.  Or better yet, you might just want to try something new and different. If any of this rings true, this is your best holiday look! Try a wide pant in black wool and pair it with a festive top. Or you can try a patterned wide pant. Just make sure to balance the wideness of the pants with a more fitted top. The easiest way to still have shape is to tuck your shirt in. If that’s not your thing, try adding a fitted jacket that’s slightly cropped. Make sure your pants almost graze the ground, but don’t drag.

belle partyBelle Boutique has some adorable holiday tops for the tween in your life [click to check out their Lil’ Belles line]. You probably aren’t taking your kids along to your office party, but these would be perfect for a school party or a family outing to see Christmas lights. Belle also has a great selection of bags and jewels to pull your holiday look together, no matter what the party is. While shopping, I couldn’t help but notice all of their super cute holiday gifts. A few of my faves are stemless glasses that look like Rudolph and sweet personalized ornaments for newlyweds. You could grab what you need for your holiday look, AND pick up a little something for someone else: Christmas win! Now you’re fully prepped to get dressed with a little extra confidence so you can celebrate the REAL meaning behind all of these holiday parties! Merry Christmas!

Note from the Mamas: If it’s tough for you to shop in person because you’re short on time or have little ones in tow, Belle Boutique has an awesome online store with tons of options. They also have stores in Fayetteville, Rogers, and two locations in Bentonville.

Meredith Bollinger 200 squareMeredith is a lot like a coach, but for your style: helping you take a little stress out of getting dressed. She can help you refresh your current wardrobe by styling it for you, create a personalized shopping list to update your closet and get the most out of what you already own, and she can even do all the shopping for you! She loves helping women feel confident about what to wear and how to wear it. She lives in Fayetteville with her husband and almost one year old boy. Connect with her on Instagram (@mere.stylecoach) and email her for more information or to schedule a coaching session. (Send email to mere{dot}stylecoach{at}gmail.com.)

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Fashion Fairy Godmother: Style tips from a local boutique owner

Fashion category banner BelleBy Meredith Bollinger, Style Coach and mama of 1

Brittany Bass of Belle Boutique 200As a lover of clothes, I enjoy picking the brain of like-minded people. Brittany Bass is the owner of Belle Boutique and she took some time out of her busy life as mama and business owner to pass on some of her style advice plus a few favorite pieces in the shop!

What are some of your style rules?

Must be in-season. Must be comfortable for you. Must include a standout piece (example: shoes or jewelry or accessory of some kind) And must not break the bank to purchase UNLESS it is a good staple item!

Do you have a go-to look?

That depends on where I’m going. I always want to dress for the occasion no matter what. I feel out of place if I don’t. :-) But my ultimate go-to is distressed skinny jeans and an over-sized top of some kind with Converse. I’ve been super casual lately! I always prefer the basic top and bottom with cool shoes or accessories!

On weekends, I spend a lot of time at dance competitions because my daughter dances. There it’s all about comfort! I love my workout leggings and a big, WARM sweater with my Nikes or Ugg boots to stay warm in the freezing rooms.

To work, I prefer comfort as well. Jeans and a cute top, and a MUST-have is cute shoes. I’m in love with shoes! I always feel complete when I have on cute shoes.

Dressing up is the most fun! I love a good dress with tights & booties, but a fur vest never hurt any outfit either. If it’s too chilly, leather leggings are the go-to always. Match it with a cute top and again the fur vest and booties. Of course, don’t forget your standout piece — a fun, blingy necklace is my fave.

What was your vision behind opening Belle Boutique?

Belle-Boutique-LogoI LOVE clothes and shopping A LOT! I have shopped and shopped and shopped for many years before opening my own store. I wanted to create a store that was for the ultimate shopper. I wanted to have the trendiest fashions, BUT offering them at an affordable price is key. Anyone who knows fashion knows that it’s ever-changing. With that being said, you’re constantly buying new pieces and they need to be affordable pieces because you may only wear them a few times, possibly even just once!

Who is the Belle Boutique girl?

The Belle Boutique Girl is someone who loves fashion, keeps up with the latest trends, but wants it at an affordable price. She can come to the store or shop online and get the latest from Belle and not overspend or break the bank, allowing for money to spend to go places to show off her new fabulous finds. :-)

What are a few of your favorite pieces in store now?

My favorites include:

  • Leather leggings
  • Plaid Scarves
  • Fringe Booties
  • Over-sized sweaters
  • Tshirt dresses

belle collage fave thingsPictured above are a few of Brittany’s current favorites in the store. Pictured from left to right are: Isn’t It Lovely Cardigan Sweater; Spot It Out Sweater; Time to Snuggle Scarf (in green); In and Between Dress; Life of the Party Leggings.

What shopping advice would give to other women?

If you see it and really like it, chances are you are not gonna be happy until you have it, so you may as well get it. If you’re shopping at Belle, you’re going to get the best price on it, so that makes the purchase okay! :-)  I’m not an over-thinker-shopper at all. I either like it or don’t, so this is easy for me. BUT if it is a pricey purchase, I always check around just to be sure everyone is carrying it at a similar price before I buy, but typically small business saturday logo 200anything name-branded like that is.

And now that you think Brittany is as fabulous as her little shop(s), you can get extra excited about Small Business Saturday. This Saturday, November 28th, people are showing their love for small businesses by shopping small. And just to motivate you a little more, Belle Boutique will be continuing their black Friday specials through Saturday. That includes buy one get one 50% off all denim and 40% off shoes, just to name a few.  Sounds like the perfect opportunity to apply some of Brittany’s tips. Happy shopping!

Note from the Mamas: If it’s tough for you to shop in person because you’re short on time or have little ones in tow, Belle Boutique has an awesome online store with tons of options. They also have stores in Fayetteville, Rogers, and two locations in Bentonville.

Meredith Bollinger 200 squareMeredith is a lot like a coach, but for your style: helping you take a little stress out of getting dressed. She can help you refresh your current wardrobe by styling it for you, create a personalized shopping list to update your closet and get the most out of what you already own, and she can even do all the shopping for you! She loves helping women feel confident about what to wear and how to wear it. She lives in Fayetteville with her husband and almost one year old boy. Connect with her on Instagram (@mere.stylecoach) and email her for more information or to schedule a coaching session. (Send email to mere{dot}stylecoach{at}gmail.com.)

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A stylist’s advice on how to transition your wardrobe into fall

Fashion category banner BelleBy Meredith Bollinger, Style Coach and mama of 1

If you’re like me, the changing weather brings mixed emotions. Half of me is SO ready to move on from my summer wardrobe and finally be able to layer again. The other half of me is standing in my closet wondering what on earth I wore this time last year!?! [Because clearly I have NOTHING to wear.]

Oh yeah, this time last year I was massively pregnant and about to give birth…so to answer my own question: I was wearing leggings and Birkenstocks, my only shoes that fit. Cool. That’s not helpful at all.

New idea: Instead of getting overwhelmed with the idea of dredging up an entirely different cool-weather wardrobe full of the latest and greatest, let’s just take a slow, deep breath and ease into fall together.

Here’s a little info on me: I absolutely love to help other women [and a few men] feel really great about what’s hanging in their closet. I’m like a personal trainer. But instead of sculpting your biceps, I help you find the wardrobe of your dreams. Coaching you along the way by styling what you already have, purging and re-selling what needs to go, and shopping for new pieces to complete your dream wardrobe. I attribute part of my skill to all of the years I had to stretch my clothing money as far as it would go. I’ve made a habit of reinventing what I already have and mixing it with some new pieces for a wearable closet that doesn’t require serious cash.

So it makes perfect sense to take my old faithful wardrobe at home and partner with a lovely local shop, Belle Boutique, to show you how I plan to ease into fall. I found these three great pieces at Belle Boutique and I’ve combined them with things I already had in my closet to show you how you can do the same thing at home. Here are the three pieces I used to create these Fall transitional looks. (You could pick up all three of these pieces for under $120.)

OCT collage BelleOCTmaxi outfit (2)In our region cooler weather is slow to settle in, so your closet should reflect that. One of my go-to outfits for this time of year is a staple piece from my summer stash, with a fall piece or two. Make sure to choose a piece from your summer wardrobe that’s not overtly summery. This striped maxi from Belle Boutique is the perfect example of something you could’ve worn all summer, but it still translates into the fall. I’m going to add my new leather jacket (one of my style coach staples) and my fave black ankle boots from last winter. I’d wear this pretty much anywhere: lunch with a friend, the hair salon, or a date with my husband.

Motherhood has definitely changed the way I dress. I used to dress in extremes, for work or for home. At home I was almost always in something that couldn’t (ok, shouldn’t) leave the house. At work, I was dressed in things that didn’t have to be very functional, just cute. Now I feel myself living in the in-between. I have to be in something that allows me to:

1) sit on the floor (and still have circulation in my legs)

2) bend over 1,000 times

3) hold a child that’s inevitably going to chew on anything he can reach

4) and still look kinda cute because I’m so sick and tired of my yoga pants.

OCTvarsityteeset (2)Anyone feeling me? Clothes have never had to be so functional. I want to feel cute but not flip out when mashed bananas find their way onto my sleeve. And that’s where the cute t-shirt comes into play. I am loving this sporty tee from Belle Boutique. I want this tee (in both colors) to wear with everything. I’d pair it with my distressed black jeans from last year, beat up Converse, and my husband’s worn in flannel around my waist.

If tying a flannel around your waist feels too young or too reminiscent of your awkward teen years, have no fear. Just layer it up with a pair of jogger pants [my thoughts on jogger pants here] and a sparkly necklace. Is this outfit not perfect for your next play date, grocery run, kid’s birthday party, or infamous ‘cute, but not trying too hard’ family pics at the pumpkin patch?!? And if you need any more convincing, this tee would be super cute with your yoga pants. ;)

OCT black soft trench set (2)One of the shopping rules I live by [more #rulesforshopping here] is to purchase clothes that are really versatile. Lightweight jackets pass that test because they can be worn in almost any season. Being able to layer also allows me to reinvent something I’ve worn a million times. This slinky black jacket I found at Belle Boutique is perfectly versatile. It’s just right to wear open with my geometric print pants and a silk black tank. I’ve worn these pants so many times, but this jacket will add a bit more drama.

I’ll add a strappy heel and a clutch and they will be perfect for my anniversary date night! This outfit would also be ideal for girl’s night out, tickets to WAC, or an event at Crystal Bridges.

Ahh. Now I’m ready. Fall, you are welcome to stick around because my closet is ready for you. Here’s to many more stress free days of getting dressed!

Note from the Mamas: If it’s tough for you to shop in person because you’re short on time or have little ones in tow, Belle Boutique has an awesome online store with tons of options. They also have stores in Fayetteville, Rogers, and two locations in Bentonville.

Meredith Bollinger 200 squareMeredith is a lot like a coach, but for your style: helping you take a little stress out of getting dressed. She can help you refresh your current wardrobe by styling it for you, create a personalized shopping list to update your closet and get the most out of what you already own, and she can even do all the shopping for you! She loves helping women feel confident about what to wear and how to wear it. She lives in Fayetteville with her husband and almost one year old boy. Connect with her on Instagram (@mere.stylecoach) and email her for more information or to schedule a coaching session. (Send email to mere{dot}stylecoach{at}gmail.com.)

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Fashion Fairy Godmother: Swimsuit trends for 2015

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Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying that swimsuit season is upon us. And we all know that when we’re lucky enough to find a swimsuit we really fairy-godmotherlove, going to the pool, the beach or the water park is a whole lot more fun. The Fashion Fairy Godmother is here to help.

Overall, a cute cover up is always a great investment for swimsuit season. At the pool or at the beach, a light cover up is a must. This year I recommend going for an option with LACE. With either a small embellishment or full-on lace, this is definitely on-trend. But for the more athletic momma, the bottom left and middle options (pictured in the collage above) are perfect.

Next up let me show you some fun pairings of beach bags, sunglasses, towels, and different types of swimsuits. These swimsuit picks are fun, affordable and right on-trend.

First is a look that’s absolutely perfect for the beach. This black and white suit is timeless and flattering. The cover-up dress really makes the outfit cute along with slip-on sandals and a floppy hat. This hat is great for reading on the beach and the bag can hold all your goodies and your kids’ stuff! The large, tortoise sunglasses are timeless as well and you can’t forget your sunscreen!

may june 2015 4Secondly we have this bright, hot pink one piece. I am absolutely in love with this floral suit. The colors are spot-on for summer and the bow in the middle is so cute. Pair with a simple beach bag and flip-flops, and you have a great summer poolside look.

tankinisFor our third option we have a gorgeous tankini. This swimsuit is from an affordable online site that I have ordered tankinis from before called Boden USA. The pattern is eye-catching and the fit is modest. Pair it with cute tan sandals, a coral beach towel and a woven beach bag and you’re all set.

may june 2015 3And last but not least, check out this bright blue bikini from J Crew Factory. This is #1 on my swimsuit wish list this year! A big trend this summer is a large, floppy beach hat. These are easy to find and perfect for keeping your face safe from getting too much sun. A striped beach bag looks great with this subtle pattern and the aviator sunglasses are super stylish.

may june 2015Hope these ideas give you some shopping inspiration, and I hope you find the perfect swimsuit and coverup to wear this summer. Most of all, get in the water and have fun with your kids! Happy Summer!

 

 

 

 

Tshirt Tuesday: Favorite styles from Rock City Outfitters

After what seemed like a particularly brutal winter, it’s FINALLY t-shirt weather in Arkansas. (Cue the choir singing Hallelujah!)

To celebrate the warmer temps, we’re posting a few of our favorite t-shirts from Arkansas’ premier t-shirt company, Rock City Outfitters. This company is owned and operated by fellow Arkansans who have a whole line of shirts devoted to all things Arkansas. Here’s the one we’re loving this week. (Notice how the design is made up of hand-drawn pigs? Clever, huh?) Just click on the photo if you want more info or if you want to order one for yourself.

rockcity collage revised1And we can’t leave out the kids, who also happen to LOVE a soft, comfortable t-shirt. We think the style shown below has a certain amount of preschool swagger. (We love the all-American look of a baseball tee!) Click the photo if you want info on how to order the shirt.

rock city collage2There are LOTS of different styles of shirts made by Rock City, so click HERE to see the line-up. Some are specific to different areas of the state, which is fun for those of us who grew up in a different part of Arkansas.

Rock City Outfitters made the shirts for last year’s NWA Mom Prom and they are our favorite t-shirts EVER. They’re crazy soft with a shallow V-neck, no scratchy tag and they have the ability to go through the washer and dryer hundreds of times without falling apart or shrinking. We love ‘em.

Rock City will be doing this year’s Mom Prom shirt, too! Can’t wait to show you guys the new design at this year’s NWA Mom Prom on May 30th. Click here if you still need to get your ticket.

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