Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Being a Bridesmaid....The Beauty and The Beast.

“I mean, no one likes being a bridesmaid.”

Those are the immortal words I said to my very best friend one balmy summer night. It was just weeks before I donned a yellow taffeta dress to stand beside her at her nuptials. I regretted this statement the instant I said it. Fueled by one too many glasses of red wine from our local tasting room and the strength of a friendship that knew no bounds of verbal restraint, I had said the un-sayable to a bride.

Of course I apologized profusely the next day, and, being the great friend she is, she forgave me immediately. 

The longer I am in my twenties, and asked to be in wedding after wedding, the more I’ve become aware that Katherine Heigel’s character in 27 Dresses was probably based on a very real experience. I had my first bridesmaid gig at 24, and in a few weeks I will be a bridesmaid for the 10th time, followed by number 11 in June.

Every bridesmaid gig is a little different.  I’ve had dresses chosen for me, or have been asked to choose my dress. Some brides are very laid back and unconcerned with details and others have specified my hairstyle or even the color nail polish I wore.  I’ve been in destination weddings and hometown weddings. Each have their charm. Destination weddings become the trips you’ll never forget, laughing with your friends until the wee hours of the night in your adjoining hotel rooms. Hometown weddings are characterized by morning pancakes and coffee with the bride’s parents and the true “Father of the Bride” magic that can only ensue when things are inherently traditional.

For better or worse, being a bridesmaid is a huge financial and time commitment. When I think of what I’ve spent on each blessed event, and what that number is multiplied by 11, it’s enough to buy a Ford Focus. The trips for showers and bachelorette parties have been a lion’s share of the traveling I’ve done in my 20’s.

The lunch hours I’ve spent in a poorly lit “bridesmaid salon” getting measured for an expensive gown by a surly saleswoman are hours I’d rather forget. After they take your measurements and consult a chart created by someone truly evil, they point to a size about 17 sizes bigger than your normal dress size and shrug their shoulders while looking at you with a mixture of judgment and indifference. “I don’t know what to tell you, that’s what the chart says.” When the dress arrives and it appears as though you could fit another human in there with you, you curse said surly sales lady while forking over 10% of your bi-monthly paycheck to the alterations place.

Mid-way through my bridesmaid experiences, I began to feel as though the “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride” adage was representative of my own life. With each passing wedding, I wondered if it would ever be me as the leading lady, rather than the supporting role.

And therein lies the really important thing about being someone’s bridesmaid. What you are really there for is support. Support of their decision to enter into a life-long commitment. Moral support when their veil tears, or their hair looks more 80’s prom that bridal chic.

My favorite part about being in someone’s wedding is the hours leading up to the ceremony. Hours of mimosas and girly chatter, makeup and gallons of hairspray.  Some brides have been frazzled with nerves, and others have been calm and easy going. With all of the cons that come along with being a bridesmaid, these few hours remind me of the ultimate pro. A group of women have been carefully selected to propel the bride into the next stage of her life.

I don’t think I fully understood this until the months leading up to my own wedding.  My sister acted as my maid of honor and my only bridesmaid and I had 12 girls in my house party---really whom I treated as bridesmaids. My sister was the driving force of the entire week leading up to my wedding, and there is no way I could have pulled it off without her. The morning of my wedding is one I will not soon forget, it was more than I could have ever hoped for. I cried on and off a lot that day, happy and sentimental tears---and it struck a real chord that I had 13 of the most important people in my life there to support me.

Like many of the best things in life, being a bridesmaid has its good and bad moments. No one likes spending money on a dress they’ll never wear or using the majority of their 10-14 vacation days on events for someone else’s wedding. But in the end, it’s the memories you create and the bonds you share that make it all worthwhile. Standing beside your friend on those church steps, or teetering in the grass under the warm afternoon sun, you realize that it is not only an honor, but a privilege.

And hey, after it’s all said and done, you get cake and champagne. Not a bad deal.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Hoppin' Saturday Night

I visited my cousin in Austin this weekend to finish up and start a few decorating projects that I am helping her with.

We took the obligatory trip to Ikea on Saturday night to grab some fabulous chairs for her living room. She happens to be one of those lucky humans that lives like 5 minutes from Ikea.

Of course, if you have a modern aesthetic and you like simple, clean lined decor, Ikea is probably a huge go-to for you, especially if you're on a budget. 

The thing that really struck me is that Ikea has a lot of things right now that look decidedly un-Ikea like. Things that you could easily incorporate into other styles of decor, like more traditional, French Country, Hollywood Regency, Etc.

I am smitten with this botanical print bedding. 
It would be darling in a room painted in a soft color, with an antique iron bed and linen drapes.

I would love mixing it with this bedding. 
It was more "rosey" colored in person and it was really kind of French Country looking.

I thought this traditional floral toile bedding was so precious too.

 Love it all together or could be mixed with some hotel-style shams in black and white, or grey, maybe with a fun monogram?

a la Leontine. 
Talk about mixing high and low!

This bedding reminded me of Kate Winslet's house in The Holiday.

I mean, right?

images via here

And while we're on the French and English countrysides, look at this fabric that Ikea sells for $8.99/yd.

It would be so darling (in either colorway) as drapery, as a dust ruffle, or even on a little bench at the end of your bed. 

And this French Bistro style chair, which is getting so popular.
This black Ikea version is $99.

Compared to a similar style that Serena & Lily sells for $225.

If you're trying to outfit your kitchen/dining room and you have a lot to buy or are on a budget, definitely consider Ikea.

I remember a time where I was looking EVERYWHERE for woven chargers like these and some places they were as high as $40 a piece.

Ikea sells them for $3.99 each.

I also love these little dish towels (that could double as dinner napkins) for 79 cents a piece.

They remind me of a pretty much every restaurant I visited in France, or any restaurant in NYC that imitates said restaurants.

And I saw this darling little white and brass lamp that I believe needs to take up residence on my desk.

And here it is in nickel and brass.

Back to their fabrics, I think this whimsical pink and orange fabric is just the best.
I love it for a fun, feminine space or even a child's room! $6.99/yd folks. UNREAL.

I almost got upset when I saw this fabric
I cannot tell you how I searched high and low for a fabric like this before my wedding.
And to make matters worse it's $7.99/yd. You could cover your whole life in it.

I thought this palm print was so fun too. And an incredible $8.99/yd.

We purchased this chandelier for my cousin's office, and I just think it has so much personality.

And when other retailers are charging out the wazoo for other sputnik style fixtures, why not capture the trend at an easy $99?

I also love this guy---perfect for a kitchen island or an informal dining area.

I always love their organizational stuff at Ikea, but these bright pink boxes really caught my eye!
Perfect for a girly office or to organize your closet!

Would work perfectly for both paper clips and pushpins, as it would to corral jewelry.

And last but not least, they have made so many new colors of the their popular lack table available. I was dying over the orange and turquoise colorways.

Such a fun (and cheap) way to add some punch to a room!

I just love a hoppin' and educational Saturday night, don't you?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sell crazy someplace else....We're all stocked up here.

I absolutely love leopard print. I've been particularly into in the last couple of years, as it really can be used as a neutral. It's also oh so timeless.

I love it on a large scale like this carpet.

And on a tiny scale like this bench.

image via ElementsofStyle

I like it on stairs a la Erin Gates.

I like it on chairs.

I love green eggs and ham, Sam I am!
(that's what I was starting to sound like there for a minute, haha)

I love how it mixes so effortlessly with any color---turquoise, yellow, graphic black and white. It's just perfect.

So, here's why I'm proclaiming my undying love for leopard today.

I'm helping a friend of mine choose a few things for her house. She mentioned to me that she wants leopard chairs.

So I started researching them.

I had seen the image below before (they are chairs at the boutique Canary in Dallas)
and assumed (stupidly) that they were upholstered in Scalamandre's Leopardo silk velvet.

Which is this beauty. And which is also UBER expensive.

These chairs are similar and after a few minutes of research,I came to find out that both chairs are in fact upholstered in this.

Braemore's Jamil Fabric in Natural.
Which Duralee sells to the trade.

Which is quite a bit more cost effective.

And all the sudden I had a hair brained thought.

Remember my 1950's tufted sofa that I got for a song on eBay a couple years ago?
Well it still looks like it does below (except with corgi inflicted dirt ALL OVER IT).

I have been looking for an emerald green velvet to reupholster it in.

Something really deep and luscious.

I was considering the Sophia Velvet from JF Fabrics.

Which is really gorgeous and really yummy.

But then I thought, what IF I upholstered my whole sofa in the Jamil Leopard?

Crazy Lady right here, I know.

But I just can't push the thought out of my head.

 So I took to Pinterest to see who had dared to do this before.

First picture I found was this.
And guess who it belongs to?

None other than Aerin Lauder (Estee's granddaughter for those of you who live under a rock). There are about 5 people on this planet who I believe can do no wrong when it comes to style and interiors.
Aerin happens to be one of them.

I wasn't able to find a ton of other examples, probably because not many people have been brave enough to attempt this.

I love the mix of emerald with the leopard here, with the pops of yellow and pink.
So lovely.

And another leopard sofa looking very stately and traditional.

I have been going back and forth on whether it's a huge mistake to put leopard all over my sofa or a really good idea.

And you know what, sometimes it's more fun not to "play it safe". 
Life is just too short.

Like with my wedding china.

I totally could have gone with the traditional white and gold, or white and silver.

Which is beautiful, timeless and classic.

But what did I do?

I decided to mix two aqua patterns.

And I have not regretted it for one second.

You know why? It's fun to take risks in decorating!

And then I started to think to myself whether it would work with all of my 1960's decor.

And I stumbled on this photograph, taken by Mark Shaw In Paris, circa 1960.

I think I might be okay.

What do ya'll think? Honest opinions now. Should I take the plunge?
Or am I totally certifiably, bonkers?

Mixing High and Low

A couple of years ago I read a style page about Kate Middleton. They were discussing her pairing of a $19 necklace from H&M I think, with a couture gown that must have cost thousands.

I'm a huge advocate of mixing high and low, both in clothing and interiors.
And hey, if Princess Kate----the goddess of all things good and perfect in this world--can do it, why can't we?

First, a little high low action that's equally appropriate for a day at the office as it is for a dinner out with your husband or girlfriends.

I bought this skirt a couple weeks ago at Old Navy. It's currently on sale for $24. It fits well, and looks way more expensive than it actually is.

I paired it with a navy silk Vince blouse from last year's collection, but I'm loving this one from this year's. Love that it has the red woven through it.

Would love mixing it with these Jessica Simpson Leopard pumps for under $100.

And I'm kind of super in love with this fringe tote from Tory Burch.
Which has the steep price tag of $595.

Paired with these fun earrings from Bauble Bar to the tune of $32.

Now, an outfit for a cocktail event.

I ran across this dress from Target's Altuzurra line the other day and totally fell in love with it.
And it's $39. Why am I not at Target buying it right now?

Here it is on Naomi Watts, but this is probably a poor example, as she looks totally fabulous in everything.

I have a few fall/winter events coming up that it would be great for and I already had one of these pairs of shoes in mind for it.

These Manolos were my wedding shoes. If you're in the market for wedding shoes (or shoes for an important event) I strongly encourage you to do something leather in a metallic color. Here's why. They will always be special and remind you of that day AND you can wear them over and over again.

Or I could go with these Jimmy Choo pumps from a couple of years ago.

By the way, in the spirit of full disclosure and our high-low discussion, I got both of these pairs of shoes for about $200. Both on sale at Saks Fifth Avenue on different days. 
I'm going to drop some knowledge on you now. If you live anywhere near a Saks, make a habit of attending their day after Christmas sale. It starts at like 6 am and it's a beating to get up that early to fight out crazy shoppers, but it is SO worth it. I recommend you visit the shoe dept first---those go the fastest. See you on December 26th in Houston.

I'd love to mix in these Oscar de la Renta tassel earrings in the Almond color.

Along with this fun, go with everything $59 clutch from Zara.

Most of you have probably been practicing the art of high-low dressing for years---but what I think a lot of people struggle with is the art of high-low decorating.

How about a formal living room scenario?

This Society Social Sofa. I'm actually thinking of this as one of my "budget items" It's around $1400-$1500, depending on the grade of fabric you choose (or you can send in your own!) and really that's very reasonable for a sofa. It's not where you want to skimp in a room, I'll tell you that much.

Let's add this set----A coffee table and a side table. I would probably put the side table in between two chairs. $249 for BOTH on the buy it now price on eBay. Magic.

Let's add two of Ikea's Mellby chairs. $249 each, plus a cover for an additional $49. I love the unexpected element of this chartreuse color.

And this gorgeous Madeline Weibrib rug.

And two of these Arianna Belle pillows for the sofa?

Along with a couple of pillows in my all time favorite Schuamcher Silk Fret in Chartreuse to pull in the green of the chairs.

Love a floor lamp like this one from West Elm for $199.

Love this modern oil on canvas from artist Richard Anuszkiewics, called Chartreuse Square, 1979 available through the Loretta Howard Gallery via 1st Dibs. I would hang it above the sofa.

I'd add this brass lamp from Circa Who in between the chairs.

Along with this droplet glass pendant from West Elm. A fun, reasonable chandelier at $399.

A fun room with loads of style. The art and the rug are MEGA expensive, but that can be offset by watching your pennies elsewhere.

What's your favorite way to create a high-low mix?