How To Pack For Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is hands down my favorite holiday of the year.  The fall foliage is on full display, you’re surrounded by family and friends, and the food is never-ending.  But if you’re one of the many young professionals who no longer call their hometown “home”, Thanksgiving is also a time filled with stressful travel arrangements and the realization that you have to complete that dreadful task required of anyone going anywhere for any reason at all: packing.

Remember when I said Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday of the year?  Well, packing is my least favorite activity ever.  Ever.  EVER.  I’m a chronic over-packer.  I never touch half the things I shove in my bag, and then curse myself as I’m lugging said (extremely overweight) bag over my shoulder.  And so, to make things easier on everyone, I put together a little list of the must-haves for your trip home.  Feel free to accessorize as you wish, but please, for your own sake, try to keep your checklist to a minimum.  The worst that can happen?  You re-wear an item of clothing (the horror!) after washing it in mom and dad’s laundry machine (heaven!).  Or, there’s that thing called Black Friday.  Last time I checked, that place you spent 18 years of your life had a mall.  So stop packing as if you’re vacationing in the tundra.  Where you’re going, there ARE roads.  And H&M.  Trust me, you’ll survive.

And so without further adieu, a packing guide for Turkey Day:

Your favorite pair of jeans.  Yes, pair.  Singular.  You only need one.  Just make sure they’re not too skinny (you are planning to eat a 15 course meal followed by a healthy dose of leftovers, right?):

A cardigan and a comfy, cozy sweater.  The sweater for obvious reasons, the cardigan to throw over basically any other outfit you wear throughout the weekend:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A dress.  Unless you live in Las Vegas, leave the sparkles and bandage dresses at home.  Pack a dress that straddles the line between casual and special occasion.  You want something that you can wear to the Thanksgiving dinner, and also to brunch with your high school buddies:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Versatile boots.  Boots are the easiest shoe to match with everything, and guarantee that you’ll stay warm throughout the weekend.  Pack a pair in a neutral color that matches most of the other items in your bag.  Shoes are heavy and take up space, so stick to one pair:



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outerwear.  This obviously varies depending on where you call home, so if you’re headed to San Diego or Miami, you can skip to the next one.  Otherwise, bring a good, warm coat that you can wear no matter the occasion, whether out to drinks with your pals or to your Grandmother’s house.  And don’t forget a scarf and hat.  As Grandma would say, you don’t want to catch a chill:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PJs!  This is my favorite part.  Pick your comfiest, coziest, most holiday-inspired pajamas:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is there something you never travel without?  Do you have a Thanksgiving must that I forgot?  Clue me in in the comments section below!

 

After graduating from college in ’09, Allyson Barkan flew off to Greece to teach English Literature at a private high school and explore Greek and European culture for a year.  Since returning stateside, she now works in Entertainment Public Relations in New York City.  For travel advice, stray observations as a 20-something in the big city, and the occasional hilarious misadventure, follow Allyson atwww.allysonbarkan.com and on twitter at @aebarkan.

How To Wear A Maxi Dress From Day To Night

I’m 5 feet tall.  No, I am not a legal midget ( but 2 inches shorter and I’d get handicapped parking…damn!), and yes I tend to get annoyed when I can’t wear certain trends due to my vertically-challenged nature.  Overall, I don’t mind my height and, if anything, at least I always have an excuse to wear sky high heels.  But there’s one thing that just pushes my miniature buttons.  Can somebody tell me why designers insist on using ceiling to floor ballroom drapes to make maxi dresses?  Am I supposed to wear stilts just to take these dresses for a little stroll around the block?

Maxi dresses are one of our best weapons against the heat and humidity.  They’re loose and airy to allow our skin to breathe, long enough to be office-appropriate, light enough to be comfortable in the scorching temps, and super-cute and trendy to boot.  So when I actually find a maxi dress that fits my mini proportions, I get excited.  Excited would be an understatement, but I’m not sure how exactly to convey ASDKSDFJSFGSDROTWRFSDFSDFJ!!!!!!!!!! in standard English.

Because I love maxis so much and get myself into such a tizzy when I find one that fits (usually a mid-calf dress for normal sized ladies, let’s be real, I naturally want to wear it all the time.  So how do I take a dress that’s fit for Sunday brunch and make it office-ready?  How do I wear the same dress out to a bar on a Saturday night and then again for a picnic in the park the next afternoon without looking like a you-know-what?  Lucky for us, maxi dresses are versatile and a staple for the season.  But we can’t just throw on the same dress and expect to wow everyone no matter the occasion.

Remember all those little people over in lovely cities of Munchkin and Emerald who did all the work to make Dorothy and Co. presentable and respectable?  Your maxi dress is Dorothy.  Your shoes and accessories and beauty products and hair are the munchkins.  Sure, they don’t get as much credit for the overall look, but without them, there would be no look for which to take credit.  They make the outfit.  They make you shine.  Remember? Got it. Good.

Come daytime, take this simple black maxi from H&M.  Yes, I am making things easier on myself by working with a neutral dress, but the same rules apply for all dresses. It may just take a bit more skill (or, if you really want to wear your maxi dress as much as possible, shop for more transitional dresses and skip the sunshine-y daytime tribal prints).  When the sun is out, pair the dress with flat sandals, a cardigan or denim vest, and a long necklace.  Play it easy on the bangles and earrings.  You don’t want to overdo it (and you don’t need hot jewelry to stick to you all day).  Throw your hair up in a messy top knot and shield your face with some sunnies.  Keep the makeup light.  You can also try one statement bracelet or a ring.  I love pairing black with earth tones to achieve that boho, carefree vibe.  Finish off with cross body bag and you’re good to go!

 

Come nighttime, sleekify it.  Turn that denim vest into something more posh, or try a blazer.  Kick off the flip flops and slip into some platforms (word to the wise: consider the cut of your dress when choosing heels.  Flowy maxi dresses look weird with glam stilettos.) or wedges.  Exchange the loose necklace for a statement piece to really decorate your décolletage. Now it’s appropriate to pile on the bangles.  If you’re keeping your hair in a bun, make it nighttime-ready with some hairspray, teasing techniques, and add some earrings.  Or, pull back your hair in a sleek pony.  Don’t forget to glam up those eyes and add some lipstick.  Reds and hot pinks are especially attention-grabbing.  Swap the cross body for a clutch and get ready to have a few free drinks heading your way.

Do you have other tricks for transitioning the ever-stylish maxi?  Share in my tragic tale for being too teeny to always be trendy?  I want to hear it all, so drop me a line in the comments section below!

 

After graduating from college in ’09, Allyson Barkan flew off to Greece to teach English Literature at a private high school and explore Greek and European culture for a year.  Since returning stateside, she now works in Entertainment Public Relations in New York City.  For travel advice, stray observations as a 20-something in the big city, and the occasional hilarious misadventure, follow Allyson atwww.allysonbarkan.com and on twitter at @aebarkan.

How To Wear A Chambray Shirt

One look that is absolutely everywhere this season is the chambray shirt.  It’s both classic and trendy at the same time, and provides a refreshing update to most outfits while giving the appearance of an old stand-by.  But how do you perfectly pair it with your outfits?  When is the right time to throw one on?  How do you know if this look goes with your personal style (hint: it does!)?  Follow the guide below for a how-to on everything chambray.

 

1. Pair with your favorite skinnies for a classic look that is very of the moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Top a maxi-dress with a chambray blouse in place of a cardigan for a completely new look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Add over your tiniest bodycon skirt to give your look a bit more coverage, and a lot more wearability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Not sure how to update that good ol’ sundress you got way too much use out of last summer?  When the weather is sunny and bright, but still needs to do a little more warming up, finish off the look by leaving the top either unbuttoned and loose or tied at the waist.  Instant update (and ready for a cool spring breeze)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Nix the cardigan and match a midi skirt with a chambray shirt for a change.  Tie at the waist in place of a belt to pull the outfit together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have a favorite way you like to sport your chambray?  Got an outfit idea not included above?  Tell me in the comments below!

 

After graduating from college in ’09, Allyson Barkan flew off to Greece to teach English Literature at a private high school and explore Greek and European culture for a year.  Since returning stateside, she now works in Entertainment Public Relations in New York City.  For travel advice, stray observations as a 20-something in the big city, and the occasional hilarious misadventure, follow Allyson atwww.allysonbarkan.com and on twitter at @aebarkan.

How To Rock a Red Lip

One of this season’s hottest trends has nothing to do with clothing.  For a few bucks and a swift circular hand motion, you can be a member of fashion’s elite, no matter what you’re wearing on your back.  Everyone, it seems, is raving about a bright pout.  Problem is, the rest of the population is terrified of this concept.

I’m a lip balm girl.  Wearing gloss is a big deal for me, and when I do, it’s usually of the clear variety.  I always feel overdone with some pink or maroon or red or whatever hue on my mouth, and I hate getting lipstick or sticky goo of a gloss on glasses, water bottles, straws, napkins, sandwiches, etc.  It grosses me out.  But for some reason, I find the bright lip fascinating.  I know, it’s so much brighter, so much more risky and obvious, than a bit of gloss.  But something about it appeals to me.  And I think I know what it is.

While the red lip is all the rage, we’re not living in 1986.  Minimalism is in right now, so it’d be hard to find someone wearing a bright smoocher paired with a full face of makeup and a full-out clothing ensemble.  And that’s why I love it.  It’s also why it’s so easy for anyone to try it.  Jeans, flats, a white tee-shirt, a bun, and a red lip.  That’s it.  And it looks so great.  Or a simple one-colored dress and platforms with simple hair and minimal makeup…and a red lip.  Once again, awesomeness all around.

But there are things to consider.  Your skin tone and your outfit dictate the hue of the lip.  While a pitch-perfect pure red can be perfect paired with a little black dress, try an orange-red (think something punchy like tangerine) with a white tank and skirt for a more playful, fun look.  Rocking the florals and pastel trend?  Pair a light pink.  Want to go glam?  Bright pinks all the way.  Wearing a plain and drab-in-every-other-way outfit, and need a pick me up?  Back to candy apple red (or a slight shade darker).  Something to avoid: we’re not living in 1996, so avoid that thick, dark, maroon pout (especially with flatforms or combat boots, a spaghetti strap ankle-length dress, and a chocker…seriously).

We’re also not grannies, even if the whole hipster lifestyle may lend itself to that.  Make sure your lipstick, whatever the color, doesn’t travel throughout the day.  If it fades, if it smears, if it has a tendency to rub onto your teeth or you find it in the cracks of your lips by the end of the day or on everyone else’s cheek… Just.  Say.  No.  Look for a lip stain or test out products in advance before committing to a day or night out in the stuff.  It should stay on your lip, and stay bright and fresh.  End of story.  Wouldn’t it be nice if all fashion advice was that simple?

Don’t forget, pucker up!

After graduating from college in ’09, Allyson Barkan flew off to Greece to teach English Literature at a private high school and explore Greek and European culture for a year.  Since returning stateside, she now works in Entertainment Public Relations in New York City.  For travel advice, stray observations as a 20-something in the big city, and the occasional hilarious misadventure, follow Allyson atwww.allysonbarkan.com and on twitter at @aebarkan.

What to Wear When Your Toes Are No-No’s

As it gets warmer out, we all want to cast aside our sweaters, corduroys and knee-high boots and slip into florals blouses, flowy skirts, and sandals.  But for a lot of us, this isn’t exactly an option.  Just because the weather calls for one thing, doesn’t mean the office atmosphere agrees.  So how are you supposed to incorporate spring trends when your workplace forces you to cover up those toes?  Or perhaps your office doesn’t care, but you feel it’s still a wee bit early to bare those ten teeny appendages.  After all, they haven’t been given proper maintenance, no pedicure, etc.  They need time to breath and ease into being on full display.  But worry not, fair fashionistas, for you still have many options, even when your toes aren’t one of them.

Colorful flats are the easiest way to add a little spring sunshine to a more conservative wardrobe.  You’re not pushing too many boundaries, but you’re definitely adding a punch to an otherwise plain outfit.  Everything from bright blue to floral and art deco patterns line the shelves, so whatever you’re preference, you shouldn’t have any problem finding it.

If you indulged in the ankle bootie trend in seasons past, don’t shove them into storage just yet.  So long as they are lighter or more neutral colors, they are still definitely appropriate for the season.  Just disregard the tights and you still have an adorable spring shoe.

Boots.  Boots are tricky.  Boots are heavier, clunkier, and obviously, cover a lot more skin – which can be good and bad.  If you have a pair of flat boots that you can pair well with a knee-length dress, then do it.  But try to steer clear of tucking in the leggings or jeans, as this is a bit too wintery for the season ahead (and you run the risk of heatstroke).

Platforms, wedges, and our good friend colorblocking.  This season, there are tons of spring heels that don’t involve your toes.  Slip into an oh-so-high wooden-heeled wedge, or a bright purple pair of platforms, or a chunky canvas or patterned heel, and strut your stuff.

For more inspiration, flip through the images below.  Have  your own solution to the no-toes-allowed office atmosphere?  Give me a heads up in the comments section!

 

After graduating from college in ’09, Allyson Barkan flew off to Greece to teach English Literature at a private high school and explore Greek and European culture for a year.  Since returning stateside, she now works in Entertainment Public Relations in New York City.  For travel advice, stray observations as a 20-something in the big city, and the occasional hilarious misadventure, follow Allyson atwww.allysonbarkan.com and on twitter at @aebarkan.

How To Know When To Splurge

Here at Reality Chic, we are always trying to make it easier for you to save.  We understand that as twenty-somethings, our closets are restricted to our tighter-than-a-lycra-bodysuit budget.  As Reality Chic readers, you come to this site for that very reason.  You want to look cute, trendy, fashionable, stylish, etc. etc. etc., and you don’t want to drop major cash to do it.  But every now and then, there are those certain items that deserve the extra zeroes at the end of the price tag.  And no, I’m not talking about that pair of 6 inch bright purple stilettos that you will wear all of once and then shove in the back of your closet (but yes, I do understand how awesome they are and how much you just havvvvvvvvvvvvve to have them).  While I hate spending more than a few bucks on most anything, sometimes you just got a hand over the dough.  Here’s a little tip guide for when you should stop hunting for that major bargain and just SPLURGE.

–       If it’s a timeless piece and it fits you perfectly, go for it.  How an item looks on you makes all the difference.  In the long run, it’s better to rock an outfit and feel amazing in it each and every time, than save a few bucks and lose a bit of your confidence along the way.

–       Consider the wearability of the item.  How much use will you get out of the item in question?  Say, for instance, you are a runner and run everyday.  It’s worth buying the more expensive pair of sneakers from the running store than the discount pair at DSW or Marshalls.  If you’ve been looking for the perfect white cardigan forever, and you find it for $50 more than you wanted to pay, but you need that cardigan and would wear it all the time, go for it.  If, on the other hand, you just want that awesome but oh-so-pricey sequined top for that girls night out tonight…kiss it buh-bye and haul your bum to Forever 21.

–       Along the same lines as the previous point: do you have a pair of $10 flats that you wear everyday and have been wearing everyday for the past 2 years? Are they literally ripping at the seams?  You’re not in college anymore.  It’s time for an upgrade.  And just think, every time you slip into them in all their designer label glory, you’ll feel that much more special.

–       If you live in a place with below freezing temps come November, it’s absolutely ok to splurge on a great sweater.  You will wear the hell out of it, and it will keep you warm.  So warm and so cozy.  And comfortable.  And looking cute.  And come next winter, you will pull it out of your closet and wear it again feeling just as warm, just as cozy, just as comfy, and just as cute.  You will not regret spending a lot of money on this fabulous sweater.  Same goes for that amazingly resilient raincoat, or those Hunter rain boots that you know you want even though they are 10x the price of the ones at Target.  There’s a lot to be said for durability and comfort.

–       I addressed this last week, but good bras.  Don’t pinch pennies on undergarments, or you’ll feel the pinch later.  That’s not a metaphor.  Unless you want cups to lose shape, underwires to poke out, straps to fall down, and the constant need to readjust, just invest in a few good bras and sports bras.  The last thing you need is that added discomfort at the gym.

–       If it’s been 6 weeks and you absolutely can’t get it out of your head.  If you’ve been looking all over and have searched every website and still can’t find a suitable and more affordable replacement.  If it was love at first sight and you can already imagine 5 outfits in your closet to wear with it.  If you close your eyes and dream about it, and know that you could wear it season after season.  If you imagine showing your future daughter this “vintage” piece for your youth and envision her marveling at how cool it is.  In layman’s terms…if you want it that bad, and it will make you that happy, just buy the damn thing.  Once in a while (keyword being ONCE, aka, very rarely), it’s ok to splurge on something you want without the guilt.  You’ll be happy you did every time you see that special item in your closet.**

**It’s always best to inquire about the return policy, juuuuuuuuuuuuust in case.

 

After graduating from college in ’09, Allyson Barkan flew off to Greece to teach English Literature at a private high school and explore Greek and European culture for a year.  Since returning stateside, she now works in Entertainment Public Relations in New York City.  For travel advice, stray observations as a 20-something in the big city, and the occasional hilarious misadventure, follow Allyson atwww.allysonbarkan.com and on twitter at @aebarkan.

What To Wear With A Plain White Tee

One of my favorite items of clothing is also, unfortunately, one of the hardest to wear as a professional.  The classic plain white tee-shirt is a staple for any person’s wardrobe, yet it can be difficult to incorporate it into any outfit Monday through Friday, 9 to 5.  By its very nature, lends itself to weekend fun, lazy Sundays, the beach, and the gym.  Though shouldn’t something as classic, as simple, and as timeless as a white tee be more versatile than any other item in your closet?  Shouldn’t you be able to pair anything with it as you head to the office, or to happy hour, or to wherever, looking simply fabulous?  Shouldn’t the plain white tee, in all its wonderful, humble, underrated glory have its day in the sun?

The key to successfully throwing that white tee into your outfit rotation is playing everything else up.  Given the plain nature of the shirt, you can’t pair it with jeans and flats and call it a day.  No, you need accessories and fashion statement pieces galore to offset the simplicity of the tee, thus creating a balance in your look.  The great thing about a shirt as plain as a white tee is that you have complete liberty to wear those pants, those shoes, that skirt, or that scarf that never seem to go with anything else!

Here are a few ideas I like best, and be sure to check out the examples I’ve included below for more options.

–       When pairing with pants, forget standard denim.  Choose a trouser or a colored denim to give your bottom half some pizazz.  Better yet, consider tucking in the shirt and adding a belt.  This gives your outfit a put together appearance, a splash of color, and a trendy vibe.  Voila!

–       Layer on a scarf and add a pair of dangly earrings.  You’d be surprised how these two little additions can make quite the difference.  The more colorful or intricately patterned the scarf, the better.  The same goes for scarves made of unique materials, or incorporate detailed trims.  Think pretty, not plain.

–       Skirts.  By virtue, a white tee is casual.  Pair it with a skirt and heels to class it up.  Whatever look you’re going for, you’ll achieve it with a skirt.  Maxi skirts give a fun, bohemian air to the outfit, while fitted, pencil, and a-line cuts offer a more professional silhouette.  Opt for more structured skirts for the office, and finish off with a necklace and a bracelet, or two.

–       Running late and only have black pants or your go-to pair of jeans available?  Throw on a colorful or patterned blazer to quickly finish off your look and polish it up.  Bonus points if you cuff the pants and slip into an adorable pair of flats.  Comfy, easy, breezy, and cute!

–       If you’re going more casual but want to give off some semblance of being fashion-forward, throw on a button up and either leave it open, tie it at the bottom, or tuck it in loosely.  My favorites for this season are chambray or other lightweight materials in bright colors.

–       Speaking of colors: Colorblock!  Who says white’s not a color?  Pair with a bright skirt or pair of shorts, a brightly colored flat, and an even a different colored purse.  Look at you, mastering this season’s hottest trend.

 

Do have ideas for spicing up that old standard white tee?  Let me know in the comments section below, I want to hear ‘em!

After graduating from college in ’09, Allyson Barkan flew off to Greece to teach English Literature at a private high school and explore Greek and European culture for a year.  Since returning stateside, she now works in Entertainment Public Relations in New York City.  For travel advice, stray observations as a 20-something in the big city, and the occasional hilarious misadventure, follow Allyson atwww.allysonbarkan.com and on twitter at @aebarkan.

How To Shop For Those Unmentionables

You should feel like this every. single. day.

First things first: This is not a “naughty” article.  This is not about lingerie.  This is one of the more practical, less “fashion-forward” pieces you’ll get from me and my nimble little typing fingers.  True, most people, on most days, will never see what you have on under your clothing, and that’s the point.  For something that we wear every single day of our lives, it’s really a wonder how most of us spend so little time, effort, or money on these pieces.  Without the right cuts, colors, sizes, and shapes, our entire outfits would be thrown out of whack, and any chance we had of looking oh-so-stylish and wonderful and amazing just goes right out the window and into the trash.

Hanky Panky

How many times a day do you adjust your bra strap?  Pull down the clasp?  Pull up your top to cover the tops of the cups?  How often do you – ahem – deal with a wedgie (sorry)?  These things are no fun, and they are all things we can avoid.  So why don’t we?  For some reason it’s hard for us, especially at this point in our lives when we find ourselves strapped for extra spending cash, to throw away money on bras and underwear (I’m not a huge fan of the word “underwear”, but I refuse to use the p-word).  But the thing is, it’s NOT throwing away money.  These garments are necessities, so it’s time to start treating them with some respect.  There’s nothing I, personally, hate more than falling bra straps, and I will go to any and all lengths to avoid this phenomena.

What’s your pet peeve?  Whatever it may be, address it now and then fix it.  Make sure you never have to deal with it again.  I promise, making this one little adjustment will make your life soooooooo much easier.

Calvin Klein

Here’s a checklist of the essentials.  After that, feel free to go crazy and buy that purple lace bra that you can see through absolutely every shirt you own and matches nothing (hey, I’m a proponent of that whole Carrie Bradshaw “I know you can see my bra but it’s on purpose so there” attitude).  Just make sure you’re not sacrificing fit and comfort for style.  While I may sing a different tune when it comes to killer heels, if a bra or a pair of underwear is not comfortable or doesn’t fit well, it well show, both in the lay of your outfit and in your facial expression.  Realize this now, and save yourself the trouble and the awkwardness later.

The Gap

And so, without further adieu, a list of what every girl should have in her top drawer…or wherever you store those unmentionables:

  1. A black bra, a white bra, and a bra that matches your skin tone.
  2. The exact same color scheme as #1, but in a strapless variety.
  3. The same color scheme as above, but for down below.
  4. If you’re not partial to thongs, invest in no-panty-line underwear.  I never really trust these babies, and think thongs really are your best bet for certain outfits, but if you really can’t swing the T, then get yourself to a department store and test the waters with the help of your thinnest sundress or most snug shorts.  Jockey has an extensive line of this type of underwear, as does Victoria’s Secret.  I’ve also heard great things about Cosabella.
  5. A bra with claspable straps for your racer back tanks.  You wouldn’t think it, but I sport one of these almost everyday.  Their value is completely underrated for everyday wear.
  6. A backless bra.  I know this seems slightly more impractical, but it will open your eyes and your closet to so many more outfit opportunities.  Never again will you see an adorable top or dress in a store and then see the plunging (or non-existent) back and think, “I can’t wear this without a bra”.  It’s liberating!
  7. Bras that sit well on your body.  It should completely conform to your body.  If it sticks up, it doesn’t fit.  I don’t care how much it pushes you up or together or whatever.  Move on.  We can all see it sticking up from under your shirt…and it looks bad.  The point of a bra is for us to NOT notice it.  Truth be told, I’ve never had much luck finding a comfortable bra that stayed in place from Victoria’s Secret.  Interestingly enough, I’ve found some of my favorites at H&M.  And The Gap.
  8. Something lacy or colorful or patterned or whatever.  There’s no better feeling than slipping on a fun outfit underneath your outfit.  Your outfit – and thus, your style – begins the moment you put that very first item on your body, so if you don’t find that bra or undergarment fashionable or at least aesthetically pleasing, don’t buy it.  There are enough pieces out there to choose from that are both comfortable AND cute.  You shouldn’t have to compromise either.
  9. Last but not least.  Know your size.  Most lingerie departments and stores have attendants that will size you up.  We’ve all seen those before and after magazine articles.  They’re not lying.  Most women don’t know their real size, and it really does make all the difference.
Cosabella

Happy shopping!  You’ll feel so refreshed once you refresh this department of your closet, and feel more confident in your daily life.  Have any other tips that no woman should do without?  Let me know in the comments section below!

 

After graduating from college in ’09, Allyson Barkan flew off to Greece to teach English Literature at a private high school and explore Greek and European culture for a year.  Since returning stateside, she now works in Entertainment Public Relations in New York City.  For travel advice, stray observations as a 20-something in the big city, and the occasional hilarious misadventure, follow Allyson atwww.allysonbarkan.com and on twitter at @aebarkan.

What NOT To Wear: Your Money

My brother video chatted me a few days ago and told me I had to write an article on this topic.  There was no way around it.  It had to be done.  He then proceeded to flip through the most recent issues of both GQ and Esquire and, page by page, we agreed that almost every single outfit being modeled was completely unreasonable.  I wrote an article a while back about incorporating bits and pieces of what’s in the fashion pages of magazines into our everyday wardrobes, yet his concern was more complicated than the clothes simply being a bit outlandish (which they were…I am confident I would never spot a straight man outside of the fashion industry in ANY of these outfits).  A simple white button-down?  $675.  Loafers?  $3500.  A suit?  $8000.  To quote my brother: Who the hell is buying these things???

really?

Obviously not every magazine does this, at least to this extent.  Yet I often find that I too have the same problem as I flip through Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Marie Claire.  I spot a dress in a fashion spread that I simply must have, look for the tiny writing in the corner, scroll through, and BAM…the dress I want is Prada or Givenchy and worth a fortune.  Or better yet, the price isn’t even available, it’s that expensive.  Nothing is more of a letdown than getting excited about the new season’s fashion and trends, only to basically be told you can’t join in because you’re not filthy rich.

neither practical nor affordable...the double whammy

And honestly?  I can get behind a spread with beautiful, impeccably embroidered dresses that are all worth impossibly amounts of money.  That’s to be expected, and I don’t view that collection as something practical or affordable.  But those “everyday outfits you wear on a casual Sunday while road tripping with your model boyfriend and suddenly it’s back in the 50’s and you’re wearing a beehive hairstyle in every picture dressed as the spitting image of Brigitte Bardot and sure we all believe you’d get ice cream sundae all over your face” spreads?  I can’t think of any rich and famous people, outside of Victoria Beckham (who doesn’t do casual, anyway), who would spend upwards of $400 for a white tee.  Or $1875 for a pair of keds.  I’m pretty sure even celebs know that that’s just absurd.

this should not cost you an arm OR a leg

And so I commend you, dear readers.  I commend you for having the fashion savviness to keep up with all the magazines and blogs, but the practicality to read Reality Chic and keep things in check.  It’s not easy to be stylish on a budget, but you somehow manage to do it.  You take a $5 tee-shirt and a $30 pair of heels and make yourself look like your worth a million bucks.  And in the end, isn’t that the whole point of fashion?  Mixing and matching?  Piecing together to make an amazing aesthetic?  You shouldn’t feel insecure or self-conscious for wearing affordable items.  You should feel proud that you make it look awesome, and giddy that everybody else thinks you spent your rent check to buy it.

Having style is a must.  Trading in your future first born and her eventual college fund to do so…is a big, fat DON’T.

Holly Golightly wasn't rich, but she made it work.

After graduating from college in ’09, Allyson Barkan flew off to Greece to teach English Literature at a private high school and explore Greek and European culture for a year.  Since returning stateside, she now works in Entertainment Public Relations in New York City.  For travel advice, stray observations as a 20-something in the big city, and the occasional hilarious misadventure, follow Allyson atwww.allysonbarkan.com and on twitter at @aebarkan.

How To Create The Perfect Top Knot

Of all the trends out right now, I’ve become mildly obsessed with the bun.  And by mildly obsessed, I mean that I absolutely can’t get enough of them.  Every time I see one I swoon and then become instantly jealous that I don’t have a similar knot plopped atop my head.  Everywhere we look, celebs are sporting this look and for good reason.  Not only is it easy to create and easier to maintain, but it gives off a “I am glamorous and couture and super trendy and stylish without even really trying” vibe.  With just a few tricks up your sleeve, you too could give Sienna Miller a run for her top-knotted money.  Just follow the DIY tips below, and twirl and tease your way to the levels of higher fashion.

A great thing about this look is that it works with any hairstyle (provided your hair is at least long enough to wrap up) and texture.  Depending on how you like it, you can go the sleek route or try instead for a messier is better approach.  So there’s no reason to think, “I can’t pull off a bun”, because I PROMISE that you can!

Things you’ll need: a hair tie, bobby pins, hairspray, and smoothing gel/mousse/serum (pretty much whatever you favor to calm those pesky flyaways).  Begin by pulling your hair back into a pony tail at the crown of your head.  You want to take the time to smooth out the hair going into the pony.  The focus and height should be on the bun itself, not the hair on your scalp pre-pony, so brush it back or pull it tight enough.  I like to put a bit of gel or hairspray on my hands as I pull back the hair, to ensure sleekness.

Once pulled back, secure with a hair tie.  You can do this in a few ways.  You can simply twirl the hair up in a tight knot and be done with it.  Simpler is better, right?  These knots work great for gals without the luxury of super long locks, and are a favorite among fashion editors.  For more volume, you have options.  You can loop your ponytail through on its last trip through the hair tie, so that the hair never makes it completely through the band.  Then, take the remaining hair (all the hair that never made it through the loop) and wrap around the loop to create a bigger bun.  Then take bobby pins and secure in place.  You can manipulate the loop in the center and pin as desired to create the perfect shape for your bun.

 Or, tease to please.  Before pulling back into a ponytail, tease your hair to achieve maximum volume.  Then smooth back the tops as you pull into the pony tail, creating a massive mane at the top of your head.  Twirl the hair into a knot and begin securing with bobby pins.  Continue to tease out the bun, either with your fingers or with bobby pins, and mussing it up to maintain the height.  Smooth out the roots with some gel and then apply hairspray to the bun to keep in place.

Easy, right?  This hairstyle is perfect for that big night out on the town AND on those mornings when you over sleep and don’t have time to do your ‘do.  No matter what time of day or night, this hairstyle is guaranteed fashionista in a pinch.  Do you agree?  Have any other tips for creating the perfect top knot?  Let me know in the comments section below!

 

After graduating from college in ’09, Allyson Barkan flew off to Greece to teach English Literature at a private high school and explore Greek and European culture for a year.  Since returning stateside, she now works in Entertainment Public Relations in New York City.  For travel advice, stray observations as a 20-something in the big city, and the occasional hilarious misadventure, follow Allyson atwww.allysonbarkan.com and on twitter at @aebarkan.