Hello? Hello? Bueller?

iftheshoefitscupcakesWow. June 7.

That’s the last time I posted on this blog. Nothing like an unintentional extended summer break, right?

I could bore you with details of how busy I’ve been, and all the excuses for why I’ve been away, but that doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that I’m back. Again.

With lots to talk/write about. First, how amaze are those custom cupcakes from my friend Heather at Cupcrazed?

Mountain business: J Crew

I found myself in the North Carolina mountains recently on business. Scenic views, dedicated quality client time and bargain shopping, of course.

That last item was likely not on my client’s task list, but it was certainly on mine once I realized the conference was being held in Arden, NC. Yes, the same Arden, NC, that is home to a J Crew Clearance Center, which I visited back in 2010.

Of course I needed to stop in and see how things were going, right? See what three years later looks like for the center tucked in the back of business park in a small Asheville-adjacent town?

I live to serve. And shop. Here’s what I found:

  • Great on-trend bathing suits, dresses and separates in a range of sizes
  • Almost too much Crewcuts cuteness for the little ones, including tons of sparkly ballet flats and accessories
  • A robust selection of cocktail and formal dresses and gowns
  • To.die.for. shoes including loads of neon
  • The store seemed light on handbags and jewelry, but that didn’t stop me from finding a great necklace.

My damage? Less than $60 total for a denim vest and necklace for me, and a sweet dress for my daughter. Not too shabby.

As luck would have it, Scoop Charlotte is reporting that there will be a warehouse sale there 10a-4p Saturday, May 18. From what I hear, that is a whole ‘nother level of craziness (think digging in boxes).

Clearance Store info: 1 Clifford Way, Arden, NC 28704; 828.687.6475; 11a-6p Sunday, 10a-8p Monday-Saturday.

Organization Revelation

I consider myself a fairly organized person. Mom, wife, business owner, blogger — I love wearing a lot of hats. But, given my background in journalism and apparent addiction to deadlines, I can procrastinate like a champ.

Factor in my penchant for rationalization, and you’ve got an often crippling mix of time-sucking under the guise of “doing my best work on deadline.”

Enter the Whitney English Day Designer. I’ve only had it in my hot little hands for about a week, and my work world has been completely flipped for the better.

I first heard about this amazing tool from a client — the unfailingly chic and always composed Traci Zeller. As she showed me the elegantly designed pages, goal setting, visioning and branding sections as well as the monthly and daily pages, I was immediately smitten. THIS! This is what my scattered, too-busy-too-really-focus mommy/business woman brain was desperately needing.

A few clicks and a few agonizing days later, I was in possession of my own Day Designer. It has been nothing short of revelatory, which is kind of embarrassing. How can prioritizing my top three goals each day and other To-do’s have such an immediate impact on my productivity?

I am not quite sure, but I’m also not going to question. It’s working, and I feel more in control of the work/life balance than I have in quite some time.

Whitney English Day Designer, starting at $45 on Etsy

 

Ladies! Lift ‘em up!

Having been blessed in the chest and a vocal disciple at The Church of The Good Bra, I am not afraid to check out what other women have going on.

And more often than not, I find myself wanting to do an Oprah-style bra intervention.

Nothing — NOTHING — makes you look shorter, plumper, squattier, more disproportionate or slubby than an ill-fitting, poorly supportive bra. And I say that with love, as someone who loves her braless work-at-home days in UGGs and yoga pants as much as the next girl.

I saw an adorable young, petite woman out recently in Charlotte and the total chicness of her ensemble (well-fitted dress, excellent shoes, tasteful accessories) was completely overshadowed by her large breasts that were essentially sitting at her waist, nearly obscuring it.

I didn’t know her well enough to discreetly give her the name of my girl Mackenize at the SouthPark Nordys. So I fought the urge to grab her by the shoulders and do a bra intervention on the spot.

Had I figured out a way to do it without offending, here’s what I would have told her:

  • Finding a good fitting bra doesn’t have to cost a zillion dollars. REALLY.
  • Check your nervousness and shyness at the fitting room door and let an expert (a real expert, not a disinterested teen sales clerk at Victoria’s Secret) get all up in your business and help you find a bra that fits. I promise: your breasts are not the first she’s seen. Or the biggest. Or the smallest.
  • Don’t like the prices at the department store? No worries. Let the professionally trained bra-fitters get you in a size and style that suits and shop online to find a price that fits your budget.
  • You will not believe the confidence boost you’ll get from a properly fitted bra until you wear one under your clothes. I’ve even come to love my décolletage thanks to properly fitted undergarments.

 

What I Wore? Yep. I Know.

My personal fashion memory is as encyclopedic as my musical memory and just as powerful.

I can tell you exactly where I was the first time I heard Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Driving my Eagle Summit down Maumee near Harvard in Grosse Pointe Park).

My recollection of what I wore when is nearly as voluminous. The wave of memories are incredibly jarring and comforting at the same time.

I can tell you what I wore on the first day as an intern at the Detroit News in 1996 (wideleg, high-waisted belted pants, white T-shirt, a thrifted fitted Banana Republic blazer and a cheetah print scarf tied like a choker necklace ).

Given today’s heightened style awareness at increasingly younger ages, I am beyond thankful that when I was in high school, the epitome of style was leggings and oversized oxford shirts or sweatshirts worn with bucks or birks.

That being said, I hope you’ll join me as I host a post-show talk back after the performance of “Love Loss and What I Wore” on Jan. 25 at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.

The touring production of Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron’s intimate collection of vignettes and monologues is based on the best-selling book of the same name by Ilene Beckerman,  uses clothing and accessories and the memories they trigger to tell stories to which all women can relate.

I could go on and on about what the clothes I wore when meant, given the framework of hindsight. I recall thinking my cotton-candy pink junior prom dress (with shoes dyed to match, natch) was the bees knees. Now I see pics and wonder a) what was I smoking and b) why did no one tell me that the pale dress plus my pale skin made me look essentially nude?

It’s not a surprise that for senior prom, I chose a black cocktail dress with a deep back V, an updo and (inexplicably) elbow-length white satin gloves. I was trying to be grown up. For real.

What clothing-related memories do you have? Any triggers? Join me for what we can expect to be a spirited performance and discussion on Jan. 25. Tickets start at $20.

Go Red With iMpact to Help RAIN

I will admit, I shy away from red lips.

It’s a bold, bold statement, and when it’s not right, it’s really, really not right.

Not everyone is as scared as me, thank goodness.

Among the more daring red-lip rockers is Charlotte beauty blogger Amelia Keith, author of Pretty in the Queen City.

She has teamed up with Charlotte-based iMpact color cosmetics to release a limited-edition red lipstick to mark her 30th birthday and spread a little awareness. The cinnamon-y, not too pink, not too blue shade of red, called “i’M PITQC” is $21 and available for purchase on Amelia’s blog or at Fuze Salon, 1819 E. 7th St through the end of the month.

$1 from each tube sold will benefit the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network*, the only HIV nonprofit in the Charlotte metropolitan area providing direct client services.

Ready to dive into a red lip? Here’s a few tips, compliments of Real Simple magazine:

  • Avoid deep reds if you have thin lips. They tend to make lips look smaller.
  • Experiment with intense shades if you have strong coloring. ”Natural contrast gives you more options,” says Jill Morton, head of ColorCom, a consultation agency in Honolulu, says of those with exaggerated natural coloring (for example, paper-white skin, black hair, and blue eyes).
  • Don’t play up your eyes. Either go with a strong eye or a strong lip, not both.
  • Don’t toss a red lipstick in a shade that doesn’t work. Layer on gloss to warm and soften the color.

* I serve on the board of the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network.

Catching up with April Johnston

Photo courtesy of The South Magazine

Following fashion convention has never been a strong suit for “Project Runway” alumna April Johnston. The 2006 graduate of Lake Norman High School says growing up in Mooresville, NC her personal style was “Absurd. I was pretty colorful back then,” she said with a laugh. “I wanted to make a statement — any statement — so badly, it just had to be obnoxious. I had no filter, and I wanted to get as far away from the Abercrombie & Fitch look as I could.”

Soon after finishing her studies at the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2010, Johnston found herself cast as the youngest competitor on Season Eight of Lifetime’s reality fashion show. It was there the world got to know Johnston’s refined sensibilities, heavy on gothic romance with a modern twist.

She has parlayed that aesthetic into a successful line called Mangled Courtesan, and the a collection of fabrics with Springs Creative of Rock Hill, SC, for Jo-Ann Fabrics. I caught up with her recently for an interview that will appear in the December issue of Lake Norman Magazine.

You’ll have to pick up the mag to read about her appearance on “Project Runway All-Stars” (set to air in January 2012) as well as her plans for an all-black wedding in Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery, but here’s what she had to say about the recent finale of Project Runway’s Season 9 (which found the sewing-challenged Anya as the winner):

“(The finale) really upset me,” April says. “I can’t believe that Anya won. I can’t understand how someone that has no knowledge of sewing, of putting together a garment of how it’s supposed to come off and on a body, how they could win. That is all really important.”

Echoing popular sentiment in the PR fan community, April continued: “It seemed as if (the judges, producers) had chosen her from the beginning as the winner.”

Who was her fave, and most deserving of the win? “Victor, for sure,” she says. “To me, he had a couture sense of style and had a ready to wear look down. He made fun, wearable clothing. Out of everyone on that season, he was by far the most talented.”

What is your take on the end of season 9? Will you watch again?

I always swear I won’t but somehow find my way back. I am, however, looking forward to All-Stars. That’ll be a whole lot of cray cray (Kenley? Hello?) in one place.

Family Room: Now I Have To Commit!

That would be my insert-less fireplace, ready for me to get painting. Yikes! (The bowl is full of baking soda to try and suck up some of the sooty smell).

I was excited and also very, very afraid when my husband texted me this pic yesterday and said “It’s all yours.”

Guess Project Rehab The Family Room is underway, huh?

I’ll back up for a sec and offer a small explanation. I recently blogged for Goodwill (and reposted here) about my crippling inability to commit to interior design projects. What I failed to mention in those posts is the wood burning/fan insert in the fireplace has been the bane of my existence for seven years (as long as we’ve lived in the house). It was big, ugly and a perfect excuse for me to not really take action on a redecorating project.

Now it’s gone! Guess I better start considering paint options and what to put in the fireplace before it gets cold enough to have a fire again.

And incase you’re wondering if you’ve stumbled into a decor blog, don’t fret. If the Shoe Fits is still about fashion, beauty and my wicked handbag and shoe addiction. Too bad I can’t throw a few pairs of platforms and a couple maxidresses at the stylish family room problem, huh?

Wish me luck!

Viva Las Vegas: Cosmoprof Trade Show

In just a few short days, I’ll be taking my maiden voyage to Las Vegas. Let’s not dwell on the fact that I’ve never been (shhh!) and instead focus on the reason for my trip: lots and lots of beauty, skincare, cosmetics and hair products.

I tend to be attracted to bright, colorful shiny things like a moth to a flame and harbor a not-so-secret love of neon signs, but the real reason for my trip is work. I’ll be attending Cosmoprof North America, a cosmetics and beauty products trade show at Mandalay Bay.

My partner in crime will be the fabulous Polish Pauper, a dear friend and fellow blogger who was the driving force behind what looks to be one heck of a trip. Cosmoprof is so massive, it’s a little scary, even for this die-hard beauty product lover.

Check the stats for this event, which runs July 31-Aug. 2:

  • 182,986 square feet of exhibition space
  • 700 exhibitors from countries around the globe, including Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Japan, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and many more.

Polish Pauper and I will be rolling 17-deep with a pack of fellow beauty bloggers (thoughtfully curated by Polish Galore) and we’ll be checking out emerging brands and trends for 2012.

A few exciting opportunities have come our way too — breakfast with Deborah Lippmann and dinner with Jesse’s Girl, a N.C. based cosmetics line.

I plan to post during the trip, but just in case I get swept up in the Vegas-ness of Vegas, follow along on Twitter: @iftheshoefits or by searching #cosmoprof.