What I'm Wearing | Wine Chat at the Mansion on Turtle Creek, Cheers to the Pencil Skirt

What I'm wearing to a wine chat you ask? Better yet, what is a wine chat? Well, a good friend of mine let me in on this weekly event that happens at one of my all time favorite Dallas institutions, the Mansion on Turtle Creek. The wine chat involves a good crowd of people who are there to try out whatever the sommelier feels like serving up at the time. A selection of Oregon Pinots? Sure. Italian reds? Um, yes, thank you. You're at the mercy of one of the best sommelier's out there, it's not a bad place to be at all. Actually, it's my new favorite place to be whenever I'm in town.

Since one can't hit up the Mansion on Turtle Creek looking like a slouch, it's just one more excuse to dress up a bit. Some would look at this scenario and cringe at the thought of having to put a look together. Trust me, I get it. The name of the hotel, the Mansion, let alone the interior once you step foot inside can be completely intimidating.

I worked at Neiman Marcus for a decade so I know what intimidating can look like from the outside. Thanks to NM, I also know what lies underneath the surface, and it's usually some pretty interesting stuff. If you're busy overestimating others and underestimating yourself at the expense of what you assume and imagine their grande lives to be like, you're missing out. Trust me.

We're all human, and sure, egos can flare now and then, but at the end of the day, I don't let the intimidation factor ever stop me. Instead I welcome a little discomfort because I know that those moments when you think you won't fit in, when you think you're totally out of place, are the ones that force you to be yourself (says the girl who moved so much she experienced the joys of being the 'new kid' more than a few times).

Some chose to go in the opposite direction, mind you I don't recommend this path of putting on the facade because most of us can smell a fake a mile away. But, when you get authentic and when you open up to what the best, and not worst case scenario can be, you'd be amazed at the experiences you can have, let alone the people you get to meet.

So, my focus for the 'wine chat' look is going to be the pencil skirt. I'm a big denim girl, but every now and then, I do love dressing up and getting in touch with my more feminine side, wine always helps with that.

I shopped my closet first, it's a step I always recommend my clients take as well, and found my favorite color block pencil skirt from BCBG. This puppy is super-snug, body con, but actually incredibly comfortable. I wouldn't have kept it otherwise. After that, I went through and hand-picked pieces out there that complete the look (all of which I can also find similar copies of in my closet, or if not, I can certainly go for a quick shop before tonight). Here's the look:

the montage

source: 1. Soia & Kyo Double Collar Walking Coat (www.nordstrom.com), 2. Splendid Draped Jersey Top (www.net-a-porter.com), 3. Marc Jacobs Baroque Single Large Quilted Shoulder Bag (www.net-a-porter.com), 4. Aldo Soun Boot (www.aldoshoes.com), 5. KORS Michael Kors Aberly Leather Pump (www.michaelkors.com), 6. House Of Harlow 1960 Navy Triangle Hoop Earrings (www.boutiquetoyou.com), 7. Carrera 38/S Aviator Sunglasses (www.amazon.com)

Time for some product close-ups (click the pics to shop):

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1Soia & Kyo Double Collar Walking Coat

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2Splendid Draped Jersey Top

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3Marc Jacobs Baroque Single Large Quilted Shoulder Bag

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4Aldo Soun Boot

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5KORS Michael Kors Aberly Leather Pump

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6House Of Harlow 1960 Navy Triangle Hoop Earrings

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7Carrera 38 S Aviator Sunglasses

At the beginning of the week, I reference my 'Happy Place,' my library of looks to use as inspiration, and start to narrow things down based on the upcoming week's agenda. Below are the picks I threw together for the Wine Chat night at the Mansion (god, that just sounds so Gatsby no?).

I went with look number twelve at the end of it all, opting for a pencil skirt. Again, these looks are used as inspiration, just to get some ideas. You'll notice I left out the super-saturated color. I was feeling a clean, slick, black ensemble moment for the evening so I went in that direction. The pencil skirt is really what stuck from the runway look to the real world. It only takes one picture to inspire countless looks, hence loving my Looks Library. It's my fashion gold mine.

weekly look line up

source: look 9 (www.style.com), look 10 (www.style.com), look 11 (www.style.com), look 12 (www.style.com)

Like I said, the Mansion on Turtle Creek is an institution in Dallas. See why in a couple of images below. The hotel that's a work of art.

First, the entrance. The solo term romantic doesn't seem to do it justice, but it's what's coming to mind right now...

mansion1

Next, the Library where the wine will be served and sipped down, all in the name of appreciating the good things in life and who knows, making a few new acquaintances (did I mention the wine chat is actually affordable? cause it is..see, don't make assumptions until you know the details; speaking of, click the link below to find out more).

the library at the mansion

source: www.rosewoodhotels.com

So there you have it. I took a pick from my closet, and built an entire look out of it that I can replicate on my very own. All the energy I would have spent stressing about what to wear can now go into enjoying every sip and catching up with some friends while making new ones...This is why I do what I do.

It's not for me, but it started with me. After all, why sell a service that I don't use myself? I love to share so naturally, I started creating these Virtual Lookbooks for close friends and family. From there, the list has grown. It continues to grow, so be sure you sign up sooner or later to try out your very own virtual Lookbook that will show you how to wear what's hanging in your closet in ways you may have never thought of yet...Get started, I know, it's a little ridiculous and I may have to raise it, but for now, as of January 2012, you're getting a great deal.

But don't listen to me, see what others have said. Oh and while you're at it, see why  you would want fashion advice from little ole me in the first place. All very good inquiries that I would have myself before signing up.

In the mean time, get more inspiration on what to wear, how to wear it, and where to shop for it (all so you can start dreaming up what adventures you'll have in your new looks) right here.

10 More Picks to Consider for your Shopping List, from Minkoff to a Sass & Bide Sequined Number that Needs to be Seen

Today's top 10 Shopping List covers everything from blue-washed leather hobo, to a faux fur-framed collar on a coat I'm going ga-ga for.

Follow it up with a pair of sequined leggings that are fun to look at, let alone wear out, and you're all set. But first, it's montage time people, you know the drill:

There's something to be said about venturing outside the realm of your basic black, brown (or white for summer) everyday handbag, but what do you go for right? A metallic? Maybe. Something with an exotic print? Always a good option, or, you could try something on in a brighter color to pull things out of 'basic' and into 'original,' as far as style goes. Meet the blue bag, or more specifically, the 'Oliver' hobo, from Rebecca Minkoff (a favorite name of mine in the category, and I'm not alone, i.e. the Minkette), that says it all for me (which is kind of depressing since I have a tendency to be a 'talker'):

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Here's the thing, fashion-forward pieces, an example being anything that falls onto the latest list of what fashion directors out there are calling a 'trend,' can be easily found out there. The buyers make sure that is the case each season.

It's the basics, the true-blue pieces that belong in your core closet, that are tough to get a hold of, but once you do, you must buy them, and sometimes in multiples. The core is where to invest, and on a sidenote, this is also where I spend the bulk of my time during styling consults.

You can't go for any black boot, basic crewneck tee, or trench coat, you have to try on and see what fits your body to a 't.' These pieces are the foundation of everything, and yes, I'm going on and on here, but I can't stress enough how significant having a core fashion lineup is. Not to mention, it makes life so ridiculously easy. Once you have your basics, what you know you look good in, you can throw in a trend-right accessory, a great statement necklace, or a pop-color pump and be completely pulled together.

All of that style-preaching aside (amen), I present to you a great classic knee-high boot that can be worn under pants/denim or stand alone under a dress, skirt, over leggings, etc. The list is endless, similar to the styling options, so have at it.

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I am a pants girl. It's not because I'm trying to cover up my legs as a problem area, I happen to really like them. I know, take a minute, you just witnessed a woman speaking highly of some part of her body which is a rare thing in today's world.  I'm definitely not gloating on this one, I just know where my strengths and weaknesses are, we all have them, and can all play to the best parts, our assets if you will. It never hurts to focus on the positive.

Pant-rut aside, a skirt will find it's way into my wardrobe, usually of the pencil form, every now and then. This almost-mini skirt, with the quilting going on, caught my eye. I'm seeing it over a pair of black opaque tights with an ankle boot (more daytime) or classic pump for evening. You could get a ton of use out of this one skirt, and instead of just being basic black, the details make it, and life, more interesting.

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A white, button-front blouse is an essential in any closet, and, unless you've been living under a large rock for the past fifty years, you will know this. I'm not telling you anything new or divulging any style secrets here. Should you, like myself, want something a bit less commercial without going too far into the 'trendy' deep end, something like the below Hayden blouse is a perfect option. The shoulder details give this polished classic a bit of edge without going too far. It's such a simple touch that shows a little can go a long way here.

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I mean, hello, how could I not get these leggings into a round of top 10 picks on the Shopping List right? A. they're sequined, B. they're sequined. This is a pick that was added because it shows how fashion is meant to not be taken too seriously. You can wear these leggings with a basic tunic on top, or what have you, and still work it. They are meant for play, to lighten up a bit, to work it out a bit, and just to have fun in. I can see my guy friends looking at this and thinking they're absolutely ridiculous, but you don't buy a pair of leggings like this because you want to follow the rules and please others' ideas of what is right and wrong when it comes to your personal style, it wouldn't be very personal if that were the case.

Wear them for you. If you feel good in them, and can balance out all the shine with some neutrals, go for it. If you can wear them and not have them wear you, go for it. Just do it when the moon is up and not the sun, that's my only caveat.

Outside of that, play a little. Fashion isn't meant to be taken too seriously. Taxes, bills, grades, income, food on the table, health, etc. Those are things you can get serious with. Fashion is where you get to take a little break, whether it's through a pair of outrageous leggings, a bright red lip, shoes you can't stop staring at your feet in, or a necklace that makes you smile. Right now, it's break time, the serious stuff with be there when you get back. Trust.

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I don't usually throw down a pair of 'Loubie's' unless I really love them (mainly because only the tiniest portion of the population would deem them 'affordable' and I think everyone should have access to amazing shoes), but these Vampanados, I love. I mean, I adore them. The silhouette, the ankle-strap, the bow details, the Audrey Hepburn of it all, is so spot on it's hard to say no. And by 'hard' I mean 'impossible.' This is where you can invest, and if you think I'm completely warped, I don't blame you. You don't need to throw down this much on these sandals, but you should find something that you love and spend just a bit more on them to get the perfect pair. I guarantee, you will wear them to death (tip: heel caps can be replaced for under $20 at any cobbler). For now, just take it all in and try not to drool too much.

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sources: 1-Rebecca Minkoff Oliver Hobo (www.saksfifthavenue.com), 2-Vince Camuto Fur Collar Coat (www.vincecamuto.com), 3-Aldo Wiegel Boot (www.aldoshoes.com), 4-Collette By Collette Dinnigan Ramie Dress (www.theoutnet.com), 5-Vanessa Bruno Ath Quilted-Jersey Skirt (www.theoutnet.com), 6-Giles & Brother Encrusted Cortina Cuff (www.shopbop.com), 7-213 Industry Hayden Blouse (www.piperlime.gap.com), 8-Sass & Bide One By One Sequined Leggings (www.net-a-porter.com), 9-Harlow Color-Blocked Envelope Clutch (www.bcbg.com), 10-Christian Louboutin Vampanodo 100 Sandals (www.net-a-porter.com)

The shopping list never ends, literally. Each week, we scour the our favorite spots on the web to hand-pick our best of the best that find their way either onto the Top 10 list, or, The StyleShaker Closet. See the rest of the line-up that may not have made it into today's hit list below:

Today's zen moment is brought to you by none other than Glenda, you know, the good witch? I know, it's random, but what good is life without something random and spontaneous mixed in?

A year ago I was in a situation I didn't want to be in, and I did everything in  my power to find someone, something, or some other company to help me find my way out. I was living a life based on 'job security,' and moving in a direction that I was told I 'should,' be moving in. I was living someone else's life and expecting someone else to pull me out of it. I interviewed with a dozen companies, half offered me a job, the other half didn't. I rejected every offer.

I was shown a ridiculous amount of generosity from good people who were just trying to get me to make a move, and yet I turned down every request.

Every timed I turned something down, I did it because I knew it wasn't right for me. It took awhile to finally realize that it wasn't going to happen via someone else stepping in. This time, it had to be me acting and not reacting. I had to save myself, and I had it in me all along to do so. It's funny because I look back and see how everything I was searching for externally, could only be found internally.

Trying to push a round peg into a square hole can be exhausting, it's like trying to squeeze your size nine foot into a size eight at a sample sale. You may shove it in there, but the fit will never be right. It's only going to take more energy to walk in those new, pain-inducing, blister-manufacturing, toe-crunching shoes. It doesn't have to be so hard, just go for what fits you. Pick the size 9, and if it's not there, try another color you may never had thought would work, but secretly wished you could pull off.

Glenda was right, I had the power all along, and so do you.

Find what fits, try a few things on, and I promise I'll do the same.

See more when it comes to what to wear and how to wear it, here.

How to Wear Over the Knee Boots, Inspired by Altuzarra

How to Wear Over the Knee Boots without Letting Them Wear You

It's amazing what a little, well in this case, not-so-little accessory can do. This time around it's all about how to wear over-the-knee boots, and the inspiration comes directly from Altuzarra's Fall runway. First of all, I'm drooling over the jacket, but this is nothing new as my major fashion fixation happens to be in that category. I would have gone down the outwear path, but instead, I'm focusing on the boot, and really, let's be honest, how could I not with this look.

The layers have me crossing my fingers and toes that Fall will somehow hit early in Dallas this year. Realistically that is not going to happen, but a girl can dream, and what better to help me visualize than a fabulously fall-friendly, layered look from my favorite, Altuzarra right? So let's get moving on how to wear the over the knee boot using the runway as inspiration. Time to re-create the look in four simple steps.

source: www.style.com

Here's how to pull it off:

1. Altuzarra Fur Collar Coat (www.barneys.com) 2. Lela Rose Cowl-neck marled-knit sweater (www.theoutnet.com) 3. Stella McCartney Cargo Pants (www.bergdorfgoodman.com) 4. Alberta Ferretti Over-the-knee boots (www.theoutnet.com)

I dug, I hunted, and I buried my face into the computer for a long time trying to find an alternative to that fur collar coat, but there was nothing out there that came close. Well, I lie, a couple of Burberry trenches hit the mark, they just didn't hit the fashion nail on the head so I had to go with the high-end of the price-point scale. This is what I like to call an, 'investment moment.' It's a classic coat that will stick around forever so I don't have too much guilt throwing it into the mix.

The rest of the equation was simple, from the sweater to the cargo pants tucked in to those amazing Alberta Ferretti boots. The trick here is to not let the boots wear you. If you're not an over-the-knee girl and wouldn't feel comfortable working this look, by all means, work your way into the riding boot trend and go for something that hits right below the knee. You're still making a statement, it's just in-line with who you are, which is what this is all about. I use the term 'inspiration' when it comes to the runway for a reason.

There you have it, one of my all-time favorite Fall runway looks, boiled down into a step-by-step shopping list to get you started on the cooler temps coming your way.

See more of what to wear, how to wear it, and where to shop for it, all right here.