#TBT: In my grandmother’s closet…

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The dress popped up during a random search on eBay for vintage disco-era eveningwear (don’t judge me). When it scrolled across my screen, it took my breath away. The cream two piece, floorlength gown – sleeveless with a chiffon overlay trimmed in brown – was almost exactly the same ensemble my Big Mama had worn to my uncle’s wedding in the late 70s. Initially, I thought they were exactly the same, but as the photo shows my grandmother’s dress was edged in purple.

Throughout my childhood, it existed only in one of our heavy family photo albums: there stands my grandmother, in platforms, defiant eyes behind huge Jackie O shades and a bouffant. FIERCE, darling. The black Angie Dickinson. I can’t remember one occasion where I ever saw her in formalwear in real life (although she wore a fabulous hat with a veil and gloves to my grandfather’s funeral), but her unique sense of style and her take no prisoners approach to life have been clinging to me like a rich perfume for years.

I often tell a story about a pair of shoes she gave me in college: snakeskin stilettos on 4 inch heels that she wore to my father’s high school graduation. I didn’t have the type of life or even the clothes those shoes required, but the moment I saw them, I began envisioning something for myself that maybe she’d seen too. Something adventurous, something unexpected and against the grain. And in a very real way, those qualities have influenced how I live my life and and why I choose to be a writer.

My paternal grandmother has been deceased almost 12 years. She never got to see my sense of style develop, but oh, how I wish she could see me now in my avant garde cocktail dress or the fringed top I just ordered and will wear with leather shorts. When I decide to wear something that’s a little too “much” I think of her and hold my head higher. She’d understand my need to express myself through my clothes, to wear things that say something about my soul that I can’t put into words, to dress for a life I aspire to lead. It’s why she wore sunglasses indoors, stiletto heels to my father’s graduation and driving gloves when she roared her red Cadillac through our small town.

I’m sure she cut quite a figure in Brewton, in her Cadillacs and furs when black women weren’t “supposed” to have those things. I can see her floating through my parents’ reception like the fourth member of the Supremes, holding court with her flask and cigarettes and throaty laugh. No public tears when her sons walked down the aisle and started new lives. That wasn’t her style. No tears for me either, when I wept on the steps of her house before I left for college.

“Trust in Him,” she said. And that was that. That was all.

That was enough.

So. The dress. I didn’t bid, but I seriously considered it. It wasn’t her dress, after all.

Can you tell from this post how much I miss her? It pains me that the answers I need from her now – the answers to questions I didn’t think of and wasn’t brave enough to ask if I had – I can’t get. But even if Dorothy were still here, she might not have taken my curiosity well. She didn’t do interviews, or nosy grandchildren. Dorothy H. Barton didn’t dwell; she didn’t play the radio, if you catch my meaning. So when I need a dose of her spirit – when things get to be too much or I’m tired and ready to “set someone’s soup outdoors,” as she’d say – I hear her say, “Hmmph! Keep living!”

Or maybe she’d simply say again, “Trust in Him.”

That’s all.

And that’s enough.

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Ask Alexis: wedding guest on a budget

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Q: It seems like everyone I know is getting married this summer! I don’t want to wear the same cocktail dresses over and over; how can I look like a million dollars on a budget? – Stressed Guest

A: Once upon a time, in a land far away, there was a hardworking socialite who appreciated a bargain. When social season rolled around each year, she found herself in a dilemma: she was unwilling to pay exorbitant prices for black tie ensembles that might only get worn once or twice, and equally unwilling to buy something ho-hum but budget-friendly. What was a diva to do?

Enter Rent the Runway, which makes couture fairy tales come true for fashionistas seeking a “Cinderella moment.”

The online retailer – the brainchild of Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss – rents formal and cocktail attire from major designers (think Prabal Gurung, Badgley Mischka and Herve Leger) as well as high-end accessories for a fraction of the price. These gowns are current, and RTR has options for plus, petite and tall sizes. Shoppers register online, peruse the digital runway of gowns and choose one or more to rent (as well as a free back-up size). The dresses are shipped via UPS, arriving according to a date you select; after your event, you simply return the items to Rent the Runway via the enclosed shipping envelope.

Have a fit question? Chat with a virtual Go-To Girl, who can help you make the best selection.

Worried you’re going to get something obviously used? I tried the service twice; all four dresses were professionally dry-cleaned and had no stains, odors, rips or issues. RTR also included fashion tape with the first order, which came in handy.

But what if is doesn’t fit? If nothing in your order fits, return the items to RTR within 24 hours for a full credit.

How big of a deal is this? In my opinion, it’s major. The dress I borrowed for the UNCF Masked Gala earlier this year (Badgley Mischka’s Rouge Rosalind Peplum Gown) retails for $530, and I rented it for $86.65 (the price included tax, $5 insurance and $9.95 shipping). RTR offers first-time renters promo codes that can be used for additional savings. If you attend multiple social events (dances, weddings, balls and awards ceremonies, etc.) and find yourself buying dresses you wear once or twice and then are leery of wearing again soon (because let’s face it: most of us don’t want to be seen in the same outfit multiple times in one season), you can find a tremendous variety of options at Rent the Runway, without emptying your piggy bank. And who wouldn’t want to wear something that echoed Jennifer Lawrence’s peplum Dior, worn at this year’s Oscars? (Okay, so that was a total coincidence.)

Of course, you do have to send the dress back (unless you want to be charged, per RTR’s rental agreement), but if you were really looking for a dress to keep, you wouldn’t be renting one to begin with. The site also offers private sales on dresses from time to time that registered users may take advantage of.

Will I rent again? Only my fairy godmother knows for sure…

Happy shopping!

*Pictured: Badgley Mischka Rouge Rosalind Peplum Gown via Rent the Runway, J. Crew Grande Crystal Drops Necklace (sold out); Jennifer Lawrence via Jason Merritt/Getty

 

Summer essential: the espadrille

Looking for the perfect summer shoe? Slip into an espadrille! It’s not a sandal, and definitely not a stiletto; I like to think of it as a smoking slipper that went on vacation, but didn’t turn into a pair of Toms. *wink*

There are so many easy, breezy ways to wear this shoe. Whether you choose lace, leather, leopard or classic canvas by Soludos, you can experiment with color, texture and pattern and add a little pizzazz to your maxi dresses, shorts, denim and palazzo pants this season. Here are some options to think about (of course I had to find a sequined pair!):

Lace by H&M, $15 on sale;
Leopard “Lanii” by Steve Madden, $72.99;
Leather “Mara” by Loeffler Randall, now $136.50;
Sequin “Mischa” by Tory Burch $105 on sale

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Don’t forget! The Bloganista Mini-Conference is this Saturday!

Ask Alexis!

Q: Where can I find a top similar to the cute printed blouse Reese Witherspoon wore in New Orleans, as seen in People? – M.

A: Isn’t her blouse easy breezy? While I don’t know exactly where Ms. Witherspoon found her blouse, I will say you can find one that is just as cute and (bonus!) easy on the pocketbook at TARGET! This button-down by Merona is in a lightweight lawn and is $22.99 online. Even better, Target is offering a “buy one, get one half off” deal on select clothing, shoes and accessories through June 28! So go ahead and get the pineapple or whale print versions too!

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Looking for something haute or hard-to find? Need style advice? Just ask!

Images via Reese Witherspoon’s Instagram and Target, respectively

Thank you, Leading Edge Institute!

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It was an absolute pleasure sharing tips on aligning professional dress with one’s brand at last night’s Summer Institute. I met so many ambitious, eager young women who are sure to make an incredible difference in this state and beyond, and am humbled that I was invited to participate!

And I love their motto!

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Leading Edge Institute brings together Alabama’s college-aged women to prepare and inspire them to make a difference in this state through its leadership program.   To learn more about Leading Edge Institute, click HERE.

Do you (your office or organization) need tips on dressing for success? Need to know how to create a versatile professional wardrobe on a budget? Not sure about transitioning your wardrobe from campus to the corporate office (while retaining your sense of personal style)? Feel free to contact me!

Spend the #SummerinLilly

 

 

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Thank you to Belk for having me host the Lilly Pulitzer fashion show last Saturday! I am a huge fan of Lilly’s whimsical, distinctive prints and classic silhouettes (as well as the story behind the brand), and it was a treat to wear this Biltmore Maxi Dress ($298).

National Wear Your Lilly Day is June 21, which is the first day of summer! The line’s iconic resort wear and accessories are perfect for lounging by the pool or at the beach and can be worn by jazzy ladies of all ages!

Image via Lilly Pulitzer

That’s #SoSwoozies

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If you follow this blog on Instagram (@samechicdifferentday) then you know just how much I love Swoozie’s! Seriously, go by there to check out the amazing items I found there for grads, babies, brides and of course – hitting the beach or pool this summer! My most recent excursion into Swoozie’s was for the following items by Kate Spade, all of which add a little something extra to my day.

Clockwise:
Rain Check umbrella, $38
Break the Ice insulated tumbler, $18
Rotating stamp, $24
Treat Yourself reusable shopping tote, $16

Because I want you to enjoy what Swoozie’s has to offer (and get your long weekend off to a great start), I’m giving away a $20 gift card to one reader!

There are three ways to enter:

1. TWEET “I’m #SoSwoozies!” and tag @SameChicSouth;

2. FOLLOW @samechicdifferentday on Instagram, THEN COMMENT “I’m #SoSwoozies!” on ONE giveaway announcement; and

3. COMMENT “I’m #SoSwoozies!” on this post.

Entries will be accepted through 12 PM CST on Monday; the winner will be announced on Monday at 2 PM.

Swoozie’s Summit store is located at 305A Summit Blvd., Birmingham, Alabama 35243.

Happy shopping!

Images via Swoozie’s

 

When life hands you lemons…

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…throw your lipstick, ID and money inside one and head out for some fun.

This whimsical “Vita Riva” wicker clutch by Kate Spade is the perfect pick-me-up for your summer whites.

Image via Kate Spade

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There’s just nothing like a new pair of shoes! I needed a black pump (these are J. Crew’s “Falsetto”)…but these have a little something extra, no? Sorry; these lovelies are sold out!

Shop with Swoozie’s this Saturday!

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Looking for a fun boutique experience with fab finds at a variety of price points? Then let me tell you about Swoozie’s! This store is my go-to for baby, bridal and housewarming gifts, and it’s also my destination for stationery and hostess items with pizzazz (okay, and random pick-me-ups)! It’s the perfect spot to find distinctive gifts for colleagues, friends, family…and yourself! It reminds me of my favorite stores growing up: Surprises Inside at Cordova Mall and The Treasure Chest in my hometown. I can always find something special and well-made when I stop by The Summit store.

I’ve also used Swoozie’s in-house custom invitation service and my experience in designing invitations and personal stationery with their team was superb. AND they monogram! From stationery and party supplies to home goods and jewelry as well as unique gifts for social occasions, you just can’t go wrong.

This Saturday (May 3rd), Swoozie’s is hosting a housewarming party at their new location at The Summit, and YOU’RE INVITED! Pop in between 11 AM and 2 PM for door prizes, discounts, cocktails and  of course – great shopping! The new Swoozie’s is located next to Bed Bath and Beyond.

Be sure to follow Same Chic Different Day on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@samechicdifferentday)? I’ll be sharing fab tips and items from Swoozie’s this evening!

 

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