Today’s Look // Rainy Days + Hunter’s Boots

Today, was rainy.

No, seriously, that’s all I have for you. Today was rainy, again. I may have mentioned before that I grew up in Seattle, Washington and, in turn, am not a huge fan of grey skies and this San Francisco rainy weather has officially gotten me down. The only silver lining to my cloud of despair – yes, I’ve always had a knack for the melodramatic – is that I’ve been able to live in these Hunter boots. I’ve always struggled with how to make outfits with rain boots look fashionable, I’m not exactly preppy enough to pull off tucked in jeans and plaid trenches. This outfit, however, still felt somewhat practical and still very much me.

Shopping Guide:

Wedge rain boots: Hunter Boots

Over-the-knee socks: Similar here

Textured Leather Skirt: H&M (similar here)

Black cotton turtleneck: similar here

Until next time!
💋 Brooks

Wedding Season // How to Mix and Match Your Maids Part I

It’s not every day that you are asked to be part of a wedding where you know every detail will be Pinterest-worthy.

 

Now, I’ll be the first one to say it out loud: as a fashion conscious friend, being a bridesmaid – although flattering – does tend to strike up a certain fear in us all. A small little selfish voice inside our head whispers, “Oh yes. Someone else will be dressing me for the day as well as making all my hair and beauty decisions. Yes, this is love… and, well, this is trust.”  

 

That’s why it is so exciting when the friend that asks you just happens to be one with a very keen sense of style, a coordinating home to match and an equally well-edited closet. You know the friend I’m talking about, the one whose living room is so well curated it could easily be mistaken for a page pulled from Rue Magazine or The Coveteur.

 

Meet my friend Masha. Successful. Smart. Beautiful. Russian. And a woman of exceptional taste.

Photo by Kara Brodgesell

Photo by Kara Brodgesell, Shoes from J.Crew, Robe custom made in Cambodia

Masha had a clear image of what she wanted for her summertime backyard wedding, which I gladly discussed over red wine and hand-crafted cheese plates at the aforementioned home. However, the one detail that stood out to me was the fact that she would be the first of my friends to try the mismatching bridesmaid dress trend …..in-real-life. It’s great in theory, yes, and in the glossy editorials of Modern Bride but in-real-life it is a bit more of a risk.

 

“I love it!” I practically shouted as she described her vision of “champagne, rose and beige dresses with texture, beads and draping.” She wanted each of us – all 12 of us – to look and feel like ourselves on her big day. “This is going to be brilliant, everyone just picks a dress,” I thought. Until I remembered that there were going to be twelve of us ladies standing besides her.

 

Well, in typical Masha fashion, it was no surprise that come wedding day the bridal party’s look was impeccably executed. We did, however, learn a thing or two about this mismatched trend along the way.

 

  1. Neutral is not a specific enough description. We know by now that everyone defines color differently. Some people think blue grey is a neutral, some think rose means pink and falls into a similar category. It’s much better to give more direction up front than less. Trust me, your maids will thank you and you will not come across like a freshman year pledge handbook, I promise.
  2. Choose a palette early and remember that with large groups less is more. The fewer colors, the easier it is to keep everything feeling cohesive. Our palette started with 4 to 5 color choices and we quickly learned that 3 colors would suffice. Our final selection was a simple palette of beige, champagne and rose.
  3. Choose a theme. Don’t forget texture and to vary the designs. If you wanted mismatching but everyone shows up in simple Grecian floor length gowns in slightly varying shades of blue it will look poorly matched rather than eclectically chic. Our theme was vintage, Grecian, clean lines, hints of chiffon and an overarching feminine feeling. Is one of your girls in copywriting or marketing? I’m sure she can come up with some descriptive words.
  4. Decide on a ratio. Yes, a ratio. One that includes color, textures and materials. Our ratio was 12 girls in 3 rose, 3 champagne, 2 beige, 2 floral and 2 fully beaded gowns. We told them that beaded embellishments were always welcome and kept track of our over-all numbers as the ladies each purchased their dress.
  5. Get organized. Even if you feel crazy doing it, it really is the only way to make it work. With a large bridal party of 8-12 women, it can be hard to keep track of who is wearing what. Start a shared Google document or Pinterest board where the girls can save links to the dresses they are considering and so that you can keep track of how many of each color have already been accounted for.
  6. Offer suggestions. Remember that Pinterest board you started? Upload dress options in multiple price points and styles that you know would work with your theme. This a great way to get that dress you love into the roster. Trust me, someone in your bridal party hates shopping and really wishes you made the decision for her.
  7. Try them on. When in doubt, it’s always safe to do a test run. Only five of our bridesmaids were local so we set up a time to go to a bridal salon** and try on various dresses as a group. This way we could see what worked together, what didn’t and whether or not the bride even liked the over-all vision.
  8. Purchase an extra dress or two- just in case. You never know when they will come in handy or, in our case, when a maid finds out she will be pregnant at the wedding. We had an extra few dresses lying around on our end, one of which was beautiful on our glowing gal. Worried about strict return policies? Ask around in your group of girl friends to borrow dresses from weddings past that fall into your palette or theme. You can offer them as back-up dresses to your girls. I guarantee that we are all happy to get a second or third wear out of bridesmaid dresses gathering dust in the back of our closet.
  9. It doesn’t hurt to use a stylist. At the end of the day, someone needs to make the final call, even if it just ends up being your most fashionable friend. That someone, professional or not, is quite helpful to have around when the bride is focused on everything else. They can offer insights, suggestions, reassurance and replacements if dresses are just slightly off theme.
  10. Trust your vision. It does start to feel like visual chaos before you see everything laid out next to each other and a bit of panic may set in. Don’t let it; trust yourself. Once the hair and makeup is set and your ladies are all lined up beside you, it will look like a cohesive collection.

 

Photo by Kara Brodgesell

Photo by Kara Brodgesell

Love this bridal look? Stay tuned for Part II where I show you a sampling of the dresses we chose for the big day and how you can recreate them.

 

Photographer: Kara Brodesell / Wedding Planner: Spreading Lovely / Venue: Private Residence / Beauty: Aille Beauty / Catering: Weir Catering / Florals:Bell and Trunk / Band: Hip Service / Videography: Patrick Ang

 

**Big thanks to Bella Bridesmaid and Nordstrom Bridal Shop in San Francisco for all their help in finding these looks.

 

💋 Brooks

 

Packing guide // Kauai Wedding

 

What: Destination wedding

Where: Kauai, Hawaii

Venue: The Sheraton Kauai

When: Late June

Duration: 4 days

Special Notes: As a plus one, I’d never met the bride or groom so there were no girlfriends to call for dress code tips or “what are you wearing” advice.

DAY 1

Catamaran Outfit

Event: Catamaran Cruise to the Napoli Coast

Time of Day: Midday to Sunset

Dress code: Not stated

What I wore:

  • Printed bikini from Yamamay (find a similar style here). I discovered this bikini brand while vacationing in Florence and have yet to find a better fit for a natural-looking padded top and Brazilian cut bottom. 
  • Off-the-shoulder eyelet tunic from Nordstrom (similar style here).
  • Willow hat from Brixton. This hat was an impulse buy while waiting for the man to finish surfboard shopping at Proof Lab in San Rafael. Since then, I’ve gotten a shocking amount of use out of this $58 purchase. 
  • Mossimo platform sandals from Target. I have to be honest, I bought this sandals on sale for $9.99 as an experiment. I figured that the platform Birkenstock trend was a step too trendy, even for me and something that I wasn’t fully on board with. That said, an extra 2 inches of leg with the comfort of a flat still intrigued me. I told myself that I’d only wear them when I wasn’t around the man, that way I could limit the “what on earth are those” comments. Well, not only does he think these shoes are “pretty cool” they are also surprisingly flattering and have also been worn down to their soles. I think it may be time to invest in the real deal here.

The Result: I felt perfectly comfortable, appropriate and just a bit sexy.

Welcome Drinks Outfit

Event: Welcome Cocktail Party on the beach

Time of Day: 8 pm

Dress code: Beachy casual

What I wore:

The Result: I felt perfectly comfortable, appropriate and just a bit sexy.

DAY 2

Beach Surfing Day Outfit

Event: Rent an open air Jeep, explore the island and find some surf

Time of Day: Daytime

Dress code: “Babe, we are leaving in 5 minutes”…

What I wore:

The Result: All the bits and pieces stayed exactly where I wanted them to.

Day 3

Kauai Wedding Outfit

Event: Wedding at the Sheraton Kauai Resort

Time of Day: 5pm

Dress code: Semi-formal

What I wore:

  • Coral printed, high low dress from BCBG (newest version available here).  I originally bought this dress for a trip to Greece 3 years ago and this is only the second time I’ve had the opportunity to wear it. Since then it has traveled to 3 weddings abroad and been borrowed by numerous friends for that hard to fulfill “breezy cocktail” dress code. 
  • Gold strappy heels from Nine West (similar pair here).
  • Hand beaded clutch from on a trip abroad 5-6 years ago. This clutch always gets a compliment or two and I wish I could remember where exactly I was when I found it.
  • Hair/makeup: A simply blow out and bronzed glowing skin, I was pressed for time so I let my tan do most of the work for me.

The Result: I have never felt more spot on with a dress code. Guest arrived in linen suits and bright chiffon dresses and I fit right in. -Sigh of relief-

DAY 4

Airport Travel Outfit

Event: Straight from post wedding brunch to the flight home

Time of Day: Morning/ Afternoon

Dress code: Not specified

What I wore:

  • Silk crop top from Forever 21.
  • That same Willow hat from Brixton. I have learned never to pack my hats in my bag, even if it’s a carry-on. It is far easier (and chicer) to incorporate them into your travel outfit. 
  • High-waisted printed silk pants (similar style here).

The Result: What’s more comfortable than fashionable pajamas?

And finally, a few snapshots from the weekend. Enjoy!
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More about the trip coming soon but for now I hope this helps. Enjoy!

💋 Brooks

Look of the Day / Borrowed From the Boys

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Leather Pants: H&M; Wedge Desert Boots: Aldo; Bag: Rebecca Minkoff Crossbody Bag; Jewelry: Random assortment of bracelets from Kenyan Flea Market; Flannel Shirt: Vintage; T-shirt: Target 

 

 

A lot of fashion folk talk about uniforms. This is one of the of the first pieces of advice I give to my friends when giving them shopping advice. “It’s less about trying new things all of the time and really about figuring out a few uniforms that work for your lifestyle. Then you simply build a wardrobe around those basic equations.” I may look like I change it up every day but really I just rotate between different combinations of uniforms all built for a specific purpose in my life. For example, this is my go-to casual work uniform.

Skinny jeans + boots or sneakers + comfy tshirt + mens button-down shirt (tied around waist so it can double as a coat) = Casual downtown vibe

It’s the perfect studio look, comfortable enough to sit in while sketching all day yet downtown cool enough to go meet “the guy” after work for a drink without having to change. I can wear it to photoshoots and move around easily with my models or run around town to art galleries and fabric stores without feeling like a complete slob.

More on my other life uniforms to come.

💋 Brooks

Moments / Friday Night Lights // 8.25.15

IMG_2278Friday Night Lights

 

I spent most of this weekend catching up on some much needed rest and studio time but was lucky enough to sneak away for a short girl’s shopping trip in downtown San Francisco. Maiden Lane will always be one of my favorite streets and we snuck in just a few shots before the sun went down. I’m wearing my go to work uniform in head to toe black and leather but I’m looking forward to sharing some of my new Pre-Fall purchases with you on 5 o’clock later this week.

💋 Brooks

Look of the Day / Girls in Glasses

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Top: Forever21, Shoes: Vince Camuto, Denim: “Krista” Super Skinnies by Hudson Jeans, Bag: Kenneth Cole Reaction 

It has taken me almost two decades to finally love wearing my glasses. Until the last 5 years, they were always relegated to the nightstand, ready for late nights and early mornings. The interesting thing about embracing the nerd within is that each pair I buy only seem to get more fashion focused and less about a flattering match with my face. Take this pair, for example, they may not do anything to enhance my features but they sure do make me feel cool. Nerdy cool, of course.

And the key to embracing nerdy chic? Make sure the rest of the look makes you feel sexy. Take today’s look, the subtle cropped waist and skinny jeans made me forget I was wearing man-repellant shades. Beauty tip: An exaggerated lip, cat key liner and full brows seem to be the trick for me.

💋 Brooks

Look of the Day / Sunshine and Sun Hats

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On Brooks // Dress: Brandy Melville, Shoes: Urban Outfitters, Purse: Rebecca Minkoff, Hat: H&M

On FemSteph // Skirt: Express; Shoes: Steve Madden, Sunglasses: Dolce & Gabbana, Top: Urban Outfitters, Bag: Michael Kors

Sunday in San Francisco was blissfully sunny. It finally felt like a true summer at 79 degrees. No jacket needed San Francisco weather is hard to come by and the streets of the Marina District swarm with sundress clad twenty somethings. Sun hat in hand, I spent the day with my best friend and smokeshow Twitch gaming sensation FemSteph. Not sure that any of us imagined that real life gamers dressed like that on their days off. Lucky for you Dear Reader, I convinced her to do a few guest appearance snaps for 5 o’clock during our lunch. Side note: our day turned quickly to night and I found myself out and about in these super comfy flatforms from Urban Outfitters. This is a trend I could get used to.

💋 Brooks