I love a good book and I have really enjoyed these beauty and fashion centered titles, returning to them on a regular basis for both artistic and historical reference.  I purchased all but one as an e-book, but I may purchase a couple of others in hard cover, since I keep referring back to them so often.

Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History by Rhonda GarelickChanel.jpg

Garelick has really done her homework for this expose on Coco Chanel.  Her insights into one of the world’s preeminent fashion leaders kept me spellbound.  More than just a focus on fashion, Mademoiselle walks you through the history of Chanel’s life, from her humble upbringing, to her less than popular political affiliations, to her very lonely death.  While Chanel is an icon in the fashion and beauty industry, I wonder just how many people know the reality of her life.  This book is a wonderful account of fashion history that I will no doubt read again.

Elsa Shiaparelli: A Biography by Meryle SecrestShiaparelli.jpg

While Chanel was busy making ‘ready to wear’ a fashion staple, Shiaparelli was making her own artistic statement and wowing the crowds of the early twentieth century.  Although she and Chanel were rivals in their day, their impact on the fashion industry was no doubt equal in terms of lasting influence and staying power.  Shiaparelli was an artist for the times and had business acumen to rival that of any man of her generation, building a business empire that stands to this day.

I’ll Drink to That: A Life in Style, With a Twist by Betty Halbreich with Rebecca Paley

Betty.jpgThe best autobiography I have read in years, Ms. Halbriech takes us behind the scenes at the world famous Bergdorf Goodman, where she has served as a personal shopper for 39 years to everyone and anyone who walks through her doors with a personal request.  Halbreich gives us insight into the history of Bergdorf’s, the secrets of a savvy shopper, and the realities of the fashion industry.  A woman before her time, Halbreich has led a life that we fashionistas only dream about.  Going on 88 years of age, she remains a class act in her career to this day.  A must read.

Over-Dressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline

While I have always been one to put quality over quantity, this is the book that started me on my own personal quest of ‘minimal fashion’.  I have always been a label soverdressed.jpghopper, but perhaps not in the way you may think: I check labels to see where clothing is made knowing full well that many nations use child and/or slave laborers to manufacturer the more than affordable clothing we buy today.  Cline takes us much deeper, showing us the realities of environmental damage to our planet and the sweatshop lifestyle of those forced to work in such hazardous conditions so that the rest of the world has access to ‘fast fashion’.  A real eye-opener, this book will wake you up to what that discount jersey or souvenir T-shirt really costs.

Pretty Honest by Sali Hughessali hughes.jpg

Make-up extraordinaire Sally Hughes takes you through today’s cosmetic industry and figuring out which products are right for your specific situation and need.  A no-nonsense guide to beauty, Pretty Honest is just that.

Toss the Gloss: Beauty Tips, Tricks & Truths for Women 50+ by Andrea Q. Robinson

toss the gloss.jpgWhile I am reluctant to follow the fashion and beauty ‘rules’ that our mother’s and grandmother’s subscribed to, preferring women do what works for them at any age, there is a lot of truth in this little beauty book.  Robinson helps those of a certain age cut through the hype to find helpful products and tools to maintain our beautiful appearance beyond our youth.  A good reference guide for those constantly confused about what is and is not in their best beauty interest in mid-life and beyond.

Face Paint: The Story of Makeup by Lisa Eldridgeface paint.jpg

What can I say?  If you have not read this book, stop what you are doing and buy it now.  I got my hard copy the month this one hit the shelves and I am still drooling over it.  Eldridge takes us through the history of makeup from the Egyptians to todays It girl, exploring everything from how the Victorian’s and the Japanese Geishas made their own lead based foundations to the start-up of the major commercial brands we know today.  The icons who inspired her are scattered throughout in both beautiful color and black and white.  It is easy to see how Eldridge rose to the top of her profession as this lady really knows her stuff.  Her passion for beauty history and what makes us unique makes her a treasured artist of our time.

Fashion and Beauty enthusiasts will find something to enjoy from my favorite beauty reads.  I continue to relish in the history and secrets these books bring to light, as well as in finding inspiration for my own style.  Browse one today and see what you can find for presenting your own unique face to the world.



Everyone loves a great everyday tote bag and you should certainly love the contents, too! Whether you prefer a minimal lifestyle as I do or you want a lot of choices and never seem to throw anything away, everyone has their handbag staples. While a few items may vary depending on the season, most of my favorites remain the same. My cosmetic items change daily, depending on what powder and lipstick I wear, if any, so I do not keep them in my bag on a regular basis.

Fossil wallet—this version has been my favorite for about two years now although I think a similar model is still available. This one is perfect for holding my driver’s license, a couple of credit cards, the store and restaurant ‘perks’ cards I use most often, a bit of cash and any receipts for purchases that still need recorded in my checkbook. I also like the little wrist strap which allows me to keep my hands free for carrying other things.

LeSportSac Cosmetic bag—I have half dozen or so cosmetic bags but I picked this one up at the beginning of summer and have been using it non-stop, primarily because the bright stripes make it easy for me to see in the bottom of my tote bag. It is roomy enough for the necessities and has a little zipper pocket on the outside to tuck my mints and floss in for handy oral care on the go.


Sight Station reading glasses in 2.25.

Drug store dark tint reading glasses in 2.00.

Nine West Sunglasses.
LG cell phone complete with one half of the broken protective cover. (Yepphone-nook, I still use an ‘old fashioned’ slide phone as I prefer it to a smart phone).

Samsung Galaxy 4 Nook tablet–because I never leave home without a good book!

Black n’ Red brand notepad and my favorite fine point TUL pen in black ink.20160923_111018

Pictures of my dog 🙂

And there is still plenty of room left to toss in that unexpected must-have item you find while browsing Main Street.

Happy toting!

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For those of us fascinated with all things fashion and beauty, it is easy to become overwhelmed with ‘stuff’. And it is even easier to understand why. From magazines to blogs to YouTube beauty gurus, we are bombarded with media images and reviews of every fad and fashion to hit the stores. Just when we all finally have that coveted makeup pallet or the latest in footwear, something new is introduced that is sure to be better than the last. The mascara that was supposed to give us false -fashion-accessorieslooking lashes is now a thing of the past as some new brand is sure to have outdone the last. The ‘it’ handbag we saved a year to purchase has now been replaced by the streamlined clutch. No matter what we have in our closets and drawers, there is always something that promises to be better and more beautiful. So, where do we draw the line? When is what we already have enough to not only satisfy but to make us truly happy?

I have always been a minimalist in terms of collecting for the sake of having. I prefer a neat and tidy environment without too many choices or too many visual distractions. With the exception of clothes, which occupy two closets in my home, but even those are very neatly organized and everything is loved and regularly worn. And with my lifestyle change of the last year, I have given a lot of my wardrobe to charity as I have a seasonal rule outfitwhereby I clean out my closets and rid myself of any items I did not wear the previous season. This keeps my wardrobe fresh and satisfies my penchant for neatness. It also gives me the opportunity to share good items with others in need. For me, there is a place for everything and everything in its place. I do not like to waste but like everyone else, there is always some degree of want. Training yourself to want less is not as hard as it sounds if you look at what you have from a different perspective.

One thing that helps me stay grounded and avoid clutter is to put quality over quantity in all things fashion and beauty. I find that having fewer items of a high end quality gives me satisfaction in knowing that I chose possessions that are made to last, which always look like new, and which give me joy. Yes, you can have three dozen handbags in your collection if you really want, but it is so much more fun to have a half dozen beautiful, really high quality bags that will stand the test of time. Bags that you can pull out of your closet ten years from now and still feel happy to see and use are far more satisfying than those you tossed and forgot about a year or two after their purchase. It might be gratifying to spend all your free time shopping but how many black dresses do you need? Fivebags cheap black dresses will never bring the happiness that two tried and true, well-fitting and figure flattering dresses will bring. It is far better to spend a lot of money on one glorious piece when you can afford it than to toss money away on the instant gratification of something new every weekend. Yet that is what advertisers want you to do. The media encourages us bag and shoesby telling us that what we already have is outdated or no longer good enough to wear or use in polite society. Advertisers want you to feel you are not as good as others because your shoes do not carry this seasons hottest designer label. But all you are really doing by giving in to their tactics is giving your money away. And having money is always in fashion. So how does one begin to train the mind not to give in?

I like to do my homework before I buy. Yes, I too read blogs and watch my favorite vloggers to see the latest brands and beauty items they are trying out, knowing full well that many products are sent to them for free to be tested and publicly reviewed. This is yet another advertising gimmick on behalf of the fashion and beauty industry. The honest ones will not keep this a secret from you but as you read or watch regular reviews, it is easy to forget that those folks likely would not have the collections they do were it not for the perks of their jobs. There is nothing wrong with that so long as we, as consumers, remember this and use the information wisely. Concentrate on information with regard to product content and see which products contain ingredients that are meant for you. Pay attention to colors and formulas so as to know what is flattering and beneficial for your skins tone and type. Also, watch for products that bloggers and vloggers repeatedly bring up for review in their ‘favorites’ or ‘empties’ videos to find out what they really like to use on a repeating basis. You will quickly realize that while many appear to be trying and using something new on a weekly basis, they do have real-life favorites that remain in their daily routines. With forty bottles of shampoo or moisturizer displayed on their bathroom shelf, they repeatedly give a thumbs up tocartoon clutter a few products on a routine basis. They too have favorites that would likely not occupy more than their vanity can hold if they were not in the business of product reviews. Beauty and fashion overload is how they help support their families and it should not be the reason you need a second job to support your own.

Think about what you own, what you use regularly, what makes you happy and what you can truly afford. Invest wisely and then love and enjoy every product you bring home. Know that while the celebrity makeup artist may have 500 tubes of lipstick in his or her makeup room, he or she is not making up one person on a daily basis for real life. And if you shared your minimal collection with them, provided it is a collection you love and truly enjoy, they would likely give you high praise for investing in the right products and using them correctly! You need not impress anyone with the amount of clothing or jewelry or cosmetics you own. You should impress -handbags-and-shoeswith your smile and confidence that comes from being comfortable with how you look and feel. And yes, you can do that with only one white shirt if that is the shirt that most flatters and makes you happy. Be yourself in all things, not who someone else tells you you should be. Love what you have and lust for nothing. You will make less clutter and waste, save a lot more money and find so much more joy.





I love dressing up for special events.  Weddings, charity fundraisers, holiday parties, triple crown races.  You name it, if I can get dolled up, I’m attending.  And while some gals are lucky to have lots of special occasions and enough money to invest in high end fashion for such events without much thought, it’s not an area where I can afford to spend a great deal.  I just don’t attend enough dressy affairs to make the investment in items that will otherwise sit in my closet.  While it’s a joy to slide open the doors and peek in at the sparkly dress sandals or shiny clutches, it’s not practical or affordable for me to invest in several high-end, seldom used pieces.  So, where does one start when the invitation arrives and the closet is less than bursting with formalwear?  With those basics, of course!

Land's End $69-79
Land’s End $69-79
Rebecca Taylor, Bloomingdale's $350
Rebecca Taylor, Bloomingdale’s $350
Kohl's $75-$100
Kohl’s $75-$100

Every woman knows that a little black dress in a flattering cut is A MUST in your wardrobe and for good reason.  One black dress can serve you for years, for everything from daytime lunch dates to job interviews to those formal events.  The simpler the style, the better and while length can vary based on your body type and preference  I do find a sleeveless or short sleeved versions to be more versatile if you can only afford one.  You can always add a layer for warmth and coverage.  But for a special occasion, black isn’t your only option.  Any well-fitting dress that flatters your figure, in a solid color or with simple embellishments, will do the trick.  If your event is a summer or outdoor occasion, you can opt for white or a seasonal color, and don’t shy away from a beautiful print.  As long as the fit flatters and the dress is comfortable, you can easily and inexpensively build from there.  Another option is a solid color skirt and top.220px-Pashmina-schals

I like to wear a wrap as a cover up layer as opposed to a jacket but the choice is yours, and if one is not necessary then skip it altogether.  Wraps are an especially easy way to accessorize however, as well as to stave off the chilly air, and you can find them in an assortment of price ranges.  An inexpensive way to cover up is to hit the accessories department in your local department store and search out the scarf inventory.  Pashminas and overlarge scarves make for a lovely way to cover your shoulders and arms, while adding pizazz to an otherwise very basic dress or skirt ensemble.   A solid color that suits your skin tone or eye color is a great place to start, or perk up basic black or white with a gold or silver wrap.  Another option is to choose a print in seasonal colors such as summer pastels or dark green or burgundy for the holiday season.  If you choose a print, just be careful to shy away from anything to ‘cutesy’.  The goal is put together a sophisticated look that makes you appear as though you truly thought out and invested in your outfit.  The cover up you choose may have been on a clearance rack for twenty bucks but there’s no reason anyone needs to know that.

Of course, your jewelry is another statement maker that really takes things up a notch.  If you have a few go-to statement pieces that you love and will work, then you’re set. If not, you needn’t spend a fortune here, either.  Walk toward the costume jewelry section and have a blast.  To avoid becoming overwhelmed, you might first have one or two colors in mind.  It’s easy if you are wearing a wrap or jacket in a color different from your dress: just head for the statement necklaces in the same color family.  Costume jewelry is usually sold in coordinating pieces so if you aren’t good at mixing and matching on your own, you can rely on the brand to do it for you.  There will always be earrings and bracelets to match the necklace that catches your eye, and vice versa.  You may not be able to find matching sets on the clearance rack but if you are not comfortable coordinating pieces from different brand lines, it won’t hurt to spend a few extra dollars to get pieces you know will work well together.    As long as you truly like the pieces you purchase, you can wear them again and lend them to a friend in need for her own special event.  Another option is to buy one statement piece you really like and then wear simple basics you already own.  If you have diamond stud or pearl earrings, real or not, they will work just fine with a bold necklace or bracelet in any color.  Or, rock those sparkly chandelier earrings you purchased and let them be your only jewelry statement.  Borrowing from your own family or friends is also a great way to dress up an event outfit if your budget is extremely limited.  As long as you’re willing to share, you can expand your once-in-awhile jewelry and special occasion pieces using this method.  Just be sure to treat anything borrowed as your own and return it in the same or better condition than when you received it.  And have fun with the baubles.  No one expects them to be real so you might as well go as far with them as you are comfortable with.

Vera Bradley $32
Vera Bradley $32
Coach $125
Coach $125

As well as tackling cover ups and jewelry, a nice clutch bag is a great way to dress up a simple basic.  Again, this is a great item to purchase from the sale racks and you can often find a good selection at great prices.  This is also a great accessory with which to have some fun.  You’ll find clutch handbags in every fabric and color choice but you can also find some quirky and funky finds.  As long as the rest of your outfit isn’t overly bold, a clutch in a distinctive print, pattern or shape is a great attention getter.  I’ve seen clutch bags shaped and decorated like classic novels, pieces of fruit, animals and even famous people!  If you have a special interest or hobby, you can go online and Google a clutch to show off your love of sport, hobby, favorite pet, or whatever suits your fancy.  I am currently eyeing a beaded clutch that looks like my horse!  Have fun with the handbag.  And don’t worry if it doesn’t match the rest of your ensemble.  This can always be your statement piece and a fun bag is a great conversation starter.

Last but not least, what goes on your feet?  If you already have great accessories and feel comfortable and stunning in your outfit, you can always opt for a pair of basic, quality pumps or dress sandals you have in your closet.  If you want to buy a new pair, go for it.  Dressy shoes that you are only going to wear on a rare occasion can be had for little money, especially as you don’t have to buy an investment pair for this purpose.  The only thing I would caution you on is to be aware of the environment in which your event will take place.  Obviously, if you plan to spend the evening on the dance floor, you’ll want to consider comfort as well as style.  If you are attending an outdoor reception, you’ll need to know if you’ll be on the grass or a patio.  Spiked heels won’t serve you as well on soft ground as they will on solid footing, especially if there’s been a recent rain.  Depending on the length of your dress and what you will be doing, you might want to opt for a pair of inexpensive, embellished flats as opposed to strappy heals.  Again, have fun with the shoes, especially if you aren’t purchasing investment pieces.  As long as you’ve taken comfort and purpose into consideration, you can enjoy.  You won’t be wearing these shoes every day.

Nine West $109
Nine West $109

And don’t just have fun at the party, have fun getting ready for the party.  Little extras like a sparkly nail polish in a happy color, a rhinestone hair barrette, or even a new shade of lipstick will make getting dressed for your event a special occasion in and of itself.  Make yours a life well lived.

Once you get comfortable with dressing up, you’ll find that it becomes easier and less overwhelming to shop for fun pieces that you can mix and match with your basics without setting fire to your bank account or

Zappos, Touch Ups $49
Zappos, Touch Ups $49

overextending your charge card.  You’ll also find that so long as you anchor your outfit with one or two of your quality basics, your less expensive purchases will look much more expensive.   High end and discount mixing is all the rage and for good reason.  Even ladies with endless resources understand there is no point in spending excess money on things they’ll seldom wear when that money can be better used on better quality, more often used wardrobe staples.   Shop wisely and enjoy.