How to Find Your Power Neutral

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In the endless world of personal style where the choices are immense, some things can feel hard to narrow down figure out for ourselves. Have you ever seen something that looks killer on someone else but wonder why it falls flat on you? How can she radiate in that white trench while on me it just looks blah? While fashion is meant to be fun and nonrestrictive, there are some tricks of the trade that can help make things a little less complicated. I wanted to share one of my favorite tips with you today in hopes of making your next investment purchase a little easier... finding your power neutral. 

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What's a power neutral? Whether you're a girl who loves to wear lots of color or not, there's always going to be a neutral tone that you need to have in your wardrobe. It's not the red dress you pull out for rare special occasions. It's that go-to tone when you buy your first expensive handbag, or the shade that takes up most of your leather shoe collection. This goes beyond favorite colors and personal preference. There's an actual color that's the strongest choice for you visually, and it's always going to help pull your look together. 

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So how do you determine your power neutral? It's so simple you're going to be like, "how did I not think of this?" It all comes down to one thing... YOUR HAIR. Yep, that's it. The bottom line is this: when your staple everyday wardrobe pieces like bags, shoes, leather jackets, and that one go-to special occasion dress match the tone of your hair, everything is in visual balance. So for me, my base hair color is dark brown which means that a neutral in that realm is my best bet - dark brown or black, as opposed to nude, blush, or white. I've always been a gal who loves black, so that takes up a lot of my wardrobe especially for the investment items. My first three nice bags were black and one dark brown. Until recently, ALL my leather shoes were black.

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If you think of your look from head to toe as a composition, it makes sense for there to be a balance between your head, your feet, and what you're carrying on your arm. Sprinkling that neutral throughout your outfit, counting your hair as a "matching accessory," gives it a sense of cohesiveness throughout. But don't worry about being TOO exact - black is good for dark hair, but so is navy for summer, and burgundy or deep brown in the fall. The highlights in my hair right now make the more saddle browns work a bit better than if I was all dark right now.

I'll never forget the time in my twenties when I was obsessed with the idea of buying a white leather bag. I had seen them on a few ladies around NYC and thought it looked so fresh. But whenever I looked at them in the store, it always looked so severe when I held one in the mirror. Don't get me wrong, it's not that it's a major snafu to wear the opposite neutral, but I eventually realized that the ladies who looked so effortless with the white bags were the ones with light blond hair. 

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Lately as I've softened up my style, I've been having fun bringing some blush and caramel tones into my shoe and bag collection. But I will say that sometimes putting outfits together with those pieces are a little trickier than my go-to black. Sometimes it feels like my feet get lost with my lighter blush clogs, and all this dark hair on the top making it look out of balance. My point is that you can always feel free to experiment in your wardrobe however you want, and there's a time and a place for every color you like. But I love knowing that when I really need to pull out the big guns, say for a photo shoot at those epic windmills in Palm Springs, I can go to a statement black dress and my staple black leather jacket, and know it's the right choice for me.

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So, to figure out where you stand with your neutrals, think of your hair on a scale of 1 to 10 in lightness to darkness, and match that to a realm of neutrals on the spectrum. If you have light brown or dark blond hair, try the camels, grays, olives, and medium browns. If you have super light blond hair, you'll kill it with the whites, creams, and soft grays and blushes. These are a great place to start with your investment staples, and once that part of your wardrobe is well stocked, you'll feel more ready to start adding in some of the other tones. I've got my eye on a light toned leather jacket next. I know I won't wear it AS much as my black one, but since I'm covered for black, I'd love to expand the options.

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So, I hope this was helpful for you in getting inspired for your everyday staples! My guess is you might already be unofficially incorporating this tip, but I find that having an explanation in our heads of why things work can help us in making decisions. 

As always, happy shopping! 

Photography by Ashley Burns

DENIM UPDATE

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Do you have a favorite pair of jeans? The ones you reach for no matter what, and you kind of have to convince yourself to give your other pairs a chance from time to time? I definitely do. It's a pair of Levi's 501 Japanese denim that look vintage but aren't, which means I can buy another pair and I'm probably going to. I love them because they hold their shape, look better the more I wear them, are just the right length for me, and they're the perfect fit somewhere between boyfriend and slim. But they don't work for every outfit. They're not super high waisted which means I have to recruit some other favorites from my closet when I want to wear a more cropped top, and they're definitely casual so they don't work when I need a sleeker pair. There are certain categories of items in our closets where the collection just has to be solid. The things you wear every day - your neutral tees, your jackets... but your jeans are the most key and we often overlook them or get overwhelmed at the thought of shopping for them. When your jeans are good, the rest of your outfit has an easy path to success. And when your jeans are bad, you're bound to feel off no matter how great the rest of your outfit is. So today I wanted to share with you a few key tips to assessing and updating your denim collection, and some of my favorite pairs out there to buy right now!

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To start, I would encourage you to take out all of your jeans, including the ones you just straight up pretend aren't there, and try them on. Really look at how they flatter your body, see how they feel, and how they're fitting. Do this at a separate time from the rest of your closet because jeans take the most energy. Ask yourself these questions about each pair:

1. Does it fit me? Like... actually? This is the hardest one but it's the most important. If they don't fit you, especially if they haven't for a long time, get rid of them. If they washed horribly after several uses and now get super bunchy in the knees, you're never going to love them. I get wanting to save your favorite pair for when you lose the baby weight, but be realistic. I once had a pair of jeans that literally fit me for ONE WEEK at my skinniest while I was doing the South Beach Diet (remember that?? Me neither). I saved them for years after that and they only depressed me when I came across them. It was liberating to finally part with them when I got real about the situation. Remember, any hole you create in your wardrobe leaves room for new better things to come in.

2. When was the last time I wore them? If style has evolved greatly since you last wore them, it's a good time to part with them. I recently got rid of all my low rise jeans including ones I used to LOVE and it felt amazing.

3. Do they add or subtract from my look? If putting them on makes you just feel blah, they don't deserve to be here. They should add extra oomph, confidence, and spring to your step. 

4. Are they showing wear in the RIGHT places? There's a difference between worn in and worn out. If the fabric looks worn in a bad way (this especially happens with cheapy elasticy ones), is saggy and thinned out in the butt or knees, they should go. If they are faded and frayed and looking vintagey and yummy, KEEP.

5. Make sure you have some "dressy" ones too. There's always a need that pops up for jeans that are more elevated - date nights, a lunch meeting, girls nights where you want to wear a cute top with jeans for a nicer bar, etc. For me, it's this pair.

6. Note the current trends. The cool part about the current denim trends is that there isn't really a right or a wrong, and you don't have to spend $200 to get a good pair. BUT if we have to name a few, here are some to add to your collection: 

- High waisted (YES)
- Vintage (or vintagey). Think button fly, non-stretch, a little bit "mom jean." Levi's 501's, Wrangler, etc.
- Cropped flare
- Frayed hems
- High-low hems
- Ankle length
- Side stripe

Check out some of my favorite jeans out there right now, and keep in mind it always just comes down to fit with jeans. Be picky!!

Have fun with it, don't worry about the size number, and just focus on what really works for you. The goal is to have a stack of jeans in your closet that's only made up of pairs that make you feel like a million bucks. I promise you that with this part of your wardrobe updated and on point, everything else feels so easy and effortless!

Photography by Ashley Burns

DIY Leather Tassels

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Ever since my mom taught me how to make tassels (see here for the first adventure in tassel making), I have been taking note of all the different areas of my life that need tassels. Tassels on the trim of Sailor's dress, tassels hanging on a doorknob, tassels on a keychain, tassels on sandals... you name it! They're easy to make, fun to modify to suit your style, and can be used to add a unique touch to just about anything! For my next tassel project, of course my mind first went to leather. I love this soft blush hide we found at Mood and how it mixes with the rose gold thread to make a feminine and soft bag charm or keychain. Of course you can go in a lot of directions with this, and I'm plotting to do a black and gold version for fall. Here's how to make them...

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You'll need:

Leather (or any fabric of your choice) -  Mood in LA (and online) has a ton of different colors. The hides can be pricey but you'll have extra and can make a whole bunch of tassels for gifts or do another DIY! I actually used the rough side of the hide on the outer side, and the smooth finished side facing the inside for these because I wanted a more natural effect.

Scissors

Metallic thread

Lobster clasps (I got mine at Michaels)

Jump rings

Rotary cutter / Ruler / Cutting mat - optional but ideal to get the straightest cut on the strips. If not, you can just use sharp scissors to cut (but even then you'll need fabric scissors)

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1. Lay the hide down flat on the cutting mat start cutting the strips. I did mine about 1/4 inch wide but you could definitely go thicker or thinner if you want. You can run the cutter along the entire length of the hide, so you have long strips.

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2. Pick the length you want your tassel to be and multiply it by two. I wanted about 6" tassels so my strips were 12".  Cut the first strip into as many pieces that length as you can get, and discard the scraps or save for another project. Don't worry about being perfect because you can always trim at the end.

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3. Measure your other strips against that first strip, making about 8-10 strips per tassel.

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4. Gather the strips into a cluster, and fold in half. Leave two strips out for now.

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5. Attach your jump ring to the lobster clip, if the ones you got don't have them already.

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6. Thread the two extra strips through the jump ring, then lay them over the rest of the strips, folded in half.

7. Take two pieces of the thread (doubling them just cuts down the time you spend wrapping the thread around the tassel). I used two spools, but if you only have one, you can just cut two really long pieces from the same spool to double them.

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7. Once you have the desired amount of thread wrapped around (both for function and for looks), simply tie the threads together and trim off the ends.

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8. Now you can trim any of the ends off the strips to tweak them - I like a tad bit of unevenness but I don't want any really long pieces. And you're DONE.

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These look so cute attached to bag straps. I currently have one on Sailor's backpack and one my keys! Let me know if you guys try this out, what colors you use, and where you put them! They make such cute bridesmaids or hostess gifts too.

Photography by Ashley Burns