April 30, 2012

Craving colorful or printed spring coats

Although I haven't been buying much lately, I have been on the hunt for a colorful or printed sprint jacket to wear with casual, transitional pieces. My current rotation of spring weight coats are black and khaki. It would be fun to have a statement piece or even something casual to wear that can top an ensemble but brighten it up. My cold weather coats are such favorites that this time of year feels inevitably bittersweet. Putting them away for many months might be less of a bummer with brighter, more fun lightweight toppers. I like the above plus size ladies coats from affordable UK plus retailer, JD Williams. But they do not ship to the US. I will be keeping my eyes peeled for similar US bargains in the coming weeks. Where did you get your favorite spring jacket? 

April 28, 2012

Monogrammed Mother's Day Gift Idea

I've written before about my love for initial jewelry and monogramming. And I'm excited to alert readers who are stumped for Mother's Day gift ideas or even bridal party gift ideas (as wedding season approaches!) that adorable and very reasonably priced totes can be found from Simply Bags. The proprietors contacted me not long ago asking if I would consider reviewing one of their products. I agreed and was excited especially because the company is headquartered not far from Pittsburgh (in Akron). They sent me a Stylish Beach Tote that they monogrammed with my initials and shipped with incredible speed.
When the bag arrived I was impressed by its size and the softness of the rope straps. To give you an idea of its scale, it is slightly larger than a large Longchamp Pliage tote. I love the nautical theme with its stripes, rope straps, and monogram. I am eager to take the bag with me on picnics and beach outings this summer. Sadly, the weather and my schedule have not yet cooperated.

It seems quite sturdy and is fully lined with cotton, including a useful interior pocket. I do suspect that the support panel in the bottom of the bag is just corrugated cardboard but because the bag description highlights its eco-friendliness, I appreciate its biodegradability. The jute exterior is thicker than I expected. I do think the monogramming could be thicker. But for its reasonable retail price ($27.99 which includes customizing), I find the bag to be a good value. I just wish I had known about Simply Bags prior to planning my own wedding! I'm glad I know about them now for future gift-giving opportunities because I am thrilled with this cute beach bag!
You should know that custom monogrammed bags are final sale and non-returnable so input your information carefully. You can get your first name or your monogram stitched onto just about everything they sell.

Simply Bags is also hosting a beach bag giveaway on their blog. It runs through April 30th so be sure to check it out! 

Disclosure: To be clear, Simply Bags sent me a bag to review on my blog. The opinions expressed in this post are still entirely my own. 

April 27, 2012

Tory Burch Friends and Family

I love it when you can stack discounts and the sale goes on sale. Today marks the start of Toryburch.com's Friends and Family event. The timing is nice for Mother's Day and for cute summery looks. I'm eying this skirt and this dress. The above is a compilation of my other favorite items from the sale section (save for the bag which is sadly full price). Take an additional 25% off with code: FRIENDS12 now through Monday, April 30th.

If you're feeling lucky, don't forget to enter my Shopbop giveaway!

April 26, 2012

Shopbop Giveaway! Featuring Joe's Jeans Shorts

I am thrilled to announce that Shopbop has offered followers of Consume or Consumed the chance to win a $100 gift certificate and the timing couldn't be better.

If you win you can use the gift card to fund summer-friendly pieces like Diane von Furstenberg shorts, Joe's Jeans Shorts, or Harvey Faircloth shorts. Regardless of what you choose, their selection, their fantastic sales, and their free shipping make them one of my favorite online retailers!

You must be a public follower of Consume or Consumed to be eligible. Please click on the button beneath the "Comrades" section of my sidebar to join.

The giveaway is open to all readers, worldwide!

How to enter:
For one entry, please comment that you are a public follower of Consume or Consumed.

For a second entry, please share your favorite summer wardrobe staple.

For two additional entries you can tweet (include @jesspgh and @shopbop) and/or blog the giveaway. Leave the link(s) in your comment.

Please leave a comment for each entry (four possible entries total). The giveaway with run until Sunday, May 6th, 2012 at 11:59 est. I will announce the winner on Monday, May 7th who will be chosen via random.org draw. The winner will have 48 hours to contact me, claiming their prize before I re-draw.

To protect your privacy, I do not require email addresses for this giveaway so if your contact info isn't immediately available via a commenter profile, please remember to check back to see if you were drawn.

April 25, 2012

Zinnias, Blazers, and Student Milestones

This semester I guided the research projects of senior capstone students in my major. Their semesters culminated with research presentations that were open to the entire campus community. Other faculty, students, and administrators often attend these presentations, so the stakes were high. I was so impressed with each student I guided. They were able to rise to the occasion of this high-pressure milestone in their degree matriculations.

The research requirement for our seniors distinguishes the campus (which is modeled to be a small liberal arts college) from its main branch. We pride ourselves on smaller class sizes and individualized instruction. The capstone represents a unique opportunity for students to delve into a semester-length project akin to what they might pursue in graduate study. It was my first time assuming the role of capstone instructor and the students I worked with were a great bunch.

On our last presentation date, we had a little pizza party and the students surprised me with a cake that included a thank you message (who doesn't love seeing their name in icing?!), as well as a card that contained a gift. I was so moved and humbled by their generosity and thoughtfulness! I nearly began to cry. But the surprise was enough to ensure I was able to keep it together, despite my overwhelming propensity for being a sap. I will really miss this graduating bunch, who I got to know so well over the course of our time together. I see in each of them such amazing potential and I am certain they will enjoy their very bright futures. The experience was a great reminder of why I chose this profession in the first place.

Because I knew they were going to be dressed up for their presentations, I figured I should up my own professional game. For me the easiest version of that means a blazer with a dress. I wore this ensemble for one of the sessions.

Outfit specs:
Leifsdottir dress (called Curled Zinnia from Anthro) (similar here; spring appropriate here and here)
Limited blazer (from Gabes)
Spanx tights
Tory Burch flats (20% off with code FRIENDS)
Vintage initial necklace

April 23, 2012

Tiered Stripes Top

I was excited to find a Bailey 44 tiered piece at the Mission Valley Nordstrom Rack while I was in San Diego. I grabbed it and immediately worked it into my wardrobe rotation. I wore it for a day of informal meetings and campus business.

It was cold that day so I had a few layers that worked with the outfit for interoffice/interbuilding travels.

The entire outfit is pretty dark and fall-like but I prefer fall colors anyway so I'll risk seasonal inappropriateness.

Bailey 44 tiered stripe/pieced column top (summery tank versions here and here)
J. Crew matchstick cords (on sale for $19.99 before coupon codes!)
Romeo and Juliet cardi
Stuart Weitzman flats (similar here and here)
Marc by Marc Jacobs bag
Kors watch (15% off watches on saks with coupon code "friends"; 20% off clothes!)

April 21, 2012

San Diego Dreaming: Part 2

Besides the conference, the other two big components of my trip to southern California involved day excursions to La Jolla and Coronado. The above photos were taken in La Jolla. On my birthday, we rented a car and drove north to visit the beaches and check out the seals who bask and effectively squat the "Children's Pool."

You can see many of them (along with more photos and travel overview) below the cut:

April 18, 2012

Slightly askew OOTD

I wore this ensemble to campus not long ago. It was test-run on a recent First Friday as blogged here. I started the day with it belted but the belt proved to be fussier than I could tolerate.

I tested out a new spot on campus by using my tiny portable tripod. This thing is very bendy (it is the generic Gorillapod) and cute but I am still getting the hang of how to use it so that photos are level. Regarding the location, the second photo in the grass taught me a lesson. The creek that runs through campus leads to very damp surrounding ground. I will not be stepping off the sidewalk in heeled booties again.

Outfit info:
Chloé Landscape Dress worn as cardigan/coat (see other landscape pieces here, here, and here)
DVF Shawnessy (similar here, here, and here)
Spanx tights (20% off with coupon code INTHEFAMILY20)
Rosegold Liz booties (similar)
Kate Spade tote (similar news-themed tote here;  similar KS here)
Kors watch and Target bracelets

April 16, 2012

Newest Anthro wishlist additions

With my recent disinterest in all things Anthro, it was no surprise that I wasn't among the birthday discount lottery winners. But before I knew I wouldn't be getting a discount, I stopped by my local store to scope new arrivals and plan. I didn't find much but I did become smitten with two vibrantly printed pieces.

anthropologie dress
anthropologie dress

The Flared Caraz dress is by Weston Wear. Its busy print and feminine shape are right up my alley, though I found the colors to look less saturated in person than the website's product shot. I tried on a large and thought the length and fit were good. It is also available in petite but I didn't personally think it was so long that I'd need petite. It came to my knee and seemed appropriately modest in length. The fabric was stretchy, somewhat sheer, and fully lined. I worry that it might show snags over time with wear. The fabric isn't the fanciest (nylon with poly lining) and the patterns don't align (pet peeve!) but with a decent sale I might make this mine.

The other thing I loved was the photo realist print of the Sideways Seascape tee. This is by Deletta and I grabbed a large. The large was a good loose fit. I could have probably taken a medium but I liked the ease of a relaxed silhouette with a tee like this. It was a stretchy, silky modal fabric that could be dressed up or down. The print made me think of an exotic beach getaway. And it seems like a cool summery piece that I hope will make it to sale. I can't personally justify $88 on a t-shirt. But I like this enough to cross my fingers and be patient.

What pieces are striking your fancy at Anthropologie? I haven't seen it in person but I am really taken by the mixed lace non-stripe iteration of the Bailey 44 column dress (called Ines Column).

April 14, 2012

San Diego Dreaming: Part 1

For the first time ever, I spent my birthday away from the place I call home. But the prospect of going to San Diego for a conference was too exciting to forgo. I loved seeing southern California for the first time and getting to do so with Chris (who was presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association) was icing on the birthday cake.

Although the conference was held in the very cool Gaslamp District, we waited too long in the lead up to the trip to book a decent hotel at a favorable rate.* This was a big conference occurring concurrently with another very big conference held at the convention center so hotel rates were elevated to reflect increased demand.

To save a bit of money we stayed in Little Italy which is a fantastic and vibrant neighborhood, not too far away. The tram made the commute very simple if we didn't feel like walking. And as a resident of Pittsburgh's Little Italy, it quickly felt so homey with its cafes, sidewalk seating, and Italian markets.

Also in the neighborhood was a delicious recommendation I received from reader Megan, who commented so helpfully on this post. She suggested we visit Craft and Commerce which has fantastic cocktails and delicious new American cuisine. We loved it! The decor is very fun and everyone in the restaurant seemed bookish and cool. I ordered fried chicken and Chris ordered mussels. The fried chicken is an entire half chicken so I needed a lot of help in order to even make a dent. Chris obliged as he always does! To start we had devils on horseback (bacon wrapped dates). After gorging ourselves, we almost wished the walk to the hotel was a bit further. But we were very satisfied! I want to ditto Megan's recommendation for anyone visiting San Diego!

We stayed at a place called the Porto Vista Hotel which was a renovated motel made to look boutique-y. The walls were thick enough but the door was aligned poorly so we could hear a lot of outside noise. We slept with the bathroom fan on to drown things out. But it had a nice lobby, fast wifi, and good rates on top of the great location. I wouldn't go out of my way to stay there again but it was clean and just fine for our needs. I will talk about our trips to Coronado, Fashion Valley, and La Jolla in upcoming posts.

*As an aside, I know it is considered questionable form with regard to professional development to stay off site from a conference, (as one of the major objectives is to enable networking opportunities... and if you are on the academic job market mine is legitimately bad advice). But whenever I attend a conference I tend to stay in non-conference hotels. There are almost always cheaper options to be found via discount travel sites that beat conference rates. Conference rates never seem competitive to me. $200+ for a 3 (or even 2.5) star is not appealing from my purview. I've bid on higher stars for less than half that price and been just a ten minute walk away from the action. I also prefer to select hotels that enable slight buffers between me and the conference zone. Otherwise, I worry that the walls have ears. I can't relax if every moment, even the quiet elevator ride from my floor to the lobby feels like a working moment. Frankly, my ability to focus on my presentation preparations while keeping on top of my regular work as a professor just feels easier if I have a bit of comfortable distance. I realize I am in the minority in feeling this way. And depending on your conference personality this might sound totally outlandish. But it is just how I have come to acclimate to this part of my work.

April 13, 2012

Kate Spade Friends and Family

FYI, Kate Spade stores, outlets, and katespade.com are having a friends and family sale now through Saturday at 11:59 PST. Above are some of my favorites currently on the website (and mostly in the sale section! I love stacking discounts and am itching to buy this dress). Use code FFSPR12 for 25% off all items. For the Jack Spade fans, the code is JSFF12. You can also shop through ebates to get a 3.5% cashback! Happy shopping!


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