Banana Republic Styling Event!

Last week I had the privilege of hosting a styling event at my local Banana Republic! As many of you know, I've had the joy of partnering with Banana Republic over the past year on style posts (here, here, here, and here) and I was ecstatic when my local branch reached out about this spring pant promotion (all are 40% off right now!) Many people don't know that BR has completely redesigned their pants this year, so if you haven't tried them on lately - it's worth giving it another go! There are four fits of the Banana Pants (other than their regular denim) - the Sloan, the Ryan, the Avery and the Logan.

I do want to say one thing about CLOTHING. I was a little nervous about coming to this event and trying to squeeze into clothes that don't fit this 2-month postpartum body. Like, you want to look and feel your best at something called a style event, and I can't say that I look and feel my best right now. BUT. I have to keep reminding myself that this is real life, I have a real body, and I gave birth only 10 weeks ago. These things take time - just like they do for every woman. Please tell me you pep talk yourself like this, too! Haha by the way, I am wearing the Sloan fit denim ankle pant.

This event was a blast! In the beginning, I was a little unsure of what I was supposed to do/how I was supposed to interact with people. But maybe those old days of working retail kicked in or something because it became a party in the dressing room! It was so fun meeting different women who were coming in to shop for something particular, invite them to try on a pant or two, and suddenly the entire dressing room was filled with laughter and commotion and fun!

One woman in particular never thought that a certain craaaaaazy floral button down would look good on her, but I practically forced her to try it on and it was so much fun seeing the look of joy and shock spread across her face. She was smiling so big in that highligher pink shirt, something I could tell would usually be way too wild for her, but she looked gorgeous in it! She grinned all the way from the fitting room through check out, where she bought the shirt (the last one, drat! I wanted it too!), but it made me realize the power of clothing.

I love the transformation of clothing, how they can make us feel good about ourselves - powerful, sexy, special, feminine. I think my love of clothing is found in that transformation - going from feeling one way to feeling a different way, just by putting on something colorful, soft, eyelet, or ruffled.

Isn't it fun being a girl?

Thank you to Banana Republic Peachtree City, especially Leigh Mostetler the manager, for having me in-store!

How to Wear Merlot 2 Ways this Fall.

Oxblood. Burgundy. Crimson. Ruby. Merlot. Gang's all here.

Since I can't drink it (the merlot, not the oxblood), I might as well drape myself in this mighty bold shade that just conjures up all the decadent delights of fall. I love mixing the merlot color with like-minded shades, or wearing it simply on its own as a statement. It works really well as a neutral in the fall, or as that necessary pop of color we are all looking for. I styled a few ASOS pieces 2 ways, showcasing my favorite color for fall - M E R L O T.

What I love about this first look is how sassy and free it feels, while still being super functional. The backpack is perfect for my stage of life - running after a toddler (okay, waddling, because I'm currently 8-months pregnant), and keeping all the increasingly pudgy parts of my body well-covered while maximizing comfort (that cardigan!) and fun (that hat!) I love this look, especially because it makes me still feel like I am in the fashion game.

Don't break my heart and tell me any different.

Outfit Details:
Look 1:
ASOS Midi Cardigan c/o, Blanqi Support Tank c/o, ASOS Maternity Rivington Denim Jegging in Oxblood with Under the Bump Waistband c/o,  ASOS Leather Embossed Backpack c/o, Sebago Claremont Boots, Urban Outfitters Hat (similar here)

This sweater dress is pretty much everything to me right now. Worn alone (like I did on this day), or over jeans or leggings, it's an essential piece for fall. Especially when you are growing at the rapid rate like I am. I especially love the ribbed fabric on the sides and the bitty turtleneck. Just a hint of Audrey Hepburn in that turtleneck, which is really all a girl needs to feel ladylike. And again - that color. It's making me feel all the crunchy leaves and taste all the hot beverages.

Outfit Details:
Look 2:
ASOS Maternity Knit Swing Dress in Cashmere Mix c/o, Kate Spade Varick Street Abbie Bag (on sale in this color!), Stella & Dot Alila Cuff

What is your favorite shade to wear for fall? What colors make you "feel" your wardrobe in a new way for the season?

Many thanks to ASOS for sending products to style for this post. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. Thanks for supporting brands that make running this blog a joy!

Every Date Should Be Made of Clothes Like These.

Red Close Up Look Away Laughter PS.jpg

Look 1 - Banana Republic Floral Vee Dress (c/o) in Candy Teal, Banana Republic Nude Wedges (past season, similar here and here), assorted bangles, including Keani Found You Cuff in Rose Gold

Look 2 - Banana Republic Sleeveless Embroidered Bib Top (c/o) in Gold, Free People Rolled Crop Skinny Jean in Ella Wash, BCBG Heels (past season, similar here and here), Banana Republic Colorblock Clutch (past season, similar here and here), Anthropologie Glimpse Hoops, Nails are painted in Watermelon by Essie. Photos by the dreamy Stevie Hale.

You better believe that date night is sacred around here.

Before the days of a baby and a mortgage, date night happened easily and often. It was so easy to throw on a colorful top and my snazziest heels, toss a Nars lipstick in a clutch and enjoy wandering the city with my best friend. Date night was all wine, trying new restaurants, talking about dreams and making travel plans. When we lived in Atlanta, it was jazz at Churchill Grounds and dessert at Cafe Intermezzo. When we lived in Boston, it was dinner at Grafton Street and drinks at Plough and Stars. When we lived in New York City, it was making our way through every restaurant recommendation we received, which was a lot, believe me. We pretty much never stopped eating when we lived on the Upper West Side (thank goodness for all that walking!) Nowadays, with family priorities and increased career responsibilities and, you know, mowing the lawn, date night takes a little more intention and planning than it used to. But you know what hasn't changed? The thrill of getting dressed up, experimenting with a bold lipstick or messy updo and letting all that suburban responsibility go for an evening. Holding the hand of my best friend, grabbing a bite to eat and making those dreams happen. We might be getting a bit older, but the mystique of date night is actually growing sweeter with time. The added need for intention is actually making me more of a romantic these days.

When Banana Republic sent over these clothes, I knew they had hot date written all over them. I had so much fun getting dolled up and out of the house in this BR Floral Vee Dress and Embroidered Bib Top. I love how the dress moves and practically dances on its own, and I didn't even mean to pair it with an old pair of Banana wedges that I had in my closet, but they were just the best shoes with the dress, so there you go! I love the clever, elegant stitching and how the supple silk brushes against my skin (while I twirled around like a little girl - seriously, the feeling this dress gave me was that good.) The Bib Top is rich with gold pigment, which I probably wouldn't have chosen for my skin tone (because I fear turning yellow, it's a Italian girl thing), but I actually love it on, especially paired with this bold fuchsia lip color and clutch. These clothes just make me feel ladylike and adventurous, all at once. Just the kind of garments that elevate an occasion from "dinner" to "date" :)

I hope whatever stage you're in, wherever you live, whatever your responsibilities are, you take a moment away from all that and plan something intentionally special for your next date night. After all, there's no time like the present to grab that hand of your love and make all the plans you can. Over wine. And dessert. And maybe a cheese plate, too. Why are you waiting for a special occasion to get dressed up, friend? Date night is for dresses and heels and lipstick!

What are your go-to date night looks? I'd love to hear in the comments!

Disclaimer: Thanks to Banana Republic for sponsoring this post and providing free product.. All opinions expressed are my own.

Rent and Wear with Le Tote Fashion Subscription.

Confession time. I hate wearing the same dress twice.

I know it sounds like a bratty first-world-problem kind of thing, but it's true. When it comes to my day-to-day wardrobe, I wear a lot of the same kind of clothes (hello mom uniform, party of sweats), but when I have somewhere special to go, like on a date or to a wedding, I like the feeling of wearing something brand new. Which is why I was super intrigued by the idea of the Le Tote fashion subscription, which allows you to rent or buy the clothes in the monthly box.

Today I'm sharing about my experience using Le Tote and giving you an idea of the kinds of clothes you could find in your own monthly tote. I put together three looks using the items that came in my April tote. If you're interested in trying out this subscription service, there is a discount code at the bottom for you to get 20% off your first month's tote! If you're a budgeted babe and you love to shop, this is such an awesome way to wear new clothes all the time for a fraction of regular retail price. Read on!

The Le Tote Experience:
Le Tote is a fashion rental service that gives us ladies access to an infinite closet of designer garments & accessories. You can rent these items, and if you love them enough, have the option to purchase for up to 50% off the retail price. But the best part? NO LAUNDRY. I repeat, no laundry, friends! You can wear the clothes for as long as you want, 2 days or 3 weeks, and then you just send it back un-laundered in the prepaid (by Le Tote) garment bag. This garment service is probably going to be my new best friend.

How Le Tote Works:
Okay friends, here's how Le Tote works. When you sign up for a tote, you fill out your size profile and style profile, browse through a bevy of clothes and accessories on the site, click "add to closet" on the items that you would actually wear. Based on your selections, Le Tote curates what will come to you in your tote. You get to finalize the styles they send to you, so you know exactly what's coming your way. When you get your tote in the mail, it will contain 3 garments and 2 accessories, along with a return mailer for the items. You wear what you like for as long as you like, and when you're ready, send the whole tote back in the prepaid envelope and they'll send you a new tote immediately. If you loved something, you can keep it and purchase it at up to 50% off retail prices. Just hold on to what you love and send everything else back. This lets Le Tote know that you'd like to purchase the item you didn't return, and they will charge the card on file and send a new tote.

A little note on sizing: Once you get your tote in the mail, it's a good idea to rate your items for fit and how well they match your personal style. Le Tote uses this information to personalize your totes so that you get the best fitting garments possible.

The Le Tote Benefits:
Along with the free shipping (both ways), and the no-laundry situation (which counts for a LOT of bonus points in my book), Le Tote makes sense for someone who cares about fashion but is conscious of their budget. I also see this really working for someone who wants to eliminate most of their closet and operate with a capsule wardrobe, and then just add in rented pieces to mix it up and add personality. Each tote is valued at about $350 worth of clothes, and you rent those for $59/month. With Le Tote, you always have something cute to wear on date nights, to weddings, to work, anywhere! You can get as many totes as you like in a month, and if you want to keep an item, you purchase it at a discounted price. For someone like me, who always wants to wear a new dress to a wedding, this just makes a whole lot of economic sense.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the kinds of brands that you will receive in your tote: Vince Camuto, Sam Edelman, Kate Spade, French Connection, House of Harlow, BB Dakota, BCBGeneration, Max Studio, Levi's, Free People, Rebecca Minkoff and more. Gang's all here.

My April Tote:
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked everything in my tote. Usually with a subscription like this, I expect to have a few duds, but this wasn't the case! The pink blazer-cape (is that even a word?) is something that would normally be so far out of my comfort zone, but since it came in my tote, I tried it on immediately. I was surprised at how Beyonce it made me feel. Kind of like a feisty, feminine superhero. And the ruffle red top has the sweetest sleeves - I could wear that on any occasion and make it work with jeans, a skirt, even casual shorts. All of the clothes are constructed of quality material and really delicately tailored. With each outfit I put together, my husband kept saying, "I want to take you out on a date in that!", which is always a good reaction. My one qualm with this tote was the wrinkle factor - everything needed a good pressing before I wore it. But I think that's the price you pay with getting clothes in the mail. In my opinion, it's completely worth the extra effort!

In My Tote:
Long Sleeve Floral Top - LE LIS Sheer Floral Blouse
Short Sleeve Red Top - Philosophy Ruffle Scuba Top
Pink Blazer Cape - Jealous Tomato Coveted Cape
Clutch - Clement Blush Foldover
Pink Tank - UA Amanda Cross Front Tank
Bracelet - AVA Rope and Bar Bracelet

If you're interested in trying this service, Le Tote is offering 20% off the first month to you - make sure to use the code OYKRISTEN at checkout :)

Now I'm curious about what you think - in the world of subscriptions for everything (Netflix, Zipcar, Blue Apron, the list goes on), would you subscribe to a service that allows you to rent clothes? Would you like having access to new clothes all the time, but owning very few? Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

Many thanks to Le Tote, who provided free product in exchange for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.