Nov 21, 2014


Weekends are meant for playing and exploring, and when one does that she needs to dress the part. You can't just wear any old dress to that new underground speakeasy bar. And will pants or a jumpsuit work better to that one book reading you heard about last week? In the spirit of that, here's a new series offering you fun ideas to try out this weekend, as well as suggestions on what to wear to them. 

Chicago readers- these are real events happening this weekend. And everyone outside our area, go find these in your own town! I want to read all about it come Monday :)

Six Outfits to Try This Weekend

  1. Drape scarves loosely over the shoulders of your blazer and head to Sable for some Fall inspired cocktails that might even trump the all-holy PSL. Only a seasonal menu, the drinks are made to revolve around apple brandy, which is made with apples picked right from the Great Lakes Region. Local and tipsy- just my kind of thing. 
  2. Layer sleeveless jumpsuits with sheer blouses and head to The Whistler on November 21st for a 90's Dance Party! Sip on fancy cocktails and jam out to songs you used to listen to in your poster decorated, sticker avalanched teenage room. 
  3. Calm down boldly printed tops by layering crochet dresses over them and nab tickets for the Sound of Music sing-a-long at Music Box Theatre. Starting November 28th, tickets are only $12 and will allow you to sing your heart out with Maria as if you yourself were spinning on the hills (dirty looks from the people in front of you be damned.) 
  4. Pair floral summer dresses with denim jackets and buy your tickets for the December 4th show of Mortified: Embarrassing Childhood Tales Told Live. It's just what it sounds like, and it's going to be amazing. 
  5. Match plum plaid shirts with mustard skirts and celebrate the fact that you're almost at Friday with Coppervine's Fried Chicken & Champagne Thursdays. And don't turn your nose up at the fried chicken- it's not KFC type of stuff. It's crunchy, flaky, cinnamon and clove undertones type of stuff. Nom. 
  6. Tie patterned sweaters around the waists of your dresses and head to the Museum of Contemporary Art on November 22nd to see Anne Collier's Woman with a Camera series, which examines the role reversal of the male gaze when a woman picks up a camera and deconstructs commercial photography. 

Nov 20, 2014


Want to wear your bohemian dresses all year round? Easy- just pair them with heavy cable-knit ponchos and knee high boots and you've got yourself a late fall outfit. Play up the autumnal theme by choosing a palette of rich browns, soft cremes, and deep reds. which will help with the summer transition. Add a fun pompom baseball hat for some cheek, and go to the neighborhood confectionery to learn how to make your own truffles. Work with bittersweet chocolate and toasted coconut while you sip hot chocolate, and try to keep a humble face as compliments start pouring in. 

  1. Poetry for Jane '70s bohemian tent dress (only $27!)
  2. Zara cowlneck poncho
  3. H&M knee high boots
  4. BCBG snowbunny baseball hat


It's hard not to play with everyone's favorite fall staple: the plaid skirt. Go for a prim and polished look with yours by pairing it with a tie-neck silk blouse and pill box hat. To really play into the feminine style you're giving off with the bow, choose a cape coat as your outerwear, and a croc bucket bag as your purse to keep the look sophisticated. Then to give your outfit a touch of youth opt for unexpected footwear, like a pair of heavy Dr. Martens. Unexpected, but still sleek. 
  1. Fiery Finish Vintage '70s plaid A-line skirt
  2. Zara contrast tie-neck silk blouse
  3. Mango wool-blend cape
  4. Hey Viv! Vintage pin up pill box hat
  5. Dr. Martens flora boot
  6. Rifle Paper vintage blossom notebook set (set of 2 for $14!)
  7. The Every Girl Keep Not Settling travel tumbler (only $18!)
  8. Zara croc leather bucket bag


Sometimes you have a Holly Golightly moment and don't wake up till noon. So stay true to character and put your hair up into a big ballerina bun and slip into some glitter heels to catch a croissant and coffee breakfast. To go with those heels, pair a brightly colored chiffon party dress with a heavy cable knit poncho for a playful contrast. To further deconstruct the elegant dress into something appropriate for a Thursday, match your turtleneck poncho with a faux fur snood, and some tortoise shell glasses. Then, stifling a yawn, go catch the elevator and hope that all the chocolate croissants haven't been snapped up yet. 

  1. Deja Vintage Boutique chiffon pleated party dress
  2. Zara cowlneck poncho 
  3. River Island faux fur and knitted snood
  4. Zara leather bowling bag
  5. J Crew Factory glitter pumps
  6. Warby Parker Cliff sunglasses


Sweater dresses are (or should be) every girl's go-to once the weather gets mean outside. Warm enough to keep the cold out of your bones, but every bit as stylish as its summer counterparts, this is a piece that's super fun to play with. When going to get some ace tacos and tallboys with friends, go for a minimal but quirky look to the cash-only bar. Pair your turtleneck sweater dress with a statement winter coat to offset the simpleness of the piece, and then play with accessories by having them contrast in feel. For example, pair clunky forest green winter boots with a sophisticated and sleek handbag. The juxtaposition will make for a playful look, and the continue to give the outfit some personality by choosing quirky socks and some brightly tinted sunglasses. For an outfit like this, I'd give you a free taco ;)

Nov 19, 2014


Ever seen a trend, liked it, but weren't necessarily sure if you could style it in a "you" kind of way? "How We Wore It" will show you how different women braved the trend and played with it until they got it to fit in with their styles- and hopefully that'll inspire us to poke a toe out of our comfort zones and try something new, too! Today's trend will be fur vests. Happy creating!


Which was your favorite?

PS: For more "How We Wore It" inspiration, check out How We Wore It: Mixing Fancy & Casual, How We Wore It: Overalls, and How We Wore It: Baseball Caps

Nov 18, 2014



Oh, the blanket scarf. The most beautiful thing you can gift yourself this fall season. Not only does it keep you warm from those arctic blasts that like to hurtle down at you on the city streets, but it also makes you look a tad more sophisticated while bundled up to the nines...and not reminiscent of five year old you unhappily piled under a mess of scarves. 

Another bonus of this fall staple: you can wear it not as a scarf. Okay, I think we lost a few people. Come back ladies, I swear I'm not going to propose something crazy. Just hang tight and hear me out.

You can turn this little number into a work horse by transforming it into a sweater/poncho option. And while you're thinking, "No, no you can't, Mar." I'm going to explain that yes, yes you can. And it's going to look intentional and not like you're trying to pass off a scarf as a shirt. Ready? Let's do it:


What I like to do first is put on a turtleneck so that I have a collar peeking out from underneath the scarf, making it clear it's not just me an' my bra under here. It also gives you a pop of color to work with, and this fall I have really been liking this forest green number. It warms up absolutely every color pallet I throw at it. After I have that on, I drape the scarf over my shoulders and secure a belt at my middle, cinching it into a sweater shape. I like to lift my arms out to my sides to make sure I'm not 1) trapped and 2) it gives the top more volume and a slight peplum shape. 

Lastly- and this is the part that I think really makes it work- I add some sort of collar to top it all off. It gives the look more sophistication and makes it look a little more intentional.  I have been going nuts with this New Old Fashion Vintage collar with all my looks recently, since it gives off a polished but cozy feel. If you don't have one of these (or a fur snood!) then try wrapping an infinity scarf close to your neck, piling on a thick statement necklace, or adding one of those tie-on peter pan collars. Then sling a compact cross-body bag across your front, put on a sassy little beret, and be on your way!



PS: If you'd like to see more peter pan collar posts similar to this look, then check out this post where I styled it with a maxi denim pinafore, this one where I styled it with a winter turtleneck, and this one where I used a braided infinity scarf to give off the same effect!  

FUR COLLAR: c/o New Old Fashion Vintage
SCARF: Marshals
BAG: thrifted (vintage similar: here (only $18!)
JEANS: American Apparel
BOOTIES: Marshals

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Nov 16, 2014



I'm going to go ahead and state the obvious here: fall weather brings two things to mind:

      1.) Spiced beverages steaming out of big, hand-warming cups
      2.)  and thick, cozy sweaters

I want you to look down at what you're wearing right now- just put down the cup of tea and give your front a quick glance. Chances are you're wearing some form of sweater right now, am I right? Maybe a little fisherman number, or perhaps a chunky wool cardigan? Some form or other.

Having said that, I understand it can be extremely easy to fall into that lazy sweater trap. You roll out of bed and as you shuffle your way to the closet you can practically hear the frost trailing its icy fingers across your window- taunting you. Trying to keep the panic at bay, you get into your jeans, wool socks, and cable knit as quickly as possible, letting pneumonia know it won't get you that day. I live in the Midwest- trust me when I say I feel you. And trust me when I say that its usually instinct to go into survival mode and push fashion to the back of your mind.


But we're forgetting one thing here: layers. You don't need to give up your lazy sweater choices. You just need to jazz them up a bit so the rest of us just think you tried this morning. And what's my go-to layering move right now to spice up these cable knits and fisherman sweaters? 

Easy: summery, lacy tops.

Sounds counter-intuitive, am I right? That's exactly why it works so well. The secret to moving your outfit from a good outfit and upgrading it into an amazing outfit is playing with a little juxtaposition. You have a thick, heavy material? Play it up by piling on some lace in delicate colors underneath. It's unexpected and completely charming. And here's another quick tip: to make the bottom look full and extra peplum-y, layer two lace/crochet shirts on top of each other, giving you more texture and volume to work with. This only works if the tops are either 1) asymmetrical or 2) different lengths. So go ahead- give it a go :)


PS: Want more fall layering inspiration? Check out a few of these other posts:  Layering 101: 10 Tips on How to Layer for Fall, Layering 101: 10 Layering Ideas for Fall, and Layering 101: Transitioning Summer Pieces into Fall

I'm curious- what was your most genius fall layering move to date? Come on and inspire us :)

PPS: I got featured on Gentri Lee's Know Your Style feature today- come check it out and learn how I get my styling inspiration!

SWEATER: stolen from brother (vintage similar: here in white, here in white, here in white)
JEANS: American Apparel
LACE TOPS: Urban Outfitters (store similar: here (only $14!), here (only $20!) | vintage similar: here)
BOOTIES: Marshals
HAT: thrifted
BACKPACK: c/o La Polue Noire
NECKLACES: Urban Outfitters and Cocorrina

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Nov 15, 2014


A heavy, over-sized knit can fix any outfit. That is my official statement. Oh, you have a summer jumpsuit you just don't want to put away yet? Not a problem. Slap a knit on top of it. Maybe there's a maxi dress that you want to get away with for another two weeks? Sure you can, as long as you have a knit somewhere in that mix. They. Fix. Everything. And I'd especially recommend buying a chestnut brown one. I know, I know, that's not the usual color you think of when thinking about getting your basics down-pat, but this particular cardigan gets used about three more times than my other pieces because brown (surprisingly) goes perfectly with just about everything. And the warm tone adds a tad bit more interest than, say, your usual gray or black pieces. Who would've known?

Well, now we do. :)


PS: If you'd like to see this jumpsuit styled a different way, check out The Last of the Summer Jumpsuits; and if you'd like to see this heavy knit cardigan in action, check out this post where I paired it with a peter pan collar dress and this post where I paired it with a garden summer dress.

CARDIGAN: Zara (store similar: here, here | vintage similar: here, here, here)
JUMPSUIT: Urban Outfitters (or vintage similar: here, here)
BOOTIES:  Lulu*s
BLOUSE: American Apparel (vintage similar: here)
NECKLACE: Urban Outfitters
BELT: Thrifted

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Nov 13, 2014


Weekends are meant for playing and exploring, and when one does that she needs to dress the part. You can't just wear any old dress to that new underground speakeasy bar. And will pants or a jumpsuit work better to that one book reading you heard about last week? In the spirit of that, here's a new series offering you fun ideas to try out this weekend, as well as suggestions on what to wear to them. 

Chicago readers- these are real events happening this weekend. And everyone outside our area, go find these in your own town! I want to read all about it come Monday :)

Six Outfits to Try This Weekend

  1. Pair your polka dot skirt with a classic white blouse and satchel and on November 16th head to The Publican for a four-course family-style dinner in celebration of Chef Garbielle Hamilton's new cookbook, Prune. Featuring recipes from the book, expect an evening filled with interesting dishes like clams with hominy and smoked paprika butter, roasted pig with pickled tomatoes, and a heck of a lot of Bloody Mary's. 
  2. Layer a sleeveless summer dress over a sheer long sleeved blouse and round up a group of friends and go to The Field Museum on November 19th for a two hour whiskey class.  If you're a long-time lover or just curious to learn more, it'll be an eventful afternoon sipping on whiskey samples and staring up at the dinosaurs that live in the museum.  
  3. Belt your peacoat at the waist, working it more as a top layer than a piece of outerwear, and go to Bottlefork to try their Brandy & Cigars cocktail. Posted under the "Gentlemen's Cut" section of the menu, the brandy cocktails are infused with cigar smoke to give you a smokey, smooth aftertaste while sipping.  
  4. Layer your summer dress with a turtleneck and knit cardigan and go to the free acoustic shows that make up Chillfest on November 15th. Featuring over 100 independent musicians that will be playing homey, living room sets in over 30 storefronts around Wicker Park, there'll be something for everyone this afternoon. 
  5. Mix florals with checkers and head with a group of friends to Black Rock Pub on November 19th to hear a series of personal stories from locals around the city. This open-mic night is different from others around in the fact that they welcome everybody and anybody on stage- just as long they have a story they need to share. And bonus- they have $5 burgers and $3 microbrews! 
  6. Play with different shades of brown and visit just about the coolest festival on November 20th: The Chicago Food Film Festival.  Time Out explains it amazingly: "Have you ever sat down to watch a movie on an empty stomach and found yourself wishing you could get your hands on the grub being served onscreen? ... For hungry cinephiles, along comes the Chicago Food Film Festival, a three-day event that aims to get your taste buds in on the movie-theater experience." Save you a seat there?

Nov 11, 2014


Fall is in full swing and while I'm loving all the hot apple cider my mom is cooking up weekly, I have to admit that I find my inspiration...waning. Sometimes you look into a closet full of sweaters and your mind draws a complete blank. What else can you do other than pair them with jeans? Is there anything else?! To keep the inspiration alive (and the panic a full step back) let's jump into another installment of Layering 101: Fall Edition! Which one is your favorite look? And feel free to share some other styling ideas in the comments below!

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Which is your favorite tip?


Nov 10, 2014



Brunches don't have to be a Sunday-only kind of thing. Convince one of your closest friends to play hookie and head to your favorite breakfast nook for some bottomless mimosas and red velvet pancakes (yes those are a thing.) And what's better for a three hour catch-up than a fringed plaid skirt paired with a demure pussybow blouse? Play up this vintage skirt's features by pairing it with tassel loafers and a structured city bag, but then add a fun twist to the lady-like look by topping it off with a masculine influenced shearling jacket. Unexpected, but still feminine! 

  1. Little Miss Vintage plaid wool wrap skirt
  2. H&M blouse with bow (only $29!)
  3. Mango faux shearling lined jacket
  4. Color Theory Shop tassel loafers 
  5. Zara buckled city mini bag


Instead of going to the usual venues, support up-and-coming local artists by scoping out DIY shows in your neighborhood. Usually held in someone's big living room that's decked out in knock-off Persian rugs and fairy lights, you find a spot on a couch and enjoy an evening filled with dreamy songs and raw talent. Sip on beer sold out of someone's bedroom-turned-bar and adjust your vintage dress as you stretch out your legs from your spot on the floor. But since it's now fall make sure to layer up your boho dresses with faux fur coats and wide brimmed hats (preferably in autumnal shades). To give your flower-child look some edge, pair it with sleek captoe over-the-knee boots, sophisticated leather and cableknit gloves, and a bold, classic watch for good measure. 

  1. Barnaby Jack 60's mini dress (only $34!)
  2. New Old Fashion Vintage fur stole/ capelette
  3. Zara xl leather boot with patent cap   
  4. Zara leather bag with rigid handle
  5. Mango leather long gloves 
  6. Urban Outfitters Daniel Wellington Sheffield watch


Sometimes a gal has to pretend she's on the streets of New Orleans as she's trying to ignore the icy gusts of Midwest winds blowing through her city blocks. And the best way to do that is to call a time-out in the middle of your afternoon and order a box of powdered beignets and a small cup of coffee with chicory. It'll be so delicious that you won't even care about the powder sugar that's getting all over your overalls. Speaking of which, take a deconstructed pair of overalls and play with contrasts by pairing them with a metallic peplum and a rich velvet blazer. The mix of casual and evening will make for a playful look, and then balance out the warring elements by throwing in some neutral pieces, like suede booties and a cross-body bag, both in fall colors. 

  1. Height of vintage bronze peplum top (only $26)
  2. Lucy Blue Vintage olive green velvet jacket (only $34)
  3. Zara ripped denim dungarees
  4. Aldo Hassick booties
  5. Mango double compartment bag


Add a fun twist to your date by not just suggesting to get drinks- suggest to get slushies. The newest trend this fall is for bars to add shaved ice to their classics, so enjoy the medley of ginger beer, lime, and vodka in Icee form. And such a playful date calls for such a playful outfit. Experiment with boyish elements in your look by pairing classic drawstring trousers with a sweet bow neck blouse, and then top it all off with a masculine vintage blazer and clunky Chelsea boots. It'll be both feminine and boyish, and it'll definitely have your date smiling all sorts of smiles from across the table. (Because, duh, you're a babe.)

  1. Bottle Blonde Vintage Buffalo plaid blazer (only $35!) 
  2. Zara drawstring trousers
  3. Mango bow neck shirt
  4. Topshop Absolutely Chelsea boots
  5. Moorea Seal Higchlere hat
  6. Zara croc leather bucket bag

PS: If you'd like more "What to Wear to a..." posts, check out this post featuring Horchata latte runs, and this post featuring pie-inspired cocktails
© Messages on a Napkin.Maira Gall.