Nov 26, 2014



No matter if you call yourself on-point or if you like to watch fashion from a safe and comfortable distance, we all like a good trend. It's hard not to get swept away if you see hoards of girls playing with a new idea. You notice a bunch of girls wearing flower crowns in their hair and having maxi dresses whisper around their ankles, and you suddenly want to become an extra out of a Free People catalog. Or you see how leather jackets make girls' shoulders look city-ready, and vampy lips make them feel martini thirsty, and all of a sudden you want to give your whole closet some dark, moody edge.  If you see enough people wear one thing, you start imagining yourself wearing that one thing, too.

But the issue is, sometimes you hop on and it just looks flat our wrong on you. Anyone have that happen to them? You got yourself a tutu skirt thinking you'll look classy, but instead you end up looking like the five year old version of you. Except this time instead of crossing the street to ballet practice you're crossing the street to go pay your rent.

We've all been there. But I have found that it's not that you can't pull off the trend. You just can't pull off the styling of the trend. Meaning, take the piece and make it yours- don't copy how others are wearing it.

This revelation hit me after I had this fur vest hanging in my closet for two years and worn a grand total of two times. It hurt me every time I ventured to the back of my wardrobe. It was so, so pretty, but I felt so, so ridiculous wearing it. I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb every time I wore it out- I'd fidget in my plaid shirt, or I'd pull on the hem of my pencil skirt, making it obvious I was about to break out into a stress blush at any minute. So I gave up on it.

That is, until last week. I was aimlessly scrolling through Pinterest one afternoon when I fell upon a picture of a girl in a long Free People bohemian dress and this thick, almost beastly fur vest. And I heard myself sigh.

This. This is what I like. Not the plaid and statement necklace version (when do I ever wear statement necklaces?), not the pencil skirt and chambray shirt version (why did I forget I hate anything that's not a midi?) but this dark-floral-gypsy-accents-fringe-and-velvet-everywhere version. Radically different from the looks I have been trying to pull it off with, and just right. 

So my point is this: you can pull anything off, you just need to translate it into your own, specific style. Trial and error my friends, trial and error! 

PS: Want more posts like this one? Then see how I finally cracked the code with blazers in How to Style Fall Blazers. And to get more fur vest ideas, check out 10 New Ways to Style Fur Vests

DRESS: Urban Outfitters (vintage similar: here, here, here, here)
FUR VEST: Marshals (store similar: here, here)
BOOTIES: Marshals
TURTLENECK: thrifted (store similar: here | vintage similar: here)
PURSE: thrifted
HAT: thrifted (similar: here)
NECKLACES: Urban Outfitters and Cocorrina
BELT: Banana Republic

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Nov 25, 2014



So this is going to sound against the grain, but I hate when things "go" together. Matchy-matchy looks have my eye falling into a twitching frenzy; dresses paired with cardigans and ballet flats make me want to put my head slowly down on the table; and I don't get too excited over a top that goes hand in hand with a pair of pants. Don't get me wrong, I think it looks fine. Nice. Appealing. 

But, to me, it doesn't look amazing. I like amazing. And I think the way to achieve amazing is if you take elements that shouldn't go together and force them to make nice. Like pairing rugged boots with feminine dresses, delicate, intricate tops with menswear-inspired slacks, or chambray shirts with evening gowns. 


It takes a bit of practice, but once you hit your stride with balancing juxtapositions, beautiful outfits emerge. And one of my favorite contrasts to play with is the casual + elegant combo. 

Take this particular outfit for example. This full emerald skirt has silk gloves and champagne written all over it. I could easily wear this to a date where five courses and soft candlelight are involved, or to a dinner party where I borrow my mom's diamond earrings to fit in. Because of that, do you know what would be wonderful to take that vibe down a notch or two? A plaid shirt.

Plaid has autumn evenings with hot ciders and commutes with infinity scarves basically written into the thread of it. A straight opposite from full, silk skirts. But when paired together, they both war and accept each other. They fit flawlessly but still create interest.

Then to take it a step further, pair the look with sleek black boots for a sharp, but relaxed vibe; and a vintage fur collar (this one is from New Old Fashion Vintage) to add a touch more fancy and balance out the casual pieces. 

And what do we have in the end? A look that you could easily take to the coffee shop to read a book, or to an after hour's cocktail party at the museum with the rest of the fancy folk. Win, win.



PS: Want more tips on how to play with opposites? Then check out 10 Tips on How to Wear Your Evening Wear in a Casual Way, Dressing Down Evening Skirts for the Day, and How to Wear Column Dresses During the Day Time. Want to see other looks where I styled this fur collar? Check out Tips on How to Style a Blanket Scarf: There's More Than 1 Way!

SKIRT: c/o Choies (only $16!)
FUR COLLAR: c/o New Old Fashion Vintage
BOOTIES: Marshalls
SHIRT: thrifted (similar: here and here)

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Nov 24, 2014



Our last giveaway of the day is from Little Miss Vintage 3, an Etsy boutique full of glamour and charm, and a special story behind how it all began. Deidra, the owner, shares how her love for all things vintage began:

My love of vintage started from a young age when my grandmother gave my an old jewelry box full of costume jewelry when I was just six; it was a very pivotal moment in my discovery of self adornment. Until this point I had never really had the option of choosing what I wanted to wear or even realized that I had a choice. My style has evolved many times over since then and one thing that had never changed was the desire to be well put together from head to toe and to be the best dressed (so modest huh?).  
Fast forward to high school, I made a friend drive me to another town to go dress shopping to ensure that no one would be wearing the same dress. That year my best friend and five other girls attended the winter formal wearing the same red, sparkly, floor length dress. That's right: 6 girls, same red dress! From there it just escalated, seeking out pieces to add to my wardrobe that were exactly on trend but the version no one else had. Thrifting for beaded clutches, sequined blouses, vintage peacoats. And after many years of friends and strangers asking me to thrift for them or to keep an eye out for certain items, I finally decided to open my Etsy boutique. In Little Miss Vintage you will find not only special occasion one of a kind pieces, but also on trend vintage to incorporate into your everyday wardrobe. Exactly those pieces I look for myself to add to my own wardrobe.

And today Deidra wants to treat another vintage lover just like herself to a little gift: a $50 giftcard to her store! To enter, all you have to do is:
  1. Mandatory Entry: Comment with your favorite item from Little Miss Vintage 3 and how you would style it,  and follow them on Instagram
  2. Bonus Entry: Favorite their store on Etsy (just press the little red heart on the left hand side)
  3. Bonus Entry: Follow Messages on a Napkin on Twitter

That's it! This is open internationally and will run for a week- good luck!

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Fiery Finish Vintage is run by one of my talented blogger friends, Chrissi from Fiery Finish Vintage. She's a vintage obsessed thrift store addict who decided to use her powers for good rather than evil and open an Etsy shop! She's always on the hunt for the perfect vintage dress, brightly colored tights, and kick-ass black boots. If you're looking for her, you can probably find her near the cookies (a woman after my own heart, sigh.) She'll be the one holding the craft beer.

And today she wants to spread her love for vintage by offering one lucky reader a $30 giftcard to go play with in her shop. To enter, all a girl's gotta do is:

  1. Mandatory Entry: Follow Fiery Finish Vintage on Instagram and comment with your favorite item from their store
  2. Bonus Entry: Follow on Facebook
  3. Bonus Entry: Follow them on Pinterest
  4. Bonus Entry: Follow Fiery Finish Vintage's blog

This is open internationally and will run for a week- good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Today we're going to be playing with one of the poppiest shops on Etsy- Color Theory Shop- run by one of my favorite bloggers, Lisa from Lala Faux Bois. Lisa is a graphic designer, desert dweller, cat lover, and mostly spends her days hunting for the perfect vintage dress and dreaming of vacations. She's happiest when traveling, thrifting, and surrounded by color- and it's even better when it's all at the same time. Color Theory was born out of her love of making and collecting stuff, and today she's going to give one lucky reader a $40 giftcard! To enter is easy, all you gotta do is:

  1. Mandatory Entry: Favorite Color Theory on Etsy (click the heart!)
  2. Mandatory Entry: Comment with your favorite item from Color Theory
  3. Bonus Entry: Follow Lala Faux Bois on Bloglovin
  4. Bonus Entry: Follow Color Theory on Twitter
  5. Bonus Entry: Follow Messages on a Napkin on Twitter

This is open internationally and will run for a week- good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

color-theory-shop-etsy-giveaway color-theory-shop-etsy-giveaway

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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© Messages on a Napkin.Maira Gall.