Where's That Groundhog?

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Today's post was going to be a beautiful Spring ensemble to celebrate the new season which Punxsutawney Phil swore to us all would be here early.

That groundhog is an idiot.

Instead of Springlike temperatures it was a balmy 23 degrees when I left the house on Thursday morning to my first day of Orthopedic Therapy at Vanderbilt Hand Clinic in downtown Nashville.  As a result I will instead show you a "Winter's Last Hurrah" ensemble.

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These photos were taken at Centennial Park, which is home to the building over my right shoulder. Nashville has often been called the "Athens of the South" so it's appropriate that it should be home to this full-scale replica of the Parthenon. Originally built of plaster, wood, and brick for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, the attraction became so popular it was rebuilt in the 1920's as a permanent structure. The Parthenon is home to the Athena Parthenos, a 42' replica covered in gold leaf and holding a 6' statue of Nike in the palm of her right hand.

I was hoping to show you an outfit as bright as the daffodils in the planter at the park but it was positively frigid out, even in direct sunlight, because of a very stiff breeze. Fortunately, this winter I finally bought myself a proper wool coat. This one is a Jessica Simpson with a full length lining and zipper and a detachable faux fur collar. Underneath is a crocheted cap sleeved black Slonl acrylic wool blend A-line dress. The Mr dislikes it because he says it looks "grannyish" but I needed something that was both warm and sleeveless because I wasn't sure what Orthopedic Therapy would entail. Of course, I couldn't resist the urge to wear some color and these Coach and Four purple suede boots are warm and very comfortable.

Linking up again with Patti at Not Dead Yet Style and all the other lovely ladies for Visible Monday. As I write this, my 100th blog post, it's sleeting with snow in the forecast for the next two days.

Fashion Friday: Sugar Coat-ed

Got the winter doldrums? Then cure them with a stroll in the park and a pop of color.

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Winter wardrobes are all too often as dreary as the weather. The antidote is strategic use of color. Unlike last week's Fashion Friday, this week a little color goes a long way.

Start with the basics, black jeggings and a white cowl neck merino wool sweater. Both can be had very affordably from a multitude of places. The black microfleece gloves from dorothyperkins.com are only $5. The boots are Timberland Authentics Teddy fleece  fold-downs. They're warm and easy to walk in and list for $88 on zappos.com. The hobo bag is a black multi diamond stud for $40 from newlook.com.

Now for a little color. Who could resist this Planet Ruby Port pea coat in - what else - purple? It sells for $95 at johnlewis.com. How about a Hollister Co winter scarf in emerald, 2013's color of the year?  It'll set you back $30. Finally, the chevron crew socks from Target are only $8. You're all set to brave the elements in style with your Nova Cruiser Deluxe walker.

Spashionistas Wanted

The outfits that I put together for Fashion Friday are based on my BODS profile. Sure, some of the items I use are beyond my price range but I’m certain I can find reasonable equivalents within my budget. I would love the opportunity to put some together for you for the next installment of Fashion Friday. If you’re interested email me with your BODS profile and we’ll make it happen!

The Happiest Place On Earth Part One: Classics Forward

No, not Disneyland. Stein Mart, of course.

I can't think of a better store to focus on to bridge the Budget and Occasion sections of BODS. I've been shopping here for years and the reasons are simple. Their selection is varied, sophisticated, and fashion forward. Their customer service rivals that of Franklin, Tennessee's Shi by Journeys. Their sales undercut that outlet malls and, in some cases, the discount stores.

A friend of mine had been recommending Stein Mart for quite some time before I actually took her advice and had a look for myself. I had believed their stock to be stuffy and matronly. It was just something I'd heard, but my friend's wardrobe certainly didn't fit that description. Then I started paying attention to who was making the disparaging remarks; they weren't exactly style icons! I was hooked after just one trip.

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These are a few of my most recent finds that will see a lot of use in the coming months and years. The charcoal grey wool coat on the left is a Jessica Simpson lined with leopard print. The fur collar is detachable, adding to its versatility. I apologize for the cropped shot but, rest assured, you will see more of this coat in future posts as the weather goes from cool to freezing. Two of the three pieces on the right, the boots and skirt, are also from Stein Mart. Pencil skirts are in this fall and as they are a classic shape that suits my curves and never go out of style I'm snapping them up when I find those that fit well. This petite sized, fire engine red panel skirt is the perfect length and color for fall and beyond. The knee-high boots are quite a coup for me. Not only are they deep purple suede - my favorite color - they are cut generously enough in the calf for my not-so-skinny legs. I find it extremely difficult to find over-the-calf boots so I was ecstatic to find these.

None of these pieces were on sale, meaning I paid the full Stein Mart price for them. However, "full price" usually means a savings of 30-70% off of retail. Because all three of these pieces will get a considerable amount of wear, not just this fall and winter but for some time, it makes the "per-wear" value worth every penny!

Even though by now I can maneuver ever aisle of the store like an old pro I wouldn't have two of these great garments were it not for the store's most valuable asset; its employees. I want to introduce you to a few very special sales ladies next week.

Get Out Your Crayons

Metaphorically speaking, of course. Here's where the fun (read work) starts.

There is no better way to start this journey into finding your own personal style than to start with color. Wearing the best colors for you is the quickest, cheapest way of making yourself look good. Color doesn't care if you're broke or broken. But you have to be careful when you choose your next article of clothing. Court the right color and it can make you look like a beauty queen just as surely as the wrong one can make you look like you have the flu.

Most people don't really give the subject of color much thought. They either surrender to looking monastic as they enshroud themselves in neutrals or they pile on the colors until they look like a pinata - or anything in between. And it's no small wonder when you consider how intimidating and  confusing it can be. I'm sure most of you have heard of people having their colors "done" and being told they are a "winter" or a "spring". What does this mean? It never made any sense to me. A "summer" should wear nothing but pastels even though they drain your complexion of all color as you age? A "fall" can only wear rust and gold?

There is an easier way. No, I take that back. There is a clearer way - at least, it's clearer to me. As an artist I work with color all the time, but it was only after I read a book called "What You Wear Can Change Your Life" by Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine that it all clicked in my head. There are three main color groups. Blue-based colors are cool, yellow-based colors are warm, mid-toned colors are more muted than blue-based yet cooler than yellow-based.

Here are the three shades of red courtesy of the PalsyCam. Yes, I know it's fuzzy but I want you to pay attention to the different shades of color and nothing else; those are clearly distinguishable.

Right now I'll bet you're thinking this is all as clear as mud. How am I supposed to know which group will look best on me - and which other colors belong in that group?

Stick around. All shall be revealed.