April 2, 2014

Two cute retro Born Pretty accessories, chilly sunshine, and thoughts on outfits that don't turn out quite as you'd hoped




Outfit details

Snow leopard print scarf: Born Pretty
Silver and clear rhinestone heart earrings: Claire's
Black 1980s does 1950s shirtwaist dress: etsy (seller no longer appears to have a shop)
Black and grey bangle bracelets: Assorted sources
Wide white laser cut belt: Born Pretty
Grey 1950s handbag: etsy seller Running Rabbit Studio
Nude stocking with black seam: eBay
White pumps: Payless
Lip colour: MAC Russian Red
Nail Colour: Essie A List


Photography by Tony Cangiano



























Recently I was reflecting at length (to myself) on how I find I sometimes style outfits differently when they involve one or more products from a sponsor, and how I put them together when I'm getting dressed sans these kinds of items. There's a process when I fall in love with a garment or accessory, be it online or person, that my brain usually goes through. Honestly, it’s hard to describe, but in a way I'd say it's a bit like my mind turns into the famous lines of streaming green code in the Matrix, but instead of numbers, it is every other item in my closet that I'm seeing.
 
If I can picture a piece working with existing garments and accessories, than I know there's a solid chance it's going to end up being a winner. When I receive a product to wear from a sponsor, I always get to choose it (at least to some degree) and ideally will go through the same (very positive) mental process. However, it can still be trickier to style that item once it arrives, especially if that piece wasn't one I was actively looking to enrich my wardrobe with.
 
Don't get me wrong, I'm very selective with the sponsors I work with and the products from them that I feature, and I feel incredibly grateful for each such gift that a company or individual wants to bestow on me, but, again, at times they can be tougher to style than if I just walked up to my closet and put together an outfit from pieces I've known and already sported for months or years (or featuring an item that I purposed bought because I loved it and/or it filled a void in my wardrobe).
 
I really felt like that was the case with this chic snow leopard print scarf and wide white laser cutout design belt that I recently selected and was sent to review from the well known online accessories brand Born Pretty.

Typically I don't work with modern accessories companies, but I'd heard primarily positive things about Born Pretty's offerings on my friend Ash's blog, Art Evolve, so when a rep from the Born Pretty contacted me a while back, I took a look around their massive inventory and having spotted some vintage-y looking pieces, decided to partner with them.
 
Born Pretty sent me two items to review, the scarf and belt in this outfit, which separately didn't pose much of a styling conundrum for me, but together...well, that was a whole 'nother matter. I pondered how to style them as part of the same ensemble in a vintage way for weeks before taking these snaps and settling on the other pieces that I did. I don't wear this black 1980s does 50s shirtwaist dress very often in public because the top has a lot of access volume and ends up making me look as though I'm far wider and more busty on my upper torso than I really am (two things I'm not keen to have happen and proof positive that black isn't always slimming; a well fitting, flattering cut is slimming), but after trying numerous other dresses and separates out, it remained the best suited piece regardless of that fact, so I went with it.
 
White shoes, to pick up the snow hue in the scarf and the belt, my beloved little grey vintage purse, and some bangles, also in matching hues, were all I added (save for stockings and earrings) to the look. These two pieces are bold, big and more than enough to risk overwhelming my short, curvy frame. In the case of the belt, I fear that it did just that in the end, at least somewhat. Styled with a more boho dress, a 60s or 70s look, or on a taller woman, it likely wouldn't have, but trying to get it to look 50s (as I was aiming for) on my frame, didn't quite happen here, IMO.
 
As well, after just a couple of hours of wear, the belt started to separate (the white part came away from its brown backing in spots) a little, so I'll have to apply some sturdy fabric glue to it to whip it back into shape. Aside from those two points, I do very much like it though. It's a departure from most of the belts in my closet at the moment and has a great country western meets Summer of Love vibe to it.

The scarf held up great and is my favourite of the two items. It's also available in classic leopard print, measures 48cm x 155cm, and is made of an airy cotton blend, so it will be perfect as a breezy summertime accessory, too. Though pleasing sunny on the recent day when we took these snaps, it was near freezing cold still and very windy, especially right down near Okanagan Lake in Kelowna where we shot these snaps in front of the marina, so I thought it would be fun to try and channel a fifties-gal-driving-in-a-convertible vibe by wrapping it around my head.

The end results, in part because of the wind, weren't quite what I was hoping for, but it still looks cute, I think, and on a less windy day, I'll have to give wearing it again this way a try. Interestingly, had a belt not already been part of this outfit, I would have worn the scarf as one (much as I did for last year's Canada Day outfit).

Overall, for their very minimal price tags (the belt sells, in USD, for $6.73, the scarf for $5.94), these items are perfectly fine (save for the belt coming apart, I mean). They're cute, budget-friendly ways to add some extra pizzazz to an outfit and when worn separately I think I'll have much better luck styling them in the future. Born Pretty's offerings aren't haute couture or anywhere near it, but they are fun, frequently updated, and easy on the wallet, and I could honestly see myself purchasing something with a vintage vibe to it from them every now and then.

If you're in the mood to do some shopping with this jewelry, accessories, beauty product, and stationery powerhouse yourself, please feel free to avail of the Born Pretty coupon code JCAT10 anytime (I wasn't given an expiration date for it).




Not too long ago, my lovely friend and fellow vintage blogger Joanna of Dividing Vintage Moments wrote at length at the process of assessing an outfit to determine what, if anything, you might be able to do to improve it the next time you wear it. This is an important element of style and something I do frequently, often not posting a given outfit publicly until I'm not just happy, but thrilled with it. I wasn't with this one and I know that I'll continue to access it and wear the various pieces separately in the future, but doubt I'll combine them all again. I just don't like how top heavy and wide the blousy shirtwaist dress, thick belt, and scarf around my neck look together.

You win some, you lose some, and most importantly of all, you try something new, at least once in a while, with your outfits and that's what I did here. It wasn't a massive winner, but not everything in life is and that's no reason not to still share the results here on my blog, especially since I'm sure many of you can relate to having an outfit that didn't quite pan out as you'd envisioned it would when all was said and done.












53 comments:

  1. Ha! It's fantastic to see the two portions of the blogosphere I interact with collide... Born Pretty sells a LOT of nail art stuff, so nearly every nail polish blog I read has reviewed them at some point or another. It's neat to see what the rest of their wares are like.
    I see what you mean about being not totally thrilled with the outfit.... I think the scarf would look very chic with a black cardigan and some vintage jeans or cigarette pants, and the belt perhaps with something more bohemian. Still, you look adorable, and it's good to know that even the most put-together bloggers sometimes come up with a dud and aren't entirely superhuman!

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    1. So true! I've seen Born Pretty on scads more beauty and nail art blogs than I have in our vintage fashion circle. Perhaps working with me will encourage BP to reach out to more vintage bloggers.

      Goodness, yes! I have had my fair share of wardrobe fails over the years, believe me! Though there's only been one shoot (to date) that I didn't end up posting here because I was soooo not in love with what I wore (I tried for a hep cat kind of 50s beat gen look and though I had the components right, in the end I just couldn't pull them off and it looked too "costumey" to me), there have been others that I didn't love with every last ounce of my heart and soul. That's super natural! No one can bring their a-game 100% of the time. Experiments and outfits fails help us grow and better fine tune our personal styles, so they're certainly worthwhile unto themselves.

      Thank you very much for your terrific comment,
      ♥ Jessica

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  2. Hello,Ciao...lovely photos and this outfit make shine your charme,your Beauty more than the Sun...cheers!

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    1. That's very kind, Aure, thank you for the lovely compliment - it means all the more to be given that I'm anything but crazy about this outfit.

      Have a wonderful start of April,
      ♥ Jessica

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  3. I love the scarf. I put one of mine on Andy recently as he was going out in a convertible car and was fussing about his hair so I draped a scarf over him and flipped the end over one shoulder! Of course he didn't go out like it, but it was amusing nonetheless xxx

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  4. I do love the headscarf on you but agree that the belt also isn't my favourite. That is too funny and sad that it started coming apart after only one wear. You have to be honest with your reviews though. The company needs to realize that.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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    1. Absolutely, dear Suzanne. I'm not the type of person who will ever go out of my way to highlight a less than stellar company (which I'm certainly not saying Born Pretty is, just in general I mean) or product, but I will be completely honest in a way that is constructive and helpful in my posts. I work with a wide range of sponsors, but I will never "butter up" an item or company, no matter what they've given me. I'm always true to myself and my readers there and believe in being impartial, so if something like this white belt does have a fault that's worth mentioning, I certainly will bring it up so as to best inform my readers (who might be thinking of buying the same item themselves). A bit of Arleene's glue has remedied the issue for now - we'll see if it holds in the long run.

      Thank you very much for your comment - have a fantastic Wednesday!
      ♥ Jessica

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  5. I dunno, if you're sending a blogger something for review, it should be the best you have-not something that will fall apart after one wear. That said, I have some thoughts about your dress.

    A couple things might work, one being shoulder pads, which can be done without looking *too* 80's, or a tight-fitting waistcoat (I'd stay away from ethnic prints unless you want drunks yelling, "Hey Frau, wanna polka?" or maybe that's just me that gets that)that would accentuate the skirt without making you top heavy (which you're not, by the way, but I get what you mean about the dress).

    I have a similar dress, in flannel that has almost identical issues. It seems a shame to get rid of something well-made over a few fitting issues. On the other had, if you don't feel happy wearing it, there's no shortage of dresses out there.

    I like wide belts with a pencil skirt, which seems counter-intuitive, but strangely seems to work. Anyway, hope something in my rambling, pre-coffee comment will be helpful.

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    1. Hi sweet dear, thank you very much for terrific ideas on how to style this dress in a more becoming way in the future. I really (!) like your suggestion of partnering with a fitted vest/waistcoat. I'll be trying that the next time I wear it out of the house and if the results are favourable, hopefully doing a shoot and blogging about it (crediting the idea of sporting a vest with it to you, of course).

      I like wide belts with pencil skirts as well - especially if your donning a classic, fitted button front blouse, or conversely a somewhat airy, boho style shirt on top. I'll be playing around with it more that front (assuming my glue repair job helps it stay in one piece) in the coming months.

      Thank you again very much for your fabulous ideas, I really appreciate them!

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  6. I like the scarf for your hair--I think the wide/chunky style of the belt would have been too overwhelming for my shorter frame, too.

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  7. Hi Jessica, another lovely outfit post from you - what a crying shame about the belt though! Really disappointing for you. I've had a belt come to pieces on quite an expensive dress before now, so I don't think it's a reflection of a bargain brand - I've had cheap items last for years and years on the flipside. I think I would have struggled too to put both items together in one outfit, maybe I would have not tried, given up, and just posted two different looks! Beautiful setting for the photos, lovely lighting there.

    I agree with the others who have left comments, honesty is so important in reviews.

    Hope you're having a good week! P x

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    1. So very true! I've had inexpensive pieces last for years (or even decades now in the case of some jewelry and accessories), whereas much pricier ones bit the dust have just weeks/months (or in this case, hours!). I debated going that route (two outfits), but do love a good fashion challenge, so ultimately (even if I didn't uber adore the results), I settled for just one. I really do want to make this belt work for me, if possible though, so hopefully it will appear here again in a future outfit (I've glued it together and the repair is holding, so it should be good to go anytime now).

      Thank you very much for your great comment,
      ♥ Jessica

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  8. I love that you went tonal with the colors and took influence from the leopard print in picking out your other accessories- it makes the outfit very cohesive and chic! The scarf would look great around the neck paired with a cardigan and jeans with some red accents- very classic rockabilly. I think you can definitely figure out different ways to utilize the dress! I also like the vest idea! Blogs really are a great way to reassess an outfit and figure out what looks best on you.
    It also helps with remembering pieces that worked really well together and outfits that you really loved!
    And your pictures on the dock turned out very pretty- you have great photographer! :-)
    -Melissa

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  9. That's so true !
    Sometimes you have something in mind and unfortunately cant really express it and sometimes in simple ideas reveal great résults.
    Thats Life !
    Anyway I think this outfit is perfect for the nautical type pictures you did With Tony, its really sublime, I even think he / you are getting better and better in your work. With the sunlight...
    Love it :)

    Xxx
    Lorna
    Have a good (end?) of the week Jessica.

    Http://lornasharp.blogspot.com

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  10. Aww I just take it straight off if I'm not loving it. Having said that, I DO love the dress and hair scarf - the first photograph in particular is really glamourous. It wouldn't be a big job to take in the sides of the dress on top a little to make it less blousey. If I lived near you I could be your personal seamstress to do these little jobs before your photograph! Wouldn't it be fun? I don't love the belt Jessica but I could see it in a 70's maxi dress style ensemble xx

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    1. Thank you for your straight up honesty, dear Philippa. I wasn't super loving it myself. The backdrop, the sunshine (lacking in heat as it was), Tony's snaps and some of the elements separately, you bet, but together this outfit wasn't a "ten" for me either.

      That would be fabulous!!! Yet another reason why I wish we didn't have an ocean between us.

      Have a beautiful Wednesday,
      ♥ Jessica

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  11. total perfection is boring :-)
    even with the slightly to big dress you look cute and lovely - a beautiful woman disfigured nothing!
    on the contrary, with your great smile in this magnificent light you look like a 50's movie star!
    big hugs!

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  12. You can always pair accessories well. I have the hardest time finding matching shoes. The scarf and belt are very pretty.

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    1. That's a splendidly nice compliment, dear Mariela, thank you very much. I find that a selection (and it doesn't have to be huge by any means, mine isn't) of dark neutral + white + red (shoes) will see one through nearly any outfit you may encounter, especially on the vintage front.

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  13. I actually really like the belt! I think it would look really cute with a more fitted dress like a red cotton wiggle dress in the summer and probably would look cute worn with the buckle in the back too so the pattern can really shine in front. Also, the lighting in these photographs is gorgeous! Makes me wish I had some great go-to spots for outfit photos, also a live in photographer but that's even harder to find!

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  14. I'm not usually a fan of animal prints but I do like this scarf. Not everybody likes to wear vintage all the time (silly people, they don't know what they're missing) and you have showed us how to marry the two worlds quite nicely. For someone like me who is slowly transforming her wardrobe to vintage, its nice to know that I can pull out some modern pieces and make them appear vintage, till I've made the switch to the real thing. So thanks my dear!!

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    1. Aww, Debra, that is incredibly nice (and very touching) to know. You are wholeheartedly welcome. There's few things I love more than "talking shop", so by all means, please feel free to email me if you'd ever like to discuss transitioning from modern to vintage or any other vintage related topic, anytime you'd like.

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  15. oh, i love the way you described your belt. "Country western meets Summer of Love". so perfect! If i had to choose a theme for this spring/summer (besides dust bowl) it would be that exactly. that kind of southwest-country-60s-flowerchild is already my choice of style.
    you did a great job working out the wardrobe challenges. it seams there are always a few outfits that are less than wonderful, but each of them can be learning experiences and help make the better ones better.
    loving the lighting in the pictures, it looks like its getting warmer!

    ~Abigail
    http://sweetergetsthejourneyblog.blogspot.com/

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  16. A scarf is not very easy to wear... as you can remember , I tried recently too... ( and it took me some time to style it!) You are wearing it perfectly, and everything is cute on you!! Funny story of the belt! ( not of a too high quality perhaps! )

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  17. I think you look wonderful Jessica! A little of the classic movie star variety. :)

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    1. Thank you very much, lovely Teresa. I was thinking along the lines of those vibes when styling the scarf in this way, but worried I didn't pull it off well. It means a lot to me that you picked up on it. :)

      Tons of hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  18. I am head-over-heels for that belt. I don't wear a lot of belts but that one is so pretty. It's a shame that it started to come apart though, but I suppose for the price point you can't expect amazing quality.

    The print on the scarf is fantastic. I can imagine so many ways to style it.

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  19. It's nice -- and, to me, instructive -- to listen to the minds of other bloggers as they ponder what to wear and how to assemble an outfit. To my simple brain, the scarf and belt look great together. But I didn't realize you are seeking to create a vintage look with various subtleties in the styling. I still think they're nice but now see the depth of your greater analysis.

    I also have to confess that I like to see pictures of you simply to see your friendly face. I find it reassuring.

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  20. It's such a shame about the belt coming apart; it's very pretty! (I do agree, though; the scarf is supreme.) I actually really like this outfit overall. In spite of the dark color scheme, it's very breezy and carefree. That said, I appreciate and totally understand all the thought that went into the post. Sometimes outfits don't even come close to what we were planning! And it can be really disheartening, but you show here how it's a learning experience. You win some, you lose some, but as long as you look to the future and think about how to improve it the next time around, it's a good experience.

    Cheers!
    Jenny

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  21. Thanks for sharing the outfit even though you weren't happy with it. I love it when people are willing to be open about things that are less than perfect, along with the stunningly beautifully outfits that fall into place like a dream. It encourages us all to experiment and take chances. Love it.

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  22. As always you look lovely and I adore how you look in scarfs, but I think the dress could maybe be taken in a bit. I definitely have outfits that are less then perfect myself so I don't think we always have to strive for perfection. I hope it warms up by you soon
    retro rover

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  23. Dear Jessica, lately I've been missing so much to read your posts as I used to do... with time, sipping some lovely tea, in a relaxing time. But today, my dear husband went to do my own tasks and I can have some extra time to do it. And even if you aren't thrilled about this outfit, I have to say that you look charming anyway! I love the first picture and I think is so inspirational. The head scarf is lovely and chic. And how important it is to see something that didn't work so well for you, make us think about it in a different perspective, and I tell you, I learnt lots! Your reviews are well valuable sweet friend. You are a honest and a trustable person. That's so important for us gals that buy things online! :-)

    Thank you so much for the joy of these reading minutes!

    Beta xxxx

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    1. Hello dearest Beta, I know how incredibly busy you are at the moment and appreciate greatly that you devoted some of your precious free time to visiting me, honey. Thank you! The first photo is my favourite from that day, which is why I lead the post off with it (to help, in my mind, make up for how little I liked the outfit I wore here). In fact, little known CV fact, I nearly always start my outfit posts with my favourite photo from a given shoot. :)

      Tons of gentle hugs & wishes of serenity coming your way,
      ♥ Jessica

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  24. Amei o look e o que dizer da paisagem: lindaa!
    Adorei o blog!

    Bjux, Jell
    www.urbanoeretro.com.br

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    1. Thank you very much, dear Jell!

      Big hugs from Canada,
      ♥ Jessica

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  25. Dear Jessica,

    I love that hazy photo at the top; it really looks vintage. I love your scarf and also love the way the light fabric of your dress looks in the breeze. And I have to add, what a lovely place you chose for this photo shoot.

    I am interesting in reading "assessing an outfit"...thanks for the link.

    ♥Hope

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  26. You look quite cute, dear. But I think it is mainly the dress. Wrong size (do give to somebody bigger than you) and it's lack of colour, not you. When I see the belt and scarf I think of you in a tight red cardigan and a full circle skirt in e.g. pink. I imagine this would be great. Then I could pick you up in my small vintage sports car and we could go for a ride. :)

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    1. Thank you very much, sweet dear. You know, I'm with you completely about the lack of colour. Whereas many people flock to copious amounts of black in their wardrobe and/or a given outfit, it is very rarely me in the slightest, which might account for why I own far fewer black dresses than many women. I don't dislike black at all, of course, but for me, it usually does seem to work better as a supporting player, not the main star of an outfit. I'm definitely going to give your styling suggest for the scar a spin - thank you for it!

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  27. I do like the scarf and the way you have styled it. Well done for being honest about the belt, it is not at all good that it is coming apart after one wear. Lovely light in the photos.

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    1. It's certainly not, no, but thankfully some Arleen's glue (a popular brand of craft glue here in North America) was able to restore it to one piece and it seems to be holding up well. I haven't worn it again since that day, but come the somewhat warmer months, I will - I'm 99% certain I can make it work in a way that looks more becoming on me.

      Tons of hugs & heartfelt thanks for all of your great blog comments this week,
      ♥ Jessica

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  28. Your belt is stunning! Lovely images and great style as always Jessica ;)
    http://balearaitzart.blogspot.com.au/

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  29. i totally agree, it can be quite a bit trickier to style something that you've not necessarily hand picked yourself, or say, something you've been given as a gift. you may not have chosen to spend your own money on it because you're not 100% confident about how it'll fit into your wardrobe, but on the other hand, it can provide some interesting challenges that push you a bit out of your comfort zone and you can end up loving it! i think the scarf really suits you wearing it that way, and the detailing of the belt is so pretty.

    i also agree with you about black not always being slimming, it's really about the cut of the garment. i find it hard to wear something that's quite big/baggy all over because i have a big chest and arms and it just makes me look really wide and big everywhere, so i always have to wear a belt to show my waist. i just find the symmetry of clothes that go in at the waist and show an hourglass shape to be a lot more flattering on me so i only really wear clothes that aren't fitted either on the top or the bottom, or if it's both i'll always wear a belt to balance is out.

    Jess xx
    little henry lee

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  30. These pictures remind me of the divas of the classic movies, when they placed their handkerchiefs, wrapping her head to fight the wind, so beautiful! You look so romantic with all your looks, dear Jessica.

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  31. Dear Jessica, I love the details of your outfit, you look so beautiful with the sunshine....

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  32. this is a pretty look ... i like the scarf - but i struggle with the belt. i wore those kinds of belts years ago in the late 90s ... actually -i suppose- what confuses me about this belt is, that it looks a little cheap. normally you wear pieces that seem to be highly valueable and made from good materials. ...
    the black dress is really lovely ...

    have a good weekend!

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    1. Hi sweet dear, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts on this outfit with me (agreed, this belt is a bit below the quality level of most accessories and garments I wear - normally my accessories don't fall apart on me during their first wear!). I too remember when belts like that were all the rage in the 90s and early 2000s - they tended to work better on ladies who were much taller than me and I didn't wear many back in their heyday.

      ♥ Jessica

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  33. Love the touch of animal print in your scarf! Looking fabulous as always Jessica! x

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  34. Love the touch of animal print in your scarf! Looking gorgeous as always Jessica xx

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  35. I like the style, but I get why you weren't overly thrilled and agree the belt doesn't quite work as well with it as it might with something else. You still look cute, though, and the scarf looks fabulous!

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  36. I can see where these would be difficult to style. Leopard print, although one of my faves since childhood, is a difficult print to work with. Since I'm not that good at thinking up color schemes or outfits for such an item I've stayed away from it for quite a while.

    Although while browsing their belts, I loved the Scottie belt!! I love all things Scottish! Anyway, I think you made the best of these choices and I hope you are able to find more ways to utilize them.

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    1. Thank you, this was one of the trickiest outfits to style I've come up against in a really long time, so I appreciate you saying that you think I made good choices with it all the more.

      Isn't that Scottie belt just fantastic? I don't think they had it when I was selecting my review item choices from them or else I very likely would have opted for it. At that reasonable price, even though I'm spending next to nothing on myself at the moment, I might have to order it one of these days.

      Thanks again - big hugs!
      ♥ Jessica

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  37. Isn't it strange how we see ourselves? I thought you looked lovely in this outfit. :)

    Thank you for being so honest about how you felt and sharing with us.
    Lisa.

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Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts, questions, and opinions with me. I read and sincerely appreciate each comment I receive - they brighten my day like rays of sparkling sunshine.

♥ Jessica