Swoozie’s Blogger’s Event!

On Wednesday, I attended my very first ‘blogger’s only’ event!  Those of you following along as I walk along two parallel paths in life – 1) the scientist/PhD/researcher path and the 2) fashion/lifestyle blogger path – know that this is the very first event I have attended as a ‘real blogger’!!  Wait, actually, I have a third path…motherhood/wifehood (wait, those are two paths, haha!)! 😛

Anyway, it was super cool to get the ‘blogger’s only’ for ‘Birmingham’s best bloggers’ invite!  Eeeep!!  I’m among the best!  Yay!!  This, of course, coming off the heels of my attendance at Birmingham Fashion Week as a blogger/press/media!  More on that to follow in an upcoming post!  Curious?  Check out this guest blog post I wrote for Lotus Boutique!

Anyhow, so this event.  In Birmingham, we have this store…Swoozie’s.  Cute name, right?!  So, Swoozie’s is a gift and social paper retailer in the Birmingham area.  There are 7 other locations, in Georgia, the Carolinas, Florida, Colorado and Texas!  They also have an online site.  So…this event.  Sorry, haha, I get easily distracted, apparently!!  Squirrel!!  Hahaha, okay, ENOUGH!

AN-Y-way…Swoozie’s!!  I arrived at the event having only had 15 minutes to get ready, so I went with basics.  Black harem pants, a red pleated top, animal print heels (because, really, WHO can tell the difference between cheetah and leopard prints?!!), a gold fringe necklace, Stella and Dot hoop earrings, and lots of bracelets!  You’re not a real fashion blogger if you don’t wear every bracelet you own, haha! Just kidding.  No but really, I was wearing like 6 altogether.  I also wore my usual top knot.  Anyone studying biostatistics could easily use me as an example for explaining what Bayesian statistics is all about, haha! You know…because I wear my hair in a bun almost everyday!! So, this is what I ended up wearing to the event!

My Photo Grid collageI arrived at the event, and was greated with my very first SWAG bag!!  Eeeeeep!! I was so excited!!  Check out the goodies I got!!

0430142034c-1Um, okay, so I may have added a napkin from the food table that I thought was cute, as well as new notebooks that I picked up at the event with my exclusive, ‘blogger’s only’ discount (both were not originally included in the swag bag, but they make the picture look cuter, right?!). 😀

NEXT, I made a beeline for the food table.  Check out the food table!!  If you know me well, you know that I do NOT pass up an opportunity to eat, so just know that I may or may not have eaten the crab cakes that are missing from this platter…oops!!  In my defense, it WAS dinner time.  Okay, maybe it wasn’t, but I hadn’t eaten dinner!!!  JUDGE ME! Hee hee!

0430141844The event was lots of fun!!  I met a variety of bloggers there!  Fashion, food, lifestyle, etc…a fun and diverse group!


Krista Colin and Alicia Rohan from KC Projects, LLC, as well as other new blogger friends!

The event focused on giving us tips for becoming the ‘Hostess with the Mostest’, both socially as well as digitally.  I didn’t really capture too much of the digital hostess goods (e.g. business cards, personalized stationary and other items), but here are the social hostess items I thought were cute!


ChewBeads!! Have you heard of these?? You wear them as jewelry, your baby chews on them while toting him/her on your arm, and then you throw them in the dishwasher and voila! You have a clean necklace to wear again!


Cute decorative pieces like this one! SO relevant in our household, since our little one has YET to sleep through the night consistently! Oh woe is me!! :((


Kate Spade…’nuff said. 


Voluspa Candles…my FAVORITE!!


TONS of baby things, including this super cute baby announcement for your front door or mailbox!

Omgosh, and SOOOOO many other goodies!!  For those living in the Birmingham area, Swoozies is having an event for YOU this coming Saturday, May 3rd, from 11am-2pm!!  They are also offering an exclusive 20% discount to all attending this fun event!!  I told you what’s on my wish list, so feel free to use your discount to get me something cute! 😉

Birmingham_HousewarmingI have to tell you, this blogging ‘thing’ has been such an amazing experience thus far!  I never thought I would have a hobby I loved, but I can honestly say that this is one of the most fun-filled experiences/hobbies, I have ever had!  I *may* now understand how my hubby feels about golf.  Maybe… 😉

Keep an eye out for my upcoming post on Birmingham Fashion Week (yes, I know, SOOOO overdue!!), as well as my post on staying ‘Chic in Academia’ while pregnant or nursing (ALSO WAY OVERDUE!!)!!!  I’ve got about a 1-week window before my grant writing takes over my life again, so look for these posts in the upcoming week!  In the meantime, follow along on Instagram and Twitter for daily workplace outfit inspirations, as well as my SALE ALERTS peppered throughout!

Thanks so much for reading and…Stay Chic!!


Mixology – mix·ol·o·gy (m k-s l -j ). n.  Most commonly referring to the art of mixing drinks (e.g. as in bartending), ‘mixology’ is a term that is often applied to fashion as well.

I’ve previously blogged about my love of labels and the reasons I prefer brand name/designer items over non-brand name items.  Affected by long-term memory loss?  No worries, refresh your memory, here. 😉

Anyhow, I realized after putting together a few of my outfit layouts on Instagram, that I too am a mixologist!  I love to pair high-end items with non-designer items.  It is not uncommon for example, that I would choose to pair a Forever 21 dress with a Chanel bag.  The idea simply is to – in the words of Tim Gunn – ‘make it work’!

Here are some of my favorite outfits; examples of mixology in action:

Screen Shot 2013-11-16 at 10.50.40 PM

Bag, MAC Daddy Rebecca Minkoff, purchased for $185, originally $395 (Saks, here) // Dress, Dorothy Perkins, purchased for $29 (DorothyPerkins.com, here) // Shoes, Cole Haan Nike Air Heels, $37, originally $328 (Nordstrom Rack, read about them here). Cost: $251 (saved, $516).


Jacket, $17, originally $42.50 (Forever 21, old) // Dress, $12, originally $27.50 (Forever 21, old) // Bag, $250, originally $1275 (Balenciaga, eBay, old) // Shoes, $89, originally $325 (KORS by Michael Kors, TJMaxx, here).  Cost: $368 (saved, $1302).


Top, $15, originally 22.50 (Forever 21, old) // Skirt, $22, originally $89.50 (JCrew, here) // Belt, $10 (Lotus Boutique, old) // Heels, $12, originally $89 (Nine West, eBay, super old!).  Cost: $59 (saved, $142).


Dress, $15, originally $79.99 (Maggy London, TJMaxx, old) // Jacket, $15, originally $37.50 (Forever 21, old) // Belt, $69 (C.Wonder, here) // Tights, $8 (Hue, TJMaxx, old) // Shoes, $42, originally $98 (BCBG, TJMaxx, recent), Necklace, $20, originally $365 (Kenneth Jay Lane, eBay, old).  Cost: $169 (saved, $411.49).


Jacket, $15, originally $37.50 (Forever 21, old) // Dress, $12, originally $22.50 (Forever 21, old) // Shoes, $89, originally $325 (KORS by Michael Kors, TJMaxx, here) // Necklace, $20, originally $365 (Kenneth Jay Lane, eBay, old) // Bag, $800, originally >$2500 (Chanel, eBay, old).  Cost: $936 (saved, $2314).

In general, I tend to purchase less expensive clothes and invest in bags and shoes.  Bags and shoes tend to have better resale value on eBay, so I won’t shy away from spending a little more on those items, since I can guarantee reselling them for at least 75% of my purchase price.  As you can see, though, even my high-ticket items were either purchased on sale or purchased in pre-owned state on eBay (stay tuned for my post on eBay buying soon, including how to tell fake from authentic items!), so I make sure to save even when buying designer items.

Most recently, I was made aware that my ‘mixologist’ tendencies come through, not only in my outfit layouts on Instagram, but in past blog posts as well!  As a dear family friend, Chic in Academia reader, and fabulous fashionista (let’s call her MDF 😉 ) recently put it,

“Your ideas and smart shopping guides show me that one doesn’t have to go crazy spending lots of money or be extremely wealthy to wear higher-end designers’ clothes or accessories. Love how you mix and match, for example when you combine a designer’s accessory with a not too expensive garment!!!”

I hope that this post  – as well as prior blog posts – inspire you to think ‘cheap chic’ when considering spending outlandish amounts of money on high-end clothes, accessories and shoes!  Never pay retail!!

Be a savvy shopper and shop stores like TJMaxx, Ross, Nordstrom Rack, or Marshalls for designer labels at low-end prices.  Also consider consignment shops, online community resale websites like Poshmark and Threadflip, as well as eBay for amazing deals on designer labels.  For clothes, my low-cost staples often come from Forever 21, Target, and small boutiques like Lotus Boutique or Francesca’s Collections, as well as from eBay!

Remember, you don’t have to spend a million bucks, to look a million bucks. 😉

Finally, IF you thought these outfits were still too expensive for your taste, stay tuned for another post where I style 5 outfits with at least one item purchased for $5 or less!!

-Stay Chic!

The Hunting Enthusiast

A ‘bargain’-hunting enthusiast, that is!  That’s me.

I love to shop, but I especially love to shop when I am amidst a sea of potentially amazing bargains. And that, my fellow fashionistas, is what I was faced with this past weekend.  In honor of Veteran’s Day (sidenote to thank the many women and men who have served our great country…my hubby included), many stores were offering promotions.  Nordstrom Rack was among them, and boy did they have some bargains!!


Nordstrom Rack is one of those stores that can easily overwhelm the novice and/or infrequent shopper.  However, there is no shame in falling into that category.  Stores like these have rack after rack, filled with large quantities of individual, unique items; one of these racks alone would be enough to make even the most experienced shopper walk right back out the door on an off day.

clothingRacksWhat you must realize is that there are strategies/steps one must consider when dealing with stores like these; further, when searching through piles or racks of clothing, shoes, accessories, etc.:

Step 1:  Shop by color/print/material.  Take for example the picture above.  The racks are categorized by size, so I would likely start with the rack in the lower left hand corner.  I would not bother searching the other racks because they aren’t my size, and if limited on time, don’t really care about the item that someone decided to leave behind in the wrong rack.  If they left it behind, it was likely for a good reason.

Back to the rack.  Immediately, my eye is drawn to the black jacket with fur, as well as to the red jacket that appears next to it.  I don’t bother going through the other items, because no matter how inexpensive they are, chances are, I will not like them because I wasn’t immediately drawn to them.

Step 2:  Set a minimum for what you will consider a ‘bargain’.  Often, if the item is discounted anything less than 40%, I will not consider it.  40% and above is my criteria for bargain shopping.  This past weekend, most items were at least 50% off, with an additional 25% off.  Now that’s worth considering. 😉  And don’t forget to ask for your student/military/teacher/etc. discount!!

Step 3:  If grabs your attention, and meets your ‘bargain’ price criteria, it goes in the shopping cart.  There is no time to stand in front of the rack and get in the way of other shoppers trying to get their share of the bargains available, while you decide what you do and don’t want.  You don’t want to be THAT shopper.  Put the items in the cart and move on to the next area of the store.

My cart after identifying all of my 'bargain' finds!

My cart after identifying all of my ‘bargain’ finds!

One other thing to consider.  Clearance often equates to ‘out of or end of season’.  Unless you have lived on earth for only one year, you KNOW that seasons come back the following year.  Don’t shy away from buying an amazing $20 wool coat when it’s 105 degrees outside.  It will be cold again…just you wait!

Step 4:  Once you have identified all of the bargains in each section of the store (e.g. clothing, shoes, accessories, kids clothes, etc.), pop a squat in an area of the store that has little-to-no traffic.  On a weekend, this can be tough.  Often that means hanging out in the men’s shoe department, haha!  I digress. So, set up shop and being to EDIT.

Step 5:  The editing process begins when you pull out the calculator.  TI calculators are amazing, but bulky…but again, I digress.  Pull out your phone and start to do the math.  Figure out what each item is going to cost you AFTER the discount.  You should know exactly what price that item will ring up at the cash register.  There should be no surprises.  Also, calculate your total.  This will also help you edit down your items.  Ask yourself the following questions:

1) Do I think I will wear it more than once?

2) Is the price truly discounted?

3) Did I try it on, and if so, was it comfortable/did it look good?

If you can answer yes to all three questions, then it can remain in the pile.  Otherwise, it goes back on the rack, shelf, etc..

I will often edit 2-3 times before deciding on my final haul.

Here are some of the amazing things that made it in my final haul this past weekend:

wpid-PhotoGrid_1384067064931.jpgAll of these items for $77.05.  That averages out to about $5 per item!!  This included a pair of ‘light-up’ shoes that my 4-year old loves so much, two pairs of shorts that were $0.75 each, and onesies for my 5-month old, $5 each.

Next, I found a pair of Burberry Prorsum Raffia Stripe Heels:

wpid-20131109_191051.jpgThis pair of Burberry heels, originally $795.00, was discounted to $119.  They are my size, and fit well, BUT…in the event that I decide not to keep them, eBay is a serious option for these shoes.  Currently sold out everywhere, these shoes would be likely to sell quickly on eBay, and for more than my current purchase price.  According to this listing on Lyst.com, these recently sold out when priced at $318.  That could mean a profit of nearly $200 if I decided to sell them!  $200 that would easily cover the cost of the rest of the items I purchased!

Finally, an item I’d coveted for years!!

wpid-20131113_005655-1.jpgA pair of Cole Haan, Mariela Nike Air Technology heels.  I’d heard of the amazingness that defines these shoes, but had never actually tried on a pair.  To be sure, I walked around the store with them for a bit and loved them.  They were incredibly comfortable, a good basic black shoe for work (one I am bound to wear often), AND, originally priced at $328.  I was able to purchase these shoes for only $36.90!!  What’s more?  These heels are still selling online for $169.99!  Definitely an amazing find and deal.  And yes, another potential eBay success story. 😉

So there you have it…my bargain-hunting enthusiast experience!  I hope that some of these strategies are of use to you when you venture out to conquer your next haul.  In the meantime, feel free to reach out if you have any questions, or follow me on Instagram to see how I style my new favorite pair of Cole Haan shoes!

Until next time!