- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.Id0FrFe2.dpuf Hell or High Fashion: March 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Reader Request: Beyond Basics

After my last post, I received a reader request for a tutorial on dressing up jeans and a tee shirt. While I try not to post “basic” outfits (I don’t want to bore you guys!), the truth is I spend a few days a week wearing a version of the classic American uniform of jeans and a tee. I turn to this combo when I want to be comfortable, but I hate the feeling of blending in with everybody else. I’ve figured out a few ways to dress up my plain jeans and tee shirts to keep my look fashion-forward, and now I’ll pass those tricks on to you!
Jeans, Forever 21.  Shirt and blazer, H&M.  Shoes, Zara.  Ring, Kirna ZabetexTarget.

Step 1: Invest in a few pairs of interesting jeans. My favorite pair has a“boyfriend” fit, a light wash, and a few rips and tears. I know I can wear these with almost anything basic on top and still feel pretty cool, since the built-in features of the pant give my look a little edge. Wearing a pair of printed jeans (like these) is a great idea- they’re just as easy to pull on in the morning as your basics, but you’ll be on the next sartorial level. This works for colored jeans too-try a bright blue wash in place of denim for a style upgrade that doesn’t venture too far out of your comfort zone.


Step 2: Add print! My favorite print to play with right now is a good old fashion stripe. Stripes are so classic and have made their mark on almost every style movement in history. The slouchy black and white tank I’m wearing here has a punky/jailbird vibe, but the navy and cream bateau stripe I chose for the outfit below is preppy and Hepburn-esque. It’s easy to find a stripe pattern to fit your mood, and they’re guaranteed to give your plain jeans a little extra punch.

Jeans and tee, Forever 21.  Blazer, HM.  Shoes, Prada.  Ring, Alexis Bittar.
Step 3: Add color! As you can tell from going through my recent blog posts, I’m a little obsessed with yellow right now. I get the most compliments when I’m wearing yellow or blue, because these colors attract light and tend to make pale skin glow. Brights also send out a “happy” vibe that can actually improve your mood and the moods of those around you… who wouldn’t want that?? So next time you throw on your go-to jeans/tee, try adding a bright jacket or blazer and see what a difference it makes!

Step 4: Shoes, shoes, shoes. It’s all about the shoes. Maybe you don’t have time to put effort into an interesting outfit, but I’m sure you have time to throw on the coolest pair of shoes in your closet! Basic denim is the perfect backdrop for a crazy-fancy pair of shoes- that mix of casual and opulent is unexpected and fun, and can really elevate your look. Why wait until you have an “occasion” to wear your fancy footwear? Treat every day a special occasion and break out of the boring jeans/tee/sneakers mold! Gentlemen: this tip isn’t only for the high-heel wearing ladies. Try a pair of pumped-up high-tops or a snazzy pair of wingtips instead of your usual fare.

Jeans, Forever 21.  Shirt, The Row. Shoes, Urban.  Necklace, ADRxHM.  Belt, Zara.
Step 5: Accessorize. I love a good statement necklace! This amazing crocodile sparkler lounging around my neck would’ve been overshadowed had I worn a more interesting outfit, so a plain white tee and jeans was the best option for showcasing my little pet. I wore this look to work the other day and actually got complimented by a contributor at Lucky magazine- she said she loved how I paired such an elegant piece with a slouchy tee! So there you have it folks, Lucky magazine agrees with me. This “statement jewelry”effect can be achieved in a few different ways: a stack of bangles up to your elbow, or a huge pair of dangling earrings paired with a slicked-back hairdo. Guys are no exception to the rule- add an oversized watch of even a flat-brimmed hat to amp up your jeans.


Finishing Touch: cuff it! I love to roll the bottoms of my jeans up into a little cuff- it just gives your look a little something extra. All the more interesting if you have a fun argyle sock to show off!

So there you have it- by putting even 1 of these 5 steps in to practice you’re sure to feel anything but boring in your basics. I’m loving these requests, so keep ‘em coming! What should I post about next?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Real Style Inspiration

Today I have the pleasure of being a featured guest blogger on KMS California's style website, RealStyleInspiration.com!
I wrote a fashion essay on how I developed my personal style and included tips on cultivating your own unique look.  Browse RealStyleInspiration.com for more of their fashion and hair tips, or click here for the permalink to my post!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spring Forward

Dress, Betsey Johnson.  Jacet and shoes, F21.  Bag, H&M.  Sunnies, Urban Outfitters.  Ring, Alexis Bittar.
Tomorrow starts the first day of Spring!  Spring is traditionally a time for renewal and new beginnings, and this yearly fresh start is coinciding perfectly with my personal life!  I definitely feel as if things are changing for the better, and this enthusiasm for what's ahead is influencing my wardrobe.  2012 had some rough patches and I adopted a tougher, edgier wardrobe as a sort of armor.  With all the amazing things that 2013 has brought me, I find myself reaching for bright colors and feminine prints to show off my lighter side.
I last wore this Betsey Johnson dress on this blog almost 2 years ago, for my college graduation.  A lot has happened between 2011 and 2013, but classic style still reigns!  A dress like this will never seem outdated or "so two seasons ago" because the cut is simple and the floral print is timeless.  While I love a crazy trendy piece from time to time, I mostly shop with this classic simplicity in mind- I don't want to have to revamp my entire wardrobe when the trends change. 
That being said, it's a lot of fun to amp up classic pieces with trendy touches!  Members-only jackets have been huge for a few seasons now, and you can find a cool one at pretty much any price point.  There are some amazing leather versions out there (like this one) that can get pricey, but mine was a $25 find at Forever 21.  The casual feel of the maroon/navy jacket toned down my fancy florals and brought it back to weekend territory.  I felt like a super-cool 50s chick rocking her boyfriend's varsity jacket all day!
Another huge trend right now is print-mixing.  I put that fashion-forward idea into practice here with the mix of my floral pumps and rose-printed dress.   These light blue/pink silk shoes are a dulled-down floral, so I didn't feel like they were competing for attention with my dress. 
When mixing patterns, I have a couple rules I try to follow. One: make sure there is a common thread.  For example, the two prints I wore here are both florals.  That common thread means I can play with color (blue shoes/red dress).  Another way to do it would be to have a common color.  If I wanted to mix stripes and polka dots, I'd try to have them both based in the same color family.  And number two: add a solid piece to the mix.  Here, I added a strong solid-colored jacket to break up my all-over pattern.  If you're trying out a patterned skirt and shirt combo, make sure your shoes are one solid complimentary color and you'll be fine!
I added a few fun extras, like these floral-framed sunnies from Urban Outfitters and my favorite scarab ring from Alexis Bittar. 
Fashion Tips from "Spring Forward":
1.  Invest in classic pieces and don't spend too much on trendy items.  This dress (which has already lasted me 2 years) was a big fashion splurge- I spent around $300 on it (don't judge me!).  Clearly it was worth the price because I wore it consistently for 2 years, and I can see myself wearing it as an eccentric old woman too!  Fads like varsity jackets or crazy printed shoes probably won't stand the test of time, so it's wise to buy these items at budget-friendly prices.  The quality of the cheaper garments won't be great, but when you're only going to wear it for a season or two anyway, who cares?
2.  When trying out a new trend, don't go overboard- try pairing a trendy piece with a classic counterpart.  If you're drawn to the neon jeans look, wear them with a classic white buttondown. This mix will keep you from looking like a fashion victim! 
3.  Revisit pieces in the back of your closet that you may have forgotten about.  Maybe your own graduation dress would look great with a jean jacket, or (for the men out there) the tie you wore to senior prom could be a great way to dress up a button-down and skinny jeans. 
Don't forget that Spring also means it's time for Spring Cleaning- the perfect time to clean out your closet and get a fresh fashion start!  Don't know what to keep, what to toss, and what to tailor for a more modern fit?  I absolutely love rummaging through someone else's closet and helping them through that process, and a "closet consultation" is one of my featured services as a personal shopper.  I've recently launched my styling/personal shopping website- jessicadefinostyle.com.  Contact me there if you'd like a consultation or any other services I offer- if you mention that you're a Hell or High Fashion reader, you'll get 20% off the listed price :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Top and pants, Forever 21.  Shoes, Urban Outfitters.  Ring, Marc by Marc Jacobs.  Bangles, H&M.
Yves Saint Laurent once said, "Fashions fade.  Style is eternal."  To me, true style is present when how you look is the physical embodiment of who you are as a person.  When your style is true to who you are, it will be relevant through seasons and seasons of fashion trends.  You can have impeccable style if you only shop hand-me-downs from Goodwill; you can have style if you're decked out in the latest runway trends.  What matters is that you're wearing pieces that you have a personal connection to!  Keeping this in mind, I've been able to find inspiration in some pretty untraditional style icons.
Peggy Bundy, untraditional icon.
I remember the day a coworker told me my fashion sense reminded her of Peggy Bundy: I didn't know whether to be offended or proud.  After some thought, I decided I was proud to emulate Peggy- because she definitely had a look that was all her own!
As the wife on 80-90s television series Married With Children, Peggy Bundy lived a normal life in the suburbs with her husband and kids, but she never dressed the part.  She knew she was more fabulous than her surroundings and never succumbed to boring "mom" fashions.  From one look at Peggy you can tell what kind of person she is:  strong, proud, glamorous, and she certainly doesn't take any shit!  She celebrates every curve on her body unapologetically, which is such a refreshing break from today's stick-thin style icons.   Her particular "fashions" have faded, but her style and message live on.
Taking a look out of Peggy's book, I decided to show off my hourglass shape with some serious color and print! 
To me, this look is all about balance:  I wore a busy print on the bottom, so I wanted to make sure to have a solid color on top.  Since my outfit was pretty skintight, I made sure my cleavage was under wraps.  The mix of bright color and bold pattern is attention-grabbing, so plain black heels grounded the outfit. 
This balance is what makes the outfit more "Jessica DeFino" (that's me) than "Peggy Bundy." While she never cared for balancing out her wardrobe (everything was tight, low cut, bright, and printed!), this balance is one of the signature marks of my own personal style.   I think my message is pretty similar to hers though: this look says I'm fun, confident, comfortable with myself, and not afraid to be bold!  Plus, wearing yellow with my red lipstick  always makes me feel like Wonder Woman so I had an extra boost of bad-ass attitude :)
Fashion Tips from "Superstar":
1.  Realize that to others, your style is a visual representation of who you are.  Ask yourself if your look sends out the message you want to send to the world.  Ill-fitting jeans and a worn-out tee say that you don't care enough about yourself to wear clothes that fit properly; a short skirt and belly shirt say that you can't be taken seriously.  Make sure you're saying what you need to say!  And if you're not, you can ask me for help :)
2.  I've said it a thousand times: balance is SO important.  If you love to wear short skirts, don't pair them with cleavage-baring tops- or at least throw a fun blazer over the outfit for a sassy way to cover up!  Men can practice their balancing act on nights out by pairing a button-down/tie combo with jeans instead of dress pants- it will keep your look in "business casual" territory without feeling too stuffy!
3.  Find your power color(s) and consistently work them into your wardrobe!  Nothing can stand in my way when I'm wearing red or yellow- I just feel 10x more confident- so I wear my power color in the form of red lipstick everyday.  Find little ways to incorportate your colors into your everyday wardrobe: a fun hat, a statement necklace, a pair of bold sneakers.  You'll walk around with a little extra swag in your step, guaranteed!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Well Suited

Blazer, vintage.  Shorts, F21.  Shirt, Gap.  Shoes, Zara.  Clutch, MCM.
My friend Natalie Smith is the queen of shorts.  She can sport short shorts and make them super sexy or tomboyishly charming, business casual or perfect for playtime.  Here she is wearing the hell out of her fave pair while bringing the house down at a show:
Whenever I style Natalie, shorts are always one of the first things that come to mind.  It's a style I love but rarely wear myself so, inspired by Natalie, I wanted to come up with a fun way to wear my own shorts.  Enter the short suit!
The short suit is definitely not a new concept- it's been popping up on the red carpet for a while now.  In addition to Natalie, my inspirations for this look included Michelle Williams and Ginnifer Goodwin.  How cute are they??
Even though I don't have a pixie cut like all these beautiful ladies, I thought I might be able to pull off this look.  So I pulled out some of my funky shorts (leather, cat print) and got to work!
 I work in a pretty relaxed environment, so I wanted to test drive this trend in an office-appropriate way.  These adorable cat print shorts were the perfect statement piece, so I let them shine by pairing them with all neutrals.
 To temper the craziness of cartoon-kitty printed shorts, I picked one color from the shorts- cream- and matched it to a conservative button down shirt.  Since short-shorts aren't traditionally office-friendly, I wanted to make sure my top half was completely covered up and not drawing any attention!  I layered a light brown shrunken blazer on top for more coverage.
My nuetral heels not only fit into the color scheme of my outfit, they also enlongated my legs.  Nude heels paired with short shorts are guaranteed to make your legs look miles long! 
I didn't want my neutral look to border on boring, so I added some pizzazz with an oversized clutch.  This vintage MCM version is perfect with the rest of my outfit:  the neutral color is easy, the funky print is fun, and the oversized shape mimicks a briefcase- the best compliment to my faux-suit!

After this successful attempt, I caught suit fever and took this version for a spin:
Shorts and shirt, F21.  Blazer, J Crew.  Shoes, Rachel Roy.  Clutch, Betsey Johnson.
I matched my leather shorts to a tight wool blazer and a graphic buttondown.  I love pushing up the sleeves of a blazer to let the shirtsleeves show, especially if there is a cool print or fun design to show off.  This teensy little touch packs a lot of punch!
This cute clutch addes some personality to the black-and-white look, and some heart-studded purple shoes finished it off.

I'm not sure if this is a look I'll be rocking all the time, but it was fun to give it a try and expand my fashion horizons!  It's important to experiment to keep your wardrobe evolving and expanding:  when you see a look you love, instead of thinking "I could never pull that off", try thinking "How can I make this work for me?"
Fashion Tips from "Well Suited":

1.  Look to friends, magazines, the red carpet, etc for ideas- but then make them your own.  I know Natalie would never wear shorts the way I did, just like I can't rock hers the way she can.  Every look needs to be tailored to who you are, what body you have, and what you're comfortable with- so get inspired, but be true to your sartorial self!

2.  If you're looking to try out a short suit, keep it from looking stuffy and business-y by mixing textures.  Here I mixed silk and leather shorts with wool blazers that didn't quite match.  Even denim is OK- I'm dying to try out denim cutoffs with an oversized boyfriend blazer.  Anything goes!

3.  Nude pumps are a great way to finish off a short shorts outfit.  They'll make your legs look like they go on forever-- who wouldn't want that?

If you guys decide to try a short suit out for yourselves, send me pics- I'd love to see how you're taking inspiration and making it your own!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Reader Request: The Extra Mile

After my last blog post, a reader requested that I give a  tutorial on how to create my signature cat-eyed, red-lipped look.  While makeup isn't my area of expertise, I consider cosmetics to be an extension of an outfit- the finishing touch that brings a look to the next level.  So if a tutorial is going to inspire someone to take their look up a notch, I'm happy to do it!  And without further ado, here it is:
What You'll Need:  concealer, liquid foundation, translucent powder, brozer, blush, neutral eyeshadow palette, black liquid liner, black mascara, brow kit, and red lipstick.
1. Start with a blank canvas.  Wash your face, moisturize, and apply SPF.  Dab some concealer onto red patches and dark spots, patting lightly with your fingertip until blended.  Use a concealer that's about half a shade lighter than your natural skin tone to brighten your complexion.

The blank canvas I started with!
2.  Get red of dark circles.  Apply 4 dots of concealer under each eye, from inner to outer corner.  Apply 1 dot of concealor directly under the arch of your eyebrow.  Pat and blend in the same way you did for dark spots until concealer is completely blended, getting rid of dark under-eye circles and highlighting your brow bone.
3.  Time to apply foundation.  Choose a shade that matches your natural skin tone (find this by testing foundations on the hollow of your cheeks).  Some say foundation should be applied before concealer, but I'm a big believer in concealer first!  Since concealer can sometimes lighten and brighten the skin, using foundation afterwards totally evens out your tone, leaving perfectly even color behind.
Squirt a dime-sized amount of foundation, tinted moisturizer, or BB cream onto your fingertips (pointer, middle, ring) and blend fingers of both hands together.  Then dab a dollop onto your cheeks, chin, and forehead and blend downward until the foundation is evenly distributed. 
Many people use a foundation sponge or brush to blend, but I think that the fingertips bring a lighter and more natural feel.
4.  Set the concealer and foundation by using a powder puff to lightly apply a layer of translucent powder over the face.  This will keep your liquid concealer and foundation from melting!
5.  Contouring is next!  With a flat brush, swipe a light layer of bronzer (about 2 shades darker than your skin) into the hollows of your cheeks (suck in your cheeks- bronzer should be applied in those dips).  Also dust it along your jawline and hairline.
6.  Next up is eye makeup.  I prefer powder eye shadows and use this huge shadow palette from ELF that has all the colors I could possibly need. 
Again, use your fingers to create the perfect natural/smoky eye.  Dip your ring finger (the muscles in this finger are the weakest, so the touch will be lighter and more natural) in nude shadow and dust it over the entire eyelid, from lashes to brows.  Next, dip your pinky in a cream or white shadow and dot it in the inner corner of your eyes- this brightens up your whole face!  A shimmery dark brown shadow is your next shade, and use your ring finger to dust this over your eyelid, from lash line to the crease.  Finally, swipe a gray or black shadow into the creases of the outer half of your eyelids. 

Eyes, post-eyeshadow and Step 1 of eyeliner

This sounds like a lot, but look at the result:  so natural!  The trick to keeping dark shadows from looking overdone is using your fingertips instead of brushes. 

7.  And now, the piece de resistance- winged eyeliner!  This step is a little tricky and it's very easy to over-do it.  To keep myself from going overboard with eyeliner, I first add a coat of black mascara to my lashes.  The boldness of the black lashes  gives you an idea of how dramatic your eye makeup will be, which in turn makes you realize that you don't need that much liner to make a statement!

  Take a felt-tipped black liquid liner, and run the tip along your lash line from the middle to the outer corner.  Do this on both eyes.   Next, run the tip of the eyeliner from the inner corner of your lash line to the middle- the new line should meet up with the first one you made.  Doing your eyeliner in 2 steps like this ensures a straighter, steadier line.

Now, the hard part: touch your pinky to your temple, and pull your skin up and out like this:

This looks very silly, but I guarantee you'll get the smoothest line!

Take your liquid liner and trace a line from the end of your lashes, up towards your pinky.  The skin around your eyes will crease and give you the perfect angle to follow with your liner.  Draw the wing out as long and thick as you'd like, following your skins natural pull.  Voila!

I keep plenty of moistened Q-tips on hand just in case I don't get this right the first time.  Keep trying, and you'll get it right eventually :)

8.  Add a few more coats of black mascara to your lashes.  I'm a Jersey girl, so I pile the stuff on...but 1 or 2 more coats should do for the rest of you :)

9.  Now, using the same technique that you used for contouring, apply your blush. This time when you suck in your cheeks, use your blush brush on the cheekbone that is sticking out, like this:

Another silly face.

10.  Finishing touches!  To complete my classic 50s face, I use a brow kit to fill in my patchy eyebrows so that they look full and bold. 

I love the mole on my right cheek, and layers of foundation sometimes cover it up.  To make sure my mole is still a part of my look (a la Marilyn Monroe), I darken it with a touch of liquid eyeliner.  Even if you don't have a mole, feel free to experiment and draw one on- I guarantee you'll feel glamorous!

Finally, I swipe on a matte red lipstick that will stay in place all day.  L'Oreal has amazing longwear lipsticks, but recently I've been using the Sephora brand and loving it! 
While this may seem like a lot, I do my makeup in 10 minutes flat.  Everyone has room in their morning routine for that!

Enhanced mole!
Bold brows!
New fave Sephora lipsick!
So there you have it!  Did you girls like this tutorial?  Let me know if you'd like a step-by-step guide to anything else-  the "no makeup" look, the 60s mod look, etc.

In the same way that makeup is an extension of your wardrobe, hair can make or break a look!  Me and almost everyone I know in LA (literally about 15 of my friends), all use the same AMAZING hair stylist: Matthew Kazarian at Vidal Sassoon Beverly Hills.  Here's how chic he will make you look:
Call 310-274-8791 to make an appointment with him!
For my next post I'll be back to talking about clothes, but every once in a while it's good to remind yourself about the little extras that take your style to the next level.
BTW, I've been loving the reader requests coming my way--- please chime in with questions or suggestions in the "Comments" section!