Belt It

{why we love the belted jacket look for the office}

why we love the belted jacket look for the office via house of marbury

[image credit]

Throughout history, women have strived for the hourglass figure.  Regardless of whether your body is naturally shaped that way or not, adding a belt to the smallest part of your waist is always a flattering option.

Traditionally, though, we tend to wear belts with pants or dresses, so today we want to challenge you to add a belt to your jacket!  A belted jacket adds polish and sophistication to your look, while at the same time cinching your waist and giving you the hourglass effect.  You can layer it with a printed skirt or over a simple pencil skirt.  Just make sure to try this look with a jacket that already has a natural cinched waist shape to there isn’t too much bulking going on!

To make this look even easier for you, here are a few options that come with a coordinating belt:

Belted Jackets via House of Marbury

Do you belt your jackets?  We’d love to see how – just tag @houseofmarbury on Instagram! 

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Weekend Wear 101

{what professional women wear on the weekends}

One of our lovely readers recently wrote in requesting a post on the topic of weekend wardrobing for professional women.  While there are few, if any, concrete rules for weekend wear, the topic can be a tricky one because even in cities as large as Chicago/San Diego/wherever you may live, you are likely to encounter someone you know – a colleague, client, or a superior – outside of work and you want to maintain a certain level of propriety for those chance encounters.  Another struggle for some of us is that we spend so much time and money on our work wardrobe (since, unfortunately, work is where we spend the majority of our time), that we overlook our weekend attire.

House of Marbury - Professional Weekend

[Photo credit here.]

Here are some ideas for investing in pieces that will serve you well from 8-5 Monday through Friday as well as on the weekends:

Blouses and sweaters.  A great blouse or sweater can work well tucked into a pencil skirt or worn out over jeans on the weekend.  And, in the summer, your favorite sleeveless shell that looks professional and sleek under a suit will double as a great casual top when worn with jeans, a skirt, and sandals.

Kate is currently obsessed with this Floella Silk Shirttail Sweater from Club Monaco.  She wears it to work with cropped pants, pumps, and a blazer, and on the weekend with jeans and open-toe booties.

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For other blouse options that transition well from work to play, we love this Floral Sateen Cropped Top from Banana Republic, or this summery Flutter Lace Top from LOFT.

Cropped pants.  Cropped pants are great for a business casual look, especially if you want added focus on your footwear.  Wear them just as easily on the weekends with a pair of strappy sandals or casual flats, paired with a simple tee or sleeveless blouse.  We love the cropped pant options available at LOFT right now – affordable, chic, and made with just a little bit of spandex for added comfort and a better fit.

These Denise Riviera Cropped Pants (below) or the Sloan line at Banana Republic are available in a variety of colors, and at $59 and $89, respectively, you can buy a few pairs to add to your work and weekend wardrobes.

HOM Cropped Pant

Sleeveless A-line dresses, shirtdresses and wrap dresses.  We love a sleeveless a-line dress for wear with a blazer for a feminine yet professional daytime look.  And we love wrap dresses and shirtdresses for their comfort on business casual days.  Each of these dress styles, though, make for great and easy weekend wear options.  Simply ditch the blazer and opt for more casual footwear.

This Gemma Wrap Dress from Banana is a favorite of ours and has been featured on the blog before – it has a flattering fit, the price is right, and it’s super versatile and works well with a variety of shoe and accessory options.  Similarly, we adore this easy Short Sleeve Shirtdress from LOFT, or this Chambray Shirtdress from Banana.

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As for A-line, we love this classic Toi dress from MM.LaFleur or this summery and adorable Poplin Crop Illusion Dress from LOFT.

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How do you like to dress on the weekends?  Do you have any tips to share with your professional women colleagues?

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Style Guide – Business Lunch

{what to wear when you have a casual business lunch scheduled}

This is the first post in our newest installment – Style Guide!  In these posts, we will be styling you head to toe for a specific business event or occasion.  For the series, we’ve picked typical business-related occasions that we find ourselves attending, both during the work day and after work hours.  If there is a specific event you need styling for, send us an email or let us know in the comments below and we’ll style you!

Business Lunch

You have a typical business casual work day with a casual lunch scheduled for mid-day.  Here’s what you wear:

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Easy and chic!

What would you wear on a business casual day with a luncheon meeting scheduled?  Let us know in the comments!

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Madam Secretary

{style inspiration from the onscreen secretary of state}

Partially inspired by Hillary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State, the new CBS show “Madam Secretary” follows the life of Elizabeth McCord, a former CIA analyst and mother of three.  In the pilot episode, the President’s Chief of Staff sends an image consultant to the newly appointed Secretary.  Although she initially resists, the the Secretary eventually gives in to a wardrobe makeover, a haircut and even uses the changes to her political advantage (but more about that later!).

So, if you don’t yet watch this show, you totally should.  For Scandal fans, this show offers plenty of political conspiracies, but with a bit more international diplomacy and office politics!

Although her style is simple, here is what inspires our wardrobe choices from Secretary McCord’s online persona:

Statement black suit. Bess (as the President calls the Secretary) is not afraid to revert back to a classic black pant suit at least once per episode.  For affordable suiting options we love Banana Republic or Ann Taylor.  But, if you want to invest in a good suit, check out our guide to professional suiting!

How to dress like the secretary of state via House of Marbury

Know your colors.  The Secretary is rarely seen in anything other than neutrals: gray, white, black and navy.  As a result, she tends to mix and match pieces a lot! So, pick the colors that best complement your complexion and coloring, and stick to those color families.  This will make getting dressed in the morning so much easier!

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Blouses are your friends.  Secretary McCord is usually seen in crisp button-downs or silk blouses (yet another smart choice to maximize your mixing and matching options).  For more information, check out our guide to blouses!

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Use your wardrobe to your advantage.  In one scene, to distract the press from an international scandal, the Secretary recruits her image consultant to give her a haircut, puts on head-to-toe red, and completes the look with red high heeled pumps. She then parades around the Hill for photo ops, resulting in a media frenzy focused on her, not her politics.  Even if part of you is revolted by this, the point is that how people dress affects the way they are perceived.

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Do you watch Madam Secretary?  What do you think of style options? 

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Our Favorite Spring Grilling Recipe

{a classic neapolitan dish, made on the grill}

Spring has finally sprung, at least in Chicago, anyway.  And to celebrate, we’re firing up the grill.  Instead of burgers, though, we’re making a classic dish with a bit of a twist:  grilled Margherita Pizza.  Kate learned how to make pizza when taking a cooking course in Positano, Italy.  Because her house is not outfitted with a wood burning fireplace, she turned to her grill.  And, as it turns out, the substitution was near-perfect!

Grilled pizza is ideal for warm weather, incredibly versatile, and a breeze to make.  Plus, since all of the prep is done up front, this recipe is great for outdoor entertaining!

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For the dough, you will need:

  • 1 1/4 ounce package active dry yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil

Begin by mixing the yeast with 1 tablespoon flour and 1/4 cup warm water.  Next, in a large bowl combine 1 1/4 cups flour, salt, oil, the remaining 1/2 cup warm water and the yeast mixture, and stir to combine.  The dough should form quickly.  Once it does, move the dough to a heavily-floured work surface.

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Begin kneading the dough, adding flour as necessary when the dough becomes too sticky.  Continue kneading for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough becomes soft and elastic.  Once the desired consistency is reached, separate the dough into two pieces and place into 2 dry bowls and cover with plastic wrap.  Leave the dough to rise for 1-2 hours, until it doubles in size (see below).

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Again, heavily flour your work surface and begin to press out the dough.  Kate’s instructor in Italy, known only as “Pizza Man,” encouraged use of the “disco method,” wherein you turn the flattened pizza dough, as though you are working a turn table, stretching the dough ever so slightly as your rotate it counter-clockwise.  He was a whiz at doing this– we are nowhere near as good, but it’s a pretty straightforward technique and allows the dough to retains more air and texture than a rolling pin would.

Allow the dough to sit and rise for another 10 or so minutes before grilling.  In the meantime, prepare the sauce.  For the Margherita, you will need:

  • 8-10 plum tomatoes, seeded, peeled and coarsely chopped (canned tomatoes work, too)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus additional for brushing
  • 1 tbsp white wine
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 6 oz grated mozzarella
  • lots of fresh basil

Simmer the tomatoes, salt, olive oil and white wine in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thick and reduced, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Add the crushed garlic about 2/3 of the way through and continue to simmer.  Have the sauce, mozzarella, basil and prepared dough ready at the grill.  Lightly brush the dough with olive oil as well as the grill rack. Place the dough, oiled side down, directly onto the rack and grill for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown (Kate likes to pre-heat her grill on high and then reduce it to medium for cooking, to ensure she gets nice grill marks!).

Oil the upward-facing side before flipping.  After flipping, add your toppings.  For the Margherita, add the chunky tomato sauce, followed by the shredded mozzarella and basil leaves.  After 2 minutes, turn off the heat and close the top of the grill to allow the cheese to melt fully, another 1-2 minutes.  Cut and serve immediately!

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The crust is perfectly crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, while the toppings are fresh and well-balanced, reminiscent of the simple, straightforward recipe from Positano.  On the side consider serving a quick, clean arugula salad with lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, black pepper and shaved Pecorino Romano.  The salty cheese with the acidic dressing and peppery greens is both authentic and delicious.

What are your favorite spring/summer grilling recipes? 

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Building A Personal Brand Through Power Dressing

{how to use wardrobe as a professional branding tool}

Today, we are thrilled to introduce you to Your Coffee Break, a virtual lifestyle magazine for the professional woman. Based in London with representatives in New York, Los Angeles and Paris, Your Coffee Break has rapidly established itself as the go-to magazine for business women across the globe looking for inspiring content to read during their coffee break.  And today, Your Coffee Break is sharing a fabulous article with the HOM community in consultation with renowned stylist Shareen Rivers.  Thanks Shareen and Your Coffee Break for the great article! 

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Shareen Rivers on building a personal brand through power dressing

How would the CEO of company ‘You’ dress?

Fact: you only get one chance to make a first impression in the workplace. Also fact: even more important is maintaining and developing that impression so that bosses, colleagues and clients all have an extremely clear understanding of who you are as a person. You are your own brand.

Improving your self-image, like improving any skill, takes time, practice and self-awareness. Developing great self-esteem involves encouraging a positive (but realistic!) attitude towards yourself and the world around you and appreciating your worth, while at the same time behaving responsibly towards others. Self-esteem isn’t self-absorption, it’s self-respect!

We’ve been lucky enough to meet Shareen Rivers, founder and owner of S. Rivers Image Consultancy. With over 15 years experience as a fashion stylist and personal shopper, Shareen has extensive knowledge of dressing for different body shapes, wearable trends and colour theories for skin and hair types. Having also worked in a variety of areas from buying in luxury retail to visual merchandising and styling for photo shoots, she focuses on discovering and exploring a client’s true style, creating a unique personal brand whilst building confidence and self esteem all at the same time.

Shareen discovered her personal style at a very young age and, having always been fascinated by the fashion industry, went on to work with the likes of Ralph Lauran, Donna Karan, Amanda Wakeley, Ronit Zilkha and Crombie. ‘I always wanted to be different in what I wore; I had to make my mother alter some clothes for me when I was younger as she was a professional tailor!’ Even as a child Shareen clearly understood the importance of making brand ‘Me’ stand out!

One of the most important elements of creating brand ‘Me’ is making sure what you’re wearing actually suits you. Sounds simple enough, but apart from staring at ourselves wearing various colours in the mirror until our eyes begin to blur, how on earth are we supposed to know what hues do us most favours? It’s all about recognising and matching your skin tone, Shareen tells us. People who fall in the warm category have yellow or golden skin tones, while those in the cool category have more pinky or beige tones. Warm skinned women look incredible in deep reds, rich pinks and warm taupes, whereas cool skinned women should look for soft pink colours, or light caramels, peaches and warm mauves.

Unsurprisingly, one of the questions Shareen gets asked the most is how to look more powerful in the workplace, so we asked her to talk us through some of our favourite powerful women (read: girl crushes) and explain how they’ve nailed their own brand ‘Me’. Notepads at the ready ladies.

Naturally elegant and exuding a timeless grace, Olivia Palermo is the woman everyone’s trying to emulate; ‘she can do no wrong in the fashion world right now!’ The fact that all eyes are on her on the FROW at huge catwalk shows despite the gorgeous clothes that are parading past proves just how successfully Olivia has carved out a recognisable brand for herself – everyone knows to look to her for effortless chic style inspiration.

Olivia Polermo - style muse - house of marbury

[Photo credit here.]

Like Olivia, Emma Watson is another star who has a very strong sense of self, both in terms of her style and her goals. ‘I loved her dramatic pixie haircut, it was the perfect style for her elfin features!’ Her English Rose style has made sure she’s stood out amongst the Americans in Hollywood, and its grace and sophistication has allowed her incredible authority as the face and voice of the HeForShe gender equality campaign.

Emma Watson - style muse - house of marbury

[Photo credit here.]

Rachel Zoe is also a huge inspiration both for us and for Shareen: ‘she has her fashion guru finger in many pies and still finds time to be a mum to her two young sons’. So what can we learn from the full time mum / entrepreneur / stylist / writer? ‘Rachel has often said that even if you’re really, really busy always take 5 minutes to make yourself look good, and that’s something I believe in’, Shareen explains. ‘Even when she’s carrying her little ones in her arms she still wears heels and she has an incredible knack of making even a simple black gown look uber-glamorous by cleverly accessorising!’

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[Photo credit here.]

‘Anna Kendrick is a delight to follow on Twitter’, (seriously, she is, if you’re not already following her go and do it now!), ‘I love her spontaneous, self-depreciating style and totally agree with her when she says ‘what’s the point in fashion if you’re not having a good time?’’ Again, Anna’s someone who’s very successfully managed to express her personality as the girl next door who’s always up for a laugh through her style choices.

The British Fashion Awards 2014

[Photo credit here.]

‘Lauren Conrad is our quintessential west coast beauty’, says Shareen, and we should take a leaf out of her book when it comes to dressing for potentially stressful occasions. ‘Even with her look on her wedding day she was very true to herself and natural. Even more so on a potentially stressful day it’s important to feel comfortable in what you wear and how you look otherwise you won’t feel or look confident with the image you are attempting to portray’. The better you know brand ‘Me’, the easier it will be to style yourself for numerous different occasions, always staying true to the personality you’ve come to be known for.

Lauren Conrad - Style Muse - House of Marbury

[Photo credit US Weekly.]

Ok, so let’s sum up what we’ve learned from Shareen: have a clear understanding of the woman you want to portray yourself to be, and then work with your personality traits and colouring to develop a style known as brand ‘Me’. Prepare, know the path, enjoy it, and be yourself!

How do you style yourself in order to set yourself apart and build your brand?  Please share in the comments below!

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Love That, Buy This

{where to find the best designer looks for less}

For the second installment in our new series: “Love That, Buy This” (where we feature designer pieces we love alongside budget-friendly alternatives inspired by the original), we are featuring this to-die for Oscar de la Renta Pencil Dress.  While we adore it in its high-fashion meets business appropriate glory, we can’t justify the price for any given Tuesday at the office.

As an alternative to the original (and at a tiny fraction of the cost!), check out this gorgeous black pencil dress from H&M.  It’s high-fashion and style conscious, perfect for the office, and totally affordable.  While it does not have the fold-over and appliqué that the Oscar dress has, the ribbing detail and low back are sophisticated, office appropriate details.  Love!

Love that Buy This - Pencil Dress

Oscar De La Renta Wool Blend Pencil Dress – $1,990.00   |   H&M Fitted Pencil Dress  – $49.50

What high-fashion/high-priced item would you like to see us feature in this series?  Let us know in the comments below!

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Culotte It be?

{the new pant trend + how to style it}

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[image credit]

When we saw them on the runaway for Spring 2015, we thought they were gauchos (flashback to the 2000’s anyone?).  But then we saw fashion bloggers and socialites wear them, and they actually (gasp!) looked really good!

So, what are culottes exactly?  They are knee-length trousers cut to resemble a skirt. The origin of the culottes can be traced to the 19th century France when they were referred to as “breeches.”  In comparison, what we refer to as gauchos today, are actually heavily modeled after trousers worn by South American Gauchos in the mid-18th to the mid-19th century.

Now, before you completely write this off as yet another passing trend, hear us out.  This is actually a great option for those of you who prefer pants to skirts, yet kind of wish you could make skirts work more often.  On the other hand, for those of you who prefer skirts, this is a great in-between option (especially in the spring and summer) to transition into pants.

For example, in the winter, you could totally style a pair of culottes with knee-high boots or with knee-high socks (yet another trend!).  In the warmer temperatures, you can show off bare legs (note, if your office requires pantyhose at all times, you can still wear those underneath), yet still look professional and put together.

Here are some of our favorites:

the new pant trend and how to style it via House of Marbury

  1. Career Culottes, Liz Claiborne, $36
  2. Belted Culotte, Dylan Gray, $158
  3. Premium Culotte with wide leg in teal, ASOS, $68
  4. Edu Culotte in blush, Club Monaco, $295
  5. Agathe Pleated Culotte, Tibi, $575
  6. Ken Pleated Culottes, Alice + Olivia, $265
  7. Snake-print culottes, Mango, $34.99

Will you be wearing a pair of culottes this spring?  We’d love to see how you style them! 

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Love That, Buy This

{where to find the best designer looks for less}

Good morning HOM readers – today, we’re excited to introduce a new post series: “Love That, Buy This,” wherein we feature designer pieces we love as well as budget-friendly alternatives inspired by the original.

Today, we’re covering the Mansur Gavriel tote (made popular by various fashion “it” girls, including our very own Desiree Moore).

If you haven’t heard of Mansur Gavriel, their straightforward but perfectly-tailored leather goods have exploded in popularity.  Not only are they super popular – so much so, that they’re rarely in stock – they’re also fairly pricey.

As an alternative to the original (and at 10% of the cost!), check out this tote from Zara.  (If you’ve read HOM before, you know we love Zara.  The price is right, the fashion is always on trend, and the quality is great, too.)

House of Marbury - Metallic Totes

Mansur Gavriel Large Tote – $485.00   |   Zara Reversible Metallic Shopper Bag – $49.50

What items would you like to see us feature on future Love That, Buy This posts?

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Bag Necessities

{bag essentials for every professional lady}

Every few weeks we like to do an overhaul of our work tote and make sure it’s got all the essentials in it and nothing more.  We tend to carry around a small makeup kit (so you can do your makeup on the go, if necessary, or touch up before a client meeting or for a day to night look).  We also like to have the ability to write and/or sketch (personal or business related) anytime we have a bit of down time, and we’re always thirsty, so that’s in the bag, too!

Here’s what we’re carrying right now:

bag essentials for every professional lady via House of Marbury

  1. Light Wonder Foundation/SPF Blend by Charlotte Tillbury
  2. A Kiss of Milk & Honey Soothing Lip Balm
  3. Voluminous Miss Manga Black Angel Mascara by L’Oreal
  4. Pure Powder Glow by Kevin Aucoin
  5. Artist’s Loft Wirebound Sketchbook
  6. French Lilac Solid Perfume by Pacifica
  7. Thermos Hydration Bottle

What’s in your bag?  Let us know in the comments below!

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