9/29/17

3 Steps to a Cheap & Easy Outfit for Oktoberfest


It's that time again, lovelies! It's become tradition for us and friends to go to a local Oktoberfest. Sometimes we dress up. Sometimes we don't. Sometimes we eat in the festhalle. Sometimes we host our own pre-fest feast.

This year, we're excited to have a few friends over to our house for G's homemade brats with German potato salad, spaetzle, pretzels, and some desserts. After filling our bellies, we'll head to the festival for bier, keg tossing, log sawing, and hammerschlagen. And it feels like a good year to dress up. :)

I've been wanting to buy an authentic, traditional dirndl since my first fest. But I procrastinated. And I'm wary of getting the measurements right online with such short notice. Plus, a nice dirndl goes for a pretty price and I'm saving for a little vacation. (Eventually, I'd love to buy one from Rare Dirndl.) 

So once again, I'm scrounging together a do-it-yourself sort of dirndl costume for the occasion. Luckily, I still have the foundation of my first DIY dirndl: a cheap halloween costume. For my first Oktoberfest, I wore a red and white gingham skirt over it with a black apron. This year, I'm switching things up a bit.

I'm inspired by this lovely dirndl:


I love the black and white gingham—it's a great excuse to wear a bright red lipstick or nail polish. 


Here's how I'm turning my 'Heidi Ho' costume into a classier, more authentic dirndl-inspired getup for Oktoberfest this weekend:



1. Start with a cheap costume.

Mine's a Leg Avenue 'Heidi Ho' dress I found on a Halloween rack at Goodwill a few years ago. The skirt is waaaay too short, but the blouse portion is perfect and the costume fits really well. You can score this costume or a similar barmaid / milkmaid / German girl costume online for $15-30—or for less if you scavenge thrift shops.

My cost: FREE
(I bought the costume years ago.)


2. Add a matching, knee-length, a-line skirt.

I bought mine on Amazon. It was inexpensive, but the reviews were okay and I'm pleasantly surprised at the quality. (I'll definitely wear it again—not just for costumes!) I picked one with a nice fullness to it because I'll be wearing it over the existing Halloween costume. That way, the poof of the Halloween costume will give it a bit of shape. If you don't want the fullness, you could simply cut/separate the Halloween blouse from the skirt and tuck the blouse into your new skirt. Depending on the look you're going for, you could do a floral or gingham pattern skirt, too. I went with solid black based on my inspiration dirndl.

My cost: $16 for a solid black skirt


3. Put on the final touch with accessories.

I love a dirndl with a pretty apron. Unfortunately, I've misplaced my half aprons since moving, but I found the perfect black and white gingham apron at a local antique shop for just $8. Etsy is also a great place to look. Rather than tromp around in high heels like the costume model, I'll be wearing easy-to-walk-in black flats. I also sprang for an edelweiss choker this year. I'll probably use a small, crossbody purse I already own. Crossbody straps keep the hands/arms free for bier steins. ;)

My cost: $8 for the apron, $10 for the necklace
FREE shoes (already own them!)

My total this year: $34

Considering that a really quality dirndl will set me back over $100, I'm quite happy with only spending $34 this year. That leaves more room in the budget for food and beer. ;)


Then, check out 6 more Oktoberfest ensembles, ranging from traditional to casual. 


Are you partaking in any Oktoberfestivities? What will you be wearing?

9/27/17

8 Outlander Inspired Everyday Outfits


I just started binge-watching Outlander and—though I'm just beginning Season 2—I've been sucked in. The sweeping, scenic views of Scotland. That ginger-haired laddie Jamie. And, of course, the gorgeous costumes. Lately, I can't stop wondering how I could get away with dressing like Claire every single day. I would love to go frolicking about in lavish gowns. And working from home, the most judgement I'd probably face would be a side-eye from my cats—and some level of complaint from G, who'd probably get stuck helping me with all that buttoning and corset-lacing.

But realistically, I need a more modern approach. Something that pays homage to the feminine silhouettes of the 18th Century, nods to the tartan and bulky knits of Scotland, and can still be worn to the office, or out to dinner, or antiquing on the weekends. Pulling these outfits together has me longing for crisp fall weather, which has finally arrived in Iowa after days of 90 degrees and humidity. 

So, without further ado...


I adore this outfit on Claire because it mixes patterns, textures, and cozy autumnal hues. Who'd have thought that brocade, tartan, wool, and knit would look so good together? If I had to wear one Outlander-inspired look, this would be it.

What to wear:
Mid-length plaid or tartan skirt
Brocade tee
Long, nubby sweater cardigan
Bulky infinity scarf
Tall socks
Brown leather riding boots
Brown leather purse
Wooden watch


Ah, Claire's wedding dress! Depending on the lighting, it's gray, then it's beige, then green, then greenish greige. In the candlelight, the metallic woven-in threads glitter. I may have gasped when she turned up on the screen in this gown. I love the contrast between the structured, pleated wool skirt and the flowy, lacy, feminine bell sleeves. 


What to wear:
Long, below-the-knees pleated wool skirt (preferably with shiny threads woven in)
Ivory lace, off-the-shoulder, bell-sleeved blouse
Embroidered belt
Lace choker
Velvet t-strap flats
Embroidered handbag


Even though Claire gets to wear a lot of exquisite dresses, her everyday outfits are so inspiring, too—like this casual ensemble with that adorable knit capelet. It's perhaps one of my favorites to recreate. And it's versatile and casual enough to wear almost anywhere this fall.


What to wear:
Full, dark green skirt
Ivory lace blouse
Deep teal, fitted cardigan
Cute crocheted capelet
Suede booties
Tartan tote


The red dress! I couldn't possibly do an Outlander-themed fashion post without featuring this crimson beauty. And don't you just love that glimpse of her strappy scarlet shoes?! I know that there are fancy red dresses out there for emulating this look, but I wanted to pull together something that I could wear in my daily life—and not have to wait for a wedding or the rare formal occasion. This red dress is perfect. It's form-fitting with a just-flowy-enough skirt. The sleeves fall right at the elbow—just like on Claire's gown. And while the neckline is much more modest (enough so even for the workplace) it also features that little dip that mimics the real deal.


What to wear:
A form-fitting, flowy-skirted red dress with elbow-length sleeves
Pointy-toed red flats with straps
Red purse
Glitzy ruby earrings
Bright red lipstick


This outfit makes me kinda-sorta-almost look forward to winter in all its gray gloominess. Claire just looks so warm and cozy with that fur scarf and knit wrist warmers. 


What to wear:
Simple gray sleeveless dress with a subtle plaid pattern
Ivory bell-sleeved blouse
Form-fitting, black velvet jacket with an old-fashioned collar
Fur infinity scarf
Knit wrist warmers
Black tights
Gray over-the-knee boots
Gray purse


Another simple everyday look of Claire's that I love is this brown skirt/blue top combination. I'd recreate it with an office environment in mind. 


What to wear:
Wool skirt that bunches a bit
Fitted ivory blouse with a square neckline and flowy or bell sleeves
Navy blue peplum cardigan or jacket
Pointy lace-up flats in neutral color
Metallic crossbody bag


I haven't gotten to this episode yet, but I'm smitten with the sky blue skirt and pale, bluish seafoam vest/waistcoat Claire is wearing here. (Jamie looks pretty dapper in that getup and tricorn hat, too.) I'm not much of a vest person myself, so I recreated this look with a short-sleeved cardigan.


What to wear:
Bright blue, full, midi skirt
Simple white blouse with billowy sleeves and buttons all the way up to the neck
Seafoam short-sleeved cardigan
Thick leather belt to cinch the waist
Oxford booties
Simple leather purse
Small pearl earrings


How lovely is this gown?! Modernizing this outfit was really all about the colors, floral pattern, and silhouette. I did add a smidgen more of the hot pink, because I can't resist how it pairs with brown and mustard yellow.



What to wear:
A-line yellow skirt, preferably with a floral pattern
Pink, frilly, high-necked blouse
Fitted brown leather jacket with a collar that mimics Claire's
Simple brown pointy-toe flats
Glitzy clutch
Dangling pearl earrings

So tell me: Do you watch Outlander? Which outfit is your favorite? Will you be incorporating chunky knits, tartan, or other Outlander styles into your wardrobe this fall?

8/16/17

Book Recommendation: The Traitors' Wife by Allison Pataki + 10 More American Revolution Reads


Elaborate silk gowns. Dashing British officers. Rugged American rebels. Marie Antoinette-esque poufs. Rum. Ruffles. Riding in horse-drawn carriages.

My favorite way to travel is by book—and it's as close to time travel as you can get. Each night for the past week, I've been transported to colonial Philadelphia to live among the likes of Peggy Shippen, Benedict Arnold, John Andre, and George Washington.

8/10/17

Get a Free Summer Skincare Set from Burt’s Bees & Grove Collaborative



You guys, I'm so excited about the new Grove offer I get to share with you today. I always feel like I'm raving about Grove because of the great deals on Mrs. Meyers and Caldrea products. (It's for good reason—good smelling cleaners make the chore so much more enjoyable.) There's more to Grove than cleaning supplies, though. They're my go-to for skincare products like rose argan oil and facial wipes, too. And now, they carry one of my favorite brands ever: Burt's Bees. 

7/13/17

Win the new Haven's Kitchen cookbook (and a Williams-Sonoma stainless steel tool set!)


Hello, lovelies! Today, Artisan Books has partnered with me to support an exciting new cookbook: The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School: Recipes and Inspiration to Build a Lifetime of Confidence in the Kitchen. One lucky The Lovely Side reader will win this must-have manual to kitchen confidence and a shiny Williams-Sonoma stainless steel tool set (prizing pictured above). Keep scrolling to read an excerpt and enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter widget down below.

No matter what kind of home cook you are—budding beginner or full-on chef—this book will come in handy and equip you with the fundamental building blocks you need to feel confident and at ease in the kitchen.Want to know how to boil eggs or whip up the perfect omelet? What about making dressings, stocks, and sauces? Or properly stocking your fridge and pantry? Cayne's got you covered. I'm most interested in getting over my fear of frying (it's a thing) and learning to pick and cut my own herbs. 

7/11/17

Summer Entertaining with Grove + My Go-To 3-Ingredient Dessert Recipe


We're finally starting to entertain at home. Last summer, we didn't do a whole lot of that. Instead, we were settling in, furnishing the place, and planning and tackling our first major projects. Our only guests were close friends and family who were popping in to see the house, help with projects, or hang out with us when we needed a break from home improvement conquests.

Now, our entire first floor (except for one room that I can live with until fall) has been stripped of wallpaper, painted, and decorated. We can spontaneously invite friends and family members over without fretting about old wallpaper, drywall dust, or "off-limits" rooms blocked off by plastic sheets. Instead of cleaning up construction zones, we simply have to tidy up.

5/15/17

Looks I Love: Wallflowers


Oh, how I love flowery walls. This decor trend probably isn't something I'd do right now. 1) I have enough floral patterns on my rugs, bedding, artwork, and accessories. And 2) we've spent enough time the last few months peeling wallpaper. But the look of floral patterns and murals on the walls is something that certainly makes me swoon. It reminds me of the garden frescoes found on the walls of houses in Pompeii—especially the ones with birds perched on branches.