What to Wear to a Wedding Without Breaking the Bank

A little black dress ruined my budget. It all started rather innocently. I had a wedding to go to and I wanted to look good. Instead of purchasing a new dress, I decided to wear a little black dress I bought a year ago. At the time it seemed like this would be a cost saving tactic.

I was wrong. Oh, so wrong!

First I thought I would just need some shoes and maybe a new purse. I found the purse first–a cute Jessica McClintock clutch for $15.99 at TJ Maxx, which was more that I wanted to spend, but it made the dress more unique.

Then came the shoes. My only qualifications that they had to be any color but black. I searched and searched AND searched for a suitable pair and found them at TJ Maxx twenty five miles away from my house. The shoes set me back $40.

After the shoes came the jewelry. I opted for just earrings and the hunt took forever because I immediately ruled out pearls (too expected) and cheap costume jewelry (easily broken). I finalized on purples studs with sparkles for $24.00, also from TJ Maxx. Unfortunately, the back would not stay on one of the earrings, so I had to return them, which is why there are no photos.

After everything was purchased and I thought I was done, I realized that it was going to be cold in Pittsburgh and that I would need a sweater. I wanted what can only be described as a long cardigan without buttons that matched the color scheme of my purse and shoes. After 3 hours, I found what I was looking for at The Loft. Another $35 gone.

In that same shopping trip, I visited to the MAC cosmetics counter for the first time in over 10 years and asked if I could see the new Pro Longwear Foundation. The makeup artist applied that along with two other foundations. Of the three, I ended liking the Studio Tech cream foundation the best. At first I didn’t think much of it, but when I got home, I looked in the mirror and was stunned to see how flawless my skin looked. I went back out to the store and purchased the foundation. Goodbye $29!

$144 later, I was ready to go to Pittsburgh. I loved my outfit, though, and the accessories completed the look. I wish it cost less in the end, but, as they say down South, “It Is What It Is.” I’ve wore both the sweater and shoes to work this past week and got compliments on both, so I suppose it was money well spent.

Next time I just hope I don’t blow my budget.

Fashion Blogging and Product Placement

Questions Answered in the Video

As we watched the Chilean Miners being rescued last week, there were many things to take note of – the amazing faith of these people, the joy of life, love and family, and – interestingly enough – product placement. As you watched the rescue efforts did you notice the products? What were your thoughts?

Product placement is all around us today, what do you think makes it such a marketing gold mine?

On your blog, either now or in the future, what is/will be your stance on highlighting specific products?

If the opportunity arose would you give a bad review of a product?

Do you view your blog as a product? Where have you or do you hope to place it?

I made the video before going to bed and find it quite funny I am wearing my hoodie. Can you be a fashion blogger and rock a hoodie and ballerina bun?

I want to clear up come questions about my answers to number 4: I took this question from the perspective of a company asking me formally to review a product. In that situation, I would be constructively critical if I disliked the product. However, I would not be flat out negative. For example, instead of saying, “This lipstick sucked!” I would say, “I used this lipstick on five separate occasions and was disappointed in the color/texture/application.” There’s a difference between giving background and being flat out negative.

Welcome to Those Graces

Thank you so much for stumbling upon my blog, Those Graces. This blog is a continuation of my previous blog, which was hosted on BlogSpot.com. I decided it was time to get more serious about blogging and thought it would be better late than never. As always, it is written by me, Courtney.

The new subscription feed is located here. Please read and subscribe! I also have a new email you may reach me at: courtney[@]thosegraces.com.

I look forward to all of what’s to come. Thank you for your continued patience in this move.

Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think of my new digs!

My Best Friend’s Wedding in Pittsburgh

This past weekend, I was up in Pittsburgh for my childhood best friend’s wedding. It was held in a quaint bed and breakfast located across the river from the University of Pittsburgh.  Did you know that city has some 1,300 bridges?  Second only two Venice, Italy?  I did not fact check this, the bride’s father told me.

Me and My Husband

I carried my makeup, camera and license in a little clutch I picked up at TJ Maxx.  I also had gray suede pumps on, which I also found at TJ Maxx. I didn’t take a picture of my whole outfit, but my shoes looked kind of like these except lighter.

We had a great time. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see much of Pittsburgh since there was a Steelers game on Sunday and I did not want to be stuck in game day traffic.  We’ll have to catch the 1,300 bridges next time!

How I Started Blogging

How has your blog changed over the months/years you’ve been blogging?

Though I’ve only had my fashion blog up and running since mid-July, I’ve been blogging for about 10 years through LiveJournal (LJ) as well as a hosted website I used to run. I started blogging because I love journaling and it just made sense to take it online. In my teens, I was very candid and unguarded with my feelings, especially since LJ offers you the option to make your posts “friends only.” However, over the years, I grew more guarded though I am still pretty open and honest on my LJ.

Since I started Those Graces my blogging has changed but not radically. I started with the idea that I wanted to talk about fashion and makeup and how I didn’t have much money for either. I think my blog started off as a strictly budget blog, but has since evolved to talk about important topics to me such as makeup safety.

What was one thing you did wrong in the beginning and how have you changed that?

When I first started with this fashion/beauty blog, I read a lot of articles and blogs to find out what was most popular. I saw blogs doing Outfit of the Day (OOTD) posts had huge followings, so I tried to do that. My heart wasn’t in it and I think the lack of comments on those entries proved my readers sensed that, too.

I also paid a lot of attention to my statistics in the beginning and worried I wasn’t getting enough views. I still look at them, but now it’s more of an “Oh, that’s interesting” type feeling.

When you visit a blog what’s the greatest turn off? The thing that makes you close the tab?

I personally do not enjoy blog entries that feature runway and celebrity photos. If I can see it in a professional magazine, why do I need to read it on a blog?

How did you find your voice?

Since I’ve always liked writing, I didn’t find this to be too difficult. I’m still struggling to balance my voice with my “how-to” posts. In these, I want to retain my own voice and yet be informative.

For me it was hard going from my community on LJ, where I’ve had a journal since 2001. So many people know how I speak, what I like to write about and about my life. Starting over here has been interesting as I constantly have to remind myself to tell my readers and community who I am.

If you had three pieces of advice to give to a new blogger what would those be?

Don’t read blogging how-to articles when you first start. Find your voice and worry about the rest later.

Don’t be afraid to change your layout. Allow yourself to be inspired by the layouts of other bloggers.

Find ways to connect with those who read your blog. This is my most favorite part of blogging–getting to know people. Find ways to share about yourself.