Rue Road Test: DIY Chain-Trimmed Clutch

I’ve been lusting after a chain-trimmed clutch for months now, but since keeping a roof over my head takes priority, I had no choice but to get creative. A deconstructed chain necklace and simple clutch were all I needed to make this copycat version, but you better believe that when the weather gets warmer (and sleeping on the beach is totally acceptable), one of those brand name babies will be mine for real.

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What you’ll need:

  • Pliers
  • Box chain necklace, long enough to cover the whole perimeter of the bag
  • Clutch (I used a scuba material foldover clutch)
  • Needle and thread

How to do it:

  1. Using the pliers, undo the last links of the necklace (the ones that connect the chain to the clasp). Now you should just have a length of chain.
  2. Line up the very last link of the chain with the corner of the clutch.
  3. Double-thread your needle, either with a similarly hued thread or a contrasting color of your choice.
  4. Holding the chain flush to the edge of the clutch, bring the needle in and out through the links of the chain and edge of the clutch with a simple whipstitch.
  5. If there is a visible seam at the edges of your clutch, try to keep your stitches as close to it as possible.
  6. Once you’ve attached the chain all the way around, use your pliers to disconnect any excess chain links.

That’s it! Rock it with a pair of printed pumps and an LBD or keep it casual with flats and jeans – this clutch goes from done-up to laid-back instantly (with just enough edge).

By Grace Romanowsky of Valenki By ACE, Staff Writer

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March 2, 2013

Rue Road Test: 3 Shoe Trends to Try

Start from the bottom up with these flashy footwear fads

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It’s easy to settle into a shoe rut at this time of year – when wool socks feel like a must-have accessory and the snow banks only seem to be growing higher – but a weekend trip to NYC gave me the perfect excuse to kick off my boots and try some of the hottest shoe trends of the season.

Sneaker wedges: I really wasn’t sold on the concept of heeled sneakers (even after Beyoncé rocked them in the Love on Top video) – until I tried them on. Not only are they super comfortable and easy to walk in, they look effortlessly cool with both pants or bare legs. I wore these black suede lace-ups with an oversized camouflage jacket, tights, and a black minidress for a low-key night out.

Spiked pumps: These nude spiked pumps are definitely not for the faint of heart. I love them because they’re a bit more subtle and easier to pull off in the office than their metallic counterparts, but are still on-trend. If you haven’t completely warmed up to the look, try a style with a cap-toe or spiked heel.

Pop of color: These turquoise suede platform pumps are perfect for achieving a head-to-toe colorblocked look. I paired these puppies with another bright on top – try coral or fuchsia – and had all eyes on me.

By Grace Romanowsky of Valenki By ACE, Staff Writer

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February 23, 2013

Rue Road Test: The 20s-Inspired Headpiece

Master this daring trend in three different ways

Every time I see a preview for the upcoming Great Gatsby movie I get the sudden urge to get a bob cut a la Daisy and fill my closet with bead-embellished dresses. I honestly don’t know whether I’m more excited to drool over Leonardo DiCaprio or all the fabulous costumes and headpieces.

The roaring 20s–inspired trends will definitely be making a comeback as hype continues for the film’s release, so I personally plan to master the look well ahead of time. Here’s what I’ve tried so far. I like wearing these looks with my hair loosely down, but see what is best for your face shape:

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Bow headband: Tie some mesh tulle in a bow on the side of an elasticized chain headband (the bigger the better) and slip it over your head. If you have one, a gem brooch looks amazing in the center of the bow. I wore this headband with fitted flare jeans and a relaxed tee to dress it down, but it could also be dressed up with an LBD or anything with fringe.

Gem headpiece: I actually made a broken necklace into a headpiece, but any necklace or beaded chain will work. Just undo the clasp (and remove some links to shorten both sides, if you’re able) and secure the ends to your hair with bobby pins. I wore this with an understated slip dress to keep things simple – you don’t want your outfit to compete with the headpiece.

Art deco print scarf: Fold a scarf so it’s about 4 – 6 inches wide, then wrap it around your head and tie a double knot at the nape of your neck. Allow the ends to hang down your back. I wore this with some skinnies and wedges during the day, which turned it into more of a modern boho look.

By Grace Romanowsky of Valenki By ACE, Staff Writer

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February 16, 2013

Rue Road Test: DIY Candle

Give a handmade gift to your valentine (and enjoy the brownie points)

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Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and there’s nothing more meaningful than a homemade gift. Bet you never thought of it, but guys like scented candles just as much as we do (and usually their apartments need them more than ours). So, consider this the gift for your bestie, brother, coworker – and even your main squeeze.

What you’ll need:
• 10 unscented tea lights (or beeswax)
• Old pot
• Stove top
• Tweezers
• One 6-inch candle wick (available at craft store, or make your own)
• Pencil
• Small glass or tin jar
• Tongs
• Essential oils of your choice (my favorite combination is vanilla and jasmine)
• Scissors

How to do it:
1.
Place about 10 tea lights in the bottom of an old pot.
2. Turn the stove burner on low heat and keep an eye on the candles as they melt.
3. When the wax has melted, remove each wick with a pair of tweezers and discard.
4. Tie the fresh wick around a pencil and balance it over the opening of your jar so the wick hangs straight down.
5. Using the tongs, remove each tea light from the pot and carefully pour the melted wax into your jar, leaving about 1/2 inch at the top.
6. Mix in 20 – 40 drops of the essential oils of your choice.
7. Allow to set and cool.
8. Trim your wick to 1/8 inch and enjoy!

By Grace Romanowsky of Valenki By ACE, Staff Writer

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February 9, 2013

Rue Road Test: Make-It-At-Home Dry Shampoo

Shorten your morning routine with this clever (homemade) beauty trick

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Confession: I rarely wash my hair every day. I’ve experimented with a few different store-bought brands of dry shampoo over the years, and while I’ve enjoyed the results, I could definitely do without the price tag (as well as all the additional chemical ingredients). Forgo washing and blow-drying your hair on day two and cash in on some extra minutes of beauty sleep with the help of a few common household supplies and this homemade dry shampoo recipe.

What you’ll need:
• 1/2 cup baking soda
• 1/2 cup whole grain oatmeal
• Sprig of dried lavender or 10 – 15 drops lavender essential oil (or any scent of your choice)
• Food processor
• Small jar with airtight lid
• Old makeup brush
• Fine-tooth comb

How to do it:
1. Combine the baking soda and oatmeal together in a food processor and grind until they form a fine powder.
2. Add the dried lavender or essential oil and mix well.
3. Scoop mixture into a small jar for storage.
4. Part your hair into three sections and use the makeup brush to lightly dust the mixture onto each section’s roots.
5. Work the fine-tooth comb from root to tip to brush out any excess powder.

By Grace Romanowsky of Valenki By ACE, Staff Writer

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February 2, 2013

Rue Road Test: Aromatherapy

Two ways to bring sweet scents into your home

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I don’t know whether it’s the abrupt end to the excitement of the holidays, the fact that the entire city seems to be coming down with a cold, or the way the CVS candy aisle goes from being my favorite place during Halloween to my worst nightmare around Valentine’s Day, but I somehow always need a pick-me-up during these late winter months. I’ve wanted to experiment with aromatherapy for awhile, and considering all of the physical and emotional benefits of essential oils, I figured now was the perfect time to give it a whirl.

Aromatherapy Mist

What you’ll need:
• 6 tablespoons (1 ounce) distilled water
• Fine mist spray bottle
• Dropper
• 10 – 15 drops essential oil

How to do it:
1. Pour the distilled water into the spray bottle.
2. Use the dropper to add the essential oil of your choice. (I used orange because it’s both uplifting and calming.)
3. Use as a room freshener or linen spray.
4. Shake the mister between uses.

Aromatherapy Air Freshener

What you’ll need:
• Spray paint
• Small Mason jar with screw-on lid
• Hammer
• Nail
• Baking soda
• 8 – 10 drops essential oil

How to do it:
1. Spray-paint the lid of the Mason jar the color of your choice. (This is done to cover the jar’s logo.) Let dry.
2. Using the hammer and nail, carefully poke about a dozen holes in the lid. I did this in a heart design.
3. Fill about 1/4 of the jar with baking soda.
4. Add 8 drops of the essential oil of your choice. (I used 6 lavender and 4 vanilla.)
5. Screw on the lid and place in your bathroom, closet, or kitchen to enjoy the calming and sweet aroma.
6. Shake from time to time to renew the scent.

By Grace Romanowsky of Valenki By ACE, Staff Writer

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January 24, 2013

Rue Road Test: Destroyed Denim

Graters are no longer reserved for lemon zest only

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I’ve always wished I could get someone to break in my jeans for me (that, and stretch them when they’re fresh out of the dryer). With a few simple tricks and common household supplies, you can turn everyday denim into a pair that looks like you’ve lived in it for years.

What  you’ll need:
• 
100% cotton jeans
• Pencil or chalk
• Grater
• Sandpaper block or sheets, 400 to 600 grade
• Cardboard
• X-ACTO blade

How to do it:
1.
Identify the places your jeans would naturally wear out first, such as the coin pocket, the back pocket, and, of course, the knees.
2. While wearing the jeans, mark with a pencil or chalk where you want to create abrasions, then take them off and lay them flat on your work surface.
3. Raise threads on the pocket seams by rubbing the grater back and forth over them several times (watch your fingers!).
4. Next, rub the sandpaper over these spots until desired distressing is achieved, or try this method of removing the colored threads.
5. To create knee holes, first place cardboard inside the leg so you don’t cut through to the other side of the jeans.
6. Using the X-ACTO blade, make several horizontal slices, about 1/4 inch apart, across the knees (the more slices you make, the bigger the hole will be). Keep in mind that holes and frays will continue to get larger, so don’t go overboard.
7. Use the sandpaper to raise fibers around the slits.
8. Once your jeans are distressed in all the right places, toss them in the washer and dryer to make them look more natural. After one or two washes, your denim will look like your oldest (most perfectly worn-in) pair.

By Grace Romanowsky of Valenki By ACE, Staff Writer

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January 17, 2013

Rue Road Test: Ombre Dip-Dye

Create a one-of-a-kind chambray shirt with this simple trick

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I’ve been itching to experiment with ombre dip-dye for months now, but I’ve always had a slight aversion to bleach due to some unfortunate past encounters at both the salon and the laundromat. Although it’s a lot more foolproof than I expected, you might want to experiment with a scrap of fabric or piece of clothing you’re not in love with before you go in for the real deal.

What you’ll need:
• Medium- to dark-wash denim button-down shirt
• Bucket that can hold at least 10 cups of water
• 4 cups warm water
• 4 cups bleach
• Elastic band
• Rubber gloves

How to do it:
1.
 Put on rubber gloves and fill a clean plastic bucket with the warm water and bleach.
2. Tie the elastic band around the shirt about one-third of the way down, or just under the chest pocket.
3. Submerge the lower portion of the shirt all the way up to the elastic band in the liquid and let the top half hang over the edge of the bucket.
4. Let sit for approximately 10 minutes, or until desired lightness is reached.
5. Pull another one-third of the shirt out of the liquid so that two-thirds of the shirt now hangs over the side of the bucket.
6. Let sit for another 5 – 10 minutes.
7. Wring the excess liquid out of the shirt and hang it to dry (I hung mine on a hanger from my shower curtain rod).
8. Carefully dispose of the bleach and water mixture in the toilet or down the shower drain.

By Grace Romanowsky of Valenki By ACE, Staff Writer

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January 10, 2013

Rue Road Test: Decorative Corkboard

Show off your Pinterest boards in physical form

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In an effort to get more organized in the New Year (and have a place to display the workout tips, recipes, shopping lists, and inspirations of my 2k13 resolutions), I set out to make a personalized, four-panel corkboard this week. I can’t promise I’ll keep every resolution, but at least I have a decorative and practical way to remind me that a girl can try!

What you’ll need:
• Corkboard
• Box cutter
• Ruler
• Paintbrush
• Acrylic paint in the color of your choice
• Stamp
• Adhesive mounting strips
• Adornments (optional)
• Push pins

How to do it:
1. Cut the cork into equal-sized squares using a ruler and box cutter.
2. Using a paintbrush, lightly coat the stamp with paint (note that too much paint can cause a smudge).
3. Create a repeating pattern on the cork squares, re-coating with paint before each stamp.
4. Once the paint dries, stick your corkboards to the wall using the adhesive mounting strips (you may want to use the removable type if you live in an apartment).
5. Get creative and add any adornments, like ribbon or even earrings.
6. Use the push pins to hang reminders, recipes, photos, or inspirations.

By Grace Romanowsky of Valenki By ACE, Staff Writer

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January 3, 2013

Rue Road Test: Twinkle Light Garland

Dress up traditional light strands with some style

With just under a week until Christmas, I’m still fighting the urge to go ballistic with a surge protector and a few dozen more strands of twinkle lights.

This season, however, I’m trying my hardest to prescribe to a “less is more” approach when it comes to decking my halls (please note: this does NOT apply to presents). So, I tried my hand at creating a simple (and season-friendly) twinkle light garland that you won’t have to stash in the attic with the waving Santa from your front yard come January.

What you’ll need:
•  String of lights
•  Fabric scraps (I suggest burlap, lace, or grosgrain ribbon)
•  Scissors

How to do it:
1. Cut your fabric or ribbon into pieces approximately 6 inches long (2 inches wide, max).
2. Tie each piece to the strand of lights in a single knot, allowing the two ends to hang down evenly.
3. Use about two pieces between each bulb, alternating in color or material for textured visual appeal.
4. When you’re done, the fabric should cover the majority of the green wire, so that just the lights poke through.
5. Use this to decorate a door archway, your tree, or even the posts of your bed.

By Grace Romanowsky of Valenki By ACE, Staff Writer

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December 20, 2012