With the slowly warming temps starting to gain momentum, it’s hard to not get into a vacation-like frame of mind. But if I can’t be flanked by palm trees on a daily basis, then donning Rio de Janeiro–inspired, retro jungle prints will have to do instead. To pull off this tropical trend (without going full-on “tourist”), mix neutrals with smaller doses of the energetic print. Note: Umbrella drinks are optional, but highly recommended.

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A printed scarf is the simplest way to inject this bold pattern into an everyday look without going overboard. I paired one with a tailored white blazer for an urban vibe that can go straight from the office to a night out on the town. For a more casual day look, wear it wrapped around your neck over a cami, then when the sun goes down, fashion it into a halter top and slip on your favorite pair of espadrilles to take the night by storm.

Ready to commit full force? Jungle-fauna print pants are wildly cool when paired with a brightly colored sleeveless blouse, and best accessorized by some bossa nova playing on your headphones, a straw Panama hat, and arms piled with wooden bangles.

By Grace Romanowsky, Staff Writer

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April 11, 2013

From sky-high pumps to box clutches, cuffs, and statement necklaces, it’s clear that Lucite accessories are a must-have this spring. I love the illusion of walking on air that a Lucite heel creates, or the look of crystals seemingly afloat within a bracelet or necklace.  What’s especially cool about this trend is how it manages to make a bold statement without taking over, complementing virtually any outfit, day or night.

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I tried this trend with a wide cuff bracelet featuring inset opaline crystals and loved how the girly jewels looked paired with a leather jacket. If you’re feeling extra daring, accessorize a see-through clutch with the contents themselves: an eye-popping phone case, funky shades, and your favorite lip gloss. One added bonus? Lucite is waterproof, so it’ll take you right from April showers to a day at the beach. And the award for most versatile accessory goes to…

By Grace Romanowsky, Staff Writer

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April 4, 2013

Round, 60s-inspired sunglasses are coming back in a big way this spring and summer. Flattering on those with an oval-, diamond-, square-, triangle-, or oblong-shaped face (so… just about everyone), these frames can be worn confidently from dawn to dusk.

I don’t usually stray too far from my classic Ray-Bans, but I had to find out for myself whether this hot 2013 look would work for me. So I got in touch with my inner John Lennon and tried this bold trend. The verdict? I’m officially a convert:

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Boasting black and gold frames with iridescent blue lenses, I chose this pair to modernize the look. My face is oval-shaped, and I found the thicker frames more flattering than the more retro rimless variety. But what to wear with this statement making-accessory? I went for an edgy day look and paired with a leather jacket, black skinnies, and a middle hair part, but I can’t wait to wear these babies with metallic swim pieces and spiked jelly sandals this summer.

By Grace Romanowsky, Staff Writer

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March 28, 2013

Celestial prints are at the top of my list of trends to work into my wardrobe this spring. Their pastel, watercolor hues and geometric motifs make them perfect for a season of warming temps and budding flowers.

Whether it be leggings, shoes, tops, or accessories, I can’t wait to get my hands on more pieces to make some far-out combos – but to do it without looking like a wannabe astronaut? That’s the tricky part. Lucky for you, I’m here to try it out before you land yourself on a tabloid’s “Don’t” fashion list.

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Out there
For a futuristic, space-age look, wear this print with a holographic clutch, studded bangles, and neon accents like a belt or shoes. I tried pairing a celestial crop top with a high-waisted neon green scuba skirt and a light-wash denim jacket for a casual weekend night out.

More grounded
Think this trend is a little too much? Bring it down to a safer level by pairing a celestial-print top with a solid basic, such as an ivory skirt or tailored boot-cut denim. Throw a blazer on top to make it office-chic.

By Grace Romanowsky, Staff Writer

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March 21, 2013

My floral pants have been practically banging down my closet door since the first blades of grass poked through the snow. And with daylight savings behind us, I fully intend on rocking them every which way – effective immediately. That is, until (let’s face it) I eventually cut them into jorts, which is the inevitable end of the life cycle for all denim. Here, three different ways to rock the trend:

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With denim. This look is perfect for running errands during the day. Slip them on with a white V-neck and jean jacket or a chambray button-up and fresh Keds, and you’re ready to make some serious moves. Warning: This look can go Michelle Tanner faster than you can say “You got it, dude,” if paired with the wrong hairstyle or accessories, so avoid high ponytails and keep it casual, not cutesy.

With a blazer. Make printed bottoms office-appropriate by pairing them with a blazer and some smart pumps. I love the pattern play a striped lining creates at the cuffs when they’re rolled. Don’t be afraid of mixing floral with a flash of another print.

With leather. I can’t get enough of the juxtaposition of a soft, girly print with some gritty leather. The gunmetal hardware with a pair of sky-high black suede wedges will take this trend right from day into night.

By Grace Romanowsky, Staff Writer

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March 14, 2013

With daylight savings on the horizon, dressing for warmer weather is the only thing on my mind now. But these in-between months of waiting to free my dresses from the back of the closet pose big wardrobe challenges, especially in the accessories department. My go-to knit beanie feels out of place with my lighter-weight jackets, but early AM coffee runs simply aren’t an option without a hat (trust me, you don’t want to see my hair when I first wake up).

I’m typically not a fan of “fashion hats” – maybe I’m just bitter that fedoras don’t suit me. But after trying this floppy wide-brimmed hat, I decided it was the perfect compromise, as the felted wool still offers some warmth without looking too wintry, and its slouchy shape gives it an effortless Janis Joplin vibe.

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When to rock it
Day or night, fall or spring. From running errands around town to shopping to brunching with friends, this is one accessory that can accompany you just about everywhere.

What to pair it with
I wore mine with a striped maxi dress, leather jacket, and wavy bedhead hair to venture out for my caffeine fix. It would also work well paired with jeans, wedges, and a chunky loose-knit sweater for running around the city on a weekend.

By Grace Romanowsky, Staff Writer

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March 7, 2013

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

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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

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

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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