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One of my favorites in my collection, Lulu Frost "Impromptu Pin." Image via: ModaOperandi.com
Brooches are often associated with the likes of school librarians and grandmas, but I feel like they're really an underrated accessory, and you can do so much more with them than just dressing up a nice coat or pinning them to a blazer lapel (which are both great options!). The Glamourai gives a great photographic guide on how to wear them a few ways, and they're an accessory that I try to incorporate into my outfits fairly often, and there are so many ways to wear them. Brooches are a nice alternative to statement necklaces and earrings.

Wear them in the most straightforward way, but choose brooches that really echo your personality. They're easy to find at flea markets and vintage shops. Price really isn't important here, these are more of a statement. Attach them to the shoulder of a plain top or the lapel of a blazer or sweater to dress up a simple look, or accessorize a plain dress this way for a more unique look.

It's so easy to get creative with brooches though. String one onto a chain and turn it into a statement necklace to add options, but use the popular collar trend to your advantage and fake a statement necklace with a bigger brooch by pinning one to the neck of the collar right in the center of the two flaps. I did this with this Target dress that I totally copied (and got on sale!) from Blair Eadie there and the brooch pictured above. I was wearing it during the day, so I threw on a thick sweater jacket and tights and shorter leather boots to make it a little tougher and more casual. If your brooch is a little smaller, pin it to the corner of your collar for an eye catching detail. 

Go a little early 2000s with your brooches and bunch them on a jean jacket collar or shoulder. Or you can add them to a bag if it wouldn't ruin the fabric, or pin one to an artfully slung scarf. If you're wearing a blouse with cuffs and aren't rolling them up, you can add one or a few to a cuff instead of a bracelet or watch. 

Keep an open mind next time you're browsing for accessories and pick up a brooch. When making an outfit and none of your existing accessories seem quite right, it might be just what you need.
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Image via: HallieDaily.com
The best part of unseasonably warm fall weather is the freedom you can take with layering without feeling at risk of overheating with a coat, because you don't necessarily need a coat. Yesterday's temps reached into the mid-60s here in NYC, and my favorite thing to do in that instance is to ditch a coat and utilize fall clothes to their potential. The Vanity Fair best dressed list 2013 member here, the blogger behind Hallie Daily, does the fall layering thing well with color and silhouette. I'll admit first thing that I am very much not a fan of her shoes in this picture, but a pump is a great idea with this otherwise low key and casual outfit. I love the bright yellow against the bright blue pants and her choice of a red coat (but only if you need it!) and the way the bright patterned shirt underneath ties everything together so well. The v-neck sweater over the buttoned to the top shirt which hangs out from the bottom just so is perfectly styled to look intentional, but also laid back. I love that she cuffed the pants, but this outfit can work so well with pretty much any fall flat or heel. The clutch makes this a little more formal, and just like the shoes, many different bags could work with this look, too! The best thing about it is that most people already have all these elements in their closets.
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Image via: Tommy Ton for GQ.com
In honor of this unseasonably warm day, I'm going with a lighter look today. This is obviously an extremely easy outfit comprised of all things most guys have in their closets, but that is all the more reason why fit is everything. The t-shirt isn't yellowing, stained or stretched out and the pants are a nice dark wash and fit the leg well. The highlight of this outfit is the cuff and sock combo. You don't see a cuff and sock very often, and now that ankles are at risk of feeling the chill, it's important to know how to do it well if the cuff is your kind of look. The shoes are a Keds-looking oxford that finishes off this casual and easy look well. It looks like he has a plaid button down in his lap to throw on over, which is even better. Unbuttoned or buttoned, it works easily into this simple look.
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Image via: Target.com
what it is: Merona Kadence Wedge Ankle Boots
what I love it: I've been looking for desert boot wedges for a while now, and between my particularities in price, color, wedge color and fabrication, wedge height and ankle height, it hasn't been an easy search. I saw these at Target a few weeks ago and snatched them up, and I couldn't be happier that I did. I love the idea of heeled shoes for day, but they have to be low enough to be comfortable walking around and casual enough that they don't look weird coming out before dark. These meet all those requirements, just in time for fall. I wore them with jeans running errands and meeting a friend for lunch, but they also work with skirts and dresses, especially with a little sock action. They are perfect for days you want a little lift but want to stay comfortable, or nights when you want to keep it casual, but not too casual.
where to get it: Target, $34.99
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Image via: ArtistsandFleas.com
Last summer, I met a friend for lunch and she was wearing a brand new necklace with a charm from her home state that she boasted was inexpensive and amongst a whole market inside Chelsea Market. Always on the search for meaningful jewelry that's easy to wear with anything, I jumped at the idea of browsing this same market. For one reason or another, I didn't make it down there until recently, and it was a delay I instantly regretted. The Artists & Fleas market at the back of Chelsea Market, which adds new vendors every two weeks (and keeps existing ones), offers so many different types of goods that are fun to browse and easy to pick up during a day shopping in the city. 

You'll find mostly jewelry, and I picked up a "New York hearts Ohio" necklace from Brooklyn Charm for a very reasonable price. They have jewelry trays of all different types of charms and chains of all different lengths so you can pick what you want and have your own personalized necklace in a matter of minutes. Their state charms are popular, and I love mine because it's a nice little reminder to throw on during days I'm a little homesick. Jewelry ranges from very dainty and high quality (with prices to match) to artsy and fun for those craftier people.

Jewelry isn't all, though, vintage and newly designed clothes and accessories, scarves, snarky graphic pouches, bags, home goods and even tech accessories are all things you'll find at this little market. There are tons of opportunities for great gifts with the holidays coming up and it's always fun to look and take mental inventory. I'm going to have to go back soon and pick up some rings
 
 
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Forever 21 (men) button shirt, Forever 21 dress, Joe Fresh tights, TJ Maxx boots
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Urban Outfitters double chain reverse cameo necklace, Kate Spade exclamation point necklace, Dakota Watch Company watch
I'm savoring these days of relative warmth because I'm not sure how long they'll last now that we're nearing December. These are some of my favorite and most versatile items of clothing I own, so I'm glad they can work together. First, the dress. My mom actually picked this dress off of a messy rack at Forever 21 and tried to force it on me because this simple shift dress in classic navy and white stripes is really not my style. Once I tried it on and it fit perfectly, though, I decided to go for it. It's an all-seasons dress that works just as well on its own with flat sandals as it does with a blazer or cardigan and heels for a more polished look. But I'm not so inclined to polished on a regular basis, so here I go for a little irony by tying up a men's flannel at the waist for some slouchy layers and pattern mixing. Gray tights act as a neutral connection between the top part of the outfit and these loose-fitting heeled boots that add a relaxed coolness to an outfit. The tied shirt leaves the front part of the dress visible, so I break it up with layered long necklaces and add a little bit of business with a mixed metal boyfriend watch. There's a lot of styles going on in this outfit, but keeping some of the polish while layering other styles iss what makes things interesting here.
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Image via: TheCut.com
This picture of Gwen Stefani is actually really old, but the outfit seems surprisingly modern. I'm on a bit of a dressy kick this week, and shorts with tights deserve a mention because I hate for the seasons to limit what I can or can't wear. Tights make shorts possible in the cold temps, and I think Gwen's mostly black look here is great for the upcoming colder months. The tie, to me, is the only dated/questionable thing about this outfit, and it's an easy accessory to lose. Besides that, the buttoned collar with statement necklace and cool belt really add dressy personality to this look and the heels finish off the formal feel. It's definitely a bold look, but keeping the colors understated except for the shorts and just the accessories bold pull it together and make it appropriate for those upcoming holiday parties or just any winter night out.
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Oh, the man coat. It's tricky because how many is too many to own? Well, you should honestly probably own at least three legit winter coats. But then it gets messy with other seasons. Let's stick with the winter three. 

Get a casual coat that keeps you warm. It's up to you which form this can take (puffer, windbreaker, quilted, etc), but it just needs to be warm and good quality. And probably have a hood if you're opposed to other head warming options. The other two might seem redundant, but once you have to wear a suit in the freezing cold, you'll know why you need both a shorter and longer nice coat. The shorter one, like a pea coat type style, can be worn in both nicer and more casual situations. These pair well with scarves and should be purchased in a versatile color, like navy, black or gray. Patterns are okay in moderation. The coat should look good with all of your casual to nice clothes. The longer one should work over all your suits. Nothing ruins a look like your suit jacket or blazer being longer than your coat. Awkward. Now for option examples:
casual
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Canada Goose
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The North Face
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Patagonia
short
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Brooks Brothers
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Bonobos
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Todd Snyder
long
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J.Crew
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Paul Smith
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Banana Republic
These are, obviously, just a few examples of successful coat choices. Anywhere from your favorite store to your aspirational label will make outerwear, though not always in every variety. Shop around until you find some you like. Needless to say, cheaper ones aren't going to be as good of quality, but just because a coat is expensive doesn't mean it will keep you adequately warm. Try it on! You should be uncomfortably warm if you're wearing it inside for too long. Remember to consider fit, especially since this is going to be layered over your entire outfit. Then shop for the perfect scarf.

Just a quick note on other seasons: it's a good idea to own a trench coat plus another lighter coat, which can most likely be casual, for spring and fall. And don't forget vests! These come in handy during transitional times, too.
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(1) Max Mara (and Dorothy Gaspar gloves), (2) Armani. Images via (top to bottom): Eonline.com, source unknown
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(1) Olivia's coat/accessory wardrobe, (2) Ann Demeulemeester, (3) Ralph Lauren. Images via: ScandalMoments.com (top 2), RalphLauren.tumblr.com
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(1) Tory Burch, (2) Salvatore Ferragamo, (3) Burberry Prorsum. Images via: Eonline.com, VodkaInfusedLemonade.com, TalkingWithTami.com
By now, it's obvious that I wish Olivia Pope was real and that I go into a shallow depression every week once I'm done watching Scandal. There is just so much to learn from her, especially from her carefully thought out wardrobe choices (which aren't fictional!). Olivia is always walking purposefully to destinations around Washington, D.C. putting out fires, and it's not a city without seasons. Most of the Scandal year, we see Olivia in a number of different coats, and when you see a nice, well-tailored coat over an equally nice outfit, it's inspiring to up your outerwear game.

I hate coats for many different reasons, but I now understand the need for nice looking outerwear. When I see Olivia patrolling the city streets in various lengths, colors and styles of coats, I'm reminded that coats can really enhance a look, or ruin one when they're not quite right. Take some notes from Olivia, then fill the several empty hangers in your coat closet. I didn't realize how many coats a person really should have until I moved to Chicago, (short, long, casual, formal, sort of casual/sort of formal...my head will start spinning) and though they're not cheap, they last and are an important investment. Once you get to a certain age or stage in your career, that slightly too small puffer coat that doesn't quite cover the bottom of your blazer or cardigan just doesn't quiiiiite match your sophistication level. Or at least the one you're trying to convince people you have achieved.

Olivia is always well-equipped for any level of chill, and her coats always look nice with her outfits. They're long enough to cover whatever is underneath and they can trick someone into thinking they are actually part of her outfit, which is the key. Whenever you get a coat, it should be versatile enough to wear with several different outfit combinations. Shorter and longer nice coats are extremely important for wear over both dresses/skirts and pants, and the neckline of the coat should complement the type of clothes you usually wear. If a lower cut neck opening adds confusion to your look, get one with a high neck closure. If you have an abnormal waist and a belted coat doesn't look quite right, get one that's well tailored using buttons and darts and ditch the belt. 

Most real humans don't need quite as many coats as Olivia, but she has such a variety and wears them so thoughtfully that it's a good idea to use her for guidance and to kind of shop a look for you. If you're meeting someone new during the colder months, the coat is their first impression of how you present yourself, so make it as good of a choice as Olivia always does.

Shop some Olivia look-alikes for her feminine, structured and indulgent outerwear look. Try this, this and this for some similar looks (I'm pretty sure that trench is one she's worn on the show). And if you can't get her Burberry duplicate, Gap has a worthy reasonable alternative.
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Image via: eatsleepwear.com
Monochrome can be tough, especially with dark winter colors. The key is keeping the silhouette simple and doing what you can with subtle patterns and textures, as well as using a color that actually works with the monochrome look. The blogger behind Eat.Sleep.Wear masters the look well with a textured, slouchy sweater and patterned skinnies of the same color. She finished the look off well with matching black shoes and bag, both with what the mags would call "luxe" details, adding to the rich tones and textures in the outfit without overpowering them. The black was a good choice because it's simple and understated. Black is never a bad choice, but it was particularly good here because it doesn't compete, and more oxblood would have been too much and potentially costume-y. This is a sweater/jeans/flats look that is elevated both by a trend and by being dressed up with details like the captoe and tapestry pattern on the colored jean. This is something that's great to keep in mind during quick mornings, because just because your outfit seems simple or casual on paper, doesn't mean it translates to that in person. Get creative with the traditional!
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