Scarves: Infinity vs. Traditional

7 Oct

I just bought a scarf from InBox a couple days ago–had to take advantage of that 25% of sale! Anyways I’m totally obsessed with it. It’s an infinity scarf; basically material in the shape of a donut that you put around your neck!  (Also called neck warmers, circle scarves, and loop scarves).  This has been a trend over the past couple years, but has really become mainstream this year.  The brand of my infinity scarf is Cheap Monday.  Inbox carries this European brand, which is really cool.  It’s pretty awesome that Stevie has the power to bring these looks to the great state of Iowa when they’re in style. (Opposed to coming “in style” in the midwest after the east and west coast have been there and done that).

Jocelyn EXCLUSIVE Short Rabbit Infinity Scarf: Brown
I saw this rabbit fur infinity scarf from Intermix featured on today.  It gives you an idea of how you can play with texture to make your scarf pop from your outfit.

I’ve found that infinity scarves are so easy to throw on over a coat or jacket.  They’re very simple and can look very elegant especially in a solid color.  Although with traditional scarves you have choices of how to wear it (knots, looping, tying, etc.) it’s nice to not have to fuss about it.  You don’t have to worry about traditional scarf ends flying up in your face in windy weather (embarrassing!)  It’s always a little awkward trying to strap down fluttering ends when in public.  The infinity scarf sits like a necklace, pretty snug to your neck, so it’s hassle free.

Inbox and Lyla’s Boutique had infinity scarves in stock the past couple fall seasons, so if you’re in the Iowa City area check out those stores.  Nordstrom is always a great place to look for variety, and you can order offline, so that’s another store to keep in mind.  When buying an infinity scarf look for chunky thick ones, that will be sure to keep you warm.  I really like this Michael Kors fax fur infinity scarf, or “neck warmer”.  The texture will add a lot to any outfit, and stand out from a jacket.  Because it’s an infinity scarf, it has less material than a traditional one, so the fur won’t look like it’s too much.  I also really like the Hunter Herringbone circle scarf–it’s a two toned black and white wool weave.  Can’t go wrong there!

Another plus–if you purchase a circle scarf that has a long width, it doubles as a hoodie.  It can protect your head against wind, light rain and snow just like a sweatshirt hood would.  Here is an example:

Photos courtesy of (This site prices these around $20!)


Podcast Interview Featuring Stevie Tummey

6 Oct

Hey Everybody!  Here is my first podcast.  I decided to interview Stevie Tummey, an Iowa City native who opened her own business in downtown Iowa City–a women’s clothing store called InBox.  The boutique brings great styles and brands to the area, so I wanted to learn a bit more about how Stevie started her business and how she gets the best, newest trends into her store.  And of course, tying in the ‘This vs That’ theme of my blog, by finding out how she chooses between articles of clothing for her window displays.  You can follow the script below while listening to the podcast!  Enjoy!

Laurie Lehman: Welcome to my first podcast of ‘Laurie’s This vs That’, I’m Laurie Lehman.  Alright, so I’m here today with Stevie Tummey, 27 year old store owner of InBox, downtown Iowa City–Say hello Stevie!

Stevie Tummey: Hello!

LL: How are you doing today?

ST: I’m doing fabulous.  We’re having a 25% off sale today so it’s brought in a lot of traffic and that’s exciting, and it’s beautiful outside!

LL: I’d like to ask you a few questions on how you started up and decided to open your own business

ST:  Well, I’ve always had a passion for fashion and have been in retail for the past 13 years.  So, my first job was in this exact location Preferred Stock Iowa CIty was also a clothing store.  I have worked in retail or sales for several years and I love boutiques and I love to shop and I decided that the time was right with the economy being so down, that most businesses when they start can make it through anything.

LL:  When did you decide that you could actually start up the business on your own or how did you get the funding for it?

ST:  So, I decided that; I was in California for about a year hanging out, living my life and was interested in opening my own business.  And I saw the real estate prices in California compared to Iowa City when I would come back to visit my family and so at that point I realized that I would probably be able to you know the lease of a place and such in Iowa City, so then I have always been good at saving money. So, I’d saved up a lot of money and I also then went to a private investor and got a personal loan for the business.  So, that’s how I started the business on August 5, 2009!

LL: Would you mind describing the process you go through on your buying trips, to get your clothes?

ST: Depending on what time of year it is, I really enjoy traveling and sometimes I take my husband and daughter if we’re going out to L.A. and it’s a far trip then I’ll take them.  And, we will take a flight and go out and there’s a fashion district and fashion mart and we go shop all day long for like eight to ten hours days.  It’s very stressful because it’s not just fun shopping it’s actually for the store and it has to be stuff that other people want to buy and wear so it puts more pressure on me as opposed to just going shopping for a pair of pants for myself.  So that’s one way I go on a buying trip, the other way is; Chicago has a fashion mart, a merchandise mart, so I go there, a couple times a year I’ve taken the manager of the store Allysa Mullen she has gone with me before and we have a lot of fun there.  We just usually go down for the day, leave really early in the morning and stay all day and see our favorite brands and then come back home.  And, the third way I buy is, I have emails that come to me from my favorite brands, so I’m a frequent buyer on their line so they send me emails with new products and I buy it online.

LL: Do you go anywhere else besides Chicago and L.A.?

ST: I’ve been to New York or buying trips and my goal is to be able to take a trip to Europe to go buy.

LL:  Well, as you know my blog is actually a fashion blog that’s called ‘This vs That’, and it’s where I take two fashion accessories, two articles of clothing, or two different brands or even ideas and compare and contrast the two and I kind of pick the winner each time I post.  And I was just wondering if you could kind of talk about your window displays and how you decide what to put in there.  Would you rather put jeans on more so than a dress, or vice-versa?

ST:  So, our window displays we try and change weekly.  We also try and put new merchandise in the window.  Colorful stuff definitely helps, sparkly stuff, most often times we go with a theme.  Maybe every (we call our mannequins girls) so every girl in the window is going out.  We like to accessorize them a lot and I really enjoy putting jeans on the mannequins because they give people a great idea but dresses, I think, look better.  And it’s more fun to shop for dresses, because usually it’s an occassion that you’re shopping for as opposed to jeans who no one really likes to try jeans on.

LL: Yeah, I’d have to say that I usually would pick up a dress, or be more attracted to a dress in a store window than jeans.  I’m not really looking for that in boutiques.

ST: Right.  So, that’s how we do it.  We also have a professional merchandiser come in and she helps guide what we want, with our concepts, and she makes it come to life and is amazing.

LL:  Alright, well thanks for being a part of my podcast today.

ST: Yes

LL: There you have it, that was ‘Laurie’s This vs That’ podcast, I’m Laurie Lehman

Podcast music: Love & Hate Relationship by MonSteReo

Jackets: Patagonia vs. The North Face

2 Oct

Patagonia or The North Face? That is the question.

These two brands target the same audiences, attracting the average joe looking for a jacket to the hardcore outdoor enthusiast.  I’m comparing the brands’ most popular fall-winter jackets.  They’re both full zip, fleece jackets worn by men and women.

The North Face: Denali Jacket .

Price: $165

Features: Full zip, mostly fleece with abrasion-resistant fabric overlays shoulders, chest and elbows.  Standard fit, two hand pockets, one chest pocket

Patagonia: Full Zip Re-Tool Jacket .

Price: $139

Features: Full zip, polyester fleece, “feminine” silhouette, two hand pockets, one chest pocket

I’ve always been partial to TNF jacket, as I bought a few in high school.  They’re great and roomy inside, which is good for layering OVER a sweatshirt it.  Now, if you’re looking for a jacket that is contoured a little more to your figure, I would go with the Patagonia, it is a good layering piece but would work best UNDER your main winter coat. It’s just too body skimming to fit anything bulky like a sweatshirt under it.  Also the Patagonia texture is super soft, which is a plus.  So depending on how you want to wear it, as your main coat or as an inside layer, choose accordingly!  But of course, go to a store and try both on before you determine what you want–Active Endeavors downtown Iowa City carries both, so stop by after class.

Follow me on Project Runway Live Tweet!

28 Sep

Hey guys just letting you know I’ll be live tweeting Project Runway tomorrow night at 8 p.m. central time under the name 1laurielehman using the hashtag #projectrunway

Blue Jeans vs. Colored Jeans

27 Sep

Colored Jeans are one of the newest trends this fall.  They have been seen on tons of celebrities, and continued to blow up the runways that foreshadow next spring and summer (not going anywhere soon).

Blue jeans will always be in, but I hope colored jeans stick around longer than the average fad, because they’re just fun!  It’s a different way to add color to your outfit.

Photos courtesy of The Gossip Avenue.  Top, from left to right: Fergie, Kim Kardashian, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Victoria Beckham. Bottom, from left to right: Rachel Bilson, Anna Kendrick, Khloe Kardashian, Cameron Diaz.

All of these ladies are wearing skinny jeans.  The skinny jean is a great style to compliment a colored wash.  This way you can wear heals, or boots, incorporating the color into any outfit.

My personal favorite colors for this fall are the dark blue and red, (the Kardashian girls know what’s up!)  Yellow, and light pink are definitely not something you should be caught in this fall, save those for the summer.  Pair the jeans with nice fall colors like browns, and neutrals.  Black and white are always good choices, obvi.

Notice: every girl above is wearing a solid colored top.  Even if you think a printed top may match well, it will most likely look like too much is going on, so stick with solids.

Check out Hot Topic for decently priced colored jeans (approx. $30)!

Embracing Your Natural

20 Sep

New York Fashion Week, just held this September 8th-15th, has brought visions of spring and summer 2012 looks.  Runway models displayed many different hairstyles, from messy locks to sleek ponytails.  One look that has kept its footing in the hair industry is the (seemingly) all natural wave.  The “celebrity hairstylist of Iowa City”, Sorayah Hamilton, weighs in: “It’s simple with a sense of adventure.”

Hamilton, a 40-something mom of three, who refuses to share her actual age with anyone, is a hairdresser at Buzz salon located in the pedestrian mall, downtown Iowa City.  The stylist takes classes annually at Bumble & Bumble (Bb) in New York to advance her cutting, styling and product knowledge.  She has also worked with models for numerous backstage events and photo shoots, some of which she collaborates with her designer brother, Tim Hamilton.

Hamilton’s favorite look that has been constantly seen on the runways and in the magazines recently is the natural wave.  “I appreciate it when someone is creative with their natural texture,” she said.

The stylist is not a big fan of flat irons. “I call that the F-word…and I don’t use the F-word,” she said.  She rethinks her statement, “I like to flat iron ribbons and shirt collars,” she laughed.  Flat irons are damaging to hair because of the intense heat.  If used the right way (sparingly), Hamilton admits they are acceptable in some cases.  But for the most part, she doesn’t find the look very appealing.  “Very fine fragile hair that sticks straight beyond belief really isn’t flattering on anybody—except for maybe DJs in the 90s,” she said.

How To:

The next few seasons are all about embracing your natural beauty, Hamilton said.  To get the natural wavy look, wash your hair and squeeze excess water out of it with a towel.  Comb.  After combing, Hamilton suggests making a middle part and applying a serum.  Hamilton’s favorite: shu uemura’s nourishing protective oil. (You can find the product at Buzz or order it online.)  “I call it lip gloss for the hair,” she said.  Its benefits are high shine, silky softness and UV protection.  Then, take 1 inch sections of your hair and alternate between twisting and braiding until no loose hairs are left.  For the most part the braids will hold, but sometimes the twists won’t.  In this case, pin back twists anywhere on the scalp with a single bobby pin.  (Don’t worry about how messy it looks at this point.)  Let your hair dry naturally, unpin, tousle, and enjoy looking like a goddess!

Touch of Flair:

Another trend popping up in the hair industry is the feather.  Girls all over have been seen flaunting the feather hair extension.

Hamilton thinks the right placement of these should be more subtle; behind the ear, on the lower end of the hairline.  This way it peaks through in the ponytail, and is noticeable yet not distracting when your hair is down.  When choosing the right color she opts for the neutrals. (Think creamy shades of brown.) Hamilton said to steer clear of electric pink, blue, green, etc. because they’re not for everyday wear. Hamilton is all about not having an “over engineered look,” she said.  This meaning: stick with the natural wave and a neutral colored feather.

To get a feather extension, you can walk into Buzz salon to have a staff member put one in on the spot.  There are options to get one feather or a three-pack placed.  The process takes less than five minutes.  The price ranges between $12 and $45 depending on how big the feather is, and how many you want in your hair.

The feathers are supposed to stay in your hair anywhere between 4 and 6 weeks.  If you can’t commit to a feather for that long, there are other options like clip-ins. You can also look into buying a long feather earring, which would have remotely the same look if you are wearing your hair down.  This may be a better bang for the buck, because you can wear it whenever you want, unlike the extension—once that falls out, it’s out.

To learn more how to put a feather in yourself and alternatives to the hair extension, stay tuned for my next post!

Fun Fact: The feather fad in the hair industry has caused a shortage of feathers for fly fisherman.  “Eh, they’ll find other things to catch their fish with,” Hamilton shrugged.

Above Photo: Sorayah Hamilton (right) prepping a hair model for a photo shoot.

Flare vs. Skinny

15 Sep

The flare jean is back!  After a long few years of skinny jeans, NY fashion week last spring showcased the flare jean for a Fall 2011 look.  After models tore up the look on the runway, celebs have been seen wearing the 70’s chic pant on the streets.  Just look at Gwyneth Paltrow, Gisele Bündchen and Zoë Saldana:

Photo courtesy of

I’ve been a huge fan of skinny jeans because they allow you to show off your boots–one of my all time favorite looks is a skinny jean with a classic leather riding boot–but I have to admit I’m a little excited the flare jean is making a come back.  Flare jeans are pretty flattering, especially in a darker wash.  By adding a heel under your flare, you can make your legs appear longer, thus looking a bit slimmer which is always a plus!  You can be pretty flexible in what top you pair with flare jeans–as you can see above the look can be completed with a blazer, casual shirt, or tucked in oxford and look great all ways. The style is back and I think adding a pair of flares to your wardrobe is a must for this fall!

In-store vs. Online Shopping

14 Sep

The world revolves around the Internet so it’s no surprise that stores have gone online, with some only having an online version.  So which should you do, shop in-store or online?

A rule of thumb I have is always shop in-store.  This way you can try on pieces and make sure they look and feel the way you like.  Also, because you are able to see the exact article of clothing you’re going to purchase, you can check and make sure there are no snags, broken hemlines, stains, etc. prior to payment.

And if you’re anything like me, in-store shopping is an event—having a shopping day with my mom is equivalent to the way my brother and dad feel about going to a Cubs game.  I make a day out of it, and it’s something I do that makes me happy!

Online shopping can be okay if you have a lot of pieces from the store, like I do from the Gap, for example.  Gap has pretty traditional styles and cuts—so if you’re buying a shirt, and you’ve already got tons at home, it’s safe to say ordering the same size you already have is going to fit the way you expect.

If you are going to shop online—always check if there are consumer comments anywhere.  A lot of stores won’t actually have this application on their website, but sometimes you can Google to find responses.  The reason you may want to do this is to get input about how something may fit differently—someone may give insight to a boot that runs small, so to order the next size up—always something to take into consideration.
One more tip for online shoppers: make sure you pay attention to shipping and handling fees, they sneak up on you!

The main reason to shop online is because the store is totally not accessible to you, if this is not the case, then definitely take a trip to the actual store, and have some fun!

Floral Prints: How much is too much?

11 Sep

A new trend that has been on the rise for a while now, is floral prints on clothes and accessories.  I saw a lot of women sporting the floral print as a top when I studied abroad in London this summer.  The print was usually on a sheer shirt which the ladies tucked into a dress pant, jean or high-waisted skirt.

I really like the flowy look of a floral top matched up with high-waisted skinny jeans.  Try riding boots with the outfit for daytime and heels to take it up a notch for night-time.  If you wear a floral design as a dress, pair it with a skinny belt to give some shape to your silhouette.  I’m not a huge fan of wearing prints on bottom but this months Glamour has an article, “These-Aren’t-Your-Grandma’s Floral Pants” that describes how to rock the new trend.

And don’t forget–always always always flatter your body.  If you don’t think the floral top, pant or dress you try on at a store suits you, do not buy it!  Trust me, it can make you look bigger in places you don’t want to!  This doesn’t mean you can’t wear floral at all, just try to incorporate it into your outfit through a scarf or handbag.

Personally, I always opt for a scarf in new prints I’m not completely in love with–this is for a few reasons:

1.  I try to stick to basics, like a black or white top with a scarf as an accent piece, because it’s usually more flattering on my body.

2.  Scarves are usually cheaper than a shirt or pant, thus if the design turns into a fad, you won’t be too bummed you spent money on it.

3.  You don’t have to fully commit to it.  If you decide you’re not into your look later in the day–just take it off, and stash it in your handbag!

Because of these reasons I’m going to have to say a floral print scarf takes the cake over the print in a shirt/pant/dress.  I think such a bold statement piece should be smaller rather than larger.  In my opinion floral print pants are just too much.

Check out stores like Forever21 and H&M as they have a lot of floral to choose from for decent prices.

Will you try and mix some floral prints into your wardrobe this fall?  (If you already have–what’d you buy and from where?)

Hi All!

6 Sep

Hi all,

As you know the goal of my blog is to bring two items/ideas to the table, compare and contrast them, and decide which one I think takes the cake.  I’ll also be posting about new patterns and how to rock them on your bod.  If you have any suggestions of two similar styles, design ideas, or pieces you’d like me to explore, drop me a comment on this post.  Also, I’d love to get feedback on what you would have chosen, and why!  If you haven’t already looked at “About Laurie”, go ahead and do so to learn a bit more about me and my mission for this blog.

My first comparison will be posted within the week, so make sure to check back soon!