How to Decipher Dress Codes

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The invitation arrives in the mail. It states that the dress code is formal, or cocktail, or smart casual. Not to mention those that request lounge suit or morning suit. What do they mean? What do you wear? Never fear, Style Unearthed is here! Read on, and learn how to decipher dress codes.

Formal

Formal Wear Collage

Dress: George Kylie Evening Gown from Swish Clothing – $509.99 | Shoes: Lola2 from Betts – $74.99 (on sale) |                                   Clutch: Oroton Society Clutch – $495.00

A formal or black tie dress code means a long dress, or maxi dress (as long as it looks formal). I would err on the side of conservative, especially if it’s a very sophisticated event. It is best to wear heels if you are comfortable in them. If not, choose a dress that is long enough to hide a pair of ballet flats, but not too long to be stepped on. Sourcing a dress that doesn’t look too ‘bridesmaidy’ can be tricky at times, but choosing something in a neutral or dark colour will suit most occasions. Choosing something with a different neckline (such as a halter neck) to set it apart from others at the event. Your outfit can be accessorised with a wrap, pashmina or bolero if the weather is cool. Attending a formal event is the perfect time to have your hair and makeup done. A sleek up-do, beautiful blow dry or some GHD curls will complete the outfit. Keep accessories to a minimum, with one statement piece if you wish. Most makeup counters will give you a makeover for a reasonable fee, which can then be claimed back in product. A perfect win-win situation!

Cocktail

Cocktail Party

Dress: Leona Edminston Genevieve Dress – $172 (on sale) | Bag: Olga Berg Ladylike Handbag – $89.95 | Heel: Nine West Gee – $139.95

A cocktail party calls for a shorter dress – around knee length. You can afford to wear something a little more fun and flirty. The outfit I chose was a little more on the lady like side, and would suit a wedding or work function. You could also swap the black heels for a pair of patterned, colourful pumps, or add a bright bag. Consider your shoe choice if you know you’re going to be standing for the majority of the event – you don’t want sore feet! Some statement jewellery would also add some extra colour to the outfit and allow you to have some fun accessorising. Stores like Lovisa and Magnolia sell gorgeous costume jewellery at an affordable price. Their pieces are often colour coded, making it super easy to find something to match your outfit.

Smart Casual

Smart Casual

Dress: Diana Ferrari Zelma Dress – $139.95 (on sale) | Bag: Colette by Colette Hayman Plain Diagonal Envelope Clutch – $34.95 | Wedges: Dallas wedges by Betts – $99.99

Smart casual is the dress code you’re having, when you’re not having a dress code. It can suit so many occasions, and is perfect to pull out of your wardrobe at a moment’s notice. A smart casual outfit is ideal for this time of year as the ‘silly season’ approaches and parties and functions are in abundance. The outfit above would work for the races, a smart dinner, or an award ceremony (especially for end of year school events!). The floral print of the dress adds to it’s casual feel, and it can be accessorised with a variety of colours. Choosing a wedge shoe is a smart idea, as they are easier on your feet and knees. A neutral shoe can be a very useful addition to your wardrobe, being able to be worn with lots of different outfits. This dress would also work with coloured or neutral ballet flats or sandals, if you prefer a flatter shoe. The envelope clutch adds an extra pop of colour, but you could also choose something playing up to the blue accents in the dress.

Having a few dresses in your wardrobe that you can mix and match with will help you not get bored with your outfits, especially if they’re on high rotation during busy party seasons. You can change up accessories, hair and make up styles and jewellery to make them look different, but not blowing your budget.

What do you wear to formal, cocktail and smart casual events? Do you have a stock pile of outfits, or do you purchase a new one for each occasion? 

 

Five Ways to Fix Dry Skin

FiveWaystoFixDrySkin

 

I have dry skin, especially on my hands and face. It’s normally a problem that presents itself in Winter, but lately with a busy (and sometimes stressful) life and lots of hand washing to try and avoid bugs, I have been suffering from very dry skin. These are my five ways to fix dry skin, that tend to nip the eczema that follows in the bud. I hope they help you too.

1. A good facial moisturiser

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Dry skin often crops up on my face. This week I have had a head cold, and now have a red nose to rival Rudolph that I am desperately trying to get rid of! I normally use Pure Fiji day and night creams, along with a serum. I have recently been trying a Perfecting Lotion* too, which I love. It feels very smooth when it is applied, and seems to moisturise the skin evenly. It feels similar to a serum, though a little thicker. I think I will definitely be investing in a larger bottle! Used in combination, these creams work very well and seem to bring plenty of moisture to my face. Used in combination with a cleansing and toning routine, the creams and serums will keep your skin soft and supple.

2. A naturally-based body moisturiser

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Along with a vitamin E cream, I also use Pure Fiji Dilo Rescue Body Gel, and QV Intensive Moisturiser when my skin becomes particularly dry. The Dilo Rescue is wonderful on freshly shaved legs, or to sooth irritated skin. It is made from all natural ingredients, and smells lovely. It is the perfect after sun lotion, and can be stored in the fridge if you need it to be cool.

The QV moisturiser was recommended to me for my daughter’s dry skin when she was a tiny baby. It is water based, which means it does not hurt when it is applied to cracked skin. This is wonderful news for me, as I often get cracks in my hands that sting. If your hands or feet are dry and uncomfortable, apply a thick layer of this cream before bed and cover with socks or cotton gloves. It may take a couple of days to settle down, but it will help the moisture absorb and repair your skin. This enormous pot was around $25, but was purchased two years ago. It is still going strong!

Make sure your moisturise your hands regularly, especially when you are washing or sanitising your hands frequently.

3. Look after your lips

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As a teenager, I was obsessed with lip gloss. I had multiple tubes floating around in multiple bags. These days, I’m lucky to remember to put it on! When I do remember to look after my lips, Baby Lips by Maybelline has become a favourite. It comes in a range of flavours that add a hint of colour. They smell great, are available in the supermarket, and are incredibly cost effective. You can afford to have one in every bag!

In Summer, I will be switching to an SPF rated lip gloss for extra sun protection. I have heard good things about the Sun Sense gloss, so I think I will try it first.

4. Drink plenty of water

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I notice that my skin is on the drier side if I neglect to drink enough water. The recommended intake is 6-8 glasses of liquid per day, and while this does include tea, coffee and juice (among other things) water really is the best option for rehydration. It is especially important in the Summer months when your body will lose moisture due to the warmer weather. There are so many cute reusable water bottles around that we really shouldn’t have any excuses not to be drinking enough h20.

5. Keep a healthy body and mind

Eating poorly and stress or worry really impact upon the state of my skin. I can tell if I am stressed by my hands and legs – they will break into eczema very quickly. Trying to look after myself really affects more than just my body and mood. Dreaded pimples and white heads also appear on my face. So, an apple a day (along with eating a balanced diet, meditating and exercising) also keeps the steroid cream away!

* I was given a sample size of Perfecting Lotion to sample. I was not paid for this post, and I do not write about products unless I truly like them.

What do you use on your skin? Are there any lotions and potions I need to know about?

What I Wore – Cocktail Party and Dinner

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Target Spot Print Sateen Dress – $59 | Mikonos Close Backed Heel in Teaberry – $30 | Ladies Skinny Horseshoe Buckle Belt (coral colour I wore not available online) – $10

So, what do you do when you have an event to attend, feel like wearing a new dress, only have half an hour to shop and don’t want to drive more than five minutes? Hit up your local chain store. My little town was lucky enough (in my opinion!) to have a Target Country open about 18 months ago. They have a good selection of clothes, and some homewares bits and pieces. My husband’s soccer presentation and cocktail party was on this weekend, and I had outfit itchy feet. I had something that would have been perfectly suitable, but wanted to buy something new. When I get in a mood like this, it’s better to buy something that is kinder on the wallet. Target definitely came through!

Initially I thought something coloured might be nice, and tried on lots of options. As soon as I zipped up this monochrome dress, it was love. It fitted beautifully (I bought a size 10), and felt so nice on. While I had black accessories I could have worn with it, I decided it needed a splash of colour. The shoes and belt in a coral colour matched and really brightened the outfit.

Thanks to my Instagram and Facebook crew who came through to answer ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ when I asked their opinion and posted this from the change room:

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The beauty of monochrome is that you can accessorise in so many different ways. Coral, turquoise or red would all work with this outfit. The dress would be perfect for cocktails, high tea or the races. I will be wearing it to a family wedding in November, but might choose different accessories to change it up a bit.

High street stores have some fantastic options for smart casual and cocktail type events, and can be a one-stop-shop if you are short of time like me. Many stores have shoes, bags and other accessories, so it makes it extra easy to shop.

Do you have any events coming up? What will you be wearing?

My thoughts are with all those in bush fire affected regions in New South Wales. There is currently a fire burning about 10km from my home, and our whole community thanks the fire fighters for working so hard.

Raspberry and Almond Tart

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We were invited to dinner last weekend, and I volunteered to bring dessert. I didn’t want to venture to the supermarket (again!), so I raided the freezer and cupboard and Googled potential recipes. With some frozen raspberries and left over ingredients from a pear and almond tart, I decided to create a hybrid dessert and crossed my fingers that it would turn out okay.

Ingredients

125g butter, softened (I used Nuttelex for a dairy free version)

1/4 cup caster sugar

2 eggs

1 cup almond meal

1/4 cup plain flour

1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries (or enough to cover the base of the tart)

1 piece shortcrust pastry

Method

1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.

2. Place the shortcrust pastry in a pie dish, and blind bake for 10-15 minutes using pie weights or rice until the pastry begins to brown. Remove and discard weights.

3. Combine butter or Nuttelex in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, combining well. Add almond meal and beat until just combined. Stir in flour.

4. Fill the pastry casing with raspberries, and top evenly with almond filling. Sprinkle slivered almonds on top if you desire.

5. Place in oven and cook for 40 minutes or until filling is firm and tart is brown.

6. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and serve with cream or ice cream.

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This recipe was definitely a winner, and I think it will be become a dessert that is in high rotation. It is a nice light option for summer, and could be served with other fresh berries in addition to the cream and ice cream. You could easily change the raspberry for blueberries, strawberries or pears, depending on what you have available. Enjoy!

How to Stay Cool in Summer

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It’s going to be hot in Sydney today – 39 degrees, and windy. It sent me scrambling to my wardrobe this morning looking for my lightest dress and most comfortable outfit for the heat. I thought now would be a good time to share some tips to help you know how to stay cool in Summer, but still look your best.

Clothes

In the really warm weather I favour a light dress made of natural fabric, like cotton. It breathes well, and keeps me cool. The dress above is from Peter Morrisey’s Woman collection at Big W. I have had it for a few years now, and it’s always my go-to outfit on a really warm day. Light shorts and a singlet top are also Summer staples, and perfect on a breezy day. Again, try and purchase clothes in natural fabrics as they will allow your skin to breath and won’t make you as hot.

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Accessories

Accessories can add a lot of interest to a plain outfit. I normally wear the dress without a belt, but thought I would try one and define my waist a little. I chose to add a tan belt for a summery vibe, but I think this dress would also look cute with red shoes and a matching belt. I switched my black handbag for a lighter tan one, as I didn’t want to be lugging a heavy hold-all in the heat. Sandals are also a must have on a hot day – the last thing you want to be wearing outside are enclosed shoes. I think I will be putting some tan sandals on my Christmas list, and they would definitely complete the outfit. If you can’t avoid wearing closed in shoes for work, try to give each pair a rest day in between wear to let them dry out and air. A light, colourful necklace or some studded earrings would also add to the outfit. Don’t forget a Summer hat – either a cute fedora or sun safe wide brimmed hat would be good choices.

Hair

I am normally a very low maintenance hair person as it is, so a hot day is no exception! I don’t like hair on the back of my neck when it’s warm, so a pony tail is the most logical choice. Twisting the hair on one side into the pony, adding a plait or braid, or sliding in a pretty clip will make a regular pony tail a little less boring. If your hair is long enough you could try a bun – sock buns are still everywhere at the moment, and messy buns are made to be beach ready.

Makeup

The last thing you feel like in the heat is having to wear a full face of makeup. During Summer, I prefer to stick with a light day cream, my BB cream for a bit of colour and cover up, some mascara and some lip gloss. This way I still feel as though I look presentable, but without make up sliding down my face. A bright polish on your fingers and toes can bring some colour to your look, and you have the confidence of knowing it won’t go anywhere. It’s always good to remember a sun screen in SPF 30+ to ensure your skin is safe. I make sure my BB cream has sun protection in it also, but always try to have proper sun screen on hand.

Other Summer Tips

* Make sure you drink plenty of water to rehydrate, especially if you are spending time outdoors.

* Seek out shade, and if that’s not possible make sure you are wearing sun screen and sun smart clothing.

* Try making a cool Summer salad, or snack on fruit straight from the fridge. Of course, nothing beats the heat like an ice cream or sorbet!

Zen Meditation Garden

Garden Zen

Meditation has become a daily practice for me of late. I love taking a few minutes out of my day to breathe. It has become something that I need and crave, and find myself getting uptight if I haven’t had a chance just to ‘be’. On the weekend, I sat out on our verandah. It spans the length of the back of our house and overlooks the bushy backyard and the creek. As I closed my eyes I could hear the birds flitting around the trees, the frogs calling, and the wind rustling the leaves. Unfortunately, I could also feel the fallen twigs digging into my legs through my yoga mat, and I kept wanting to open one eye to make sure my neighbours weren’t laughing at me.

As a result of not only enjoying the space so much, but also wanting to deter prying eyes, I decided to create my own little zen meditation garden on the verandah off our bedroom. It is a raised platform, with a few steps leading down to the remainder of the outdoor space. Bamboo screening will block the area sight, and let me practice my meditation or yoga outside with both eyes firmly closed! As usual, I turned to Pinterest and Polyvore to find some inspiration.

Zen garden 1

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I would love some potted greenery, possibly bamboo (depending on cost). Some hurricane jars would look fantastic with candles, and would also let me spend time outside in the dark. Doing yoga stretches by candle light is something I find really relaxing, thanks to my old yoga teacher who used to transform a smelly exercise studio into a relaxing space just with a few flickering candles. I love the idea of a wall garden, but this may be a work in progress.

Zen garden 2

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A trickling water feature would be a fantastic addition. There are many battery operated features available for low cost at hardware stores, resulting in a portable display that you can move if necessary. I am also on the lookout for a nice statue to sit in the area. The lanterns in this picture are gorgeous. At my last visit to the Buddhist temple they were hanging in the trees, each with their different meaning and good wishes attached.

Zen garden 3

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I love the look of the white stones and hardy green succulents. They are probably plants I can manage not to kill! Any plants will need to be potted, and able to survive in full sun which the area gets in the afternoon.

Some nice scatter cushions that could be brought inside would make the space very comfortable, and some small wind chimes would create and inviting area that could be used to meditation, yoga, or just as somewhere to get lost in a good book.

I will be sure to share my designs for the area as they come along. I am really looking forward to creating a little place just for me, and soaking up the sun and fresh air as the weather continues to get warmer.

Do you have a space just for you? Would you like one? What would it look like?

Dairy Free Blueberry and Raspberry Muffins

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The Style Unearthed house is on a bit of a mission. We’ve decided to try and eat more healthily (not that we were terrible to begin with), but cutting down on processed food will only benefit us. While our children are small it’s a great time to get them into healthy habits. It’s also a chance to save some money, which we will be putting towards a family holiday next year. I’m going to be trying some new recipes in the coming weeks and months, and will be sharing them with you.

First up today were some dairy free blueberry and raspberry muffins that I adapted from Taste.com.au. They are super easy to make, and don’t have many ingredients at all. I changed the ingredients a little to make them dairy free due to a small household member having an allergy. The kids and Mr Style Unearthed have declared them to be delicious, and they made the house smell fantastic which is just what we needed on a Winter-like day (Sydney has forgotten it is Spring!).

Ingredients

– 2 cups self-raising flour (I used wholemeal as I had it in the pantry, and it was fine)

– 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

– 1 cup buttermilk (I used rice milk so they were dairy free)

– 1/4 cup vegetable oil

– 1 egg, lightly whisked

– 150g frozen blueberries

– 150g frozen raspberries

Method

– Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees Celsius

– Combine dry ingredients in a bowl (I used the KitchenAid for the whole process)

– Add the egg, vegetable oil and berries

– When ingredients are just combine, stop stirring and spoon the mixture into muffin moulds

– Place into oven and cook for 30 minutes or until a skewer is clean when inserted into muffin

– Cool on a wire rack, and serve warm.

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This recipe made 18 medium sized muffins, and I froze the majority of them to use as individual snacks. The brown sugar made them nice and crispy on top, but they were moist and very flavoursome.

A perfect snack that’s on the healthy side. Enjoy!

Do you have a favourite healthy snack recipe?

Reader Riddle – Maternity Wear

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Reader Rachael is due with her first baby on 9 January. She is having trouble finding maternity wear that suits her pre-baby style and taste. Rachael says ‘I own my own business, and like smart casual clothes with a bit of a difference. I love lace, velvet, silk, and something a little boho without being Mother Earth!’.

Finding affordable, stylish maternity wear can be quite a task. There are some beautiful pieces around, but not everyone wants (or can afford) to spend $250 on a dress you might wear for a few months. I struggled to find suitable maternity wear during both my pregnancies, and this resulted in me buying the majority of my clothes from the United States. They were quite plain (and boring!) and if I had my time again I would definitely shop differently. Australian chain stores like Target, Big W, Sussan and Jeans West now offer a small selection of maternity clothes online. Overseas, GAP and Topshop offer some fashionable pieces at a fair price point. One online shop I discovered in my research was one I wished I had known about when I was pregnant. Bump Baby and Beyond is an Australian site that sells heavily discounted clothes from premium Australian and overseas maternity wear brands like Ripe and Soon Maternity. It is well worth a look if you are pregnant or breast feeding and wanting something special.

The maternity clothes I have found for Rachael are suitable for the Australian Summer, with extra consideration for her current internal heating system! Many of the tops and dresses will be able to be adapted to wear post pregnancy, and can be worn for breastfeeding. There is no need to spend a fortune on expensive breastfeeding or nursing tops – simply wear a thin strapped singlet top underneath, lift your top, lower the singlet and you can feed while still maintaining modesty.

Maternity Tops

1. Topshop Scallop Lace Vest – £16 | 2. Esprit Embellished top at Queen Bee – $50 | 3. Big W blue ribbon print top – $14.98 | 4. Target striped ruffled tank – $25 | 5. Ripe Celebrations top at Bump Baby and Beyond – $39.95 | 6. Topshop bead necklace top – £28

All of the tops above could be dressed up or down, and suit casual or work situations. I have kept them sleeveless or short sleeved to suit the warmer weather. In cooler climates they could be worn with a cardigan or jacket. When you’re pregnant, layering is definitely your friend. I particularly loved the lace detail on top number one, and the pattern on top number five.

Maternity Pants and Skirts

7. Ripe Lite Knee Length Short at Bump Baby and Beyond – $19.95 | 8. Target Knee Length Shorts – currently out of stock online, try instore | 9. Sussan Liza Summer Maternity Jean – $99.95 | 10. Big W Black Tube Skirt – $14.98 | 11. Target Neutral Twill Skirt – $39 |  12. Ripe Square Embroidered Maternity Skirt at Bump Baby and Beyond – $44.95

There are many choices when it comes to the bands used on maternity pants and skirts – full panel, demi (half) panel and stretch panels in the pockets. Until I was heavily pregnant, I loved my jeans with stretch in the pockets. They had an adjustable waist like you can find in children’s clothes, and I found that they fitted a lot more comfortably in the earlier stages of pregnancy. The full panels can be very comfortable in your final months, but they can be hard to wear after you give birth as the panel can sag. Skirts with elasticised waist bands are fantastic for pregnancy, and you can often find them in non-maternity stores. I bought a maxi skirt that I still wear now. Try stores like Sussan and Forever New for affordable options.

Maternity Dresses

13. Seraphine Maternity Dress at Queen Bee – $99.95 (back in stock late November) | 14. Ripe Tapestry Dress at Bump Baby and Beyond – $49.95 | 15. Everly Grey Jill Batik Maxi Dress – $94.95 | 16. Portmans Neon Trim Print Kaftan – $79.95 | 17. Sussan Maternity Summer Tank Dress – $79.95 | 18. Tree of Life Tie Dye Stripes Kaftan – $29.95

A nice maternity dress can be a great investment, especially with Christmas just around the corner. With lots of events to attend, it is fun to dress up your bump. The top three dresses could be worn with a shrug, wrap or cardigan if the weather is cooler. They could be worn with wedges (easier to balance on in pregnancy than heels) or sandals. The Portmans and Tree of Life Dresses were chosen to wear over the top of the Sussan tank dress. They are both non-maternity, but have enough give in the fabric to work with a bump. The tank dress would also work with a kimono style top, and could be worn once the baby is born. Kaftans are always wonderful for Summer, and an outfit like this will allow you to feel on trend and comfortable.

Maternity Outfits

The above image shows a few outfit options for the featured pieces. Many of them would mix and match (especially the denim and neutral bottoms), but it always helps to see them together. Pieces 1 and 10 would be a great work outfit with a pair of black flats, while 5 and 7 would be a comfortable outfit for shopping or a lunch.

Style Unearthed Maternity Wear Tips:

– Flat shoes. Having a bump can interfere with your balance. Heels and wedges can be great if you are going out for a short time, but once your bump is bigger flat shoes will be a lot more comfortable (as well as safe).

– Keep cool. It’s very easy to over heat during pregnancy, especially in the hot Australian summer. Choose pieces that you can layer to suit the weather you will experience during your pregnancy, and try to choose natural materials if you’re going to wear the clothes for a long period of time.

– Be versatile. Try to invest in clothes that can be worn through your whole pregnancy, and after the baby is born (if you’re not sick of them yet!). This will give you the best value for money.

– Mix and match. Choose garments in like or neutral colours. This will give you the option to mix and match with a lot of your wardrobe, extending outfit options. When you’re only wearing clothes for a few months and may not buy a wide selection, being able to create a capsule wardrobe so you don’t get bored is invaluable.

– Accessorise, accessorise, accessorise. A lot of my maternity wear was quite plain, but I was able to make outfits more interesting with scarves, necklaces and earrings. There are many light scarves around for summer, and adding a colourful scarf can bring interest to an outfit. It’s easy to feel dowdy when pregnant, so adding bright accessories can not only improve your mood, but also your outfit.

Rachael, I hope these tips and outfit options are of some help to you. Best of luck for the rest of your pregnancy. I can’t wait to hear of your little one’s arrival.

What did you wear when you were pregnant? Did you have a distinct maternity style? Where did you buy your clothes?