August marks the end of The French Wardrobe Challenge Part Duex and it’s painfully obvious that I can’t resist a good sale. Many of my items over the last six months were purchased at a discount—that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it definitely led to more impulsive spending than what I intended when I started this challenge. Some were completely understandable ($200 Ferragamo Varinas for instance), others probably didn’t need to happen (turquoise Banana Republic pants that I still haven’t worn yet). 

A few things I learned:

  • Having two Pinterest boards for my purchases is crucial. I have a private “Buy” board where I add any item that I’m seriously considering. Think of it as the cooling off period. If I fall out of love with an item on that Pinterest after just a few weeks, it probably wasn’t going to get much love in my closet. I have another board for my actual purchases, which has been a good reminder of what I already own and what gaps I could fill throughout the season.
  • Sales will be the death of me. I easily justify an item at a discount, which isn’t a bad thing if I like it before the sale. I just don’t want to fall for an item because of the sale. 

  • Spring/Summer purchases felt a little scatterbrained, which I suspect is because my style evolved from previous years. I incorporated more dresses and rompers—easy one-piece items for summer—and didn’t gravitate to shorts and tops as often as I did in previous years (aside from the J.Crew shorts I’m crazy about). 

  • Changing my shopping habits is difficult. I still yearn to buy everything that catches my eye, but that’s not sustainable for my budget or for my closet. I’m growing tired of the clutter and I’m tired of owning things I don’t use and appreciate.

So, will I continue with The French Wardrobe Challenge in fall and winter? Yes, but this time with a budget. I’ll share more details in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, let me know if you’re taking part in the challenge next season! I’d love to link up. 


  1. Just five standout pieces per season that update your wardrobe. (There are two “seasons” for this purpose: spring/summer and fall/winter.)
  2. Quality over quantity.
  3. Basics don’t count.
  4. Accessories don’t count, unless you’re spending a lot more than usual.
  5. Socks and underwear don’t count.
  6. Shoes do count. (I’m not counting shoes, though.)


Part of my five six seven:





Items I tried and didn’t love:

  • I really wanted a blue dress this summer and this option from J.Crew. The darts made the fabric pucker in a strange place and the top was too billowy for my frame. It fit in my regular size, but I looked huge. I suspect it only looks cute on the model because she has a long torso. 

  • Margaret Elizabeth earrings: I bought these in black onyx and moonstone thinking that they would go well with all of my end-of-summer clothes, but they arrived damaged. Even though the brand’s policy is an exchange, they allowed me to return the earrings for a full refund. I’m pretty disappointed in the quality of the particular set (the stones were just glued on). It looks like the pieces with actual bezel settings will hold up longer. 

  • I spotted this sporty Old Navy skirt in a recent magazine (InStyle, maybe?) and thought it would be a cute alternative to shorts for casual outings. I wanted the white version, but the pockets were visible through the fabric (my pet peeve). The fabric of the black version was softer and I almost opted for that, but really, I didn’t love it enough for the price. I might consider it again when it’s on sale. 

Gifted clothing and accessories: 

If you’re curious about The French Wardrobe Challenge, I encourage you to peruse the archived posts


Are you taking part in The French Wardrobe Challenge this season? Let me know and I’ll link to your post below. (It probably goes without saying, but I’d love it if you linked back to my posts too.) 



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I’m rarely a fan of pre-layered clothing, but I’m definitely crushing on this top. If you’re a high roller, you could pair it with Piperlime’s exclusive clutch. The first 100 orders receive free monogramming. 

The last thing I need is a pair of smoking slippers for fall, but how cute are these? This necklace is also noteworthy with real malachite and lapis. Better yet, the price is an incredibly reasonable $68. Well done, C.Wonder.

This isn’t style-related in the slightest, but this recipe for kabobs was outstanding. I didn’t use a food processor, though. Mashing up the garlic and spices in a bowl worked just fine. I also added one teaspoon of cayenne. (I suppose if you wanted to make this sidebar more fashionable, you could consider this colorblock apron.) 

Have you entered to win $150 to spend at KiraKira yet? No? Hop to it. There are travel-inspired jewels with your name on ‘em. Good luck! 

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Filed under: currently coveting 


This giveaway is way to good to be hidden at the end of yesterday’s post. It’s your chance to win $150 to spend on beautiful travel-inspired jewelry from KiraKira. Take a look around and let me know what you would choose. Would you pick multiple items to refresh your jewelry box or put it toward one incredible statement piece?

Personally, I’d go for the latter. I’m smitten with this chrysoprase and pink sapphire cocktail ring.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck! 

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Allow me to introduce you to my latest jewelry crush: KiraKira. After pursuing design in Tuscany and Japan, it’s perhaps not surprising that designer Suz Somersall continued to seek inspiration from far flung destinations. Her designs echo exotic landscapes and architecture from cities around the world, as you’ll see in the vibrant Moroccan-inspired Marrakech collection and the peaceful Japanese-influenced Kyoto Garden collection.

Fun Fact #1: The brand is named after the Japanese word for “shimmer.”

Fun Fact #2: You can enter to win a gift card to win a $150 gift card to spend at KiraKira below. Get your wish list started! 



Shop It: Lace Circle Pendant, $48 | Celeste Aquamarine Drop Earrings, $388 | Estrella Pendant, $43 | Silver Blue Moonstone Barcelona Ring, $620 | Gold Etoiles Shoulder Dusters, $385 | Gold Pink Topaz Barcelona Ring, $360 | Etoiles Single Sapphire Studs, $98 | Gold Horn Cuff with Cabachon Morganite, $300

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow Kira Kira: TwitterFacebookInstagramTumblr, Pinterest

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Filed under: Behind the Baubles 


I figured my sartorial standards took a nosedive the moment I started considering Birkenstocks as an alternative to what used to be my most comfortable sandals. After walking for miles throughout Brussels, my feet were tired, sore and swollen. We passed a surprising number of orthopedic stores on our daily outings and Birkenstocks shone in the windows like footwear’s version of an oasis.

My desire to own a pair was quickly quieted by a fear that I’d come off as a Woodstock refugee, but everywhere I looked, the most stylish women were wearing Birkenstocks. It wasn’t the double-strapped Arizona, mind you. It was its chic, feminine alternative: the Madrid.

Think of these as the upscale (ha!) version of the Adidas shower slide. (Which, by the way, J.Crew is now carrying. A sure sign the trend has gone far enough.) It’s a single-strap slide that looks surprisingly good with dresses, draped shorts, cropped pants and cuffed boyfriend jeans. Really, the more feminine or sophisticated an outfit is, the better the Madrid looks.

I continued obsessing over them while we were in Belgium, admiring the women’s footwear choice with the voracity of a fetishist. It wasn’t until I woke up early and perused Birkenstock outfits on Pinterest that I knew I was going down a dangerous path. I mean, really, can anyone can deny how chic the sandals look here and here? No.

Maybe I’m yearning for our days back in Brussels or maybe I’m embracing the normcore trend more heartily than I’d ever care to admit. Either way, I caved. I ordered a pair of black Madrids with the tonal buckle, in the name of fashun, of course.

And you know what? I freaking love them. Let’s just hope I’m not one step away from a road paved in marled camp socks and patchouli.


Styling Tips:

  • A fresh pedicure and well-moisturized heels are a must.
  • It looks best with tailored clothes. I had envisioned wearing them with breezy dresses, but it looked frumpy on my body type. Maybe it’s better on skinny gals? In any case, I like how they look with slim ankle-length pants, shorts and rompers—all in classic silhouettes and basic colors.

Fit Tips:

  • Go a little smaller than you think you should. Even though I wear a size 7, I still went with a size 37. According to their size chart, that’s technically the correct size for those who wear a 6 or 6.5.
  • I get the impression that narrow is suited for widths A and B and regular is for C and D. The black Madrids were only available in a 37 narrow on Zappos and I’m glad I took the risk because they fit my regular width foot perfectly. I would have hated a wider pair.





Banana Republic top (similar) | J.Crew shorts | Rivet & Sway sunglasses c/o | Banana Republic bag (similar) | Hermes bracelet | Daniel Wellington watch c/o | Vrai & Oro ring c/oCynthia Jones ring c/o | Lacee Alexandra ring c/o | Birkenstock sandals | YSL polish

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You may have noticed me babbling about Julie Vos’ online sample sale yesterday on social media. It’s such a good opportunity to score a beautiful piece of gemstone jewelry (like the earrings above) for a song with plenty of time to wear it before summer transitions to fall. A couple of my favorite Julie Vos pieces are included in the sale: a three-tiered pair of crystal and sapphire blue earrings, an eye-catching chalcedony ring, and the unique gemstone ring I just added to my collection. Shop a few of my other favorites below, all coming in at under $100:

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Last night, I was trying to get the perfect photo for Instagram to show that my new Ferragamos match the painting I created for our bedroom when I heard a laugh behind me. Dave was poised with his phone taking photos of me taking photos of my shoes. I scoffed, “ain’t no shame” and when about my business. Until he threatened to share it via Shapchat with one of our friends. I pleaded with him to keep it private and send it only to me. I promptly made it public on Instagram. I look ridiculous, but this is what blogging is, folks, and I suspect we’ve all had an awkward photo moment once or twice. 

Here’s to a weekend filled with awkward poses and situations to get the perfect shot for your blogs next week! Around here, the week will bring some of our trip photos (finally), an interview with the woman behind Kira Kira and a giveaway, my thoughts on Birkenstocks and a French Wardrobe update. 

P.S. You should check out Margaret Elizabeth’s weekend sample sale for incredible deals on gemstone jewelry. I bought these in black onyx and moonstone. Sign up for the mailing list for another 15% off. Shipping is just $5. 

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For me, this summer was all about loose, comfortable pieces. I’m anxious for a return to ladylike silhouettes this fall, starting with this dark floral skirt. It’s at the top of my fall shopping list. What’s topping your must-have list? 

I actually own the DVF clutch above and it’s one of my closet staples. It’s sophisticated and versatile, but there are other colors available if you’re not on the market for a black clutch.

Have you had a chance to shop the Tory Burch private sale? There’s not a lot left, but there are still great pieces in the regular sale section on the site. I love this pretty blue dress and this ’60s-inspired swingy top

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One of the biggest perks to living in Madison is visiting Bop, Shopbop’s original—and only—brick and mortar store, during Maxwell Street Days. The sales include online returns that have been worn, are in need of repair or items the retailer decided not to stock. This year, I bought a pair of turquoise Ferragamo Varina flats for $200 (see them here). The bottoms were scuffed and there’s a small smudge on the bow, but everything else is in great condition. (And if we’re being honest, the small imperfections make me less nervous to wear them.) I also found this dress for $20, which I suspect is because of the tiniest, almost imperceptible black pen spot on one of the white stripes. It was an easy piece to wear on one of the warmest days in Brussels.

I do prefer the dress with a pair of black heels (not happening on cobblestones) or pointed flats, but my feet were so swollen on this trip that I could only wear these sandals. Every. Single. Day. (It’s really a shame the other shoes I brought didn’t make an appearance. It was a lot of wasted suitcase space that could have been used to bring back more Delftware…)

BB Dakota dressRivet & Sway sunglasses c/o | Coach bag | Lulu Frost necklace | Hermes bracelet | Vrai & Oro ring c/o Cynthia Jones ring c/o | Lacee Alexandra ring c/o | Sam Edelman sandals

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Heavily influenced by the shapes in Art Deco architecture, Karoline Bolt launched her namesake brand of covetable gems just this year. As a child, Karoline and her sisters would play dress up with their grandmother’s heirlooms and you’ll see that sentiment reflected in her jewelry: each piece is named after a family member and each piece repurposes items from the past with recycled metals. She uses locally sourced opals, turquoise and onyx set in either sterling silver, gold-plated brass or 14k gold, giving you an array of options—and price points—to find the perfect piece. 

Shop It: Kaley Bracelet, $249 | Kenner Double Drop Earrings, $179 | Kimberly Ring, $299 | Kenner Necklace, $699 | Kenner Studs, $199 | Kaley Necklace, $229 | Kaley Studs, $199

Follow Karoline Bolt: TwitterFacebookInstagramTumblr

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Filed under: Behind the Baubles jewelry