Cropped Pants for the Office

Top • Old Navy | Cropped Pants • Old Navy | Watch • Michael Kors | Bag • Michael Kors, other options herehere, here, here, here | Shoes, sold out • Similar here, here, here | Sunglasses • Nordstrom | Lip Pencil • M·A·C Candy Yum, Yum | Lipstick • M·A·C Candy Yum, Yum

You’ve probably noticed I’m pretty on-board with cropped pants this spring.  They feel almost youthful to me, yet perfectly able to step across all age barriers.  Across most style barriers as well.  Cropped pants are great for the office, styled as I’ve shown today.   I can also see them dressed-up with a tuxedo jacket and killer heels or dressed down with a slouchy tee and flip-flops at the beach (remember when they were called “clam-diggers?).

As so often seen on Haute Business, I’ve taken classic black and white and thrown in a contrast color.  This works especially well if your legs tend toward the long side.  Yours don’t?  Not a problem!  Pair your cropped pants with heels in nude or the same color as the pants as shown here.  If you’re not so sure about this trend, buy a pair or two at a price point that won’t break the bank, like these from Old Navy.  At $27 a pair, it’s not so hard to give them a whirl.

Happy Thursday friends.  Thanks for reading!




A Letter to Uncle Joe

Last week I lost someone very dear to me.  There are people who touch your life when you’re young, leaving an imprint on your heart forever.   From his hearty laugh to his unmistakable Brooklyn accent, from his warm heart to his nearly-impossible-to-meet standards, my Uncle Joe was one of those people.  Strong, fit and sure, Uncle Joe was a driver.  Later in life he suffered a stroke and became wheelchair bound.  Frustrating, I’m sure.  I had to chuckle when we visited him almost two years ago – he still managed to direct everything from that chair, even in his state of limited physicality.  Uncle Joe became gravely ill, and I began to compose a letter to him in my mind.  Sadly, he was gone before I had the chance to put it to pen and paper for him.

Those who know me know I’m pretty reserved.  I’m open to a point, but I keep so much inside.  Today my guard is down.  I’m writing the letter I wasn’t able to send in time to Uncle Joe.  I share it now for my Aunt Margie, my cousins Mike, Sharon and Steve, but mostly for Uncle Joe, who I hope in some way still has the chance to read it.

Dear Uncle Joe,

Time flies so quickly it’s hard to fathom.  It’s almost two years since our visit and I’m so sorry I didn’t get the chance to see you again last June as we’d planned.  A new job, things going on with the kids and grandkids, life in general – I know you understand.  Since our last visit I’ve started a new tradition based on your idea.  We had a mini “Camp Cousins” for the grandkids last summer  and we had so much fun!  As they get older I’m excited to expand it with fun games and activities, similar to the recurring week you organized so well.  I am hoping we build a tradition of wonderful memories for our grandchildren like you’ve done.

I’ve been thinking a lot of the times we’ve shared and the many ways you and Aunt Margie have expressed your love to us, from your coast to ours.  The fun times we cousins had together are some of my fondest.  While you, Aunt Margie, Mom and Dad visited and watched football upstairs, we kids were in the basement or outside exploring and getting into our fair share of trouble.  Were we as sneaky as we thought?  Or did you all know and turn a blind eye, letting us kids be kids?  How many times were we going to dip our toes into some pond or get our feet wet at some beach, yet came back completely soaked?  Or the five cousins riding in the “way back” of your Bonneville station wagon, not a seat belt in site, climbing around like it was a playground on wheels.  Those were such happy, carefree times for the five of us, punctuated by the occasional brushes with your temper when we took our fun a bit too far.

Mom and Dad’s 25th anniversary party would not have been complete without you.  They were surprised to see stretch limos picking them up in front of the house, more so finding you and Aunt Margie hiding inside, having flown out incognito to be part of the celebration.  I was especially thankful when you covered the large bar bill. 🙂

After we had to move Dad into assisted living, you and Aunt Margie were there again, a special gift for Mom’s surprise 60th birthday.  It had been an amazingly tough year for her, and there you were, giving her the love and support he needed.  You cannot imagine how grateful I am for that.  It meant so much to have you there.  I was making a 9-hour round trip every weekend to visit Mom and just be with Dad.  In your gruff and loving way you had your finger poking me in the chest, telling me to stop making that drive every week.  You were so concerned about what that travel was doing to me and what it would do to Mom if I were in a car accident on one of those trips.  I listened and backed off (to every other week.  Oops).

It was no surprise to have you make the cross-country trip once again when we lost Dad.  You gave us your characteristic love, strength and support and we needed it more than ever.  It had been the summer from hell.  Andy had gone through nine weeks of brutal chemotherapy and was still trying to recover.  Hugh was going through his own trauma.  Through all of those difficulties we added the heartache of watching Dad slip away.  Even at the funeral, when someone took our daughters’ seats with the family, you and Aunt Margie swooped them up and sat them in your laps.  How can I ever express my gratitude for that?  I was so absorbed in my own grief I couldn’t react, but you knew exactly what to do.

Before you attach your angel wings, can we talk a minute about the family Y2K Reunion ski trip to Tahoe?  We were having such a great time, and then you took 10-year-old Charyssa to a black diamond run on her third day of skiing.  What were you thinking?  But that was classic Uncle Joe: pushing, driving, setting that bar high and fully expecting it to be hurdled.  She and I spent awhile getting her down the mountain, and I remember telling you later you were perilously close to losing Most Favored Uncle status.  In the end she was safe and so was your status.  As if I could have ever felt otherwise.

You’ve been a part of so many pivotal points in my life.  I remember them with a smile even though I’m crying as I write this over our little paradise lost.  Thank you so much for the treasured memories, the encouragement, and your presence when it was most needed.  I love you so much,

Spring Stripes and Florals

Stripes and Florals

Top • Old Navy (On sale!)| Jeans • Ann Taylor (Tall option here) (both 40% off with code!) | Sunglasses • Nordstrom | Watch • Michael Kors(On sale!) | Shoes, sold out • Similar options here, here, here, here, here and here | Bag • Louis Vuitton, this lovely pink shade is no longer available.  I’ve linked other options here and here, and less pricey totes in the brighter pink here and here (on sale!) | Lip Pencil • M·A·C Candy Yum, Yum (Price-matched!) | Lipstick • M·A·C Candy Yum, Yum

Some days I think I’ve achieved a major victory just by getting out of bed.  Have you had those?  Burning the candle at both ends can really tire a girl out! Enter Spring (almost) and the revitalizing colors that come with this season of rebirth.  I have a little pattern play going on with this off-the-shoulder striped top and these pretty, floral shoes.  It doesn’t hurt that most of what I’m wearing is on sale!  The bright colors and great prices were just the extra somethings I needed at the end of a long week!  How are you preparing for Spring?

Have a lovely weekend!

Yellow Moto

yellow Moto

Yellow Moto • Target, other options here and here | Top • Target, other options here and here | Jeans • Ann Taylor, tall sizes here | Hat options here, here and here | Bag • Rebecca Minkoff | Watch • Michael Kors | Sunglasses • Ann Taylor | Shoes • Nordstrom, also here and here, lower heel option here | Lipstick • M·A·C Candy Yum, Yum

Have you checked out the Who What Wear collection at Target?  There are some really stylish pieces at unbelievable prices!  I picked up this yellow moto for $45 on a whim and I’ve already styled it several ways for future posts.  My favorite may be this look.  Doesn’t it hearken to spring?  This yellow is a great hue – warm enough for most skin tones.  The wrong shade of yellow can really wash us out, but this one seems to have the opposite effect, actually brightening my face.  And at this price, it’s sure to brighten yours.  🙂

When I put this together indoors, I’ll confess I didn’t realize the blouse was so sheer.  The sun hit and made for some interesting revelations.  I would definitely recommend a black cami underneath.  If you want the sheer effect over the jeans, which I really like, tuck in the cami.  Live and learn.  I seem to say that a lot!

I know lately I’ve been in a “show and go” mode.  I don’t mean to be anti-social, I’ve just been swamped.  This time of year is pretty busy for CPAs in public accounting. Any fellow tax preparers feeling the load?  Just a few more weeks and I’ll have more time to devote here.  I appreciate your patience with me, and I appreciate the time you take from your busy day to visit.  It means a lot to me. <3

Thanks for reading!




I’m Blushing with Old Navy

I'm Blushing with Old Navy

Top • Old Navy (On sale!) | Cropped Pants • Old Navy (On sale!) | Sunglasses • Nordstrom | Bag • Michael Kors (On sale!) othere options here and here | Shoes • Sam Edelman, other optios here and here | Lipstick • M·A·C Candy Yum, Yum (In retrospect, I wish I’d gone for a lighter color)

How cute are these Old Navy cropped pants?  I’m such a fan of both the blush color and the jacquard print.  I’m also excited about their amazing sale, which ends today -% off EVERYTHING!  With a lot of great prices already, this Old Navy sale is definitely one to check out.

Happy Monday friends!




Old Navy Pixie Pants

Classic Button-Front Shirt for Women • Old Navy ($12!) | Pixie Pants • Old Navy ($25!) | Belt • JCPenney | Bag • Rebecca Minkoff | also here | Shoes • BCBGeneration, other options here and here | Hat • Nordstrom | Sunglasses • Ray-Ban ‘Original Aviator’ | Watch • Michael Kors (On sale!) | Lipstick • M·A·C Creme D’Nude | Nail Polish • Gelish MINI Shake it til You Samba

My sister-in-law, Laura, introduced me to Old Navy Pixie pants last spring.  She raved about how comfortable they are, and they did not disappoint!  With just the right amount of fit and stretch, they’re comfortable enough go from backyard barbecue to office.  They’re just that versatile.  And right now you can snag a pair for $25!

I dressed them up a bit today with a fitted version of the classic white button down shirt and a pair of bright pumps.  Wear the shirt in a half-tuck for an easy date-night look or pair with a tee and flats to run errands.  If you’re going to be in and out of the car all day you’ll find these cute little crops will get you through it in ease and comfort.  I’ve found they’re great for long tax season days as well!

Speaking of, I’d better get to work.  Have a wonderful Thursday!




Windy Day Scarf

Scarf • Ted Baker | Sweater • Nordstrom, longer version here | Sunlasses • Nordstrom | Bag • Louis Vuitton similar here and here | Shoes • Christian Louboutin, also here | Jeans • Similar NYDJ or
these | Lipstick • M·A·C Fleshpot | Lip Liner M·A·C Subculture

In the words of Winnie the Pooh, it was a blustery day.  Some days you’re just going to deal with wind.  I had scarf and hair blowing all over the place!  If I know it’s going to be windy I’ll forgo lip gloss because it’s just a mess.  A good gust will whip my hair across may face and splat!  Right into the gloss where it just sticks.  Hair falling somewhere between the chin and shoulders seems to be the worst for that.  Do you have that issue?

As you can see, I’m still in wardrobe transition.  The white jeans with nude pumps look closer to spring than the boots I would have grabbed a week or so ago, but sweaters still rule the day.  This beautiful Ted Baker scarf definitely speaks “spring season” to me.

Regardless, spring is just around the corner.  How are you dressing for it?

Thanks for reading!




Transition Pink & Khaki

Pink & Khaki

Dress • here, other options hereherehere and here | Jacket • here, options here and here | Sunglasses • Nordstrom | Shoes, sold out • Similar hereherehereherehere and here | Envelope Clutch • Missguided | Lip Pencil • M·A·C Candy Yum Yum | Lipstick • M·A·C Candy Yum Yum

Based on what I’ve been hearing, most of the country has a serious case of spring fever. We are all getting a bit tired of those cold-weather outfits we couldn’t wait to wear last fall, but current temperatures don’t always cooperate with our desire. Hence, the transition wardrobe – a creative mix of winter and spring pieces to help us move stylishly from cold mornings to warm afternoons and possibly into cool evenings. It’s brilliant really. Mixing things up gives us the opportunity to try new combinations and potentially augment our style. At the very least, we can create fresh, new looks without spending a dime. Who doesn’t think that’s a great plan?

As an example, I bought this dress on sale last spring. It’s unfortunately sold out now but I found similar dresses which I’ve linked above as well as the shoes. Same with the utility jacket, which itself has become a wardrobe must-have. Like I’ve mentioned before it’s not about the specific pieces, it’s about the overall look.

I’m putting together several transition looks for the next few weeks because that’s the reality of life right now. Some pieces will be new, many will be reworked because that’s also the reality of life. How are you dealing with the seasonal transition?

Thanks for Visiting!

Black, White and a Touch of Pink

 


Sweater, sold out • Similar here, here, here and here | Skirt, sold out • Similar here, here and here | Sunglasses • Nordstrom | Bag • Rebecca Minkoff (also here) | Watch • Michael Kors (also here) | Bracelet • Similar here | Shoes • Similar here, here, here and here |  Lip liner • M·A·C Subculture | Lipstick • M·A·C Creme d’ Nude

 

Don’t you just love classic black and white? Me, too, especially when you add a little contrast, like one of this spring’s favorite colors, pink.  In a nod to that most feminine of hues, I’ve added these pretty shoes.  I fell in love with the pale pink color and I’m hoping for opportunities to wear them over and over again.

This sweater has made a few appearances on Haute Business, most recently here with leather leggings.  You know how I like versatile pieces, and this sweater certainly satisfies.  I seem to style it with more black and white, but there is no reason you couldn’t mix it with red cropped pants or a pair of yellow shorts.  Or perhaps more pink!

Have a wonderful Thursday!




Money Monday – Grey Days and Social Security

Sweater • Similar here,here, here and here | Skirt • Ann Taylor, tall version here, another option here | Shoes • Similar here and here | Bag • Michael Kors (old), other Michael Kors options here and here, a similar bag here and a big splurge on this Saint Laurent bag here | Watch • Michael Kors (also here)

Happy Monday! Today is all about a monochromatic color scheme.  I love the chic look of one color.  Besides the ease of putting it all together (go to the closet and grab everything grey) it looks so put together.  On those days when I don’t feel very put-together, looking like I am is a nice confidence boost.

Speaking of putting it all together, a couple of weeks ago we started a conversation about Social Security.  There was so much to discuss it made sense to break the topic into a couple smaller pieces.  Last time we talked about the way your Social Security benefits are calculated.  It’s important to know why you’ll receive the amount of benefit you’ll receive.  Is it the right amount?  How would I know?  Last time we talked about that calculation.  You can revisit that discussion here.

Can you increase the amount of your benefit? The easiest answer?  Yes you can.  One trick is to make more money.  We showed you the way your benefit is determined by taking an average of your 35 best working years.  If 2017 is financially your best year yet, that amount will be included in the calculation and a year of lower earnings is going to drop out.  You can probably see intuitively that a larger number in the mix creates a higher overall average.  In really simple math (1+2)/2 = 1.5 and (1+3)/2 = 2.  The average is higher when you replace a smaller number with a larger one. That higher average leads to larger benefits upon retirement.

Many of us aren’t in a commission-based salary structure which allows us to earn more from our job.  The only way to make more money is to take a second job or start a profitable side-business.  You can always take one of those options to increase your monthly Social Security benefit.  It’s an option, but it doesn’t leave much room for family or a social life.  So what’s a girl to do?

There is another way to increase your monthly Social Security benefits – delaying their start date.  You are eligible to receive benefits, with restrictions, after your 62nd birthday. Each year you delay between the ages of 62 and 70 your benefit increases about 8%.  That’s pretty big.  Where else are you currently earning 8% on your money?  If you’ve ever looked at those statements Social Security sends you, they give you the estimated amount of your benefit, based on the earnings reported for you through your lifetime.  You can see that the estimated monthly benefit increases if you start taking Social Security at your full retirement age vs. age 62.  That benefit is even higher at age 70, and the 8% increase is why.  On top of that, Social Security benefits are also indexed for inflation, so theoretically you don’t lose purchasing power year after year.

Adding the total of benefits received if you start at 62 vs. starting at 67, you break even somewhere in your early 70s.  Holding off until age 70 to start benefits, you break even around age 80.  I’m arriving at these conclusions without considering the time value of money.  That means I’m not considering taking the money at 62 and investing it or using it to pay off debt with a potentially high interest rate like a credit card.  I’m just taking the total benefit starting at age 62 and adding it, month by month.  Then I take the estimated monthly benefits at ages 67 and 70, respectively, and do the same thing, then see at what ages those totals meet.

After seeing those numbers you have to play the odds.  Do you think, based on your health and family history, you’ll live well into your 80s or later?  Or maybe that 401(k) hasn’t grown as much as you’d hoped.  You may want to wait until age 70 to start your Social Security benefits.  But maybe you feel as thought the stress of your job is killing you and you need to get out sooner rather than later.  You’ll want to talk with your financial advisor, but taking distributions out of your retirement plan without starting Social Security may make more sense.  If your retirement plan isn’t earning an 8% return, maybe you start distributions from that account while letting your Social Security benefit grow.

Even after all of this, there is still more to discuss about Social Security!  Stay tuned while we pick it up in another Money Monday, here on Haute Business!

To your better wealth,




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