Our 2012 Blogging Year in Review!

As we move into 2013, we thought it only appropriate to take a look back at 2012 and share with you some of the data from our year in blogging.  (If you click on any of the images below, you will get an enlarged view.)  Thanks to all of our readers for helping to make the Every Woman Blog a success!  And a special thanks to our amazing bloggers who truly bring this blog to life and share their lives with us!

We hope you enjoy taking a look back at 2012 with us 🙂

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GWEN RAWLS Italian Shoe Boutique Grand Opening Festivities

By: Staci Rutherford

I first featured GWEN RAWLS Italian Shoe Boutique after attending the soft launch in late August.  If you have not had a chance to visit yet, you’re in luck.  GWEN RAWLS Italian Shoe Boutique will celebrate its grand opening festivities on Friday, November 9 and Saturday, November 10 at Trenholm Plaza, 4840 Forest Drive, Suite 17.  Each day from 10 am to 6 pm, boutique owner Gwen Rawls will welcome guests to view her latest collection of Italian shoes and handbags—couture originals direct from Milan—along with the chance to sample delicious Italian hors d’oeuvres and refreshments, and the chance to win several boutique gift certificates and coastal travel packages.

“I am thrilled with the gracious reception and enormous support we have received in the last two months,” said Rawls.  “Clearly, there was a demand for an upscale boutique in this market and I am so happy to give back to my growing customer base with our exciting Grand Opening celebration.”

After a September trip to Milan to complete her winter product line of fine Italian leather shoes, boots and handbags, the GWEN RAWLS collection now features more than ten designers including Roberto Cavalli, Baldan, Luciano Padoran, Luis Onofre, Gianna Meliani and Mario Zamagna.  “It’s been so much fun introducing Columbia shoppers to the Italian designers I’ve discovered,” said Rawls.  “They are already famous on the runways of Milan and in the pages of fashion magazines like Italian Vogue, but now they are gaining notoriety right here in Columbia.”  Rawls emphasizes that many of the shoes in her collection are made exclusively for the GWEN RAWLS label while others are only sold in Europe—meaning Columbia is the only place in the U.S. to offer many of her styles.

Gwen Rawls invites the women of the Midlands to her boutique to learn about the designers in her collection and to fully understand the old world craftsmanship found in her shoes.  “When you purchase a GWEN RAWLS shoe, you are making a long-term investment in a high-quality, stylish product that will stand the test of time,” said Rawls. “I am honored to bring these styles to the States and to add to the exciting retail metamorphosis that is taking place in our capital city.”

Fall Essentials: Blazers

By: Staci Rutherford

Blazers are a key element in my fall wardrobe since they are extremely versatile and make it easy to put together a polished look.  It has become a staple in my wardrobe that can be worn to the office with a pencil skirt, pants or a shift dress, and on the weekends with a fitted tee and jeans.  Since I work at a law firm, I rely on blazers for a professional image that still allows me to show off my personal style. With hundreds of styles on the market, I did a little research so I could share shopping tips to help guide you in determining which blazer is the perfect one for you.

Tip #1:  Select a style based on where you are going

Before selecting the right style, keep in mind where you are going to wear it – is it strictly for the office, going to a party, date night or running errands on the weekend?  Go with a classic single-breasted blazer in a neutral color when you want your blazer to serve many purposes.  Consider a more fun color or print when you want to take your look from day to evening.  Remember, blazers can be paired with trousers, skirts, and dresses, so make a mental note of what you already have in your closet to determine which style goes with what.

Tip #2:  Choose good quality and easy-to-maintain fabric

Blazers are available in a variety of fabrics such as cotton, silk, polyester, wool, knits, and blended materials.  Keep in mind which fabrics are easiest to maintain. For example, a cotton blazer can be machine washed while wool or silk blazers will need to be dry-cleaned.  Also, blazers in high quality fabric can keep the ‘same-as-new look’ for years.  Check the stitching and other details to determine whether it is good quality and worth the price.

Tip #3:  Make sure it fits your body type

Blazers should have a snug fit without being too tight or loose at the shoulders.  A curved seam at the torso often provides a better fit.  Some blazers have a slit at the back for more comfort.  Remember to try it on with a shirt underneath to determine if you are able to button it.  Don’t be afraid to go up a size or to have it professionally altered to get the perfect fit that flatters your shape.

Now that we have covered how to shop for your next blazer, check out my favorite far-from-ordinary blazers that will instantly update your wardrobe.

Toby Textured Blazer in African Amethyst, Price: $139.00 at Chico’s

Gap Pointe Academy Blazer in Fuchsia Shock, Price: $88.00 at Gap

INC International Concepts Boyfriend Blazer in Turq Dove, Price: $89.50 at Macy’s

Artdot Blazer, Price: $138.00 at Madewell

Anne Klein Houndstooth Jacket, Price: $149.00 at Nordstrom

Fantasy Fabric Blazer in Red, Price: $129.00 at ZARA

C.Luce Stripe Blazer, Price: $89.00 at Piperlime

Columbia Welcomes GWEN RAWLS Italian Shoe Boutique

By: Staci Rutherford

Gwen Rawls

When I first discovered that a new accessories boutique was coming to town, I could not wait to share the news with all of the trendsetters and fashionistas of the Midlands!  GWEN RAWLS Italian Shoe Boutique opened on August 23, and of course, I had to stop by to check out all of the fabulous shoes imported straight from Italy.  I had the pleasure of meeting the owner, Gwen Rawls, at Power of the Purse a few months prior to the opening, and instantly connected with her since we share a passion for beautiful accessories.

A South Carolina native with a love for European fashion, Gwen has traveled extensively throughout Europe, but she always returned to Milan to explore the world’s fashion capital.  Like many women living in Columbia, Gwen felt her shoe shopping options were limited, and typically went to boutiques in Charlotte, New York and Atlanta to find the stylish brands she loved.

Gwen began conceptualizing an Italian shoe boutique that could help women in Columbia—and throughout the southeast—find their own foundation for fashion right here in the capital city.  “At GWEN RAWLS, women will find elegant Italian shoes and bags that are limited in quantity to ensure a customer can build her own signature look.  I want my customers to feel empowered with their purchase and to give them a renewed sense of elegance.”

When I first stepped into the boutique, I didn’t know which way to turn.  There were beautiful shoes displayed everywhere.  The staff at GWEN RAWLS was warm and friendly, which is often rare when shopping at an upscale place. I can honestly say that Gwen really thought about her customers’ lifestyle when she personally selected each shoe.  Styles include embellished stilettos, knee high boots, booties and flats for women like me who find it difficult to stay graceful in a heel more than 3 inches.

 The next time you are out and about, stop by GWEN RAWLS and tell them Staci sent you.  It is located near Chipotle at 4840 Forest Drive, Suite 17.  Store hours are Monday through Saturday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.  Also, be sure to connect with GWEN RAWLS via Facebook at www.facebook.com/GwenRawlsShoes or on Twitter @GwenRawls.  You can also visit the website at www.gwenrawls.com.

Fall Essentials: Top Five Must-Have Shoes

By: Staci Rutherford

Although we still have another month and a half left of summer, I am already anticipating the transition into fall.  I love shopping for deals to update my wardrobe at the beginning of a new season.  My take on fashion is always changing; therefore, I try to incorporate some of the latest trends with a few classic staples and statement pieces.  I’ll focus on footwear first because I consider myself “shoe challenged”.

Since I don’t look forward to shoe shopping (I’d much rather shop for a new bag!), I have come up with three questions to ask myself to help determine if a shoe is worth buying: Does it fit well, and is it comfortable?  How many times will I wear it?  Will the style work with the rest of my wardrobe?  Comfort, quality and style are key points to consider as I try on shoes, which makes it easier to find and buy the right shoes.

Here are a my top five favorite shoes for fall:

Steve Madden ‘Teana’ Moccasin Flat in bright multi, Price: $49.95 at Nordstrom.com

Söfft Broadway in leopard, Price: $115.00 at Piperlime.com

Superga Classic Sneakers, Price: $65.00 – $75.00 at Bloomingdales.com

Zodiac USA Paris Knee-High Boot, Price: $159.99 at Endless.com

Naturalizer Ilona Shooties in black, Price: $99.99 at Macys.com

Refreshing Summer Drinks Courtesy of Pinterest

By: Staci Rutherford

My mission over the last two weeks has been to figure out ways to stay cool and comfortable now that summer has arrived.  With record high temperatures across the country, I am constantly craving frozen beverages to avoid melting in the heat.  Eating ice cream everyday would probably do the trick, but will also ruin my cute, girlish figure.  So, I decided to go to my trusted source, Pinterest, for more ideas.  I created a board dedicated to delicious drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, which will definitely keep you calm and cool during the heat wave.

Here are a few recipes that immediately caught my eye that I cannot wait to try!

Pink Lemonade Sherbert Party Punch (serves 12)

Ingredients:

  • 1 can frozen pink lemonade from concentrate
  • 2-1/2 cans water
  • 1 carton Raspberry sherbet
  • 2 liter Sprite
  • 3 lemons

Directions:

  1. In a pitcher, combine the pink lemonade concentrate and the cans of water.
  2. Freeze for about 4 hours until slushy.
  3. In the pitcher, add the lemons and a thick layer of raspberry sherbet.
  4. Pour the Sprite over the top of sherbet and stir just a bit so it gets nice and frothy on top.
  5. Serve immediately.

Source: Food Family Finds

Watermelon Margarita Frosty (serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups frozen watermelon cubes
  • 1/2+ cup water
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 large lemon, squeezed (lime juice also works very well! use 2 limes)
  • 1 fresh banana
  • Optional: 2 shots of tequila (or substitute with more water or fruit juice)
  • Garnish: a few slices of watermelon – with rind on – frozen.

Directions: 

  1. Blend ingredients.
  2. Pour.
  3. Garnish with frozen watermelon/rind slices.
  4. Serve! Enjoy.

Source: Healthy. Happy. Life.

Champagne Cocktail with Mint & Lemon Sherbet (serves 1)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp fresh mint leaves, muddled or finely chopped
  • 2 large scoops lemon sorbet
  • 1/3 cup vodka
  • 3/4 cup champagne or sparkling wine

Directions:

  1. In a tall glass, place a pinch of mint.
  2. Add one scoop lemon sorbet, another pinch mint and the other scoop sorbet.
  3. Pour in vodka, then top with champagne and the rest of the mint.
  4. Garnish with a mint sprig.

Source: fresh365

Riesling Strawberry Slushy (serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups hulled strawberries
  • 1 bottle (750ml) dry Riesling
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Directions:

  1. Reserve 1 cup of the Riesling – cover and place in the fridge to chill.
  2. In a food processor, puree strawberries with the remaining wine, lime juice and sugar.
  3. Pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze until solid.
  4. When you’re ready to serve [or drink], puree the ice cubes with the remaining wine in your blender.

Source: With Style & Grace

Stylish Swimsuit Alternatives Under $50.00

By: Staci Rutherford

My last post highlighted tips for buying swimsuits according to various body types.  I hope that it was helpful in providing a less stressful approach to shopping for a swimsuit. Let’s face it; some of us are a little reluctant (or dare I say self conscious) when it comes to showing our body, so this time around, I decided to feature stylish alternatives to swimsuits.

On vacation, I prefer to wear tunics, caftans, maxi dresses and rompers when I’m not in the pool or sunbathing on the beach.  They are perfect for a leisure day of lounging, shopping and/or sightseeing, and can easily go from day to evening.  Best of all, if you decide to hit the beach, a tunic, romper or maxi dress can also double as a cute swimsuit cover up!

I am always looking for a good deal, so I decided to focus on options that are priced under $50.00.  Bright colors, bold prints and lightweight fabrics were also a must!  Here’s what I found:

GB Printed Romper, original price: $54.00, now $32.40 at Dillards.com

Arizona Dolman-Sleeve Tunic Coverup, $18.00 at JC Penney

Old Navy Tie-Waist Tube Maxi Dress in orange print, original price: $29.94, now $27.50

LOFT Shadow Stripe Caftan in turquoise waters, $49.50

Sol & Mer Print Tunic Cover Up in amalfi blue, price: $48.00

Swimsuit Fit Guide + 5 Figure Flattering Swimsuits

By: Staci Rutherford

Memorial Day marks the official start of summer in my book, which means that it’s time for a new swimsuit!  How many times have you set out to buy a swimsuit and ended up frustrated, overwhelmed or disappointed?  I usually avoid shopping for swimsuits but this year, I decided to do a little research before venturing out so I know exactly what style to get for my figure.  Yes, I research almost everything because knowledge is power.  If I can identify my body type and understand which swimsuits are the most appropriate and flattering, shopping will become less stressful and more fun, as it should be.

Nordstrom has a fantastic swimsuit guide that I want to share with you.  You are not limited to only the swimsuits outlined below, however, I thought this was a great starting point for anyone who wants a little more direction before hitting the stores.

Straight – Little definition between bust, waist and hip measurements.

Prints, patterns, horizontal stripes and strategically placed seams can create the illusion of curves. Look for underwire styles and close-together, padded cups to enhance and lift a small bust. Or try thicker, textured fabric on top to add fullness without padding.

Pear – Fuller at the hips and bottom and smaller on top.

Suits with detailing on top or at the waist will draw the eye up. Straight and high necklines visually broaden the shoulders to balance out proportions. Wear a paler shade on top with a darker bottom. Sheaths and skirted suits also work to cover trouble spots.

Hourglass – Curvaceous, with full bust, defined waist and full hips.

Wide strap tops and underwire bras with soft cups offer best bust support. Many tankinis and sport bikinis also flatter curves and provide lots of lift. To minimize cleavage, opt for a straight or higher neckline that conceals while providing a pretty silhouette.

Apple – A rectangular shape without a well-defined waist.

Banding will give the appearance of a waist as will chevron or diagonal stripes. Look for tummy control and side panels, side seaming and shirring to create curves. Classic styles and solid colors are the most slimming. Sheer cut-outs offer a sexy peek of skin.

Full Bust – Bust measurement is fuller than hips and bottom.

High necklines help minimize the bust, while V-necklines draw the eye downward for a slimming effect. A keyhole back or sport style with an additional back closure will provide good support for a fuller bustline. Halters with bra cups provide more coverage. High-cut armholes can minimize side bust exposure.

Now that we have discovered some of the common body types, check out some of my favorite figure flattering swimsuits that I found online.  If it is more convenient for you to shop for a swimsuit online, make sure shipping (and returns) are free, and whether there is an option to return or exchange items at the store.  Try to avoid any “all sales are final” deals because there is always a chance that you won’t like what you buy online.

LOFT Floral Print One-Piece Swimsuit in summer plum, Price: $79.50 at www.loft.com

Swim Solutions Bandeau Floral Printed Ruched Tummy Control One Piece, Price: $94.00 at www.macys.com

Merona 1-piece swimsuit in pink/black floral print, Price: was $34.00 one sale now for $12.24 at www.target.com

Lane Bryant Pinpoint one piece swimsuit, by Miraclesuit Price: 156.00 on sale now for $109.20 at www.lanebryant.com Robin Piccone Ikat Swimsuit in emerald, Price: $122.00 at www.nordstrom.com

If you find a swimsuit that you love, please share the details in the comments section.  Next time, I will feature my favorite swimsuit cover-ups, which are perfect for lounging by the pool or strolling along the beach.

Five Summer Dresses Under $100

By: Staci Rutherford

I currently have one maxi dress that I wear to death!  I challenged myself to style it differently each time I wear it so no one else recognizes that it’s the same dress.  It has a very distinct print so it’s relatively easy to remember.  I wore it once with a navy and white pin striped button down shirt, another time with an olive green short sleeve hooded top over it, and most recently, with a gray v-neck sweater.  The v-neck sweater received the most attention, because it accentuated the jeweled neckline on the dress.

It soon occurred to me that I never wear dresses, and for the life of me, I could not figure out why.  Summer after summer, I have been missing out on all of the pretty dresses because of reasons that add up to my own silly insecurities.  This time around, I am determined to wear more dresses because they are easy to shop for and extremely versatile.  If you want to update your summer wardrobe with a few new dresses, check out my top five favorites, all priced under $100!

V-back Dress, Price: $89.90 at Zara

T Tahari Samara Dress, Price: $88.00 at Bloomingdale’s

Evan Picone Sleeveless Paisley Printed Dress, Price: $99.00 at Macy’s

FELICITY & COCO Stripe Jersey Tank Dress, Price: $68.00 at Nordstrom

Donna Morgan Flame Print Blouson Dress, $64.99 (original price: $94.00)

The key to making a dress versatile is to experiment with how you wear it.  For a daytime look that is appropriate for work, throw on a cardigan or cotton blazer to cover up bare shoulders and arms.  For evening, add a bold statement necklace or metallic accessories.  Don’t be afraid to switch from your everyday tote to a clutch or from a flat sandal to a platform pump so your dress has a totally different personality.

Women In Philanthropy’s 9th Annual Power of the Purse

By: Staci Rutherford

Last year I was invited to join the planning committee of “Power of the Purse,” a fun event with fabulous bags, fantastic women and fundraising for a wonderful cause.  “Power of the Purse” is in its 9th year that includes a silent and live auction of purses to benefit local women and children charities.  It is the signature fundraiser of Women In Philanthropy, a diverse group of professional women dedicated to investing in helping disadvantaged women and children in the Midlands.

I was excited to help with “Power of the Purse,” and made it my mission to find unique, handmade, and designer bags for the auctions.  Since I spend a majority of my time researching and networking with handbag designers and companies, I decided to contact them, along with anyone else I could think of, to donate a bag.  The experience was far more rewarding than I anticipated.  Everyone who attended enjoyed an evening of guilt free shopping, a martini luge and mingling with other dynamic women.  In the end, every handbag sold!  Check out a few pictures from last year’s “Power of the Purse” below:

Women In Philanthropy’s goal is to make this year’s “Power of the Purse” bigger and better than the last. Wink Magazine is the official digital media sponsor, and has offered me the opportunity to feature the “best of the best” bags in a future issue.  Proceeds from “Power of the Purse” are invested in Women in Philanthropy’s grants that benefit women and children in the Midlands.  In addition to community philanthropy, Women in Philanthropy stimulates positive change in community leadership by increasing women’s involvement in the community, increasing women’s community networks and increasing the personal development of all women involved.

“Power of the Purse” is expected to sell out, so visit www.womeninphilantropy.com to register in advance.  If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or donating to the gift bags (there will be 250 women attending), there are opportunities to do both!  Grab your girlfriends and come out to shop while supporting a fantastic cause!