Stylish Thoughts – Messages on a Napkin


Messages on a Napkin


Today’s Stylish Thoughts come from Chicago based blogger Marlen of  Messages on a Napkin

What is the secret to great style?

Not being scared to experiment and to research! If you think you can’t pull off a trend, find a way to incorporate it into your style and make it work. For example, let’s say we have a pinafore. If you’re a minimalist, pair it with a clean button-up shirt for a simple but sharp look. More of a bohemian? Pair it with a long sleeve paisley shirt or a crochet top. A vintage lover? Match it with a pussybow blouse. Like to go for more of an urban look? A cropped turtleneck would look fantastic with it. See- it can work with any style! And just like with any topic, the more you research and learn, the more skilled you will be with mixing and matching and styling. Scour pinterest, rip out magazine pictures, and bookmark bloggers you admire. You’ll soon start seeing a pattern in what you like and will get ideas on how to style it.

What is the one thing you would spend a lot of money on?

A really one-of-a-kind dress. I’m still not completely convinced money equals quality, so I’m not at the point where I’ll drop $200 on shoes or a purse without guilt. But if I find a dress that really tugs at my heart and is like something I’ve never seen before? Well, the boutique now has all my grocery money. #noregrets


What is the one thing you wouldn’t spend a lot of money on?

A purse. It boggles my mind when I see other bloggers drop down cool hundreds (that’s plural, people!) on a bucket bag or simple tote. I would rather take my time and find a very similar style or shape at a place like TJ Maxx or Target. That’s called savviness 😉

What are your top tips for looking stylish when travelling?

Buy breathable, high quality basics. They won’t wrinkle in your backpack or luggage, and you can mix and match them with every other piece you packed. Stick to a neutral color palette too, and then you could get 20 different outfits out of just 6 pieces. I know the urge is real to pack that one citrusy palm-print maxi dress, but you’ll be so caught up adventuring that you won’t even notice what you put on that day. And a quality tank with chic linen pants is always so effortlessly stylish.


What’s the secret to looking polished?

Honestly, a capsule wardrobe! I don’t *quite* have one, but I *have* paired down my closet down by about 65% and have only kept my most polished, mixable pieces. By having less options to choose from, you’re forced to make cleaner, more thought-out outfits. And when you shop you don’t want to clutter up your closet, so you only choose the sharpest pieces that fill the holes you’re missing in your wardrobe. Before I did this I had about 30 meh looking sweaters, 50 passable dresses, a whole bunch of ill fitting pants…it was out of control. Once I bit the bullet and tossed out everything I wasn’t absolutely in love with, i literally didn’t have the option to make a subpar look. Everything I owned was pretty.

How do you balance new trends with a more timeless look?

I’m still working on figuring that out, haha! The one thing that I’ve noticed that helps bring the two worlds together is to incorporate minimalism into the look. Have a very fun but outlandish top? Pair it with sharp high waist trousers or a clean-shaped skirt. Have a wild dress? Match it with simple oxfords or minimalist sandals and a structured satchel. Have a flirty and colorful romper? Quiet it down with a blazer or a leather backpack. It’s all about diluting the funkier, more playful pieces.


What is your current obsession?

CULOTTES! I haven’t found the perfect pair yet and it’s making me incredibly impatient. That trend is complete aces and has so much fun styling potential.

Who inspires you?

I don’t just have one source of inspiration- I get it from everywhere! Bloggers, women on the street, dog-eared magazine pages, old pictures of my mom. Anything can spark an idea.

Do you have a signature piece or style?

High waisted pants for sure. Especially if they’re bell bottoms. I’d wear those bad boys all day everyday.


What’s your secret to making yourself stand out?

Don’t be afraid to play! Style shouldn’t be such a serious thing. It’s all about experimenting and trying out things that tug at your heart. People always tell me I have such a strong sense of style but I don’t think I dress very outlandish- I just make sure to put on something I love every single time I step outside of the house, whether that is a colorful dress, interesting flatform oxfords, or a pair of overalls. If it makes me happy, I put it on. And people take that to be a bold style 🙂

The one piece of advice most women need but don’t get?

Just because it fits doesn’t mean you should buy it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen my friends buy pieces just for the hell of it, and then it never gets used or just plain doesn’t make them feel special when it *is* being worn. Only choose pieces that a) really caught your heart and make you feel like Beyonce or b) fill a void in your closet. Make sure that the piece has strong remixing power and make sure that it’s something you see yourself reaching for multiple times a month. If it doesn’t hit those notes, then you’re just buying stuff to buy stuff.

What’s the best piece of style wisdom you’ve ever received?

Layers change the game. And they’re not just for winter.


What is your favourite current trend?

I love that crop tops are now becoming longer and boxier. That shape is SO fun to play with.

What’s your favourite short cut to style?

Accessories can completely change the game. Have a simple dress? Sharp minimalist sandals and a structured purse can make you look like a million bucks.

What’s the worst current trend?

I honestly can’t think of one, I’m excited for all of them 🙂

What are your favourite websites

Bleu Bird Blog

How would you describe your personal style?

Vintage but minimalist. I love mixing the old with the very new.



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