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London Based Designer Tessa Packard Creates Jewelry With a Story to Tell

Written for JustLuxe.com

Stories have historically come from predictable places. They are born from classic novels, cinematic masterpieces and tales passed down from generation to generation—they do not come from jewelry. However, Tessa Packard, a London-based designer whose debut label launched in April of last year, does just that. Within each of her refined pieces lives a tinge of edge in which narratives begin to take shape when read with the rest of the collection. Her lines vary from No Smoke Without Flowers, inspired by 19th century Chinese opium dens, to Mexicana, jewelry made up of geometric Aztec shapes. Each piece holds its own, yet tells a story when joined with its colorful yet classic partners.

Courtesy JustLuxe.com

Courtesy JustLuxe.com

With the success that Packard now enjoys due to her innovative jewelry collections, it is difficult to believe that she is a completely self-taught jewelry designer. Born in Brazil and raised in Britain, Packard studied Fine Art and History of Art throughout school before springing into the London commercial art world. However, something was missing after four years in galleries—she missed designing the fashion accessories she had done as a teenager. “I really missed being creative, and that urge I had when I was tiny for being a jewelry designer began to kind of creep in and manifests itself in the sense that I really couldn’t think about doing anything else,” Packard told The Shop at Bluebird. After spending 2012 into 2013 becoming her own businesswoman and preparing to launch her first collection, Tessa Packard London was born.

Courtesy JustLuxe.com

Courtesy JustLuxe.com

Still, it was no walk in Hyde Park. “I literally knew no one in the fashion world, so to begin with I had to make a lot of contacts,” she continued. “I spent the first 6 months meeting people, making connections, meeting press to show my face and show them sketches of where I was coming from.”

Her newest collection, Predator/Prey, which launched this year, proves that Packard certainly feels no need to mimic past designs. Featuring vivid gold and black, her jewelry incorporates contemporary shapes in ingenious designs including honeycomb rings and earrings, bees perched on top of gemstone rings and bright, dynamic bracelets mixing contrasting shapes.

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So where does Packard draw her inspiration from? As with all dynamic artists, her designs can’t be defined by one source, but instead, are drawn from the culture, history and nature surrounding the narrative she wishes to tell. She creates her pieces with ideas of alluring fabrics, inventive architecture and antique ornamental objects made up of varying colors, form and composition. “I started looking at how you could translate the forms or the colors of the shapes into jewelry,” she explained. A believer in making all things locally, her designs are also entirely “homemade,” or manufactured and hand-finished by United Kingdom workshops.

So what will Packard come up with next? It could be drawn from anything from a misunderstood beast to a sparkling sweet in a candy shop. We’ll certainly be keeping our eyes peeled for what this up-and-coming artist has in store for the jewelry world.

Courtesy JustLuxe.com

Courtesy JustLuxe.com

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What You Need for Fall 2014

Alongside pumpkin picking, apple picking, haunted hay rides and trick-or-treating comes the inevitable, and much-anticipated, fall fashion. The time has come to unpack our dusty fall boots, sweaters and scarves and get ready for this very fashion-forward season. However, amongst this gleeful unpacking comes a familiar feeling of need – the need to get back on track and pick up the latest trends for the season.

Obviously, the classics will stay – the tall, black leather boots with gold details, the plaid scarf, the off-white knit sweater. However, here are the items that you need to add to your growing collection this season.

1. Matchy-matchy sets were slowly becoming a staple back in spring and summer, and they are here to stay. Pick up a set of matching skirts and tops, preferably with a little skin showing to eliminate the grandma effect. Go for strong pieces in solid shapes, especially those in busy, yet classy, prints.

Courtesy ShopStyle.com

Courtesy ShopStyle.com

2. Leopard has always been a part of many a woman’s closets, and it is back in motion for fall. Pick up a leopard scarf, booties, and other accessories to avoid overdoing it for everyday life. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, don’t be afraid to pick up a long leopard coat or a ladylike skirt.

Photo Courtesy atlantic-pacific.blogspot.com

Photo Courtesy atlantic-pacific.blogspot.com

3. Mini dresses are feminine pieces that can be taken to the office with a nice pair of boots, especially while summer is still transitioning to fall. This is a great option for those days that are remaining in the 60s and the 70s. Pair a mini dress with a scarf and flats to make it known you are here for fall.

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Photo Courtesy amyparent.cabionline.com

4. Leather skirts are another fine transitioning piece since they can paired with a long sleeved shirt or jacket with boots for a fall look. Get a leather skirt in a slightly longer length to take it from club to professional and mix it up by trying leathers in other neutral colors besides black such as blush or tan.

Photo Courtesy  necessaryclothing.hardpin.com

Photo Courtesy necessaryclothing.hardpin.com

5. Eccentric faux furs because fur doesn’t have to be boring. Mix up your faux fur sweater or jacket with prints utilizing more colors and patterns while keeping nice and cozy warm in the chill, too. Faux fur, always a classic staple, has gotten a slight mix-up this season.

Photo Courtesy  adoreness.com

Plato’s Closet: The Resale Alternative

Back in the day where my day job consisted of baby sitting a large Golden Doodle and occasionally (and unfortunately) grading kids’ workbooks, I spent a lot of time selling all of my old junk on eBay. I actually ended up selling so much stuff that I soon realized I didn’t have much left (which propelled me to buy more stuff and then sell that too a few months later). However, since I joined the mythical Real World, my available time needed to list clothes, jewelry, bags and shoes has since become nonexistent. Unfortunately, the amount of old stuff lying about my house has only increased. As a result, I needed some alternatives to eBay to make some extra cash (so that I could buy more clothes).

After a short and unfortunate stint in consigning my clothes where I went through the hassle of waiting a month to see if my items sold and then returning to collect my sad earnings and sift through the store to find what was left, I decided I needed a new way to sell some stuff. I was recommended by a fellow former eBayer to try out Plato’s Closet, a teen-oriented consignment store located throughout the East Coast that gives sellers cash on the spot, a much-needed alternative to the annoyance of consigning and the time-heavy commitment of online resale.

If you want to try out Plato’s Closet, here’s what you need to know.

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Photo Courtesy PlatosClosetBountiful.com

1. They really are teen-oriented, and they’re not going to take your business casual stuff. 

This really is too bad because I have obscene amount of ill-fitting dress pants sitting in my spare bedroom, but at the same time, even if you’re not a teen, Plato’s Closet will take a lot of clothes that are geared towards teens such as shorts, colored jeans, leggings, party dresses, boots and casual handbags. Think of things you would buy at Forever 21 and this pretty much nails it.

2. Plato’s Closet doesn’t want your designer clothes. 

For big-ticket items like designer handbags or other high-end merchandise, not only will Plato’s Closet not accept them (they like stores like Charlotte Russe and Aeropostale) but you’re much better off selling them yourself online than you even would be consigning them since consignment shops take between 40 and 60 percent of the item profit.

3. The store pays you cash on the spot. 

This is a HUGE plus as most consignment shops demand that if you want your unsold items back, you have to come back to the store and try to find them among their racks of clothing, a nearly impossible and time-consuming task. However, at Plato’s Closet, you’ll know if you’re going to be collecting for your clothes in a matter of minutes. I feel that generally, I get the same amount of money for an item as I would from a consignment store when factoring in the profit that the store keeps, just without the long waiting period.

4. They don’t want your heavily-loved items. 

So if you have an item that should be a perfect match (such as a dress from Forever 21 or a stylish mini skirt) but it’s clear that it has seen better days, Plato’s Closet is probably not going to take it. However, of course it’s worth a try.

5. There’s no limit to how much you can bring. 

Most consignment shops put a limit on how many items you can bring per day (usually around 20) and they also limit the days and times that they accept items. However, there’s no limit on how much you can sell, try to contribute, or when you contribute at Plato’s Closet. This doesn’t mean that you should bring three garbage bags full of stuff, mostly because it’s going to take forever for them to go through them plus they’re not going to be very thrilled with you. However, you don’t have to meticulously count each item anymore. Usually, I bring about 20 items per trip anyway.

6. The store is not seasonal. 

This means that they don’t care if you bring fall boots in July or a summer dress in December. This is pretty convenient for those of us who have been hoarding iffy items for years. Also, this is a nice alternative to eBay sales, where as sellers, we must always be conscious of what people are currently shopping for, which makes a huge impact on final bidding price.

7. Plato’s Closet accepts jewelry. 

But unfortunately, they don’t accept earrings or other body rings for sanitary reasons. This does mean, though, that you can attempt to sell rings, necklaces, bracelets and other accessories.

 

The Birth of the Fashion Blogger

As an awkward, boyfriendless and bracefaced preteen, I pored over trashy fashion magazines. I lived for the day when I would walk up the outrageous hill that was my driveway from my bus stop, pull open the rusty mailbox, and reach in to find a brightly colored magazine featuring someone unfairly beautiful.

I used to spend hours combing through the pages, studying the lame articles on what was in for the summer or what new lip gloss to try out. By nightlight, I read my magazines like my very own middle school girl bible and then I hoarded them in drawers to read back through later, over and over again. I really didn’t buy any of the products in them – I was a kid with no allowance and no job, for Christ’s sake – but I watched them like works of art.

This is a pretty stark difference to who I am today, the Jenna that cancelled her Cosmo subscription, her second fashion magazine to go behind Glamour.

Back in the day, fashion magazines were the only monthly update available to the masses, especially those living in rural New Jersey (yes, it exists). Surrounded by boring Abercrombie baby tees and bell-buttoned Hollister jeans, the only way for me to even find a smidgen of creativity in my small town was to head to the newsstand.

These were the glory days of my once-beloved magazines – when they were the only experts and the only aggregation of what was going on in the cultural hubs like Milan, Paris and New York. However, with the advent of the Internet, other quirky fashion lovers and forward-thinking websites popped up all over the map and suddenly, there were quite a few competing voices against the publishing media giants.

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Blogger on GalMeetsGlam.com

Against only last year, Teen Vogue, People Style Watch and Vogue newsstand sales all plummeted by 20 percent. Hope obviously isn’t lost – as with all print publications, the focus is now on digital subscribers, and although there is clearly a learning curve in the publishing world, there is possibly growth ahead. The magazine giant Cosmopolitan boasted  a 33 percent increase in digital subscribers going into 2013.

Even though I like my news online, I’ve always preferred my books and my magazines in their classic print forms, a hands-on way for me to peruse them over and over again wherever I happen to be. I’m not sure if I changed, my magazines changed, or the industry changed, but I don’t think that these magazines can claim to be the best and biggest resource any longer.

I often find that it’s these little bloggers that are taking over on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with their interesting outfit ideas, wise words, and even advertising deals with retail stores. Bloggers are heading to Fashion Week, huge opening events, and other cool stuff that the average person with a laptop wouldn’t have been able to do ten years ago. Today, bloggers and independent websites are taking over the web and making their mark on fashion without hundreds of pages of ads to back them up.

Summer Style Gets Fussy

Dressing for the beach is a funny thing. On the one hand, everyone on the boardwalk looks great with designer bikinis, long hair, tanned skin, the perfect sundresses, and the finest beach bags. Yet on the other hand… your family is shoving you out the door, no one understands why you paid $70 for a towel, and your new Michael Kors sandals stand out ridiculously among your brothers’ Wal-Mart rubber flip-flops. If staying fashionable was easy, everyone would do it.

However, there is hope – there is a plethora of shore-ready items out there that will keep you looking chic this summer without looking obscene. You may need to ditch the diamonds and the gold plates… but here is a list of items you can feel comfortable in at the beach, and you never even have to step (bare)foot into a discount store.

1. The New Yorker Beach Towel 

You don’t need to sport a dolphin-covered beach towel anymore… instead, invest in a real 100% oversized towel that is big enough to stretch out on without being too big to carry back to the cottage. Ranging roughly between $35 and $60, these towels feature various vintage covers of The New Yorker and contain enough heft to make them worth the purchase. You can find them by Home Source and Conde Nast.

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2. Coach Beach Collection Beach Bag

Choosing a beach bag is always a gamble, because you need a bag hardy enough for the beach, large enough for all your shore necessities, yet still light enough to carry all that junk to and from the boardwalk each morning and evening. These limited editioncanvas totes by Coach run for $268 and each feature illustrations by Pierre Le-Tan, known for his charming use of color and playful designs.

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3. Kate Spade Idiom Bangle

We hate leaving our jewelry at home when we go to the beach, but no one wants to be the stuck-out sore thumb covered in ridiculously gaudy pieces either. Instead, check out these colorful bangles by kate spade which run for $78 a piece and paired well with your best bikini, they put together a complete beach look. Plus, clever enough, each one features a familiar saying matching the design on the inside.

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4. Glamzelle Brazilian Night Colorblock Bikinis 

The days of elegant, demur bikinis are over – for summer 2014, ditch the boring black and pick up on these sporty, neon bikinis. Not only will you be able to actually play beach volleyball this year without hoping your top doesn’t fall off, but you’ll also be turning heads… probably because you’re so bright. You can pick up Glamzelle’s Brazilian Night Colorblock bikinis for around $90 for the set.

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5. Lily Pulitzer Beach Maxis 

Don’t feel like sporting a beach cover-up? Grab a stylish beach maxi dress instead, in a colorful, whimsical design of course. Lily Pulitzer has released their line of 2014 beachwear, and with it, several maxi dresses ranging from $150 to $200. In normal Lily capacity, the dresses (as well as tunics, shirts, and shorts) feature bright colors, interesting designs, yet classic shapes. You can view them on Lily Pulitzer Best of Summer.

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Why You Need Pinterest For Your Virtual Closet

“Wow Pinterest? So last year.”

This was a tweet I read that made me a little sad – Pinterest? My favorite social media? So last year?! 

Even though I’m a news fiend, a tech junkie, and a fashionado, I’m definitely not trendy. I’m not great with knowing what the coolest latest trends are, I’m can’t convince myself to purchase the coolest and latest pieces, and I can barely even keep up with what everyone is wearing, probably because the only television I watch is Netflix documentaries. Sorry.

But this is precisely why I love Pinterest, the most underutulized social media in the realm – it’s like a little Twittersphere for your life; in fun little pictures. Who doesn’t love that?

Even if you’re not a blog, a website, or a business (in which you should already have a Pinterest account, but we’ll get into that later), here are a just a few reasons why you should take the three minutes needed to create an account for your closet…  and then spending hours perusing it in search of the creation of the perfect board.

It’s a sampling of the trendiest stuff on the Internet right now. Even though you wish you could be, you’re probably not at the mall at this moment, however Pinterest is like a virtual mall in the fact that it’s showing, real-time, what people are wearing right this moment. If you take a look at the Women’s Fashion board, what you’ll see if the most recent and popular pins of the moment you clicked on the link. You’ll easily see who’s wearing what, how, and when.

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You can showcase your own stuff and it will be pinned based on merit. All over Pinterest, although you will see pins by famous magazines, designers, and labels, you’ll also see some significant followings for people just like you. What does this mean? That if you put a cool outfit together, snap a pic, post it, and you’ll quickly see how the Pinterestsphere rates you in the number of repins you get. The repins don’t stop after a select amount of time like Twitter does – instead, trends reinvent themselves on Pinterest and I’m still getting repins on stuff I posted a year ago.

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It’s the best way to collect your inspiration for your outfits-to-be. Bought yourself a checked blazer you know that you want to wear but you’re not exactly how? No problem. You can just search for “checked blazer” and tons of outfits that utilized the piece are going to pop up and you can peruse through and see how you’re gonna put this baby together. That’s way better than letting it sit in your closet for six months before you figure out a way to wear it. Think of Pinterest as your personal, daily, and virtual magazine.

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You can follow all of your favorite designers, stylists and bloggers in one image-driven place. Although you can follow them on Instagram or Twitter to get snapshots of what they’re doing and chats about what they’re feeling, Pinterest is a gallery in that you can see hundreds of designs, ideas, and inspirations in one snapshot – plus you’ll get a complete view of the most recent items in your feed.

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The Rules of Consignment

“Where the hell are you going with all those packages?” my friends used to say, mocking me as I walked out the door with an armful of envelopes on my way to the post office.

I used to relish in my eBay sales, furiously exploring my closet for clothes I didn’t wear enough to warrant their stay and then list them for hours and hours on the site. Throughout the week, I would stalk my listings constantly, hopeful for even an extra dollar’s bidding activity.

However, those days are over. Slowly but surely, eBay has been knocking out little sellers like me with selling limits, decreased rights, and hefty fees to make way for big retailers like Michael Kors, Burberry, and J. Crew. How are they supposed to make money if they have teeny people like you driving down prices with your gently used Coach bag with a $19.99 starting bid?

As a result, I have moved on from my days as a proud eBay seller and I have evolved into a consigner, toting my trash bags full of clothes to storefronts like a homeless person. Consigning brings significantly less profit than eBay selling does, however eBay also takes a lot more time, effort, and frustration.

We constantly say that we “have nothing to wear,” (which, umm, we don’t… duh) however a brief peek into our closets usually proclaims otherwise. If you’re looking to make some fast cash on gently used items (so that you can go buy more stuff…) and you’re over trying to list stuff on eBay and deal with nasty buyers, then check out these tips on how to consign your clothes.

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 Back on the Racks in Long Branch, NJ

1. Choose a heavily trafficked store. When you walk in, is the place full of moms or young professionals? Is it empty or are people fighting to look at the racks? Don’t submit your stuff to just anyone – carefully choose a store that has a clientele that will take an interest in what you have to sell. Consider a national chain consignment store, such as Plato’s Closet or Buffalo’s Exchange. They will be pickier with what they take, but more people will see your items.

2. Read the rules. Consignment shops have varying rules from how long their selling period is (between 30 and 45 days on average) , what their cut of the profits are (30 – 40 percent) , what they d0 with the items after that period has passed (donate to charity or return to you), how many pieces they take at a time (15 -30), and what seasons they accept what styles (one season ahead). Carefully read these rules and policies before signing anything or handing anyone your precious clothes.

3. Stick with designer pieces. You may love that obscure furry top, however it’s going to sell for $3 or less in a consignment shop. Consignments shops are super brand-name focused – people don’t want to buy your old junk with no name on it. If the piece’s home was in a mall, chances are it can sell in a consignment shop.

4. Don’t bother with heavily worn items. Even if the pieces has no stains/holes/etc., if the fabric feels loose, thin, and faded, a consignment shop is not going to take it and you’re better off selling it on eBay after all (clearly labeling it a used item) or donating it.

5. Clean it up. The consignment shop isn’t going to do it for you, they’re simply going to hang it on a rack. Since you obviously want to make money, give the piece a good washing, ironing, and lint rolling. The better it looks, the more you’ll make.

6. Submit items designed in the last three years. There’s a reason that consignment shops don’t take suits anymore – because no one wears them. To you, it may be vintage, but to the average consignment shop, it’s just old. The newer the piece, the better. When you shop for clothes, do you look for old junk or fresh pieces?