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  • 11/23/15--20:43: Double-Breasted Coatdress
  • 2 red double breasted suit dress working women work style office attire business fashion style blog mary orton memorandum san francisco sf7-red-double-breasted-suit-dress-ellen-tracey-working-women-work-style-office-attire-business-fashion-style-blog-mary-orton-memorandum-san-francisco-sf 6 red double breasted suit dress ellen tracey working women work style office attire business fashion style blog mary orton memorandum san francisco sf 5 red double breasted suit dress ellen tracey working women work style office attire business fashion style blog mary orton memorandum san francisco sf 4 red double breasted suit dress ellen tracey working women work style office attire business fashion style blog mary orton memorandum san francisco sf 3 red double breasted suit dress working women work style office attire business fashion style blog mary orton memorandum san francisco sf 8-red-double-breasted-suit-dress-ellen-tracey-working-women-work-style-office-attire-business-fashion-style-blog-mary-orton-memorandum-san-francisco-sf1 red double breasted suit dress working women work style office attire business fashion style blog mary orton memorandum san francisco sf

    DRESS: Ellen Tracey  |  SHOES: SJP Collection  |  BAG: c/o Henri Bendel  |  BRACELET: c/o Brandy Pham  |  NECKLACE: similar here & here  |  SUNGLASSES: Stella McCartney (similar here)

    We’re still enjoying lots of mild weather days in San Francisco, so I was able to go bare-legged when wearing this dress last week.  However, a lot of you often ask me about wearing black tights with dresses or skirts that aren’t black, and I think this is a perfect dress for it.  When living in NYC, black tights were my jam, so I know the struggle of feeling like you always have to wear black dresses or black skirts in the winter time to make them work.  However, the sharp black buttons down the front of this double-breasted coatdress help ground the heavier pairing of black tights—a look that’s ripe for a little holiday action.

    Speaking of holiday action, I’ll be publishing my 2015 Holiday Memo right here tomorrow!  My email subscribers have already gotten a sneak peek, but I can’t wait to share it with the rest of you.  Grab some early coffee and get ready to snuggle up.  See you tomorrow… : )

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  • 11/22/15--22:36: 2015 Holiday Memo!
  • Thank you for your patience while the 2015 Holiday Memo loads!  Also, be sure to view the guide in FULL SCREEN mode by clicking directly on the page!!

    If you’d like to download the 2015 Holiday Memo for easy viewing on your device, click into the viewer above and click the button in the lower right hand corner (the first one that has the outline of a box with an arrow coming out of it)  and click ‘Download.’  If you’re on a smartphone, the button appears in the upper right-hand corner once you’ve clicked into the guide. 


    Today, I’m SO excited to finally share the 2015 Holiday Memo with you! The holiday season is officially here and with Black Friday (AGH!) just around the corner, it’s time to get serious.

    Due to my perpetual tendency to work too much and plan ahead too little, I am the (self-proclaimed) QUEEN of panicked last-minute shopping. As such, let me give you a little insight into my holiday shopping process:

    November 26 – December 22:  In search of gift inspiration, I’ll occasionally peruse lame online holiday gift guides during lunch breaks, and/or when desperate for an excuse to not clean my apartment. This generally results in a complete lack of inspiration and the hopeless utterance of expletives under my breath every time one of these guides offers the ground-breaking suggestion that I buy the men in my life a (*drumroll*) TIE.

    December 23, 1:45 AM:  I wake up in the middle of the night, realize I still haven’t found any good gifts, and frantically attempt to order random, awful things online. The expletives are now growing louder.

    December 23, 1:56 AM:  After settling on a slew of relatively terrible gifts, I quickly realize that next-day shipping is no longer available. It’s officially too late. Expletives are now hurled at the ceiling of my bedroom with noteworthy volume and vigor.

    December 23, 1:58 AM:  I call customer service and begin fruitless attempts at bribing the unfortunate customer service representative to help me. He/she reminds me that he/she does not, in fact, control UPS shipping capabilities. We exchange pleasantries and hang up.  So many expletives.

    December 23, 2:01 AM:  I begin the age-old debate of whether to fake my own death, or try to shop in-store (GASP!) the next day.  %$*#&*@#*&^%$#!!!!!!

    December 23, 10:00 AM:  I do the Christmas Walk of Shame, which constitutes being seen on December 23rd and/or 24th entering brick-and-mortar stores (apparently these still exist?) and picking Christmas gifts from among the deplorable dregs still available in store (a.k.a. the products that all of humanity has heretofore rejected).  Getting increasingly creative with expletives as standard-issue expletives are growing insufficient.

    December 25, 8:30 AM:  I’m voted out of the family.  In true A Christmas Story-style, I weave a tapestry of obscenities that as far as we know is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan.  My mother is in a fit of abhorrence and starts calling mothers of childhood friends asking who taught me such language while my brothers heave me out the back door and into a snow bank.

    DIAGNOSIS:  Chronic procrastination and borderline personality disorder.

    In an attempt to get a bit more rest on the night of December 23rd, avoid the total dissolution of my vocabulary, and prevent being ejected from my family’s home on Christmas Day, I decided to approach the holiday season differently this year.  I came to the conclusion that this would first mandate the abandonment of unhelpful online holiday guides. (No, random shopping guide, I’m not getting my mom a spatula. Killer idea.)

    Instead, months ago, I started putting together the 2015 Holiday Memo.  I knew I couldn’t be alone in my holiday shopping frustrations, and that perhaps many of you faced the same challenges when searching for the right gifts.  I was determined to put together a holiday shopping guide that was a true resource for the working girl—a concise list of gift suggestions that are vetted and thoroughly endorsed.  Whether you’re buying for her, for him, for the new working girl, the hostess or the travel junkie, there’s something in there for you.  In addition to all of my very best gift ideas for everyone on your list, it also contains some of my favorite holiday outfits and a few special Christmas traditions from my family as well!  Heck, there are even a couple recipes in there.  Things got a little crazy.

    In the coming weeks, I’ll be updating products and links in the Holiday Memo as things sell out, so the guide can continue to be a helpful, relevant resource as you work through your shopping list. For ease of access, you’ll see the 2015 Holiday Memo graphic and link on the top right hand sidebar on Memorandum’s homepage through Christmas.  Anytime you’re looking to reference the Holiday Memo, you can just click right up there and it will take you back to the guide!  Also, if you prefer not to view it in the embedded viewer above, see the instructions at the top of this post to download the full guide to your desktop, tablet or smartphone—it looks great and works perfectly in iBooks, if that’s an easier option for you.

    I hope you enjoy the 2015 Holiday Memo!  Happy Monday and Happy Holidays!!

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    oscar de la renta lace off the shoulder wedding dress

    At long last, I’m so happy to share the first of what will be a series of several (get ready!) posts on our wedding day and surrounding events.  I’m kicking off my Wedding Wednesday series with all of the details on our ceremony, the wedding party, and (of course) ze dress!  In the next few weeks, I’ll also be sharing a peek at our rehearsal dinner, my bridal luncheon, my wardrobe change for the reception, and all of our reception details.  This means things will be slightly out of chronological order (sorry), but from all of your emails and comments I figured hey, let’s be real, people just want to see the dress already, so let’s cut to the chase and fill in the juicy deets later!

    wedding flowers for in the formal catholic church

    As a native of Wisconsin, it was a dream to get married in my home state, in the very Milwaukee Cathedral where my parents were married 33 years ago.  Lucky for us, the grandeur of the ornate Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Milwaukee epitomized our classic, old-world vision for the day, and perfectly complemented the spectacular Victorian interiors of the Pfister Hotel’s Imperial Ballroom where our reception was held just blocks away (more details on this next week!).  With such a majestic ceremony venue, we chose simple floral decorations to highlight the space, lining the aisle with arrangements of roses, freesia, and ivory ribbon around the pew ends, and framing the entrance and altar with tall arrangements of hydrangeas, white rose, blush spray roses and cascading greens.

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    I had the honor of wearing one of the last wedding gowns designed by Oscar de la Renta before his untimely passing last year.  For the ceremony, my father walked me down the aisle in a custom silk faille Oscar de la Renta gown with an off-the-shoulder threadwork lace caraco topper and cascading covered buttons down the full length of the back.

    Mary Orton Memorandum Wedding Milwaukee Wisconsin 1Mary Orton Memorandum Wedding Milwaukee Wisconsin 5Mary Orton Memorandum Wedding Milwaukee Wisconsin 14Mary Orton Memorandum Wedding Milwaukee Wisconsin 9Mary Orton Memorandum Wedding Milwaukee Wisconsin 11Mary Orton Memorandum Wedding Milwaukee Wisconsin 19

    To accessorize, I wore a simple Christian Louboutin pump, opera-length satin gloves, and delicate diamond drop earrings with my hair in a sleek-yet-intricate classic low bun.  My simple tulle cathedral veil was custom-designed and made by HOMA, featuring a delicate horsehair edge which allowed the veil to hold a beautiful cascading shape as it draped around me during the ceremony.

    Mary Orton Memorandum Wedding Milwaukee Wisconsin 35

    During the exchange of rings, I didn’t have to remove my long gloves because my seamstress created a small slit on the underside seam in the left hand ring finger of the glove.  That way, I was able to put my ring finger through the hole in the glove so Rich could put the ring right on my finger, then easily slide it back into the glove.

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    Last but not least, the most treasured accessory that I wore down the aisle was this garter that was made for me by my Aunt Mary.  33 years ago, she was a bridesmaid in my parents’ wedding and saved the bridesmaid dress she wore on their special day.  Out of the pale blue chiffon fabric of her bridesmaid dress (almost identical to the fabric of my own bridesmaid dresses!), she sewed this beautiful garter belt and gave it to me as a gift to wear on my wedding day.  It was so special to have an extra little piece of their day with me as I walked down the same aisle, 33 years later.

    cascade bridal bouquet of ivory and blush roses and greensloose bridesmaid bouquet posy of ivory and blush flowers

    In line with the rest of our romantic, Victorian floral arrangements, I wanted an old-world cascading bouquet of ivory roses and spray roses, white freesia, Italian ruscus, white orchid blossoms, and variegated ivy.  Our amazing florists hit just the right note of not-too-loose, but not-too-tight with the lush arrangement, and mirrored my bouquet in similar posies for my seven bridesmaids.

    Mary Orton Memorandum Wedding Milwaukee Wisconsin 28floor length long bridesmaid dresses in pale light periwinkle blue chiffon and flowersMary Orton Memorandum Wedding Milwaukee Wisconsin 38

    As a fashion devotee for as long as I can remember, I have always been enamored with the work of Edith Head, the iconic American costume designer.  In particular, there is a dress that she designed for Grace Kelly in the Hitchcock film To Catch A Thief that is exactly what I wanted to emulated when selecting the look for my bridesmaids.  I found the perfect gown reminiscent of that iconic dress in both color and style at Weddington Way featuring a Grecian cut, modified sweetheart neckline, and shirred bodice in the palest periwinkle blue chiffon.  And, just like the Grace Kelly stunner, there was a long piece of chiffon that flowed down from the skirt that the bridesmaids flipped up over their shoulder for a more conservative, formal, one-shoulder look during the ceremony.  Like my wedding dress, their dress was also modified for dinner and dancing at the reception (again, those details coming next week!).

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    Rich and his groomsmen were our perfect, dapper counterparts wearing classic black tuxedoes and bowties.  Rich wore a beautiful Armani tuxedo, and the groomsmen wore matching tuxes rented from The Black Tux.

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    Rich and I didn’t want to do a first look prior to the ceremony because we were both eager to preserve the surprise of seeing each other for the first time when walking down the aisle.  Instead, after getting ready, my Maid of Honor and Rich’s Best Man brought each of us blind-folded to a grand staircase in the Pfister Hotel where we were placed back-to-back to trade gifts before the ceremony.

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    Immediately following the ceremony, the wedding party took a limo back to Villa Terrace in Milwaukee where the rehearsal dinner had been held the night before.  We took pictures in their beautiful gardens that cascade down the hillside overlooking Lake Michigan.

    Mary Orton Memorandum Wedding Milwaukee Wisconsin 42 Mary Orton Memorandum Wedding Milwaukee Wisconsin 53 Mary Orton Memorandum Wedding Milwaukee Wisconsin 54 Mary Orton Memorandum Wedding Milwaukee Wisconsin 55

    Ok, now I’d be remiss if I didn’t share the one snafu from our ceremony:  Throughout all of the planning and preparations, everyone always advised me to be prepared for something to go wrong.  With the cooperation of weather and everything seeming to fall into place on the wedding day, I thought we were pretty much in the clear up until about ten minutes before the ceremony.  The wedding was scheduled to start at 3 p.m., and I really wanted to keep everything on schedule so that we had pleeeenty of time for dancing at the reception!  I had recently been to a wedding where everything ran quite late, which left little time for the hours of dance floor shenanigans we were eagerly anticipating.  With roughly ten minutes until game time, we were all assembled in the Bride’s room waiting for the imminent cue to line up and begin processing into the church, when one of my bridesmaids walked in from the bathroom and announced that that the ENTIRE zipper of her dress had torn out (likely because she was newly pregnant at the time—but nobody knew!).  We’re talking about 18 inches of irreparable gaping-open zipper which turned her tasteful bridesmaids gown into more of backless number ready for Vegas.  THANKFULLY, I had received this amazing Pinch Bridal Emergency kit which my Maid of Honor had ingeniously brought to the church in the event of… well, emergency.  I immediately grabbed the sewing kit from the box and began sewing her into her dress.  There was so much territory to cover and so little time, my mom grabbed another needle and thread and while I sewed from the top, she sewed up from the bottom.  We managed to finish it in about six minutes, and still started right on time!

    Mary Orton Memorandum Wedding Milwaukee Wisconsin 27Mary Orton Memorandum Wedding Milwaukee Wisconsin 37

    Check out the full gallery below for more pictures of our wedding ceremony, and stay tuned for all the details on our reception and more next Wednesday!  In the meantime, be on the look out here for lots more Memorandum workwear outfits, Black Friday and Cyber Monday guides, and of course, be sure to snuggle up with the 2015 Holiday Memo while relaxing over the long weekend!  Happy Turkey Day!!


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    Flowers: Fresh Design Flowers | Ceremony Venue: Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist | Wedding Planner: Janelle Meyer-Brown of Événement Planning | Officiant: Reverend Timothy Kitzke | Hair: Pfister Well Salon + Spa | Music: Anthony Nunziata; Michael Walters Orchestra

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    Happy Thanksgiving!  Soooo, let me tell you about a little thing called Black Friday

    I know.  You hate it, I hate it, but the deals are for real, so let’s get after it.

    Black Friday sales are a little (A LOT) overwhelming, and with the barrage of emails from every retailer under the sun, it’s hard to identify the sales that are legit.  Above I’ve made a concise list of all the best sales that are too good to miss this Black Friday.  Many of them have started today (Thanksgiving Day) so once you’ve gorged yourself on turkey and spent a sufficient amount of time pretending that you care about your Aunt Peggy’s latest knitting project, snuggle up with your computer and start attacking that holiday gift list.  I’ve included the 2015 Holiday Memo below for easy access.  Basically everything in it is on sale, so it’s the best time to get cracking!

    REMEMBER, friends don’t let friends shop in store on Black Friday.  I did it once like six years ago and I still have PTSD.


    Image Map

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    2 red-one-shoulder-carolina-jill-stuart-gown-rent-the-runway-cape-fur-black-tie-office-work-formal-party-holiday-attire-mary-orton3 red-one-shoulder-carolina-jill-stuart-gown-rent-the-runway-cape-fur-black-tie-office-work-formal-party-holiday-attire-mary-orton4 red-one-shoulder-carolina-jill-stuart-gown-rent-the-runway-cape-fur-black-tie-office-work-formal-party-holiday-attire-mary-orton7 red-one-shoulder-carolina-jill-stuart-gown-rent-the-runway-cape-fur-black-tie-office-work-formal-party-holiday-attire-mary-orton10 red-one-shoulder-carolina-jill-stuart-gown-rent-the-runway-cape-fur-black-tie-office-work-formal-party-holiday-attire-mary-orton

    It’s office holiday party time again! Ahhh that magical time of year when you get to enjoy awkward conversations with coworkers you hardly know over a glass of bubbly!  To aid in your sartorial and mental preparation, I’m excited to unveil this year’s guide to office holiday party attire (at the bottom of this post) AND offer you a reprise of my very best topics of conversation for filling awkward silences when forced to chat with the dude in accounting that’s super proud of the weird action figure collection he keeps at his desk. Discuss the following:

    1. the weather
    2. all of the weird action figures at his desk
    3. how cold it is outside
    4. how cold it is inside
    5. whether he expects to receive more weird action figures for Hanukkah or Christmas
    6. this weather though…

    If you reach the end of this list and your work friends haven’t saved you yet, just play dead.

    8 red-one-shoulder-carolina-jill-stuart-gown-rent-the-runway-cape-fur-black-tie-office-work-formal-party-holiday-attire-mary-orton13 red-one-shoulder-carolina-jill-stuart-gown-rent-the-runway-cape-fur-black-tie-office-work-formal-party-holiday-attire-mary-orton15 red-one-shoulder-carolina-jill-stuart-gown-rent-the-runway-cape-fur-black-tie-office-work-formal-party-holiday-attire-mary-orton 18 red-one-shoulder-carolina-jill-stuart-gown-rent-the-runway-cape-fur-black-tie-office-work-formal-party-holiday-attire-mary-orton17 red-one-shoulder-carolina-jill-stuart-gown-rent-the-runway-cape-fur-black-tie-office-work-formal-party-holiday-attire-mary-orton

    A few weeks ago Rich and I attended a black tie event with business colleagues and I had the pleasure of wearing this beautiful Jill Stuart number (which is CRAZYYY on sale here right now).  I was actually lucky enough to find this gem on Rent the Runway , which is an amazing resource if you’re not looking to invest in an expensive gown.  For me, it was the perfect dress for the occasion: formal and festive, but not uncomfortably revealing in a professional environment.

    16 red-one-shoulder-carolina-jill-stuart-gown-rent-the-runway-cape-fur-black-tie-office-work-formal-party-holiday-attire-mary-orton 14 red-one-shoulder-carolina-jill-stuart-gown-rent-the-runway-cape-fur-black-tie-office-work-formal-party-holiday-attire-mary-orton 9 red-one-shoulder-carolina-jill-stuart-gown-rent-the-runway-cape-fur-black-tie-office-work-formal-party-holiday-attire-mary-orton11 red-one-shoulder-carolina-jill-stuart-gown-rent-the-runway-cape-fur-black-tie-office-work-formal-party-holiday-attire-mary-orton1 red-one-shoulder-carolina-jill-stuart-gown-rent-the-runway-cape-fur-black-tie-office-work-formal-party-holiday-attire-mary-orton6 red-one-shoulder-carolina-jill-stuart-gown-rent-the-runway-cape-fur-black-tie-office-work-formal-party-holiday-attire-mary-orton 5 red-one-shoulder-carolina-jill-stuart-gown-rent-the-runway-cape-fur-black-tie-office-work-formal-party-holiday-attire-mary-orton-memorandum12 red-one-shoulder-carolina-jill-stuart-gown-rent-the-runway-cape-fur-black-tie-office-work-formal-party-holiday-attire-mary-orton19 red-one-shoulder-carolina-jill-stuart-gown-rent-the-runway-cape-fur-black-tie-office-work-formal-party-holiday-attire-mary-orton

    DRESS: Jill Jill Stuart c/o Rent the Runway  |  COAT: Adrienne Landau c/o Rent the Runway  |  SHOES: Stuart Weitzman (similar here)  BAG: Franchi c/o Rent the Runway  |  EARRINGS: Jules Smith c/o Rent the Runway  |  LIPS: Nars (Bansar)

    Whether you’re headed for a casual gathering over lunch with work buddies, a business formal gathering in your office building, a swanky cocktail party at a local venue, or a black tie event, I hope the below guide will help spark some ideas!  As you can see, it’s organized into four general categories: casual office party, business formal office party, professional cocktail party, and black tie event.   Keep in mind that many of the pieces in each category could crossover, depending on how you wear them.

    As always, be careful about striking the right balance between festive and appropriate at these types of work events.  A sequined pencil skirt would certainly be odd for a party in your office where most are in holiday business attire (like the ensembles in this post or this post), but if it’s a formal cocktail party at an upscale venue, the sequins may add just the right festive touch to the otherwise professional pencil skirt silhouette.

    Basically everything below is on sale during all of the Black Friday sales today, so be sure to snag your favorites today.  If you missed my shortlist of all the best Black Friday deals, check them out here!  And, in the spirit of crazy good sales, be sure to peruse the 2015 Holiday Memo this weekend before everything goes back to full price next week for the lead-up to Christmas!


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    Pinstripe Wideleg Trousers Tie Neck Blousewide-leg-gray-pinstripe-pants-alice-olivia-ivory-bow-tie-neck-blouse-everlane-modern-loafers-work-office-professional-women-style-fasion-blog-mary-orton-memorandum 1wide-leg-gray-pinstripe-pants-alice-olivia-ivory-bow-tie-neck-blouse-everlane-modern-loafers-work-office-professional-women-style-fasion-blog-mary-orton-memorandum 7wide-leg-gray-pinstripe-pants-alice-olivia-ivory-bow-tie-neck-blouse-everlane-modern-loafers-work-office-professional-women-style-fasion-blog-mary-orton-memorandum 9 wide-leg-gray-pinstripe-pants-alice-olivia-ivory-bow-tie-neck-blouse-everlane-modern-loafers-work-office-professional-women-style-fasion-blog-mary-orton-memorandum 8wide-leg-gray-pinstripe-pants-alice-olivia-ivory-bow-tie-neck-blouse-everlane-modern-loafers-work-office-professional-women-style-fasion-blog-mary-orton-memorandum 5 wide-leg-gray-pinstripe-pants-alice-olivia-ivory-bow-tie-neck-blouse-everlane-modern-loafers-work-office-professional-women-style-fasion-blog-mary-orton-memorandum 4 wide-leg-gray-pinstripe-pants-alice-olivia-ivory-bow-tie-neck-blouse-everlane-modern-loafers-work-office-professional-women-style-fasion-blog-mary-orton-memorandum 2wide-leg-gray-pinstripe-pants-alice-olivia-ivory-bow-tie-neck-blouse-everlane-modern-loafers-work-office-professional-women-style-fasion-blog-mary-orton-memorandum 3 BLOUSE: TY-LR (just sold out, tons of similar options here and love this one)  |  PANTS: Alice and Olivia (here in black; similar pinstripe versions herehere; & love the same pants in this color)  |  SHOES: c/o Everlane  |  COAT: old, very similar here)  |  EARRINGS: similar here  |  LIP: NARS (Bansar)

    I wore this ensemble last week, and while catching up on the recent season of Scandal this weekend (read: Thanksgiving Weekend is for Eating, Shopping and Binge Watching TV Shows), I realized that Elizabeth North, played by Portia de Rossi, is basically wearing a version of this outfit in every single episode.  While I may not be quick to engender her knack for blackmail as the best means of climbing the corporate ladder, her work style is so on point for me.  Nothing beats a classic pair of Katharine Hepburn-esque high-waisted, wide-leg trousers paired with a tie-neck blouse for the perfect feminine counterpoint to the menswear tone hit with the loafers and pinstripe pants.  If these widelegs are a little too dramatic for you, check out the similar pinstripe options here and here.

    As noted above, the blouse I’m wearing just sold out, but if you’re a fan of the bow blouse trend, take a gander through all of the similar versions here.  The one I’m wearing is by TY-LR, which is a new-to-me brand that I’m absolutely in LOVE with.  I just scored this dress (which you can also see here better on the model) which is 25% off during the weekend sales!  Speaking of weekend sales, check out my list of the best deals going on this weekend while you’re lounging around today / watching football games.  I’ve been snatching up a bunch of gifts from the 2015 Holiday Memo since you can get basically everything on sale right now.  In particular, I’ve gotten these jeans, this hostess gift, and these for upcoming Christmas entertaining at my house!

    I hope you enjoy the last day of this holiday weekend, and although tomorrow means a return to work for most of us, check back here bright and early for lots of Cyber Monday favorites!  All the sales this weekend are overwhelming (and a little annoying), but I know from learning the hard way in years past that they’re certainly worth the effort in knocking off your holiday gift list!

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  • 11/30/15--10:05: The Best of Cyber Monday!
  • kate spade woodlan tan white black plaid midi skirt bow tie neck ivory blouse work wear office style memornadum mary orton san francisco

    faux leather burgundy pencil skirt camel coat work wear office style memorandum mary orton

    grey knit pencil skirt ivory crop top cropped sweater black leather jacket work wear office style mary orton memorandum



    Drawing inspiration from some of my favorite posts this fall, I thought I’d share with you my Cyber Monday sale picks.  Many of the exact products from the above highlighted posts are now on major sale and additionally, I added a few extra favorites that fit the color palette / aesthetic.

    Whether you’re refreshing your wardrobe while prices are low or checking off that holiday gift list, be sure to get in on the deals today before everything goes back to full price tomorrow!  Once you’ve perused my favorites above, make sure you hit up the Holiday Memo.  You guys have already sold out a bunch of items, so I just added a ton of new favorites.  Basically everything is on crazy sale today so get after it!

    Lastly, if you’re still on the hunt for more wardrobe updates and/or gift inspiration, check out my newly updated SHOP page here!

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    Today I’m excited to share my working girl wardrobe essentials!  Whether you’re a recent graduate new to the workforce, interviewing for a new job, or eager to up your style game at work to land (or keep!) a recent promotion, this is the list for you!

    Before diving in, I have to apologize that the Wedding Wednesday post I promised last week is being temporarily postponed.  Last Wednesday was the first of my Wedding Wednesday posts where I shared our ceremony and all the juicy details on what the bridal party wore.  I promised the second wedding post today—the details on our reception—but I had a major technological meltdown last night and that post was lost somewhere in cyberspace.  Major, major fail, interwebs.

    Luckily, I had this post ready to share with you tomorrow, so decided to post it today instead while I teeter on the edge of the Golden Gate Bridge determining whether I should start the wedding post all over again or just hurl myself off of the bridge.  I’ll keep you posted.

    In the meantime, let’s take a gander at the top staple items every working girl should have in her closet…

    Above I’ve highlighted a special couple pages from my holiday guide where I’ve featured my working girl wardrobe essentials on the left, and more holiday gift ideas for the new working girl on the right. I get asked by readers all the time for suggested working girl “essentials” so I’m excited to share with you my list:

    1. Classic dark suit with mix-and-match pieces (Brooks Brothers and J. Crew also have great options)
    2. Non-iron button front shirt
    3. Cableknit cardigan
    4. Classic navy blazer
    5. Timeless trench (affordable alternative here)
    6. Classic black wool coat
    7. Classic tote bag
    8. Perfect pumps (same style, lower heel option here)
    9. Pointed-toe flats (additional great options here)

    For those just starting out their careers, items from both pages would make incredible gifts!

    *cough* especially those stemless wine glasses *cough*

    best-suit-work-wear-staples-essentials-every-business-woman-needs-classic-professional-interview-attire-mary-orton-memorandum-fashion-style-blog-9 best-suit-work-wear-staples-essentials-every-business-woman-needs-classic-professional-interview-attire-mary-orton-memorandum-fashion-style-blog-8 

    I’ve owned a lot of suits, and this Theory number continues to reign supreme in my closet as my very favorite classic, dark suit.  It’s great quality, drapes beautifully, wears like iron and comes in a classic, timeless cut.  As mentioned above, I also really like the quality suiting options at J. Crew and Brooks Brothers, for that basic, staple suit that every girl should own.

    For those of you who work in creative or casual environments that don’t have to wear something this business formal every day, I still think it’s really important to have at least one dark suit in your closet.  You never know when you may suddenly get tapped to make a client presentation, attend a more formal conference, or be brought to a higher-level meeting.  You want to be armed and ready for those unexpected moments!

    theory-navy-skirt-suit-brooks-brothers-non-iron-button-down-shirt-pumps-work-wear-staples-every-business-woman-needs-classic-professional-interview-mary-orton-memorandum-fashion-style-blog-10burberry-kensington-trench-coat-henri-bendel-black-carlyle-tote-work-wear interview-attire-professional-women-staples-fashion-style-blog-6

    Also, as an aside, I’ve had a few of you ask recently why I don’t post a lot of conservative suits like this all the time.  It’s a question that I’ve addressed several times in the past, but it’s a good one and definitely worth repeating!  So here are my thoughts:

    When you think about workwear, I’m guessing a basic navy suit is among the first things that come to mind.  Throughout Memorandum’s lifespan, I’ve endeavored to share looks that aren’t just the standard-issue, “typical” workwear.  While today’s post is one of my favorite, classic office looks perfect for business formal environments or interviews, as a workstyle blogger, I’m not necessarily offering anything particularly novel with this outfit.  I thought it was helpful to share my recommendations on work wardrobe essentials along with my very favorite staple suits, but in terms of styling, I doubt many of you looked at my pairing of a navy pencil skirt and matching suit jacket with a white button-down shirt and thought—Wow! I never would’ve thought of that combo!

    Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing I love more than a classic, simple look like this one. However, here on Memorandum, I try to add a bit more value.  While everyone (who works in a conservative business formal setting, at the very least) should own a couple classic suits like today’s, in most of my posts, I try to offer styling ideas for the working girl that are a bit less obvious.  Let’s face it, you’re a smart professional chick that doesn’t need me or anyone else to tell you that a navy skirt suit is a workwear option for you.  The goal of Memorandum is to show that as working women, regardless of professional environment, we can have lots of fun with fashion beyond the staid dark suits so often attributed to us.  So, I still offer lots of business formal workwear outfits for those of you in conservative environments, but in general, I try to mix it up a bit more!

    Bottom line: Keep rocking your classic suits, but also don’t be afraid to sometimes think outside the dark suit box. : )

    burberry-kensington-trench-coat-henri-bendel-black-carlyle-tote-work-wear interview-attire-professional-women-staples-fashion-style-blog-2burberry-kensington-trench-coat-henri-bendel-black-carlyle-tote-work-wear-interview-attire-professional-women-fashion-style-blog-1 burberry-kensington-trench-coat-henri-bendel-black-carlyle-tote-work-wear interview-attire-professional-women-staples-fashion-style-blog-1burberry-kensington-trench-coat-henri-bendel-black-carlyle-tote-work-wear interview-attire-professional-women-staples-fashion-style-blog-3 burberry-kensington-trench-coat-henri-bendel-black-carlyle-tote-work-wear interview-attire-professional-women-staples-fashion-style-blog-4 burberry-kensington-trench-coat-henri-bendel-black-carlyle-tote-work-wear interview-attire-professional-women-staples-fashion-style-blog-5 burberry-kensington-trench-coat-henri-bendel-black-carlyle-tote-work-wear interview-attire-professional-women-staples-fashion-style-blog-11

    TRENCH: Burberry  |  JACKET: Theory  |  PENCIL SKIRT: Theory  |  SHIRT: Brooks Brothers  |  SHOES: SJP Collection  |  BAG: Henri Bendel  |  NECKLACE: Dogeared  |  EARRINGS: Majorica  |  LIPS: Nars (Bansar)

    Happy Winesday!

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    st-john-knits-black-fringe-long-topper-jacket-victoria-beckham-ankle-zip-high-waisted-skinny-jeans-casual-friday-work-wear-office-style-memorandumst-john-knits-black-fringe-long-topper-jacket-victoria-beckham-ankle-zip-high-waisted-skinny-jeans-casual-friday-work-wear-office-style-memorandum 8st-john-knits-black-fringe-long-topper-jacket-victoria-beckham-ankle-zip-high-waisted-skinny-jeans-casual-friday-work-wear-office-style-memorandum 5st-john-knits-black-fringe-long-topper-jacket-victoria-beckham-ankle-zip-high-waisted-skinny-jeans-casual-friday-work-wear-office-style-memorandum 10 st-john-knits-black-fringe-long-topper-jacket-victoria-beckham-ankle-zip-high-waisted-skinny-jeans-casual-friday-work-wear-office-style-memorandum 2st-john-knits-black-fringe-long-topper-jacket-victoria-beckham-ankle-zip-high-waisted-skinny-jeans-casual-friday-work-wear-office-style-memorandum 9 st-john-knits-black-fringe-long-topper-jacket-victoria-beckham-ankle-zip-high-waisted-skinny-jeans-casual-friday-work-wear-office-style-memorandum 7st-john-knits-black-fringe-long-topper-jacket-victoria-beckham-ankle-zip-high-waisted-skinny-jeans-casual-friday-work-wear-office-style-memorandum 6 st-john-knits-black-fringe-long-topper-jacket-victoria-beckham-ankle-zip-high-waisted-skinny-jeans-casual-friday-work-wear-office-style-memorandum 4 st-john-knits-black-fringe-long-topper-jacket-victoria-beckham-ankle-zip-high-waisted-skinny-jeans-casual-friday-work-wear-office-style-memorandum 3

    Look 1:  JACKET: c/o St. John Knits  |  JEANS: Victoria Beckham  |  TANK: Club Monaco  |  SHOES: SJP Collection  |  SUNGLASSES: Miu Miu c/o Ditto  |  TOTE BAG: c/o Gigi New York  |  EARRINGS: c/o Melinda Maria  |  NECKLACE: Gorjana  |   LIP: Nars (Bansar)

     st-john-knits-black-fringe-long-topper-jacket-victoria-beckham-ankle-zip-high-waisted-skinny-jeans-casual-friday-work-wear-office-style-memorandum 11st-john-knits-black-fringe-long-topper-jacket-victoria-beckham-ankle-zip-high-waisted-skinny-jeans-casual-friday-work-wear-office-style-memorandum 15 st-john-knits-black-fringe-long-topper-jacket-victoria-beckham-ankle-zip-high-waisted-skinny-jeans-casual-friday-work-wear-office-style-memorandum 14 st-john-knits-black-fringe-long-topper-jacket-victoria-beckham-ankle-zip-high-waisted-skinny-jeans-casual-friday-work-wear-office-style-memorandum 16st-john-knits-black-fringe-long-topper-jacket-victoria-beckham-ankle-zip-high-waisted-skinny-jeans-casual-friday-work-wear-office-style-memorandum 13 st-john-knits-black-fringe-long-topper-jacket-victoria-beckham-ankle-zip-high-waisted-skinny-jeans-casual-friday-work-wear-office-style-memorandum 17st-john-knits-black-fringe-long-topper-jacket-victoria-beckham-ankle-zip-high-waisted-skinny-jeans-casual-friday-work-wear-office-style-memorandum 12

    Look 2: JACKET: c/o St. John Knits  |  JEANS: Paige Denim  |  TURTLENECK: Ann Taylor  |  SHOES: Steven  |  BAG: c/o Gigi New York  |  EARRINGS: c/o Melinda Maria  |  SUNGLASSES: Miu Miu c/o Ditto  |  LIP: Nars (Bansar)

    I’ve gotten lots of questions from readers about travel/packing tips, and after the (literal) MILES I’ve put on my St. John Knits pieces, I have to give you the inside scoop on these babies:  I travel a lot, so after years of trial and error, I’ve gotten pretty strategic about packing.  Of course, the exact contents of my suitcase always rotate depending on occasion, time of year, and the purpose of the trip, but the one brand that is absolutely always without fail in my suitcase is St. John Knits.  Honestly, I completely rely on their pieces while traveling because as knitwear, their suits and jackets don’t wrinkle like other pieces.  They can be folded up to fit in even the most crowded suitcase, and upon arrival—voilà!  They’re wrinkle-free, effortlessly chic and ready to wear.

    Today I’ve styled two of my favorite long topper jackets casually with jeans (perfect for casual Friday at the office), but the beauty of these timeless classics is that they can be so easily dressed up or down.  Last week while traveling home to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving I wore the long black jacket with ponte pants and over-the-knee boots on the plane.  In my carry-on, I packed this dress which I paired with the same jacket for a more formal dinner out with my family last weekend.  You’d be hard pressed to find something with that breadth of legit versatility.

    As I’ve mentioned previously here on the blog, I’ve been enamored with St. John Knits since I was a little girl.  I still wear regularly the first St. John topper jacket (similar to the black one above!) that I received for Christmas years ago (best. gift. EVER.).  It looks as fresh today as it did on day one because absolutely no luxury brand surpasses St. John in quality.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to notice how lots of clothing comes and goes in my closet—whether it’s because of passing trends or fading quality—but my St. John Knits investment pieces have remained and proven to be worth every penny year after year.

    Produced in collaboration with St. John Knits.

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  • 12/06/15--22:11: Ann Taylor On and Off Duty
  • faux fur tan ivory vest burgundy split hem tunic chunky knit sweater ivory winter white knit flare skirt stuart weitzman lowland boots

    I recently raided the new arrivals section of Ann Taylor and ended up finding just as many comfy knits and cozy layering pieces for off-duty holiday festivities as I did polished pieces for the office.

    This past weekend I went hunting for my first ever REAL Christmas tree.  My mom is allergic to them, so growing up we always had to have a fake one.  I know.  Talk about a rough childhood.


    faux fur tan ivory vest burgundy split hem tunic chunky knit sweater ivory winter white knit flare skirt stuart weitzman lowland boots 5 faux fur tan ivory vest burgundy split hem tunic chunky knit sweater ivory winter white knit flare skirt stuart weitzman lowland boots 6faux fur tan ivory vest burgundy split hem tunic chunky knit sweater ivory winter white knit flare skirt stuart weitzman lowland boots 3 faux fur tan ivory vest burgundy split hem tunic chunky knit sweater ivory winter white knit flare skirt stuart weitzman lowland boots 2

    This faux fur vest was the perfect topper for weather in the low fifties at the tree farm outside of San Francisco.  I also have to confess that I got this exact sweater in gray as well as burgundy because it is the softest, comfiest thing in the best oversized cut. I’m a huge fan of burgundy for Christmas festivities—it alludes to the holiday without feeling too clichéd if you’re sick of wearing bright red for a whole month.  However, check out some of the bright red pieces in the widget at the bottom of this post—this skirt and these pumps are just about too good to resist.

    faux fur tan ivory vest burgundy split hem tunic chunky knit sweater ivory winter white knit flare skirt stuart weitzman lowland boots 4

    Look 1: VEST: c/o Ann Taylor  |  SWEATER: c/o Ann Taylor  |  SKIRT: c/o Ann Taylor   | BOOTS: Stuart Weitzman  |  THIGH HIGH SOCKS: old similar here  |  EARRINGS: c/o Ann Taylor

    pastel periwinkle blue double breasted coat windowpane navy cropped dress suit pants tie neck blouse 8

    I’m always a sucker for windowpane, so the second look today features these amazing navy windowpane cropped pants as well as this beautiful double-breasted coat in the prettiest pale periwinkle blue.  I love a coat with a touch of color for putting over neutrals which I tend to wear more of during the winter months.  Also, as you might remember from our wedding, I’m a huge fan of that pale peri, so it was a win-win.

    pastel periwinkle blue double breasted coat windowpane navy cropped dress suit pants tie neck blouse 10 pastel periwinkle blue double breasted coat windowpane navy cropped dress suit pants tie neck blouse 9 pastel periwinkle blue double breasted coat windowpane navy cropped dress suit pants tie neck blouse

    Look 2: PANTS: c/o Ann Taylor (also love the pencil skirt version here)  |  SHIRT: c/o Ann Taylor  |  CARDIGAN SWEATER: c/o Ann Taylor  |  COAT: c/o Ann Taylor  |  EARRINGS: c/o Ann Taylor  |  SHOES: Jimmy Choo (similar here)

    Ann Taylor seems to always be having killer sales, so below are some more favorites if you’re looking to snag a few holiday looks or winter staples:

    This post was produced in partnership with Ann Taylor.

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  • 12/08/15--11:06: Holiday Staples
  • tommy hilfiger holiday staples navy red pleated plaid skirt olive parka removable fur hood cableknit turtleneck tassel loafers work wear style fashion blog san francisco sf 11

    Today I’m sharing more of my Tommy Hilfiger favorites because Tommy’s holiday pieces were just too good to pass up.  This plaid pleated skirt will definitely be on constant rotation throughout my holiday party circuit (and beyond).  I think it could definitely fly at the office on those of you who are a tad more petite than I am.  I’m on the tall side (5’10”) which makes it a bit short on me for work, so I wore it casually instead with this amazing chunky cableknit turtleneck and olive parka.  I plan on wearing it again later this week with the navy tie neck blouse that I paired with the navy and black tuxedo suit below.

    tommy hilfiger navy red pleated plaid skirt olive parka removable fur hood cableknit turtleneck tassel loafers work wear style fashion blog san francisco sf 14tommy hilfiger navy red pleated plaid skirt olive parka removable fur hood cableknit turtleneck tassel loafers work wear style fashion blog san francisco sf 13tommy hilfiger navy red pleated plaid skirt olive parka removable fur hood cableknit turtleneck tassel loafers work wear style fashion blog san francisco sf 15tommy hilfiger navy red pleated plaid skirt olive parka removable fur hood cableknit turtleneck tassel loafers work wear style fashion blog san francisco sf 12tommy hilfiger navy red pleated plaid skirt olive parka removable fur hood cableknit turtleneck tassel loafers work wear style fashion blog san francisco sf 

    Look 1: SKIRT: c/o Tommy Hilfiger  |  SWEATER: c/o Tommy Hilfiger  |  PARKA: c/o Tommy Hilfiger  |  SHOES: c/o Tommy Hilfiger (more great options here)  |  TIGHTS: HUE

    I’ve been on the hunt for an olive parka for a long time, and this one was well worth the wait.  It’s so cozy and was just the jacket I needed in the cold, rainy weather we’ve had in San Francisco recently.  It’s definitely top of my packing list for when I brave even harsher weather in Wisconsin at Christmas time.

    navy black women's tuxedo suit ivory navy tie neck blouse cuffs silver watch work wear office style women memorandum mary ortonnavy black women's tuxedo suit ivory navy tie neck blouse cuffs silver watch work wear office style women memorandum mary orton 3

    As you can probably guess, this navy tuxedo is easily the favorite workwear addition to my closet of late.  With an ideal fit, the perfect navy/black combo, and just the right menswear touches, it’s getting a lot of use already.  It’s the perfect year-round staple, and I’m thinking of snatching up the matching dress as well to complete the set.  As I’ve mentioned many times before, there’s nothing better in terms of flexibility and bang for your buck than getting multiple pieces that go with the same suit jacket.

    navy black women's tuxedo suit ivory navy tie neck blouse cuffs silver watch work wear office style women memorandum mary orton 6 navy black women's tuxedo suit ivory navy tie neck blouse cuffs silver watch work wear office style women memorandum mary orton 4navy black women's tuxedo suit ivory navy tie neck blouse cuffs silver watch work wear office style women memorandum mary orton 5 navy black women's tuxedo suit ivory navy tie neck blouse cuffs silver watch work wear office style women memorandum mary orton 2tommy hilfiger navy red pleated plaid skirt olive parka removable fur hood cableknit turtleneck tassel loafers work wear style fashion blog san francisco sf 9navy black women's tuxedo suit ivory navy tie neck blouse cuffs silver watch work wear office style women memorandum mary orton 8

    As a nod to the holiday season, I paired the suit with this faux fur topper.  It was just the festive touch I needed to make the classic look feel seasonally appropriate.  It’s amazing how an accessory or topper like this one can turn an otherwise season-free outfit into the perfect holiday look!

    navy black women's tuxedo suit ivory navy tie neck blouse cuffs silver watch work wear office style women memorandum mary orton 7

    Look 2: PANTS: c/o Tommy Hilfiger  |  BLAZER: c/o Tommy Hilfiger (also similar here)  |  SHIRT: c/o Tommy Hilfiger (sold out, other options here)  |  FAUX FUR JACKET: c/o Tommy Hilfiger  |  BRACELET: c/o Tommy Hilfiger  |  WATCH: c/o Tommy Hilfiger  |  SHOES: c/o SJP Collection

    Speaking of the holidays, if you haven’t checked out the 2015 Holiday Memo yet, definitely flip through!  It’s got some of my favorite holiday outfits, Christmas traditions and all of my best gift ideas.  As you may have noticed, I also added a countdown to the top of the righthand sidebar here on Memorandum.  Yeah, a little panick-inducing, no?  It’s another attempt to force myself to finish up Christmas shopping before I have to spend all of my rent money in overnight shipping.  I realized the reminder really gives me the necessary kick in the pants to polish off the final items on my gift list, and thought it might help some of you as well!

    This post was produced in partnership with Tommy Hilfiger.

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    classic-wedding-pfister-hotel-imperial-ballroom-cascade-bouquet-oscar-de-la-renta-strapless-sweetheart-a-line-silk-faille-gown 12

    I’m happy to report that I’ve overcome last week’s epic technological fail, and today I’m thrilled to finally share the second Wedding Wednesday post with all of the details on our reception!

    In case you missed the first post, you can read up on all the details of our wedding ceremony, the flowers, my dress, the bridesmaid’s dresses, the grooms tux and all of the groomsmen tuxes here!  But now, it’s party time in Milwaukee, Wisconsin…

    classic formal black tie wedding ballroom high low floral arrangements votive candles centerpieces ivory blush greens cascading cascade pfister hotel imperial ballroom milwaukee wisconsin-1

    Our reception was held just two blocks away from the ceremony at the historic Pfister Hotel’s Imperial Ballroom.  The Victorian hotel has a storied past which includes Teddy Roosevelt being shot here!  Kinda gives you that lovin’ feeling, no? The Pfister has the most beautiful Victorian art collection and interior architecture and was the ideal site for the classic, old-world wedding we wanted.  We lucked out that the beautiful Imperial ballroom with gilded ceilings and dramatic antique chandeliers perfectly accommodated our 200 guests while maintaining an intimate, cozy atmosphere.

    classic wedding bride ceremony lace topper over strapless dress change for reception

    As you may have guessed from my previous indication that the off-the-shoulder embroidered lace portion of my Oscar de la Renta gown was a caraco or “topper,” I did indeed remove it upon arrival to our reception venue for dinner and dancing.  I didn’t want two completely different wedding dresses, but I loved the idea of having a more formal, conservative look at our traditional wedding ceremony that easily converted into a party-friendly strapless look for the reception.

    At the outset of my wedding dress search, I had my heart set on an off-the-shoulder gown, but realized after trying several on that it’s quite difficult to raise your arms when hugging people and (especially in our case) aggressively dancing.  Being able to remove my off-the-shoulder embroidered lace top allowed me to have the best of both worlds: the look I wanted for the ceremony (and pictures!) and additional comfort at the reception.

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    At the reception, I also ditched the opera length gloves and after removing my veil, a small bunch of ivory roses were placed in my hair, just to the side of my chignon.

    the black tux groomsmen tuxedo watter 7544i blue harbor floor length pale periwinkle blue bridesmaid dresses spaghetti straps weddington way-1

    My bridesmaids also altered their look by dropping the sash that they previously wore over their shoulder during the ceremony, and wearing the pale periwinkle blue dress with simple spaghetti straps instead.

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    Despite the old-world, classic formality of our black-tie wedding, the evening was anything but stuffy.  In addition to a room full of characters and dancing maniacs, we were determined to infuse the evening with lots of personality.  I think the biggest hit was our personalized cocktail napkins which we had printed with little quips about the bride and groom in gold foil.

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    Although all eight of Rich and my grandparents are deceased, we had pictures of them displayed on a side table with flowers and candles.

    wedding guest book polaroid selfies instax stick on adhesive pictures note next to them sign wedding guest book polaroid selfies instax stick on adhesive pictures note next to them sign 2

    Nearby, guests were encouraged to take selfies with polaroid cameras that printed out a self-adhesive image to be placed on a page in our guest book.

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    While our guests were still enjoying cocktails in the Kings Row rooms at the Pfister and the bridal party was relaxing together post-pictures in the bridal suite awaiting the conclusion of cocktails and the Grand March, Rich and I stole into the empty ballroom to spend a few moments alone before the insanity continued.  It was so fun to look out on the sea of lights, flowers and decor in our beautiful ballroom together, eagerly anticipating all the fun that ensued.
     escort card system antique gold keys ivory ribbons name tags table etiquette pfister hotel milwaukee wisconsin classic formal reception-3escort card system antique gold keys ivory ribbons name tags table etiquette pfister hotel milwaukee wisconsin classic formal reception-1

    At the conclusion of cocktails, antique keys took the place of traditional escort cards that informed guests where to find their seat.

    wedding reception dinner placecards gold boxes wax seal script guest names seating favors chocolates classic pfister hotel imperial ballroom milwaukee wisconsin-2 wedding reception dinner placecards gold boxes wax seal script guest names seating favors chocolates classic pfister hotel imperial ballroom milwaukee wisconsin-1

    Once each guest found their table, they found their name written on candy boxes—our wedding favors that doubled as placecards.  Above each place setting, I came up with the idea to have gold boxes wrapped with ivory ribbon with each guest’s name written in script on a strip of parchment and sealed with a wax seal featuring our monogram.  The color of the wax was not just decorative—I designed it to signal the wait staff as to which of the three entrees guests chose.  Blue wax was beef, pink wax was salmon and ivory wax was vegetarian.  Inside the gold boxes we had our names and wedding date embossed above two chocolates that were made by family friends who just happen to be gourmet candy makers.  Talk about good friends, huh?

    the-best-wax-seals-monogram-wedding-favors-placecards-creative-gold-chocolates-indicated-food-choice-3 the-best-wax-seals-monogram-wedding-favors-placecards-creative-gold-chocolates-indicated-food-choice-2 the-best-wax-seals-monogram-wedding-favors-placecards-creative-gold-chocolates-indicated-food-choice-1wedding reception dinner customized black gold menu five course etiquette monogrammed married name napkin folding place setting pfister hotel milwaukee wedding-1

    Dinner napkins on the tables were folded to create a pocket into which our custom menu cards were placed.  The black and gold-printed menus detailed each of the five courses and had our monogram, names and wedding date at the top.


    On guest tables, loose greens, votive candles and gold table numbers surrounded lush centerpieces of ivory roses, hydrangeas, and blush accents, in line with the ballroom’s victorian decor.


    Like every bride, I was concerned about weather holding up on our special day.  As we got closer to the date, (of course!) the weather report indicated that the ten days before our wedding day were blue sky and sunny and the ten days after our day were blue sky and sunny, but our wedding day was predicted to have rain and thunderstorms.  AGH!  The wedding and reception were both inside, but we of course were planning on taking pictures outside, so I had my fingers double and triple crossed despite the 80% chance of rain.  Miraculously, the Milwaukee skies were cloudless through our wedding ceremony, and clouds just started forming gradually while we took pictures.  Once we were all safely inside and literally as the grand march of the bridal party into the ballroom began, we heard huge crashes of thunder and had a bonafide light show through the huge windows behind the head table for the rest of the evening.  In fact, the storm was so intense, the lakefront music festival was evacuated along with the PGA championship which was taking place nearby as well.  We could not have had luckier timing!

    classic-wedding-pfister-hotel-imperial-ballroom-cascade-bouquet-oscar-de-la-renta-strapless-sweetheart-a-line-silk-faille-gown 13wedding-long-head-table-floral-arrangements-flowers-hydrangeas-ivory-blush-gold-roses-tall-glass-vases-greens-garlands-classic-ballroom-pfister-milwaukee-wisconsin-2 wedding-long-head-table-floral-arrangements-flowers-hydrangeas-ivory-blush-gold-roses-tall-glass-vases-greens-garlands-classic-ballroom-pfister-milwaukee-wisconsin-1

    The long head table had large, tall arrangements on each end with a garland that ran the length in between at the front edge of the table. Smaller arrangements and tea lights were placed throughout.

    wedding floral arrangement floating candle vase bay window pfister hotel reception flowers-1

    The ballroom had large bay windows around the perimeter so we also placed tall floating candle vases with floral arrangements matching the centerpieces around each.

    classic formal black tie wedding ballroom high low floral arrangements votive candles centerpieces ivory blush greens cascading cascade pfister hotel imperial ballroom milwaukee wisconsin-4classic-wedding-pfister-hotel-imperial-ballroom-cascade-bouquet-oscar-de-la-renta-strapless-sweetheart-a-line-silk-faille-gown 14classic-wedding-pfister-hotel-imperial-ballroom-cascade-bouquet-oscar-de-la-renta-strapless-sweetheart-a-line-silk-faille-gown 17 classic-wedding-pfister-hotel-imperial-ballroom-cascade-bouquet-oscar-de-la-renta-strapless-sweetheart-a-line-silk-faille-gown 16 classic-wedding-pfister-hotel-imperial-ballroom-cascade-bouquet-oscar-de-la-renta-strapless-sweetheart-a-line-silk-faille-gown 18classic-wedding-pfister-hotel-imperial-ballroom-cascade-bouquet-oscar-de-la-renta-strapless-sweetheart-a-line-silk-faille-gown 15classic-wedding-pfister-hotel-imperial-ballroom-cake-cutting

    Following dinner and speeches, Rich and I cut the wedding cake, which was probably the most delicious cake I’ve ever had!  And for real, this girl likes her cake, so that’s saying something.  Our cake was filled with alternating layers of raspberry preserves and lemon curd, all topped with cream cheese white chocolate buttercream.  Sheesh, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

    classic-wedding-cake-four-4-tier-alternating-layers-stripes-polka-dots-gold-fondant-cords-at-base-of-each-layer-cascade-roses-f classic-wedding-cake-four-4-tier-alternating-layers-stripes-polka-dots-gold-fondant-cords-at-base-of-each-layer-cascade-roses-flowers-gold-base 6 classic-wedding-cake-four-4-tier-alternating-layers-stripes-polka-dots-gold-fondant-cords-at-base-of-each-layer-cascade-roses-flowers-gold-base 5classic-wedding-pfister-hotel-imperial-ballroom-cascade-bouquet-oscar-de-la-renta-strapless-sweetheart-a-line-silk-faille-gown 19 classic-wedding-pfister-hotel-imperial-ballroom-cascade-bouquet-oscar-de-la-renta-strapless-sweetheart-a-line-silk-faille-gown 20 classic-wedding-pfister-hotel-imperial-ballroom-cascade-bouquet-oscar-de-la-renta-strapless-sweetheart-a-line-silk-faille-gown 21 classic-wedding-pfister-hotel-imperial-ballroom-cascade-bouquet-oscar-de-la-renta-strapless-sweetheart-a-line-silk-faille-gown 22 classic-wedding-pfister-hotel-imperial-ballroom-cascade-bouquet-oscar-de-la-renta-strapless-sweetheart-a-line-silk-faille-gown 23 classic-wedding-pfister-hotel-imperial-ballroom-cascade-bouquet-oscar-de-la-renta-strapless-sweetheart-a-line-silk-faille-gown 24

    Once dancing was in full swing (no pun intended), I ended up ditching my wedding gown and slipping into a short spaghetti strap flapper-style ivory dress with beading and fringe throughout (you can find the exact Aidan Mattox dress in a slightly different color here, and similar dress here).  Funny enough, I was determined throughout the wedding-planning process to not have a separate dancing dress.  I always thought, I only get to wear my wedding dress once, so I want to wear it as long as possible!  However, at the insistence of a good friend who got married the summer before, I decided to get this little flapper dress as a back-up.  She had advised me that although you try your wedding dress on lots of times, you never know until you have it on for many hours just how hot, heavy and/or uncomfortable it might become.  Sure enough, after dancing for the first hour, I was desperate to slip into something lighter and more conducive to our wild dance floor.  Having my dancing dress waiting in the wings was a life saver!

    bride dancing shoes jimmy choo metallic sparkle wedge sandals ankle strap-1

    In addition to switching dresses, I also switched footwear.  I’m not generally a big wedge girl, but the extra support of the wedge in addition to the thick comfortable straps of these Jimmy Choo sparkly metallic wedge sandals made them perfect for dancing!

    michael walters orchestra pfister hotel milwaukee wisconsin wedding band-1 michael walters orchestra pfister hotel milwaukee wisconsin wedding band-2

    As huge music lovers, one of the first calls we made after getting engaged was to secure our 14-piece orchestra.  Later, when designing the layout of the ballroom, our wedding coordinators kept insisting that the dance floor I requested was way too big.  Nevertheless, knowing the band and our particular crowd, I held firm.  I’m so glad I did, because with the combination of an absolutely amazing band and our friends and family who know how to light up a dance floor, virtually every square inch was packed for the entire night.

    While I always suggest getting advice from the experts (online resources, venue coordinators, wedding planners, etc.), nobody knows both your vision and your unique group of friends and family better than you do, so don’t be afraid to go with your gut and stick to your guns.  One of my fondest memories of the evening was being in the center of the dance floor after everyone had been dancing for more than three hours and seeing how packed it still was with all of our friends and family as musicians jumped on and off the stage and performed trumpet, trombone and sax solos from the center of the dance floor.  It was unforgettable.

    classic-wedding-pfister-hotel-imperial-ballroom-cascade-bouquet-oscar-de-la-renta-strapless-sweetheart-a-line-silk-faille-gown 25 pfister hotel wedding dance floor-3 pfister hotel wedding dance floor-1 pfister hotel wedding dance floor-2 pfister hotel wedding dance floor-4

    The night was a magical one for us, and for those of you starting the planning process, I hope this post offers some helpful ideas!  I’ll be sharing more wedding details and tips (including honeymoon info and suggestions!) in upcoming Wedding Wednesday posts, but if there’s something specific you think would be helpful, please let me know in the comments below!

    Photography by Front Room Photography

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    burberry-silk-leopard-print-scarf-red-camel-ivory-black-windowpane-coat-work-wear-office-style-fashion-blog-san-francisco 5burberry-silk-leopard-print-scarf-red-camel-ivory-black-windowpane-coat-work-wear-office-style-fashion-blog-san-francisco 1burberry-silk-leopard-print-scarf-red-camel-ivory-black-windowpane-coat-work-wear-office-style-fashion-blog-san-francisco 6 burberry-silk-leopard-print-scarf-red-camel-ivory-black-windowpane-coat-work-wear-office-style-fashion-blog-san-francisco 3burberry-silk-leopard-print-scarf-red-camel-ivory-black-windowpane-coat-work-wear-office-style-fashion-blog-san-francisco 4 burberry-silk-leopard-print-scarf-red-camel-ivory-black-windowpane-coat-work-wear-office-style-fashion-blog-san-francisco 2

    SCARF: Burberry (currently 33% off and available in three other colors!) |  WINDOWPANE COAT: Helene Berman  |  SKIRT: Theory  |  TURTLENECK:   Nordstrom Collection  |  TIGHTS: DKNY  | PUMPS:  SJP Collection  |  LIPS: Nars (Bansar)

    As the ticker on my top right-hand sidebar indicates, Christmas day is frighteningly soon. You can check out my complete holiday guide here, but today I thought I’d share another favorite gift idea—a classic scarf like this Burberry beauty.  You get extra bang for your buck with this one because it’s reversible—burgundy and black on one side with camel and black on the reverse.  I’m a huge scarf fan in general, because it completely reinvents the simplest of outfits, but it really makes for a fantastic holiday gift for the fashion-loving lady in your life for the following reasons:  (1) a square scarf like this is trés trendy; (2) it’s something she’ll have forever; (3) it’s the very definition of versatility and can be paired as easily with a formal or work-ready outfit like this one as it can be with ripped jeans and a t-shirt; and (4) it doesn’t require you to make the dreaded sizing decision that you’re forced to make when buying other clothing items (nobody wants to spend Christmas day in the doghouse).

    On a separate note, as you may have noticed, I’ve recently updated my top navigation bar, re-organizing my “Office Style” section—which of course is the primary content area of this blog—and also adding a few other categories so you can easily access the occasional posts I do that speak to other areas of the working girl’s life—fitness, beauty, wedding, etc.  I’ve received a few notes about this (for those of you who follow me on snapchat [username: maryorton] I had to rant there about a particularly outrageous comment I received yesterday), and just wanted to clarify that it does not signal a larger content shift on Memorandum.

    If you read the blog everyday, you know that my focus continues to be on office style and how the working girl can incorporate fashion into her life seven days a week—not just on nights and weekends when we’re out of the office.  At the request of innumerable readers, I’ve also enjoyed sharing the occasional off-duty look or lifestyle post (like yesterday’s wedding post) that speaks to other aspects of the working girl’s world.  Keeping a healthy work-life balance is important, so I like to occasionally produce content here that underscores the idea that you can have a successful career and a healthy personal life.  Whether it’s how to fit a workout into your work week, travel tips, or wedding planning ideas—I’m always writing from the perspective of the working girl.

    However, just to be clear, work style is and will continue to be the bread and butter here!  With the exception of yesterday’s wedding post, each of the previous posts in the past week have included office style content—especially last week’s post on my working girl wardrobe staples!  So, if you stumble upon a post where I show how to wear something multiples ways in and out of the office, what my favorite beauty products are, or how I planned my wedding, rest-assured, more work wear posts are just around the corner and the office style core of Memorandum isn’t going anywhere!

    Happy Thursday!

    This post was produced in collaboration with Nordstrom.

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  • 12/10/15--21:45: Holiday Gifts Under $50

  • Another peek at one of my favorite pages of this year’s Holiday Memo—all the best gifts under $50!  While page ten of the guide has all of my coworker gift suggestions, many of these gifts are great for colleagues as well—that cute thermal mug, longchamp card holder, or even the marble tic-tac-toe set for their office.

    Hope this helps wrap up your gift shopping (yikes! less than 14 days ’til Christmas!!) and hope your holiday season is off to a great start!

    For more of the 2015 Holiday Memo, check out the full guide below!


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  • 12/14/15--16:43: A Holiday Evening
  • black lace off the shoulder midi dresssan francisco symphony hallblack lace off the shoulder dress burgundy glitter minaudiere clutchits a wonderful life symphonyfashion blogger at symphony

    Rich’s birthday is next weekend, and we’re hosting a Christmas/birthday party at our home.  But, with his December 19th birthday so close to Christmas, he always gets a little shafted, so I surprised him on Saturday night with a pre-birthday celebration for just the two of us.  We had a cozy, delicious dinner at Sutro’s at The Cliff House and then headed to the San Francisco Symphony where they were showing Rich’s favorite holiday movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, accompanied by a live performance of the score.  It was an incredible evening!

    black lace off the shoulder knee length dress sheer tights burgundy glitter pumps

    I honestly can’t recommend this off-the-shoulder black lace dress highly enough.  It is exceptionally well-made and unbelievably comfortable.  There’s a touch of elastic added to the back of the straps, which makes the sometimes-uncomfortable off-the-shoulder neckline a non-issue (…well that turned out to be a dashing sentence, didn’t it?).  With a silhouette reminiscent of the 50s, it was the perfect dress for viewing the classic post-war film, and oh by the way, it has POCKETS.  Does it get any better?

    burgundy glitter pumps sheer tightsblack lace off the shoulder dress gold choker and deep lipsback of burgundy glitter pumpsburgundy glitter holiday accessories

    If you’re still on the hunt for something to wear to an office holiday party that’s on the formal side, this little black dress is a fantastic option with great versatility.  It could be worn literally any time of year, but to make it a tad more festive for the holidays, I paired it with burgundy glitter heels and a coordinating minaudière. I’m generally not a huge glitter girl (except, obviously, when it comes to Mariah Carey’s 2001 cinematic masterpiece…), but the deep burgundy hue and more subdued sparkle of these accessories hit just the right festive tone without making me feel like a disco ball.  I look forward to wearing these pumps again to casual holiday parties as well—paired with distressed denim and chunky knits.

    fashion blogger black knee length dress fur cowl neck pulloverfur cowl neck pullover burgundy glitter pumps minaudiere clutch

    It was a particularly mild evening in San Francisco, so this uber-soft fur pullover was the perfect topper.  With a wide cowl-neck and oversized, arm holes, it easily pulled on and off, comfortably averting any hair or make-up interference.  They thought of everything with this guy.

    black knee length dress fur cowl neck pullover burgundy glitter accessoriesfashion blogger in holiday outfit going to symphonyfur cowl neck pullover burgundy glitter pumps and matching minaudiereblack lace midi dress fur cowl neck pulloever and tights

    DRESS: c/o White House Black Market  |  PUMPS:  c/o White House Black Market  |  FUR PULLOVER: c/o White House Black Market  |  CLUTCH: c/o White House Black Market  |  CHOKER: old, very similar here  |  SHEER TIGHTS: DKNY  |  LIP: MAC

    Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

    This post was produced in collaboration with White House Black Market.

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  • 12/16/15--12:33: Burgundy Lace Peplum Top
  • bcbg-burgundy-lace-peplum-top-black-wide-leg-pants-pointed-toe-flats-workwear-office-style-fashion-blog-san-francisco-sf 7 bcbg-burgundy-lace-peplum-top-black-wide-leg-pants-pointed-toe-flats-workwear-office-style-fashion-blog-san-francisco-sf 1bcbg-burgundy-lace-peplum-top-black-wide-leg-pants-pointed-toe-flats-workwear-office-style-fashion-blog-san-francisco-sf 8bcbg-burgundy-lace-peplum-top-black-wide-leg-pants-pointed-toe-flats-workwear-office-style-fashion-blog-san-francisco-sf 3bcbg-burgundy-lace-peplum-top-black-wide-leg-pants-pointed-toe-flats-workwear-office-style-fashion-blog-san-francisco-sf 6 bcbg-burgundy-lace-peplum-top-black-wide-leg-pants-pointed-toe-flats-workwear-office-style-fashion-blog-san-francisco-sf 2bcbg-burgundy-lace-peplum-top-black-wide-leg-pants-pointed-toe-flats-workwear-office-style-fashion-blog-san-francisco-sf 4bcbg-burgundy-lace-peplum-top-black-wide-leg-pants-pointed-toe-flats-workwear-office-style-fashion-blog-san-francisco-sf 5    COAT: Ann Taylor (old, similar here and here)  |  TOP: BCBG (also here)  |  PANTS: Parker (similar herehere, and even more here)  |  SHOES: c/o LK Bennett  |  NECKLACE: c/o Baublebar

    I thought peplums and I broke up.  I guess not.  I also thought I was fully over statement necklaces.  Wrong again.  There’s something about this burgundy lace peplum top that feels super fresh paired with high-waisted wide-leg trousers.  The comfy, sleek fit and slit in the back were the finishing touches that sealed the deal for me, and I think it will be perfect reworn for the holiday party circuit.  The neutral-hued jewels of this geometric statement necklace make it not only the perfect bit of festive sparkle to add to any ensemble this time of year, but also ensure I’ll be eager to wear it after the holidays.

    Since I have officially rekindled the flame with peplums and statement necklaces, maybe I should keep revisiting past favorites…  maybe white eye-liner and puka shells next?  ; )

    Happy Wednesday!

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    memorandum-mary-orton-st-john-knits-pebble-beach-carmel-calfornia 1

    After a few grueling months of lots of work and little play, Rich and I decided to take a quick trip down to Carmel last weekend for some much-needed R&R. As previously discussed here, St. John Knits pieces are always on my packing list regardless of the destination, so they were definitely the first pieces that made it into my suitcase when packing for this jaunt.

    black-and-white-floral-jacquard-duster-coat-wedding-coordinates-st-john-knits-knee-length-sheath-dress-carmel-california-memorandum-fashion-blog 10white-knit-double-breasted-jacket-black-piping-faux-leather-leggings-over-the-knee-stuart-weitzman-highland-boots-memorandum-fashion-blog-san-francisco 6

    Since we were very casual during the day (beach walks and art gallery hopping) and more formal for dinner at night, these beautiful black and white pieces offered the necessary versatility without forcing me to overpack.

    white-knit-double-breasted-jacket-black-piping-faux-leather-leggings-over-the-knee-stuart-weitzman-highland-boots-memorandum-fashion-blog-san-francisco 7white-knit-double-breasted-jacket-black-piping-faux-leather-leggings-over-the-knee-stuart-weitzman-highland-boots-memorandum-fashion-blog-san-francisco 9white-knit-double-breasted-jacket-black-piping-faux-leather-leggings-over-the-knee-stuart-weitzman-highland-boots-memorandum-fashion-blog-san-francisco 8

    This double-breasted white jacket with black piping was an especially perfect topper because I was able to wear it with a pencil skirt for work meetings in San Francisco on Friday morning and then throw on these leather leggings and over-the-knee boots for the afternoon when we jetted out of town. I’m a huge fan of the urban mix of classic and edgy pieces.

    black-and-white-floral-jacquard-duster-coat-wedding-coordinates-st-john-knits-knee-length-sheath-dress-carmel-california-memorandum-fashion-blog 12black-and-white-floral-jacquard-duster-coat-wedding-coordinates-st-john-knits-knee-length-sheath-dress-carmel-california-memorandum-fashion-blog 3 black-and-white-floral-jacquard-duster-coat-wedding-coordinates-st-john-knits-knee-length-sheath-dress-carmel-california-memorandum-fashion-blog 2

    I wore this floral coat and dress set together for our more formal dinner Friday evening, but both pieces would work great (worn together or separately) in a formal professional setting as well. I look forward to mixing and matching the coat with other monochromatic pieces in my wardrobe, and I think it will also even be an amazing statement piece over jeans, heels and a sweater. If you’re a fan of this black and white floral print, check out the maxi skirt version as well. It’s a real swoon factory.

       black-and-white-floral-jacquard-duster-coat-wedding-coordinates-st-john-knits-knee-length-sheath-dress-carmel-california-memorandum-fashion-blog 4 black-and-white-floral-jacquard-duster-coat-wedding-coordinates-st-john-knits-knee-length-sheath-dress-carmel-california-memorandum-fashion-blog 5 black-and-white-floral-jacquard-duster-coat-wedding-coordinates-st-john-knits-knee-length-sheath-dress-carmel-california-memorandum-fashion-blog 11 Look 1: JACKET: c/o St. John Knits  |  FAUX LEATHER LEGGINGS: Blank Denim  |  CAMISOLE: Heather Thomson  |  OTK BOOTS: Stuart Weitzman  |  SUNGLASSES: Mui Mui  |  CHOKER: old, similar here

    Look 2: DRESS: c/o St. John Knits  |  COAT: c/o St. John Knits  |  SHOES: Steven  | BAG: 3.1 Phillip Lim  |  RING: c/o St. John Knits  |  BRACELET: Monica Vinader  |  SUNGLASSES: Mui Mui

    Produced in collaboration with St. John Knits.

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    kelly-green-wool-coat-tory-burch-navy-white-embellished-jacket-flare-dress-coordinates-work-office-wear-fashion-style-blog-sf 7kelly-green-wool-coat-tory-burch-navy-white-embellished-jacket-flare-dress-coordinates-work-office-wear-fashion-style-blog 10 kelly-green-wool-coat-tory-burch-navy-white-embellished-jacket-flare-dress-coordinates-work-office-wear-fashion-style-blog-sf 9 kelly-green-wool-coat-tory-burch-navy-white-embellished-jacket-flare-dress-coordinates-work-office-wear-fashion-style-blog-sf 8 kelly-green-wool-coat-tory-burch-navy-white-embellished-jacket-flare-dress-coordinates-work-office-wear-fashion-style-blog 11 kelly-green-wool-coat-tory-burch-navy-white-embellished-jacket-flare-dress-coordinates-work-office-wear-fashion-style-blog-san3kelly-green-wool-coat-tory-burch-navy-white-embellished-jacket-flare-dress-coordinates-work-office-wear-fashion-style-blog-sf 6 kelly-green-wool-coat-tory-burch-navy-white-embellished-jacket-flare-dress-coordinates-work-office-wear-fashion-style-blog-san 2kelly-green-wool-coat-tory-burch-navy-white-embellished-jacket-flare-dress-coordinates-work-office-wear-fashion-style-blog-sf 4 kelly-green-wool-coat-tory-burch-navy-white-embellished-jacket-flare-dress-coordinates-work-office-wear-fashion-style-blog-sf 5kelly-green-wool-coat-tory-burch-navy-white-embellished-jacket-flare-dress-coordinates-work-office-wear-fashion-style-blog-san-francisco 1

    Look 1: PANTS: J. Crew  |  JACKET: Tory Burch  |  COAT: Ellen Tracy  |  TURTLENECK: Halogen  |  SHOES: Jimmy Choo (similar here and here)   |  EARRINGS: Juliet & Company  |  Lips: Nars (Bansar)

    Look 2: Dress: Tory Burch (also love the skirt version)  |  JACKET: Tory Burch  |  COAT: Ellen Tracy  |  SHOES: Jimmy Choo (similar here and here)   |  EARRINGS: Juliet & Company  |  LIPS: Nars (Bansar)  |  BAG: Philip Lim

    I’m ordering the last few gifts this evening, and if you’re in the same boat and/or still trying to come up with some good gifts, check out my Holiday Memo here for lots of gift ideas!  Also, if you already have something in mind, be sure to score it at one of the following retailers that is offering FREE delivery by Christmas Eve:



    Neiman Marcus (code: NMRush)

    Saks Fifth Avenue



    Ann Taylor

    Pottery Barn

    Happy Sunday!

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  • 12/20/15--23:38: Kate Spade Brights
  • kate-spade-orange-red-pleated-fit-flare-dress-theory-button-down-layered-shirt-nude-suede-licorice-pumps-fashion-blog 2kate-spade-licorice-too-nude-beige-suede-pumps-heels-pointed-toe-work-wear-fashion-style-blogkate-spade-orange-red-pleated-fit-flare-dress-theory-button-down-layered-shirt-nude-suede-licorice-pumps-fashion-style-blog kate-spade-navy-orange-white-purple-pink-blue-floral-cedar-street-crossbody-hand-bag-fashion-style-blogkate-spade-orange-red-pleated-fit-flare-dress-theory-button-down-layered-shirt-nude-suede-licorice-pumps-fashion-blog 3 kate-spade-orange-red-pleated-fit-flare-dress-theory-button-down-layered-shirt-floral-bag-fashion-blog 4 kate-spade-orange-red-pleated-fit-flare-dress-floral-bag-nude-suede-pumps-fashion-blog 8 DRESS: Kate Spade  |  SHIRT: Theory  |  SHOES: Kate Spade  |  BAG: Kate Spade

    It’s been a bit gloomy the past couple days here in San Francisco, so a little dose of bright color a la Kate Spade seemed to be just what the doctor ordered.  If you’re still stumped on what to get your mom, sister, girlfriend, female judo instructor, etc. for Christmas, I’ve included some more favorite gifts below that are still available for free shipping before Christmas day.  Regardless of the recipient, you really can’t go wrong with these babies.  I mean, have you seen these earrings and these cheeky coasters?!  Get outta here.

    This post was produced in collaboration with Nordstrom and Kate Spade.

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    how-to-entertain-throw-a-party-last-minute-working-girl-tips-holiday-christmas-birthday-hostess-memorandum-mary-orton-style-fashion-blog 11how-to-entertain-throw-a-party-last-minute-working-girl-tips-holiday-christmas-birthday-hostess 3

    This past Saturday was Rich’s birthday, so I threw a holiday-themed birthday dinner party for him at our home.  Entertaining is one of my favorite things to do, but let’s face it, getting ready for guests is always a little tricky—daunting even—when you’re not Betty Draper and you’ve got a demanding day job.  Today I thought I’d share a peek at our home along with my top hostessing tips for throwing a successful party with limited prep time.

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    TABLE CLOTH: Waterford  |  GARLAND: Target  |  CRYSTAL CANDLE HOLDERS: Godinger  |  GOLD GEOMETRIC TEALIGHTS: BHLDN  |  DISHES: Juliska (combination of pieces from their Berry and Thread and Jardins du Monde patterns)  |  SILVERWARE: Couzon  |  WINE GLASSES: Riedel (cabernet glasses here & chardonnay glasses here)  |  RUNNER: Williams-Sonoma  |  NAPKINS: Williams-Sonoma  |  SANTA SALT & PEPPER SHAKER: Pottery Barn (sold out, but my mom has these Partridge in a Pear Tree S&P shakers—so cute!!)  |  CAKE STAND: Waterford


    DRESS: c/o Reiss  |  SHOES: c/o Reiss (similar here)  |  TIGHTS: Donna Karan

    dior-grey-gray-benjamin-moore-wall-color-red-winter-berry-holiday-christmas-decoration-plate-wall-display 9how-to-entertain-throw-a-party-last-minute-working-girl-tips-holiday-christmas-birthday-hostess-memorandum-mary-orton-style-fashion-blog 14TREE TOPPER: Kurt Adler

    how-to-entertain-throw-a-party-last-minute-working-girl-tips-holiday-christmas-birthday-hostess-memorandum-mary-orton-style-fashion-blog 19

    BUD VASE: Waterford  |  MOSCOW MULE MUGS: Nordstrom

    TIP #1:  Easy Invitations

    Forget mailed invitations.  They’re great, but Paperless Post is where it’s at.  I’ve used these digital invitations for years, and their unique email delivery and huge selection of customizable cards really makes them feel as special and personalized as the snail mail equivalents without all the hassle.  Also, as a guest, I always prefer digital invitations because I can quickly and easily access the host’s address and party details on my phone without trying to remember where I stashed a physical invite.  Wins all around.

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    BUD VASE: Juliska  |  POTPOURRI TRAY: Mariposa

    TIP #2:  Effortless Decor

    It’s amazing what a bunch of candles and fresh flowers can do to quickly make your home look festive and inviting.  I always keep a ton of tea lights and several small bud vases on hand so that I can place them throughout the house when getting ready for guests.  It takes no time, and makes a huge difference.

    But what about the dreaded centerpiece?  Ain’t nobody got time, you know?  For our centerpiece last weekend, I found a lush, frosted garland and placed it down the center of our table over a linen and red velvet runner (did you see the little jingle bells on the corners?!) and then just placed a few red roses and winterberries in the branches to brighten it up. I finished it off with these gold geometric candle holders and three large crystal candle sticks.  Five minutes max.

    The garland I bought was a little long for our table, so I cut off the excess with a wire cutter and placed the remaining branches above the table on our chandelier.  I secured it with little bits of wire and covered the wire with left over berry branches.

    For get-togethers that aren’t around the holidays, there are super easy options as well.  When we had friends over for dinner a few weeks before I had Christmas decorations up, I used two small plants (a small rosemary bush and a small olive plant, in these matching planters) that I keep in my kitchen.  With candles around them and cloth napkins with silver napkin rings, the table looked fun and inviting without taking the time to arrange an elaborate cut flower centerpiece.

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    TIP #3:  Quick, Tested Recipes

    If you feel like you have to take the day off of work to prepare food for a dinner party, you’re going about it all wrong.  Also, you’re not likely to entertain too often, because there are only so many times you can tell your boss you’ve got the ebola virus, you know?  There’s no need to pick recipes that require four hours in front of the stove, so keep your recipes simple.

    For example, at the birthday boy’s request for a chocolate cake, I wanted to make this chocolate peanut butter cake for dessert.  Since I didn’t have enough time to do the full version, I took a few shortcuts that were huge time-savers and sacrificed very little taste.  I made this super good boxed chocolate cake as the foundation, then made a simple chocolate ganache (literally takes 3 minutes) to spread between each of the three round layers, made the peanut butter cream cheese frosting in this recipe, threw some mint and raspberries on top, and voilà!  A deceivingly simple operation.

    The rest of the hors d’oeuvres and dinner were similarly simple: black bean hummus that requires about five minutes in my vitamix (or any food processor), ten minute baked brie with honey and pecans, frozen turkey meatballs that just required a good quick sauce, and a few other favorite recipes that are quick and simple—but generate great results.

    In addition to selecting recipes that are fast, I’d also urge you not to make anything you haven’t made before.  There’s no worse feeling than having guests arrive right as your first attempt at making cheese soufflé collapses.  Save these more complicated, maiden voyages for nights when there’s no pressure to feed multiple people, and a potential shipwreck isn’t as gut wrenching.

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    SANTA GUEST HAND TOWELS: Lynn Haney  |  SOAPS/LOTION: Molton Brown  |  CANDLE: Illume

    TIP #4:  Pantry Staples to Always Have on Hand

    Whether it’s a last minute get together or one that could be anticipated, my schedule never seems to allow for as much time as I’d like to prepare.  To avoid this constant 11th hour scramble, I always keep the following items on hand:

    1. Cloth napkins and napkin rings
    2. A dinner party playlist
    3. Lots of candles (especially tea lights/votives)
    4. Bud vases (so you can quickly grab a bouquet at the corner store and place flowers around the house)
    5. A nice hand soap and lotion duo (that’s saved and brought out just for guests)
    6. Small serving dishes for setting out nuts, etc.
    7. Drinks: Booze/bottles of wine, Coffee and tea, and sparkling water
    8. Cocktail napkins (as you know, I like the cheeky kind : )
    9. Boxed/canned nuts
    10. Hummus in the freezer
    11. Bags of pita chips and pretzels
    12. Dry pasta and a jar of tomato sauce

    Especially if you need to entertain on the fly, you can basically pull off an entire dinner party with the above list of easy items to keep on hand in your pantry or freezer.

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    TIP #5:  Simple Steps to Make Sure YOU Enjoy Yourself

    If you’re off in the kitchen the entire time frantically preparing last minute dishes or setting the table during the party, it definitely affects the vibe of the party and makes your guests feel badly that you’re not enjoying yourself.  Keep a detailed list of everything you need to do/make so your trips back to the kitchen can be quick and efficient.  When guests offer to help, let them!  Whenever I’m a guest, I always love it when the host/hostess lets me do something to contribute to the celebration.   Lastly, make sure your dishwasher is empty before the party starts so you can throw dishes in there right away after dinner and leave the rest of the clean up for after guests leave.

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    STOCKINGS: Kim Seybert (here and here + a better look at our stockings on my instagram here)  |  NAUGHTY & NICE PILLOWS: Pottery Barn

    One last tip before signing off until after Christmas:  One of the BEST things I did last year right before and after Christmas day was snatch up holiday decor for the following year once it went on crazy sale.  Holiday decor can be so expensive—the sticker shock when I went to order a wreath for my front door last year about knocked me over.  This year, I’m determined again to score some major deals once all of my favorite stores throw their Christmas decor in the clearance section.  By doing this last year, not only did I manage to get tons of awesome stuff at ~75% off, but since the holidays always seem to sneak up on me each year, I had everything in my house and ready to put up once December rolled around.  Below are my favorite spots for holiday decor, so keep an eye on them for the next week or so!

    Pottery Barn


    Neiman Marcus



    Sur La Table


    I hope you’ve all had a wonderful holiday season, and for those of you who celebrate Christmas this week, Merry Christmas!! ♥♥♥

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