Friday, August 28, 2015

Bathing Suits + Book Reviews


I don't normally do non-Friday-Favorites posts on Fridays, but since I needed some extra rest once I got home from California, my blogging schedule got a little backed up. You might remember that I'm attempting to make book reviews a semi-regular feature here on The Soubrette Brunette. I'm also trying to find ways to tie the books in to an outfit post feature. Last month, I reviewed The Book of Joan by Melissa Rivers (a memoir with a few laughs and a few problems), and I happened to wear a vintage dress that perfectly matched the book's cover. This month, I've entered the world of fiction with my review of Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch – and I'm wearing a new-to-me swimsuit for the occasion; I figured I'd pair a somewhat-scary story with the somewhat-scary premise of posting a photo of myself in a bathing suit on the internet.


I was completely unfamiliar with Mr. Koch's work prior to this experience, which can actually be a good thing, as I had neither expectations nor biases diving in to my reading material. I initially wanted to read the book because it was marketed as a murder mystery (and I looove those): when a famous actor dies under mysterious circumstances, his high profile doctor has to come up with answers. The trouble all started the summer before, when the actor and his wife invited the doctor and his family to their summer home in the Mediterranean – they soon find out that no one can be trusted.


The reviews I've read have called the book a "psychological thriller," and have compared Herman Koch to a "modern-day Agatha Christie." When I finally finished the book, I could see the truth in the former, but not in the latter. Mr. Koch has an incredibly distinctive voice – one that is very different from my own – and his writing is powerful and compelling. His writing is definitely controversial and it's clear that he likes to push boundaries with his readers; he even admits that he likes to make them feel uncomfortable and enjoys playing devil's advocate through his characters. Koch's narrator isn't likable or reliable (he actually borders on sociopathic), but he's absolutely captivating. The book is told through a series of flashbacks, and there were times that I gasped out loud through the story's many twists and turns. In many ways, the book could be considered a mystery, but unlike Agatha Christie's work, Koch's main characters are in no way endearing. He also makes astute comments on socialized medicine, creative types and the human condition; the "thriller" aspects of the book come in much later, and the story is built in such a way that it's a bit difficult to box it into a specific genre. All in all, despite how despicable many of these characters are, I completely relished the book. I couldn't put it down (and I don't say that about many books these days). It was my go-to reading material for my recent travels, and if you aren't super-squeamish, I'd recommend this book for sure.


If you're interested in reading Summer House with Swimming Pool, you can find it here!
Have you read any good page-turners this summer? I'd love to hear your recommendations!



Outfit Details
Swimsuit: Pinup Girl Clothing (swap & sell group)
Mel by Melissa wedges: similar
Popsicle necklace: similar
Sunglasses: Unique Vintage
Donut pool float: Amazon

Have a great start to your weekend!

I received this book from the Blogging For Books program in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 24, 2015

There's no place like home

unique vintage skirt

Hello from the West Coast! I'm having so much fun with Ashley on this trip. On Friday, we did some shopping (which resulted in a new dress and adorable vintage hat box/purse for me) and I had dinner with a friend from home. We spent a whopping 12 hours in Disneyland on Saturday (and had lunch with Elana!), and yesterday we went to the Gentle Barn to meet some rescued farm animals with Erica! It's been wonderful to finally meet these wonderful girls; I feel as if I've known them for a long time, despite never having seen them in person before this past week. Although I've been known to gripe about technology and the internet in general, I'm grateful and amazed to have been able to connect with such great people from across the country.

retro skirt
oblong box shop skirt
midcentury house skirt

Although I've been enjoying my time here in California so very much, I always like coming back to Rochester again. Sometimes it takes a little time away to remember how nice it is to be home. This adorable midcentury house skirt from Unique Vintage reminds me of that too. (It also makes me want to have my own place to decorate!) I actually wore this skirt on the plane here, and it was the perfect choice because it's lightweight and doesn't wrinkle easily. Plus, I got a ton of compliments on it! Truthfully, I'm not a huge fan of separates in general, but I know I'm going to get a lot of use out of this skirt; it's comfortable, runs true to the size chart, and who can resist that print? It's found its way into my home – and my heart!

retro skirt
pinup skirt
unique vintage
Outfit Details
Midcentury House Swing Skirt: c/o Unique Vintage
Lily Top in Black: c/o Heart of Haute
Keiko frames in Lily White: Bonlook
Pettiskirt: Amazon
Shoes: Amazon

keiko bonlook glasses

Today's my last day in California, and I think Ashley and I are headed to Santa Monica (our one touristy excursion). 
I hope you have a great start to your week!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Friday Favorites #103: Travel Essentials

I'm writing this post from up in the air, as I'm currently California-bound to visit Ashley! Since I'm traveling this week, I thought it might be fun to do an updated version of a trip necessities Friday Favorites post; I did one last year, but this one has some new additions. I'm admittedly not a huge adventurer, as travel (and packing, especially) tends to stress me out. I'm the kind of person who always needs to make a list, so here's a handy dandy guide to my travel must-haves:
travel essentials list
I'll just say it: I'm horrible at packing lightly. I always fear that I'll regret not bringing a certain item or that I'll forget something. I'm definitely better at paring it down than I used to be, but even so, I end up coming home with a bunch of things I never used or wore while away. I've tried to rectify that by packing only a few accessories that pair well with everything I bring.

packing list traveling
a   ||   b   ||   c   ||   d   ||   e

For instance, I wear my black Aerosoles flats on the plane and pack a white pair (I swear by these flats – I walked all over New York City in them in total comfort and without getting a single blister), and make sure all of the clothes I bring will work with one or the other. I wear a white purse with everything, and since packing a petticoat would be troublesome, I wear a thinner pettiskirt on the plane (and no one can even tell). I've forgotten my sunglasses before on trips, and I hope I never will again!

I'm sort of high maintenance when it comes to makeup and toiletries and tend to pack things I could probably live without for a few days. However, there are a few lifesaver items that I could never leave behind.
beauty essentials

1   ||   2   ||   3   ||   4   ||   5   ||   6   ||   7

I use my portable clothes steamer on a daily basis, even when I'm at home, and it's perfect for getting out wrinkles from packed clothing (and if you hate to iron like I do). I don't usually travel with a lot of jewelry, but I love this jewelry carrier because it has little individual compartments for everything; having to untangle necklaces is the worst, so being able to avoid that is key. Fashion tape is amazing – I use it all the time to keep belts, collars and other embellishments in place. I recently started using the Colorescience line because of a dermatologist recommendation, and I'm obsessed with the color corrector palette! It's the perfect size for traveling and you can achieve both full-face coverage and quick touchups with it – everything from red blemishes to dark under-eye circles. Oh, and a portable makeup mirror, a cute cosmetic bag and a quirky sleep mask will definitely come in handy!

tech for traveling
a   ||   b   ||   c   ||   d   ||   e

And then it's time for tech! Since I usually take lots of photos on my trips, a travel tripod is a must. If you're a blogger, I also highly recommend investing in a camera remote timer – it's been a Godsend for me! (Be sure to check if your DSLR is compatible with the model I linked... if it's not, there are tons of other options on Amazon.) I love my backup mobile charger from ban.do, which also comes in other styles, and it's perfect for long layovers or a day at Disneyland! And of course, I had to pick adorable + delicious tech gear: a donut print laptop sleeve and pastel earbuds with a macaron carrying case!

What are your never-leave-home-without-'em items? Let me know in the comments!

Have a great Friday!

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links, I may receive a small commission, which helps to run my blog. I link only to items and brands I absolutely love. Thank you for supporting The Soubrette Brunette!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Anchors aweigh

anchor dress

I know that nautical prints are sort of a retro wardrobe staple, but I didn't own any anchor-embellished dresses until recently. I'm not a huge fan of navy blue, and because a lot of sailor-esque dresses tend to use that color, I was never really drawn to them. When I saw this dress from Heart of Haute, I immediately took a liking to the silhouette and use of chambray fabric. Since I live about 5 minutes away from part of the Erie Canal, I headed to a nearby park for a change of pace.

sailor dress
heart of haute anchor dress
erstwilder peter platypus

I found the fit of the Hillary dress to run true to size, and I really ended up loving this more casual piece. I have so many fancy dresses (and rarely have occasions to which I can wear them), so this is a great addition to my closet. It also gave me an excuse to wear my Erstwilder platypus brooch! I know they're venomous, but I think they're so cute and I've always wanted to meet one! For now, I'll settle for this charming little brooch instead.
anchor print dress
Outfit Details
Hillary Dress in Chambray Anchor: c/o Heart of Haute
Erswilder platypus brooch: available here
Boater hat: similar
Flats: Amazon

nautical dress

I'm so excited because I leave for California tomorrow to visit Ashley! It'll be my first time ever on the West Coast. We have so many fun things planned, and I can hardly wait to see her! I have a couple of posts scheduled during my trip, but if you want to see what I'm up to while I'm there, be sure to follow along on Instagram!

perinton erie canal

Have a great Wednesday!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Popcorn Love

popcorn dress

Have you ever wished for an imaginary dress to exist... only to have your wish come true?? This was the first time that's ever happened to me – with the kooky novelty print of my dreams! I had been hoping to find a popcorn dress for a while now, and when this one showed up on ModCloth, I had to get it immediately. Because my dear friend Rusty (who is not only one of my favorite people but is also one of the biggest supporters of my blog) is my kitschy kindred spirit, I asked if he'd like to tag along for a day of film-themed fun!

cinema theater rochester ny
original penguin carnival food shirt
OP carnival food shirt
popcorn print dress
the little theatre rochester ny

I originally wanted to take a trip to an older drive-in theater in Avon, NY for this popcorn post, but because it's quite a drive and they weren't showing anything we were interested in seeing, we decided to nix the long trip in favor of visiting a couple of old movie houses right in the city. Although many of the older theaters are long gone, we're lucky enough to still have the Cinema Theater and The Little Theatre here in town; both have such beautiful and charming features, and I think it's so important to keep independent theaters like these alive. Rusty and I took some photos at the Cinema before heading over to The Little to see Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (which I highly recommend!). I bet you can tell from Rusty's outfit that he and I are like two style peas in a pod (or kernels on a cob?)!

popcorn purse
the little theatre
popcorn necklace
popcorn dress retrolicious
Sammi's Outfit Details
Tonight's Pop Story Dress: ModCloth
Popcorn purse: available at Unique Vintage
Popcorn neckace: ASOS
Mel by Melissa wedges: similar
Pettiskirt: Amazon

junk food shirt
Rusty's Outfit Details
Carnival Food Shirt: Original Penguin
Shorts: J.Crew Factory (similar)
Hat: similar  //  Belt: similar
Sunglasses: J.Crew Factory
Shoes: Aldo

popcorn outfit

Have you seen any good movies lately? I've recently seen Inside Out, Trainwreck and Shaun the Sheep (all of which I really liked). Amy and Mr. Holmes are on my list, but let me know if there are any others you think I should add!

Have a great start to your week!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Garden Royale


One thing you learn as you cultivate your personal style (an ever-evolving endeavor) is that there are certain brands that flatter your body type more than others. And when those brands also fit in perfectly with your personal aesthetic, it's a beautiful thing. I've been an admirer of Heart of Haute for quite some time now, and have styled their designs before on the blog (see here and here). When I first saw the print on this halter dress, I was convinced that the print wasn't really "me," but I kept coming back to it. I was drawn to its grandiose and romantic design, and I felt like I might need to try it out for myself – maybe this dress was more "me" than I had thought!


Needless to say, I ended up loving this dress. I know not everyone is drawn to halters, but I adore the sweetheart neckline and halter straps on the Sweetie dress. This silhouette fits my shape really well (there's even a waist tie in the back to create a little extra cinching), and the dress runs true to size. The print is even more beautiful in person, and even though it's a light cotton dress, I'll definitely be able to layer it under cardigans in the fall.


After trying them out during recent stage performances, I've started wearing my Rago waist cincher underneath some of my outfits (like this one), and it makes a huge difference in smoothing out my curves and making me feel completely confident in what I'm wearing. I have them in two different sizes; there isn't a big difference between the medium and large, but the large seems to be more comfortable for long periods of time. Their contouring shorts are incredible, too! If you're in the market for some really good shapewear, I pretty much swear by Rago these days.

Outfit Details
Sweetie Dress in Garden Royale: c/o Heart of Haute
Rago waist cincher: Amazon (also available at ModCloth)
Hair flower clip: ASOS
Pettislip: Amazon
Black flats: similar
Butterfly brooch: old


If you love wearing Heart of Haute as much as I do, be sure use #hautehoney for a chance to win a gift certificate each month – and you can use the Haute10 coupon for 10% off on their website!

Have a great day!
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