How to class up an otherwise normal outfit in 30 seconds

It only takes two things: dabbing on some red lipstick and adding a string of pretty pearls around your neck!

I’ve said it before, kitties: my husband is the only reason I have nice things. About a month ago he overheard me mumbling to myself that I should try spending more than $5 on a tube of lipstick. Well, he heard me and then some!

Today is my birthday (yahoo!) and Joe let me open my presents a day early: timeless make-up from the Chanel counter (think red lipstick, jet black eye liner, and a powerful mascara) along with this beautiful string of pearls. Pearls are my birth stone, and they will always hold a special place in my heart because the first gift Joe ever gave me were these pearl earrings I’m wearing.






Last weekend Joe also took me out for a lovely date night in St. Louis for an early b-day treat. We went to Franco, a French restaurant in Soulard (shout out Krystle for the recommendation!) and it. was. so. good! Speaking of food, tonight Joe is making me my birthday dinner, which will consist of all of my fav foods: white cheddar mac and cheese, crab rangoon, and strawberry shortcake. Oi, you can tell I’m old because my birthday now revolves around food….

Outfit details: white bow accessory :: Forever 21 | sunnies :: Forever 21 | pearl necklace :: gift from Joe, Joseph’s | striped dress :: Charlotte Russe | red scarf as belt :: thrifted | black sandals :: Target



Our Favorite Sandals!

Well June is flying by and just yesterday it occurred to me to finally buy some new sandals. And there are so many cute ones out there, darlings! We love ourselves a good wedge or pretty flat…


1. The cute cork panel is adorable with the stripes!
Nautical Wedge Sandals :: Forever 21

2. Add a few inches to your height in style!
Notch Strappy Heeled Sandals :: Topshop

3. These bright whites paired with some red and blue makes the ultimate July fourth ensemble.
New Look Peep Toe Sandals :: ASOS

4. These would be great and comfy to rock at an all day summer festival.
Black Swish Strap Sandals :: Dorothy Perkins

5. These can go with everything, all summer long!
City Classified Ashley Wedge Sandals :: Lulu’s

6. Nothing better than a red, woven flat sandal for work or for play!
Holdin’ My Breath Sandals :: Seychelles

7. A statement sandal adds a splash of fun.
Cabana Band Wedge :: Modcloth

8. Scour vintage stores, goodwill or etsy for some rad 70s wedges.
Vintage 1970s Peep Toe Wedges :: GirlLeastLikely via Etsy

9. Perfect for an evening stroll.
Swedish Hasbeens :: Urban Outfitters

Happy Sunday!



Green Acres

A few weeks ago I visited my mom in Mt.Vernon, a couple of hours away from Des Moines. She recently moved back into the farm house she grew up in, a home that’s been in our family for over a 100 years. It’s not a working farm anymore but is pretty gorgeous in the summer. The yard is huge, and I would know, I used to have to mow it back in high school! The light was so nice when I pulled up to the farm that I made my mom take pictures of me right away. When your friend or family member is a fashion blogger you never know when you’ll get pulled into and bossed around for an impromptu photo shoot!

Anytime I go back home for a visit I try to make a stop in Iowa City for a quick shopping trip. I was short on time but managed to run into White Rabbit and pick up a few things. Yay! I’d been eyeing this necklace via White Rabbit’s Instagram account (@whiterabbitgalleryic). Since I’m prone to breaking/losing jewelry I don’t usually invest too much in it but I decided to splurge slightly and I’m so glad I did, I’ve worn it nearly every day since I got it. I also picked up this tank on my stop. It’s lightweight and the print is super cute! I don’t have much else like it in my closet, which is a new shopping rule for me. There have been too many times that I’ve come home from thrifting only to realize I had nearly identical dresses or tops just waiting to be worn. I’m gonna take a moment here to say I think that Cher from Clueless was spot on in terms of archiving all her outfits via Polaroid pictures. The girl is brilliant, obviously! New summer project, perhaps???






The first order of business once I made it to the farm was to play with my mom’s new kitten, Thomasina. She was about 8 weeks old when I met her and just toooooooo cute! I’ve tried to talk my mom into getting another cat for awhile now and I’m excited she finally did! Suffice to say most of the evening was taken up with kitten time, much to the dog’s chagrin. But we did manage to take a break and visit Palisades Cafe in town (shout out Palisades Cafe!!) The food was super delicious and, even better, is owned by a friend of mine from childhood. We had a brandy cheese dip to start and I had a black bean and beet veggie burger… Yum yum! Highly recommended if you happen to be passing through Mt. Vernon, Iowa.

Outfit details: tank, skirt, necklace :: White Rabbit | Shoes :: Worishofer


A fun take on mixing patterns

Kitties! I’ve been digging on some plaid + stripes these last couple of weeks. Try it out! Of the outfits I’ve tried, this one is by far my favorite. Bright colors + black and white are a no fail combination in my eyes. The last time I wore this dress on the blog I dressed it up for a Christmas party, and my goal was to dress it down for this post but it’s ended up in that fuzzy area of not overly dressed up but definitely not dressed down either. That fuzzy area is pretty much where I like to dress 98% of the time.

Also in classic Marlena fashion, I have three different bows on (belt, shoes, and a small bow on my purse). Bows! I just love them. This top has no bows but does include ridiculously puffy sleeves, and every time I wear it I definitely get some sidelong glances. I feel like a space commander in it, albeit the type that wears purple kitten heels.







So I do have to take a time out and talk about my new purse, especially since I never want to use another one again. Joe and I just celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary, and we like to do the traditional wedding gifts. Joe was like, “Leather? That seems hard; any ideas?” haha uhhhh yeah! So now here I sit with easily the nicest purse I’ve ever owned and I love love love it! I got him some cute oxford shoes by Cole Haan. We definitely went overboard…

Speaking of presents, I can’t believe it’s my birthday month already. Yesterday I had a blast at our company golfing trip (I was lucky enough to score the position of Gator Driver instead of Golfer… I can say with real confidence I left all of my athletic hopes and dreams back in high school) but the entire time I was like, “Why is it so hot?” Uh, because it’s June, dummy! Still isn’t kicking in I’m afraid, but now I have sunburned knees to remind me.

Outfit details: plaid ruffle top :: thrifted | black and white stripe dress :: Charlotte Russe | brown belt :: Francesca’s | purple bow heels :: Grey Dog Boutique | Kate Spade bag :: gift from Joe, Kate Spade


Pssssst! Did you miss our $50 ASOS gift card giveaway, happening right now? Hop to it and good luck! We will announce the winner on Monday.


Win a $50 ASOS Gift Card! Meow! (Closed)

So today is national Hug a Kitty Day, and we’re celebrating by throwing a super fun giveaway with ASOS! Think of it as us hugging you, little kitties: one lucky mouser will win a $50 ASOS gift card! All you have to do is comment below and you’re entered! Winner will be picked on Monday, June 9th (randomly, of course!) Time to start daydreaming how you’ll spend that sweet money by shopping now!

And if you aren’t familiar with ASOS, they are a lovely shop filled to the brim with the most darling… well… everything! I think the thing that strikes me the most is they have a huge selection for all kinds of body types, whether you’re pregnant or petite or curvy or tall or… you get the idea. We went through and picked out our favorite dresses from their shop, and (BONUS!) all these lovely little numbers are under $50(ish).


1.  ASOS Midi Bandeau Sun Dress

2. Lira Tank Dress with Cat Print

3.  ASOS Curve Swing Dress in Festival Print

4. Glamorous Petite Shift Dress with Contrast Collar

5. ASOS Skater Dress in Acid Wash

6. River Island Chelsea Girl Midi Dress

7. John Zack Shift Dress in Polka Dot

8. ASOS Skater Dress in Texture with Bow Front

9. ASOS Body Con Dress in Mystical Cat Print


Which one will you buy when you win?


Update 6/9/14 Thanks everyone for entering! We chose a winner via the Random Number Generator:


Congrats to Cristina! I’ll email you details!

Portland: Our Little Corner of the World

Hey guys, I have a secret: John and I love Portland!! Okay, if you know me at all that’s a not-so-secret secret. We both have great friends that live there along with the most delicious food ever, plus, it’s gorgeous! Aside from seeing wonderful friends, my number one favorite thing about Portland is unlimited, cheap, vintage shopping! We often toss around the idea of just moving out there but haven’t made the leap yet. Until we make that dream a reality we make sure to visit at least once a year.

Typically our trips consist of eating, drinking and shopping. What more could you ask for, really? This time around though we did head to the Puget Sound with some friends where we hiked, saw some otters and got a great dose of nature.






House of Vintage is one of my fav vintage stores ever. I have dreams about going to this place. A true dream come true!


The weather was actually gorgeous while we visited so we took an afternoon to walk around the city and encountered this charming sign.

John and I standing next to some big ole trees in Washington | Voodoo Donuts is a Portland staple that 100% lives up to the hype. My favorite is a grape donut dusted with lavender sugar. Yummmm!

Typically when I go on vacation I over pack. I never want to be without options! But this was a short trip so I planned my outfits carefully with plenty of room to spare for some of the goodies I snagged shopping around the town. I’ve figured out that when I go on a vacay it’s best to stick with tried and true outfits. Sometimes an outfit looks great in my head but I don’t want to get stuck trying to have a blast in something I’m not comfortable in. This outfit here has become a major staple for me. I loved the pleats/high waist combo of the sheer American Apparel skirt. And the top was a vintage long sleeved blouse that I altered into a racer-back. With the altered top I didn’t do any measurements, I just took a chance and chopped off the sleeves, cut out the back and sewed up the raw edges. Luckily I’m very happy with the results! I chose a racer-back for two reasons. For one, I’ve gotten sick of rolling up the sleeves on oversized vintage blouses, and for two, I wanted a cute way to show off my new tattoo!

These pictures don’t even do the lush greenery justice, but there were beautiful plants and flowers EVERYWHERE. I guess all that rain does pay off!

Outfit details: boots, top :: thrifted | skirt :: American Apparel | jacket :: H&M (similar)


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