Do it yourself: envelope clutch

Check out this easy step-by-step process to make your own envelope clutch. If you have a tight budget but are in need of a new accessory, this is the project for you!

Items you will need:
-wrapping paper
-clear contact paper
-needle and thread
-optional: adhesive velcro


Step one:
Cut out a section of wrapping paper. The larger the section, the bigger your clutch, so cut according to your preference of size.


Step two:
Cut your section of wrapping paper into a perfect square. This will help ensure the clutch is even when you fold it in later steps.

Step three:
Lay your square of paper on your flat surface. Precut a section of contact paper about an inch bigger than your wrapping paper piece. Begin to overlay the contact paper onto the wrapping paper (be mindful of the air bubbles that can pop-up during this step- keep a credit card handy to help smooth out any bubbles that do arise). Smooth out the paper as you continue to place the contact paper completely overtop the wrapping paper.


Step four:
Flip the entire project over and place another layer of contact paper on top of existing sheets- keep smoothing out the bubbles.


Step five:
Trim the excess contact paper on the edges of the wrapping paper, making sure to leave about a centimeter of contact paper on each side.

Step six:
Fold three corners of the project together to begin to form the envelope. Use small pieces of contact paper to help secure the folds.


Step seven:
Fold the top corner down to create a flap for your clutch. You may need to trim the top part of the pocket of your envelope to make a more well-defined fold.


Step eight:
Now it’s time to get creative! Add some embellishment with a bright button on the top flap. Sew the button with multiple cross stitches through the paper. Here’s where you can choose to attach velcro to the underside of your flap to help keep the envelope closed.


Step nine:
Time to show off your creation. This clutch is perfect for holding makeup, mints and money! The smooth surface of the contact paper prevents stains on the inside of your clutch. Smaller versions could be perfect for the inside of larger bags or preventing messes in bags during travel.


By Madison Miles

Street Style: Week Eight

This week Exodus’  street style headed to Pepper Place Market to find fresh produce and maxis everywhere. Don’t miss out on the breezy trend this summer!

Jamie Roxas


Dress worn as a skirt: Lovelady Thrift Store

White tee shirt: Borrowed from roommate

Bag: Gifted

Sandals: Market in India

Belt: From another dress in my wardrobe

What’s your favorite item in your wardrobe? Definitely my Indian sandals. They are very unique.

Give three words to describe your style: Simple, bohemian and contrast

















Jill Volkmar


Dress: Nordstrom

Necklace: Unsure

Sandals: Tory Burch

Bag: J.Crew

Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

What is your favorite trend this season? Mint Green!

What is your favorite item in your wardrobe? My denim jeans. They are perfect with everything and can be dressed up or down.

Photos by Katie Stewart



Boutique blossoms in Birmingham: Get an inside look at The Pink Tulip

The Pink Tulip in Birmingham, AL window displayNestled in a row of stores in downtown Homewood, the cheery window displays and feminine pink and black exterior of The Pink Tulip boutique are eye-catching.

Once you enter, there’s even more to see. Look in one direction, and you’ll find a wall of fashionable scarves. Glance in another and you’ll find a table of beautiful jewelry or a rack of lacy tops.

Owners Letty and Duff Algren opened The Pink Tulip in 1986 as a gift store in the southside of Birmingham. Eventually the store evolved into the lady’s clothing and accessories boutique that it is today.

“The logo was actually my mother’s handwriting,” Letty Algren says. “We put it together really fast, the whole business. She just kind of drew it out, and I still use that same logo today.”

Algren says the store carries casual wear and accessories that are intended for a variety of women.

“We don’t really have an age limit. We literally have customers that are 12 and 14, all the way up to 70,” Algren says.

She looks for trendy but conservative pieces for The Pink Tulip. She describes the boutique’s aestheticThe Pink Tulip in Birmingham, AL as “very ladylike.”

In addition to its stylish selection of merchandise, The Pink Tulip also offers a warm atmosphere. The store is filled with lively music and a welcoming staff called “wardrobe consultants.”

“A lot of stores you go into, people won’t even speak to you. You won’t find that here. You’ll be greeted just like you’re going into somebody’s home,” Algren says.

As for The Pink Tulip’s future, the boutique seems to be blooming. In March 2012, The Pink Tulip opened another location in Mountain Brook. Recently the boutique has worked toward growing its online presence with both a website and an active Facebook page.

Photos by Julie Matthews


Birmingham Street Style Week 7

Sunday afternoons call for comfy clothes and relaxation. These ladies show that casual doesn’t have to be frumpy; it can be fun.


Collie, Teacher

RF Street Style 2-2

Shoes: Steve Madden
Shorts: Banana Republic
Jewelry: Banana Republic
Purse: Banana Republic


Favorite Places to Shop in Birmingham: Banana Republic, Express and White House Black Market


3 items you can’t live without: Pencil skirt, blazer and scarf










Ali and Meg, Students

RF Street Style 2-4

Ali (right):

Skinny Jeans: Urban Outfitters
Blouse: Urban Outfitters
Oxfords: Target


3 items you can’t live without: black skinny jeans, black leather jacket (“It keeps me warm, but it also keeps me stylish.”), red combat boots (“They’re really comfortable, and they make me look like I put a lot more effort into what I’m wearing than I actually did.”)


Favorite place to shop in Birmingham: Target  (“I like to take old clothes that I have and redo them.”)





Meg (left):

T-shirt: Goodwill
Jeans: Forever 21
Shoes: Converse


3 items you can’t live without: skinny jeans, oversized brown plaid shirt and brown leather-hiking boots


Photos by Rachel Freeny

Summer Office Attire

By Reed Richardson

Counting down the days until summer? We are too. And as a working gal, that means adjusting outfits to the summer heat while remaining appropriate and professional. Here are five fun pieces to try.

RR trouser


The cropped trouser

Pants are always appropriate for the office, and if you wear a lighter fabric with a pinch of a higher hemline, you will be oh-so-ready for summer. Bright colors and floral prints can only help your cause. Pair with your favorite flats or heels and perhaps a complementing blazer for the finished look.

(Click picture for product information.)

RR dress







The shirtdress

Put on this one-piece button down, slide into your favorite pumps and grab the car keys because you’re ready to go. Sporting a shirtdress is easy breezy, and if you wear one with long sleeves, there is no need to tote around a cardigan. Perhaps this piece is more for the business casual crowd, but all in all it’s a fabulous choice for comfort and cuteness.

(Click picture for product information.)

RR Peplum







The peplum shell

Sometimes a lady just needs to wear a suit, and that’s fine! But every once in a while put a little pep in your step by pairing it with a lovely peplum shell. It gives fun and feminine flair under that serious suit.

*Remember this is recommended to be worn under a blazer, jacket, etc.

(Click picture for product information.)

RR Peep







The peep-toe

 Depending on your office dress code, your company may or may not allow a summery sandal. But never fear! You corporate working gals can have just as much fun with a peep-toe pump or wedge. This classy style lets your feet breathe and your pedicure show, all while remaining positively professional.

(Click picture for product information.)

RR skirt





The textured skirt

A skirt is a lady’s best friend in the heat of summer. Not only can you perk up your bottom ensemble with bold prints and happy colors, but you can also try incorporating various textures such as lace, tweed and leather. Who’s stopping you?

(Click picture for product information.)





*Whatever you wear, wherever you work, don’t forget these top five no-nos concerning the workplace wardrobe.

1. No sheer or see-through clothing. Just because you have plans after work, doesn’t mean they should interfere with work wardrobe policies. Besides, offices are most likely a little chilly.

2. No flip flops, sneakers, sandals. Unless you work at a super laid back company, or perhaps you happen to be the next Steve Jobs, you gotta dress the part, head to TOE.

3. No plunging necklines. One open button should be enough. Please refer back to no-no #1.

4. No sleeveless shirts. This rule generally applies to the more business formal workplaces. But for the most part, it’s a good rule to follow, and it’s never a bad idea to have a light layer whether cotton cardigan, linen blazer or even a simple cap-sleeve.

5. No shorts. Is an explanation even necessary?



Photos courtesy of

Birmingham Street Style: Week six

Leslie Pittman, owner of Laura Kathryn boutique

DSC_0141   DSC_0144

Necklace from Deepagurmani, a designer in India

Dress from Parameter

Watch from Michael Kors

Gold bracelets from Gorjana


What is your favorite piece of clothing you own in your closet?

(At the moment), I have these adorable shorts by Waverly Grey.  They have a tribal print and are amazing!

How would you describe your style?

Bohemian with an edge.

What trend are you looking forward to this summer?

Maxi dresses.


Carly Cate, student

  carly_style IMG_1926

Striped shirt from TJ Maxx

Jeggings from Forever 21

Boots from Target

Purse from Target

What outfit do you feel most comfortable wearing out on the town?

In the summer or when it’s warm, I like fun, easy dresses.  In the fall I like to wear jeans and a flannel.  Pretty simple.

The Unique Boutique: Get to know the woman behind Charm

Charm is a darling boutique located on Second Avenue North. Its goods range from one-of-a-kind jewelry to gorgeous bags to eclectic stationery. It’s literally impossible to not walk away with something.

But as you enter the charming boutique, make sure to get to know the owner, Chatham Hellmers. If the items sold in Charm don’t keep you coming back, the company you get in Chatham definitely will.



Exodus: How long has Charm been a part of the Second Avenue community?

Hellmers: I’ve been here for about three and a half years. It will be four this September.

E: What initially drew you to this Second Avenue area? I know it’s only been in the past few years that it has returned to the lively downtown street of the past.

H: Well, I’m originally from Long Island, lived in Manhattan and Atlanta, and then finally settled here. And in all of those cities, downtown is the place to be. That’s where the life, the stores and the people are. It was pretty clear to me that there was something going on here at Second Ave. I wanted to be a part of it. I’m fully immersed in it as well, living just a block away from the store.

E: Charm is one of the more unique stores I’ve been in. What was your vision for it initially when you were first starting out?

H: Well, I’ve been a part of a couple other stores. With this one though, I wanted to sell what I love. I’ve collected costume jewelry for as long as I can remember, and I knew that would be a focal point of this store. Then, with anything that doesn’t sell, I get to keep it. It’s totally a win-win.

E: You mentioned you’re from Long Island and lived in Manhattan for a while. Birmingham seems like a way different place from those. Give me some background about yourself and how you ended up here.

H: Well I went to school at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) for illustration and fashion illustration. Well, when I graduated, that was completely useless…basically like having a degree in basket weaving. So I became a visual artist and did a lot of display work in New York, and that’s what ultimately brought me to Atlanta. On a trip to the Birmingham Flea Market to buy for the antique furniture store I was working in, I fell in love with this city. I moved here and opened my shop. However, my illustration skills have showed up a little bit with this store. I designed the store logo, and the artwork on the walls. (You can also see her sketch in the picture above.)

E: Tell me a little more about the items you carry in Charm?

DSC_0347H: Well, they are kind of new meets vintage meets handmade. (Hellmers even makes some of the jewelry herself, pictured right) I want everything to be really quirky and unique, but also accessible. It also has to fit a certain price range. People won’t buy anything if it’s not reasonable, and I’m very aware of that.

B: All of your items are very unique. I honestly don’t think I could find a lot of this in other stores around Birmingham. Where do you buy it?

E: I’ve always been a compulsive shopper. I’ve been buying from the same people since I was 18 out of New York. Honestly, I would lie to them when I was younger, pretending I had my own store just so I could get stuff wholesale. Then I’d just sell or give stuff to my friends. Who would have thought looking back that I would actually own my own store? I thought I’d just grow up to be a rich housewife, designing my mansion.


Charm’s clientele ranges from “dudes buying their girlfriends a gift” to “over-the-mountain women,” so clearly there is something for all. Don’t miss out on the unique finds and the charming woman who owns the store. Just be prepared for outrageous conversation and amazing inventory.


Birmingham street style: Week Five

This week I hit the streets of Homewood to see what style I could find closer to home. I happened upon four stylish women, all of whom were a delight to photograph. Check out their styles below: eclectic, gothic and a little in between.

Alyssa, age 20, UAB student










































Shirt: Urban Outfitters
Pants: Forever 21
Shoes: DSW

K: Describe your style in one word.
A: People call me gothic, I don’t know. I’d say gothic chic.

K: What’s your go-to item in your closet?
A: Boots and black pants.

K: What are three wardrobe  essentials you couldn’t live without?
A: Boots, black pants and black shirts.


Courtney, age 24, web developer for Church of the Highlands


































Shirt: Target
Scarf: Francesca’s
Jeans: Jessica Simpson
Shoes: Belk

K: What’s your favorite trend this season?
C: Anything mint colored.

K: What are three wardrobe essentials you couldn’t live without?
C: Skinny jeans, solid tanks, and either boots or flats depending on the season.

K: What’s your favorite store in Birmingham to shop in?
C: The Loft.


Lele, age 25, JH Ranch




































Shirt: Boutique in North Carolina
Jeans: Forever 21
Glasses: Ray Ban
Headband: Anthropologie

K: Describe your style in one word.
L: Eclectic.

K: What’s your go-to item in your closet?
L: A cotton dress.

K: What’s your favorite store in Birmingham to shop at?
L: Anthropologie


Kristen, age 32, JH Ranch






































Shirt: Gap
Blazer: Gap
Jeans: Citizen
Shoes: Steve Madden
Glasses: Target

Ka: Describe your style in one word.
Kr: Classic.

Ka: What’s your favorite trend this season?
Kr: Pastel jeans.

Ka: What is your go-to item in your closet?
Kr: Boyfriend denim button-up.

Photos by Katie Willis

Birmingham Street Style: Week Four


Madeline NeSmith, 22, Student Teacher 

Necklace: Etsy

Dress: Marshalls

Bag: Matt and Nat

Which store do you draw inspiration from?

It’s definitely  J. Crew.

What would you say is your favorite trend this season?

I can always get on board with florals!



















Marry Brittain Blankenship, 30, Physician, Salt Lake City 

Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

Necklace: AtHome

Blouse: Nordstrom Rack

Shorts: Target

Wedges: Nordstrom

What is your favorite piece currently in your wardrobe?

If it were after Labor Day, my white J Brand skinny jeans, but for right now I’ll go with my coral skinny jeans.

Give me a brief description of your personal street style.

It’s a blend of trendy meets classic.

How scarves saved my wardrobe

Truth time: The scarf is the perfect accessory.

In all seriousness, scarves are probably the most versatile items you can have in your wardrobe. Available in a wide range of material weights, patterns and styles, plus the fact that most can be worn in at least fifteen different ways makes them one of the great closet saviors.

Speaking from experience

Here’s some more truth for you: my wardrobe is hopelessly plain.  Plain closet

My closet is stocked almost exclusively with solid colored tops, skirts and dresses, most of them in neutral tones. The fact that I match is usually the only compliment I can give myself.

But here is where the scarf saved me.

On an overseas trip a few years ago, I quickly grew tired of the limited wardrobe I had available in my suitcase (and by quickly, I mean by the end of the first week).

I was relaying my predicament to a friend when we happened upon a small market. There amongst the stalls we found stacks and stacks of colorful scarves in floral and geometric patterns. We pawed through them with giddiness, each coming away with a handful of vibrant fabric.

And thus began my love affair with the scarf.

Scarves: What can’t they do?

I was well aware of the merits of scarves in keeping the neck warm during winter, but the use of lightweight scarves to lend color and versatility to an otherwise plain spring and summer outfit was a revelation to me.

Colorful scarvesIf the summer staple of a simple white t-shirt paired with denim shorts has you yawning, fret not. Colorful scarves are an easy way to spice up even the most basic of ensembles.

Additionally, scarves are a lifesaver when you travel. They weigh next to nothing, take up very little room and can even be used as packing material around delicate objects if you so desire.

If you’re packing for a long trip that involves a few dressier occasions, you can often get away with taking just one basic dress and then a handful of scarves that coordinate. You can use a silky scarf tied in a circle for a nicer event, while a floral jersey scarf simply draped around the neck can dress down an outfit nicely. The opportunities are endless.

Beginning the collection

I am now the proud owner of an overflowing scarf drawer, full of color, vibrancy and hope for a formerly hopeless wardrobe.

My scarves cover the gamut from heavy to light weight, from dark to bright colors and from plain to patterned styles. At this point, it’s pretty rare for one of my outfits to require a scarf I don’t have.

If you’re looking to begin adding some scarves to your wardrobe, you might try starting with some of the basics:

  • grey infinity scarf
  • pashmina-style scarf in a basic color
  • lightweight floral scarf

These all make excellent and versatile options for adding that little extra something to even the most boring outfit.

And besides, it’s infinitely cheaper than a brand new wardrobe.


Check out these five new ways to tie your scarves!

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Story and photos by Jackie Long