Monday, January 30, 2012

Come Fly With Me...

Both my mother and significant other made similar projections that 2012 was going to be a wonderful year. My mom is an eternal optimist so her rosy outlook was nothing new, but my boyfriend's happy predictions were a welcome surprise. As we all know, life has its ups and its downs, and at some points you get yourself so lost that you can hardly tell the difference. As my own worst critic, I know how impossible the pressures of life can feel; how daunting and never ending. I know what it feels like to self-doubt incessantly; to dare to disappoint those you love the most by following your gut and your heart.

A little over a year ago I made one of the hardest decisions of my life. I chose to veer off of what had been my lifelong course. I was sad, confused and frustrated. My heart was telling me to abandon ship, abandon this dream that had never truly been mine in the first place. It told me to be brave and seek out something that I knew in my bones to be right. Most importantly, it told me to stop fretting about disappointing those I love because the only person I should worry about disappointing... is myself.

It was in those dark hours that I realized I would rather risk failure than spend my entire life on a path that I would constantly have to justify, because my heart wasn't in it.

That was when my most recent journey began; the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011. Now a mere year later I find myself presented with a wondrous opportunity, unlike anything I would have anticipated. Everything about it feels right, and I no longer feel as if I'm lying to myself. It's a whole new chapter; another journey. The comfort that accompanies this knowledge is one of the best feelings I've ever experienced.

In celebration of this accomplishment, my boyfriend and I went out for a romantic dinner at the Livingston restaurant in the Georgian terrace. The night was nothing short of remarkable, and my handsome partner was the perfect gentleman.

Blouse, Blazer & Skirt: Forever 21 / Heels: Nine West

I really can't think of a better time to share my resolutions for the New Year:

1. Be more patient with myself; with everything.
2. Learn to enjoy the journey.
3. Stretch for at least 10 minutes every day.
4. Complete Slim in 6 within the assigned time frame! (<-- workout regiment)
5. Speak to my nephew and younger sister more.
6. Center myself at least 3 times per week; whether through meditation, singing, yoga, or self reflection. (I need to make an effort to not lose touch with myself. It has been a real challenge lately.)
7. Stop needing drinking coffee in the morning. (<--- I've already accomplished this. Much credit is due to my man...yo.)

Sometimes in life one must take huge risks if they wish to see great rewards... personal rewards that is. My hope for all of you, and for myself, is that we may all begin to see these challenges and risks as exciting new prospects, as opposed to potential opportunities to fail. The latter mentality does absolutely nothing for you, other than inflict corrosive self-doubt! Thinking in such a manner won't make you any wiser or spare you from falling flat on your face. It will only hold you back. As I consciously embark on this new chapter in my life I can offer but one concrete piece of advice: There is no point to self-doubt; it does absolutely nothing for you. Let it go or at least begin to as soon as you can.

I'm going to hop on the bandwagon here and say that I too feel this is going to be a pretty awesome year.  :o)  I wish the same for all of you.

Til Next Time,

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Style Series: Professional Flair-Factor - Day 4

We had a wicked thunder storm passing through our area yesterday. Nature certainly can be a humbling force. A day without sunshine is rare in Atlanta, so it was nice to peruse these sunny pictures taken earlier in the week.

I've recently come to appreciate the silhouette accomplished by wearing a high-waisted pencil skirt and loose silk button down. I've never seen a figure that this combination doesn't compliment. However, office environments are frequently freezing; from the lobby, all the way up to your desk. I knew I would have to find a way to lightly layer this look without loosing the professional appeal.

Shirt: Express / Skirt: Express 

I love the stitching in this skirt; provides a more classically tailored look. 

Now, what to wear over the blouse? Anything too tight would be unflattering to the loose-fit of the blouse. Additionally, something too long would swallow up the lovely silhouette created by the high waist of the skirt. I decided to go with this dainty, open-knit cardigan. The light color didn't compete with the wedges and continued the neutral-trend that I felt complimented the color of my shoes. The relaxed fit also didn't hide the silk blouse beneath.

However, the cardigan presented me with another style-challenge: How was I going to maintain my waistline?

Cardigan: Express / Belt: Forever 21
Why with a trusty, woven belt of course! ;)  Cinching myself at the waist with this skinny belt accentuated my waist perfectly, without making the ensemble look too crass.

The gold accents to this cardigan are much more obvious to the naked eye, but this picture and the one below pick up a bit of the subtle shine.

And finally, to the shoes! I needed to find a way to stop my neutral-colored outfit from blending me into the background, and these green Zara wedges were the perfect compliment. I love every single aspect of this shoe, from the leather ankle strap, to the green suede, and finally to the woven brown and beige wedge. The arch is also very slight, which makes them perfect for walking around the office.

Wedges: Zara

And now for the question: What is your professional flair-factor?

Last Thursday my flair-factor was wearing green shoes! Admittedly I have very little green in my wardrobe, but I took the risk and wore green with a completely neutral palette.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend. This past week presented me with numerous challenges, one of which I was completely unprepared to face. I was in a painfully negative mindset for a little while but the unrivaled truth that always comes out of hardship is strength, and knowing that I am now stronger than I was a week ago is the most comforting thought. Let us all start our weeks off with strength, perseverance, and love.

Please do check out the other days of this style series by clicking the individual days: Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3. I've re-sized the pictures to make the posts more visually appealing. I'd love to hear your feedback. :o)

'Til Next Time,

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Daily Inspiration: Advanced Style

This Wednesday I am paying tribute to those unassuming women who have been doing exactly what we all aspire to do for decades: Inspire. No blog to use as a platform, no magazine editor hunting them down to capture their personal style - just them, a plethora of acquired wisdom, and an unwavering sense of self. Cheers to these marvelous women. 

"I think its fun to dress up - its an exercise in creativity".

"I am dressed up for the theater of My Life every day".

"Before 80 you usually lie, and after 80 you usually brag".

"Don't worry about getting older. Every era builds character"


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Style Series: Professional Flair-Factor - Day 3

Looking at the snowy winter landscapes from other bloggers, and hearing about the frigid air from my family in New York makes me shiver from the inside out! I can't help but be humbly appreciative that the weather in Atlanta has been so warm lately; well, warm to a native New Yorker. Even so, I admittedly miss the romantic carelessness that accompanies blizzards, a snow day, and having the excuse to take a "sick day" for the sole purpose of snuggling under warm blankets with your loved one. Throw in a toasty, crackling fire and a cup of hot cocoa (with melted marshmallows please!) and I'm sold.

This week is going to keep me a busy little working bee. And given the circumstances, the very last thing I want to worry about is accidentally putting a run in my tights or creasing my pencil skirt or button down. Typical business-wear is oftentimes just too stiff! And if a girl has to run around, she's going to have to make some minor attire adjustments.

Dress: Banana Republic / Blazer: Zara 

A cozy wool Banana Republic dress sounded perfect. Easy to move around in and requires little to no maintenance throughout the day. Now, what to wear over the dress? I didn't want to clash textures too drastically with a knit cardigan, and the boat neckline of the dress would make any cropped blazer look silly. So after slight deliberation, I put on a quarter sleeve white Zara blazer.

Necklace: Forever 21

Knee Socks: Steve Madden / Heeled Loafers: Nine West / Bag: Louis Vuitton
To ensure that my feet would endure the relentless running around, I opted for heeled loafers from Nine West. I could go on for days about how comfortable these are but I'll spare you my shoe memoirs (... at least for today ;) ). The final touch was ditching the black tights and pulling on a pair of Steve Madden knee socks. 

Now I put the question to you lovely listeners, what is your professional flair-factor?

Today my flair-factor was daring to bare... my knees! One rarely sees knee socks worn in a business environment, but the polished long blazer and loafers kept me from looking like a girl scout, and more like a lively, young professional.

Please do take a minute or so to peruse day 1 of this style series (by clicking here), and day 2 here.   :)

I hope you all had wonderful weekends. Whether your goals for this week are to be super productive, or on the contrary, to be aimlessly relaxed, I wish you all the best of luck on this Monday morning.

'Til Next Time,

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Style Series: Professional Flair-Factor - Day 2

This past week, I ditched the frequently worn neutral palette and opted for a lot of color! I made a temporary exception to the all out matching rule and styled the outfit around these burgundy pumps.

Button Down: Banana Republic / Necklace: Guess
Skirt: Express / Shoes: Nine West
The bow and gunmetal accent make the shoes quite feminine. To harden the ensemble a bit I strung on a multi-chained necklace from Guess. The strings of pearls, rhinestones, and thin chains compliment the formality of the look, while adding a touch of edginess.

A grey ribbed skirt allowed me to fully display the pumps, and also delicately accentuated my frame. I love this about any ribbed skirt. It hugs you in all of the right places, and so long as the length is sufficient, it'll always be office appropriate.

Shoes: Nine West

Not to be a broken record, but I really can't emphasize the perks of a petite size button down enough! If you prefer the tucked-out look as I do, try venturing into the petite section. The smaller fit keeps it from looking sloppy.

Guess: Necklace

I adore a good pair of power-pumps. The open toe and bowed accent provide a polished, feminine appeal, while the sturdy thick heel and suede fabric allow you to strut through the office with comfort and ease. It's a win-win shoe choice.

So now I ask, what's your professional flair-factor?

Last Thursday my flair factor was playing with a vivid burgundy color, both on top and on bottom! It surely breaks up the sea of black and grey suits floating around the office and city streets.

I hope you're all having a wonderful weekend!

'Til Next Time,

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bright & Brisk

We were finally graced with some chilly weather in Atlanta; chilly enough for me to dig out my dress-length pea coat and warm, fuzzy scarves. In celebration of the highly anticipated colder weather (at least on my part) and the opportunity to cozy up in outerwear, I applied foundation with a recently received Sonia Kashuk brush set and asked the Mystery Man to take a few shots.

I've always had blotchy skin, and no matter how thorough I am with cleansing products my skin has always been prone to blemishes. I prefer a thin layer of foundation or tinted moisturizer before leaving the house to help even out my complexion. I've been using the same cream foundation for years but I was never thrilled with the application process. I tried sponges and a whole range of application brushes but the coverage was always too heavy... until now.

My mother gifted me with this Sonia Kashuk brush set below for Christmas and the stippling brush within provides the perfect distribution of foundation. It gives you an airbrushed finish every time, without skimping on the coverage! For the price ($24.99 at Target) and the case it comes with (which I've already worn as a clutch) this brush set is a divine steal.

Coat & Scarf: Macys / Black Jeans: Banana Republic / Boots: Jessica Simpson
 Both the coat and scarf were Black Friday purchases from 2010. Time really flies. 

Boots: Jessica Simpson

Happy weekend to all! And for those of you in the states, happy three-day weekend! :) May we all spend some time in the sunshine.

'Til Next Time,

Monday, January 9, 2012

Style Series: Professional Flair-Factor - Day 1

Despite years of working in corporate America, I still find the office the biggest offender of quelling one’s personal style. I’m a big lover of “business casual” on men (yum) but for women without the funds to dress in J Crew or Club Monaco every day, “business casual” can be limiting and dry. How much spark can you add to professional attire before it’s considered inappropriate?

To address this seemingly inescapable problem, I’ve decided to start a series of outfit posts dedicated to sharing my versatile and unique ways of spicing up the average skirt suit, without breaking the bank.

For those of us spending our days in an office environment, the range of wardrobe choices can be quite stifling. Not to mention, “dressing for success” oftentimes costs more money than a cute skirt and cable knit sweater.

Blazer: Zara / Skirt: Forever 21 / Tights: Target / Heels: Nine West
Here’s a quick solution: Peruse Forever 21 for their black bodycon skirts. I found this knit one for $12.50. Pairing it with a BR button down instantly polishes up a lesser quality item. I bought the shirt for $29.95 during one of Banana’s common weekend sales. If you prefer wearing your shirt untucked as I do, venture into petite sizes. The smaller fit will keep your ensemble from looking sloppy. 

Growing up I was taught never to pair a blazer with anything other than its matching pencil skirt. Now that I've acquired more confidence in myself and in my personal style, I've taught myself not to say "never". Is it just me or does matching occasionally translate into drab and lackluster? You can still coordinate flawlessly without "matching".

Now the Zara blazer is a bit of a financial commitment but let's be upfront here ladies: every working woman must invest in at least two quality blazers. It is such a versatile piece, easily styled for any number of occasions, and it will last you years. The truth of the matter is that a poor quality blazer is easily identifiable. Sad but true for those of us on a budget.

If you're looking to bring a breath of fresh air to your business wardrobe, a memorable rule of thumb is to invest in two quality blazers: one black, and the other a color that compliments your skin tone. I gravitate towards light colored blazers that are multi-seasonal.

Button Down: Banana Republic
In order to get the most out of my purchase, I discern four qualities when buying a blazer: 1. structured shoulders (light shoulder padding), 2. a polished lining (visible when the sleeves are rolled up), 3. darted sides (to accentuate the bust and take in the waistline), and finally, 4. nice buttons. These four criteria guarantee that the blazer will have a long and frequently worn life.

A very dear friend once told me that a sturdy pair of black pumps are essential in Corporate America. You'll need them to not only stomp the city streets with confidence, but to also glide through your office with noteworthy poise. These words remain true for me to this day. So in order to stay true to my personal style, I chose a pair with a touch of flair.

The puckered leather toe and gold chain embellishment are the perfect synthesis of sophistication and sheen. The pump perpetuates the elongating effect of the black-on-black skirt and tights union, while the embellishment stops it from looking too uniform. I scored these lovelies from Nine West during a "friends and families" online sale. The final purchase was less than $35. Cheers to end-of-season sales.

Necklace: Forever 21
And the final expression of my personal style is the necklace. I often feel my femininity quelled by such formal attire, so accessorizing with a dainty floral bib necklace brings a bit of softness back amidst the professionalism.

So, what's your professional flair-factor?

Today, my flair-factor was taking the unconventional route in pairing a light cocoa colored blazer with an all black ensemble. Mixing and matching blazers and skirts with different textures and prints is a fun and easy way to maintain your personal style, while still remaining office appropriate!

I hope these learned tips prove useful! Tomorrow's post, and the second entry to this Style Series will feature a bit more color.

Sweet dreams blogosphere!

'Til Next Time,