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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Spot On!

It's time to get serious on the blog. Seriously, it's the end of July which means in a few weeks. my summer is over and done. As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been trying to weed out undesirables from my closet,and along with that, I am also trying to get back into a professional frame of mind. On Monday, August 12, school starts back for me which means my sloppy summer attire gets packed up. I've been very conscious of the items I've been buying in anticipation of the cooler months to come, and I've been trying out a few "work" dresses from Gwynnie Bee as well.

Dress- Jessica Howard c/o Gwynnie Bee
Belt- Kohl's (old, similar here)
Shoes- Cato's (old, similar here)



I got word today that Gwynnie Bee is now offering a "Try It, Then Buy It" program with the clothes they offer. I am really excited about that because I loved this dress and actually searched all over the internet for it the other night. I couldn't find it, but now I know that I have the option of buying it from GB. I think this is a dress that I would wear well into the fall and winter with cardigans and tights, and it's great for summer and spring as well. I love the timelessness of pairing black and white with red, and I've done in many times on the blog (see here, here and here for proof).


Necklace- Heat Wave Premier Designs

I've also gotten in a ton of new Premier jewelry, so I've enjoyed playing around with new combinations. I went very simple on this day with just a big, chunky necklaces and a few rings. I purposely bought the bow ring a size smaller than I wear, so I could use it as a "midi ring". I love it because it's like a new version of the old "tie a piece of string around your finger to remember something", you know? I'm not sure what it's helping me to remember yet, but I'm sure it will come in handy!

Rings- Something Special and Smitten Premier Designs

Monday, July 29, 2013

Blast Off: See Jane Write Launch Party

One of the best things about blogging is the personal connections you make with other bloggers. When I first started blogging, I naively (or egotistically) assumed I was the only person blogging in my area. Well, within a matter of months, I discovered that my city actually has a thriving blogging network, lead almost single-handedly by an awe-inspiring woman named Javacia. She blogs over at The Writeous Babe, and in 2011, she started See Jane Write, a community for women bloggers. 


Despite the fact that Javacia and I both graduated from the same university (and the same year), both work as high school English teachers, and our husbands both work for the same company , we didn't meet until I attended a See Jane Write event in January of this year. I was impressed by her drive and determination, and I wasn't at all surprised when she announced that she intended to turn SJW into an online magazine. I was honored to be featured in the premiere of the magazine. So last Thursday, I was super excited to attend the launch party for See Jane Write Magazine.


Dress: Lane Bryant
Bag: Jo Totes
Shoes: Crocs (old, similar)
The launch party was a lot of fun. Curtis was able to meet me up there when he got off of work, and afterwards we ate dinner at our favorite Greek restaurant. I wanted to wear something bright and light because it's been so hot, so I slipped into Lane Bryant earlier in the week and found this dress in the clearance section. Best part? It was only $14! 

Jewelry- Premier
Be sure to subscribe to See Jane Write Magazine to get all the updates and support women writers :)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Get It Together

This was a clearance dress I bought from Target sometime last year and forgot in the abyss of my closet. In an effort to get organized before school starts, I've been going through my closet, my jewelry, my shoes- everything- really trying to weed out things I no longer need or use. That's when I rediscovered this sweet little sundress. It's a nice, light cotton, but the darker colors will make it great for fall, too (can't wait to pair it with a chambray top in cooler weather).

Dress-Target (super old, similar)
Cardigan- JC Penney's (old, similar)
Shoes- Payless (old, similar)
Jewelry- Whimsical- Premier Designs.

I've hired a friend to help me get everything organized. I've finally realized that I am not very motivated to clean and arrange and organize. I think back to being a child and how I would piddle around in my room when I was supposed to be cleaning, and literally my mom would have to come sit on my bed and tell me what to do. Then I think about how messy my classroom is and my closet and my office. I just get so overwhelmed; I don't know where to start. I am hopeful that having an objective opinion will finally help me clear out some clutter and get my act together.


I kinda feel embarrassed about the whole thing. I am a 31-year-old woman for crying out loud! Do I really need someone to help me clean up my closet?!?!? Wait, don't answer that...


Monday, July 22, 2013

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Last night Sean and I were cuddled on the couch watching Disney's Teen Beach Movie, and he said, "It's summer and they are having fun!!" I agreed with him, and he remarked, totally deadpan, "Well, it's summer for us. When are we going to have fun?" Well-played, little man, well-played. We've been in a power struggle this entire summer. For the first time since I started teaching, I was able to keep him home. He is starting kindergarten in the fall, and I thought it would be nice to spend some quality time together. 

I had created this perfect schedule of equal parts fun and learning, rest and activities, and that lasted approximately half of the first day of summer. We got up and went to the gym, then I took him to the park to play. Unfortunately, it was early and no other kids were there, so after about ten minutes he was bored and wanted to go home. Wait! I thought mentally scanning that perfect schedule. I have physically activity scheduled for thirty to forty-five minutes! 

Lest you think I hate my child. This photo was totally posed.
I don't just make this face whenever he's around me.
Just so we are clear.
Now look, I am a high school teacher, so I am always prepared for lessons to go short or fall flat, but, really, how hard can it be to have fun for two months? The answer? Really, really hard. I do not have the energy level (or the interest in Super Mario Brothers) to keep a five-year-old entertained all day. I swear I offered him every activity under the sun- swimming lessons, karate classes, horseback riding, bowling, Chuck E. Cheese- and he turned every single one down. I mean, come on! What kid doesn't love Chuck E. Cheese? It's where a kid can be a kid for crying out loud!

Dress- Forever 21+
Shoes- Crocs (last year, similar here)
Belt- New York & Co. (old, similar here)
Jewelry- Premier Designs

This kid is having none of it. I remember when I was pregnant I would joke around with friends and say that I wanted my baby to have "my good looks and Curtis's good personality", but I have ended up with a spitting-image in every possible way! I didn't have to teach him the side-eye glare or to roll his eyes; he came out of the womb doing it, I think! He has my sleeping problems (and my shopping problems!). He is a mini-me in every possible way, both good and not-so-good. Well, except that Mario addiction- that must come from his dad!


You know how it is- sometimes you clash the most with the people who are most like you. That first day, by three o'clock, we were both sitting in the floor, crying, waiting for Daddy to come home. Now, I try to go with the flow. I try to put myself in his shoes and recognize how boring some of my daily errands are for a kid- grocery shopping, trips to the bank and post office, looking for new clothes... I don't try to jam-pack our days anymore. The schedule is long forgotten. But I had to laugh at his question. When are we going to start having fun? You mean we aren't having fun yet?


I think we are doing just fine!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What a Tease!


So, it's official... there is a monthly subscription box for everything! I don't currently subscribe to any of the big names like Birch Box or Stitch Fix, but when the brand-new subscription service Volupties contacted me about a review I was intrigued. FIrst, it's Pronounced Volup - "Tease". I mean how cute is that? Secondly, it's panties! I mean what hard-working woman couldn't use some new panties, right?  My drawer is currently overflowing with stretched out, old underwear, so I figured it couldn't hurt to try something new. Thirdly, Volupties is specifically for plus-size women, and I love to support companies supporting me.
If you are plus-size then you know most underwear is boring and functional- many places do not cater to bigger sizes. However, Volupties is searching out and creating relationships with plus-size companies. They are doing the shopping for me! In my first package, I received panties from Cacique (Lane Bryant), Aerie (American Eagle) and Hips and Curves (very exciting!). The prices range from $8- 15 per pair and they were all very cute and comfy and current (no clearance rack rejects!)! I was really impressed.

I love getting packages in the mail! Am I the only one? And I wouldn't feel guilty about spending the money because it's something functional, you know? If you want to try out Volupties, you can use the promo code VOLUPTIES and save $5 off your first month's order- so you can get three pair of name-brand underwear for $12!

So, ladies, am I missing out by not subscribing to these monthly boxes? What do you love?



Monday, July 8, 2013

Ladies' Night: Oh, What a Night!


I love my husband. I love my son. And I really loved this Coldwater Creek dress from Gwynnie Bee. Somehow the three didn't seem to mesh well, and since a babysitter wasn't available- I decided it was time for a Ladies' Night. I met up with a wonderful friend of mine in a really hip part of town for dinner and drinks.

OK, a lot of drinks. After dinner at a yummy Mexican restaurant we headed next door to a cool bar/coffee shop (what a great idea!) that specializes in old-fashioned cocktails. We had so much fun chatting with the bartender and watching him mix drinks like a mad scientist in his laboratory! It was a much needed break from my family, and a chance to wear this beautiful dress.


I rarely have the need to dress up so much, but sometimes you go all out for Ladies' Night, you know? When I saw this Oceana Prism Coldwater Creek dress in Gwynnie Bee's new arrivals, I immediately added it to my virtual closet. This dress is fully lined and super-swishy (I'm sure that's the technically term). It's a perfect length- I didn't have to worry about sitting in the high stools at the bar and showing the world my lady bits... That's a different ladies' night!

Jewelry- Premier Designs

I am officially a Coldwater Creek convert, so I've already filled my GB virtual closet with tons of options from the company. I've mentioned it before, but that's one of the things I really love about Gwynnie Bee. I can try out different brands with no risk! If I don't like it, I can easily send it back. If I do like it (or in this case- LOVE it), I can wear it to bed. And to the grocery store. And to clean the bathrooms. And cook dinner. You get the idea! If you want to try Gwynnie Bee risk-free for a month (and find some new dresses to feel like a pretty princess no matter what you are doing, then just follow this link to sign up!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Jackie O Style

So I've had these photos all week, and I just didn't know what to write about! Then Gwynnie Bee sent out their #Throwback Thursday newsletter featuring the style of First Lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and everything just clicked! I LOVE Jackie O's iconic style and I have since I was a child. One summer when I was an awkward teenager and big, bug eyes sunglasses were in style, my sweet grandfather made the passing comment that I reminded him of a "young Jackie Kennedy." I really took the comment to heart and devoured all the information I could. This was right around the time she passed away, and I remember buying all the commemorative magazines celebrating her life and pouring over them for weeks. So I guess it's no surprise I am attracted to classic wardrobe pieces, like this one!

Dress: c/o Gwynnie Bee


Ladies, Gwynnie Bee has been on point lately with the selection they are offering. I've got so many cute dresses to show you, and this Taylor dress is no exception. I love "fit and flare" dresses because I think the silhouette is super flattering, and I love the retro vibe it gives to an outfit. But the print makes it decidedly modern, so I don't look like I'm playing dress up!

I spy with my little eye... A Sean hiding behind me!


 I decided to play up the fifties' feel of the dress by pairing it with a pearl necklace and a sparkly brooch, and I think Jackie would approve! Who's your style icon?


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hems for Her's Guide to Personal Style and Plus-Size Shopping

Over the weekend I received the sweetest email from a reader. She was writing about her mom's struggle with shopping for plus size clothes, and she said in part:" I know she hates that she is heavy.  She hates shopping because of it ...  For her, shopping is not fun it is instead a dreaded task, a punishment even. She feels that going shopping is like going out and confirming that everything you believe about the way you look is not only true but it's worse.  She hates it. "

In addition to K's mom's confidence issues, money is also an issue, and ANYONE who shops plus-size knows how expensive it is find stylish clothes. I intended to respond to the email, but then realized that many of you might benefit from a "primer' for plus-size shopping.  


Step One: Understanding 
Your Body Shape

While I absolutely believe that women do not have to follow set rules as far as clothing goes (rock cropped tops and mini skirts you you want! No judgement here!), many women want to wear things that flatter their curves, disguise their perceived problem areas and make them feel confident and beautiful. To that end, it's important to understand your body shape. By recognizing a basic shape, you can learn to wear flattering styles and ways to show off the parts of your body you really love! I borrowed this infographic from Shape Stylist because it's way better than anything I could make on my own, and it's perfect for any woman. 


Shape Stylist Infographic

Created by IGIGI by Yuliya Raquel

Step Two: Identifying Your Personal Style

I think personal style is something that constantly evolves- with age, occupation, season, life changes, whatever, so I can understand that style can be hard to pin down. I am a teacher and usually were a dress or skirt to work, so I have very few pairs of pants. If you worked somewhere that required you to protect or cover your legs, then you would have fewer dresses and skirts. That doesn't make me better than you or more fashionable than you, that's just the difference in our personal style. Here are a few other tips.

1. Find a muse- Ask yourself whose style you like, an inspiration for your own style. It doesn't have to be a celebrity- they are often over the top with their fashion choices, so that may not always be practical. You can pick a friend who's always put together or your boss or a random woman you see in the grocery store. What elements of their wardrobe appeal to you?

2. Shop your closet- Take inventory of what you already own. Finding your personal style doesn't mean throwing away everything you own (Rest in Peace- What Not to Wear), but instead use what you've got and add to it. Look at the things you wear most often and ask yourself: Does this make me feel great or am I hiding in it? Is it torn, stained, stretched out? Many of the pieces you own and are already comfortable wearing can be staples of your wardrobe. But get rid of anything that doesn't make you feel good about yourself.

3. Take baby steps- Like I said above, you don't have to throw out all of your clothes. By adding just a few pieces you can make your wardrobe more versatile without breaking the bank. Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen gives fabulous advice for creating what she calls capsule wardrobes- pieces that can by mixed and matched for nearly unlimited outfit choices. I would also recommend Audrey at Putting Me Together for her Wardrobe From Scratch series for helping you pick wardrobe basics and colors and other essentials.


Step Three: Shop Till You Drop

I am constantly frustrated by the lack of fashionable options in size 12+ that are easily accessible to the general public. Plus size women are usually relegated to a small back corner of the store and the options are often limited and ridiculous. If you don't believe me, check out this Tumblr. Why do clothing manufacturers default to unflattering cuts and prints. Like K mentioned above, it sometimes feels like we are being punished for being fat. "Sorry, chunky monkey! You can wear that print in a tank top. Here's a empire waist top with a drawstring and batwing sleeves! Way more appropriate for you." That being said, all hope is not lost. More and more retailers are realizing the value and importance of plus size shoppers and they are beefing up their options.




I know some women hate it, but I LOVE shopping online. No lines, no unflattering dressing rooms, no hunting down your size. The downside to online shopping is sometimes things don't fit, but most returns are free, so it's not the end of the world. My favorite places to shop are:
Old Navy- Great selection in standard and plus sizes (also maternity! Not just for pregnant women anymore!). They also have great promotions and huge sale selections. Great for basics.
Gap-I love Gap jeans. Very true to size and perfect rise for avoiding the dreaded "muffin top"
ASOS Curve- UK-based company with very trendy, high quality clothes. Some things are crazy expensive, but most are reasonably priced- wait for sales or Google promo codes
.
Dorothy Perkins- Another clothing company from overseas. Free shipping to America for purchases over $75. Huge, awesome dress selection and great sales.
Simply Be- This is an exclusively plus-size website with tons of great, hard-to-find brands and awesome sales.
Land's End- They always have a great sale and plus sizes AND PETITE plus sizes.
Kiyonna- Be still my heart! Kiyonna specializes in beautiful plus-size dresses, but they also sell skirts, tops, pants, and swimsuits. The quality is phenomenal and everything is made in America!
Eshakti- Customizable clothing up to size 36W. Beautiful dresses and quick shipping.
Dress Barn- I know! I was a little incredulous myself, but they have a lot of cute pieces in plus sizes.
JCPenney's- In the past year, JCP has really upped their game and they've got a great plus size selection
Finally, for women who want to to try out different plus size brands without committing to them, Gwynnie Bee is the perfect option. I realize that the company is a sponsor, but truly, these women are passionate about the plus size community. Their mission is to make every woman feel and look beautiful. You can try Gwynnie Bee out for one month for free and see which brands and styles you like the most.

Allie also has a great post on plus size retailers here, so be sure to check it out for other options!

Step Four: Confidence

I know, I know... I talk about confidence a lot, but it is seriously the most important thing to add to your wardrobe. Here are some of my favorite posts about loving yourself and accepting yourself:









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