Navigating Fall Trends: Ones You Will Actually Wear

Since fall is officially upon us (as in the sweater can actually be worn out of necessity instead of accessory), I thought I’d put together a quick post on three of my favorite fall trends right now. But before we dive into the trends, though, let’s be honest. Navigating trends…most of us don’t have time for that, right? Or we second guess ourselves: Am I too old for that? Do I actually like that? 

Here’s the deal. I want to empower you to make your own decisions on trends. What works for your Instagram blogger crush may not be your style. What that blogger is crushing on may not excite you. Don’t wear anything just because someone tells you that you should. Yes, I realize I’m probably defeating my own purpose in writing this post. However, it needs to be said! Wear what you love. Wear what excites you. But if you trust me as your friend in style, let’s proceed!

The first trend is velvet.

Velvet was HUGE in the ’90s, but I love all things ’90s that make a comeback. I think the velvet texture makes for great formal wear for the holidays (so super excited to see what velvet treasures come out of the LuLaRoe Elegant Collection), but what about everyday wear?

Enter glorious Target flats.

I snagged the pair of wine colored velvet flats (linked above) that I plan on using as my “pop of color” in some of my more neutral outfits. These flats can easily dress up your jeans and sweater for date night and multitask for work.

Next, enter chambray.

Trust me. You need a denim top in your closet. I’ve worn mine (purchased two years from Twirl Boutique in Cedar Falls, Iowa) countless times. It’s honestly true that it’s a closet staple for a reason.

I have tied it over a LuLaRoe Carly dress on a summer night, and I would simply swap sandals for booties and add leggings if necessary for an easy fall look.

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The denim top also looks great tucked into a skirt for a work look.

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The third way I’ve worn the denim top recently is with a printed pant (camo…yes, my obsession) and a taupe bootie for a simple yet fun casual look. No picture because…life…just trust me on this one. I’d love to see the denim top with a pair of leopard skinnies as well.

Speaking of leopard, try camo and/or leopard as a neutral this fall. Pair either with florals, stripes, or polka dots. Just be sure the size/scale of the two prints differs so your look has visual interest and depth.

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Or you could let the camo print stand on its own and appreciate its glory.

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And one final trend I’m itching to try is to wear a floppy, fall-appropriate hat. Target is (of course) killing the game in floppy hats under $25. However, my son told me I looked like a man (his exact words) when I tried it on. I LAUGHED SO HARD. If you want the truth, ask that kid. I then tried it on for my husband, and he shook his head no, which is very unlike him, as he usually keeps his dissenting opinions to himself. Not this time. But I’m not counting the floppy hat out just yet.

The Coolest Thing I’ve Done in My 34th Year

Most of my Friday nights consist of sweatpants, Halo Top ice cream, and my kids fighting me to stay up later. But one Friday a few weeks ago, I did something kind of awesome, though I would also like to vouch for the awesomeness of sweats and Halo Top.

I got a tattoo.

I like to say it was about a year and a half in the making, but in reality, it was about 19 years in the making.

At age 15, I felt the need to start expressing my “alternative” style, that rocker edge. I dyed my bangs (and only my bangs) bright red. (Like why, though….) That didn’t go over so well, so out came the red. At age 17, I begged my parents to allow me to get my eyebrow pierced. After all, I told them, I am first in my class academically. I never get in trouble. I’m a good kid. Let me get an eyebrow ring. (Amazing logic, right?) The answer was a firm heck no.

At that point, I mostly abandoned the edgy side of my personal style, and when I became a teacher right out of college, my edginess still stayed dormant. It actually started coming out again in about 2010 with my first nose piercing, and three nose piercings later, I can honestly say my nose hates nose rings, as each has gotten infected and/or failed to heal properly.

So what’s an edgy girl to do? Answer: get a tattoo.

Over a year ago, I found a picture of a diamond on Pinterest. Yes, this is the point of the story that falls in the “basic” category, just like my deep-seeded obsessions: Target and Starbucks. So like anyone basic, I started a tattoo Pinterest board, and even after a full year, I was still very much attached to the geometric diamond design.

My husband, who has 8 (?) tattoos, and I ventured into a tattoo shop (No Regrets in Champaign, IL) after our Friday night sushi date, and the rest is history. I can’t say enough about Robert, my tattoo artist. He was so friendly and thorough. The pain wasn’t as bad as I had expected. My pain tolerance is pretty high (I have given birth to two babies over 10 pounds), but don’t get confused about me: my tolerance for being mildly inconvenienced isn’t high at all…

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I wanted the diamond on my wrist to be a constant reminder of these principles:

Even when I don’t think highly of myself, God sees me as His precious jewel.

Diamonds are the crown jewel, and that is a gentle reminder that though many aspects of life may be beautiful, I need to remember to focus on the best of the best of those aspects of life. My “diamonds” are my faith, my marriage, and my family.

Diamonds are beauty made from intense pressure. I have inflicted intense pressure on myself my whole life to please others and to be the best at everything I do, but there is true beauty in the life I have created for myself, one that is imperfect but still beautiful.

Oh, and I think the design is really cool, too.

I’m already planning my next one. I can totally see how tattoos become an addiction!

Hi again.

I am a firm believer in the Instagram bio telling the story of who you are. Now granted, it may sound a little ridiculous, but I think there’s something so telling about describing yourself in 150 characters. We can project the selves we want others to see. And one of the words I have added to mine recently is authenticity. So I think it’s time I start unpacking my thoughts on style blogging and Instagram in general.

I have given both too much power.

I have taken a month off out of necessity, and it felt really fruitful to take a backward step and evaluate why I use both (blog and Instagram). In the meantime, I reopened my private Instagram account reserved for people I actually know, where I can post 847 pictures of my kids or any mundane task I find amusing without “fear” of losing interest or followers. But what is at the heart of caring if I lose followers or interest? What purposes are my blog and its Instagram counterpart serving?

I am not naive enough to believe I am a spokesperson for all style bloggers on Instagram, but we all started an account for a reason. Maybe a few people in our private lives appreciated our style. Maybe we wanted to cultivate something just for ourselves in the mass chaos that our lives had become when we were (are) in the thick of raising little ones and going to work every day. Maybe – deep breath – why we started has a little bit of an attention-seeking truth behind it, an ugly truth we never wanted to surface.

For me, about three years ago, I wanted to write about style, to connect to my outside world while navigating the foreign land of northeast Iowa with two babies under age 4 in tow. But as I expressed in my last blog post, my purpose became twisted and unfocused along the way, and blogging/Instagramming became detrimental to my life.

The answer for me was to take a gigantic step back, hands raised, almost in a fearful awe of what negativity transpired while I was so hyperfocused in growing my blog and its Instagram counterpart. Though I have been noticeably absent from my blog Instagram account, I did catch a post recently shared by a few ladies I follow…and it was upsetting, for this exact purpose. It put the blame on the user. It made the user feel shame and guilt for allowing online presence to define her. To some extent, I realize accountability is a factor. Yes, we should step away from our phones and back into our reality when social media gets too heavy. But what if it’s beyond that point of realization? Do we still guilt and shame that user for not being in the right state of mind to step away? Lots of ugly is to be found when we guilt and shame others, even if it we are trying to share a post that is “helping” them see the error of their ways. For me, the only answer was to step back, but I know others out there are probably in a similar state but have not stepped back.

So why am I here again?

I don’t think the answer is to permanently step away from my blog and Instagram because there is a lot of fruit that grows in both spaces but ONLY when both are cultivated and well tended to. And the cultivating tools are in my hands alone. I have known since I was in third grade that writing is a way I can express myself, and my love of writing has grown into a life passion and career for me. The best teachers of writing are writers themselves.

So why do I continue to blog? My answer, my why is simply this: I want to write, I want to share, and I want to cultivate a community where women can come and read about my life as a working mom who is busy, whose focus is never on the same task for more than five minutes, who is being pulled in 865 different directions (I need that jacket, I need to make homemade treats for my son’s class, I need to do something about the frizziness of my hair, I need to clean up my diet, I need to exercise today, oh wait. When was the last time I swept the floors again?), but who still finds the value in expressing her personal style, though others may dismiss that value placed on style as vanity. I would respectfully disagree.

I am a firm believer in the Instagram bio but also a firm believer in style and image as empowerment and confidence. P.S. I’m so glad you’re here, and I am excited to navigate through life with you once again. But I’m also deeply grateful for my time away, which provided me with a healthy perspective shift. Stay tuned. I have so much to talk about.

The Ball of Yarn and Identity Unraveling

This past week, I assigned my students a This I Believe essay, one where they asserted a core value and told stories about the process of learning that value. I have read some really wonderful, impactful, and inspiring essays written by 17 and 18 year olds who know themselves already and what they will and will not stand for. What I didn’t realize is that they would inspire me to assert my own belief, one that has been stirring in my heart for months.

As their teacher, I walked the fine line between giving them examples of my own beliefs and empowering them to find their own. I did give them one example that I felt very confident in telling them: I believe (very strongly) that your social media presence doesn’t define your worth. The sad part about this assertion, though, is I have never quite articulated this point to you or realized it myself until very recently. It has been a hard lesson to learn.

Three years ago, I started a blog. I wanted to share my love for fashion and style on a budget, and as a stay-at-home mom living over 5 hours away from anyone I knew at the time, I had minimal communication with the outside world aside from social media and the blog. I was in the thick of raising an infant and a three year old. When my friends and family told me they read my posts and enjoyed them, it was enough. I felt great pride in being able to articulate what I wanted to say and helping others find budget-friendly wardrobe staples.

But somewhere along the way, my pride in a small audience fell away, and the desire to be seen, accepted, and liked by thousands overcame the process. Here’s how it unraveled:

My identity got entangled with my number of followers and likes on Instagram.

Buying something new that I didn’t need became a way to assert myself as a style blogger, to prove to you that I was on trend. But spending money on things for me meant I wasn’t always protecting my family’s financial well-being.

I don’t have anything new to wear, but even though I’m wearing a really cute outfit, I will not post it on social media because you can’t outfit repeat in the world of Instagram.

Having a new and pretty blog “like them” will result in more followers. So I dropped $300 to make it happen.

Being a member of the Like to Know It group on Instagram will legitimize me as a style blogger. One problem? I was rejected. Twice. It felt like not being invited to that really cool party or something. Ick.

Not selling enough LuLaRoe to meet my business and financial goals meant I was a failure and that I wasn’t working hard enough or worse? I was falling out of favor with my favorite shoppers, ones I would consider to be social media friends, as we interact daily.

I have done more soul (identity) searching at age 34 than I ever did at age 18 when I was mapping out my adult life. I’m in the process of unraveling this convoluted and confusing ball of yarn my priorities have become and slowly starting to realize where my priorities lie. This time, though, it’s happening OFF social media and with God’s help and the gentle guidance of the Holy Spirit, which I have often unintentionally ignored due to the lack of quiet and stillness in my life.

I have also had great teaching along the way. I highly recommend Havilah Cunnington’s podcast series. I am trying to live out her teaching tied to God’s promises. One call to action she gave recently is to do the last thing God called you to do, not focusing on if you’ve missed God’s call on your life RIGHT NOW. It does bring me peace to remember what He has called me to do in the past and walk toward those duties in confidence.

Brene Brown is another teacher of mine…funny how someone you have never met seems to speak directly in to your life!

Her podcast on living a wholehearted life prompted me to start reading her book The Gifts of Imperfection. I have often wrapped my identity around being seen as perfect (or projecting perfection) in little ways (posting the perfectly filtered Instagram #ootd pic instead of the one where I look crazy pale or my dog ran in and posed) and big ways (not being truthful with myself in order to downplay my faults, hoping no one else would see them, either). But perfectionism has been a pillar of my identity for so long, and it’s hard to gaze into the perfectionist process and see such unhealthy behaviors.

As Brene Brown so eloquently said in her podcast with Oprah (and I’m paraphrasing)…Perfectionism is the ultimate fear. Perfectionists are afraid the world is going to see them for what they really are. It’s 20-ton shield. We think it’s protecting us from being hurt, but it prevents us from being seen.

What’s ironic is that I’m seen by over 3,000 people for my clothing business and over 2,500 on social media. But I’M not SEEN. A projection of whom I want you to see is SEEN.

I’ve been a perfectionist all my life in an attempt to minimize my deep emotions. If I’m focused on completing this or that task to perfection, then I don’t have to deal with the deep emotions I feel. In reality? Perfectionism has hindered my spiritual growth as a feeler. In taking Havilah’s Prophetic Personalities quiz, I learned that part of my identity that I have literally loathed for so long (being so emotional) empowers me and allows me to connect directly to God.

Brene Brown also said this in her book: “Trying to…win over someone…is always a mistake because you’re trading in your authenticity for approval. You stop believing in your worthiness and start hustling for it” (34-35).

I can no longer project a self that isn’t authentic. So if that means I blog infrequently, so be it. If that means I lose followers on Instagram daily because I refuse to keep up with the daily grind (and might I add STRIFE AND STRESS?!) of outfit posting, then OK. It is more important to me to live with peace in my heart and a firm understanding of who I am.

The Five LuLaRoe Styles I’m Constantly Reaching For

I have been purchasing, wearing, hunting, styling, selling, living, breathing LuLaRoe for over a year. It’s no secret to you that I love LuLaRoe. But what may be a secret to you, dear reader, is the list of five styles I grab most often when I get dressed in the morning. So I thought a post about what styles I personally wear most frequently would give you a little insight into the methods behind my madness and help you decide which styles will work best for your lifestyle. This post is to also combat the whole LuLaRoe looks like pajamas idea that is floating out there, which I think is totally absurd!

As many of you beautiful people know, I am a full-time high school English teacher and mom of two, so the pieces I’m about to highlight just simply fit my lifestyle and the occasions I dress for!

So, here we go…in no particular order…

The Sarah Cardigan

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I have been a solid cardigan addict for about 12 years (ever since I started teaching). I love layering because it’s one of the easiest ways to create interest in your outfit. And from one cardigan addict to another, the Sarah is THE BEST. Bottom line. The pockets, the length, the quality…and since I live in central Illinois, I am wearing cardigans at least eight months out of the year and even more often if I’m in air conditioning. Believe me when I say that you won’t find many cardigans out there like the Sarah for all of the above reason and more. And one final note…it’s a piece that I can literally wear for any occasion…teaching, church, date night, hanging out with kiddos, running errands. Well worth the investment.

The Joy Vest

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I wear a ton of neutrals that need a little extra oomph, and that’s what the Joy vest provides my wardrobe. I love printed ones and solid ones. The length helps to elongate and slim my frame, which is also an added bonus. I love how unique this piece is as well…a lot of stores sell long vests, but most of them are over-the-top (with excessive fringe or something) and not classic for an everyday look like the Joy. Again, just like the Sarah cardigan, the Joy is on heavy rotation for any occasion really!

The Classic Tee

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I may blog about style, but in all reality, I love a tee and jeans combo. Kinda boring, right? Well, the Classic Tee is great with jeans but also with skinny trousers, a pencil skirt, or knotted over a Carly dress for a fun casual look. I have told you all many times in my posts that I don’t have time for clothes that I can’t wear in multiple ways! The Classic Tee is honestly one of the most versatile pieces LuLaRoe offers, in my humble opinion.

The Cassie Skirt

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As one who carries her weight in her bottom half, I was actually pretty skeptical of the Cassie skirt when I first tried one over a year ago. And I was pleasantly surprised, like I can wear a pencil skirt AND be comfy at the same time?! Mind blown…

I wear this one casual with my favorite band tee or to work or anywhere, really…are we seeing a theme yet? Depending on how it’s styled, I think LuLaRoe can be worn most anywhere! It’s all in the execution!

The Carly Dress

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The Carly has been a lifesaver for me this summer because in all honesty, shorts give me huge self-esteem issues!! I wish it wasn’t true, but alas…it sadly is. My number one body insecurity is my legs. They do not have much shape other than SOLID, and yeah. I could write an entire blog post on that issue, but going back to the Carly…I love how in the summer, I can throw on a Carly and not sweat to death AND avoid the inner turmoil that comes with wearing shorts. The Carly can literally go anywhere, again, when executed/accessorized for the given occasion!

HONORABLE MENTION: The Amelia Dress

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I would call the Amelia the sixth man on my “wardrobe team.” I love this dress for work, a job interview, a wedding, an upscale dinner, even church, though my church is a little more casual in dress. The pockets are everything, and the silhouette is one of my favorites (fitted at the top, flaring out from the hip area).

So there you have it…THOSE are the pieces that I keep on heavy rotation all throughout the year. They work very well in unison with the other non-LLR in my closet for my lifestyle and the occasions I dress for. If you would like to shop for your own LuLaRoe, join me HERE!