Wearing Confidence

A few people throughout my adult life have actually said to me, You carry yourself with such confidence. It took all of the self-composure I had in the moment not to laugh! While I was incredibly grateful for the compliment, I thought that statement could not be further from the truth.

I have always struggled with body confidence, and I think most women actually have at some point in their lives. I have always been way taller than most women I’m around, and I also have an athletic frame. I have my dad to thank for my incredibly muscular legs. But as I learn more how to dress myself to play up my assets, slowly that confidence has trickled in one little droplet at a time.

But I’d like to argue that your confidence also strengthens when you wear something you’re not completely comfortable in but is actually a fashion risk for you. You can choose to wear confidence. A lot of days when I get dressed, I have learned to not even allow my mind to go where it wants to go… to that negative head space that will tell me that I look like I’m trying too hard, or that you can see my belly in that top, or that my legs look exceptionally big today. In all actuality, I can’t let my mind even go there because I am always late and have literally no time to change!

When I saw that LuLaRoe came out with the Elegant Debbie dress, I absolutely LOVED the look. I loved the sleeve length. I wanted one (OK, I ended up with two) in my closet for weddings, fancy date nights, or other special occasions.

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LuLaRoe Elegant Debbie (size small)

It is not something I would normally wear. A lot of you who follow my blog know that my typical uniform is LuLaRoe top + jeans + ankle boots.

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Target ankle boots (last year)

 

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Another look somewhat out of my comfort zone is wearing a metallic skirt. I am very drawn to anything with shine and sparkle, but a full-on metallic skirt was a little intimidating. I bought it last holiday season and couldn’t figure out how to style it until August.

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Stitch Fix tank, LuLaRoe Elegant Jill skirt (size small), Billabong booties

I ended up wearing it in Vegas but also needed to winterize it as well.

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Old Navy top, same Elegant Jill skirt, and Johanna’s entire look is from Old Navy.

I wore it with a buffalo check top for my sister’s baby shower, and a little side note: as I was walking in to the winery where my sister’s shower was held, about four college-aged kids starting giggling and pointing at my skirt. Five years ago, that may have upset me a bit, but venturing out in my style several times in the past few years has helped me wear my confidence.

 

I always look forward to a new year, just like most everyone else. As a teacher, I have some extra time off and can stop to examine parts of my life that need a little fine tuning – one such area is my closet/style. I would suggest you take some time before the new year starts and think about the styles you’ve always wanted to try but have been intimidated by. Take some time to venture through Instagram and Pinterest to find pictures of styles you love but have told yourself you can’t pull off. As your friend, I’m just going to tell you, actually, you probably can pull them off.

 

Fun Winter Layering

Though winter is pretty much horrible (not my fave, to say the least), your winter look doesn’t have to be. I have been recently experimenting with layering and wanted to share a great option with you, along with a little print mixing tip!

The best addition to my closet in recent months is for sure my LuLaRoe Jaxon jacket. The length is so flattering (hitting at the hip), and the denim is stretchy, soft, and basically dreamy.

For a fun and unexpected look, I have started layering my Sarah (duster cardigan) underneath my jacket. I love the length variation for unexpected interest! Try it with similar pieces in your closet.

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I’m also loving print mixing to add interest to any outfit, especially polka dots and stripes, since they pair so well with nearly any other print. I just make sure my two prints I’m mixing vary in size and scale.

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Outfit details:
LuLaRoe Sarah cardigan: size small
LuLaRoe Jaxon jacket: size small
LuLaRoe Lynnae top: size medium
Old Navy Rockstar jeans (these come in tall!!)
Target booties

 

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.