January 22, 2014

{GETTING HITCHED} Beginning the Bridal Journey

I can't believe an entire month has passed since Ali and I got engaged! On one hand, time flies - and on the other, it's only been a month?!

A crash course into wedding planning has taught me a few important lessons: I have WAY too many important people in my life, New York City is even more expensive than I already thought I knew it was, and once you get over the initial hump of overwhelming stress, thinking about all the quirks and details that can represent your relationship and future in a day of celebration is a lot of fun. I'm just going to pretend that narrowing down our original 250-person guest list to 140 seats is not a point of stress, (do you even know how quickly 140-spots disappear? Start making a mental list) for the sake of talking about the exciting parts.

I can't wait to try on dresses and receive invitation samples and work with a florist on getting the perfect arrangements and bouquets together and think of a cute (and probably predictable) engagement shoot with our photographer and watch Ali get fitted for a suit (psst, Bindle & Keep specializes in creating amazing menswear for female bodies). And I'm really look forward to planning our honeymoon! Somewhere tropical? Or a string of design-centric European cities (Stockholm! Copenhagen! Helsinki!)? The Amalfi Coast? Road Trip USA?! The possibilities are endless, the hysteria is avoidable, and my god is it a good mental distraction when you're snowed in.

My one and only mini-rant at this point, and I'd be doing a disservice to myself not to mention it, is the complete dearth of quality LGBT content in most mainstream wedding resources. Also, how hard is it to change "groom" to "spouse-to-be" or "partner" or anything else besides groom/husband/yo' man/etc? A tiny change in the language we all use could make a really big difference in how we approach marriage. Yes, I'm looking at you, Lauren Conrad. It's 2014. There are a whole lot of different kinds of weddings! 

January 21, 2014

{STYLE} Looking Forward

Photos by Lydia Hudgens
Hunter Green Pleated Midi Skirt from ASOS, Striped Wrap Top c/o Vince Camuto, Shourouk Marisa Necklace, Moschino Crystal Embellished Pumps, Wildfox Kitten Sunglasses, Pink Maise Handbag c/o Kate Spade
I've been having a bit of "writer's block" lately,  but I'm dreaming of warmer weather and the inspiration I know it will bring me. I'm most in my element when flowers are in bloom and I can don bare legs (again, a slightly outdated photo above from a few weeks past... today there is snow on the ground!) and walk aimlessly for hours without worrying that the cold will chap my cheeks. My wishlist of pastel garments is bursting, and in highly uncharacteristic fashion, I've already started packing for my weekend getaway to New Orleans (for the sake of perspective, my packing usually occurs in the hours before I'm running out the door to rush to the airport).  I know this little funk will pass in the blink of an eye... I'm just waiting for it to happen!

January 10, 2014

{LIFESTYLE} To Keep, To Sell, and To Swap

It's January 10th and I'm still keeping my word on a promise I made to myself on January 1st to halt my clothing shopping. Shopping is something I do compulsively: it's something that brings me pleasure, it's something I do as part of my job, and it's something I do socially with friends. Checking up on the latest stock at some of my favorite online retailers (ASOS, Modcloth, Net-a-Porter), has become a built in part of my morning routine - following checking my email and reading NYTimes.com to make sure a world war hasn't broken in the time that I was sleeping.

While I'm still browsing, I've taken a few steps to curb my shopping addiction for the long haul - and not just until the calendar flips over to February. I registered my email on a site called Unroll.me - which culls your entire inbox to find email lists to which you're subscribed... and was shocked to find that my primary, work-related email account had been registered to almost 400 subscriptions. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of these newsletters and subscriptions were from online retailers - but perhaps surprisingly, is that I probably do fall victim to their sneaky sales and traps more often than a self-identified "Savvy Shopper" like myself would like to admit. I unsubscribed from about 90% of the lists, and added my favorites to my "roll up" - where they are summarized in a single email delivery to my inbox on a daily basis. The best way to resist temptation? Avoid knowing that it's there!

Next, I went through my entire wardrobe and separated the pieces that I wanted to donate, sell, or store for the future. I'm a sentimentalist, and even though there are a handful of items in my wardrobe that don't fit, aren't currently in fashion, or I just know I'm not going to wear anytime soon - I still can't bring myself to toss them. So, these get a special place - the swap pile. We'll come back to this pile later. Then, I sifted through the rest (this is an ongoing process for someone who has a surplus of clothing, as I do), and found pieces that were ready to go to the "sell/donate" pile. They don't have a place in my life now, nor do I see them having a place in my life in the near future, nor do I have a particular sentimental attachment or fondness to them -- and off to a Goodwill or Buffalo Exchange they go! Phew. It's really liberating to say buh-bye (and walk away with cash in hand or a tax-write-off, too).

Now, let's return to the swap pile. I recently became acquainted to a new site called Swapdom, through a friend who used to do PR at Modcloth. She introduced me to the site and shared the basic premise: you upload some of your new-condition pieces to the site that you're interested in swapping, and make them available to the Swapdom community. This was a perfect solution for the pieces that I'm not getting current use out of, but do not want to entirely get rid of, either! If I can't enjoy them right-at-this-very-moment, why shouldn't someone else? I'm still new to the site and working my way around it, but have already found amazing pieces that I'm dying to get my hands on: this star-spangled sequined top, this tartan button-up sweater, and this cute beaded BCBG clutch. You can browse the entire community with their updated-as-items-are-added feed, and search and filter the results by keyword, size, brand, and so on.  Looking for a party outfit? Plug in the keyword "sequin," and behold. (PS, all the items in the photo above are listed on my Swapdom page.) 

I'm curious what methods you all use to curb your consumer habits, purge your closet, and save yourself from wardrobe fatigue?! Seriously. I want to know, cause the first time to overcoming your problem is admitting you have a problem, and I've at least gotten that far! 

This post was sponsored by Swapdom,
But all opinions and scenarios above are real and 100% my own. 

January 8, 2014

{STYLE} Baby, It's Cold Outside

Photos by Lydia Hudgens
 Top c/o Mynt 1792, Skirt from ASOS, Heels from Tory Burch, Handbag c/o Brahmin, Karen Walker Sunglasses

I am so bored of talking about how awful the weather is right now (though I REALLY sympathize for those of you in the Midwest), but I can't just post a picture of myself with bare legs and walk away from it in the middle of a POLARVORTEX, can I? That unexpected 60-degree day we had following a blizzard a couple of weeks ago seems like a distant memory, now. At least I have a solid outfit I can put into rotation when the weather comes around again, right? I might need to make a quick escape for warmer pastures. I didn't have any travel on my horizons for the next couple of months, but there's only so much wind-slapping-to-the-face I can take. Plus, I miss prancing around in sheer paneled skirts and bare legs. Who doesn't?

Winter escapes (and by that I mean, escapes from the winter - not to a mythical winter wonderland) are really, really good for the soul - and I'm currently kicking myself for not having planned one in advance. Did a native California girl really expect to go the entirety of winter without living the freezing tri-state? New Orleans, here I come.

January 3, 2014

{LIFE} To a New Year

To say that 2013 has been my absolute best year yet would be an understatement. This time last year, I was saying good riddance to the 365-days behind me: 2012 was a huge, disastrous mess. Yes, I accomplished a lot, but it was mostly a year of chaotic and uncomfortable change. It's shocking that, somehow, 2012 was not the year of my Saturn Return - but at least I know I survived that and came out of the darkness 134,985 times better (rough approximation), stronger, and more committed to living life awesomely. I didn't start this year with many resolutions or goals, just the one: to be happy... and I can definitely say that living with the intention of being happy has worked out to be the best thing I could have done for myself.

In my personal life -- you know that adage that says one woman can never have it all? 2013 felt like I could get pretty damn close to actually having it all. I completely fell in love with someone who I know I will be spending the rest of my life with... In fact, just a few days shy of the New Year, my S.O. got down on the proverbial knee (not literally, though), and proposed - standing outside The Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of our most favorite places in NYC. We moved in together, redecorated our home to really reflect the two of us, traveled all across the country... it's a fairytale love that I never could have imagined for myself. In platonic relationships, I recommitted myself to my friends - the ones who I know will always be part of my life and who have been an unconditionally loving source of support through the last few immeasurably difficult years. I made a point to be intentional about the time I spent with people, however limited it may have been, and to make sure my loved ones always knew how appreciated they were in my life.

Professionally, this year has taken me far beyond my humble expectations. The year started with a bang when I was invited to be part of the Clements Ribeiro for Evans campaign in London, which was equally awesome and surreal. Over the course of the following twelve months, I continued my monthly column at Marie Claire, designed my very own leather jacket with emerging brand MYNT1792, covered two more seasons of NYFW, collaborated with Rent the Runway on the unveiling of RTR+, began the process of designing a line that will launch later this year, went on a whirlwind trip to Berlin to brainstorm with Navabi and join their Style Council, I partnered with Simply Be to host the "Celebrate You" project, worked with Panache on educating women on bra fit, created a plus-size Style Guide for Bloomingdale's - and hosted an event at one of their NY stores, toured the studios of some of my favorite designers - from Anna Sheffield to Tarina Tarantino to Joy Gryson, wrote a feature story for Bust Magazine, curated a jewelry set with BaubleBar... And the list goes on. There are even a few BIG projects happening behind the scenes that I can't quite let on, yet.

Photos by Lydia Hudgens
Disclaimer: Photos taken pre-blizzard, pre-engagement, pre-flu
ASOS Pink Spot Knit T-Shirt and Skirt, ASOS Vintage Style Cocoon Coat, Lulu Frost Milky Way Pendant, Jennie Kwon Charlotte's Web Ring, "Oui" Ring via Etsy, Bing Bang Bracelet, Loeffler Randall Rider Bag, Shoe Cult by Nasty Gal Heels, Stila Vinyl Lip Gloss

Though the past year exceeded all of my expectations, there's still a list of, well, not resolutions - but personal goals and reminders that are carrying me through the start of the new year...

Never miss an opportunity to express your gratitude. 

Time is precious. Be intentional with how you spend it. 

Step away from the screen!  You won't miss anything when you do; I promise.

Be positive. It really can change your outcomes.

Remember that health and wellness is equal parts physical and emotional.
Take care of yourself.

Spend less. Waste less. Save more. Head start: no non-essential shopping in January!

Relax. Breathe. You can't continue your ascent to the top if you never pause to recharge. 

Keep your friends and family close - and forget the enemies. 

Promote the people, causes, and organizations that share your values - and remember to Do, Say, Do rather than Say, Do, Say, (much credit to Gail Becker for this one). 

Challenge yourself, never stop learning, and stimulate your mind. Psst: TED Talks on Netflix

Be true to yourself. Present yourself authentically. Be honest with others.