I’m headed to the Caribbean to celebrate my 46th birthday and I definitely have packing and vacation vibes on the brain. So while I’m thinking about my travel essentials I though I’d share those thoughts with all of you.
Now I’ve shared with you all before that I’m a horrible packer. I’m not being self-deprecating or humble, I really am. I usually over or under pack and the second part usually puts me in awkward situations where I’m wearing gym clothes as pajamas- causing my husband to ask why I’m wearing a track suit to bed or grabbing for a swimsuit bottom to substitute… well you know. But hold on there’s more…
My saving grace is that I do typically get my beauty and accessory essentials right-unless you count that one time I went to fashion week and forgot my versatile cute clutch for the evenings out, but I digress, usually I’m on point. I’ve been on three trips in two weeks and here are things that worked whether I was in Idaho or headed to a sandy beach.
A packable hat-not only does a hat protect you from the sun’s rays but it immediately perks up your look. I love one that’s versatile enough to wear with everything from sundresses and heels to denim shorts and tees. I always take one that’s packable, so you can not only put it in your suitcase but you can keep it handy in your purse too and pull it out when needed. It pops back into shape perfectly.
Funky sunglasses- Sunglasses, like hats, serve double duty as equal parts sun protection and chic. I love to throw a couple of chic but fun pairs into my travel bag. Not only do these say I’m here for a good time, but they won’t break the bank or your heart if you happen to leave them behind at a winery like I did with a pair in Boise.
A cute clutch-I got so many compliments on my beaded clutch from Chico’s and it literally goes with everything. I love that it’s lightweight and has a strap which makes for easy travel. It’s also big enough to hold essentials like your phone (I carry my IPhone XR, lipgloss, credit card and room key).
Afterglow lip balm-this Nars Lip Balm is delivers just a hint of a peachy-pink nude color (the iconic Orgasm shade) that looks good on all skin tones, and it leaves your lips hydrated. It’s also long lasting and much chicer to pull from your bag than chapstick.
Drunk Elephants Sunshine Drops-these drunk elephant drops are so amazing. They give your skin an instant glow so that you can go sans foundation. They even have protective antioxidants and fatty acids. Your skin will thank you!
Supergoop sunscreen-I don’t ever leave home without sunscreen (I literally break out in hives if I’m exposed to the sun for too long and not wearing anyway) so I’m a bit of an expert. This one by Supergoop is one of my favorites. It’s a little pricey but I love that it has vitamin C and antioxidants and it doesn’t turn darker skin grey.
A bold lip-the easiest way to turn a no makeup look glam is to add a bold lip. This is the perfect fancy dinner companion. Just apply and go! You won’t need much else.
So those are my beauty and accessory essentials you can shop them all here. I’d love to hear about your must haves for travel.
I’ve talked about how I edit my closet on the blog before, but after we moved I found it hard to get reorganized again. My new closet was much smaller than the very large walk-in I comfortably shared with my husband at our last house. The new one is very cute with nice shelving which displays my clutches and shoes beautifully, and it’s all mine. But it’s painfully small, and to be honest, my capsule wardrobe was no longer a neat little capsule. As my gifted product and brand collaborations started to grow things got a little out of control.
And with a smaller space and more items, I started to have the dreaded “so many things but nothing to wear” problem when getting ready for work. So, I knew it was time for me to take my own advice and edit down my wardrobe. If you are looking to do the same here are my tips:
When doing a closet edit the first thing to do is figure out what your personal style is-this can change and evolve as we get older or as we have lifestyle changes like going from a 9-5 to working from home, returning to work as your kids get older, or even when retiring. You don’t have to come up with a name for your style or peruse Pinterest- though I personally like those things. The real way to determine your personal style is to look at what you actually wear in your closet. Do you gravitate to a more relaxed look, love structured dresses, or are long and flowy maxi’s more your go-to. It can be a combination of many things but there is bound to be a look or style that you consistently reach for. My personal style translates to classic, effortless and structured, so for me, that means I tend to wear a lot of sheath or wrap dresses, jumpsuits, and fitted denim. Find your style by evaluating what you do wear so that you can keep these winning pieces in rotation.
Once you have figured out your look it is time to get rid of what you don’t wear. I personally have things in my closet that are beautiful but not really my go-to style and they really don’t get any wear. They’re just taking up space and making it harder for me to get dressed every day. Here are three ways to help you let go of the things you aren’t actually wearing.
Store it-if it’s important to you and has some sort of sentiment attached to it like your favorite concert tee (that you never wear) or a vintage sweater that your grandmother gifted you that you couldn’t bear to part with (but that you aren’t currently reaching for) you don’t have to get rid of it. Don’t laugh, but I kept my high school cheerleading outfit for years! I will admit that I too find that a little odd now but it was something that I loved having around at the time. It’s okay to hold onto to some things and re-evaluate at a later date, but remember that this shouldn’t be everything. Really stick with things that have some sort of sentimental value.
Sell it– Apps like Poshmark, Threadup and Tradsey are great for letting things go that are in good or even new condition (I see those tags hanging from those clothes in the back of your closet). These are items that would still have a monetary value. It’s a win-win for you and the buyer. You make a little money and the buyer gets an opportunity to purchase your quality items for less. These apps are very easy to use and give you a lot more control than a traditional consignment store.
Donate it-If you aren’t into selling, or your item is a little more loved than what you would put up for sale, then donating is a great option. Not only is it tax deductible but many donation organizations provide assistance or monetary support to disadvantaged populations like families in crisis. So you’re not just cleaning out your stuff, you’re actually engaging in a bit of a philanthropic effort as well.
Lastly, fill in the holes-Once you have edited your wardrobe decide what (if anything) you might need to pull it all together. For me, this is usually a basic wardrobe item like a couple of new white tees or an accessory like jewelry, sunglasses or hats. Come up with a list and make sure that any future shopping endeavors include something from that list. And make sure that any new purchases either support what you already have or fit the aesthetic of your newly edited style.
So, those are my tips for editing your closet. I’m in the process of doing mine right now. I’d love to hear your tips or see any before and after pictures that you have to share.
If you’ve been following along on the blog or on Instagram you have probably heard me make reference to how I looked forward to being 40 when I was younger. To me, it sounded like a fabulous age where you’d have it all together. I realize now that this was not a popular sentiment and the older I got the more I was reminded that it was indeed not universally perceived to be as cool as I thought it was.
In my thirties, things started to really come together for me. However, the closer I got to 40 the more other women would say “Well things might be going well now but as soon as you hit 40, everything falls apart.” Now most often these women were talking about physical attributes and my joy about 40 wasn’t really linked to the physical. I realized that our bodies age. But I also understood despite the grim predictions from my friends and family members that we do have control over how we age.
So, that brings me to today’s post. The other day someone commented on my Instagram page asking how I stay in shape at my age, and I thought about doing a fitness post but honestly, I think aging well is so much more than working out. And while I am certainly not perfect, I can say that things are not falling apart. Here’s why.
I believe the art of aging gracefully starts with your mindset. I think if you think things are supposed to fall apart then they most likely will. I have been resisting the status quo on what aging looks and feels like for a few decades. It all just started with realizing it did not have to be that way.
So, after changing my mindset here is what else I also did and continue to do.
Eat lots of plants-Please hear me on this one- you CANNOT out exercise a bad diet. I am certainly not a saint, I do indulge in things that are good but not necessarily good for me. But, I try to practice something that might look like the 80/20 rule. I eat really well most of the time and that means eating real food that grows from the earth. Eat Mostly Plants!
Find a physical activity that you enjoy– it does not need to be Crossfit or any other trendy fitness program. I tend to like trying new things and welcome the latest fitness craze but you do not have to do what everyone else is doing. Whatever you do just needs to be something that you can do consistently. If you are struggling through workouts, chances are you won’t stick with them. Find something that you enjoy and please stop sleeping on walking. Walking works! It is so underrated, but if you are getting out every day and putting in extra steps you will see results and it is something you can almost always do.
I do need to add that it can’t stop with your workouts. You need to be more active all day. That means making a conscious effort not to collapse on the couch for the rest of the day after said workout. I make a habit of peeling myself off the couch when I get home, walking the dog and doing little household chores daily. I remember when my kids were little I was constantly moving and this is also where I got most of my exercise. Remember calories burned are calories burned and they don’t have to be burned in a gym. Stay active.
Sleep-I am always surprised when people present their lack of sleep as a badge of honor. It is not good for you or your gracefully aging body to function on little sleep. There are all types of studies that will tell you lack of sleep causes everything from weight gain to decrease in cognitive function. Make a conscious effort to get a good night’s sleep. I actually have an old post about this that you can read here. And, if you are are doing all the things that the “experts” suggest and you still can’t get a full night’s sleep please see your doctor. I’m a champion for sleep! I know when I don’t sleep well it shows up all over my face. Get some sleep.
And last but not least Play-if you know me you know I wouldn’t leave this one out. This might fall under mindset, but I believe in not only having a playful spirit (my spirit is so playful that last night I spent ten minutes trying to arm wrestle my husband who could bench press my body weight-obviously a fruitless effort) but also in actively engaging in playful activities.
Visit an amusement park (child-free), play a sport for fun-there are lots of adult leagues out there, but if that’s too much of a commitment gather a group of friends and just play. My brother has a couples group that play softball together a few times a year.
Take a dance class, painting class or photography course. My girlfriends and I visited a studio where we painted desktop size mermaids. We giggled like young girls as our unique mermaids took shape. Doing fun things breaks up the monotony of life. If all you have to look forward to is a 9-5 and taking care of everyone else your days may feel very long. Break it up with play.
Those are my tips to help you stay mentally and physically fit as you age. I’d love to hear your thoughts on staying fit and aging gracefully.
When I was in my twenties I didn’t think much about the world around me, or at least I didn’t with the same ferocity that I do now. I wasn’t truly interested in changing anyone or anything, except maybe me. My focus towards change was certainly more inward, as is true for a lot of young people. It’s hard enough trying to get your own stuff straight, never mind trying to shatter perceptions and misconceptions. On top of being a “twenty-something”, I was a young mom too and to be honest I just didn’t really have time for any of that.
Now to be fair I wasn’t oblivious, I was pretty well read and I spoke up so much in my political science classes in undergrad that I remember someone once said that someday they expected to see me on the steps of the capital fighting for…well anything. I had lots of thoughts about lots of things. And while I wanted that prediction to be true, outside of those classroom walls, I was just a mom, daughter, sister and friend trying to keep all of my balls in the air.
But now that I’m older, I have even more thoughts about even more things and one of those things is truly loving the stage I’m in. My 20’s were a blur. Lots of mistakes, lots of hustling to try to set things right and lots of love being given to everyone but me.
I didn’t document much of my twenties either. There are pictures of some things-thank goodness and no pictures of others (thank goodness for that too.) But just like many of you, as soon as I hit my groove-That point in our lives where things make sense, where we feel pretty good about who we are and what we’re doing-I like many of you got the message that we weren’t supposed to be seen anymore. We were quite literally expected to take ourselves out of the photos. And so we delegated ourselves to be the picture taker.
I’ve had so many friends tell me they don’t want their picture taken. “I haven’t been in a family photo for years!” one woman told me. “I’d never post a selfie,” said another. “Nobody wants to see that!” Except they do…Or at least I know I do. The reason we don’t think our photos deserve a space is that we often don’t see ourselves represented anywhere. In the past decade, women over 40 gradually faded from ads, from television and movies-unless we’re playing someone’s mother. And for some women who are also underrepresented, they were never really there at all. But there’s a shift that’s been happening recently and we have a chance to jump on board and change the tide too.
This year Tyra Banks is gracing the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue 23 years after she made her initial debut, and Paulina Porizkova appears 36 years later (sporting a bikini and wrinkles to boot ) and while yes, I know these are women who hit the genetic lottery and many people associate SI with objectification and the Male Gaze, but the reality is that even supermodels didn’t have a real place anywhere in print media (after about the age of 30) before now.
I think social media is helping change this which means we are at the helm. I’ve talked about why I believe that social media is changing the beauty standard before. I wrote about how we get to choose what’s beautiful, instead of having it spoon fed to us and how we get to stand up and push back on the slanted view of what it means to be a woman who doesn’t fit the narrow standard.
And, even if you aren’t feeling all “power to the people” like I am. I hope that no matter how old you are or what you identify as, that you believe that you deserve to be seen. That your family wants you in the photos. That, other women who look like you want you in the photo and here’s why YOU should want you in the photos.
Not only are you helping to change the beauty standard and let people know how fabulous it is to be__(insert whatever diverse underrepresented category you fit into- over 40, women of color, plus size, etc) but you’re also documenting your life. Pictures do that for us. I miss my dad and my grandma like crazy and I run my fingers across their pictures all the time. It’s a part of what they’ve left behind. I don’t want to just see them young and spry. I want the full picture (pun fully intended) And, no matter what you think of yourself right now I guarantee you that in 20 years you’ll look back and realize just how good you looked, so snap away!!
I’d love to hear your thoughts and I’d really love to see your pics!
P.S check out the hashtag #ShowUs on IG-I recently did a sponsored post with O, The Oprah Magazine and three other OMagInsiders and I loved hearing what they had to say about media and beauty representation too!
I tend to be a pretty outgoing person so I really enjoy meeting people in professional and social settings. Lately, I’ve had more opportunities to do just that. While attending these events I have run into more and more people who have told me just how hard mingling at professional or social events are for them. “I absolutely dread events like this!” one woman told me. “I am very shy and parties like this feel like work for me” another confessed. And another friend shared that while she is outgoing she always leaves feeling like she doesn’t do a good job of networking at events but instead spends more time chatting with people she knows and goes home feeling like she failed.
And while I don’t think of it as work, I have had my fair share of mingling faux-pas like the time I fan girled all over Tracy Ellis Ross and said all the wrong things-note to self celebrities are real people too, just like you!
And while mingling with all kinds of people might be easier for some than others the awkwardness or trepidation felt about socializing and networking effectively might be more of a universal experience than I first realized.
So, if this is something that you struggle with too here are a few things that I believe will make you a better mingler.
There are things that speak for you before you’ve said a word- this is probably a no brainer but I still think it’s worth including. Remember that your body language and facial expressions speak for you before you have said a word. Make sure that if you are sitting or standing your legs and arms aren’t crossed. An open posture makes you seem more welcoming. Also, make sure that you are appropriately dressed for the occasion. I am a firm believer that when you look good you feel good and I mean that in the most comfortable with yourself kind of way. Make sure your look is representative of you. You will feel much better and project that inward feeling out. Lastly I am a smiler but I know everyone isn’t going to walk around sharing smiles with everyone, just make sure your expression is relaxed and your eye contact is steady but soft.
It’s okay to join a group and be a listener-sometimes we are afraid to approach groups because we are worried that we won’t be welcomed in or we won’t have anything to contribute. Unless it’s some sort of sharing out session that probably won’t be necessary. There is nothing wrong with being a listener. Everyone doesn’t have to have the floor. Just make sure that you are nodding or displaying some other form of active listening (i.e verbal cues like Uh huh, I see.. or simply maintaining good eye contact). Remember that most groups are welcoming and if the one you approach isn’t it says more about them than about you. It’s perfectly fine to gracefully exit and find a new group.
Compliments are good but questions are better- many people like to start with a compliment and that’s not a bad idea as an opener as long as it is genuine. However, many times an appropriate thank you might be the only thing you get. After giving a compliment the onus is then on the other person to keep the conversation going. Asking questions tends to elicit more than a one or two word reply. And doesn’t force the compliment recipient to decide what comes next. Most people enjoy talking about where they are from, their passions, etc. So if you start with a compliment (again a good idea) follow up with a question and see where the conversation goes.
Leave your representative at home/be authentic- sometimes we are so worried about putting our best foot forward that we don’t send our true selves to these meetings. Everyone you are talking to is a person with their own vulnerabilities, imperfections and fears. Don’t try so hard to be the perfect version of yourself. I find that this often leads to “I wish I’d said or why didn’t I do”… and while these feelings might occur either way I think I feel the best about the good and even the bad when I know it was my truth. This isn’t about forgetting your manners or lacking professionalism it’s just about being real. People connect with the true version of you.
Don’t network, make connections- remember the Maya Angelou quote about people remembering how you made them feel not what you said. Seek to make connection not to pitch your newest idea or ask for favors. If the connection is there exchange information. You can always follow up later with a more formal business request or idea. The people I have worked with following an event are typically those who I had the best conversations with that had nothing to do with work. They’re more likely to remember you when you send that follow up email as well. Don’t be afraid to insert something that you remember from the convo either “I hope you enjoyed your trip to…. I wanted to follow up with you about an idea I believe you may have some interest in…..”
And an as a bonus tip- if someone makes a comment that makes you feel uncomfortable or offends in any way once again remember that people will remember how you handled the remark more than they will remember what you did or did not say. Take a deep breath, try to hear what the person is trying to convey. I believe that most people do not have malicious intents behind their comment but instead, they may struggle to articulate well what they are trying to convey.
Try to look for commonality and whether or not you agree with their statement start with “What I heard you say was… and give them an opportunity to clarify.” If clarity doesn’t come you can always say “My perspective is a little different. Here is what I believe…” Remember it is okay to have differences in opinion and professional and social settings aren’t the time for squabbling over said differences. Take the high road and excuse yourself from the conversation if you can’t agree to disagree.
Those are my tips for helping you mingle like a boss. I’d love to hear what your go-to mingling tips are in the comments below!
Until next post,
xo Tonya Parker
*photos above were taken at the Palm Springs Chico’s store cocktail party during Fashion Week.
Back when I was a single mom I didn’t dream of a closet full of designer shoes; living vicariously through Carrie Bradshaw’s collection of Manolos suited me just fine.
I received my first designer handbag as a gift at 19 and ever since I’d been more of a bag girl. But when things were tight I developed a core wardrobe. Which is basically several staple items that could be interchanged. To be honest, although my disposable shopping budget has changed I still shop this way.
And while I’ve always subscribed to the notion that a few signature accessories will update your look, I’ve also maintained that when shopping less and scaling back on the number of items you should have more money to spend on what you do consciously choose to purchase. My advice is to purchase the highest quality you can afford to spend at that time so that the items will last and you’re not constantly having to replace them.
Recently I decided to upgrade some of my signature staple items. I already have a classic high-quality bag that I love. So, I upgraded my second favorite thing which happens to be a black patent letter shoe. I forgot to mention that I’m eternally 8 years old (on the inside anyway) and love the nostalgia that a pretty patent leather shoe evokes. I think patent leather is the perfect black dress shoe as it is slightly dressier than regular leather and elevates a look instantly.
And in this case, I followed the in-crowd. Every time I turn around someone is referencing the Christian Louboutin shoe. My virtual friend and fashionista Carelia from My Small Wardrobe does an amazing job of investing in a limited amount of high-quality clothing so I read a few of her Louboutin posts and decided to go with the Pigalle. I’d just gotten a large bonus for a campaign and decided to treat myself. After deciding to go with my true size of 38.5 (European sizing). I pulled the trigger and hit submit. I had mixed feelings after hitting that button the way I always do when I’m not sure something’s worth it. Another reason why I tend to be brand loyal. I hoped I’d really be getting what I paid for.
When the shoes arrived, I posted the unboxing in my IG story and the most asked question was “but are they comfortable.” I think the answer to that depends on you and the shape of your foot. I read several reviews about how they are supposed to fit snug in the toe area and that they’d eventually form to your foot. The Luxe Mommy in one of her YouTube reviews shared that they should feel like a tight hug.
The original pair I ordered felt more like a death grip so I sized up half a size and reordered. The second pair I ordered still felt more like an unfriendly bear hug in the toe area but didn’t pinch or rub at all in the heel. After reading every forum I could find about sizing I decided to keep them. Afraid that a size up might equal heel slippage.
I knew that I’d be sending my shoes to Santa Leather Care for sole protectors after a few wears because the red comes off a little on the soles pretty much after your first wear. Santana is recommended on the Louboutin website for this service and Carelia uses him too. Since I was already sending them to him for the sole protection, I decided to have him stretch the toe as well.
Here are some other things I discovered and if you’re interested in investing in a pair they may be things you also want to keep in mind:
My foot is medium width not wide or narrow but I do believe Pigalles probably fit true to size on those with narrow feet. Unless your feet are narrow Id say you should order up. I should have probably gone a full size larger. If you can visit a store to try them on I’d highly recommend it-although it’s probably going to take more than a walk around a store to know if you truly have the right fit.
Their return policy is quite a pain; they have to go through a quality assurance return check that lasts about 14 business days. Though I knew I hadn’t damaged them I still held my breath because I didn’t want to somehow have to keep a shoe that didn’t fit (although their resale value is very high) because they didn’t pass some return test. I knew enough to not remove the plastic covering and only wear them on the carpet until I was sure I was keeping them. But the test sounded arbitrary and I’ve never purchased a high-end item online before. So this return policy made me nervous but in the end, it worked out fine.
Speaking of ordering online-I get packages all the time with no issue but if you order directly from the Louboutin site you’ll have to be home to sign for these-just a minor inconvenience.
If you care about protecting the red sole-many people do not (as you only see the instep of the heel when wearing the shoe) it will cost you about $50 to send it to a quality cobbler.
They are as beautiful as you would imagine they would be and the quality is exquisite. There’s also no rubbing or digging into your heal the way less expensive brands sometimes do.
I tend to have pretty strong feelings about most things. I usually love something or I really don’t. I’m not a lukewarm kind of girl, but if you asked me if it was all worth it-I’d have to say I’m not sure yet. Insert shrugging emoji here. It was certainly more trouble than I feel it was worth at this point. I’m all about making my fashion life as effortless as possible and I exerted quite a bit more effort than usual here, but I do believe they’ll last forever and quality is something I believe in!
So, now you know everything that I know so far about purchasing Christian Louboutins. However, if you don’t want to pay a small ransom for a quality classic shoe here are two alternatives at a much better price point.
If you know me you know I am pretty brand loyal. I love having my go-to clothing stores where I know the quality, the aesthetic and the fit of the clothing. As my shopping ventures continue to move to much more online than in-store shopping, being brand loyal is particularly helpful. I am someone who loves to be able to feel and smell (that part might be a little weird) the fabrics. I have an eye and a nose for quality. So I am not usually one to venture out of my lane when it comes to brand new clothing brands on my own. However, when Bess and George reached out I was intrigued.
(*this is a sponsored post but as always all opinions are my own)
Bess and George came about when the founders were fed up with stores who made clothing for younger or older women and forgot about those of us in the middle. When I heard this, of course, I wanted to know more. I have spent my fair share of time in plenty of dressing room mirrors in the past seeing my daughter or my mother staring back at me. It can be frustrating when you are constantly tugging something down because it was made for your daughter or wanting it to be just a tad more fitted or just a tiny bit shorter because it was really made for your mom. I can’t be the only one feeling a bit like Goldilocks in that harshly lit room while the salesperson outside of the door asks wistfully if it’s working for me.
Then along comes a new fashion company that not only says it cares about women my age but was actually created by women my age. Knowing that they also had a purpose I could relate to- helping women look and feel their best, I definitely wanted to see what they had to offer.
The first item I selected was the Faux wrap dress. I have listed the wrap dress many times as one of my favorites because it makes getting dressed easier and it’s effortless. As much as I love my fashionista sisters who go all out, I tend to dress like most women do. I always want to look nice, not exactly morph into some fashion star. I like my style to be chic, effortless and always on.
I really liked that it was a faux wrap AND it fit very well. The material and light ruching made it drape beautifully. Faux wraps, in theory, tend to be good because you aren’t fiddling with the wrap and tying and retying all day, but bad because they don’t give you the custom fit you are used to getting with a traditional wrap. Somehow this fabric does exactly what it says it will do. It drapes in all the right places. The husband loved it and so did I.
The second item I picked was the Sparkling Ribbed Halter shirt that I will admit I chose because it was pretty and not for practicality. But we recently moved to a larger city and I often find myself looking for more age-appropriate clothing for nights on the town. So while it might not get as much wear, I think it was still a good addition to my wardrobe and it looks as good on its own as it does with a blazer thrown on top making it a little more versatile.
Overall I was very pleased with Bess and George. Right now their selection only includes tops, dresses, and a few accessories (most likely because they’re a new company). But that could actually be a pro if you’re someone who gets overwhelmed browsing page after page on expansive sites.
I’m really looking forward to their selection expanding because they really do deliver in the fit, fabric, and aesthetic department. I’m eager to see more from this company and hope to share some new spring and summer designs with you again soon.
I’ve been thinking a lot about being open to creative opportunities. As someone who is used to having a plan, that can be a bit of a challenge for me. If you’re familiar with Gabriel Bernstein, the author of The Universe Has Your Back and several other inspirational books, you may have heard her say that it’s one of the mantras she frequently uses. I have to be honest it really doesn’t come easily to me. I am learning to trust my path more and every time I do I find that I end up exactly where I am supposed to be.
Last weekend I hopped on a plane for Fashion Week in Palm Springs. I had listed Fashion Week (imagining NYC) on my vision board and I almost went this year but the pieces didn’t seem to align the way I wanted. Like many of you, my life consists of work, family, and other social obligations. I do not spend it jet setting every other weekend and I do have to use a little balance when it comes to managing my life. So that being said, I shrugged and said “maybe next year” to myself and moved on.
Then one of my favorite brands- Chico’s reached out to say they had something very special planned for us-Fashion Week El Paseo! To say I was blown away would be an understatement. Not only would I be attending the fashion show I’d been dreaming of, but I would also do it with people I adore, and although I love NYC the weather would be much much better. I’d also get to visit a city I had not yet visited before! It reminded me of the saying that sometimes we don’t get what we want right away because there’s something even better in store.
If you are following along on Insta you know that I went on this trip with 4 other bloggers who I really enjoy spending time with. We are all so different yet we gel perfectly. I have to give kudos to Chico’s for appreciating those differences. Many times I look at pics from blogger trips and while I am sure those women are amazing individuals, I’d be lying if I said I could tell them apart. Similar looks, ages, and styles and while there may be something to be said for consistency you know that I love diversity and inclusivity! And I love brands that push back against ageism. Here was an amazing group of beautiful (inside and out) women over 40 living their best lives and sharing it with other like-minded women on the gram.
If you didn’t see it on Instagram here are some of the fun things we did
Cocktails and shopping at Chico’s El Paseo-their largest store
The Pop Up Shop at Fashion Week-check out their new collection here
This is not a sponsored post though it was inspired by a recent hosted trip
This past week I had the privilege of being invited to a conference in Ohio for a brand called Cacique (pronounced Cah-seek). I wasn’t very familiar with the brand but I’d seen it in its sister store when I went into Lane Bryant (typically shopping with friends or buying a gift). Lane Bryant is a plus sized clothing store for those not familiar. I would see the pretty intimate wear but never spent much time thinking about it, as they didn’t carry my size.
When they reached out and asked me to attend a brand event I took a second look. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they now carried sizes 0-28 and cup sizes A-K. I couldn’t wait to learn more.
Walking into their headquarters I was so excited to see the beautiful women of all shapes, shades, and ages staring back at me. This is what body positivity looks like I thought to myself. We often see that hashtag attached to a particular body shape. An effort to say me too. I matter as well. But, the reality is everybody should be using that hashtag. No one group owns body positivity. If you have a body celebrate it positively!
Growing up there weren’t very many other girls who looked like me living on my Air Force base in Northern California. There were some, but we were definitely in the minority. I didn’t grow up in a community where I saw myself reflected everywhere I went. For me this was a double edged sword- on one hand my differences became normal so I don’t typically feel out of place no matter where I am. I learned to be comfortable in my skin. But I also know that part of what helped me feel that way was seeing myself represented in media and marketing.
I was fortunate to grow up in an era where Oprah Winfrey looked back at me from the television every day and Naomi Campbell glared at me from magazine covers. I saw Ola Ray play the love interest in what’s still arguably the greatest music video ever, and Diana Ross winked at me from a huge glass (yes, glass-it was the 80’s you guys) photo that hung in our den. I was able to see the beauty that looked like me pretty much every day.
I thank goodness for that beauty bubble I came of age in, but I don’t think as a society we’ve been consistent with our beauty messages. We’ve had periods of time where differences were celebrated or In Vogue but they were always short lived.
Many companies are starting to embrace and push back on the one size fits all body, color and age standard that we’ve allowed to permeate our culture in a way that I haven’t seen before. I’d dare say, that it’s important to champion this whether you fit into the standard mold or not because more opportunities to create images that all little girls can see themselves in means we’ll have more confident women in our communities.
And if we’re being honest, this isn’t just about our girls. I believe the reason that influencers are taking over the marketing world is that people want to see themselves. We want to feel represented. Whether you’re 14 or 74 you want to see images that reflect the stage of life you’re in. I know I am always looking for inspiration and it feels so much better when I can relate- be it to a woman’s personality, shade, shape or age. We are all just looking to feel a part of something bigger, but similar to ourselves.
I’m excited about this shift and I am going to continue to champion it because…inclusivity matters! I want to see more tables where all people are welcomed and represented. Where “you CAN sit with us” is the norm.
And, If you’re looking for beauty inspiration on the gram or anywhere else make sure that some of the women you follow speak to you. Whether it’s their sunny disposition, their dry sense of humor, their body shape, shade or age make sure you see a little bit of you in them too!
I’d love to hear what you think about beauty inclusivity.