Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Where I'm At...



So many times at the end of my day when my sweet daughter is tucked into bed, I've sat down to write a blog post, with a great topic planned started typing a few sentences then hit the delete button a few times and ended up not publishing anything new. I even questioned if this post was worthwhile publishing. Nothing has felt right. I have been in an endless cycle (and still am) of feeling guilty as though I was letting you my readers down by not producing new content, feeling like I had temporarily quit something that brought me joy. Yet, at the same time with so much going on in my personal life due to a new set of circumstances, spending time on such things seemed frivolous at best when I was (and am still) dealing with a lot of new changes, challenges and immediate to do's pulling me in every direction as I attempt to navigate the new path I'm embarking upon. When I have had some time, I've opted for fashion-oriented posts (something I continue to receive a lot of requests for) but also because they aren't deep posts. Although my passion for classy woman ways has been here all along, my mind and heart are preoccupied. Please know, there will continue to be a variety of content here on The Classy Woman (I already have some great post ideas lined up when I get closer to the other side of this storm I'm walking through), but it will take some time to get back into that groove. To all of my longtime readers: I appreciate you sticking around as my blog has often sat dormant for weeks on end! :) I wanted to write a bit of an update of sorts, just to let you know I'm still here, I have so many great plans for this space and so many wonderful messages still to share, but in life, as we know, timing is everything and sometimes that timing isn't for us to determine. For now may posts may continue to be sporadic but I'm committed to producing great content that you enjoy reading and hopefully inspires and encourages you, that's always my goal.

Thank you to those who have written sweet words of encouragement or offered prayers and to those of you who have reached out by checking in on me to see how I'm doing on Facebook, Instagram and via e-mail or messenger, without me really giving you much to go on other than I'm personally experiencing an uncharted territory, this new season of my life which resembles the Autumn season in many ways. While I still can't reveal too much right now in the way of details, what I can tell you is that I am rebuilding my foundation from the ground up. Adapting to new changes (such as our move to a new state across the country) among many others take the front seat while everything else seems to take its rightful place on the back burner. It's been a little over 2 months now since we moved from Florida to California and we are adjusting well to life here. Lily and I love it here and the weather alone is reason enough to get up every morning with a smile on our faces! When we were visiting back in March during our spring break trip, I felt a special calling to this area in my soul that I just couldn't quite shake or put into words. I remember crossing the California state late into Nevada on our way to catch our flight home and I wondered when I'd be back, so many times I had visited, California has felt like home but this particular time it's like my heart new what was coming even when I couldn't have predicted the future or how it would unfold.



Change requires the use of new muscles that haven't yet developed their memory. I liken it to going to the gym for the very first time. It's easy to go full force (sometimes overdoing it by doing too much too soon), trying to figure everything out, you become tired, feel burned out at times and may even wonder if you've taken on too big of a challenge....but then you stop and think about the rewards that await you in your future, the goals you've set for yourself, what will bring the most happiness and peace to you and how the current way you've been doing life just isn't fitting into that dream and that is motivation enough to keep at it. For me, my precious daughter is that motivation. Everything I do, it is with her best interest in mind.

What I know for sure is this: change is good for the soul. What I also know is that the very things we fear in life will rear their ugly head if we don't address them. Likewise, the things we cling to are often stripped away so we can see just how capable we are without them. Lastly, when we embrace new challenges we can see firsthand that we are stronger than we believe we are through circumstances that we couldn't have predicted and may have even dreaded the thought of. So many 'what if's' have swirled through my mind during these past few months, I have often thought back to years gone by and wondered what I could or should have done differently. The truth is, while I could have taken a different path or course corrected in some way earlier on, this is where I believe God wants and needs me to be right now. When we find ourselves out of our comfort zone, we have no choice but to lean on Him in a greater way. I've been doing just that. Sometimes we need to protect ourselves from the world for a season, focus, plan and work towards the future without distraction (or less of it anyway). That's where I find unplugging from social media or scaling back on it particularly helpful.

Sometimes after being bombarded and feeling as if so much is coming at you, it's nice to get a much needed respite to just be on the offense planning for the future instead of on the defense blocking punches so to speak.

So, there you have it- a pretty vague post. I'm sharing and yet not saying much of anything all at the same time even though writing this post is something that I know is long overdue. Part of that has to do with information that I legally cannot disclose at this time. As someone who values transparency, it's hard and I feel stifled in a sense writing in this manner and yet at the same time, I feel as though anyone who has gone through a difficult life challenge or season such as the loss of a loved one, enduring a devastating illness (or caring for someone who has), the loss of a home, a move across the country (or globe), a divorce, the loss of a business or job or even the parting of a longtime friendship will resonate with my words in some way, or understand where I'm at.



Above all, when life has handed me the toughest moments I turn to scripture, a reminder of God's promises to me and to all of us. My favorites are Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose". One particular message that I shared recently and have personally felt over and over again in my spirit is: "The Lord will fight for you, you only need to be still" ~Exodus 14:14 which is the perfect message if you feel as though you have to fight for yourself or are under some kind of attack or opposition. Finally, "When you go through deep waters, I will be with you" ~Isaiah 43:2  I know the Lord's purpose prevails regardless of any plans I make for myself, and I kind of love that idea actually. No matter what lies ahead, I know He's got my back and His plans always turn out so much better than mine anyway. In big and small ways I have seen His faithfulness during this time, I've seen prayers answered and while I have many questions and unknowns, I'm trusting Him with all the details.


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I love you all, as always thank you for reading!

XO



*image source

Friday, September 2, 2016

Long-Sleeved Navy Floral Dress




DRESS:  Make Me Chic  c/o (also here) //  BOOTIES: Sole Society (in coffee) 
CLUTCH: Nine West old (similar style)  // SUNGLASSES: Target (Designer version by Tom Ford
EARRINGS: Merona old (I love these ones)  // BRACELETS: Forever 21 




Happy September!! Is anyone else wondering where the summer went? Speaking of time passing quickly, I just realized it's been two whole months since my last post here! Some of you may have gathered I took a bit of a summer sabbatical as I attended to some family needs. I'm glad to finally start writing here again and going forward you'll notice a change in my fashion posts as we recently moved across the country last month from Florida to....... California! More on that to come soon but in the mean time I'll give you a little sneak peek into my backyard. :) Today's outfit is very much inspired by my new surroundings. As the Autumn season has been hinting at its arrival here in the bay area with maple leaves falling daily coupled with cooler morning and evening air prompting the need for layers, I couldn't help but wear this new long sleeved floral dress with my favorite pair of suede booties, something that would be an impossibility in the sunshine state this time of year.




Welcome to my backyard! Behind our new house are these beautiful rolling hills, home to families of deer, wild turkeys and other wildlife. I couldn't be more in love my surroundings. It's not uncommon to see deer here on a daily basis, sometimes even walking down the street. After school, Lily always asks to go see the 'reindeer'. ;) 




On weekends when I'm not wearing jeans I prefer longer dresses with a denim jacket or cardigan so this long sleeved floral dress from Make Me Chic combines the best of both worlds. It's lightweight enough to keep me cool when the sun is its most intense and warm enough once the temps dip. I love that it buttons down, it would make a great option for all of you nursing mamas. 




You might remember these booties I shared with you last year that sold out in record time. Great news!! They have been fully restocked again this year in all sizes and 4 gorgeous colors. They fit both wide (and narrow feet like mine) as per the reviews and are comfortable to boot-no pun intended. They are my go-to pair, I love the simple buckle detail and they pair with everything from dresses and skirts to skinny jeans and shorts too. I couldn't resist pulling out one of my favorite faux croc clutches to pull out the purple color in the flowers on this dress for a dressed up casual look.








I've been experimenting a bit lately with a slightly bohemian, yet still classic style. The west coast has inspired some of my recent new purchases, I'm enjoying the relaxed vibe here and drier climate. 

















If you're still experiencing the heat wave of summer, this dress is easy breezy and would be complemented equally as well with a pair of gladiator sandals and a crossbody bag for a classic weekend look.



This sweet family of deer (it's hard to see in the photo above but there are actual 4 present) were my audience the entire time I was shooting in the hills. They were so sweet, wagging their little tails and watching my every move. You can see see the mama and her baby really well here.





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I believe every woman should own a collection of dresses that make her feel comfortable yet stylish, but most of all-feminine. Case in point, this floral maxi dress for just $28!

What are your favorite wardrobe pieces for transitioning from summer to fall?

XO




Friday, July 1, 2016

Classic Black and White Gingham Dress




DRESS: Make Me Chic c/o  (also here)  //  HANDBAG: local boutique (similar herehere, here ) 
SHOES: Nine West old  (similar style here + here) // SUNGLASSES: Target (designer version here)
EARRINGS: Merona no longer available (love this style)  //  BRACELETS: Kate Spade 





When I think of summertime, an array of images come to mind. Visions of bronzed sun-kissed skin, lazy beach days, strawberry picking with the family, relaxing with a big glass of sweet tea or lemonade in hand to beat the heat, making s'mores by the campfire at night and of course eating lots of juicy watermelon slices and picnics in the park. Summer is a time to kick back, relax and opt for less fussy attire and there's something about gingham that just reminds me of those picnic in the park (likely the red and white iconic picnic blankets and tablecloths). When the hazy, humid days of summer are ushered in, there's nothing better than a gauzy or breezy dress in a lightweight fabric like this one to keep things both comfortable and cool while still looking polished and ladylike. 



As a lover of classic style, I tend to focus on staple fabrics, patterns and colors such as black and white (which my closet is filled with!) in a variety of patterns such as striped tees, solid blouses and dresses along with polka dots. When Make Me Chic recently reached out to me to collaborate with them, I couldn't resist adding this ruffle top spaghetti strap gingham dress.

Although off-the-shoulder looks are on trend and everywhere right now, I'm a practical gal at heart and with a toddler to chase after all day, not having to readjust my clothing often is important to me. The thin straps on this dress solves that issue and provides just the right amount amount of support while still giving it that strapless or off-the-shoulder vibe. The ruffle top adds a flirty, romantic feel (that accentuates your bust area-a nice perk for those who want a little extra oomph in that department) and because it's covered, while I wore a strapless bra, you could technically go bra-less and find them uncomfortable in the heat like I sometimes do. I also love how this dress cinches at the waist, it's quite figure flattering with a retro, ladylike vibe. You also can't beat the price at just $32!




Yesterday, Lily and I headed out for the day but I did't feel like carrying a large tote as I often do to carry both of our necessities. I decided to pair my new gingham dress with a red cross-body bag for a pop of color to hold my essentials (which can be worn as a shoulder bag too). I discovered it at a local FL boutique but I found some very similar options like this two-tone version, this slightly larger version, and this one that features the same type of gold hardware.






After heading out early for a couple short appointments and running a few quick errands, we made our way over to Julie's Waterfront, a very casual restaurant situated on the water with great food and service along with a cute patio area and of course a view. It was such a stunning day with the most beautiful blue skies and fluffy white clouds that often resembled popcorn. I couldn't resist snapping a few photos while there of this adorable summery mural below that was painted on the fence near the entrance.





After lunch, Lily fell asleep in the car (as she often does when we run errands midday) so I read and caught up on a few e-mails. Next, I swung by the house and loaded up on water, juice and snacks to make our way to the park after first swapping out my heels for my favorite pair of black flat Tory Burch sandals which are the ones I wear most often. I typically make shorts and a tee my go-to for our park days together so I can slide with her and worry less about getting dirty but there's something so lovely about getting to still feel feminine even in places where you might otherwise typically dress very casually. Because this dress is so lightweight, it was the perfect option, especially since we made some new friends there who just moved here from out of state and we ended up staying for a record 3 hours!






What I like most about this look is that it's easy and with it being black + white, you can add virtually any color to change up the look each time you wear it-yellow or hot pink are other fun options. I have long loved the versatility of separates, however, I usually end up with more dresses than skirts because they're something I can throw on without spending too much time coordinating, add a swipe of lipstick, a pair of heels (or flats) and out the door I go! This dress can easily transition from day to night by adding a cardigan as the temps drop along with a clutch for a slightly dressier look.



Here are a few other similar classic black + white gingham dresses for summer at varying price points (some are on sale right now), including this adorable toddler/child version (on sale!) which matches the style of my dress almost identically and would be perfect for you mamas who like to match with your daughter. 








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As always, thank you so much for stopping by! Wishing all of my Canadian friends a Happy Canada Day today and my American friends a Happy 4th of July weekend! Since I'm a dual citizen, I'll be celebrating both. Have fun and stay safe everyone. :)

XO





*Thank you to Make Me Chic for sponsoring this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Floral Print Maxi Dress



One of the perks to living in Florida is that I get to live in dresses almost year round. April marked the beginning of 90-degree temps for us so jeans and pants of any sort lately have been rare, shorts still feel a bit too clingy and it seems the only thing that is both comfortable and weather-appropriate is long loose flowing dresses or shorter lightweight ones.




Since I'm always on the hunt for beautiful yet affordable dresses, I was so excited when I stumbled upon this online shop a few months ago (you might remember this eyelash + lips tee that I shared via instagram during spring break which was also found there). I couldn't get over their pricing and free standard shipping on any order. When they reached out to me recently to collaborate, I knew I wanted to order one of their dresses as I've been curious about the overall quality and fit for the price.

Since it's sometimes hard to determine quality through a computer screen, I was delighted when this gorgeous blue floral maxi dress arrived and not only did it fit me perfectly but it looked even more beautiful in person just as the reviews stated! As someone who is tall (5'9"), dresses are often not long enough for me-maxi dresses in particular, but this one is true floor length for me, I paired it with my gray medium height wedges to keep it off the ground so if you're shorter you may want to get it hemmed a touch or wear a higher heel. The best part is it's a steal for under $25 on sale right now!















I have always loved halter style tops and dresses for the reason that they evoke a sexiness that isn't overt-just a hit of soft sun-kissed shoulders. This one also has a little peek of exposed back which I personally like. The fabric of this dress is lightweight (but not see-through) and it's both flowing and feminine. I always appreciate dresses that are effortless and can be worn in a variety of ways. I plan to pair it with a red crossbody bag during 4th of July weekend but also look forward to adding a sunny splash of color with a yellow clutch and a white tote bag in the future too.



OUTFIT DETAILS:

Dress: SheIn c/o //  Heels: Nine West (old) similar: here 
Bag: Franco Sarto (not avail. online yet) similar: here, here, here, nearly identical here from SheIn + comes in 4 beautiful colors & is only $31!)
*Designer Chloe cross-body Saddle Bag: hereherehere
 Cat Eye Sunglasses: Versace (no longer avail) similar   //  Pearl Earrings: Majorica 
Lipstick: L'Oreal (color: Blake's red)  //  Nail polish: Julep (color: rose bombshell) 


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I'm going a bit monochromatic today wearing mostly blue with this new Chloe-inspired crossbody saddlebag along with a red lip and pedi polish. I've had my eye on the designer version for months but it's out of my budget at the moment so when I found this gorgeous blue dupe locally for a fraction of the price, I knew I had to get it and that it would pair well with skirts, shorts and of course denim too. It provides a bit of a relaxed bohemian vibe which I like to provide a more relaxed look keep this dress from being too prim.

Below are some other classy dresses that I've had my eye on for summer...








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What are your favorites types of dresses for summer?

Thanks for reading!

XO



*In collaboration with SheIn 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

8 Things You Should Always Keep Private




One of a classy woman's most notable characteristics is her ability to remain discreet. Keeping matters private not only creates a sense of trust and mystery but it just adheres to proper protocol and good manners, after all, the goal of being well mannered is to allow others to feel comfortable in our presence. When we blurt out a personal problem or another such confidential matter, we essentially invite others into that space, when in fact it is often not meant for them. Sharing too much can make others feel awkward and unsure how to reply or act after learning of the information that's been revealed. I first tackled the idea of discretion a while ago in this post.




The other day, an old friend reached out to me via private message on Facebook and point blank asked me a question that I was not expecting to answer, it pertained to my personal life and I was a little unsure at first how I wanted to reply. While this person was once one of my best friends and I have always been grateful for that friendship, at the present time we have not seen one another in several years and I would consider them at this point to be an acquaintance. Although the question came from a place of care and concern (and curiosity, I'm sure), I still debated exactly how much I wanted to expose. In the end, I provided a brief little synopsis, I didn't go into all the details but uttered just enough to get them up to speed.

About an hour later, the thought crossed my mind that maybe less would have been best, I could have simply just replied 'yes' to their question without feeling the need to explain further. However, given whom I was corresponding with, I didn't want to come across as being short and yet didn't want to tell more than I felt comfortable with sharing at that moment either. In the end after we exchanged a couple messages, knowing this person's level of trustworthiness; integrity and their heart, I was okay with having shared a bit more than I normally would have but it was a good reminder for me that going forward I want to ensure that I only reply or talk about information in the way that I feel is best. I got to thinking about how people often overshare unnecessarily and divulge private details of their life that can often have repercussions. It sparked the topic for today's Manners Monday post.





By now, you might be wondering what some of the off-limits topics are so you can avoid such pitfalls so I'm sharing with you '8 Things You Should Always Keep Private'. While there are many aspects of life that we should keep to ourselves (or at the very least only opt to confide in a Doctor, Psychologist/Mental Health Counselor, our parent(s), our spouse or the closest of trusted friends), there are 3 that rank highest in order of importance, they are: your level of income, details of your love life and the plans for your next move. I have also written about an additional 5 which not to be overlooked. In this age of social media and reality TV where for many their life is an open book for all to read/watch, as a lady we must be keenly aware and conscious not to cross the sometimes blurred line between public and private. Resist the urge of telling your story to anyone who will listen. Don't give people the privilege of knowing of knowing everything about you.



8 Things You Should Keep Private


1. INCOME: Unless you're applying for a home loan or purchasing a new car, your salary should not be a topic of conversation and is best kept under wraps. Among colleagues and coworkers you just never know who earns what and it can create an uncomfortable working environment and can bring about negative emotions from others who have had a longer tenure within a company (especially if they earn less than you). In the company of friends, it can make them feel less than if you have a greater earning capacity however, if you earn less (especially far less) than your friends, they may feel you cannot afford certain outings and may even exclude you from events. Nothing good can come from sharing how much you make.

2. LOVE LIFE: The details of true intimacy between a couple are intended to be enjoyed only by the 2 parties involved. Recounting the details of one's sexual escapades not only invites others into a space they don't belong (and provides others with a visual they probably never wished for) but it creates a level of mistrust. The bedroom (or whatever place one chooses to experience private moments with their partner) is a sacred place, it involves trust, communication and an ability to feel safe as they are able to express and be themselves. This bond is broken when shared in passing during Monday morning water cooler conversation or while out for dinner with girlfriends. If something seems out of the ordinary, ask your health care provider or a sex therapist instead of everyone who you encounter. If you're having the time of your life and thrilled with your partner, there may be a temptation to reveal how amazing everything is but it's just not appropriate conversation and it creates an awkwardness between you and others. There is that old adage... never kiss and tell!

3. NEXT MOVE: Whether you're planning to jump ship and leave your career behind to become a stay-at-home mom or you're moving towards starting your own business, or you're navigating the choppy waters of a difficult divorce, it's wise to stay tight-lipped about future plans. There is something to be said for the element of surprise and while details are still being hashed out, it's important be quiet and allow things to unfold as they do. First off, this can become gossip that certain people would love to feed off and run with and you never know who might tell what to whom. The more people you run your ideas or goals by, the higher the chance the information will get into the wrong hands. Let people see how your life unfolds by your actions, not your words. While some may say that being intentional and telling others what they're doing is actually a form of accountability (and it can be in certain areas of our life such as beginning a new workout program when it's shared with a trusted friend), generally speaking though most times it is not in your best interest.

4. MEDICAL CONDITIONS: Some people take comfort in being able to relate to others who share the same disease or illness they have, we all like to feel as though we have things in common with others, however be careful not to speak about what we know to be the negatives in life. It's easy to adopt a victim mentality and/or find one's identity within an illness. The danger in sharing your medical history and current condition is that it comes across as though you're looking for others to feel sorry for you and a classy woman never looks for other's sympathy. Many health-related topics can also be quite gross to hear about for the average person not in the medical field. It might be your day-to-day norm but completely foreign and cringe-worthy to another person who hears it in passing. I can assure you that nobody wants to hear about an oozing sore, hearing you talk about aches and pains nor do they want to know you that intimately. Even with a spouse or mate, it's wise to use discretion. A health care provider is the best person to talk to and if necessary, a social group with others who are in your shoes.

5. RELATIONSHIP DETAILS: Whether you're head over heels in love with your new sweetie or had a massive blowout disagreement with your significant other, while the details may seem like juicy gossip to some (you can almost guarantee your words will be repeated!), it's not becoming of a lady to air out all of her dirty laundry for all to know about. We all have problems, no relationship is without the occasional argument or challenge, however when you share with others what is likely just venting in the moment, you violate the trust between yourself and your partner. Even if you had the best first date of your life and you're dying to share-refrain. Once again, something gets taken away and it's not as special once everyone knows about it. If you learned your husband, boyfriend or new date was sharing such details with his friends you'd likely feel a bit awkward, betrayed and maybe even embarrassed, not a great way to build a solid relationship.

6. FINANCES: This is an area that should always be a mystery. Did you just buy a brand new house, a boat, a luxury car? Let people wonder if you just got a promotion at work, won the lottery, received an inheritance, saved up for a decade, etc. This is one of the most personal matters, it's also one area that we know not to ask others about so why it is available for public knowledge? I've overheard people in a casual setting telling others they're broke, their home is in foreclosure, they received trust money (and specified the amount), etc. It is nobody else's business but one's own. Also, resist the temptation in sharing in an effort to learn more about someone else's financials whether it be a friend, acquaintance or someone you're seeing. If you're planning to become married, it's wise to know these details and it's not at all inappropriate to find out-it's smart for a woman who doesn't want to  become blindsided later. Although I can't attest to using these tools before becoming married, these days learning what their FICO score is or running a background check are all part of the modern times we live in, as they can have a serious impact on the quality of your life down the road.
  
7. ANYTHING CONFIDENTIAL: I think it goes without saying that if someone has shared something with you in confidence, it needs to remain that way. Yes, when you get married two become one and there is that temptation to share every single thing with your spouse but not everything needs to be talked about and if you've been explicitly asked not to repeat what was told to you-don't! It's not your story to tell. Even when it hasn't been spoken, oftentimes the nature of the conversation determines that it's implied when certain information should not be repeated. Likewise, details of a legal agreement, settlement, work contract, etc., which are not intended for others' eyes should not be communicated to anyone else outside of the agreement. By sharing such details in confidence, we put others in the uncomfortable position of learning about something that they should not be privy to in the first place and there's no going back after the words are uttered. 

8. THERAPY SESSIONS: I think this is an area where a lot of people speak freely, stating "my therapist thinks..." or "my counselor said..." it seems to have become commonplace in our society as people no longer feel hesitant to seek help (which is a good thing). Therapy of any sort is a time for digging deeper to identify where issues originated from, it's a time for one to become well and make sense of current or past experiences and how they relate to their present situations. Talking this through is quite therapeutic which is why you've employed a therapist to begin with. Don't make the mistake of repeating to your friends and loved ones the details of your sessions as if they were in the room with you. Not to mention, most people have a collection of their own problems to work through, burdening those around us with our issues again and again is not only impolite but it's also selfish.

*Please Note: In the case of someone who requires help for a bodily illness, health concern or mental health issue such as suicidal thoughts, hopelessness or depression, remaining private should never be an option. Seeking professional help and the love and support from family and friends is essential and should be the first priority!


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Have you ever found yourself sharing too much about a private matter only to wish you could retract it afterwards? Has anyone ever left you feeling uncomfortable simply by lacking discretion and over-sharing as it pertains to their own private matters? Let us know in the comments below!

As always, thank you for stopping by!

XO

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