For this weekend's installment of Weekend Links, I wanted to introduce you to some of my favorite personal style bloggers. These are bloggers I've been reading for years, and I have met all but one of them in person. Also, I stole these photos from their websites without permission. Please don't sue me. I love you. And I've linked accordingly!
JEN LOVES KEV // Jen is honestly one of the sweetest, most down to earth women I have come to know. We approach life from the same faith view point, so I find myself texting her for advice or using her as a sounding board. I love her attainable style and her home. I remember when she and I both used to wear high, high heels and short, short skirts, so it's been great following along as she navigates the same life stage I'm in (three kids, lower heels, longer hemlines).
ORCHID GREY // Julie is just flat out cool (and so is her husband Chris). She has a wicked sense of humor, an amazing head of hair, and is so wise. I love her witchy, girly, bohemian style. She pulls off original looks, but it's super inspiring. She always makes me think, "I should try that!"
THE BRAVE LIFE (formerly Delightfully Tacky) // Tiny buy mighty, this one! I have loved watching Liz's style and hair colors evolve over the years. She can pull anything off: sporty looks, rocker girl, Modclothy stuff. She's so frank and smart and creative. I'm excited to watch the Mom Life chapter of her life unfold.
BLONDE BEDHEAD // Andrea is that really, really rad girl in school that you wanted to get to know but you were crazy intimidated by her radness. But then one day, you got stuck doing a project together, and you realized how friendly she actually is. Andrea has a way of making you feel instantly relaxed when you're around her. I love her tough but feminine style, and her shoes are always on point.
WHAT I WORE // I have been following Jessica's style since before she had a blog (there used to be a Flickr community where people would share their outfits of the day). I will forever be a What I Wore fangirl because when I first fell into this weird world of blogging, Jessica was hugely helpful to me and oh so encouraging. She was the community manager of a (now defunct) personal style website where a lot of us met. This was pre-Pinterest and pre-c/o items, mind you, so we were all about this site, seeing how others were getting dressed. I feel like I share some of Jessica's midwest sensibilities (Hoosiers!), and I've always appreciated her candor and colorful style. I've loved watching her fall in love, get married, write a book, and have two beautiful babies!
I'd love to know some of the style bloggers you've been reading for 5+ years! Share below or on Facebook.
My friend Chelsea did a 10 year comparison on Instagram, and I thought it was pretty cool, so I spent tonight digging through the most unorganized ziplock bag of photos trying to unearth pictures of myself from 1987, 1997, and 2007.
AGE 7 // Okay, first of all, this is a dance costume. I didn't walk around town in fishnet pantyhose and a ruffled bodysuit, okay? I wasn't some second grade harlot. The song was "Uptown Girl" and it was full of box steps and pivot turns, I'm sure. Second of all: that black tuft of "hair" on the back of my head is actually black netting attached to the little cap I'm wearing. For the record, I wore this hat to school more than once after the dance recital. Age seven was magic. At the time, I knew who the cool kids were, and I knew I wasn't one of them. I knew I had a choice to make: try desperately to dress like them and suck up to them or just dance to the beat of my own drummer. I chose me. And dancing. And this hat.
AGE 17 // Check it! That's pantyhose and open toed shoes, y'all. If you look closely, you may notice that I'm wearing blue contact lenses and acrylic nails. The summer after my junior year of high school was rough. I had a really awful boyfriend, I burned a lot of bridges and felt I needed to transfer high schools, and I woke up early every morning to hot roller my hair like this. Senior year was 1000 times better, mainly because I got a fresh start at a new school, became a Christian and started putting my identity in Christ, and got my cousin (who I moved in with) to wake up before me and heat up my rollers so I could sleep in a bit.
AGE 27 // WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE THOSE SHOES?! And why in the world would I want to be photographed in them with that dress?! At age 27, I was new to Texas and married. I was hustling hard to get paid acting work and miserable trying to model. I just remember this age being crazy. My marriage was a mess, I partied with my FNL friends more than a married 27 year old woman should have, and I made some terrible life choices... shoes included.
AGE 37 // I'm still trying to figure out my personal style, both sartorially and at home, but I have a firm grasp on who I am and where my identity lies. I am in the thick of the little years with my kids, but I don't feel like I'm in the trenches alone. I really enjoy motherhood and being a wife, and I'm confident in both of those roles. Thirty seven may not be as skinny and as cute as the previous decade, but I'll take it over 27 or 17 any day.
It's been over a year since Mom Jeans & Dad Jokes has had a new episode. It was never our intention to stop podcasting completely, but as indicated by the posts I've done so far this year on I/E, our 2016 was something akin to survival mode.
Chris and I both really miss MJ&DJ. We loved making the show together, as it forced us to spend time together at a teeny desk, sharing a microphone, talking and laughing. Our show was raw, our conversations were spontaneous, but it was fun and we had an incredibly receptive and loyal audience.
We don't yet have a plan for MJ&DJ other than just bringing it back from the dead! I think initially we wanted it to be both an active blog and a weekly podcast, but for our relaunch, we're really only going to focus on the once per week podcast where Chris and I banter around a topic + parenting and becoming local date night / family outing experts.
One thing I really enjoyed about Adored Austin is that I covered Austin fashion events, so I was always out and about in my city, forging new connections and making new friends in the blog and fashion communities. I'd like to do something similar with MJ&DJ and suburban married couples and parents. The online space that I've always been interested in is the intersection where Internet connections become meaningful in-person relationships. I have a vision that we can reach a wide (national) audience with our lighthearted podcast and then host local events and do family meet-ups and playdates when we travel (note: we hope to do a San Antonio / Austin trip this year as well as a central California trip, an Indiana trip, and a Washington DC trip).
These are big dreams, and we're only three weeks in to the new year, so who knows how it will all actually shake down. Once a week, though, I'll be sending out an Indiana/Elsewhere newsletter with the latest blog posts, things I'm mulling over, and weird stuff I find online. When MJ&DJ comes back, I'll email y'all. In the meantime, if you'd like me to invade your inbox once / week, feel free to sign up.
Last week I wrote a bit about how my wardrobe, since moving from east Austin to suburban Atlanta went from bright and colorful to more subdued and neutral. In a way, I felt that over the course of the last two years, my personality went from bright and colorful to more subdued, too. I felt that I lost some of my personal style and the joy of getting dressed.
Looking around my home, I see the same thing: lots of black, white, grey, and brown with a sprinkle of gold. My Texas house, in contrast, boasted a cherry red entryway, a sunshine yellow living room, giant red sofas, and an electric teal kitchen.
Things are different here:
My giant red sofas have been banished to the basement and the walls in my house are a very 2014 on trend palette of white, gray, and darker gray. I think homes and wardrobes have became more cozy and less colorful these last few years, and that's okay. I'm just trying to figure out how I can make my home feel more like me.
I was getting ready to type that I feel like I've lost some of my personal style at home, but that's not really true at all. I've never felt like I've had a good grasp on what my personal style is when it comes to my living space. I literally don't have one picture or piece of art hanging up. I don't know what I like, and my lack of decor reflects that.
I am pretty good at figuring out what I don't like (Shiplap. And most things on Fixer Upper. RIP, me, after the Chip and Joanna fans throttle me for this Gaines family blasphemy!), but I'm terrible at pinning down what I really like. I think I like funny taxidermy, but that's not really a design choice insomuch as it's my desire to one day become Gena Rowlands' character from Hope Floats. LIFE GOALS.
One of my 2017 goals is to make my house feel more like a home. I have great furniture (I mean, have you seen my COCOCO Home chesterfield?) but I'm seriously stumped when it comes to furniture arrangement and art placement and "styling". I'm stumped at the step before that: what do I even buy? To help me in my endeavor, I got two design books in the mail today:
DOMINO: YOUR GUIDE TO A STYLISH HOME // I loved the first Domino book, and this book came up as an Amazon recommendation when I purchased The Curated Closet. And because I'm so susceptible to Amazon's power of suggestion, I 1-clicked that right into my mailbox. Two day Prime, baby!
LIVING WITH PATTERN // Then this sneaky book was an Amazon suggestion after I bought the above book. *sigh* Someone really should take away my online shopping privileges past 11 pm. I liked the cover a lot so I bought it. Hopefully I AM judging this book by its cover, because I think it's cover looks cool.
I also own:
STYLED by Emily Henderson // I love her blog and her style, so I bought this book. I think it will come in handy when I get the big stuff taken care of. I really liked her ideas for coffee tables, book shelves, and mantles, but I'm just not there yet. I'm not even close.
DOMINO: THE BOOK OF DECORATING // This made decor really accessible to me and I still refer to it when I am looking at ideas (that I, so far, have not acted upon).
DESIGN MOM // Okay, I don't actually own this one. I aspire to own it, though. I got it from the library and I loved it because it was so darn practical. It helped me to keep decor in perspective; this is a space where my family dwells versus a showcase or catalog. Plus I met Gabrielle at Alt Summit the year I spoke, and I adore her. I should probably buy it so I can refer back to it.
In terms of decor blogs, I regularly read:
EMILY HENDERSON // I love her use of color, her big, practical ideas, and how California cool her style is.
that's it. That's the only decor blog I read.
As I dive into this new adventure, I'd love to hear your suggestions for decor resources. Good design books? Good blogs? Good online stores to peruse? Just someone first make a browser extension that will block shopping when my insomnia hits. Who knows what kind of book or weird thing may show up on my doorstep 48 hours later.
Comment below or find me on Facebook to share your design tips. I'd love to hear them!
Everything you thought you knew about bras is wrong. Ladies, this post is for you. (Not that any men read here, but you never know! Hi, Uncle Bill?)
It's been said that something like 75% - 90% of all women who wear bras are wearing the wrong size bra. That's a crazy high percentage, and since my very first job was at an outlet store specializing in under garments and my job was to measure women to fit in to their optimal bra, I thought that surely I was in the 10% of women who got things right. WRONG. I was taught to measure the circumference of the under bust and then the fullest part of the breasts, then determine the cup size based on the difference between the two numbers. For instance, I thought I was a 36A: I was 36 inches around my under bust and my full bust measured 37 inches. With a difference of just one inch, that meant I had an A cup (two inches of difference would be a B cup, three a C, etc). Incidentally, a quick Google search will show that this (not very accurate!) way is still the most common way that women calculate their bra size.
In September of 2015, I stumbled upon the Reddit sub /abrathatfits. A few months prior, I had finished weening Lucy, and my body was going through some changes. My chest was deflating. Mind you, I have always had very little breast tissue, but after nursing three babies, I was smaller than I had ever been. I was wearing my pre-pregnancy 36A bras but the fit was beginning to feel off. The cup gaped and the band felt too tight. I thought that meant I'd needed to move down a cup size to AA and up a band size to 38. Makes sense, right? Cup seemed too big, move to a smaller cup. Bra seemed too tight, move to a larger band. Just so y'all know, 38AA is a nearly impossible bra size to find because typically women who are that broad have some kind of breast tissue.
To illustrate just how small I had become on top, let me share an embarrassing story:
One night, as Chris and I were hunkered down in bed for the evening and I was starting to drift off, he began rubbing his hand up and down my chest. I assumed this was a clue that he wasn't quite ready for sleep and that he'd like to connect, if you catch what I'm saying. Bless his heart. I gently said, "Oh, honey, I had a rough day. Not tonight, okay?" He was put off. "Which is why I wanted to give you a back rub!" he said. "Oh. My. WORD!" I squealed! HE THOUGHT HE WAS RUBBING MY BACK! Hilarious and awful! So much cringe!
Anyway, this point shows why I thought I should be in an A or AA cup, you see. There was nothing there! It was laughable to think I could ever fill out a B-cup since the A was gaping.
I desperately needed to get new bras, though, so I used this calculator on the sidebar of /abrathatfits. I needed to measure my snug under bust, my super tight under bust, and my full breast from three different positions: standing up, leaning forward, and laying down:
My measurements were:
- snug under: 35''
- super tight under: 30''
- standing, around nipples: 36''
- leaning: 38''
- laying: 36''
The calculator put me at a I'm- shaking- my-head- no- because- this- calculator- must- be- way- off 34D. 34D! I relayed this information to Chris, and he was like, "No. Just no. No way!"
Why were we in disbelief? Well, because you can't trust things on the internet! But more over because we had an idea of what a D cup must look like and my body was not it.
At almost exactly this same time, my friend Nicole went to Nordstrom for a fitting and it was revolutionary for her. So I went that very day and did the same.
The result? Again: 34D. What in the world???!
But then I tried on what would become my go-to bra: the Natori Feathers bra in a 34D. All the heart eye emojis in the world! [P.S. I get mine at Nordstrom Rack for $28 or buy them online at Anthropologie when they're having a megasale. Amazon has a few marked down to $30 from $79]. I could not believe my eyes. It fit! It fit better than my 36A! I never in 100 years would have thought to go down in the band and up in the cup based on the fit issues I was having before.
My clothes started fitting better because my bra was sitting the way it was supposed to and my posture got better because my straps weren't adjusted too tight.
I've since become a Bravangelist, urging women to measure themselves based on the calculator and then go somewhere like Nordstrom for a fitting to try styles best for their breast shape (do not go to Victoria's Secret because they don't carry extended sizes and will only tell you that you fit a size within the range they carry). Most women are wearing a band size that is too large and a cup size that is too small. I learned that very few women actually wear an A cup.
Additionally, a lot of women don't have their bra positioned correctly on their body. The band should be straight across the back and parallel to the floor, boobs should be "scooped and swooped" into the cups fully (including armpit bulge), the gore should sit flush to the sternum, and the straps should not dig in at all. Almost all catalog lingerie models are wearing bras that are too small for them.
We need to let go of our notion of what a cup size should look like. 34D sounded huge to me, and I was the opposite of huge. Did you know that cup size is not static? It's completely relative to the band size. It's easier to show than explain:
These are totally NSFW, but here's what a D and G cup look like in actuality versus in our heads (I was very close to the second photo on the top row). There's a great website called The Bra Band Project that is a small database of what bra sizes look like on women who have been measured properly. Here's 32D. See?
I thought that if I were going to start blogging about clothes again and documenting some of the things I wear, I should make sure my foundations are right. "D" has always been my nickname and I find that it's sort of funny that it's my bra size now, too.
I can't wait to hear what you thought your bra size was compared to what it ended up being according to the calculator or fitting! Feel free to share in the comments or on my Facebook page.
- A Bra That Fits on Reddit // Community dedicated to helping folks find a properly fitting bra
- Bra Size Calculator // Grab a soft measuring tape and determine your band and cup size as well as your "sister sizes"
- Scoop and Swoop // Regardless of breast size, this is the way one should put on a bra to ensure the proper fit
- The Bra Band Project // This site aims to raise awareness about what properly-fitting bra sizes look like, as well as demonstrate the variety of shapes and body types throughout (and within) each size.
- Third Love // one of my favorite bras is from here and they have half cup sizes available and a nifty app that can help you calculate your size [disclaimer: referral link]
- Band to cup infographic // Another way to see how sister sizes work. Also illustrates how cup size is relative to band size.
- More graphics: breast shape chart (I'm VF3/4), examples of different projections and root widths (I'm #4), different styles of bras, types of cleavage, and underwire positioning.
Today's weekend links post is a very special edition that should probably be called "FIVE THINGS YOU SHOULD MAYBE TALK ME OUT OF IF IT'S A TERRIBLE IDEA" or "CAN I ACTUALLY TRUST MY OWN JUDGEMENT HERE?!!!!":
1. LASIK SURGERY // Turns out I'm a candidate. My vision has been the same since age 16, but a few years ago, someone blew cigarette ash in my eye and I got injured and have a bunch of scar tissue bumps under my eyelids. Regular contacts are super uncomfortable to me, and I typically buy dailies as those are the least irritating... but even wearing those feel like I have an eyelash in my eye. Insurance does not cover enough of my daily contacts, but they would cover a portion of laser eye surgery. My vision isn't too horrible (-1.75 in each eye) but in my old age, I can no longer compensate by squinting so I have to wear contacts or glasses to drive or see the screen at church. Glasses aren't great for my lifestyle as I exercise often plus kids. They're always touching my glasses and getting them all fingerprinty. And while I really love my prescription sunglasses, it would be nice to be able to buy any sunglasses off the rack. I've been watching Youtube videos of the procedure and it freaks me the freak out, but man, oh, man, I think it could be a game changer.
2. RODAN + FIELDS // I had a pretty prominent brown spot on my face that my dermatologist gave me a prescription cream for and it lightened up the spot almost all the way. The problem is that I can only use that cream on that one spot for three months because it's so strong. My three months is up. That same ingredient (hydroquinone) in a lower OTC concentration is found in the Reverse line by R+F. I keep trying cheaper creams with hydroquinone, but I'm not seeing the results I'd like, and I'd like to try it on some other much smaller, lighter spots on my face. My friend Katie is in the top 1% of R+F sellers (Lexus level, what-what!), so I don't need a consultant (she's amazing). My question is this: because I'm so cheap and because I think my mom would buy the cream, too, should I just sign up to be a consultant to get it at a cheaper price? I'm really not at all a fan of MLM's, but I'm a big, big fan of saving money and this stuff runs $190 for a two month supply. Ouch!
3. LUXE BIDET TOILET ATTACHMENT // Don't laugh! I don't know how or why Amazon recommended this to me, but I looked at it and its 4100+ five star reviews and I think I need this in my life. Here's an excerpt from my favorite review:
"...the Luxe Bidet Neo 120 has soured me on pooping in bidet-less toilets forever. It's shown me the difference between rubbing peanut butter out of shag carpeting with a paper towel, and that sparkling clean feeling you get right when you step out of the shower."
Plus this could be the best $36.00 I've ever spent in my life! Read these reviews! Need I say more?
4. MICROBLADING // Microblading eyebrows is a form of tattoo artistry where pigment is implanted under your skin with a manual handheld tool instead of a machine. Hair-like strokes mimic natural hairs in your brows and the results last one to two years. I have weird eyebrows with bald spots that I pencil in every single day. I'm going to blame the late 90's and my penchant for getting them waxed into tiny, overarched lines at a Regis salon in the mall for years and year. There's a really good and reputable microblading lady that would give me an incredible deal on her services and follow-up in exchange for helping her set up her Instagram, but do I really want to tattoo MY FACE?! Obviously I kind of do because this made the list! [more info here]
5. BOOK CLUB IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD // I keep mentioning that I'm having a hard time connecting to women in my neighborhood. I live in a large, social, family-oriented neighborhood. I've been here for two years, and I'm certainly a recognizable face at the park and pool and club by now, but I just can't break past the acquaintance level with anyone. I don't know if it's because I don't play tennis, my kids aren't in the public school or I just come off as unfriendly or what. There's a ladies book club that meets monthly that I've always avoided because they tend to choose books I'm not interested in reading, but in the name of making friends, should I just go ahead and do it? This month they're reading It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover. Should I go or is this a waste of my time and energy?
Eyeballs, face, booty, brows, and books. What do you think, y'all?
I once received a cute print of a cactus that says "introducing the only plant I will never kill".
It's a cute print, it really is, but the reality of that sentiment, at least for me, is way off. Cacti are incredibly easy to kill! I know because I've done it an embarrassing amount of times.
I know they don't need much water, but cactus can die if:
- the soil is too rich
- the pot is too big
- the pot doesn't have proper drainage
- they get too cold
- they don't get enough sunshine
It's not enough to plant a cactus and just leave it be. It still needs care.
When thinking about my New Year's resolution, I ended up coming up with like a billion, but when it came down to it, they could be summed up with one word: THRIVE.
I want to thrive this year. I want my relationships to flourish. I want my writing to improve. I want to use my love of public speaking more often. I want to finish things I start.
I think in 2016 I was focused on survival. My thoughts would be like this:
If I can just make it until Chris gets home so I can get a break...
If I can just get through this school year...
If I can just finish this week...
I can't wait until this fall...
Just 30 more minutes until nap time...
Don't get me wrong: I get survival mode. There are seasons when it's all you can do to keep your head above water, but when that season starts to become your modus operandi, when that season becomes another season, something has got to change.
The difference between surviving and thriving is a big one; survival mode is when you live for your little breaks. The problem comes when those breaks occur less frequently than you'd like. When that happens you feel like chunks of your sanity and happiness are being chipped away. Survival is just waking up with a pulse each morning.
Thriving is living with hope for the longterm future. It's living life proactively instead of reactively. You're not counting on the little breaks to get you through. What gets you through is the extra care you've been given. Maybe you need more care in the friendship and relationship department (you feel lonely in your big pot all alone). Maybe you need to feed your creative side a little more (you need a bit more warmth). Or maybe you've taken on too much and you're drowning (your soil needs better drainage).
I've always been impressed by how cacti survive in what seems to me to be suboptimal conditions. After all, they grow in rocky places and need very little water. But have you ever tried to make a cactus flourish? Have you ever taken one from survival mode to full on thriving mode?
I wrote a post in July of 2015 about my loneliness here in Atlanta:
Every time I see little potted succulence I get a twinge of longing in my heart for Texas and all the friends and places we left behind. I take a deep breath and remind myself of the resilience of cacti-- how they grow in rocky places, how they thrive with very little water, and I remind myself that despite how hard this feels that I WILL bloom where I'm planted. I fight back tears, swallow hard and remember: Austin holds sweet memories but Atlanta has new adventures.
But since then, I have propagated a cactus and my cactus is having cactus babies and the babies are having cactus babies! My cactus, the first one that has ever survived under my care, is not just surviving! It's thriving! And now I see cacti a little differently:
Every time I see little potted succulence I am reminded of their duality: how they're delicate yet resilient. The can survive under adverse conditions, but to really flourish, to really grow well, they need special care. But once they take root, once they know they're nurtured, they do more than survive. They thrive.