Personal Style in the Age of Instagram

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I was having a conversation with my sister-in-law the other day about what it's like finding fashion inspiration in the day of Instagram. On one hand, it's awesome because it's everywhere. Outfit and shopping ideas are readily available at a "swipe up" of the thumb. Everyday I save ideas that I love from social media. Chances are you follow a handful of fashion influencers who share their outfits on a daily basis with a liketoknow.it link. It can make things so easy. Like Ariana Grande says, "I see it, I like it, I want it, I buy it."

But have you ever had an experience where you buy something from an influencer's post, and it arrives and looks TOTALLY different on you than it did on her? Or maybe you just can't put your finger on why it doesn't feel as great as you were expecting when you saw it on Instagram?

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I call this the "white bag problem." When I lived in New York, I was obsessing over bright white handbags. I would see them on other girls and thought they looked so fresh. But then when I would go to Barney's to hold one and look in the mirror, something felt off. I later learned that it was because white isn't my power neutral. Read more about that here if you're curious, but long story short, it wasn't a good match with my dark hair and looked too overbearing and off balance on me. Great for the occasional summer or vacay outfit but not an everyday investment purchase like it would be for a blonde. 

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There are certain bloggers I LOVE to follow - Rachel Parcell and Sincerely Jules are two examples. They both have impeccable style and know their aesthetic to a T. Sometimes I get tempted to recreate their looks because I'm so inspired by them, but I stop myself and remember that my OWN style is different from theirs. Rachel is the ultimate elegant, feminine lady. Sincerely Jules has a boho look I love but she's very petite and thin, with dark olive skin. I wish I could pull off her outfits, but I would need to recreate them in a totally different way to make them work for me. All around, they both nail their fashion but for us followers there's a difference between loving how their rock a style all their own, and trying to mimic the same style ourselves. 

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In one of my free mini style sessions over the phone the other day, I spoke to a girl who said she doesn't feel in touch with her own style. She said when she gets together with friends, she bases her outfit choices on how those friends dress. This really got to me, because I think the feeling is SO common. Sometimes we don't even realize we're doing it, but it never allows you to feel truly confident when you leave the house. Wouldn't it feel so much better to have your own sense of style? To wear only the things that feel 100% authentic to you, and never feel the need to copy others unless it happens to be in perfect alignment with your own goals?

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This is exactly why I do what I do. Every woman deserves to be her own "influencer," creating a style all her own that makes other people stop and admire. There's a certain unspoken X factor when your personal style represents exactly who you are, flatters all your own physical features, and lights you up when you get dressed. This is not something that can be created by just buying everything someone else is wearing. It comes from within, and my life purpose is to help you find it. 

P.S. The spring special has been extended! Get completely set for 2 seasons, for the price of 1. Book before 4/30 before my regular package prices go up!

Photography by Ashley Burns

Our Family is Growing

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It’s been a moment since I’ve popped on the blog to check in, but it’s simply because a lot has been going on in my personal world. If you follow me on Instagram, then you know that there was a major family announcement recently - WE ARE HAVING A BABY! I’m now 18 weeks along with baby #2, due July 28th… and it’s a girl! I have so many feelings about becoming a mom of two, and it just so happens that today’s Real Talk With Real Moms topic is all about the decision to go from one to two or more kids! So what better time and place to share? Be sure to read the other moms in the series’ takes too!

The Fresh Exchange / Sugar and Cloth / Lovely Indeed / Studio DIY / Natalie Borton / A Daily Something / The Sweetest Occasion / The Proper Blog / Parker Etc / The Effortless Chic / Oh Lovely Day

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For us, the decision to have a second kid was easy - it was the timing that wasn’t, much like our decision to have the first. When we initially decided to start trying for Sailor, neither of us felt particularly “ready” but we reached a point when we realized we never WERE going to feel ready. We were 33, and after 11 years together, had gotten to have lots of time to ourselves. We’d traveled, poured our energy into our work and social lives, spent plenty of evenings alone, and lived on two coasts together. We loved our lives the way they were with just us and our two dogs, but we knew that down the line we would want to have a family. It was just time.

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This time was surprisingly similar. Even though we are somewhat “seasoned” into parenthood, there was still a sense that we were happy with things the way they are and we’re nervous about taking on more responsibility. I mean, if there’s one thing we’ve learned in the past 3 years with Sailor, it’s that nothing can prepare you for the challenge of having a child. Many tears, long nights, early mornings, missed dates and friend hangouts, and countless breakdowns later, how exactly do we decide to do it all again? I’ve never been one to sugarcoat how hard it is, so the decision to double our kid count wasn’t exactly easy. But there was this feeling we both felt. A feeling that our family wasn’t quite complete and we were still wanting to take one more step. We both grew up in families of multiples (Ian has a brother and a sister and I have a sister), and we wanted the same for our family. I had always pictured myself with two kids, and that time to try for the second was just here.

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There are a lot of things that terrify me, just like they did in round 1, but the beauty of this time is that I get to learn from the first and try to do it a little better. I can manage my expectations of what’s possible in a day, and seek help when I need it (which let’s face it, will be a LOT from day 1). Most of all, I will know that compassion towards myself as a mother is a daily practice, and the reward is far greater than the hardships. I’m still learning everyday, and I know I have so much more to experience in this role. I’m scared AF, but I’m ready at the same time. So let’s do this!

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Be sure to follow along on the journey over on Instagram, and check out the other moms’ posts on this topic too!

Photography by Ashley Burns

Real Talk With Real Moms / Play and Screen Time

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Ah! I am SO excited to be writing this post right now, because it’s bringing me back to something I haven’t done in awhile - just some good old fashioned long winded blogging. If you’ve been along the journey with me for awhile, you’ll remember that for several years I blogged on a regular basis about my outfits, shopping, cocktails, fashion tips, and then motherhood. My regular posts took a backseat when I revamped my business in 2017 and put all my time into my clients, but I’ve really missed popping on here and sharing with you guys about whatever is on my mind. So when my mom blogger friends and I decided to bring back the Real Talk With Real Moms series, I was all over it.

If you’re new to Real Talk With Real Moms, it’s a monthly discussion about life with kiddos brought to you by a group of badass bloggers who are all working moms. We all have a variety of blog topics, viewpoints, and styles, so each of us brings a different voice to each topic. I know I love reading the other moms’ takes, so I can get tips and ideas on how to do it better myself. Cuz let’s face it, parenting is HARD. So I hope you enjoy this little break from fashion on my site to talk about being a mom. I know so many of you struggle with a lot of the same things I do, so I love to keep the discussion open!

Today we are all posting about play ideas and screen time, which I know for me has been a big one in my house now that Sailor is 3 and in constant need of attention and stimulation. Check out the posts from the other ladies as well, and stay tuned for another topic next month!

The Effortless Chic / Studio DIY / Natalie Borton / A Daily Something / Apartment 34

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Right now, we are in the thick of the screen time dilemma over at the Sheppard house. But then again, this day in age, I’m not sure there will ever be a time where it won’t be a topic of discussion. Sailor is at an age where her mind is always going, she has preferences/requests about EVERYTHING, and she wants constant interaction. She goes to preschool full time now, which means she is getting to exercise her brain basically all day (with a nap break somewhere in there). She comes home just vibrating with the excitement of everything she did that day, and is still bouncing off the walls. Literally the only thing that will calm her and bring her down to an energy level more consistent with the rest of us is a little bit of Pinkalicious, Sofia the First, or lately, The Sound of Music. Since this comes at a time when I also need to make dinner, I usually cave and let her veg out in front of the TV for a bit. If I had just played outside all day, I’d want to veg out too!

We tend to take a pretty middle of the road approach to a lot of aspects of parenting, so it just seems like a little bit of TV isn’t going to kill her. It’s when we stretch it a little too far that we start to see the changes in her mood. If we get a little too comfortable with the extra free time it gives us, and accidentally let her watch the entire movie after she had already watched a show that day, she goes into a headspace we prefer never to be. Tantrums, crying, irritable, demanding… even for the rest of the day. We always say “lesson learned.” So, we’re definitely not perfect parents when it comes to this, but if we can keep things in moderation, everything is usually in a good place.

So, what type of play do we find keeps her occupied without a screen? We don’t have a ton of toys in our house, for various reasons. Not in any extreme way - she has plenty - but we just don’t have a play room full of toys. The living room has one credenza where we store her most used ones, and any backups are kept in the garage. I’m constantly going through and getting rid of things that lost a lot of pieces or that she’s not reaching for. Most of these toys keep her occupied for a few minutes before she leaves them in the middle of the room and is on to the next. This whole process will last about 20 minutes tops before she’s looking to us for interaction. This can be challenging to say the least, but it does cause us to find activities that will genuinely engage her. A few of the most successful ones include:

  1. Making cards for loved ones. For the holidays, she and Madi (nanny turned BFF) made cards for every family member, friend, teacher, and Starbucks employee, all of which got mailed out or hand delivered. All it took were some blank cards from the dollar section at Target, rubber stamps, markers, and stickers. Something about the idea of making something for a specific person really inspires her. Now we’re onto Valentines.

  2. Reading books. Sailor has always been book obsessed, which is awesome. Sometimes she’ll sit and “read” by herself, but she’s happiest sitting with one of us and reading together.

  3. Playing “tennis.” Actually badminton. Surprisingly, this is kind of a sport that can be played in the house. No net of course.

  4. Yoga. The girl loves yoga. We get out the mats and she’ll show us the moves/chants she’s learned in her preschool yoga class (I know). She loves 3 legged dog the most. But you don’t have to have yoga at school to try this one. She’s always been fascinated by all the poses.

  5. The park. What kid doesn’t love the park? Sailor would never turn a trip down. Every time she goes, she challenges herself to try something she hasn’t done before. It’s great because it gets us out of the house and exercising, and allows her to practice her physical skills.

  6. FaceTiming with family who live far away. This one is a gray area because it involves the screen, but Sailor loves connecting with her grandparents, aunts, and uncles this way. She’ll put the phone on a gorilla pod, attach it to her scooter, and take them all for (very dizzy/choppy) rides.

  7. Walking the dogs. She loves to take the leash and feel like an adult. She gets tired and asks to stop and “take a moment” along the way, but it’s another fun activity that involves exercise and also crosses something off the To Do list.

  8. Dressing up. Whether we like it or not, we’ve managed to collect a plethora of princess dresses and it’s not a normal day if she’s not requesting to put one on at some point. It’s not much of an activity because she just puts it on and goes about her day, but there’s a whole ritual around deciding which princess she wants to be that day, and it seems like it’s helping her navigate “girl life” somehow.

There’s one common theme amongst most of these. They all require an adult to do them interactively with her, or be overseeing it in some way. At the end of the day, she’s happiest when she’s playing WITH us. It can be draining when there’s a million other things to get done and it feels like she’s never satisfied, but it’s a good reminder that ultimately kids her age just want to spend time with us. I’m sure I’ll welcome the day when she’s happier to play on her own, but I know I’ll miss her looking to me for attention as much as she does now.

I’d love to know what your toddlers’ favorite activities are, because I’m definitely in need of ideas! Let me know if you enjoy these types of posts and if you have any requests of topics you’d like to see discussed!


Photography by Ashley Burns