Review and Renew

Catherine Sheppard The Life Styled New Years 2018 Office

Here we are folks, 2018. 2017 was... interesting, to say the least, and I can't say I'm sad to now be referring to it as "last year." But as I scrolled through Instagram on New Years Day, it was one time where I actually found myself appreciating the toot toot of everyone's horns. It's inspiring to see people you know and people you don't know reflecting back on all the positive changes in their lives that year, and be reminded that a lot of good can still come in a time of disarray and uncertainty. Babies were born, exciting career opportunities came, dreams were realized, rings were put on people's fingers. Life always goes on, and it's still beautiful even amongst the ugly.

The start of a new year comes with a lot of mixed feelings for most people. On one hand, we are just coming out of a time of indulgence and celebration of family, friends, and abundance. It's a perfect time to refresh, renew, and reset. After a nice break with family (and lots and lots of food), it's an opportunity to take a look at your life from space and decide how you want the next chapter of your story to be written. I'm a big believer in doing this. Whether you call it setting intentions, making resolutions, or just reflecting, there's nothing wrong with having a set time in the year that facilitates this kind of exploration and positive thinking.

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I think we can all agree that January 1st isn't just prancing into the field of wildflowers without a care, and a solid foolproof plan to conquer the world. It's a bit loaded and full of so much pressure. It's a time where I know I tend to look at the success of others and ask myself why I'm not where they are. Why certain things I did in 2017 didn't turn out better, or why with the start of 2018, I STILL haven't reached goals I've had for years. It's a harsh reality check that comes right on time every year. But with that comes a reminder that we are never short on new opportunities to turn things around.

Confession: I haven't written down a single resolution yet. But that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking, strategizing, and asking myself a lot of questions these past few days. I don't believe that we HAVE to sit down with a notepad in front of us on one exact day. For our family at least, the 31st and 1st were busy days hanging out with friends, cleaning, organizing, and preparing to dive back into reality. I was too focused on finishing up the break, and literally clearing out the space so I could get ready to fill it with new energy. I wanted to wait until I was in the right mindset. So today, I'm listing my 2017 wins and 2018 intentions right here.

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Rather than trying fit all your resolutions into a couple of days, I think the entire month of January is ideal for starting the year off with intention, and reflecting on how far you've come. It tends to be a quieter, cozier, more uneventful month with plenty of space for thinking. At this time, I always think it's interesting to look back at where you were one year ago, starting the year that just passed, and acknowledge how far you've come even if it's not in the exact direction you originally intended. Here are some of my wins from 2017:

- Raised my little toddler from 1 to 2 years, and not only survived but finally determined that I think I can do this. ;)

- Got to know our new neighborhood in the suburbs and made/grew some truly wonderful friendships that we never would have made had we not moved here.

- Settled into our new home and crossed some of the annoying but necessary first projects off our list, now finally feeling like we can see things start to get cuter around here, and like this is actually our home.

- Brought Fashion Feng Shui back into my business, and began sharing it in fun new ways.

- Started doing workshops! It's something I always wanted to do but was scared to get up in front of a group, and now they actually feel natural to me.

- Relaunched my website and entire brand, and learned Photoshop and Squarespace along the way so I can do a lot of my own web updates (this felt like a HUGE accomplishment, haha).

- Reconnected with my personal styling roots in a new way, and gave my services a complete overhaul to make them more modern and beneficial for my clients. Stay tuned for more info on those in the coming weeks!

- Went on a dream vacation to San Francisco and Napa with Ian.

- Invested in new professionals to help me grow my business, like a coach, childcare, and an attorney.

- Styled the wardrobe on another season of Running Wild With Bear Grylls, a show I so enjoy working on (BTW do you want to see some examples of this type of work? Styling for TV is something I do on the side, so I never know if you guys would find it interesting or not - let me know in the comments).

Some of these wins might seem small to others, but have been some pretty big milestones for me, and I definitely want to celebrate them.

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And here are some ways I want to grow in 2018:

- Make meditation a part of my daily life. I think I could really benefit from it, specifically for the way it helps with daily anxiety/frustration and the way you view the world (that's a WATER intention if I've ever heard one).

- Let go of trying to please others, and focus on what really serves me. I may seem like someone who marches to her own beat (I am an Aquarius after all), but I also worry a LOT about what people will think of the choices I make (that's a quality of my underlying Fire essence - caring what other people think - and this is another water intention).

- Go with the flow, and accept the things I can't change, like my past (water, water, water).

- Move into my endeavors with ambition and full commitment (a WOOD intention).

- Do more of what makes me happy, even if I don't really know what that is while I'm too busy with my To Do lists (a FIRE intention).

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I'm doing my best to move into 2018 with an open mind, a sense of peace with the state of the world, and a bit of nitty gritty drive. January is a hit-the-ground-running type of deal with a VERY exciting secret project which I'm working around the clock to prep for right now (check my Facebook and Instagram before the end of this week for a tad bit more info on that and a favor I need from you), my Fashion Feng Shui workshop at Blue Bell Farm in Fayette, MO on 1/20, another workshop in LA, a fun work trip to Palm Springs in February, and lots of new content specifically designed to help you with your style conundrums! 

Here's to the start of another year. Let's make it a good one, filled with authenticity and damn good style!

Photography by Ashley Burns


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It's only fitting that I'm introducing WATER, the first of this five part series on the elements of Fashion Feng Shui, with such an emotional feeling in my heart... that's such a water thing to say. But I am emotional about this. Not only have I been working harder than I have in a long time to bring this initiative to fruition, Fashion Feng Shui has been such a big part of my career behind the scenes since I started my business in 2008. Now, having the right inspiration, platform, time, and audience to share it with feels like such a long time coming. But here we are, and I hope you like this as much as I do. If you haven't read my intro post about this series, you can find that here. And without further ado, we are starting today with WATER.

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What is water? Water is deep. It is flowing. It's free and unpredictable. It's dark and mysterious. It's full of possibilities, and its vastness knows no bounds. You could stare at an ocean for hours and hours, and still be seeing something new every second. It's peaceful and serene. It's artistic. It's soft, yet it can be so harsh. It's not everyone's cup of tea - some avoid the water. It's an element that calls you to be alone, and take in the world around you.

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Here's the part where you can listen for some key words that you feel you really relate to. Sure, everyone will probably relate to most of the elements in some way. But to determine your key element, or your "essence," we look for which one really feels the MOST like you. You might know right away when you find yours, or you might be debating between a few. That's normal!

Who is Water? The archetype for water is the Philosopher. Philosophers are intellectual, introspective, mysterious, rebellious, and introverted. They love their alone time, and they thrive on challenges for the mind. They're constantly searching for a better awareness of the world and their place in it, and they love to expand their minds. They look inward, but seek knowledge outward. They gain more energy from being alone than from being around people, which can be draining for them. They don't like to be put in a box. They like to march to their own beat, and might change that beat up unexpectedly. To some, it may seem that waters have an edge to them, and that might be true - but most of the time they're just wrapped up in their own thoughts. Waters are spiritual, serene, and artistic. They're the creatives of the world. They might even have a hard time accepting that they're "waters" because they don't like labels. It' good to understand that the waters in your life need their alone time to do their watery things. My husband is a water and the term "water time" is said daily in our house. He needs his time where he can be alone and read, do yoga, write, or just collect his thoughts at some point in a busy, social day.

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How do we wear water? The part where the elements relate to fashion is the part that brings up the most questions, but when you hear about the clothing for each element, it'll just make sense. To bring water into your wardrobe, you could do it in any of the following ways. Keep in mind that you don't have to do them all! If you try to do that, you'll go crazy. Just find the ways that speak to you...

COLOR: Dark, deep hues. Black, navy, burgundy, eggplant, charcoal

TEXTURE: Sheer, flowy, supple

STYLE: Avant garde, boho, creative, rebellious, sensual, worldy

SHAPE: Asymmetrical, tiered, flowing, irregular

FABRIC: Sheer, reflective, flowy (chiffon, gauze, panne velvet)

PATTERN: Ethnic patterns, ombré, paisley, waves, drops, abstract

Or just say, "Don't tell me what to wear." ;)

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How can water help you? If you ARE a water, you won't really need to try very hard to bring it in because at least some of the adjectives and clothes mentioned above will speak to your vibe in some way. You may want to take a look at your wardrobe and see if there are some new ways you can bring water in to make sure you're honoring your authentic self. And if you are NOT a water, there still might be some good reasons to bring it in. If you have goals for yourself that have to do with intellectuality, creativity, spirituality, getting in touch with your deep inner self, becoming more zen, or spending more time alone, water is the element that can help you. The power of intention is honestly SO STRONG. When you start "dressing the part" of who you want to be, major things can happen. This is the magic of it all. So if water sounds like it relates to your intentions, whether they're intentions for the day or for the year, think about adding something to your outfit that has water. Maybe it's a mysterious fedora like this Janessa Leone one that I'm obsessed with. Perhaps it's wearing more black, or maybe you go with something more edgy and creative than you normally would. A one-shoulder dress or top. A vintage boho caftan. A black moto jacket. Try it out and see if you feel any different!

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//Hat / Dress (also available here and here) / Shawl (similar or similar)

So what do you think? Are you a WATER? Feel free to ask questions in the comments! And look out for element #2 next week...


Photography by Heather Kincaid


The Great

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I don't often share brand lookbooks on here but every now and then one just really grabs me. Summer is on the horizon and I'm already getting excited for longer days, a slower pace, and comfortable, breezy staples in rotation. The warming temps always prompt a desire for a lighter, less analytical wardrobe and in my book, a laid back Americana vibe (much more of that to come in upcoming posts). I recently discovered Emily Current and Merritt Elliott's newest brand The Great and haven't found a better inspiration for summer. Relaxed fit old-timey jeans, airy smock dresses, embroidered peasant tops, distressed sweatshirts, and not-too-girly ruffles for all. Altogether, it gives off some serious Tom Sawyer vibes (just add those suspenders and straw hat from the lookbook which I don't think are from their line but perfectly chosen nonetheless) that vividly bring me back to being a country school girl on summer break without a care in the world. The balance of loose fits and slimming flares is at an equilibrium unmatched by any brand this season, and solidifies the need for The Great to be in your closet.  I have a feeling this summer is going to be the most comfortable one yet.

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All photos from The Great lookbook and campaign.