Three Definitions of What It Means to Dress “Professionally”

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When I stand in front of my closet in the morning trying to decide what to wear, I’m often confused on how to represent myself professionally, but still incorporate my sense of style into my look. As a student, fashion blogger, entrepreneur, and social media manager, I need to wear clothes that I can easily transition from business meetings to photoshoots to classes (it’s a struggle sometimes!).
I love these professional, straight leg trousers I snatched from Old Navy because they work for almost any occasion. I paired them with a chic orange top with a few cutouts to show my sophisticated, feminine style, and I added some metallic loafers to give my look a fashion forward edge. With this look, I can easily jump from place to place without breaking my personal aesthetic.

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I used to work at a clothing store (which I’ll leave nameless), where I would initially wear what was true to my style when I went into work. But as soon as I walked in, I could feel the pressure as other girls stared at me, looked me up and down, and judged me for not dressing like them. I started to cave and began dressing similarly, but I wasn’t happy because when I looked in the mirror each morning and asked myself, “Am I dressing for me or am I dressing for them?”, the answer was them.

I eventually left that job, but my time there taught me a valuable lesson. I was beginning to lose who I was because I let someone else’s opinion define me. I think when we get into a level of professionalism, we want to change who we are to please our boss or others around us. Never let anyone change who you are, whether it’s for a job, or anything else.

I will dress professionally, but you can always count on me to add my own flair to it and most importantly, express myself.

-H

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As a photographer, it can be challenging to find clothes I can move around in to get that perfect shot and are still professional enough to meet clients for a consultation. My favorite part of the job is getting to know my customers and listening to their stories so I can reflect their beauty through my lens. I need them to be comfortable and open with me, and meeting them with a smile and a professional appearance is the most effective way to let my models know that they have nothing to worry about.

When I’m taking pictures, I have to be comfortable and flexible, so I can catch that perfect angle at any given second. Especially because I frequently work with families and children, I need to be able to move quickly and keep up with hyper little ones! To enable me to do this, I turn to clothes that are more loose and flexible, like jogger pants, loose tops, and leggings.

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I would honestly prefer to simply wear leggings and t-shirts 24/7, but I realize that as a business owner, I need to put a little more effort into my appearance. So, I dress up my athleisure-style outfits by adding some simple jewelry that doesn’t get in my way, like rings and earrings, and by incorporating some fun patterns into my looks. When it comes to shoes, I will wear more stylish flats or sandals for my consultations, but when I’m actually shooting, it has to be tennis shoes all the way. Fortunately, I have a pair of vintage high-top converse, which work with just about any outfit!
-B

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Geometric Black and White Romper

Even just a couple years ago, I thought dressing ‘professionally’ meant wearing dress pants, a button-down shirt, and heels. That was the standard ‘professional uniform’ in my head. So, that’s almost exclusively what I wore on the rare occasion that I attended an event with a business casual dress code. Whenever I put on my ill-fitting, probably-flared dress pants and a boxy button-down, I never felt like myself because I didn’t think there was any room for creativity and personal expression in the ‘professional world.’

It’s taken me until now to really start branching out from what most people wear to meetings and networking events, but I’m so happy I did because when I feel more like myself in my outfit, I act more like myself. I’m more comfortable talking to people and sharing my ideas, and I think people respond to me better because they can see exactly who I am before I even open my mouth.

Black and White Romper and Sunglasses

I love to toe the line and wear things like rompers because the last thing I want is to blend in with everybody else. As a fashion blogger and a soon-to-be fashion business owner, I set higher expectations for myself when I’m getting ready for an event or a meeting. I think that if you’re going into fashion, you have to try that much harder on a daily basis so that people trust you and eventually buy what you’re selling.
-S

Street Style Stars

Photos by: Rainwater Reflections Photography

Brooke’s Wearing:

| Goodwill Top (similar) | Nordstrom Pants (similar) | Goodwill Flats (similar) | Aldo Sunglasses (similar) |

Sabrina’s Wearing:

| Asos Romper | Amazon Heels | Express Earrings | Goodwill Purse (similar) | TJ Maxx Sunglasses (similar) |

Hannah’s Wearing:

| Old Navy Pants | Forever 21 Loafers | Rue21 Sunglasses (similar) | Amazon Earrings |

What to Wear When You Hate Summer Fashion

If you are anything like us, you probably cringe when someone tells you that summer is their favorite season.

Sunburns, scalding car seats, and spiders galore? No friggin’ thank you.

We would prefer to go into hibernation for the three most soul-crushing months of the year (which are only going to get hotter and hotter), but they unfortunately haven’t perfected that process yet. So, until then, we’ve had to make do.

 

IMG_4382I have always been a sweater-obsessed, booties-loving, fall fashion guru, so when the Arkansas summer heat hits, I’m filled with dread when I’m trying to figure out what to wear. (Not to mention, having to shave your legs like everyday is such a pain.) With the humidity in Arkansas, staying fashionable in the summer is nearly impossible. But instead of staying snuggled in my bed watching Netflix and counting down the days until the air turns crisp (which would be my first choice), I’ve turned to mesh tops, backless dresses, and flowy fabrics to get me through the summer fever so I don’t have to stay holed up in my room until September.

 

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Being only about 5’3 and having legs as white as the sandy beaches of Destin, I’ve always found it uncomfortable to wear shorts because it’s difficult to find a pair that is flattering on me. But, I decided it was time to free the thighs and get over my irrational fear of my white legs seeing the sun because how else are my legs going to get any darker if I keep them covered up all the time?IMG_4229

I love these shorts because they are high-waisted, which elongates my torso, and they pair well with my favorite, all-season embroidered booties, which magically make any outfit look chic. The vertical stripes of these shorts slim my waist while giving me the nautical, summery vibe I’m going for, and I love how they contrast with this peachy mesh top (whose main purpose is preventing me from melting like the Wicked Witch of the West). 

I still cannot wait until it’s sweater weather again, but I think I can survive until then with pieces like these in rotation. (But then again, it’s only June and we still have the two hottest months of the year to go, so we’ll see!)

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Summertime is great. I love long breaks from college to travel, work and just slow down for while. However, I have never been a fan of summer fashion. Living in Arkansas, I dread going outside into the sticky heat where sweating is inevitable. Picking out an outfit becomes a game where you have to consider so many factors before you even leave the house. What’s the temp out? Will I freeze in the AC when I go inside? Will this show sweat? Am I going to get a weird sunburn in this? (I say burn rather than tan because I’m only one shade of porcelain all year round). I am probably in the minority of people who would gladly trade scorching sunny days for cooler cloudy ones, and I get by in the summer by wearing light layers both for versatility and as a means to use some of my staple pieces from other seasons. And no one does layers and cloudy days quite like England, from which I draw most of my style inspiration.

In 2015, I spent the best semester of my college career studying abroad in London. For several sweet months, I drank in the culture around me as I fell in love with the accents, the food, the history, the mannerisms, and most of all, the fashion. 

 

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I brought quite a lot home with me after that semester; a few great pieces of clothing, but mostly ideas for my wardrobe. When studying there, I found that balance and stability are themes that permeate almost every facet of British culture, and they definitely extend to fashion. Londoners were not overly done-up nor were they slouchy or frumpy.

This look has infiltrated much of my own wardrobe and the pieces I buy. I strive for that balance between the high-end pieces like you could find in London’s West End shops and vintage finds like you might pick up in the East End.

IMG_4296I aspire to find that androgynous balance for me that looks powerful and bold, yet still chic and soft. I am always seeking that balance that says, “I put in some effort with this look, but not too much.” Because at the end of the day, I want that beautifully unique look too. I don’t want someone to compliment my outfit or my makeup as much as I would like them to compliment how I look. I want my summer wardrobe to be flexible and still me even if it’s not my favorite season of the year and even if I’m suffering through Arkansas weather instead of London’s. And if I can achieve that, I promise you can too.

-S

 

IMG_4341I love the color black.

I wear it year-round, so my fellow Arkansans must think I’ve lost my mind around this time of year.

But, I hate typical summer fashion with its frou-frou ruffles and bright colors, so I had to find a way to stay true to my sense of style without literally having a heat stroke.

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I wore this all-black outfit when it was at least eighty degrees outside, and you know what? I was actually pretty comfortable! If you like dark colors, the key is wearing pieces that allow you to breathe in the summertime. This shirt is mesh, so I could feel that wonderful breeze on my skin all day long, and these flowy, satin wide-leg pants didn’t cling to my skin at all or make me sweat. 

It’s honestly really difficult for me to find the motivation to get dressed up in the summertime because I am very hot-natured and I sweat a lot (ladylike, I know). I don’t want to wear cute clothes or spend time on my hair and makeup because I know as soon as I step outside, I’m instantly going to sweat through whatever I’m wearing and my hair is going to frizz up because of the humidity.

 

Before we started this blog, I essentially only wore various, boring combinations of tank tops and shorts whenever I went out somewhere because I didn’t think it was worth it to put in the energy. Now, I’m a little more obligated to put in some real effort instead of giving summer a pass and being content with looking like a hungover college kid dragging their feet to their 8 am class (messy bun, dark circles and all). It’s a good thing, though, because I feel better about myself when I try, and with breezy fabrics, makeup primer, and plenty of hairspray, I think I can make it until fall.

-S

 

“I figure if I’m gonna be a mess, I might as well be a hot mess.” -Mindy Kaling

IMG_4469Hannah’s Outfit Details:

Mesh Top: Forever 21

Shorts: Forever 21

Embroidered Booties: Target

Earrings: Amazon

Sunglasses: Aldo- similar here

Sarah’s Outfit Details:

Crop Top: Kohl’s- similar here

Satin Top: Goodwill- similar here

Pants: Forever 21

Heels: Forever 21

Sunglasses: Rue 21- similar here

Sabrina’s Outfit Details:

Mesh Top: Zara- similar here

Bralette: Aerie

Satin Pants: Goodwill (revitalized by Awaken Atelier)- similar here 

Velvet Sneakers: Target

Earrings: Amazon

Sunglasses: TJ Maxx- similar here

Watch: Plato’s Closet- similar here

The Fashion Girl’s Guide to Fitness

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For my entire life, I made excuses as to why I couldn’t reach my goals. Being a full time student and having two jobs are definitely good reasons, but they’re still excuses. But in January of 2016, something clicked in my head, and I realized how much control I have over my life. If I really want something, I’m the only person who can keep me from it.

I decided to dedicate my entire life to fitness and health. I began working out for one hour five days a week and eating clean six days a week. My plan was to lose fifteen pounds. I ended up losing thirty pounds.

 

After losing the weight, I kept setting new goals, and I kept reaching them. I suddenly enjoyed shopping for new clothes because I felt good about myself. I was finally able to wear cute outfits and not feel self conscious. I’d never had this much confidence in my life. _MG_6604Not only did I look better, I felt better. I felt strong and healthy. I felt happier and got better sleep. I started to realize it’s not about how you look; it’s about how you feel. Before losing weight, I was called fat. After losing weight, I was called too skinny. My response? “Well, I love myself and that’s all that matters.” And it truly is all that matters.

It doesn’t matter what type of clothes you wear, how skinny you are, or how much makeup you wear. As long as you truly love yourself, you’ll rock any look. It’s not the outfit that makes you look good. It’s your confidence and how you wear that outfit that makes you look good.

Life is too short to try to impress others. Do things that make you happy, things that make you feel your best.

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I now train for at least an hour and a half five days a week and I count my macros. I’m climbing the ladder of the fitness world around me. People are constantly asking me how to look and feel better, and it makes me feel so happy. Everyone deserves to love themselves. This new confidence has not only helped me in the gym, but it has also helped me in front of the camera, with my job, with socializing in general.

People are drawn towards confidence. I think that’s because everyone strives for and wishes to love themselves. At the end of the day, it’s all about being the healthiest version of ourselves. We only have one life, and one body. We’re meant to take care of it and to love it.

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Whoever said fashion and fitness had to be mutually exclusive was just plain wrong. Ditch those gray, baggy sweat pants because fashion and fitness have come together and had a baby, and its name is athleisure. From yoga-inspired looks like mine to bold, fresh looks like Sabrina’s, this new take on workout gear is anything but boring.

_MG_6740Last season was filled with bright colors, so I love the fresh take this season has brought with muted monochromatics. A number of traditional ready-to-wear stores have taken on athleisure sections, including H&M, Old Navy, and Free People, and even Beyonce has her own fitness line! Wearing Adidas sneakers instead of a pair of cute flats is the easiest fashion-forward way athleisure can play into your daily life. Yoga pants are no longer restricted to yoga classes, so pair them with a flowy top and hit up brunch with friends._MG_6815_MG_6546

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Quite often, people make the mistake of thinking that you have to wear ‘traditional workout clothes’ when you work out, but I think the athleisure trend has definitely disproved that. There are many ways to incorporate fashion-forward trends into your athletic looks, like the strappy back of my sports bra or Sabrina’s velvet sneakers.

 

When it comes to fashion, it’s all about your perspective, so rock those silk joggers and feel free to wear patterned leggings until the end of time.

-H

 

As a full-time student and aspiring entrepreneur, it can sometimes be difficult to find the time (or the energy) to hit the gym. I like to work out in the morning, so if it gets past noon or one o’clock, it’s probably not going to happen that day. Unfortunately, I also do my best work in the morning, so I frequently get caught up writing blog posts or knocking out homework assignments until my ideal ‘workout window’ has passed. So, what’s a morning girl to do then?_MG_7001My solution is to put on my workout clothes as soon as I wake up, even if I don’t know if I’m going to work out that day. Because if I already have my leggings and sports bra on, I’m a lot more likely to make that ten minute drive to the gym.

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Changing into athletic clothes doesn’t seem like that big of a task, but when you’re trying to make the decision of whether or not to work out at like 12:59, already being in those clothes is a huge motivating factor. And there’s actually science to back up this idea. The theory of ‘enclothed cognition’ describes the mental changes we undergo when we wear certain clothing. One researcher from a 2012 study on the topic says, “I think it would make sense that when you wear athletic clothing, you become more active and more likely to go to the gym and work out.”

 

This doesn’t mean that leggings are magical, and as soon as you put them on, you’ll transform into a fitness guru. But, if  you’re already contemplating going for a run, wearing the clothes you subconsciously associate with running can give you the extra push you need to actually go through with it.

Plus, athleisure is as comfortable and cute as it gets, so what other reason do you need to stock up on track pants and funky tennis shoes?

-S

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Britney’s Outfit Details

Top: Express

Sports Bra: Forever 21

Leggings: Forever 21

Tennis Shoes: H&M

Hat: Nike

Sunglasses: Aldo

Hannah’s Outfit Details

Top: Forever 21

Sports Bra: Forever 21

Leggings: Target

Hoodie: Forever 21

Slip On Shoes: ASOS

Sunglasses: TJ Maxx

Sabrina’s Outfit Details

Top: Goodwill (revitalized by Awaken Atelier)

Track Pants: Forever 21

Tennis Shoes: Target

Sunglasses: Rue21

A New York State of Mind

“The city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.”

– F. Scott Fitzgerald

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If America is the land of opportunity, New York City is without a doubt the epicenter of that idea. New York is written about in countless songs and stories and dreamt of by artists and wishful thinkers from all walks of life.We love New York City because the different boroughs of it are so diverse, yet they come together to create one of the greatest cities in the world.

For this shoot, we decided to each take inspiration from one of the three most well-known boroughs of New York–Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.

Each of these areas have distinct characteristics that set them apart, so we were incredibly excited to take those ideas and make them our own.

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New York City is one of the world’s premier fashion capitals, featuring grand runway shows, designer flagship stores, and flourishing fast-fashion establishments.

The Manhattan Garment District, which started in the early 20th century, is the primary reason Manhattan has gotten to where it is today. Even though this district is currently struggling due to rising costs, many dedicated individuals at the Garment District Alliance are making sure that the heart of this fashion capital never dies.

Manhattan is known for the upscale, fashion forward scene that lives for fresh designs and one-of-a-kind looks (many of which originate from the Garment District itself). Like anyone, I would love to own pieces from Michael Kors and Kate Spade’s collections, but I’ve learned that dressing fashion forward is more so a state of mind than it is a collection of the labels you own. (I bet you would never believe these modern pants are from Goodwill, and I snatched this lacy camisole off the clearance rack at Target!)

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I love Manhattan because even though it’s always on the cutting edge of fashion and most prominently features the rich and famous, there is still room for the important parts of its history, like the Garment District, and for those who are perhaps not as wealthy or well-known.

Manhattan is a place where everybody can contribute and make their dreams come true,regardless of where they came from.

-H

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Growing up, I was never the most conventionally stylish girl. My style mostly consisted of busy, patterned skirts with leggings and knee-high, neon socks. The photos from my middle school and teenage years are filled with colorful vests, scarfs, and other strange pieces that didn’t match and definitely didn’t go together.

But it didn’t matter to me.

If I liked something, I wore it.

This state of mind has followed me throughout my life and has shaped how I view fashion to this day. It is also why I feel a connection to Brooklyn. Brooklyn’s fashion is packed with mixed, funky patterns and fun, vintage pieces, like overalls or high waisted skirts. It’s inspiring to see a fashion district be so willing to break some of the rules.

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It doesn’t matter if two patterns don’t exactly match or if that oversized jacket that you got from Goodwill is unflattering.

If you like it, wear it and be confident in it.

This refreshing way of looking at personal style is causing the fashion business in Brooklyn to boom. Is it possible that Brooklyn might be on its way to fashion-capital status, even pushing sophisticated Manhattan out of the limelight with its edgy, modern looks? Will Brooklyn place its bets on the high-fashion scene and play with the high rollers, or will it stay in its own independent, lively realm of contemporary designs? Whatever it does, Brooklyn will always inspire me to keep looking at fashion as a fun way to express myself, no matter how I might be seen by everyone else.

-M

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Queens is known for being the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to showcase my own heritage, as I am half Indian. My mom immigrated to this country from India when she was in her twenties, which is still something that completely amazes me. Moving to a foreign country where she knew absolutely no one, did not even have so much as a car or a cell phone, and was only a few years older than I am now? I only hope I inherited that kind of bravery and trailblazing spirit.

As a fashion lover, one of my favorite aspects of Indian culture is the bold colors and intricate embroidery that is found in the clothing. I wore these custom-made, crimson jogger-style pants with a matching kurti to the traditional cocktail party at my cousin’s wedding in India about a year and a half ago.

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I love the pieces together, but I also adore them separately because even one piece alone makes such a striking statement. Indian culture is becoming more prominent every day in this country, which makes me excited (Bollywood stars becoming A-Listers, yoga, embroidery; I love it!), but it also reminds me that America is a place where every culture should be celebrated.

Like my mom, so many people left behind everything they knew in their home countries to contribute to ‘the great experiment’ and give themselves and their children better opportunities (and for a lot of them, that journey started right here in New York!). America is not a country of one culture, but an amalgamation of many, and Queens is the perfect representation of that.

-S

When you imagine a “city,” you probably envision a place where almost everything is tied together with some kind of centralized theme. Like, Portland is known for its hipster vibes and microbreweries. Memphis for blues and barbecue.

New York isn’t quite like that.

There are what feel like cities upon cities within itself, and a more diverse collection of individuals and ideas than can be found anywhere else in the world.

This is why we didn’t exactly try to coordinate our outfits for this shoot.

We knew that as long as we stayed true to ourselves and found the right inspiration, it would come together all on its own.

The fearless optimism and acceptance of these differences are what gives New York it’s own kind of magic, and what gives us our own New York state of mind.

“New York is not a city. It’s a world.”

– Iman

Hannah’s Outfit Details
Top: Target
Pants: Goodwill
Pumps: Vince Camuto
Clutch: Gift
Sunglasses: Eyeglass Direct
Sabrina’s Outfit Details
Top: Goodwill
Pants: Tailor in India
Pumps: Steve Madden
Earrings: Amazon
Clutch: Boutique in India
Sunglasses: Dallas Market
Madison’s Outfit Details
Dress: Goodwill (reinvented by Awaken Atelier)
Ankle Boots: Target
Handbag: Steve Madden
Sunglasses: Aldo
Earrings: H&M

Less is More, More or Less

What does ‘less is more’ mean to you?

The definition of this phrase is: “the view that a minimalist approach to artistic or aesthetic matters is more effective,” but people extrapolate and transfer this definition to fit a variety of ideals. Some see ‘less is more’ as a reason to limit the power of various authority figures, like law enforcement or the government. Others use it as grounds to write a one-page Lean Canvas instead of a full-fledged business plan.

Many still see it as a lifestyle choice where they learn to live with fewer possessions or a smaller social circle,so they can fully appreciate the value of each of those possessions or individuals. We can easily say that this last one is something that we aspire to, but also frequently struggle with on a day-to-day basis.

We’ve grown accustomed to the fast-paced life that comes with fashion photography, where we typically select the 8-10 photos for a blog post from about three hundred raw images. It’s time consuming to edit and narrow down all of those photos, but we love it because it gives us more than enough options to choose from.

As we were collaborating on this photo shoot with the Green brothers, we kept thinking to ourselves, “We need more photos than this!” when we noticed that they snapped far fewer than we were used to. We were worried that we would not be able to do our meticulously crafted outfits justice in only a couple photos at each location.

Yet, as we began looking through them, we realized that we really only need one or two killer photos in each spot, and we actually did have enough. (And it was kind of nice to only spend about a quarter of the time as usual editing them!)

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I used to feel remorseful for simplifying my circle of friends so significantly when I started attending UCA. I felt an obligation towards people that meant so much to me in the past, but the reality is that if they are not improving your present or your future, they have no business being in your life.

Life is too short to constantly preoccupy yourself with this kind of guilt. People will always come and go; that’s just the way life works! At one point in your life, a friend will be exactly who you need, but as you grow and change as a person, that friend may no longer serve in your best interest (or you in their best interest)._DSC1152-2Simplifying your circle causes less frustration and less stress, more freedom lessens anxiety and lessens worry, and more meaning in your life allows you to focus far less on life’s excess in favor of what’s truly important.

When I started to focus on the people who added more value to my life and inspired me to chase after my passions, I began to become more successful in my aspirations. Now I have professional photographers and videographers as my close friends, and computer scientists and incredible artists. Allowing more time to connect with them truly helped me see the value in having less.

-H

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I remember ‘less is more’ as one of my dad’s key phrases when I was growing up. As a teenager, I wholeheartedly opposed this idea, especially when it came to clothing. My dad even used to joke that I could go an entire year without doing a single load of laundry! That was a stretch…but not by much, I’m afraid.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve moved towards higher-quality, staple pieces, and I’ve (begrudgingly, I’ll admit) begun to see the value in having fewer, better pieces in rotation.

 

 

There’s nothing I love more than giving my wardrobe a refresher every season, but I do find myself turning to many of the same pieces when I’m looking for something to wear. I didn’t used to, but now I do see the value in having less. When I’m limited to only ten or so pieces to create outfits from (like on a vacation), I tend to create better outfits than when I have an entire walk-in closet at my disposal.

An art teacher once told me that creativity is best expressed within limits, and for me, that is inescapably true.

 -S

Like anyone else, we would love to have lots of people, places, and things in our lives, but if we spread ourselves too thin, we won’t be able to see the true value of any of them.

We love the fast-paced world of fashion, but it’s also nice to step away every once in a while and get back to the simple artistry of taking photographs. We’ve seen that minimalism isn’t any better or worse than other styles of living your life, choosing your friends, or partaking in artistic adventures; it’s just different.

And who better than us understands the value of being different?

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“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Leonardo da Vinci

_DSC1225Hannah’s Outfit Details

Top: TJ Maxx
Jeans: Target
Loafers: Forever 21
Hat: Target
Earrings: Earthbound Trading Co.
Sunglasses: Eyeglass Direct
Sabrina’s Outfit Details
Top: Impressions Boutique
Jeans: Impressions Boutique
Cardigan: Impressions Boutique
Heeled Sandals: Impressions Boutique
Purse: BCBG
Necklace: Amazon
Earrings: Fred Meyers
Photos by: the Green Brothers