Pants in the Summertime (It Can Be Done)

If you ask anyone who lives in Arkansas what they most frequently wear in the summertime, we’ll bet you anything that their answer is not “pants.” The blistering heat combined with the unbelievable humidity makes it difficult to wear anything except shorts and sundresses without having heat stroke.

red silk scarfYet, as two people who don’t want to wear shorts and sundresses 24/7, we’ve had to find some tricks to wearing this article of clothing without instantly regretting it as soon as we step out of the house.

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I am the self-proclaimed pants master. When I bought these pants from Goodwill, they were loose and straight-legged, which wasn’t exactly flattering, but because of the high waist and the lovely print, I saw potential in them. The first time I tailored a pair of pants, it took me 9+ hours of watching seamstresses’ tutorials on YouTube and trying out different techniques before I ended up with a pair of pants with which I was satisfied. This time? Maybe an hour.

After tightening the fit and slightly cropping the legs, these pants have become one of my favorites because they look like something I would find at Reformation. I like to mix up my summer pants repertoire with a pair that has a little character, like these, instead of only wearing jeans or black jogger pants. The fabric of these pants isn’t particularly breezy, but I actually felt fine while we were out and about because the cropped length + sandals ensured that my feet and ankles stayed cool.

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I don’t necessarily dislike wearing shorts, but it’s a struggle for me to find shorts that I love because I am very particular about them. I used to love low-rise, super-short cutoffs when I was in college, but I’m over that phase. Now, for me to buy a pair of shorts, they have to be high-waisted, a little bit longer, and be something more than a plain jane pair of Daisy Dukes. Shorts are just not as chic as pants to me, so they have to be really intriguing for me to want to spend money on them.

-S

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To wear jeans or not to wear jeans, that is the question. I am the kind of girl who loves jeans (ask anyone who knows me; they wouldn’t be able to pick my legs out of a lineup because I so rarely wear anything but pants or jeans), but when Arkansas’ humidity is at its peak, trying to squeeze into a pair of denim skinnies is literally impossible. Even I at some point have to retire my jeans in favor of something more breathable and lightweight.

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Instead of trying to survive in denim, I flock to patterned joggers, or sometimes even a pair of wide-leg pants because they are airy, appropriate for a 9-to-5 job, or for even after hours when paired with some stilettos. I don’t mind wearing shorts, but I’d much rather wear a flattering pair of pants, so when I hop from freezing coffee shop to coffee shop I don’t in turn into an icicle. Opting for airy fabrics–cotton, linen, mesh–provides a way to look polished in public while not roasting to death because of your friggin’ pants.

So will I be wearing pants this summer? Hell yeah- no sweat (literally).

-H

 

 

What are some ways you’ve found to comfortably wear pants in the summertime? Let us know in the comments!

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Hannah’s Outfit Details:

Pants: Old Navy

Tank Top: Target–similar here

Shoes: Forever 21

Scarf: Goodwill– similar here

Sunglasses: Rue 21– similar here

Earrings: Earthbound Trading Company– similar here

 

Sabrina’s Outfit Details:

Top: Target– similar here

Pants: Goodwill– similar here

Sandals: Forever 21

Sunglasses: Amazon

Earrings: Amazon

Hat: Kroger– similar here

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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

Half the Story

Our mission at Ensemble of Elan is to dress with purpose.

To explore ideas that intrigue us, to celebrate those who inspire us, and discover who we are through fashion.

As part of that, we try to be as authentic and honest as we can, but like anyone, there are still sides of ourselves that we don’t exactly broadcast to the world.

We want to inspire those around us to take on the world with confidence, but we don’t want to give you the idea that this is something that comes to us with ease. Because like anyone, we sometimes doubt ourselves and our abilities.

So, we wanted to share with you our #halfthestory, which is a movement to share the half of yourself that you don’t normally share on social media, and we hope our stories inspire you to do the same.

 

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Have you ever gone somewhere and felt like you were out of place?

Now, have you felt that way almost every day of your life?

Most people probably haven’t, but I have.

I suffer from what is called impostor syndrome.

Impostor syndrome is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. I graduated as valedictorian from my high school, got accepted into one of the most prestigious honors colleges in the country, graduated summa cum laude with my bachelor’s degree, and I am currently holding a 4.0 GPA in my master’s program.

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People have always regarded me as the “smart girl,” but for a long time, I honestly never felt that way.cI always discounted every accomplishment with something along the lines of “I went to a small school, so there wasn’t as much competition,”or “I got in the Honors College because my sister was already in it, and they liked her,” or “The work wasn’t very hard, so it didn’t take that much effort to get an A.” I never credited myself for a single one of those feats.

I hadn’t heard of imposter syndrome until about a year ago, but when I finally read an article about it, something clicked because it perfectly articulated something I’d felt for years. I was truly afraid to write this because I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging; I’m not that kind of person (rather, quite the opposite). I know there are a lot of people out there who feel the same way, but don’t know how to talk about it without looking like they’re fishing for a compliment. From all of us out there who struggle with this, I promise we aren’t ‘humble bragging’ because outside validation does nothing to help us.

 

I wanted to share this anecdote from Neil Gaiman because it helped me realize that I wasn’t alone:

Some years ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to a gathering of great and good people: artists and scientists, writers and discoverers of things. And I felt that at any moment they would realize that I didn’t qualify to be there, among these people who had really done things.

On my second or third night there, I was standing at the back of the hall, while a musical entertainment happened, and I started talking to a very nice, polite, elderly gentleman about several things, including our shared first name. And then he pointed to the hall of people, and said words to the effect of,

“I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent.”

And I said, “Yes. But you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.”

And I felt a bit better. Because if Neil Armstrong felt like an impostor, maybe everyone did.

Maybe there weren’t any grown-ups, only people who had worked hard and also got lucky and were slightly out of their depth;

all of us doing the best job we could, which is all we can really hope for.

 

The older I get, the more I realize that nobody actually ever feels like they know what they’re doing.

We look at people who seemingly have it all together and forget that they’re people too.

People just like us.

So, if you do feel way out of your league or completely terrified that people are going to discover that you actually aren’t as intelligent or creative or whatever as people think you are, keep going. Someone (probably a lot of someones) saw something in you, even though you couldn’t see it yourself. Try to give yourself a little credit, and if that’s still difficult for you, remember it’s better to be humble and keep striving to better yourself than to think you are the most amazing person who has ever existed and stay exactly where you are.

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This year, I took on quite the workload with being a full time student, working 20-30 hours a week, starting Ensemble of Elan, and taking the first steps to open our sustainable fashion company, Awaken. I’ve learned that being an aspiring entrepreneur often means accepting stress as part of your life.

Many days last semester consisted of waking up and starting my day in school, doing work for two of my jobs in class (sorry mom), racing to business meetings or blog photoshoots as soon as I got done with class, then in the wee hours of the night I would finally start on some homework. I’m only twenty years old, but I have a lot of dreams, so I knew I needed to find a way for me to take them on without my brain exploding from so much stress.

I noticed the weight of the anxiety and tensions start to creep in, and I continually pushed it to the back of my mind or ignored it until I was on the verge of a meltdown every other day. Rather than sharing my feelings with my friends or family, I employed the “fake it till you make it” method, or as some social psychiatrists put it, “impression management”.

 

Many of the things that make a great entrepreneur- creativity, passion, energy- are also the things that can lead to them feeling worthless and sapped of motivation, especially when things don’t go as planned.

There are almost entire days when I lay in bed, just mentally exhausted from all of the tasks I have to do on regular basis. On those days, the last thing I want to do is to post another social media post or create another graphic. But many times, I don’t really have a choice.

So what are we supposed to do to keep stress from overcoming our lives?

Are we just supposed to give up our dreams altogether because they’re too stressful?

 

What has helped me deal with the stress and burdens of being an aspiring entrepreneur is remembering why we started Awaken in the first place: to help promote sustainable clothing in the fashion industry (and because going into fashion has always been my dream). When I refocus my purpose and intentions of why I am doing all of this, it makes it all worth it.

There are days when I am the most positive, encouraging person and I am ready to take on the day, but there are also days when the doubt and fear crashes down like a thousand ton elephant on my shoulders, and I can barely get a single thing done.

On those days, I like to hit up the gym and let out all of my frustrations.

ANOTHER TIP IS TO JUST TAKE A BATH EVERY ONCE IN AWHILE. IT HELPS.

Many of us worship the ideal of perfection, but letting that go can help us release all stress we compound on a daily basis.

-H

 

Be sure to check out the Half the Story Project for more life unfiltered!_MG_5701Hannah’s Outfit Details

Camisole: Target

Robe: Victoria’s Secret

Earrings: Amazon

Sabrina’s Outfit Details

Slip Dress: Target

Robe: Gift

Earrings: Gift

The Rules Are Meant to Be Broken

There are a lot of so-called ‘rules’ in fashion.

“Don’t wear socks with sandals.”

“Don’t show your bra straps.”

“Match your shoes to your purse.”

“Dress for your age.”

Thankfully, all of these rules are completely irrelevant in 2017. The new era of fashion is all about expressing yourself however you so choose. If you are a fashion novice, it might be a smart idea to use the rules as guidelines until you get more comfortable creating outfits, but after that, feel more than free to shatter and stomp all over them.

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I remember when I was a teenager, it was a fashion faux pas for your bra straps or your underwear to peek out from your clothes. It was such a pain to make sure my bra straps were tucked away at all times and that my underwear wasn’t showing above my low-rise jeans. Now, I love that undergarments are made to be shown. We as women shouldn’t have to worry about constantly covering up what we’re wearing underneath our clothes. It’s ridiculous!

And impossible at times!

Trust me, there’s nothing scandalous about a visible bra strap. There might be something a little scandalous about showing off Calvin Klein or Victoria’s Secret undies, but is there really anything wrong with that? (No. No, there isn’t.)IMG_2566

 

 

 

 

 

Dressing in a sexy manner isn’t a crime.

Although, I honestly did feel a little awkward during this shoot because we were at the Clinton Presidential Library and guests were arriving for a fancy wedding while I was chilling and modeling for photos in this outfit. I probably could have planned the timing/location of that shoot better so that I didn’t feel underdressed, but it wasn’t the end of the world, and I didn’t let it bother me.

-S

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There are a couple of fashion myths that I simply do not agree with.

For starters, whoever said that you have to be as tall as Karlie Kloss to wear long pants and maxi skirts is dead wrong. Many short girls, including myself (I’m 5’2 and proud), have ventured into the world of over-the knee-boots and wide-leg pants, and you know what? They look just as fly on us as they do on our taller counterparts.

However, there are several challenges when it comes to pulling off jumbo pant legs if you are not a pro in stilettos. Just remember to have your tailor on speed dial and that high waistbands can add several inches to your perceived height

 

 

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Another misconception that used to exist in the fashion industry is that you cannot mix prints, but that has certainly been disproven over the past few seasons. From mixing florals with stripes to even leopard and plaid, fashion in 2017 is on a new level that does not follow any rules.

I read an intriguing quote the other day on the fashion blog, Racked:

“A fashion ‘don’t’ thoroughly owned by you is always going to be a much more interesting look than a fashion ‘do’ worn with resentful compliance.”

So don’t hold back; break the rules. Remember that rebellion has always thrived in fashion.

Without it, would fashion ever evolve?

-H

All that said, you do have to know the rules before you can successfully break the rules. So, please don’t pair Hanes crew socks with your Birkenstocks or show off the straps of your ratty, old, Maidenform bra (please). But you can wear fishnet socks with black heels or show off the straps of a lacy, new bralette!

Keep in mind that fashion icons do not get remembered for wearing what’s conventional or appropriate. Wear what you want to wear, and let it roll off your back if people have a problem with it. Right now they might be mocking you, but before you know it, they’ll be imitating you.

“Well behaved women seldom make history.”

– Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

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Hannah’s Outfit Details

Button-Down Shirt: Goodwill

Jeans: Target

Heeled Sandals: Goodwill

Sunglasses: Rue21

Purse: BCBG

Sabrina’s Outfit Details

Crop Top: Target

Bra: Aerie

Jeans: Zara

Undies: Victoria’s Secret

Purse: Aldo

Ankle Boots: Lulu’s

Falling in Love With Clothing Again

Do you remember how you felt as a teenager after you tried on a million prom dresses and finally found one that gave you goosebumps?

If you are anything like us, you probably took it out of its garment bag and tried it on at least two or three more times before prom night because you simply could not wait to wear it until then.

It was a magical feeling that most of us can still remember.IMG_2771People used to have that kind of emotional connection with a lot more pieces in their wardrobes, but many of us have lost that. We buy the same, boring button-down shirt in three different colors because it works for the office, and we don’t want to have to put in the effort to find three amazing, unique tops instead.

This is precisely why we as a society have accepted fast fashion. We’re perfectly content with finding clothes that are kind of cute and that we can wear two or three times before the seams start coming apart and the appliqués start falling off because we honestly don’t care enough about them to want to wear them year after year.

But, it’s time to bring back the emotional connection to clothing because without it, we are losing out on some of the greatest benefits that fashion has to offer us.

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I know there are a lot of people out there who love services like Stitch Fix, where a personal stylist selects clothes for them based on their style preferences. This service is great for those who don’t have time/don’t enjoy shopping, but I personally do not think you can develop that same attachment to something if you do not pick it out yourself.

This is big part of the reason why I develop more of a connection to clothing items that I purchase myself, rather than those I receive as gifts from friends or family members. I truly do appreciate that someone else has put the time and effort into choosing a dress or pair of shoes they think I’ll like, but even when I do like it, I don’t fall in love with it in the same way I would have if I had found it myself.

 

So, use Stitch Fix for everyday wear if you like, but if you have a big event coming up that you are really looking forward to, I urge you to go out, do the old-fashioned thing, and find a dress or an outfit yourself.

The joy of discovery leads to a deeper connection with that piece of clothing, and you’ll be more likely to wear it again and again.

-S

 

There are not a lot of times I can find a print or a pattern that works for me, but when I saw this dress online at Lulu’s, it was love at first sight. This print was minimal, chic, and two of my favorite colors. I was motivated to widen my wardrobe and find more prints that I adore because of the designer, Dom Streater, who was a Project Runway winner.

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What inspires me about Dom is that she creates her textile designs based on her own paintings, and you can see her constant love affair with prints come through in her clothing pieces. Dom took a lot of risks during her season by using prints in every challenge (even the million dollar runway challenge!), but because she continually made clothes that she personally loved and never compromised her design or aesthetic, she prevailed and won her season.

Even though I’m not quite as much of a prints person, I want to try to be more like Dom by not being afraid to take a risk and always wearing pieces that I’m emotionally attached to instead of ones that I merely ‘like’.

-H

 

You are probably tired of hearing this by now, but we’ll say it again anyways because it’s important: Clothing is how we show the world who we are inside.

How are we supposed to do that if we do not care about what we buy or what we put on our bodies?

Treating clothes as if they’re disposable not only harms the environment and contributes to unethical labor practices in developing countries, but it also dilutes this crucial form of personal expression.

There is a famous quote that reads,

“Life is too short to wear boring clothes,”

but we’d like to amend that to say,

“Life is too short to wear clothes you don’t love.”IMG_2896Sabrina’s Outfit Details

Dress: Target
Button Down Shirt: Goodwill
Ankle Boots: Lulu’s
Sunglasses: TJ Maxx
Earrings: Jeweller in India
Purse: Aldo
Hannah’s Outfit Details
Dress: Lulu’s
Bralette: Aerie
Ankle Boots: Lulu’s
Choker: Rue21
Earrings: Amazon
Hat: Target
Sunglasses: Eyeglass Direct