Three Definitions of What It Means to Dress “Professionally”

DSC_9280

DSC_9183

DSC_9319

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.

DSC_9192

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

DSC_8945

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.

DSC_8962

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

DSC_9137

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 |

Trend Tips: The Graphic Tee

DSC_9462The graphic tee: everyone knows it, everyone loves it, but not everyone knows how to style it. To keep your look from venturing into middle school/Hollister tee territory, stay up to date with these easy outfit tips:

DSC_9551DSC_9542

 

The graphic tee is one of the biggest trends of the summer, but (ironically) because this piece is so versatile, it can be difficult to style it in a way that feels fresh. I paired this graphic tee from Natural Statement with a side-split maxi skirt to make it feel a little more feminine and make me feel as though I could be walking along a beach somewhere. 

 

 

 

DSC_9556

 

I found these chic, black loafers AND this woven purse at Goodwill the other day (score!), so I thought they would be the perfect additions to keep this look easy and casual. If you are going to try out a maxi skirt this summer, go for one that doesn’t feel basic (so 2015). Try out various, ankle skimming lengths, or find one with some sexy slits in it (or create the slits yourself, like I did!).

-S

 

DSC_9488

DSC_9522DSC_9604

 

 

As much as I love chic, summer colors–vibrant yellow, classic red, and everything in between–there is something fashion forward about going monochromatic when putting together a summer outfit. Everyone owns and wears graphic tees on a regular basis, so I didn’t want this look to feel as though I just threw it together on my way to class.

 

 

I pulled out the block heel booties I usually reserve for fall and tucked in that graphic tee to accentuate these high-waisted shorts and add a street style feel to this ensemble. I added a denim jacket to throw in a littttllllleeeee bit of color (but not much), so I wouldn’t be mistaken for gothic, and so I could swing it around when I wanted to and feel like a runway model.

-H

Sabrina’s Wearing:

| Natural Statement Tee | Revitalized Kohl’s Maxi Skirt (similar) | Goodwill Loafers (similar) | Goodwill Purse (similar) | Aldo Sunglasses | Charming Charlie Earrings (similar) |

Hannah’s Wearing:

| Natural Statement Tee | Revitalized H&M Shorts | Marc Fisher Ankle Boots (similar) | TJ Maxx Denim Jacket | TJ Maxx Sunglasses (similar) | Etsy Necklace | Earthbound Trading Co. Earrings (similar) |

Photos by: Rainwater Reflections Photography

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.

 

IMG_4387

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!)

-HIMG_4306

IMG_4411

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. 

 

IMG_4270

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.

IMG_4360

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

_MG_6873

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.

_MG_6799

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.

-B_MG_6903

_MG_6934

 

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

_MG_6950

 

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.

_MG_6716

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

_MG_6861

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.

 

_MG_5364

 

 

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.

_MG_5578

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.

-S_MG_5707

_MG_5474

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

A ‘Make It Work’ Moment

As many of you know, the two of us live in Arkansas. Physically at least. Mentally, we live in places like Paris and New York City, and our sense of style reflects that urban, fashion week-street style vibe.

As such, it’s a challenge to make our photographs appear as though they could have been taken on the streets of Manhattan rather than Little Rock, Arkansas.

We love our home state and all the wonders of nature it has to offer, but when it comes to fashion, we certainly prefer stilettos and skyscrapers to cowboy boots and cornfields.

When we initially started this blog, we were open to taking photos wherever.

Greenhouses, college campuses, the downtown area of the small city we live in.

As we continued to develop our aesthetic, we decided that we wanted to stick to more ‘urban’ backgrounds and colors to make our blog feel as though it could have originated from a big city. Little Rock is beautiful with its river bridges and river market, but it can be difficult to find places to shoot photos without resorting to the same old spots over and over again.

Yet, somehow, some way, we’ve made it work.

What is life without a little challenge? Hannah and I would love nothing more than to travel and take photos in the fashion capitals of the world, but unfortunately as students and budding entrepreneurs, that is not exactly in our budget. So, for the most part,we take the thirty minute trip to our state’s capital to scout locations and show off our sense of style.

IMG_2264

 

Sometimes we get disappointed because we are not able to capture some of the shots we really want, but we kind of enjoy the challenge of making Arkansas look urban. When we end up with photos like these, I don’t think we’re really missing out at all.

Plus, it’s kind of cool to show the people of Little Rock that fashion is not nonexistent here. So many times, we’ve been out for a shoot and people have stopped their cars to tell us that we look amazing or that they love what we’re doing. Just because we don’t live in a big city, it doesn’t mean we have to give up on what we truly want for our blog and for ourselves.

-S

IMG_2366

IMG_2217 (1)

From a photographer’s perspective, it would be much easier to live in a city with a color scheme similar to ours and the sort of aesthetic the bigger cities have to offer.

We quickly ran out of locations to use when we started Ensemble of Elan, so we had to look at the situation differently and see how we could make places in Arkansas look more chic and sophisticated.  When I’m scouting for places, I usually like to start in an urban area that has pretty tall buildings to create depth and interest in the background. Sabrina and I usually drive around until we see buildings that fit our color scheme, so for us, we usually look for white/gray, modern or architectural structures. Buildings with tall windows are also helpful in creating an intriguing, reflective background.

It’s not impossible to make Arkansas look sophisticated; you just have to know what to look for.

-H

This summer, we are looking forward to traveling to places like Fayetteville, Dallas, and Memphis to do photoshoots in new, exciting locations because we will finally have the time and money to do so.

For once, we won’t have to scour the same square mile of Little Rock in search of somewhere fresh! It is an engaging challenge in creativity to find new angles and new crevices of our state’s capital where we can hold photoshoots, but it would be a welcome change to shoot somewhere completely untouched by us and our camera.

Traveling frequently won’t be an option during the rest of the year until we are both done with school, so until then, we have to–as our idol, Tim Gunn, says–make it work.

Sabrina’s Outfit Details

Jumpsuit: TJ Maxx

Button-Down Shirt: Goodwill

Tennis Shoes: Adidas

Glasses: Coach

Ear Cuff: Badgley Mischka

Purse: BCBG

Hannah’s Outfit Details

Dress: Target

Long Sleeve Shirt: Goodwill

Ankle Boots: Lulu’s

Backpack: Goodwill

Hair Piece: Target

Earrings: Amazon

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.

IMG_2506

IMG_2559 (1)

 

 

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

IMG_2637

IMG_2514

 

 

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

 

 

IMG_2644 (1).

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

IMG_2476

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