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!)

_DSC1141-2

 

 

 

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

_DSC1187

 

 

 

 

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?

_DSC1217-2

“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
Advertisements

Science Not Silence

Today is Earth Day, and this Earth Day is probably the most important in recent history.

Today, scientists and science enthusiasts march on Washington to declare their support for evidence-based decision-making, scientific research and education, and more. There are entire groups dedicated to putting scientists in office in an effort to ensure that the policies we set as a country align with what would be best for future generations and our planet.

It should not have to come to this, but it has.

Our country’s leaders have made it clear that they rebuff science in favor of alternative facts, so the fate of our planet has been put in the hands of the people.

One of our favorite quotes concerning this rejection of facts is by Neil DeGrasse Tyson:

“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

We don’t know if ‘good’ is the word we would use because in this case, the truth is terrifying, but this statement is accurate. You can ignore science and pretend that climate change doesn’t exist and that vaccines cause autism for a little while, but you cannot ignore it for long.

Science is not a belief system, so no matter what you believe, the truth will eventually prevail. _DSC1291

_DSC1297

 

I was fortunate enough to grow up with two scientists for parents who taught me from a young age to think rationally and look to the facts. Not everyone was so fortunate, but in the age of information, there is no excuse for ignorance.

The fashion industry, which is the second-most polluting on the planet, is slowly trying to become more sustainable through ‘eco-friendly’ clothing companies that only use organic materials and the like. Yet, most people do not realize that a single organic cotton t-shirt still requires a staggering 2,700 gallons of water to produce. At least, these companies are not using harmful chemicals that seep into farmland and waterways and are using coal alternatives to fuel their production, but they are still consuming our quickly depleting supply of fresh water.

This is why we are pushing the importance of secondhand clothing. It takes exactly zero gallons of water to revitalize a secondhand t-shirt. And, by keeping that shirt out of a landfill, it is effectively a negative-waste piece of clothing. We are not delusional, so we do not think that just wearing a secondhand t-shirt is going to save the planet. But, if everyone does something small, like forgoing plastic grocery bags, drinking out of reusable water bottles–or yes, wearing secondhand clothing– all of those little deeds will add up to make a big difference.

-S

In the 21st century, technological advances have become a daily regularity. I get in my Prius each day, and I use less than half the amount of gas the average American car does, which would not have been possible even a couple decades ago. A lot of people do not realize the impact that the science of today has on the technology of tomorrow.

Without funding scientific research and thinking about ways to make products better and more energy-efficient, we would never be able to enjoy things like smartphones or hybrid cars.

I am not a scientist, but I understand the importance of science in our society. Without it, we would understand almost nothing about ourselves or the world around us. It is because of science that I am able to use those ideas and discoveries and transform them into artistic expressions.

_DSC1234

One of my favorite quotes is, “Science is the poetry of reality.” Science and art are more intermingled than you might think, with concepts like the Golden Ratio (which is found everywhere in nature) guiding artistry and design aesthetic, and the science of light to making photography a possibility.

Beyond that, science is what keeps us alive. If scientists from the past hadn’t dedicated their entire lives to research, we would still be dying from infections due to minor cuts and scratches and diseases like smallpox because we never would have developed a vaccine. I don’t know about you, but I kind of like being alive and being able to engage in the activities that I love.

Use your dollar to vote for companies that are advancing this type of technology and use your ballot to vote for elect officials who recognize that science is the only way of thinking that will propel us into a better, more sustainable future.

-H

If we ignore the facts for much longer and keep silent on issues that matter, it will be too late for us. Every year is consecutively becoming the hottest year on record, and it’s getting to the point that it is noticeable on a daily basis. This year in Arkansas, we wearing short sleeves in February, and now, the temperature outside in April feels how it used to in June.

This is one of the most irritating consequences of climate change (particularly as aficionados of cold weather fashion), but it’s not even the biggest.  Ocean levels are rising, which will lead to several of our coastal cities slowly drowning under water, conflict and potential terrorism is brewing in countries that are most affected by rising temperatures, and entire species of plants and animals are going extinct because their habitats are becoming uninhabitable.

As humans, we sometimes mistakenly think we are above the ecosystem because we live in air-conditioned houses and drive fancy cars. We cannot forget that the Earth is our home, and it’s the only one we’ve got. Whether we like it or not, we are dependent on our ecosystem to stay alive, and if we continue to ignore the disastrous effect we are having on it, not only will the environment suffer, but the human species will too.

If we do nothing, in the future we will only exist as a chapter in the history book of the Earth. 

“The radical novelty of modern science lies precisely in the rejection of the belief that the forces which move the stars and atoms are contingent upon the preferences of the human heart.”

-Walter Lippman
_DSC1272
Hannah’s Outfit Details
Dress: Goodwill (refashioned by Awaken Atelier)
Boots: Zara
Necklaces: Amazon
Earrings: Amazon
Sunglasses: TJ Maxx
Sabrina’s Outfit Details
Top: TJ Maxx
Pants: Goodwill (refashioned by Awaken Atelier)
Heels: Impressions Boutique
Sunglasses: TJ Maxx
Necklace: Amazon
Watch: Plato’s Closet

Photos by: the Green Brothers

 

Nothing To Be Ashamed Of

“…The enemy is not lipstick but guilt itself;
we deserve lipstick if we want it and free speech;
we deserve to be sexual and serious or whatever we please.”
Naomi Wolf
DSC_2212 2

Its funny how a lot of people want to encourage body positivity, but also support dress codes.

Dress codes in schools, and sometimes even workplaces, excessively lean towards restricting what girls and women wear, not boys and men.

Are we seriously surprised that sending girls home for wearing spaghetti strap tank tops or shorts that hit more than two inches above the knees results in low self-confidence and body dysmorphia?

Are we shocked that reproaching women who wear anything but shapeless suits to the office results in victim-blaming in sexual assault cases because people think the woman was “asking for it” by wearing a mini skirt?

These dress codes reinforce the idea that the female form is something to be ashamed of,and that it is the woman’s job to cover herself up as to not be distracting to men and boys.

We get that we need to dress appropriately for different situations,like not wearing a strapless dress to the office,or a pair of underwear-length shorts to school,but most articles of clothing (like leggings) should not be any cause for concern.

DSC_2026 2

 

 

I remember the first time I got sent home from school for a dress code violation. I had on my favorite a-line, red and white floral dress,white tights, and flats, so I was incredibly confused when my teacher sent me to the principal who told me my dress was an inch too short.

I didn’t understand then why that necessitated me being pulled from my class for two hours and feeling humiliated upon my return in a different outfit,and I still don’t understand now. If the point of school is to learn,the point of dress codes is to not distract from learning,yet we’re yanking female students from their classrooms for hours at a time due to dress code violations,aren’t dress codes completely illogical?

DSC_2178 2I was six years old when that happened to me,and obviously I didn’t think about the “appropriateness” of the length(it went to mid-thigh, by the way). I wore it because I loved it and it never crossed my mind that was inappropriate for school(it wasn’t).

Covering up her body is not something a six year old should be forced to think about,but so many of them have to.

Every single day.
-S
DSC_2172 2
DSC_2099 2

So many of us struggle with feeling comfortable in our own skin, but we forget that the longest relationship we will ever have is the one we have with ourselves. If you are not happy with who you are, it makes it impossible to be happy in any other area of your life.

 For a long time, I didn’t feel like myself when I interacted with people,and that projection of myself changed depending on who I was with. One day, it clicked that I don’t have to project a different “version” of myself every time I talked to someone new.

I just needed to be who I am.

DSC_2231 2This realization came after I went to college and was allowed to live–and dress–as I pleased. Its no coincidence that having creative freedom allowed me to explore and accept my true self. I can wear pajamas or a cocktail dress to class if I want to (I don’t), but knowing that I am free–and encouraged–to be myself has given me the confidence to fully express who I am,no matter the situation. I’m proud of myself and my body,and I think I probably would have gained that confidence sooner had I not been subject to a strict set of ridiculous rules when I was growing up.

If we want to cultivate a generation of strong women for the future, all girls should have the freedom to express themselves while they’re young.

-H

As you get comfortable in your own skin, you dare to try things that are out of your comfort zone. Branching out is how you grow as a person, and girls and women should not have to wait until after high school or the weekends to do so.

Loving yourself for who you are and having the confidence to show that to the world is a huge step in life, and particularly in fashion.

Before we were given the freedom to express ourselves, we mostly stuck to clothes that were neither risky nor risque. Getting comfortable in our own skin was a phase of fashionability that we recently went through, and we’ve emerged more stylish and more ourselves than ever before.

DSC_2150 2
“When you send a girl home from school because her shorts are too short or her clothes are immodest, you are telling her that hiding her body is more important than her education. You are telling her that making sure the boys have a distraction-free learning environment is more important than her education.In a way, you’re telling her that the boys are more entitled to an education than she is, and that isn’t acceptable.”
DSC_2247 2
Hannah’s Outfit Details
Top: Forever 21
Bralette: Victoria’s Secret
Cardigan: Target
Jeans: American Eagle
Heels: Goodwill
Sunglasses: EyeGlasses Direct
Earrings: Dillards
Sabrina’s Outfit Details
Top: Zara
Jeans: Zara
Shoes: Impressions Boutique
Earrings: Gift
Sunglasses: TJ Maxx
Photos by: Demetrius McCullough

Dress With Purpose

To us, dress with purpose means to present yourself to the world with intention.

Intention to freely express your true self.

To empower yourself and inspire those around you.

And to shine a light on the issues that are near to your heart.

DSC_1949 2

DSC_1668 2 (1).jpg

 

 

 

For me, one of the biggest issues I want to work towards resolving is the disastrous effect that fast fashion has had on the environment and garment workers in developing countries.

When you buy a brand-new shirt for $4, do you ever think about how little the person who made that shirt is being paid? Or the effect of those harsh chemicals on the land and water sources of the countries where it is being produced? As someone who’s working to develop a fashion brand, I know you cannot do what is right and also sell clothing for less than the price of a sandwich.

-S

DSC_1768 2.jpg

 

 

 

I used to not care about where my clothing came from, and I never thought twice about what it did to the environment around me or to other families, but now that my eyes have been opened to the heartache it can bestow on others, I can never go back. The more I learned about fast fashion, the more I realized how deeply it collided with my values.

But I still love fashion, and I can’t give it up. I knew there had to be a way to continue buying clothing on a regular basis without sacrificing my principles.

-H

We feel passionately about conserving the environment because, well, it’s the only home we’ve got. We were worried about taking a strong stance on this issue because we do buy clothing from H&M and Forever 21 and feature it on our blog, so on the surface, some people could say we’re part of the problem.

We’ve considered abstaining from purchasing anything from fast fashion retailers and only buying from companies that use ethical and sustainable practices, but we thought about it, and it would simply not be feasible for us.

Each of us only have about $100 a month (or less) to buy clothing, so we wouldn’t be able to buy even a single pair of jeans from Reformation or one pair of flats from Nisolo. It goes without saying that we definitely would not be able to run a fashion blog if we stuck to only those types of stores! We greatly admire those brands, and we think they’re doing amazing, game-changing things for the world of fashion, but they’re catering to a demographic that is a little more affluent than those of us who are still in school full-time.

We cannot wait until the day we can be like Emma Watson and have the money to fill our closets with only ethically, sustainably-produced clothing, but we’re not there yet. Call us hypocrites if you want, but there are more of us out there who are in the same boat than you might think.

DSC_1805 2This is exactly why we purchase clothing from Goodwill and transform those unappealing, outdated pieces into new ones that are fresh and stylish.

Millions of clothing items (that have a lot of potential!) are already in existence, so it’s incredibly wasteful to continue producing new clothing at our current rate while allowing those pieces to sit on a shelf or be turned into rags. It’s overwhelming to think about completely overhauling your buying habits to make your wardrobe 100% sustainable, and we think that’s why a lot of women avoid it. It’s difficult, it’s expensive, and at the end of the day, there aren’t nearly as many options to choose from.

This is precisely the reason we’re working to launch a brand that brings those unwanted pieces back into the mainstream by altering small details of them to make them fashionable again. We want other women like us to have the option to buy negative-waste clothing that falls into the same pricing category as Zara or the higher end of H&M.

Our brand, Awaken Atelier, which launches within the next few months, will feature pieces from thrift stores that have been updated to reflect modern trends like raw hems on jeans, embroidery on jackets, and low-backs on one piece swimsuits. Just know it’s okay if you haven’t boycotted Forever 21 completely. Make small changes in your life to make it more sustainable, like shopping at Goodwill when you’re looking for your summer wardrobe (or shopping at Awaken Atelier when it opens!). As you start to make more money, transition towards brands like Reformation when you’re shopping for an evening dress or a new pair of jeans. But don’t get discouraged if you can’t do everything you want to do when it comes to sustainability.

Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something- do your something.

DSC_1616 2

Sabrina’s Outfit Details:

Top: Goodwill- Refashioned by Awaken Atelier

Jeans: H&M

Jacket: Goodwill- Refashioned by Awaken Atelier

Shoes: Steve Madden

Earrings: H&M

Hannah’s Outfit Details:

Jeans: Target

Top: Goodwill- Refashioned by Awaken Atelier

Jacket: TJ Maxx

Shoes: Forever 21

Necklace: Rue 21

Glasses: EyeGlasses Direct

Baby Steps to Runway Strides

Photos by H+L Creations with contributing photographer, Sabrina Runge.

_MG_2857Models honestly do not get enough credit for what they do.

Most people do not realize the level of difficulty and oftentimes discomfort (anyone remember Kate Upton posing for that SI swimsuit issue in the literal Arctic?!) that comes with posing for a breathtaking photo.

We’ve learned there is a certain technique for everything in modeling, from walking in a way that looks natural to arranging your body to get the most flattering angle, and these are not skills you can pick up in a day.

We’ve been doing this for months and we’re just now getting to the point where we are starting look and feel comfortable in front of the camera.

_MG_2709

_MG_2827

And for me, also behind the camera. Starting this blog was a particular challenge because unlike Hannah, I did not have much experience photographing other people.

My friends and I loved to do impromptu photoshoots in high school, but back then I enjoyed being in front of the camera a lot more than being behind it.

Hannah’s guidance has helped me come a long way with my photography skills, and now I know what lighting to look for, what camera angles to capture, and the exact ground/subject/sky ratio I need to achieve to create a visually appealing photo.

When I was seventeen and modeling in front of the camera, I really only had two faces: serious and smiling.It was not until I started watching YouTube videos and looking at modeling tutorials on Pinterest that I really began to learn how to model for photos.

_MG_2885

I honestly felt silly at first when I tried out the techniques, like taking long strides while on the balls of my feet and constantly changing my facial expressions and hand placement while the camera was clicking.

But, I’m glad I went through the phase of feeling ridiculous because now I actually kind of feel like I know what I’m doing.

I say ‘kind of’ because does anyone ever truly feel like they know exactly what they’re doing? (No.)

-S

 

 

 

 

 

_MG_2715

I’ve always been more comfortable behind the camera. It feels safe, and it’s something I’ve always loved to do. When I was young, I would jump in front of the camera every now and then, but I mostly preferred taking photos of other people.

Soon after Sabrina and I became friends, we decided to start a fashion blog, so I was suddenly thrust headfirst into the world of modeling. I thought I would have a bit of an upper hand because I’ve been photographing other models for years, but I’ve learned it’s a completely different world in front of the camera.

When all eyes are on me, it’s as if my brain shuts off, my hands get clammy, and I forget all the modeling tips I’ve ever learned.

But once I get past the first few shots and get my blood pumping, the shots start to turn out how I picture them in my head.

_MG_2703

_MG_2743

There is a certain energy in modeling, with each click of the camera comes a different pose, a different look; it’s a rhythm.

Find your rhythm in whatever you do.

Perseverance is key when it comes to doing anything you set your mind to.

If you want to perfect your craft, you have to work diligently at it. It won’t just happen overnight.

-H

_MG_2824

Throughout this experience, we have personally realized the truth behind the saying,

“To be good at something, you first must be willing to be bad at it.”

No one starts off being an expert at anything.

Everyone has to start somewhere, and if you are not willing to make a fool of yourself at first, you will never get to the point where you are actually skilled at whatever it is you are trying to do.

So, don’t forgo learning how to make a flawless creme brûlée or attempting a class five rock climb because you do not have the skills to do those things at this very moment.

You will get there soon enough.

The awkward, amateur phase does not last forever, and once you get past it, you will be incredibly proud that you did not quit halfway through.

_MG_2722

“A river cuts through a rock not because of its power, but because of its persistence.”

 

Sabrina’s Outfit Details
Dress: E. Leigh’s
Boots: Zara
Watch: Plato’s Closet
Sunglasses: Rue 21
Clutch: Gift to Hannah
Hannah’s Outfit Details
Dress: Goodwill
Sweater: H&M
Boots: Zara
Sunglasses: Rue 21
Clutch: Gift from friend in Europe
Earrings: Dollar Jewelry Galore