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

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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

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.

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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

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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.

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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