Friday Five: Color Theory 101

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Ever wonder why certain colors look good together? Or why certain colors look great on some people, but not others? There's a whole science behind color, artists study it, designers are inspired by it, Pantone tells us which ones are "the color of the year" or "season" and fashion stylists study it as a theory.

When I started my certificate program at Parsons, one of the classes I was most excited about was Color Theory. So it was quite a disappointment when I found that wasn't on the curriculum for the Fashion Business track (they do offer it, of course, but it's on the Design track). So I decided to educate myself and bought a couple books on the subject. One that I liked is called Color: Messages and Meanings, by Leatric Eiseman, in collaboration with Pantone. Not only does it go through the color families, their moods and trends, but it also has a particular focus on brand, image and visual presentations. Great for someone who is looking for basic color theory information geared toward advertising or marketing.

Here's quick lesson on how to use this information to get dressed. There are 12 "pie slices" in the color wheel. Colors across from each other (Violet & Yellow, Blue & Orange for example) in the color wheel are Complementary and always look striking together. I would recommend using one color as the "base" of your outfit and the complimentary color for an accessory. Try white denim with a violet top and a yellow handbag or necklace! Monochromatic (using one color only) is also a fun way to dress, but can often be tricky. New Yorkers pull this off with their all-black outfits on the daily, but I think that's cheating a little. (Although I do remember a colleague wearing a fabulous pair of perfectly tailored black pants, a black turtleneck and black pumps and me thinking, "that looks really sharp!") For a monochromatic look that is NOT all black, try all white. Using tints of white (aka off-white, cream or beige), this look will be classy and not boring.  Analogous colors are those that are next to each other (using all the slices in one color family). Try a blue-green dress with a blue blazer and a statement necklace that incorporates green tones. Or check out this post for a darker palette. Obviously, there are many combinations to the color wheel. It's also important to know what colors look best on you. If you haven't read this post about Personalized Color Swatches, #rundontwalk there now! Here are some other fun formulas for using the color wheel while dressing. And in the spirit of Friday Five, I've collected five outfits plus a bonus "look for less." You're welcome.

I'll leave you with this inspiration for your weekend: In the words of one of my favorite designers, Kate Spade, "Live Life Colorfully!"

 

MONOCHROMATIC

 

kate moss

Kate Moss - Photo Credit unknown

monochromatic Shape mag pic

photo: Shape Magazine

Sydne-Style-gray-jeans-trend-citizens-of-humanity-fall-layering-chambray-shirt

One of my favorite bloggers, Sydne Summer

ANALOGOUS

jen aniston in gray shades - casual

Copy Jen's look with any combination of the above: olive pants, navy blazer + navy tee OR navy pencil skirt, olive peasant top + cardigan for an office look. Picture from People.com

 

 

COMPLEMENTARY

TB spring 2016 complementary

Tory Burch Spring 2016 Collection

navy LC dress KOHLS

Try Tory's favorite combo of orange and blue for a lot less here: LC Lauren Conrad dress

And here:

Orange KOHLS shoes

Kohls Canteloupe wedges

Friday Five: Spring Recipes

Friday Five: Spring RecipesClick here for outfit details!

Hey Guys!

Even though we're having a bit of a cool-down this weekend here in Charlotte, temps next week will be back to normal and  my spring attire is calling! I'm talking to you, open-toed sandals! I love it when the weather starts to warm up and the flowers begin to bloom. It's a beautiful reminder that God's mercies are new each morning (Lam 3:23).

Because this weekend marks the first day of spring, I've created some  "recipes" for some easy spring outfits. These are tried and true colors and patterns that always work in some of this season's hottest trends. The first row is one of my favorite mix of patterns: black & white stripes with leopard! You can NEVER go wrong with that combo, even though for some it may seem a bit much (just trust me, IT WORKS.. Because, remember, leopard is a neutral (repeat this five times). I've added a pop of red with a cute crossbody bag, which plays well with both patterns. You could also add red lipstick to this fun little mix.

Recipe #2 is a new obsession of mine: Athleisure. OK, part of the recipe, anyway. So if you take a chambray button-down and add faux leather leggings, you can really go either way with shoes - dress it up with some fringy heels (fringe is still WAY hot this season) OR go the extra mile (literally) in some black sneakers. I recently worked with a client that was travelling to Paris and in researching street style from their recent fashion week, I saw this look on so many models and bloggers. It's the perfect "walking around town comfortably but still looking awesome" outfit. And, who doesn't want a reason to wear faux leather leggings?!

The third look is a must for those who love their florals ("Florals for Spring? Groundbreaking.") -  Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada). These floral tops have an extra edge with the shoulder cutouts (aka "cold shoulder") and are great paired with jeans or crisp white pants. Another fun trend I'm seeing pop up again from last spring and summer is the raw-egde denim, but cropped iterations. I have mixed feelings about cropped pants...since I'm 5'0" I tend to stay away from cropped pants because they make me look shorter (they visually cut your legs) but sometimes I just say whatever and go with a trend. If you are under 5'4", pair them with pointed-toe heels. Otherwise, wear with flats or heels.

And to be true to the name of the post and give you a rounded out FIVE for FRIDAY, here are a few tips that would make these outfits work, date-night or church appropriate. For Recipe #1, add a pencil skirt instead of the jeans and if you work in a chilly office, a red or black  cardigan. For Recipe #2, switch out the leather pants for black or gray pants or a black pencil skirt. If you work in the creative field, you could potentially wear your sneaks to the office to show your fashionista skills, but any other field, stick to closed-toed pumps. Add a sparkly statement necklace to enhance the casual/elegant juxtaposition. Outfit #3 would look great with wide-legged beige or white pants instead of the cropped denim.

Have a great weekend! I hope you enjoy these "recipes!" As always, thank you for reading! Please let me know what you think! Are these tips helpful?

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Finding Luxe for Less

These days, it's all about how fast you can get something delivered or how easily something works or how inexpensively you can find something fabulous. I blame the glorification of busyness but that's a topic for an entirely separate blog post. And while I do my best to say no to things that will crowd my calendar, my closet or my life, I too confess to being too busy sometimes and find myself wanting to run away to an island. Or win the lottery so I never have to work for a paycheck...either one. Getting organized and simplifying life has been a top priority for me this year, as we are "paper pregnant." For those of you who've never heard that term, it means we're adopting and have finished all our paperwork. Yes, we still have education, interviews, a profile book and a home study to get through, and even after that could be waiting many months,  but I'm doing everything I can right now to get my house in order so I'm as prepared as one can be pre-baby (all you moms out there may go ahead and laugh at that statement, I know, "you're never ready..." but I'm talking organizing and finding things for less). So I've signed up for a couple things lately that I hope will make life simple. One is Stitch Fix. I know, you might be shocked at that statement. Why would a stylist need a stylist? (If you've never heard of StitchFix, it's a company that sends you 5 articles of clothing within a specified price range for $20/shipment. You can schedule as often or infrequently as you like and if you purchase items sent to you, the $20 fee is applied to those items.) Well, several reasons. Quite frankly, I'm curious! Everyone loves to receive gifts and I've heard such good things about them, not to mention I've seen some of my friend's picks and they are CAAUUUUTE. Another reason is while I love to style clients and friends in bright, fun colors I tend to stay in my neutral zone and sometimes need a push toward more color. Lastly, I'll admit - I'm scoping them out. I'd LOVE to work for a company like them and was curious to see how they operated, what kinds of labels they'd send and how the stylists interacted with me. I've only received one box so far but I can tell you I'm impressed. Both by what they sent and the level of customer service I've received. My box even included a note from my stylist congratulating me on our adoption! If you are interested in doing this, feel free to use my referral code.

Another is Blue Apron....we've just received our first order and haven't made anything yet but my SIL has been raving about it and we cooked one of her meals while babysitting our nephew. It was AMAZING - all fresh ingredients and very flavorful. And for $60/week for three fab meals, I say, "sign me up!" I'll share my free week code as soon as I get it! A friend of mine is doing EMeals...for $60 a year they send weekly recipes plus a shopping list based on categories you choose like Paleo, Low Carb, Low Calorie, Budget-Friendly, etc. Today I learned about an app called SuperDuper that gives inexpensive matches to designer nailpolishes like Chanel, Tom Ford and Yves Saint Laurent.

A cleaning company is also something I've been thinking about; I've been fanatical lately about cleaning (pretty sure they call that nesting!). I know I won't have the time or energy to really deep clean like I can now once baby arrives, so this would be great to outsource, maybe just once a month. If you know of any good local cleaning companies, please let me know!

So, back to luxe for less, sorry I digress...here are a few picks for you that are FABULOUS dupes of the real deal. Because sometimes saving money trumps having that label, am I right?!?!

  1. The Chloe Marcie - every top blogger and instablogger around has this fabulous handbag. And it's no wonder, the stitching detail is gorgeous, the shape is perfect and the tassels make me want to pack a bag and drive to Coachella. But, like I raved about in this post, Sole Society's Dayton studded whipstitched satchel is a very similar style for $64.95.

Chloe Marcie satchel

Chloe marciehtw_angelica_black_white_stripe_dayton_camel_ss259s_pink_multi_blank_nyc_evil_ways_jacket_meant_to_be_jeans_-2_a_6

 Sole Society Dayton Satchel

2. Kate Spade Meow sweatshirt - no longer available in the store, I did manage to find it here. I really don't know why I didn't buy a cute dupe I saw for $17 at H&M but recently found this cute one here on GroopDealz for $16.99. And between Etsy & make your own tee-shirt companies like Café Press, there's really no limit to what you can find or create on your own.

cats meow

Kate Spade Cat's Meow sweatshirt (XXS only)

Meow

GroopDealz Meow sweatshirt

3. Fringe necklaces - I've been seeing these beauties pop up all over my Instagram feed, but there is one local designer who does them very well. AND gives back to a great cause because of her story. So if I buy one, I'll be getting one from her. She handcrafts every piece, uses real leather and gorgeous accents on each unique piece. She is featured in several boutiques around the Charlotte area, you can check her site for locations. Below is a pic of "The Madison"...one of my faves. However, this IS a post about luxe for less, so I did find two similar styles at Forever 21 here and here, and while I'm VERY CERTAIN it won't be anywhere near the caliber of craft of the previous design, it does cost less and works if you just want to try out this trend to see if you like it.

ellison james

4. Aquazzurra lace-up shoes - These shoes have been all the rage since last fall (or was it the previous fall? I can't even remember...) when they were introduced. At any rate, they continue to be popular for spring. I've even seen a hot pink version! However at a steep $695, the Aquazzurra's are a tad too pricy for this girl, so I bought Shopbop's $65 version. Although I've seen them for as low as $25  here and here -  it just depends if you want suede, leather or neither.

aquazurra lace up flatsAquazzurra Lace up flats

Kady Ballet flats

Target Kady Ballet flats

 

lulus snakeskin flats

Zara Lace up flats

 

5. The Chloe Faye - a gorgeous crossbody with the stylish circular ring, every "it" girl at NYFW had one. At well over $2,500 I think I'll try the Forever 21 version, at an affordable $24.50.

Chloe Faye

Chloe Faye crossbody

shein bag

Shein chain-ring embellished satchel bag

I'd love to hear from you! What's  your favorite subscription, service or organizational trick that has saved you time or money. Share away in the comments section! Also, let me know if there's a topic you are curious about for an upcoming Friday Five.

 

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New Styling Services - Personalized Color Swatches!

IMG_8940 (3) I'm so excited to announce a new package I've added to my styling services - Personalized Color Swatches! This is something I complimentarily add to each client package but have gotten such great feedback on, I thought I'd offer it as stand-alone. How it works: fill out the form below with "Color Swatch" in the comments. What you get: six customized color swatches, detailed information about your color palette, including makeup tips and my exclusive guide "What Every Girl Needs in Her Wardrobe" to help you build a shopping list. If you've never had your colors done or always wondered what color flatters you best, now is the time!!! And....best of all, it's only $39. And... if you choose to add on any other styling package later, that $39 will be applied to your account! WIN, WIN, WIN!signature

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Friday Five - Spring Transition Pieces

I had so much fun this past week working with a new client! She chose the Closet Audit Package, so we went through her (very organized) closet to see what needed to go and what was missing. Recommendations were made, fun was had, lists were created. As we talked about closet staples, it got me thinking about transitioning winter pieces into spring.  The key to a solid wardrobe is a good mix of basic staples with some fun elements. Most staples can transfer from season to season (white tees, jeans, cardigans, trench coats) and then you can add in trendy, inexpensive items. Here's a few items on trend now that can transition into Spring with you.  

  1. Purse poufs - these fun furry poufs have been popular for a while now, ever since Fendi first debuted them at fashion shows last year. Everyone from Michael Kors, to H&M is jumping on the bandwagon. I've seen leather penguin charms at Coach and furry owls at Kate Spade; And since we're all just girls playing dress up,  I predict this trend will continue into the spring.

Frye-Shearling-Sheep-Bag-Charm MICHAEL-Michael-Kors-Selma-Key-Charm

 

Kate-Spade-Whale-Bag-Charm Dolce-and-Gabbana-Orange-Bag-Charm Burberry-Thomas-Pink-Bear-Bag-Charm

 

 

 

 

 

2. Gray denim - gray is fabulous for winter, I just found a pair at banana republic that fit like a dream (I'm a petite and have the HARDEST time finding anything I don't have to get altered). ANYHoo, I've been loving the soft combination of how gray denim looks with a cream sweater; just imagine these colors with Pantone's Colors of the Year rose quartz  and serenity (essentially, pink and a pale blue).

Express Gray Denim

express gray denim

Distressed Gray Skinny Ankle Jean - Gray

 Distressed Gray Skinny Ankle Jean - Gray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Plaid shirts - You've been wearing them all fall and winter, why not carry them into spring? Pair them with spring colors or pick up one in paler tones. Check out how cute these look with white jeans!

pink plaid + white jeansrails plaid shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nordstrom Plaid shirt                                                                           Rails Plaid shirt

 

4. Rain boots! Not sure about your town, but Charlotte has a very rainy spring. The only thing that cheers me up sometimes is a bright outfit. And some fun rainboots. You can easily transition these to Spring with a tee shirt and trench coat. Plus, keep your eyes open, they might have an end of season sale on Hunters! I'll let you know if I see one! (Also, if you are a smaller size, like 5 or 6, you can actually fit into the Big Kids' versions of Hunters, which are way less expensive!) pink hunter bootsChooka rainboots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hunter boots - PINK ON SALE for $104 (reg $150)               Chooka Polka Dot rainboots

5. Hats - While I'm not a huge hat-wearer (they always look weird on me), I LOVE seeing them on other people. One of my favorite bloggers wears them all the time, has them in all different colors; so I live vicariously through her. Here she is in today's post. Although I will caution you her hat is quite pricy; there are many cheaper options at Forever 21, Gap, Charming Charlie's and Amazon.

Aritzia-Turtleneck-Sweater-Astr-Dress-Nordstrom-Christine-Cameron-My-Style-Pill6-700x1050hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Janessa Leone hat                                                             Forever 21 straw wide brim fedora

 

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Friday Five - Investment Basics

Hey there Fashionistas! It's that time of year where we are not only buying for others, but giving hubbies, boyfriends and friends gift ideas for us. And then there's always the "one for me, one for you" shopping that inevitably occurs (please tell me I'm not alone there)! I've been having to replace some of my well-worn basics lately and it got me thinking about doing a post on great basics to invest in. SO why not give these ideas to those that are asking for gift ideas? Of course, you can always find a great piece that fits your budget but if someone really WANTS to buy you a hand-crafted pair of Italian shoes...I'm not gonna say no!!! Here are five basics to splurge on that should be in every fashionista's closet.

1.White tees

While this may seem like a "duh" statement, the perfect white tee can add so much to your wardrobe. Paired with a cute skirt and sandals, it's an easy go-to for running summer errands, add skinny jeans, a leather jacket and heels for a night out with the girls, or a statement necklace and trench coat to liven up toddler drop off or pick up. I tend to go through my tees about once a year, so when you find that perfect fit I recommend buying more than one! Here are some of my top picks.

organic white tee company     rag&bone    alexander wang

womens-white-organic-cotton-round-neck-tshirtragandbonetee

twang4082812397_p2_1-1__UY295_QL90_

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Trench coat/Leather coat/Winter coat

Ah, the ubiquitous Burberry trench coat...how you elude me. We won't talk about the time we saw one in our size at the #NSale  that was a three-in-one coat with a detachable hood and liner for over 75% off and didn't buy (WHAT were we thinking????). But I digress. Depending on what season it is and where you live, you need a good coat. I've been on the hunt for a new black leather jacket and actually put this one in my cart last night after reading the raving reviews. Also, a note for those of you who don't want to do leather for ethical reasons: Polyurethane (aka "vegan leather") has come a LONG way, baby. It really looks and feels like real leather.  Also needed in colder regions is a good winter coat. When I lived in the mountains of NC I discovered that warmth was more important than bulk, as were hoods! Faux fur is still hot this year so I've added this one with a great hooded detail.

 Burberry trench  Burberry on Ebay  Blank Denim  Bernardo Lands End  Columbia

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tanjkt2

landsend2

 

Columbia2

 

 

 

 

3. Black heels/Flats/Boots

Every girl needs a good pair of black heels. Period. The End. Here are a few options. Also, since we're making our Wish Lists today for others, why not ask for those fancy Tory Burch sandals you wanted all summer? Sure, you have to wait five months or so to wear them, but sometimes there are off-season sales on such items. Also on my list of coveted "basics" are Tory Burch sandals (Another sob story: I saw a tan pair in MY SIZE - FIVE, WHICH NEVER HAPPENS, at a consignment store for $80. To some of you that may sound like a lot, but they retail for over $200 and she was my fave designer throughout fashion classes. Unfortunately I had just promised hubby I wouldn't be spending AND he happened to be with me. SIGH. #thingsthatwillnevercomeagain Anyhoo....those babies are STILL on my wish list. Along with these boots (although if we're talking basics, go with black) and these sandals. Yes, I have a thing for Tory Burch.

Sam Edelman    Steve Madden  Hunter  Yosi Samra  Tory Reva flats

sam edelman heel

STEVEMADDEN-BOOTS_ODINA_BLACK

blkhunterboots

leopardflat TB_flats

 

 

4. Jeans

Every fashionista needs a pair of jeans that make her feel fabulous. Whether it's skinny jeans, flared (LOVING that this silhouette came back!), dark wash or light - you MUST have a go-to pair. That being said, I do have to break it to you that it will take time (and maybe 25 try-ons). This is where your stylist (AKA ME!) or a great salesperson can come in handy. Trying on pair after pair is really no fun; I can help by arriving to the store early and pulling a bunch of styles for you so they are waiting in the dressing room. Then, all you have to do is say "yeah" or "nay" and I'll refold and hang up the rejects. If you are in or near the Charlotte metropolitan area (or Dayton, OH area) and want my help, email a request for a quote - I promise I will work with you and your budget!

Paige Denim    Adriano Goldschmeid    Hudson

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AGjeans

smoke_and_mirrors_hudsonjeans

 

 

 

 

 

5. Handbag

Yes, yes, I know...you have a million handbags. Or you already have one that you love. Doesn't sound familiar? Great...keep reading. I typically go through handbags about every 3-6 months. But, since we're talking classic investment pieces today here are some lovely suggestions. I'm extremely picky about handbags - they have to have the right amount of space inside, have to be easy to access, have a shoulder strap to go hands-free AND preferably have feet (although I try not to set my good bags on the floor, EWW!) Whether your favorite neutral is black or tan, you cannot go wrong with these bags below.

Tory Burch York Tote      Kate Spade Ella     Rebecca Minkoff   Vera Bradley

yorktote

kateella RMhandbagveracheetah

 

 

 

 

 

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2015 Fall Forecast

Fall 2015 "Must Haves"2015 Fall Forecast

Each Season, new fashions come out. Some are completely new (recycled from the 70s) silhouettes (hello, wide-leg jeans!) and others are just iterations of perennial favorites (black flats with some embellishment). This is sort of a mash-up list of a "Must Have" and what's trending this fall. I'm absolutely LOVING the lace-up flat trend, started by Aquazurra and now being offered at affordable prices for us working stiffs. Another great Fall trend is shirt dresses. They look great with a cardigan, flowy sweater, cargo vest, blazer or denim jacket layered over them. Wear them with heels to the office or ankle booties for weekend errands. And then there is the trenchcoat...behold, the beautiful, hand-crafted, century-old British piece of perfection of the classic Burberry. Remind me to tell you my Burberry story another day. Still too fresh...makes me sad (Cliff Notes: saw one on MEGAsale at the #NSale and passed it by, must've not been fully caffeinated or something). But alas, many good quality copycats are available at normal-people prices. Next, I chose suede over-the-knee boots. Simply because they are fabulous. You could throw on leggings, a long sweater or tunic, and those babies - BAM! Fabulosity achieved. Then there's always date night. Or impress your ex night. Or GNO...these babies go anywhere (except in the rain, do NOT wear suede in the rain, my friends).

 

2015 Fall Forecast by jengrano featuring black shoes

River Island shirt dress riverisland.com

Plaid poncho anthropologie.com

Plaid poncho $63 - urbanoutfitters.com

Kate Spade trench coat bergdorfgoodman.com

Burberry trench coat neimanmarcus.com

Kate Spade outerwear katespade.com

H&M blue jeans $63 - hm.com

Rag & bone black jeans $335 - net-a-porter.com

Chloé suede boots $1,320 - stylebop.com

Topshop black shoes topshop.com

Aquazzura flat shoes $690 - harveynichols.com

TASH Blogger Launch Party

Hey Guys! Last week I attended one of the most fun events I've been to in a while. My friend Brianne of www.scrubsandsparkles.com and I collaborated with Tash Boutique to celebrate the launch of her blog and the re-launch of mine (I had my site redesigned and started working with a professional photographer in April). We shopped, we styled, we networked, we purchased (and at a special discount, I might add!). Along with the black printed tassel-edged dress on both Brianne and I  (that little number went home with both of us!), I also scored a dotted, multi-colored and super-soft pair of DL jeans that I can't wait to style for both now and later as well as a great printed light sweater that will also be the perfect transition piece. Oh yeah and a gorgeous House of Harlowe pave arrow ring that I've been wearing every day since! Tash Boutique has it all - a great selection of luxe fabrics and tastefully selected pieces from both well-known and eclectic designers, gorgeous statement jewelry, prices that won't break the bank AND a friendly staff. The owner, Natasha, is nearly nine months pregnant and outlasted both Brianne and I in her heels! If you are in the Charlotte area, I highly recommend stopping in. And if not, their website is shoppable! Win, win!

TASH Blogger Event July 2015 by Ariana Clare_49 TASH Blogger Event July 2015 by Ariana Clare_54 TASH Blogger Event July 2015 by Ariana Clare_47 TASH Blogger Event July 2015 by Ariana Clare_38 TASH Blogger Event July 2015 by Ariana Clare_34 TASH Blogger Event July 2015 by Ariana Clare_32 TASH Blogger Event July 2015 by Ariana Clare_28 TASH Blogger Event July 2015 by Ariana Clare_21 TASH Blogger Event July 2015 by Ariana Clare_10 TASH Blogger Event July 2015 by Ariana Clare_6 TASH Blogger Event July 2015 by Ariana Clare_2 TASH Blogger Event July 2015 by Ariana Clare

PS - Read Brianne's post about the Blogger Launch Party here!

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If only life were as simple as picking an outfit...

Jen Grano by Ariana Clare _67Jen Grano by Ariana Clare _73Jen Grano by Ariana Clare _80 Jen Grano by Ariana Clare _70

 Cheeky Bean tank | Lucky jeans via Clothes Mentor | Francesca's earrings | wedges (old) similar and similar | H&M fringe bag

Sometimes I wish life was a simple as choosing an outfit. I've been putting this post off for over a week now and feel like I should just come clean to anyone who is reading. So here it is:  I struggle from depression. It comes and goes and is mostly kept in check by exercise and anti-anxiety meds, but this past week was a doozy for me. Several factors were at play, but the biggest one is that my husband and I made the tough decision to stop our pursuit of foster to adopt through our state's department of social services and start the long process of traditional adoption. And while I'm excited about this pursuit and believe we've made the right decision, it's been hard to digest. What was looking like a relatively short journey (at least to have a child placed with us, not necessarily one to adopt - I need to keep reminding myself of that) has now turned into another 12 to 18-month journey. Just the thought of waiting that long is exhausting to me. This isn't our first rodeo. We started trying for a baby about a year after we got married (eight years ago). We went through a multitude of failed fertility treatments, surgeries, blood draws every other day that made my arm look like a drug-user all while watching what seemed to be a endless stream of friends, family members, celebrities and every other woman in Target get pregnant. It was the toughest season of our lives. There were times I didn't think our marriage would make it. Thankfully, with our strong faith it did. After our last failed attempt, we thought we'd go directly to adoption but it just didn't feel right. It felt like yet another hoop to jump through. I couldn't get onboard mentally and neither could my husband. We agreed to keep trying for a few months until my birthday, then "call it." My birthday arrived with yet another "minus sign" on that stupid stick, so we called it. After many months of prayer, tears and finally truly giving it to God, we began to heal and gradually got to a place where we were actually at peace with it just being the two of us. Flash-forward to the Fall of 2014 when I began to feel like I wanted more. A lovely friend suggested I consider fostering and we decided this could be the perfect answer for us. As we continued to consider this, God changed both of our hearts again towards wanting a forever child. We decided to pursue foster to adopt, as this was an extremely cost-effective (basically free) option. We attended orientation in January of 2015 then began the wait for a Home Inspection and more classes. In yet another ironic twist of events, the very week we received our invitation to the classes, we decided the foster to adopt route was not for us. And again, I'm excited for the ultimate outcome of our new decision but the reality of waiting has set in. Anyone who has traveled this road knows it's a roller coaster of emotions. I'm definitely in the valley portion and struggling hard to get back to the peak. I know God is with us and will carry us through this next season, but it's just tough right now.

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Style 101: Secrets from a Stylist

Jen Grano by Ariana Clare _49 Jen Grano by Ariana Clare _45 Ever since I made my launch announcement for the Charlotte Shop Girl styling business, friends and family alike have been curious about my new endeavor. "What does a stylist do?" and  "Can you help me?" were questions I got asked frequently.  Well, those answers are pretty simple. Yes, of course I can help! I offer several types of shopping options to help women find clothing that they not only love but that also fits their budget (read more here). Stylists are experts at sourcing clothing and accessories, spotting trends as well as helping clients find what flatters their body types. I thought in light of those questions, I'd share a few free styling tips that I use for my clients and that you can do on your own. Starting in your own closet!

#1 Assess what you have

This is the hard part. The part where you may have to set a kitchen timer and tackle it in several sessions. To prep for your overhaul, get three bins and label them: Keep, Alter, Donate. You may also need an additional bag or bin for trash (or take items to H&M where they recycle them and you get 15% off!!!) Try on everything in your closet. Yes, everything! Invite a friend over to help if you need someone to help you decide what works and what doesn't. Be realistic with yourself; the typical rule of thumb is if you haven't worn an item in over a year, chances are you won't. But if items have sentimental value, those can be packed away in a treasure chest or a garment bag. If you have items that are still current, but just need slight repairs or alterations, put those in the Alter bin (sometimes it's cheaper to get something like a nice blazer taken in or sleeves shortened than buying a whole new one). Donate items that are still in good condition but that you won't wear.

#2. Build your Basics

I find closet overhauls work best at the start of a new season. And since we're right on the cusp of summer, let's use that for a sample basics list. Summer basics would include: jeans (a trouser jean for casual workdays or meetings, a casual/deconstructed/skinny pair for weekends or playdates and a white pair), shirts/tanks (whatever silhouette works best for you and your lifestyle), shorts (in varying lengths, depending on what works best for you), dresses (a couple easy shifts for work, meeting, church, dates, drinks with friends and a couple casual ones for Saturday errands, lunches or casual meetings and a maxidress or two), a swimsuit and coverup. Once you have the basics covered, you can add to them with trendy pieces for each season. Trends for this summer include: rompers, floral or printed kimonos, shorts with pom-poms or scalloped edges, printed or lace shorts, slides or Birkenstock style shoes.

#3 Plan out your Week

Whether you work a full-time job, are a student or a stay at home mom, it's always good to plan outfits in advance so you aren't doing what I call the "5 minute dance"...that's when you have five minutes left before you need to get out the door and you still need to brush your teeth, find your shoes, accessories and lipgloss. Give yourself time to enjoy that part of getting ready! Prevent being frustrated every morning! I used to plan out my work outfits on Sunday nights so I'd have each one hanging and ready because I'm the WORST at getting up in the morning and am always running late. It's a bad habit I'm really trying to break but we all fall short somewhere, right? I find that by having at least five outfits ready  the "5 Minute Dance" can be avoided. I would recommend trying on shoes and readying your accessories too. I typically did this after dinner and before bedtime so my last outfit could be pj's but choose whatever time works for you. And if you aren't going to the office, but have playdates or meetings or events, pick those out ahead of time too. This will give you time to enjoy the rest of your week. When I do client closet overhauls, I take outfit pictures so they don't even have to think to try and recreate them. You can do this too!

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