If I Lived in Wakanda…

Two weeks ago…
Obviously, you can tell from the title of this post that I’m still basking in the greatness that was Black Panther. I, like millions of other people, had anxiously awaited the movie’s debut since 2017 and needless to say, I was not disappointed. I was so confident in how amazing this movie was going to be that I actually started writing this post before the movie even came out!

Present day…
So now that I’ve actually seen the movie and all of the beautiful costumes, I started to imagine how I would dress if I was a citizen of the technologically advanced Wakanda. Since my trip to Nairobi and Cape Town (read my last blog for details), I have been inspired by African designs and prints and have acquired more than a few pieces that I absolutely love! Check out a couple of my favorite designers below.

Chinero Nnamani
Vibrant! What more can I say about this brand? I was first introduced to this designer last summer as I spent my lunch break burning calories (sike!) walking through Tysons Corner Mall in McLean, Va. The clothes were beautifully displayed in a pop-up shop near one of the mall entrances. I normally don’t stop by pop-up shops in the mall, but I was lured by the bright colors. After giving a few of the pieces a thorough hand inspection (get your mind out of the gutter!), I was pleasantly surprised by the thickness and quality of the fabric. Each piece is durable and well made, and the best part is that I’m not nervous that they will completely fall apart when I throw them in the washing machine. Anyone who has ever purchased ANYTHING from Forever 21 (no shade) or H&M (serious shade INTENDED), you know what I’m talking about! I could definitely see myself wearing one of these gorgeous outfits wandering the streets of Wakanda. If you’re interested in any of these pieces, check out the Chinero Nnamani website soon. In honor of Black History Month and the release of the Black Panther movie, Chinero Nnamani is offering 50 percent off of merchandise through February 28 (woot, woot!)

Melange Mode
So, I’ve been eyeing the beautiful designs on the Melange Mode website for a few years now and I finally pulled the trigger and purchased the following jumpsuit. Two words…bomb.com! It fits so well and did I mention that it has…POCKETS?!?! Ughhh, I am literally on pins and needles waiting for the first 75 degree weather day to break out this hot number. Paired with some bold hoop earrings, a neutral clutch bag, and some sky high heels, I’ll definitely be Wakanda-ready in this look. The quality of this jumpsuit is also impeccable and will hold its own against the rigors of the washing machine. Even though I can’t wait to wear this look, I was a bit hesitant to include it on my blog, because I haven’t been able to find it online anywhere. I would suggest that you regularly check the beehive Atlanta website for updates. The designer, Yvonne Ghyselink Pearson also has other great pieces like maxi and midi skirts that would serve as great investment pieces for anyone looking to include original African print designs in their wardrobe. To add to her street cred, Mrs. Pearson’s designs have appeared on the likes of celebrities like Destiny’s Child member Michelle Williams and Rev. Run’s daughter Angela Simmons.

Quick soapbox moment…
Black Panther and the beautiful setting of Wakanda gave me all of the warm fuzzies I felt when I visited Africa last year. And even though Wakanda is a fictitious country, it reminded me of the greatness that lies in the lush greenery, natural richness and thriving metropolis-feel so many countries in Africa already possess. Yes, television shows and movies will have you thinking that Mother Africa is all dirt roads, wild animals running amuck, and shanty towns with no running water or electricity. That could not be further from the truth. What I experienced was sophistication, elegance, and vivaciousness…which perfectly describes Wakanda, the beautiful African countries I’ve visited and the beautiful pieces from Chinero Nnamani and Melange Mode.

Off my soapbox…
For more warm fuzzies and a few “uh-huhs”, check out the #InWakanda hashtag on Twitter. You’ll thank me later!

xoxo,
shannon b. 

In Case You’re Feeling Generous…

And have a few extra dollars to spend on gifts for the holiday season, I’m sharing my wish list below. We’re less than a week away from Christmas and I don’t want you to stress about what to get me, so I’m laying it all out for you. You’re welcome!

  1. Arimas Jewelry I’m not sure how I stumbled upon this handmade jewelry line, but I’ve been obsessed for months. Every piece from the Sparkling Chocolate Africa Ring II to the Africa in Bloom Earrings are absolute perfection and I can’t wait to start building up my collection. I’m super inspired by the African themes that are reflected in a lot of the pieces and hope to wear them on my trip to the Motherland next year. I’m typically drawn toward big, bold statement pieces, but I really love the subtleness of this particular line. Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think! P.S. The Sparkling Chocolate Africa Ring is on back order, but don’t get discouraged (I’m talking to myself). There are still tons of other fabulous pieces that are in stock and waiting for you to purchase for me!
  2. Carmine Heel Slingback by Coach – I’ve had a pair of slingbacks on my “nice to have” list for a while now. I’ve just been holding out to find the right pair and I’m confident these are it! This slingback screams class and quality, which are two adjectives that come to mind when I think of Coach. Though it might be too cold to break these out just yet, spring is around the corner and I can’t wait to pair them with an off-the-shoulder top and skinny jeans. Also, good news to report… these slingbacks have been reduced significantly in price since I first spotted them, so I’m optimistic that they’ll magically appear under my tree. Don’t all jump at once now!
  3. Mae B. Stationery – Maybe it’s the old lady in me, but I have always collected different kinds of stationery. I am almost ashamed to admit how much money I’ve spent in Papyrus, Paper Source and Hallmark over the last several years. So, as you can imagine, when I found Mae B.’s online store I completely fell in love! From the personalized note cards to the thank you cards and the 2017 weekly calendar, I could totally add every item from the online store in my shopping cart. Since I go completely crazy for stationery, I couldn’t exactly wait for Christmas to unwrap these paper beauties, so my mom snagged a notebook and personalized note cards for my birthday. See below. I absolutely love them, but of course I want more!

So there you have it. A few items that are on my Christmas wish list. I really think this list is obtainable for you, but you have to order now so that I’ll get them in time for Christmas. Got it? Okay! Happy shopping!

XOXO,
shannon b.

My Favorite New Accessory

You might think from the title of this post that I’m going to rave about a new scarf I snagged during Black Friday (p.s. I almost never shop on Black Friday) or a beautiful lady handbag I was gifted on my birthday last week. Those are good guesses, but my favorite new accessory is (drum roll please)…my box braids!


I know you’re probably thinking, how can a hairstyle be an accessory? Well, I’ve learned that the right hairstyle can be the perfect complement to any outfit. Think about how a sophisticated updo can elevate the elegance level of a strapless gown or how a high ponytail can increase the sleek factor of a cropped jacket, skinny jeans and pumps. I’ve been experimenting with my new accessory for a little over a month now and before getting them, never really knew how much fun I would have coming up with styles to match my outfits.

From a top bun to a half up and half down style, my box braids definitely get me excited about getting up and getting dressed in the morning. Before getting the braids, I was feeling a little uninspired by the clothing and accessory options in my closet. As crazy as it might sound, my new hairstyle has inspired me to fall in love with my closet all over again.

Now, for a little backstory…I was EXTREMELY hesitant about getting box braids. Working in a corporate environment that lacks diversity really had me second guessing if getting this type of hairstyle would be a good move. I’m not the type of person that likes a lot of attention and I KNEW getting braids would cause comments, questions and stares (all things I wanted to avoid) from my colleagues. After weeks of contemplation, I FINALLY bit the bullet and decided to get my hair braided and I have not regretted it for a minute!

Since getting the braids, I’ve learned two things…

  1. The answer to an uninspired closet isn’t always a trip to the mall
  2. The (potential) reactions from others shouldn’t hold you back from trying a new style

So, if you’re stuck in a style rut or are on the fence about trying something new, don’t be afraid to jump over the fence and look for inspiration in unconventional forms.

Now, I’d love to learn about the new accessories you’re excited about. Leave a comment below and let me know!

Have a great week!

xoxo,
shannon b.

How to Dress for Wishy-Washy Weather

As I was driving home last week wearing a two-piece wool ensemble in 40 degree weather, I had a quick meeting with God. It went something like this:

“Aren’t we in April? Where’s the warm weather? Why am I wearing wool in spring?”

I’m still waiting on a response from him, but I understand he’s rather busy. I’ll just be patient. In the mean time I started to question myself about how to dress for this crazy weather. And I figured, if I had questions then I’m sure you do too. So I put together a few wardrobe pieces that I think will help us weather this inconsistent season.

Medium-weight scarf

I’m sure I made up the term medium-weight scarf, but I’m trying to emphasize the importance of the material. I wouldn’t recommend a wool scarf nor would I recommend a feather-light weight scarf either. You need something right in the middle. A scarf is a great accessory, but during those confusingly cold spring days, they can provide great warmth. I recommend getting a sweater long enough to wrap around your arms. Since I’m done with stockings for the rest of the year, I even used a scarf to wrap around my legs last week while I was in the office because I’m 100 percent sure the air conditioner was on!

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ASOS Oversized Scarf In Herringbone With Tassels

 

Open-toe booties

Soooo, for many years I was really against open-toe booties. I just didn’t get the concept. Boots were made to keep your feet warm. Cutting a whole at the top, seemed oxymornish to me…until I found a pair that I really fell in love with. Now, I have more than a few open-toe booties in my closet. Now that I’m reformed, I highly recommend open-toe booties for those wishy-washy weather days because they’re perfect in the morning when it’s still rather cold outside and you need something to keep your feet warm. By the time you head out for lunch and it’s warmed up a bit, your little toesies will be grateful to feel the warmth of the sun.

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Vince Addie Sandal

Long sleeveless jacket 

I’ve admired long sleeveless jackets for the past few seasons. They provide just enough coverage on your torso to keep you warm, but don’t extend down to your wrists like a typical jacket or coat. Sleeveless jackets are versatile and allow you to mix textures and colors. For example, the sleeveless jacket might be suede and the long sleeve shirt you wear under it might be satin material. Sleeveless jackets look great with a spring dress, midi skirt, flare jeans, a silky blouse, etc.  The key word here is versatility.

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Glamorous Stone Long Sleeveless Jacket 

Fingers crossed that the weather will stabilize soon, but in the mean time, I think these three pieces will help you get through the inconsistency. What staple item are you relying on during this wishy-washy season?

XOXO,
shannon b.

Where Do I Start?

I recently provided “gentle” counseling to a friend who spent half of the money her husband gave her to shop for herself, on her daughter. If she’s reading this post, I’m sure she’ll laugh at my “gentle” description of our group text conversation.

Although I’m not a mom, one thing I know about the hardest working women on earth is that they never hesitate to put their children first. Especially when it comes to making sure that their little humans have the best of everything. While I appreciate the sacrificial love of a mother, because I am definitely a beneficiary, I think moms, and women in general, should put themselves first more often.

Back to my friend and the “nurturing” advice I provided…I asked her why she didn’t spend ALL of the money her husband gifted her on herself. Her answer was simple…”I didn’t know where to start.” I actually hear that a lot. Shopping can definitely be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what you need or what you should buy first. Here’s my answer…there’s no wrong place to start! Shopping is a journey, not a destination. It’s something that you will do on and off for the rest of your life. So, you have plenty of chances to start in different places.

If you rolled your eyes when I said there is no wrong place to start and are mumbling under your breath that I’m still not helping you, then hold on my friend. I’ve listed a few starting points for you below (in no particular order). You’re welcome…wink, wink!

  1. Bra department – I cannot stress how much a new bra can improve your look. I’m so passionate about it that I posted a blog about bras a few weeks ago. Check it out here.
  2. Jewelry department – When’s the last time you bought yourself a nice new pair of earrings or a new bracelet? They’re the perfect complement to everything in your closet. Jewelry is a girls best friend, so they say.
  3. Denim department – Out of  routine and convenience, a lot of us wear denim on the weekends. Why not invest in a new pair of black jeans or a chambray top? The number of times worn versus the money spent ratio will make the purchase worth it.
  4. Top department – Basic tees serve as the foundation for many looks. Why not throw away those dingy, discolored ones and stock your shelves with a few new tees in different colors? Check out the variety of options here.
  5. Dress department – Believe it or not, wedding season is upon us. Why not get ahead of the game and pick out a new dress in advance. P.S. Unless instructed by the bride, try picking a dress that’s not black and for obvious reasons, stay away from white!
  6. Shoe department – Spring wear is already taking over floor space in a lot of retailers, which means winter boots are being marked down significantly. Try to snag a deal before they’re all gone.
  7. Sunglasses department – Last but not least (and how fitting because it’s my lucky number) sunnies (my absolute faves) are a great investment too. Instead of taking the safe route and buying a black or tortoise shell pair, try a bright color like persimmon.

Whew! Okay, that was a lot. But hopefully now you have some ideas of where to start the next time you have a few hours to kill and some extra dollars to spend. As a reminder, these suggestions are in no particular order. Take your pointer finger, close your eyes and just point to one. That’s your starting point!

You’ve been challenged. Now go!

xoxo,
shannon b.

P.S. I’d love to see what you buy, so please share. In the words of my Parks and Recreation faves, Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle…TREAT YO SELF!!

treat-yo-self

 

 

 

My New “IT” Bag!

So, ever since I joined the corporate world almost ten years ago, I have been on an exhausting (insert exaggeration) mission to find the perfect…drum roll please…laptop bag! I know that sounds pretty lame and boring. You probably thought I was going to say the perfect Chanel bag. Don’t fret! A beautiful, vintage handbag from the House of Chanel is definitely on my list, but for once in my life I’ve been pining after something a bit more practical.

You’re probably wondering why it’s taken so long for me to find a simple laptop bag. Anyone can walk down the back aisle of the nearest Office Depot or Staples and find a bag suitable enough to chuck a laptop into. If it isn’t blatantly obvious, I’m rather picky when it comes to fashion, even for something as mundane as a laptop bag. I didn’t want the traditional bulky, black bag with vinyl material and a trolley strap.

Well, I’m happy to report that after tirelessly (more exaggeration) searching for almost a decade, I am FINALLY the super proud owner of the perfect laptop bag! Take a look.

 

Isn’t she stunning?!? It’s the Sydney Work Bag made by Fossil. I’m so in love with the rich camel color. I’m also over-the-moon because it’s not the traditional stiff and boxy laptop bag. There is a lot of storage space, extra pockets and zipped enclosures to hide supplies like a portable mouse, charger cord, pens, business cards, etc. It’s absolutely perfect! I received this bag as a Christmas gift (thanks to my hubby) and even though I was on vacation during the holidays, every day I would look at the bag in my closet and slightly (I mean, minuscule) wish that I was scheduled to work just so I could introduce my new bag to my old laptop.

Christmas was several weeks ago and I’m still really infatuated with this bag. If only I could find a way to wear it on the weekends without looking like I’m heading to the office. Please send me your tips!

Now that I’ve FINALLY checked laptop bag off my list, I’m setting my sights on Coco Chanel! I’m setting up my GoFundMe site as I type this (I kid).

Have a great week!

xoxo,
shannon b.

P.S. Check out this super cute Day Designer daily planner I just started using. I love it almost as much as my new bag.

P.S.S. I feel like this post reveals my inner-nerd and over-zealousness for all things office supplies. Please don’t judge me!

 

Finding New Balance

You probably can’t tell from my current wardrobe, but tennis shoes (or sneakers depending on what region you live in) used to be a MAJOR staple in my closet during my high school and early college years. It wasn’t uncommon to see several boxes of Air Jordan’s stacked on the floor of my closet. I was also very fond of New Balance tennis shoes, which have recently made a reappearance in my life and I’m loving all of the new styles.

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These are the latest pair of New Balance shoes I snagged last summer. Aren’t the colors so much fun? They’re also extremely versatile. I love that you can wear them while you’re out running errands or heading to the gym in stretch pants and a tee or meeting girlfriends for lunch in some skinny jeans and a blazer. What’s even more validation for the awesomeness of New Balance is that they’re sold at my favorite store…J. Crew.  I’m totally obsessed with these tennys and can’t wait to add a couple more to my collection.

If there is a tennis shoe fairy that would like to gift me with a few (or five) more pairs, I’ve included pics of some of the styles I’ve had my eye on, below. 

What do you think? Are you sold? Let me know which tennis shoes you love to rock!

XOXO,
shannon b.

Fall Wish List

The fall season is the perfect time to introduce new staple pieces to your wardrobe…a new coat, a shiny pair of boots or a fabulous handbag. Although my husband took a look at my closet this morning and said (literally) “you don’t need another thing,” a girl can always dream…right!?!?

So, if by chance he’s reading this post or any of my amazing readers are feeling generous, here goes!

1. Mary Janes
I’ve been pining after this classic shoe for the past few weeks. I don’t know if it’s the cross straps or the fact that I can’t wait to pair them with knee high dress socks or tights, but this ode to traditional style is definitely on my must have list for the fall season. I love Miu Miu’s updated look of this timeless shoe.


2. Pussy Bow Blouses
I am absolutely adoring the trend of these beautiful silk blouses with the large bow embellishment. I can imagine wearing this with a tweed pencil skirt and a pair of back seam stockings. This blouse would look equally as stylish with a pair of wide leg trousers. This Valentino Red blouse is so yummy!

3. Faux Fur Collars
Okay, so not quite sure where I will wear this trend just yet, but it’s still on my list of items to have for the  season. Even though I’m in to taking risks in fashion, I’m not quite sure I can pull this look off at work. I’m sure it will cause many stares and not the good kind. Anyway, I am so in love with how the fur collar on this Joules Larkworth blazer takes it to epic style proportions! What do you think?


4. Felt Hat
Okay, so I’m not quite convinced I can pull of this hat because I have really short hair. I’m not willing to grow my hair out just yet, but I still think it’s worthy of being on this list. Adding this Emilio Pucci Woven-Leather Felt Hat or something similar to your ensemble will definitely complete your look and can make you look so polished. Who wouldn’t want that?

Putting this list together made me realize that there are a lot of items on my fall wish list that I wasn’t able to include. A second post may be warranted. Stay tuned!

P.S. – What wardrobe investment pieces are you hoping to add to your closet this season? I’d love to hear!

XOXO,
shannon b.  

DC Fashion Week? 

Yes, you read the title of this post correctly…it’s DC Fashion Week! I know you’re probably thinking…

“What fashion contributions has our nation’s capital made to society?”

You’re not alone. I started to think the same thing. So, I jogged my memory and thought about all of the wardrobe pieces that have taken residence in my closet that have been influenced by Washington, DC culture (WARNING: If you didn’t grow up in the Washington, DC area in the 90s and early 2000s, this walk down memory lane will not resonate with you, sorry). I admit, my mind took me directly back to high school when anything with a Warner Brothers logo or character meant you were a fashion God…think Tweety Bird covered socks and hoodies (I know, don’t judge me). I thought about the various pairs of Parasuco, Sergio or Princess stretch jeans that I petitioned my parents for so that I could fit in with the other girls in high school. Or the early Saturday morning trips to the mall to purchase the latest pair of Air Jordans…luckily I never had to wait in line at Kid’s Foot Locker (having small feet gave me an advantage). I know it’s probably hard to imagine my closet filled with all of these items, but it’s true. I’m happy to report that 90 percent of those dated fashions were served eviction notices long ago, save for a few pairs of Jordans. Anywho, that trip through my fashion history was fun and painful all at the same time. So, how is the District of Columbia influencing fashion culture now?

1. Blazers

When people think about Washington, DC, they immediately equate it to the place where laws are created and where our President lives…in other words, politics. Politics to me means conservative, safe and quite frankly, snore city. Think gray and blue power suits and basic black pumps galore. Blah! Washingtonians have definitely taken an essential component of a traditional suit — the blazer — and made it fun…often pairing it with tailored jeans, fun skirts and colorful scarves. The blazer has definitely been revived and it’s fun to see the different ways they can be paired besides with its usual matrimony partner…a basic, conservative pant or skirt.

 

2. Fitted jeans

So, I already divulged the fact that my closet was full of stretch jeans when I was in high school. While I have no facts or statistics that this comfortable jean style originated in DC, I’m going to go out on a limb and say we were one of the first cities to adopt the trend. I mean, do you know how long ago I was in high school (don’t answer that)? Another embarrassing fact…I used to wear stretch pants UNDER my stretch jeans to make them even tighter. Thanks mom for my chicken legs gene! Anyway, for about as long as I can remember stretch or fitted jeans have been a staple here and not just for the ladies. It wasn’t uncommon to see a young man walking through Georgetown wearing tighter fitting jeans. Now, skinny jeans are a wardrobe staple for the younger generation of women and men all around the world.

 

3. Michelle Obama

Okay, okay, our fabulous First Lady has mentioned on multiple occassions that she’s from the south side of Chicago, which is hundreds of miles away from the nation’s capital. I’m including her in this list, because I think she represents the new wave of style many working women (including me) in the Washington, DC area have embraced since she took residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I think she is the anti-suit, which I absolutely love! Her preference for J. Crew cardigans over structured suit jackets and her penchant to wear a trendy A-line dress with kitten heels is so refreshing and really welcomed. Thank you FLOTUS for your influence on DC fashion!

So, there you have it. My thoughts on Washington, DC’s influence on fashion. Oh, and if you’re interested in attending any DC Fashion Week events, check out this link for additional information.

Have a great week!

XOXO,
shannon b.

P.S. – If you grew up in the Washington, DC area, comment on this post and let me know which trends you most remember that were influenced by life in DC. 

The First Step to Defining Your Style

“How would you describe your style?”

That’s typically the first question I ask a new client during our initial consultation and in most instances, the response includes a lot of hemming, hawing, gasps, long breaths, forehead scratches, sighs and finally…

“I don’t really have a style.”

With so many style choices and options available for us to choose from, no wonder it can sometimes be overwhelming to choose just one. But do you really have to? Do you have to pick one style?

Well, depending on who you ask, you’ll get a different answer. I’m under the mindset that you can have more than one style. My style personality fluctuates from time to time and that’s perfectly fine with me.

So, with all of the various styles out in the world — preppy, bohemian, grunge, goth, hipster, girly, conservative, etc. — how do you even begin to define your style?

I think there are a few of questions you can ask yourself (it’s perfectly fine to talk to yourself, I do it all of the time) to help put you on the golden brick road to owning your style. Let’s start with the first one today. I’ll save question two for next week.

  1. What do I gravitate towards?

Do you have a closet full of white collar shirts or casual blazers? Do you tend to buy the same type of wardrobe piece over and over again? There is no wrong answer. If your answer is yes, that is totally fine. It just shows that you know what you like, but dig a little deeper. Why do you like that one item so much? What is it about that item that makes you keep going back? For example, if you have 17 casual blazers in your closet, (meaning you wear them outside of work) is it because you think it makes you look polished? Does it cover up body parts that you’d prefer to deflect attention from? Do you like the flexibility of blazers? You can pair them with jeans, a tutu, a dress or pencil skirt…that’s a lot of flexibility! After you interview yourself about why you gravitate towards certain wardrobe items, write down a list of adjectives that describe that item. Hold on to the list and I’ll tell you what to do with it next week…that’s called a teaser! Oh, and if you don’t tend to gravitate towards one (or more) specific items, next Monday’s post is for you too…that’s called a double teaser!

Here’s to starting this style identity journey together.

See you next week! 

xoxo,
shannon b.