Monday, July 26, 2010

Colorful Single Lady - Confessions of a Single Woman

Recently, I have come to terms with the fact that I am -gasp!- single. Without a man in my life. Some of you may be scratching your heads thinking, wait, haven't you been single for quite some time now? The answer is yes, I have. But for some reason, it seems as though I have become acutely aware of this fact. Perhaps it's because I have been hanging out with my seeming endless flow of non-single friends and their significant others lately (nothing but love for you guys, I promise!) or it could be the fact that it is nearing the end of summer (Can you believe it?) and I have yet to find that ever-elusive summer love. Regardless, I am single and that won't be changing anytime soon.

Right now, you're probably thinking, "You're 20 years old! How can you be complaining about being single when you're life is barely beginning!?" and you have ever right. Because I, too, am asking myself that question. These are all ideas that I have been wrestling with for the past couple of weeks. Why don't I have a boyfriend? Why do I want one? Do I really want one? Why do I care?

With all these restless thoughts running through my brain at 1000 m.p.h. to what seemed like no refuge, it seems like fate that I came across Nashville-based writer Mandy Hale who writes "The Single Woman" column. I noticed she posted a new column, which I quickly took in and loved. Wanting more I read more of Mandy's posts and found a post that hit especially close to home called, "Confessions of a Single Woman". Mandy seems like a real-life Carrie Bradshaw, who offers up words of wisdom that are music to my single lady ears.

Here are a few excerpts from her column titles "Confessions of a Single Woman":

"The life of a single woman is a whirlwind of contradictions. One minute you like a guy, the next you don’t; one day you have $2,000 in the bank, the next you’re chasing pennies around the floorboard of your car to afford a McDonald’s cheeseburger for dinner; one week you feel single and fabulous, the next you just feel lonely and mediocre. It happens to the best of us. There is no real safety net for a single woman."

"We are tough. We are bold. We are fierce. We are a force to be reckoned with. We face the world the single way every single day…and we don’t back down. We don’t let the idea of going to a movie alone intimidate us. We don’t let the threat of bumping into an ex stop us from going to the most fabulous party in town with our head held high. We walk a path that many women will never have to walk…a path that forces us to constantly step out of our comfort zones. The journey of a single woman is not an easy one – but we welcome the danger. We welcome the unknown. We embrace our freedom as the gift that it is…we pay our own way…we march to the beat of our own drum and we ask permission from no one to do so. There is a fire in the soul of a single woman that can never quite be tamed…an unwillingness to settle…an independence all our own, built from the knowledge that we can do absolutely anything without calling for backup and we can look damn good doing it. There is a wisdom we possess that comes from surviving many a broken heart…a shine to us from learning how to make an entrance into a room accompanied by no one but me, myself and I…a confidence that comes from knowing we are not afraid to fall…because each time we fall, Life presents us with another opportunity to get up and move up. We realize a happy life is more important than a happy ending…and that we don’t need a significant other to lead a significant life. And if one day, our Prince does find us, we won’t expect him to complete us, but to compliment us. Because we are strong. We are invincible. We are all…The Single Woman."

Thank you Mandy, for offering these encouraging words of advice, and for making me feel Single and Fabulous! once again.

Check out the rest of Mandy's column's here:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Design on a (Young Professional) Dime

The following is an article I wrote for my magazine feature writing class this summer. I complied a list of decorating tips I learned after having to decorate my first apartment. I have also included pictures here of some of my apartment - I hope they prove to be helpful!

Growing up, daughters all across America rolled their eyes when their mothers yelled from the living room, “Come here! You have to see what they’re doing on HGTV! It would be perfect for your room!” as they did their homework in the next room. It seems mothers everywhere are addicted to HGTV, Better Homes and Gardens, and Southern Living.

As eye-rolling daughters grow up they soon must move from home and decorate their first house, apartment or dorm room. It is inevitable that they begin learning how to decorate, often on a budget. Using media outlets like HGTV can give some beneficial ideas that can be brought to a real-world, real-budget level.

Here are some tips and tricks sure to help any first-time decorator learn the art of design on a budget:

Find an inspiration piece. Connie White, an amateur interior decorator from Charleston, West Virginia (and also my mom!) swears that finding a piece that inspires holds the key to decorating, regardless of budget. “When my daughter moved into her first place, we went to a church auction and found a very cool retro all leather black and white club chair that we were able to buy for $10,” White remembers. Finding a piece that inspires and determines a color scheme narrows the search for items that coordinate much simpler.

Below is the black and white leather club chair in my living room! Instead of the Festivall poster, there is now a red Vogue poster there.

Assess current possessions. Using these items when fit your color scheme can save tons of money. It is also a good idea to base color scheme on an item you already have. In my case, my mom saved a dining room table and chairs for me from our house, and I had a black metal futon that I used in the dorms; I also saved my posters that I used in the dorms and framed them so they would look nicer.”

Below is the dining room table and chairs in my kitchen:

Shop at discount stores. White also encourages shoppers to utilize Target, Wal-Mart, Big Lots Gabriel Bros. and similar discount stores. All feature budget-friendly items. With an inspiration piece and color scheme locked down – it’s time to bargain shop! “With a color scheme in my head,” White says, “I combed the discount stores for over three months watching for sales and for new arrivals that were cheap and that fit the criteria.” Garage sales, vintage and thrift shops can also expand decorating options while still remaining budget-friendly.

Create originals whenever possible. Those who sew or with a relative who sews save big bucks by making pillows, curtains or even a duvet cover. My mom made a custom curtain for my bathroom that matched the shower curtain as well as pillows and a table runner for the living room. This created a custom look without spending a lot of money. Fabricate as many items as possible.

The pillows on the couch were made by my mother, she also made the bathroom curtain below out of a shower curtain that matched the one I already had:

Don’t forget paint! While inspirational items and a color scheme remain essential, paint can also be your friend. Although many rental homes and apartments do not allow painting of the walls, especially in college, there are other alternatives. Painting vases all one color and grouping them together can create a pleasing design aesthetic. Also, painting furniture to match the desired color scheme is inexpensive and will prevent the budget-conscious decorator from having to purchase furniture.

Utilizing these tips will enable the amateur designer to create an HGTV-quality on a young-professional budget, without sacrificing quality and aesthetic.

What are YOUR top design tips?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Colorful NYC Weekend

This past weekend my family and I went to New York City for the 4th of July (aka one of my favorite holidays). I had been wanting to go to to NYC all summer, and was planning how I was going to fund a trip there on my meager summer budget, so you can imagine my excitement when I found out that my dad had a trip to NYC, and that I would be able to come along.

I first visited the city about two weeks after 9/11. I was 11 years old, and couldn't fully comprehend the seriousness of what happened to our country, and especially to the city of NY. I remember walking to Battery Park and seeing the Statue of Libery through a chain link fence. Although I didn't realize it them, it was a poingant view of what happened. I looked to my right and I could see the site where the World Trade Centers had been. Now, I realize the hugeness of what I was able to witness. I think it was then I began to be drawn to New York City, although not in the manner I am today.
My love affair with New York really began when I became a fan of Sex and the City. As you all well know, I have a Carrie Bradshaw/SATC addiction. I'm not really sure why I am so addicted to the show, but I'm pretty sure it has significantly contributed to my shopping and shoe addictions as well. Watching the show, the city is like the fifth character, the show wouldn't have worked anywhere else.

As I walked the streets of New York City this weekend, I couldn't help but think, "I belong here." Maybe not forever, but I need to experience it, not on a two-day trip. I need to spend some serious time there, even if I have to work two jobs, have a roommate, and eat only ramen noodles. To me, it's worth it.

Here are some photos of my NYC weekend:

Panoramic shot taken from the top of the Empire State building.
This was clearly taken in Times Square.. I got to go to Forever 21:D (all five floors!!!)

This was taken outside La Cage aux Folles (The Birdcage). One of the best shows I've seen. Kelsey Grammer is in it. They had a drage queen working the crowd before the show:)
A not-so-great shot of the fireworks on the Hudson River. (I just couldn't hold my camera still!).

This was my absoulute FAVORITE part of the trip. I got to go to Greenwhich Village to Perry St. where they filmed the exterior scenes for Carrie Bradshaw's apartment. It's like I died and went to heaven!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So cool!

Miranda: Why do I think living in Manhattan is so fabulous?
Carrie: Because it is.
-Sex and the City

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Color your style.

For quite some time now, I have been compiling a list of my own style tips. Things my mother has told me, things I have read, things I have learned by trial and error. It has been my intention for quite some time now, to share them with the world. So, here they are. They have finally arrived!

My top 10 style tips. In no particular order (except for number one.. it's most important!).

10. Don't let your clothes wear you.
Case in point.. Kristin Stewart. Sorry to all you Twilight devotees out there. Every time I have seen her on the red carpet, she has been wearing a fierce outfit, and looked awkward as hell. Why Kristin? WHY!?
No one wants to look awkward. It makes you look like you're trying to hard. Don't do it! Fashionistas around the world swear K. Stew has finally grown in to her chic red carpet looks - but I disagree. Remember...

"The fashionable woman wears clothes. The clothes don't wear her." -Mary Quant

This brings me to my next point...

9. Confidence is key.
Confidence is the sexiest accessory. If you're feeling confident, you can wear anything, and no one will notice. I promise. A confident woman shows that she respects and loves herself, and that she dresses up for herself and no one else.
"Confidence has nothing to do with aesthetics, and everything to do with attitude." -Unknown

Remember, many of the great beauties of the world were not stunningly beautiful, but they have drawn from a huge amount of self-confidence (The Little Black Book of Style) AKA, wear what makes you feel comfortable, and do so confidently. One follows the other.

8. Do you.
Let's be honest, you don't like every single trend that hits the runway. It's impossible. If you don't like it, or it doesn't fit your personal style..don't buy it! You'll wear it once, if that, and it will hang in your closet forever. Also, you won't feel confident in it, because it's not you - so just don't do it!

If you think you're going to wear something and your friends are going to say, "I never thought I would see you in that.." Then take a different approach. Don't get me wrong, I'm not telling you not to wear something you wouldn't normally wear just because of someone else's reaction. But start small. For example, if you found a sequined dress that you just love, but you've never worn glitter in your life, maybe do a T-shirt with sequin, and work your way up to the dress. That way, you will feel less awkward and more confident!

My personal dislike of this years fashion trends? Fake glasses. Don't get me wrong, I get it, kind of. If you feel that it adds a new flavor to your look then by all means - but it's just not ME, so I don't even try. I would look capital W-E-I-R-D!

"Know first, who you are and then adorn yourself accordingly." -Epictetus

7. Only buy a couple of "in" pieces. Stick with classics.
jeans, trench coach, LBD, stilettos, blazer, jean jacket, leather bag, ballet flats, pearls, white T-shirts, cardigans. These are my basic essentials. Things I've purchased this year that are in? Jean shorts, high waisted skirts, racer-back tanks. Will these be crucial to my wardrobe next season? Probably not. When you wear these "in" pieces, wear them with classic pieces, not more current items. If you do, this will make you look like you're trying to hard, and again, nobody wants that.

Don't buy according to the trends. Classics will always be classics. This is where you want to spend your money.

6. Heels are your best friend.
This tip reminds me of Imelda Marcos. When she died, she owned 1,060 pairs of stilettos. My father has affectionately nicknamed me after her namesake. But don't get me wrong, this tip has purpose: Heels make your legs look longer and leaner, while offering height and confidence. How can you tell me they aren't Gods gift to woman?

"A woman in the right stiletto is a true force to be reckoned with." -Nina Garcia

5. There is no excuse to have bad-looking nails.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying go out every other week and spend money on a mani/pedi. Do them yourself! You don't have to spend hours, cut, file, paint at the very least. Even if you just throw on a clear-coat you'll be good to go. If you are someone who likes painting their nails often, if they begin to chip either touch them up, or repaint them because NOTHING looks worse than chipped nails.

4. It's not about the money.
If you know me, you know I have a bit of a shopping addiction. I'm incredibly fortunate that I was raised by Connie White, because she taught me the beauty of bargain shopping. A few of my favorite inexpensive places to shop are Gabes, Target, and Wal-mart. You can find some basic things there for dirt cheap. Don't be overwhelmed when you go in Gabes, take the time to look - you'll find some amazing pieces. Hanes white T-shirts? Wal-mart!

3. If you can't tone it, tan it!
A good fake tan is like a good LBD. Dont get me wrong, I'm not telling you to go fry in a tanning bed 7 days a week, but it's not a bad idea to keep a little color. You'll look healthier, thinner and feel more confident.

2. "There are no ugly girls, only lazy ones." -Helena Rubinstein
I know, it sounds harsh. But dear Helena has a point. When do I feel least confident? When I roll out of bed, and run to class in my PJ's. My mother always told me "Never go out of the house without makeup on," and while I scoffed at her for the majority of my teenage years, as I've grown up, I've come to agree with her. My best advice to you? Get up a few minutes earlier each day, take a shower, put on some make-up and something you feel confident in. You'll feel better, and you'll be more productive.

And finally number one.... the most important.....

1. "ALWAYS dress to flatter your body." -my mother
When do you find yourself staring at others as they walk down the street? When they are wearing unflattering clothes! When you do you feel least confident? When you are wearing unflattering clothes!
A few major un-flattering faux-pas I have noticed recently:
  • High waisted full skirts. (I have even make this mistake myself.) They don't look good on everyone. If you are not a rail, this probably isn't the look for you because it will only make you look large.
  • Heels. OK i know what I said in number six but hear me out. If you're going to wear a pair of heels, practice walking in them first. Nothing is more un-flattering than a girl stumbling around who can't walk in heels. The secret to walking in heels? Practice!!!
  • Butt-crack is always bad. Ladies, please! I'm begging you, wear higher-waisted pants, or longer shirts. Seeing your booty and/or your thong is NOT classy.
  • Too much make-up. Trust me, dont cake on the foundation, eyeliner, and the mascara. You look like an orange raccoon. Simplicity is beauty.
  • Spandex. In the age of leggings as pants there are many who make this mistake. If you are, ahem, a bit on the large side, you probably shouldn't be wearing spandex in any way, shape or form.
  • Muffin top. For those of you who don't know, muffin top is when you're shirt or pants are too tight, and your belly hangs over. Avoid this at all costs. If you have to buy a bigger size, so be it. If you dress to flatter your body, no one will notice or care what size you are, they will simple see how good you look!
These are my top 10 style tips. Do you have any that I have missed here? Comment, please! I would love to hear your feedback!

Also, as research for a future post.. what are your style essentials?