Do women choose the fear of aging over health?

Photo via We Heart It
Every night at five o'clock I watch the news. I like to believe that I'm staying current with world events, or keeping an eye out for potential weather disasters, or even following local community news. Truthfully, I'm most interested in those salacious stories that come at the end of the newscast. You know - the ones which are solely focused on the seemingly innocent things in our environment that could kill us. Last night, for example, my local news screeched the terrifying prospect of coma and death if I didn't clean out my medicine cabinet. Eating microwave popcorn could KILL ME, it warned. Drinking too much water? Get ready for kidney failure, impaired breathing and ZOMG brain swelling. Even the simple act of packing my kids lunchboxes in the morning is fraught with danger.It's enough to make one consider a life spent breathing in purified oxygen in a plastic bubble tent, because WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE TERROR IN THE STREETS START STOCKPILING ANTIBIOTICS RIGHT NOW OR ELSE AAAARRRGGHHHH!

I suppose we all do things, wittingly or not, that could potentially harm us. Whether it's eating french fries, smoking, tanning, riding a bike without a helmet or keeping cosmetics past their recommended usage date, we take chances and court risks. We know that smoking and leading a sedentary lifestyle are bad for us. And yet there we are, lying out in the sun and couch surfing to our heart's content.

Last week, there was a delightful little read over at the Huffington Post which warned that the mere act of having good hair could kill you. Wha? Surgeon general Regina M. Benjamin recently warned attendees of the Bronner Bros. International Hair Show in Atlanta, Georgia that women who skip exercising in order to protect their hairstyles should focus more on their health. "Oftentimes you get women saying, 'I can't exercise today because I don't want to sweat my hair back or get my hair wet,' said Dr. Benjamin. "When you're starting to exercise, you look for reasons not to, and sometimes the hair is one of those reasons."

Multiple studies have shown that women focus more on their looks than they do on their health. A survey conducted last year by East Tennessee State University found that women are more likely to buy products that ward off "age spots" than skin cancer. According to Sociological Images, the study at East Tennessee State University found that "if you want to get women to stop using tanning beds, warning them about the risk of skin cancer isn’t nearly as effective as warning them about the risk of age spots and other forms of damage to their appearance." And a recent report shows that women spend way more on beauty products than health care: $540 a month on hair products, make-up, and fake tanners, compared to $360 on their physical well-being.

Although a healthcare spokesperson told, "So many of us are guilty of taking shortcuts to ensure we look good - often at the expense of our health" However, I believe the message behind these studies has much more to do with vanity and the fear of aging than a lack of concern over our health. Women purchase products such as anti-wrinkle cream, anti-cellulite lotions and cosmetics to look younger and feel more confident. And that's exactly the way these products are marketed. Advertisements crow that you can "Erase the years" and "Look ten years younger!" rather than point to the ways products prevent illness. The message is that we need these products to beautify ourselves, not to be healthier. For example, while Oil of Olay's Total Effects Daily Moisturizer contains an SPF 15 (presumably to prevent skin cancer) it is marketed on the Olay website that it "moisturizes to create visibly younger-looking skin and fight 7 signs of aging." Sure, the SPF is there to protect against sun damage...which is terrifying because it leads to "premature visible skin aging."

We live in an era in which there is a fascination with youth. Women around the world seem to worry about aging more than men do, according to the 2010 Bupa Health Pulse, a 12-country survey by the British health care company Bupa. Let's see . . . wrinkles. Saggy breasts. Gray hair. Permanent post-baby belly. Dry skin. Weight gain. Each change brought by time and gravity renders most women a bit more invisible in a culture that prizes youth. Enter the booms in plastic surgery, laser skin resurfacing, and "anti-aging" cosmetics.

And as women pass middle age, the pressure to look youthful doesn't end. Fear about appearance persists right into the 70s and 80s - when women add hearing aids, walkers, canes, and stooped posture to the dreaded "visible markers of being old," says geriatrician Laurie Jacobs, director of the Jack and Pearl Resnick Gerontology Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. "Women are always, unfortunately, more concerned about whether they appear old," she says. "Your sense of appearance is associated with your functional status."

So now I ask you: Do you buy more products with the purpose of maintaining health or are you more concerned with delaying the effects of aging? How do you feel about getting older? Have you begun worrying about the effects time will have on your appearance? What do you think of the studies which suggest that women are more focused on looks than on health?

In case you missed it:

  • Enter my giveaway to win a $25 gift card from Marshalls/TJ Maxx!
  • Like this post? PLEASE take a minute and vote for me in the CBS DFW Most Valuable Blogger Awards! I'm a finalist!

Celebrities: Just as screwed up about their bodies as we are.

 Years ago, I had a fairly sizable case of celebrity worship. Glossy tabloid magazines peppered my nightstand like salacious confetti, headlines screaming about alleged infidelity, gay rumors, secret plastic surgeries and marriage woes. I eagerly followed the progress of a certain actress' baby bump, analyzing whether her loose-fitting top was an attempt at food baby camouflage or existed to hide an actual baby. I pondered the possibility that my favorite celebrity chef might be (GASP) a cocaine addict. Was the z-list I'd had a crush on forever REALLY GAY? These things kept me awake at night.

I don't read those magazines anymore. I prefer to get my celebrity gossip the old-fashioned way...through 30-miunute snippets on Entertainment Tonight. The other evening I was lounging on my couch and caught coverage of an interview Jennifer Hudson did with Self Magazine, in which she mentioned that she’s prouder of her weight loss than her Oscar. She also stated, “I didn’t even know I was considered plus-sized until I came to Hollywood.”

Then I opened my Lucky Magazine, and was startled by the following quotes from cover girl Jessica Alba:

"I have a hard time with portion control, so I have 1,200 calorie meals delivered. But I also work out, so basically I'm starving. It sucks. I drink a lot of water. In the gym, I have like five things to distract me: TV, iPod, magazines. Working partners are good, too, so you can chat and not just drown in your own misery."
One of the best way to sell magazines and books is to mention weight loss. In fact, as of this post, five of the top ten New York Times non-fiction hardcover bestsellers address weight loss. And now research suggests that women might be more likely to believe the media over loved ones when assessing their own body image.

Researchers at Arizona State University studied 112 women ages 18-45, and linked 823 people in their families and social networks for follow-up interviews. They measured the degree to which the women felt stigmatized about their weight, and they asked the women “Do you think (so-and-so) thinks you should lose weight?” Members of the social network were asked if they thought the women should lose weight.

According to Psych Central, researchers expected to find ways that friends and family made women feel bad about their weight. Instead, they found friends and family were less likely to say that the woman needed to lose weight than the woman herself predicted. “We found that women generally missed the mark when estimating what their friends and family thought about their weight,” said Daniel J. Hruschka, co-author of the study. “Women were a bit more attuned to the views of close friends and family, but even then, they generally perceived the judgments of others inaccurately.”

But here's what jumped out at me: The women in the study felt stigmatized about their weight despite the fact that people in their lives thought they looked just fine. The researchers speculated that media messages about the body override the messages women get from friends and family.

Since the 1960s, eating disorder incidence rates have doubled (Eating Disorders Coalition, 2006). Interestingly, during the same period of time, mass media has increasingly portrayed progressively thinner representations of the female body. In a renowned study, Garner and colleagues reported that the body measurements and weights of Playboy centerfolds and Miss America Pageant contestants decreased dramatically between 1959 and 1978. More recently, Wiseman and colleagues (1992) observed that this trend continued through 1988. Television has also contributed to this obsession with thinness. A 2000 study found that thinner female characters in television situation comedies received more compliments from men than did heavier characters.

All of these finding tell me that we are increasingly disconnected with what our bodies actually look like. We have no idea of reality when it comes to our own body image. Vanity sizing has basically destroyed any standard of measurement in women's clothing. Actresses are getting thinner and thinner. Our brains become consumed with varieties of compare and contrast, pitting us against celebrities, TV and movie stars in a desperate quest for perfection. "Can I really lose seven pounds in seven days?" "Heidi Klum shaved off her baby weight in four months, so I should be able to do that too." "If Jessica Alba thinks she needs to lose weight, then I must look like a hippopotamus" (that one is from me.)

It's nearly impossible to turn our attention away from messages the media churns out. But it's even more heartbreaking when celebrities confess to being as miserable and skewed about their bodies and diets as we might be. The best we can do is understand that while we might admire acting ability or singing talent, coveting a celebrity's body might mean taking on their distorted body image as well.

In case you missed it:
  • Enter my giveaway to win a $25 gift care from Marshalls/TJ Maxx!
  • Like this post? PLEASE take a minute and vote for me in the CBS DFW Most Valuable Blogger Awards! I'm a finalist!

Marshalls took me shopping and gave me a gift card for you!

Last Friday I was treated to a special tour and shopping spree courtesy of Marshalls and TJ Maxx. I've been a huge fan of both stores for years and love the fact that I can always find this season's fashions at 40-60% retail prices. Thanks to both stores, I managed to outfit myself throughout my lean college years while staying both stylish and current.

While being led around the store, I learned that both stores receive over 10,000 new items every week, which means you never know what will come in - paradise for a bargain hunter such as myself. TJ Maxx and Marshalls aren't discount stores, as most consumers mistakenly believe. They're off price retailers, and provide this season's brands and styles while catering to bargain hunters who love the thrill of finding designer brands at deeply discounted prices. I saw brands such as Paige, Seven For All Mankind, Frye, Stuart Weitzman, Jessica Simpson, Ralph Lauren, Cole Haan, Coach, Free People and Ella Moss, all at between 40-60% off. It was kind of like being in heaven. 

With merchandise varying between store to store - and region by region - buyers are able to handpick items for each location. With over 1600 stores nationwide they're also able to get the best deals from thousands of vendors in over 60 countries around the world. Buyers have the opportunity to purchase merchandise at the last minute of any given season, and they can buy either a large quantity or just a few pieces.

Marshall's is well-known for the huge shoe department. And for good reason.

One of fall 2011 hottest trends - the high heel loafer, at 50% off. This came home with me.

I loved these stacked platforms. So I bought the leopard ones. Animal print and fall just kind of go together, don't they?
When I shop in Marshalls and TJ Maxx, I typically head straight for the handbags.

Did you know that Cynthia Rowley produces a special collection just for Marshalls and TJ Maxx? Neither did I. This leather and leopard satchel is just gorgeous.

Oh, and this? A Rebecca Minkoff bag. I loved the rich jewel tone, whip stitching and chain strap. And the price - 50% off retail. Yup, this came home with me too.

Here are some tips if you're thinking about shopping at Marshalls and TJ Maxx:

  • Look carefully at the "compare at" price on the tag: The tag will show you exactly how much money you're saving;
  • Look for purple tags: These tags indicate a higher-end designer item. A TJ Maxx near me has a Runway Section, which offers Gucci, Prada, Missoni, J Brand, and Alice + Olivia, and these items are identified by a purple price tag.
  • Get to know your store's layout: Everyone has a favorite section, whether it be bags, shoes, lingerie or jewelry. Knowing where to go can help you quickly locate that special thing you're looking for.
  • Never, ever pass up a good bargain: Stores receive limited quantities of each item, so merchandise can sell out quickly. The perfect dress or handbag might not be there the next time you visit. 
  • Not sure where to start? Try shopping the displays at the front of the store before easing into the racks. Merchandise in this section is organized by style and designer on four-sided clothing racks. This is a good place to star before digging deeper into the store to search for even more styles organized by size.

And now, a giveaway for you! Marshalls and TJ Maxx offered me a $25 gift card for one lucky winner! The card can be used at either store and is only good in the United States.

To enter, simply do the following:

  • Follow me on Google Friend Connect.
For extra bonus entries: 
  • Follow me on Twitter @dresscourage;
  • Follow @TJMaxx and @Marshalls on Twitter;
  • Tweet the following about this giveaway: I just entered to win @dresscourage gift card giveaway from TJ Maxx and Marshalls!

A HUGE thank you to Marshalls and TJ Maxx for the shopping spree and store tour! 

Like this post? PLEASE take a minute and vote for me in the CBS DFW Most Valuable Blogger Awards! I'm a finalist!

A woman's right to shoes

Yesterday afternoon, flush with excitement from a shopping trip, I called my husband into our bedroom. I had just returned with two new pairs of heels and was curious to hear what he thought. It's extremely out of character for me to get excited over shoes. I am not the type to get all swoony and lustful over a pair of pumps. I don't carefully store my shoes in special acrylic tissue-lined boxes. I don't have a religious moment while trying on a new pair. And I certainly am not ZOMG THIS SEASON'S MIU MIU PUMP IS OUT I MUST HAVE IT *GRABBY HANDS* SQUEE!!!

Frankly, sometimes I think there's something wrong with me. I think I must be the only female on the planet who does not lose it over a pair of shoes. Consider the following quote:

"There's one pair that I always like to wear. Sometimes when I'm alone in my hotel room, I look at them and I think how they are the only things in my life that know exactly what I've been through all day. I often feel like my shoes are the only part of me that know exactly what I'm doing because they're always with me." - Lady Gaga
A Daily Express study reported that the average woman will spend $25,000 on 469 pairs of shoes in her lifetime. So why are shoes such a "thing" with women, coveted by both Carrie Bradshaw more than any other accessory and frequenters of popular street style blog Jak & Jil? When it comes to status, shoes win approval in ways shirts cannot — the Daily Express study stated that four out of every 10 women judge other women based on their shoes. It Bags had only a moment, and it's not like there's a Tumblr devoted to pants. What makes shoes so special?

Science has explored why women love shoes as recklessly as they do, and they've discovered that the brain sends out a barrage of mood-booting hormones during a new purchase. "The neurotransmitter dopamine is released, providing a feel-good high, similar to taking a drug," says Martin Lindstrom, author of Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy. ""Shoppers rationalize shoes as a practical buy - something they can wear multiple times a week - so they hold on to that pleasurable feeling longer," says Lindstrom.

Furthermore, buying new footwear stimulates an area of the brain's prefrontal cortex termed the collecting spot. "Shoes are a collector's item, whether women realize they perceive them that way or not," says Suzanne Ferriss, PhD, editor of Footnotes: On Shoes. Consider how shoes are often stored prominently on shelves, or in custom-made acrylic boxes. "They're like sculptures," says Ferriss. Collecting shoes causes an adrenalin-like rush similar to that a baseball card collector feels when landing a new find.

Back in May, a British survey revealed that the average British woman owns 20 pairs of shoes, eleven of which she barely wears. The total value of the average lady's shoe closet? £720, or around $1,189. That means about $660 worth of shoes are sitting idle. The survey also noted that women buy an average of eight new pairs each year.

So. There are all these women buying shoes, talking about shoes, wearing (and not wearing) shoes, and budgeting for shoes. I get the feeling that, as a woman, I am supposed to like shoes too. Everywhere you look, women are waxing methodical about their shoes, glazed looks of transcendent bliss upon their faces. Female role models, whether they be singers, models, actresses or stylists, are constantly speaking of their love for heels. It was widely reported that Rachel Zoe and Victoria Beckam trolloped through their pregnancies in five inch stilletos. And it's hard to ignore the fact that a pair of pumps can transform an outfit and do pretty miraculous things for your shape. Much as bras and corsets are worn to encourage a womanly, hourglass shape, heels are worn to elongate the legs and raise the derriere. In a pair of heels, you stand taller. Your stomach is more tucked-in. And if you're petite, that extra four inch of heel is an enticing confidence booster.

So how did my husband react to my new heels? "Eh," he shrugged. "They're...okay." (Then again, this is a man whose sole emotional moment in the course of our 13 year marriage took place while watching The Rookie. A movie about baseball.) And I sort of agreed with him. I will never have a passionate love affair with shoes. It's just not me.

Tell me - what's your relationship with shoes? Do you get a rush from buying a new pair? Do you get excited over this season's must have heels? How many pair of shoes do you estimate you own? Which pair is your favorite? Or are you like me and just not a shoe person?

Like this post? PLEASE take a minute and vote for me in the CBS DFW Most Valuable Blogger Awards! I'm a finalist!

On Sundays I Smile - Week in review August 28th

On Sundays I review the past week and I Smile. I share these moments with you.

This week, in preparation for my trip to NYC for the Independent Fashion Bloggers conference, I did some shopping. I feel all kinds of pressure to look my best and hold my own against bloggers I consider both style role models and all-together fabulous people, so I was compelled to bum rush stores in a frantic search for things that would make me look chic while masking the fact that I was trying desperately to look chic.

Somewhat disappointingly, I found plenty of things that kept my money firmly in my wallet. Case above: denim distressed Uggs with a sneaker-like front cap. Now, I like Uggs as much as the next girl. But I can't imagine sauntering into some sophisticated glamorous dimly lit restaurant with these puppies on my feet.

There were also these fetching front-pleated peg-legged Southwestern-inspired jeans from Marc Jacobs. I do not believe I have ever laid eyes on more man-repelling garments in my life. Seriously, Mr. Jacobs? Apparently we all need to look like an  80's mom on her way to drop her kids off at the bowling alley while guzzling Tab. I SWEAR I have seen the vintage version of these jeans in the Salvation Army for about $6. Price on the tags above? $228. My head hurts.

Then it was off to Marshalls for shoes. I am decidedly not a shoe person, but I practically swooned at the offerings from Marshalls this week. Between sumptuous leather Frye stacked sole sandals, patent leather Jessica Simpson pumps, Guess leopard print platforms and Coach ankle boots, I was overcome. I have posts planned this week regarding both my Marshalls trip AND lukewarm relationship with shoes, so stay tuned.

Feeling the urge for vintage, I impulsively decided to make a drive out to Waco to a shop I'd heard about but hadn't had the chance to visit. The Style Station is a little shack crammed full of vintage Levis, 50's dresses, cowboy boots, western shirts, motorcycle jackets, tooled leather handbags, random paraphernalia, seventies maxi dresses, band jackets, and polyester wide-leg pants. The "dressing room" was a corner of the store blocked by a folding mirror, and stuff hung everywhere.

Adding to its charm, the shop is owned by a burned-out ex-hippie with an unmeasurable amount of pent-up conversation stored in him. He was, as my grandfather used to say, a piece of work. With the slightest bit of encouragement he embarked on a punctuation-free soliloquy regarding Middle Eastern politics and the right wing leanings of our government system and the falsehood that is Christianity. I wandered around the store while he just yammered away about who knows what. If you ever make the drive out of Dallas to Austin or other points south on I35, you MUST make a stop at this place. Just bring your ear plugs.

So what did I buy?

This beaten-up, weathered leather satchel from the seventies. It took a little bit of cleaning to remove 40 years of dirt and grime, but it's gorgeous and full of character. And was totally worth the hour and a half drive.

Now it's your turn: What are some things that made you smile this week? Grab my button (created by Kate of Divergent Musings - HUGE THANKS to Kate!) and blog about your Sunday smiles; share your weekly smiles in the comments; or smile just because it makes you feels good.

While I'm mentally packing for my NYC trip, catch up on everything from Dress With Courage this week:

I'm also a finalist in the CBS DFW Most Valuable Blogger Awards. You can vote once a day, every day until September 9th. Please help me win and vote here!

As always, thank you for supporting me by following my blog, continuing to leave thoughtful and introspective comments, and dropping by every day. I am so appreciative that you are here.

If you're visiting my blog for the first time, please think about following me through Google Friend Connect, tweeting with me on Twitter, and following me through Bloglovin'.
I also have a new Facebook page - come say hi! 

Visual Fashion Beauty Friend Friday: R.O.C.K in the USA (Favorite clothing)

This week, Fashion Beauty Friend Friday is taking a visual turn and focusing on our favorite clothing item, as suggested by Ashley of Getting Dressed. I have to admit that I struggled with choosing a favorite piece. My thrifting and vintage addiction had led to a closet filled with unique, one-of-a-kind items that I spent hours digging out of racks and bins. So I'm highlighting one of my most recent thrifing scores. Warning: You might be blinded or offended by the amount of bling. And considerable 80's influence.

Okay. I understand that this vest is kind of ridiculous. I mean, it's bedazzled and studded. But I love it. It brings a flood of 80's teenage adolescence references to mind. I like to imagine that this lovely little piece of fashion iconography was created by a mother-daughter team back during the summer of 1986. They spent hours debating the type of studs and rhinestones they were going to use to decorate this vest, which they found in the Sears just off Main street. Eagerly they attacked their project, working into the night, their teased, permed hair casting a shadow over their work.

Eventually, the daughter grew bored of their endeavor. She was missing her favorite episode of Who's The Boss. The phone rang with calls from her friends, wondering why she wasn't hanging out at the Dairy Queen with them. So she abandoned the bedazzling, sneaking to her room, and turning on John Cougar Mellencamp to drown out the shrill nagging of her mom. When she drifted from her room the next morning, the vest was finished, her mother snoring softly on the couch. The girl wore it to school, generating envious looks from friends. And naturally, she took all the credit for its enticing sparkle.

So how did I style this piece? Very, very carefully.

$3 Thrifted vintage vest; Target layered tanks; Joe's Jeans (from Nordstrom Rack) White Mountain sandals; Charming Charlie and Forever 21 bracelets
As usual, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments! Fashion Beauty Friend Friday was created by Katy Rose of Modly Chic. Become a member at the Fashion Beauty Friend Friday Google Group to join in the discussion!

Almost daily outfit of the day: Vintage nautical 8/25/11

$5 Thrifted J Crew chambray button-down; $4 thrifted vintage skirt; $10 thrifted vintage Coach bag; Miz Mooz wedges; Charming Charlie and Forever 21 bracelets; thrifted Michael Kors rose gold watch
Every spring, stores become inundated with pieces relevant to one specific theme: nautical. Such as this skirt. And every spring, I scratch my head in confusion. I've always felt that nautical-inspired clothing belongs on blonde twenty-something East Coast girls with names like Muffy and Tinsley. These girls have vacation homes in Nantucket and drive BMW's and drink Evian and always wear pearl studs in their ears and started playing tennis when they were six. They date guys named Blake who went to Brown and are working as investment bankers or something pertaining to Wall Street, and spend their evenings at the club nibbling on vegetable crudite and watching polo. Or so I imagine.
I do have a bit of credibility regarding nautical wear, though. I've spent some time on Long Island. I've ridden on the Staten Island Ferry. I own a pair of earrings with anchors on them. And I was on my college crew team...though I might have been the coxswain (whose entire job consists of sitting in the front of the skull screaming at the rowers to stay in rhythm.) Okay, I was the coxswain. And it was awesome.

Event recap: Blogger Walk-Around at Knox Dallas with a giveaway!

Last Saturday, a small group of Dallas bloggers were invited to attend a blogger walkaround hosted by the Knox district of Dallas. Knox is home to a number of chic restaurants, boutiques, and home design stores, and it looking to distinguish itself from the Henderson district (they'd formerly been known as a unit called Knox-Henderson.) I've been to both areas  once or twice, but was generally unfamiliar with the shops located there.

I joined Tina of T Minus, T Plus; Julie of Rosy + Tart; Katie of Fashion Dinosaur;  Stephanie of Beauty and Gardens; Cris of My Fashion Juice; Isabel of Style Geek; and Ivonne of Ivonne Stacy Style for a fun day of shopping, eating, drinking, and blog talk. I've had the pleasure of spending time with these women before, but truly didn't know how much fun they were until we all got together for the walk around. Awesome women, all of them.

The first stop on our agenda was a cooking demonstration and class at the Milestone Culinary Arts Center. Well, that's what I thought we were doing. I soon learned that we were being broken into teams to compete in a "Chopped" cooking challenge. We were instructed to prepare a dish using two mandatory ingredients - pecans and currants - all within 30 minutes. I nearly broke out into hives because one, I'm not the greatest chef in the world (I had fish sticks for dinner last night. Fish sticks.) And two, I was competing against Julie who is an amaze-balls cook.

Isabel and I were team leaders, because I figured it was more strategic for me to tell everyone what to do rather than place myself anywhere near a direct flame. We were led to the ginormous kitchen and able to see all the ingredients before the cooking started to plan our recipe.

Then we got to cooking. It was crazy fun, y'all. Imagine a bunch of bloggers in high heels sliding around a kitchen, getting into way too much sugar, and taking photos of well, everything.

Isabel, Cris, Stephanie and Julie working on their fancy schmancy salad

Ivonne piping our homemade whipped cream. P.S I made that.
There was also lots of goofing around. Lots.

Katie and Tina. Love them.
We finished our dishes and brought them to the judges table. My team (Ivonne, Katie, myself and our PR guide) made pound cake french toast with homemade whipped cream and brown sugar pecans and currants. We like sugar. A LOT. We also like things that taste like instant diabetes. The other team made a nice, healthy, light salad with homemade dressing. While our dishes were being judged, we sat down for lunch provided by Milestone and talked with the head chef.

Then the winning team was announced - mine! Turns out people really, REALLY like sugar. What do you know.

High off my epic win, we walked over to or next stop - the showroom of designer Terri Ives. In business for 30 years, Terri has designed for Miss America participants, governor's wives, the former first lady of the United States, and many other nationally prominent women. Her showroom was filled with couture quality garments, all which can be made in dozens of fabrics and customizable styles.

Terri also offers custom-made jewelry to coordinate with her clothing lines. Made with precious stones such as turquoise, amethyst, jade and opelite, the pieces were truly stunning. Swoon.

After finishing at Terri's showroom, we walked next door to Forty Five Ten. Also known as Mecca, where I belong.

Tina with a python jewelry armoire. Python. Be still my heart.
In November 2007, Lucky Magazine described the boutique as "a European-influenced emporium, complete with a tearoom, beloved for its exquisitely selected clothing, accessories and beauty products." I saw things that that made me hold my breath, they were so beyond gorgeous. 

Oh, this old thing? A crocodile PS1 clutch from Proenza Schouler. If you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it. Neither can I.

Charlotte Olympia embroidered cat velvet flats. Do want.

For the piece de la resistance I present to you a luxurious tailored, pre-Fall 2011 Moschino blazer...with a removable teddy bear and velvet collar. This is my Holy Grail. I WILL DIY the hell out of this blazer. Oh yes I will.

Somehow we managed to tear ourselves away from the couture and handbags and jewelry and shoes (oh, the shoes) and wind our way to The Riviera Spa and Salon for manicures and pedicures and facials and massages. 

I had a massage that turned my body into jello and a mojito pedicure. In my world, any pedicure that comes with free booze ranks quite highly, and this one was no exception.

ONE of those is mine. The other is Ivonne's. Who does not drink. And kindly donated her mojito to me.

Katie, wearing an entirely thrifted outfit. I want to be her when I grow up.
And finally, we ended our day at Sangria Tapas and Bar. If you've never had tapas, it's something to experience. The menu is composed of small plates offering Spanish inspired items, such as dates wrapped in bacon and olives marinated in garlic and potato and cheese croquettes and paella and manchego cheese with quince paste AND OH MY GOD I AM SO HUNGRY RIGHT NOW.

At the conclusion of our meal, we walked out with swag from both the stores we visited and other shops in the Knox district.

And now, as a reward for making it this far, here's a little giveaway for you: A pair of handmade semi-precious stone earrings from Terri Ives!

Retail price for these beauties is $120! To enter, just follow me on Google Friend Connect and on twitter at @dresscourage. Leave a comment letting me you've done both, and you're in.

A HUGE thank you to Knox Dallas for hosting such a truly epic event. I had a fantastic time, and got introduced to a slew of new shops and restaurants. I'll definitely go back for a visit...soon!

Calling All NYC Area 30+ Year-Old Fashion Bloggers!

I'm thrilled to be attending the Independent Fashion Bloggers conference in less than two weeks (eek!) Aside from learning more about blogging, I'm most excited to meet and mingle with other bloggers - some whom I know only through the internet. It will be wonderful to get together with people I admire and have had such a strong influence on my blogging "career."

One of those women is Grechen Cohen, of Grechen Blogs, Grechen's Closet and a slew of other incredibly successful ventures. I had the pleasure of meeting Grechen in Austin during the Texas Style Council Conference and was immediately struck by how intelligent, down-to-earth and stylish she is.

A common interest Grechen and I have is reaching out to other 30+ year-old bloggers. Grechen is looking to gather a community of bloggers in our age group, and what better way than to start with a meetup during the IFB Conference? So, if you're a 30+ blogger and will be in New York City (or nearby,) we want to invite you to a get-together on September 8th at Grounded Coffee in Manhattan! Leave me a comment below and let me know if you think you'll be able to attend. We haven't determined a time for the event yet, but it will most likely be mid-morning or early afternoon.

If you're an over thirty fashion blogger who will not be in NYC during IFB, we still want to meet you! Head over to this thread and fill out the form to be included in the over thirty blogger collective.