Pause.


There's a point in our lives where we desperately need to take a break. Either we're sick, or stressed out, or exhausted, or overwhelmed. No matter the reason, the end result is that we're unable to do much of anything except huddle in a fetal position in bed under the covers while watching old episodes of Grey's Anatomy that invariably make us cry and lamenting the things that have brought us to this point.

I've reached that point right about now.

As some of you might know, my husband and I are going through a divorce. Divorce kind of feels like someone has violently ripped your heart out of your chest and presented it to you on a silver platter while it is still beating. You can't eat. You can't sleep. You can't concentrate. You become anxious, tense, caustic. Your thoughts race. Your mind travels to some really scary and dark places - what if I'm left destitute? What if he tries to take the kids? What if he declares me unfit? What if I'm saddled with debt? Where will I live? What about the kids? What's going to happen to me?

How will I survive this?

The past week has been the worst period of my life. I'm scared. I'm hopeless. I've lost my ability to trust. So I'm taking a break from blogging. I'm going to NYC next week for a short visit to see family and gain some perspective. I have no idea when I'll feel up to blogging again, but I'm hoping it will be in the near future rather than later.

Thank you all for your continued support. I truly do not know what I would do without you.


{I Smile} Week in review 6.17.12

I smile. 

I share these moments with you. 

Enjoy.

 

I was greeted by this lovely handmade flyer while grabbing coffee at my favorite little coffee shop. This week I chose faith. What would you chose?


These faces always make me smile. 


This is a pirate ship-themed shaved ice stand near my house, complete with cannons and a mast with a carved well-endowed lady pointing the way. This is totally awesome.



Your eyes are not deceiving you: This is a marvelous display of human hair in a can, spotted at the thrift store. This is most definitely not awesome.


Fact: A breakfast burrito in the shape of a heart tastes much better than an ordinary breakfast burrito.


My job at a vintage shop has presented me with a quandary. I am absolutely thrilled beyond measure working there...but I want to spend my entire paycheck on the clothes I'm surrounded by. Case in point: this fifties swimsuit with ric rack trim. I want it with the desperation of a toddler begging for a lollypop.

Now it's your turn:

What are some things that make you smile this week?

Share your smiles in the comments!


{Recommended reading} Already Pretty: Learning to Love Your Body by Learning To Dress It Well



I'm so pleased to share the news that my friend, mentor, and all-around positive body image and style goddess Sally McGraw has published a book! Sal's blog, Already Pretty, was one of the very first blogs I subscribed to. Her insight, wisdom, wardrobe advice and intelligent discourse on body image has been a consistent source of inspiration for me. Here's a brief synopsis of her book:

Structured as a fun and accessible self-guided makeover, Already Pretty is the antidote to cookie-cutter style guides. Instead of dumping you into a body type category and restricting what you can and cannot wear, this friendly, funny, body-positive book presents a highly customizable regimen to help you define and hone your own personal style. Already Pretty reveals the fundamentals of fashion and figure flattery, but also encourages you to create a style that is both expressive and unique. A true guidebook to crafting personal style, this book teaches women to love their bodies, dress impeccably, and embrace the philosophy that dressing well is key to living well.

Like the PDF that Sal launched way back in 2011, her book is basically a self-guided makeover. But it’s longer and more in-depth and it’s got PHOTOS! The book is packed with enlightening exercises, mix-and-match figure flattery techniques, and effective tutorials that illustrate how personal style can foster self-love and self-respect.

Sal's book is available through Createspace, the same publishing service I used to create my own book. If you're thinking about publishing a traditional library-bound book or e-book, I can't recommend Createspace highly enough.

You can purchase Sal's book through this link starting on June 22nd. I hope you show your support of this fabulous woman by buying a copy. I am sure it'll be a valuable resource to your own library!



Curl up and dye: On making the decision to cover grey hair.

First Grey Hair

I found my first grey hair when I was fifteen. Truthfully, I wasn't the one who discovered it - the boy who sat behind me in music history class did. We were languishing through a lecture regarding the mathematical implications of Bach's concerto bass lines. I daydreamed about a neon sweater I'd seen at The Gap. The girls next to me passed notes. Minutes ticked by at a glacial pace.

The boy poked me sharply in the back.

"There's something, like, sticking out of your hair."

"What?" I screeched. (It should be noted that this boy was the same one I'd nursed a crush on for essentially my entire high school career. He was handsome in an almost cliched sort of way - chiseled jaw, broad shoulders, dark hair that flopped seductively over one eye.)

"Yeah," he shrugged. "It's kind of silvery."

"Well, pull it out."

He yanked. And presented me with a long grey hair that snaked across my textbook.

Surprisingly, I wasn't perturbed. I thought it was kind of cool. In the innocence of my dewy youth, having grey hair meant I was one step closer to becoming Older. Being older meant having my own apartment in Manhattan and working as a junior editor at Vogue and hosting chic dinner parties with white wine and wearing stilettos without falling over. Or so I thought.

I started coloring my hair as a bored twenty year-old, and spontaneously went from mousy dishwasher brunette to lusty redhead overnight. It was fun, and deliciously experimental - an easy way to play at being someone else. Though it helped conceal the fistful of grey that had spouted in the place that first hair was plucked, dying my hair wasn't about hiding the evidence of my advancing age. Not yet, anyway.

A 2008 study done by Clairol found that 75 percent of American women dye their hair. According to a 2011 report published in the Daily Mail, 32 percent of British women under the age of 30 have already begun to go grey. Twenty years ago the percentage of those under 30 who admitted to seeing grey was just 18 percent. Hair care brand John Frieda has coined a term for these young grey ladies: GHOSTS, aka Grey Haired Over-Stressed Twenty Somethings, a result of our increasingly tumultuous financial and political times.

Going gray: it happens to all of us.  While stress might play a small part, grey hair is direct result of decreased production of pigmentation in our hair as we age. What used to be blond, brown, red or black turns silver or gray. There's no way to know just how many women color their hair purposely to conceal grey, but if you look around at all of the women ages 40 and above, you can get a pretty good idea that it's more common than not.

Aging for women in the United Sates is considered both unattractive and undesirable. Our society's perception of beauty prizes youth, specifically in the form of wrinkle and blemish-free faces, taunt bodies, and shiny, lustrous hair. From a biological perspective, a woman with grey hair has reached the end of her reproductive years, and our society no longer values her as much as her more youthful counterparts. The internalization of this message has encouraged our culture to classify the aging woman as less productive, less intelligent, and less innovative than a woman younger than she.

A Forbes 2010 article looked at 15 female chief executives of Fortune 500 companies. All were high-powered, highly successful, financially stable role models  -  and not one had grey hair color. Of the 93 women who serve in Congress, only five of them have allowed any grey hair coloring to show through. Conversely, salt-and-pepper hair on men earns them the title of  'silver foxes' - distinguished, wise, sophisticated and sexually experienced. It's no surprise that many of the world's sexiest men - George Clooney, for example - display their grey hair with pride.

I'm nearly 38 years old, and approximately 75% grey. Coloring my hair now is more about concealing those wiry silver strands than channeling my inner Jessica Rabbit. It also feels more like a chore, something I need to do rather than an activity I look forward to and relish.

Do you color your hair? If so, is this action done out of a desire to conceal grey hair? When did you start to go grey?


{Almost daily outfit of the day} Fly like an eagle. 6.11.12


Vintage Wrangler shirt; Forever 21 tee; vintage thrifted shorts; Target sneakers; vintage turquoise and coral earrings

Once upon a time, this vintage Wrangler denim shirt had patches of soaring eagles on it. You can still see their shadow, wings spread just above the snap front pockets. I like to imagine the gentleman who took the time to iron these patches on. I am certain he rode a Harley with an exhaust system so loud it set off car alarms; smoked unfiltered Marlboro's; dated a woman named Darlene; had a long, stringy mullet; and drank Bud Light with a whiskey chaser at a bar with a name like Buckwild's or Hawg Hallow.

I'd like to have met this man, and perhaps bought him a drink. Anyone who takes the time and care to alter an article of clothing in order to celebrate a bird is a friend of mine.





On Fridays I Smile - Week in review 6.8.12

On Fridays I smile.

I share these moments with you. 

Enjoy.


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I thrifted this insane Victor Costa gown at Goodwill for about $12. Normally I wouldn't spend over six dollars on something from the Goodwill, but I was powerless against all those glorious hot pink ruffles. I plan to wear this score to a really, really special place, such as my breakfast table where I drink my morning coffee.

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My kids are officially home from school for the summer, which gives me a great excuse to spend my days doing fun things like seeing movies at the dollar theater and swimming and pottery painting. I painted a mug. It was awesome.


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On Thursday I ran six miles. Just kidding I ate gelato.

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I've spent a considerable amount of time mentioning Vintage Martini on this blog. I shop there. I take photos there. I obsessively stalk new things there, such as this vintage Ferre corset and orange Ferragamo spring 2009 runway one-piece. I drool over things I will never, ever be able to afford there - things like Louboutain pumps and Fendi bags and Chanel jewelry and 1970's furs and beaded vintage flapper dresses.

This week I started working there. Consider me to be the happiest girl on the planet. If you're anywhere near the store (located in downtown Carrollton, TX) come on by. I'll show you vintage that will blow your mind.

Now it's your turn. 

What were the best parts of your week? Leave a comment and share your smiles!
Photos taken with Instagram: dresscourage


Thrifting 101: Going vintage for Father's Day

Forney antiques

Fathers, and guys in general, are notoriously difficult to shop for. They're either too picky or terminally against receiving presents or just prefer to make their own purchases. However, you might be surprised to learn that many men are open to receiving a gift that's unique, specially tailored to their interests, and shows that you've put time and thought into it.

And that's where vintage comes in.

Guys love classic, broken-in, nostalgic pieces. And if your dad is a pop culture enthusiast, sharp dresser, handyman, sports fan or beer drinker, you can easily find him something unique at a thrift store or vintage shop. So instead of dragging yourself to the mall to pick up a present, why not head over to your local Goodwill or charity shop? You might be surprised to learn what you can find!

For the fashion lover

mens vintage

Vintage blazers, ties, hats, and shirts can help your dad channel his inner Mad Men character or style icon. Vintage cuff links are another nice touch. Don't forget to have clothes washed or dry-cleaned before gifting them!

For the liquor aficionado

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Barware, shot glasses, cocktail shakers and beverage advertising memorabilia can all be found at vintage and thrift stores. If you dad is a drinker, he'd probably love a unique piece to add to his home bar.

For the music fan

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I spied this gorgeous 1960's record and radio console in an antique mall and immediately knew it'd make a great gift for any music fan. Pair it with a few albums from you dad's favorite band for a memorable present.

For the teenager at heart

mr.t

What guy doesn't have a healthy love of pop culture? A tee shirt, book, board game or toy from your dad's childhood will thrill him!

For the handyman or collector

vintage lunchbox

Does your dad like to tinker and fix things? Is there anything special or unique that he collects? Is he drawn to the antique, the rusty, the broken-down and beat up? You'll have great luck finding this type of guy a gift at the thrift store.

Would you give your dad vintage for Father's Day? What are you buying him this year?


Just stop: How a shift in thinking can lead to positivity.


Last week I wrote a post exploring the complicated relationship I've had with the beach and how it has been affected by negative body image. I talked about the bad habit I have of comparing my body to other women around me, of the struggle I've had with being in my swimsuit and relaxing when I'm swimming or sunbathing or just chasing my kids around the pool. I confessed that I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to let go of the negative thoughts that haunt me about my appearance. It was a tough post to write, and even harder to publish. But I felt relieved when I did.

Then I received a comment that stopped me cold:
Sigh, your going to hate me for saying this. But it's within your power to just stop. You go enough you'll forget the fears. You'll notice most people just don't care. They are so self absorbed you are but a passing glimpse. Why do you give something that is so irrelevant such power?
I have an advanced degree in over-thinking. It's from the University In My Head, which I know is not an accredited institution of higher learning but feels valid nonetheless. The fine art of deconstructing and over-analyzing and ruminating has been the most difficult habit for me to break. Especially when it comes to my body. Is it simple being me? No. Do I create my own stress? Definitely. Do I deserve a gentle, comforting pat on the back for confessing this tragic and completely dysfunctional machination of my brain? Of course not.

A week passed with me sitting with the comment, letting it marinate and fester in my head in the way I tend to do when something bothers me. Just who did this commenter think they were, anyway? What right did she have to judge how I felt? Where was she coming from? WHAT THE HELL WAS I GOING TO DO NOW MY BRAIN IS KILLING ME AAARRRGHH. But in the end, I concluded the following:

The commenter was right.

Well, no kidding.

We are all responsible for our moods. We might face a situation, person or emotion that is offensive, insulting, overwhelmingly negative or completely dysfunctional. But it is up to us as to how we're going to respond to it. We can choose to let these things stake claim in our lives, controlling our  moods and reactions, but ultimately it is our responsibility as to how we're going to let them affect us. It is our choice. After all,

We are in charge of our emotions.
We are the only ones who can control how we see ourselves.
And it is up to us to take control of our perceptions.

My inner voice generally isn't very kind. It says things like "Maybe you should have worked out today instead of eating those pretzel M&M's, fatty" and "You really screwed up that meeting/blog post/relationship, you moron." I compare and judge myself far worse than anyone else does. But by giving that inner voice control over my mood, what I wear or what activities I participate in, I'm granting myself permission to be my own worst perpetrator. I'm sabotaging any chance I have at seeing my place in the world in a positive way. And I'm holding myself back from having a perfectly lovely, enjoyable life. Or just a relaxing day at the pool.

How often do we put our needs on the back burner? How often do we talk ourselves out of the human right to be happy? How often do we allow negative self-talk to sabotage our moods, our days, our relationships? What would it take for us to just stop?

So that's what I'm doing. I'm stopping.

Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they're supposed to help you discover who you are." - Bernice Johnson Reagon 

The other day I went to the pool. I wore a tankini. I splashed with my kids, and relaxed on a lounge chair, and rubbed coconut suntan lotion into my skin, and drank in the smell of chlorine that is so distinctively summer. I didn't obsesses about my thighs. I didn't sneak furtive glances at the women around me. I was just me, a woman on the cusp of her 38th birthday spending an early summer evening at the pool.

And it was great.

What would it take for you to just stop? Do you think a cataclysmic change in thinking is as simple as making the decision to do just that?



{Almost daily outfit of the day} A big moment. 6.5.12


Vintage Martini 1950's cotton dress; H&M sandals; thrifted vintage straw clutch. 
(Please forgive the quality of these photos - fluorescent lighting is an instrument of the devil.)

For as long as I can remember, I've dreamed of opening my own vintage store. I concocted elaborate fantasies of what my shop would look like, what I'd sell, and whether I'd be successful or not. I imagined it to be somewhat like the NYC bookshop owned by Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail, only with vintage dresses and hats and blouses instead of children's novels. I'm not much of a dreamer, but I couldn't let go of the idea of someday owning my own business.

This weekend I came one step closer to making that dream come true when I opened my own vintage booth at a local antique mall. My space is compact, but large enough to feature some special things I've thrifted over the past few years. There are 1950's and 60's dresses, and blazers, and sequined blouses, and Christian Dior lingerie, and purses, and enough Ferragamos to keep feet happy for a long long time.

If you're ever in downtown McKinney please take a moment and stop by my booth (I'm number 082), and check out the special things other sellers have to offer. The mall is located at 213 East Virginia Street in McKinney, TX 75069. I'm sure you'll find a few special things you'll want to take home!








{On Fridays I Smile} Week in review 6.1.12

On Friday I smile.
I share these moments with you. 
Enjoy.
Few things excite me like a trip to a newly discovered vintage store. The Pucci dressing gown and matching robe I found at Zola's Everyday Vintage in Dallas was worth the drive alone.
My boys discovered a caterpillar in our backyard. It pooped on them. Hilarity ensured.


Tiny dog, big truck.


The Common Table has quickly become one of my favorite places to grab a bite and a beer in Dallas. Mostly because they have an awesome patio and a grilled cheese sandwich that will knock your socks off. It has roast pork in it. Enough said.


A few pics from my daughter's 5th grade graduation. In my day, graduations were marked by long boring speeches and out of tune band performances. My daughter's ceremony was luau-themed. She wins.


Backyard chickens at my friend Jamie's house. They let me pet them. I was ridiculously overjoyed.

Now it's your turn. 

What were the best parts of your week? Leave a comment and share your smiles!
Photos taken with Instagram: dresscourage