Boss Ladies: Alice Callahan

March 24, 2016

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Photos c/o Colby Blount // Jewelry by Mignonne Gavigan

When one of my mentors said, “you have got to connect with Alice Callahan,” I knew he was right.  Not just because she was on one of my all time favorite shows, Gossip Girl.  Or that she is on the hit show Odd Mom Out.  I wanted to know Alice because she is a woman of resolve. 

At 16 she became passionate about adoption, and now she and her husband are major advocates for orphan’s rights (they’re hash tagging #planA to help spread the joy of adopting first). She is committed to being kind in an industry that applauds competition and self-promotion. She doesn’t pretend she has it all together, and invites us honestly into her diaper changing duties, her love for sweat pants, and the why behind who she is.

Alice, I think I want to be your best friend. We are honored to have you on Boss Ladies. 

XO,
Kat

Growing up I really wanted to be
Victoria, the white cat in Andrew Llyod Webber’s hit musical Cats

My most-used emojiis are
Fried shrimp, flamenco dancer, and embarrassed face

My go-to order at a coffee shop is
Iced latte with whole milk and real sugar

I don’t know how I ever lived without
Amazon Prime and Seamless (take-out food delivery)

One thing people don’t know about me is
I have a deluxe karaoke machine in my apartment 

My real life hero is
Sara Miller, my friend and a real boss lady!  When she was a sophomore at NYU Sara moved to the South Bronx with the goal of taking the words of Jesus seriously and loving her neighbors well. Eight years later, she has developed an amazing education program serving hundreds of kiddos in her neighborhood called A House on Beekman. Sara makes everyone around her feel loved and valuable, and runs a non-profit that is changing lives against all odds. She rocks!

What I love about my work is
Surprising people with kindness in a rather unkind industry.  Acting and modeling are generally self-oriented, and people are often confused when you encourage them instead of compete with them. I also love the free food on set! Eggrolls at midnight? Yes, please.

The hardest thing about my work is
The constant rejection. You hear 99 “no’s” until you hear a “maybe…” and then a week later, that turns into a “no.”

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How I got started with my current career
I auditioned for Gossip Girl five times, for various one-line parts. They called me back for a sixth audition and I was shocked to book it! That turned into a four-season recurring role. I try to remember that when I repeatedly audition for shows but don’t get them.

The dumbest thing I did when I was starting out
I did many dumb things and honestly, haven’t slowed down. My first audition was a major fail. I went to a tampon commercial audition in a ballet outfit. When the casting people asked why I’d done so. I said,  “Because most tampon commercials feature girls frolicking in leotards.” They said, “Not this one.”

I used to think success meant
Having health insurance and being able to afford extra guacamole at Chipotle.

My current definition of success is
The deep-rooted peace that comes with believing you are in the center of God’s will for your life. Finding a daily purpose bigger than yourself, and contentment in your circumstances and relationships. It’s going to bed knowing you navigated your day with the goals of loving others and loving the Creator. Oh, and health insurance and extra guacamole.

An example of when I had to push through fear was when
I walked off a film set because they asked me to do a degrading sex scene that objectified women. I thought about the girls I have visited multiple times at an orphanage in Kenya — girls who spent years suffering from sexual violence and abuse. Some are still haunted by the years of rape and forced prostitution. I could not sleep if I did a scene that glorified the violence I fight so strongly against. It was worth the risk of upsetting the production team.

I know my work/life balance is out of sync when
When I haven’t changed out of my sweatpants for three days and am making up rap songs about my son’s myriad of poop colors, I know I’ve been home too much.

On the flip side, when I’m on set and insist on showing everyone six videos in a row of my dog and baby interacting (because each one is ever-so-slightly different), I know I have been at work too long.

It all evens out, and I am grateful for the unique gig of spending half of my time on work adventures and the other half holding down the fort on the home front!

The last time I created something I was proud of was
This sounds very 1950’s housewife, but I am weirdly excited about the essential oils counter top spray I made last week. Cleaning up after a one-year-old’s Jackson Pollock-inspired food art three times a day gets a little old, so my nifty DIY spray has made the task a bit more gratifying.  I am proud of my spray.

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I wish I could tell my younger self
It gets better. High school beats junior high, college beats high school, and adulthood beats college. Not to say those years aren’t important. God can put things on your heart at a young age that bear fruit if you press into them later in life.

Don’t leave people out. Don’t make the cheap choice at the expense of your integrity. Be nice to your parents (they are your future besties), don’t believe the lie that your happiness depends on other people, talk to God more, worry less. Oh, and tanning beds aren’t cool!

The legacy I hope to leave is
 I hope to leave the world better than I found it specifically in the fight for orphan justice. In high school I heard a sermon about how God has adopted us into his spiritual family, likewise, we get the honor of adopting children into our homes. Fast forward fifteen years, my husband and I chose to adopt first, and I could not be more in love with our beautiful and hilarious mini-human.

It is our responsibility and privilege to take ownership for children without families — whether across the ocean or in our own zip code. This particular cause has given my life more meaning than I could have ever dreamed. My son, who I will love until the day I die, was brought to us because of what God did in our hearts. I’ll be happy if my legacy is simply that my son knows he is loved.

XO,
Alice Callahan

Mom Dressing with Hatch | Capsule Wardrobe

March 22, 2016

hatch collection / the refined woman capsule wardrobe

Since becoming a mom, it’s not that I don’t care about what I wear anymore. It’s that I don’t have time to fuss around with it anymore. I need reliable, comfortable, and cute things to throw on in the morning. Sometimes I’m running from mom-life to work-life and back again, so I need things that are versatile too.

When I was pregnant, I discovered Hatch Collection. I quickly became obsessed with everything. The cuts were perfect for my growing bump, and I still felt like me. I immediately bought the black drawstring pant and a grey dress. For Christmas my husband got me two more tees because he saw how being able to wear something I felt cute in made such a difference in my day.

I’m not pregnant now but I still keep returning to Hatch. It’s helped me define what I’m looking for in everything I want wear — flowy, comfortable, well made, and flattering.  Relatively timeless while still feeling fresh. I have pretty high demands, but I think we all ought to! The right clothes are out there if we’re willing to look.

This post is in collaboration with Hatch, and it’s important for you to know that I am a longtime customer. I don’t collaborate with a brand unless I fully believe in it, and when you spend your own money on something, that says everything.

Enter my current capsule wardrobe favorite, this cashmere drape dress … I love how it looks on its own and I can’t wait until it gets a little warmer so I can ditch the tights and pair it with a pair of heeled sandals. It also works with a little leather coat and booties.

 

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hatch | the refined woman

My two other Hatch Capsule pieces are this chunky turtleneck and a little black mini skirt. I wore this outfit non-stop this past fashion week in New York.

I have been wearing this turtleneck a lot with jeans and I am looking forward to ditching the tights under the mini once it starts to warm up outside.

hatch | the refined woman

hatch | the refined woman

hatch | the refined woman

xo,

Em

 

This post is in collaboration with Hatch Collection. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting posts that keep The Refined Woman’s doors open.

 

Real Talk | Real Moms | Self Care

March 18, 2016

real talk / real moms / self care

The number one reason I delayed having a child is because I still felt like a child myself. Even now, I struggle with adulthood — buckling down and doing the things I don’t like to do but need to do is a huge struggle.

This past week I sat at my computer for a whole day itemizing all my business expenses for my taxes and hating every second of it. I wish I had done it little by little each week over the past year.

Even self care can be difficult at times. I know I need to plan healthy meals, make time to exercise, get my hair cut, clean my house. Instead I become absorbed with the things that seem more urgent. Perhaps this is what makes me a good business owner — my desire to take care of my clients usually takes precendence over my own needs. Before I became a mom, this tendency would usually balance itself out. I would have slow seasons of work or take family trips or vacations to de-stress.

After my daughter was born, before I even began taking on much work, I found out how much of a struggle it would be for me to take care of myself. I became hyper-focused on her needs and not my own. Then, before I really allowed myself time to recoup, I started working again. Wedding season waits for no one when you’re a wedding photographer. I took on much less work than I had before, but it still seemed to be a monumental task.

Looking back on those first few months of working and being a new mom, I realized that every opportunity I had to take care of myself — get my nails done, get a haircut, exercise, go to the beach — was spent working. Working helped me feel more like myself; I loved the opportunity to be back in the space I knew, since motherhood didn’t come naturally to me (or so it felt, my hormones were playing games with my head), but my soul was suffering.

After I realized that I was experiencing some serious postpartum anxiety, I tried to find ways to take better care of myself, but it’s been a long journey.  My anxiety has subsided tremendously, but I still have hard days. What I’m discovering as a mom is that taking care of myself has to come first. This is very tough to do. My child’s needs, my husband’s needs, my clients needs — those are the ones that I feel so very desperate to meet.

What I am coming to realize is, if I am a mess, I’m not giving anything good to anyone else. If I’m up late working on a project, I’m tired and stressed out with my family the next morning. If I don’t make time to exercise during my work day I will end up with insomnia that night.

For me, self-care looks like a lot of different things, but most of all, I have to stay in touch with what’s going on in my heart. Some days self-care can look like asking for extra help. It can mean asking my husband to shift his work hours so I can go to the gym in the morning. It can be allowing myself the grace to buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store for dinner instead of trying to cook something from scratch. I cannot be all things to everyone, but I really try to, and it doesn’t serve anyone well.

I’m still working on this. What helps is the encouragement from my friends who tell me I deserve a break. I find that I don’t allow myself enough of that grace!

I love that this conversation continues with the other moms in this Real Moms Series; I’m looking forward to reading their thoughts on this.

Be sure to visit :

Jen | Erin | Samantha | Alex | Hilary | Sarah | Amy | Caitlin | Rebecca

I would also love to hear from you, even if you’re not a mom — what do you do to prioritize taking care of yourself? What’s the best thing you do for your soul?

xo,

Em

Make Eye Contact and Wait

March 17, 2016

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She leaned over and asked, “Do you want to meet a guy or not?”

My best friend can be so annoying sometimes. “Of course I want to meet a guy” I replied.

“Well, you’re not going to meet him on this dance floor. No guy is going to have the guts to introduce to himself out here,” she said.

Because I’m stubborn, I ignored her advice. After all, why should I stop doing what I want to do just to meet a guy? Shouldn’t a man like me because of who I am?

Then again…. she’s the one with an amazing boyfriend, and I’m the one who’s single.

I reluctantly asked why she thought I needed to get off the dance floor in order to meet someone. She explained that while it’s not impossible to meet someone in between my Beyonce and Justin Bieber dance numbers; it is unlikely.

She had me look around the room. We were at a non-profit benefit party in the city, and there were well over 100 people.

I noticed there was a clear distinction between where the men were and where they were not. Those of us on the dance floor were mostly women — women who were either married or in a serious relationship. Every once in a while a guy would dance with his significant other for a song or two, then he’d shuffle off to grab a beer and talk about whatever guys talk about.

I quietly slid off my high horse. “Teach me your ways, oh wise one” I teased.

She reminded me that it takes guts to go up to a woman you don’t know and strike up a conversation. And if the woman is in a dance circle surrounded by 25 other women…. Well, forget it.

I realized she was right.  I have never met I guy I was truly interested in on the dance floor.

So what now?

Her advice was simple: make eye contact, smile and wait. If you see a person you’re might be interested in, do that, and wait. He’ll come and find you.

It sounded too easy to actually work, but I begrudgingly agreed to try her advice. We left the dance floor, walked around the room, and found a few guys that seemed like a maybe. Finally we looked at each other and laughed. She was the first to say there wasn’t anyone who seemed like a great fit for me. I sighed with relief, and we pranced back out to the dance floor.

The next day I volunteered at my church. We meet in a bar so it doesn’t smell very fresh at 9 am on a Sunday morning. As I was spraying Febreeze in one of the halls I saw a guy across the room. He was cute. Normally I would have walked past him with my eyes to the ground and minded my own Febreezing business. But I heard her voice in my head: make eye contact and smile. Then wait.

Against everything that was in me I decided to look up. Our eyes met, and I smiled. He smiled back. I walked past him and immediately felt like an idiot.

Why did I just do that? Am I boy crazy?

I continued my bathroom duties and went about the morning as usual. Once the service started I stood in the back so I could quietly slip out to check on the bathrooms.

As I was leaning against the bar I noticed someone approaching me. It was him. The guy.

Oh gosh. What do I do? Wait.

He leaned against the bar next to me, gave me a grin and said, “Hi, I’m Eric…” *

XO,

Kat

* ya right like I’m going to put his real name in here.

Vetta Capsule | Ethical Fashion

March 15, 2016

http://emthegem.com

I didn’t know much about the dark side of the clothing industry until I met my friend Cara .

When I lived LA and would work in Manhattan, I often stayed with Cara in her Upper West Side apartment.   She was a fashion buyer for a big company, and I always loved rifling through her closet to get outfit ideas.

Then one time I visited her, and her closet was almost empty.  I wondered what had happened, and hoped she hadn’t been robbed.  When I asked her about it she explained that she’d begun to find out about the injustices in the fashion industry — human trafficking, unfair wages, and environmental damage.  It was so upsetting that she decided that for the next year she would only buy and wear American made ethical clothing.

I secretly thought the next time I’d see her she’d be wearing a burlap sack and growing all her own food on a farm.  But that’s not what happened.  She managed to find and purchase beautifully made, ethically produced clothes, and is still incredibly chic.

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Her one year project turned into a way of life.  When I think of shopping ethically, it feels daunting.  But Cara has beautifully curated a blog and resource guide  that makes it easy to shop ethically.

Even more exciting is that Cara and her friend Vanessa have launched their own ethical Capsule collection called Vetta Capsule.  We sat in my apartment a few months ago and had coffee while she was showed me her sketches and vegan fabric swatches.  When she left I knew something big was about to happen, and I knew we had to share it with you.  The collection comprises of 5 NYC made ethical pieces that can be worn — wait for it — 30 different ways.

At first I didn’t believe her.  But she showed me this, and I had to pick my jaw off the floor.

You really can create a different outfit a day for an entire month.  This is a dream for a girl on a budget who wants to look chic and feel comfortable.

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Cara and Vanessa are trailblazers, and Em and I are excited to see what happens with this project.  We believe in them and their vision, and we are incredibly honored to share Vetta Capsule with our audience.

We’re in love with this Tunic that can be worn so many different ways.  And if you head over to our Instagram today, we’re doing a Giveaway of the entire collection!

XO,

Kat + Em

Change of Space // Change of Perspective

March 10, 2016

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Change of pace + change of place = change in perspective.

Mark Batterson

I didn’t know how I was going to pay for it, and I didn’t know anyone else who was going, but last fall I paid the deposit and booked my flights to Guatemala for my very first yoga retreat.

I frequently hear about workshops, weekend getaways, and international yoga trips, but I’ve never felt compelled to attend one.  This time it was different. As soon as the instructor made the announcement at the end of class, it was clear:  I was going on this trip.

Before I left I prayed about my goal for the week.  I felt like God had a special invitation for me, and I didn’t want to miss it.  We’d be in nature for 8 days – free from the Internet, social media, and e-mail.  I wanted to soak up all the goodness I could.

It came to me clearly: Trust yourself.

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On the first morning I wrote in my journal on the dock as the sun rose over Lake Atitlan. God, how do you want me to trust myself more?  What does that even mean?  Thoughts about my yoga practice began to flood my mind.  From my handstands, to building deeper flexibility, to just showing up to my mat consistently, I’ve been working hard to take my practice to the next level.  With that desire has come an unexpected battle of fear and insecurities.  The conversations in my mind sound like this…

I’m scared.

I’m not strong enough.

I don’t belong here with these people.  They’re better than me. 

I should fly under the radar.

What if I fall?

I’m going to fall and get hurt.

If I fall, I’m a failure.

If I’m a failure, people won’t love me.

I’m alone in this.  I have to figure this out on my own.

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It took me a while to become aware of all these fears.   As I sat at the water’s edge I was surprised by the intensity of my thoughts.   Then I began to wonder, what if fear was no longer part of the equation? What would it look like if I trusted myself?

I feel scared, but it’s ok.

I have the wisdom to know when I’ve reached my limit.

I am strong. I belong here.

I can ask for support.

I’m not alone.

Falling propels me to the next level.

Falling never means failure.

I am loved.

I am accepted.

I trust myself.

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It dawned on me that the invitation to trust myself is about more than yoga.  I’ve learned that what I experience on my yoga mat is a metaphor for every other area of my life. The same doubts and fears of failure and rejection also bite at me with other goals and dreams:

Am I good enough for the type of man that I long to partner with?

She’s more successful than me, so why am I even trying?  I’ll never be where she’s at.

Does my perspective matter?

If I play small I won’t get as disappointed if things don’t work out.

What if I write a book, and no one reads it?  

What if I want to be someone’s friend and they don’t want to be mine?

What if I fall in love and get hurt?

Will the fall, the heartache, the rejection, ruin me?

Will I end up alone? 

Can I trust that I am able to hear God’s voice? 

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I felt an invitation to trust myself in the new friendships I was about to make, in my relationship with God, and in my dreams for my business.

It would be easier to stay on the surface and have a fun vacation. To trust myself felt vulnerable and risky.  But I accepted the invitation.  And I’m so glad I did.

That week we woke up with the sun, meditated, practiced yoga, lingered over our meals together, explored markets, hiked, kayaked, cliff jumped, swam, sang, played guitar, laughed, read, and rested.

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I felt a shift in my willingness to trust myself, and I felt so free.  When I came from a place of trust I easily got up in handstand longer than I ever have before.  There’s nothing magical about Guatemala or a yoga retreat; being away simply gave me time to rest and reflect.  I had everything I needed before the trip started: I am loved by God, made whole through Him, worthy, and enough.  I get to actively choose to believe these things that are already true about me.

Learning to trust myself more deeply on this trip made me wonder what the possibilities might be if I trust myself in all areas of my life.  I think they may be endless.

XO,

Kat

PS  Thank you Will + Zander for leading such a beautiful retreat.  I can’t wait for another!

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Kat’s Winter Capsule: 21 Pieces

March 8, 2016

http://emthegem.com

 

Now that I’m doing the Capsule Wardrobe I feel a lot more clear headed about my wardrobe.  I didn’t realize how much aimless shopping I did until I gave myself a strict wardrobe list and budget for each season.

For instance, although I have a lot of button-ups, I would periodically wander into JCrew and want to buy three more. Now, when I walk into a store, I have plan.  I’m no longer lured in by those crisp white button-up sirens.  I know I’m looking for a few feminine tops to add to my wardrobe, and feel no rush or pressure to add them.

I’ve also realized I don’t need that many options.  In high school I was careful not to repeat an outfit for at least 3 weeks.  Now I wear the same thing multiple times a week.  Who cares if my outfits are repetitive? If I feel beautiful and confident, that’s all that matters.

I also feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I can think creatively about my wardrobe.  Doing a Capsule Wardrobe means I am very blessed.  I have a roof over my head, and food on my table. I am safe, healthy, and have meaningful relationships.  To dream up a fun wardrobe is a gift not everyone has, and I don’t take that lightly.

Right off the bat you’ll notice a few things about my Winter Capsule:

  • Yoga pants  – If my yoga pants were a person, she’d be my best friend that I’d tell all my secrets too. Workout clothes don’t count in the Capsule Wardrobe, which is a major plus because I wear them every day.  But I want to be honest about what I actually wear, and it’s yoga pants.  I love them.
  • A cocktail dress – Technically cocktail dresses don’t count either.  But another big part of my life is being a bridesmaid. I’ll be a bridesmaid for the 17th time next week.  So it seemed fitting to include this bridesmaid dress, which I’ve been able to wear as a cocktail dress.

I’m excited about my Winter Capsule.  I feel good in all of these outfits, and I only purchased two new things: an amazing black romper (on sale for $29 — go Madewell), and an off-the-shoulder dress that will transition nicely into spring and summer.

Here’s the breakdown:

6 Bottoms:

  • yoga pants  – My favorites are Wunder Unders by Lululemon
  • dark skinny jeans  – Seriously the most comfortable pair of jeans I own
  • white jeans  – Wearing white in the winter makes me feel like I’m adding light to a very dark and cold NYC winter world
  • boyfriend jeans  – again…comfort!
  • romper  – A good romper is like the one stop shop.  Love it.
  • leggings   – #comfort

10 Tops

3 Dresses + Skirts

2 Coats

  • puffer jacket (no link needed…just go into any Uniqlo)
  • wool jacket – going on my 3rd year with this investment purchase from JCrew

XO,

Kat

But First Yoga Pants

March 3, 2016

http://emthegem.com

What is that article of clothing that you put on and just feel great in? For me it’s my yoga pants.

Maybe it’s because I was a bit of a tomboy when I was a kid. Or that I spent most of my 20s in workout clothes. But when I put on my yoga pants…

I feel strong.
I feel beautiful.
I feel confident.
I feel playful.
I feel like me.

And I feel immensely grateful. Grateful for a body that is alive and strong. Grateful for my health, which allows me to practice yoga, go on hikes, swim, run up and down subway stairs, kayak, paddle board, and dance. (And yes, I’ve worn my yoga pants to parties on a Saturday night to go dancing in!)

http://emthegem.com

They may just be workout pants, but I feel like a million bucks in them. So before I go into my winter Capsule Series I have to start with my trusty yoga pants. Because when it comes to my wardrobe staples, these puppies will always be around!

XO,
Kat

Em’s Winter Capsule : 40 Pieces!

March 1, 2016

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Maybe we ought to actually call this the Winter/Spring capsule wardrobe since it’s already March!

Either way, I managed to narrow my closet down to 40 pieces! Which is why I’m doing victory dances in a lot of these photos. Well that and the fact that Kat always has the best playlists.

If you’re new to the capsule wardrobe, you can catch up on my first experience with it last fall. Basically, I narrowed my closet down to 40 items that I will actually wear. This does not include shoes,  my special work wear (what I wear to photograph a wedding), sweatpants or loungewear, or special occasion wear (my sequined dresses and tops).

As you can see from the preview above, I don’t stray too far from black, white, grey, cream, and denim… and that’s OK. It’s more important to wear what makes me feel good than to wear what looks good on Instagram.

My favorite part of the process is finding what I am excited to wear this season, and giving some styles a break. I like putting a few things away for the summer or fall knowing that when I open those boxes it’s going to be like Christmas morning all over again.

This season I carried over quite a few things from Fall, because in California we have mild seasons, and when you find the perfect silk tank, you keep that baby around all year.

Here is the breakdown of my Winter/Spring capsule wardrobe :

15 Bottoms

1 mini skirt – So simple and easy. Throw it on over tights with a sweater, or pair it with a tee for an easy and comfy outfit. I love how it can also be dressed up or down!

4 trouser pants

  • herringbone wide (similar) – great with a simple white tee, or dress them up with a black silk tank and navy blazer.
  • white linen – artist pants! I love how they pair with a tunic or my henley for a lazy day.
  • black harem (similar) – a perennial favorite for both work and play.
  • green cargo (similar but mine have daisies embroidered on them!!) – I’m envisioning them with a henley and leather jacket and when it warms up with a silk tank and slides.

10 pairs of jeans – flares, boyfriend, skinny, skinny boyfriend, hi-waisted skinny, vintage 501s (mine are thrifted), wide-leg (as seen here), wide-leg culottes and two pairs of perfect bootcut jeans from Madewell from about 4 years ago… these are my “mom days” jeans.

Note: If you’re putting together your first capsule you probably only need 3-4 pairs of jeans: boyfriend jeans, skinny jeans, and one “nice” pair – maybe flares or hi-waist black skinnies.

20 Tops 

2 silk tanks – racerback + camisole – They just go with everything. Both in black since that’s just how I roll.

2 plain jersey tees – These are my true staple pieces.  Once I realized I liked a deep V and found ones in the right fabric my wardrobe fell into place.

1 tunic – Easily my most worn shirt! It works well with skinny jeans, boyfriend jeans or over my linen pants.

1 button up (similar) – I like this one with a front tuck and blue jeans. Simple and easy!

1 graphic tee – This is my “I want something that says I’m a cool mom” shirt.  It also has to be easily washable so when I’m hanging with my toddler I don’t freak out if she makes a mess.

2 blouses

  • silk peplum – as seen here. If there’s one thing my capsule wardrobe experiment has taught me is that I don’t like tight tops. My midsection likes to breathe.
  • linen – I’m envisioning this one with my high-waisted jeans or cargos and a cardigan with some flats.

3 long sleeve tops

  •  striped – I love this top for easy outfits with jeans. I’m not big on color but the subtle red stripes work well for me!
  •  henley – this goes with everything. I have the oatmeal color and I like it with my black skinny jeans as well as my light washed boyfriend jeans. Bonus: it transitions to nights in with sweatpants.
  • chambray – Perfect layering piece for California winters, which can really vary in how cold or warm it can be on any given day.

4 sweaters

  •  turtleneck – This piece was clutch when I was in NY for Fashion Week and it felt like -22 degrees. Out of necessity I even layered it over my black mini dress and was surprised at how chic (and warm) I felt.  I’m also loving it with my skinny jeans and boots.
  •  cardigan – This will be carried over until the end of time. A delicious chunky knit and a slouchy fit.
  •  cable knit – This is my inspiration photo. Although maybe I’ll pair it with my mini skirt.
  •  lightweight – My every season, every occasion sweater. You’ve seen it a million times already.

4 coats

5 One Pieces 

1 off the shoulder mini dress (as seen here) – I’m still not sure it’s long enough to wear without pants but I have plans to try it out with my black mini skirt and a little front tuck.

1 peplum LBD – I love this dress! It reminds me of Kat’s Kate Spade top which I have always coveted.

1 sweater dress – The equivalent of wearing a deliciously soft cashmere blanket. I love the drapingt! You’ll notice quite a few pieces from Hatch Collection on this list… I discovered this brand when I was pregnant with Charlie and this dress and this shirt  stayed in rotation long after she was born, so I still find myself shopping there and finding new things I love!

1 denim jumpsuit (vintage but I found the same one on Etsy!) – This is the denim jumpsuit to end all denim jumpsuits. One part train conductor, one part sassy 70s flare, and two parts pure amazing. I’m glad I found the same one on Etsy to share, because the closest equivalent was $980. I guess I’m doing something right.

1 black jumpsuit – I love things that are wide and drapey, and I love jumpsuits. Do you think I could pull this off while photographing a wedding? I’ll report back soon with those results.

So there you have it! I’m excited to break it down for you with a handful of outfits in the weeks to come.

Are you up for the capsule wardrobe challenge? I’d love to hear from others who have tried it!

xo,

Em

Photos by Katherine Harris / HMU by Facetime Beauty

 

 

For more from Last Season’s Capsule : Check out :

The Fall Capsule Experiment / 42 Pieces for Fall / Outfit 1 / Outfit 2 / Outfit 3 / Outfit 4 / Outfit 5 / Lessons Learned

Beauty is… Not Perfection

February 25, 2016

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I still remember when I learned my mom was pregnant with my youngest sister. I was a junior in high school, and surprised to learn there would be another baby in our family. Grace… she took our lives by storm. When she was little I would take her to the store and pretend she was my baby.  Now she’s 13, and so smart, funny, and wise.  When I was home for Christmas she blew me away with her thoughts about beauty, and I asked if she would write for The Refined Woman.  She said yes. Get ready.

I love you to the moon + back Grace 🙂  Always.

-Kaffy

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How would you define beauty? My sisters told me to find beauty in the heart. My art teacher said, “Beauty is as beauty does.” If I asked my friends, they would tell me the name of someone they think is pretty.

When I was a little girl, I thought I was beautiful every time I wore the color pink. But that changed when I got to middle school. I was no longer with my friends from elementary school, and I had to go out of my comfort zone and try to make new friends.

It was a rude awakening to sit down at a table, only to have the girls call me “fat” and walk away. I didn’t feel beautiful anymore. I wasn’t myself anymore. I spent so much time being concerned with who I was that I didn’t really focus on my relationship with God. I only found beauty in validation, acceptance, and perfection.

When I left for school in the morning I didn’t feel beautiful unless my hair and clothes were perfect. Getting perfect grades completed the person I was trying to be.

I tried to do things people would think were cool. I wanted people to think I was fun and adventurous when they looked at my posts on social media. Things that should have been simple, like changing in the locker room, eating with friends, or dancing with guys at cotillion became stressful. I started eating lunch in my favorite teacher’s room so I wouldn’t have to face the battlefield called the lunchroom.

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I would have given anything to be a little girl again, filled with confidence, without a worry in the world. My goal of perfection was exhausting.

One night I was in the kitchen sobbing when my mom walked in. I told her everything – I was angry that I wasn’t perfect, and mad at God because He didn’t make me look like all the other girls.

She let me cry, and after a while she said, “Grace, you know I’m not perfect right? And the girls you think are beautiful aren’t perfect either. Just because someone posts a good picture or wears a size zero doesn’t make them perfect. The only person who was ever perfect was Jesus, and how could you ever compare yourself to Him?”

She prayed for me and gave me a hug. Her wisdom was exactly what I needed.

I realized I had never stopped to think about what God’s definition of beauty. What He says to be true is all that matters.  StandardofGraceNotPerfection5 After that, my perspective of beauty started to change. I stopped getting beauty mixed up with being pretty, and let go of my standard of perfection. I found peace in the fact that no matter how many times a day I mess up, God still loves me.

I started going to a new church, and made friends who helped me feel beautiful. It is refreshing to have friends who are kind and supportive. Now, I look in the mirror, and I walk in the halls, and although not everybody loves me for who I am, God does. At the end of the day, that is all that matters.

I’m happy having sporadic dance parties, watching the Mindy Project, jamming to Glee, and starting novels I will never finish. A couple years ago, I would have died if anyone knew I didn’t have it all together, but who does? I’m not perfect, the popular girls at school aren’t perfect, and even Beyonce isn’t perfect, but that’s okay. Beauty isn’t perfect. Beauty is holding yourself to a standard of grace.

XO,

Grace