Beauty Is ...

Beauty Is…Confidence

11.21.14

image

It’s hard to tell when I started to really notice how hard women were on themselves.  It definitely began when I was young, but didn’t become magnified until I was a teenager.  I would sit in the cafeteria listening to my friends talk about how fat their thighs were, or how weird their nose looked.  My family would tell me I was beautiful, but would still continually bash their own selves.  It was such a frequent conversation that I started to think about what I didn’t like about myself.  I would start to think, “Well, my eyebrows are really bushy and I should probably be thinner.  I wish I was better at ballet and I’m terrible in math.”  This is how it starts.  It’s contagious.  I would always look at the girls in school who were considered popular and pretty and try to decipher what made them beautiful.  I was never able to do it.  Until one day, I saw a gorgeous girl walking down the hall.  She was laughing and self assured.  She wasn’t worried about her body or her clothes.  “THIS is what I consider beautiful.” I thought.

image

She was confident.  She felt good about herself and it wasn’t about what other people thought.  That doesn’t mean people didn’t flock to her.  They absolutely did.  Everyone wanted to be around her because she exuded such poise and knew her self worth.  I started to realize that negativity could seep into your brain and destroy (and distort) your reality.  When you love yourself, other people see that, and want to be around it.  That it’s not cocky to think you are pretty.  It’s actually necessary to have acceptance and self-love.   This is not something that is taught in schools.  As much as young women need to hear it, it is so often engrained in us that we need to look, act and FEEL a certain way.  Look “perfect” but don’t “feel” it. I’m so fortunate that I realized this early on.  Over the next several years I watched people close to me berate their bodies, go on diet after diet, have diseases, work out to the point of obsession.  I saw how an innocent comment about someone’s appearance could turn into something much deeper.

image

Once I was in college I began to notice a new kind of insecurity.  I was a costume designer and spent my day in fittings, sketching and sewing away.  After years of working with actresses it became obvious how acutely aware actresses are that they are being judged and put on a display for all to see.   Most of my conversations started with “So I need you to cover my belly.”  Or “What do you think is the most flattering shape for my height?” My goal was to not only make these women feel good about themselves on stage, but to help them have the confidence boost they needed to feel secure and give an even better performance.  It became pretty apparent that when they felt good about what they were wearing, they gave a better performance.  It was the perfect example of inner beauty transforming outer beauty.

image

My life’s path has made lots of turns and even led me to a career in bridal.  I absolutely adored working with women at such a happy time in their life.  Here they were, about to get married, most of them young and healthy, trying on gorgeous gowns.  And I was continually shocked at the negative way they spoke about themselves.  Berating is so accepted in our culture that most people don’t even flinch when someone says “This dress would look so much better if I lost 15 pounds.   My ass looks huge!”.  Could you imagine if someone else said that to you?  It would NOT be ok.   It shouldn’t be ok for anyone (including ourselves) to talk like that.  But appointment after appointment I noticed the common trend.  I’m too skinny.  My arms are big.  My boobs are saggy.  My hair looks awful today.  I’m so tall.  All I was seeing were gorgeous women one after another not able to see their beauty.

That’s when I started my company Head Over Heels with Melanie.  I wanted to help women become confident in their own skin.   What started as a way to help women shed their insecurities has turned into my deepest passion and lifelong mission.

image

I should tell you, this is not something that always comes easily to me either.  Especially since I’ve become a mother.  Everything is heightened for me now.  I see this gorgeous, innocent baby and I do not want her to ever doubt her beauty.  I don’t want her to grow up thinking it’s ok to not treat yourself with respect.  I know I can’t change society over night.  But I like to think Head Over Heels is a step in the right direction.  We mamas can start by working on loving ourselves.  I will of course be telling Zoe that she is beautiful all day, every day.  But if I am talking down to myself, that example speaks even louder.  So here I am, working on accepting myself, and teaching other women to do the same.  Not only for us, but for our sweet little babies as well.

image

To me confidence comes from knowledge and acceptance.  If you are self-confident in your ability to put an outfit together you exude it in your being.  If you walk out of the house feeling great about your appearance, it can change your whole day.   Personal style can help us learn what we love about ourselves instead of feeling like we must dress like everyone else.   I want women to love themselves enough to show the world who they are without apologies.   To learn to accept their bodies, and the things they wouldn’t change even if they could.  That inner confidence is a gorgeous, gorgeous thing to share with the world.  It also just happens to be an extremely joyful way to live life.

image

xo,

Melanie

Style

OUTFIT | My First Billy Reid

11.20.14

image

There are many reasons why I love New York City from the uh-mazing fall that has just crept up on us all to the fact the I can order any type of food at all hours of the day and night to summer concerts in Central Park.  I love it all.

But…let’s be honest I totally love being in a city where designer sample sales are a normal occurrence.  A few months ago I was shooting an engagement session in Bowery, when mid-session I saw a sign for the Billy Reid sample sale that was ending later that afternoon.

I kept my calm, finished my shoot + sprinted to the sample sale.  Billy Reid has been one of my favorite designers for a few years now.  I love his southern roots, and eclectic take on timeless pieces.  Up until now though I have never owned anything from his collection.

This Safari dress was calling my name and I knew it could be a wardrobe staple, but when I tried it on I felt sorta dumpy.  However, growing up my mother always had a wonderful Safari dress so I bit the bullet and walked out of Billy Reid with this dress.  I went home and tried it on with an old belt I had + viola!  It’s feminine, classic, and will last me for years.

I’m so glad I bought it!  It’s great for summer with wedges, but also a good transitional fall and winter piece that I can wear with booties or these riding boots!

It’s all about versatility ladies!

XO,

Kat

image

image

image

image

image

image

Photos by:  Em

I’ve search high + low for this Billy Reid Safari dress online + can’t find it, but Ann Taylor has a similar one that I adore!  Use the code POWER40 + you can get 40% off!

image
Style

7 Days // 7 Ways: The Versatile Blazer

11.20.14

image

One of our main goals at The Refined Woman is to show that it’s better to invest wisely – to choose fewer, more versatile pieces over lots of trendy stuff that you’re going to throw away next season.

Polished pieces that go the distance with multiple outfits in your wardrobe are worth finding and investing in.

We’ve done posts on the importance of a good white oxfordthe perfect pencil skirt, and the right purse. And it’s no secret that we LOVE blazers – it’s possibly the one clothing item that has been featured on our blog more than any other.

The right blazer puts the finishing touch on any outfit. It dresses up a pair of jeans and balances out a little dress.

I love this black and white tweed blazer because black and white go with everything, but the pattern is classy and fun. While I love a pop of color (usually it’s a red lip) – I would say most of my wardrobe is black, white, or denim. It just makes getting dressed easy.

This is the perfect outfit for a client meeting – it’s always an elusive task – finding the right outfit that says to a potential client “I mean business” but also hints that “I’m fun too.”

I love the way that a graphic tee and drawstring pants (fun) and a red lip (super fun!) combined with the tweed blazer + pumps (business) screams girl boss, in the best way.

image

image

image

image

image

image

All photos by Delbarr Moradi

xo,

Em

Compensation for this post was provided by Jones New York via AOL Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Jones New York or AOL.