Practical Ways to Embrace Sustainable Fashion

By Erika, Fashion Expert

With issues like climate change looming larger and larger, my family and I have been working to incorporate practical ways to reduce our environmental impact into our lives. With our busy schedules and three kids, we needed to find simple ways to reduce our impact. Of course, I’m the leader of the charge when it comes to style and fashion. Sustainable fashion – “a movement and process of fostering change to fashion products and the fashion system towards greater ecological integrity and social justice” – is one way our family is trying to reduce our environmental impact.

The idea of sustainable fashion often conjures up images of more expensive pieces, wildly minimalist wardrobes, or, I don’t know, walking around in a burlap sack. But take it from me, there are tons of ways that you can embrace sustainable fashion that will be easy and relatively painless for you. Below are some ways that I have embraced sustainable fashion and introduced it to my family.

Hat + Poncho: Gifted & Thrifted (New to You Consignment Shop)
T-Shirt: J.Crew
Jeans + Boots: Lane Bryant

Join a No-Buy Community

Thanks to the recommendation of a friend, I joined “No Buy Baltimore,” an online community where people give away or trade items they no longer need. The group is for people to give away anything to others (furniture, appliance, etc.) so that it can have a second life; however, I primarily use it to give away clothing. I know that I can always donate clothing but I’m not always convinced it ends up in the hands of someone else; and, I usually have no way of knowing what happens to the items if they don’t get given away or sold (like at a thrift store). By giving the clothing to another member of the no-buy community, I feel good about it getting a second life. And most recipients give away anything they don’t use in the no-buy community, so things continue to be paid forward.

Of course, if you have a friend or family member who can use your things, you can always give them directly to that person. This is especially helpful for babies who grow so fast! We have given away most of the clothes James (our 4-month-old) has outgrown to a family friend who is expecting a baby this spring. The especially dirty things (think onesies riddled with spit up stains) are turned into cleaning rags. And I saved a few things for his baby box. The clothing they can’t use (it’ll be summer by the time their baby is 3 months and all of his 3 month clothes are heavy winter items) we are selling at a second-hand store. Which brings me to the second point.

Resell or Consign Items

This goes for both clothes and accessories (though lots of thrift shops take other items too!). Nowadays, it is so easy to resell and consign your items depending on how much time you have to devote to selling and how little or much you hope to make on your items. Obviously, you can take your clothing and accessories to a consignment shop where they will inspect everything, accept items that meet their conditions, and offer you a percentage of sales on the item. Some consignment shops will not pay you until the item sells (and usually return it to you or donate it if it goes past their 60-day or 90-day sale period), while others will pay you upfront for your items. Anything the consignment shop doesn’t accept is yours to keep, donate, or sell via a different avenue.

There are also online consignment and resell options as well. You could go the route of putting your things up for sale on a site like Ebay or Poshmark. With both of these sites, you’ll have to do the heavy lifting of photographing your items, keeping track of offers and sales, and packaging and shipping your items once they sell. The upside is that, because you’re doing the heavy lifting, the fees are often lower when you sell through these sites and apps. I really like Poshmark because you can negotiate with buyers and they can bundle multiple items from your store, which makes shipping so much easier for you!

If you’re like me, you might be a little short on time and an app like ThredUP will be helpful for you. It’s an online consignment shop. You simply order a closet clean-out kit, load it up with items you are trying to sell, and then mail it back to the company. They will go through each of your items and choose whether or not they accept them. Anything that they don’t accept or doesn’t sell can be donated or returned to you. If they accept them, they’ll photograph them and post them for sale. Once your items sell, you’ll get your percentage of the sale price. I really like ThreadUP because it’s ZERO work besides loading up your bag and dropping it off at the post office!

Oh, and all three sites mentioned allow you to consign women’s, men’s, children’s and baby clothes, as well as shoes and accessories. Regardless of how you go about it, reselling and consigning your clothing is an easy way to participate in sustainable fashion and make a few extra dollars!

Hit Up the Thrift Store

Thrift stores are treasure troves of pre-loved items that are just waiting for you to give them a new, loving home. A great way to be a part of the sustainable community and save a few bucks is by thrifting your clothes, shoes, or accessories.

I personally love to check out thrift stores for cool rings, brooches, and necklaces. I’ve gotten some truly awesome finds. The outfit I’m rocking in these pictures was partially thrifted from a store in Annapolis called, “New To You” and from my father-in-law’s closet.

Buy Less and Invest in More Quality Pieces

Finally, we can all make fashion more sustainable if we skip the fast fashion, invest in some better quality pieces, and buy less overall. I know that this is hard – especially with the rate of which fashion changes. But let’s be honest, a classic pair of jeans isn’t going to go out of style, a well-made white t-shirt is going to last a lot longer than one from Target, and you’re more likely to get your shoes repaired (instead of throwing them out) if you spent $700 on them.

This step is definitely the hardest and can be accomplished by taking baby steps. I started to invest in quality in my bags and shoes first. A high quality work bag, shoulder bag, cross body and clutch are staples that you can look for. Some high quality black pumps and a pair of two of reliable, stylish flats are also a great place to start. As you start to better your accessories, then turn your attention to your every day wardrobe staples – jeans, t-shirts, blazers, slacks, LBD – for your investment in quality. As older items wear out, you won’t need to run out to replace them right away. This will not only help the environment, it’ll also give you more space to see what’s actually in your closet.

Listen, I am in no way an expert on sustainable fashion. But I’m making a more conscious effort to reduce my and my family’s environmental footprint in small, manageable ways. Every little bit helps!

60 Seconds of Chic

By Erika, Fashion Expert

As you may know, I’m away from home this week. It’s our son’s second trip and the first time he took a flight. He’s a great traveler but hasn’t been sleeping well (I think the unfamiliar bed has everything to do with it). As a result, Momma has not been sleeping well (or at all).

That’s why the tip in today’s 60 Seconds of Chic is so important that I needed its own blog post and not just an Instagram post. Check out my video as I share my secret for how to hide dark under-eye circles.

Here are the products I used to achieve my look:

Primer: Laura Mercier Oil-Free Foundation Primer
Concealer: ELF Cosmetics 16HR Camo Concealer
Foundation: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation
Powder: Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Foundation Powder

Check out a little before and after action as well!

Before
After

I suppose if nothing else works, the conceal function on FaceTune is always an option!! Luckily for us, my double concealer technique should do the trick!

5 Last Minute Holiday Gifts for Those Who Like to Live Dangerously and Shop at the Last Minute

By Erika, Fashion Expert

I don’t necessarily like living on the edge.  OK, I don’t like it at all.  But I know some of you do and that extreme Christmas shopping is your thing.  I’m still so tickled by the texts I get on the 20th, 21st, and 22nd of December asking what I think “so and so” would like for Christmas.  Just having to come up with ideas stresses me out – so I can’t imagine having to fight off the crowds two and three days before Christmas.  Hopefully, this list will help you adrenaline junkies who love the adventure of completing your holiday shopping just under the deadline!

For the Bride or Groom that is Changing Their Name

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I have said this many times – and will keep saying – Hitchswitch is one of the very best wedding gifts I received.  Although my husband couldn’t use it, it made the process of legally changing my name relatively painless.  There are three package options; but please, splurge on the Platinum Package as your gift.  For only $89 the recipient will receive the full suite of Hitchswitch services include ready-to-ship passport photo (no post office line or awkward photos) and a personal name change concierge who will help with things like getting hotel and airline miles straightened out.  You recipient will be forever grateful!

For the Bibliophile

I’m not sure why I waited so long to get a subscription to Audible but now I can’t imagine life without it!  I love to listen to my podcasts on my drive to and from work and now I mix up my rotation with audiobooks.  There are thousands of titles to choose from plus a monthly selection of free original books that are a part of the subscription.  You can read everything from autobiographies to memoirs to the classics and everything in between.  Need a few recommendations to get started? I recommend:

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For the Sentimental Crowd

I found these little letter books and feel in love instantly! Lea Redmond’s “Letters to” series offers the buyer a chance to write meaningful notes and letters to loved ones that can be opened at the appropriate time.  For example, “Letters to Open When” allows you to write notes of encouragement, support, etc. to be opened when the recipient is having a rough time, needs a smile, or wants to be hugged by your words.  You can write letters to your parents, your children, and even your future self!  Bonus for you, two day shipping because Amazon Prime is GOAT.

For the Beauty Junky

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You may, or may not, have heard of Aztec Secret – Indian Healing Clay.  If you haven’t, now you have.  This incredible face mask has more than 19,000 reviews on Amazon and is said to work wonders for your skin.  I’ve only started using it in the last two weeks, but count me among the believers!  Any bonafide beauty junky is going to love – and swear by – the stuff!  Two-day shipping reigns supreme again when you order from Amazon.

For the Charitable Fashionista

Give the gift of a microfinance loan through Global Girlfriend and support women-owned small businesses in Africa.  Seriously, how cool is it that your donation can help break the cycle of poverty and boost economic development by providing women with business management training and financial assistance to start and grow their small businesses, specifically in Sierra Leone.  This is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

I hope this list helps you round out your holiday shopping over the next few days!  And, of course, I’m wishing you and your loved ones a joyous holiday season and the happiest New Year!

Stay Chic,
Erika

Jetsetter Problems

By Erika, Fashion Expert

Most people who know me know that I travel a TON for my job.  Some weeks it feels like I am home long enough to do laundry and then it’s back on the road again.  In honor of my jet set lifestyle, today’s outfit is perfect for the traveling fashionista.

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Coat: Elie Tahari (Here) I Sweatshirt: LOFT (Here) I Tank: LOFT (similar, Here) I Jeggings: Dressbarn (similar, Here) I Shoes: Nine West (similar, Here) I Necklace: Primark I Glasses: H&M

There are a couple of keys to dressing for travel, especially in the winter:

1. Wear the bulkiest layers on the outside  Sweatshirts, sweaters, and even jeans take up a lot of space.  By wearing them you save yourself room for any new items you might buy and will likely keep your baggage from going over the weight limit.

    IMG_1466

    2. Layer up! Planes are notoriously chilly – so wearing layers will allow you to temperature adjust independent of what the airplane temperature may be.  This outfit, which features a tank top under a super cute embroidered sweatshirt, accomplishes just that.

    IMG_1465

    3. Easy on, Easy off. I have TSA pre-check, but for anyone who does not you will be required to remove your coat and shoes. Slip on shoes and a jacket with a tie belt go a really long way in getting through security quickly! 

    Jetsetter tip: Keep toiletries in the same bag as your laptop to expedite your security experience while traveling with only carry-ins. 

    IMG_1468

    Suitecase: IT I Bag: Furla

    4. Durable luggage has done a body good after all of these years.  My personal favorite is hardshell luggage because it can withstand being tossed to and fro.  Opt for 360 degree spinning wheels and a warranty.

    IMG_1467

    5. Dress it up, just a little.  If there is any chance of you getting upgraded to seats with more room or first class, you want to look the part.  Even in casual clothing you’ll want to look put together and not like you rolled straight out of bed and failed to brush your teeth. So skip the PJs and sweats and opt for something a little neater. These skinny jeans are perfect to hold you down on your next trip.

    What travel dips do you guys have?

    Stay Chic,
    Erika

    Curating Your Closet: Little Black Dress

    By Erika, Fashion Expert

    A while back, I posted about how you can begin to curate your closet with staples that can be used to give you a solid baseline for your wardrobe.  We’ve already discussed how a white button-down shirt can be used to enhance your wardrobe.  Today, we’re going to talk about a style favorite of mine – the Little Black Dress.

    The Little Black Dress (LBD) is a versatile style staple and also a wardrobe item that is hard to get wrong.  The more simple the LBD, the more ways that you can wear.  For example, a black sheath or shift dress can be worn alone with a statement necklace and look perfectly chic.  You can add a blazer or scarf for the office or pair it with a belt and killer heels for after work events.  And obviously, the color black is slimming and matches everything.  It’s really, really hard to go wrong with an LBD.

    If you’re more adventurous. like me, then you can try an LBD that has a unique detail, neckline, or some other unexpected quality.  Pictured below are two LBDs that have a little more sass than your standard shift of sheath dress.  The first dress, a Lane Bryant dress, features a lace overlay and illusion detailing under the dress.  When I wear this to the office, I throw a simple black blazer over top.  Then in the evening, it’s perfect as is.  This would also be appropriate for an after-five affair or even a wedding.

    IMG_5900Dress: Lane Bryant I Shoes: Diane von Furstenberg I Clutch: Nneka Saran I Ring: H&M I Earrings: My Own (gifted)

    IMG_5902

    The second dress is a sassy number from Eloquii, which I love!  It is definitely NOT for the faint of heart.  It’s available here (and on sale for $59 for a limited time!).  The ruffle shoulder detail and peplum skirt will definitely give the people something – fabulous – to talk about!  Because the should and skirt are so dramatic, you do not need a ton of accessories to go with this dress.  However, pairing it with belt looks fabulous and accentuates the waist. You can see I chose to add a pop of color against the black with my accessories.

    IMG_5903
    Dress: Eloquii I Shoes: Badgley Mischa I Clutch: MMS Design I Rings: My own I Bracelet: J. Crew

    IMG_5905

    Ladies, if you don’t already own an LBD, I suggest you head out to the stores and grab one.  This is one purchase that won’t leave you with shopper’s remorse!

     

    Photo credit: Robert Bergsted

    FLASH SALE!! YCS Fashion Labs

    By Erika, Fashion Expert

    For one week only, use the discount code YCSFLASH and save 30% on tickets to YCS Fashion Labs!

    Eventbrite - YCS Fashion Labs

    For the YCS family, and the YCS family only, we are discounting tickets for the YCS Fashion Labs!  This is a GREAT value for your dollar and you don’t want to miss the opportunity to Take advantage of the deal.

    FLASH SALE PRICES:

    $199  $139 I  One (1) Individual Fashion Lab workshop (morning OR afternoon session)

    $79  $55 I  Q&A Lunch ONLY (lunch included)

    $350  $245 I  VIP ALL-ACCESS – Two (2) Fashion Lab workshops PLUS Q&A Lunch PLUS Special Gift

    ALL Fashion Lab tickets include admission to the event, one (1) gift bag, course materials, and light refreshments.  Q&A Lunch tickets include lunch.  VIP All Access tickets include an additional special gift.

    Be sure to snag your tickets before August 24 to take advantage of this AWESOME discount option!

    Eventbrite - YCS Fashion Labs

    About YCS Fashion Labs

    Need a refresher on YCS Fashion Labs?  Check out the details below.

    What are Fashion Labs?

    Fashion Labs are in-depth, intensive workshops that cover fashion and style topics that are important to event attendees.  The workshops are interactive and attendees will go home with real tools and skills which can be used to elevate their style and take it to the next level.  Fashion Labs are small and intimate settings so attendees can get real interaction with instructors and valuable advice that specifically applies to them.  That means tickets are limited and you should expect no more than 12-15 people at each Lab.  The Fashion Labs are a great way to get in-depth knowledge around a particular fashion topic, get advice that applies specifically to you, and to spend some up-close and personal time with the YCS team.

    Who should attend Fashion Labs?

    Fashion Labs are available to any and everyone!  Each lab, while covering overall, general topics, will be tailored to the group of attendees.  This means if a few men sign-up for the labs, we will be sure to include information that is helpful and valuable for them.  If it’s all ladies, well then, we’ll keep the men out of it!

    Why should I attend Fashion Labs?

    You should register if you want to:

    – Discover your signature style

    – Elevate or change your personal style

    – Understand the type of body shape you have and how to dress for it

    – Ask experts your burning fashion and style questions

    – Explore the idea of hiring a personal stylist or shopper

    – Spend time with the YCS team before you hire us

    What topics will be covered by the Fashion Labs?

    At our first series of Fashion Labs, we will offer two topics, “Understanding and Dressing Your Body Type” and “Discovering Your Signature Style.”  We will also offer a freestyle “Q&A Lunch” that will feature YCS’ own Erika McDaniel (and a few surprises)!

    Understanding and Dressing Your Body Type

    This 2.5 hour session will help you complete an in-depth analysis of your body shape to help you learn how to balance the proportions of your body, what clothing styles best suit your body, and what clothing styles you should avoid.  If you have ever wondered how to dress your body type or what clothing will be most flattering for you, this is a session you don’t want to miss!

    Q&A Lunch

    Join YCS Fashion Expert Erika for an up-close and personal lunch (maximum capacity: 15) where you can get ALL of your fashion questions answered.  No style question is off limits!  This is your chance to have intimate time with Erika, just like a personal styling session! Lunch will be provided.

    Developing Your Signature Style

    YCS’ 2.5 hour session is designed to help attendees hone their signature style.  Attendees will follow the five-step YCS process to discovering, developing, and owning a signature style with real-life activities and examples.  Attendees can expect to leave this session understanding how they can dress each day as the very best version of themselves!

    When and where is the event?

    YCS Fashion Labs will be held on Saturday September 12, 2015 at the Spring Hill Suites in King of Prussia, PA (875 Mancill Mill Road I King of Prussia, PA 19406).

    Schedule of Events:

    8:30 – 11:00 am  I  Fashion Lab: Understanding and Dressing Your Body Type

    11:30 am – 12:30 pm  I  Q&A Lunch

    1:00 – 3:30  pm  I  Fashion Lab: Developing Your Signature Style

    How much do Fashion Labs cost?

    We have a variety of pricing options and discounts available for attendees, as well as flexible payment options!

    $199  $139 I  One (1) Individual Fashion Lab workshop (morning OR afternoon session)

    $79  $55 I  Q&A Lunch ONLY (lunch included)

    $350  $245 I  VIP ALL-ACCESS – Two (2) Fashion Lab workshops PLUS Q&A Lunch PLUS Special Gift

    Seats in our Fashion Labs are limited and we are expecting a full house.  Attendees also have the option to reserve their seats for Individual Fashion Labs ($50) or for VIP All-Access ($100) and complete payment prior to the event.  Reserving your space ensures that your space will be held while allowing you flexibility in payment.  The Q&A Lunch is offered on a first come, first served basis.

    Where do I register?

    Simply click the button below to register!

    Eventbrite - YCS Fashion Labs

    What if I have more questions?

    You can feel free to comment on this post with your questions, email us (info@yourchicisshowing.com), or call us for more details (484-577-2396).

    We look forward to having you join us!

    YCS Launches "Fashion Labs" Workshops in Philadelphia

    By Erika, Fashion Expert

    As a part of the YCS reorganization, revamp, and rebrand, the company is excited to announce the launch of our new “Fashion Labs” workshops on September 12, 2015!

    Eventbrite - YCS Fashion Labs

    What are Fashion Labs?

    Fashion Labs are in-depth, intensive workshops that cover fashion and style topics that are important to event attendees.  The workshops are interactive and attendees will go home with real tools and skills which can be used to elevate their style and take it to the next level.  Fashion Labs are small and intimate settings so attendees can get real interaction with instructors and valuable advice that specifically applies to them.  That means tickets are limited and you should expect no more than 12-15 people at each Lab.  The Fashion Labs are a great way to get in-depth knowledge around a particular fashion topic, get advice that applies specifically to you, and to spend some up-close and personal time with the YCS team.

    Who should attend Fashion Labs?

    Fashion Labs are available to any and everyone!  Each lab, while covering overall, general topics, will be tailored to the group of attendees.  This means if a few men sign-up for the labs, we will be sure to include information that is helpful and valuable for them.  If it’s all ladies, well then, we’ll keep the men out of it!

    You should register if you want to:

    – Discover your signature style

    – Elevate or change your personal style

    – Understand the type of body shape you have and how to dress for it

    – Ask experts your burning fashion and style questions

    – Explore the idea of hiring a personal stylist or shopper

    – Spend time with the YCS team before you hire us

    What topics will be covered by the Fashion Labs?

    At our first series of Fashion Labs, we will offer two topics, “Understanding and Dressing Your Body Type” and “Discovering Your Signature Style.”  We will also offer a freestyle “Q&A Lunch” that will feature YCS’ own Erika McDaniel (and a few surprises)!

    Understanding and Dressing Your Body Type

    This 2.5 hour session will help you complete an in-depth analysis of your body shape to help you learn how to balance the proportions of your body, what clothing styles best suit your body, and what clothing styles you should avoid.  If you have ever wondered how to dress your body type or what clothing will be most flattering for you, this is a session you don’t want to miss!

    Q&A Lunch

    Join YCS Fashion Expert Erika for an up-close and personal lunch (maximum capacity: 15) where you can get ALL of your fashion questions answered.  No style question is off limits!  This is your chance to have intimate time with Erika, just like a personal styling session! Lunch will be provided.

    Developing Your Signature Style

    YCS’ 2.5 hour session is designed to help attendees hone their signature style.  Attendees will follow the five-step YCS process to discovering, developing, and owning a signature style with real-life activities and examples.  Attendees can expect to leave this session understanding how they can dress each day as the very best version of themselves!

    When and where is the event?

    YCS Fashion Labs will be held on Saturday September 12, 2015 at the Spring Hill Suites in King of Prussia, PA (875 Mancill Mill Road I King of Prussia, PA 19406).

    Schedule of Events:

    8:30 – 11:00 am  I  Fashion Lab: Understanding and Dressing Your Body Type

    11:30 am – 12:30 pm  I  Q&A Lunch

    1:00 – 3:30  pm  I  Fashion Lab: Developing Your Signature Style

    How much do Fashion Labs cost?

    We have a variety of pricing options and discounts available for attendees, as well as flexible payment options!

    $199  I  One (1) Individual Fashion Lab workshop (morning OR afternoon session)

    $79  I  Q&A Lunch ONLY (lunch included)

    $350  I  VIP ALL-ACCESS – Two (2) Fashion Lab workshops PLUS Q&A Lunch PLUS Special Gift

    Seats in our Fashion Labs are limited and we are expecting a full house.  Attendees also have the option to reserve their seat for Individual Fashion Labs ($50) or for VIP All-Access ($100) and complete payment prior to the event.  Reserving your space ensures that your space will be held while allowing you flexibility in payment.  The Q&A Lunch is offered on a first come, first served basis.

    Where do I register?

    Simply click the button below to register!

    Eventbrite - YCS Fashion Labs

    What if I have more questions?

    You can feel free to comment on this post with your questions, email us (info@yourchicisshowing.com), or call us for more details (484-577-2396).

    We look forward to having you join us!

    Curating Your Closet: White Button-Down Shirt

    By Erika, Fashion Expert

    A few weeks ago I shared three of my pro tips to help you become a better shopper.   The very first tip I shared was to “begin with wardrobe staples.”  The list I shared wasn’t earth shattering or probably all that different from lists you’ve read in the past about what every woman needs in her wardrobe.  However, so often we ignore the staples and go for items that are flashy or part of a passing fad.  While those pieces are all well and good to supplement your wardrobe, like anything worth having (like say, a house or healthy relationships) a strong foundation is the key.

    The reason I suggested those nine items as wardrobe staples is because they are versatile and give you a solid base to build off of for your wardrobe.  Over the next several weeks I will share some ways that I incorporate these staples into my own wardrobe.  Perhaps it will help you think creatively about how to work them into your own wardrobe OR finally convince you to go out and fill your closet with such pieces.

    The first item on our list is the white-button down shirt.  This is generally a wardrobe staple for anyone who works in Corporate America or a professional environment.  I would encourage everyone to have at least one of these in their closet.  They obviously make the wearer look professional when paired with pieces like pencil skirts or tailored pants.  But these shirts are also great for a casual weekend, afternoon lunch, and just generally hanging around.  Below are three ways that I styled my white button-down shirt to fit my personal style.

    IMG_2225

    Shirt + Skirt: Jones New York I Scarf: H&M I Shoes: Nine West I Briefcase: My Own (gifted)

    IMG_2227

    People may think that a white button-down is boring, particularly in a professional setting.  However, when paired with a patterned skirt and shoes plus a pretty scarf, it serves as the perfect backdrop without making the outfit too busy.

    IMG_2229Above: Shirt: Jones New York I Jeans: Roz & Ali I Shoes: Nine West I Glasses: Claire’s

    Below: Necklace: Kate Spade I Rings: Tiffany & Co. I Bracelets: Target

    IMG_2232

    This outfit is casual without being sloppy – perfect for a weekend of shopping, lounging, and everything in between.  It’s also an exercise in mixing high and low.  Even though a number of pieces are incredibly inexpensive, the crisp white shirt instantly elevates the whole look.

    IMG_2234

    Above: Blazer + Shoes: Dressbarn I T-shirts: J Crew + Joe Fresh I Jeans: Avenue I Shirt: Jones New York

    Below: Necklace/Scarf: From His Heart Gifts I Sunglasses: My Own (gifted) I Watch: Michael Kors I Bracelet: Tory Burch for Fitbit

    IMG_2233

    As you can see from the final look, a white button down often makes the perfect accessory or layering piece for a look.  Another way to rock it would be to layer the shirt under the blazer and leave it open.  This will look cool, sophisticated, preppy, and pulled together without being overly pretentious.

    As you can see, a white button-down shirt is versatile and allows us to be as creative as can be with our wardrobe choices!

    Three Pro Tips to Help You Become a Better Shopper

    By Erika, Resident Fashionista

    A majority of the clients I work with have no idea HOW to shop.  In my own, completely unscientific, opinion I would say most people have no idea HOW to shop. I don’t mean that they do not know how to get to a store, pick something out, plunk down their cash or credit card, and take their new purchase home.  That is very easy.  My five-year-old niece understands how to do that.  What I DO mean is that most people do not know how to think critically about their current wardrobe, their needs, their goals, and their bodies to make smart purchases.  If everyone knew how to do this, I wouldn’t have much of a business model at YCS.  And, by sharing my tips, I might be blogging myself right out of a job (probably not, though).  Even so, I’m going to give you three of the ingredients in my “secret sauce” to help you become a better shopper.

    1. Begin with Wardrobe Staples

    Before you go out and buy a bunch of whole new pieces or items, make sure that you have the wardrobe staples in your closet.  Just like with a home, a strong foundation is going to be the key in building up everything else.  If your foundation is shaky then the rest of your wardrobe will be shaky.  Wardrobe staples are the pieces that are classic, timeless, and anchor any look you will put together.  A quick internet search for “wardrobe staples” or “wardrobe basics” will give you a plethora of results; therefore, to make your life easier, you can check out my list of wardrobe staples below:

    • White, tailored button-down shirt
    • Little Black Dress aka “LBD”
    • Jeans that look and feel amazing
    • Layering staples (including tank tops, camisoles, and t-shirts)
    • A pair of well-fitting, tailored pants
    • Structured blazer
    • Black pumps
    • Cute flats (i.e. ballet flats)
    • Classic, structured handbag

    Do you have all of these pieces in your wardrobe?  If not, then before you add another item to your closet be sure to add these first!  Make sure that you take your time when cultivating this part of your wardrobe.  You want to make sure your pieces are quality, well-made, well-fitting items.  It will take some time to find the perfect jeans for you or the most flattering LBD.  Be sure to invest that time into yourself and your wardrobe.  For those of you who already have these items, you can expand upon this list to include other staples like a clutch purse, trench coat, etc.

    2. Know Thy Wardrobe

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    This seems so simple and so easy, however, so many of us have no idea what is hanging in our closet or lurking in our drawers.  And this isn’t just a problem for people with large wardrobes – it is a problem for most anyone.  How many times have you purchased something only to get home and realize you had something similar (or exactly the same) already hanging in your closet?  Or, maybe you’re the opposite and you swear you have something in your closet, only to realize that it doesn’t actually exist behind the closet doors like you thought?

    By knowing your wardrobe you will know what you own and where the gaps in your wardrobe are.  You’ll also be able to spot redundancy, patterns, particularly flattering silhouettes or colors, and get an idea for your personal style.  Call me a freak of nature, but I could probably name 70-80% of what is hanging in my closet right now.  It makes shopping so much easier, particularly when you follow tip #3 below.

    3. Do NOT Purchase “Outfits”

    So many of my clients tell me that when they need to purchase something new – especially for an event – they will walk into a store, see an “outfit” on a mannequin, purchase the whole ensemble and then go about their business.  Until the next time they need to purchase something new.  Then, they go through this same routine all over again.

    Shopping in this manner can become very expensive, very quickly.  There is nothing wrong with purchasing a complete outfit as you see it in the store . . . except sometimes there is something wrong with that.  Often, if you purchase the full outfit as you see it, you don’t actually have any idea if it will work on your body type.  Stores have professionals who tell employees exactly how to style the mannequins.  So, of course the outfits look great!!  But when shopping for yourself you have to take much more into account than whether an outfit matches.  Your body shape, coloring, and personal style are factors that trump cool looking mannequins every day of the week.  Further, when you purchase complete “outfits” it is hard to see how any of the pieces can work in your closet individually.  You’ll find yourself wearing the pieces of that outfit in the same way over and over again.

    Instead of purchasing full outfits, enact my “Rule of Three” which states that if an item cannot be worn three different ways with items you already own then you do not buy it.  Makes you think MUCH more critically about what you already own and what you will be adding to your wardrobe.  It also gets you in the habit of paying attention to your wardrobe and building outfit options that will keep you from wearing the same items the same way.  For example, I have featured the leather skirt below (via Dressbarn) several times on the YCS blog.  I find new, creative ways to wear it all of the time.  All of our wardrobe pieces should be so versatile.

    20140316-195151.jpgAs shown in “Chambray My Way

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    As shown in “Chic SpeaksIMG_2156

    As shown in “Inspired By: Kim Kardashian.”

    These are a few tips to help you get started in cultivating, enhancing, or even minimizing your current wardrobe. Happy shopping!

    Around the World in 60 Days!

    By Erika, Resident Fashionista

    OK, so maybe I haven’t exactly been around the world (but come October, when I head to Dubai, that will absolutely be the case!) but I have been out and about.  If you keep up with me or YCS via Facebook and Instagram you may have seen some of the adventures I have had over the past few months.  In the last 60 days alone I have been to seven (yep, seven!) states and have been keeping myself plenty busy with work, play, and, of course, fashion!  Below you will find a pretty random sampling of what I have been up to as well as shopping information for some of the looks you have seen featured on Instagram and Facebook.

    #jetsetterproblems

    I love to travel!  And, it’s a good thing because my full-time job has kept me pretty busy on the road for the past couple of months, including trips to Utah and Minnesota!  Of course, I always try my best to travel in style and keep it fashionable!

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    Jetsetting in a comfy, casual, and stylish outfit.  Jetsetter tip: If you’re flying dress in layers.  Airplanes are usually chilly, but airports and destinations will vary in temperature.  You don’t want to get stuck buying a $50 hoodie because of poor planning!

    [Shirt: ADIVA I Jacket + Leggings: Avenue I Glasses: Tory Burch]

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    The hallway in my home has looked like this for the longest time!  I wasn’t a believer in hardshell luggage until I bought my first piece last October. Now, I love it and I recently purchased a carry-on size to add to my collection.  Jetsetter tip: 360 spinner wheels are a MUST on rolling luggage.

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    I just adore the beautiful monogrammed pieces from Boulevard and couldn’t resist picking up a couple monogrammed “Amelia” luggage tags in “Poppy.”  And, at only $28 each, they’re a steal!  Visit their website to pick up your own!

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    Beautiful Minnesota sunset!

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    The mountain backdrop was gorgeous as we hit the highways of Utah!  Even though it was April we experienced spring-like weather and a snow storm all on the same trip!

    #ForeverHU05

    Anyone who knows me knows that I am a proud graduate of Howard University in Washington, DC.  I basically work to get HU into every conversation any chance I get.  This year, I celebrated my 10-year reunion with my classmates and we had a blast!  Howard is KNOWN as a fashionable and stylish university, so, of course, I had to come to the reunion with my A-game.  What do you guys think?

    IMG_0143All smiles before the first night of festivities began!

    IMG_0031Rocking my “Howard Made” t-shirt from Sweet Knowledge Clothing Co.  Everyone should definitely check out the website and support this business.  Again, at only $28, this t-shirt is a steal!! Links can be found below in the outfit details.

    [T-Shirt: Sweet Knowledge Clothing Co. I Skirt: Eloquii (similar here) I Shoes: BCBG (not pictured)]

    IMG_0109Sitting pretty at the official “Forever HU 05” Day Party.  Jetsetter tip: Pack clothing in the same color family so that you can reuse accessories without over packing.  I intentionally chose a black and white color palette for the weekend to save space (I was also traveling for work).

    [T-shirt: Official “Forever HU 05” Reunion T-shirt via Coliseum Apparel I Jacket: Dressbarn I Skirt: Mossimo for Target I Clutch: Nneka Saran I Sunglasses: Oscar de la Renta]

    #loveyourcurves

    During my adventures I also had a chance to check out the Ashley Stewart “Love Your Curves” Tour during it’s stop in Philadelphia, PA.  You all know that around YCS we are ALL about embracing our curves and loving the skin we are in.  So, it was a no brainer that I had to check out this event.  The tour, which also made a stop in Chicago, and will be heading to Baltimore, Detroit, New York, and Atlanta, was all about embracing your curves and connecting with some of the cities most stylish women.  Hosted at the West Philadelphia location, the event featured a model casting, red carpet, giveaways, and, naturally, shopping discounts.

    Ashley Stewart 1The lovely host getting everyone ready for the model casting.

    Desi at Ashely Steward Love Your CurvesMy (and probably everyone else’s) favorite personality from Praise 103.9, “ya Big Girl Dezzie” joined in the fun at the “Love Your Curves” Tour.

    11216592_10100832651950700_3109047703296782374_nOf course I got in on the shopping action, snagging this pair of joggers with a sheer tuxedo stripe down the side! These joggers are no longer available, but check out the new selection of joggers they have available.

    #givingback

    As if all of the aforementioned fun wasn’t enough, I’ve also attended my fair share of fundraising events over the past two months.  One event that I am always happy to support is the Kappa Beautillion program sponsored by the Burlington-Camden Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.  I have been a long-time support of this program and it is always a pleasure to watch these boys grow into distinguished, young gentlemen.  Additionally, for the first time, I attended the “Wall Ball” sponsored by the Mural Arts program here in Philadelphia.  The event featured live mural painting and design, a live auction, a fantastic DJ, great food, and, duh, fabulous art!

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    The dress code for the “Wall Ball 2015” was “festive cocktail” attire.  I don’t think cocktail attire gets more festive than metallic gold!

    [Dress: Eliza J (currently unavailable)]

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    Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot wear a patterned gown to a formal event. You will look fabulous and stand out in a sea of dark dresses. Pro tip: If you’re wearing a patterned gown that could skew “maxi dress” be sure to dress it up with jewelry and the right heels.

    [Dress: Jessica Howard]

    #bestoftherest

    As if all of that wasn’t enough, I’m also in the middle of redecorating my 2nd bedroom (for real this time) to turn it into a grown-up office!  I’ve hired friend to YCS Cherise, of Ispaci, to help with the project and it’s going amazing.  I can’t wait to share the finished results with all of you on YCS!

    22617_10100789743085410_2692695420253934204_n#currentsituation.  Except now there is also a chaise lounge in the middle of my living room!  It’s going to be so worth it at the end of all of this!!

    So there it is, a chic peek into my life over the last few months.  What have you guys been up to?  I want to hear all about it!