Color and Confidence 2: Green Queen

My color and confidence series continues today with the color green!  If you've missed any posts from this series, you can catch all the links at the end of this post.

Green is one of my very favorite colors, and I love wearing it.  For today's look, I went summer minimalist with a faux wrap skirt and simple tank.

Skirt:  Eloquii (Available here)
As much as I love wearing neutrals, wearing color can definitely make me feel more vibrant at times.  Ultimately, feeling comfortable and good in our own clothes (and your own skin) is what gives you confidence, but I think color projects a confident vibe.  Color announces your presence to others and demands more attention than neutrals.  If you're not feeling as good about yourself as you'd like, wearing color can be a great way to fake it til you make it.
Tank:  Ava+Viv for Target (Available here)
Heels:  Candie's (Available at Kohl's here)
No matter how great you feel about yourself, we all have our less confident days.  Whether you're working on your self-esteem or just need an occasional pick-me-up, I have a few strategies I employ.

Look at yourself in the mirror and smile
When you look in the mirror, what do you see?  Do you like the person staring back at you?  Do you think this person is attractive?  Smart? Caring? Loving?  It can be very easy to look in the mirror and only focus on what you don't like.  Instead, I encourage you to look at your reflection and pretend you're staring at a good friend.  You would be kind to that friend, right?  You would know this person's flaws, but you would focus on the qualities that endear him or her to you.  Treat yourself the same way.  Smile at your reflection, say hi to that person staring back at you.  Tell that person what is right about them, why you love and care for them.  Show yourself the love you would show someone else.  Be your own best friend.  This exercise will make you feel silly, and that's okay.  Laugh at yourself, smile at that gorgeousness you see reflected.  You're changing the energy around you and sending yourself good vibes.

Necklace:  The Limited
Clutch:  The Limited
Surround yourself with diverse, body positive images
For years, I read oodles of fashion magazines, compared myself to supermodels, and just felt woefully inadequate.  Blogging has really changed that for me.  With so many fashion bloggers of diverse body shapes, sizes, ethnic backgrounds, and styles, I have learned to love and appreciate my own body more.  Clothing looks different on different body types, and that diversity is nothing short of beautiful.  I still read fashion magazines to catch up on the latest trends and runway shows, but I do so now with a more critical eye. While I think the models featured in the magazines are gorgeous, I no longer find myself comparing myself to them.  Instead, I've learned to appreciate their unique beauty without letting it invalidate my own.

When I find myself feeling down in the dumps about my appearance, I seek out body positive bloggers for inspiration.  I'm never in shortage of powerful, fierce, beautiful women who will put a smile on my face and give me the permission I needed to see my own beauty.
Glasses:  Valentino
Take the focus off of yourself
Whenever I start to get too focused on what I don't love about my body, I try to turn the focus outward.  I try to spend more time with my kids, talk to the man, engross myself in work or the blog, re-connect with friends, etc.  By taking the focus off of my body, I am nurturing important relationships and the other aspects of my life and of myself that have nothing to do with what I look like.  My confidence grows as I am reminded of how my body is only one small part of who I am.  Life is too short to spend your time focused on what is "wrong" with your body!

Ring:  The Limited
As I talked about yesterday, partaking in fashion also allows me to explore and expand my relationship with my body.  Whenever I'm feeling down, I turn to my favorite clothes to help me feel my best.  Wearing a favorite color instantly improves my mood.  In particular, I tend to find green to be a calming color, and since I find most shades flattering with my coloring, I also tend to also feel a little prettier when I'm wearing it.

Want to incorporate more green into your wardrobe?

Try a green jacket in forest, olive, or mint
From left to right:  It's Only Rock-n-Roll; Unconditional Body Beautiful - Part 3:  My Journey on My Legs; A Midspring's Night Dream
Florals, leopard print, and painterly prints in green are a great bet
From left to right:  Holiday Double Feature:  Office Party; Black & White & Green Florals; Water Baby
Try green pants or a maxi dress
From left to right:  Transitioning a Maxi Dress; Fall Color Week 2:  Dark Green
Green shoes, purses, and jewelry add a pop of color
From left to right: Lines & Laces; Vintage Floral; Midi & Crop Tops

Do you like wearing green?  Have a favorite shade?  What are some of your strategies for boosting confidence?

For the white skirt in other looks, see here.

For last year's Color and Confidence:  Green, see here

Catch the other Color and Confidence 2 posts here:
Seeing Red
Orange You Worried About Your Health?
Mellow Yellow


Color and Confidence 2: Mellow Yellow

I hope you've been enjoying my second Color and Confidence series.  Catch up with my red and orange posts here and here.
Skirt:  Eloquii (Available here)
I've delved into the issue of body policing, especially of women's bodies, as it relates to fashion and to concerns over health, but today, I wanted to step back from these larger socio-cultural issues and get a little more mellow.  Today, I'm going to talk a bit about building confidence through fashion and the barriers to personal style that might be holding you back.

Fashion and style don't necessarily come naturally to everyone.  Some people enjoy fashion more than others.  Maybe your joy in fashion has been tempered by lack of options, lack of money, self-esteem issues or other factors.

Top:  eShakti
Jacket:  LOFT Petites (old)
I'm really of the mindset that fashion is for everybody and for every BODY.

For some people, fashion just isn't their thing and thinking about how they adorn their bodies isn't really a big concern.  That's totally okay - we all have our interests and the things that don't appeal to us.  That said, maybe you've turned away from fashion because it seemed too hard to fit your body, because you don't know what looks good on you, or because you're not loving your body at the moment.  If that's the case, then I'm talking to you today.

Please never wait to lose weight to enjoy fashion.  Fashion is your right simply by having a body.  Throw the rule books out the window and wear whatever the heck you want!

Booties:  Target
Afraid?  The best way to conquer fears is by tackling them head on.  Don't think you'd look good in leather pants?  Want to try the 70s trend this fall, but are worried that fringe will look silly on you?  You won't know until you TRY.  Try everything on in the store.  If something even remotely appeals to you on the hanger, give it a try!  You might be really surprised by how you look or feel.

If your self-esteem is down in the dumps, it can be hard to see your fabulousness no matter what you try on, so I also recommend bringing an honest friend or two with you while shopping as well as a phone or camera to take some dressing room selfies.  Those friends will tell you when something looks great.  They will notice that glimmer in your eyes that maybe you have not let yourself see.  They will encourage you to break out of ruts you may have created as a personal safety zone.

I personally tend to prefer shopping alone, but sometimes I have a hard time deciding if something works for me when I first try it on.  I take dressing room selfies to get a different view and capture the look, sometimes sharing it with a friend for a second opinion.  Often, I will take those images and study them a bit to look at myself more objectively. 

Glasses:  Valentino
Clutch:  c/o Cameo de Bore (Sold out; see other options here)
Maybe you're not partaking in fashion as much as you'd like because you have difficulty finding items that fit your body shape or size.  First, please let me reinforce that most ready-to-wear clothes are made to fit one specific body type.  There is NOTHING wrong with your body if you don't fit into that body type.  Clothes are rarely a perfect fit off the rack for ANYONE regardless of size.

I've talked about this on the blog before, but I can't emphasize how much I highly recommend tailoring.  It is simply amazing what a few small tweaks can do to make a garment your own.  A simple change in hemline can take your look from matronly to modern.  Developing a relationship with a tailor can breathe new perspective to your shopping.  Some of us are NEVER going to find a great fit off the rack.  I'm short and curvy - clothes really aren't made for me.  It can be frustrating at times, but your mind opens up to more possibilities when you recognize that every garment can be changed.  Changing closures, sleeves, adding pleats, etc. can give you pieces that are truly one-of-a-kind.

Even better than tailoring?  A custom fit!  There are more and more on-line retailers, like eShakti, Smart Glamour, and Chubby Cartwheels, to name a few, that offer a custom fit for little to no extra charge.

Extensive tailoring can get expensive, and maybe you steer away from fashion because of lack of money.

I definitely understand this issue.  Money's always going to be a concern to the majority of us, no matter our incomes.  While I'm a little better off today than I have been in the past, I spent most of my life struggling with money and haven't always had as much disposable income or credit to spend on fashion.  Lack of money can definitely be frustrating when you're trying to get your look on, but there are still lots of amazing options.  In my college days, I definitely frequented thrift stores and rummage sales to find unique and interesting fashion pieces at a fraction of the cost.  Thrift shopping has gotten much better over the years, and there are even on-line thrift stores nowadays!!  I love hitting pawn shops for unique jewelry at a fraction of the retail cost.

Fast fashion options like H&M, Forever 21, and City Chic offer the latest trends at a low price, and I always scour the ASOS sale pages for superb deals.  Previously, I offered some of my tips for shopping on a budget, and you can check that post out here.

Earrings:  Target and The Limited
After I had my daughter, I had NO clothes that fit.  My husband was in nursing school at the time, and I was working part-time as a sociology instructor.  We had five kids to support on very little money, so shopping was minimal.  As I slowly started rebuilding my wardrobe, I also learned how to get more creative with my clothing.

I mixed prints and color palettes that I normally would not have.  Dare I say it, being broke actually helped me have better style!  Without the ability just to go buy what I wanted or felt I needed to make an outfit just right, I improvised and in many cases, I came up with something a little more daring and unique.  Coming from a low-income family, as a kid, I became an expert at experimentation, using accessories in creative ways, wearing skirts as dresses, layering pieces to create a new effect, etc. 

I also taught myself some simple sewing techniques as a kid.  Before I could afford to get pants altered, I usually did them myself by hand.  It can be a little time-consuming, but it's a super easy alteration.  I also created higher slits in skirts, took tank tops up in the shoulders, repaired small holes, and replaced buttons myself. 

It is easy to get discouraged by fashion when it feels like the deck is stacked against you, but fashion can be such a great joy in life.  It can help you on a path towards seeing your body in new ways.  For me, fashion can be an incredible confidence booster.  Knowing that you deserve to look and feel amazing in your body can help you see fashion in a new light.

As I've said, fashion experimentation can be really fun.  It can lead you on a path towards developing your own personal style.  It's also fun just to mix things up now and again.  Fashion can help you express all the sides of your personality or your mood on any given day.  For example, today's look is definitely a little outside of my personal style.  I love the skirt and blazer, but I wouldn't have normally thought to pair them together.  The floral crop top is sweet and delicate, and the overall effect of this outfit is so soft and springy.  I usually prefer a more modern and edgy style, but sometimes it's fun to play in a new combo.

As for the color yellow, it's one of my favorite colors to wear!!  I just love the way it adds a pop of sunshine to any look.  For me, it's bold, soft, and feminine all at once.

Here are some of the ways I've worn yellow over the last year:

As an accent color

Left, from top to bottom:  Loving Our Bodies vs. Loving Our Fat; Reader's Choice:  Casual Wear; Skirt Week 2:  50s Flair
Middle:  Style Inspiration from Garner Style
Right, from top to bottom:  Unconditional Body Beautiful - Part 3:  My Journey on My Legs; Summer's End
In a great print

Left to right:  Art of Work; Garden Party
As a Central Color Statement
Left, top to bottom:  Bzzzz...Black and Yellow Aren't Just for Bees; Weekend Natural + JORD Wood Watch Feature
Middle:  11 Twenty Eight Designs
Right:  The Slip Dress

Do you like wearing the color yellow?  Do you feel any barriers to partaking in and enjoying fashion?

For last year's Color and Confidence:  Yellow, see here


Color and Confidence 2: Orange You Worried About Your Health?

I hope you enjoyed the start of my 2nd color and confidence series yesterday!
Pants:  eShakti (Similar here)
Yesterday, I talked about the right to dress our bodies as we see fit.  My main look today features the color orange and involves these fun culottes from eShakti. 

The wide leg and cropped hem of the pants and the sleeveless crop top are definitely counter to what I've been taught to wear as a petite and curvy gal.  While I do tend to care somewhat about what's flattering to my figure, I also love fashion, and I love being comfortable.  This outfit was perfect for running pre-wedding errands.  While it's not the most "flattering" look I own, I think I pulled it off!  :-)
Top:  ASOS Curve
Obviously, standards about how women should dress are related in part to body politics and the shaming of women's bodies.  Today, I wanted to talk a little bit about body policing, particularly as it relates to health. 

Whenever a very thin or plus size person posts an article, a photograph, a blog post, etc., comments of various types tend to follow.  One of the central themes of these comments seems to be concern over health.  These commenters, often referred to as "concern trolls", cite worries about the health dangers of being under or overweight and sometimes may specifically profess concern for the featured person or people. 

I know there's some debate about whether one's weight can or should be used as a measure of health, but the bottom line is that you can not tell by someone's photograph what his or her blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, or other health measures are.  You just can't. 
Sandals:  Payless
But even if we said every obese person and/or every significantly underweight person is unhealthy, the question becomes, is it really anyone else's concern?  Is the health of a stranger really our business?  And realistically, do these concern trolls truly care about the health of the person or people they are referencing, or is it simply an excuse to criticize that person without sounding mean?

What about when the people concern trolling are family and friends, people who really do love and care about you and who are genuinely concerned about your health, rightly or wrongly?  What then?
Clutch:  Target (Available here)
Ultimately, our body shape, size, and weight are our business and ours alone.  People's bodies may be smaller or larger based on genetics, nutrition, disease, medications, exercise, eating disorders, and a number of other factors.  Some of these factors people have control over, some they don't, but the reasons why someone's body looks the way it does is their business, not ours.
Bracelets:  Target; The Limited
In my case, I know that I don't always care for my body as well as I should.  I often don't eat the healthiest foods.  I rarely exercise. 

I know that I would feel better if I did, but I also know why I don't do those things.  My life is hectic and chaotic.  I have five kids, a husband, a full-time job that sometimes demands more than full-time, and blogs to write.  I stress eat and sometimes mindlessly eat while working.  Is it a maladaptive coping mechanism?  Certainly.  But, I'm okay with that for right now because as maladaptive as it may be, it is currently functional for me.  It allows me to get through my day - I have more time to do things that I need to do, and the stress reduction that comes with eating convenience foods helps me be calmer in dealing with my kids and helps me focus on tasks at hand.

I also tend to get hyper-obsessive and focused on whatever my passions are.  In my past, I feel like this obsessiveness coupled with internalization of societal body ideals led me to an eating disorder.  I sometimes get scared that if I start down a path of better fitness that I could get overly obsessive and end up down the same road as before or worse.  While my behavior now may not be the healthiest, starving my body certainly isn't healthy either.  I still struggle with body image issues, but my body dysmorphia at the time was downright dangerous.
Earrings:  World Market
At the end of the day, it's my right and everyone else's to live our lives in ways that work best for us at any given moment.  I'll likely get back to healthier eating and exercise at some point. Despite my current behaviors, holistic health and nutrition are actually of deep interest to me, and I've independently studied on the topics quite a bit.

For right now, other aspects of life have taken precedence, and I'm okay with that.
We have to be open to allowing other people to live their lives in ways that are different than us.  I've learned this over the years, but quite honestly, it can be a hard lesson.  It is our own narcissism that wants to force our views and lifestyle choices onto others as the only legitimate way to think, feel, or live.  When I became a vegetarian at 15, I became passionate about spreading the message of factory farming, vegetarianism, animal testing, and other animal rights issues.  I'm still a vegetarian and still care deeply about these issues, but at the end of the day, my lifestyle is my choice.  I can educate others who wish to be educated, but it's not my place to demand or expect people to live the way I think they should.

By that same token, no one has the right to dictate to anyone else what their body should look like.  Using the guise of health, so often used by people who have no medical or health care education or experience, is a way to try to validate our dislike of bodies that don't fit the normative social ideal.  When we fat-shame or skinny-shame or whatever body-shame using concerns about health, we are simply trying to legitimize our own prejudices. 
Yes, some people, like family and friends, may have real concern.  To those people who may be reading, if you feel you must, I simply suggest that you note your concern to your loved one once and only once.  Nagging someone about their bodies, regardless of the reason or concern provided, is NOT helpful and may only serve to bring a wedge between you and that loved one.  If you are concerned that someone close to you has an eating disorder, then offer them resources and your support. 

At the end of the day though, concerns over health, legitimate or not, will only be addressed by someone when she or he feels that there is an actual problem (some people are perfectly happy being underweight or overweight, and that is A-ok too!) and when that person feels ready to address it.  Your "concern" over someone else's body is your issue and not theirs.  It's neither your right nor mine to push our issues on to someone else.  There are a whole lot of worse things in life that someone could do than have a body that doesn't fit the societal definition of health.  Instead of concern trolling someone for their body, offer them encouragement in other areas of their life, love and support them for who they are, not what they look like.
And now that we've discussed the problems with concern trolling, orange you excited to get back to fashion?  I haven't worn a lot of orange this past year, but I've rounded up a few more ideas on how to add more orange to your wardrobe.

First, here's another look with the culottes from a recent casual Friday at work:
Blazer:  Eloquii; Camisole:  Forever 21+ (Available here)
Satchel:  The Limited; Clutch:  Torrid
Wedge sandals:  Target; Bracelet:  New York & Company
Orange mixed with warm colors and camel brown is a perfect autumnal combination

Want subtle ways to add orange to your wardrobe?  Try incorporating orange in prints like polka dots on a sundress or a city-scene top
Left to right:  Midi & Crop Tops; Mix the Old with the New
Peach and black is an all-time favorite color combination, a soft and sophisticated way to wear orange
Back to Reality
Stay tuned for another post in this series tomorrow!

Check out last year's Color and Confidence: Orange here
For the crop top in other looks, see here, here, and here.


Color and Confidence 2: Seeing Red

Last summer, I posted my first color and confidence series, a series dedicated to wearing every color of the rainbow while discussing issues of body image, self-esteem, and following one's life passions.
Dress:  eShakti (Currently sold out; See here)
While I definitely prefer wearing neutrals, I find that wearing color projects a stronger message to others and makes other people take notice.  I'm finishing up the month of August with a second issue of this series, in which I hope to engage in some real talk about our bodies, self esteem, and more.

Let's start with the fashion, always my favorite topic! 

Blazer:  The Limited
Red is generally credited as the boldest of color choices, and there is definitely something statement-making about it.  Here, a red blazer and red lip help offset the sweetness of a floral summer dress and white accessories.
Heels:  Candie's (Available at Kohl's here)
I first featured this dress on my round-up of favorites from eShakti, and soon after that post, I ordered this gem using their custom fit options.  It fit perfectly right out of the box.  It's definitely quite low-cut, and I'm working through some ideas on how to wear it.  For today's look, I paired it with a white slip to get more coverage.  If I wanted to wear this dress to work or for a more conservative situation, I could pull this slip up higher to be less cleavage-bearing.
Glasses:  Valentino
Bracelets:  The Limited
Clutch:  New York & Company
While I like to have options for changing the look and feel of a piece, I realize lately that I am gravitating more towards lower-cut styles.  I love a little drama in my wardrobe, and lower-cut necklines definitely help add that flair.  I think as I get older, I am getting less apologetic and freer with my body.  

What I mean is that my body image is slowly starting to become less central to my life as I focus on life goals, my family, and other things that are more important to me.  At the end of the day, I have less time or desire to worry about whether my body looks acceptable to someone else.  I love short skirts and cleavage.  If I feel like rocking either or both, I do it now without feeling concerned about what someone else might think.  I'm learning to love my body in all its imperfections and to realize that, whenever possible, I should dress for myself first and foremost. 

Our bodies belong to us, and it's generally our right to care for them as we please, use them as we please, and show them as we please.  I'll be exploring some of these issues more as the week progresses, but today I really wanted to address the clothing aspect of this idea.

We live in a culture that tells women to bare their bodies, a culture that praises women who bare their breasts, abs, and other body parts, a culture that promises success to women who aren't afraid to show a little skin... of course, this encouragement and promised success is only available to cisgender women who fit the normative ideal of beauty. 

In U.S. culture, and many others around the world, fat women are generally discouraged from showing off their bodies in any way, outside of fetish pornography.  We're told from mainstream magazines, like O Magazine, for example, that we haven't earned the right to show our bodies if we don't have perfectly flat stomachs.  We're the target of cruel internet memes, social media hate groups, and fetish sites.

At the same time, the fatkini and crop top revolutions among plus size activists and bloggers has started to go mainstream, and larger women are being encouraged to lose the extra layers and loose clothing in favor of skin-baring options and body-hugging silhouettes.  This is wonderful.  Allowing plus size women the freedom to choose from a more diverse selection of fashion and to not live in hiding, ashamed of their extra flesh, is truly, truly inspiring.

But, is there now a pressure on women of all shapes and sizes to show off their bodies?  Are you less than confident in your body if you still prefer a skirted one-piece or a looser shape?  Not necessarily.  Do you prefer to not show your body off because you're not confident about certain parts?  That's okay too.  We're all at different places with our body image.  There is no wrong way to dress your body.  There is no wrong way to have a body.

Style should be personal, and we have all earned the right, simply by having bodies, to adorn them any way we please!

As women, we are caught in the catch-22 of either being defined as too sexy or too prudish, too fat or too thin. There is no right way to exist as a woman in this culture. Dress as you please, and let the judgments fall as they may. At the end of the day, the only person whose opinion of your style matters is YOU!!!!

If you're wanting to adorn those bodies in the color red, but need some ideas on how to incorporate more of this color into your wardrobe, I have some ideas for you:

Try adding red accessories for a pop of color

Left to right:  Black Pants for Work 2:  The JumpsuitComfy Work Wear
Coral reds are a softer version of red and feel a little more punchy and fun than true red
Left to right:  Maxi and Moto - 3 Ways!; Lounging in Flowers; Summer Crush
Pairing red with other primary colors is always a safe bet
Left to right:  Catting Around; Yellow and Red
Berry red looks fab on all skin tones, and is a subtler, richer version of red
Left to right:  Berry Professional; Honorable Mentions 5
Red blazers, sweaters, dresses, skirts and pants make a clear color statement.  Mix with neutrals and metallics to help temper the bright color
Left, top to bottom: Fall Color Week 2:  Sangria; Bringing a Little Color to the Workplace
Center:  To Belt or Not to Belt
Right, top to bottom:  Red and Plaid; Keep it Classic
 Stay tuned for more in the color and confidence series!

Do you like wearing red?  Do you feel pressure to either show off or hide your body?

For last year's color and confidence post featuring red, see here.

For the red blazer in other looks, see here, here, here, and here.