Lady Marmalade & Duke Ellington

I had the awesome privilege of seeing Patti LaBelle perform at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for a fundraising event for the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. And let me tell you something... Mother Patti is surpasses every single thing you ever thought she was.

Patti LaBelle is phenomenal!

The students of Duke Ellington are absolutely amazing. The show opened with a beautiful spoken word piece performed by three ladies followed by a dance performance by accompanied by sounds from the show choir and school orchestra. It was really beautiful and inspiring to see so many bright and talented teens on the stage. That school does amazing work ...and now I feel like I need to re-start my piano lessons. I wanna be down.

She teased, she joked, she laughed, and she brought men on stage to sing and dance for her. She delicately sipped water from a straw placed in her wine glass. The top of her pristine white piano was carefully adorned with several pairs of Louboutins. She occasionally pulled out an antique silver mirror (also placed on the piano) to check her appearance every couple of songs. She smiled, danced, and dougied straight through every single song of her set, which included favorites such as "Right Kinda Lover", "If Only You Knew", and "Lady Marmalade". She ended her set by flinging her Manolos off her feet and into the crowd. At 68 years young, Patti LaBelle is a prime example of everything I need to be in the future. She is just everything.

It was a magical time at the Kennedy Center. I'm glad I could be a part of it all :)

Style Diary: Back to Black

I stepped back into the comfort of cream, black, and fringe. Don't call it a minimalism comeback but I'm finding that my affinity for creams, tans, and blacks seems to be pretty steadfast.

I'm still in search of the perfect nude lip. Nude lip color is probably my favorite shade to be worn on brown skin girls simply because of how beautiful the contrasted browns appear together. I have a couple shades I go back and forth with but have yet to find the one that I think works perfectly for me. For now, Maybelline's 'My Mahogany(a peachy  brown with hints of pink) and 'Nearly There(pinkish brown with a frosty glossy finish) are the two I wear most often. I'm pretty sure I hate 'Nearly There' (I also believe that's the shade I'm wearing in these pics) but, for some reason, it is always in my handbag whenever I want to throw on some lipstick. I'm not a big fan of pearly/frosty lip colors; I think they make my lips look more plump and ashied than is ever necessary. 'My Mahogany' is nice but often the peach-pink undertones make the shade a little too vibrant when I want a truly matte and muted color. It is now discontinued anyway sooo.. my search for the perfect shade continues. I've received amazing recommendations about Illamasqua's 'Facade' and Smashbox's 'Truffle' from several different sources as of late. Sephora will see me soon.

Happy Monday!

Style Diary: Adieu, Winter!

Spring is officially here. I bid adieu to everyone's favorite melancholy and bipolar season earlier this week by pairing Winter's it color oxblood with my favorite plaid shirt and a leopard print belt as I awkwardly posed in my cube. I'm not sure why I can never quite center my belts but... yea. That oddity is definitely not intentional.

Alice Smith's SHE was released this Tuesday and I finally got a chance to dive into yesterday. I quickly became obsessed. Although somewhat different from For Lovers, Dreamers, and Me (its a bit less sassy), the sounds of this album are still distinctly Alice - loving, whimsical, fun, and heartfelt. You can hear the growth and maturity and journey. Her fusion of soft rock, blues, soul, and R&B is undeniably smooth and I love how her voice smolders, soars, and boasts as she flows effortlessly through different genres on each and every track. Check out one of my [many] favorite tracks from the album below.

Style Diary: Tuesday is the Best Monday

I took Monday off to clean up my home and work on my thesis paper. And while I did clean my bathroom and kitchen and manage to put some laundry away, I spent most of the day curled up on the couch swooning over Mr. Bates, loathing Thomas, and wondering what else the Many-Faced God has in store for Blind Beth. My computer was never turned on and not one phrase of a peer-reviewed article was article was read. 

Yet, as the days inch closer until I must submit my paper, my anxiety isn't anywhere near Level 100 and I spend most days smiling and just excited to be alive. I blame this mostly on the warming weather. I'm coping with potential failure quite we Yes, I promise to sit down and work on those pages. April 15th is much closer than my mind is currently conceiving. Procrastination is a disease.

Also, the recent... onslaught ...of love in my age group is pretty amazing. In  a good way. All the new relationships, engagements, and baby announcements are pretty dope. I remember being overwhelmed the first time love attacked my life post-college graduation (you know, when all the academic sweethearts were getting married post college graduation...) for mostly petty and self-centered reasons. Well, not really "petty" but I really did believe 21 was a wee-bit to young to be lighting unity candles. But, you know, what do I know?

This go around, as Cupid slays my comrades with arrows, I think it's quite beautiful. I think love is so much more exciting once you have disposable income, happy hours, and no homework. I'm here for it.

 I wish I was this excited to write my thesis though. That would be heavenly. I have got to do better this week.

Style Diary: Saturday in the Cities

After attending church in Alexandria, VA, I ventured up to Baltimore for lunch at a friend's home this Saturday and got a couple snaps taken of my look for the day. I love the print and shape of this Dorothy Perkins dress. I rarely like wearing things "straight out the pack" so I decided to spruce up the dress by belting with a leopard print belt and wearing my tan/black heeled sandals. It warmed up a bit this weekend and I was more than excited to walk about un-sweatered and un-coated.

Hope you all had a beautiful weekend! Let's make the most of this work week :)

Keep Camo Forever

First and foremost... I found my watch! It was balled up in this cardi --- Let's not discuss where it was. Just know the Prodigal Watch has returned.

Moving along...

I absolutely love camouflage pants. There is a current trend of wearing camo pants and Timbs that the hipsters young fashionistas and fashionistos of the world (and by "world" I may be strongly referring the mid-Atlantic and East Coast) are exhausting to the brink of death. Its a great combination so I definitely understand the infatuation but, like all good things (i.e. golden double stuff oreos), moderation is key. You just need to have a solid rotation else you will diminish the beauty and appreciation for self and others.

For me, camouflage print (more so in green shades than khaki shades) is right up there with leopard print when it comes to staple prints that every one should have in their wardrobe. Whether it be utility jacket, cargo short, or pants... the camo just needs to be there. It's a pretty good staple that will get you far. Get into that.

Shoes: Deena & Ozzy (out of stock but similar here and here)


Styling: Louis Vuitton Bags

I entered another styling contest on Polyvore. I'm not sure if I'll ever win one of these things but I think its great practice. There are tons of magazines, fashion house, fashion professionals, and amateurs with their own pages so it's proving to be a great place to learn just absorbing what people put out.

Anyway, this contest asked users to make sets based on you're favorite Louis Vuitton bag. My all time favorite LV bag is the Speedy 30 (in Damier Ebene and (now discontinued) Epi) and I made not one set based around that bag. Mainly because speedys are my favorite bag of choice and I style them nearly every time I walk out my home when I'm carrying one of mine. So, I choose to work with LV bags I wouldn't necessarily gravitate to instead and see what I could pull together.

Tribal Prints & LV

Yesterday's post on peplum and African prints inspired this look with Speedy Cube PM from the Spring 2013 collection. This new iteration of the speedy bag reminds me of a relaxing southern California vacation in 1962. I love the soft yellow shade and mod-inspired box design. Because the feel of the bag is so classic but with a twist, I wanted to style a look that brought about the same feeling. Midi skirt, classic black heels, peplum top but I believe the leather fabric and African print bring an unexpected surprise to a classic look. The lucite bauble jewelry was used to envoke that 60s feel into the look as well.


I've never been a big fan of the graffiti bags but this limited edition Louis Vuitton Graffiti Alma MM (designed Stephen Sprouse exclusively for the 2001 collection) really stands out to me. It seems to be the perfect balance between street and chic. Because it's such a bold black and white bags, I wanted to keep that black and white theme going but lightening it up with sporadic notes of color (i.e. yellow shoes, red nails, the hint of blue in the dress). I think this is a very fun and youthful look.


The Noé Louis Vuitton bag debuted in 1932 with a very specific purpose in mind: carrying a bottle of champagne. It, of course, expanded beyond its original purpose and became wildly popular in the 1980s when drawstring bags were the trend. I wanted to attempt to update this bag by pulling it away from the classic vintage art scene and meshing it with an art-inspired business casual look. In my mind, this look works really well. I'm still not sure if there should be heels or if the flats work.

What do you think?


Michelle Obama Covers Vogue [Again]!

Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, First Lady Michelle Obama covers the April 2013 issue of Vogue. The cover story is actually a great interview with Mr. and Mrs. Obama discussing partnership and the importance of balancing work, marriage, and family.

There are plenty of great takeaways from this story but one notable quote that stuck out to me was when Obama said of his wife:
"She is a great mom. What is also true is Michelle’s had to accommodate ... a life that ... it’s fair to say was not necessarily what she envisioned for herself. She has to put up with me. And my schedule and my stresses. And she’s done a great job on that. But I think it would be a mistake to think that my wife, when I walk in the door, is, 'Hey, honey, how was your day? Let me give you a neck rub.' It’s not as if Michelle is thinking in terms of, 'How do I cater to my husband?' I think it’s much more, We’re a team, and how do I make sure that this guy is together enough that he’s paying attention to his girls and not forgetting the basketball game that he’s supposed to be going to on Sunday? So she’s basically managing me quite effectively—that’s what it comes down to."

One of the more noteworthy things that I receive from the Obamas is their intentional and committed [healthy] partnership. While it is very obvious that they love and value each other, I love that you can see a decisive, compassionate, and caring force that draws them together and drives all the decisions they make. Their union is more than just affection and attention; its way more powerful and seems to encompass so much more. They remind of the old adage that insists 'perfect love casts out fear'. I think it's very beautiful and important to have this model of love and family out in the open. I believe they set a good precedence of what a modern and healthy partnership should look like in romantic unions. A lot can be learned from the Obamas and this interview was quite inspiring.

During her interview, First Lady Obama says something in regards to fashion that I feel is probably one of the most important concept in regards to style and dress but it is something that is rarely stated.
"I always say that women should wear whatever makes them feel good about themselves. That’s what I always try to do. . . . I also believe that if you’re comfortable in your clothes it’s easy to connect with people and make them feel comfortable as well. In every interaction that I have with people, I always want to show them my most authentic self."
When you wear clothes you love, that confidence radiates through into everything you do. Love pink? Stop thinking "I can never pull that off" and purchase that magenta blazer you've been lusting over. If you love heels, buy more heels. Practice wearing them at home if you aren't confident in your heel-walking skills. You love wearing men's shirts? Pair them with your favorite skinnies or skirts and walk out your door as the most chic gal there is. If you love sneakers, then wear your sneakers. Forget the trends and stop worrying about what others may think or say; just do more of what you love. As my friend Lucy eloquently stated:

"At some point, we have to stop doubting and start declaring who we are."

Pick of your issue of the April 2013 issue of Vogue when it hits newsstands nationwide on March 26. It will also be available as a digital download for the iPad®, Kindle Fire, NOOK Color™, and NOOK Tablet™.

Style Diary: Florals for Spring? Ground breaking.

I have this nasty habit of taking off my watch after wearing it for a few hours. I just feel like my pores need to breath, you  know? Anyway, I know I wore it to church Saturday and I remember taking it off at a luncheon I went to afterwards. I feel as though I put it in my clutch but I couldn't find it there when I went to look for it on  Monday morning.


But this post isn't supposed to focus on my slight ineptitude. I just wanted to share what I wore the today.

Tapered trousers are the quickest way to get me to adore an ankle length pant. These brogues are some of the most comfortable shoes I own yet I always forget to wear them for some reason. I need to do better! I'm also realizing that I really don't care for flats unless they have a slight pointed. I have a collection of rounded ballet flats that barely get touched as proof.

I need to sell some things. And find my watch.

Ethnic Printed Peplum

I love pencil skirts. More specifically, high-waist pencil skirts. But, because of my booty and hips, I don't necessarily always feel comfortable wearing them. I feel like a lot of my body is on display and it can become very hyper-sexual very quickly if I am not careful. I'm not fully at ease with the glances, winks, and mischievous smiles yet.

[enter peplum]

Now, peplum skirts, shirts, jackets, and dresses have been exceedingly popular for the past year or so. And, although I really love the style I never really invested in buying any peplum pieces until I purchased this dress from Dorothy Perkins a couple of weeks ago. I finally got a chance to wear it this weekend and immediately feel in love with the shape on my figure (and I forgot to take pics -_-). I love how the peplum detailing on skirts/dresses hides distracts creates this nice, clean, modest aura that is still flirtatious and fun.

Anyway, I want to get 1-2 more peplum pieces for my wardrobe. I want classic statement piece that could bring about longevity. Pieces like a nice neutral colored jacket and a bold skirt. Because one of my goals is to better support independent businesses, I've been searching on Etsy to find some good pieces. I recently ran across the Kait Bias Cut Peplum Skirt from De-Mes'Tiks and think I've found love.

Aren't they divine?! I really love ethnic prints, high waist garb, and peplum detailing so these two items were no brainers when I ran across them. I've always wanted to own tailored authentic African print items but never new a seamstress or where to get the material. These skirts combine so much of what I love that it excites me. I'm not sure which one I love more but I can't wait for one of them to make their way into my closet.

Styling: Grey Top(s)

At this point, we should all know how much I love styling. I joined Polyvore as a means to stretch my creativity in regards to pulling looks together. I put together looks that are akin to my personal aesthetic but also try to capture other styles/preferences as well.

I joined the Simply Stylish group on Polyvore because they have styling challenges every so often. Here are a couple of looks I created for their "Grey Top" challenge.

I love the texture in this jacket! By keeping an overall muted and neutral color palette, there is more room to play around with different textures such as boucle, leather, denim, suede, studs, and lucite. The Versace heels are very playful and fun. You'll be the talk of the town whether you're walking the red carpet or hanging out with gal pals.

My current love on monochrome pairings inspired this look. I think the teal leather trousers and studded clutch provided an edgy splash of color to an otherwise flirty and feminine look. The over-sized braided straps on these Marco de Vincenzo sandals are the perfect amount of pop for this look.

This set is inspired by the wild prints and bold colors of the 60s. Strong architectural patterns in the skirt, earrings, and bracelets fused with the classic Chanel 2.5 bag. I think this floral gray blouse from Stella McCartney really softened the look and took it away from being too "time capsule"-esque. I'd definitely wear this look to church, a graduation, or any family affair.

What do you think?


The Ebb and Flow of Construction

Timberland boots and Hip-Hop go together like sundresses and warm weather. And, just like the ebb and flow of natural water tides, the cultural obsession with the Timberland 6" boot declines and revives every couple of years*. Widespread culture love in the 90s ("Timbs for my hooligans in Brooklyn" - Notorious B.I.G., Hypnotize, 1996) and early 2000s seemed to dwindle after 2003 (remember Jay-Z and Beyonce wore their he-and-she Timberlands & Manolo Blahnik Timbs in their '03 Bonnie & Clyde video?) as the "grown and sexy" look ushered in by Kanye West (and pushed through to the mainstream by Jay-Z in 'Change Clothes') seemed to take hold. Ironically, when Jay-Z rapped "Timbs.. we off that" in his song 'Off That" off September 2009's Blueprint 3, Kanye West had already begun bringing back the cultural staple by wearing them on the red carpet in June 2009 at the BET Awards. And, Jay-Z was already back to wearing the shoes he swore off by the time his album dropped.

And, it really was Jay-Z and Kanye West wearing wheat and black 6' Contrucs** in the mainstream for a few years until Rihanna and Teyana Taylor, lovers of menswear and probably taking styling cues from their bosses, popped up wearing them in early 2012 at clubs, award shows, events, and shopping expeditions.

And, soon enough everyone adopted to wearing Butters** again. Whether paired with camo pants or denim, fashionistas and fashionistos around the world seemed to embrace the rugged street look that Timbs provided. Tracee Ellis Ross got them gifted from her beau and fell in love, instagramming them to her hearts content (see herehere, and here).

Then Kanye started dating Kim Kardashian and Timberland boots expanded outside of our normative urban population/construction worker/outdoors men group and hit hipster and mainstream fashion. Look at Kris Jenner and Scott Disick, separately, running about town in our favorite 6'' wheat Timberlands. Clearly, they too, are being touched by the Kanye Effect.

I wonder just how far this trend will infiltrate. Front row at the runway shows at the Lincoln Center or the Jardin des Tuileries? Will Miley Cyrus be sporting her own pair of Construcs as she strolls the streets of LA with Liam Hemsworth? Alexa Chung grabbing coffee from Starbucks in her pair? Christine Centenera being photographed by Tommy Oh at Milan Fashion Week pairing Timbs with Miu Miu and Prada?

A girl can only dream.

As for me, I'm a hip-hop loving brown girl raised in South Florida who got her first pair of Timberland 6" wheat boots from a Timberland outlet store at Sawgrass Mills Mall back in 1999 for $40 as an ode to the music I love and the state I was born in. No kind of functionality in that purchase being that I lived in the land of perpetual heat, humidity, and shivering 2 week winters filled with high winds and 50 degrees. Influence of hip-hop on my wardrobe at its purest form. And, as a result, I've kept a clean pair of 6" wheat Construcs** in my closet (and field boots) ever since. I'm glad I finally live in a place where I won't look crazy for donning them with my favorite pair of boyfriend jeans or cargo pants.

God bless this recent resurgence of some of the best shoes ever. My soul is on cloud nine.

*Urban New Yorkers love to stand proud and maintain that Timberland boots never "went out of style" in their area and, due to functionality, I can very well agree with this. But I believe the continuance of Timberland boots in Northern areas where more a result of nostalgia mixed with necessity, not fashion trends. Of course, this brings to argument the notion of  "classics" in the fashion hemisphere. But, indulging this topic is a post for another day.

**6" Wheat Timberland boots have various names, including (but not limited to): Timbs, Construcs, Butters

Black or White?

Grace Mahary featured in “Black or White?”
Elle Canada January 2013, 
Photographed by Leda and St. Jacques
Stylist: Sara Bruneau
 Hair and Make-up: Geneviève Lenneville

The clean aesthetic of a black and white look still inspire me.
I love the feature of strong structure, menswear, heavy brow, and vivacious red lip.