I hope you got some great ideas for the fashion-loving friends and family in your life. And if you love The 12 Days of Holiday Gift Guides as much as I do, make sure you’re following along each day. There’s a lot more ahead! Look for gift guides for all of the distinct personalities in your world.
The Free Spirit | The Techie | The Entertainer | The Animal Lover | The Homebody | The Athlete | The Old Soul | The Artist | The Prepster | The Music Buff | The Party Animal
So make sure you’re subscribed to the blog if you want to catch all the guides. You can get new blog posts sent to your email by signing up on the sidebar or you can follow along on Bloglovin’!
Hey pals! I hope you’re having a great weekend! My week was craaaaazy in the best way possible! I got a call Monday about a position working wardrobe on the movie Tiger. On Tuesday I was heading out of town and Wednesday I started work! Already, I’ve gotten to meet Janel Parrish, so the PLL fanatic inside of me has been fangirl-ing pretty hard. I mean, it’s freaking Mona!!! “Keep it cool. You are not a teen,” was my inner mantra for the day. Today, Mickey Rourke starts shooting and I am just crazy excited/curious to meet him!
I’m going to try and keep posting a semi-regular schedule amidst the long work days and hope to start the annual 12 Days of Holiday Gift Guides on Black Friday! I’ll also try to give you any little behind-the-scenes scoops from the movie that I can in my Weekend Reading posts over the next few weeks.
Now, good ladies and sirs, onto the links! Here are the sites that are really calling my name this week…
1 Now this is trust! These brave art lovers (or free tattoo lovers?) volunteered to be randomly tattooed through a hole in the wall during Scott Campbell’s exhibition, Whole Glory. (The Creator’s Project) | 2 Candy Club?!!!! How I have been walking the Earth without knowing about this? (Candy Club)
3 Olivia Palermo and Baublebar are a match made in heaven. Case in point: this gorgeous holiday collection. My favorite piece is this Saphira Collar. (Baublebar) | 4 I’m still loving candy-colored faux fur and this DIY is a perfect fun way to celebrate the trend. (designlovefest)
5 This is so close to my life (minus the Oscars and all the glamour obvi). So basically I just fall a lot.
You might be able to relate. For the first two weeks of November, I was in a total uninspired funk. Perhaps it’s natural. I had a very busy October and I expected to need a few days to rest and regroup. But I didn’t expect to need two whole weeks! In my dream world I was going to relax for a few days and then hit the ground running with themost inspired action plan for conquering life. Instead, I only felt inspired to do the bare minimum until I could get back to literally Keeping up with Kardashians.
Somewhere in the second week, I finally hit my unproductive limit and reached into my unblocking tool box. I’m happy to say I’ve come out of it with way more motivation and have a much better vision of the course of action to take now and through spring in order to achieve my goals. Phew! I am feeling much better now that I have my ideas and my direction back.
What I’m talking about today is that frustrating period of time in the creative process when you need ideas except absolutely nothing (or at least nothing great) is coming to you. It can be so stressful when you rely on your brain for work and it is failing you, like it has shut down. In case you are going through a similar situation, or just want to bookmark this for the next time you do, I thought I’d share my favorite go-to methods for getting over a creative slump and getting back your inspired, innovative, problem-solving mind.
1. Ask Questions / Find the Soul of the Project
If you lack clarity on an idea, it’s likely because you don’t have enough information yet. Ask yourself questions like: Who is the target audience? What do they want? How do I hope they will feel? How can I make their lives better/easier/more inspired? How have other designers approached similar problems? Parameters and constraints are the perfect springboard for creative ideas. So if you’ve been banging your head against a wall, it may simply be that you need to do a little more research. A well-defined plan should be established before you’ve even looked at your paintbrush, keyboard, etc. Getting to know the soul of the project is a perfect foundation for having your best ideas yet.
2. Come Up With Many Ideas
Anyone who’s watched Mad Men is probably familiar with this method (my favorite for brainstorming). When Don hears of a new client or product pitch they need to prepare for he will tell the team that they each need need to come up with 50 taglines, or something to that effect, for their next meeting. I usually give myself a limit of 10, but whatever number you decide, the process of coming up with too many ideas is great for a couple of reasons. First of all, it helps you to see that you have a lot of options. When you are feeling at a loss for ideas, this can be a crucial morale booster. Secondly, it forces you to open your mind to consider more possibilities. It doesn’t matter if some are silly or impractical, the act of considering more options will automatically get you in a creative state of mind. Needing to come up with 10, 20, 50 ideas will ease the pressure that comes with trying to find the one perfect idea.
3. Shake Up Your Work Space
I don’t like to start working at my desk until it is cleared off and organized. A clean work space helps my mind to also be a blank space, perfect for tackling tasks and projects. If you are feeling stressed, take a moment to create a zen haven. Clear away any trash or dishes, organize your work tools, and add a little ambiance by lighting a candle or putting on some calming music. If you are feeling uninspired? Take it a step further and consider rearranging some furniture, adding some fresh flowers or a colorful piece of art, or even simply moving your chair to a window or the other side of the desk. Not only will the act of changing the space get your creative wheels moving, but having a “new” space will aid in the production of new ideas. If all else fails, you can always head to a coffee shop or park and get inspired by your surroundings outside of your work space.
4. Get a New Perspective
As much as changing your surroundings can literally provide a new perspective, sometimes it’s helpful to turn this theory inward and think about things from another angle. One method I like is to start at your end goal and work backwards, asking how and why at each level. Say you want to write a children’s book but are having a hard time getting started. Think about the day the book launches: How do you want the first person that reads it to feel? Now why is this important and how can you make sure it happens? Get smaller and smaller with each step until you have decided on a starting point. Another tactic for gaining a new approach is to ask yourself how Benjamin Franklin/Joan of Arc/Beyoncé (whoever) would approach the same project. Thinking about it outside of yourself can alleviate the pressure and fear that comes with creative ownership and help to open yourself to ideas you may have not yet considered.
5. Activate Your Brain Trust
Collaboration breeds creation, so when in doubt, reach out to all the creative geniuses in your network. Whether it be as a fan, by saving quotes, reading great literature, looking at inspiring art, or checking out an innovative film or concert, there is no doubt that great works of art can help inspire creativity in your own work. As for your more personal connections, keeping a regular meeting of people in similar fields, finding a mentor, and simply reaching out to those closest to you can all help in finding the missing link you are looking for to make your idea whole.
The most important thing to remember when experiencing a creative block is that it is a natural and important part of the process. Try to look at this frustrating time as the perfect opportunity for growth. You haven’t run out of ideas yet, you are just pushing yourself to find your best ones. The struggle is a valuable part of getting to your best creative work.
It felt wrong, insensitive, and frankly ridiculous to post my regular links roundup this past Saturday after watching the complete horror in Paris unfold on the news the night before. I had feelings of guilt after letting my pre-written post proclaiming “Happy weekend!” go live when so many people had just had their worlds changed forever, in the worst way possible.
I felt these sentiments mirrored back to me watching Saturday Night Live this past weekend, which I think was handled very well, but still seemed awkward. The regular opening sketch was replaced by a heartfelt message in both English and French from cast member Cecily Strong. The colors of the French flag were shown where applicable, but then the rest of the show was business as usual, with one ridiculous skit after another.
It can be hard to know how to express your feelings in a time like this. Messages of thoughts and prayers on social media seem trite (as I also feel this blog post does), but posting life as usual seems offensive. Something as simple and human as turning off the news to watch your favorite sitcom can bring feelings of guilt and carelessness. It is uncomfortable to switch back and forth from shock and horror to humor and frivolity, isn’t it? But strange as it seems, I think this duality is incredibly necessary.
Terrorists bring darkness, hopelessness, and very real evil into our world and the only way to combat that is to continue spreading light, optimism, and love. For this blog, at this time, that also means celebrating seemingly unimportant things like sequin shoes and rainbow confetti. Because if I can’t continue loving the silly things I love and sharing them with you, then that will be the day I have personally been defeated. The day when my joy has been replaced with fear.
I am overwhelmed with compassion for Paris, and now for all of the world as I worry about what is to come. But forgive me, presently and in the future, as these news stories continue to unfold, when I seemingly ignore the seriousness of the world to make jokes or talk about unnecessary things I want to buy. It’s not out of thoughtlessness or insensitivity, I just have to choose to treat this space as an escape from the more serious evils of the world and hope it can provide the same escape for anyone reading. After all, art and humor have, for me, always provided the best methods for coping and healing.
Happy Saturday, pals! Are you ready for some great links this week? Let’s dig in!
1 I loved this blogger room makeover, part of the One Room Challenge. The color scheme is just absolute perfection. (Hunted Interior) | 2 I’ve been really loving mudcloth lately, and this DIY, using a bleach pen and a $3 thrifted chair, is pretty brilliant. Bookmarking now. (I Spy DIY)
3 Funfetti Pumpkin Pie?! Uhhhh…. yes, please. (Studio DIY) | 4 This dollhouse is so crazily detailed and stylish. It’s pretty amazing. (Front + Main)
5 I’ve watched this a few times this week, and it stays hilarious. My favorite is the elevator.
In my work as a designer and stylist, it has always struck how the degree to which one knows their personal style can fall within such a broad range. One person might come to the table with colors/silhouettes/styles they are interested in, while another person might come into it knowing they just need a change but aren’t even really sure what they like. If you’re someone who falls into the latter category and struggle with defining your personal style, I would say start pinning! The styles, colors, patterns, you are drawn to will emerge pretty quickly.
I’ve always very confidently known my personal style, but I’ve still been very surprised when I go to pin something like pineapples wearing sunglasses and realized I’ve already pinned it to three different boards. Like who in the world knew I was into pineapples with personality? I didn’t! But it’s an interesting thing to note. Here are a few other things I’ve realized through pinning that are, for whatever reason, my absolute jam.
1. Gallery Walls
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. The whole world is obsessed with gallery walls. And now they most definitely are, but a few years ago, before the gallery wall explosion even occurred, my sister was looking through my home decor board and was like “almost all of these pictures are just a bunch of pictures hung on the same wall.” And she was so right. I didn’t have a clue at the time that I was drawn to that, but now I realize it’s the perfect blend of maximalism (mixing colors, prints, sizes, etc.) and organization (there’s generally an overarching theme). Two things I want and need when it comes to style.
I don’t know what this one is even about. Maybe a childhood spent watching Now & Then makes me crave a retro girl gang? Or is it simply an appreciation of repetition and uniformity as design motifs? Who knows? But my mood board is full of these images and so many other random vintage objects. Gallery wall theme inspiration, anyone?
I was looking through my home decor board and realized that I had pinned different pictures of the same exact navy velvet sofa five different times without even knowing it! I apparently really need it in my life. But it didn’t stop at navy or even sofas, for that matter- I just apparently need all the colorful velvet in my life.
Pinning helped me realize an intense love for gemstone everything: illustrations, candy, sweatshirts, whatever. I’ll take all of them, all the time, on all the things. But I really, really love gemstone art because I think it’s a perfect way to give your decor a hint of nature in its most glam form.
How many times have I made a batch of DIY soap at home? Zero point zero zero. How many times have I pinned DIY soap with dreams of creating it at home? Approximately 500 million. It might actually be my calling in life. Who knew?
Whooo. It has been hard to make reading a priority lately. But ultimately I know I feel happier/calmer/more balanced when I make it a priority. Do you ever feel like this, too?
The books I read this month helped me especially to feel the happy/calm/balanced trifecta, as they all were a little slower paced, focused on provoking thought and changing perspectives. Here are my very honest reviews of what’s been on my night stand lately: Sick in the Head, Go Set a Watchman, and You Are a Badass.
Sick in the Head | Judd Apatow
The scoop: Apatow, creator/writer/director/producer behind movies such as Knocked Up and tv shows such as Freaks and Geeks, shares his interviews with major comedians and entertainers. Some, like his first meeting with Jerry Seinfeld, go as far back as his 15-year-old high school radio days. New York Times Bestseller.
The (unofficial) rating: ♥♥♥♥ (4/5) It’s a hefty collection, so I would definitely recommend it if you are a comedy buff. If you are more of just an entertainment dabbler, gems like the Freaks and Geeks Oral History and a random interview with Eddie Vedder help break up the in-depth joke/audience analysis. Plus, Apatow is so connected with major Hollywood players that it reads a lot like a string of People magazine articles (not life-changing but pretty entertaining). Bottom line: Smart, insightful, and entertaining.
Pairs well with: Cherry soda. Laffy Taffy. Nostalgia for the awkward angst of your teen years.
Go Set a Watchman | Harper Lee
The scoop: I’m assuming you all know this now, but this is not To Kill a Mockingbird II. It’s the first story Lee handed to her editor in the 50s, and then was told to put it aside to instead focus on the story’s main character, Scout, and the childhood that led up to this story. Thus, To Kill a Mockingbird, in all it’s perfect glory was written. Go Set a Watchman centers around Jean Louise Finch, “Scout,” as a 26-year-old woman visiting her hometown from New York City. I think this is important to note, because it’s very hard to separate the two in terms of critique.
The (unofficial) rating: ♥♥♥ (3/5) I truly didn’t know how to rate this book. I was so torn between whether it was wonderful or whether I absolutely hated it, and that, I think, says something powerful in and of itself. I was certainly emotionally affected by it. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of, if not my absolute favorite, book and in a lot of ways, reading this tainted that for me. In some ways I wish I had kept the story and characters in their precious, perfect box in my mind. In other ways, I loved coming back to the familiarity of Maycomb and reading Lee’s humorous and beautiful writing style. Bottom line: I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I had hoped, though, admittedly, my expectations may have been an impossible order to fill.
Pairs well with: Fresh-squeezed lemonade. Homemade biscuits. Disillusionment.
You are a Badass | Jen Sincero
The scoop: A very blunt guide to achieving a successful life.
The (unofficial) rating: ♥♥♥♥ (4/5) When I picked this up from the library, I realized I had accidentally reserved the audio version, which I was not excited about. But I ended up really enjoying listening to it while walking, cleaning, etc. It made me feel doubly like I was making great strides in my life, even if I wasn’t. This book got very polarized reviews on Amazon, but I personally really liked it. Some of it should be taken with a major grain of salt (i.e. her thoughts on manifestation as money management), but Sincero doesn’t tiptoe over anything and the language is much more straight forward than most self-help books. Bottom line: If you are feeling stuck in life but self-help makes you queasy, this is the perfect book for you. Just maybe skip over the money part.
Pairs well with: Shots of whiskey and forming an all-girl garage punk band.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think?
Happy Saturday! Are you all ready for some links? Because I’ve got some great ones!
Settle in for my favorite internet finds this week…
1 I’ve seen this flower chandelier tutorial a lot this week, but for good reason: it’s amazing! What a show stopper this would be at a dinner party/baby shower/or just basically anything in life. (We Are Scout) | 2 These flourless hot cocoa cookies look like absolute heaven to me. If I don’t have one of these in each hand on Christmas day I have really failed at life. (Style Me Pretty)
3 I really have a thing for both non-traditional holiday decor and advent calendars. This cute DIY is both of those things. Maybe I’ll make one for my niece and nephew… (Oh Happy Day) | 4 I love this Tumblr account for random ideas, strategies, and new perspectives when you need them. (Steal Strategies)
5 I thought this video was equal parts sweet and powerful. “Don’t sneak” should probably be everyone’s motto for everything.
For a girl on a budget, this season’s trends are super exciting because a lot of them can easily be recreated using just a pair of scissors and some items you probably already have hanging in your closet! If you like a neatly finished product, you’re going to want to use perhaps a few more items and a few more steps. But if quick and easy is the name of the game, you can go ahead skip them. Just grab your scissors and start cutting!
1. The Car Wash Skirt
Car wash skirts were everywhere on the F/W 2015 runways. They look great layered over a slip skirt, tights, or on their own. If you have an old pencil skirt hanging in your closet that has really lost its luster, snipping a few car wash panels is a great way to give it a fun trendy update!
All you need for this DIY is really a pair of scissors and an unlined pencil skirt. To make your panels precise, simply measure around the hem of your skirt and mark in even increments. If you are using a knit skirt, something with stretch, like jersey, you won’t need to finish the edges where you’ve cut. However, if you are using a woven skirt, something without stretch, like cotton twill, you will probably want to finish the edges with a serge stitch or a seam sealant like Fray Check.
With the rise of 70s fashion comes a natural trend toward the long duster vest. This style is a perfect complement to a turtleneck and flares, works well over a skirt for the office, and can even be layered over other coats, like a black moto jacket, for an interesting twist.
This is an easy look to replicate with a thrift store coat or one whose sleeves are an inch or so too short (hello, my life). For a quick fix DIY, simply cut off the sleeve at the shoulder seam and finish with some seam sealant. Or, to correctly finish the alteration (if you’re into that kind of thing), you can cut the sleeve off a few inches below the shoulder seam and follow this great tutorial at …Love Maegan.
Just like me on every elementary school picture day, this season has been all about one neckline: the turtleneck. But this trend isn’t just for sweaters anymore. Seen all over the Fall 2015 runways, the turtleneck choker/dickie/scarf (whatever you want to call it), served as a cozy accessory to everything from sweaters to slinky dresses.
To recreate this trend yourself, you can easily cut the neck or sleeve off of any old sweater. But I especially like the idea of using a pair of stretch tights or leggings for a no-sew, 90’s-era version of this trend. You will want to cut nearly double the width to allow the ends to fold and turn under as they will naturally want to do. Because the stretch material won’t fray, you don’t even need to take any extra steps for finishing, unless of course you need something to help stretch it out! Choker is not meant to be taken literally. 😉
A lot of the DIY denim practices I used in my teenage days are back in fashion. One of my favorite versions of DIY denim as of late is the raw, uneven hem like on this pair of Vetements jeans or like the DIY I version I saw (and loved) on Honestly WTF. For petite girls, it’s a perfect excuse to cut the hem of your jeans. And for the rest of us, it’s a fresh denim update that will really show off your cold weather booties.
To create this look, simply cut the sewn hem from a pair of relaxed or straight cut jeans. Then cutting right inside of the side seams and inseams, cut up another two inches (or however long you prefer) and straight across the front to create the shorter front hem. Use your fingers to pull some strands for a frayed look. If you’re not great at eyeballing lengths, you can measure and mark for precision.
Cowboy boots are a classic, they’re never really “out of style.” But unless you are out roping cattle for a living, they can also be pretty tricky to work into your wardrobe without looking like Jessica Simpson in her Daisy Duke days. Cue the crop! A shorter version, either in bootie or mule form, takes the most ornate, traditional western boot and makes in modern and urban.
This is the perfect makeover for that pair of hard-to-wear boots collecting dust in your closet. How to go about the actual cutting will depend on your boot. You can either trim along the natural seam lines or simply snip straight across. I like the look of the imperfect raw hem, but if you want a more finished look you can always clean up the cut with a needle and thread or some strong fabric glue.
A photo posted by Ashley Wills (@freewillsstudio) on
That’s a close up pic of the tree costume that my co-designer, Shiree Houf, and I designed for Highball Halloween (photo by T. A. Mueller Photography) . We were actually so busy working on this in October that I never set any official goals for the month other than “finish Highball collection” and “shower as much as possible.” This season gets so intense for me that I actually didn’t even really accomplish any of my September goals except the silliest: Learn a rap song on piano. (Enjoy friends…)
Not the best performance of my life but a cool party trick, nonetheless.
September goals aside, I did make headway in a few other areas in the past two months. Notice my new pic in the sidebar, taken by the wonderful Alexa of Alexa Marie Photography. If you click through I also have a new About page and another profile pic featured there.
Alexa was great to work with because I am quite possibly the least photogenic person on Earth. And I’m not just being hard on myself, I simply have never been able to do it well. At all. I’ve got the half-smirk selfie thing down, but let me tell you, it takes some real camera magic to get a professional, smiling picture of this face. And one that I actually like to boot. That’s a real feat. So I really just have to give a big thanks to Alexa for her camera wizardry. And if you happen to be in the market for a photo session, I strongly suggest booking with her! You can check out her website or facebook page for more info.
And now onto this month’s goals! Because I’ve been coasting a little on the organized goal front, some of these are going to look pretty familiar. I’ve got a few new goals and few I STILL haven’t conquered (but will never give up on!). Here are the things taking priority for me this month…
A few of these things are long-standing goals of mine so I’m really trying to light a fire inside of myself to finally get them done!
Do you have any long-standing goals that you struggle with?
What things are you working on this month?
Let’s talk goal-conquering in the comments!
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