Month: July 2015

Guest Post: How to Declutter an Overstuffed Closet

declutter closetToday I'm so pleased to feature a guest post from the folks at Modernize.com about a topic that is near and dear to my heart. Check it out!

declutter closet

If you can’t locate any item you need within a matter of seconds, it’s probably time for you to clean out your closet. If your closet is full of clutter, it’s probably wasting your time in ways you haven’t even thought about. Three minutes hunting for a shirt here, two minutes digging out your shoes there--all the sudden you’re late for work and you don’t even know where the time went. If that’s you,

Have Discipline

Never mind cleaning and reorganizing the whole house--just organizing the closet requires a day-long cleaning extravaganza. If you do it bit by bit, it could become a month-long ordeal. Even though it will take discipline, and even though your work area may look like a disaster for a few days, try to knock it out in a weekend. Piecemeal progress is not going to give you a revolutionized, decluttered closet. Mark it on your calendar, settle in, turn on Netflix or Spotify, and get it done.

Clean It All Out

In order to re-organize your closet, you have to get everything out. Even if your winter clothes are organized snugly at the corner of your closet and haven’t been touched, it will be difficult to rethink your system and come up with a better one if you’re leaving everything orderly in its place. Getting everything out forces you to sort through every item to determine what you don’t need instead of trying to anticipate before you’ve even looked. Seeing an item outside of your closet may give you fresh eyes to see whether it’s worth keeping.

Be Objective

When you’re trying to decide what to keep and what to get rid of, you will probably have a few emotional roadblocks that stand in your way. One of them is the memories attached to the clothes. You don’t want to get rid of a shirt that reminds you of a moment or day that you valued, like the dress you wore to the family reunion when you last saw your grandma before she passed away. Another is that it’s hard to throw or give things away that you spent money on, even if you never wear it- It’s much easier to leave it in the closet, thinking you might wear it someday. The third issue is that you invent all sorts of scenarios that lead you to think you’d wear that unworn thing in the future.

With this mindset, how do we ever get rid of anything? You have to be totally objective. Set a system in place and only allow yourself two or three exceptions. For example, place all the clothes you have worn over a three week period on their own separate rack. Consider the rest ready for donations or garage sale (barring seasonal items).

Set a New System in Place

Getting rid of clutter doesn’t always translate to getting rid of items; it may simply mean reinventing the way you organize them. Buy separate bins for your out-of-season clothes and shoes so you can place them on the top shelf or maybe even slide them under the bed until you need them again. Tackle your shoe problem with a shoe organizer that allows every pair to be visible. Hang your work clothes in a separate area so you don’t waste precious time when putting a professional outfit together. If all you have are a few racks to work with, consider investing in a closet system with separate drawers and compartments. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you have a system that works for you and stick with it.

For more ideas and inspiration, head to Modernize.com.

Top Tips for Road Warriors

business-travel-tipsI travel for work...a lot. And, even though I like to think of myself as the ultimate road warrior, I know there are definite areas (especially around health and wellness) where I can improve. Recently, I turned to some of my blogger boos to get their advice about how I can take care of myself and my household while being on the road. And, because I'm a giver, I'm happy to share their suggestions with you! Therefore, I'm please to present....

business-travel-tips

*fanfare*



In addition to her work as a "Stategic Brand Stylist," Kim McCarter of Corporate Curves LLC (who I formally featured as a Real-Life Curvy CEO) holds down a 9-to-5 that keeps her on the road constantly. As a result, she's become an expert at managing life at home from a hotel.

I have learned the art of effective traveling. I can fit a week's supply of clothes in one carry on suitcase by sticking to closet staples: two pair of slacks, one skirt, 4 blouses and one suit jacket/blazer. I trek cross country up to 3x a month. I wear jeans or loose fitting pants. The new comfy office pants from Lane Bryant are my fave. Since I travel to the same location 90% of the time I leave all of my toiletries there. It saves time at the TSA line.

[caption id="attachment_9661" align="alignleft" width="219"]Kim McCarter's Preferred Travel Pant - Simply Chic Wide Leg by Lane Bryant Kim McCarter's Preferred Travel Pant - Simply Chic Wide Leg by Lane Bryant[/caption]Maintaining home can be extremely difficult especially since I am on the road more than home. I grocery shop as needed (saves money and I am not tossing a bunch of stuff in between trips) and I pay all bills online. Before I leave home for travel, I do a super cleaning and place fresh flowers. My return flights typically get me home a little after midnight. Walking into my house to a great smell and flowers makes me happy.

I am blessed to travel for a company that provides all of my meals. I try to stick to restaurants that fit my healthier eating habits. I also make a grocery run for breakfast and smoothie items when I get there.


If you follow her on instagram, you know that my girl Nic of NaturalNicole is constantly traveling. When asked about how she keeps her figure right and tight while out and about, she had this to say: My biggest tip for eating on the road- is avoid room service and dining out more than once a day! When traveling on business, I always book a hotel room with mini fridge and microwave. Then I head to the nearest grocery store and stock up on water, fresh fruits, yogurts and a few prepared salads. Not only is this lighter on my budget, but it prevents late night calorie binges on crummy hotel food!

I'm seeing a pattern here...you? (smile)

Now, as someone who is single and childless, I can't imagine how to maintain a marathon travel pace while also raising a family. Fortunately, Katrina of MyMommyFlies - an airline professional and married mom of three - was quick to offer several solid tips for maintaining sanity while constantly traveling: Travel comfortably! I dress and layers and never wear jeans or heels when I'm flying. I bring along a few things to help me get into my comfort zone when I'm on the road Aveda Foot Creme, fuzzy socks, and lavender body oil.

As far as home life goes, it's important to have a support system when you travel. My parents help me with the kids. I also have a [pullquote]Not sure what outfits you'll need for your next business trip? Check out last week's #WorkwearWednesday where I break down the different items you will need![/pullquote]part-time sitter on call. I keep a full calendar to keep up with my appointments and check it daily. I swear by "To Do" list. My friends and I meet up once a month for date night. I always make sure I'm home for that.

I pack my food when I travel. I prefer not to eat airport food. I'm a pescatarian so I'm limited in my food choices. I always pack eggs for protein, avocados, and lots of fruit. I have a separate carry on that I use for my food. My sneakers and work out clothes are always in my luggage. As soon as I get to my hotel room I put my workout clothes on, make a few calls, and go straight to the fitness center. Once I left my pajamas at home and had to sleep in my workout clothes. It was so easy to get up the next morning and go to the gym before my shower. I think I will try that again.


Uhm, WOW. Color me impressed!

My boo Erika of Your Chic is Showing spilled pretty much every travel hack a fashion girl could need. Check it out! Traveling comfortably means two things to me - dressing comfortably and bringing things that make me comfortable on my travels. If I am traveling straight from the office (which is often the case) I will usually wear a wrap dress. I find them to be wildly comfortable and forgiving whether trudging through airport security or logging time on a train. Though I often will wear heels all day long, ballet flats or smoking slippers are a must - particularly if your feet swell during the flight (you might not be able to get your shoes back on!). I also bring a pashmina scarf to use as a blanket or wrap and my airplane pillow. I invested in a nice, firm pillow - it was worth the extra bucks to save myself the neck and back pain. A pashmina also works as a great pillow in a cinch.

In terms of errands and chores, I recently decided to give a cleaning service a try. When I'm home the last thing I feel like doing is [pullquote]Need even MORE ideas for what to wear while traveling? Check out PopSugar's Real Girl Travel Outfit Ideas[/pullquote]spending a free day cleaning or taking care of other household chores. For me, the fee is worth it. I have my first appointment in July! Other chores (laundry, grocery shopping, etc) I do really early in the morning. I get up at 5am anyway, so waking at 4:30 to hit the grocery store or do a couple loads of laundry is no big deal. I would rather have the time after work to spend with people or doing things I love. Nobody is up that early anyway!

When it comes to maintaining relationships, I log lots of phone and FaceTime minutes. And, if I'm traveling where I have friends or family, I try to tack on lunch, dinner, or even a weekend stay, when possible. It's cheaper to fly on Saturday anyway - so getting an extra night with friends and loved ones is well worth giving up part of my Saturday. - I try to make some days off limits. For the most part I do not travel on Wednesdays or Sunday's (unless I leave at night). Being with my church family, attending service, and maintaining my commitments are important. So barring extenuating circumstances you can almost always find me at home on those two days.

Finally, when it comes to healthy eating and such...I was doing a CRAP job at this - so I hired a trainer. I work out with her when I am home. But she also sends me weekly workouts, a meal plan, and a grocery list each week. When I travel I can let her know what's around and we can brainstorm healthy food alternatives. The workouts are hotel room and/or fitness center friendly and I do give myself the flexibility to switch around my rest day. Again - outsourcing so I don't have to think leaves me time to focus on doing a good job at work and doing things I enjoy.


Finally, my non-blogging, real-life homie NewAgeWhileBrown offered some great advice as she travels for work almost 50 percent of the time. I try to keep travel sizes of all of the products I use at home. Just because I'm in the middle of nowhere, USA doesn't mean that I can't have my favorite face cream or my favorite body wash. Those little touches help keep me happy when I'm on the road. I also try to find some things to do when I'm traveling for work. I've gone to concerts and comedy shows while traveling for work. In terms of relationships, communication is key. I know it sounds corny and cliché, but keeping in contact with your significant other is huge. With FaceTime, Skype, Viber, and Whatsapp, we can talk to people just as much as when we are home. I text my boyfriend throughout the day when I can and make it a point to FaceTime with him as much as I can when I'm traveling.

Well, there you have it ladies! To me, the biggest takeaways are the importance of planning and finding your nearest grocery store. Do you have any travel tips to share?

#WorkwearWednesday – Business Trippin’

plus size business suitToday, we're talking about the outfits you will need for your next business trip. As anyone who frequents the blog knows, I absolutely looooove Nordstrom icon - one of the few high end department stores that actually carry plus-sizes IN the store. And, given that this week is Nordy's Anniversary Sale icon I figured there was no better way to showcase some of my top picks than today's installment of #WorkwearWednesday.

Let's get into it, shall we?

First, of course, you need to arrive to your destination. I've said it over and over again, but it bears repeating - always be comfortable, but cute! Yes, even when you're traveling! Assuming that you have the option to travel in more casual gear, I think this Sejour Short Sleeve Asymmetrical Tunic is absolutely perfect!

in transit

Now, even though I’m a firm believer that leggings are NOT pants, the length of the tunic makes the Zella 'Live In' Reversible Leggings a great option. If that is too risqué for you, you can go for the Eileen Fisher Slim Knit Pants with Yoke Detail. Worried about the a/c on the train or plane? Grab a cover up, like this Women's Hinge Ombre Fringe Cape, and toss it in your bag.

What should you wear for your big meeting or presentation? Why, a suit of course! Pair the Sejour Herringbone Suit Jacket with the matching skirt. And, you will most definitely need an amazing handbag like the Rebecca Minkoff 'Medium MAB' Tote.

plus size business suit

Paying a visit to the hotel gym? Check out the Elomi 'Energise' Sports Bra and the Zella "Live In 2" Capris.

hotel gym

And don't forget other essentials like a cami for your suit, Spanks and, of course, pjs!

essentials

(Clockwise from top left: Two-Way Seamless Camisole, DKNY Jersey Capri Pajamas , and SPANX 'Slim Cognito' High Waist Mid Thigh Shaper.)

Well, there you have it! What do you think of these picks? Have you shopped the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale? What did you buy?

Monday Morning Memo – Liberating Truths About Life

inspirational-quoteinspirational-quote"Life is an unceasingly creative process. So often, I hear people go on about how uncreative they are, unaware that we are all creating our very lives in every moment of every day. Most of us are living as though life were happening to us rather than through us. We are not present to the fact that we are constantly generating our lives, as though they were great works of art. The tools we are given from which to create are our thoughts, beliefs, assumptions, actions, decisions, and words." - Katherine Woodward Thomas, Calling in "The One"

A few weeks ago, I began reading Calling in "The One" by Katherine Woodward Thomas. While my initial intent (and, well, continued intent) in reading the book is to lead me to "my man," I'm finding that the exercises in the book are leading me to a new level of awareness about how I relate to everyone, not just potential mates. In particular, the book encourages readers to take charge of their own lives and their "thoughts, beliefs, assumptions, actions, decisions, and words." As I reflected on this, a few hard truths finally came to me...things that I'd been hoping were not true and that if I just waited it out, I wouldn't have to deal with these issues. But, as I chewed more and more on these thoughts, I finally realized that...

  • I am going to have to work for my living. Yes, I know we all dream of winning the lottery, coming up with a million dollar idea or marrying well. And a few lucky individuals do stumble upon such good fortune. But, more likely than not, I will not amass riches as a result of some serendipitous windfall. Rather, I am going to have to work for the rest of my life in order to eat, keep a roof over head, clothes on my back, etc., etc. With the right planning, I can retire early enough so that I'm still young enough to enjoy the fruits of my labor, but that time is at least three decades away. So yeah. I'm going to have to be a worker bee.

  • I am always going to have to work to maintain good health and fitness. As I creep higher into my 30s, the realities of maintaining so much excess weight are beginning to manifest themselves in my health. As a result, I am forced to pursue more healthful eating habits and increase my exercise regimen. My well-being - not weight loss - demands it. And despite the constant barrage of diet advice on every glossy or morning talk show ("Drop two dress sizes in two weeks!"), the truth is that long-lasting health will require consistent and continued habits. I will never turn into one of those "naturally thin" people...but I can be a person who makes healthful living a priority.

  • I am always going to have to work at relationships. One of the earlier lessons in the book talks about how our culture is so obsessed with finding love that there is very little emphasis on what is required to sustain love. But as many of my married friends have stated, "Marriage is WORK." Even though I'm not married, my relationships with those closest to me - my family, my long-term friends - teaches me that sustaining strong, positive connections with others IS work. It takes effort, nurturing, and care. It's the price you pay for deliverance from solitude.

  • At first blush, these revelations may seem somewhat melancholy or depressing. But rather, I found them to be quite liberating. And, even though it feels like I'm doing a lot of work on my inner-life - because I am! - I have to remind myself that I am fortunate that I have the opportunity to do this work. Some people never make these realizations...instead they keep pining away for a "someday" that will never come. Yes, they might do so with lots of money in their pockets and a fine man on their arms, but, in my opinion, the ability to maintain and thrive with such things can only come through doing "the work."

    What liberating truths have you discovered in life? Please share in the comments section, on Facebook or Twitter.

    Event Recap – Rest in the City 2015

    yoga retreat dcyoga retreat dc

    Two weeks ago, I hosted the FIRST Rest in the City Retreat. This event had been a dream of mine ever since I started the blog. I designed it to be just what *I* need myself as an overworked, stressed out professional woman - a chance to "get away from it all," tend to my mental and emotional health, and enjoy a little pampering - all without having to go halfway across the globe.

    The event itself took place at the Pure Nuphoria Bed & Breakfast in Fort Washington, MD. (Shout outs to my blogger boo Nae for the referral!) It made an ideal event location as it is situated in a quiet, suburban neighborhood just minutes outside of DC. Pure Nuphoria is deceptively small from the outside as the inside is pleasingly overwhelming in its opulent grandeur. The proprietor, Candice Camille - aka "The Wellologist" - greeted every visitor, along with soothing aromatherapy and ambient music.

    We kicked off the evening with a yoga class taught by my friend, Crystal Moore, owner and founder of Serenity Place DC. [pullquote]Did you know that Crystal's studio offers a class designed specifically for plus size women? Check out "Stacked Yoga" on her website.[/pullquote] Her teaching was nothing short of spectacular - she crafted a class that easily accommodated the various levels of experience in the room. Additionally, we stretched and curled to tunes by Michael Jackson and Jay-Z. Most inspiring of all, as Crystal taught, she shared with us the personal history that brought her to yoga, including health challenges caused by lupus and going through a divorce.

    After working up an appetite, we moved onto dinner, which was catered by Woodlands Vegan Bistro in DC. We then moved right into an expressive arts session with licensed clinical therapist, Martina Martin. She led us through a series of guided questions like, "What are concrete things you'd like to bring into your life?", before we began working on our individual paint projects. From that session we moved seamlessly into our vision board party, which lasted almost until midnight. The next day, we enjoyed a hot breakfast before indulging in facials and massages.

    [gallery type="slideshow" columns="1" size="large" ids="9612,9615,9611,9613,9610,9614"]

    The one "negative" aspect of the retreat was the fact that the turnout was smaller than I had hoped. But, as our expressive arts facilitator said, "Everyone who is supposed to be here is here." And I couldn't agree more. The small group setting made for a cozy, intimate environment where everyone had the opportunity and felt comfortable enough to share. Afterwards, one guest followed up to say that the retreat was "just the jump start [she] needed." Another later reported that, through a connection she made at the retreat, she found a mentor to help guide her in her new career path. Hearing this type of feedback warmed my heart and confirmed to me that ultimately the event WAS a success.

    Will there be another Rest in the City Retreat? You will just have to stay tuned!

    Monday Morning Memo – 90 Percent of Life is About “Falling Down”

    inspirational-quoteinspirational-quote"There's an old skater's saying: Don't be afraid of falling. It's 90 percent falling — otherwise, you don't master anything. You might hurt your ass. Or break your ankle. Or crack a rib. It's the same thing in life. There are other places to go. Other things to try. So don't be afraid of failing. I think not trying is worse than failing. Have the courage to try. Otherwise, what are we here for?" - Vera Wang

    Did you know that Vera Wang - yes, the iconic designer who provides minimalist, elegant style with ease - was once a figure skater? And she wasn't just any figure skater - she was an elite athlete who actually ranked among the top 20 skaters in the country! But, she quit. Check out this fantastic interview where she discusses the winding turns of her life that led her to where she is today. Seriously good stuff.

    Have a great week, everyone!

    Get Money! Salary Negotiation Tips from the Editor of Money Magazine

    negotiate salary increasenegotiate salary increaseWhile at the Essence Festival, the Editor of Money magazine, Diane Harris, stopped by to offer a set of straight-forward tips to help you negotiate a salary that truly reflects your worth.

  • First things first, ask for what you're worth! Unfortunately, women ask for less and, quite honestly, we are satisfied when we get it. Also, we tend to make the mistake of assuming that our work will speak for itself - NOT SO! We must speak up!
  • [pullquote]How to know your worth? Check salary.com, payscale.com or glassdoor.com. But also ask a male mentor![/pullquote]
  • Be reasonable in your expectations.
  • The average raise is 2-3% of your current salary. For a highly valued employee, the increase is 5-6%. Getting a promotion? The increase should be 8-12%. What if you're leaving a job and taking on a new position? Your salary should increase 10-15%.
  • Don't propose a specific number; instead propose a salary range. When negotiating a salary, whatever number is given first becomes the anchor. Ideally, you would like the employer to go first. But, if you end up having to give a number first, don't offer a specific number but a number range. Oh, and make sure that the number you actually want is at the BOTTOM of the range! Tat way you will be assured to at least get that amount.
  • Frame your request collaboratively. Women who negotiate are often viewed negatively (i.e., aggressive, pushy, etc.) To combat this effectively, frame your salary request collaboratively. Here is a sample phrase to start things off: "I love what we do here and I want us to be able to meet our goals."
  • [pullquote]Did you know that 75% of people who ask for a raise get it?[/pullquote]
  • Sell it! You have to sell what you're worth. How? Use this phrase: "Not only THIS, but also THAT." The "THIS" is whatever your employer is looking for. The "THAT" is the additional benefits you bring to the table. Here's an example, "Not only have I successfully manage this project, I've also launched new products bringing a 10% increase in revenue."
  • Time it right! The best time to ask for a raise is after a big win that helps the company's bottom line...and at least two months before your performance evaluation. If you wait until your performance review, it's too late. By then, your bosses have set their budget and determined how much they will give you next year.

  • Now, what do you do if a potential new employer asks how much you were paid at your last job, here are a few responses to help you navigate that conversation without giving a specific dollar figure:

  • "Let's talk about the requirements of THIS job; I'm sure we can come up with something that's fair."
  • "I'm sure that what you're paying is consistent with the market."
  • "I'd appreciate it if you'd make a number based on what you've budgeted for...."

  • If all else fails, you can fallback on offering them a salary range (with your ideal figure at the bottom of the range).

    #WorkwearWednesday – 10 Work-Appropriate Sandals!

    work appropriate sandalswork appropriate sandalsFinding work-appropriate sandals can be tricky. It's one of the ultimate challenges - finding something that is functionally-appropriate for the workplace (i.e., not too sexy or sloppy), yet also fashionable enough to be worth wearing at all. Once you add in the additional challenges that most plus-size women face - needing larger sizes and/or wider widths - it can seem an almost impossible task! So, for this week's edition of #WorkwearWednesday, I've scouted out TEN pairs of work-appropriate sandals in different styles! Virtually all of them are available in size 11 and wide widths.

    Listed by price in ascending order!

    work appropriate sandal
    Laser-Cut Sling-Back Flats - $34.95 from Lane Bryant

    work appropriate sandals
    Lisa Wedge Sandals - $36.00 from Dress Barn

    work appropriate sandals
    Jute Wedge Sandals - $39.98 from Torrid

    work appropriate sandals
    Dakota Ankle Strap Sandals - $40.00 from Dress Barn

    work appropriate sandals
    Annalee Slingback Heels - $59.00 from Hush Puppies

    work appropriate sandals
    Bella Vita Palmer II Ankle Strap Sandal - $69.95 from Nordstrom

    work appropriate sandals
    Naturalizer Jazzy Sandal - $79.00 from Zappos.com

    work appropriate sandals
    Softspots Neima Slingback Sandal - $80.95 from Shoebuy.com

    work appropriate sandals Ros Hammerson Pam Sandal - $120.95 from Shoebuy.com

    work appropriate sandals
    Trotters Allie Wedge Slingbacks - $129.00 from Nordstrom

    You'll notice that many of these are slingback style - according to Forbes.com, this is one of the most office-friendly sandal styles. No matter what you choose, I hope today's posts proves that you don't need to break the bank in order to have wonderful, office-appropriate style!

    The Break Room

    curvy-ceo-break-room*sigh* The long holiday weekend is over in the USA. Time to get back to work. Here is a little light reading to get you through the inevitable midday slump.