Month: October 2014

Black, Gold & Blood Red for #WorkwearWednesday

Today's #WorkwearWednesday look was inspired by this amazing dress from ASOS:
[caption id="attachment_8371" align="aligncenter" width="235"]ASOS Curve Body-Conscious Dress w/Pussybow ASOS Curve Body-Conscious Dress w/Pussybow[/caption]

*drool* This just screamed naughty secretary - and I. heart. it. But, being the utmost professional that I am, I had to think, "How could I convert this into something that would be appropriate for the office if I'm not trying to be the 'naughty secretary'?" So, I put on my thinking cap. Naturally, the first thing you would have to do would be to cover the arms...but not in a frumpy old blazer...perhaps something cropped or scalloped like the offering below. And the accessories would have to be subtle, but sharp with minimal makeup.
The result? Check it out...
What do you think?

Office Beauty Tips from Top Beauty Bloggers

office beauty plus-size professional corporateoffice beauty plus-size professional corporate
For today's post on office beauty, I turned to some of my favorite beauty bloggers who also happen to some of the best in the blogosphere! I asked them a simple question - "If you could only give one tip to professional women everywhere about achieving their best office beauty, what would it be?" Here is what they had to say....

jocelynProfessional makeup artist, blogger and pastor's wife Jocelyn Morris says: There are several really simple tips to follow to have a fresh and polished face for the workday. Make sure to clean and moisturize your skin to keep it in great condition. Keep your eyebrows groomed and fill in any sparse areas with an eyebrow pencil. At least one coat of mascara will help to open and define your eyes. For a little more definition, you can use either black or brown eyeliner and smudge a thin line right at the base of your eyelashes.
[pullquote]If you're in the Chicago area on Tuesday, November 18, be sure to check out Jocelyn's FREE makeup demonstration class! Register here![/pullquote] "At the very least, purchase a liquid concealer that matches your exact skin tone and lightly pat the concealer up under each eye to wake up your face. Use pressed powder applied with a beauty sponge to give a gentle, matte finish to the skin and subtly even out your complexion. A soft peach or pink blush and your favorite lip gloss or lipstick will round out the look and give you a simple but beautiful makeup look for work.

Meanwhile, Ashley Carter of FabEllis encourages women to cultivate beauty from thefabellis inside-out: "My number one beauty tip I always give women (even though it works for men also) is to drink lemon water. We all know that water is excellent for our bodies, but adding lemon helps with hydration and regulation of your body. Lemon is also excellent for your skin. I drink a bottle of water with lemon juice on the way to work. It's a sure fire way that I know I've gotten the lemon boost I need before I step into a crazy work day."

ErinBailey_JII_RT_001Erin Baynham of Scandalous Beauty cuts straight to the chase: "The one beauty tip that I would give any business woman is to always keep your eyebrows groomed. Since your brows really frame your face, it's essential that they stay "clean"--stray hairs removed and the hairs combed in place. If you decide to fill your brows to make them look more full, you can use a pencil, powder or cream with an angled brush. There are lots of techniques out there for filling in your brows and making them look natural, but even if you decide not to fill them in, having them groomed and shaped does so much for the face.

"The rule of thumb is that natural is always better. There's no need to try most of the trends you see today, using light concealer under the brow to highlight, filling them in as a "gradiant effect"--making them lighter at the front of the brow and darker at the tail, or making them boxy or "forced". Use light strokes to fill them in. While it might not look like you're adding much product to your skin, take a step back and look in the mirror to get a better picture of your makeup."

Clearly, your brows are a crucial beauty feature for the professional woman (or any woman, really) as three of today's four contributors focus on that feature! Below, Sheila Arkee of Painted Ladies gives you her own...painful history of becoming the brow-raising diva she is today.
sheila"As a beauty blogger, makeup artist, and all around makeup consumed individual, I can say from two decades of experience in the beauty industry that a well defined eyebrow is key to maintaining a professional appearance.

"Our eyes are the windows to our soul, after all, and I find it makes a difference in your entire presentation when your brows are groomed. Pencil thin or unruly brows do not exactly convey professionalism. How do I know? It's because the professional eyebrow struggle was all too real to me at one point in my life. See those pencil thin brows? They were mine and unfortunately so for over five years.

brows - before after"I was blissfully ignorant to my eyebrow plight and continued to pluck and trim nightly for years. When I started working at a high-end retail job selling makeup to upper class ladies, a coworker took one look at me and bluntly said, 'You need to grow out those brows!'

"It was a sad truth I'd been in denial about, and so I locked away my tweezers and took my co-worker's advice (which was sourced from a Russian esthetician) and slathered my brows with castor oil every night. It took two months and it wasn't pretty while it was happening, but I ended up with brows that have looked like this ever since.

"Two products I suggest for maintaining brow perfection are Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz, which is an easy tool that helps fill in sparse areas. Everyone I have ever recommended it to loves this pencil. I also use and love Anastasia's Dipbrow, which is a gel and might be a little overwhelming to novice brow groomers. However, once you get the hang of using it, you've got good brow game guaranteed.

"Grooming and maintaining your eyebrows is an easy way to improve your professional appearance. If you need help getting your eyebrows in order, I suggest avoiding the DIY route and seeking the advice of a professional. Get recommendations from friends on reputable salons that specialize in brows and do some research on Yelp beforehand."

Well there you have it, ladies! What other questions do you have about office beauty? Dish in the comments section!

Monday Morning Memo – What You See & How You Feel

inspirational-quotemonday-morning-memo NEW"It's not what you look at that's what you see." - Thoreau

Do you ever look at the mirror and let your eyes gaze over the bumps, ripples, wrinkles and rolls and STILL think to yourself, "I am beautiful!"

The ability to do this is, to me, the essence of self-confidence and self-love. To be able to admire and embrace your Madison-Avenue-defined "flaws" because they are part of the arithmetic that adds up to the total package of YOU. To feel beautiful, even though you may not actually look beautiful. (But with beauty being subjective, who is to say whether you are beautiful or not?!?)

Here's to celebrating YOU...all of you! To do so, here is some help from an amazing, plus-size take on Beyonce's "Flawless." (Unable to see the video below? CLICK HERE!)

The Reflections of a Good Woman

A Simple Sweater and a Skirt for #WorkwearWednesday

#workwearwednesday pencil skirt midi skirt plus-sizeToday's #WorkwearWednesday features a simple business casual look centered around this Foxcroft Asymmetrical Jacquard Sweater (Plus Size):

Pair with a pencil or midi skirt (along with tights, a cute pair of shoes, and a handbag) and you've got the perfect outfit for your business casual environment! Check it out! #workwearwednesday pencil skirt midi skirt plus-size

For more information and shopping details, click here!

Accessories and a Little Black Dress for Halloween

cigarette holderOver the last few years, I've gone all out for Halloween. I've put tons of thought - not to mention a few hundred bucks - into assembling the perfect costume. While I was a big hit at different parties I attended, I've decided to keep it simple this year. I've decided that I don't want to spend anymore than $25. In order to meet this goal, I've decided to build a costume around items already in my closet...and the little black dress seemed like the perfect centerpiece.

LB dress

Lane Bryant Plus Size Drape-front dress by Isabel Toledo

Let's take a look at the options, shall we?

Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany's

cigarette holder

 Elegant Cigarette Holder - $4.96 black satin gloves
Black Satin Gloves - $16.99
Add in a simple pearl necklace or some rhinestone costume jewelry and voila! You're all set!

Cleopatra - Queen of the Nile

Cleopatra Wig w/headband for Adult - $17.99
arm band
Cleopatra Snake Armband Costume Accessory - $6.99

Mardi Gras Queen of the Krewe
mardi gras mask
Sequin and Feather Mardi Gras Mask - $10.99
Don't forget beads to handout to the boys!
Mardi Gras Abacus Beads 12 Pack - $9.99 (12 pack)

What do you think? Any other ideas for simple ways to build a costume around a simple black dress?

Monday Morning Memo: Martha Beck on Real Happiness


monday-morning-memo NEW"[O]ur culture has come to define happiness as an experience that blows your mind. It’s as though we’re somehow falling short if we don’t routinely feel the way Times Square looks—madly pulsing with a billion watts of Wow! Don’t get me wrong. Excitement is a great and necessary thing; without it life wouldn’t be complete. But happiness—real happiness—is something entirely different, at once calmer and more rewarding. And cultivating it is one of the most important steps we can take toward creating fulfilling lives." - Martha Beck

Here's to creating more happiness - real happiness - in all of our lives.

Work Your Curves is BACK!!!!

plus-size exercise workout bootcampsplus-size exercise workout bootcamps

Well, ladies, you've asked and Work Your Curves - the first workout group in Washington, DC designed exclusively for plus-size women - is BACK!!! This time around, we will be coached by SerenaFit, who not only specializes in working with busy, professional women, but also in working with bariatric clients at George Washington University hospital seeking to develop new, healthy lifestyles! (You can check out a few video clips of Serena's workouts here.)

Portrait of a black woman working out with free weights -Beginning Friday, November 7 at 5:30, we will begin a six-week, "Get in Shape for the Holidays" edition of "Work Your Curves." Classes are $25 each and will take place at Fit 360 (3220 17th Street NW). Only five spots are available for each class and you MUST pre-register! CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR CLASSES!

Still unsure of whether to join? See what some previous Work Your Curves participants had to say below:

"I am so glad that I had the chance to attend a 6 week cycle of 'Work Your Curves.' I started my journey to a healthier lifestyle change in January. Along with eating right, I had to reprogram myself to love working out again. Yes, the gym can be helpful from time to time but that can get pretty boring, pretty fast. When Curvy CEO came up with this awesome idea to bring a bootcamp atmosphere to the curvy/plus size ladies, I immediately jumped on the idea. And I am so glad that I did. It has truly helped me appreciate working out and knowing which exercise works for my type of body. I am truly grateful for Work Your Curves!" - Vivi N.

"There’s so much positive to say about Work Your Curves Bootcamp – the women, the trainers, the sweat (yes, the sweat) – but to sum it up? I feel so much stronger and suddenly I can do a sit-up! I had no idea that one hour, once a week, could bring about so much positive change! Work your Curves has not just made me stronger, but also more confident and more comfortable in my skin." - Sara K.

"I really enjoyed the Work Your Curves Bootcamp. It was great to work out in a supportive environment with other curvy women. I think I got more out of each session because I could fully focus on the moves, rather than feeling judged for my weight or fitness level. Another great thing about the bootcamp was that the instructor incorporated exercises that I could easily do on my own at home with little or no special equipment. In that respect, it was empowering to know that I don't have to go to a gym throughout the week to still get some strength training in. Work Your Curves really helped me to ease back into a more active & healthy lifestyle on a daily basis." - Andrea D.

C'mon...don't be scared! The only thing you have to lose is weight! Sign up today!

Sweater Dressin’ for #WorkwearWednesday

sweater dressinWell, fall is officially here and one of my favorite pieces to rock in cooler temperatures is a sweater dress! So today's #WorkwearWednesday features a sweater dress paired with a cardigan sweater, tights, and booties. A perfect look for a business casual office environment!

sweater dressin

Taylor Dresses Stripe Sweater Dress ($75.59); Vince Camuto Open Front Cardigan ($109.00); Munro 'Taylor' Bootie ($199.95); Nordstrom 'Everyday' Opaque Tights ($15.00).
For more info and shopping details, click here.

Why That Black Lady in Your Office Seems “Angry” All the Time

angry black woman

angry black woman

So, the internet exploded a few weeks back when the New York Times published a piece by Alessandra Stanley that essentially issued a digital slap across the face to Shonda Rhimes, Viola Davis, and pretty much every other black woman on the planet [pullquote] SIDEBAR: Stanley later defended her choice of words as an alleged attempt to "praise Ms. Rhimes and her shows from traveling so far from" such offensive stereotypes. As for Ms. Davis? Well, the author scoffed, she has "said it about herself in NYT magazine, more bluntly" and "I have said the same thing about Helen Mirren...." Oh ok. Well that changes everything. *eyeroll*[/pullquote]in terms of their appearance, behavior, and pretty much their overall existence by invoking offensive and incendiary terms derived from long-held stereotypes that refuse. to. go. away. In case you didn't (or don't care to) read the original piece, here are a few of the highlights (or low-lights, take your pick):
  • The opening line: "When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called 'How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman.'"
  • Of the African-American female characters of Rhimes' series: "Her heroines are not at all like the bossy, sassy, salt-of-the-earth working-class women who have been scolding and uh-uh-ing on screen ever since Esther Rolle played Florida, the maid on 'Maude.'"
  • On the looks of Viola Davis: "As Annaliese, Ms. Davis, 49, is sexual and even sexy, in a slightly menacing way, but the actress doesn't look at all like the typical star of a network drama. Ignoring the narrow beauty standards some African-American women are held to, Ms. Rhimes chose a performer who is older, darker-skinned and less classicly beautiful than [Kerry] Washington, or for that matter Halle Berry, who played an astronaut on the summer mini-series 'Extant.'"
angry black woman viola davis new york times Now, I try very hard NOT to be the spokeswoman for all of Black womanhood. After all, we are not a monolith. But, given the apparent and overwhelming lack of understanding of African-American women that has been displayed in one of the premiere journalistic publications on the planet, I feel it necessary to offer a bit of assistance to my sisters from other mothers. Therefore, I begrudgingly present....


  • First, she's probably NOT angry. As Ms. Stanley pointed out in her piece, African-American women have been characterized by a number of stereotypes over the years. Perhaps an attempt to portray herself as anything but the loud, "sassy" figure that is so strongly associated with black womanhood, your African-American female co-workers may choose to conduct themselves in a cool, quiet, and poised manner. While to some this may seem polished and professional, to others it may seem standoffish or snobbish; to others still, it may seem defensive and, yes, even angry. But, more than anything, it is most likely an aim to let her work speak for her, not her gender or her race. Alas, this tactic - one that has been passed down from many middle class black parents of the 1960s to their children of the 1980s - may have backfired. For, it has taught us that simply producing excellent work is enough to get ahead. But, indeed, it is just one piece of the puzzle. Those other factors - networking, finding key mentors and sponsors - are also critical and one that we have really neglected! But I'm getting off-track here. The bottom-line is that the mere lack of a jovial and outgoing personality doesn't mean that your black female co-worker is angry. Maybe she's reserved. Maybe she's shy. Or maybe something more serious is going on....
  • She might be depressed. During a 2010 interview on the Black Women's Health Imperative podcast, Dr. Cheryl Chisholm shared that for African-American women - and really any person who doesn't have time to "slow down" and "be depressed," depression manifests itself in other ways. In the case of African-American women - who are often working full-time (if not multiple jobs); heads of their households; caring for children, elders, or extended family members; there isn't time to stop and deal with your underlying issues. So, instead you lash out at those around you. (You may also inflict harm on yourself in the form of abusing food, alcohol, credit cards, etc., etc.) Discussing weight issues, in particular, author Veronica Chambers stated in her book, Having It All?: Black Women and Success:
    Many experts say that our weight issues are the outward expression of inner turmoil. We've overcome so many of society's limitations on us: stereotypical and punishing beliefs about our abilities, our sexuality, our beauty, and our intelligence....Yet, the stress of combating the issues of race, class, gender--not to mention all of the universal stresses of modern life--takes its toll. Increasingly, black women suffer from clinical levels of depression.
Alas, this is an issue for many a Curvy CEO. Or who knows? Maybe you're co-worker really IS angry. And, to be fair, she has a right to be. Why? Well, let's see....
  • Like all women, she makes less money than well as white and Asian women. According to the American Association of University Women, African-American women earn just 64% of what white men earn whereas white women earn 78%. Both white women and Asian women surpass African-American and Hispanic/Latina women in weekly take-home pay. (Honestly, though, we're all worse off than the men. So...yeah. #SistersInTheStruggle)
  • Even though she has multiple degrees from Name Brand College and Ivy League University, she will still get mistaken for The Help in the hotel lobby at a conference at which she is being honored. No, ma'am, I don't work here. I can't fill your ice bucket. I'm sorry my pinstripe suit didn't give you that hint. (I wouldn't have believed it myself if it hadn't happened to me just a few weeks back.)
  • Well meaning compliments are often delivered in a back-handed manner. You all remember Chris Rock's joke about Colin Powell...about how everyone would always say, "He speaks so well!" Uhm, he was the Secretary of State. That is pretty much a rudimentary requirement, no? (If you don't remember the joke - and don't mind foul language - click here to revisit it.) Although I, too, pride myself on being a polished public speaker, I get the "well-spoken" remark quite a bit. Oh and "strong." I'm "sooo strong"...because, you know, that's what black women are.
  • Celebratory moments can be quickly marred by rude, ignorant, and even downright racist incidents. For instance, right before the premiere of a network television series in which you play the starring role, one of the largest newspapers in the world can publish an article calling you "less classically beautiful." Or, during said premiere, a notable celebrity magazine will juxtapose this fierce leading character - a sexy, powerful law professor at a prestigious university - with a supporting character who is admittedly a stereotypical portrayal of an uneducated domestic worker. [caption id="attachment_8313" align="aligncenter" width="664"]source: source:[/caption] *sigh* Finally, if all of the above proves to be untrue...
  • Maybe she just has Bitchy Resting Face. Because, apparently, this is a thing. And this leads us back to the very first item. She's not angry. She's just not conforming to some happy-go-lucky, pancake-making stereotype...and she doesn't have to...she's just needs permission to BE.

Editor's Note: The author was somewhat angry when she wrote this blog post. That fact, in and of itself, does not make her an Angry Black Woman.

Monday Morning Memo – Who You Callin’ “Classically Not Beautiful”?

monday-morning-memo NEW"'[C]lassically not beautiful' is a fancy term for saying ugly. And denouncing you. And erasing you. Now ... it worked when I was younger. It no longer works for me now. It’s about teaching a culture how to treat you. Because at the end of the day, you define you." - two-time Tony Award-winning and two-time Oscar nominated actress, Viola Davis

Yep. We're still talking about race this week on the blog. And, today's Monday Morning Memo comes from the incredible Viola Davis who, just like Michelle Obama and Jill Scott, is a "friend in my head," a key member of my Imaginary Council of Advisors. (What? Doesn't everyone have one?) I've been thinking a lot about the ignorance that revealed itself in the New York Times and her gracious response to it. Ultimately, I agree with her that it's so important to know who you are and to define who you are for yourself. (Yes, even you, Raven Symone.) Of course, these issues go beyond race...and the conversation will, too. Hope to have you along for the ride!