Hoppy Easter

Investment Piece: Hoppy Easter

There is more than one holiday happening this week, or have happened this week. If you’re celebrating, I hope that it is full of chocolate and love and renewal. If you’re not celebrating- I still wish you chocolate and love and renewal. I’m taking today to spend with my family and celebrate (virtually) but will be back in amazing shoes before you know it!

Xo RA

Holiday Expectations

Investment Piece: A Merry Little Christmas

We are officially in the holiday season. Are you tired of people telling you that this holiday season will be different? Between the pandemic, and shut downs, I think we all know that this year may not look like years past.

And that’s okay.

It’s also okay to miss things. I’ve been honest that I miss dressing up, parties, and other holiday traditions-like going to see the Nutcracker. I don’t see the harm in being sad about things.

But just because things are different,and we might miss things, doesn’t make this holiday season bad. Right? It all comes down to our holiday expectations.

Wasn’t it Shakespeare who said that “expectations are the roots of all heartache”? He might have been on to something. Even in a “normal” year, the holidays come with loads of expectations, traditions, and nostalgia that can be hard to compete with. My dad is one of those that wants every holiday to be “the best” and “perfect” and while that’s great, the older I get the more I know that what makes something “the best” can often be little things, and perfect isn’t a thing.
Also, getting caught up in trying to recreate how things were (even sometimes outfits!) doesn’t always work out.

So, what are your holiday expectations?
I’m trying to focus on small moments-watching my favorite films, wearing things I love (even just to the living room), looking at Christmas lights, etc.
I’m making new traditions- setting up virtual parties, baking for my neighbors of having them over, and indulging myself however is safe.
I’m also changing things around here. Normally this is a time where we would do a lot of holiday gift guides, and while you can still find those (and so much shopping inspiration) over at LiketoKnowit and Shopsyle, I’ll be doing one gift guide here (really focusing on shopping small!). I’ll be sharing outfits-with not an eye towards big parties but things that are luxe and that you can lounge in! And I’ll be sharing holiday traditions – from movies to what I’m baking to all the little things that will make this holiday for me.

This year will be different. And what if instead of tensing around that, we let our expectations be high? That we get excited about what could be the perfect and best holiday?

What are your holiday expectations? And plans? Even if it’s different, how are you handling this season, and what are you doing to get excited about it?

Tell me them all!
Xo RA

Happy Thanksgiving!

Investment Piece: Hostess Gifts

Happy Thanksgiving! I know that this year has been a doozy, and perhaps your usual holiday plans have been waylaid. It’s hard. I keep reminding myself that having a roof over our heads, clean water, and the health of myself and loved ones means that we are rich beyond measure. I’m also so grateful for you, and this little corner of the internet that we share. No matter how you’re celebrating this week (and there is no right way), I hope that you’re feeling loved–and that there’s plenty of your favorite food!

Some “programming” notes. I’ll be posting sales picks (if that’s your thing) on my LiketoKnowit and ShopStyle accounts all through the weekend- follow me there for all sorts of shopping info! There’s a special holiday “ex files” headed your way Sunday, and Monday I’ll be rounding up sales you absolutely can’t miss! Then we’re off and running into the holiday season- making merry at home.

I’m so grateful for you, and for us.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Xo RA

Sunday Chronicles: Woman In Gold

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In another life I would have been an art thief– or an art investigator, insurance agent, etc.  I am simply fascinated by the value we place on art (it makes the living worthwhile) and the act of stealing art–and the act of recovering that stolen art. My interest began a few years ago when my mom and I began reading novels and non-fiction books about the subject–and I’m just hooked. The Gardner Museum Heist, Nazi theft of art, Monuments Men–all the stories are just spellbinding. So of course I fell in love with the story of Maria Altman who fought the Austrian government to reclaim the portrait of her aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer, painted by Gustav Klimt and stolen by the Nazis.

The movie got lukewarm reviews–but I loved it. I think what happened during WWII was horrific,  but these are stories that we need to tell over and over again. The Holocaust was not only a mass murder of a people; it was a theft of people’s culture, homes, memories and was orchestrated by the Nazi government. I have jewelry, dishes, artwork in my home that are made special because those things belonged to my grandparents or were family heirlooms. I can’t imagine those items being stolen from off of my walls or off of my tables because of my religion. As much as the stories of the Nazis stealing from people can be down right upsetting, I found comfort in the justice that Marie Altman’s story contains. Art does make life bearable. While we can have debates about who owns what and museum’s roles in the care of art, in this particular case (and others like it) I don’t think that anyone can argue that the surviving families of the Holocaust, or those whose possessions were stolen by Nazis, should have their belongings returned.

So see the movie! Tell me what you think! I also read the book (pictured above)–it goes into way more detail, and also made me long to go to the opera in Vienna (I have shoes that would look great there). Also, because any excuse to shop, the Neue Galerie in New York (where Adele’s portrait now hangs) is selling this specialty lipstick set inspired by the painting. Of course I bought one and of course I love it!

Wishing you a week of amazing art, some history lessons, and of course fabulous fashion!

xo

RA

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Suffragettes

Investment Piece: Suffragettes

At this point I know you’re tired of hearing me (and everyone) talk about voting. And the election. And it all. I get it- I’m there with you. But I know it’s not a secret that this election has touched me (and so many others) and it feels super big and important. (And yes, why I do have a voting outfit!) Because of everything, we’re taking today off. We’re spending some time in our community. We’re working toward the future we think is best. We’re gathering stories to tell, and planning stunning outfits. We knew we’d be a little distracted today, so instead of being half here, we’re taking the day off.

Wednesday’s post is already scheduled and I’m so excited to show you outfits that are going up Friday and all Novemeber!

I’ll see you after the polls are closed!
Xo RA

Sunday Chronicles: Behind

Investment Piece: Sunday Chronicles

I was raised by women who believe in being on time. In fact, not on time, early. 15 mins early is on time? More like 30. I was a straight A student in high school, and was also raised to be prepared.

Both lessons I’ve tried to take into my adult life as much as possible.

Loves, I am behind. Not a little behind. Not 5 mins late. Behind, as in there are days when I wonder at what point am I catching up and at what point am I starting over?

The reason I’m behind? More than one. Family issues came to the forefront. In the middle of cleaning out my closet, planning more than one shoot, keeping the editorial calendar current, collabs current, personal life up, back pain, etc, etc. The last few weeks have been filled with feelings of overwhelm. And the knowledge that I’m behind, and would rather be ahead.

I’m not sure how to get in front once we’re behind. Do you? The following is what I’ve been doing, and it does help, though I’m sure that there might be better techniques (and if you’ve got them I would love to hear them!)

I’ve been honest
With clients, friends, family, whoever has asked. It’s not an easy thing to admit. That I’m behind. That I don’t think I can make that event, or deadline. That I need to push somethings back. That there’s a lot on my plate and I need some help. But. When I don’t admit it, the behind gets worse. And I’ve found that most people get it. My clients understand and need the extra time themselves! My friends and family understand I can’t make it, or pitch in and help. In fact, it’s made some of my relationships better to admit that I need a little help. Being behind as a good thing? Maybe.

Prioritize
I’m so behind there’s no way I’m getting everything done in a day. Or two. So, each day I’ve tried to limit my to-do list to 2 or 3 things I KNOW I can get done. I’m still aware of allllll the things, but actually getting things crossed off helps. And when I have too much to do I tend to do nothing. Weird? Maybe. But, true, for me at least.

Be OK with it
This may be the hardest thing. There are things I’m not getting done (though maybe I will at some point) and I’m behind. If I don’t like admitting it, I sure don’t like it. But. It’s where I am. The things that HAVE to happen, are happening. And I’m finding they all happen “on time”. And the things that may not get done? Maybe they don’t have to? I’m slowly and surely learning to be ok with that. It’s not easy, but it’s helping.

I would love to hear any and all tips you have about getting ahead once you’re behind!!

Wishing us all a week of not being behind and amazing shoes!
XO RA

Summer’s Last

Investment Piece: Swim Suit Round Up

Labor Day, or the unofficial end of summer, is this weekend. While I know come next Tuesday, it will still be hot, officially summer, and there willl be plenty of time to wear all my summer faves, I can’t help but feel pressured to get all of summer in this weekend.

Investment Piece: Vintage swim

This summer has felt disjointed. With the US still being in various stages of a lock down, and my travel and schedule cut, my fashion has become both more deliberate and a little bit all over the place. Usually, I have a summer list of outfits that I can’t wait to wear, and days upon days where I wear white and swimsuits. This summer? Outfit planning has come in spurts, as have the wearing of white pants and swim. Even if I spend the next 6 days wearing nothing but swimsuits and white pants, I might not get my fill.

(Good news, I’ve personally decided that there are no fashion rules this year so even after Tuesday we can wear whatever we want. Everyone wins! Get on board ;))

Investment Piece: Summer Mood

But. Even if we don’t have to put certain clothes away on Tuesday, or rush into fall (though I do love fall), the season of summer (which I also love) is in its last. What do we do with it?

If I don’t let myself get overwhelmed by what I “should” be doing, or feeling like I have to cram all the things in, I’ve been thinking about what I love about summer and what I would like more of. Yes, swim suits, white pants, and the pool are a part of it. In summer, I also love putting on sundresses and reading in the afternoons while eating cherries or watermelons because it’s too hot to do anything else. I love watching movies, and getting so chilled that you have to put on a sweatshirt over your swim suit. I love the ease of both fashion and days that are long.

When I think about what I want for my summer lasts, I want outfits, food, company, and activities that make me feel good. What about you?

Xo RA

Investment Piece: Surprise Ending

I Can’t Seperate My Anxiety from my Obession with Fashion and Beauty

Investment Piece: ANXIETY

Note: This is a repost from Fashoinista, you can see the original here. The author is Maura Brannigan and when I read it I fell in love. Many of us suffer with anxiety and depression. I’m not immune to that. My anxiety can make many things difficult, and there are times when planning my outfits gives me peace. Especially now, when we are all a little stressed, I can’t help but come up with various outfits to wear (where I would wear them to is another story!). I related to this article and I hope you do too! XO RA

When I was in fourth grade, I realized I could not, for lack of a better phrase, see shit. It occurred to me abruptly, in the middle of a math lesson. My table was in the mid-back of the classroom, and as my teacher was doing whatever she was doing on the overhead projector, I began panicking when things I should have been able to read appeared blurry, like someone had sneakily slid Vaseline over my eyeballs at recess. My tiny body felt hot and immobile, suddenly much too big for its chair; if I willed myself just so, I wondered, could I drop through the linoleum and leave a searing hole in my place? At least that way, none of my classmates would have to see me in the inevitable, which I knew to be glasses.

Sure enough: I emerged from LensCrafters several days later, bummed about my newfound ailment but also absolutely amazed at the detail I could now see. (“Leaves!” I remember announcing to my dad as we left the store. “They look like that?!”)

I see now that this was, probably, one of my earlier panic attacks. There were other incidents, too, like my first day of kindergarten when I sat alone, my social anxiety revving up while I silently, maniacally brainstormed conversation topics I could present to my new peers. My anxiety has always been there. It sits on my shoulder, alerts me that something is off and then vacates the building. It is very flighty. But it has legs.

Like so many people with anxiety, or with depression, or with any number of mood disorders, I find my security in plans. I’ve never met a list I didn’t just devour. And as with so many others, my anxiety is often triggered when I’m thrown off schedule. When I sense my symptoms — sometimes mental, like a weird, morose dread, or sometimes physical, like shortness of breath or stomach knots — I take comfort in pattern. Much has been said in recent years about how elaborate beauty routines, sometimes Korean ones, can help fight depression. I get that wholly.

When I was younger (and there was also much less visibility surrounding mental health), I deduced on my own that if I could regulate every last element of what was happening on the outside of my body, it could have lasting effects on what was going on inside that makes me want to barrel through floors. Even today, my obsession with the fashion and beauty industries is inextricably linked to my expectation that looking nice, looking exactly what I want to look like, will leave me, finally, feeling at ease.

The degree to which I go about planning is methodical at one end of the spectrum and neurotic at the other. There was the year that “The Parent Trap” was released on VHS, and my 10-year-old brain became so embarrassingly infatuated with Hallie Parker that I took pen-to-paper notes on her wardrobe each time I watched. There was my first day of seventh grade in which, after a summer of intensive mood-boarding, I showed up to school in a truly wild, 1970s-inspired ensemble complete with bell bottoms and brown suede boots. My efforts backfired, and I was snickered at with such gusto that I felt I had no choice but to change into my gym clothes. (I wasn’t so much upset, per se, as I was frustrated that my classmates didn’t yet know how to appreciate a proper “lewk.”) There was the month-long stretch — I was, maybe, 15 — when I decided having Pantene Pro-V commercial hair would eliminate all my adolescent woes. When I realized that it did not and it would not, I felt like I had been stabbed in the back by that very shampoo bottle.

My relationship with fashion and beauty products has helped me cope. And over the years, I’ve accumulated a collection of stuff — skin-care, aromatherapy, supplements, whatever — that I’ve turned to time and again to make me feel in control.

Most of that regimen has some physiological benefit, as I’ve learned through years and years of product testing. Bedtime is my scariest time; it can take what is essentially witchcraft to get me asleep. I keep a lavender sachet on my bedside table, which I let sit on my chest for a few minutes when I first climb into bed. I love a pillow spray, as well, the most effective variety of which I’ve found to be the mega-popular Deep Sleep Pillow Spray with lavender, vetiver and camomile from This Works. The hype is not misplaced; after several months of use, the brand’s name holds up.

Mornings, though, are easy. I began taking Ashwagandha, an adaptogenic herb popular in Ayurvedic medicine, with my breakfast about two years ago, per the recommendation of my doctor. (Obviously, supplements aren’t for everyone, and you should always check with your own doctor before starting them.) Both Google and my doctor say that Ashwagandha helps lower cortisol, balance thyroid hormones and combat stress. I say that, yes, it does do that, but I don’t know if it’s the placebo of taking, doing, planning that helps more.

Last winter posed a new kind of challenge. None of my regular tricks seemed to do what I needed them to do. Neither did the calendar-planning, nor the additional pages of lists I scribbled in an attempt to coax myself into stillness. I felt lost, and disheartened, and guilty for feeling any of it. I felt guilty for being rattled when I knew so many others had it much worse than I did. I felt guilty for comparing my own anxiety to that of others, when my mental health was mine and mine alone. I felt guilty for saying no to my closest friends in an attempt to prioritize “self-care,” a hot new phrase I felt guilty for not knowing if I was practicing correctly. I felt guilty for being a selfish partner, and I felt guilty that my boyfriend had to see me as a person I myself didn’t recognize.

Some evenings, I would come home and immediately lie down on the kitchen floor, not bothering to take off my coat or scarf or hat. If my partner was home, he and our dog would join, three warm bodies sardined between the stove and sink. That guilt, of feeling him planking next to me when I knew that he, too, didn’t know how to help me, was worst of all.

I would get up, eventually. And soon, it became days, then weeks, then months, since my last time on the kitchen floor. I just kept doing what I knew worked: letting objects, like hand lotion that smells like my mom, work their material, aspirational magic, and healing from the outside in. An advertiser’s dream.

I feel guilty for that, too. Fashion and beauty products are, of course, just “things.” But we all know “things” can also carry real, emotional weight and become so much more. Why should I judge myself for what I find and have always found to be constructive?

Even so, I’m trying to learn how to loosen the reins, as they say, so that I don’t immediately slip into “flight” mode when confronted with the unexpected. I’m trying to learn how to let anxiety simply beat through me, and how to treat it with the same compassion I might bestow on a loved one, or as I’m also learning, on myself.

Right now, I’m working on my own wellness practice, like meditation — I enjoy the “Calm” app — and 4-7-8 breathing. But I’ve found that the very best thing I can do for myself is to stare my anxiety, and the guilt that comes with it, straight in the face — not to embalm it in lavender or distract it with 18 tabs of suede mules that, in some strange way, might make each hard day feel more navigable. Absolutely everything changed when I began accepting my anxiety for what it is, not trying to fix it like something I could tend with a Band-Aid — how one might fix a fourth-grade astigmatism with a pair of glasses from LensCrafters.