Sunday Chronicles: Effortless

Investment Piece: Effortless

There is a myth, or ideal really, that most American women–especially those who love fashion adhere to; that being “French”, or effortless is something to aspire to being. That somehow to be able to throw on anything and have it look perfect,to have your hair fall perfectly everyday; that it is possible to not really try and that you will look perfect and things will work out. And here’s the thing–this is true sometimes. We all have days where our hair is somehow perfect, and no matter what we put on it looks great, our careers and relationships just seem to click and flow; and everything requires minimal effort. I do love effortless days–they make everything seem easy and doable.

On the other hand, the great Tom Ford has said “Dressing well is a form of good manners”. I’m not saying to dress well and being effortless are mutually exclusive–but as much as we strive for effortless, let’s be honest–we all experience the other side of the coin too. We all have days where we have to think about what we wear, try on many options–put effort into our clothes. We have days where we have to spend time on hair and make-up, maybe put in extra effort into our relationships and career because it is needed. Is this effort a bad thing? Hopefully it pays off– and let’s be honest , there are times when putting in the effort is fun, it feels good to try sometimes.

I often long for effortless. It’s a dream to have every outfit be a hit, hair that always falls into place, things that come without too much hard work. Yet, I find I often have to put in effort. I can try (too hard at times) and there are still outfits that didn’t work, bad hair days, and things that came with intense amounts of effort.

Are these the only two options–putting in effort or being effortless? Are there the types of people who have to try and those who don’t? I don’t have all the answers–I know, that bums me out too. I do think that all of us are both of these types though. I believe that we are all capable of effortless days–and all have days where effort is required. Here’s the big epiphany- I don’t think that one is better than the other. Days where everything from your t-shirt to hair to relationship and career just work are amazing and you should cherish them. Days where you have to think and try for your outfit, lipstick, conversations and meetings are also amazing and you should cherish them.

And some days are in the middle- a mix of effort and effortlessness and those might be the most special of all.

Maybe effort and effortless are two sides of the same coin; maybe we need one to appreciate the other. Maybe aspiring to effortless is something you should do; maybe trying, even trying too hard occasionally, is something you should do too. All I know is that both can feel good–and that both kinds of days can be good. So this is my wish for us all: great days this week–whether that means you have to put effort into your hair or not and of course, amazing shoes.

xo RA

Sunday Chronicles: Change

Investment Piece: Sunday Chronicles Change

There’s a saying, and I’m paraphrasing here, but the jist is that none of us are incredibly comfortable with change. Yet, all of us, if asked, wouldn’t want to be in the EXACT same place in 5 years. Meaning that we all want change, at least on some level.

And yes. I can’t think of anything that rings more true. We all want certain things: be it business, personal, or any combination thereof, most of us want to be moving forward and achieving something. Does that mean that change is easy, even when it’s something we really want? No. I’m stubborn. I admit it. I also am one of those people that have a hard time with sudden change, and change in general. (Loves, I promise I’m working on it.) So, this isn’t a post about how to deal with change, or all of my tips. That would be the blind leading the blind. In fact, if you have great tips about how to deal with change, I would love to hear them!!

What I can tell you about change is that it’s for the good. Even when it feels scary. And yes, I have to tell myself that almost daily. Change, be it fast or slow, is the natural order of things, takes us where we need to be, and if we can stop fighting it (again, talking to me), can be fun. This picture? From way back when I first started Investment Piece. I had no clue what I was doing, just that I knew I had a passion for fashion and storytelling and that there had to be a way to combine the two. Loves, we’re all grateful that things changed from that time. (Believe me)

Today is the first day of spring. And we like to call it the season of renewal and rebirth, and while it is, those are other words for change. I know I have big goals, and want to be in a different place at end of the season. Which means I have to change. Don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but change can be hard for me. In fact, this past week in the US we changed our clocks (spring forward) and as a little reminder about how well I deal with change, my sleep schedule has been a mess! The change has really been hard for me to adjust to- but I’m getting there. I’m also getting there with all of the changes I want to make, even when change is difficult for me.

Here’s what I’m doing:
I’m reminding myself that change happens with or without my say so, so I might as well change in the way I want to grow.
To take things slow, there’s no need to 180 overnight.
And finally, be excited that change means that things get better. The proof? My old posts.

I would love to know your tips for dealing with change!

Wishing us all a week of comfortable change and amazing shoes! XO RA

Cinderella Shoes: A Blog Birthday

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In honor of the release of Disney’s Live Action “Cinderella” I thought I would share some of my favorite “Cinderella” feeling shoes.

From top: Brian Atwood, Marc Jacobs and appropriately named “Cinderella”.

Happy weekend and may your shoes take you magical places!

Above was my first blog post, on this day 7 years ago. (Complete sidebar: I can’t believe it’s been 7! years. It feels like yesterday and at the same time feels like we’ve always been here- in all the best ways!)

I didn’t know what I was doing, even though I had taken classes and tried to prep myself (know how I always tell you I’m back at tech? It used to be MUCH! worse). There’s a chance I still don’t know what I’m doing- I feel like I’m still learning, though I will say that I have a much more firm grasp on what my vision is (telling our stories through fashion). People will tell you that the blog is dead- but I can’t tell you how much I still love this little corner of the internet that we share, and the community we’re building- and I love that we’re still growing.

Because it’s the blog’s birthday I thought we should celebrate, and while yes- that does mean fantastic shoes (so put some on and have a fun drink for me!), I’d also like to share some lessons that I’ve learned over these past 7(!) years!

-Your dreams will change. Grow. I think the best thing is to grow with them. Sometimes that means taking breaks, sometimes it means non-stop work, but at the end it should be worth it. This part (even the work) should be fun. Even when I’m frustrated with tech or what I want to say or the myriad of other things (this is still a job) I’m so grateful I get to do this. Fashion is fun to me, and I hope that comes through in my stories.

-Your path will take its own time. Especially with “influencers” (I have feelings about that word) there is always someone new or with more followers or reaches goals before you. I would be lying if there were times when I wasn’t envious of what others are doing- but I have to remind myself that their path is not mine. All I can do is the best I can, telling the stories how I know (growing and changing of course) and trust. It’s so cheesy to say but I do really believe that what’s for you is for you- it may take time and work- but it’s out there.

-Sometimes our stories are difficult to tell. I really think that fashion is how we tell our stories. And yet, there have been things that have been hard to talk about here (like how sick I was recently. I just didn’t want to post nonstop stories of me in sweats on the couch!). Sometimes, our stories are what we’re trying to be and not what we are. It can make fashion both endlessly fascinating, yet it can also leave you feeling like you have to keep up appearances. (And yes, social media and all the things are part of it.) Boundaries have been hard for me (not just here, but in general), but having a job that’s about sharing has lead me to firm up my boundaries. Not that I don’t love sharing with you! But not every story is for sharing- and that’s ok too.

I’ll be honest, this blog birthday kind of crept up on me. As you know, I’ve been sick and while I’m finally feeling as if I’m getting back to myself, there are still things to catch up on (clearly). In the coming weeks be on the look out for a birthday give-away, and more fantastic shoes.

Thank you for being a part of my journey. I’m so grateful for you, I hope that this week is full of magic and amazing shoes! XO RA

Sunday Chronicles: Is Fashion Frivolous?

Investment Piece: How to Star Gaze

With everything that’s happening in the world, it’s difficult not to question what we’re doing here. And I don’t just mean here- in my tiny little corner of the internet- but in general. Here. This rings especially true for those of us who’s pursuits are more of the creative kind. As I think about the suffering and the potential for destruction that’s happening around the world, I can’t help but wonder- is fashion frivolous? Should we be putting our energy into something else?

I don’t make light of anything that’s happening. It’s heartbreaking and important and everyone in the Ukraine and in war’s path needs and deserves our support and care. Those heavy things deserve our attention and our care (even when doing so is hard). And yet- I can’t bring myself to tell you that fashion is frivolous, that it doesn’t matter.

Yes, maybe now is not the time to be shopping thoughtlessly; perhaps our outfits aren’t the foremost things in our minds. But. While there is not a magic outfit that could bring about world peace (how I wish there were), I still firmly believe that fashion is simply a means with which we tell our stories. And now, more than ever, our stories matter.

Investment Piece: Blue Christmas

I think it’s easy (and a bit lazy) to call fashion frivolous. In some instances, fashion is a luxury, it can be a hobby, and fashion is easy to look down upon as it doesn’t offer any solutions to heavy problems. Yet. Fashion is a trade, a skill, an art. The men and women who make textiles and craft our garments are skilled workers who provide us with at the least a form of shelter and at most, storytelling material.

Even when things are hard and heavy, even perhaps when we aren’t always paying attention to what we’re wearing, our fashion tells our story- from uniforms to support to statements. And our stories matter. The story that we’re telling now may be heavy, but it may also be hopeful. Maybe it’s a story of support for people who are suffering, maybe what you wear lets someone know you’re an ally. Perhaps what you wear tells the story of survival, getting through the day, the story of revolution.

And maybe, by telling our stories we give others the permission to tell theirs.

There are a lot of stories out there right now. Stories that deserve our attention and our help and our reverence. Some of those stories are being today with fashion. So, how can we call fashion frivolous?

(I’m not even getting into how fashion can be a release, can make you feel good, can give you something to look forward to.Fashion can also be joyful, and even in hard ship joy is necessary and sacred. This is a mulit-layered topic, but I think it starts with the understanding that fashion is meaningful.)

I know right now we’re all aware of the world and its suffering, I am and I don’t want to make light of any of it. It’s not the time for carefree frolic of any kind. But, even though there is no magic peace outfit, maybe our fashion (and the support of those who make it) is a part of the solution and not some distraction? (Though if you need a distraction right now there is nothing wrong with that!)

I don’t concede that fashion is frivolous because fashion is a part of who we are, and we all matter.

Wishing us all a week of peace, hope, and amazing shoes. Slava Ukraini!
XO RA

Sunday Chronicles: Ukraine

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It’s usually the Sunday when we do Ex Files here (the place where I share dating horror stories that happen to me and my beloveds). Yet, today with all that’s happening in the world I couldn’t bring myself to write out a story about dating- I can’t stop thinking about Ukraine. The people, the fight in the them, the leadership of their president. Of course, like many of you, I’m wondering how I can support them, what I should do- and how our stories of fashion fit in this moment. It’s a lot to think about, and I realize I’m in a position of safety and privilege to sit back and think.

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I don’t know that I have the answers. What I know is that I highly admire the Ukraine people, the bravery of their president, and that I’m so in awe of their stories. Even related to Ex Files, have you heard the Tinder stories coming out of the Russian war? Evidently Russian soldiers have been attempting to match with Ukrainian women over Tinder- depending on the stories you read either the soldiers are using the women for intel or the Ukraine women who are using the intel to give to the Ukraine army. I like to think Tinder is being used to for good, and if given the chance, would love to read those dating stories.

I also know that we’re each given talents, mine are stories and fashion. At times like these, it can feel as if those talents aren’t needed- but stories like the Tinder one above, remind me that our stories are what we have- and are worth fighting for, maybe the only things worth fighting for. And that on top of telling stories, we can support. If you’re moved to give to help support Ukraine at this time I suggest finding a charity that speaks to you (for me so far it’s been WCK for Ukraine but I know there are so many many great places to give out there). If you need a place to start try here and here.

This week as I’ve struggled to know what to say I’ve been reminded that any work we do to stand up to evil or be good tugs at the big threads that connect us all, and works to unravel all that needs unraveling. Maybe it’s fashion or stories, supporting from afar or up close, what we do is important- and the small things we do can add up to big things.

As overwhelmed and unsure I’ve been this week, I’ve gained strength and inspiration from Ukraine (ironic as I would love to help them). May we all have the bravery of the Ukraines this week, and may we all find our own ways to support them.

Wishing us all a week of strength, peace, and amazing shoes! XO RA

Sunday Chronicles: Minor Holidays

Investment Piece: Dressing like Freedom

When I was a kid, I was extremely aware of every day we had off school. I tracked them, I looked forward to them, from in-service days to long winter breaks I always had them in my calendar, had plans (even to just stay home) and could name them. As an adult, I wish I could be on top of holidays. It’s not that I don’t know the major ones, or do my calendar, but unless I have major plans often minor holidays escape my attention.

Sad? True? I often know it’s holiday like President’s Day (our current minor holiday in America) because of the sales.

And sales are something I’m a big fan of (tomorrow I’ll be sharing my sales picks!). But I also think holidays- even the minor ones- are something worth celebrating. Maybe it’s that as I get older I more and more understand that we shouldn’t “save” things for special occasions (every day is special), or maybe it’s that any chance I get to relax or travel or be with people I love is a chance I want to take advantage of- but minor holidays are beginning to be some of my favorites.

Ironic when you consider I have a more difficult time keeping track of them.

While when I was in school these minor holidays were something I had plans for, and now they as often sneak up on me and they come as a wonderful surprise! Imagine- suddenly discovering you have a day off!** If you’ve been planning for days like President’s day trips, parties, may be on your calendar. Yet, maybe you’re like me and Monday being a holiday was something you learned about via sales emails. And while I have things I “could” do, there’s not a deadline I must meet. Meaning, this minor holiday is my day- to rest, recoup, watch tv, shop, anything my heart desires.

**Side note, I know not every minor holiday is a day off, as many companies or fields don’t always give time off. There have been plenty of holidays that I’ve spent working-maybe that’s part of why I can sometimes have a difficult time remembering them!

How decant is a day where you don’t have to do anything? There is, of course, the idea that we should use these minor holidays to “get ahead” and work on things- and while that’s valid, and I may do a bit of that- I’m trying to take minor holidays as a time to use for me. In any of those wonderful ways I mentioned above.

So, if you need me tomorrow I may be on the couch, or online shopping, or watching movies, anything that leaves me ready to face the rest of the week at my best! What do you do on minor holidays? How are you spending your President’s Day?

Wishing us all a week of celebrating and amazing shoes! XO RA

Sunday Chronicles: Love and Food

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For many people it’s a big weekend: Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, but as this is the weekend it “falls on” several people have been celebrating this weekend; and today is the Super Bowl! If you’re American, even if you’re not a huge football fan, this is a day of good eats and socializing. We chat about ways to say “I love you”, date night looks, and sometimes sports. Often, we don’t think those things overlap, but is there any combination more loving and yummy than love and food?

Food is one of the traditional ways to let someone know you care, to take care of them, to woo them. All over the internet you’ll find recipes for things like “engagement chicken”, “commitment chicken” and meals to make him your own. No matter what your love language, we all speak good food. And no matter what we think, food is a way to say I love you, to woo, to ensure commitment, to care for the people we love.

I’ve written about loving football before (here) but I know there are a ton of people who don’t. Yet, I don’t always think of the Super Bowl as a football day. Even when I’ve cared about the game, I’ve been more concerned about the food. From snacks to big meals, the Super Bowl is also a big food day.

If we have food and we have love, what more do we need? It’s a big weekend indeed.

I love love, and I love good snacks. I’ve spent the weekend celebrating love and today I’m so thrilled to add football food to the mix. Today I’m super excited to be able to spend time with people I love and eat things that are just AMAZING. I’ve been thinking and planning about what to serve all week, but if you’re still on the fix or what to serve today, or how to say I love you might I recommend the following!

Over the pandemic I’ve become a HUGE fan of a great charcuterie board, and today is a great day for one:
Investment Piece: Cheese Board

Pro tip: don’t be afraid to experiment! Mix cheeses and meats and all the crunchy things. Lately some of my favorite additions have been artichoke pesto and plantain chips. Read all my cheese board tips here

Investment Piece: Sunday Chronicles: SuperBowl Food

It’s also a great day for other great foods- like pizza and nachos. I’m a huge fan of a great nacho and pizza (well, I eat the Cauliflower kind) is one of my staples. A few years ago I detailed some of my favorite Super Bowl Foods (see here and I have to say they all look temping!

And because it is a day of love, might I also recommend some great enchiladas?
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A hearty meal and a great way to say I love you! (and keep you full for 4 quarters) Get my recipe here

This year, as both a way to say I love you and to have great snacks, I’m leaning towards a HUGE charcuterie board with all my fave goat cheeses and crackers. What are you serving for the big game? How have you been expressing your love this weekend?

Wishing us all a week of good snacks and amazing food! XO RA

Sunday Chronicles: Story and Function

Investment Piece:Hitting the Ground....

You may have been able to tell, but I’ve been sick for the past week or so (I’m not trying to hide it, but as I’m still recovering, I’m not ready to chat a lot about it yet). I have had to work some, but the main activity I’ve been engaged in has been laying on the couch- and the main thing I’ve been wearing are sweats (with the occasional pj set thrown in). As someone who truly believes that our fashion and outfit choices are a way we tell our stories, having a week where I’m not dressing for anything, and more than often choosing function over any conscious story, I’ve had times where I’m sitting down and really thinking about our fashion stories and what part function plays in them.

The past week when I’ve been getting dressed I’ve solely been concerned with how comfy something is, and how warm I’ll be (it’s also been literally freezing). There was not anything I was thinking of communicating, no worrying about what I looked like, just a desire to feel better. While I’m sure you could make a story of what I was wearing, and what I was communicating, function was my main focus. What was warm, what was comfy, what would let me lay down in peace- that’s what I wanted to wear. Yes, some of my sweats were cute (if I do say so myself), but I wasn’t thinking about that at all. As I’ve begun to feel better I have begun to think beyond function- and choosing pjs that make me feel good beyond comfort in an effort to feel better. But, if function was what I needed for a week is that any less of a story than any other outfit?

Many fashion articles, magazines, sites, shoppers, advisors will tell you that the secret to a great wardrobe is to marry function with designs you love and make you feel good. If, for work or any other reason, you need suits (or blazers), filling your closet with only party clothes will be a mistake as the function you need fulfilled will be unmet. You wouldn’t wear jeans to the pool, or high heels to the gym. We know that function is a part of our stories. Is function enough on its own though?

I don’t know, even at my most well, that I have the answers. Yes, while sick I’m prioritizing function over any thing else, but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t care at all what I look like. I’ve given (even just passing) thoughts to matching, to cleanliness, to colors. And I’ve been thinking about what to wear, what stories, to tell when I’m better (yes, I’m incredibly grateful to be on the mend!). Function isn’t the foremost thought when I’m thinking about what I like, or what I want to express. However, it’s obviously needed.

How do we balance function and story? How do we use function to tell our stories? How do we manage when function isn’t always the fun part?
There’s a good chance these questions don’t have easy or neat answers, or even just one answer. Being immersed in function has made me appreciate it more, and you may see more mention of it here. OF course, once I get to dress without a thought to function, who knows how crazy I’ll go!

I would love to hear your thoughts about function and stories- how you balance them, what you choose, all of it! Let me know in the comments!

Wishing us all a week of good health and amazing shoes! XO RA

Sunday Chronicles: Sick

Investment Piece: Lady of the Lake

I’ve spent the past week sick (luckily not that), but still sick- achy, stuffy, and just enough brain fog that work (and life) has become a bit more difficult than usual. It’s most likely just allergies (Cedar Fever, if you don’t live in a place with CF be grateful! I never had allergies as a kid, or most of my adult life. These started a few years ago and have been getting progressively worse!) but as a result of how I was feeling, I basically spent the last week in bed or on the couch.

And, like anything, staying in and resting is fun when it’s a choice- it gets old when it’s all you can do. My energy was pretty low, so even things like walks I love were not an option. And my brain was a bit all over the place, so anything that required a lot of thought (even reading or watching for pleasure) were pretty much out of the question.

So, you may be wondering what I did! In all honesty, not a lot. I read some and did watch some TV, but mainly I did nothing other than dream about what I would do once I felt like I was me again. The odd thing about getting sick at the beginning of the year is that it throws off whatever habits you’ve been developing. This year I had goals to get into a more consistent shooting/writing schedule- this week I had to cancel every thing (some super exciting!) that I had on my calendar.

And while that was awful, it clarified some things for me. This year I wanted to bring the joy back to my dressing and structure to my work schedule. Being at home this week, I spent some time “window” shopping online, looking at outfits I like, day dreaming about outfits. Sometimes your creativity needs a little break to come back to you- maybe it’s all the allergy meds, but I’m energized to put together outfits, places for shoots, and ideas on how to make my schedule work better for me.

Actually, this week “down” has clarified a lot for me, and made clear which goals I do really want to do. I do want to ensure I get in a great workout each day (I’ve missed them! They help me clear my head) and now I know I want to get up earlier to get them in, and have ideas about what things I want to try. I have ideas about how to rearrange my space, my financial goals. This week made it clear that I want to spend more time with people I love. I also made lists of a ton of things to read and watch.

And I wasn’t even THAT sick comparatively, however, being forced to really take time out, to almost be forced to do nothing is a great time to think about everything. At the beginning of January I spent some time really thinking about my goals, this week feels like my first time choosing them.

Today, I’m hoping to be up and about. To get a workout in (my first in a week!). To do my hair, to get dressed, to begin setting plans in motion. If you’ve been sick recently, you know that may be a big to-do list, but I’m hopeful. Getting sick wasn’t in my plans, but in some ways, I’m so grateful that I got to sit and really get clear on what I want this year to look like. And I’m grateful for rest.

I’m hoping that you are feeling great and that, hopefully without a sick week, your plans for this year are being set in motion.

Wishing us all a week of great health and amazing shoes!
XO RA

Sunday Chronicles: Returns

Investment Piece: Fall Party

After the holiday season- the gift gifting and the sale shopping comes a season of returns. None of us give with the intention that our gifts won’t hit the mark (and few of us shopping thinking it won’t work out), but sometimes, returning a gift (or purchase) is the best thing. I know this. I’ll be the first to tell you that if something doesn’t fit or hit the mark, that you should return it- and of course then I will tell you to get things that do hit the mark and fit! If I feel this way, if I can acknowledge that returns are a part of shopping, why do I sometimes have a hard time with returns?

(And I’m really hoping I’m not the only one!)

When we talk about returns, a lot that is difficult to deal with is the actual process. Going to the store, or mailing it in, waiting for a refund or a replacement item. At times returns are annoying at best, and a major inconvenience at worst. This article by Amanda Mull in The Atlantic breaks down the return process, history, etc much better than I could. And I have to say, unfortunately, I have no advice or tips for dealing with that side of returns.

However, I do have thoughts about the feeling side of returns, because I do refuse to believe I’m not the only one who sometimes over-thinks or feels the simple return. There are times when I can make the choice to return, not think about it, and get it done. Then there are times when I find myself trying way too hard to make purchases work, feeling as if I have to over explain my return reasoning to the store clerk (and anyone who asks), or worse- keeping something I know is not right for me.

Sometimes it’s the embarrassment of ordering the wrong size. Which I know is dumb- especially as there is no standard sizing, that no one cares, that a number on a tag doesn’t define me. Like many women, I’m a ton of different sizes and most of the time I’m ok with it. But. There are times when the wrong size is a reason I delay returns. This is very similar, but times when a piece doesn’t work for me I can also get a bit dejected (I’m not 100% sure that this is the word I’m looking for, but we’ll go with it!) and put off returning it. I can get very in my head about being a “fashion blogger” and how that must mean that I could make any outfit work- and the reality is, that’s just not possible. From style to body type to sometimes outfits just don’t work. And as much as I can tell you that, when things don’t work for me, there are times I can take it personal.

And sometimes, the feelings and hesitation to return something is a bit more complicated. Maybe it’s something you really wanted to love, or something that meant something to someone you love. There are things that we return that can rub our loved ones the wrong way, as they take it as a comment on them or their gift giving. Returning, with all of its frustrations, leaves you without something, and sometimes that’s more difficult than we expect it to be.

Reasons returns are hard can be varied, and I know most of the time the answer is simply to just do the return. The store or clerk isn’t judging you, and if something isn’t for you, it just means that something better is out there. But when I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around those ideas these tips are how I get myself to suck it up and make the return:
-I bribe myself. Be it what other thing I’ll buy with the return funds, a coffee out, or making a day of fun errands after the return. I’m not debating if you should bribe yourself, just letting you know it works for me.
-I wear an outfit that makes me feel good. If you’re making a return of an item that didn’t make you feel great about yourself, there’s no better balm than an outfit that makes you look amazing. Fantastic lipstick (under a mask even!) can also help!
-I ask a friend to go with me. It makes the process a bit less painful and it can lead to a really fun day.

How do you feel about returns? I know we all have things we just return, but the things that are difficult to return- how do you do it? What are your tips in general for returns? I would love to hear about them all!

And it is currently Mercury Retrograde so if you have things returning to you (people, etc), I recommend discernment, and I would love to hear about all of those returns too! 😉

Wishing us all a week of good returns and amazing shoes! XO RA