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Karma: sometimes you win

A few years ago things were really hard for me and my mom. The economy totally changed and there was no more healthcare construction to be had. That is when I started my long, windy journey that I have documented mostly on twitter but some on this site. I went to see my mom last night for a couple of hours before my friend’s party and she told me a little story about how she is now benefitting from what was so bad before.

To give you some back story, my family was in healthcare construction my entire life. My parents made a lot of money at it and I didn’t do to bad myself. But construction is a tricky thing and sometimes you just get screwed. Over the many years our company booked a total loss of just over $400K. Sounds like a lot of money but in the grand scheme it wasn’t that much. Mom was always pissed about it and right there at the end when we were shutting things down we got screwed out of about $25k more. It was really debilitating to my self-esteem at the time, but there was nothing I could do. It would have cost me more money to sue and when I totaled up the possible lawyer’s fees it just wasn’t worth it. I, we, had to let the money go.

Anyway, mom was telling me last night how she had met with her financial planner again and how she was feeling vindicated just a little bit. Because of this past loss, her and my step-dad basically don’t have to pay taxes on all their investments for awhile. I guess there is some rule that makes this possible. (I’m a sales/marketing person. My accounting classes in grad school only counted for the tests.)

The only reason I write this slightly, boring story is because a lot of times things really suck and then someone how you still come out on top. Or rather, my mother always wins in the end. I’ve kept up with the people who screwed us years ago and they all got theirs. And not because I went out of my way to make something happen. But because eventually bad shit happens to bad people. You just have to be patient.

Are you my mom and the perils of not getting your Botox re-upped.

Yesterday I had to drive out to Lawrenceville to do a client’s intake and chat with a doctor. Not a big deal except for the traffic and this little event was going to make me late for class. Usually these things only take 30-45 minutes but this time the client’s husband was there and they had a lot of questions.

The client was only 2 months older than me from the information she provided and her husband was approximately the same age. At the end when I was trying to make my escape back to Atlanta the husband looked at his wife and said “Doesn’t she look just like Courtney’s mom?” The wife said “Yes she totally does!” The husband proceeded to ask me if I have family in Loganville, GA which randomly is where my sister lives but no, I’m not related to the people he was thinking of.

Now I’m almost 35 and still get carded on a regular basis but I scrutinize my face daily in the car while driving. Nothing shows all your flaws like the glaring sun. And in my mind I’m still 22 but with a lot more life experience. Truly, youth is wasted on the young. When this man said I looked like someone’s mom I was completely taken aback. Questions flew through my mind. Horrified questions. Who is this person? Why would I be their mom? I’m not old enough to have kids. I was standing there smiling but totally crying on the inside thinking how I need a peel and I need to freeze my face and how could I possibly look this old? Why God? Why?

Then I realized that Courtney is a friend of the couple’s daughter. And Courtney is 10 years old, not 20 like the nightmare that was going through my mind. I could have a 10 year old if things had been different. There are so many feelings I have about this and it was a bit of a rude awakening. (This rude awakening happens once a week but its rude every. single. time.) I know all of this. My friend’s are all having baby #2 right now. And I’m starting another business and finishing my MBA.

Am I ok with all of this? Am I going to regret it later? Do I care?

F***!

I laughed to myself when I realized they were referring to a kid. But really, f***, nonetheless.

Manolo Blahnik’s via eBay – my latest finds

I found a couple deals on Manolo Blahnik sandals on eBay last week. It’s been awhile since I bought anything and these sandals were just to good to pass up. I paid under $150 for each barely, worn pair. One is python and the other is croc. If I was buying those shoes full price the total would have been around $2,000 and that is just not an option right now.

manolo brown front

manolo black front

manolo black side

Two pairs of classic sandals that fit perfectly into my little collection. Very pleased if I do say so myself.

Similar Black and similar Brown.

Kate Spade & J.Crew – Pink, White and Black

I wore this outfit last week to the office and making calls. The pants, bow blouse and Karolina heels are all Kate Spade. The coat is J.Crew which I’ve blogged before. When it warms up even slightly I’m always inclined to wear pieces like the lightweight wool crop pants that show a touch of skin. Even if it is my ankles.

pink and black

white and black

Similar pants, blouse and shoes. The shoes in the link are beyond fabulous. Then of course a similar coat.

I just never seem to get enough black, white and pink. Or bows it seems.

Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs – Estee Lauder and Aerin Lauder

My interests lie in fashion (because its fun), brands, customer loyalty, business development. This is probably no surprise to you if you follow me on twitter or have read this blog through the years. My MBA concentration is in marketing and I work in business development now. Lately, my thoughts lie in entrepreneurship and specifically, female entrepreneurship. I’m trying to get my own little, side project off the ground and I look to successful, stylish females for a inspiration.

Two of my favorite inspiring female entrepreneurs are Estee Lauder and her granddaughter Aerin. I’ve followed Aerin and her story with the family business for years. Her new product line Aerin is lovely and beautifully packaged. The story of Estee and how her company changed people’s lives is something you don’t here about every day. Who wouldn’t like knowing that she has made thousands people beautiful and feel good about themselves? Estee was a catalyst for change in skin care industry. For me, that is important, wanting to help others while making money. In my little endeavor, I want to provide a product or content that may be fluffy, but is beneficial at the same time. It might not be on an Estee level, but a girl can dream.

Valentine’s Day: Reality vs How You Wish It Was/Is/Whatever

This is what the media wants you to believe Valentine’s Day is like.

Waking up in Paris.

Eiffel Tower at Sunrise

With the best version ever of La Vie en Rose playing in the background.

(Don’t actually watch the video. It ruins the song. Just listen.)

This is reality and how you know true love runs deep.

Cheese Enchiladas 187-2

You’re just happy that he knows your regular order by heart.

dos-equis-beer

And he knows you want a lime with your beer.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Lent, Redemption and Paul Williams.

It’s that time of year when people give up Diet Coke for Jesus. Whatever floats your boat.

For me, Lent reminds me of giving unto others, the good that can come when you trust in the Lord and that everyone loves a good redemption story.

The other day me and B watched a documentary about the songwriter and actor Paul Williams. He was extremely famous and if you were a child of the 1970s (as B was) you knew exactly who Paul Williams was or is. Personally, I just like sappy songs from the back in the day. Give me a good B-side and some nostalgia and I’m good to go.

This is the trailer for the documentary.

Paul wrote all the songs. The famous ones that tug at your heart.

I cried when this song played. It reminded me of so many things that I don’t normally think about.

So, so famous. But I still don’t like Babs.

And then this one. Oh, Paul.

(Fun fact: this song was originally used in a bank commercial.)

The story of Paul is one you’ve heard before. He had everything. Money, fame, women and still wasn’t happy. Cocaine and booze didn’t work either. Paul has been sober for many years and is still out there entertaining fans.

The point of this post and tying it in to Lent is that I truly believe God forgives your sins. People ask me (because of my story) a lot about “when does it get better” and “when do you feel normal again.” It gets better when you forgive yourself. God is always on your side. God has already forgiven you. You have to let go and move on. You have to make the decision to take control of your life and move forward. You have to find the new path and the new life. You have to be okay with you.

Lent 2012 really brought this home to me. It really helped me move forward and be grateful for all the blessings that have been been given to me since I hit rock bottom on a Fat Tuesday night in 2009.

The last few scenes of the Paul Williams documentary make that point. Paul doesn’t look back. He keeps moving forward and is happier now than ever.

The documentary was very moving for me and B. It was so well made and really shows a profile of person you just don’t see every day.

Disco Fever: Favorites from the Fall 2013 Diane von Furstenberg Show

It’s no secret that out of all the mid-market brands Diane von Furstenberg is my absolute favorite.

I loved the whole show which you can see at DVF. So amazing.

The disco theme and the music used in the show were perfection but I’m partial to anything remotely Studio 54.

My two favorite looks out for the show were the following:

82@289@Diane von Furstenberg-RTW-FW13-1007

The print combined with the cut of the dress is lovely. I would do it with a nude shoe or black heels and tights. Maybe add a red coat to keep warm in winter. Nothing crazy with jewelry.

Then I loved this coat.

Thakoon, Accessories Collection, Fall Winter 2013, New York

It’s perfect to wear over anything monochromatic such a black skirt and sweater. It might even be fun with white jeans and a denim shirt. A statement coat is definitely one of my favorite things to add to an otherwise neutral wardrobe.

After I watched runway show all I did was want to dance and break out my disco music collection.

Now where is Whit Stilman when I need him?

*photos via google images*

Shopping Ebay – Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo and Kate Spade

I’m a fan of quality over quantity at this point in my life. But I like a discount as much as the next girl therefore I still turn to ebay when looking for designer items. After my last ebay related post there were several questions about how do I find the things I do. There are several things I think about and take into account when I shop on ebay for shoes. Here are a few of my past, well-worn finds.

High heeled neutrals

High heeled neutrals

First, the main issue with shoes is sizing. Just like clothes there are no returns when buying from ebay. (Unless you are a jerk and make up issues with items when there aren’t any. It’s ebay, not Nordstrom.) You have to know the brand you shopping for as well as be relatively sure that it runs the same all the time. The brands I look for on ebay are Manolo, Jimmy and Kate Spade. I’ve bought Tory Burch in the past but have since sold the entire collection. These shoes fit the look that I’m going for and are available at a significant discount most of the time. One brand that I wouldn’t recommend buying on ebay is Christian Louboutin which is generally all over the place when it comes to sizing. Plus, the discount isn’t as good as the other brands. You have to have done your brand research.

Second, you have to realize that this hunt is a marathon not a race. You are looking to make good, long-term adds to your wardrobe since you have decided to buy high end. I recommend looking for classics or classic with a twist. Nothing crazy that you will regret. It’s a completely different mindset. This shopping experience is taking place via your laptop and couch not at Nordstrom Rack. In this marathon of hunting down discounted designer I would keep a list of items you want to add to your wardrobe once or if they become available. It’s probably not a long list but it will keep you on track and not forget things you are looking for. And it will help keep you from getting “shoe goggles” and randomly pulling the trigger on something you don’t need. Then as items show up and fit your list they can be checked off one by one. You might also find that using this method that you might buy less because you realize that you don’t need everything on it.

Third, make a reasonable target price point for each brand. I’ve been lucky to get never worn Kate Spade for under $100 but have seen pairs for $150 I thought about buying. A full price pair of Kate Spade Karolina’s is $325 in the stores and an evening shoe is around $400. My goal with Kate Spade shoes is “new, with a box and 66-75% off”. Manolo Blahnik’s and Jimmy Choo’s are now over $600 for the most part. The nude Manolo sandal was new, unworn, with box. I paid just under $200 for them several years ago. Once again, I saved over 50%. It’s unlikely you will get new, unworn for a rock bottom price. But that’s not totally the point. If you compare your $200 Manolos versus new, close to $300 or more J.Crew shoes (which are much less quality) which product do you prefer? I wouldn’t be opposed to BARELY worn Manolo’s versus new J.Crew just because of quality and timelessness.

As an example of a product that lasts as long as you take care of it please look at the black, suede Manolo sandal on the right. I actually bought that shoe on consignment when I was in college. (Ignore that fact for this ebay post. They looked good with the rest of the shoes.) They have been to every kind of event, party and dinner you can imagine. Even up and down the hills of San Francisco on a rather tipsy excursion. I paid $100 for the pair and they had been worn twice. Divided over time, the pair has been worn well over 100 times and cost nickels per wear at this point.

The point is if you want quality and designer you can have it. It might take a little bit of time but with some patience an amazing shoe closet or at least a few special finds can be yours to enjoy for many years to come. I hope this helps. It’s not rocket science but it is a different approach that most people aren’t used too.

Fashion, History, Lasting Style – Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy

I’m a student of fashion and more importantly history, branding and people. It’s forever fascinating to me how it all influences each other and us. The scene in The Devil Wears Prada where Miranda Priestly goes after Andy for laughing about not seeing the difference between two belts then checks her for wearing such a “sad” sweater is one of my favorite movie scenes of all time.

It was like I had a moment with Anna herself. I got it! I understood! I get the trickle down!

In a world of fast-fashion (I will spare you my soap box about that today), information overload and blogging I’ve been thinking about what really lasts? What actually gives ROI? A question I wish a lot of people would ask is “am I going to be embarrassed when I look back on this picture ten plus years from now?”

I think about branding and how it affects society because it’s something I study in graduate school. Obviously, its not just clothing. I find technology brands, car brands and just brands and the psychology of it fascinating in general. It’s NYFW right now and I read this little piece from The Cut which really illustrates how Fashion Week is different now.

Looking at people and brands that still inspire me and stand the test of time one of my favorites, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy was one of the first people I was fascinated with her style and story. I still have the article that Newsweek wrote about her in my saved articles (pre-Pinterest). I remember thinking in high school how this person with the perfectly blown-out hair had remade herself and was now a Kennedy. Very Cinderella. Very Brand-Worthy. Very American.

This outfit montage is lovely and to me really shows timeless style but you can also tell its the late-1990s. Click on it to see the detail. If I posted it larger it took over my blog.

cbkfashion1

So few people look fashion-forward but appropriate anymore. And I’m not just referring to media people, the average person acts like not making an effort is some kind of badge of honor. It’s not. You look like sh*t. It’s a bad habit and lazy.

I look at pictures of my mother and grandmother through the years. Of course, everything is dated but they also look put together and ready to make it happen. They were and are ladies. My grandmother looked like she stepped out of Mad Men and my mom looked like the perfect, preppy mom. It’s not just about the outside obviously. But do you really want to be the one wearing the “sad sweater from a bin of stuff?”

Alright, I’ll stop. I promised no soap boxes. Thanks for indulging my walk down memory lane and glossing over my favorite subject.