About Melanie

Melanie is a stylist who adores bold prints, local farmers markets, and getting down to 90's music.  Her mission is to make women feel confident through their clothes.  This native New Yorker currently resides in the Bay Area with her fantastic husband, adorable, chubby baby and her impossibly cute puppy.  

Wednesday
Aug202014

Put Your Mask on First

Left: Photo of me and Zoe before our trip to N.Y. Right: Me & the beyond gorgeous mama-to-be this weekend.

This past Monday I was on a flight coming home from visiting my oldest (and currently very pregnant) friend.  This was my fourth flight this month so I've been a jet setting mama!  This trip was long overdue and I was so glad I was able to get there and have some "girl time" before she becomes a mama.  The trip was last minute and I could have thought of a gazillion reasons why not to go.  They would have been excuses really.  I had just gotten back from another trip, I have a 15 month old who keeps me very busy and flights are expensive.  But, there was NO WAY I wasn't going.  Not just for her sake, for mine as well.  

So there I was, sitting on the plane heading home, listening to the stewardess talk about safety.  I have to be honest, I don't always listen to this speech anymore.  I fly a lot and I'm super comfortable with it.  But really, I knooooow I should be paying attention.  So this time I did.  And then she said it.

"If you are traveling with someone (like a child for instance), put your mask on first before you offer assistance."

This is a statement that my friend Jacinda had mentioned to me a few weeks ago.  We were talking about being moms and self care.  She said "I gotta put my mask on first, ya know?" And at the time I sort of just nodded not really taking it in.  But hearing it again on the plane, right after seeing a friend who was about to embark on this crazy journey we call motherhood.  It really hit me.  This is my new mantra.  

"Put your mask on first."  

Ultimately, if you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of anyone else.  Tweet it!

Us women, we have a real tendency to over extend ourselves.  We love to help out, and give, give, give.  I can't tell you how many times I've made myself sick because I was working too hard on a project or taking care of someone else.  When I think about self care, it's not something that comes naturally to me.  What comes naturally is burning out.  I'm not sure why I feel the need to give to the point of exhaustion but it's something I'm working on.  Because let's face it, I'm a better mother, friend, wife and business woman when I've slept, showered and taken care of myself.  So going on a mini trip to see my good friend is really important for my soul.  Which is just as important as getting a manicure.  Which is just as important as eating healthy.  It's all the same thing really.  Put. Your. Mask. On. First.  Do what you need to do for you.  

This quote has always stuck with me and I think it sums up my point brilliantly.  

"I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self indulgent.  Caring for myself is an act of survival." -Audre Lorde

Does this sound familiar?  Working yourself to the bone?  Not sleeping or eating right because you are too busy taking care of everyone else?  I'd like us to all work on this one together.  So I invite you this week to do something nice for yourself.  Let me see it by hashtagging #hohwithmelanie #putyourmaskonfirst and tagging @hohwithmelanie so I can see what lovely thing you have treated yourself to.  Also, I'd love to hear in the comments section below about what you do (or plan on doing) for yourself, and if you have noticed a change from it.  I got you girl.  We are in this together.  

Oh, and have you seen the Virgin America flight video?  It's amazing.  I could watch it all day.  Is that weird?  I mean... it's just so good!

xoxo,

 

Melanie

 

 

Thursday
Jul242014

One Outfit: Two Ways - Versatile Top

One of the first things I think about when I'm shopping is "How versatile is this item going to be in my closet?" Is this going to be a fun statement piece I can only wear once in a blue moon?  Or is  it going to be able to be worn in a plethora of ways on many occasions?  There is a time and place for both items but ultimately the smarter choice is always the more adaptable piece.  

Once I've established that the item can be worn in many different ways, I like to then try and find creative opportunities to spice it up.  So if a blouse comes in a several colors, I'll go for the bright color instead of the basic.  This is what works for me to keep my wardrobe full of surprises and yet, full of functional pieces.


I actually NEVER get the opportunity to rock a pencil skirt.  When I used to work in bridal I would wear pencil skirts on the regular.  But I'll admit, it's not my go-to item when running to the park for a play date or even shopping with a client.  Some days I yearn for the option to wear a killer office look.  I took this opportunity and ran with it.

So, with that being said, the above outfit is my version of a 9 to 5 look.  You can take the city out of the girl, but that little bit of city spark always stays.  When putting together this ensemble I thought about two things.  

1) How can I make it fun, yet sophisticated?  

The Answer - Classic shapes with bold shades.  Are we used to seeing a blouse and pencil skirt together in the office.  Obvs.  But is it usually done in gorgeous, unexpected colors?  Nope!  A lot of my clients mention that they feel they have trouble feeling trendy at work.  This outfit also is a great example of how ot incorporate new fashion into your daily looks.

2) How do I make color blocking work for the office?

The Answer - Keeping the look to two colors makes it consistent and not overwhelming.  I paired the look with a matching heel and purse to not introduce too many colors.  I also wore all gold jewelry for the same reason.
By now you know I'm a jeans lover.  If not, you should probably check out my Style Guide to your right!  Do it now!  While I love me a good dress, my favorite date night look is a jeans and heels combo.  Comfort meets sexy.  It has never failed to amaze me how a dressy blouse, jeans, and heels can work in the majority of situations.  Dinner date: Jeans and heels.  Bachelorette party at a club: Jeans and heels.  Happy Hour: Jeans and heels.  Mamas night out: Jeans and heels.  All I'm saying is... when in doubt, wear heels and it always adds the level of dressed up you were looking for.

As you can see, I wore the same blouse AND the same heels in both looks.  This was intentional for two reasons.  I wanted to show you that if you have a bold colored item that you want to wear a lot, sometimes it helps to have a shoe that works as well.  The other reason is that I find that most women wear the same accessories and shoes more often than a fashion blogger would (shocker).  So in an effort to be helpful and transparent I'm once again wearing similar jewelry to this post and the same shoes with both looks.  

What's one thing in your closet that you find is a "Go - To"; but is still fun and unexpected?  One of my favorite things to chat about is how clothing can work in different ways.  Let's start a conversation by leaving a comment below!  

Look 1: BLOUSE // SIMILAR HEELS // SKIRT / /SIMILAR NECKLACE // ASSORTED BRACELETS

Look 2: JEANS // SIMILAR EARRINGS // SUNGLASSES // NECKLACE // WATCH

Photography: MELANIE DUERKOPP PHOTOGRAPHY

Hair and Makeup: MELISSA HOFFMANN

xoxo,

 

Melanie

Wednesday
Jul232014

Warning Signs it's Time to Stop Shopping

  

 Melanie Duerkopp Photography

You have been shopping all day.  You started strong getting a few new fantastic outfits at J. Crew.  You then had a stroke of bad luck at the next few stores and it put you in a slightly frustrated mood.  You started looking at your watch and begin to feel pressed for time.  You decide to forget about lunch because you want to hit up a few more stores.  Now that you are hungry and frustrated you start to go into stores with a bad attitude.  You don’t even want to try things on.  You leave feeling annoyed, frustrated and unproductive. 

We have all had those days and they are THE WORST.  Especially when you go with an intention to buy something specific like a dress for an event the next day.  Leaving empty handed after a day of shopping really puts a damper on things.  That’s for sure.  After several years of shopping WITH clients and shopping FOR clients I am now a self proclaimed “Efficient Enjoyable Shopping Connoisseur”.  

You can prevent the breakdown if you start you know what to look for.  That's why today I’m sharing my top warning signs with you to prevent you from having another Debbie Downer shopping disaster.  

 

1)   You start getting critical.  - What I find with most women is that when we first start looking through the racks we are filled with excitement and an optimistic attitude.  It’s once we start trying on things (that don’t fit the way we envisioned) that we start to get crabby.  While this is a whole other blog post all together, I do think it’s important to recognize that once you are full of negative thoughts you aren’t going to like anything.

What to do: Try to keep that positive mindset through out your shopping experience.  I do periodic check ins with myself.  Ask yourself questions such as “Is this rack overwhelming you?  Let’s check out the jewelry.”  Or give yourself reminders like “Yes! So much cobalt blue here today!  That color looks amazing on you.

2)   You are super hungry but are trying to push through.  Often we go shopping as an extra errand to do.  It is often around a meal time (I usually am shopping around lunch) so sometimes we forget to eat. DON’T.  You are just asking to put yourself in a funk. 

What to do: If you are hungry or thirsty you HAVE to take care of that.  No body likes a “hangry” (hungry and angry) shopper.  If this is something you really find effects you I suggest bringing water and snacks.  It may sound silly but sometimes you gotta stop and refresh.
 

3)   You become glazed over and unfocused.  This means it’s been too long and it’s time to take a break.  Walking around in a fog is just going to make the shopping experience longer without accomplishing much.

I always say I can go into a store like Anthropologie and always see different things.  Part of that is that when you go in with a focused mind you are more efficient.  This makes shopping more enjoyable and quicker as well. 

What to do:  Take a break.  Grab food, make a call, sit outside for a few.   Afterwards you can reassess how you feel.  Are you too tired to continue?  Do you feel refreshed?  Make the call with a clear head.

I know.  I am a stylist and I am telling you to STOP shopping.  This may seem counter intuitive.  But when you hit a wall when shopping, it no longer is going to be beneficial and it can make you leave with a bad taste in your mouth about the day.  This is totally unnecessary.  I want you to ENJOY shopping, feel confident in your clothes and knowledgeable in the stores.  So next time you are out and start to see one of these warning signs, I want you to check in and reassess. 

I’d love to hear if this is something you experience.  What do you do to snap yourself out of it?  Let me know in the comments section! 

 

Xoxo,

 

Melanie 

 

Monday
Jul142014

Confidence Booster: A Compliment a Day

 

I'm a sucker for compliments.  And not in the way you might think... although I do like receiving compliments as well. ;)  I love to shower OTHER people with compliments.  It's actually one of my favorite things to do.  I am a firm believer that people do not genuinely notice other people enough.  It takes one sentence to make someone's whole day.  I mean, how awesome is that?

When Andrew and I first started dating he began to notice a trend.  Whenever we met someone new I would always say "I love your shoes!"  or "You have incredible hair!  I would love to have curls like that" etc...  He didn't say anything until one day we went out to eat and the waitress was wearing a killer pair of earrings.  I complimented her on them before ordering my salad.  Once the waitress was gone Andrew said (I'll never forget it!) "Did you really like her earrings?  You always compliment people.  Don't get me wrong, it's a nice thing to do... I am just curious if you really MEAN it."  Huh... It had never occurred to me that someone might not take my compliments as sincere.  And that is when I realized that this practice was something I needed to share with people.  Once I explained it to Andrew he clearly saw the light.  To me, it's life changing.  I know, that sounds dramatic, but it alters the way you think as well as positively affecting others.  

It only takes a moment to compliment someone, but the effects can last much longer. - Tweet it!

My complimenting practice works in two parts.

Part 1:  How to Compliment Someone Effortlessly

  When you see someone (whether they are an old friend or meeting someone for the first time) take a moment to study them.  Not just what they are wearing but also anything else that stands out to you.  This will also help with remembering new people.  Chances are, if you are looking for it, you will see at least one thing you like about the other person's appearance.  

What a wonderful way to look at life.  Always looking for the beautiful attributes in someone will change the way you view EVERYTHING.  Instead of being judgmental and critical, we are being encouraging and uplifting.  There is something really special about acknowledging the best in a person.  Their eyes instantly light up and they start walking taller.  I have to say, I just love making people feel good.  That being said, there is a Part Two to this complimenting business.

Part 2: How to Accept a Compliment With Ease

Ladies, what is the deal with receiving compliments?  Why are we so quick to tell other people they look great but not see it in ourselves?  Almost every woman I know will say something negative in the middle of someone complimenting her.  We are the queen of adding "BUT'S" into everything.  "This dress looks good on me BUT my butt is still bigger than I'd like."  "My hair looks good today BUT it looked terrible yesterday.  "My skin looks good now, BUT I'm sure it won't last once I sweat outside."

It's not just our bodies either.  We also put down our clothes. "I don't even like this sweater, BUT it was cheap."  "I love these shoes, BUT they hurt really bad and are losing their sole."  This negativity is ridiculous!  We gotta stop! It's totally contagious too.  Once one friend starts, it's all down hill from there!  What's even crazier is that when someone just says "Thank you." They are perceived as being cocky and self absorbed.  Can we all just agree that not being negative about our appearance is a good thing.  That if we like ourselves and what we are wearing we can say so without feeling judgment from other people?  

So, I'd like to try a little experiment.  I'd like you to work on complimenting and receiving compliments for the next week.  Let's start with something simple so you can see the results quickly.  All you need to do is:

1) Compliment one person a day.  That's it.  Find one person, and find something you like about them. It may seem easy, because it is!  But, that doesn't mean that it doesn't take focus and effort to accomplish it.  

2) Work on accepting a compliment and then ZIP IT UP.  That's right.  After someone gives you a compliment, say "Thank you!" or something along those lines.  But then refrain from saying something negative to counteract it.  This will be harder than you expect.  So worth it to start making this a habit now!

In the comments section below, let me know how this practice worked for you.  Did it make you realize something new?  Change your perspective.  Were you able to receive a compliment more easily?  If so, how did it make you feel?  Dying to know!

Photography: Melanie Duerkopp Photography

Hair and Makeup - Melissa Hoffmann

xoxo,

Melanie

Thursday
Jul102014

Marriage is...

This morning I woke up with an overwhelming sense of nostalgia.  I can't believe that today is Andrew and my four year wedding anniversary!  It seems pretty nuts that on this day in 2010 I was having one of the best days of my life.   What's so interesting is I wrote a post about our anniversary two years ago and still say the same things about our wedding!  Milestones such as this always make me super sappy, but I will try and stay focused.  Even though it's been awhile, I may have slacked in the "making a professional photo album department".  Last night I decided to start creating one.  It's clearly time.  It was actually a really lovely way to go back and remember each detail of the day.  As I was going through them, I realized not only has so much physically changed since then, but mentally as well.  I have so much more clarity and understanding of what marriage is.   

 When I look at these photos I am instantly transported to that mixture of feeling contentment, excitement and pure joy all at once.  I feel so fortunate that Andrew still makes me feel that way.  When he walks in the door, I still get giddy.  You should see the scene here when he comes home.  The puppy is charging toward him tongue out, the baby is squealing with delight and I'm running to the door to give him a kiss.  I genuinely feel like I still want to jump up and down and say "Marry me!  Marry me!" just like I did as we were saying our vows.  I do NOT take this for granted.

As I was looking through these images, something became so clear.  The saying "It takes a village." couldn't be more appropriate.  Holy Moly.  There were SO many people who were instrumental in that day going as smoothly as it did.  When I look back at the photos I can't help but feel... SO LOVED.  You can see how supportive my friends are, how excited my family was and most importantly the way Andrew and I are looking at each other in every.single.photo.  

One of my all time favorite photos is the shot above of my mom, sister and bridesmaids all helping me get ready.  I mean... how crazy is it that this shot wasn't posed?!  I actually needed that many people helping me get dressed!  And they were all SO on it!  I have the best friends.  But really, this photo captures the essence of sisterhood.  When you need something, your true friends will gather around you, hold your hand, put your shoes on, button a gazillion buttons and make sure a picture was taken to document it.  This photo is literally the reason I do what I do.  I want to help be that person for as many women as possible.  It's like I'm your own personal bridesmaid.  Sheesh.. that being said, please don't make me trade your gin and tonic out for water every twenty minutes and help you go to the bathroom all the time.  THANKS!

Wow. So much can change in four years.  It doesn't seem like that much time, but so much has happened!  Four years ago Andrew and I were living in Connecticut and our lives were COMPLETELY different.  Now, I have my own business, a baby, a dog, a house, and I live across the country!  I mean... that's just the start of the changes that have occurred!  I'm so lucky that I was able to go through all of theis with someone who is totally and completely by my side.

When you commit to someone the way you do on your wedding day, they are just words that you WANT to mean.  That's why you choose to stand up in front of everyone you know and say "You are my person... for the long haul."  Or something like that. haha  But they aren't implemented yet.  We have been together for 9 years and I will say that our journey has reaaaaally been different since we started dating.  But ultimately, I sincerely feel that from the moment we said our vows to each other our lives changed.  This was something that surprised me.  I thought, "Hey we have been together a long time.  Not much will change."  That just simply wasn't true.  Something became completely different in us as a couple after our wedding day.  We didn't know it was possible, but we both felt so much more "together".

 Then, when we had Zoe, a brand new phase began.  Having a baby shifts that love and commitment in a whole new way.  You have to become a team in a much more intense meaning of the word.  It's not like "Who is going to do the laundry and who is going to make dinner."  It's like "I'll tag team dinner, laundry, garbage and walking the dog if you bathe, feed and rock the baby to sleep while standing on your head and singing a lullaby."  Oh and by the way you are going to be sleep deprived and hungry and your mission is to not take it out on me.  This year more than ever I have a new appreciation for who my husband is, and who we are becoming together.  

I don't think I realized when we got married the true definition of the word.  This is what my new definition of marriage is as of July 10, 2014:

Marriage is understanding.

Marriage is commitment.

Marriage is unconditional love.

Marriage is passion.

Marriage is helping to clean baby poop situations and laughing about it after.

Marriage is apologizing.

Marriage is appreciating the small things as well as the big.

Marriage is communication.

Marriage is growing together.

Marriage is deciding together to fix what's broken.

Marriage is letting yourself be seen and them loving you all the more for it.

Marriage is trust.

Marriage is scratching your husbands back (because he asked nicely) but REALLY not wanting to and secretly wishing you didn't promise to do that in your vows....

Marriage is so much more than love. Marriage is a love that grows and changes and molds and becomes something even bigger and more precious. 

To my main man, my partner in crime, my hubster, and my love.  Thanks for going through this journey with me.  I'm pretty much the luckiest.  Here is to being the cute old couple holding hands and wine tasting at 95.  

All Images by Barnaby Draper Studios

To see my post from two years ago (with our wedding video attached) click here.

xoxo,

Melanie