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.  

Thursday
Mar192015

One Stylish Mama: Sarah Jenks

Hey girl!

Man are you in for a treat today.  This month's stylish mama is the inspirational and stunning Sarah Jenks.  Sarah has been featured in Redbook Magazine, Huffington Post, Life and Style, Martha Stewart, Mind Body Green aaaand more.  Sarah is one of those ladies who manages to make creating an influential lifestyle movement and being a mama look effortless and stylish.   She also has this way of influencing and pushing you without even trying.  I can speak first hand to this since Sarah and I are close friends.  We also happen to be completely aligned in our mission to help women. As Sarah's personal stylist for events, video and photo shoots, and anything fabulous that comes her way, I love working with her to accentuate what a fantastic style she has.   I feel equally grateful for our professional relationship, but even more so our personal one.   This makes me extra extra excited to share this interview with her today because I KNOW you are going to love it.  

One of my favorite things about Sarah is her ability to reinvent herself.  She'll say to me "I have been feeling more 'sophistacted mama' lately and want my style to reflect that. " Boom now her style is more 'sophisticated mama'.  She always makes it seem so easy.  She is completely confident, completey truthful and completely brilliant at making women love themselves.  

Sarah recently put out an incredible video series called Real Talk: Women and Our Bodies.  In it, a dozen women, of all ages, sizes and situations, get real about what’s it’s like have a body they hate, what they did about it, and where they are now.  The rawness, vulnerability and honesty of these women blew me away.  I feel like this conversation needs to be happening WAY more often.  Not only are these videos beautiful but completely necessary in order to change the way we talk about our bodies.  You can see them by clicking here. And if you are moved to, please share them with a woman you care about.  The more we talk about this stuff and heal our own body image issues, the more likely it is for the next generation to grow up without this challenge.

Furthermore, Sarah’s created an incredible Lifestyle Video Program to help you get out of the diet/binge cycle by creating a fun, meaningful and romantic life so you can finally reach your ideal weight.  And she’s offered it to you for free.  You can click here to get instant access to her free training.  I’m so excited for you to be a part of this training, because Sarah is all about putting down our obsession with weight and getting back to what really matters, like our relationships, our purpose and having a ton of fun.  The icing on the cake is that focusing on these areas helps us to naturally shed that extra weight. Bonus.

Now to our fantastic interview where Sarah opens up about her style favs, challenging mama reflections and what has been influencing her look.  I feel like we also need to talk about her effortlessly incredible hair.  For reals...  Also.. how adorable is it when she talks about her son Marshall's style? Of COURSE he wears flannels like dad!  The cutest! 

Introduce yourself and your business:

Hi! I'm Sarah Jenks, Founder of Live More Weigh Less (livemoreweighless.com). I believe that the only way to learn to love our bodies is to stop "weighting on the weight" and start living our dream life now, not twenty pounds from now.  I'm from Boston, consider myself a New Yorker, and live in San Francisco with my husband and son (and we have one on the way!).

What is the biggest difference in your style from before you were pregnant, to pregnancy, to mamahood?

Before I got pregnant, I dressed like I was going to fancy picnics all the time. Lots of floral dresses and flowy shirts and the occasional tight, short dress, cause you know, I could! When I got pregnant, I wanted to grow up my look a bit and I got a little more edgy - more jeans, simple shirts, more accessories, leather and bomber jackets.  Simple, clean, pulled together, very little patterns.  Now that I'm a mom, I'm struggling to find my style to be honest. The body and emotional transition after babies is hard, not only did my clothes fit funny, I didn't really know who I was.  I think I was just getting into my groove of combining a clean urban look with chic wise mom hippy (hard to pull off, I'm working on it) and then I got pregnant again when my son was just 9 months old.  Now I'm really into dressing up sweat pants and leggings ;)

Was there an item of clothing or turning point where you can distinctly remember thinking... things are changing with my style?

It was definitely when I bought stud earrings.  I used to wear really intricate dangly earrings, and not only were those impractical with a baby, they weren't my style anymore.  Opting for simple gold jewelry made me feel more like an adult.

How has your business influenced your style?
 
When I started working and blogging again after a long maternity leave, I wanted to make sure the world knew I was a different person, more mature and wiser with more to say.  Because of that I wore more black, white and grey.  Now I'm loosening up a bit and feel like I have less to prove so I'm bringing in more color and patterns.  

 
Where do you get your style inspiration from?  What style icons do you love?

 

So funny, I don't really have any!  In general, I try to go for a timeless look that I feel great in.  

What item of clothing or brand are you currently loving?
 
I'm very dedicated to Madewell and Anthropologie but I just recently discovered Club Monaco which has so many incredible, well made beautiful clothes.  Clothes I feel like I will have in my closet for years.  

What's a favorite item of clothing or brand that you love for your kids?
I get a lot of Marshall's stuff at Target.  It doesn't break the bank and they have the cutest stuff!  Marshall wears a lot of plaid flannels (just like his dad) and Target has an endless supply.

What is one thing you love about being a mom?
Coming home from work and seeing Marshall waddle towards me with his arms stretched out and huge smile on his face. Kills me every time.

What is one of the hardest things about being a mom?

 Since my husband is a surgery resident he works late, and I am alone with Marshall every night from 5-7:30 when I get him to bed.  Although part of me loves that time together, being solo for bedtime is hard.  I have to try really really hard to be patient with him.

If you could describe your style in 3 words what would it be?

 Clean, Cool, Comfortable

With love; from my closet to yours,
Melanie
Assorted Photography: Danielle Fletcher / Bess Friday
Hair and Makeup: Melissa Hoffmann

 

Wednesday
Mar182015

The Epic Kluger Purge of 2015

Ladies, this past week was rough. In preparation for our big move from a house to an apartment with much less storage we decided to do what we have been avoiding for YEARS.

We went through everything in our entire house. From the big stuff like the kitchen and closets to the nooks and crannies we've been letting get too messy.  We even went as far as to go through all our childhood boxes in the garage.

Yep! You heard that right... We went through everything.

Please excuse all these fuzzy photos and shleppy "I'm purging and my hair is gonna suffer) look.  I wanted to be totally real and show you how much we got rid of!  I'ts crazy talk!!!!  The whole experience was really intense and long (I'm pretty sure we said "This is never ending!" about 40 times) but so worth it.

Both my husband and I own all our college and childhood memorabilia. While a lot of my friends still have a lot stored at their parents, that just isn't the case for us. We have it all, and up until now we've never had to go back and look at it.

I learned SO much throughout this process. I almost didn't write this out of fear that people would judge me. Judge how much we had, judge our attachment to certain items or judge how we got rid of certain items. Also, I know my family will be reading this, and while I know they support me, I was worried they would hear something that they wish I hadn't gotten rid of.

After giving it a lot of thought, I decided that none of that really mattered. My goal is to inspire you while giving you practical advice and useful tips and that's what I'm going to continue to do!  We are all in this together, and as someone who loves being there to hear you open up about your closet woes, I realized it was time for me to get real with you.

Here are some of the major things I learned from "The Epic Kluger Purge of 2015".

1) Its perfectly OK to be attached to our items, and it's also OK to let it go.

As someone who helps people clean out their closets for a living, I was constantly shocked at how emotionally attached I was to so many things!

As a former costume designer I still had several boxes of my sketches, paperwork and research from every show I’ve ever worked on. Ummm... That's a lot of plays. In the moment, I knew I didn't need these anymore so I dumped them all (minus some favorite sketches). The next day, I found even more.

 This time it wasn’t as easy.   I instantly felt panicked.  I had this feeling like I had thrown away a huge chunk of my life.  I realized I had never really processed the fact that this was no longer a part of my life. While I absolutely love what I do now, it was still sad to think that a chapter that I truly adored was over. I allowed the feelings to come and I moved passed it. All while going through these boxes.

2) Designate an area for memorabilia.

Since we had SO many boxes to pare down, I told my husband when we started that we each could have one storage bin of memories. This was great because it allowed us to know we COULD keep things that were important. It also made it so we had to be selective and really think it through. It REALLY worked. I went from 8 boxes to one.

3) Find new ways to connect to memories.

We sometimes fear that if we let go of an item we won't have the memory anymore. The memory is always there. If this is something you worry about, take a photo and write down the story. The actual item doesn't need to be sitting in a box you don't look at in order to be real. Promise.

4) This is seriously hard and rewarding.

It's ok to be both. While I preach that cleaning out your closet can be a party, I don't want you to think I don't get that it's hard. To me, when we say out loud "Man, this is hard" and acknowledge it, it allows us to not beat ourselves up. When we stay positive even when it's hard, our outlook helps to keep us focused and see the light at the end of the tunnel.

5) It can have a better home.

My dear friend and colleague (and the lifesaver who came over to help us purge) Rebecca McLoughlin always says to think about the items that you are donating having good homes. It can either sit in a closet that you never touch, or it can go somewhere and get used all the time. It is much easier to let things go when you know it's not the end of their life.

6) Family guilt is strong. 

 Especially NY Jewish guilt. Haha! Both of us were holding on to items because we thought our parents or grandparents would be upset if we got rid of it. NOT because we liked it or it was our style.  Here's the thing, your family didn't want it. If they did, they would have kept it. How can they be upset if you donate it, if they gave it away too?

I have to say, your family will try to convince you otherwise. If it's avoidable, do NOT talk to them about these items. Every time I called my family to ask them about something I no longer wanted they (subconsciously) tried to make me feel bad about the fact that I wasn't keeping it.  I love them all to pieces but I realized I had to make these decisions on my own.

Both my husband and I both found ourselves in much healthier places when we made the decision on our own, telling ourselves that they would understand. Of course, I did make boxes for my family of sentimental things I thought they would like, cherish and use more than me. So you have to find the middle ground that feels good for you.

7) Giving to your friends is the best!

A week after sending a package of goodies to one of my best friends from college, I received the best message. Not only did all the clothes I sent her fit her, but she genuinely loved them. She also seemed really touched that I thought of her, and really liked all the things I sent.

It was the BEST feeling. Sometimes in the moment, getting rid of an item that once gave you joy can be gut wrenching. If you think someone else you know would genuinely love it, this is a perfect opportunity to give it to them.

That being said, don't take it personally if they say they don't want it. For example, I've been trying to give the entire Hunger Games trilogy to a number of friends and no one wants them. Not sure why I think this is something my friends need, but clearly I need to let it go and realize I'm a few years too late.

Also, I gave a huge box to my best friend full of my daughters old clothes. She's about to have a girl and I loved the fact that I was giving Zoe's amazing and barely worn baby clothes new life. I may have cried pregnancy tears about the fact that my little girl isn't a baby any more.... but it still was SO the right move.

8) Seek out resources to help you out. THIS ONE IS HUGE.

There is no way we could have been as productive as we were in such a short period of time without some seriously incredible companies and apps.

Top three: Move Loot, Offer Up and varying consignment stores

*** We are also planning on sending out our photos to be transferred to digital files. Since we haven't completed this task yet, I don't want to recommend anyone. But, it's important to know these companies exist!

9) Find ways to keep organized as you go.

By designated boxes, areas, and folders beforehand, we were able to put everything we were keeping into its rightful place instantly. Huge time saver.

It also helped to do one section at a time. Instead of thinking about the huge chunk of work you have to do, focus on one drawer, one box, or one section of your closet at a time. It makes it all seem much more manageable.

***I talk about this more specifically in The Confident Closet, my upcoming online course to help purge, organize, and build a wardrobe for confidence and personal style.

10) It can bring you closer together with loved ones.

This was true for me in two ways.

First of all, it was so wonderful to feel like my husband and I were an amazing rocking team of super heroes. I mean, we worked so well together and supported each other in a really fantastic way. It felt good to be productive and working together towards a common goal.

Secondly, by going through all my old memories, I essentially took a crazy trip down memory lane. I was reminded of the weekly letters from my dad, the way my mom taught me to love art and what an amazing twin I have.

11) Procrastinating makes it worse.

We always knew we had boxes we needed to go through, junk drawers to organize, baby clothes to sort through... It was just SUCH an overwhelming thought that we put it off for years. Or we'd start and not complete the project because we didn't allot enough time or give ourselves a deadline.

All I can say is DON’T put it off. For you this could be one room, a junk drawer or closet. This post is not directed only at people who need to purge their whole home. For example, spring is here and it's the perfect time cleaning out your closet. Wink wink.

In all seriousness, I don't want you to end up waiting so long you have an even bigger issue. The time is definitely now.

By doing this purge, it actually became more of a cleanse for me. Even though I'm not fully packed yet, I feel lighter and more focused. Everything feels more manageable knowing where everything is. If you ever start to think you can't do it, that it's too big of a process, just remember that you CAN. It'll feel SO good when you are done.  Focus on the end goal, girl.  You got this.

With love; from my closet to yours,

Melanie


 

Wednesday
Mar112015

The Shoes You Need In Your Closet

Hey there!

Yesterday, while shopping with a fabulous style blazer for her upcoming photo shoot, we started chatting about shoes.  Or, in this case, we were talking about her lack of shoes. 

“I’m just not a shoe person.  If it’s comfortable, I’ll wear it.”

 Women fall into two categories.  1) Shoe obsessed or 2) I could not care less.  There really is no in between.  Or is there...

To me, whether or not you are a lover of all things shoes, you need to have a variety of styles in your closet that will always come in handy.  You’d be surprised at how many shoe obsessers still don’t have FUNCTIONAL shoes in their closet.  They are too busy buying the really unique (sometimes even uncomfortable) shoes over the functional pair.  That’s always been a huge shocker to me.  No matter where women fall on the spectrum of shoe love, rarely do they have a closet full of shoes they actually wear on a consistent basis.

It is due to this realization that I decided to create a "must have" list for you!  This list has all the shoes you need in order to have a fully functioning shoe closet.  One thing I want to make a note of is that I don’t really get into specifics.  That’s because I want you to fill in the blanks.  A neutral sandal can mean a lot of things to a lot of people.  That’s how it should be! 

Even when talking about a "basic item" in your closet, always see it as an opportunity to infuse your own personal style.  - Tweet it!

In my upcoming online course The Confident Closet, I give you the tools to ramp up your personal style every chance you get, while still making sure your closet is filled with the items you need every day.  Click here to be the first to receive all the deets!

This list is a bare bones, must have list. Everything else is icing on the super moist, delicious cake.   I don’t go into all the fancy different shoes you COULD have.  That being said, while I always suggest sticking with neutrals for versatility, I also believe in owning some fun, bright, (slightly impractical) shoes. You gotta throw a pair in there at some point for fun!

I'm curious to know where on the "shoe love" spectrum you are?  Are you a shoe obsessor or could you care less?  Is there ever a shoe that you constantly find you wish you had?  Or a pair that you can't live without?  In the comments section below, I'd love to hear alllll about it!

Photo Cred: Abi Q Photography

 

xoxo,

Melanie

 

Thursday
Mar052015

So You Want to Sell Your (gently used) Clothes Online

Last week I was talking with some women in a coffee shop.  They were mutual friends and the subject of cleaning out their closets came up.  Before I was able to tell them that I knew A LOT about this, they started to say things that surprised me.

I’m going to wait until I’m the size I want to be.

I spent money on these clothes and there is NO WAY I’m going to give away money! 

I’ll do it next week…  Or next month… Ooooor next year.

Ugh, it’s such a hassle to get rid of my old clothes. 

There are lots of excuses we give ourselves in order to avoid cleaning out our closets. While I understand that cleaning out your closet is hard, painstaking, a drag and the LAST thing you want to do, it’s so important to not wait.  The longer we wait, the worse the problem gets. 

Every time we make these excuses, we are putting up a wall
making it harder and harder to make that change.  TWEET IT

Well, I’m about to eliminate TWO of those excuses in hopes that I can convince you to pull the trigger and STOP waiting.  I’m determined to help as many women clean out their closets because I KNOW you can do it!  I’m gonna start by telling you a little trick I use on the internet.

Yep, the Internet can help you clean out your closet and sell your clothes.

You know that first excuse about how cleaning your closet is a drag?  Well that just ain’t the truth anymore.  I have created an incredible online course called The Confident Closet, that not only makes cleaning out your closet fun, but also helps you gain confidence in your personal style, shopping abilities, organizational prowess and soooo much more.  One of the “style sheets” in The Confident Closet is a compilation of tons of different ways to creatively get rid of your clothes.  Which brings me to the second excuse you can no longer make…

You really can no longer say that it’s a pain to get rid of your clothes after you clean out your closet.   There are SO many amazing online resources to sell your clothes.  They make it so easy.  It ‘s seriously awesome.  You can literally sell your clothes without leaving your house.  Below, I’ve compiled a list of some killer ways to get rid of your unwanted items after you purge your clothes.

6 Awesome Websites to Sell Your (gently used) Clothes

Bib and Tuck – A REALLY cool website for selling your uber fashionable threads and finding some new ones.

ThreadUP - is a fantastic company that allows you to give them your gently used items for them to sell.  They don’t take everything, as they only have certain brands they accept. They send you a bag and then you fill it with your clothes and accessories (including handbags) in good condition.  They send you a check and donate what they don’t want to a reputable charity.  Sweet deal!

Twice – Similar to Threadup, Twice makes it easy to sell your clothes.  Here is how they talk about the process on their site:”Twice is a hybrid between traditional online retailers like Amazon and peer-to-peer marketplaces like eBay. If you’re cleaning out your closet, simply request a free Selling Kit or label, fill it up and ship it to Twice. We’ll make you an offer as soon as we get your package, and you can get paid instantly. Then, we’ll list your items for sale, along with thousands of other high-quality items from sellers all over the country.” 

Poshmark – Poshmark is like if you took Ebay and Instagram and combined them.  In theory, if you buy something you like from a seller, you might want to continue to buy from them since you have a similar size and style.  You make 80 % on each Poshmark sale. 

Threadflip – This is probably one of the most popular sites for selling your gently worn clothes.  Threadflip is reputable and you can make up to 80% commission.  Keep in mind, they also don’t except certain brands. 

Tradesy – Tradesy only takes 9% commission, which is much less than other sites.  Another attribute that makes this site unique is that they have a separate section for wedding dresses if that’s your thing.  They also allow you to send them a photo so they can suggest a price. 

This is only part of the “style sheet” in The Confident Closet that talks about creative solutions for donating, selling and giving your clothes a new life.  Take the first step to cleaning out your closet by entering your name and email right here and you’ll be the first to find out all the deets.  Only a few more weeks before all can be revealed!  I got you girl!

xoxo,

Melanie

 

Photo Cred - Krista Marie Photography and Hair and Makeup - Melissa Hoffman

Wednesday
Feb252015

One Stylish Mama - Alexandra Evjen of Aves Styles--

I've got another great One Stylish Mama post for you today and I'm preeeettttyyyyy stoked about it!  Alexandra Evjen of the incredible fashion website and blog AVE styles is an amazing mama, entrepreneur, stylist, fashion blogger, and Pinterest maven.  Somehow she manages to make it all seem effortless and that comes through in her uber cool yet easy going outfits.  Her style is a mix of classic silhouettes, rocker chic, and sweet feminine touches for good measure.  

Alex reminds us that taking risks and combining unexpected pieces is a great way to create an outfit that feels completely, 100 percent YOU. - tweet it

I am so excited that she took the time out of her busy schedule to answer some of my questions on what makes her One. Stylish. Mama.

Introduce yourself and your awesome business:

Hi there! My name is Alexandra Evjen (people call me Alex), and I'm a fashion stylist and art director creating brand awareness for businesses through pin-worthy imagery. My business is called A.V.E. Styles, which are my initials, and I started it back in 2010. I live in sunny Phoenix, Arizona with my husband and two year old daughter.

What is the biggest difference in your style from before you were pregnant, to pregnancy, to mamahood?

 Before I was pregnant I didn't really have a defined style. I just wore whatever was on trend. During my pregnancy, I wore whatever was comfortable, especially in my third trimester in 100+ degree weather. After my pregnancy I noticed I had way more confidence, and my body had never looked better. It has been in the past two years that I have added a bit of a tomboy/rock flair to my wardrobe.

Was there an item of clothing or turning point where you can distinctly remember thinking... "Things are changing with my style."?

I think it was a combination of overalls, kimonos and hats that showed that there was a bit of an L.A. street style girl in me.

How has your business influenced your style?

I think being in fashion every single day has made me keenly aware of trends that are coming and trends that are going. I'm able to spot things from afar, and I'm also able to hold onto what looks good on me rather than sway from one extreme to another.


Where do you get your style inspiration from?  What style icons do you love?

Alexa Chung is my style icon. Everything from her hair to her makeup to her clothes...I adore it all. I even love her name. ;)

 What item of clothing or brand are you currently loving?

I am currently loving the simple, well made basics of Bailey 44. You can find their clothes in Nordstrom, and pretty much everything they make is affordable, well-made, sophisticated and has a bit of an edge.

Favorite item of clothing or brand that you love for your kids?

We shop at H&M a lot for Elle. You would think I have an easy time shopping for my daughter, but she grows like a week and I always find myself out of clothes for her to wear. H&M has been such a lifesaver with offering affordable clothing that's stylish.

What is one thing you love about being a mom?

There are many things I love about being a mom, but the biggest thing I love is how I am better able to understand God's unconditional love for me. It was a big idea for me to grasp before being a mom, but now that I know what it's like to have unconditional love for my daughter it doesn't seem so far fetched that God loves me the same way.

What is one of the hardest things about being a mom?

How selfless you need to be to love your children well. I literally have to put my wants second to want is best for my family as a whole. It's haaaard!!! The sleep deprivation in the first three months of Elle's life was probably the second hardest thing.

If you could describe your style in 3 words what would it be?

classic, tomboy, boho

 Anything else about being a mom and style that you'd like to mention? 

 Do the best that you can and pray a lot. That's all you can do!


I mean... can she BE more real??  I love that being in fashion every day has made her appreciate clothes that aren't trendy for her wardrobe instead of the other way around.  Alex just posted a killer closet makeover on her blog that seriously has me swooning.  You KNOW how I feel about closet purges and makeovers. It's my favorite thing to do with my clients!  I could help people figure out all their closet woes all day long.  Which is why I created my upcoming closet course The Confident Closet.  Enter your email right here to be the first to get all the deets about this amaaaazing course.  Can't wait to show you more, but until then we will have to just go here to AVES Styles and drool over her new closet digs.

xoxo,

Melanie