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.  

Friday
May092014

The First Time I Dyed My Hair

I'm a brunette.  Always have been.  In fact, I've had the same hair since I was 10.  I'm a twin, and when my sister cut their hair back in high school into an adorable pixie cut, it became a way to identify us.  So I just became the brown, long haired one.  After awhile it became a scary thing to think of cutting or changing my hair.  It's a huge part of our identity and it can be a daunting thought to change that.  So when I first started to toy with the idea of a hair transformation it was definitely a little nerve-wracking.  

Because I am a low maintenance hair gal I knew having a short cut was going to be too much work.  That's right, long hair is actually EASIER than short hair.  Especially with curly hair like mine.  I just embrace the "Messy Hair, Don't Care" philosophy, but if you have short hair you must spend time doing it every morning.  So, with short hair off the table, I started to think about hair dye.  And that's sort of where I stopped.  I decided to consult a professional.  This is because I'm always of the philosophy that if you aren't an expert, don't try to be one, just find one.  I decided to call my friend Lindsay Skog to give me a fresh cut and a new do.  

When we first started chatting, I expressed wanting something different but I didn't want to lose too much length.  I mentioned that I also wanted something low maintenance.  That's when she suggested dying with an ombre technique.  Ombre is a really popular hair trend right now and I can see why.  As my hair grows, it will continue to look great, instead of having to touch up roots all the time.  I was sold!  I then asked her if she thought we should do a richer brown, to which she quickly convinced me to go much much lighter.  Aaaaand that's how I became a blondie.  Well, at least for me it's blonde!  If I'm being totally honest, it was a HUGE change for me.  Sometimes I wake up and I literally say into the mirror "Hey!  Who is that blonde girl?!" and other days I feel like it's totally me.  I'm sure by the time I get used to it it will have changed.  But in all honesty, I am so proud of myself!  Changing your hair is a big deal!  Especially if you don't do it often.  I'm not sure whether or not I'll keep this hair color forever, but it's done something very important for me.  It's taught me that I don't have to be tied to anything.  I can try new things and experiment with a "No harm, no fowl" mentality.  That's how I feel fashion should be.  When it comes to your style, don't be afraid to try something new!  The worst thing that can happen is that you learn from it.  I say that's a pretty good con if you ask me!

In the comments section on the blog I'd love to hear about a hair change that you were scared to do, or that you are thinking about.  Let's support each other in these changes!  Hey, if I can do it, you can do it!  Go for it girl!  

All the lovely photographs from this post are from the talented Melanie Duerkopp Photography.

Makeup and Hair by the amazing Melissa Hoffmann

Top: J Crew, Necklace: Anthropologie, Earrings: Kate Spade

xoxo,

Melanie

Wednesday
May072014

Client File- Bloom Retreat

With Mother's Day approaching there is one place that comes to mind.  Bloom Retreat in Walnut Creek came into my life when I didn't even know I needed it.  It's founder Michelle Long is not only a client but a friend who I respect and look up to.  What she has been able to accomplish with Bloom Retreat is truly inspiring.  I had the pleasure of working with Abi Q Photography (also featured here) and Melissa Hoffmann (who guest posted here) to style not only the stunning Michelle, but the incredible space she's created.  

Bloom Retreat is an oasis created for mothers to unwind and receive the calm moments they deserve.  They have everything from a co-working space, yoga studio, spa rooms and on-site childcare.  I mean, what more could you want?!  Oh, how about a community of supportive women that want to connect and help support each other.  It really is something special and I feel honored to be a part of this shoot and to help contribute to a place that is doing so much good.  

The space is filled with vintage finds that add a quaint and cozy touch.  There is an instant calm that waves over you as you enter the space and when styling the space, I wanted to emphasize that.  Peach and cream roses, Bloom's white tea cup collection and old cameras were just some of the key pieces used in this shoot.  But my absolute favorite thing used in the photo shoot was light.  Abi is a serious genius with how she photographs light.  But that's a whole separate blog post.  
I love the pictures of Michelle's kids.  They are so relaxed in front of the camera and they also happen to be the cutest kids ever.  Above is her sweet daughter Edie looking precious as ever.  Here is a little tip if your kids are being photographed with you.  Pick their favorite outfit, the shoes they live in (if they aren't too gross) and comfort is key.  If your kids feel at ease it will be much easier to capture them in their natural state.  As someone who frequents Bloom Retreats yoga classes often, I can't tell you what a safe space it is.  At the beginning of Michelle's class she asks everyone "What do you need from today's class?".  As each person goes around the room and responds to the question at hand, there is something special that happens.  It bonds us.  It's a pretty incredible thing to say that not only is my yoga class helping my body and my mind, but it makes me feel connected and supported.  Special stuff.  

Bloom's philosophy is:

When we take time to care for ourselves and realign with our centers, we…

  • become better mothers, partners, and women
  • embrace our roles, our creativity and energy reignite
  • remember our beauty… and we bloom.

We wanted Michelle's look to be in line with the space.  Cozy, inviting and warm.  Melissa kept her makeup and hair soft and natural which just enhanced her natural beauty.  Such a lovely woman inside and out.  I love her story about how Bloom Retreat was created.  She took tragedy and turned it into understanding.  And from that understanding she realized a necessity for a space that could remind Mom's to take time for themselves.  I appreciate that she saw something that needed to exist and then she made it happen.  You can learn more about it here.Bloom Retreat does every day what Mother's Day does once a year.  Mamas are celebrated, appreciated and cared for in a genuine way.  So in the spirit of Bloom, to all you mamas out there I have something to tell you.

 "Mama, you deserve all the love, chest bumps, fist pounds, high fives and baby hugs in the world." - Tweet it to spread the mom love!

Oh!  And a special mama's day shout out to my own Mom.  Even after 30 years (cough cough.. yes I'm 30) she still knows how to make me feel supported and taken care of.  Sending you love all the way from California!

xoxo,

Melanie

 

 

Monday
Apr282014

Seven Beauty Products You Need for Your Next Vacation

Melissa Hoffmann is one talented lady.  She's a whiz with hair and a true artist with makeup.  Melissa helps women feel like the best versions of themselves.  It's amazing to see how she can work her magic and her clients leave more knowledgable, more confident and more beautiful than ever.  Case in point, the above photos of Melissa working her magic on me!

 Melissa's mission in life is to help women realize their worth by spending time on themselves to look as beautiful on the outside as they are on the inside, and learn how to do it as easily as she could do it for them.  Her work has made several appearances on this blog and I can't wait to show you what we have up our sleeves.  She was kind enough to share her top beauty products with us today.  And I gotta say, I've already picked up whatever of these products I didn't already have.  This list is so good.  

Here's Melissa!

This past year I was lucky enough to have gone on two fabulous, relaxing vacations. In March 2012 I went to Maui with my boyfriend, and this past March I was in Costa Rica with a group of amazing women entrepreneurs. I love travelling to new places, but when I go on vacation I usually tend to go somewhere warm and tropical. I love the ocean, the beach, and the warm weather.

 

 Most of my time on vacation is spent on the beach, in the ocean, or doing some kind of outdoor activity (zip-lining over the jungle!), but there are also nice dinners out or shopping in town that I don’t want to look like a total mess for. I find that when I’m on vacation I don’t want to spend a lot of time getting ready, but I still want to look and feel pretty and polished. Since I’m usually in a tropical, humid place, I want my makeup and hair to be easy and natural, but still bring out my features. I also want to limit the amount of products I’m bringing, so there’s more room for flowy dresses, souvenirs and gifts to be brought home. When I travelled to Costa Rica, I had to take a really small plane over to the town I was staying in, and they had a baggage weight limit of 27 lbs! I really had to make I was only bringing what I absolutely needed.

I think many women feel the same way, with wanting their beauty routine to be easy and quick while on vacation, but still feel good about how you look. And it can be hard to figure out what to pack and what to leave behind. I came up with a list of my 7 favorite beauty products to bring on vacation to help you with packing for your next vacation. And even though I went on a tropical vacation, this list can help you if you’re going somewhere cold or a work trip.

Before I get into my list, I also wanted to share the tip of bringing everything you can in travel-sized bottles. I’ll usually get travel sizes of my favorite shampoo and conditioner, hair sprays, and put my skincare in smaller jars or bottles too. You can get smaller jars, bottles and spray bottles from Target, or the MAC store has some nice options for containers too.

1.     Sea Salt Spray- I love using sea salt sprays for an easy styling option for my hair. They give you nice, controlled beachy texture, and can bring out some waves in hair that is naturally straighter. I’ll usually jump out of the shower, spray on some sea salt spray all over my hair, scrunch it up and go. My favorites are by Phillp B, Bumble and Bumble, and Davines.

2.     Dry Shampoo- I don’t blow dry my hair while on vacation (mostly because it’s too hot and I’ve usually forgotten my travel hair dryer), so I’ll use dry shampoo to give my hair volume at the roots, and to absorb any oil if I don’t want to wash it. I love the ones by Oribe and TiGi’s Dirty Secret.

3.     Tinted Moisturizer- I keep my makeup minimal on vacation, but I still want my skin to look fresh and dewy. Instead of foundation, I like to use a tinted moisturizer (or BB or CC cream) to give me good coverage but still look natural. Plus they have SPF in them, so it’s one less thing I have to put on. I’ve been loving Smashbox’s CC cream, but also love Laura Mercier and Nars’ tinted moisturizers.

4.     Waterproof eyeliner- There’s 2 eye products I’ll bring in my makeup bag, and this is one of them. You have so many options with an eyeliner, and waterproof is a must if you’re in a humid location or will be in the water. I bring 2 eyeliners with me- a brown one for naturally enhancing my eyes, and a teal one for a fun pop of color. You can apply into the lashes for natural definition, a thick bold line, or smudge it all around your eye for a sexy smoky eye. Make Up For Ever and Urban Decay have great staying power and an awesome color range for eye liners.

5.     Waterproof mascara- having thick, long black lashes is sometimes all you need on your eyes. MAC, Make Up For Ever and Dior make great mascaras. I also love Loreal’s Voluminous in Carbon Black.

6.     Bronzer or Nars Multiple- You’re going to need some color in your face for a fresh glow. Since I love dewy skin, I’ll use a powder bronzer as my powder to add a glow to my skin, and then pop some color on my cheeks with my current favorite Nars Multiple in Na Pali Coast. The Na Pali Coast adds some coral to my cheeks, but you could also get a multiple in a bronzy color to keep it simple. And if you haven’t checked out the Multiples yet you must! They can be used on the cheeks, eyes and lips and are awesome for keeping things simple.

7.     Tinted lip balm with SPF. I like to keep things easy on my lips, and I don’t want to have to worry about touching up or my lipstick melting down my face. A tinted lip balm is perfect for giving natural color but also protecting your lips from the sun. Fresh makes amazing lip balms with 7 beautiful colors, and they have SPF 15 in them for protection. Plus they are super hydrating, and give shine to your lips.

What makes you feel pretty and put together on vacation, but still easy and natural? What are your favorite products to bring on vacation?

I’ve shared my must-bring beauty faves for travel with you and I’d love to hear from you what your favorite products are to bring on vacation! Leave a comment below to share what makes you feel pretty and put together on vacation, but is still easy and natural, or share any tips you have on keeping things simple while travelling. And if you found these helpful, please share with your friends!

 

XO,

Melissa

Tuesday
Apr222014

A Letter to My Daughter


Yesterday my daughter turned one and I am clearly doing the classic mom thing and being totally nostalgic.  This year has taught me so many things.  It's been life changing.  I wrote her this letter and I wanted to share it here with all of you.  

To my dear baby Zo Zo,

Today is your birthday, and while I can not believe it's actually been a year, I also feel like so much has happened that I already can't imagine life without you in it.  On this day last year I thought I knew what to expect.  I knew I would be dealing with diapers, consoling you when you cried, melting when you laughed and loving you unconditionally.  What I didn't know was how much being your mom would fill my heart.  I was not prepared for the overwhelming emotions that would take place every day.  There is nothing more incredible than watching you smile or laugh at something so purely and honestly.  Your spirit is so sweet, kind, spunky and hysterical.  You have a sense of humor already and I can see you are going to be quite the jokester.  I love how proud you are of yourself when you accomplish something new.  And you should be!  It's hard work learning how to roll over, sit up, crawl, stand, eat real food etc...  You are doing a great job at taking it all with stride.  That's why we nick named you "the bulldozer baby".  You will fall down hard and just keep on moving.  In fact, whenever I expect you to cry, you prove how strong you are and keep on, keepin on.  It's when everything is honky dory that you cry and it gets me every time.  Well.... not every time.  Sometimes you really are being dramatic.  But if that's how you need to communicate with me, do what you will.  I'll just keep on reminding you that I understand you and hope the phase will pass quickly.  Because me and you, we have a very special bond.  And even on days when you just wanna be cuddled and held all day and exploring the world seems like too much, I am here for you.  On the days where you don't want me to hold you at all, and experiencing new things is all you want to do, I am here for you.  On the days that you are teething and upset about it, I am here.  And on the days where we are rolling on the floor cracking up at the ceiling fan, I'm here.  Doing it all with you.  Experiencing life through your eyes.  Enjoying life in a new way, in my new role.  Because on this day last year, not only were you born, but I was reborn.  Becoming a mom has created a new Melanie.  And it's something that I am figuring out on the day to day as well.  The same way you are learning to talk and walk, I am learning to let you figure it out on your own, how to feed you a balanced meal that you can chew, how to teach you when you can't understand my words and how to love.  This mom thing is going to be an ever growing and changing role.  I am ready to love you in whatever way you need.  And speaking of love, there are a few things I would like you to learn from me.   

1)  You are amazing and should love yourself unconditionally.  Always love your body, mind, and whole self.  This may seem self explanatory, but I don't think it is stressed enough in our society to be gracious and appreciative of our body.  And if we love ourselves, we eat healthy, are able to love other people and are confident in our choices.  These are all easier said than done, so I am hoping to instil this in you from a young age.

2)  Please don't always kiss people the way you kiss your puppy Lola.  Why I know it's adorable now, opening your mouth so that she can lick inside it is not really an appropriate form of affection for every animal and human you meet later on in life.

3)  Whoever you end up dating, please make sure they respect you and your parents.  Anyone who doesn't think this is important isn't worth your time.

4)  Keg parties are really overrated and you should never attend one ever in your life.

5)  When you are old enough, I'll show you old episodes of Saved By The Bell so you can see why mom likes side ponytails so much.  This may not be as important as respecting yourself, but you should know where your mom came from.  And she came from a magical land called "The Max" where everyone wore neon scrunchies and used something called "car phones".  

6)  Choose your friends wisely.  While this is easy now, there will be times in your life where you will feel pressure to act a certain way to make friends.  Don't succumb to it.  You are seriously awesome and your friends will be lucky to have you.

7)  Sometimes, if you are feeling like you need to get in touch with your femininity, a new bra, a fabulous pair of shoes and bright lipstick is the only cure.  Please don't pay any attention to this until you are 16.

8)  Always have an appreciation for the arts.  You are already a mover and a shaker and love to make art with your tomato sauce.  Hopefully, with my help you will appreciate art in lots of ways that go beyond itsy bitsy spider.  Here's hoping.

9)  A day without laughter is a day wasted.  So laugh often.  But not at people when they fall.  That will definitely piss someone off.

10)  Please, whatever happens... let your dad teach you how to drive.  And park.  And how parking tickets work.  I am wonderful at many things and anything involving cars should just be handled by someone else.  

And because this baby is the most photographed human on the planet, and I have a real problem narrowing down, I thought I'd share some of my most loved photos (in no particular order) with you as well.  If you want to see waaaay more Zoe pics check out my Instagram @mrsklugs.  As much as I try to contain my Zoe picture posting, I'm pretty sure my version of restraint is posting at least one adorable Zoe photo a day.  Someone should probably email me the Wikipedia definition of restraint.  Anyway, here are some (and by some I mean a LOT) of my favs of my favorite gal.  

Next week we return to our regularly scheduled programming.  This blog is going to be going through some changes in the next few weeks so holler at me and let me know what you are enjoying and what you'd like to see more of. Can't wait!

xoxo,

Melanie

Thursday
Apr172014

Stripes for Two, Personal Style, and Accessorizing 101

 

You see a dress on a woman in the grocery store.  She looks SO cute.  You want to ask her where she got it from, but you know you won't be able to pull it off the way she does.  She's funky, chic and has loads of personal style.  You think "I could never wear that dress as cool as she does!"

I have a news flash for you.  You CAN pull it off.  There are tons of ways to take an item of clothing and make it your own.  Due to different body shapes and accessories the same dress can look totally different depending on who is wearing it.  Zoe and I took the time to give you a perfect example of the same dress styled in two different ways.  

Look One - Mama Style

The above scenario actually happened to me.  I was at Cooking Club (yes, I go to a cooking club and it's the most delicious thing ever) and a friend was wearing the Anthropologie dress you see in these pictures.  She had it on with a cute pair of leggings and looked ADORBS.  I instantly knew I needed that dress and I needed it fast.  

This Anthropolgie stunner is a real versatile winner.  It can be dressed up with heels and a statement necklace or dressed down like I did here.  I decided to keep it classic since I knew I'd be hangin with a really cute side kick.  By keeping my accessories neutral I let the baby and the dress be the statement.  Even though I didn't want the accessories to be the main focus, it's still important to wear them.  Accessories are the golden ticket to completing any look.  The key here is to find neutral pieces you love, so they can seamlessly elevate your overall appearance.  I love my new Aldo sandals because they go with everything and make every outfit have a timeless and stylish feel.

Look Two - Baby Style

Hey guys, Zoe here to explain my outfit.  I'm a risk taker.  I'm not afraid to mix prints and show a little skin.  That's what I did with this look.  By wearing a bold headband, having my dress hemmed pretty short and rocking a black shoe I made the look my own.  There is no WAY mom can show off this Honest Company strawberry diaper and Zara dress combo the way I can.  And that's what makes my style unique to me.  Well, I know other babies wear cool diapers.. but do they pair it with a Little Hip Squeaks Headband and adorable chubby baby thighs?  Mayyyyybe not.  Like I said, I LIVE ON THE EDGE.  I decided to go with a slightly more dressed up shoe to show off my legs.  These Baby Gap patent leather mary janes did just the trick.  One day I'll be walking and they won't be functional so I wanted to get in one last good outfit with them.  I'll miss ya little guys... chewing on your velcro has been divine.  

A note from Melanie-  This is the perfect baby item.  It's not too girly but is still an adorable dress that has everything I look for in baby clothes.  It's comfortable and quirky and  I happen to love baby clothes that look like adult clothes.   I would much rather have Zoe in clothes that make her look like an actual person than a weird doll covered in multi colored ruffles.  It also isn't cinched in at the waist or too tight in the arms.  Which means she can grow into it have it for a very long time.  

 Here is what we can learn from this stripe extravaganza.  There are LOADS of ways to add personal style to an outfit.  Someone who has a preppy sense of style can wear the same dress as someone who has a boho chic sensibility.  The styling will change it all.  That speaks true not only for accessories, but for the clothing as well.  This striped dress may seem nautical by nature (that was an intentional "Naughty by Nature" pun), but it can be transformed depending on who's wearing it.  So the next time you are accessorizing a look I'd like you to ask yourself three questions.  

1)  What is going to be my statement piece?  This is a crucial part of the way I dress, as well as how I tell my clients to dress.  Pick a statement and work around it.  By asking yourself this question you will ensure that you won't end up wearing too many details.  It's important to let the statements shine and not to overwhelm a look.  That being said, statements come in all different shapes and sizes.  It can be a big detail like a multi colored scarf or pink jumpsuit or something small like a bold earring.  It can also be out of the box such as big hair, a bright lip or even a fun manicure.  No matter what, you want to make sure that everything else compliments that item to give the look focus and clarity.  

2)  What accessories will I wear for function and what will I wear for fun?  There are certain items like sunglasses and a watch that you wear for function.  Those items tend to be signature pieces since you wear them every day.  For example, if you wear your Warby Parker glasses every day, you are already adding personal style to your outfit without even thinking! Way to go!  Then you can add the fun accessories in after to make sure you've covered your functional bases first.  

3)  What is my color scheme going to be for the day?  This may be a very "designy" question to ask, but it will really help.  If you decide on a color scheme before you get dressed you will have a clearer focus when adding jewelry and accessories.  It feels less overwhelming and gives you a goal that you can realistically achieve.  Also, an easy way to add more personal style into each look is color.  If you wear lots of jewel tones, people will start associating that with your style.  That doesn't mean you can't branch out, but it's fun to have something that feels unique to you and also makes shopping a breeze.  By thinking about color in your closet, you are instantly making it easier for you to mix and match pieces since they will be in the same "fashion world".  Way to go!  You just got one step ahead of the game!

So, now that you have been given these questions to ask yourself, it's time to take action and show me your looks!  Using the hashtag #confidencewithmelanie style an outfit using the above questions.  Zoe and I are dying to see what you come up with.  Oh and in case you were wondering, yes we wore the same dress all day, yes we looked adorable and yes people thought we were slightly cray cray.  I blame my friends Sarah and Dani for giving me the permission to buy the same dress as a baby.  They told me it was cute and not creepy and I ran with it.  Even made this here blog post about it.  Insert Amy Poehler from Mean Girls saying "I'm not a regular mom.  I'm a cool mom!" here.  

 xoxo,

Melanie