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
Apr092014

Learning to Feel Comfortable In Front of The Camera

When was the last time you loved having your picture taken? We live in an age where social media and easy camera phone accessibility makes it so we are constantly finding ourselves in a "photo taking situation". As I've mentioned before, I'm a self proclaimed huge ham and usually jump for joy at the idea of documenting a fun moment for all to see. But even someone like me has had moments of dread. We've all been there. That moment of "Crap! They want to take my picture? I didn't do my hair today!"  Or "They better let me see that before it's posted all over the Internet!" For me this was heightened in my first trimester of my pregnancy. I went from someone who loved having my picture taken to someone who was constantly worried that the "cat was going to be out of the bag" about my changing body and guess I was pregnant. Throughout pregnancy you are constantly aware of your changing body. It's hard to find the line between documenting your growing belly and still feeling amazing about the fact that you are inevitably going to gain weight. There was a point when I was about 20 weeks, where I really started to fall in love with having a bump. I mean, what was happening in my body was unreal. Also, my husband started to love my body in a whole new way. It was a really magical time. And then someone would say something on social media that would send me into a full on panic mode. It would be innocent enough. Usually someone who was excited for me but didn't realize that the phrase "You're huge! I'm so thrilled for you!" Is actually not a compliment to a women who is gaining a (healthy) pound a week.  Because as much as I knew it was healthy and as much as I loved my bump and being pregnant, I still cared what society would say if I gained weight. Which is really ridiculous considering I was growing a human being inside me! I called my dear friend Sarah Jenks one day in tears. Our conversation altered the rest of my pregnancy and my mindset forever.  I remember saying to her "Sarah, I am loving this new changing body so much until someone says something weird to me.  I feel so vulnerable. "  Her response was genuine and kind, but at the same time, blunt and exactly what I needed to hear.

She said: 
"Melanie, how many wonderful and loving comments are you getting in comparison to the ones that make you question yourself? It seems like you are only focusing on the negative. "

Whoa... Total epiphany.  She was right!  There were tons of positive comments that I wasn't even thinking about!  Why is it that I wasn't taking in the positive in as much as the negative?  

Sarah then went on to say this:

"Mel, you and I both know you look amazing. I want you to really ask yourself... WHY do you care so much?"

Shocker!  AGAIN she was right. Why did I care?

 So after I hung up the phone with Sarah, I really took the time to have a conversation with myself.  I decided to get rid of the negativity. To take this time and EMBRACE what was happening to my body and enjoy it from every ounce of my being. Including gaining weight. Including clothes fitting differently.  Including it all. Now that I've had Zoe and my body has gone through several changes since then (and I'm sure will go through several more) it all seems to matter a lot less to me.  But in that moment it was all consuming.  We've all been there right?

As I see my clients and friends go through similar times in their life, such as new pregnancies, new babies, new relationships etc. I feel compelled to start sharing these insecurities. I am hoping to send a message to everyone who is feeling self conscious when a photo is being taken of them. Not just for women with huge body changes such as massive weight loss or pregnancy, but anyone who has been treating themselves unkindly. Chances are, you are your worst critic. So this week I'm sharing some of my favorite pictures of my pregnancy that I haven't shared before.  After my conversation with Sarah, I started to take a lot of pregnancy photos of myself.  I wanted this time to be documented.  Especially since my hubby and I were going on so many incredible trips before Zoe came.  It only seemed right to take photos of it all.  So these are all photos taken by my husband on our road trips before the babe.  See, this baby was being photographed even before she was born ... maybe that's why she already loves the camera!

The above photos were taken in Palm Springs on our long drive home.  I remember being self concious that day, but deciding to take photos anyway.  I'm so glad I did because now I look back and see such a gorgeous, glowing version of myself.  Also, the nature is pretty unreal as well.  So glad I'll have these photos for Zoe to see.


These photos are from an amazing day in Sonoma.  It was seriously one of my favorite days I can remember.  We knew this time of our life was coming to a close but we were so ready for the next phase.  It was a time filled with anticipation and contentment all at once.  I feel like you can see that in these pictures.

You'll also notice I wasn't smiling in every picture.  That is VERY rare for me.  I am much more comfortable goofing off or working a few poses.  That's also why sharing these photos is such a big deal for me.  Sometimes it's ok to just BE.  Those are the most interesting and truly authentic photos you can have.  

 

So now that I have shared something pretty personal, it's time to take action yourself. There are two ways you can start changing the mindset of negativity surrounding our bodies right now.

1) Share a photo of yourself that you love on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any other way you like to connect. By sharing it in a public way you are not only telling the world "I love myself and I'm not ashamed to say it." But you are also helping another person regain some confidence to do that for herself as well. When you post the photo hashtag #feelingconfidentwithmelanie so I can see!  And speaking of sharing our confidence with the world, that brings me to the next part of this photo challenge.

2) When you see a photo of someone you like COMPLIMENT THEM. Nothing makes someone feel better than a "You look amazing!" sort of comment. Yea yea yea, "likes" are great too. But not as fantastic as a thoughtful, truthful and genuine comment. 

It seems like a simple task, but it is definitely putting yourself out there.  So I'm really proud of you!  I'd love for us to really start a conversation and support one another through this challenge.  We all have insecurities but I'd like to think that if there is enough love and support we can start to help each other to let go of them.  Even if it's just a little.  I genuinely can't wait to hear from you in the comments section below this post.  By the way, you look GORGEOUS today.   ;)

xoxo,

Melanie

Wednesday
Apr022014

How to Try a Trend that Scares You

Photography- Melanie Duerkopp Photography

About four years ago, I was living in New England and would go on daily runs to the beach.  I would pass through the adorable beach town that consisted of my favorite cheese shop and a few adorable boutiques.  Believe it or not, I was actually not always this comfortable wearing my nautical best.  I was nervous to really embrace my inner prep.  While I have always had a love for a classic stripe, my love of nautical fashion was really fostered over those few years of living in Connecticut.  Before I went full force I started with smaller pieces.  An anchor necklace here, a pair of striped heels there.  I am such a sucker for a reason to "dress the part" that living in New England just gave me a constant excuse to dress like I was about to go yachting at any given moment.  I mean, wouldn't you agree that you wouldn't want to be in a situation where you could have been wearing your seaside best and you weren't prepared?!  Exactly.  If you need further proof, you should check out my instagram account or my Pinterest page.  I am constantly inspired by nautical fashion and it is reflected in my daily life.  It's borderline obsession, but I like to think of it as a healthy one.  And it started with stepping out of my comfort zone and really giving something new a chance.

Since I'm fully aware that not everyone likes to dress like a modern day version of The Love Boat, here is an outfit that is more subtle in it's nautical influence.  This is an excellent way to take a trend that you may be nervous to try in full effect.   If there is ever a fad you are unsure of but it intrigues you, try to find subtle ways to try it.  The key way to owning your personal style is to be influenced by your surroundings while still staying true to yourself. Dabble in it before you go full force.  Then you will know if it's really something you want invest in and make a part of your wardrobe.  While I am sure you will see lots of bold blue and white prints and boat shoes on this blog, if that seems too much for you, here are a few ways you can add a little nautical flair.  

scarf, bangle, bag, hat, lipstick, shoes

What is a trend you have been wanting to try but something has been holding you back?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments section on the blog.  Now is the time to go for it!  This weekend I want you to challenge yourself and wear something that might be slightly out of your comfort zone.  You will totally surprise yourself and enjoy it.  Let's say you have been really wanting to rock some neon but are worried it's too young.  By wearing a statement earring and a black dress you can add a little bit of pop without glowing in the dark.  Take this nautical inspiration and run with it.  I'd love to see what you wear!  Use the hash tag #headoverheelswithstyle and share the love.

Pencil Skirt - J Crew, Button Down - Gap, Red Heels - Banana Republic, Bangles -  Stella and Dot, Watch - Michael Kors

 

xoxo,

Melanie

Thursday
Mar272014

Fashion Tips from a Baby - How to Rock Spring Style

Hi there! I'm Zoe, a precious 11 month old baby girl who loves to play with blocks, has very serious conversations with my puppy Lola and crawls really really fast to anything that appears dangerous. I also happen to be excellent at flirting with strangers and eating a LOT. What can I say, some skills you were just born with. Mama said I was too young for my own fashion blog (RUDE!) so I'm taking over hers to discuss a very important topic for babies and adults alike!

How to Rock Your Spring Style

Spring is upon us! Which on the East Coast apparently means snow, but for everywhere else it means beautiful sunny weather. That means it's time to say "Bye Bye" (or as I like to say "Ba Ba") to sweaters and boots and "Hello!" to bright colors and sun dresses. That's right! Sun dresses! Which brings me to my first point.

1) Working what your mama gave you (literally... she gives me all my clothes).

Nothing attracts people more to you than confidence. I for one, have never learned what this self conscious business is, but I want none of it. What's all this talk about people not liking their thighs? Since when is this a trait women don't like? I mean, my thighs are probably one of my best assets. All day long people tell me how gorgeous and amazing my chunky thighs are. So to me, if you got it... FLAUNT it ladies. And if you are a baby like me the more chub the better. That's the way to the hearts of millions. A wrist roll or two won't hurt either. Just saying...


2) White is the new black.

Spring is one of the best seasons out here in California. Followed by Summer, Fall, and Winter. Not only is my birthday in Spring, but people start reintroducing color and bright prints back into their lives. As much as I love color, I'm also quite a fan of white. Both these looks feature white, which really is a great way to get grass stains. And speaking of stains, I know this is a dangerous choice since I've been known to practice blowing raspberries with pureed carrots in my mouth. But, as long as you wear a bib at dinner (it's the classy choice) white is seriously a refreshing change from the winter hues.

*** Upon later viewing Mama noticed I actually DO have bananas on my top. This is not recommended and she will try and be more aware of random stains next time. She can't make any promises though. So if a little food stain bothers you, you probably shouldn't have kids.

3) "Who wears short shorts!?"

Now is the time to take risks. Walk on the wild side. Live a little. YOLO. If not now, when? I say work those shorts and work them right. Wearing a fun print like this nautical stripe can add just the right amount of fun to your outfit. By picking one statement item you aren't going to end up with an overwhelming look. I chose a polka dot bow headband to coordinate with my shorts. I didn't want to have too much going on so I chose to go barefoot. I'm not walking anyway, so it seemed like the more sophisticated approach. I learned that tip from my mama. She has taught me several fashion tips that I write down on my IPad before bed. I find I sleep better if I make a list first. Anyway, back to shorts. These happen to show off all my favorite assets. Not only are they on trend but I can wear them all spring and summer long. I am sure these will bring me lots of compliments. And who doesn't love a good confidence booster? Examples of compliments that always know how to make a lady smile include:

"I love your jumper! Look at those adorable thighs!"

"Stripes AND polka dots! You are quite the fashionable baby!" Yes lady at the Gap. I am. Thank you for noticing.

"Wow! You are 11 months? You don't look a day over 9 months! Are you using eye cream?"

Well.. the last one has never been said to me, but a baby can dream! In the comments on the blog Mom and I would love to hear about something you are looking forward to wearing this spring. Once I'm a little taller I have the CUTEST striped dress from Zara just calling my name! Mom has a maxi dress that she plans on wearing wine tasting all spring and summer and she won't stop talking about it. I mean, I get it. It's easy and fashionable. Who doesn't love that?

Thanks for letting me share my deepest fashion thoughts with you. Hope to do it again soon! Hint Hint Mama! If you let me continue to write blog posts for you it's kinda like you are getting the day off!

Credits: Photography: Melanie Kluger (thanks for hooking a baby up Mama!) White Jumper - Baby Gap, Peach and Cream Headband - Little Hip Squeaks, White Lace T shirt - Target, Striped Shorts - Osh Kosh B'Gosh, Polka Dot Headband- Baby Gap , Sunglasses - Target

Hugs and sloppy baby kisses,

Zoe

 

Thursday
Mar202014

The Day I Fell In Love With Fashion

I was 9 years old with a deep love for DJ Tanner (WWDJTD) and all things lanyard related.  I liked to have my mom braid my hair in tiny braids at night so the next morning I could wake up to "crimped" hair.  Also, I did a really fantastic Steve Urkel impression.  My days were filled with "ice skating" in my socks to Mariah Carey classics and creating New Kids on the Block dance routines.  Up until this point I didn't have much of an interest in fashion past how beautiful Belle looked in Beauty and The Beast.  Then one day, I was asked to be a part of a Gap fashion show in our local mall.  

*** Disclaimer.  This entire story is only based off of how I remember it.  Neither of my parents or sister remember details.  So some things may be hazy.  Just buy into it and don't ask questions like "Why was the Gap having a fashion show in a mall?" or "How did they find you to ask you to be a part of it?" or even "Why is there no documentation of said fashion show."  The answers to all those questions would be "Stop trying to pop my 9 year old bubble.  It happened and it was glorious."  

For some reason, there is also no documentation of this jacket.  But, since I'm in the sharing spirit I thought I'd share this absolute gem of a photo.  Here's me, rocking a puffy paint swatch watch sweatshirt.  My bangs are too short, I'm missing a lot of teeth and my glasses are half the size of my face (and not in that cool Warby Parker way).  But I am thrilled to be in school and I'm adorable.  So the pros outweigh the cons.

So on the day of the fashion show (which I naturally was VERY excited about being a part of I showed up for my fitting.  There it was.  Gleaming next to a few pairs of white jeans and pink tops.  The most incredible jean jacket I had ever seen.  It was a fashionable light wash with a gorgeous rose colored lining.  This wasn't just any lining.  It was a really fancy floral print.  Gosh was it fantastic.  From the moment I put it on I felt like a rockstar.  I strutted down that runway like I was Nikki Taylor in her prime.  When I reached the end I was told to pose.  I stopped, popped my hip and put my hand in my pocket.  You know, to be casual and cool.  That was the day I learned about self confidence.  About how clothes really do impact not only your mood, but how people perceive you.  I'm so grateful to have had this lesson at such a young age.  When we are that impressionable those kind of moments stick with us.  

This story also happens to have an even happier ending!  They let me keep the jacket!  Now, this is another moment in the story where things seem fuzzy.  I swear that they gave me the jacket because I did such a great job modeling.  Unfortunately, my family seems to think that my dad just bought it for me.  I'm going to go with my story that I was a brilliant prodigy of a model and they were compelled to let me keep it.  

I wore this jacket for years and years.  It was my "self confidence" jacket.  I knew I could throw it on and instantly feel great and be reminded of the amazing memories I had in it.  The reason I'm telling you this story is to remind you that your clothes should make you feel the way I did in that denim jacket.  You should feel like a 9 year old doing her best Kelly Kapowski impression.  Just kidding.  You should however, feel like you could take on the world.  That if you ran into someone important on the street, you would be happy for them to see you.  Your clothes should empower you and make you feel like the best version of yourself.  

In the comments on the blog I'd love to hear about your favorite item of clothing.  Whether it's something you just got, or a piece from your past.  I want to hear about it all!  The next time you go into your closet I challenge you to say "Would I rock this walking down the runway feeling like a million dollars?"  I guarantee it will make your whole day better.  Promise.

xoxo,

Melanie

Wednesday
Mar122014

Client File - Melissa Cassera

All Images from the lovely Em the Gem Photography

Melissa Cassera of Cassera Communications and I are cut from the same (Kate Spade) cloth. From the moment we first met we instantly were on the same page.  This photo shoot will be sprinkled throughout her website and blog posts.  Each was a different guilty pleasure of Melissa's.  I mean, how adorable is that?  Once I heard that and "I love Kate Spade and J Crew."  I knew it was going to be a fun one.   Then I found out that my dear friends Em the Gem and Melissa Hoffmann were on board and I was ecstatic!  Total dream team.

 I created an inspiration board (pictured above) to show her exactly what kind of pieces I would be bringing to the shoot.  This also helps set the tone of the shoot and gets everyone on the same page.

Links R to L : Top Row- One, Two / Bottom Row - Three, Four, Five, Six

 

My partner in crime Melissa Hoffmann used the first image of Lauren Conrad as inspiration for hair and makeup as well.  Let me tell you something... in my next life I would like to come back as anyone who has hair like Melissa Cassera or Lauren Conrad.  Clearly, my priorities are straight.  What can I say?  J'adore effortlessly styled curls.  Always have and always will.  My favorite makeup artist rocked it out with a bold lip and black liner.  Between Melissa's hair and makeup skills, Em's rockstar photography and my creative styling we made one hell of a team.

 

Because of the nature of Melissa's business I wanted her to come off relatable and stylish.  So I pulled pieces from stores that everyone can shop at like Banana Republic, H & M, and J. Crew.  By combining bold patterns such as black and white polka dots and colorful solids I was able to create a signature look that was quirky and one of a kind.  I then added some vintage jewelry from Sweet and Spark to complete each ensemble and add some blingy charm.  I love layering necklaces and bracelets.  It's what takes a simple sweater and jeans and turns it into a stylish outfit.  

Can you handle how gorgeous she is?  That last look including a Banana Republic dress, J Crew belt and Sweet and Spark earrings killllls me.  It's just too good.  I also love the juxtaposition of the black and white polka dot sweater against Whitney English's Day Designer.  It's a dreamy combination.  If you like what you see, comment below and share the love!  Also, don't be shy, pin away!  Melissa Cassera's new website just went up and has lots of new goodies for you.  So make sure to head on over and check it out!

 

xoxo,

Melanie

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