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.  

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

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

 

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