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.  


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.




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!





5 Photo Shoot Tips from a Stylist

All photos by the lovely Melanie Duerkopp Photography

I have a confession.  I am a huge ham.  I absolutely love to have my photo taken and if I hear a camera click I instantly pose and smile just in case I'm in the frame.  But I am fully aware that that is not the case for everyone.  Or even more importantly, whether you like to have your photo taken or not, feeling more confident when a photo is taken of you is always a plus.  

I recently was asked to style another photography workshop for Styled:The Workshop.  The shoot had a palate of persimmon, cream, and brown with pops of navy and burgundy.  From the incredible fall foliage, to the elaborate invitation suite, everything was thought out and executed to perfection.  For the "bride and groom" we went for a cozy, textured and elegant style.   After several photo shoots and lots of trial and error, I have developed many tricks of the trade when it comes to creating a look that is ready to be photographed.  Using the images by Melanie Duerkopp, I'm going to share with you my top 5 ways to make your photo shoot stand out.  These aren't your typical tips such as "Get rest the night before." (we'll save that for another post).  These are tips that will take your photos and make them extra special, extra interesting and extra you.  These tips apply to anyone who wants to amp up their next photographic endeavor.

1) Personal Details - This first tip may seem a little silly.  Some of you may be thinking "Of course I'll be wearing some of my personal items."  You would be surprised to know how many people remove all their old clothing items from their outfits in photo shoots.  When you look back at your photos, the more personal details the better.  Most people find out they are going to be photographed and instantly want to buy all new clothes.  While I understand the need to want to spruce things up.  I happen to believe that newer isn't always better.  This is especially true when talking about shoes.  A new pair of shoes could be quite uncomfortable.  By sticking with you favorite pair of boots not only will you look back fondly on the pictures including your "signature boots" but you are going to look more comfortable.  No one likes a picture of themselves grimacing from uncomfortable shoes!  Trust me, you'll thank me later!

2) Texture - When choosing what to wear for your photo shoot keep the texture of each item in mind.  Instead of choosing a bold color t shirt, choose a blouse or sweater that has some visual interest.  It may read as a solid shirt from far away, but it adds a layer of depth to the photo. For this specific styled shoot, I chose several elements with extra texture.  Notice how her dress from Shop Lovely has a raised applique on the top.  Also, his sweater has several different colors weaved in.  This added a cozy, warm feeling to their looks.  Small intricate details like a distressed boot and a printed tie make a look start to pop on film.  This is a costume design trick that I've been using for years.  You're welcome.

3) Props - This tip is for you ladies and gents who don't always feel at ease when having your picture taken.  Sometimes bringing something to interact with can make you more comfortable.  The best photos are the ones that are natural and relaxed.  This is extremely helpful for couples that don't want posed photographs.  The photos above of our lovely models Kennedy and Landon playing with the hat is a perfect example of what I'm talking about.  It was a real moment captured.  My absolute favorite.

4) Coordination - If your photos are with a group of people (such as family or a couple) you want to make sure (as I like to say) you are all going to the same party.  There are three easy rules to keep in mind when coordinating your outfits. Yes, I know this is a list with in a list.  I'm a list making machine!

1) Coordination does NOT mean you need to match.  Your dress can go with his tie, but it doesn't need to be a blue suit and a blue dress.  Visual interest is the goal.

2) Pick three colors.  By choosing three different colors for your palette you are almost forcing your brain to coordinate.  Make one of them the main color, one a neutral and the third an accent.  

For example: "I wore a coral dress, with gray heels and a yellow necklace.  My husband wore a gray suit with a matching gray tie.  His pocket square had coral in the pattern."

3) Keep it all the same tone.  If you are doing a shoot with lots of pastels, don't throw in a bright orange sweater.  It will seem out of place.  Instead, pick soft tones for everything.  Neutrals can be your best friend or your worst enemy.  Even something as simple as a pair of black pumps can stand out as an eye sore in a sea of soft colors.  

Now, back to our original list...

5) Pamper yourself : This one is the best. Feeling and looking great is crucial for having an optimal photo shoot.  Whether you decide to go and get your hair and makeup done, or you do it at home by yourself, make sure to take the time and do it right.  You will feel so much more confident.  That means, eyebrows, nails, or even a bubble bath the night before.  Whatever it is that makes you feel the most beautiful.  Do that.  It'll work wonders.  

Not only is this workshop being featured on Head Over Heels today, but on one of my favorite blogs Green Wedding Shoes.  Definitely head on over and check out even more of the prettiness by Melanie Duerkopp.  

In the comments section on the blog I'd love to hear about all of your photo shoot woes.  Let's start the conversation!

Have a photo shoot coming up?  Want to chat more about what to wear, or better yet have me as your shopping companion?  Let's chat!  I'm looking forward to it!

Oh!  Before we bid adieu I'd like to share with you a few of the GORGEOUS details from the other incredible vendors involved in this Styled: The Workshop.  These talented folks blew my mind with their attention to every fall inspired detail.  

Lead Photographer: Melanie Duerkopp Photography | Venue: Olympia's Valley Estate | Creative Direction, Design and Styling: Amanda O'Shannessy Creative | Fashion Styling: Melanie of Head Over Heels with Melanie | Hair and Makeup: Elizabeth Chang of Skyla Arts | Rentals: One True Love Vintage Rentals | Models: Landon and Kennedy of JE Model | Paper Goods: Mae Mae Paperie | Vintage Jewelry: Sweet and Spark | Short Dress: Shop Lovely | Wedding Gown: Lovely Bride|




Real Wedding - KK and Stefan's Rustic and Elegant Wine Country Wedding


All images by the uber talented Cooper Carras

Even though I no longer focus solely on weddings I still have a deep love for the brides I work with. Being a part of a time in their lives that is so momentous is truly special. Above is a picture of me working some magic on some tightly wound covered buttons. When I was on maternity leave several of the most beautiful brides weddings were featured on some fantastic blogs and I would love to share one of my absolute favorites with you now!

KK and Stefan are the kind of couple people should write movies about. She's from Wisconsin, he's from Switzerland. They travel the world together and they somehow manage to be alike and completely different at the same time. Sort of like Wisconsin and Switzerland. Both lands of cheese and skiing, but you'll only see one of these places covered in people wearing foam cheese hats. I think it might becoming quite clear that I have never been to either of these places... I digress. Their love radiates whenever they are together. They have an ease about them that I absolutely adore. That was how their wedding felt. It was casual, yet refined and well put together. One of the reasons I love this wedding so much is that it does what all brides TRY to do when planning their wedding. It manages to have DIY elements but not feel crafty, focus on the love of the couple in a genuine and sincere way, and it used the beauty of the venue to it's advantage without overpowering the bride and groom. Boom. Wedding perfection.

How stunning is KK? Her J. Crew gown not only fit her shape perfectly, but her spirit too. It was understated and classy. J. Crew's wedding gowns are known for being light weight and easy to wear. This dress is no exception. She looked absolutely gorgeous juxtaposed against the Sonoma landscape. This beauty radiates easy going elegance and love. My favorite kind of bride! It could be the fact that she was marrying the man of her dreams, or it could have been because she was rocking a killer pair of Tory Burch heels. I'm gonna go with a little bit of both. All of KK's friends and family were equally as lovely. They had a fun loving attitude which just added to the joy of the day. I mean, check out this bridal party. Totally adorable.

Oh, I feel like I need to take a moment and talk about this venue. Kunde Family Estate is one of those venues that is drop dead gorgeous. When I styled my first Styled The Workshop it took place here (for a refresher take a peak here) and I remember thinking how much I'd like to work with a bride who was getting married there. Wish granted. Maybe it's because I have such a deep love for wine, but who wouldn't want to get married in the ruins that the first varietally labeled Cabernet Sauvignon was crafted and bottled. Too good. This wedding is chock full of unique details that truly captured the essence of this darling couple. Take a look at a few more goodies from this epic day in California's wine country. Oh... did I mention there was a cheese cake? There was a cake made of cheese. Yep, I said it.

I love the way they blended their two cultures together so seamlessly. From the menus with two languages to the carefully chosen floral arrangements, every detail was well thought out. But as lovely as each element was, what really showed through (as if I haven't said it enough in this blog post) was their love for each other. Gosh, just look at these two!

It turns out that little Mrs. KK had a big birthday yesterday. So this blog post couldn't have come at a better time. Happy Birthday doll face! Wishing you both a lifetime of parties like this one. Parties filled with love, laughter and delicious wine and cheese.

To see even more greatness from this wedding, check out their feature on Style Me Pretty.

Wedding Photography: Cooper Carras | Ceremony + Reception Venue: Kunde Family Estate | Wedding Coordination: Kelly & Company Events | Floral Design: Grant Avenue Florist | Bridal Party Styling: Melanie of Head Over Heels | Wedding Cake + Cheese Bar: Cheese School of San Francisco | Cinematography: Alicia Oblander | Wedding Invitations: Paper Source | Menus/ Programs/Escort Cards: DIY by the bride | Catering: Elaine Bell Catering | Band + Ceremony Music: A Frontline Band | Photo Booth: Photo-matica | Placecard Matchboxes: Christina M Koon | Wedding Dress + Bridesmaids Dresses + Flower Girl Dress: J.Crew | Shoes: Tory Burch | Groom’s Suit: Custom, Bloomingdale’s | Men’s Ties + Bowties: Two L Creations





Valentine's Day = Polka Dots and Pink Lipstick

Melanie Duerkopp Photography

Happy almost Valentine's Day lovers!  I'm bringing you a super fun look today inspired by all things polka dot.  Once the winter holiday season is over, the stores become flooded with red and pink.  Rose colored candies and bright red valentines run rampant in the aisles.   It trickles down to our clothing as well.  All of a sudden I find myself in a sea of pink and I don't know how to get out!  This outfit shows you that you don't need to wear red in order to be festive.  Why not find clothes in your wardrobe (like these amaaaaazing polka dot pants) and "valentinize it" with a pop of fuchsia lipstick!   

 Melissa Hoffmann (my makeup and hair connoisseur) and I talked about what makeup would complete this look without overdoing it.  We wanted something easy going yet special.  Just like the outfit.  She decided to play up the lip with the most PERFECT shade of pink.  By keeping my hair down and curly the overall look doesn't get too formal or two "businessy".  But that is what makes this look so perfect.  You can then take the pieces, add a blazer, top knot and a more neutral lip and head to work!  

 When shopping I always look for basics with interesting details.  This keeps an otherwise simple look unique.  The black madewell top worn above is a favorite of mine.  It's peter pan collar adds the little bit of something special that I'm always seeking in clothes.  It works wonderfully with the pants because it doesn't compete.  

 You want to compliment, not compete when wearing statement pieces. Tweet it!

Speaking of complementing a statement piece, I wore fantastic jewelry from Sweet and Spark.  This Valentine's Day look had a mix of modern meets vintage and I wanted my jewelry to convey that as well.  White dot earrings and an enamel bangle did just the trick.  They have some amazing vintage pieces that are constantly rotating.  Check them out! 

  My other accessory was a little out of the box.  Wait... you don't carry balloons around as an accessory?  It's all the rage.  But in all seriousness, how cute are these balloons?  If you live in the San Francisco area Sparky's Balloons is the best and are SO accomodating.  All I'm saying is if you want to turn heads, you should probably be carrying balloons around town.   

   I tried to tell Miss Zoe she didn't have to wear pink hearts for Valentine's Day but she insisted.  Just like her mama her love for J. Crew knows no bounds.  I let it slide because She. Is. The. Cutest.   

Hope this inspires you to wear something darling this Valentine's Day.  In the comments section below tell me what you are wearing this year or what your fav date night look is.  What do you love the most about it?  I'd love to hear it!




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