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.  


What you need to know before you hit the sales rack

(Photo by Melanie Duerkopp from my FREE style guide!  Sign up above or to your right to get all the goods!)

This week has been full of shopping. Shopping for photo shoots, clients and of course a few fall goodies for me and Zo.   The same thing keeps on popping up on my excursions.  All I see are sales. Sales. Sales. Sales.  Sale signs are everywhere you look right now!  Whether you are on the Internet or in a store everything seems to be "Buy Two Get One Free!" and " 40% off the lowest ticketed price!".  Believe me I love it!  But, while it is SO tempting to jump at the opportunity to save some cash, there are a few things you should think about before you head straight for the sale rack.   While I do think you should keep your eye out for a bargain, I don't want you to buy things you DON'T NEED just because it's a good deal.  

My husband is the KING of purchasing things because ONLY because they are affordable and not because he likes them.  So I know this mentality first hand.  Take this man to Costco and you end up with a LOT of spinach, paper towels and a flat screen tv.  If there is a chance to save some cash he is ON it.  This usually comes in handy.  Sometimes, I end up with an endless supply of something that expires next month.

The same goes for clothes.  Last weekend we were shopping at our local outlet mall.  Yes, it's true.  We live near an outlet mall.  I'm not gonna lie, it's very tempting to go cray cray whenever we are shopping there.  Everything is a deal, about to be gone and cheaper than the regular store.  Ever notice how people get more aggressive when there is a sale?  Calm down girl, I swear there are enough Size Medium striped sweaters for an army.... it's cool.  

We walked into Saks Off 5th and I was instantly drawn to a sign for shoes.  Buy two shoes get the third free.  Ummmm excuse me?!  Hell yea!  But, the more I looked the more I realized, I actually didn't see three pairs of shoes that I liked.  I came THIS close to acquiring three pairs of shoes (and still spending a lot of money) just to get a good deal.  But much to my husband's dismay, I decided to get the one pair of sandals that I really liked.  They did happen to be on sale and I got a $150 pair of sandals for $35!  Which, in case it got muddled in the fact that I didn't use the sale, is a BIG WIN!  What I almost did was get another pair of boots that was on sale (but still a whopping $200) and another pair of heels that I didn't really like.  So I took a moment and realized that I could actually save money and precious room in my closet by NOT buying into the sale.  Because I didn't actually need the items that were on sale.  Do I need shoes?  Yes.  But, do I need shoes I don't really love?  Nope.  

So, the next time you see a big ol "Sale!" sign lurking you toward her I want you to think of these three things.

1) Do I need the item that's on sale?  Ask yourself the question of functionality.  What are they selling?  Is it something you have been looking for or do you have 5 already sitting in a drawer at home?

2) Is it my style?  That's right, sometimes we buy things that aren't actually our taste.  We do this because we so desperately want to make things work to save money!  What ends up happening is that it just sits in your closet collecting dust, making your closet bulkier and it was money that could have been in your wallet.

3) If it wasn't on sale would I still buy it?  Give this one a lot of thought.  Sometimes we can be blinded by the idea of the sale.  So make sure it's something you would buy no matter what!  This question is my favorite.  I ask myself this quite often.  

You should be buying clothes because you love them, not just because it was the best one out of the sale items. 

Listen, I'm not saying that sales don't come in handy.   I love me a good bargain.  But, it is very important to have specific intentions when shopping.  Does this ever happen to you?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments section below!  Do you find the sale items you buy to be great deals, or something that sits in your closet?  Let me know! It's a hot topic among friends and I'd love for you to weigh in.  

Remember, sales can sometimes deter you to secretly spend  more than you planned.  So you have to shop smart in order to actually get a deal!  Read between the lines and your closet and wallet will thank you!  Happy shopping!




Hot dogs, Puppies, Beer and How To Dress For Your Next BBQ

Is it really the end of August?  Where did this summer go?  Luckily, Labor Day is a great holiday to get out your last BBQ kicks.  BBQ's are my fav because they are laid back and casual, but still call for a little something special.  I was lucky enough to share some more thoughts on Labor Day style on Verily Magazine this week.  If you haven't already, make sure to check out!  But, because I think you are the greatest (and because I really adored this photo shoot) I thought I'd share some of the images that weren't featured in the Verily article.  By mixing dressed down denim and comfy navy stripes with bold prints and big gold jewelry all of these outfits are relaxed and fun but still make a statement.  

Here is how I do it.  I ask myself this question:

Does this outfit need to be dressed down or spiced up?

As simple as it is, this question always helps to confirm what I'm going for.  If you are going to an event that calls for a laid back vibe , you may still have to remove some blingity bling from your look, and sometimes you have to turn. it. up!  

For example, when I first saw this Madewell romper I thought.  This is the perfect summer piece!  But, I wanted to "glam it up" juuuuust enough for an extra special BBQ look.  What did I do to achieve pumped up status?  I added an adorable pair of wedges and layers of gold jewelry.  It did the trick.  Melissa Hoffmann chose to keep the makeup and hair very natural and earthy so that it would play on the daytime, relaxed feel of the whole look.

Being the stylist that I am, I sometimes put Zoe in clothes that aren't really the most appropriate for a baby her age.  But this sun hat came in her size.  So that means she is going to keep it on her head right?!  RIGHT?!  Well, it was fun while it lasted.  

DISCLAIMER: I am clearly terrible at narrowing down Zoe pictures.  Judge all you want.  I can't decide which one is cuter so you have to look at them all!

** Interesting note about these Zoe pics.  She pretty much had her fussiest day ALIVE on the day of this shoot.  She was teething and didn't like that she wasn't getting all the attention (DIVA ALERT).  But, these pictures still came out amazing of her!  It just goes to show that you that no one knows that your teeth hurt, you didn't sleep the night before, you're hungry etc.  

For the second look, I asked myself the same question.  Does this outfit need to be dressed down, or spiced up?

Even though the end result is similar, this time the answer was different.  Since this navy and white tank was so dressed down, by mixing in a printed short and funky jewelry the outfit becomes quirky, fun and stylish.  I also may need to devote an entire post to my Panama hat.  What really says chic summer style more than this hat?!  Nothing I can think of!

Look three is one of my favorites.  I love this boho maxi and how comfortable it is!  It's a slip on and you're done kinda look.  This maxi dress works perfectly when paired with studded flat sandals and a denim jacket. But would also work great if you wanted to layer tons of necklaces, a hair wreath and long, flowy hair.  Endless possibilities!

Apparently, I like taking photos while I'm eating.  I also like to pretend I'm a food stylist as demonstrated in all of the photos in this shoot.  It was actually pretty fun.  I ended up with great leftovers for a week!

To hear more about these three looks, as well as see more gorgeousness by Krista Marie Photography head to Verily Magazine.

Do you have big weekend plans?  What is your favorite go to summer party activity?  I'd say I'd have to pick smores.  Can't.get.enough!  In the comments section below I'd love to hear about what your favorite piece of clothing was this summer and why!  The "why" is important in helping recognize what you enjoy in your wardrobe.  Then we can start to think about how this is going to help you shop for fall!  And remember, this weekend when you are getting dressed for your Labor Day activities, if you get stumped ask yourself the question of the hour and you will be lost no more!  

Does this need to be dressed down or spiced up!

Happy Labor (aka wear a cute outfit and eat hot dogs) Day Lovelies!

Photography - Krista Marie Photography

Hair and Makeup - Melissa Hoffmann

Look 1: Romper / All Jewelry / Heels / Crossbody Bag 

Zoe’s Look: Dress, Shoes and Hat

Look 2: Striped Tank / Panama Hat / All Jewelry / Shorts / Heels

Look 3: Hat / Dress / All JewelryScarf (as backdrop) / Sandals (similar) / Jean Jacket





Put Your Mask on First

Left: Photo of me and Zoe before our trip to N.Y. Right: Me & the beyond gorgeous mama-to-be this weekend.

This past Monday I was on a flight coming home from visiting my oldest (and currently very pregnant) friend.  This was my fourth flight this month so I've been a jet setting mama!  This trip was long overdue and I was so glad I was able to get there and have some "girl time" before she becomes a mama.  The trip was last minute and I could have thought of a gazillion reasons why not to go.  They would have been excuses really.  I had just gotten back from another trip, I have a 15 month old who keeps me very busy and flights are expensive.  But, there was NO WAY I wasn't going.  Not just for her sake, for mine as well.  

So there I was, sitting on the plane heading home, listening to the stewardess talk about safety.  I have to be honest, I don't always listen to this speech anymore.  I fly a lot and I'm super comfortable with it.  But really, I knooooow I should be paying attention.  So this time I did.  And then she said it.

"If you are traveling with someone (like a child for instance), put your mask on first before you offer assistance."

This is a statement that my friend Jacinda had mentioned to me a few weeks ago.  We were talking about being moms and self care.  She said "I gotta put my mask on first, ya know?" And at the time I sort of just nodded not really taking it in.  But hearing it again on the plane, right after seeing a friend who was about to embark on this crazy journey we call motherhood.  It really hit me.  This is my new mantra.  

"Put your mask on first."  

Ultimately, if you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of anyone else.  Tweet it!

Us women, we have a real tendency to over extend ourselves.  We love to help out, and give, give, give.  I can't tell you how many times I've made myself sick because I was working too hard on a project or taking care of someone else.  When I think about self care, it's not something that comes naturally to me.  What comes naturally is burning out.  I'm not sure why I feel the need to give to the point of exhaustion but it's something I'm working on.  Because let's face it, I'm a better mother, friend, wife and business woman when I've slept, showered and taken care of myself.  So going on a mini trip to see my good friend is really important for my soul.  Which is just as important as getting a manicure.  Which is just as important as eating healthy.  It's all the same thing really.  Put. Your. Mask. On. First.  Do what you need to do for you.  

This quote has always stuck with me and I think it sums up my point brilliantly.  

"I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self indulgent.  Caring for myself is an act of survival." -Audre Lorde

Does this sound familiar?  Working yourself to the bone?  Not sleeping or eating right because you are too busy taking care of everyone else?  I'd like us to all work on this one together.  So I invite you this week to do something nice for yourself.  Let me see it by hashtagging #hohwithmelanie #putyourmaskonfirst and tagging @hohwithmelanie so I can see what lovely thing you have treated yourself to.  Also, I'd love to hear in the comments section below about what you do (or plan on doing) for yourself, and if you have noticed a change from it.  I got you girl.  We are in this together.  

Oh, and have you seen the Virgin America flight video?  It's amazing.  I could watch it all day.  Is that weird?  I mean... it's just so good!







One Outfit: Two Ways - Versatile Top

One of the first things I think about when I'm shopping is "How versatile is this item going to be in my closet?" Is this going to be a fun statement piece I can only wear once in a blue moon?  Or is  it going to be able to be worn in a plethora of ways on many occasions?  There is a time and place for both items but ultimately the smarter choice is always the more adaptable piece.  

Once I've established that the item can be worn in many different ways, I like to then try and find creative opportunities to spice it up.  So if a blouse comes in a several colors, I'll go for the bright color instead of the basic.  This is what works for me to keep my wardrobe full of surprises and yet, full of functional pieces.

I actually NEVER get the opportunity to rock a pencil skirt.  When I used to work in bridal I would wear pencil skirts on the regular.  But I'll admit, it's not my go-to item when running to the park for a play date or even shopping with a client.  Some days I yearn for the option to wear a killer office look.  I took this opportunity and ran with it.

So, with that being said, the above outfit is my version of a 9 to 5 look.  You can take the city out of the girl, but that little bit of city spark always stays.  When putting together this ensemble I thought about two things.  

1) How can I make it fun, yet sophisticated?  

The Answer - Classic shapes with bold shades.  Are we used to seeing a blouse and pencil skirt together in the office.  Obvs.  But is it usually done in gorgeous, unexpected colors?  Nope!  A lot of my clients mention that they feel they have trouble feeling trendy at work.  This outfit also is a great example of how ot incorporate new fashion into your daily looks.

2) How do I make color blocking work for the office?

The Answer - Keeping the look to two colors makes it consistent and not overwhelming.  I paired the look with a matching heel and purse to not introduce too many colors.  I also wore all gold jewelry for the same reason.
By now you know I'm a jeans lover.  If not, you should probably check out my Style Guide to your right!  Do it now!  While I love me a good dress, my favorite date night look is a jeans and heels combo.  Comfort meets sexy.  It has never failed to amaze me how a dressy blouse, jeans, and heels can work in the majority of situations.  Dinner date: Jeans and heels.  Bachelorette party at a club: Jeans and heels.  Happy Hour: Jeans and heels.  Mamas night out: Jeans and heels.  All I'm saying is... when in doubt, wear heels and it always adds the level of dressed up you were looking for.

As you can see, I wore the same blouse AND the same heels in both looks.  This was intentional for two reasons.  I wanted to show you that if you have a bold colored item that you want to wear a lot, sometimes it helps to have a shoe that works as well.  The other reason is that I find that most women wear the same accessories and shoes more often than a fashion blogger would (shocker).  So in an effort to be helpful and transparent I'm once again wearing similar jewelry to this post and the same shoes with both looks.  

What's one thing in your closet that you find is a "Go - To"; but is still fun and unexpected?  One of my favorite things to chat about is how clothing can work in different ways.  Let's start a conversation by leaving a comment below!  









Warning Signs it's Time to Stop Shopping


 Melanie Duerkopp Photography

You have been shopping all day.  You started strong getting a few new fantastic outfits at J. Crew.  You then had a stroke of bad luck at the next few stores and it put you in a slightly frustrated mood.  You started looking at your watch and begin to feel pressed for time.  You decide to forget about lunch because you want to hit up a few more stores.  Now that you are hungry and frustrated you start to go into stores with a bad attitude.  You don’t even want to try things on.  You leave feeling annoyed, frustrated and unproductive. 

We have all had those days and they are THE WORST.  Especially when you go with an intention to buy something specific like a dress for an event the next day.  Leaving empty handed after a day of shopping really puts a damper on things.  That’s for sure.  After several years of shopping WITH clients and shopping FOR clients I am now a self proclaimed “Efficient Enjoyable Shopping Connoisseur”.  

You can prevent the breakdown if you start you know what to look for.  That's why today I’m sharing my top warning signs with you to prevent you from having another Debbie Downer shopping disaster.  


1)   You start getting critical.  - What I find with most women is that when we first start looking through the racks we are filled with excitement and an optimistic attitude.  It’s once we start trying on things (that don’t fit the way we envisioned) that we start to get crabby.  While this is a whole other blog post all together, I do think it’s important to recognize that once you are full of negative thoughts you aren’t going to like anything.

What to do: Try to keep that positive mindset through out your shopping experience.  I do periodic check ins with myself.  Ask yourself questions such as “Is this rack overwhelming you?  Let’s check out the jewelry.”  Or give yourself reminders like “Yes! So much cobalt blue here today!  That color looks amazing on you.

2)   You are super hungry but are trying to push through.  Often we go shopping as an extra errand to do.  It is often around a meal time (I usually am shopping around lunch) so sometimes we forget to eat. DON’T.  You are just asking to put yourself in a funk. 

What to do: If you are hungry or thirsty you HAVE to take care of that.  No body likes a “hangry” (hungry and angry) shopper.  If this is something you really find effects you I suggest bringing water and snacks.  It may sound silly but sometimes you gotta stop and refresh.

3)   You become glazed over and unfocused.  This means it’s been too long and it’s time to take a break.  Walking around in a fog is just going to make the shopping experience longer without accomplishing much.

I always say I can go into a store like Anthropologie and always see different things.  Part of that is that when you go in with a focused mind you are more efficient.  This makes shopping more enjoyable and quicker as well. 

What to do:  Take a break.  Grab food, make a call, sit outside for a few.   Afterwards you can reassess how you feel.  Are you too tired to continue?  Do you feel refreshed?  Make the call with a clear head.

I know.  I am a stylist and I am telling you to STOP shopping.  This may seem counter intuitive.  But when you hit a wall when shopping, it no longer is going to be beneficial and it can make you leave with a bad taste in your mouth about the day.  This is totally unnecessary.  I want you to ENJOY shopping, feel confident in your clothes and knowledgeable in the stores.  So next time you are out and start to see one of these warning signs, I want you to check in and reassess. 

I’d love to hear if this is something you experience.  What do you do to snap yourself out of it?  Let me know in the comments section! 






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