100 Ways to Be Elegant

I found this FABULOUS post on ‘Live the Charmed Life’ on 100 Ways to  Be Elegant:


Elegance has long been a personal goal of mine and I would like to add to her list what I believe to be the hardest way to be elegant:

Choosing not to complain when you want to.

Honestly, I have a tendency to be a rather loud complainer. And a rather frequent one. I even once complained to Ian about a man who pushed me out-of-the-way to get in the revolving door entrance to our office. To get into the office. Doesn’t even make sense that he was rushing into the office… But while that man’s manners are regrettable, the fact that I burdened Ian with this story and got myself all flustered is even more regrettable.

Sometimes unburdening ourselves can be a heavy burden for others.

And so choosing not to complain has become one of my personal Lifevestments. I draw inspiration from my father who underwent countless chemo treatments after a nearly three-hour drive and several large surgeries without one complaint. The only time you even knew he was in pain was when he would ask to go lie down in bed. It’s amazing how weak we can seem just dealing with the day-to-day world but how strong we can become when we need to be.

I believe acknowledging our inner strength and choosing not to let things bother us is one of the hardest but most rewarding ways to be elegant.

What would you add to the “ways to be elegant” list?


Photo Therapy: Across the Pond

Our trip to London in August was so fabulous. London now has a special place in my heart because this trip was where Ian and I took our first international vacation together and where we decided to make the big decision to move-in together. I thought I’d share a few photos from the trip with you. My favorite part of the trip was going on the Jack the Ripper tour – my father had always wanted me to go on this and it did not disappoint. Our tour guide, Donald Rumbelow, was fabulous and I eagerly bought his book and read it over the course of our trip. I highly recommend his book!

On the trip we also managed to: see the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London, drink at the bar Churchill frequented, cross London Bridge, see the Arnolfini Portrait (which was on my bucket list), enjoy a full English breakfast, take afternoon tea at the Kensington Palace Orangery and attend the Buckingham Palace summer exhibit which had Kate Middleton’s McQueen wedding gown on display (it is so gorgeous in person).

What are some of your favorite places to travel?


2012 (Otherwise Known as the Year of Change)

The New Year is traditionally a time of intense self-reflection and criticism. Us Americans vainly or humbly analyze the bits that make up “ourselves” and find the missing puzzle piece that will invariably lead to a “full life” but inevitably ends with us seeking the next missing piece, in an ongoing cycle.

I am one of those Americans. I firmly believe that life is cyclical and that who I am is ever-evolving. Lately I have seen many fabulous posts on why resolutions are the wrong way to approach the new year and they are a recipe for failure. However, I discovered in 2011 that having resolutions pushed me to have the best year of my life and that constantly revisiting and revising my goals helped me formulate direction from hundreds of options. So here is my list of resolutions and goals for 2012.

My mantra for 2012: “Expectation is the root of all heartache” – William Shakespeare. I can have a hard time dealing with change and when things do not go the way I expect, I can become moody and frustrated. Knowing that my expectations can trigger heartache (thank you Will Shakes) is my first step in avoiding the heartache all together. I want to conquer my inability to cope with the unexpected. So I have unofficially dubbed 2012 “The Year of Change” – a year where I will learn to embrace the new, unorthodox and unplanned.

My other resolutions and projects include:

1. Better blog posts. I’m sure this is a goal for many of us. I want to incorporate more original content, more photography, more insight and find more inspiration. I need to remember to keep a notebook next to my bed – I always think of these fabulous post ideas right before I sleep and forget them by morning.

2. A full-fledged return to photography. I’ve been out of the photography game for a while so I want 2012 to be the year I shoot some of my best work. Luckily for me this ties into my #1 resolution!

3. Inner peace. Expectation is the root of all heartache – I need to keep repeating that to myself. Working in the finance industry has left me frazzled and untrusting and accepting that the world is not the way I would ideally want it is a good first step to achieving this broad and cliché goal.

4. A dog who heels. Apollo shakes hands, twirls in the air, rolls over, sits, goes potty when I tell him, comes when I call and doesn’t beg too badly for treats. He does however take me for walks, pulling me around the dog park and inevitably leaving my arm sore. This is the year I start walking him, in a nice march on my left side at all times.  

5. More home-cooked meals. Living in Chicago (with Grubhub) can make it hard to cook after a long day at work – especially when everyday I am bombarded with news stories about another fabulous restaurant. I need to remember that there will ALWAYS be another fabulous restaurant and that I shouldnt be paying for food that I can make more to my taste at home.

6. More organization. I don’t have kids and I am hoping to not have to move this year so I want to tackle all the piles of “stuff” in our apartment and find a more logical way of living.

7. Read 10 books. It’s silly, I used to read a book a week. But last year I took my Series 7 and Series 63. I went on several trips and did a lot of working out. I probably only read six books (not including study materials). I know 10 books isn’t very much but I’ll be happy with a number in the double-digits.

8. Knock more things off my bucket list. Last year I accomplished so many things and I want this year to be no different. I have a budding career, a supportive boyfriend (and family) and no kids: three factors that can lead to some serious self-achievement in 2012.

9. Be the weight it says on my driver’s license. I haven’t been the weight on my driver’s license since I was 13. I’m only 6 lbs away and I think I can achieve this goal in a healthy and happy way (I lost 14 lbs in 2011).

10. 2012: My Year of Good Posture. In a world of desk jobs and couch lifestyles, good posture has become a rare thing. Everywhere I go I see people slouched over themselves. I want to keep up my good posture in spite of my urge to hunch over my desk.

What are your new year’s resolutions?


Additional Reading:

Having No Goals: http://zenhabits.net/no-goal/

Award Nominations

I’m not sure how to even begin this post. I had the busiest weekend filled with plenty of Christmas parties and cranberry mojitos (soooo delicious) and low-and-behold, I sign-on to WordPress this morning only to find out that Lifevesting was nominated for two blogging awards over the weekend!

This is an honor, most especially because I was nominated by two blogs which I admire deeply and I can’t help but be over-whelmed by how much having this blog has given me since I started it on October 19th. Originally this blog began because I wanted to take on a new challenge in my life and pursue a new direction. But as time has passed over the past two months, I see myself changing and paying more attention to the beauty and meaning in the world around me. The unexpected shift in my mental attitude and my renewed positivity is something which has surprised me and I hope that this little blog helps others find that too.

As for the future of Lifevesting – I have big plans for future posts and collaborations with other bloggers. I want this blog to be a forum for ideas on how to improve your life on many different levels (from the superficial to the profound) and I want your ideas! If you have something that you do that you consider a “lifevestment”, send me a message because I would love love to feature your idea!

Now onto the awards and my nominations:

The fabulous ladies over at the Image Mistress (http://theimagemistress.wordpress.com/2011/12/19/liebster-blog-award-nomination/) have nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award. Thank you so much for the nomination, I feel so honored.

The Liebster Blog Award is given to up-coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers.

Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

The rules for the Liebster Blog Award are:

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
2. Link back to the blogger who awarded you.
3. Copy & paste the blog award on your blog
4. Reveal your 5 blog picks.
5. Let them know you choose them by leaving a comment on their blog.

For this award I have nominated five blogs which I all feel superbly exemplify the Liebster Blog Award:

1. Susie Mae Day – http://susiemaeday.wordpress.com/. The title of her blog gives away just how clever this Susie is and she is absolutely one of my favorite blogs. Not many women can post about her fabulous outfits and her fabulous cooking – but somehow she does (and always manages to make me drool on my computer screen).

2. Just a little Brit – http://justalittlebrit.wordpress.com/. This blog is so much fun to read (especially her recent post on photographing a concert for Florence + the Machine). Her bucket list is truly inspiring as well!

3. Shine On: Illuminate the Shadows – http://breatheitgetsbetter.wordpress.com/. Brittany has a fabulously positive attitude about the world and the most thoughtful posts. I really appreciate how clever her entire blog is.

4. xoxoxo – http://unapologeticallycute.wordpress.com/. This blog has some of the best ideas and I love how much fun both Lo and Lexi have writing this! I always walk away from their blog with a great idea!

5. my little moments – http://nuresma.wordpress.com/. She has her own Etsy shop, a beautiful outlook on life and the sweetest little pug. I always enjoy reading her blog!

And because I couldn’t choose 5, I had to also nominate Lark & Linen – http://jacquelynnicole.wordpress.com/. Her blog is simply beautiful and I love all of her photography!

And for Lifevesting’s second award…

The fabulous Emily over at GroundingMyRoots (http://groundingmyroots.wordpress.com/2011/12/18/my-first-blogging-awards/) nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award! Thank you so much!

These are the rules for the Versatile Blog Awards:

  • Nominate 15 fellow bloggers.
  • Inform the bloggers of their nomination.
  • Share 7 random things about yourself.
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Add the Versatile Blog Award logo on your blog post.

THESE ARE IN NO ORDER! I had a hard enough time trying to choose 15 blogs which I thought were the most versatile – I feel like there are so many impressive and diverse blogs here on WordPress!

1. Helena Handbasket – http://ninhydrin.wordpress.com/.

2. roam&home – http://roamandhome.com/.

3. notesfromadogwalker – http://notesfromadogwalker.com/.

4. pursesandpugs – http://pursesandpugs.wordpress.com/

5. She Found Style – http://shefoundstyle.wordpress.com/.

6. Candy Stilettos – http://candystilettos.com/.

7. lark&linen (again!) – http://jacquelynnicole.wordpress.com/.

8. Fashion Script – http://fashionscript.net/.

9. twomuffinsinanoven – http://twomuffinsinanoven.wordpress.com/.

10. leahmariev – http://leahmariev.com/.

11. Cactus & Kudzu – http://cactusandkudzu.com/.

12. Elizabeth Cori – http://elizabethcori.wordpress.com/.

13. The Lonely Wife Project – http://thelonelywifeproject.wordpress.com/.

14. Chi On A Dime – http://chionadime.com/.

15. I am Abimarvel – http://abimarvel.com/.

And to finish this off, here are 7 fun facts about moi:

1. I am terrified of heights (or rather death by falling from them). I actually worked in the Sears Tower for a few months until our office was relocated and building tenants have access to the 66th floor for free so everyday for TWO MONTHS I went up there and tried to get over this fear. It isn’t going anywhere and I’ve moved on to different self-improvement projects.

2. I have been a pescetarian since 2003 (lacto-ovo vegetarian who also eats seafood, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pescetarianism). I try to be very educated about what I am eating and why and I am working towards more sustainable eating habits. Ian and I have even started a small table-top garden in our living room.

3. I would like to get Apollo certified to be a therapy dog. When my dad was in a nursing home, I would bring Apollo to visit and it was a wonderfully rewarding experience to bring so much cheer to the people there. If only Apollo would cooperate and show his affection in a more friendly way than gnawing on fingers…

4. I am currently reading Heinlein’s The Moon is A Harsh Mistress (which also happens to be on my bucket list). I would highly recommend it!

5. I have a long, skinny tattoo down my spine – maybe one post soon I’ll surprise everyone with what is of (warning – somewhat geeky).

6. My all-time favorite color is green.

7. I am an in-the-closet home-body. I may live in Chicago and go out to some fabulous meals and events, but my favorite activity is sitting on the cozy couch with Ian watching the Office.

Thank you everyone for making my Monday!


Life Upgrade: Fashionable Doodles

I find the most creative and chic things on Etsy. My most recent discovery has been brooklit’s ‘Fabulous Doodles fashion illustrations by Brooke Hagel’ ( http://www.etsy.com/shop/brooklit?ref=seller_info) which has the most stylish drawings. Brooke does everything from the leading ladies of Sex and the City to your own personalized fashion illustration but I am absolutely head over heels for her holiday cards!

Nothing like chic and fashionable holiday cards to get you in a festive mood!


Wardrobe Essentials: The Little Black Dress (LBD)

How do you even begin to talk about why the Little Black Dress (LBD) is a wardrobe staple? It is versatile. It is chic. It is wearable and figure-flattering on every body. It is easy to find and care for. It hasn’t gone out of style in almost a century.

The LBD IS the wardrobe essential.

Originally made “en vogue” by Coco Chanel in the early 20th century as women yearned for more practical clothing, the LBD became Chanel’s most recognized contribution to fashion.

Since its appearance, this staple has made many famous appearances:

Princess Diana’s LBD (above) actually managed to steal the spotlight from her then-husband Prince Charles’ publically admitted extramarital affairs that same night.

The LBD is everyone’s confidence booster and ultimate comfort piece all wrapped into one. Whether you’re single, married, divorced, a student, a professional, a stay-at-homer or a fashionista, a LBD is a vital piece of artillery to have in your wardrobe arsenal (because let’s face it – the LBD is part of a woman’s weaponry).

What to Look for when buying a LBD

1. Fit. I know I almost always put this as the first tip when buying a wardrobe essential but that is because it is the most vital when investing in staples. That dress make look fabulous on the hanger but the most important thing to see is if it will look fabulous on you. Closely examine a potential addition to your wardrobe and pay attention to how the garment fits you on all sides. Make sure the dress is flattering and accentuates elements of yourself that you want to highlight. If the piece doesn’t fit perfectly can it be tailored (and more importantly: will you take it to be tailored)? Don’t forget to figure tailoring expenses into the dress price.

2. Quality. A LBD is something you will likely wear hundreds of times so take a moment and examine the stitching, the seams and the hem. Make sure everything is straight were it should be: an uneven hem is attractive on no one.

3. Details. The details are what will make your LBD special so look for something that really speaks to you. A few years ago I found my perfect LBD at Banana Republic: it had an illusion wrap effect thanks to some well sewn pleats around the waist. Pleats, wrap effects, belts and ruffles can make a LBD really wow: just be sure the details aren’t going to date the dress in five years. Simple and small details are the best if you are looking for something timeless.

4. Strapless vs. Straps. I tend to only buy dresses with straps simply because they are more work-appropriate but a strapless LBD can be the perfect party outfit:

5. Fabric. I think there are two fabrics which make the best LBDs: a wool-blend (for winter, but make sure it isn’t itchy) and a jersey. Jersey dresses are absolutely fabulous because they are figure flattering (unless the jersey is super-thin which is unattractive on every body type) and they don’t wrinkle making them perfect to travel with. A wool-blend has some structure but is still comfortable and warm. But LBDs are made in every fabric so just remember to examine how the fabric fits you and whether it is comfortable and easy to care for.

6. Length. If you are looking for something timeless look for a knee-length LBD: almost all other lengths, from maxi to mini, are easily dated after a year or two. That said, I have an Elie Tahari black maxi which I practically lived in all summer so just be sure the length you choose compliments your lifestyle.

How to wear a LBD

The best way to wear a LBD is with color – every color looks fabulous with black. The LBD is like a blank canvas so have fun with your accessories and enjoy the confidence boost from looking chic. A great look for a holiday party is a LBD with a sequin jacket or belt and some fabulous heels.

What’s your favorite way to wear a LBD?


P.s. I found this fabulous paperdoll set of LBDs – wouldn’t this be a fabulous holiday gift for the budding fashionista on your list?

Supplemental Reading:



How to Build a Wardrobe

glamorous granny

Image by zoetnet via Flickr

Confession: As much as I try to focus my attention away from materialism, I must admit that I really enjoy finding a high-quality item to make my life more stylish/easier/colorful, etc.

The key for me though is “high-quality”. I’m not a trendslave – when I spend my hard-earned cash I want it to be on something that I’ll use for years. I don’t care about being the first of my friends to own something, I care about owning things that help me… well, help me be me. In all aspects of my life I try to live by the following motto:


When I made the transition from college to career my wardrobe was forced to evolve with me – those baggy jeans, over-sized hoodies and birkenstocks weren’t going to cut it in the draconian must-always-wear-nylons world of finance. The week after graduation I took the pitiful savings I had from my on-campus job and marched down to Nordstrom Rack, determined to buy my entire career wardrobe in one trip.

What… A… Mistake…

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And man did I learn that lesson the hard way with my wardrobe. In the spirit of honesty I have to admit that I have never been a ‘chic’ dresser – my past style offenses have been so bad that I’ve been inspired to write a ‘style don’ts’ post based on my ‘favorite’ outfits in high school. But despite past offenses, nothing was worse than what I tossed in my shopping cart that day – over-sized lilac sweaters, stiff white button-downs I couldn’t actually button, one-size-too-large-but-it-was-on-super-sale dresses and suits, an orange belt (to match with what? the lilac sweater?) and a single pair of cheap heels (which I promptly wore down and never bothered to have re-heeled). To make matters worse I dropped down a dress size in February and my already-too-big clothes looked even more clownish as I tried to ‘fix’ them by cinching my huge dresses with my orange belt…

Well, it’s true: experience is the best teacher. How will you ever know a ‘do’ if you don’t explore all the ‘don’ts’? So I’ve spent the last few months studying wardrobes and how to take care of them (so often over-looked). My sister was a big help – she’s the most stylish person I know with her model figure, blonde hair and her amazing ability of making anything look stylish (a la Marilyn Monroe). My mother, with her Kate Spade-esque love of fun, was also a huge influence in teaching me not to be afraid of color (though I still maintain that her best accessory is her infectious laugh). My grandmother showed me that you can be classic and fun at the same time with her unwrinkled silk blouses and overstated jewelry. Sadly even Kate Middleton influenced my evolving style with her knee-length day-to-night dresses and meticulous but understated accessories.

How to Build A Wardrobe

1. Never Go Shopping Without a Plan – I am terribly guilty of shopping with no real goal in mind. I “window shop” and see if something inspires me, often forgetting to assess what pieces my wardrobe needs and whether I’ll use what I buy. It’s important to keep a list of pieces you think your wardrobe needs and put blinders on yourself in the store – if you really need a chic blazer, ignore that pair of wedge booties. Unless it’s fabulously unique pieces you buy without pre-planning will be the first to go to Goodwill.

2. Neutrals, neutrals, neutrals – For YEARS I ignored this ‘rule’. I never had tank tops to layer my looks with, never bothered to have neutral sweaters or a great camel skirt. Then all of a sudden I decided to start playing around with “boringggggg” neutrals and discovered that they were a lot of fun and so easy to mix and match. I have a set of belts, hats, shawls, tank tops, shoes and purses in several different neutral palettes. My favorites right now are nude and camel accessories – they balance out a black work wardrobe wonderfully.

jackie o

Image by throw her in the water via Flickr

3. Build a list of style influencers – Style Meganzine inspired this tip with her ‘Who’s Your Inspiration?’ post last week. If you are going to build a wardrobe that reflects you then you’ll need to have a deep understanding of what you really like. Building a list of people whose style you admire can help you assess what you really enjoy and what you don’t. Love Jackie O? Invest in a fantastic trench coat, an oversized pair of sunglasses and a great faux pearl necklace.

4. Invest in a few key pieces you will always need – I believe in putting your money where it will go to the most use. Investing in pieces you will use for years is a smart move and will save you money in the end. Some fabulous pieces to invest your money in: a great tote for work/weekends, a chic but warm winter coat (unless you’re lucky enough to live in a climate without winter!), a pair of diamond studs, the perfect black blazer, and the iconic little black dress.

5. Make at least three outfits in your head before buying – I just recently adopted this rule. When deciding whether to buy something really assess how it will work with other pieces in your wardrobe. You should be able to envision at least three outfits easily. If not, is the piece really worth your cash and [limited] closet space?

6. Be doubtful, prejudiced and meticulous – Really pick apart anything you’re planning on adding to your wardrobe. Will the piece need to be dry cleaned? Will it wrinkle easily? Could you easily take it on vacation? Is it made of good-quality fabric? Does it itch? Does it meet all your criteria? If not put it down and keep looking. My father always said if you wait just a little longer the perfect opening will come (he may have been talking about merging in traffic when I was learning to drive but the principle still applies).

7. Always try it ON – Every woman has a different body. Mass retailers make clothes that supposedly fit everyone but in reality fit only a small range of people. I can be anywhere from a size 4 at The Limited to a size 12 at Levi’s – don’t look at the size, look at the fit. And don’t be afraid to try on something that doesn’t look good on the hanger. Some of my favorite pieces were ones I didn’t really like on the hanger but tried on and loved how it looked on my body.

8. QUALITY – I saved the most important rule for last. I used to be obsessed with finding a good deal. Anytime I saw a cheap version of some designer piece I was lusting after I would snap it up, only to be disappointed when it would start deforming in the wash. Good quality clothing is key to wardrobe happiness. Remember, the more you wear something, the cheaper it is. The key to a long-lasting wardrobe is good quality so examine seams, clasps, buttons, fabrics, stitching and linings before buying. I’ve seen so many designer coats with cheap polyester lining it makes me sad. Unfortunately these days a high price tag does not necessarily mean high quality. I sometimes feel like Banana Republic and J. Crew take quality more seriously than the bigger luxury brands.

Always remember to assess what your use for the piece will be, not the price. Some of the more expensive pieces in my wardrobe are some of my most useless. In the next few weeks I’ll begin highlighting pieces I believe everyone woman should have in her [wardrobe] arsenal and what to look for when buying them based on my misadventures in the world of fashion.

What pieces do you think are crucial to a fabulous wardrobe?



Lifevesting: life·vest·ing [lahyf-ves-ting] to put (money and/or ingenuity) to use, by purchase or research, in something offering potentially profitable returns on the development of the soul

(Otherwise known as inventing a word)

The Why: I’ve been toying with the idea of starting this blog for some time now. In today’s world of materialism, fads and rudeness I can’t help but yearn for something more – anything that has more meaning, more elegance, more pith. Lifevesting was born from this yearning. I hope for this to be a documentation of my journey to invest in myself, to add dimension and layers to my life and to have fun while doing it!

The What: Lifevesting means discovering who you are and what you are capable of. It means investing in yourself and embracing a three-dimensional life without unnecessary clutter. What is a lifevestment? It is anything that brings you happiness and propels you into the future as a stronger person. If I spend money I want it to be on things I will use for many years, not something I will lose in a pile of rubbish under the bed and toss three years later. It’s moving beyond the information overload of our generation, moving beyond the endless stream of things we know aren’t important to us.