style

Summer Style Musings

These warm days have made me come ALIVE! I thrive during the summer months: I’m more energetic, more creative, more ME!

You all probably recall my Preparing for Spring style post back in March. I listed several items that I wanted to add to my wardrobe this year. I anticipated these pieces would work for my Kibbe type (Soft Classic) as well as add some more options to my style repertoire. Those items are as follows:

  • Pale taupe/light gray duster
  • Magenta blazer
  • Bright yellow a-line dress
  • Pale blue/green chiffon skirt
  • Oyster/champagne/ivory satin wrap (drape-y) top

I have been casually searching for these items, and I have updates (including a purchase!) on the status of my shopping list.

  • Pale taupe/light gray duster

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Naomie Harris at Calvin Klein (from Business of Fashion)

I’m still looking for this piece. The trick is finding it in a color that suits my neutral/cool undertones. Most of the dusters I’ve seen are dark (navy or black) or the undertones are all wrong (a little more warm than neutral). Fortunately, it’s warm enough where I don’t need a jacket anymore, but I’d love it for when the seasons change again and we’re experiencing cooler days.

  • Magenta blazer

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Naomie at the 2014 BAFTA Awards (from Elle)

This was the “toughest” item, meaning, I thought I’d never find it. Imagine my surprise when I found my blazer by “accident”. I was browsing JCPenney’s website and found this beauty – on sale!

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The blazer is Black Label by Evan Picone. The shade and design was perfect and the quality is superb. This was a clearance item and I purchased it for $23 (originally priced $75). I’ve been wearing it weekly and I always get compliments. I generally wear it with a solid tank top and jeans: I prefer clean, uncluttered lines and designs.

  • Bright yellow a-line dress

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Naomie Harris at the Spectre press conference (from Vogue UK)

I am on the fence about acquiring a yellow dress for the summer, because I really do have enough dresses and I aim to keep my closet as uncluttered as possible. *If* I can manage to part with at least two of my current dresses, then I’ll supplement my wardrobe with a yellow one.

  • Pale blue/green chiffon skirt

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Naomie at the Mandela screening (from The Fashion Spot)

I found two great options, and I’ll be ordering one of them as soon as I “make room” by getting rid of one or two of my other skirts.

This skirt by CoutureBridal is the perfect length and fabric, but I’m unsure if I want this particular shade of blue (I was hoping for a slightly dustier hue).

This seafoam green skirt by Fancy-Bridal is great, as well. I may just flip a coin and see which skirt wins!

  • Oyster/champagne/ivory satin wrap (drape-y) top

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With Olivia Palermo at the launch of Maison Makarem (from Getty Images)

I haven’t seen this yet, though I’ve gotten pretty close to what I’m looking for. I have a few other websites and shops that I’m going to check out over the next few weeks. However, if my desire for this blouse fades before I find it, then I’ll simply cross it off of my “want” list.

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That’s it for my updates! Do any of you make shopping lists before the beginning of the season? Let me know what you’re searching for in the comments below!

art · Uncategorized

Want to Learn About New Artists?

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Make sure that you’re following me on Instagram, so you can see the daily artist spotlights that I’m featuring this month. I’m taking the time to share what I’ve seen on social media and (hopefully) bring additional attention to these talented artists. Who couldn’t use more art in their lives?

Here are a few of the artists I’ve featured so far:

reading list

Book Review: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

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When I mentioned The War of Art by Steven Pressfield in my May Reading List post, I shared that I had read it before, but I rushed through it. I read it as part of a business “boot camp” that I participated in a few years ago. The book was good but since the business I was designing wasn’t “creative”, it didn’t feel relevant to my circumstances at the time.

However, I’m in a different space in my life now, and I am tapping into my creative powers regularly. That’s why I post daily in this space, whether I have lots to talk about or not much going on. It’s all about continuing to write and dedicating myself to my craft. Errors and all, I post here every day with the hope that I’ll share something that inspires or educates.

Back to War of Art: this book is all about learning what “Resistance” is, how it impacts our creative projects, and how to break through it. For those that don’t know, Resistance is anything that distracts us from our creative projects or interferes with our creative expression. Resistance takes many forms, but each of them are detrimental to the creative, who is denied their natural expression when they allow Resistance to win.

Resistance is described as an enemy that has mastered the art of disguise: so much so, it’s possible that this enemy is attacking you from several angles. However, once identified, the enemy can be defeated and the creative can realize his/her ultimate goal. Pressfield assures us that Resistance can be beaten, as he stated, “Defeating Resistance is like giving birth. It seems absolutely impossible until you remember that women have been pulling it off successfully, with support and without, for fifty million years”.

The book is divided into three sections. The first section outlines the many disguises of Resistance: it can be something as blatant as procrastination or as subtle as vicarious living through loved ones. The second section describes the way to conquer Resistance which is going “pro”: utilizing strategies of the “professional” to sets out to do his/her work regardless of all of the Resistance swirling in the atmosphere. The third section is all about what happens after Resistance is conquered. This section speaks of the magic of starting a project, the incredible outcomes of deferring to “higher powers” like God, the Muses, etc., and moving beyond the Ego.

This entire book is enjoyable, but I’m especially a fan of the second section. Many of the practices outlined are disciplines that could serve you in multiple arenas. I often need to be reminded of what a “professional” does, so that, instead of being frustrated by circumstance, I’m focused instead on what I need to do.

This was such a good read! I hope you all check it out and find some benefit in it for yourselves!

life curation · music

Dads Matter

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Happy Sunday, everyone! Today is Father’s Day in the United States, and I’m fortunate to have experienced the love of two fathers: my biological dad and my stepdad. Instead of saying to you, ‘Go love on your dad”, I want to share what both of the fathers in my life meant to me.

My biological dad and I haven’t always been close, though there’s always been a lot of love between us. He is a better parent of adults than young children, and I can respect and enjoy that: after all, I’ll spend more of my life as an adult than I did as a child! He and my mom had a tense relationship for many years, and now I’m glad to say that they have grown to the point of having a friendship. It took a lot of years, but I love that there is no animosity between them. They married in the 1970s, so I often associate them with Earth, Wind and Fire. Here’s a song that I imagine that they may have danced to while they were dating.

My stepdad passed in 2012, and I’ll cherish the last conversation I had with him. He was very ill – in hospice care – and when I asked how he was feeling, he simply said, “I’m not doing too well, but I’m okay. How are you?” It still breaks my heart to think that he wanted to know how I was doing while he was slowly slipping away from us. I’ll also think fondly of how we would occasionally sneak out and get milkshakes from McDonald’s and chili cheese hot dogs from 7 Eleven (this was before I started eating healthier!) One of the last times we hung out, he said he was craving a milkshake, so we made a special stop just to soothe his craving. I miss him every day, but I’m happy that he left me some awesome memories. Here’s a song that he absolutely loved: I still can’t listen to it all the way through without breaking down into tears.

Those are a couple of my Father’s Day memories. Do you all have any memories of your father/father figures that you want to share? Please post them in comments below: I’d love to read them.

international · life curation

Learning a New Language

Hey friends! I’m excited to share my latest learning adventure. Of course, I’m still studying Inside Opera and Cultures and Identities in Europe (I wrote about the courses here and here). But I also took on another learning experience because, well, it felt like a good idea!

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I’m studying Portuguese after visiting the Embassy of Portugal a few weeks ago. I love the language and I’m looking forward to becoming proficient over time. As it turns out, I have a few Portuguese speaking friends that are eager to help me practice, not to mention I have a lot more resources at my disposal than I did when I studied French and Spanish years ago.

For starters, I’m using YouTube, podcasts, digital textbooks, and media to learn Portuguese. Also, there are some excellent groups online (specifically Facebook) that can connect language learners with native speakers to practice or even to ask technical questions. I’m still assessing which resources are the best in my opinion, but as soon as I have a good list of resources, I’ll definitely share them here!

Are you all currently studying any languages? Let me know in the comments below!

art

Henrietta Lacks, An Overdue Tribute

Recently, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of African American History and Culture jointly acquired a painting of Henrietta Lacks, as portrayed by Kadir Nelson. Lacks died from cervical cancer at the age of 31, and her cells were subsequently studied and used over the past 60+ years. Lacks’s cells (named HeLa, for Henrietta Lacks) were instrumental in developing treatments for a variety of illnesses, such as polio, AIDS and Parkinson’s Disease.

I was familiar with Lacks’s story from many years back, as she was a Virginia native and never forgotten here, in her state of birth. Thus, I knew that I had to see the painting, titled “Henrietta Lacks (HeLa): The Mother of Modern Medicine”, for myself.

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Henrietta Lacks (HeLa): The Mother of Modern Medicine, Kadir Nelson, oil on linen, 2017

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Information card as displayed in the National Portrait Gallery

The painting is large and breathtaking: Lacks smiling sweetly and posed with her bible. Nelson incorporated some very special details that refer to Lacks’s legacy. As stated on the National Portrait Gallery press release:

“Commissioned by HBO, Nelson used visual elements to convey Lacks’ legacy. The wallpaper features the “Flower of Life,” a symbol of immortality; the flowers on her dress recall images of cell structures; and two missing buttons allude to the cells taken from her body without permission.”

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Close up of the background, featuring the “Flower of Life”

Henrietta Lacks’s story raises issues surrounding ethics, right to patients’ genetic information, and privacy. The fact that she died but her cells made it possible for other people to live is heartbreaking, but what’s even more tragic is the fight that her family had to undertake to challenge the medical industry that used HeLa cells without Lacks’s, or her family’s, consent.

I’m so happy that Henrietta Lacks is being featured at the Smithsonian Museum and is taking her rightful place in American history. I really enjoyed seeing this beautiful portrait for myself, and I hope that you all get a chance to check it out, too! It will be at the National Portrait Gallery until November 4, 2018, and then it will be at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. You’ll be glad that you made the visit!

luxury · style

Nude Garments for Brown Skin

I’ve spent the better part of 10 years trying to find undergarments that match my complexion. Traditional “nude” is too light, and black isn’t suitable for some ensembles. Years ago, I searched for companies that offered nude garments for deeper brown skin, and I was highly disappointed.

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Nude options as available through Target (photo from Target.com)

I’m happy to announce that this is no longer the case, and there are several retailers that consistently offer bras in deeper skin-toned hues. Here are a few of them that I’ve found. These range from extremely affordable to luxury, but all of them have inclusive shade ranges that accommodate women all of skin tones!

Savage by Fenty

Unlined Lace Bra in Brown Sugar , Spiced , and Cocoa (photos from Savage X Fenty)

Musical superstar Rihanna recently launched Savage X Fenty, an inclusive lingerie company that seeks to flatter women of all shades and sizes. Much like her Fenty Beauty line, Savage X Fenty is committed to catering to customers that are traditionally overlooked. I was so excited to see this line: I just placed my first order and I’m eager to see how nice the items are. Brava Rihanna!

Naja

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Anais bra in Nude 05, Nude 06 and Nude 07 (photos courtesy of Naja)

Naja goes beyond being inclusive, and jumps headfirst into being ethical and socially responsible, as well. Their bras are made by single mothers and impoverished women, ensuring that these women earn above market wagse and get benefits that make it possible for them to continue to be productive citizens (such as healthcare benefits and childcare assistance). Kudos to Naja!

Nubian Skin

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Classic Lace Push-Up Bra and Classic Lace Short in Cinnamon; Classic Lace Push-Up Bra and Classic Lace Short in Caramel ; Classic Lace Push-Up Bra and Classic Lace Short in Berry (photos courtesy of Nubian Skin)

Nubian Skin was one of the earliest companies to focus on inclusivity in their designs. Their elegant bras and underwear are flattering to many brown skin shades. This is another line that accommodates women of all sizes, with bras ranging from 30A to 40G. Along with undergarments, the company offers hosiery and shoes in a variety of nude shades. Nubian Skin takes the cake for having such a comprehensive list of nude offerings.

BeingU

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Stick on Solutions Bra in BeingU02

BeingU is a UK-based brand (just like Nubian Skin) offering undergarments in 5 skin-toned shades. What’s unique about this company is that they offer a stick-on bra, a strapless/bandless alternative that gives wearers even more style freedom. The company is currently running low on stock in several items – here’s hoping that they restock soon (fingers crossed!)

Target brands Gilligan & O’Malley and Xhilaration

Women’s Everyday Racerback Bra and Women’s No-Show Laser Cut Hipster in Coffee Bean by Gilligan & O’Malley (photos from Target.com)

Women’s Perfect T-Shirt Convertible Lightly Lined Plunge Bra and Women’s Cheeky Laser Cut with Lace Boyshorts in Cocoa by Xhilaration (photos from Target.com)

Target offers some extremely affordable bras and underwear in varying nude shades. Particularly, Gilligan & O’Malley and Xhilaration offers some fun designs at reasonable prices. For those of us that want to pick up these undergarments in person (as opposed to waiting for an order to arrive), stopping in a local Target is a perfect solution.

Do you know of any other retailers that offer varying nude shades? If so, drop the links in the comments below!

words of wisdom

Words of Wisdom: Toni Morrison

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What would literature be without Toni Morrison? Her poignant stories seamlessly weave the past with the present, the natural with the supernatural, the sacrosanct with the profane. I’ve found myself going back to “Sula” and “The Bluest Eye” to reread certain passages and become once again swept up in Morrison’s moving language.

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Morrison has published 11 novels, and I fully intend to read them all. Every page is full of vivid imagery and powerful dialogue. One doesn’t read Toni Morrison’s books: one becomes part of Morrison’s world.

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There’s a lot to love about Morrison. She wrote “The Bluest Eye” while raising two children post divorce. She published “The Bluest Eye” at the tender age of 39. She had to wake up at 4 AM to do her writing, but she got it done, and her efforts paid off.

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She speaks candidly about the importance of writing and why we must tell our stories. She shares profundities on life and love. And she tempers all of her works with humor, grace and timeless charm.

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I could sing Morrison’s praises forever and it wouldn’t be enough. So let me just say, if you are so inclined, make sure to read one of her books. I suggest you start off with “The Bluest Eye”: after all, it was her first book! Then move on to “Sula” and think about your closest friend: it will make you want to reach out to him/her and hold them close. Read some of her work and just watch your soul grow: it’s inevitable.

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Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy the rest of your day! I’ll chat with you all tomorrow.

(Photos courtesy of Pinterest, TheQuotesIn, QuotesFav, Goalcast, and LegendsQuotes)

 

art

Feeding My Gerome Addiction

Part of my Philadelphia trip included a visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I love to believe that the muses communicate directly with me when I’m in any museum, so I am inclined to go wherever I’m “led”, so to speak. I stepped over to the European art wing, and I got the feeling that I would quickly find something incredible. My intuition didn’t disappoint: less than a few steps into the first room I entered, I was face to face with a painting by one of my favorite artists, Jean-Leon Gerome.

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Portal of the Green Mosque (Sentinel at the Sultan’s Tomb), Jean-Leon Gerome, 1870

I’ve written about Gerome before, and back then, I struggled with expressing exactly what it is about his paintings that I love. I *think* I have the language to express myself now LOL! I love the realism in Gerome’s work. His paintings featured lots of African, Middle Eastern and Asian subjects and, unlike many European artists, he chose to depict his subjects humanely, touchingly, and accurately. For that, I’ll always be a fan.

This painting, Portal of the Green Mosque (Sentinel at the Sultan’s Tomb), was completed by Gerome in 1870. By this time, Gerome was a very experienced painter (more than 20 years experience, to be exact) and had quite a few commissions, honors, and his own atelier to his credit. He had established a name for himself and was a master at Orientalist paintings. While many may conclude that Gerome’s work objectified his subjects to the point of being lecherous, I’m inclined to take a different perspective.  The combination of “exotic”, non-White subjects and a Neoclassical or Romantic depiction of these subjects results in capturing the subjects’ humanity in ways that had never been done before.

The sentinel depicted is solemn, a little melancholy, but not to be pitied: he seems at peace with his position and dutifully stands in defense of the sultan’s remains. You can sense that this is a hot and hazy day, if the languorous hound in the foreground is any indicator. However, I sense that the dog in the background, that is standing closer to the entrance, is much like the sentinel himself: alert, solemn, ready to defend.

I enjoyed this painting, as I enjoy every other Gerome work that I’ve seen. I know that the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC has several Gerome paintings on view. I intend to make a special trip to view and photograph some of them. Look out for that post soon! In the meantime, enjoy, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

 

food · travel

Remembering Anthony Bourdain

I remember first watching Anthony Bourdain several years ago, and I found myself hypnotized by his storytelling, humored by his authenticity, and delighted by his respectful observations of different cultures. He was the real deal, and his diplomacy via gastronomy was a sight to behold.

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(photo courtesy of Headout blog)

Bourdain passed on June 8, 2018, and I know that this day will never be the same for me. Many of us will never know what goes through the mind of someone contemplating suicide, but I know, for sure, that our world is a less-beautiful place without souls like Anthony Bourdain. May he rest.

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(Photo courtesy AZ Quotes)