Tastefully Trendy

A life and fashion blog by Sarah Beth

Category: Fashion (page 1 of 49)

Dirty Laundry

God gives everyone different gifts – some people are creative, some have super high metabolisms, some are good with finances, etc.

One of the gifts He’s given to me is the ability to find good bargains. Honestly, it’s a family gift – my mom is this way, too, and probably my sister (my dad doesn’t shop, and my brother is too bougie to care (love you, Pal!)).

The deal I found below is so great that I found myself starting to get cocky and wanting to brag about my skills. But, since I can’t actually take credit for this in anyway – I did nothing except follow a whim – and because I don’t want my bargains to dry up by stealing the credit, please consider this my testimony, rather than bragging.

Several months ago, my dryer broke. While this was inconvenient, it wasn’t a crisis. I could go to the laundromat and for $2.25 and 27 minutes of my time, dry 3 loads of laundry at once. I actually kind of enjoyed it – watching the pretty colors of my clothes spin around was therapeutic. And, I have so many clothes, I really only needed to go about once every 3 weeks.

But then, my washer, which has twice flooded my townhouse but otherwise worked pretty well, broke down about a month ago. This was more of a crisis. I separate my clothes a lot for washing and not just by color – some get delicate cycle, some hot water, some cold, etc.

So, the time had come to bite the bullet and get a new set. But, I’m renting and still feel very transient at this stage of my life, so I wasn’t interested in investing a lot. I went to a used appliance store I’ve bought from before, and they had sets for $400. Not awful, but still more than I was wanting to spend.

As I was leaving the appliance store, I saw a Goodwill across the street. On a whim/nudge from the Holy Spirit, I decided to go look. I almost didn’t – what are the odds that Goodwill would have a washer and dryer that worked? But, I am trying to get better at listening to those promptings, so reluctantly I went in, fully expecting not to find anything. I even almost turned around when I was in the store because it just seemed so absurd.

But, lo and behold, in the housewares section, there was a washer and dryer set (different brands, but they look like they match). As I was looking at them, the manager walked by and I asked if they worked… She said they did and spoke with such authority that I really did believe her. Plus, she told me that if they didn’t, I could bring them back and get store credit. I don’t really NEED store credit at Goodwill, but it was better than nothing.

So, I made a split decision (something that usually causes me anxiety) and snatched them up. I didn’t know how I’d get them to my house, but I thought for the price it was worth the risk.

And that price…drum roll, please…was $50.

$50 total. For both. Combined. With Tennessee’s ridiculously high sales tax. And a donation to charity to round up to the nearest dollar.

I found a friend (with a week-old truck; I was so nervous we’d scratch it) to help me move them, and somehow, the two of us were able to get the old ones out of my house and the new ones in. I say it like it was a miracle, because it was – I’m really not skilled at moving things; my arms are too short or something. I don’t know. But we got them in, and I will forever be grateful.

The dryer had a different cord than fit my outlet, but thanks to a very helpful Home Depot employee and some virtual coaching, I changed it all by myself. So, I’m an electrician now and available for house calls.

And, both machines work! Like a charm. I haven’t even found any idiosyncrasies yet.

I celebrated by washing literally everything I owned. My towels, sheets, every article of clothing – all were clean, all at once. It was the best 24 hours of my life.

So, thank you, Rich People, for getting rid of perfectly good washers and dryers, and thank you, God, for sending me to them. My life is better as a result.

This outfit is brought to you by my clean laundry. Actually, that’s not really true – I took this picture before I got my machines. The clothes were already clean. But, since they ARE clean, it’s still relevant, right?

These shorts were another vacation purchase – i.e, ones I might not have bought in “real life”, but hey, you’re on vacation! It’s not that I don’t like them – I do. But, they aren’t quite the right size. So, I decided to make them work, something I might not have done in my practical, non-vacation mindset.

I no longer know how to focus my camera, apparently.

Tie-front pants/shorts are very in right now, and I really like the look. The paperbag waist is also back – straight out of the Stranger Things’ kids wardrobes. Paperbag refers to the extended, pleated waist you see on these shorts. It’s often elasticized, although these aren’t.

Also, I couldn’t remember what they were called, and I googled “garbage bag shorts”. Hahaha. I’m giggling at myself in Starbucks right now. But, hey, it got me to what I was looking for, so mission accomplished. lol.

Anyway, so that’s my exciting find of the year – maybe the decade. Are any of y’all bargain shoppers? Have you found any particularly good deals lately? If so, let me know – I love those kinds of stories! Or, if God gave you a similar, unique gift – like you get a close parking spot every time, or you’ve never had a cavity, or something – we can talk about that, too. Thanks for reading!

<3,

SB

By Faith

Today’s post is part journal entry, part encouragement for anyone who thinks like me, and part “I feel like I need to say these things ‘out loud’ to really cement them”. But, I also have a cute outfit at the bottom of the page, along with a side-by-side with middle school me, so please join me for whichever part(s) are most beneficial to you. I hope it all will be.

Although I was raised in a Christian home and accepted Jesus at a very young age, there is one aspect of the Christian faith that has always been difficult for me – the actual faith part.

I don’t have trouble believing that God exists, that Jesus died and rose again for our salvation, that one day all who believe in Him will be in Heaven, or any of the other key elements of Christianity. I don’t even have trouble believing that God directs our steps and has a divine plan for each one of us. But, when you start getting into the specifics of what that divine plan might be, or how God relates to us on an individual level, that’s where I’ve struggled more.

But, it is an invaluable lesson, if we can get it, and the way God is teaching me about faith at the moment is by leading me to have faith for something VERY specific. I’ve literally never done this before. Sure, I’ve asked God whether or not I should take a certain job and had faith that He was directing me. Or, I’ve prayed for someone’s health or financial situation and believed that God would intervene. But, those all seemed very manageable and also generic enough that God could do a lot of different things, and I would still believe that He’d answered my prayer. These kinds of prayers did not “stretch” my faith or challenge my theology at all.

But this time is different. This time, there is no way for me to see God’s hand through a variety of solutions. I’m either right in what I believe God has spoken to my heart and He’ll do it, or I’m wrong and He won’t. And if He doesn’t, then I’ll have to wrestle with what that means. But there is no wiggle room. There is no way for a half-answered prayer here.

I’ve never been a “name it/claim it” person; it doesn’t fit with my theology. I don’t think God is a cosmic genie, up in the heavens ready at our beck and call to grant our wishes. However, I do believe that God is a good Father, I believe He answers prayer, and I believe He speaks to us in all kinds of different ways, if only we will listen. I also believe, as one of my mentors used to say, that He wants us to be in His will even more than we do.

So, when I felt that God laid something specific on my heart to pray in faith for/about, I didn’t feel that I was “naming” it and claiming it. Rather, I felt like He gave me the idea in the first place. Yes, it’s an idea that I’m super into, but I wasn’t just sitting around thinking of things I wanted and giving God His marching orders. Instead, I felt like God had invited me to join Him in working to accomplish His will by placing this particular situation on my heart. My responsibility in this task was to pray and to believe that He will do what He has said, which is both an honor and very humbling – but also a little terrifying.

I guess the reason praying for something specific scares me so much, besides the fact that I’ve never done it before, is that I could be wrong. And if I’m wrong, what does that say about my relationship with God – my ability to hear from Him, His willingness to speak to me, who He is in general…

Also, if I’m wrong, not only will I be disappointed, but I’ll feel foolish. I’m not talking to many people about this situation – you know, except all of you – so, there won’t be a lot of other people judging me if I misheard. But I’ll know.

But faith is risky by its very nature.

Everything good in life is: relationships, love, new ventures, investments. If we only made decisions based on very sure things, we’d have a limited pool of options available to us.

I was talking to a wise friend about this a month or two ago, and I expressed to her my fear about having misheard God and what the implications of that might be for my faith overall. She asked a simple question, “But, what is your alternative?”

That question put everything into perspective for me, because she’s right – I have no alternative. If God is not who He says He is, what hope do I have in life at all? A hopeless, godless life is a reality I can’t even fathom. So, then, if I believe God is who He says He is, how does that impact my daily life? Do I also believe that He speaks to me, and if so, what do I do about what He’s said?

As my friend and I were talking, I couldn’t help but think of several Biblical heroes who have faced very specific situations that were likely quite trying on their faith. I think we read these Bible stories as though the characters in them are just innately good, and they didn’t ever struggle to have the right response. But I bet it was just as difficult for them to exercise faith as it is for us. Thankfully, though, we have the benefit of their experiences to inspire us in our own.

For example, when faced with the very real possibility of losing her position – and her life – by going before the king uninvited, Queen Esther said, “If I perish, I perish” – and armed with the prayers of her people, she stepped out in faith and saved an entire nation from annihilation.

Abraham followed God’s word up the mountain to sacrifice Isaac, believing all the way that God would provide an alternative sacrifice. But if He didn’t, Abraham was still going to believe God and go through with what He had said. Fortunately, God did provide a ram in the thicket…just in the nick of time.

Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego stood at the edge of the fiery furnace, boldly proclaiming that God would rescue them. But even if He did not, they committed that they would not turn away from Him. In their case, their faith was so tested, they actually went INTO the fire before God saved them. But, save them He did and not even their clothes smelled of smoke.

What is even more encouraging about these stories is that not only did all of these people stand in faith in impossible circumstances, believing in God regardless of the consequences, but in each situation, God did come through and their faith was rewarded.

So, with all of these truths in mind, I’ve decided to press forward in the direction I believe that God has called me. It is a risk. I might be wrong. I might be disappointed. But, I also might grow in the Lord in a way I’ve never yet experienced.

Like Esther, I’m choosing to take a risk in faith, and if I perish, I perish (which, in this particular situation is unlikely to happen, but I can be dramatic, so the phrase seems fitting). And I’m excited to see what/how/when/why God will use my faith and work in my life.

A couple of years ago, I did a series on hope (parts 2 and 3 here and here). Faith is hope’s very close cousin. The other day, Sandi Patty, my childhood musical idol, posted something on Instagram from her husband, who commented that faith is the substance of things hoped for – a verse we all know. But, that means that faith is what allows us to have hope; it’s the basis of our hope. Faith in God’s goodness is what gives us the strength to hope.

First Corinthians says, these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. So, now that I’ve mastered the first two (jk about the mastering…), maybe you can expect a love series sometime in the future. I probably have an awful lot of lessons to learn on the “greatest of these”.

And now, as promised, here is my cute outfit – and a sudden transition.

I’ve wanted to get in on the overalls trend since they first rolled back into style a few years ago, but since I refuse to pay full (over)price for farm clothing, I had to wait until I could find a good deal. So, finally, at the end of summer, I’ve found my white shorts overalls, and I just hope they’ll still be in style next year.

I realize this picture is a little blurry, but I liked my face in it, so I’m embracing the blur.

This shirt was a vacation purchase, which is honestly the only reason I own it. It was more than I would normally have paid, but who can do math properly while you’re at the beach? So, I accidentally bought it and now I’m pretty happy that I did. In the close up, you can see more of the shirt detail – as well as the buttons on my overalls.

The last time overalls were in style, I was 12 and I was ALL ABOUT THEM.

So, in celebration of the style’s return, here is a side-by-side of 2019 me and 1997 me…who wore it better?

I am jealous of 6th grade me’s tan, though. I lived in Florida.

So, there you have it. What has God taught you about faith recently, or how have you seen him work in your life as you’ve stepped out in faith?

Or, if you’d rather, we can talk about overalls. What do you think of this trend?

As always, thank you all for reading. You’re all just the best.

<3,

SB

She’s Alive

Hello, everyone. It’s me – Sarah Beth. It’s been a while, so you might not remember me. Fortunately, this blog is full of pictures of just me, so hopefully it’ll all come back soon.

I haven’t written in a while because, well, I just didn’t really have much to say. And, editing these pictures takes so much more time than you would think for as poor quality as they are.

But, I got some new clothes recently that I wanted to show off. And more significantly, I’m still paying $10.95/month to maintain this little website, so I thought I should at least do something with my money.

Also, like the powerful influencer that I am, people keep asking where I’ve been lately. And by people keep asking, I mean one person asked if I still had that blog. But that was all the encouragement I needed.

To that one person, thank you. And, please email me back.

To address what everyone actually cares about: I’m not dating anyone. Actually, I’m not even using the dating apps right now. I still go on dates occasionally – if they happen organically. But, the apps can be exhausting, physically and emotionally. And, I know what I’m looking for, so I’d rather be more selective with my time at this stage of my life.

I have been on some great dates in the past 6 months, though – and some not so great ones (once, my date made me cry at the table and then the waiter thought he was proposing. It was a roller coaster of an evening.). But overall, I’ve had some nice conversations, learned a lot more about the military (naturally), and worn some cute outfits.

Which brings me to my next point:

I recently went hunting for a very specific item – a casual pink skirt. I never found the skirt, but that search led me to buy a ton of stuff from ThredUp, the online consignment/thrift store.

As someone who is not a fan of online shopping anyway, ThredUp was a particularly terrible experience for me. There is just not enough information about the items to know if you’re making a wise purchase or not. Of the 12 things that I bought, I only kept 5 – and a couple of those 5 I would have not kept, but they were unreturnable. (ThredUp doesn’t have a very friendly return policy, either.)

With that said, if you’re looking for something VERY specific (like, you know the brand and size), or something where quality/fit doesn’t really matter, then go for it. The prices are great. But, buyer beware.

The skirt below was one of the 5 things that I kept from that bundle and it’s one that I wouldn’t have picked off the rack. However, once I put it on, I do really like it, so I’m not mad that I couldn’t return it.

This outfit reminded me of Meghan Markle’s character in Suits (my favorite show for fashion, btw). While she would have worn colors and patterns much more suited for a high-powered law office, the silhouette – crew neck sweater, pencil skirt – was a staple of her character’s wardrobe.

The trim down the back is my favorite part.

As opposed to feeling like a well-paid, well-dressed Manhattan attorney, this next outfit made me feel a little like Ronald McDonald. However…I’m obsessed with this skirt (easily my favorite purchase in the ThredUp group), and I’ll be wearing it a lot. I’ll also be wearing these rainbow shoes a lot – I mean, they go with literally everything and remind me of shoes my mom wore when I was a kid.

This next dress was not from ThredUp, but from Charming Charlie (which is going out of business – so, find one soon and buy all the things). Actually, most of this outfit is from CC: the earrings are, as is the barrette. I read somewhere that barrettes are very in right now, and I’m completely here for it.

The dress was $10, and honestly, I think you can tell it’s not a high quality dress. But, for $10, I didn’t really care. It’s a perfect summer date night dress (speaking from experience), and I can throw a sweater on and make it office appropriate.

Finally, here is an outfit I wore to work and probably shouldn’t have – I’m not sure off-the-shoulder is office-appropriate under any circumstances. But, I liked it so much, and my boss was out of the office, so YOLO.

The skirt is a very deep purple and originally from Express, but another ThredUp purchase. For some reason, I don’t usually wear pencil skirts, but thanks to these accidental purchases, I think I’m hooked.

It should be noted that I have other hairstyles than the 1.5 depicted here. But, I took all of these pictures on the same day to try to save time. It did not, in fact, save time.

Well, now you’re all caught up on my life and my wardrobe. I hope all of y’all are doing well, too. What fashion trends are you super into right now? How’s dating going for you? What major life changes have you recently experienced? I’d love to hear from you. Thanks for following along and for caring about my little life – it means the world.

<3,

SB

thank u, next

Happy New Year, everyone!

In the spirit of not making resolutions I won’t keep, I’m going to stop promising how often I’ll have a new blog post. I get embarrassed when I don’t live up to my own expectations, so the new rule is, I’ll write when I have something to say. Or a really great outfit to feature.

Also in the spirit of the new year, and of Ariana Grande, I thought it might be fun to take a trip down memory lane. Reflecting on the past can sometimes be a great way to head into the future.

Unless you’ve been trapped in a fallout shelter for the past month or two, you’ve probably heard Ariana’s new song, “thank u, next.” It has spawned countless memes and an epic music video that took the social media world by storm for a full 24-48 hours.

The basic premise of the song is Ariana looking back on all of her past relationships and reflecting on the good they brought her and the lessons she learned. She ends by talking about focusing on herself and being grateful for all the ways she’s grown, even through difficulties.

Of course, in true 2019 pop star fashion, the song is full of profanity and teenage slang (I honestly don’t see how it’s possible that she’s over the age of 15). However, I really like the sentiment – the idea of looking for the good in all of our life circumstances, including the painful ones.

Can I really say “I’m so [edited] grateful for my ex” about every guy I’ve dated? I’d have to think pretty hard about that. But, I can at least highlight a few:

Thank u, next:  To my grad school guy – thank you for being the reason I made a lifelong friend. There’s nothing like common relationship drama and young T. Swift music to bring two early-20s girls together and make them inseparable for life. Also, thank you for shoveling my snow.

Thank u, next: To the guy I went out with a few times when I was 23 – you prompted me (quite unknowingly on your part, I’m very sure) to refocus my life and reprioritize my relationship with God. My twenties may have looked a lot different had I not known you.

Thank u, next: To the guy I went out with a few times when I was 26 – thanks to you, I went on a 10 month Man Fast, and it was the single best spiritual undertaking in my life thus far.

Thank u, next: To Hot Trainer. We never actually dated at all, but you showed me what respect looked like at a time when I’d experienced very little of it. And you set an impossible standard for text response time with which no man has ever been able compete.

Thank u, next: To the guy from Ohio. I freaked out a little on you. Sorry about that. Thank you for being nice and letting me get it out of my system on you, so no one else need experience it.

Thank u, next: To my chiropractor. Whenever I want someone to think I’m funny, I tell our story, and they always do. Also, you fixed my back, so I appreciate that.

Thank u, next: To the lawyer. We’ll always have Whytheville.

Thank u, next: To the Navy SEAL I went out with that one time. Thank you for helping me realize that it was possible for a man of your caliber to be interested in a girl like me. I’m also glad I can someday tell my grandchildren that I dated a SEAL (you’ll forgive me if I embellish the story a little).

Thank u, next: To Bradley Cooper. You raised my standards permanently and helped me realize what I’m really looking for. And it snowed in Chattanooga in March, which was pretty magical, if you think about it.

Thank u, next: To all the military men I’ve ever dated – thank you for teaching me about your jobs and war zones and the insiders’ scoop on international relations, and for answering my questions about the 2nd Amendment and whether or not we should even be in said war zones. Also, thank you for serving and looking so good in that uniform (heart eyes emoji x 10).

Thank u, next: To everyone else – to the first dates who I genuinely enjoyed talking to, thank you for good conversation. To the first dates that were a little painful, thank you for taking the risk, anyway. To the ones who didn’t ghost me, thank you for being honest, even when it’s awkward. To the ones who did ghost me, thank you for helping me strengthen my own skills at having difficult conversations.

I don’t know what 2019 will bring me, but if I can keep looking for the good, perhaps it’ll all turn out just fine, no matter what.

I do know that 2019 will certainly bring me new clothes, even as I’ve been watching Tidying Up and throwing out tons of old ones (to be fair, I read the book a few months before the series came out and had already begun the process).

But here are a couple of 2018 outfits that will remain in my closet, as they definitely spark joy:
I’m not 100% sure that this dress wasn’t intended to be an “Ugly Christmas Dress” – it’s pretty loud and velvety… But, I love it and proudly wear it, unironically.

Poinsettas are a Christmas flower, of course, but I may still wear this dress into January, as it doesn’t have any Santas or trees on it – I think I can get away with it. It’s just a shame to only wear something you like so much during one month of the year. The next dress was my New Year’s Eve dress. My expectations for NYE are always way too high, and I’m usually disappointed. But, I love the hope found in a fresh start – and the sparkles, of course.

Lest you think I skipped my sequins this year in favor of a more subtle sparkle, please look more closely at my shoes. Sequins will forever have my heart.
I hope you all enjoyed your holidays and are expectant about the new year. Perhaps you might also take a lesson from Ariana (words I would never have expected to come from my mouth) and reflect on some of the past seasons in your life – good and bad – to see how you’ve grown because of them. And, let’s pledge to ourselves to continue to look for that good in every situation we encounter in the new year.

<3,

SB

SB and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Date

I’ve had a suspicion for a long time that my fashion posts really weren’t the most interesting to many of you. Although the original purpose of my blog was to talk about clothing and trends, my audience (aka, you guys. My friends.) seemed to prefer the juicier topics. Based on the fact that about 200 people read my post about weight loss, and only 30 read the following week’s post about casual apparel…I’d say my suspicion was right (shout out to you hard core 30!).

So, in the interest of giving the people what they want, let me tell you about the worst date I have ever been on.

One of the conversation topics that often gets brought up on first dates, particularly if you’ve met the person online, is dating horror stories. And I’ve heard some doozies. Men especially seem prone to being catfished, whether in the more innocent form of a girl using older pictures with good angles, or the more absurd cases where a girl flat-out uses someone else’s pictures.

But I’d always felt a little boring when this topic came up. Either because I’m a pretty good judge of character and weed out the weirdos before I meet them, or because I genuinely enjoy talking to strangers, most of my dates have been pleasant. Pleasant, while not “good”, does not make for an interesting story.

Well, at least until a few months ago…

It started out like any normal Bumble date. We agreed on a specific public location (that I picked, because he was from Bowling Green – an hour and 15 minutes away).

Side note: it seems very flattering when a guy is willing to drive any distance more than 30 minutes to meet me for the first time. But I’ve learned that this should be a warning sign when we’ve only talked for a day or two.

Anyway, we met and I could tell immediately that it wasn’t going anywhere, but we were there, so might as well make the best of it. He told me that I was his first Bumble date, which I was totally fine with. I actually am always kinda happy for guys who have me as their first date from an app – I will be nice to them and I pretty much look like my pictures. If nothing else, it’ll at least be a positive first-date experience. (Side note 2: I told this to another date once, and he said I was the Bumble Mother Theresa, so if you guys want to start calling me that, too, I’m cool with it).

The date was fine. He had two Bud Lights with dinner, and we walked around town for a while after (because dinner ended too quickly for me not to feel guilty sending him all the way back to Bowling Green). At some point, he said that he couldn’t really read me, but I didn’t seem NOT interested. I took great pride in this because, while I was definitely not interested, at least I was nice enough that he didn’t feel like I hated him.

When we finally got back to our cars, he kissed me – and let me assure you guys, hard to read or not, that was NOT the vibe I was giving off. I then got in my car and drove the 15-20 minutes back to my house.

So far, this was a pretty par for the course poor date. Nothing noteworthy, just not good.

And then I got the call.

Literally as I was pulling into my driveway, buddy called me to say that he’d been pulled over and the cop could smell alcohol on his breath.

To save you from scrolling backwards, I’ll remind you of his drink order – two Bud Lights. He was a 34 year old, normal-sized, adult male. Two Bud Lights and somehow the cop could smell them.

Well, spoiler alert, fortunately, he didn’t get a DUI, but the cop wouldn’t let him leave unless someone came to pick him up. But, since he lived in Bowling Green, there weren’t that many people he could call. So, I turned my car back around to get him.

At this point, my niceness was wearing thin, and so was my patience. When I arrived where his truck was parked, he got in my car and said, “I hope you don’t think this was a line.” With no sympathy whatsoever in my voice, I replied, “Of course I don’t think this was a line. It would literally be the worst line in history.”

I wasn’t sure what we could do for an hour while he “sobered up”. He suggested we could just go back to my place, which I FLATLY vetod and suggested instead that we just go walk around some more.

After about an hour of walking, I took him back to his car and he drove back to Kentucky. I drove back to my home and hoped he never texted me again.

But, the next day, he did text me – only to say that while I seemed nice, he just didn’t think it was going to work out.

Y’all – HE dumped ME!

I let him save face, though, because there was no point in making him feel more embarrassed, and I didn’t want to see him again, anyway. So, all’s well that end’s well. And, as the silver lining, I finally have a really good worst-date story to share. Added bonus that it’s at least a safe worst-date story – despite his repeated efforts to kiss me, I really don’t think he was creepy or meant me any harm. He was just really green when it came to dating and had no idea idea what he was doing.

I don’t remember what I wore to meet that guy, but here are a couple outfits I have worn or would wear on dates:

I love this dress for its elegant simplicity. I almost always pair it with gold accessories and makeup and feel like a Greek goddess every time. The perfect summer dinner date outfit.

This one is good for a day date. I actually wore these shorts on one of my favorite dates, but that was in the summer. To make them a little more appropriate for a 90 degree fall day, I swapped my white off the shoulder top for a peach sweater-T (I wish I had had a rust orange top, but you make do with what you’ve got) and my sandals for booties. I think it works.

So there you have it – my worst date story. It’s probably not the craziest story I’ve ever heard, to be honest, but it’s definitely the craziest that has ever happened to me. Do you have any that top that? What’s your worst date – or the worst you’ve heard of? I hope you’ll comment because these stories are my favorites!

<3 ,
SB

Dressing to Impress: the Casual Edition

First of all, thank you, everyone, for all of your positive feedback on my post last week. I was honestly very nervous about publishing it, but you all were so kind and encouraging, it made me glad that I did. So, thank you.

The original purpose of my blog was to talk about fashion. There’s only so much I can say about my clothes, so I like veering off into other topics. But, today seemed like a good day to go back to my roots.

If you’re a newer reader, you may not know why I call my blog Tastefully Trendy. The long version is here (full disclosure, I changed the picture on that original post, because I have no idea why I thought the outfit I had posted there was a good look). But, the short version is that I believe true style comes from taking a trend and making it your own, rather than being  a cookie cutter copy of everyone else. It’s my fashion soap box.

I also believe you can look stylish no matter your lifestyle or time availability. Fashion doesn’t have to be this super complicated thing.

To that end, let’s talk about casual clothes. I’ve always been an advocate for looking put together, even when running errands or taking the kids to the park or a casual lunch with friends, etc.

Here’s what I mean.

I spent about 15 seconds picking out this outfit – I’m literally wearing a sweatshirt, jeans, and flats – and LOTS of dry shampoo. However, while my sweatshirt is no less comfortable than one without giant pearls on it, it looks like I put effort into choosing my clothes, more so than if i were wearing my oversized college hoodie. Likewise, my trendy hole-y jeans required no more time commitment than putting on a pair of leggings would have, but they give the impression that I invested time in getting ready. My shoes are just slide-on flats; they require even less effort than a pair of tennis shoes. Yet, the overall look says that I care.

Here’s another example.

Now, this outfit did take a little more effort than my sweatshirt and jeans. But, not much. At the end of the day, I’m still wearing a sweater, pants, and flats. As casual as it gets. But, by choosing trendy, well-fitting pants, and flats that tie the shirt into the whole outfit, I have a complete look, rather than one that says I just threw on whatever was clean.

To be fair, when I wore this outfit, I actually wore heels with it, so here’s that look, too.

*quick disclaimer – in this picture, my sweater is hanging weird where it’s tucked. I tried desperately to edit it to make it look less bunchy/more like it did in real life, but I was unsuccessful. Imagine that it’s perfectly bloused.

A couple additional thoughts about this look. First, to my earlier point about making trends your own: these pants are my version of the camo trend. I like camo – much better now than I did the last time it was in style. But, everyone is wearing military camo. Why not try this jungle take on it? Still the same basic look – greens on greens on greens. However, by putting a slightly different spin on the trend, I’ve made it my own and stand out a little more from the crowd. My personal aversion to looking like everyone else may also be why I find things on sale all the time – the demand is lower for unique things. I only paid $9 for these pants. Added bonus: I’m ready to go off the grid in the Amazon Rainforest, should the need arise.

Second, my leopard print shoes and camo pants. I’ve thought a lot about how to explain why this works. My mom would probably argue that it doesn’t. But, it does, I promise. Animal and camo prints both act as neutrals, much like a thin stripe would, because both patterns are made up of shades of the same colors – leopard with browns and blacks, camo with greens. Additionally, greens and browns pair well with each other, anyway, and the gold in my shirt matches the gold in the leopard and ties everything together.

The biggest reason these work, though, is confidence. If you’re going to rock an unexpected style or combination, you’ve got to own it. People will believe you know what you’re doing if you believe you do. And it’s totally okay to fake it til you make it, because the more you try, the more confident you’ll become. And, the more confident you are, the more people will affirm your decisions, helping to boost your confidence even further.

But, even if they don’t, though, at least you’ve stepped out, worn something brave, and flexed your creative muscles.

So, there’s my take on casual. Of course, when I’m sick I run to Walgreens in sweat pants and a hoodie like every other human being. But, otherwise, if for the same amount of effort I can look put together and classy, even when I’m running errands, I’m going to choose that option. I’ll feel better and be more confident, which will cause other people to respond to me better, and the whole experience will be better for everyone.

What’s your go-to casual look? Do you feel confident and good about yourself when you wear it? If so, great! If not, what are some ways that you can boost your confidence in your style, regardless of whether or not you incorporate my suggestions? I’d love to hear from you, and as always, thank you for reading.

<3,

SB

Self-Care: Part 3 – Weight Loss

Well, I’ve been putting this one off, but I guess the time has finally arrived to talk about what we all probably think about first when it comes to self-care: weight and nutrition.

If you didn’t know me in college or grad school, you might not know that I’ve lost about 30 pounds since I graduated in 2007. 30 pounds may not sound like a lot, but I’m only 5’3″ – a couple pounds difference on my frame is noticeable. 30 pounds at the time of my heaviest weight was 15-20% of my total body weight. Now, it’d obviously be an even larger percentage.

I’ve thought about talking about my weight loss for a long time, but I’ve always waited. I wanted to get to my “perfect weight” before I did a big dramatic reveal. But, perfect to me is Carrie Underwood, which will likely never be attainable, unless I suddenly have a job that literally pays me to look beautiful.

So, in the interest of being transparent, and with the hope that my experience can be encouraging or helpful or at least relatable to anyone, here we go. (Warning, this is long – I have a lot to say.)

In 2007, I looked like this:

I wasn’t morbidly obese, obviously. But, I was an unhealthy and uncomfortable weight for my frame. And, I wasn’t really happy with how I looked.

But, I was in school, and I was a good student and kid who did nothing but study and eat ice cream while watching the Bachelor with my best friend and her mom. There were no liquid calories for me all throughout school – it was very real, very permanent food calories.

Once I graduated, though, I had the time and interest to get a little more serious about being where I wanted to be, so I got to work.

Weight loss was not a new topic to me. I think I had my first Slim Fast shake in 8th grade. In high school, I packed my own lunch and took an apple, an orange, and carrots every day. That’s it. It was the early 2000s – I don’t think most of us knew a lot about nutrition then. Fruits and vegetables were healthy, so I thought I was doing great.

Part of my issues with weight at such a young age stemmed from a health class in 9th grade in which we learned about obesity, and the boys selected me to be the lucky girl they called an “obese fat cow.” I knew they were calling me that because I wasn’t fat – they weren’t quite mean enough to call the actual larger girls that. But, still – at 14, a nickname like that leaves a mark.

I can’t blame it all on them, though. Being worried about your body is an almost universal issue among American women, and as a girly girl who was way more into boys and shoes and school than I was running around the soccer field, I was no exception. I also come by it naturally. My grandmother – the mayor’s wife and the best dressed woman in Fort Thomas, Kentucky – was worried about her weight until the day she died, just shy of 92 years old.

Of course, none of my efforts had really been successful prior to this point. I did manage to avoid the Freshman 15 in college, but I made up for it with the Sophomore 20. I would try various fad diets now and then but was never very good at sticking to them. I’m still not.

But, at 22 years old with a master’s degree, I was ready.

The first thing I did when I moved to Virginia Beach was to join a gym. There, I had a few sessions with a personal trainer who helped me learn the importance of weight training, instead of just the cardio I had been doing. Apparently, lifting not only burns calories while you’re doing it, but muscles burn more calories than fat, even when at rest. That sounded very efficient to me.

She also helped me get on board with eating more frequently throughout the day. I’d always been afraid that eating 5 small meals would really end up being 5 large meals (portion control wasn’t one of my strengths), and I’d end up consuming even more calories. But once I started, I found that I actually wasn’t so hungry that I needed to eat that much in each setting.

I lost a few pounds over the next several months, and then I plateaued.

I wasn’t yet where I wanted to be, though, so I decided to change something up. This time, I joined a group training class. I didn’t have the money to continue personal training, but I also knew I didn’t know enough about weight lifting to really be effective on my own. Group training was a cheaper alternative.

I lost a few more pounds, and then I plateaued.

I was getting closer to where I wanted to be, and I was certainly much happier with how I looked and felt. But, every now and then I’d get a wave of motivation and decide to change up something else.

For a while, I was going to the gym two times a day, but that was mainly because I had a crush on a guy working there (shout out, Hot Trainer!), and I really just spent most of my time talking to him. The next weight loss came from me getting a little more serious about what I was eating.

They say abs are made in the kitchen, and while I doubt I will ever have abs…I do think what you eat is far more important than how much you workout, unless maybe you’re a professional athlete (or a “tactical athlete”, as the special ops guys call themselves (insert heart eyes emoji)).

So, I began shopping at Trader Joes and finding ways to incorporate more fresh foods into my diet, while still maintaining the convenience that I value most of all.

At this point, I was down about 20 pounds. It’d also been about 6 years.

I say that to emphasize that this was not an overnight thing for me. Sure, it would have been nice to lose the weight much quicker – to not have so many plateaus.

But, because my weight loss was so slow, I’ve never regained any of it. If I notice that a pound or two has crept back on (which I notice by how my clothes fit; I hardly ever actually weigh myself. It usually makes me feel worse.), I just readjust slightly and it’s gone again. I’ve never yo-yo’ed, which is something trendy diets usually can’t promise.

The next several pounds came off while I lived in Georgia. I had almost no friends, so I ate out a lot less, and worked out a lot more. I also was depressed, and while I can be an emotional eater, that emotion is usually happiness. I don’t advise living somewhere that makes you miserable for two years to lose a little weight, but at least that was one silver lining.

While in Georgia, I also really started focusing on eating more protein. My brother is a power-lifter and big on getting in your macros. I tried it for a while and hated tracking everything. But, it did give me a good idea of how to balance my meals better and the importance of enough protein when it comes to body composition.

And now we arrive to my current weight. The remaining couple of pounds I’ve lost have been since moving to Nashville. I had a personal trainer here for a while, who helped me immensely in working out more effectively. (I also was talking to Bradley Cooper during that time, who was in perfect shape. I was very motivated.)

I’ve become more aware of what my body likes to eat. I saw a naturopath for a while, and we discovered that I don’t do well with night shades (RIP, Chick Fil A waffle fries. I will forever miss you), or gluten. I can handle gluten – I don’t have celiac’s disease, so I don’t want to belittle the experience of those who really suffer. But, I feel MUCH better when I avoid it.

Turns out, eliminating white potatoes and flour from my diet makes a big different in my waist line. Imagine that.

So, tl;dr:

The secret to my weight loss is…diet and exercise.

I wish there were a magic formula we could all apply and immediately be the size we wanted to be. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.

I have friends who have found success with strict Paleo or keto or counting calories or macros or whatever. But, for me, it’s really been a process of figuring out how my body works, and tweaking what I’m doing accordingly – while still maintaining balance so I can actually enjoy my life.

Currently, I try to eat mostly clean. I sub sweet potato fries for french fries – I don’t like them as well, but they’re the better overall choice for me. But, I love a burger, and it’s not the same without the bun. So, I usually get the bun – gluten and all. I’m currently drinking a frappucino, but every morning, I eat hard boiled eggs for breakfast. I don’t love them, either, but they’re easy and a good source of protein.

I try to make sure I go to the gym 3-4 times a week. Sometimes it’s 1-2. But, it’s a priority for me, and I chose a gym I enjoy going to, to help motivate me.

I still eat several times throughout the day, but I only buy snacks that are good for me – almonds, La Croix, apples, etc. It’s hard to make healthy choices when I eat out, so I make it as easy for myself at home as possible. I can’t choose poorly there.

I eat a lot of REALLY dark chocolate. Like 85% dark, dark.

I intentionally have not used any specific numbers here, other than the 30 pounds that I lost, because I don’t think the numbers are that important. A girl I follow on Instagram lost 20 pounds, but her starting weight was my current weight, and it made me feel bad. I didn’t think I needed to lose 20 pounds, but after seeing her posts, I suddenly thought maybe I did. I don’t want to do that to anyone else.

What’s most important is being healthy and taking care of your body in a way that will sustain it and allow you to enjoy life to its fullest. It’s being comfortable in your clothes and your own skin. It’s not the number on a scale.

So, now, 11 years and 30 pounds later, I look like this:

I’ve never regained any of the weight, and I don’t expect to. I’ve learned so much about my body. Maybe another wave or two of motivation will hit me and I eventually will achieve Carrie Underwood status. But, if not, I’m happy to say that I’m just that – happy. And I hope you are, too.

Thank you for reading my most vulnerable post I’ve ever written. I love you all.

<3,
SB

Self-Care: Part 2 – Self-Love

Writing a blog only once a week makes me feel a lot of pressure to actually say something meaningful. Telling you about why I put a certain shirt with a certain pair of pants is fine when I’m producing content several times a week, but if I’m only saying something once every 7 days, shouldn’t it be something worth hearing? Aren’t all the other bloggers saying significant things on important topics, like faith and (successful) relationships and politics? Or even how to ship lap?

But, I suppose that’s the problem – bowing to pressure and comparison. I can only be me. I’ve always only been able to be me, and any attempt to do otherwise has failed miserably (cue awkward memories of high school and college). And you can only be you. Sure, we all want to be the best versions of ourselves, but I actually just read an article about how our culture’s obsession with self-improvement leads to even more depression and anxiety. We’ll never fully arrive – there will always be room to become an even better best, and it can be exhausting trying.

So, I guess that leads me to my second point on the topic of self-care. Self-love. I think you all know me well-enough to know that I’m not what you might call a hippy…. I have a pretty traditional view of Christianity that includes words like “sin” and “righteousness”. I think there are moral absolutes and definite rights and wrongs.

But, I also think there is a lot more room for grace than we give ourselves. I’m not just talking about faith matters – I mean, grace to eat a cupcake if we’ve had a really bad day and just need something to cheer us up. Or grace NOT to eat the cupcake, if we are in a season where prioritizing our health is important. Grace to say no to things that we genuinely don’t want to do, or to put ourselves (our families, our sleep, our health) first, instead of feeling obligated to do what we think society might expect of us.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on self-care, let’s be real. In fact, I’ve never been sick as often as I was the first year I moved to Nashville. I blamed the allergens, but honestly, part of it was learning how 30-something year old me needed to operate. And part of how I need to operate is just to say no. Sometimes, that means saying no to staying out just a little bit later, when I know I’ll be exhausted the next day and more susceptible to getting sick. Sometimes, it means saying no to eating fast food for the 4th time that week, because I know I’m not feeding my body well, for either the short or long-term. Sometimes, saying no is listening to that Still Small Voice who always knows what’s best for me – even when I can’t see what’s up ahead – and making my decisions accordingly.

Do I do this perfectly? Good lord, no. Do I do it well? Even that’s debatable. But I’m trying.

So, what’s the takeaway here? Well, there are a few practical things I regularly try to do to take care of myself. These include:

  • Getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night. And sometimes taking a nap in my car at lunch if I need a little extra boost. No shame in my game.
  • Eating healthy foods. I’ve learned what my body likes and what it doesn’t, and in 2018, I don’t think any of us are really confused about what’s healthy. I try to keep this in mind at least 75% of the time.
  • Friendships. I’m such an extrovert, if I’m not around people at some point during a 24 hour period, I start to go crazy. But, even for those who are less extremely extroverted than me, fellowship, laughter, and companionship is always good for the soul.
  • Down time. Because of my extroverted nature, it’s really easy for me to just go, go, go. I’ve learned, though, that a little time to decompress – read, binge TV, do chores, or otherwise just exist – is good for me and gives me the opportunity to be still with my thoughts.
  • Daily devotional time. Spending time in prayer and reading the Bible (as well as other inspirational books) keeps me centered and focused on the things that truly matter, and it’s the most surefire way to find peace in stressful times. Non-Christians can also benefit from a daily reflective practice, but for those who adhere to a faith, I think this step is crucial.

Those are some of the ways I stay healthy – physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually. Yours may be different. You may be someone who needs time in nature on a regular basis. Or maybe you’re an introvert who needs to protect your alone time. Maybe a relaxing bath and a glass of wine is all you need.

But whatever it is, be sure you make time for those things. Self-love isn’t selfishness. Even the Bible compares Christ’s love to how we as humans nourish and cherish our bodies (Ephesians 5:29). By being sure that we stay healthy, we’re then much more equipped to do the things that we need to do, and to be a blessing to other people.

Another way that I take care of myself is by fostering my creative side through clothes, so with no further ado…

It’s already that time, y’all. My first sweater of the season, although I paired it with white jeans to help ease the transition from summer to fall – never an easy task for me.

The sweater is actually a sweater dress, I think, and at some point in the season, I may wear it with leggings or tights. But, for now, I just did a half tuck in the front to make it seem like it’s a normal length.

I’m also trying to work on my poses, and this not-looking-directly-at-the-camera thing seems to be the way to go. How am I doing?

What are some of the ways you stay healthy by taking care of yourself first? Let me know in the comments – maybe we’ll all get some other good ideas!

<3,

SB

Self-Care: Part 1 – The Importance of Self-Care

In relaunching my blog, there were bound to be some bumps in the road. First up: I’m not yet back in the habit of taking intentional pictures of my outfits (nor of waking up early enough to do so). However, I did get my camera and tripod out, charged the battery, and found my SD card, so we’re definitely making some progress.

In the meantime, here is another mirror selfie. I wore this outfit to see Bobby Bones’ comedy show on Saturday. Essentially, I just took myself on a date. After reading last week’s post, a very thoughtful and generous friend gave me the ticket, and I drove myself, sat by myself, and bought myself a drink. I really didn’t need to dress up to impress myself, but that’s never stopped me before.On a related note, did I wear neon orange to draw Bobby’s attention? Yes. 100 percent. Did it work? Not at all.

Nevertheless, thank you to my friend for the ticket – it was so very appreciated. And if my writing ever inspires any of the rest of you to give me things, please know that you are more than welcome to do so.

On my last post, my friend Sarah asked if I would talk about some of my self-care routines. First of all, thank you, Sarah, for the suggestion. I love when a friend recommends a new topic! Second of all, yes, I think self-care is a natural extension of my blog, as really, fashion is a part of taking care of yourself. Almost every contestant ever on What Not to Wear was someone who “was so busy taking care of other people, she didn’t have time to worry about herself.” (Side note: my friends and I used to spend significant amounts of time day dreaming about how to make ourselves look shabby enough for an extended period of time to qualify for the $5,000 shopping spree in New York with Stacey and Clinton. We never got very far.)

The point is, when you look good, you feel good, which impacts your confidence and overall demeanor. This affects, in turn, how other people perceive and receive you. So, while fashion may seem unimportant in the grand scheme of things – and, compared to starving children or drug trafficking, perhaps it is – it certainly has its place of significance in our lives.

Of course, fashion is just one part of self-care, and over the next few weeks, we’ll look at some different aspects. For now, though, this post is long enough, and I have reached the stage of life where I use 5 different products on my face every night, so I need to start the long nocturnal process. Please let me know if you have any other topics you’d like me to discuss – on self-care, or otherwise – and have a great week!

<3,

SB

 

 

Long Time, No See!

It’s been a while, y’all. When I went on my blogging break a little over a year ago, I wasn’t sure what the future held for Tastefully Trendy. Would I be back a week later? A month? Would I ever be back? Would anyone care either way?

Well, a few weeks ago, at least 30 of you voted in an Instagram poll that you’d like to see me back, which is way more validation than I needed. So, let’s dive right in. Here’s a look at my life since July 10, 2017 – by the numbers:

414 – approximate number of days I’ve been MIA.

8+ – pairs of shoes I’ve bought in that time period

Innumerable – Target trips

2: low-key celebs I’ve met and tried to slide into their DMs

0: times I’ve been successful


(Bobby Bones and John Crist – it’s not too late to get back to me!)

5: days spent on a beach trip to Pensacola

10: pairs of shoes I packed for said beach trip

Countless: hours it took to pack for same beach trip. Still the worst packer ever, guys.

1: Navy SEALs I’ve gone on a date with

1: Navy SEALs I’ve instantly fallen in love with (spoiler alert: San Diego and Nashville are too far apart.)

2: exes who got engaged this summer

0: chiropractors I’ve hit on

409: days I’ve been grateful to live in Nashville (I subtracted the days I was at the beach, let’s be real.)

So, as you can see – not a lot has changed. I still love clothes and going on dates and my church choir. I still waffle between being hopeful and feeling discouraged about my life trajectory – sometimes even simultaneously. And, I still hope that my little blog is both fun and encouraging to those of you who read it. Thank you so much to all of you – your existence is good for my soul.

I’m still not sure what the future holds for Tastefully Trendy. For now, I’m thinking a weekly post might be both attainable and enjoyable for me. We’ll see. In the meantime, here are my vacation outfits – even more poorly edited than usual because I took them with my phone, in a mirror. But, I left on my Snapchat captions for your reading pleasure.

Honestly, y’all, my stomach is not my greatest feature, so this is as much crop as I dare. On a related note, I’m 33 years old.

This last outfit I did not wear on vacation, but I bought it and took it with me on vacation, and I love it, so it’s a bonus.

Thank you all for reading and encouraging me to come back. Please feel free to leave comments, and let me know if you have anything you’d like me to talk about – fashion or otherwise. Or, just say hey. Have a good week!

<3,
SB

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