Sunday, December 2, 2018

Dazzling December

Dress: debshops//Heels: Sam Edelman// Clutch: Kate Spade (similar)
Earrings: Loren Hope//Watch: Michael Kors 

Every holiday season I find myself searching for what to wear to all of the holiday parties. Each December I find myself planning out my weeks and looking for pieces that are going to sparkle and dazzle at every party I attend. There will be casual lunches, after work cocktail hours, workday lunch parties, tree trimming ceremonies, and of course dinner with family and friends.

The logical part of of my brain says I can re-wear certain pieces in my wardrobe. And the other part of my brain says "Go ahead and look for new pieces girl!"  I always start my pursuit at my favorite online boutiques in search of pieces that are going to make me sparkle at each party. I also like to find inspiration from my peers and fellow bloggers each year. I'm always so inspired by what I see my peers creating.

Holiday parties are the best time to pull out all of your sequins, glitter, and dazzling pieces. I pulled together some of my favorite looks from past Decembers to inspire you

Enjoy all your parties!
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Jeans: Old Navy//Sweater: Bobeau//Flats: Audrey Brooke//Bra: Addition Elle//
Lips: SEPHORA//Earrings: Claire's//Sunglasses: Express// Watch: Michael Kors

Dress: Forever21+//Pumps: Jessica Simpson//Lipstain: SEPHORA//Polish: O.P.I.

Jumper: c/o debshops//Pantyhoes: Leggs//Pumps: Jessica Simpson//Earrings: Banana Republic

Bomber Jacket: Forever21+//Jeans: Old Navy
Boots: BP (old) similar HERE//Tank: H&M//Earrings: Banana Republic//Watch: Michael Kors

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Sleep Crown

Photos by: Tasha D'Arensbourg

In the past year my responsibilities at work have changed significantly. Last November I took a new position that required me to not only elevate my skills but use a different part of my brain. So at the end of each day I am exhausted. I love what I do for a living however, I love sleep even more! Plus, I am a very light sleeper. The slightest bump or noise will usually wake me up. I had been looking for ways to ensure I am getting as much rest as I can. I surrendered to the idea that during the work week I was only going to get between 6 or 4 hours of sleep a night. Which always made for a rough work week.

Recently I discovered a new pillow designed to help you get the best night of rest. Sleep Crown is a pillow designed to block out light and muffle sound. I don't like to sleep at the very top of my mattress but I like to feel like I am so usually put a pillow or two at the top of my head to give the illusion that I'm at the top of the mattress almost touching the headboard. Sleep Crown provides a gentle pressure to the top of my head which gives me the exact same illusion. Hello rest and relaxation!
I'm usually a side sleeper but there are some days when I just want to relax and lay in my bed. This morning I laid in my bed 15 minutes past my alarm trying to dodge the day. I laid in the bed on my back with my Sleep Crown pillow covering my eyes so no light came in and the sound of the rain and the cars passing by were muffled. It was wonderful. Then the second alarm went off and I knew I had to get up.

Here are some additional fun facts about the Sleep Crown pillow!
  • Handmade in Austin, TX
  • Hypoallergenic (Thank goodness because I'm allergic to what feels like EVERYTHING, ugh!)
  • Made of cooling Bamboo Fabric and Vegan Down (This fabric is legit! All of my other pillow cases don't compare. It is actually very cool on my face!)
  • The weight is customizable (There are three pillow cases on the pillow so you can remove however many you like!)
  • Female-Founded (#whoruntheworld)
  • Therapeutic for migraine-sufferers
  • Wonderful for those who sleep with someone who snores
Christmas will be here soon so think about the people in your life who can benefit from a good night's rest. Don't forget to use Promo Code: SIMPLEGLAMAZON for a $10 discount on your purchase!

Happy Sleeping! 
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Thursday, November 22, 2018

Black Friday

Top: JustFab//Jeans: Old Navy//Loafers: Banana Republic//Bag: JustFab
Okay so I'm sure you're being bombarded with a ton of suggestions on where to shop this Christmas season. The Black Friday deals have been coming in since October! I have honestly been thinking, "When is everything going to stop?" Don't get me wrong I love a good sale just like anybody else but, sometimes it can be a little overwhelming.

I like to consider myself a well seasoned shopper and because I online shop all throughout the year just to stay ahead of trends, searching for deals is not always my favorite thing to do. Also I try to avoid malls at all cost so the thought of heading to a mall on a crowded Friday evening is just as frightening as sitting in the theater and watching Dateline home alone on a Friday night. 

Nonetheless I know you all are excited to start the process of getting your loved ones amazing gifts for Christmas. I'm super excited about passing gifts out to my friends and family too. I think of myself as the best gift giver! I try to give gifts that are useful. I ask myself what does this person need? Or what is something this person has mentioned in a previous conversation? I want my gifts to be meaningful and useful. 

Here are some places I will be headed to this season to gather wonderful gifts formy friends and family! Happy shopping!

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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

All Striped Down

Bodysuit: Forever21+//Pants: Fashion Nova//Handbag: JustFab //Sandals: Sam Edelman
Sunnies: Amazon//Watch: Michael Kors//Earrings: Banana Republic 

Okay, when I first saw these pants my honest opinion was "Where am I going to wear these!?" These pants were given to me by a  good friend because she didn't like the way they fit her. I thought to myself "If they don't fit you they're definitely not going to fit me!' But after a few minutes of peer pressure I decided to try them on and to my surprise they fit! The beautiful thing about vertical stripes is that they are incredibly slimming. I don't typically have an issue wearing stripes at all, whether they are horizontal or vertical, but I will say that vertical stripes do work in your favor. 

Here's what I learned about this situation. Try not to make assumptions about how you think something will fit. When I looked at these pants I was not initially a fan. It was almost as if I was looking for a reason not to wear them because they're not a piece I would normally be drawn to. I stepped outside of my comfort zone and voila! Look what happened. I found a pair of pants that I absolutely love. Actually, I can't wait to wear them again! 

Next time you go shopping consider trying something you wouldn't normally wear. I often scroll through Pinterest and Instagram looking for inspiration from fellow style influencers. I also go into shops and boutiques I would normally never go into. I found that this gives me inspiration to try something new. Most of the time I end up finding a gem! 
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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Sloppy Chic

Coat: JustFab//T-Shirt: Old//Belt: Gucci//Jeans: Old Navy// Loafers: Sam Edelman
Handbag: Amazon//Bag Strap: Jackie Robbins Leather//Sunnies: Amazon//Watch: Michael Kors

Four out of five days of the work week I dress professionally. On Fridays I try to dress somewhat casual so on the weekends I try to make it as casual as I can. However, dressing casual or what I like to call "sloppy chic" doesn't typically work out for me. I've always been envious of women who can wear baggy jeans or loose-fitting overalls and make it look so cute. I have wider hips and a bigger butt so sometimes wearing loose-fitting or baggy clothes can make me look bigger than I actually am...which I don't want!

I see so many women dressed casually in loose-fitting distressed jeans and t-shirts and they make it look so good. I'm never able to escape the feeling of the frump. I feel like when I try to dress casually I always end up adding a touch of glam. I guess it's so much a part of who I am that there's no way for me to escape it! LOL.

This weekend I looked through my closet for something as simple as a t-shirt and jeans...which I love on weekends...and even when I try my hardest I end up with a t-shirt that says "GLAM" in gold glitter. So at this point I ask myself, "Why not?".  I pulled out my faux fur leopard coat from JustFab and said "here we go" for the day. I meandered my way through the weekend and was very happy about it! I looked at myself in the mirror and said, "Yes, this is what I want to look like!". I guess this means I have to let myself be who I am and embrace all of the Glam!

Here are some tips for achieving your best "slouchy chic" look. 
  1. Find your most comfortable pant.
  2. Pair it with your favorite comfy top.
  3. Put on a piece of statement jewelry, sunnies, or shoes. 
  4. Rock the look! 
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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

What to Wear to Work

Ponte Pants: Old Navy//T-Shirt: Old Navy//Blazer: Banana Republic (Similar)
Mules: Halogen//Sunnies: Quay

I recently overheard a conversation while I was at work. Two women in my department were talking about how much they loved someone's dress. They also mentioned that when they first started working for the company, years ago, that women dressed so differently in the office. There were more suits and dresses than they see now. This made me think. What should we be wearing to work? And, what difference does it make what I choose to wear to work? If I choose to wear a dress one day and pants the other does it mean my work has any less value? Does this mean I don't perform at my best when I'm not in a suit? Absolutely not! Expectations of what women should wear in a corporate setting has changed so much. Expectations of what men should wear has changed too. 

I work in an office where men don't wear suits everyday. I often see a pair of slacks with a polo shirt. I don't see ties. I don't see jackets and I RARELY see suits! 

Don't get me wrong, your girl loves looking like a boss when I need to, but why is the expectation for women still so different? It really shouldn't be. Honestly I would prefer to wear something much more comfortable to work everyday but that's not reality. Trust me, I love getting dressed everyday and feeling great with what I have on, but the truth is we judge each other based on how we are dressed. I am guilty of it and in the workplace it happens way too often.

As a black woman in a corporate office where the percentage of minorities is low, I have to be very cognizant of what I wear, how I choose to wear my hair, and even the makeup I put on. I have to be mindful of stereotypes when I get dressed in the morning. I also have to consider what meetings I have for the day to make sure what I've chosen to wear is "appropriate".

Personally I like to start off my week a little more professional and progressively get casual throughout the week. By Friday I'm usually in jeans and a blazer. (And you know how much I love a blazer! Check out some old posts here and here

Here's something to keep in mind when you get dressed daily for work. Wear what makes you feel confident. Wear what makes you feel like you. Whether that is heels and dress or trousers and a  blazer what you have chosen to wear should have no reflection on how you perform in your role.
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Blazer: Lane Bryant//Ponte Pants: Old Navy//T-shirt: Old Navy//Heels: Moda (Similar

Blazer: Banana Republic//Jumpsuit: ASOS//Sunnies: Amazon//Loafers: JustFab

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Skincare Fanatic

Hi my name is Courtney Hawkins and I am a skincare fanatic...

You hear and see me talk about it all the time on social media, so I wanted to share  some of my favorite products currently. I took advantage of the Sephora sale and stocked up on oldies and found new goodies. I like to alternate between different products and different brands because I don't want my skin to get used to to a specific product. Our skin can build up a tolerance to what we use on a regular basis so I like to switch everything up!  Cleansers, moisturizers, oils, night creams, serums, sunscreens, and masks.

I don't think you can have enough cleansers on hand. I mean, currently I have four in my possession. I have one in the shower, one in the medicine cabinet, one in my travel bag, and one on reserve. Here is what I have on hand now. My all-time favorite is the Liquid Facial soap from CLINIQUE, however the additional three are quite magnificent too!
Making sure your skin stays hydrated is the key to keeping your skin healthy. Not only does your skin need to be clean, but HYDRATED! I make an effort to drink at least 60 ounces of water a day and I also use heavy moisturizers and oils. I naturally have oily skin so I was hesitant to use any type of moisturizer or oil at all, but after time I realized they were helping. My skin is more even toned and I could feel a difference!When ever I touch my face my skin is SUPER SOFT. I also use a moisturizer with SPF. Yes, you read it correctly...S.P.F.  You can never have too much protection from the sun. Here are my current favs.

I feel the same way about night creams that I do for moisturizers and oils. You need to HYDRATE. I've also discovered that using a night cream with retinol works wonders. Originally I was dubious when the girl at Sephora mentioned using a night cream with retinol. But I took her word for it and it has been great. I am always down for improving the firmness and elasticity in my skin!
Serums were another product I was skeptical of in the beginning. I honestly thought to myself what's the point? I keep my skin clean and I moisturize. What good is a serum going to do for me? Come to find out that serums are amazing. The products I have listed are designed to help minimize pores, fine lines, and wrinkles. The Honeymoon Glow from Farmacy Beauty is definitely my fav. My best practice is to use serums on the weekends when I'm not wearing a lot of makeup. It's definitely important to make sure you give your skin a break from makeup and a good serum is a great reason.
I have been using this sunscreen for a little less than a year and I love it. I've always assumed that has a black woman it's not necessary for me to use sunscreen. Well that's not true. The sun doesn't care what color your skin is. Skin cancer can affect us all. So protect yourself!
A while back I was obsessed with masks and peels. I have quite the Arsenal of these products. However, I've learned to use these products wisely. There was a moment in time where I was using one a day trying to get my skin to its optimal condition. Well I was wrong!! It's best to use a mask or peel two or three times a week. Don't want to overuse these products...I ended up breaking out!! Now that I've got my mask and peel up obsession under control here's a list of my favorites.
Your skin is the largest organ you have. Why not make sure you're doing the best you can to keep it healthy. Try some of these products and see what you like. You may end up finding a new favorite. 
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Sunday, September 9, 2018 CuraƧao

Solo Trip to Curacao

Every year for my birthday I take a trip. I usually wrangle up one or two friends and we go somewhere for 4 to 5 days. This year was different. I traveled by myself. I don't usually travel by myself for vacation however, with my previous job I did a lot of solo work travel so I wasn't too worried about spending the time alone.

Here's the thing you need to keep in mind when you decide to travel alone. You need to know there will be moments when you feel a lonely because you are in a beautiful place by yourself. There will also be moments when you meet some amazing people and you hear great stories about other people's travels throughout the world. Both of those happened to me and I couldn't be happier about it. 

I don't have a particular reason why I chose to go to Curacao but I'm glad I did. It was an interesting island. Part of the appeal was the history of the island. Curacao used to be a colony of Holland and was a slave depot. So for me this was something I thought was very interested in seeing. I'm fascinated by countries that were known for slavery or were known as checkpoints for slave traders. The dynamics of the country was also very interesting. Curacao is no longer a colony of Holland however there is still a layer of racism that exists. Racism is something to be expected no matter where you go, but it was interesting to see how blatant it was in this country. There's a clear divide between the Dutch people and the natives on the island. There's also a clear divide between classes  of natives who have money and the natives who don't.
Dress: Forever 21+//Handbag: Gucci//Sunglasses: Le Specs//Earrings: Banana Republic 

When I first arrived on the island it was 3pm EST. So I knew I wouldn't have too much time to explore. I found a taxi and went straight to the hotel. I unpacked and  relaxed then went down to the restaurant for dinner. I was pretty tired so I knew it was going to be an early night. I wanted to have a good night's rest so I could get up and explore the island the next day.

My first full day on the island was my birthday. I got up, got dressed, and went down to the restaurant for breakfast. The hotel staff knew it was my birthday so they came over with cheese cake and brownies and sing me Happy Birthday. It was very sweet! A little awkward because it was early in the morning and few people were in the restaurant,  but it was the thought that counts! After breakfast I took the shuttle into Willemstad and explored the town. I met two girls while on the shuttle who were also from the US. They were very friendly and we developed a fast friendship. The three of us walked around town took pictures of the beautiful buildings, looked in shops, and explored the culture of the city. We also stopped into a local restaurant for some traditional island food. It was delicious. I ordered the okra soup. Now,  if you know okra you know it's very slimy however the way that the soup was cooked with fish, the delicious broth, and a side of polenta made me very happy! While we walked around we stopped at some local vendors and I picked some local artwork. After exploring town we headed back to the hotel and I spent the rest of the day at the beach. That night I had a simple dinner at the restaurant and stayed up talking with the two girls.
On my way second full day on the island I spent the day at the beach. The hotel is located right on the ocean so being at the beach was a non-negotiable. Although the hotel beach is wonderful we decided to walk down to the next hotel location and hang out at Moomba Beach. It was beautiful. It was quiet and few people were there. We played in the water laid on the beach had lunch. That night we went back into town because there was a firework show we wanted to see. It was nothing over the top but, to see the locals on the island in their element and be so excited about their country was wonderful. I also picked up a great pair of earrings while we were out. I'm not quite sure what they were celebrating but it was fun being there.

On my last two days of the trip I just took it easy. I got up, had breakfast, went to the beach, and had dinner. There was a jazz festival going on while I was there so I did end up going to the Festival on night three of my trip. I decided what the heck?! Why not? I might as well make the best of my time while I'm here! I saw Patti LaBelle and Damian Marley before I headed back to the hotel. But there were so many more people to see. Sting, Shaggy, KC and the Sunshine Band, and Christina Aguilera. I actually wanted to see Christina Aguilera but she was on day two of the festival and I didn't want to spend another $200 on the ticket. However $200 for seven shows is actually very good!

Blue Swimsuit: Forever21+(Old) //Floral Dress: Forever 21+ (Old)//Black Swimsuit: Similar HERE and  HERE (Old)

Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire, also known as the ABC islands, are known for the casinos. I didn't have much money to gamble and I'm not really a gambler but I thought while I'm here I might as well spend the rest of my local currency at the casino. So my last night I went to the Renaissance Hotel and played the slots. I didn't went anything but it was something to do. 

All in all Curacao is a beautiful island. There's a lot of culture and a lot of history there on the island. The people are friendly and the food is amazing. If you're ever looking for a place to go that is relaxing I definitely recommend Curacao.
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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

This is 35

Swimsuit: Old (Similar Here and Here) //Visor: H&M//Earrings: Banana Republic

Every year I have mixed emotions about my birthday.  On one hand I'm super excited to celebrate the day I came into the world. On the other hand I am feeling indifferent about getting older.

We all think about where we expect our lives to be when we get a certain age. I expected myself to be married with one or two children and fully imersed in my career. I am 100% dedicated to my career as well as my blog, but I'm nowhere near married with children. Not even close!

One of the things I've had to come to terms with as I get older is that everybody's journey is different. Growing up we find a set of friends and our lives align while we're in school. Once were done with high school and college we all go on and create different paths. I created a path for myself that was dedicated to building a career. Again, I'm 100% happy with where I am professionally, however sometimes I think that if I would have made different choices my life with align closer to the ladies who I call my close friends.

The world we live in today is much different then those that came before us. With social media we live in a constant world of comparison. We show others images of our lives that only represent 10% of reality. I post pictures of outfit ideas, double tap pictures for inspiration, post about my favorite beauty products, and the vacations I take. What you don't see is how hard I work in my 9 to 5 career and how late I stay up working on posts for my readers.

This past year has been a real reality check for me. I definitely thought by 35 I would be a lot further in my personal life and potentially even further in my professional career. But I'm not. I am learning to be OK with that. That's the truth. It's very easy to say I'm happy all the time but that's not true. The truth is I am on a journey just like everyone else. I have good days, bad days, and just OK days. I'm learning to come to terms with my journey being different than those around me. I'm learning not to compare my life, my success, and my reality to those in my circle and those in a circle I wish to be a part of. Which is honestly and everyday struggle.

Each week at church I pray that I learn to accept my journey. I know accepting that my journey is different than my peers is the first step to finding mental peace. We are conditioned to torture ourselves with asking the question, "Why?" and "Why not?" I'm learning not to ask myself those questions. Instead I ask myself "What do I need to do differently?"

For some reason 35 has been a turning point for me. I don't know why. It's not a major milestone like 21, 30, 40 or 50, but for some reason 35 is resonating with me. Ideally this year will bring growth. And I know that it's all dependent on me. With the growth I plan to make in my 35th year, 36 should be a breeze.
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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Perfect for Church

 Cardigan: c/o JustFab//Ponte Pants: Old Navy//Bodysuit: ASOS
Booties: c/o JustFab//Sunglasses: Le Specs//Watch: Michael Kors
Earrings: Banana Republic//Hand Bag: JustFab

Am I the only one that struggles with what to wear to church on Sunday? Every Sunday I wake up and think to myself, "What am I going to wear?"

The church I attend doesn't have a strict dress code so I could pretty much wear anything. Because the rules are so relaxed, I feel completely trapped by choosing what to wear! I always have to think about what the rest of my day is going to be like. Am I going to meet someone for lunch afterwards? Am I going to go to the grocery store? Am I going to come straight home? What my plan is for the day is always a deciding factor on what I am going to wear.

I always feel like I should be covered as well. Not because I feel the need to be modest but because it's always so cold! Growing up I remember going to church and it was always so hot. My mother and every lady around us was fanning themselves with one of those cardboard sheets with a popsicle stick glued to the back. Nowadays, churches have amazing air conditioning because I freeze every Sunday.

Here's the outfit I wore to church this past Sunday. It was perfect for the auditorium, however when I got outside I was a little warm. When I say that I'm ready for sweater weather I mean I am ABSOLUTELY READY for the weather to change. This cardigan worked out perfectly because it gave me just enough coverage and I didn't  freeze!
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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Museum Sweater

Sweater: c/o JustFab//Jeans: Old Navy//Sandals: II Sandolo Caprese 
Earrings: Loren Hope//Watch: Michael Kors

This past weekend a friend and I went to the Getty Center to go see at the fashion photography exhibit they had. It was absolutely stunning and the way it was displayed was perfect. They showed fashion photography over 100 years with everything from Christian Dior and Chanel to Issey Miyake and Alexander McQueen. You would walk through the exhibit and each room displayed 10 years of photographs that made an impact within that specific decade. It was so cool to see. One of my favorites was the 1950s room. There were a lot of photographs from Christian Dior who is one of my favorite designers. Also the 1970s section. There was a picture on the wall of Beverly Johnson on the cover of Vogue magazine in August of 1974.  Although she wasn't the first black woman on the cover of Vogue magazine, she was the first black woman in the U.S. to be on the cover of American Vogue magazine. This was such a huge impact. It changed the face of fashion in the U.S. I for sure wouldn't be writing this blog if it wasn't for women like Beverly Johnson, Cynthia Bailey, and Tyra Banks paving the way and making their mark on the fashion industry.

The museum is up on a hill so there was a nice cool breeze while we were there. I was definitely expecting it to be hot so wearing a sweater was a bold move. Museums are notoriously cold so having a sweater on wasn't too bad. I've been wearing a lot of yellow or mustard tones lately so I figured I'd keep it going with this sweater from JustFab. Plus, I really like the wrap front because it feels very feminine. Who knows...maybe if I keep wearing sweaters the universe will hear my cries for cooler weather. FINGERS CROSSED!

If you ever get a chance to visit Los Angeles do your best to make your way to the Getty Center or the Getty Villa. The Getty Center is up on the hill with an amazing view of Los Angeles. Admission is free because you pay for parking which is only $15...I say only because this is LA...LOL!  The good news is that you are not required to walk up the hill! There's a super easy tram you can take which departs about every 5 minutes. You don't have to walk down either! There is one coming and one going!

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Vest Dressed

Vest: c/o: West47th//Booties: Old//Ponte Pants: Old Navy//Bodysuit: ASOS
Sunnies: Free People//Watch: Michael Kors// Earrings: Banana Republic

How do you take a basic all black outfit to the next level? Easy! Find a piece that stands out against the rest. Look for pieces that are classic and can be worn in a variety of different pieces.

Let's talk about this vest. This is the perfect vest for all seasons. Not only can we dress it up, we can always dress it down. I paired it with a basic all black outfit because I knew black would really make the color pop. Another great thing about this vest is that it is a great transition piece. It will be "summer" here in Southern California for quite some time, so this is the perfect piece to start wearing when the weather cools down. Not to mention it is chic AF!! I've already planned on wearing it to work and out on the weekends...on the weekends I think I'll pair it with a pair of jeans and a t-shirt or a tank top.

Sometimes just by adding one simple piece to a basic outfit changes the entire feel and look you're going for. Don't be afraid to try something new or something that's slightly different than what you normally wear to change things up. 
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