My Body, My Choice (...of Soap)!

 
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It’s no secret that I am obsessive when it comes to skincare. I research products thoroughly, invest in facials, and haven’t gone to bed without doing my full routine in probably 5 years (The last time being after I came home drunk after a Miley Cyrus concert and woke up with the worst hangover and worst breakouts of my life). I’ve gotten my routine down to a science- from the neck-up, that is. I had put all my focus into my face, that my body often went neglected. I’d lather on whatever soap was in the shower, MAYBE put on lotion when I got out (am I wearing a dress? Nope! DRY & ASHY IT IS!). I always just figured my face was at the forefront of how I present myself to the world, and my body was secondary. Living in Las Vegas, I wear less clothing than ever, due to the simple fact that I don’t want to die of heat stroke. I started to take notice that my body was looking a bit tired. My skin looked dull and almost colorless. It didn’t have the same glow or bounce as my face. I’ve been so wrapped up in my complexion, that I neglected 95% of my body. I always figured my body would take care of itself, like it was the older child and my face was the baby that required 100% of my attention (sorry to my sister, who probably knows this feeling ALL TOO WELL).

I’ve found an arsenal of products for the body that have taken my limbs from dull to divine. Look out world…no literally, look at my legs they’re GLOWING!

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I have been sweating more than usual, which I didn’t think was possible, until I moved to the desert. I shower every single day, sometimes twice, and I still get breakouts on my back and shoulders on occasion. Being the genius that I am, I knew that A.H.A products had worked well on my face, so I found something similar for my body. It’s definitely helped in keeping breakouts at bay. However, I noticed the biggest difference when I started clipping my hair up when I was conditioning it. I keep a big clip in my shower, and pile it on top of my head, so the conditioner doesn’t get on my back. Hair product can have irritating ingredients for the skin. When I started doing this, I saw serious results within days.

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My hot (as hot as the topic of back acne can be) tip when it comes to bacne is to use a Salux washcloth. They are like the hotter, cooler sister of a loofah. They take your body wash and turn it into fluffy suds. The long-towel shape makes it easy to get every inch of your back and shoulders.

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Back to bacne, because my exes reading this definitely want to know more (Hi guys! I’m doing GREAT!), I scar easier than Sarah Sanders lies. This means every breakout leaves a dark mark. Vitamin C serum has done wonders for my face, so I was ready to get spendy on a body wash with the same ingredient. I was pleased to find a $5.99 solution at Trader Joe’s with their Citrus Body Wash. It leaves my skin feeling tingly and energized. I haven’t been using it long enough to notice a difference in my scars- I also apply Vitamin C Serum after I shower-, but it’s an enjoyable experience, which is more than I can say for the aforementioned exes (are you still here??).

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I try to wear sunscreen on my body everyday, because I’m in the car a lot, and my office is mostly windows. I don’t want to be 40 wondering where these hand wrinkles came from, when I should be worried about running sh!T at PTA or something. Most body sunscreens leave a whitecast, and smell like a 5-year-old at the beach. This one from Supergoop melts into skin with no white cast, moisturizes, and leaves a dewy glow, and smells like fresh flowers. It also comes in a convenient pump, which makes me 90% more likely to use it every day. Laziness is an art form and I am Picasso.

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I’ve talked about this Nuxe oil before, and I probably will until my last breath. If you go to Paris, bring an extra bag just to fill up with this luxurious body oil. The spray-cap prevents you from wasting product, and I’ve noticed a difference in the quality of my skin after using for a few months. After I shower at night (sunscreen is my moisturizer during the day), I coat myself from neck to toes, slipping into bed feeling like I own an estate in the French Countryside. All I really own are childhood insecurities!

Time to take these products and GET ME BODIED. This is definitely what Beyonce meant. I’m sure of it.

dust

 
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Don’t worry- I’m not going to start this post with an “I’m back after a little hiatus!” bit. I’ve played it and it’s gotten old. The truth is, I just stopped writing. Not because I didn’t enjoy it or have anything to say, but simply because life got busy. Right after I published my last post in November, I finally got a job in Nevada. A job I love, and I decided early on I would give it my all. I put all my focus not just into my job, but also my marriage, which was finally back on the ground after a difficult move, and immersing myself in our new community. The last few months have flown by, and it’s almost a year-to-date that we found out we were leaving Detroit. And guess what? I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and it completely snuck up on me.

In all my contentment, I still I felt an itch to put pen to paper again (I write all my posts in a notebook before typing. Eat your heart out, Shakespeare!!!) Every day when I would walk into my closet, I would pass a framed copy of “The Nines” logo that my friendly so sweetly made me for my birthday one year. I would walk by it, think “I should write soon”, and then just go in my closet and get distracted by a sweater. But yesterday as I walked past it, I noticed all the dust that had accumulated around the frame, and it hit me. I was letting the dust collect around something I loved. I gave up on something that was supposed to be growing. And in true “Carrie Bradshaw” style (even though she is THE WORST, don’t get me started) , I had to wonder “When being content stunts your growth-is it really such a good thing?”.

No-one made me stop writing. It was actually the opposite. My husband would ask if there was anything new to read, my boss said she really enjoyed my writing. I feel supported by the people around me. But I used all the things going on in my life as a crutch to avoid doing something that was enjoyable, but required a lot of effort. I was so busy with life and happy with just-the-way-things-were that I forgot that growth requires doing. That in order to have a voice, you have to speak. I neglected the piece of me that loves to talk about women’s rights and skincare and how not needing a bra until 8th grade ruined my self esteem- we’ll get to that later, OH WILL WE EVER!

This post isn’t about “being back, guys!”. It’s meant to serve as a reminder that if you have let dust collect around something you love, something that makes you who you are-you can always clean it off and pick it back up. You can also hire a cleaning company. That has no double meaning- the dust was so alarming that we literally hired a cleaning company. Talk soon. xx

Earrings, Anklets & ...Arthur?


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I’ve never really been a “jewelry-girl” It all started when I was in second grade, and my dad took me to “Limited Too” to get my ears pierced- against my mom’s Explicit! Instructions! Not to! Fast forward two months, when my lobes were so severely infected, that I had to go to the doctor to get the earrings removed. I was intent on getting them re-pierced, until I saw that episode of “Arthur” where D.W.’s friend’s piercing gets infected and turns her bunny ears bright green. I was apparently so traumatized by the cartoon-horror of it all, that I didn’t get them pierced again until high school.

I did however, dive into necklaces in my teens, when I got the iconic Tiffany’s heart chain-pendant, which was essential to my Hardtails and Uggs look. But jewelry in general never quite stuck with me, I just wasn’t buying or wearing it- and I always felt like just a little something was missing from all my outfits.

In the past year, I started investing in some everyday pieces. I began with a simple gold initial “A” necklace, my mom gifted me a small gold vintage pendant, and Michael got me a beautiful gold necklace for our anniversary. Slowly but surely my collection started to grow, and expand with more earrings, anklets, even a toe ring I won’t talk about. I’ve found some perfect pieces to form a sort of “starter kit” for a recovering non-jewelry wearer.

Ank Studios Laurel Hoops-$45

Two years ago, I apparently had no guidance in my life because no-one cared to inform me that sleeping in earrings was really bad for you, and may or may not rip your ear lobe. My left-lobe is still in recovery, but I’ve finally been able to wear earrings again thanks to these stickers.

The first pair I reached for is these perfect gold hoops from Ank Studios. Hoops and huggies are having a big moment right now, but so many can look cheap, or cost more than a month’s worth of Thai takeout (in hindsight, we should have not moved within walking distance of a Thai restaurant). I found Ank Studios on Instagram, and they seem to be the perfect mix of cost-efficient, yet high quality. They’re light on my ears, and they look and feel expensive. I’ve been wearing them with everything from a cocktail dress, to a sweatshirt or t-shirt. There’s something so chic about wearing nicer jewelry with everyday basics.

 

Brinker and Eliza The Best Is Yet To Come Necklace -$88

I’ve longed for this necklace since seeing it on just about everyone at Paris Fashion Week. It’s the perfect mix of costume and chic. I’m currently wearing it with a t-shirt and jeans, but can’t wait to wear with sweaters and skirts all winter long. I’ve found that I prefer my jewelry to be a little more playful. Unless someone wants to get me a diamond necklace, then I can get serious REAL FAST.

 

Roxanne Assoulin Hip Hop But Not Earrings -$120

When my beloved ear lobe was healing, I strictly wore clip-on earrings. When I found these by Roxanne Assoulin, I felt like they were the essence of me- loud, colorful, and a little crazy. The mismatched pair was love at first sight, and I finally splurged on them before going to Europe last Fall. I’ve worn them with everything from sweatshirts to formal dresses. They’re eye-catching, playful, and can jazz up any outfit. Definitely an investment worth making. At least that’s what I told my financial planner. I’m sure he understood!!

A Cowrie Shell Anklet

Cowrie shells were all the rage in jewelry this summer, worn by just about about every influencer and your favorite 10-year-old coming back from summer camp. I really wanted a cowrie shell anklet, but wasn’t willing to pay the hefty price tag I kept seeing. Thank God for Etsy! For $7, I have the accessory of the season, and I can’t wait to take it into Fall. I plan to wear it over white athletic socks with sneakers, or with a skirt and heeled sandals (SANDALS YEAR ROUND IS NOW MY REALITY!!!). It puts a little Johnny Tsunami in my step and honestly, I think that’s something we could all use right now. Go big or go home!! (I will most definitely go home).

 

Vintage Jewelry

A lot of jewelry I’ve found has been from vintage or antique stores. Especially if you wear clip-ons, this is the way to go. I’ve shopped locally (if you’re in Michigan, “Crimson Rose Antiques” in Birmingham is my favorite), but have also seen great finds on Etsy and Instagram. Since vintage jewelry is a little worn, I usually just polish up with a cloth or take the item to get professionally polished at a jeweler. I found a beautiful, delicate rhinestone evening-watch a few months ago. It was far too big for my wrist, and badly needed a shining. I took it to my local jeweler, where they removed a few links and polished it up so it looked brand new. All in all, I think the watch + the maintenance cost me $30. Shout out to all the grandmas everywhere for making it possible to shop such chic vintage jewels, I will wear your clip ons with pride!!

 

Self-Care

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When I first looked into the phenomena known as “self-care”, I was pumped. Who doesn’t want a reasoning behind more bubble baths, a glass of wine after work, or a $60 candle? I quickly got carried away in the practice. Paying $150 for a Hydrafacial? SELF-CARE! Taking a yoga class where a sweaty man literally sat on my back and told me to breathe through my chakra? SELF-CARE (also kind of gross)! Brunch at 3pm on a Sunday and binging “The Office” for the rest of the day? SELF-CARE!

I found myself doing more things that I enjoyed, and I liked putting an emphasis on “me time”. But I was perplexed when I didn’t find myself feeling more valued, or more at peace with myself. I felt pretty much the same, but with better skin and more flexible limbs.

I was making a homemade clay-drink creation (if you value your insides, don’t do this) when I started thinking: maybe my self-care isn’t just outward action, but internal practices I had long left behind. I decided to carefully study myself over the next few days and observe my own internal thoughts and how they materialized in my life.

I was about four hours into this exercise when I couldn’t ignore what was happening. My negative self-talk was through the roof. Just about everything I did, I attached a personal, negative emotion to it. When I tried to get up from the couch and felt a little gimpy, I scolded myself for not working out more. When I checked Twitter for the 6th time that day, I mentally noted how lazy and unmotivated I was. When I got dressed, I frowned in the mirror, knowing I wouldn’t ever look like the long-legged girl I saw on Instagram that morning. Even when I was eating lunch, I thought “take smaller bites you animal!!!”. It’s like a judgey Italian Grandmother was living in my head, commenting on my every move.

I noticed over the next few days how prevalent negative self-talk was in my life. It hindered how my day went, how I felt about myself, how I interacted with others. I was the Regina George of my own brain. The way I spoke to myself was unkind, judgmental and showed no signs of gentleness. I realized no matter how much self-care I practiced, none of it mattered, because I didn’t really care about my inner self, and how it was being looked after.

Self-care is many things. It is laying down for a bit when you’re feeling anxious and tired. It’s choosing to stay in and put some clay on your face. It’s spending an afternoon at the library, with you and only you. It’s calling a friend for a good laugh. There are so many ways to slow down, and check in with yourself. But no mud-mask in the world can hide the effects of negative self-talk. Why do we allow our inner voice be so mean? Is it because we feel unworthy of the kindness we so willingly give to others? If another person spoke to me the way I spoke to myself, they would be gone faster than this $6 Lavender Blueberry scone I’m eating in the spirit of LOVING MYSELF.

It’s true that I never feel fresher than after I’ve spent a day at the spa, having my muscles pounded into the ground, lounging around guzzling cucumber water. I speak to myself like a damn goddess when my limbs are sprawled out on a daybed, taking another sip of my Oolong tea. I usually enter the week calmer, with more confidence. But what if I could mentally check myself into my spa-safe-haven every morning, choosing to speak to myself with kindness? For starters, I would save a ton of money. For the past few weeks, every time I went to negatively speak to myself, I refrained, and rephrased. Instead of “You didn’t get to the grocery store today, you’re so lazy”, I would check in and say “I did not make the grocery store a priority today. I did some other really productive things instead”. Or one of my brain’s classics: “you will never look as effortlessly gorgeous as that girl on Instagram”, I will take a second to remind myself “her beauty does not take away from my own.”

It’s been a real challenge to reshape the way I think, and it’s something I work on every day. Self-care can present itself in a multitude of ways. I love buying a luxe face mask I’ve been saving up for or lighting a new candle. But I will not allow companies to capitalize on my need to love myself, if I truly cannot achieve that on the inside. I’ve got a long way to go- and I know I can’t totally get rid of that Italian Grandma living in my head. But instead of a judgey one, I’m trading her in for one that always tells me I need to eat more, grabs my face and tells me how lovely I am.

Fall Fashion Finds

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Judging by the abundance of pumpkin spice lattes and apple-orchard-selfies on my Instagram timeline, fall has arrived. Temperatures have even gotten cooler here in Nevada. I went from having to wear a bathing suit for survival to t-shirt weather, a major upgrade. But living in the desert has not deterred me from dreaming about scrumptious sweaters and turtlenecks so bulky, that they hide my hormonal chin breakouts. It will be another month-or-so before I start stocking up on boots and just about everything made of wool (upper lip would be drowning at the moment), but I wanted to get a head-start and share the best fall fashion trends, and my personal favorite finds, with all of you!

 

J. Crew French Girl Blazer

Blazers really made a comeback last fall, and don’t seem to be going anywhere fast. Gone is the formal undertone of the blazer, replaced with oversized, menswear inspired styles meant to be worn with t-shirts and over slip dresses. What was once a serious, masculine piece of clothing is now the pinnacle of every good wardrobe.  

I love the look of this one from J. Crew. It’s double-breasted and unstructured, giving it the ultimate cool, French girl vibe (hence the blazer’s name- kudos J. Crew). I’ve will live in this over a t-shirt and jeans, but I also love it over a lightweight sweater and bike shorts. YES! Bike shorts and blazers. Free blog name up for grabs.

*I found this blazer to be true to size. It’s naturally a little boxy and oversized.

Zara glitter turtlenecks

I’m a sucker for a good turtleneck. I think they’re the epitome of chic and looking put together. Also when I don’t feel like doing my hair, I can tuck it into the turtleneck, and no one has to know I didn’t have time to wash it because I stayed up all night thinking about Peter Kavinsky ( Calm down-he’s over 18. I checked.).

This turtleneck from Zara is a great basic, and sparkle was all over the runways for the season. Wear alone with jeans, skirts, or under another sweater or sweatshirt. Maybe on the one day in January that it dips below 50 degrees, I’ll wear mine with heavy white jeans and boots. Marking my calendar!!

 

Novelty/Fisherman Sweaters

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A few weeks ago, “The Cut” mentioned that Harry from “When Harry Met Sally” would be their fall style icon, and I’ll never be the same. Meg Ryan definitely has peak 90’s style in the classic film, but it’s Harry who’s quietly serving me bulky sweater CHICNESS. Paired almost too-simply with just jeans and sneakers, it’s the fall uniform. This is a unisex look, ladies and gentlemen! Honestly there’s nothing hotter to me than a man in a big bulky sweater. I really never thought I would say that Billy Crystal is a style icon, let alone a sex symbol. 2018 is wild.

I tend to either buy my sweaters one size up, or even look around in the men’s department. A slightly over-sized fit is best for a cozier, cooler look.


WESTERN-INSPIRED BOOTIES

Listen- I get that no one wants to look like Jessie from “Toy Story”- I haven’t since I was 10-years-old at least. But cowboy boots are back and better than ever. Don’t take it so literally- we’re talking stylized versions of the Western-wear. Extreme pointed toes, ankle cuts, outlandish colors like bright white (my favorite) and red. They’re a perfect update for things already in your closet- jeans, dresses and mini skirts. “80’s Western” is big for the season, further proving that Pixar really was just LIGHTYEARS ahead (PUN! INTENDED!)

Rad Plaid

A few years ago, I really wanted to be Cher Horowitz from for Halloween. I couldn’t find a plaid yellow skirt to save my life. Fast-forward to today, and I can walk into any Target and make a “Clueless” look for any day of the week. Plaid is back in a big way. Larger, exaggerated prints, mixing plaids by color and material. Tartan trousers, oversized coats in fresh colors, plaid nylon totes- I feel like a Golf icon and I’m all in.

To keep it modern, try mixing different colors of plaid, like with a scarf and blazer. My personal favorite is to mix by material. Sleek Tartan pants with a wool buffalo-plaid scarf. Will you look like a fool? As if!!!

 

Animal Print as a Neutral

I live for animal print. I don’t wear fur, so it’s the closest I’ll ever get to feeling like a cool a$$ jungle cat. I was thrilled to see it all over the runways, mixing different leopards and cheetahs, chic zebra trench coats and sultry snakeskin boots.

My favorite version is in the form of skirts. Having an animal print skirt can be a wonderful neutral in your wardrobe. Pair a brown and black cheetah-print midi with a turtleneck, white blouse, even one of those chunky sweaters mentioned earlier. Mix two different animal prints if you’re really feeling wild.

 
This Fall, jump in some leaves for me. Enjoy some cider and overdose on doughnuts. Wake up early and take a walk in the crisp fall air. This will be the first time in my life I don’t experience a Michigan fall or winter. Right now I’m feeling nostalgic, but I know come December, I’ll be pretty pleased when the only ice I’m scraping is off my frozen margarita, poolside. PERSPECTIVE!

The Shopping Rule That Put an End to My Impulsive Purchases

 
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A few years ago, I was looking through my closet when I realized- I hated just about everything in there. Most of us have had this moment. It’s not that we truly have nothing to wear, it’s that we have nothing we WANT to wear. My closet was so chalk-full of items that it was an arm workout to go through it all (am I a fitness influencer now???). I stared at it all, seeing all the wasted dollars and credit card charges, and I started taking pieces out one by one. 4 garbage bags later, I knew I was still lacking that satisfaction of going in and effortlessly picking something out. Not one-offs, but clothing that could carry me through a multitude of events.

We all have the one-offs. Your friend calls you and tells you she has an extra ticket to the John Mayer concert (it’s still 2010 in my mind)! And in my totally sane brain, I convince myself there is not one thing in my closet that could impress the throngs of moody 18-year-olds in attendance. I go to the mall, find some perfect $25 tank top that will be the envy of a pre-pubescent crowd, and John Mayer, if a miracle happens. I wear it to the concert, get 1000 photos in it…and proceed to never wear it again. Repeat for a bridal shower. Repeat for a job interview. Repeat for another John Mayer concert (I went to a lot in youth- I’m not ashamed). I’m here to help you avoid the one-off, and possibly explore the psychological meaning behind needing something new for every occasion. Just kidding! I don’t have enough time in the world to get into that.

After my garbage bags full of my one-offs were donated, I sat down and made a list in my phone. A list of things I felt I needed to really create a “Capsule” wardrobe, a few items I would be happy to pull out and wear to work, to drinks, to run errands in. I think my original list was something like a great oversized blazer…nice black ankle boots…jeans I felt comfortable in and could wear causal or dressy… a tailored white blouse. I went for the basics, and I vowed I would not buy anything that wasn’t on my list.

A few months went by, and I truly bought almost nothing that wasn’t on that list. Every time I was tempted, I would ask myself if it was on my list, or conductive to my closet-building. 99% of the time, it was not, and I would put it back or exit out of the browser. If I were in “Game of Thrones”, I would be dubbed “Alexandra Ayaub, First of her Name, Queen of Adding to Cart”. It’s my favorite past-time, other than eating Macaroni and Cheese in bed and watching “Grey’s Anatomy” for the 100th time. My “Seattle Grace” nickname would be McCheesy, in case you were wondering.

Make a list every season, or as frequently/in-frequently as you need it- but be fully realistic about what it is that you need. I constantly hear from other women “I need dresses!” “I need more tops!”. Write it down when you think of it. When you are tempted to buy something, go back to your list. Is it on there? When we get sidetracked and spend our money on things we don’t really want or need, there’s nothing left for what we DO desire. I’m not saying other items don’t slip in every now and again. My AMEX knows the importance of a vintage beaded bag. But having a list helps us control those impulsive purchases, curbing our spending from being a free-for-all.

Here’s what my list looks like right now:

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My list might take a few months to fulfill, and financially, a few might have to wait. But that means in the interim, I’m not buying other wasteful things to take their place. Not everything on the list needs to be expensive! That over-sized blazer on my original list? I found at Target for $25. I know for the loafers, I’ll spend a little more, because I want them to last forever. Just make sure whatever you find, you love, feel good in, and can wear it with other pieces you already own.

Ever since I started this exercise, I have been building a closet full of things I love, wear continuously, and I am actually saving money. We create “To-Do” lists all the time, to help us focus on what we need to get done, and feel accomplished when we’ve done so. Why not do the same with our wardrobes? 

Thanks to my list, I know EXACTLY what I’ll be wearing to my next concert (it won’t be John Mayer, ok!! …mostly because he’s not on tour)- and it won’t be a tank top that some 17-year-old ends up buying from Plato’s closet.

 

"Day to Night" is a Scam and I'm not Falling for It Anymore

 
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I was addicted to magazines when I was growing up. I would spend hours flipping through my “Teen Vogue”, “Vogue”, “Cosmopolitan”, “Teen People” (R.I.P.)- and a resounding theme was “Take your outfit from day to night!”. Every issue, every season, there were new ways to take my pencil skirt and blouse from desk to daquiris (even as a 15-year-old, this was important to me even though I had no job nor could drink?). I consistently see it in publications today, swapping out ballet flats for a funky block heel, or a pendant necklace for some gaudy beaded thing. I quickly realized that now in my adult working life, I never once worried about taking my outfit from day to night- so why are magazines still so obsessed with it?

Don’t get me wrong- I’m obviously here for pieces that can be worn for multiple occasions and events, but that never quite seems to be the clear narrative. Here’s my theory: back in the 90’s, early 00’s, women were dressing more formally for work. Fashion and clothing weren’t as accessible as they are now, with the birth of fast fashion and online shopping. We’ve gotten so much more creative and expressive with “professional dress”. Most work places don’t enforce a formal dress code of suits, pencil skirts or dresses. And even if they do, what’s the problem with wearing those things out after work? It’s martinis with your messy friends, not the Queen.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t think “Day to Night” is as crucial to working women, because most “nights” consist of going home, taking our pants off, throwing on a face mask that will fix EVERYTHING, and watching last night’s shows while simultaneously exploring every crevice of the internet. Oh, and fighting the patriarchy, but that goes without saying. AM I RIGHT LADIES?

Men never have to worry about owning extra accessories or stuffing “a great, sassy belt!” into their work bags if a date is on the after-work agenda. They show up in the exact same thing they put on that morning, maybe putting on a little extra deodorant or checking for boogers. Why is there such a strong narrative that the clothes that women wear to work, aren’t acceptable for a drink that we probably desperately deserve?

Most women I know aren’t remotely interested in “Day to night!” unless it involves tips on how to take off our bras off through our shirts before we get in the door. We’re just fine in what we’re wearing, thank you very much. It’s all a ploy to get us to buy more things, and convince us that we need more to be more. I’m not falling for it anymore, and I’ll show up to dinner in the same thing I worked in all day. Not all heroes wear capes…but we will wear the same pants all damn day.