Sweat In Style

Making it to the gym can be quite a struggle, and to be honest it doesn’t happen often. However, I find that I am more excited about spending time sweating it out if I have something fabulous to wear. Since fitness is an essential part of every SMW’s life, and we’re here to inspire you to reach your full potential as such a woman, I thought I’d share some of my favorite places to find awesome workout clothes.

  • Old Navy: Their compression pants and capris are THE BOMB! The come in great colors and patterns, make my rear end look perfectly perky and don’t create a muffin top. If you look on the sale rack you can find them for under $15! What gets better than that?
  • Victoria’s Secret: when it comes to sports bras and yoga pants, this is the place to go. They’re a bit more expensive, but they last forever and are ALWAYS in style.
  • Nike: If you want the best and brightest shoes, this is the brand to go with. Plus if you go to a Nike store their experts can help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
  • Gap: When it comes to jackets, Gap definitely makes the best. I can throw one on in the winter and not only is it warm but it’s flattering and my phone doesn’t fall out of the pockets when I run…which makes it great. Also, this brand makes great tanks and tees. If you go by the store in March you can find items on their last chance sale racks for super cheap. I found a shirt that I LOVE for only $2.99.

Where’s your favorite place to find workout gear? Let us know in the comments!

Care of the Soul – Book Review

Every so often we come across a book that changes the way we look at life, or at ourselves. Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life by Thomas Moore did both.

The book combines freudian and jungian philosophies of the self with ancient greek mythology and modern life to create an experience of the soul that is unmatched. While reading this guide I gained insights on why I felt certain feelings, how to handle difficult situations, and most importantly how to accept myself.

The book itself is divided into sections about family interactions, narcissism and one’s self-image, depression and anxiety, work-life balance and spirituality (and other topics. It’s a difficult and slow read but absolutely invaluable when it comes to shifting your perspective on life.

Essentially the book teaches you how to live your life in a way that fulfills your deepest desires and touches your soul. If you’re looking for a self-help book that will revolutionize your life with out making you actually DO anything, this is it. I’m sorry we can’t describe it better, but you’ll have to see for yourself.

Music That Moves You

Exercise is an important part of life. If you want to be a Smart Modern Woman, you have to have enough stamina and energy to meet the demands of your life. Exercise can help you develop those qualities, along with improving your health and looks.

However, working out can be extremely boring – and that’s where music comes in. Here at SMW we believe that your workout is only as good as the music you listen to, so we’ve assembled a playlist of our top workout songs:

  • Break the Rules, Charli XCX
  • Ghost, Ella Henderson
  • Outside, Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding
  • Baby Don’t Lie, Gwen Stefani
  • The Nights, Avicii
  • Come With Me Now, Kongos
  • Miss Jackson, Panic! At The Disco feat. Lolo
  • Counting Stars, One Republic
  • Blank Space, Taylor Swift
  • Centuries, Fall Out Boy
  • I Bet My Life, Imagine Dragons
  • Animals, Maroon Five
  • Bang Bang; Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj
  • Elastic Heart, Sia
  • Habits, Tove Lo
  • Don’t, Ed Sheeran
  • Blame, Calvin Harris feat. John Newman
  • Black Widow, Iggy Azalea feat. Rita Ora
  • Rather Be, Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne
  • Boom Clap, Charli XCX
  • First Love, Jennifer Lopez

Now get moving!

TED

So if you haven’t gathered from the content of this blog, I have a lot of interests. In fact, one of my biggest fears is becoming too one-dimensional. We all know those people who can only talk about one thing because it’s all they know or do. Those people drive me nuts. I hope I never fall into the trap of becoming too comfortable in my area of expertise.

So how do I keep myself “in the know” outside of my field. Honestly, I watch TED talks. I watch them every day. As I’m putting on my makeup for the day I play a talk on my phone. I love it. I have learned stuff about biology, theology, art, urban planning, economics – I could go on and on. They have a talk about everything. I highly recommend that you all incorporate some sort of learning that is unrelated to your work into your daily life. You’ll be so much more interesting.

So, go ahead, check out TED.

Finding Your Style

Fashion is one of the ultimate forms of self-expression. You can say so much about yourself through your clothing. Our appearance can communicate a myriad of different things about how we view ourselves, our personality, what we like to do, and what we value. However, it can be difficult to form your own unique personal style. I have always admired women who have their own signature style. It makes me feel like they know exactly who they are and that they love themselves on a deep level. Not only do I admire it, I want it. But finding your own personal style isn’t exactly easy.

I’d be lying to you if I said everything in my closet is a reflection of who I am. Honestly it doesn’t even reflect who I used to be or who I want to be. I’m working on that. I think that the best wardrobes are ones that reflect our best selves, the woman we want to be, the woman you dream of becoming. Clothing and accessories are wonderful in the fact that we can use them as tools to express whatever we want to the world. From the high school student who dresses all in black to the wall street maven who lives in power suits. Our clothing communicates, and the best part is that we get to choose what the message is.

I am still working on finding my own signature style, and yours should not match mine. Everyone is an individual and your clothing should reflect what is special about you. Given that, here are some of my tips for discovering your style so that one day you will (hopefully) love everything in your closet.

  • Make sure your clothing reflects your lifestyle. Do you spend all day in a corporate office? Or do you work from your couch? If your clothing doesn’t fit your activities you won’t use it and that’s just sad.
  • Make sure every item you buy makes you feel wonderful. You should LOVE everything you wear. You don’t need a wardrobe crammed full of clothes you think are okay, but instead invest in fewer pieces that you love. If you look good, are comfortable, and feel confident when you put on your clothes each morning nobody will care that you wore that shirt last week.
  • Don’t try to fit into a category. If you like boho loungewear and power-suits structure your wardrobe around both of those styles. My suggestion is to decide what you want to portray about yourself in each situation you encounter regularly (work, gym, grocery shopping, laying around the house, partying with friend, etc) and purchase your clothes around that ideal.
  • Choose a color pallet. Most likely you gravitate to a handful of colors that you feel look best on you. Embrace that. If you have a color pallet you can mix and match fewer pieces to create more outfits.
  • Look for inspiration. One of my favorite pastimes is tearing ads for clothing I like out of magazines. Then before I go shopping I flip through them for inspiration. It helps me decide what I want and what I like.
  • Know your body type. Figure out what looks good on you. If you like how pencil skirts look on models that doesn’t mean you’ll like them on yourself. Have a list of go-to brands and cuts that work for you. You’ll feel more confident if your clothes fit your body – trying to make your body fit someone else’s clothes is a waste of time.
  • Have fun. At the end of the day you should enjoy fashion, don’t worry about rules or what other people think. If you feel good you’ll look good.

Nailed It!

I’ll admit it, I have a slight addiction to nail polish. And by slight, I mean full blown. I think there have been a total of two weeks that I have had unpainted nails since I was 14-years-old, and even then I had them meticulously shaped and buffed to perfection. Now, I am not a manicure advocate – do it yourself, with practice and the right products it’s easy to learn. Also, I’ll admit to having worn neon green and nail art while in high school and college. But now that I’m a grown woman it’s time to think a little more timeless and classic when it comes to my color choice. (This applies to fingernails only – my toes are currently robins egg blue with little flowers adorning them, and it’s adorable.)

So, I present the colors every smart modern woman should have in her nail arsenal.

  • Subtle Nude: There’s a reason why in movies the skanky “white trash” character always wears fake nails. French manicures are obviously fake and trashy. You look like you’re trying too hard. It’s far more appropriate to wear just a translucent nude (just skip the white tips), and you’ll look effortlessly polished.

    My Recommendations –
    Essie Ballet Slippers, OPI Pinking of You, OPI Isn’t It Romantic?

  • Firey Red: Just because you’re polished (enjoy the pun) doesn’t mean you can’t let loose. Red is a classic, and the best red is worth spending money on. It should go with your skin tone, much like red lipstick, so find a shade that’s perfect for you and stock up.

    OPI Red Hot Ayers Rock, Revlon Cherries in the Snow

  • A deep red: There are times when we want to be a little bit vampy and femme fatale. That’s perfectly wonderful, and a deep red will do the job without looking too black and emo. If red isn’t your thing go for a deep bronze instead.

    OPI Royal Raja Ruby, OPI My Private Jet

  • A Classic but Trendy: Whether it’s your school colors, or a dark camel color there is always room to be on trend without overdoing the look. I personally love to rock some opaque corals and oranges in the summer and I see mauve as my upcoming fall/winter color. My advice is to avoid anything with glitter or shimmer of any kind. Stick with flat colors in high shine or matte finishes (please no crackle polish)!

    Essie Tart Deco, Essie Cute as A Button, OPI Mod About You, OPI Belize It Or Not, China Glaze Hell-Yum, Essie Angora Cardi, OPI You Don’t Know Jaques!

  • Flirty Pink: A pop of pink is essential for casual days out. Whether bright or deep, pink is perfect for when you want to lighten up and have a good time

    Essie A Crewed Interest, OPI Pink Flamenco

  • Base Coat: These are essential for nail health. Please don’t go without!

    OPI, Butter London, Essie

  • Top Coat: Do you want your manicure to last more than a few hours? Add a top coat.

    OPI, Butter London, Poshe 

So there you have it. Stock up on these essentials and then have fun with crazy colors for your toes!

What’s your favorite nail trend? Let me know in the comments!

Home Decor, Splurge vs. Save

I’m currently getting ready to start my final semester of college. Pretty soon I’ll be walking across the commencement stage and receiving my BFA. I can’t wait. But mostly I can’t wait to move somewhere new and start adult life. I love my college town and will be returning frequently for football games every fall, but the city is calling me. Yes, adult life means a new job, being financially independent, and a whole lot of responsible stuff that is exciting but also terrifying. However, I’m most looking forward to getting a new apartment and turning it into a home.

What distinguishes a house/apartment/duplex from a home (aside from who lives there) is decor. For me there is nothing more depressing than a room with bare walls and ragged furniture. I’m currently starting to save money for decorating my next place, and I thought that I’d share some advice on what’s worth splurging for when it comes to making a house your home.

Focal Pieces

  • Save: Save on items like nightstands, shelves, dressers and tables. Most of these items can be found at thrift stores and consignment centers and quickly updated with a coat of paint or stain. You’ll still have beautiful good quality furniture, but you won’t have to spend an arm and a leg.
  • Splurge: It is important to own comfortable and durable highly used furniture. Invest in couches, beds, and linens (comfortable sheets and towels will have a dramatic impact on your overall wellbeing). These are items you will use every day and won’t want to change often, so it’s okay to spend more for higher quality items.

Accents

  • Save: Items such as shower curtains, window coverings, rugs, lamps and throw pillows can be found for low prices at places like Target, Tuesday Morning, Kohl’s, and Bed Bath & Beyond. Most likely you’ll want to change these out frequently, so there’s no point in spending a fortune. Just make sure the item is durable enough to last a while and looks pretty. I always try to find items that are similar to one’s I’ve seen in expensive decorating magazines – that way they’ll look like quality items but will be more unique than that Pottery Barn rug everybody on the block has.
  • Splurge: Every home should have one or two luxurious blankets that can be used to curl up with on the couch. I also believe that if there is an accent item you absolutely fall in love with you should think about it for two weeks, then if you still want it go ahead and splurge. There are certain pieces in every home that bring joy to one’s life just by existing, these types of items are worth spending on – but you only need one or two of them.

Art & Wall Decor

  • Save: Save on seasonal items (holiday decorations, candles, etc.), paint, artwork and frames. I will find imagery and photographs online that speak to me and print them out on my large format printer (perks of being a designer) – some people may take issue with this practice, but I think it’s fine so long as you credit the artist and don’t try and sell the stuff. Once you can afford to buy their work you obviously should do so, but only if you really love it. Many seasonal items can be made inexpensively by following DIY tutorials, and that also allows you to change things up year to year. Save on frames, but do frame your decor – it will protect the art and make your home look “done”.
  • Splurge: Splurge on a items that speak to the depths of your soul, or have a personal value to you. If you’re on a vacation that you want to remember forever and stumble across a gorgeous etching of the location – get it. If you have always wanted a grandfather clock, buy one. Just be sure that the items you splurge on are ones you will use for the rest of your life – regardless of where you may move.

So there you have my guide to buying home decor. As always, before you buy anything make sure you love it. Your home is a reflection of your authentic self. Everything within it should bring you joy and speak to the depths of your soul.