I love the bold pop of color on my lips and bag against the black and white houndstooth. And who needs an excuse to wear a killer pair of Sophia Websters? So obsessed. These photos were taken by my talented niece, Meira.
My bargainista look from head to toe:
- Dress: Saks off 5th Black Label, pink dot sale, $14.99 (approx. retail $158)
- Bag: Charlotte Olympia Taboo, sample sale, $115 (retail $545)
- Bracelet: Dannijo Valentina, sample sale, $50 (retail $595)
- Heels: Sophia Webster Keira Doiley sandals, sample sale, $95 (retail $750)
Grand total $249.99 - not bad for a $2,048 look. OK so it's almost 90% off.
Unfortunately, most of these pieces are no longer available so I'm linking a few similar Valentines Day inspired pieces for you to shop - or just get some style inspo :)
When I was looking through my photos to see what I would be including in my next blog sale, I came across these photos that I shot a couple months ago. I have to confess that I wasn't going to share these photos because of my vanity.
My one regret of my youth is being chicken so in my 40s I've decided I have to push myself. To put myself out there, flaws and all. My arms and thighs are a little jiggly and I have a small belly. I still bite my nails which does not help my veiny old lady hands. And let's not even start with my scarred knees and stretch marks...but for now this is who I am. I'm guessing I'm not as small as I'd like because I skip a workout or two here or there and my eating is a little out of control. I've seen so many mommies transform their bodies that I know I can do it too. I'm already halfway there. I'll finish when I'm ready.
Like a lot of women, I have body and food issues. Even when I was a size 2 I remember being critical of my figure. As a child I was a stick figure and everyone tried to feed me. I was bribed to eat (usually with clothing or sweets) and ultimately developed terrible eating habits. Now as a mother I never force my kids to finish their plates because I find that most children have the ability to self regulate and will eat when they are hungry. I was lucky. I had an amazing metabolism and could pack away a ton of food and not gain any weight. I'd always been a bit of a tomboy and pretty active. Plus I was naturally fidgety and to this day I'd rather stand than sit. I went to an all girls private school and I think there were only 58 girls in my graduating class. Without the pressure of boys we wore shapeless clothing (it was the style in the 90s), no makeup, and baked Duncan Hines cakes for each others birthdays - and demolished them using just our fingers as utensils.
As the oldest girl in a family with seven kids I craved my independence. Every summer I headed upstate with some friends to work as a camp counselor at bungalow colonies (think dirty dancing but with Hasidim) and that was really my first exposure to boys. Finally I landed a gig at a more modern place and my naive skirt-wearing friends and I met this new breed of girl who primped, wore pants and actually talked to boys. Suddenly the pressure to be thin and pretty was on. We were fish out of water. We hid in out rooms too afraid to speak to boys, and when the boys came out with their ratings I somehow landed at the bottom. I'm thinking my shyness and lack of boobs did me in. Luckily I had just enough self esteem to realize how stupid those boys were. However, that summer I developed a terrible daily diet of a single bagel (back when carbs weren't a dirty word) and several Diet Cokes. I also air popped popcorn for a snack on occasion. That was the first time in my life that I danced in front of the mirror and loved how thin I looked. Everything fit - and that was a great feeling. My best friend started getting on my case (partially for hoarding all the soda) and eventually my love of food returned and things went back to normal.
After high school I went abroad to an all girls seminary for the year. All my closest friends stayed behind and it was the first time in my life I was really on my own. I had a few acquaintances and I made some friends but I guess I was pretty lonely. Back then there were no cell phones or internet so I waited by the payphone every Sunday for a phone call from my parents and hand wrote long letters to friends and family back home. Sometimes I paid the school office to fax my letters back home.
These new girls that I met were a lot more sophisticated - they had designer wardrobes, boyfriends, got manicures, went to the gym and seemed to exist on a steady diet of fro-yo. Again, this is back when candy and Twizzlers were still considered diet food. In an effort to fit in I joined a gym for the first time in my life. I figured as long as it was paid for I was gonna make the most of it. I hit the gym for 2-3 hours a day, 6 days a week. I took one or two toning or aerobic classes and followed with some weights, the bike and antiquated step machines. I don't think the elliptical was even invented yet. I remember one of those rail thin girls looking over my shoulder at the scale shocked that I weighed 121 lbs. All these girls seemed to weigh less than 100 and at that point other than my shapely behind, I was just as thin as they were.
I should mention that the school fed us three meals a day plus snack time. For a while they pulled snack because some girls were complaining they were gaining too much weight. Lets just say there was rioting and snack was returned to us. I started noticing the skinny girls snacking on celery sticks and carrots so I started waking up early to beat out the anorexics who would swipe all the veggies from the breakfast platters. I came down at 6 am with my Tupperware and filled it up with carrots and cucumber sticks for the day. I have to say I loved the control. I loved the self discipline of working out and measuring what I ate. I even made one of my new friends my food police - she would question me when I took a second portion. It was actually helpful to have someone to be accountable to.
When I came home my friends looked at me in horror. I had zero fat on my body. I really didn't know what the fuss was about because I still had my butt and my thighs touched at the top. It was the pre J-Lo and Kardashian era so I had a hard time finding clothing to fit over my derriere. Kate Moss was the model of the moment and nobody had curves unless they were plus-size. Back in high school our baggy clothing covered everything up. It was in my twenties that I finally learned how to dress for my shape. I had finally started developing my own sense of style. And it's when I really learned how to shop. As a Jersey girl I first discovered European designers at the now defunct Daffy Dan's (later shortened to Daffy's). When I studied at FIT I popped in to Loehmann's (also closed) just down the block or I'd subway down to Century 21 between classes. Then I discovered sample sales. My addiction to food slowly turned to my addiction to clothing. When I got my first job I suddenly had tons of money to feed my new addiction. I could walk into Barneys and buy anything I wanted. Truthfully I only did that once because the next year when I spotted one of my full priced suits at Daffy's, I swore to never pay retail again.
When I hit 25 I first noticed my metabolism started to slow down. I used to be able to drop 10 lbs in a week if I needed. All of a sudden I said "huh?" My weight would fluctuate between 125-130 for most of my twenties. When I got married at 28 I was 123 lbs. and my dress hung on me because I dropped some weight due to pre-wedding stress. My husband was able to span my waist with his hands because I was so tiny. He does have big hands though.
For all my insecurities, there were always things that I liked about my body. My long skinny legs, my blonde hair, my tiny waist...and by 30 I learned to live with my big butt so that no longer was a challenge. Then after I had my kids my body changed. My first pregnancy was great - I only gained 21 lbs and looked super cute. My B- cup became D+, I had a glow, and I had a killer maternity wardrobe. I was 31 and my body bounced right back. It was with each subsequent pregnancy that bad things started happening. My feet got bigger and none of my shoes fit. Fat started sticking to my body in places it never had before. My hair started falling out. My tiny waist was nowhere to be found. I finally topped out at almost 200 lbs. After number three, I had to learn how to hide the 50 extra pounds I was carrying. People asked when was the baby due for years after my youngest was born. It did get me bathroom privileges and many a subway seat but I wanted my body back. I was miserable.
I took back my life when I walked into Target and purchased a new Blu-ray/DVD player and a copy of Jillian Michael's 90 Day Body Revolution. I forced myself to do the workout every day. Let's just say, if I ever have to hear her call me "sweetie" one more time I'm gonna punch her in the face. I moved on to Shaun T with Hip Hop Abs and he made me laugh so much I started T25. I kept at it and eventually I was able to fit sample sizes again. Three years later I'm still doing it - but now I just do the Gamma cycle because Alpha and Beta are too easy. I'm waiting for my brother to give me Cize already so I can do something new.
I know that everyone talks about self acceptance and every body is beautiful, but every day is a struggle for me. I wish I was smaller. I worry about eating too much. I worry about eating too little. I still have to force myself to workout most days. Sometimes I go shopping just to keep me from overeating. Luckily penny hunting and window shopping keeps me from going broke. Personal shopping has also been a great outlet because I get to do something I'm really good at - for other people, with other people's money :)
So that's me in a nutshell. Probably more than you expected from this post LOL. I guess I want my message to be that behind every picture there's a real story and possibly a real struggle. I didn't want to share this look because I hate the way I look in this dress. I know I'm not fat but I don't feel that skinny anymore - and for years skinny was my identity. I also suspect that I'm 5 lbs heavier than these pics right now, but this is me taking my first step forward after taking a few back. I will be brave. I will be strong. I don't have to be the skinniest, or prettiest, I just have to be me. I spent my 30s in hiding and I don't want to hide anymore. So in full disclosure I'm gonna share that I currently weigh 159 lbs and wear a size 6. Sometimes a 4, sometimes an 8. Like I said, I've always weighed 20 lbs. heavier than I look.
Thanks for reading. I figure by getting my story out there, other people who are struggling will know that they are not alone. Right now I'm gonna take a deep breath and hit publish.
Now that that's out of the way I'll get back to work on the blog sale :)