Scroll to Info & Navigation

I Choose to Believe My Story Has Power

Photo Courtesy of Kallima Photography

This week Conscious Magazine published the below article I wrote about parts of my past.  My soul feels naked and exposed having these words out there for you and the world to read.  I have felt more vulnerable in the last few days than I have in a very long time, but what I want more than anything is for people to know that in brokenness there is HOPE.  God is good.  He is faithful, and his promises abundant.  If just one person can connect with my story, and be encouraged then I am grateful to have shared it!

Everyone has one, and it shapes who we are, what we think, and the way we interact with ourselves and the world around us.

Story has the opportunity to tear down or create.  Story has the power to change my life, your life, the world, and the generations after us.

I choose to believe that my journey has power.

I choose to believe that one person indeed has the power to impact generations.  What if we all got to the place where we believed our unique individual stories mattered so deeply that we collectively changed the world together?  Hand in hand united for the greater good.  A story is a spark, a small flame with the power to blaze an entire forrest…if we choose it to.

Freedom begets freedom.  Creativity begets creativity, and it all begins with a story.

Here is a bit of mine.

From the outside it looks like I grew up in upper middle class in Dallas Texas, one of six kids, made good grades, was captain of the Varsity tennis team, went to state, and later played on a full ride college scholarship, was involved in church, and had a ton of friends.  You could say that my life was pretty suburbia.  Sure my parents split when I was 10, and both remarried but that is seemingly pretty normal these days…right?

Yet, in between the lines of a storybook childhood there were moments, days, and years, riddled with fear, heartache, and brokenness in my heart and in and throughout my entire family.

What really was going on for the majority of my high school and college life was a life where my father abused alcohol and drugs.  My holidays were filled with broken promises, dad simply not showing up, or showing up under the influence.  Intervention after intervention and nothing would stick longer than a few months.  Memories upon memories of living with my dad in the summer and him disappearing for days at a time only to return home shirtless, shoeless, without a car or dime to his name.

Over and over again my heart was broken; it got to a point where it felt like such a bloody mess that I decided no one could come near.  I decided that my heart was not worth fighting for because if it was then my daddy would stop using.  If I was worth it, he would do whatever it took because he loved me, because he loved my sisters and brother.  But nothing I ever did was ever enough.

I tried finding my worth in grades, in sports, in boys, and later on men, and nothing quite answered my question:  am I worth it?  Am I beautiful?  Am I lovable?  Am I enough?

Near the end of my college career I mourned the death of my father.  Even though he was still alive he was light years away from living.  I watched him go from being a successful business man to a homeless man on the streets of Dallas who lost everything and everyone that was precious to him.  I lost all hope that he would ever be sober on this side of life.

Then something miraculous happened.

Over my senior year of college my Dad got sober. I could hardly believe the transformation that was taking place before my eyes.  He started calling me everyday to let me know he was sober, in a program, was living a life surrendered to God, and that he loved me.  This went on for months.  I begged him to stop calling, told him I did not want him in my life and that my heart could not handle another heart break.

But my father persisted nonetheless, and looking back I needed him to pursue me during that time.  My wounded heart needed to know my father loved me, and would do whatever it takes to restore a relationship with me and my brother and sisters.

And he did just that.

What seemed like an irreparable situation was repaired.
What seemed impossible was more than possible.
What was broken is now fixed.
What was death is now abundant life.

My dad is almost 8 years sober now, and has a redeemed and beautiful relationship with each of his children.  He is one of the greatest heroes of my life.

Through this immense pain in my family I have learned about hope, identity, value, redemption, forgiveness, and the reality that love is messy!

So much has transpired in my heart, in my family and throughout our lives over the last 8 years.  I have come to believe the message in my soul that I am to share with the world is that there is HOPE!   My question of worth has been answered:  I am enough, I am beautiful, I am worth the fight…and guess what:  so are YOU!

My message is for young women to know their value, and their unimaginable beauty and worth.  That I, we, as women are beautiful and of infinite value because of WHO we are not WHAT we are.

My vehicle for this message is photography and my lifestyle blog.  I am a voice to my family, to my community, to the world that love actually does win.  That beauty is more than skin deep.  I want to change the way we as a culture view beauty.  I want to see diverse women on the covers of magazines, I want to see young ladies chasing their dreams with reckless abandon.  I want my story to ignite fire inside the hearts of young people that your story, who you are, where you have been, where you are going matters!

We live in a world full of damage and heartache, but I believe that truth sets people free and story changes lives.  Take heart, and have hope for I believe nothing in this universe is so dark, so lost, so broken that it cannot be repaired.

We are a resilient creation, teaming with hope.  So go ahead…share your voice.  The world needs you.

Discovering Brooklyn | A Lovely Universe

image

Travel and exploration is near and dear to my heart.  (My next few months are jam packed with jet setting!!! Can’t wait to share with y’all).

In fact I would dare say it is one of my core values, or at least my life would lead you to believe that.

What I love most is being a tourist in my own city, finding those hidden, off the beaten path cafes + boutiques that only “the locals” know about.  Each day in Brooklyn I feel as though I discover another hidden gem, and this day was no different.

My sweet friend Hilary Rushford introduced me to this amazing boutique in Brooklyn called A Lovely Universe.  Like seriously ladies, when you walk in you’ll want to move there; it’s incredibly charming!

Here’s why I love A Lovely Universe:  they have such cute clothes (ahem…my blouse + accessories), and the cutest knick knacks for your house including coffee table books (I bought the Wes Anderson Coffee Table Book myself), and Brooklyn cardboard coasters, to martini shakers.

If you’re in Brooklyn you definitely need to check out this hidden gem…you won’t want to leave!

image

I’m not a huge ring person, but I was all sorts of happy over this turquoise ring at A Lovely Universe.

image

image

image

Honestly though, those antlers?  The cutest.

image

Yes the uber fashionable gal, Sarah, I’m standing next to is owner/buyer/curator of the boutique.  I sort of want her to decorate my entire apartment!

image

image

Photos by:  Sara Kerens

OUTFIT: RED for Fall

You guys.  At some point I know winter on the East Coast is going to really hit, like a ton of bricks.  But for now, I am enjoying every single second of fall.

Each day it’s something completely new.  This past week after a long day of editing I walked to Prospect Park around sunset, and it was like I was in Narnia.  The trees were gold, maroon, orange, and almost every color in between.  I was that girl in the park who had her iPhone out taking 1,000 pictures.  (Those girls are so annoying).  But you know what…I don’t even care.  I feel like a giddy school girl running around this city. 

Last fall I bought this red wool pencil skirt from JCrew.  Obviously living in Newport Beach I did not get much use of it, maybe my soul knew that I would be moving to NYC the next year.  Yes…I think that’s it.

Also, fun fact, a few months ago when I was visiting Cali Miss Beth Jones of BJones Style took me shopping at Crossroads Trading Co., and found this fabulous brown turtleneck for me.  This may be TMI, but I’ve worn it the last 3 days straight; it may be the warmest thing I own.  Dear Crossroads Trading Co…you’re the bomb, thanks for this gem, and thanks Beth for finding me this gem. 

The End.

OUTFIT Post: Mixed Textures

image

Fall just can’t quite seem to make up it’s mind here in Brooklyn.  Today it was almost 80 degrees outside.  I feel like I’m back in SoCal, but with just a tad more (ok…a LOT more) humidity!

I have been on this big hoop earring kick, I’m not quite sure why, but they make me feel womanly and sassy.  Also, I kinda think it’s hilarious that I can stick my entire hand through my hoop. 

Recently Club Monaco has been stealing my heart.  I cannot get away from their wonderful, extremely versatile, pieces.  I’m trying to slowly add more pattern to my life, so I thought this pencil skirt had just enough fun to take me through my fall-ish day today!

image

image

image

image

image

Photos by:  Sarah Shreves

Outfit Deets:

White Blouse:  Club Monaco

Leopard Pencil Skirt:  Club Monaco (on sale ladies!!)

Army Jacket:  Thrift (similar)

Refined on a Dime: The Chambray Shirt

image

Welcome to the second of our Refined on a Dime series.  Last week I got to spend time with thrift store extraordinaire Beth Jones of BJones Style.  Seriously this woman knows how to find a deal!  I’m still learning the ropes of how to thrift well, and not curl up under a clothing rack and suck my thumb (people it’s overwhelming…sooo many racks of clothes!)

But…I’m learning, and with the help of ladies like Beth, I feel that in no time at all I will be a thrift queen.

Our goal for this Refined on a Dime was to take the intimidation out of thrifting.  We did this by bringing our favorite piece of denim with us to the thrift store, and our aim being to complete the look.

Beth brought her favorite pair of dark high waisted denim skinny jeans, and I brought my light denim button up.  I knew I wanted to find a cute skirt or dress to pair with my top, and that I’d want to find an oversized belt to sinch my waist.  

Ladies going in with a goal made my experience a million times better.  I knew what I was looking for, so I wasn’t wrought with feelings of panic at the rows and rows and rows of clothing racks.

Tip #1:  Go in with a Goal!

Also, I knew I didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  My goal was to get an outfit under $20, and I ended up getting a whole outfit plus an extra shirt for $14!  

Tip #2:  Have a budget in mind.

Tip #3:  No pressure!

For those of you ladies that are new to thrifting like me, keep these three tips in mind!  You can do it.  If I can, you can.  And also, just have fun with it.  No pressure!  I believe in you:)

Check out Beth’s Post + Video on our thrift outing here!

image

image

Picking a shot for instagram…obvi.

image

SPARKLY KEDS!!!  I really blew it not buying these babies.

image

image

image

image

image

Beth helping me figure out which skirt to get.  She’s urging me to get out of my comfort zone and take more fashion risks.  People this is scary.  You know I love blue, white, and tan!

Now onto the complete outfits!

image

image

image

image

image

image

We’re being models.  Can’t you tell??

image

Ok…we had so much fun!  Ya, I definitely want to do this again!

Michelle Kim thanks for taking such rad pics of us!  I just love you girl!

OUTFIT: Well Pencil Me In

We have been so excited to hear the feedback from the new series we launched on Monday! We are seriously so grateful to the women who are joining us in styling our staples - the best part is that it’s a total inspiration to us too in this blogging journey. 

Today we wanted to share more details and outtakes from our outfits on Monday - partly because Michelle + Jessie took such great photos for both of us!! - and also because I think this challenge gave us a newfound appreciation for the versatility of the pencil skirt! Fun. Classy.

It’s everything the Refined Woman loves all wrapped up in one piece. 

image

image

image

image

image

Get Kat’s Look : 

Pencil Skirt:  JCrew

Lace Top:  TJMaxx (similar)

Belt:  Thrift (similar)

Cell Phone Case:  JCrew

image

image

image

image

image

image

Get Em’s Look : 

Pencil Skirt : Anthropologie 

Shirt : Jcrew (Similar)

Necklace : Jcrew

Satchel : Dooney + Bourke

Pumps : Banana Republic

How are you going to wear your pencil skirt now? We would love for you to join the conversation with us on our facebook page!

xo

Kat + Em

The Refined HOW TO STYLE YOUR STAPLES Series: The Pencil Skirt

image

The Pencil Skirt.  Every woman should have at least one if not multiple.  As a working woman on-the-go; it’s one of those wardrobe pieces that you cannot live without!

Our favorite place to get pencil skirts you ask?  JCrew’s No.2 Pencil Skirt does it right every time!

There is such freedom in wardrobe staples.  BUT if you’re anything like me, then you get stuck wearing your staple pieces the same way over and over.  I get so uninspired when I stare at my closet each day.  Sometimes you just need a fresh set of eyes to get you to rethink the way you put together outfits.

We thought what better way to get inspired on getting out of your comfort zone with those go-to pieces then getting together with some of our favorite bloggers once a month to see how they wear their staple pieces!

Em and I are simply tickled pink that such fabulous women are partnering up with us on this collaboration!  

image

Em of The Refined Woman.

  • What we love about Em’s look is the mixture of textures and patterns.  The necklace is the perfect piece to tie in two such opposing patterns!

image

Kat of The Refined Woman.

  • We love how Kat chose a POP-O-COLOR with her skirt, then kept it simple by staying neutral with the rest of her pieces.  Her tan and white belts softens the white and yellow nicely.

Casey Leigh of The Wiegands

  • Miss Casey from Texas is a SoCal girl at heart!  We love her flowy untucked top with her DIY scarf + fedora!

image

Hilary of Dean Street Society.

  • Last week Hilary told me "keep it simple, keep it preppy", and her outfit reflects this statement wonderfully. We love her color blocking + who would have thought to pair a sweater with a pencil skirt!  LOVE IT!

image

Sara of Glitter and Grace.

  • We adore Sara’s neutral color palette. Her graphic tee keeps this look casual, yet her sassy heels keeps her uber feminine!  We love how she took advantage of adding color with her accessories!

image

Jen of The Effortless Chic.

  • Jen offers another take on the graphic tee + sassy heel look.  She keeps her color palette simple, the tee + lace skirt make this a very wearable outfit, yet her sparkly heels and jazzy jewelry takes this look to the Effortless Chic style that Jen holds to!

image

Erin of Apartment 34. 

  • We’re smitten with Erin’s blue color blocking!  There is so much freedom in color!  Her billowy top makes her skirt feel more bohemian.  

Stay tuned for our Wednesday Post as Em and I give details on where our looks are from!

XOXO,

Kat + Em

P.S.  Mark your calendars for our next Refined How To Collaboration Post Monday June 10th!

Refined at Fashion Week: Day III

image

There has never been a post this long in the history of The Refined Woman because there has never been a day so epic to recount.

Though I am a fan of the Hyperbole I promise I am not exaggerating when I say yesterday was the day that all the dreams our little hearts could hold were fulfilled. 

Lest you think I still exaggerate. Let me begin with some images. I keep looking at them to remind myself it was real. 

But first, what I wore. Because that’s important, right? Maybe not as much as all the aforementioned dreams being realized, but I am happy to say that after yesterday, all the money I spent (3x more than the pants themselves!) to have these thrifted leather pants tailored seems like it was worth it.

image

Cardigan : JCrew / Blouse : Lush by Nordstrom / Leather Pants : Thrifted (similar) / Heels : Louboutin  / Camera Satchel : ONA

image

From Kat : What is on my bucket list you may ask?  Among sky diving and being fluent in another language is attending a JCrew Presentation at New York Fashion Week.

When Em and I found out we had tickets to the Fall 2013 JCrew Presentation there may or may not have been squeals, tears, and a little dance party.  

(Spoiler alert : we screamed like girls.)

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

Here’s a shot of THE JENNA HERSELF with Anna Wintour.  NBD. (REALLY BIG DEAL.)

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

From Kat : What I love about JCrew is how each season they push the envelope with their mixture of patterns, textures, and colors with classic silhouettes; it’s why they’re able to appeal to the 18 year old hipster, the 30something business woman, and Anna Wintour.  You can’t beat class, and you cannot beat Jenna Lyons innovative mixture of all things new with all things timeless.

From me : That about sums it up. This collection rocked my world in every way possible. 

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

(JCREW SHOW BONUS : The guys. ) Sorry to state the obvious here, but these gentleman I mean how good looking can you get?  Really?

From Em : I think Kat may have found a husband. I saw them making eyes.

image

image

image

image

image

image

Now, while it would have been MORE THAN ENOUGH to just see Jenna Lyons in the flesh, we were able to say hello after the show and she was so gracious and lovely to us. We may have even handed her a business card and snapped her photograph before swooning. She kissed us and the cheek, complimented our outfits, and was super sweet.  

Truly, Jenna, you are THE Refined Woman. Thank you for inspiring women in fashion everywhere.image

WAIT.

That’s not all.

At the J Crew Presentation I was able to introduce myself to a woman who really inspired me to follow my passion for fashion blogging and photography… Garance Dore. I took a photo of her at the presentation (the lighting was just OK… but Kat took this one later on which I just adore. Go Kat!)

Garance, thank you for being so gracious in person. You do not know how much it meant to me.

image

and THEN. (then!!)

I took a photo of the man, the legend, the Sartorialist himself. 

As I bent back to photograph him in my heels and ridiculous leather pants I almost ATE it on the concrete of Lincoln Center. I imagine that’s where this little smile came from…

image

And then I died of embarrassment and I am pretty sure I ran away. I guess it’s a good to have some moments to keep us humble, am I right?

If you looked at and read this whole post, bless you. More good stuff to come tomorrow.

xo,

Em

OUTFIT: Hunter Boots to the Rescue

image

This outfit was clutch for the last wedding I photographed in San Francisco with Emily Scott.  Literally from the moment we drove up to the Bride’s house until we left the reception it was RAINING.  Not misting but pretty much pouring buckets, and need I remind you that it is winter?  My hunter boots were one of those purchases that I was not so sure about because of the price, but over and over again they have come through to shining victory for me!

Blazer:  Zara

Top:  Similar (Zara)

Skirt:  Anthropologie

Tights:  H&M

Infinity Scarf:  Handmade by a friend find one Similar

Boots:  Nordstrom’s