On Saturday, September 5, 2015, ARTicles of Clothing Blog celebrated its second birthday. Over the past couple years, I’ve faced the challenge of defining the blog’s voice and purpose. It began as a creative outlet and a place where I could write stories of personal interest independent of my freelance career. The initial focus was on fashion but has since expanded into a variety of other topics, such as freelancing, fitness, and the great city of NYC. Earlier this year, I took a brief departure from social media and from AOC Blog. I needed to step back and reconnect with my unique digital persona, the one I want to shine through on this blog. After I returned, I made my own version of an editorial calendar to map out six months of opportunities and ideas for posts. Since taking these two imperative steps, I’ve seen AOC Blog evolve and flourish in the direction I initially intended. I’m incredibly proud of where AOC Blog is today, and I’m excited about the direction it’s heading into year three.
As you take a moment to celebrate this milestone with me, please direct your attention to the Top Five Posts of Year Two (below) and the brand new, easy to navigate top menu bar (above). I added an ARTICLES section that features a drop down to sort posts by category, a SERVICES page for those who want to partner with me, and, last but not least, an all new ABOUT page that shares AOC Blog’s journey over the past two years. Finally, I must send my deepest and sincerest gratitude to my family, friends, and loyal readers who have supported AOC Blog over the past two years. CHEERS to you and to AOC Blog’s second birthday!
TOP 5 POSTS OF YEAR 2
“That feeling of solidarity is what a ‘fashion community’ can give you.” Continue reading
“Yogasmoga is not just a brand for yogis. It’s a brand for those who embrace the principles that go with it: joy, energy, and balance.” Continue reading
“The confidence with which a woman wears the fashion and the pride a woman takes in her fashion are the foundation of Woodbury Lane’s aesthetic.” Continue Reading
“I learned three of the easiest hairstyles for summer – no braiding required!” Continue reading
and the #1 post of year 2 is…..
“We all have a relationship with our clothes. After imagining yourself as Adaline, a woman who has lived for almost a century, consider how deep that connection might be with certain articles of clothing.” Continue reading
The term “fashion community” has a lot of different meanings – the elite who frequent Fashion Weeks around the globe, the teams who compose the world’s top fashion publications, or the bloggers who document their style stories. Then there are individuals who simply have an innate affinity for fashion. They may not have a career in fashion or a natural outlet to connect with others like them who inherently attach meaning to articles of clothing or who are in intimate relationships with their wardrobes. For these individuals, “fashion community” is difficult to find.
Iona was one of those rare places from which a truly fervent “fashion community” evolved. Here, all breeds of fashion fanatics gathered not only to shop a meticulously curated selection of wares but also to connect. Shopping at Iona was an experience. You had the pleasure of both indulging in unique, beautiful, high-quality fashion and engaging in meaningful conversation about fashion (and life).
At Iona, you stepped out of the dressing room not just to model a look but to discuss fabric content, color trends, or the backstory of a designer. Ultimately, these out-of-the-dressing-room conversations culminated in a photo. A simple photo in front of a plain white wall. The combination of it all – the clothing, the dialogue, the knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of what you were wearing – could give any girl the confidence to transform into a model if only just for the instant the shutter clicked.
That feeling of solidarity is what a “fashion community” can give you.
So today I’m celebrating Iona and the sense of community it provided for me and countless others. In particular, I’m celebrating Pamela Wilson, the creator of Iona whose fierce passion for fashion, creativity, quality, and aesthetic became the driving force of the “fashion community” that evolved there.
For those who live in the Madison area, Iona is open for business today and tomorrow.
One year ago today I launched ARTicles of Clothing Blog. I can’t believe it.
A successful one-woman business is a myth. If I’ve learned one vital thing over the past year, it’s that you can’t do anything alone. As a blogger and freelancer, most days it’s just you and your computer. It can feel lonely and isolating, but it doesn’t have to be. It shouldn’t be. The minute I started connecting with others, particularly fellow artists, entrepreneurs, and creative spirits, my work improved drastically. I could not have pressed forward day after day and continued to compose this blog without the support and contribution of many, and to those invaluable people, I want to say THANK YOU and CHEERS TO YOU!
Thank you to…
I met Jessica at a seminar at AmericasMart in January 2013. She was the first style blogger I connected with, and over coffee she told me one of the most important things an aspiring blogger can hear – you just need to sit down, and do it!
Angie Webb, Suburbanite Photography
Angie started a blog in college, and through it, I grew to know and love her. In the spring of 2013, Angie and I sat down over dinner to catch up and discuss my desire to establish my own blog. She gave me a great deal of advice and encouragement and, most importantly, a branding questionnaire that was vital to my creation of AOC. Since then, she has contributed to AOC as my primary photographer and an avid supporter.
Over the years Denise has had many roles in my life – dance teacher, Pilates instructor, mentor, friend. Since venturing out as a freelancer and blogger, she has taught me about being an entrepreneur, helped me make meaningful connections in my industry, and always been there at the right time with a piece of advice, encouraging word, or relevant music video.
Erica Bryan, Singer/Songwriter
When Erica reached out to me about working with her as a stylist, I could never have imagined what an impact she would have on me and my career. From the moment we partnered together, Erica became my advocate. I truly believe Erica and I are kindred spirits, placed in each others’ lives at this point in time for a specific purpose. Erica’s passion is contagious, and I’m continually inspired by her enthusiasm and commitment to her artistry.
Catie has been my hair stylist for the past five years and over that time has become a close friend. Earlier this year, Catie connected me to her longtime friend, Nikki, owner of an upscale boutique, Encore. I partnered with Encore for the first time for a feature on their spring 2014 look book, and since then, Nikki has continued to be a dedicated supporter of AOC.
Tova Gelfond and the Eide Team, Eide Magazine
For years I’ve admired Eide for their dedication to narrative voice and carefully curated aesthetic. In June, they reached out to me about reviewing their summer issue, and I had the opportunity to interview the magazine’s founder, CEO, and Editor-in-Chief, Tova Gelfond. Speaking with and learning from Tova and working with Eide is an undeniable milestone in my career and highlight of year one of AOC.
Jocelyn Negron, Must Love Sparkle
Jocelyn is the founder of Must Love Sparkle, a jewelry destination characterized by a unique aesthetic, exceptional quality, and attainable prices. She has a keen eye for buying and her own collection has a stunning design. Jocelyn has contributed jewelry for a personal photo shoot and for styling singer/songwriter Erica Bryan. Throughout our partnerships, Jocelyn has been a meaningful advocate AOC.
GaBrielle Pedriani, Look Sharp, Sconnie
GaBrielle was the first blogger I connected with in the Midwest. After visiting her blog, my perception of personal style bloggers completely shifted. Gabby defies the typical personal style blogger aesthetic ,and she’s a skilled writer. Although I only got to know her for a short time before she relocated to NYC, Gabby made a profound impact on me as a blogger and my Midwestern fashion experience.
Pamela Wilson, Iona
Pamela has been key influence in my Midwestern fashion journey. Upon meeting Pamela at a fashion event, she immediately welcomed me into the local fashion community. I’ve learned a great deal from her approach to fashion and entrepreneurship, and I’ve made some invaluable connections through events hosted at her boutique.
Amsterdam Station, Alternative Rock Band
Amsterdam Station approached me this summer while in the process of re-branding. As part of creating their new look, they enlisted me as a stylist. The band has an invigorating energy that translated into our work together. Amsterdam Station not only furthered my styling career but also broke me into the world of styling men.
Sonali Prabhu, So Narly
I connected with Sonali through mutual friends and was immediately impressed by her social media presence and following. Sonali is wise beyond her years and, in my opinion, represents the future of social media. She’s innovative, committed to her brand, and confident yet humble. While composing my first YouTube video, Sonali was a take charge director and brought a fun energy to the shoot.
Ryan Pernice and Micki Kimberly, Osteria Mattone
Ryan and I went to high school together, and he’s now the owner of two successful restaurants in our hometown. I had the opportunity to do a photo shoot on location at his Italian restaurant, Osteria Mattone. A portion of the shoot was dedicated to today’s celebration, AOC’s one year birthday. Pastry chef and personal friend, Micki, composed a special dessert for the occasion: Budino Caramellato with Fior di Latte Gelato (yes, we ate it after the shoot, and yes, it was as good as it looks and sounds).
Midwest Style Bloggers, Community
I’ve connected with a number of the founders and members of the Midwest Style Bloggers at various events. They have welcomed me into the Midwest fashion community and have been invaluable to the growth of AOC.
My friends, family, and the AOC Blog Focus Group
Despite the fact that most of my friends and family are far more traditional and practical than I am, they have offered me unlimited love and support over the past year. I could not have launched this blog and continued to grow and improve it without the feedback of my Focus Group. I want to express my particular appreciation for the following people: My boyfriend, who has no interest in fashion whatsoever but has never failed to listen, lend a hand, or provide a second opinion; My mom, who has fueled my creativity from a young age by enrolling me in my first dance classes, buying me countless notebooks, and exposing me to art in various forms; My Kitty Kat, for serving as my co-stylist on my first photo shoot; and My Boo, for setting the foundation for my reader spotlight series.
YOU, My Readers
I only make up 50% of this blog, the other 50% is YOU, my readers. Without your loyal readership, this blog would just be words and images floating around cyberspace. ARTicles of Clothing blog is both by you and for you.
CHEERS TO YOU ALL!
Most of you know my Midwestern fashion journey has been a long and rocky road. There’s no denying I’ve struggled with the transition between the South and Midwest, between the metropolis of Atlanta to the quaint town of Madison. It wasn’t until this year that I finally chiseled away that unfamiliar exterior and found some of my people – fashion people.
I met Pamela Wilson (the owner and originator of the designer women’s fashion destination in Madison, Wisconsin) at a panel hosted by the Madison Fashion Network. Shortly after, I paid a visit to her boutique, Iona, and for the first time in Madison, I felt like I was home.
If you’re looking for a piece of the big city in Madison, look no further than Iona. Iona is a carefully edited boutique featuring both established and emerging designers. It’s the type of boutique one would find in New York City, Los Angeles, or my hometown, Atlanta. With Iona, Pamela is elevating the fashion in Madison to a whole new level.
As part of the celebration of Iona’s one year anniversary, Pamela hosted an exclusive fall style guide event. Once again, proof of the innovative approach Pamela is bringing to the Madison fashion scene. Drawing on fall 2014 runway inspiration, trends set for the season, and an autumn color palette, Pamela composed a comprehensive fall style guide that aims to make fashion accessible to everyone.
I’ve complied a couple of the highlights from the event and am excited to share them with you here!
We discussed several looks from the fall 2014 runway and some of the top trends for the season. Then, we explored how to attain the looks and trends with pieces found at Iona.
BOLD COLORS & GRAPHIC PRINTS
LEATHER, BLACK, & WHITE
LAYERING KNITS & STATEMENT ACCESSORIES
The most insightful portion of the presentation was exploring color stories and exemplifying how to create them. The notion of taking a set of colors, walking into your closet, and pairing pieces of your wardrobe based on complementary color schemes seems so simple, yet I had never thought of composing an outfit in this way.
All of the pieces illustrated in the color stories can be purchased at Iona…
…viewed on Iona’s site and purchased via phone.
So, I said I’d be coming to you with quick posts during my crazy week, but today I carved out some time to share a story that’s long overdue: My Midwestern Fashion Journey.
Last night I attended a fashion panel Q&A/discussion in Madison, Wisconsin. I know that fashion exists everywhere. “Fashion is instant language.” It’s something we don’t need words to understand – it speaks for itself, it tells its own story. Fashion is something that is part of every community and culture, whether people are cognizant of it or not. So, I won’t go on to make the broad statement that I didn’t know a fashion community existed in Madison. It’s the home of online retail giant Shopbop for goodness sake. But after living in Madison for the past few years, the fashion community didn’t exist to me until last night.
I like to think of myself as one who thinks outside of the box when it comes to city searching. I grew up with a mom who was a tried and true foodie before foodies existed. Every weekend we’d get in the car, leave the confines of suburbia, and scour every corner, hidden gem, and local hole in the wall in Atlanta for the best butter, cheese, produce, and chicken. But, somehow, when I moved to Madison I fell into the classic pitfall of a GEN Y city girl.
Madison is a small town with a Midwestern culture, both of which are pretty unfamiliar to me. When I first moved to Madison, I looked for those familiar fashion faces to anchor me. I located the local Anthropologie and Sephora… and… that was about it. No major department stores at the malls? No Nordstrom Rack? No Lululemon? (Please note a Lululemon has since been built in Madison.) I immediately strapped on my skeptic hat about the existence of a fashion community here. Perhaps, I thought, Madison is a town concentrated with local boutiques. This is the case in my former college town, Athens, Georgia, but Athens is about half the size of Madison and just about an hour and a half from the heart of downtown Atlanta. Still skeptical. As a GEN Y city girl, I wanted to be inundated with options. I wanted my safe department stores for the basics, the national chains for the seasonal must-have, and the amazing local boutiques too. I felt I’d already struck out on the first two, so I had a pretty bad attitude when it came to the third.
I found Hot Mama, a Midwestern chain with closet staples like Michael Stars and Splendid and a pretty great selection of premium denim. Things are looking up. I found an awesome casual/active wear store, Neena, with brands like Beyond Yoga and Rese. Another step in a positive direction. And, of course, there’s Bop. The little brick and mortar caterpillar that later emerged into the major retail butterfly Shopbop. When my mom came to visit for the first time, we strolled in and out of several shops in the State Street section of downtown, and I ventured into the Monroe Street area one Saturday after a trip to Trader Joes, but still, the fashion community in Madison wasn’t really speaking to me. I’d hit a wall, and through inaction, put my exploration on hold.
Friends know that I’ve had a real journey acclimating to Midwestern culture and Midwestern fashion. And, yes, I do attribute some of this to my GEN Y city girl mentality. The fashion community in the South is intense. It piggybacks off the pulse of its coastal counterpart, fashion mecca New York City, while adding its own southern charm. It’s very vocal and competitive. In the Midwest, everything is more quiet and laid back, including the fashion. I remember feeling very loud the first time I went out in Madison. Not literally audibly loud, but my outfit was screaming “I’m not from here! I’m a southern, GEN Y, city girl!” Although I still wouldn’t say I feel particularly comfortable in Madison when it comes to my style and meshing with the Midwest, time has truly been my greatest ally, and over the past couple years, I’ve accepted my uniqueness in a Midwestern fashion world.
So, I come back to last night: the fashion panel Q&A/discussion. As a fashion blogger for the past eight months, I’ve revisited my desire to explore the fashion community in Madison. A new friend recently turned me onto the Wisconsin Fashion Network, which led me to the event last night. While I’m still fairly certain I was one of the only non-Midwesterners there, I was able to meet some fellow bloggers, local business owners, and other ladies with an active interest in the fashion community. It was truly a breath of fresh air. After a fairly formal Q&A/discussion, we got down to the real conversations over drinks.
My two major connections of the night were with GaBrielle Pedriani of Look Sharp, Sconnie and Pamela Wilson of Iona. GaBrielle has completely changed my perception of personal style bloggers with her very honest and unique approach to personal styling blogging that defies the typical I’m always casually standing outside this chic cafe with my perfectly on trend handbag slung over my shoulder aesthetic that many personal style bloggers take. Better yet? Her images are backed with words: rich descriptions, a clear voice, and actual writing ability – things that are sadly lacking in many fashion blogs. Then there’s Pamela. I’m pretty excited to make time for a trip to my newest retail discovery: Iona. After chatting with Pamela last night and heading to Iona’s site this morning, I’m eagerly anticipating a carefully and creatively curated boutique with some one of a kind wares. I definitely foresee a more in depth post once I actually explore the boutique, so stay tuned, and in the mean time, shop the site!