After three graduations (not counting preschool – why do they do that anyway?) I’ve perfected the art of dressing for matriculation. Read below for my best tips on graduation dressing and why I chose each piece in the collage above.
One, choose a dress that doesn’t have too much fabric to make you warm under those awful polyester robes but isn’t too short to give the front row a show when you walk across the stage. This dress is classic, tasteful, and perfect for both graduation and celebratory events after with friends and family.
Two, apply a light and classic fragrance that won’t overwhelm your seatmates. Graduations are long, closely-packed affairs that tend to be a bit warm. This fragrance is a soft, feminine blend of rose, peony, and jasmine. It smells fresh, elegant, and has just a hint of subtle sexiness.
Three, don’t forget to tuck your essentials into a clutch and hand it to a friend or family member to hold for you until after the ceremony is over. I brought powder, oil-blotting sheets, lipstick, and my cell phone in mine. You don’t want to miss out on all those congratulatory texts and photo opportunities while you’re celebrating post-hat-toss! I love the sea blue color of this suede fringe clutch and its particularly fun detachable, swingy tassel.
Four, incorporate some piece of meaningful jewelry. This gold-plated token and 18″ chain necklace make for a beautiful graduation gift. In Britain, the practice of giving a loved one an engraved coin goes back for over 400 years. For you Anglophiles, this particular token is the exact weight of a British pound coin. And although this one depicts ‘MMXVII’ (2017 in Roman numerals) instead of Queen Elizabeth, it makes for a memorable, meaningful graduation gift.
Lastly, don’t make the same mistake I did and wear uncomfortable shoes! There’s nothing worse than your feet being in pain through an hours-long ceremony, photos afterward, and family functions or celebrations that can last long into the night. I never witnessed anyone tripping or falling across the stage at my own graduations, but I can imagine that would be awful. These flats are beautifully made by one of my favorite shoe designers. The color is stunning and they tie securely around the ankle; completely trip-proof!
This unique fabric reminded me of a cross between lace and netting, which made me think of fishnet, and then my Pisces drifted straight to mermaids. So… There you have it. This dress documents the day a mermaid and a peacock met and lived happily ever after.
Mermaids aside, this dress makes a statement. The beautifully structured netting ensures the ruffles cascading around the neck and chest stand at attention and everything from the neckline to the pockets are trimmed with the most beautiful canvas trim. The skirt is so full and perfect; it’s impossible to wear this dress and not feel feminine. It will be the Little White Dress you end up reaching for over and over again.
Sometimes I discover a dress that is just fun… And this is it, darlings. I fell in love with this dress while out shopping one day and I couldn’t resist the bright, sunny color and the playful eyelet fabric. It comes with a matching fabric belt, but I paired it with this fun tassel belt to up the quirky factor.
I’ve been focusing on life lately… Spring cleaning, catching up on laundry, and tidying our home. Admittedly it’s been a bit dull around here, yet I’ve found myself feeling quite fulfilled and happy. Apparently procrastination can occasionally be rewarded because now that I’m finally posting this look, everything is on sale.
Styling Tips: Do you have thin legs? Leave off the included tie and the belt I’m wearing and let the dress be flowy; hiding any problem areas underneath and showcasing your beautiful legs! If you have an hourglass shape like me or want to draw attention to your waist, use either the included tie belt or add some tassels like I did. This dress looks just as beautiful untied at the neck and with flat sandals for a relaxed, beachy look.
Fit Details: Dress runs true to size. If your measurements are in between sizes, go with the smaller size. I’m wearing a S in the belt since I have it around my waist. Shoes run true to size.
Did you read my recent post (here) about not feeling my best lately? Even though I might not be at my best, I have to say, this beautiful silk cocktail dress makes me feel my best.
I recently wore this dress to judge the 2017 Colorado State University Student Fashion Show. I received so many compliments and I felt elegant the entire evening. There’s just something about this dress that is reminiscent of a bygone era; it reminds me of something Audrey Hepburn or Jackie Kennedy Onassis would have worn.
With beautiful high-quality fabric that gives a fit-and-flare silhouette, exquisitely tailored lines that flatter and shape a woman’s body, and fun features like a boatneck and pockets, this dress is one that will make many appearance at semi-formal functions this summer and will remain in my closet for years to come. Like I always say, invest in classics and you can never go wrong.
Styling Tips:This boater neckline is made to showcase jewelry. I love the idea of pairing a long pendant necklace like this one or this one to draw attention to the narrow waist of this dress. Or make a statement with something vintage-inspired.
Fit Details: This dress also comes in a cream color that would be perfect for all-white parties and bridal events alike. I found the dress to run just a bit bigger than “true to size”; if you’re in between size guide measurements, order the smaller size. I’m 5’7″ for reference and I didn’t need to hem the dress. It is quite literally the perfect midi dress.
I knew something was wrong when I spent nearly the entire month of February sick – with colds, with fevers, with the flu. It was like my body realized I needed a break before I did. At this point I should add that I’m the worst person at being sick; I’m absolutely miserable any time I can’t get out and about and check things off my to-do list. So nearly three weeks of feeling like a waste of space (and as a result, also being the grouchiest woman in the world) caused me to take a long, hard look at what I was doing wrong in order to avoid feeling so consistently exhausted again in the near future.
It didn’t take a harsh examination to discover the culprit. Our house was like a giant reminder of all the things stacked onto our plates and stuffed into our overflowing schedules. Our laundry hampers were full, there were stacks of mail and PR deliveries covering most of our kitchen island, invitations and save-the-dates hanging off our bulletin board, and post-it’s piled on top of highlighted appointments in my datebook… And those were just the physical clues of the chaos. A little chaos sometimes happens in life, so I kept telling myself I just needed to plan and manage time better. Can you relate? It seems we’re always convincing ourselves we need the latest planning app or new schedule that will change everything and make us into efficient little robots. But I was looking at it all wrong.
The answer won’t be the same for everyone; we all need different things to feel sane in our lives and we all handle stress in different ways. But for me, that was the entire problem… I kept examining how I could better manage chaos instead of asking myself why the chaos existed in the first place. And then I read a little article by Joanna Gaines that changed everything.
Joanna’s article was in a mini version of her Magnolia Journal tucked into my recent Better Homes & Gardens magazine. In it, she discussed the beauty of simplicity and how she has come to recognize she can’t have clutter or chaos in her home or she begins to feel unhappy. She mentioned that a big part of keeping a happy, healthy home for her revolves around making judgments as to whether a particular item or task will make her happy or stressed before it enters their home or their schedule. (This part reminded me of the decluttering book everyone is reading – perhaps I need to pick it up.) If something will become stressful mental or physical clutter, it doesn’t enter Joanna’s space; she keeps it sacred. As I read, I connected with her words and recognized myself in what she was describing. I had finally discovered my problem.
Like so many women I know, I want to say ‘yes’ to as much as I possibly can. Whether it’s something for my website, social events, favors for friends, travel, or work events; I say ‘yes’ to everything and as a result, I create my own chaos. Meanwhile, the things that really matter… My health, peace of mind, and our home often get sacrificed to make time and space for everything else. And sometimes that has to happen. But when it doesn’t? Joanna’s point was that we have to take a stand for ourselves against the everyday chaos that threatens to take over our lives and our sanity.
I looked at it this way: we will each be lucky to have one hundred years on this planet. How do you want to spend them? How do I want to spend them? Certainly not in the car, racing to every event, and causing myself to be drained and exhausted 24/7. I want to give of myself but not to the point where I sacrifice my health and wellbeing. I’ve recognized I need a bit more time to organize my surroundings in order to feel at peace. And I want to feel fulfilled and make a little time each week for something I simply want to do; reading a good book, doing a facial mask, or taking my dogs on a walk. In the past few months, I’ve come to realize it’s time to spring clean my own life.
I know so many of you are out there feeling the same way; stressed, exhausted, burned out, and not feeling like your best self. I urge you to take a peek at your own life; where is the negativity coming from? And what steps can you take to reduce or mitigate it? I started last week by taking two full days off to organize the main floor of our home since physical chaos has such a negative effect on me. I tackled one section at a time, but finally I felt this weight lift off my shoulders as our kitchen counter was (for the first time in months) empty and spotless and piles of invites and reminders were thrown out. The clutter had been taking up both mental and physical space while I was rushing to events and coming back home to work on my site until 2 AM, thinking I was completing what really mattered. Two days of easy work made me feel relieved and clear-minded… That feeling alone was worth two weeks or even two months of organization!
I have also practiced saying ‘no’ more often; to fruitless emails, to unnecessary spends of my energy, and to social events that will consume my schedule. It’s not easy and I realize I will have to check in with myself in the future to stay on track, but I’m already feeling so much better I can’t help but think I’m on the right track. Next up? Establishing a consistent plan for healthy eating and a regular exercise schedule.
All this to remind you… Please take care of yourselves and focus on what really matters to you. Life is too short to carry the burden of unnecessary chaos, my darlings! Let’s get to spring cleaning.
I sat down with Joan Juliet’s new book, The Price of Illusion as soon as it hit my doorstep. And as I finished the prologue, completely hooked, I quickly supplied myself with a hot cup of tea and a blanket because I knew I wouldn’t be able to put it down anytime soon. I was entranced with Joan’s world and I wouldn’t be leaving anytime soon.
And who is Joan, you might ask? Joan Juliet Buck is an American novelist, critic, essayist, actress, and editor. She remains the only American editor-in-chief of Paris Vogue, holding the title from 1994-2001 and has also held high positions at Glamour, Women’s Wear Daily, and British Vogue. You may also recognize her from the movie “Julie and Julia”, in which she plays the intimidating Madame Brassart.
Joan’s childhood was a beautiful and extraordinary one filled with her eccentric parents, old Hollywood glamour, and unbelievable experiences in Europe with celebrities such as Peter O’Toole, Anjelica Huston, and Karl Lagerfeld. In her childhood alone, Joan lived what most of us can only dream of experiencing in our entire lives. From It Girl to the very definition of “girl boss”, Joan quickly climbed the fashion industry ranks, settling into a glamorous position and a brilliant career at Paris Vogue. She was beautiful and poised, incredibly intelligent, articulate, and stylish in the way only those citizens of the world can be. And then it all came crashing down around her.
This fall from the top caused Joan to question everything; the price of fame, glamour, and the true cost of a celebrity lifestyle. She stepped away from all that she had known while she searched for the answers. And then she wrote a book, The Price of Illusion; a brutally honest and thought provoking reflection on her life, the fashion industry itself, and the cost at which we pursue fame and success. The book has depth, but it’s not depressing… I found myself laughing aloud at Joan’s sense of humor and impeccable sense of comedic timing as she told tales from the front rows of runways and behind the infamous doors of Vogue. This is a book you will enjoy and cherish from start to finish as you laugh, cry, and question the sacrifices you’re making and vices you possess in your own life.
I found The Price of Illusion to be incredibly relevant to my life as a blogger and for our current social climate. It seems the media’s favorite buzzwords are “reality” and “live” and “real-time” yet so much of this content isn’t actually real. Many millennials are jobless and living with their parents, yet feel the pressure to post endless vacation destination photos to Instagram. And we see hordes of fashion bloggers parading loud and outlandish styles in the hopes of being photographed just once for an online magazine. Are we as a society addicted to perfection and glamour? And what is the cost? I wanted to pick her brain… How do we fight through the superficial to remain genuine and real?
I was so grateful to be given the opportunity to interview Joan about her book, her life, and all the questions I had for her. Even over the phone she possessed a presence; the kind you feel when someone who has experienced and seen everything and has come out even stronger walks into the room. Her husky voice and worldly accent I couldn’t quite place instantly drew me to her; I wanted to be her friend and ask her hours of questions all at the same time. I found her to be grounded, thoughtful, well-spoken, and humorous. She is one of those rare people that comes along once a century or so; someone who lives life to the fullest and then is brave enough to tell the world about it… Good, bad, ugly, and everything in between.
Please read the transcript of my interview with Joan Juliet Buck below. You can purchase her incredible new book here.
Brittany: First of all, I want to thank you for your time and giving me the opportunity to speak with you; it’s an honor. And a big congratulations on your fantastic book. As soon as I began reading, I was blown away by your humor, timing, and story; it’s incredible. I’m excited to be sharing it with everyone.
Joan: People are reacting to the book with their whole hearts; I’m getting this all the time. And the more people there are; I don’t know, we could start a movement!
B: That’s great. First, I wanted to give you a chance to describe the book in your own words and tell people about it.
J: Well, that’s kind of impossible for me. That’s why I had to write a first draft that was over 1,000 pages. It’s a memoir, but it’s about everything.
B: Do you realize that you’re an extraordinary person? Your sense of humor, the access to people and places you’ve been, your experiences. As I was reading through the book, I was wondering,”Does she know she’s an amazing person?” Because that’s what the rest of us are thinking!
J: I had very privileged access all my life; particularly in childhood, particularly growing up. And then it just continued. People describe me as eccentric. I don’t quite know why they say it; I don’t know what that’s about, frankly.
B: Your father, Jules Buck, was a famous film producer. How have his creativity and work had an influence on you and your own work?
J: Interesting question. My dad was very driven; he had a perfect eye for symmetry, for composition, for talent. He knew how to get things done, he was persistent, he never gave up. I don’t have quite as perfect an eye as his; he sometimes doubted my taste. Dad really knew what he wanted and he could tell talent. I think I have that too.
The person who most impressed me when I was at Paris Vogue was a twenty-four-year-old photographer; I think we were the first magazine she worked for. She was called Taryn Simon. She didn’t really want to be taking photographs for Vogue and she’s turned into one of the most important photographers today, but she’s an art photographer. And if you look up ‘Taryn Simon Armory’ you’ll see the amazing show she did that just had a video on The New York Times. She’s a genius. I met this twenty-four-year-old girl I thought, “Yes. You’ve got it.”
B: So you have kind of a natural sense for that “it factor”, not to sound too cliché?
J: Well, it’s more real talent. Because “it” is one thing; “it” is the trend, the happening thing right now. Real talent, people have a little bit more trouble with because it’s not always completely digestible. I was a movie critic and I was on the New York Film Festival selection committee where we chose the movies that would be at the festival and awarded them the prize. And… Do you know what it is? Both my parents had extraordinary taste, real discernment about what was good, what was fake, and what was second rate; talent, art, books, movies, theater, actors, directors. They really knew what was truly good. And they imparted that to me. And the big thing was, don’t go for the flim-flam.
B: That’s interesting, what you said about the “it” factor versus real talent or real style, real art. Your book is so relevant to what we’re seeing in society today; the price of illusion and fantasy versus reality. As an influencer, it’s something I struggle with; we’re supposed to create a “perfect” world online. Have you noticed that? And how do you think this sort of illusion will play out over time, both in terms of the influencer industry and on our society as a whole?
J: The whole influencer thing is really interesting because for a long time it was people being photographed going into fashion shows and then it became a phenomenon with people wearing more and more extreme clothes as they’re going into the fashion shows. So it becomes all about what people are wearing to the fashion shows. Here are the designers spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to put on a show and the social media is all photos of the audience, so there’s something wrong there.
Because fashion shows are such a nightmare to live through; you don’t get sleep, you don’t get fed. So when I edited French Vogue I would have a slideshow afterward that would last two days for everybody to take a proper look at what we’d actually seen and try to figure out what’s really happening. And it wouldn’t be the dress that the photographers had all gone crazy about; there would be some underlying thing that was what was really going on.
I think the actresses that I went nuts over when I first saw them were Marion Cotillard and Audrey Tatou who was playing a manicurist in this little movie and I said, “This girl has it.” So I think that for you, your job is to trust your gut reaction; don’t go with what other people are making a fuss about. Go for the thing that makes you feel happy, that excites you, even if you don’t think it’s the thing you should be liking. Because the gut and the instinct are the most important things. So many guys died during the AIDS epidemic; the guys who really had the great instincts, who knew what the good stuff was. And who knew how to recognize beauty and style and grace and gorgeousness.
Now there’s this lemming factor; the internet is all about the lemming factor. If something is on the internet then it has to go on being on the internet. No, it’s your job to really edit and to just choose the stuff you like and stay with it, continue, just keep banging. If you find one thing, one style, one person, keep showing them because you want to not because other people are doing it.
B: The “lemming factor” is such a great term for it! I see it all the time and I think, “This isn’t style… It’s just the quickest, loudest thing you could throw on!” It’s not like these people are trying to create a feeling or imagery or art. So I’m so happy to hear you say that.
You mentioned French Vogue, which was a huge part of your career and from your book, seems to be a major turning point in your life.Can you describe the difficulties beginning there? What was it like being an American in Paris?
J: Well, I grew up in France so I have that French thing. But basically the only way to be an American in Paris is to be there on holiday, sitting at a café table and having a love affair. And to go shopping. But the moment you are part of the French thing, there is this terrible bureaucracy and everything is “non, non, non, non!” – they love saying that, and they love saying “impossible!” So I found myself up against that.
Even though I’m not really American because I grew up in France and England, I found myself getting more American. So I was wearing cowboy boots and practically chewing on straw, just to show that I was kind of a cowgirl and a real American. Because there’s this thing I’m sure you’ve noticed as an influencer, which is the law of contrast. So if you’re around, I don’t know, a bunch of people wearing pink you’re going to wear bright blue because it’s like, enough of this pink – forget it!
B: That’s funny that you say that because I feel like that sometimes. I love romantic, Parisian influences and classic style. And sometimes I feel I accentuate it to stand out against the Kylie Jenner style of the world.
J: Barbie clothes. Oh forget that! You must never mention any of them, not even to comment on them! They don’t exist. Seriously, I was at Women’s Wear Daily when Princess Anne was getting married and I was being given all this shit to find the design for Princess Anne’s wedding dress. And I was getting absolutely nowhere. So I finally said, “The dress is too hideous for us to show. Not interesting!” You know, I wasn’t interested!
You and people in magazines feel a lot of pressure to do what everyone else is doing because that’s what they’re doing. No. The pressure is to really find what really rings your bell. And that’s how you really have an influence.
B: During your time at French Vogue, what did you feel were your driving influences? In your book you mention speaking to French Vogue prior to your becoming editor-in-chief about the changes you thought would help the magazine; were those things your driving forces?
J: I felt it was not an interesting magazine to me when I took it over. I kept saying “je” and “jeu”; I and game in French. I wanted to bring the “I” and “game” back into French Vogue. ‘I’ and the ‘me’ so that the reader would open the magazine and see herself.
In seven years, I only had two movie stars on the cover and I thought, “I’m not doing this again. This is stupid.” The reader wants to see a model really made into today, right now, and then they can relate to the model. But you know, every time we had Kate Moss on the cover I thought it didn’t really talk to the reader because it was a famous model. I was much happier using Carolyn Murphy who wasn’t the household name but who is so beautiful and who could look so many different ways and she was a total trooper too.
B: How would you describe yourself now, at this moment in time? After going through everything you’ve gone through, who is Joan Juliet Buck?
J: I’m a writer and I live the way I want to live. I finally realized I need a lot of sleep; I can’t pretend to be somebody who can survive on six hours of sleep because I can’t. I sleep a lot, I work very hard; I’m reading and writing and acting the whole time. And the last two months I’ve been promoting the book.
But I’m someone for whom human connection; the vulnerability of other people, their truth, their heart, is what interests me the most more than the surface. I’ve always been that way in terms of my friendships. I talk in the book about my friend Lydie who is the mystic poet who is the mave for a priest, who sort of represented the way I wanted my values to be.
Surface – I’m still totally attracted to the beauty, to beautiful things. The beauty of nature, to the beauty of antiquity, to the beauty of all kinds of things. It doesn’t mean I’ve given up on beauty, but I don’t exist to tell people about new products or new actors. I write from my own experience; I write personal essays. I won’t do interviews anymore because I can only tell the truth about myself and I’m most interested in writing about truth.
B: That’s beautiful. Thank you so much, Joan, it was an absolute pleasure.
The spring weather has been hot and cold here in Denver; one minute the sun is shining warm and bright and the next it’s cloudy and cold. The only solution is to be prepared for any type of weather by dressing in coordinated layers.
If you’ve been looking at my most recent content, you probably have noticed that I’m quite obsessed with my short trench coat. I wear it constantly! Last week I spilled something on it and now it needs to visit the dry cleaner’s but I’m dreading taking it in because it means I’ll be forced to part with it for a few days. I am that attached. Since mine is sold out, I’ve linked a trench that’s nearly identical in style and color. But I’ve also linked the same style that now comes in three other color options.