Live, Love, Learn and Lean On…

“There is no door you don’t deserve to walk through, no room you don’t deserve to be in, and no table you don’t deserve an invitation to…”-MCB #OwnIt

I leaned on my mother’s advice once again and it took me all the way back to my alma mater (again). This past Saturday I had the privilege of presenting a seminar on dressing for success at The University of Alabama to women of all ages at Lean On: Alabama‘s inaugural conference. I invited the guests into my “closet,” so to speak. No slides, no rehearsed speech, just speaking “from the hip” and from the heart. (Enjoy the “behind the scenes” photos!)

You never know when your invitation to a seat at the table will arrive, but if you “stay ready” you don’t have to “get ready.”

Does your organization need a professional presenter who can speak relevantly to the art of style and dressing for true success? I’ve provided dynamic, memorable presentations for nonprofits, community organizations, top tier universities and major corporations, and can connect with groups of five to five hundred (and beyond). Book me!

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The look for less: Beyonce in Gucci

Bey rocked a $22,000 Gucci S/S 2017 print kimono with fur trim to the NBA All-Star game this past Sunday, and it’s such a chill yet “unapologetically glamourous” (per Vogue) look for the upcoming season–whether you’re expecting twins or not.

I’ve been slow to embrace the pajamas-as-daywear look, but I have been saving an H&M kimono that might work this way. Here’s my take on the luxe and laidback look, featuring an ivory silk cami from J. Crew and destroyed denim from American Eagle Outfitters. (I may try this with white denim and denim shorts too.)

And now that I’m really looking at it, a little fox fur D-I-Y may be in order.

Images via Hello Beautiful, J. Crew and H&M


Via Instagram (@doyouspeakjcrew)

Be the Hostess with the Most-est!

Baby it’s (finally) cold outside! And that means entertaining has moved indoors. What’s better than enjoying food, friends and family, set in your comfortable home?  My grandmothers Mamie and Dorothy were fabulous entertainers, and they had a knack for sharing southern hospitality that just made family, friends and even strangers flock to their homes.

I’m missing both of them, and so I’m sharing what they taught me to keep their memories alive. You know if I’m doing something, I like to do it grandly, and that comes directly from them.

Incorporating any–or all–of these tips will help you entertain with flair, year-round:

  1. SET THE MOOD.  Add a soft around your home with lit candles. Choose scented pillars, votives or tapers in light spice or floral fragrance, and mix them with unscented varieties. I love to place these in my kitchen, guest bathroom, on my dining room table and around my living room–and even in groups inside my fireplace! Find inexpensive options at your local big box discount store, or in TJ Maxx or HomeGoods.
  2. SET THE TABLE. When entertaining, my grandmothers felt guests’ manners rose to the occasion, so having a formally set table encouraged better table manners.  Rather than pulling out folding trays, use your dining room table to its advantage. Pull out your best china, flatware and linen–or even nicer clear plastic plates–and add an inexpensive runner if you’re not using a table cloth, and use a simple but impactful floral arrangement. Serving buffet style? Upgrade your servingware with nicer platters and utensils. (Again, you don’t have to spend a lot.)
  3. ADD SUGAR AND SPICE. Have something sweet, savory and spicy to balance your guests’ palates with a varied menu. Whether it’s classic Chex Mix, a beautiful spread of cheese and fruit, or even old school gummy bears, have something for them to snack on, and serve it in an unusual fashion, like martini glasses! Affordable gourmet snacks can be found at your local grocer or discount home store.
  4. SIP SOMETHING SPARKLY. Serve some great bubbly, whether it’s an adult beverage, fizzy fruit juice or even carbonated water (just garnish it with lime!). Have a mix of options for guests who don’t imbibe, or who limit sugar from their diet. Serve in nicer glassware! Fun cocktail napkins are a fab touch, and a chic alternative to plain paper towels.
  5. DRESS YOUR BEST, BUT FOCUS ON GUESTS. Surely you knew an outfit would be in the mix! My grandmothers loved hostess gowns, glam caftans and luxe lounge wear. Even if you’re entertaining at home, rise to the occasion and get out of your yoga pants. Try a luxe pair of silk day-to-night cocktail pajamas or even a simple lace dress. I also love to throw one of my vintage aprons on for good measure (even if the pie I’m serving is Mrs. Smith’s!). Be comfortable and cute; don’t wear anything that you’ll tug or fuss with all evening.

True hospitality is not about how much you spend on linens or glassware. True hospitality is about the effort you put into making your guests feel especially welcome year-round.

Whether you’re serving ham sandwiches and store-brand soda or a spectacular gourmet seated dinner, you can do so with grace, intention and style–and that, darlings, is the most important thing.

Check out these retailers  when shopping to entertain: Swoozie’s, TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, Target, World Market, Fresh Market and Publix. They all have gourmet sections with food, beverage and/or decor that make an impact without putting a huge dent in your wallet. (And Etsy and eBay have awesome vintage aprons.)

Platter, vase and glassware via TJ Maxx; dress via J. Crew; apron via eBay; Champagne via Moet; Sugarfina gummy candy via Swoozie’s; Table runner  via HomeGoods; Hydrangeas via Publix


Hello darlings!

I wanted to share this nugget of wisdom I received via text this morning. Last year was very hard for me, and I’ve been more proactive about making positive changes that lessen stress. In addition to being more vigilant in prayer and exercising, receiving texts like the one above have improved my quality of life by providing a bit of affirmation, plus action steps.

If you need a little boost to help you slay, visit shinetext.com to sign up. Sharing is caring!

Xo, Alexis 

Image via Shine Text

Talking natural hair…

curly-hair

Several of you have asked what I use to care for my  curls, and I am excited to share these tips and products with you here and on Talk of Alabama today (You can view the segment by clicking HERE.)

There is no one-size fits all approach to natural hair. You can watch all the YouTube videos and read all the blogs in the world, but you’ll still have to learn your own hair, whether you cut it all off or grow it out from the root.  You may have to “cocktail” different brands and processes to achieve the look you want, or you may be able to literally wash and go. My tips are based on 8 years of trial and error. Note: I am not a hairstylist or dermatologist. Seek professional advice before you self-diagnose or try anything to permanently alter your hair. (For example, I don’t color my hair at home. I leave that to someone who has professional training.)

Tip 1: Have a great go-to shampoo and conditioner. Using a shampoo that is free of sulfates, counteracts hard water buildup, is gentle enough to use daily and allows my hair to retain moisture is key. And because my hair gets super tangly, I need a creamy conditioner that smooths the cuticle of my hair and makes the detangling process much less painful. Try: Kinky Curly Come Clean Shampoo and Knot Today Leave-In Conditioner, $12 each; available at Target.

Tip: Pre-poo or deep condition as a luxury treatment.  I love the versatility that allows me to wear my hair blown out bone straight, but that has an effect on my curls. A few months ago, they were in pretty bad shape. Using a great protein pre-shampoo treatment and a rich deep conditioner strengthens my curls and gives them a little more “POP.”                       Try: Madam C. J. Walker’s Dream Come True Wonderful Pre-Wash Protein Treatment, $32 at Sephora. For deep conditioning, try Ouidad’s  MeltDown Extreme Repair Mask, available at Sephora and Ulta for $44, and in a smaller size at Ultra for $16.

Tip: My curls don’t require a lot of handling, so I stick to a Denman brush for detangling and working product through my wet hair. Using a microfiber towel to squeeze excess moisture out of my hair shortens drying time and eliminates the frizz a bath towel can cause.  Try: Microfiber wrap, available at HomeGoods, $3.99; Denman brush, available at Sally Beauty Supply, $11.50.

Last but not least:  Be gentle with your curls. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing your texture to someone else’s, because every curl pattern has its own unique beauty. Since hair grows from the inside out, it’s still going to be important to eat well and drink plenty of water. Be sure to get regular trims and consult with a stylist who understands textured hair. Oh-and if you see someone with gorgeous natural hair, feel free to compliment them on it, but as a general rule: please ask before touching it!

Want to see a professional? Here are some Birmingham-area stylists I recommend:

Image via FunnyAnd.com

On repeat: Solange’s “A Seat at the Table”

Solange has long stepped out of her big sister’s shadow and established herself as a woman of style and substance, and an artist in her own right. With her newest album, she bookends the conversation Lemonade continued this year. And because she’s the sis willing to be a little more out there (when, Elevatorgate), it furthers that. In short, this is soul music in every sense of the phrase. Get your life and go download it. 

Link via YouTube

What I wore: Lily Rain

alexis  lily rain talk of alabama
I am in LOVE with the fuchsia off-the-shoulder top I wore on Talk of Alabama this week! The boutique, located at the Summit, is hosting a special event on September 22 that benefits the United Way of Central Alabama. Stop by and treat yourself for a fabulous cause! 

lily rain united way event

As Seen on TV

Happy Monday, darlings! Let’s get this week off to a fabulous start, shall we? Here are six of my favorite, budget-friendly finds for fashionistas on the go, as shared on  ABC 33/40’s Talk of Alabama today!

STREAMLINING SKIN CARE: Using products that eliminates extra steps or products, or saves time is a major key! For example, I love exfoliating, but what do you do when you’re out of your favorite face scrub? I love OH K!’S CLEANSING PAD DUO PACK—from Paper Source—which lets your cleanser do double duty as an exfoliator. The fun, reusable silicone pads are a gentle way to remove makeup and refresh your skin, and they’re affordable at only $6.95.

PRODUCT PRO TIP: Isn’t it annoying when you can’t get to the last of your liquid foundation, lotion or cream? Consumer Reports estimates 15-25% of product goes to waste for this reason. If you’re like me you’ve scooped or cotton-swabbed to get the last few drops. But I recently found the SPATTY DADDY SET—$6.99 at Bed Bath and Beyond—which is amazing! This tiny set of spatulas can save you from digging or cutting into bottles and lets you get to the bottom of your product–so you get the most from it.

BLING, BLING: Whether your jewels are costume  finds or family heirlooms, keep them looking their best. Baublerella’s GLITZY GLOVE polishing mitt and BLING BRUSH with natural cleaner—available at Swoozie’s at the Summit—are affordable ways to remove tarnish and make your gemstones or precious metals sparkle. And a portion of proceeds empower women entrepreneurs and organizations that help instill confidence in young girls, so you’re helping a great cause.

GO-TO GADGET: I love tools and tricks that help me get dressed just a bit faster, like my BRACELET BUDDY!   When I saw this on TV I had to order one from Amazon. It eliminates fumbling to fasten a clasp through the patented clip that secures one end of your bracelet allowing your free hand to wrap it around your wrist and instantly secure the clasp. For $6.99, it’s a simple solution to this fashionista’s first world problem—and it’s also useful to those with arthritis or other mobility concerns.

READY, SET…OOPS:  If you’re prepared with a mini emergency kit – like this one from PINCH PROVISIONS—about $18 at Paper Source at the Summit – you are ready for just about anything. It has 17 items in a nifty pouch that save you in a pinch, and can be kept in a purse, glove compartment or desk drawer so you have it when you need it!

Xo, Alexis

Iris Apfel stars in emojis+INC line for Macy’s

In today’s “fabulous at every age” news… we’re totally here for it. (Did you somehow miss our last post? #TeamIris)

Haute off the press release:

“I.N.C. International Concepts, exclusively at Macy’s, today reveals its Fall 2016 campaign, “Iris Meets I.N.C.,” and launches its corresponding emoji keyboard inspired by campaign star, Iris Apfel.

Designed by Snaps and with input from Apfel, the keyboard includes emojis, stickers, and GIFs featuring Apfel, her signature quotes, and items from the “Iris Meets I.N.C.” collection. The emojis also incorporate lifestyle categories, including beauty, food and beverage, and an assortment of birthday-themed graphics in celebration of Apfel’s upcoming 95th birthday on August 29.

“I’m a little old for emojis, and I didn’t know what they were,” said Apfel. “But everyone seems to like them, and I want everyone to have a good time. If my face makes people happy, I’m all for it.”

The creative advertising campaign, shot by Ben Watts, features Apfel, both on her own and alongside model Linda Vojtova, wearing five looks from the collection. As previously announced, INC teamed up with Apfel to develop a collection of approximately 40 “must-have” clothing and jewelry pieces that play into fall’s “mod” trend revival. Apfel consulted with I.N.C.’s design team and provided creative direction on the collection, which focuses on stylish and versatile wardrobe staples and a wide assortment of her signature bangles.

The emojis will appear throughout all elements of the campaign, including product hangtags, digital advertising and direct mail.

“This is Macy’s first foray into emojis, and Iris Apfel’s campaign for I.N.C. was the perfect occasion to try something we’ve never done before,” said Nancy Slavin, senior vice president of marketing for Macy’s Merchandising Group. “Iris has collaborated with other fashion brands in recent years, so we wanted to take a fresh approach. She’s an icon whose appeal spans multiple generations, and we see these emojis as a fun way to amplify the campaign through mobile first. Her fans are going to go crazy!”

Beginning August 3, the emojis are available for free download on iOS and Android through the Apple App and Google Play stores.

The “Iris Meets I.N.C.” collection will be available exclusively at Macy’s stores and on macys.com in early September 2016.”

All images courtesy of Macy’s

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