We all experienced 2020 in different ways, but it’s safe to say it’s been a long and arduous year for everyone.
If you’re feeling tired and worn out, I’m right there with you. I have about a million things to do for work, but I’m hitting the breaks this week, so I can pull Christmas together for my family and give myself a chance to enjoy it too.
Fourteen years ago, I started my journey as an entrepreneur. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I did know I wanted to balance my career with motherhood.
There were so many years when that balance was way off. For the longest time, my time leaned more toward work than my kids, and I hated it.
Yet, somehow, amidst all the chaos of the past ten months, I feel like I might have gotten it right. And I realize I don’t need to strive for balance as much as I need flexibility.
It was messy. I hit the pillow hard every night. There were plenty of nights I fell asleep wearing the same thing I woke up in. But I was able to be the mother I always wanted to be.
I have much to be grateful for this year, and so much of that comes from this incredible community of women.
Thank you for your support, your kindness to me and each other, your grace and sense of fun.
You’ve helped me build a business and family I’m proud of.
We might focus on frivolous topics here, but it’s been through those very conversations that we’ve created a community of supportive women, which has been a shining light in a year filled with stress and sadness.
It’s crazy to think that so much of my joy this year came from a group of women I never met in person. But it did, and I’m so grateful for it and to you.
I wish you and your families the happiest of holidays. I hope this time, however spent, sets the table for a peaceful, health-filled 2021. And I pray that the New Year brings about the healing, change, and normalcy we are all craving.
With lots of love,
P.S. For the rest of the month, we’ll feature our best, popular posts of 2020 along with share some behind the scenes content on Instagram. I’ll be back with fresh, daily content on Monday, January 4th.
Our readership inspires all of our posts and is not sponsored or paid for by brands or retailers.
Recommendations are based on my experience as a personal stylist and wardrobe consultant for over a decade. I worked with busy, down-to-earth women who wanted to look chic and feel confident but were often confused by so much of retail.
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All year long, I look forward to December. It is my most favorite season. In the best of times, it’s a welcomed break from the hustle of daily life. For a few wonderful days, emails stop, deadlines move to the New Year, and the collective takes a breath.
But 2020 came in and steamrolled us all. Many of us have been treading water for nine months now, myself included. So this December, I’m planning on taking a break at the end of the month. I want to spend quiet time with my kids, clear my head, get organized, maybe bake something … we’ll see 😉
Most of all, I want to take a minute to appreciate what I have and celebrate how we, as a family, navigated this year.
This was the photo I was going to use today, me in my bright white kitchen, well manicured, sipping bubbly … but then I thought …
… let’s get real. Here’s what my morning really looks like:
You don’t get more 2020 then this. We’re back to virtual learning, our office is a mess, we’re all in sweats. I’m pretty sure that’s my oldest texting her friends while she’s in class.
We are limping to the finish line.
Today I’m finalizing our content for the month. As I start to wrap up 2020 on the blog, here’s what you can expect for the next few weeks on The Well Dressed Life:
Lots of holiday outfit ideas that combine comfort with a little glamour.
One Comprehensive Gift Guide.
Our Annual Reader Favorites of 2020 with new ways to wear them.
From December 21st – December 30th, we’ll share “The Best of 2020,” a round up of the top posts of the year every morning.
Finally, our New Year 2021 Wardrobe Challenge will begin on Friday, January 8th. More details will be shared in the coming weeks.
And, of course, if you have questions or requests, pop them in the comments below.
This has been one wild year, thanks for being a bright spot in it. I can’t wait for 2021, when we can get dressed up to go to work, see friends again and generally return to normal.
I’ve happily lived the life of a small business owner since I was 27 years old: hustling, failing, learning hard lessons, and picking myself up and starting again. One of the best parts of this journey has been the great friends I made along the way, other small business owners, entrepreneurs, restaurant, bar and gym owners.
When you go down this kind of career path, you quickly get used to the idea of uncertainty. But 2020 turned that concept on its head. Over the years we have seen and heard it all, and yet, nothing could have prepared anyone for the scenario millions of businesses find themselves in right now.
I don’t need to tell you how bad it is, specifically for all the businesses that depend on their fourth-quarter revenue. Unfortunately, with increased restriction, many of our most beloved established are buckling under the pressure.
Today, I thought I would do two things. First, share my favorite, most reliable resources I turn to this time every year. Some are local to me (so if you are also local, be sure to check them out!); others are small businesses from around the country that I’ve discovered over the years.
And then, I’m opening the comments for you to list where you live and the small businesses you love in hopes that it will help generate some extra attention for them. Feel free to add their website in the comments, too, and what makes them special.
I’ll then take them and feature them across my social platforms to help build their reach.
It hasn’t been easy, but, by the grace of God, I’ve been fortunate this year. Had I kept to my original business plan of working 1:1 with clients face-to-face, in stores, I’d be out of business within the first few weeks of this disaster.
I believe just as much in economic health as I do personal health. The two are not mutually exclusive, so any way we can help support our local communities, especially this time of year, will make a tremendous, lasting, difference.
How to Help Small Business this Holiday Season
This post is not sponsored, and there are no affiliate links in it.
Local to Me
I have many local readers, so please allow me to indulge for a minute and highlight some local to me businesses I adore. No matter where you live in the country, think about how you can support local first.
I live in a town called Lafayette Hill, about 20 minutes outside of Philadelphia. We sit next to Chestnut Hill and Conshohocken (where we lived for nearly ten years). One of the many things I love about living here is the small business community. They are the backbone of the neighborhood. They support all of our youth sports leagues and school fundraisers. Their owners are our friends; their kids go to school with our kids; it’s a very interconnected place.
These are the resources I use all year long, especially this time of year when life is extra busy. I use to think I had to do everything myself. Happily, I realized a few years ago, outsourcing many of the tasks that bogged me down during the holidays was freeing.
We host all the time, this year will be smaller and different, but we’re still celebrating. As much as I love to cook, I have most gatherings catered. I find there is almost no difference between the cost of doing it myself and having it brought in, and having it catered lets me take a shower, get dressed, and have fun at my own party.
There are four local restaurants that I turn to regularly:
Conshy Girls Restaurant Group – Owns Gypsy Saloon and Southern Cross Kitchen in Conshohocken. Gypsy is my go-to and when I’m not eating there, I’m ordering their take out. The Lobster Mac and Cheese is next level – but everything is fantastic. Plus, they pack their delivery and catered food in such a thoughtful way; everything is in place and piping hot when it arrives. During the early phases of lockdowns, they catered my Mother’s Day and Easter Sunday Dinner; both were exceptional.
Pepperoncini Restaurant and Bar – I have our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day catered by this long-standing Conshocken neighborhood restaurant and bar. The food is just what we all want on a cozy holiday, from crab cakes to filet and incredible pasta, we’ve never had anything less than a wonderful meal.
Pieri Restaurant Group – Owns Stone Rose, Bar Sera, and Bar Lucca, also in Conshohocken. They are all perfect date night spots, with (in normal times) a bustling bar scene with cool beers and good wine. They are always in our night out rotation, but recently I’ve been ordering cheese boards and burrata for drinks outside on the patio with friends.
From the Boot – a family owned, BYO Italian restaurant a few blocks from my house. They are probably to blame from most of my COVID weight gain. Perfect take out for when you want a home cooked dinner but no interest in cooking it yourself.
Need some baked good? Go to Brendenbecks in Chestnut Hill. Every time I walk through their old heavy front door and hear the chimes ring, I go back to my childhood. The place smells like heaven. We order all of our cakes for birthdays and special occasions. Every Christmas Eve morning I grab a coffee and head over to pick up my order, which always includes their melt in your mouth Petite Fours.
For fun sweets to fill stockings or give as gifts I go to Edwards Freeman. They have amazing chocolates and candies and the best assortment of retro candy I’ve ever seen. My kids go crazy there.
There are places like these in your hometown. Now is the time to support them as much as possible.
It’s so easy to support local business when sending gifts this year. Before you do, remember: we can’t expect these independent stores to compete with Amazon. It’s why so many of them are going out of business. So, if you are going to support local, go all in. Please don’t complain about shipping fees and, for god sake, give them enough time to ship them out.
If you’re like me and love giving books as a gift, use Indiebound a website designed to support local independent bookstores. You can search by title and shop online or enter your zip code and be connected to a bookstore near you.
With the election dragging on for a few days as predicted, last week felt like a distraction-filled wash. But now that the political texts, ads, and commercials are finally over, I feel like today is a fresh start and a good time to Welcome November.
So I couldn’t be more thrilled or grateful to restart holiday traditions with Vivi, and seeing our big girls leading the way in celebrating with her is just the icing on the cake.
In a year filled with so much heaviness, we’re diving headfirst into the holidays. We’re decorating a little bit earlier, escaping in a few more Hallmark movies, and trying to stay present in all these little moments because we know how precious and fleeting they are.
Here on The Well Dressed Life, there is a lot of seasonal content to cover that I can’t wait to share with you. Our Holiday Gift Guides will begin this Friday because of increased online shopping and potential delays in shipping. These are some of our most popular posts, and I love putting them together, so if there is anything you would like to see or are looking for, let me know in the comments.
We are about to hit 4,000 members in our Well Dressed Life Private Group. If you’d like to join just follow this link. If your status is pending it’s likely because you didn’t answer the membership questions. This is required so I know I’m not allowing in SPAM accounts.
This year has been unbelievably challenging. In so many ways, we’ve really seen the worst of people. The internet has become such a cesspool for vitriol. Even some of my favorite sites, the ones I turn to for a moment of distraction or inspiration, have become grounds for so much hate.
But this community has been a shining light in all the darkness. Thank you for keeping this space safe and kind. Thank you for giving me grace when I needed it, for supporting my mission, for sharing with friends, for countless kind notes and messages. You have no idea what that all means to me. I appreciate you all so very much.
Fact: having an organized closet makes everything better.
Well, maybe not everything, but in a year filled with nothing but insanity, the smallest sense of order can make all the difference in how we go about our day.
Yesterday, I shared pictures in our Private Facebook Group and Instagram of my closet after I wrapped up our Fall Wardrobe Challenge. After receiving a few questions about the organization products I used, I thought it would be helpful to create resource guide for you to reference.
So today I’m sharing the best products to organize your closet so you can get a fresh start and reap the benefit of an organized space in this new season.
I’ve long been an advocate for a neat and tidy space to keep and store your clothing. It makes getting dressed in the morning easier, helps you see everything you have so you can create outfits you love, and protects the items you’ve spent your hard-earned money on.
I can tell you, after working with hundreds of women and standing in their closets for hours on end, most women’s wardrobes are limited in space.
My closet is relatively basic. It’s a “walk-in” by definition, but that’s about all I can do in it. It features a simple rod for hanging and a series of shelves. This is how it looked when we bought the house six years ago and has remained unchanged.
Last January, I finally invested in a few simple yet game-changing products to help pull the space together. Before that, I took a use-what-you-have philosophy. But the difference these few products made has allowed me to keep the area in order (for the most part), and when it does get a little out of sorts, it only takes a few minutes to pull it back together.
The Best Products to Organize Your Closet
If you only purchase one product for your closet to help create order and save you space, buy these slim flocked hangers. They are the best. I use them in every closet in our house except our front hall closet where we keep heavy coats – there, I use wooden hangers.
The uniformity the slimline hanger creates helps your eyes settle so you can see (and therefore use!) everything you have.
Next, I was not expecting it, but these acrylic shelf dividers make such an impact. Before I bought them I would have told you they were a waste of money, but they have transformed the space. Because my closet is almost all shelving, I needed to categorize items, so there was a place for everything. These dividers do just that. I can stack my jeans without them falling over and sort my sweaters by color, again, without them toppling down.
Another product I’m thrilled with is this purse organizer (pictured on the top shelf). Here, I can easily slip my various clutches in so I can quickly grab whatever I need when running out. It’s practical, and it creates a fun, boutique vibe, making my old retail heart happy. They are also from The Container Store, for $40 each, above I am using two.
Finally, let’s talk about how to store and display jewelry. If you don’t see your accessories, you won’t wear them, so I designated space on the center shelf to keep it all together.
It’s been fun to see everyone post before and after pictures of their closets and share their takeaways.
If you are still working through the previous weeks – you are in great company! Many readers are just starting the challenge. There is no need to rush. The beauty of this challenge is that you can go at your own pace, be sure to complete each week before starting the next.
When I started The Well Dressed Life, my goal was to take my expertise as a personal stylist and recreate the client experience for our readership. By building a community of busy, real-life women, who appreciate classic and modern style, I’m able to provide advice and recommendations at scale.
But we all still interpret our style sensibility differently, so having an opportunity to chat LIVE makes all the difference.
The Wardrobe Challenge Q&A
Tons of questions come up during the Wardrobe Challenge so I’m hosting a LIVE Q&A in our Private Facebook group on Sunday, October 18th, at 7 PM EST to answer them all.
And this is what really sets our site apart from the others. It’s the direct relationship I have with our readers, and that they have with each other. Our Facebook Group now has close to 4,000 members, and yet I feel like I know everyone.
The more you participate in it, the more value you will receive.
In the comments below, take a moment to ask your questions (it can be about anything!), and I’ll use them to organize our time together. You can also ask questions during our chat too, and if you can’t make it, our conversation will be saved on the page for you to watch at your convenience.
If you haven’t already joined our Facebook Private group, you can do so here. Please answer all of the membership questions. This helps me quickly approve members and ensure that I keep spam accounts out.
Last week I took a break from writing, working, and social media to give myself some space to hear myself think. Originally, Bri and I planned on going away for a long weekend, but at the last minute, we decided to send our kids to their grandparents’ house and stay home, just the two of us.
In the quiet, we finished up some projects, gathered up school supplies, and enjoyed having nothing to do and nowhere to go. One night, we even canceled reservations at one of our favorite restaurants opting instead to get their takeout and mindlessly binged Below Deck Mediterranean. It was wonderful.
After six long months of togetherness and a relentless work schedule, a reset was exactly what we needed.
A New Season
As much as I was hoping for an endless summer, I’m excited for the Fall as we head into September.
My kids start school next week, in-person (they go to a small school, so following all the safety precautions is a bit easier). It’s going to be weird but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the precautions are temporary, looking at it as a step in the right direction, and so grateful homeschooling is over, at least for now.
I can’t wait for a structured routine. I vaguely remember life when I could sit at my desk and work, without endless interruptions demanding snacks, the whereabouts of chargers, or sisters registering complaints against each other.
And speaking of work, there are so many fun things starting here in just a few weeks!
First up, our Fall Wardrobe Challenge starts on Friday, September 11th. Our free, four-week program is specifically designed to walk you through the process of defining your personal style, editing your wardrobe to only your favorites, and getting your closet organized … just in time for the new season.
I’m so excited to share this go- around with you. I’ve updated it to reflect our various situations, from virtual learning and working from home, to getting back into the office, etc.
If you’ve done it once before, do it again! Readers and members have been doing this challenge for years, over and again. Each time you’ll discover new takeaways, and you’ll slowly but surely curate a wardrobe you love.
Then, The Well Dressed Life Insider Program for Fall kicks off on October 16th. This membership has been a joy to create and host. For the Fall, I’ll have two capsule wardrobes, one to kick it off with basics, cozy knits, and wear to work offerings, and a small holiday one that will be released in November.
And, of course, the Insider will have LIVE style coaching with me throughout the membership.
Stay tuned for specific details about each offering in the next few days.
This site is first and foremost about fashion and style and comes with a community founded on mutual respect and kindness filled with women from all walks of life. We are all so different, and yet, many of us have created real friendships and bonds over the years.
The next few months, specifically in the States, will be heated and hostile with the election just around the corner. I can’t wait for it to be over.
I continue to ask, as we move through these polarizing times, to keep it kind. Let’s lean into the lightness and embrace the idea that self-care isn’t selfish; it’s vital to our survival.
We all know 2020 has been brutal. But if it teaches us anything, I hope empathy is at the top of the list. Too many people are hurting, and all of us are exhausted. We don’t know the battles someone is fighting, so give out tons of grace.
I want this little space to remind women of our inherent beauty, our power, our right to choose to live however we like, and that other women will not only support that but cheer us along the way. Please keep encouraging and learning from one another.
So, friends, let’s begin the unofficial start of Fall with grateful hearts and optimism. As my dear friend Karen said this morning in a Facebook post, “There’s still time to end this year in a better place, whatever that means for you.”