Hopefully, by now, you know how deeply I value our community and readership. So, if I may, I’d like to speak frankly to all of you, before I set up for what to expect from The Well Dressed Life this month.
I have stared at a blinking cursor for the last few days, trying to figure out what to say. How on earth are we supposed to “welcome” April when we know the devastation, turmoil, and sadness it’s going to bring?
First and foremost, if you are a member of the medical community, a first responder of any kind, considered essential personnel, or a teacher now trying to teach our kids remotely, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
We have, quiet literally, asked you to save the world. A task so herculean, we can’t even begin to understand what we’ve asked of you. I send you and your families my prayers every night and I hope within each of your communities you are being well taken care of.
For the last three weeks, my family and I have been in lockdown right outside Philadelphia. And like you, I sit and watch the news go from bad to worse to this-cannot-be-happening.
As you know, I’ve been making a concerted effort to remain bright and optimistic. I’m trying to see the positives, being grateful, staying busy… all the stuff they tell you to do.
And it works, about 75% of the time.
But we have all been on a rollercoaster of emotion.
Monday was my darkest day. With the news that this lockdown will be in effect for all of April, and the number of projected deaths, I could taste the sadness in the air.
It felt like someone blew the last remaining candle of hope out and kicked me in the gut all at once.
So I want you to know that my positive appearance isn’t an act, and it also doesn’t mean I’m not profoundly aware of what is happening in the world and in our homes.
We’re the Lucky Ones
I’m also painfully aware of my own good fortune. My house is happy, my parents are safe, I don’t mind being cooped up with my husband, my kids are handling this far better than I am, their teachers are amazing, etc. We have resources and space.
That’s not to say that I’m not up at night worried about everything. From money, health, the future, you name it, I’m worried.
I can’t make heads or tales about why this is happening. All I know is that controlling my outlook is the most important thing I can do for my family and maybe, as a bonus, I can help keep your spirits up too.
So this month I am going to continue to cling to normalcy by focusing on cozy home based outfit ideas, a few fun suggestions for those dreaded video conference calls (good news is you only need to dress from the waist up!), some more self-care tips, beauty ideas and lots of “How To” posts that will include video.
Early next week I’m going to highlight some things you can do in your local community to make an impact, including the fundraiser I just started in my own neighborhood that you can easily replicate.
We ended February by hitting some incredible milestones in the business. So I wanted to use today’s Editors Note to share some of our successes and let you know what to expect this month.
I have a TON of content planned. From legging-alternative outfit options (sneak peak below) for those of us who work from home, to a round up of the best suits in case you need to add a new one this season.
As usual, all of it is inspired from my conversations with readers here and on our social accounts.
As many of you know, one of my goals for the year was to focus on Instagram and hit the coveted 10,000 follower status.
I assure you none of this is ego-driven. My friends will tell you no one enjoys attention less than I do, but Instagram is an incredible platform to share our tips and to connect with more like-minded women.
Hitting 10,000 followers will unlock many business features and open opportunities to monetize the business.
Yesterday, we hit 4,000 followers, which, simply put, is incredible growth for a non-celebrity. I wanted to hit 10K by the end of the year, but we are currently on track to reach our goal by the end of April.
If you follow along, like and comment on posts, or have shared with your friends, I am forever grateful.
What can you expect on Instagram?
Every day I post my outfit, with lots of tips and specific recommendations for our readers. I also share lots of behind the scenes videos, like how I clean out my closet, and my most recent trip to the mall to show you how I select pieces to feature here on the blog in my Instagram Stories.
Keeping track of all the changing rules in social media is actually a full-time position in many businesses, but around here, it’s just me. Sometimes my head is spinning with information overload.
What I know is that our Private Facebook Group is the gift that keeps on giving. The majority of the content you see here comes directly from what we talk about in the group.
It’s filled with women of all ages, who ask questions, share advice, and offer tons of kindness and support. It’s the ideal place to go if you have a specific question or need extra outfit inspiration.
If you’d like to join, follow this link, and please answer the membership questions for quick approval. If you’ve invited a friend, they have to answer the questions so they know they weren’t added without permission.
It featured a range of mix and match pieces in all sizes. This month will feature one for warm weather travel – just in time for spring break and a super versatile offering that will help build out a more casual focused wardrobe.
I had this crazy idea a few years ago that I could build a business based on community and integrity. I wanted to recreate the connection I felt when I worked with personal clients, but at scale. And I didn’t want to have to sell out and push products just because it would pay the bills.
Many of you have been reading since the beginning. You stuck around while I tried to find my way. It’s been a ton of work over the last 18 months (and I had a baby in the middle of all of it), but I feel like I’m finding my stride.
The path to what I want this to be is slowly showing itself. And that’s because you have been so generous with your advice, suggestions, and support. So thank you for the kindness and for seeing my intentions from the beginning.
I’ve been working on a project for the last year, and I’m excited to share a glimpse of it with you today. As you know, my mission is to help simplify the process of shopping and getting dressed for women in the hopes that it enables you to save time, money, and gain confidence.
The biggest challenge women face when shopping is where to go and what to buy. It feels like there are too many stores and websites to choose from, and the items these places have to offer are frequently not what you’re looking for. In other words, women today are frustrated by having far too many options and, yet, far too few.
The success of my personal shopping company was based mainly on my understanding of this. Since I closed that portion of the business in 2017, I’ve been asked more times than I can count to work 1:1 again from readers all over the world.
I considered creating some kind of virtual offering, where you could work directly with me but realized I didn’t have the bandwidth, and wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demand.
The WDL Shop
So I created the WDL Shop, where we’ll take the hassle and guesswork out of shopping. Think of it as a curated, handpicked selection of the best merchandise from all retailers, in all sizes, and keeps your budget and lifestyle top of mind.
Instead of having to walk the mall or search a dozen different sites, you can visit our online marketplace and quickly find what you need.
Here, you’ll have access to all of the items featured on the blog, in an easy to navigate interface designed to work just how you shop.
The site is organized in four ways, by Size,Collections, Capsules, and Favorites. First, continuing my commitment to size inclusiveness, you can shop in either missy, plus, or petite.
Next, you can shop by Collections. I’ll use this as a place to highlight options for specific occasions, like “date night,” or “best heels”, much like I do on the blog in our roundup posts.
In early March I’ll begin to post our seasonal Wardrobe Capsules . Once they are live on the blog, you’ll also be able to find everything from business casual to weekend capsules in an easy drop-down menu on the shop.
Finally, if you want to see the top items from the blog, just click Favorites, and you’ll be directed to our most popular recommendations.
More to Come
Nothing changes here on the blog. Our content from now through spring is pretty fantastic (if I do say so) including more real life style inspiration (the coat above will be featured this Friday with other under $200 statement coats).
Posts will largely focus on educating and inspiring, and continuing to build community. January’s Wardrobe Challenge, for example, was our biggest one to date. Stay tuned for the spring edition in March as well.
The marketplace is designed to work with the blog as a resource for you to visit when you’re ready to shop.
Today, I am softly and slowly rolling it out. The completed site will be part of a wider launch when I publish the first of our Spring Capsules on March 3rd.
I’ve learned that taking things slowly is the best approach. So take a peek and keep in mind we’re still populating most of the categories, they’ll be updated within the next two weeks and fully loaded by the end of the month, just when you might start thinking about spring.
I want to see how it works for you. Let me know capsules and collections you want to see, and tell me about the big holes in your wardrobes – especially if you just finished our Wardrobe Challenge.
My goal is for you to have a one stop shop for anything you need and an easy way to quickly find one of my recommendations, without having to scroll through all of our blog posts.
I build this site by hand. It took about a year of research to understand what I wanted to build and then I had to learn how to do it. So what you’re going to see is months of late nights and very tired eyes. But it think this is going to be a wonderful addition to our offerings.
As we gear up for the holidays and the New Year, I want to use today’s post to let you know what you can expect from The Well Dressed Life in 2020.
I’ve been thinking a lot over the last few months. I’ve spent days studying our analytics, and privately talking to a select group of readers in an effort to figure out how to continue to grow our site.
Now that I’m in my 40s, I know firsthand how challenging it is to get dressed every day, and look and more importantly feel, chic and modern.
Balancing that with our busy lives, realistic budgets, and a desire to stay youthful, is overwhelming – and I say this as someone who has dressed thousands of women professionally for over ten years.
So I’m excited to share some things to look out for as we head into the New Year.
Looking to 2020
First, our daily content will continue through the remainder of December, with the exception of Christmas Day.
On Friday, December 20th I am announcing a brand new Wardrobe Challenge, designed to help make 2020 your most stylish decade ever. It will kick off on January 10th.
The most significant decision I made for 2020, is that I’m going back to my roots. I spent all of my career as either a retail buyer or stylist and eventually owned my own styling firm. My talent is in deciphering what someone needs, and matching their style with what is in stores.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve walked through every store imaginable, scoured all the popular websites, and I can tell you without a doubt, it’s more challenging to shop now than ever before.
There are so many bad options; it’s almost impossible to see the good ones. And I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I can’t believe that designers, brands, and retailers are still marketing to a much younger demographic.
No one is focused on the professional woman, who needs a skirt she can sit down in. Or a busy mom who doesn’t want to look frumpy just because she needs to be practical. What if you just want to go out with some friends, or go on a date and would prefer a top not cut down to your belly button?
I don’t know about you, but I feel like now that I can buy what I want and need, there is so little out there for me.
As I focused on our audience I was delighted to learn about the vast age range of our readers are anywhere from 30 to 70 year old. Which just tells me that classic, timeless style is just that – classic and timeless.
Some of us work full time in the home, some outside, some both, some are retired. What we do with our days is different, but our desire to look and feel great in what we are wearing is the same.
Going forward, most of our content is going to focus on providing inspiration and advice to help you get dressed for your daily lives. And we are going to organize the site so you can navigate it easier.
I want you to come here first if you need a new pair of jeans, or a great pair of heels for work. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for the first beta test of that functionality.
I want you to think of this site as your very own digital personal shopper. Except this is totally free, there is no membership fee, no subscription, no box service, just daily tips, tricks and insider knowledge.
Starting in January, I’m organizing the content each day of the month as if it were a page in a magazine.
We’ll kick off each month with an Editor (that’s me!) Note. I think it’s essential that you know who I am and my perspective. This post will help provide some context for the month, give updates on what’s happening with the site, and a little insight into who I am.
Outside of that, I’ll share more personal and behind the scenes glimpses on Instagram, along with content specifically for the platform.
Our private Facebook group will remain a space to come and share thoughts, insights, and questions with other like minded women. It’s an exceptional group of women, who are kind and supportive of each other. (This is an women only group, all readers are welcome, please be sure to answer all of the membership questions to get approval.)
After that, each day will focus on how to articles, roundups, size inclusive recommendations, lots more real life photos, wardrobe challenges, workwear inspiration, what to buy where, and more. Each post will all continue to be conversational in tone, but I’m pulling back on a lot of the other content.
Of course, please continue to use the comment section – it’s where I get many of my ideas for articles.
How the Business Makes Money
Which leads to the next question I always get: where does my revenue come from?
First, it’s important to know that I do not post sponsored content. (Sponsored content is when a brand pays you to promote its product.) It’s a business decision I make on a case by case basis. So far, I’ve declined every opportunity presented to me because it wasn’t on brand.
That’s not to say I’ll never do it, but it would have to be a brand I’ve long promoted on my own and makes sense to our audience. It’s taken me too long to build a loyal following, I’m going to compromise that for a quick pay day.
I also do not take goods or services in exchange for a review. Everything I wear I purchase myself, and if I recommend something it’s based on my personal experience and/or from my years as a stylist and personal shopper.
I currently make money two ways: online ads and affiliate links.
This year I was accepted into an ad group called Mediavine. Mediavine sells space on my site to advertisers and I’m compensated on impressions and clicks. It’s been a game changer for me in terms of becoming profitable without having to compromise my content.
I also make a small amount of money if you click and buy from one of our links.
I’m playing the long game with this, so any time you visit, shop or refer us to a friend, you’re helping us grow one person at a time.
The best use of my talents is in helping you navigate the overwhelming world of retail, which does nothing to make life easy for grown women.
I want this to be a helpful resource for you, the first place you go if you need something.
In 2019, I tripled our readership, which was an enormous accomplishment since I had a newborn and I still don’t feel like I know what I’m doing.
The scariest thing I did this year was put myself on these pages. I spent years avoiding it, but finally took the plunge.
I had Vivian last December (she turns one next weekend!) and I was not feeling great about my body and was obviously exhausted. But I think it’s important to see what things look like on a normal woman, with a regular life, who is not a model, and riddled with her own insecurities.
Today I’m sharing this pulled together look that’s super easy to create. The coat is the key piece here. It’s more like a topper, or a long blazer than a coat for warmth. If I were going into an office, I would leave it on during the day but keep a long sleeve option underneath if it gets too warm.
The coat is a new purchase, everything else I had in my closet.
I really consider our readership with every new decision I make and I pour so much of myself into every post I put out. I’m feeling pretty good about everything I plan on accomplishing in this new decade and I’m grateful you are part of our growing community.
The summer was great and all, but it’s time for fall. Over the last three months I’ve been working on creating some new, better and fresher content to launch over the next few weeks. I’m excited to share what to look for with you today.
First up, our Wardrobe Challenge!
We host a free (totally free, we don’t even try to upsell you on anything afterward) 4 Week Wardrobe Challenge every season.
Mark you calendars, this year it starts on Friday, September 20th over in our Private Facebook Group. (You have to be on Facebook in order to participate, this is the only way I can manage it given the number of participants.)
Each week you’ll receive a new challenge, from editing your wardrobe, and getting it organized, to creating a shopping list and pulling together outfits. I personally walk you through the entire process I use to use with clients.
We use Facebook so I can post live videos and so you can share your thoughts, questions, and post pictures. The community we are building in that group is the best thing to come out of this site. It’s filled with kind and supportive women who all want to look and feel their best.
I respond to every single question, host live Q&As, post sale alerts and great finds I think you’ll love based on the conversations we have on the board.
All of the Challenges and the Pre Challenge Prep Work will be shared over on Facebook.
To make this year even more interesting, we will be offering a series of giveaways and a prize at the end. Stay tuned for more details!
More Depth of Content
This site is a mix of style tips and tricks, beauty finds, motivation and inspiration. If you’re new to the site (welcome!) you can learn more about me here. I do share personal posts because creating connection with our readers is my priority. I also love learning about you so please continue to share comments below and and on our social platforms. I can’t image creating a business that only focuses on consumerism. And, if you don’t like the personal stuff, I’d probably opt out now:)
In addition to more thoughtful content, we have two more style focused series coming your way!
Last year we launched our first every seasonal capsule wardrobe picks. In it, we featured items, all moderately priced (some even lower), from mainstream retail in all sizes and you LOVED them. I couldn’t believe it – and you’ve asked for more.
This year we have two capsules launching the first week of October, one for work, and one for casual, with lots of cross over opportunities between the two.
The Style Six
Finally, TOMORROW, we launch a new monthly series called The Style Six. On the first Friday of every month, I’ll curate six pieces that make an outfit AND break apart to help create other outfits. Each collection will feature at least one basic and affordable trend. We’ll then I’ll use them throughout the season in other style posts to inspire you to wear the pieces you already own.
Remember, the idea behind all of our style posts is first to inspire you. Maybe you have a piece in your closet already, perhaps you find something similar while out shopping that works better for your body type and budget, or you buy it directly from our links.
Whatever the case I want you to be excited about getting dressed, feel confident in your choices, and, most of all, feel like your very best self, every day.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments! I’m so excited for the new season, can’t wait to hear from you 🙂
Since last year, The Well Dressed Life has grown beyond my expectations. Our readership is up an astonishing 400% (403% to be exact) since last March.
Many of you have followed along on our journey since the beginning. Maybe you’re an old client of our personal shopping services, or we met at an event when I was first starting the business.
No matter how you initially found us, I’m so grateful you’ve been along for this journey since the early years – and stuck around as I figured out how to do this.
Since we also have so many new readers I thought I would say, “hi!” and introduce myself. This year you’ll be seeing more of me here. At 39 I’m old for a “blogger.” While I’m reluctant to share more real life photos, I think if you know there is a person behind each post it will put our content into better context.
Most successful bloggers are in their twenties, or early thirties, and look like supermodels. I hope by sharing what I look like in the clothes we recommend on occasion you’ll benefit from seeing it on a normal, non-modely almost 40-year-old woman.
Plus, it will add some personality, and warm up the site, so it doesn’t seem so one dimensional.
Today, we’re sharing a quick round-up of the questions we get asked most frequently. To tell you a little bit of our story, and explain our mission, so you know what to expect.
So, this is me. The first thing you need to know is that the idea of putting my picture on the internet for all to see is terrifying, but this year is all about stepping outside my comfort zone.
Here goes …
First, family life …
My family is my everything and the fuel that keeps me going.
I met my husband, Brian, in college, and we’ve been together for 20 years, married for 16. He is the best guy I know and the love of my life.
We have three kids, Maddie who is almost 12, Ava who just turned 9 and Vivian who is three months old – you read that right. I don’t post pictures of them on the site because I think they deserve their privacy.
We live right outside of Philadelphia, and Bri and I both travel quite a bit for work.
I started my first business when I was pregnant with Maddie with the intent to create a career that would allow me the opportunity to be the kind of mother I wanted to be, and also have a fulfilling professional life.
It’s been a tremendous amount of work, with a long list of failures along the way. Even though it hasn’t always been easy, there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not grateful for the opportunities and life I have.
Being a working mom is a big part of who I am, which means our content comes from that perspective. That said, our readers are remarkably diverse, and range from stay at home moms to recently retired women and grandmothers, I’m always thrilled to hear that our content resonates with women in all seasons of life.
What I want you to know …
I pour my heart and soul into this site every day and think, deeply, about how we can create content that helps, inspires, or simply gives you a little break amid your busy day.
Posts can take anywhere from 4 – 6 hours to produce, and we post content five days a week. There’s so much that goes into a site like this that you don’t see.
I so appreciate it when you comment and share our work. It’s the lifeline of our business.
And here are the actual questions I regularly receive …
How did you get started?
I majored in marketing in college and worked in high-end retail while I was still in school. After graduating, I spent many years as a women clothing buyer for a small boutique and also a major retailer. Before starting my business, I was a buyer for QVC, procuring products and developing programs in their Home Decor, Candle and Christmas department.
In 2006 I started my first company, Kristel Closets, Inc. (KCI), a full service personal shopping and styling firm. I wanted to take my experience and love of style and help women navigate the often overwhelming world of retail.
I ran that company for ten years. At our peak, I had an incredible team of personal stylist who worked with our clients in Northern New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. and all their surrounding areas.
This blog was originally designed to be a marketing tool, a way to connect with potential clients. But quickly, I realized I could expand our audience and work with women all over the country and now the world.
After a decade, I officially closed KCI to focus all of my energy on building The Well Dressed Life. Thankfully, the gamble is starting to work out.
Do you have a team? (and) Are you hiring?
Lauren creates all of our graphics, and designs and maintains the backend of our site. Which means when I break the backend she fixes it.
She also has a real job outside of helping me. Luckily she’s one of my best friends, so it makes doing this not so lonely and isolating. You’ll see Lauren’s name pop up on posts as well since she’s creating some content for us this year. I love her voice and style.
I also work with a wonderful local photographer, Ashley Griffin. She’s made all the difference in the look of the site and my marriage, since trying to force my husband to take suitable pictures of me was a losing battle.
We won’t add on to the team this year, but I by 2020 we’ll need more support to accomplish some of our loftier goals.
Are your posts sponsored?
No, they are not. A significant portion of most bloggers revenue comes from sponsored posts. While I’m not totally against them, there has not been an opportunity that feels congruent to my brand.
It took me years to build a loyal following, I’m not going to chip away at that by filling your news feed and emails with ads disguised as content.
It’s important for you to know that when I recommend something, it’s an actual, true recommendation.
How do you make money?
Our blog revenue comes from ads and affiliate links. Affiliate links mean when you click one of our product links, we make a very small (very, very, very small, like cents) commission.
I am also part of the Mediavine Ad Network. Mediavine works as a liaison and sells space on my site to advertisers. These ads do not influence the content in any way.
Some Personal …
How tall are you?
I’m 5’10 in bare feet. I use to hate it, now I don’t mind it so much.
How would you describe your style?
Casual, modern, classic and feminine. Our style posts are heavily influenced by what I like, but I also appreciate all kinds of styles.
Do you follow a budget when you shop?
Not in the sense that I sit down and figure out a number I can spend each season or year. But that doesn’t mean I have an unlimited budget. I know what I can afford and try my best to be prudent with my purchases, remember, I still have three kids to put through school.
What is your workout routine?
A great week is three 50 minute cycling classes and two 50 minute strength based classes. These days a normal week is two cycling classes and one strength class. Committing to a fitness routine has done wonders for my stress and anxiety so I organize my day so I can fit something in.
Do you really buy what you say you do?
Absolutely. If I say I bought it, then I bought it, but, I don’t buy everything we feature. Often, our outfit posts are inspired by either questions you post, or my experience dressing clients.
Is that really your skincare routine? (and) Why do you spend so much on skincare products?
Yes, that’s what I use every night. As I said in the post, my skin was a problem for a long time and crushed my confidence so I will spend time and money to keep it clear and healthy. One of the reasons I didn’t initially post pictures of myself on this site was because I was dealing with terrible skin.
That said, there are lots of areas where I don’t spend, so it all works out in my book. Many of the products I featured are expensive, but they last a long time. The main point to that post was to talk about what order to apply your products to get the best results.
And Blog Related …
Can you please feature petite and plus sizes?
I think people skim through the posts and assume we are only featuring “regular” or “missy” sizes. We include petite and plus sizes in almost every single outfit post if there is an option. We also prioritize retailers that are size inclusive and call out their size offerings in the text.
By the time I read your post items are sold out, can you check inventory before posting?
Unfortunately, I do not have access to the retailers’ inventory levels. I do make every effort to make sure sizing isn’t limited or already sold out before posting. When something does sell out before a post goes live we quickly change out the item.
Why don’t you feature more discount retailers?
I’m not a great sale shopper. I don’t make good decisions in discount stores and what I buy almost always turns into closet clutter. That doesn’t mean I don’t love a good deal, but I don’t go looking for them.
Additionally, inventory levels at discounters are notoriously low. There is usually not an inclusive size scale, which limits me in terms of giving plus and petite options.
My focus is to help you build a wardrobe, share inspiration, and most important; I want you to understand why certain pieces go together so you can dress confidently.
Of course, when something great goes on sale, I’m the first to share it.
Can you feature UK based retailers?
I’m shocked at how international our reach is since I don’t think my next door neighbor knows what I do for a living. I wish I knew more UK based retailers. I’m trying to figure out how to make recommendations to readers outside the US, so please stay tuned.
Keep sending in your questions! I’m excited to continue to grow and build our community with all of you this year!