The Ten List: August 6, 2018

Good Monday Morning, Friends!

I took the last two weeks off to start to get our house ready for demo. The construction is moving along, with the garage to office conversion almost done, and the plans for the main house remodel just about finalized. At this point, the house will be finished within weeks of the baby being born. Given my natural state of anxiety, I’m pretty impressed with my current level of chill. I’m overwhelmed and busy, but surprisingly not too stressed.

We also took a week to travel to Niagara Falls and Toronto with the kids. It was a fun trip with a long car ride that gave me lots of time to think and plan out content for the end of the year. We’re not changing anything, more narrowing our niche. I see such a void for quality content for busy working women, but for some reason, whether it’s my insecurity or general lack of confidence, I’ve held back. After the overwhelmingly positive response from our reader questionnaire last month, I feel ready to bring a little more to our readership.  Our content has always been fueled by your feedback, comments, and conversations. So many of you talked about appreciating a voice of a “regular” working mom, one without a team of nannies or staff, with realistic advice and perspective. I’m also working on some ways to bring a few different experts into the mix some time next year. Stay tuned!

I always stubble on interesting articles and podcasts, great finds, and inspiring quotes that I want to share with you, but they’re not enough for their own post.  Why not, I thought, curate them into a weekly post we’re calling, The Ten List. So grab your coffee and take a few minutes for yourself before you get swept into the craziness of your day. As always, use the comment section below to add your thoughts and observations.

The Ten List

  1. Quote of the Week. 

Cleo Wade

2. Women at Work: Make Yourself Heard. Struggle with being heard in the office?  Confused by how to communicate as a woman at work? It should be straightforward but it’s nuanced and complicated.   I loved this podcast by Harvard Business Review.  There are too many powerful takeaways to recap for you here, so pop in your earphones and take a listen.

3.  Top it Off. I live for early fall. For some reason, transition dressing is my favorite and nothing makes the switch from warm to cool weather easier or elevates an outfit better than a blazer.  This tweed jacket by Halogen would be hanging in my closet if I wasn’t pregnant. Pair it with dark jeans for work or weekend. This ladylike black and white jacket is also a winner.  It’s a timeless update to breath new life into your basic black skirt or dress and, of course, your slim line black ankle pants.

4. Body Love. I’ve been following Kelly LeVeque (Be Well By Kelly) on Instagram for months now, and have been so inspired and impressed by her knowledge around the science of food. She created the Fab Four Smoothie, an easy way to get greens, fiber, protein and healthy fats in your morning drink.  The goal is to help not only fuel up for the first half of your day, but help you avoid the usual carb and sugar crash so many of us experience.  Her new cookbook is great for busy women, it’s not complicated, easy to follow and best of all, delicious.

5. An Affordable Classic with a Twist.  Every slingback I’ve seen lately, I love, and are also $500.  Having great taste has never been my challenge.  I was thrilled to find this classic style with a bit of twist by Louise et Cie.  Their shoes are comfortable, stylish and affordable.  Wear this now to the office, and right into the fall until it starts to get too chilly.

6.  Meatless MondaysThis Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quinoa bowl is heavenly.  It’s an easy 30 minute meal to make when you get home from work that tastes as good as it is for you. Do yourself a favor, and make a little extra of the cilantro cream drizzle … it’s divine.

7. Shine On with Reese.  Reese Witherspoon launched her Direct TV show, Shine on with Reese, with her first guest, the incomparable Dolly Parton. She’s sweet, smart, humble, sassy, unapologetically herself, inspiring and pretty much a national treasure.  Can you imagine a world if all women were like her?  We would be unstoppable.

8. Loose Ends. I just ordered this little leather organizer for the countless gift cards, coupons and receipts I need to keep (for both work travel and our remodel). It’s under $40 and can be monogrammed. I feel like it’s going to make me a better person. Might make a great teacher gift for around the holidays too.

9. Jeans Under $30.  I’m not in maternity clothes yet, but my smaller sized jeans are a no go.  To get me by, I picked up these Old Navy Skinny jeans in a size up, and I can’t believe how well they fit. The pocket placement is on point, the waist hits where you want, and they have just enough stretch.

10. Striped … Sneakers.  Pretty sure I need these in my life.  Can you ever have too many stripes?

June Reader Favorites

June Readers' Favorites

Thank you so much for all of your sweet comments and well wishes last week.  We’re thrilled and the time is definitely flying by.  Somehow, it’s already July, so today we’re rounding up your top buys from last month.  The summer, while a welcomed break from the business of the school year, is my least favorite when it comes to getting dressed.  I appreciate the simplicity of throwing something on and heading out the door, but after a while I tend to go blank creatively and I start to long for blazer and scarf weather.

June Readers' Favorites

Pants, $128  |  Bag, $49  |  Top, $62  |  Maxi, $95  |  Sandal, $79  |  Shorts, $40  |  Raincoat, $130  |  Packing Cubes: $48

Before I wish away the rest of the season, we did feature some great items last month, and some are still available, though a few are in limited inventory.  Here are the pieces you scooped up that will help you make it through the rest of the summer in style:

Pants, $128: These ankle pants are a classic alternative to the dreaded capris.  You can wear them to work or dress them up on the weekend.  I like that they have a side zip, which is sliming and allows you to wear any kind of top you like.

Bag, $49: This bag is a ridiculous workhorse, and an even better deal when you consider the cost. Since the summer is so casual, I carry it every single day.  To keep it organized pick up this organizer insert – life changing.

Top, $62: I LOVE this fitted, peplum top by Michael Kors. We featured it last month with slim navy pants for a polished look for the office. The best part?  It’s 60% off now.

Maxi, $95: I was so happy to see how many of you picked up this gorgeous print max by Eliza J. It’s ideal for summer weddings or weekend showers. And it’s also on sale for 40% off.

Sandal, $79: These simple slide on sandals add just the right amount of texture to your warm weather outfits.  They are available in five wearable colors.

Shorts, $40: Women sized shorts aren’t always easy to find, so I was thrilled when I discovered these polished Bermuda shorts at Nordstrom.  Sizes are very limited, but the price can’t be beat.  Stay tuned for later this week when we round up every pair of shorts in retail for grown ups.

Raincoat, $130: Many readers were headed on a rainy European adventure this summer, and picked up this chic and PACKABLE rain coat.  Don’t miss it, it’s a seasonless staple you’ll be happy you have sitting in your closet.

Packing Cubes. $48: These packing cubes will forever alter your packing game.  If you haven’t gone off on your summer vacation yet, consider picking up a set.  Our family is driving up to Toronto this month and I picked up enough to keep me and my girls organized.

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mother's Day Gift Guide
Mother's Day Gift Guide - The Well Dressed Life

At this point in my life as a mother, all I want for Mother’s Day is a quiet morning to catch up on sleep, and a latte and scone from the local coffee shop in bed.  If there is a Real Housewives of New York marathon to watch on Bravo, even better. I don’t want to hear bickering, or fighting over of the Xbox controller, and I want bedrooms picked up and laundry put away without having to go into international level negotiations.  I’d like to not have to get dressed and rush out the door, maybe read a book in the afternoon, take a long walk and go to a low key dinner in the neighborhood so I don’t have to touch my kitchen.  That’s it.  Simple, easy and affordable.

Gifts are lovely too but not necessary. When my kids were little I lived for their school made presents. Especially the “all about my mom” papers that would come home, telling me that I love wine (I do), my favorite thing to do is go to Target (it’s not), and I’m 24 years old (lol).

When I select a gift for any occasion,  I try to come up with something a little indulgent, thoughtful, personal and, most important, usable. We’ve done gift guides for years, but never for Mother’s Day. So this year Lauren and I decided to come up with a list of things we actually want to help inspire your wish list, because how many framed pictures of your kids do you really need?

Our Mother’s Day Gift Ideas for 2018

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Pajamas, $95  |  Fry Pan, $194  |  Bangle, $430  |  Short Stem Wine Glasses, $29  |  Tote, $465  |  Bath Soak, $35  |  Hairdryer, $399  |  Cookbook, $18  |  Wool Lounger, $95  |  Sandals, $80

Pajamas, $95: I love pajamas but I only ever buy them twice a year, once at Christmas, and once in the summer, so I have something decent looking for our time at the shore.  Over the years I’ve gathered a few I love, my favorites are all from J.Crew. Their vintage men wear inspired pajamas are cozy and wash well. For a few extra dollars, you can have them monogrammed. I mean, how chic is that?

Fry Pan, $194: Last year I replaced my 15-year-old pots and pans set from my wedding registry with a gorgeous stainless steel All-Clad set. It was an investment, but I love to cook and decided a few months ago I was going to learn proper technique. The set came with enough to get me started, and I like the idea of collecting pieces with time, like this 14″ fry pan. When you are coming up with a gift, think about what the recipient is into and go from there. Thoughtful gifts are often the most practical.

Bangle, $430: Lauren and I are obsessed with these enamel bangles from Hermes.  Do we have them? No. Are we getting them for Mother’s Day? Also, no.  But it’s nice to dream.

Short Stem Wine Glasses, $29: Such a sweet and affordable gift for mom, your friend getting married, or just for yourself.  They have a charm to them that makes me want to sit on the front porch on a sunny afternoon with a bottle of rose.  Obviously, opt for the monogram.

Tote, $465: This tote we featured last week has been incredibly popular and a great gift for moms in any season of life.  It can be used as a diaper bag, work tote, or weekend travel bag.  The options are pretty much endless.

Bath Soak, $35:  For the mom who loves her nightly baths, these salts by Goop are incredible.  Aside from the pretty packaging and clever names, they are also filled with all sorts of good stuff to help detoxify and hydrate your skin.  Complete the gift with an extra fluffy towel or robe and some much need alone time.

Hairdryer, $399: As someone who has spent a small fortune on a hairdryer, I’m here to tell you they are worth every single penny.  I bought my T3 several years ago, and now Dyson, (yes, the same as the vacuum), has come out with an even better option.  If you have long, and/or thick hair, the process of blow drying can be incredibly time consuming.  These power dryers cut that time in half, are lightweight, packable, and are high quality, so you’ll have them for years and years.

Cookbook, $18: Nothing is better than a cookbook you can read in bed like a magazine and who better to spend time with than the always lovely Joanna Gaines.  Personally, I wish she would write a book on how to have five kids and still kick it at business, but I’ll settle for her fried chicken receipe while I wait.

Wool Lounger, $95:  From our new favorite brand All Birds, it’s a slipper and a casual shoe all in one. Throw them on to take the kids to school, walk the dog, pick up your mail, even go to the grocery store and not be embarrassed when you run into someone you know.  Leave them by your back door so you can slip them on and go.

Sandals, $80 A little leopard print in your look is always a good thing and these J.Crew flat sandals are perfect for summer.  Pair them with jeans and a cute tee shirt, or wear them with a bright sheath for a night out. Also available in a go-with-everything neutral color tan.

April Readers Favorites

Readers' Favs - April 2018
Readers' Favs - April 2018 - The Well Dressed Life

As expected, we hit the ground running in April. We went from being cooped up in the house to barely catching our breath on the weekends, and it seems like May is going to be the same. We pretty much live and die by our color-coded dry erase calendar.

In the midst of the busyness, I’m trying to create space in our schedule and my mind to be present. I have everything I ever wanted, and I never want to lose sight of that blessing in the midst of building our careers and raising our family.

Last weekend, I was parking my car in our driveway and saw a pile of pink and purple scooters by our back patio, a sign that I’m walking into a house filled with 11 and eight-year-old girls. At that moment I felt both overwhelming gratitude and kind of sad. I was thankful for the happy life we have and how my kiddos have what seems like the kind of innocent childhood I had growing up. And also sad because I can feel in the pit of my stomach how fleeting it all is, it’s like I already miss it while I’m living it.

Before I walked in, I pulled out my phone and took a quick picture. It wasn’t Instagram worthy; I didn’t worry about lighting or filters, it was just for me. It’s a simple way to remember what matters, like writing a list of what you’re grateful for at the end of each day. Only with this, it’s in the moment, and I can flip through pictures when I’m overwhelmed, stuck at the airport, or feeling like I’m losing my way.

It’s a practice I’m going to continue as we move into the summer months.

But before we do that, let’s round up your favorite featured items from April.  It’s always fun for me to see what you liked, as it helps curate practical but stylish posts and continue to provide daily value.  We take these into consideration when creating new content, always trying to build off of what we know many of you have.  As always, please be sure to let us know your questions or suggestions for upcoming posts.  Our content is fueled by your feedback 🙂

Below are your April Favs:


Readers' Favs - April 2018

Sheath, $90  |  Toning Device, $325  |  Strappy Sandal, $99  |  Sunless Tanner, $15  |  Gingham Shirt, $28  |  Gray Top, $33  |  Striped Shirt, $35 | Tote: $465

Sheath, $90: This dress is the most popular dress in our blog history and for good reason.  It’s well made, affordable and has classic styling.  At under $100 it’s a fantastic value for how much wear you’ll get out of it.  Wear it to work or to any dress up brunch or lunch you have on the weekends.

Toning Device, $325: I was surprised but delighted to see this on our end of month report.  I’ve had it for over a year and notice a difference in my skin, specifically, my jawline feels and looks more defined.

Strappy Sandal, $99: We actually featured a Vince Camuto version of this shoe this month, but it sold out.  Turns out Sole Society has an identical pair.  It’s the quintessential spring/summer shoe that will work with all your dresses, and will extend the line of your leg.

Sunless Tanner, $15: I was so happy Lauren found this effective and organic self tanner early in the season.  Note: this really works.  Be sure to protect your hands when you apply.  It turns a believable, warm shade of sun kissed goodness quickly. So much so you might want to apply it every other day, as the results are more noticeable than I was expecting.

Gingham Shirt, $28 and Striped Shirt, $35: Two simple, yet classic shirts that will update your jeans, trousers or even a pair of shorts at fantastic prices.

Gray Top, $33: This cozy top has been on our favorites list since January for good reason.  It’s so soft and easy to wear.  You can pair it with distressed jeans, pumps and a fun necklace or go super casual with leggings and sneakers.  Now that we’re moving into the warm weather I can see this being what I throw on with shorts and flip flops on a chilly night at the shore.

Tote: $465: This tote, while expensive, is a total winner.  We featured it in our Office-Ready Handbag Roundup last week.  I love the shape, and optional functionality.  If you picked it up in gray, you’ll be able to wear it all year long.

March Readers’ Favorites

Readers' Favorites March
Readers' Favorites March - The Well Dressed Life

You can almost hear a collective sigh of relief on the east coast now that it is April. Typically, I pride myself on keeping my sh*t together (90% of the time), but March took everything out of me. My kids had countless snow days, half days because of the weather, late arrivals because of the weather, and too many days off because they thought the weather was going to be bad but it never actually snowed. Add to that the five days without power in between two snowstorms last month and it’s safe to say I’ve never been less productive or more overwhelmed.

I need to get out in the fresh air and sunshine.  From the looks of what you loved from the blog last month, it seems like you are getting ready for the same. Every month, we receive a report that shows us what you ordered based on our recommendations. It’s incredibly helpful as it allows us to continue to refine our suggestions by style, category and price point. It’s also useful to recap what you purchased over the last 30 days, so we can share that information with new readers, and help everyone build a functional wardrobe together. Here’s what was popular last month.

Readers' Favorites March

Trench, $130  |  Gingham Shirt, $28  |  Blouse, $89  |  High/Low Shirt, $33  |  Tree Skippers, $95  |  Sneakers, $130  |  Peplum Tee, $20  |  Stripe Shirt, $25  |  Zip Pullover, $99

Trench, $130: This trench is more of a dress topper than a utilitarian trench coat. (See original post here.)  It’s lightweight and ideal for layering over an outfit.  The drape is lovely, and it’s available in a few soft, neutral colors.  Looking for a traditional trench?  Try this one from Everlane

Gingham Shirt, $28: J. Crew Factory always has easy tops to pick up to add something new to your wardrobe for little money. (See original post here.) This gingham shirt works with crisp white jeans, dark jeans or preppy cotton blend shorts for the summer.

Blouse, $89: One of our more popular post last month was a simple roundup of white blouses. (See original post here.) This loose fitting v-neck is sold out in white, but is available in three soft pastel colors perfect for spring.

High/Low Shirt, $33: The feel of a sweatshirt with a bit more polish, this is the top you wear when you want to be casual but not sloppy.  (See original post here.) Works best with a slim ankle length jean.

Skippers, $95:  Allbirds is the new “cool” shoe that is as chic as it is socially conscious. (See original post here.)  Add to that their affordable price point and you have an everyday sneaker that will elevate your look without breaking the bank.

Sneakers, $130: Another sneaker options, these gray leather Cole Haan’s are gorgeous. (See original post here.) Wear them with your gray jeans and a cozy top for any easy, yet pulled together weekend outfit.

Peplum Tee, $20 and  Stripe Shirt, $25: If you are looking to freshen up your spring tops, a stop at J. Crew Factory might be in order. This Peplum Tee adds a little something extra to your basic jeans and tee shirt look.  And this Stripe Shirt, with a subtle front tie, works perfectly with jeans or classic flat front poplin pants.

Zip Pullover, $99: I was so happy to see this Patagonia pull over fleece on the list since I purchased it myself and LOVE it. I’ve worn in every single day since it arrived.  I throw it on to go to the gym, run tot he market, pick kids up at after school activities. Even though it’s sporty, it feels finished, unlike some of my worn out hoodies I’ve been caught wearing on occasion.

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February Readers Favs

Readers' Favs February 2018 - The Well Dressed Life
Readers' Favs February 2018 - The Well Dressed Life

Every month, we round up your favorite finds from the previous four weeks. I love seeing the pieces you order from some of our posts.  It helps me continue to curate practical pieces specifically for you as I organize content for the coming months.

What’s special about this site is that, rather than showcasing expensive designer pieces that only a few people can really afford, we focus on wearable, well-priced items you can buy right now, that work in your “real life.”  When I review our monthly analytics report, I look for not only the most popular styles, but also the price points and sizes. Many of our outfit inspiration posts take forever to create because we try so hard to find options for as many readers as possible.

Here’s what you loved in February:

Readers' Favs February 2018 - The Well Dressed Life

Striped Top, $50  |  Tank, $14  |  Cardigan, $25  |  Varsity Tee, $45  |  Boyfriend Jean, $68  |  Rockstar Gray Jeans, $32  |  Gray Jeans, $189  |  Toner, $24  |  Tweed Jacket, $129

Striped Top, $50:  This striped top gives me so much life.  You can wear it with dark jeans, boyfriend jeans (as seen here) and white jeans in the spring and summer.

Tank, $14: This tank was a top seller for good reason.  So many of you are looking for that perfect layering piece, that pairs with a long cardigan and jeans.  The reason this works so well is because it falls from the body, drapes and has a subtle scoop hem. These bad boys are $14, so stock up.

Cardigan, $25:  Speaking of long cardigans and jeans, this H&M option will surprise you.  It comes is black, gray and pale pink.  We featured it here with gray jeans.  But you can pair it with any bottom you like.  It’s a fantastic transition piece as we move from winter to spring.

Varsity Tee, $45: It was no surprise to see this sporty, casual tee at the top of our list. Wear it on your next family vacation or just a busy weekend with the kids.

Boyfriend Jean, $68: How to Wear Boyfriend Jeans featured these jeans by Everlane, and was one of our most popular posts last month.  If you are looking for a relaxed jean, these are the grown up version of this popular style.

Rockstar Gray Jeans, $32 and Gray Jeans, $189: As many of you know, one of my personal “spend” categories is jeans.  Paige jeans work for my body type better than any other brand.  That said, these Old Navy jeans are a fantastic lower priced alternative.

Toner, $24:  Lots of readers picked up this toner by Murad.  Adding a gentle toner into my skincare routine has helped reduce the redness on my cheeks.

Tweed Jacket, $129:  It doesn’t get better than this tweed jacket.  Wear it to work with a black skirt or slim lined pants, or layer it over a sheath.  Make it work on the weekends with your favorite tee shirt and jeans.  It’ll be a real workhorse in you wardrobe.

Looking for more inspiration?  Be sure to add any questions or requests for future posts in the comment section!

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January Reader Favorites

Readers' Favorites - January - The Well Dressed Life Blog
Readers' Favorites - January - The Well Dressed Life Blog

Our Reader Favorites has always been one of our most popular series.  So when we redesigned our site, I knew I wanted to keep it.  Once a month, we round up all the items YOU loved the most, as a way to crowd source the best of the best.  I was so excited to check out or analytics and see that you have gravitated not only toward the items we talked about in our posts, but also what we’ve featured in some of our closets.  We kick off our first Reader Favorites of the year with some classic pieces and a few affordable, cozy tops to carry you to Spring.

Readers' Favorites - January - The Well Dressed Life Blog

Mixed Striped Sweater, $23 – The quintessential weekend sweater at a price you seriously cannot beat.  I picked it up in navy, but if you have the skin tone for it, the yellow is divine.

Moto Jacket, $55 – A simple way to look cool even if you’re not 🙂  Pair this with jeans or go-to black pants for a chic and sophisticated look.

Loafer, $90 – The pearl accent on these traditionally styled loafers adds a feminine and whimsical twist to a classic.

Turtleneck sweater, $60 – A piece to stock up on, ideal for layering, or add a statement necklace or scarf with a pair of slim lined pants.

Ponte Knit Trousers, Plus, $89 – I’m always so happy to see plus size options at the top of our analytic reports.  I try so hard to find alternatives for woman sizes that still flatter and show your shape.  These trousers are a great example of classic style, modified slightly to fit you best.

Ponte Knit Trousers, Misses, $68 – These trousers are great quality and an even better price.  Buy a few of these if you end up loving them.

Tie Bell Sweater, $35 – Just cozy and perfect for chilly days when you want to look lovely but have zero time for effort.

Jeans, $198 – Expensive, yes, but so comfortable, especially after they get a little lived-in.  I particularly love the higher waistband.  My over 35, 2-C-section belly likes it even more.

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