Summer Sweater Layering Fun

Hello! I refuse to believe it is almost August. I have been a bit busy these last two weeks. Dorothee and I still plan on shooting, but in the meantime you are stuck with me for another post. But before we get into this week, I have a few great announcements!

This Saturday are the Philadelphia Geek Awards and I wrote an awesome post over on Geekadelphia for it, along with a giveaway! Congrats to the two winners! Check out the article for all of the great Geek Awards beauty deals. I also learn how to put these kind of giveaways together. They are a lot of fun, other than the whole post office part. I wish I lived next door to one.

I also wrote a non-fashion article focusing on two cool geeks headed to Nationals with their cool invention. If that isn’t enough cool for you!

Most importantly, I soft launched my brand new mental health & wellness site, Down to Utopia. It is a site dedicated to talking mental health and wellness from a cultural and every day perspective. I was going to narrow the focus to women of color, since I am writing the blog, but the response has been so overwhelming that I don’t think it is right to not have a platform for everyone who wants to talk. Though a lot of the articles will be cultural issues & I am interviewing my Dad and Step-Mummy when I get home, I can’t wait to talk to all of you! All of your outpouring of love and support has meant so much! I look forward to next week’s posts. Check it out if you get a chance. Special thanks to Endy Photography & Annie Design Co. for the page set up, design, beautiful ‘Meet Nena‘ graphic, the photo, hand painted logo and basically the most beautiful page ever. Annie Design Co. is designing our wedding invite as well!

Okay, my plug life is over!

Layering is caring when it comes to me. I never really thought of the genius of it until Abby posted a photo of her layered sweater with shorts. With me spending way too much time in air conditioning, I just had to try it. All of my knit sweaters immediately became layer pieces on those (rare) light August nights. I only owned one pair of shorts and am not into shorts, so I actually went and bought a pair. What are your layered summer looks?

Let me know in the comments!

shorts tall 2

   Sequin Sweater   Wilbur’s Vintage  716 S. 4th st, Philadelphia ($25)

I adore this ‘sweater’. It is all sequins, but you wouldn’t be able to tell if one fell off, so it is a great piece to have in regular rotation and transitions with the seasons. I always go inside of Wilbur’s to shop, but this time I linked his Etsy shop if you aren’t close by. This sweater almost was placed on there! 

shorts 2

Blue Tank  H & M  ($5)

You know I love my sales! Basics at H&M are usually pretty cheap, so I bought two colorful tanks for $10. I only saved a dollar, but that’s a dollar for, um..it can buy a small coffee or two stamps! Remember when you could buy a gallon of gas for under a dollar? 

shorts

purse and ring

Gold Clutch  H & M

I don’t remember the price of this clutch, but I remember it being the last one and under $20. I get so many compliments on it and love it to death. It use to be a little more, well, gold, but I wore it out. 

necklace

Vintage Pearl Necklace Salt Lake City, Utah (gift from Dev)

I love this necklace! My friend, Devaney, as usual, knows what I love! She is actually sharing what she loves soon when she opens her own Etsy shop featuring pillows, amazing clutches and more! You can get a sneak peek, order early, see her home decor style and catch up on what shenanigans Coco is up to on her Instagram. I will update you on her store when it opens! 

bowie ring

David Bowie Ring (Aladdin Sane)  Smak Parlour ($16)

You know I love my Bowie from my Rockin’ Out post. I love this ring, though I rarely change my rings out. I ended up forgetting I had this ring on and was cleaning a whole sea bass. Not a good idea! Smak has more than David, I personally love their Darth Vader ring too! 

short tall

Jean Shorts  H & M  ($10)

These are basic jean shorts. Nothing to write home about. 

shoes

Lexii Gold Wedges Steve Madden ($80)

Last time I featured these sandals, I complained about them, but turns out I had the strap on too tight. They actually are comfortable and I learned how to walk in them. I am a fan of the strap. I question the dark purple pedicure. 

side

sassy look

 Photography by Eric S.

PSA: You Can Be A Bone Marrow Donor

What a summer! I hope everyone is enjoying their summer… or what’s left of it! I just finished turning in two articles for Geekadelphia. One is on style tips for the 4th annual Philadelphia Geek Awards. I am doing my first ever giveaway and it isn’t even on my own site! Boo! Once the article posts, I will repost it here and do a little giveaway for my readers.

I do want to say thank you so much for everyone that takes the time out to read, talk to me, comment and be a part of my blog. I didn’t realize how much my little blog would grow in less than a year and I always say that I love my readers. You are more stylish than me, but you read anyway!

I am asked questions once in awhile so I added a FAQ section called ‘Stitches‘, because I am a lover of bad puns. I am also going to up my posting again to once a week and will be shooting Dorothee on Friday along with doing a few boutique reviews to switch things up. Dorothee is also natural, but uses heat, so I look forward to talking to her about how she avoids heat damage and her hair care routine.

Any who! This week’s blog is not about fashion, but about something I always wanted to do. My Dad says my blog is boring and not for guys (and he hates my septum piercing), but when I told him about registering to be a potential bone marrow donor he became interested. He remembered in 1995 when Rod Carew’s daughter, Michelle, battled Leukemia, and though 70,000 volunteers came forward, she unfortunately passed.

Mr. Carew asked for those with a similar heritage as his daughter to come forward. Even though donor donation has gone up for Black/African-Americans from the 5% in 1996, there still is a very large gap in donation and research is being done on why. Heritage is important when matching and with a more diverse group of volunteers helps save more lives.

Since my Dad and I fall between the 18 and 55 year old age perimeters of donation, I decided to be the first one to take the plunge and register. I signed up via Delete Blood Cancer. By signing up here (IT’S FREE!), you are on the National Registry.

envelope 3

In about a week, I received my kit in the mail. My Dad asked me if I was worried about sending an organization my DNA. I reminded him that we were both in the military and the government has every form of our DNA. Plus, our bank robbing days are over.

documents

Inside the kit were a few envelopes to send back my swab with instructions as well as registration key cards and every other form of instructions. One of the reasons I never got around to donating was because I thought I had to go to a hospital to donate and I only use the VA. The kit came about a week after I registered.

envelope 2

qtip swag

Swabbing was pretty easy and self explanatory. Eric thought it was a little too ‘in my mouth’ to show me swabbing, but you get the idea.

qtip in envelope

The biggest thing people forget to do is SEND BACK THE SWAB! I sent my back and received a confirmation letter saying I am now registered.

envelope

Being registered doesn’t mean you are now forced to donate. Life does change, but when you do donate, the donation is much easier than you might think.

Bone Marrow is taken from your pelvic bone (not your spine) with a special syringe and you are able to go back to normal activities in about a week. Stem Cells replenish within a week and you should feel better within two days.

If you are a match, you are contacted for further testing, so it is important to keep your contact information updated. With bone marrow use advancing in so many ways, including Sickle Cell Anemia, and with the relative ease of donating, please take the time to donate if you can.

Don’t leave me after this non-fashion entry! I will be back next week with clothes galore! Have a non-profit or cause you love! Talk about it in the comments, especially if they are here in Philadelphia!

 Photography by Eric S.

Simple Summer Style & Bonus Men’s Look

Happy Summer! I am a little late on my post because I was back in Michigan, which I will be traveling to for much of my summer. Even though Michigan is about ten degrees cooler than Philly, I had very, very little internet and was waking up with mosquito bites, but I was able to drive (which I don’t do here) and went to visit my Uncle in the country (where two young women were riding their horses while carrying on a conversation. I am not use to sharing the road with horses).

I came back to Philly’s heat, but to the mosquito free land and an awesome summer place called Spruce Street Harbor Park. With hollowed out train cars holding food and games, hammocks and nets to lay on over the water (if you can get one), paddle boats across the river and tons of other fun things, it will definitely be a go-to spot all summer for me. Eric, my little brother, Ali and I, decided to all go check it out.

As for my outfit, It was hot! I mean, super hot. I am from Michigan, so imagine me saying, “It’s so hot” with a Midwestern accent and it being only in the 80s. I decided to go with a simple sundress I have owned forever and to style it as lightly as possible. I use to wear this dress all the time in Chicago, so the first photo is from when I first bought the dress (back when I had an A-symmetrical cut that only lasted three weeks) followed by how I styled it this week.

What is your go to dress for the summer? Do you keep it simple? Sound off in the comments below!

I use to wear these with my sandals before they become what I call ‘the broke down sandals’ in my other entry.

floral dress, statement necklace, gold wedges

Floral Strapless Dress With Pockets  H & M 

This dress is no longer available, but there are currently similar dresses in the store. I think this is H&M’s MO when making dresses. I couldn’t find a similar one on the site. If you can wear a bra with the dress and it has pockets, than I will mostly likely buy it. If it covers my horrible upper back tattoo, than it is sold!

floral dress, statement necklace, gold wedges

love necklace, statement necklace

 Love Necklace  Smak Parlour ($20)

As you know, I collect all necklaces Philadelphia, Pennsylvania State and Love, but I also love curb link and cable chains (I say both since I am not savvy on chains and honestly don’t know which one this is. If you know, feel free to let me know, otherwise I am going to call it an old school chain for the rest of my life).  

I started trying new products on my hair since Shea Moisture stopped working as well as my hair became longer. I am currently using the Kinky Curly line on the recommendation of Tresses and Treats, a natural hair blog I am following. She posts a lot of product reviews and ways to use a product (I overuse my Shea Moisture, but I still wanted to try something different).  What I really need is a haircut. I see you, heat damage! Update: I cut that curl off finally.

Lexii Gold Wedges Steve Madden ($80)

Black Purse Smak Parlour ($68)

I love the look of these sandals, but for the first two days, I wore the strap too tight and caused two bruises above my heel. They are alright if you are use to walking with straps and on wedges, but I don’t think I can say they are as comfortable as the sandals I usually buy. I buy Steve Madden because I like sandals that cover my feet and don’t have a bunch of straps between my toes. Maybe I have to break these in a bit more.

Even though I have some cute clutches, I throw them into my big purse and usually just carry one purse. I had a sweater in my purse and some flats, so I decided to go with my new ol’ faithful.

BONUS: Ali is visiting for two weeks, so I decided to try a little men’s styling on him. My Dad complains that I never feature men. Everything Ali is wearing was bought this week, so should be still available in stores, though the pants were on clearance. He is using Shea Moisture products in his hair and his necklace is his own. Ali is 20 and attends Lansing Community College (he also attended Temple for one year) as a Computer Science Major concentrating on Digital Media. He is single, but not ready to mingle.

Grey Shirt  H & M  ($10)

Floral Pants Zara ($20)

Navy Ditmars Steve Madden ($100)

Photography by Eric S. (last photo by Nena B.)

Rockin’ Out With Hard to Style Must Haves

I am so excited to be back in Philly! Not that I didn’t love being in Lansing, MI and Chicago. I loved seeing some of my oldest friends in Chicago and my wonderful cousin, but I am glad to be back home with Eric and back into my regular and quieter routine. This week, I decided to not only shop in my closet again, but to see what I could match with a top that I bought without thinking about how to style it.

When I buy clothes, I usually try to have some sort of idea of how I’ll style them using clothes I already own, or at least figure out what I’ll need to make the look complete. I break this rule seldom, and usually when I do, it doesn’t go very well (see: clothing with sale tags still on them in multiple colors). The only time I always break this rule is if David Bowie (excluding him as the Goblin King, even I have my limits) is anywhere on… well anything. I am obsessed with David Bowie. Obsessed! I have been in love with him since I was about nine or ten. Not for his music at first, but because of a conversation I had with my Mom.

Even though Lansing was quite progressive when it came to interracial relationships and biracial children (my brother and I weren’t the only kids in our class, though you go about twenty minutes outside of Lansing, that is another story), I still went through being super embarrassed over my parents not looking alike. I was nine, cut me some slack. So my mom, as usual, directed me to every example she could find from The Color of Water to one of the few couples she could find: David Bowie and Iman. I was in love! The couple was my everything and as I aged, I still can’t help but buy a David Bowie shirt. I am sure I can’t be the only one. Well, maybe when it comes to David Bowie, but I am sure someone out there buys something all the time they have no idea how they will style. What is your must have item?

pink blazer, david bowie, tulle skirt

David Bowie Boyfriend Tee (Aladdin Sane)  Smak Parlour ($42)

The David Bowie top is actually a hand made halter. Smak Parlour made a line of deconstructed halters in-house of different bands they love. The back has multiple knots and the top is knotted. I don’t usually wear halters, but I like how this covers my whole front and can be worn with a bandeau and jeans. I am more of a ‘Thin White Duke’ fan, but ‘Ziggy Stardust’ definitely has more color to work with.  If you ever want to karaoke with me, I do a great ‘Space Oddity’. I also do way too many knee slides.

david bowie, rayban aviators, pink blazer

 Hot Pink Blazer H & M ($35)

I have a love/hate relationship with H & M blazers. My arms are always, and I mean always, too long to fit into them, so I roll or push up the sleeves. I love the colors and cost, but you get what you pay for comes with paying for not a whole sleeve. I can no longer find this exact one, but here is a similar cut.

pink blazer, david bowie, tulle skirt

Black Tulle Dress Philly AIDS Thrift ($22)

This actually isn’t a skirt- it’s a dress! I usually try to find my gowns for The Philly Geeks Awards either at vintage/consignment or second hand stores; I just don’t wear black tie enough to invest. I went to Philly Aids Thrift last year and found this all black dress. The top is a sparkly tank, nothing fancy. It wasn’t dressy enough for the awards, but it definitely was a must buy for some other occasion. I am still on the hunt in Philly for an actual tulle separate skirt for the summer. If you know of anywhere, please share!

Also, if you have not gone to Philly AIDS Thrift to shop or donate, than you are truly missing out on an amazing organization and store.

septum

14g Septum Piercing Infinite Body Piercing ($48 with jewelry)

Twist Defining Cream As I Am ($13)

I had my septum pierced by Kali, who is very professional and knowledgeable, about four weeks ago. I have gone back and forth on it in the past and since I can hide the piercing easily, I decided to go for it and see how it would turn out. I like it a lot and it doesn’t hang very low. It didn’t hurt, but it does require a bit of care while healing. Would I have been fine with not getting it? Sure, but it is easy to hide and won’t scar when removed, so why not?

I have switched over to As I Am products (I bought the care package at Walgreens) and used their Twist Defining Cream for my two strand twists. I am not a two strand twist aficionado. I couldn’t two strand twist myself out of a paper bag, but I do like how my hair remained moisturized throughout the day and the twists were easier to do. I twist into sections at night, cover with a silk scarf and then untwist and pull in the morning.

septum

spike earring, septum

Two-Tone Earrings Smak Parlour ($16)

PIXI Beauty Shea Butter Lip Balm in Coral Crush BirchBox ($10 for monthly box, $8 for lip balm)

You can’t really see, but one earring is silver and the other is gold. I love having at least one pair of earrings to match multiple metals since it makes layering necklaces a bit easier. Best purchase ever!

I received this lip balm in my birchbox and the first time I wore it I wasn’t a fan. The second time I really do love the color. I still wish it was a bit more long lasting, but I might just put a chapstick under it or use my M.A.C. Lipglass over it next time.

Pennsylvania Necklace  Smak Parlour ($16)

Love Necklace  Smak Parlour 219 Market St, Philadelphia

Silver & Bronze Custom Initial Necklace  Tselaine 1927 Walnut Street, Philadelphia ($98, but varies on options)

Gel Manicure with Glitter Gel Accent Top Nails ($58 with pedicure)

I collect a lot of ‘Love’ and necklaces or clothing that have to do with Michigan or Pennsylvania. I don’t know why I don’t collect anything from any other state I lived in, but I guess I don’t want my wardrobe looking like a sad map. Not a map of sadness, but a map where someone gives you two minutes to name as many states as possible. Anywho, I love my Pennsylvania and Love necklace as part of my collection. The top necklace, is one I had made at Tselaine. It is a necklace with Eric and my initial (I hear the groans) and got the idea when Tselaine posted a different customer making an engagement necklace. For Mother’s Day, I made my mom one to match mine with her children’s initials.

Don’t hate, my nails are fly! I use to only go to Top Nails in Logan Square when I lived there, so I decided to stop in and say ‘hi’ to Aileen. When I was going there, I was always on an OKcupid date or some miserable equivalent, so you can imagine the surprise of my engagement news. I use to be extremely outgoing in Chicago, so Aileen couldn’t believe Eric talks more than I do. Aileen will soon be on the market as a theatre interior designer after her internship, so someone scoop her up in Chicago!

black textured pumps

Black Dumond Pumps AKIRA Chicago ($100)

Aviator Sunglasses Rayban ($150)

Another way to find Rayban Sunglasses is go to the many Philadelphia festivals and see them all over the ground once everyone has had too much to drink. I have no idea how people lose their glasses when alcohol is involved.

Oh, wait, I do…

Photography by Eric S.