Who do you want to be in 3 years?

Once upon a time, there was a girl wearing a required uniform of polyester polo shirt and orthopedic shoes, on her feet for 16 hour days, promising herself this would be the last mindless insulting job she would ever work because unbeknownst to anyone she had just launched a styling business called Dean Street Society. 

{My first photo shoot that launched the blog.}

Once upon a time was 3 years ago today.

Happy 3rd birthday Dean Street Society! Read more about my story from a Broadway tour to a steamy industrial kitchen in this post I wrote last year on my 2nd birthday. 


Then get ready for a month of birthday celebrations!

  • We want to hear from you for the 1st time ever in an all-bettys survey and we've got fun prizes along the way. Coming soon ...
  • I'll be interviewed by my smartypants friend Anne Samoilov to share the story of the last 3 years and you can join us live. Coming soon ...
  • Best of all, I can think of no better gift to share with you than our award-winning* free video series "3 Steps to Simplified Style" so I'm smitten to announce: Style & Styleability is back! Class starts October 15th, with our free video series kicking off September 18th

*Alright so we didn't literally win any awards, but that's what all the emails and Instagram comments of love, joy, delight and aha moments felt like!

 

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So pencil us into your social calendar, darling! Then pause for just a moment and ask yourself:

Where and who do you want to be 3 years from now?

It's one of my favorite questions.

3 years feels just far enough to dream big, and just close enough to taste the reality and see the path there.

And today it's especially poignant because 3 years ago I never imagined this would be true:

  • 2 full-time employees {Jess & Diana} who are insanely talented
  • The Dean Street Studio to work from
  • Our first 6-figure year in revenue
  • Wrote a book
  • Worked from Laguna Beach, Santa Barbara, Cambridge UK, London, Puerto Rico, the Hamptons {travel is a major life value for me}
  • Interviewed as a success story by Marie Forleo, featured in Better Homes & Garden Magazine, speaker at Altitude Design Summit, on-camera host for Hearst Media, styled photo shoots in the Hamptons and Nantucket
  • Dear friends who are talented colleagues I turn to for both business and personal advice on the regular

Those things sound fancy. And they are! {Cue Iggy Azalea.} And I would never in a million years have believed you if you'd told me they would happen in the first 3 years.

So dream big, betty. I believe in fancy.

Nor could I have imagined how much hard work it would take, how many tears, anxiety attacks, how little sleep. But I can't imagine anything bringing me more joy or fulfillment.

So hustle hard for the things that matter, m'dear.

And whether in your style, business or life -- from the bottom of my heart -- I'm here to help you have more authentic confidence and deep joy.

Let's write your "once upon a time" this fall ...

 

P.S. Remember, save the dates:  September 18 video series launches, October 15 class begins ...

P.S.S. Have a friend you think would love my free video series? Send 'em here today!

Secrets to a Swimsuit that Flatters Your Figure

Being in a bathing suit is weird. You're, like, almost naked. I don't care how comfortable you are in your skin, it's kind of bizarre that it's socially acceptable to wear so little clothes in public, right?

Meanwhile, with so little fabric and so little diversity in shape, it's very hard to apply a lot of the style principles I teach: how to be empowered over a garment, change the shape, the silhouette, the style chemistry, where the eye goes. A few strips of lycra don't give a girl much to be empowered over!

So I confess finding a suit I feel utterly comfortable in has been perhaps the last bastion to tackle. This summer, I finally succeeded.

Here's the truth: This isn't a post on how to dress every shape. {But if you're a different shape than me read on to draw your own takeaways and see my discovery about separates below!}

It's a deeply personal post if you share my shape struggles: namely your stomach {feeling like your stomach is your "problem area"} and/or feeling larger on the bottom than you are on the top.

Secret 1: Your magic word is balance, or more specifically, volume.

The science of style here is that in a flat two piece, with the same amount of fabric on both ends, my bottom half reads as larger than my top. I don't have an ample bosom and any weight I carry is in my stomach.

This means that high-waisted bottoms alone were NOT the answer for me: they only made my bottom half appear larger. Ditto one-pieces because they do nothing to change my shape -- they just show it as it is.

To balance out my shape, I need not just more fabric on top {nope, a tankini doesn't help either} but more volume. This could be ruffles, a swing top or in this case, peplum, but I need to use the top of my bikini to change my shape and create balance.

 

The moment I saw Kortni Jeane's suits on Instagram I gasped. Might this be the answer?!

I put on the suit timidly, preparing to be disappointed yet again, and wanted to squeal I was so happy with what I saw in the mirror. I could walk down the beach and NOT SUCK IN wearing this! It was a Christmas in July miracle!

The other aha moment I had looking around Kortni's shop was to consider my very small bathing suit drawer {unless you walk to the beach daily, how many suits does a girl need?} the way I do my closet:

Secret 2: Choose re-mixable possibilities to play with.

So I chose two suits, four separates, that all played or paired together. Which means I bought two suits, but have four options every time I head to the shore. I also love this because it means when you find a bikini that you LOVE the way it fits you: buy two versions!

Goodness knows you don't want to have to hunt anew, so just pick different prints and patterns from the same designer and style. And one last thing:

Secret 3: Guide the eye intentionally

Knowing that I want more balance or emphasis up top, I chose more bold and bright tops that would pull the eye upward. Squint your eyes at the photo below. What stands out the most?

One final way you're empowered is in choosing a 2-piece with two different prints or colors to direct the eye to where you want.

P.S. Of course if you're busty with teeny legs, you know you can just invert this whole equation. {wink}

Kortni Jeane Bathing Suits, Dean Street Society

Shop these styles { Swim separates : c/o KortniJeane | Beach hat : Betmar | Sunglasses : Cole Haan from TJ Maxx : Similar } + Photography by Michelle Kim 

And because you know Dean Street Society is style for the smart and savvy betty, you might take a moment to watch this Q Talk on The Evolution of the Bikini.

For me, my bathing suit woes have not been about modesty, but a lack of empowerment to change my shape to the silhouettes I know in real clothes are most flattering on my figure. Therefore, a one piece wasn't the answer, but could even make me feel more pregnant perhaps.

So whatever your swimwear struggle is, I encourage you to take back the power.

Look for suits that allow you to control where you want the eye to go and balance out your shape. Try on a ton of different styles in the dressing room and play detective.

Because there is a style that's most flattering on you, and that joy makes the beach oh so much more divine!

 

P.S. Oh and consider buying them now when you're tanned and they're on sale. After all, a Dean St betty should be prepared to be whisked away on a beach vacation this winter. {wink}

How to get Zooey Deschanel Bangs

I have spent my life on a womanly quest, often ending in heartbreak {or heartbreakingly awkward photos}. I earnestly sought an answer, striving to be cool, or at least not uncool. It was a gift my mother could not pass down, a challenge my sister did not share. I journeyed alone and it took me 30 years to arrive.

I wanted bangs.

In 2nd grade I cried when forced to slick back my bangs for a ballet recital, convinced I had a huge forehead.

In 4th grade three supercool 5th grade girls spoke to our class, flipping their hair from side to side every few seconds {I immediately began folding that into my own mannerisms} all with giant, dual level, curled two directions, teased bangs.

I attempted this artistry at home but mostly ended up with smushed to the side hair with lots of hairspray. 

High school brought bizarrely thin whispy attempts. College a stringy swept-to-the-other-side version {in case it was just the right side of forehead that had been the problem?}. My early 20's saw a run of unfortunately short bangs.

Finally in my late 20's I made a magical discovery when Jeanne Coyne, who died in 1973, changed my life.

Cast to play Jeanne, Gene Kelly's wife, in a show about their love triangle during "Singing in the Rain" I made the transformation to look like her using synthetic fake bangs.

I fell in love. Thick gorgeous bangs were mine on stage every night!

Soon I had discovered, for sale at a beauty supply store in Manhattan, real fake bangs. Not an oxymoron, but rather faux bangs {they clip on} made of real hair so they could be cut, washed, curled, straightened.

For years {almost} no one knew the difference. In fact, I was wearing them when I launched Dean Street Society! {See my first photo shoot below.}

One day my hair stylist said, "I think we can do this for real. Do you trust me?" And I didn't. Not really. But if I figured worst case scenario they would suck like always and I could just wear my fake ones over them until they grew out.

It took a few weeks. But thanks to a great stylist/haircut and some advanced steps, I have become a woman. I have bangs. Which of course gets me a lot more Zooey Deschanel comments these days. But if you too lack a thick mane like Zooey, if your hair is thin or wavy or your forehead sweaty, here's my 8 steps to cute bangs that will make you want to hair dance.

 

1) Shampoo twice daily. Even if you throw the rest of your hair in a bun, sink-wash your bangs. Twice. The first time gets off the residue, the second {holy foamy lather worthy of a commercial, I promise!} gets a deeper clean. 

2) Use a saltwater/beachy spray. This gives fine hair some stick to avoid total whispyness. Only apply at the roots.

3) Blow-dry in a variety of directions. Curl comes from the root and the desire here is to "confuse the root". Instead of just drying down/straight, direct the root every which way to break it from it's habits. I love using the ghd brush to avoid the oils from my fingers.

4 + 5) Use the ghd straightener dividing your hair into 3 layers. Ghd is what my stylist uses, and if you're going to use it everyday, go with what the pros use. If you try to clamp the full bang all at once, you won't get all of it as straight, so do the bottom, middle, then top layers pinning the upper ones back with a bobby pin. If you want a bit of curl at the end, just finish off your ghd strokes by angling towards your face instead of straight down {which can look a bit harsh}.

6) Dry shampoo at your roots. This gives more volume, less shine.

7) Use a teasing comb. I don't do this daily, but if I know I'm headed to an event where I'll be taking photos this gives extra volume and stay-in-place-ness. 

8) Don't. Touch. The bangs. Avoid the oils on your fingers. First, let it go. Resist the urge to touch. I promise you can break this nervous habit over time to both look more chic in your mannerisms and keep your bangs less greasy! Two, when you do touch, try to use an item other than your fingers. In addition to the handle on the teasing comb, I've been known to use my credit card or keys. I'll sometimes use one finger at the roots to fluff them up without running my fingers all the way through them, or fluff them with the nail-polished side of my fingers. 

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Shop this Style { Hair Straightener c/o ghd | Fine Hair Shampoo: Evo's Gluttony |  Sea Salt Spray: Evo's Salty Dog  | Dry Shampoo: Suave | Red Lipstick: MAC Lady Danger} + Photography by Sara Kerens 

 

I guarantee you'll want to put on a fan and make sexy faces at the camera too.

Now it's your turn to help a sister out!

What are YOUR tips for better bangs, or just hair in general? Leave 'em in the comments below!

Encourage Beauty

I am delighted to announce the Encourage Beauty Instagram Challenge is back!

Encourage beauty is a commitment to celebrating our beauty and that in others ...

A realization that when we shine, we encourage others to do the same ...

Not just permission to find joy in our beauty but the belief that joy begets joy and therefore we bless others ...

Hop on the list here to get the scoop on how to join us, why it matters, get the calendar, plus some swoon-worthy inspiration headed to your inbox over the next week!

 

 

While "encourage beauty" is a year-round mantra of Dean Street Society, I love our occasional Instagram challenges as a way to walk the walk, publicly celebrating and inspiring.

This time around we're upping the joy, bringing on six women I madly admire for their outer and inner grace and am so inspired by.

Can't wait for you to get to know and grow alongside Anna of In Honor of DesignJessie of Style & Pepper, Brynn of Being Elliott, Kat and Em of The Refined Woman, and Lauren Scruggs of Lolo Mag.

 

Join us here today, love! And share WeEncourageBeauty.com with your friends so they can join us too.

Then I'll see you on Instagram on Monday to kick things off ...

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Style in Bloom

First things first can we talk about how much I love the balcony-ette at the new Dean Street Studio?!

I was on a mini mission with #ChooseJoyJune as something I'm trying to embrace more every month of the year: little intentional moments.

I'm a master at hustling through life's moments of gumption, and I embrace seasons of grace when I get to travel, but in the everyday it's a habit I'm having to build. 

Do you empathize? If so, my two answers have been walks, and a happy place.

I take as many calls as I can while walking in my neighborhood, listen to books on tape, or just let my mind wander.

And I come sit at my little flower box for mini-breaks throughout the day to just slow down and soak in.

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Shop this Style { Top : H&M : Similar | Pants : H&M : Similar | Mug : Anthropologie | Shoes : Nordstrom Rack : Similar | Bracelets : Thrifted + Similar } + Brooklyn Photography by Bethany Michaela

 

I'm also floral smitten as soon as the sunshine comes out for spring!

In this ensemble I mixed three florals, and threw caution to the wind ignoring my traditional pattern pairing principles like "one busy, one bold".

The result might be a bit too bold for your taste, but whatever your comfort zone, I say push it every now and then.

One year ago I never would have worn this ensemble: three florals, sheer shirt AND some version of harem pants?! No way.

But I grow and evolve as a person, and in my personal style. I seek out new people on Instagram who push my boundaries. And continue to take risks now and then in the dressing room.

Life's too short to be scared. Play a little.

And whether you're wearing them or surrounded by 'em, take time to stop and smell the flowers. {wink}

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