Inspirational Women: Q-and-A with Country Artist Edan Archer

Inspirational Women is our new feature department that connects you to modern-day women who are set to leave a mark in their chosen field, whether that's music, business, career or motherhood. This Q-and-A profile shares their stories, passion, struggles, leadership ideas, style philosophy and ways they are inspiring other women to chase after their dreams.

In this debut feature, we highlight Florida-native country artist Edan Archer, who recently released a new single entitled "Ain't That Kind of Woman" and a new EP entitled "Cruel Mother." Here, the rising singer-songwriterwho was chosen to compete in Southwest Airlines' Live@35 series and perform during a flight at 35,000 feetshares her motivations, musical influences and style lessons.  

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The Gospel of Beauty: Where did your love of country music come from?

Edan: I actually grew up listening to a lot of folk and Appalachian music—true music of the people and the human condition. We used to sing murder ballads and sea shanties as a family in Florida folk festivals so I developed a love for storytelling through music early on. 

TGOB: Who were your early musical influences?

Edan: We listened to a lot of Dolly Parton and Elvis Priestly songs when we were kids. Then as a pre-teen, I adored Taj Mahal and Bonnie Raitt, and Janis Joplin. I still won’t sing a Janis Joplin song to this day because, to me, she’s just in another universe, so I won’t even try to cover her songs.

TGOB: Can you still recall the first time you sang in public? 

Edan: I honestly don’t remember the first time I sang in public. I sang a lot in the church choir, at folk festivals and picking parties, so it was likely one of those times. I don’t remember ever being nervous. I mean, my mom was leading us, so my sisters and I just followed her lead like little ducklings. When I was older and played with my own band, we started out in college bars. I don’t remember my first show exactly, but we used to have a lot of fun playing in Gainesville, Florida. 

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TGOB: Aside from your own, which song is on replay on your iPod or MP3?

Edan: Right now, I’m listening to Jason Isbell’s new record. I’m loving all the new Americana music that’s coming out right now—there’s amazing stuff happening! 

TGOB: For many artists, there's no such thing as overnight success. How do you keep yourself motivated to keep going when you feel unrewarded and uninspired?

Edan: It is sometimes tough to keep your spirits up. But the main thing I try to remember is that it’s all a silly game, and the actual music is what matters. It’s easy to get caught up in society’s idea of success and what one has or hasn’t "achieved" as an artist, with regards to recognition and social media numbers. But what matters most is the experience of connecting with people, whoever and wherever that is, and experiencing the human condition together. 

TGOB: What's your advice to other women pursuing their dreams in music? 

Edan: To be a true artist and not just an image of an artist. I think it’s important to focus on one’s craft—learning to play, sing, and write as best as you can. Everyone has something special about them musically, just like everyone has a special beauty. 

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TGOB: What is the experience like for you as part of Southwest Airlines Live35 series?

Edan: That was a super fun experience! Playing on an airplane was one of the most fun shows that I’ve done. I’m very proud to have been chosen as one of their artists! 

TGOB: How would you describe your style philosophy? 

Edan: I dress for the theater of life! I love unique items with personal history—vintage pieces feel a bit like anthropological finds to me. I’m drawn to clothes that reflect the different sides of my personality—the dramatic, the vulnerable, and wild…

If I’m feeling happy and free, I might channel 60s hippie style, If it’s going to be a wild night, I’ll reference a bit of 70 decadence. If I’m playing a dirty honky tonk, I’ll go full trailer park! It depends on my mood that day, and if my clothes don’t match my mood, I’m not a happy camper! When they do sync up, I feel like a super hero. 

TOGB: What's your can't-live-without beauty item? 

Edan: I love a beautiful foundation. Right now I’m using MAC Studio fix fluid, it’s great for pictures because it has provides good coverage. 

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TOGB: What's the most important style lesson you've learned?

Edan: I’ve learned that not every style can work for every person. I think petite women can rock different styles than tall women like me. For example, I love the "oversized borrowing your boyfriend’s clothes" look, but it doesn’t really work on me. I’ve learned to work with my athletic shoulders and arms, and to play up the parts of my body that make me feel confident and sexy. And my main guideline is to let the clothes celebrate you, instead of the other way around. If the dress is wearing you, nix it! 

TGOB: Among the many iconic women, who inspires you the most?

Edan: I’m most inspired by women who find their individuality and really own their look. I love how Stevie Nicks is a boho goddess, but also how Alison Mosshart from The Kills uses the same simple basics all the time and makes them timeless and iconic. Kate Moss always seems so comfortable in her skin, no matter what she’s wearing, and I think that always shows. Even if you're comfortable being uncomfortable—just rock it! 

Why Every Little Girl Needs a Twirly Dress

Some dresses have the power to do this—to transform the mindset and elevate feelings of joy from within. A twirly dress can make any little girl smile, dance like a ballerina and even ease tantrums—nothing distracts unhappy thoughts more than the idea of twirling around in a dress!
  TWIRL ALL THE WAY TO NEVERLAND, LITTLE ONE!  This adorable  Twirly dress by Dotdotsmile Lori Weitzel VIP  in splashes of fun watercolors makes for the perfect summer dress.

TWIRL ALL THE WAY TO NEVERLAND, LITTLE ONE! This adorable Twirly dress by Dotdotsmile Lori Weitzel VIP in splashes of fun watercolors makes for the perfect summer dress.

If you happen to be a mama to a spunky six-year-old girl, you know you have your hands full when it comes to dressing her up. The little one has always been independent from the moment she discovered she was capable to doing things on her own. From the time she could pick out her own clothes, she had always tried to put her own spin to her adorable little style.

Some days it works (adding pink bracelets add a girly touch), on other days it doesn't (wearing a dozen necklace is a little overtop). While I encourage her to dress based on what makes her feel comfortable and confident, I also have to steer her gently from looking like Bozo the clown. And really, on days when tantrums are flying everywhere because she simply needs to assert her independence on mixing and matching clothes, I've learned to pick my battles wisely.   

Unless it's not season-appropriate ("No, you can't wear open-toe sandals on a rainy day!"), I let her experiment and play with the clothes she wants to wear, even when I sometimes desperately want to hold a sign in public that says: "Don't judge me. She dressed herself up." 

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Thankfully, most of the time, she dresses herself well. I do find it interesting that she is quick to pick up style cues just by observing how I put together her outfits, preferring to match her colors well and favoring dresses, more often than not. 

So when we received our first DotDotSmile Lori Weitzel VIP in the mail, the little one was beyond thrilled. From her reaction, you would think Christmas came early and that she just opened a present from Santa! After seeing the pure joy on her face, I've come to a conclusion: Every little girl should own at least one twirly dress!

"Mommy, I feel like a princess!" she exclaimed as she twirled around. To a mom, that was the perfect compliment. It is like me trying on a little black dress and telling everyone I feel like Audrey Hepburn! Some dresses have the power to do this—to transform the mindset and elevate feelings of joy from within. A twirly dress can make any little girl smile, dance like a ballerina and even ease tantrums—nothing distracts unhappy thoughts more than the idea of twirling around in a dress!

  A SPLASH OF COLORS.  Nothings says happiness than a splash of fun colors.

A SPLASH OF COLORS. Nothings says happiness than a splash of fun colors.

I often prefer subtle prints when shopping for the little one's apparel, but the explosion of hues on this dress reminds me of a watercolor canvas—so fun, playful and creative. The little one loves the splash of colors too, but more importantly, she loves how the ultra-soft fabric feels. The stretchy yet soft fabric is luxurious to the touch  which makes it the perfect material for an airy, summer dress. 

Of course, because we live in the Sunshine State where summer is year-round, this twirly dress is, technically, a year-round dress. And from the way things are now in which she resists the idea of taking the dress off, I am more than certain this dress will be on her weekly style rotation.

Does your little one own a twirly dress? How do you help your little fashionista build confidence in dressing herself up? Let's chat, style mamas?

Disclosure: Although this post is sponsored by DotDotSmile Lori Weitzel VIP, we always provide our honest opinion as we only work with brands we love.

To explore all the delightful twirly dresses, join DotDotSmile Lori Weitzel VIP. Plus, hurry and avail of the 10% discount this Thursday (July 18). DotDotSmile Lori Weitzel VIP offers weekly discounts so be sure to join the VIP group on Facebook or follow the group on Instagram. But just in case you need to shop more, use the code "gospelofbeauty" for a discount on your first purchase! Happy shopping, mamas!

Summer Outfit Ideas to Help You Transition Your Look from Day to Night 

PHOTOGRAPHY BY REALTOR BRIAN JOHNSON

Summer is rolling in fast and furious down in the lovely Sunshine State. Expectedly, this mama is embracing the summer glow and balmy evenings with a little bit of a minimalist vibe. If you have been following my previous style posts, you probably have seen a bit of a trend when it comes to my fashion choices: I tend to favor neutral hues, white especially, but with unexpected details. 

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White is the perfect summer outfit idea when you want fresh, clean aesthetics—whether you are planning a weekend beach rendezvous or simply heading out for happy hour with girl friends. Plus, white offers the perfect contrast to show off your beach-ready tan complexion!

Like its more popular sister, the Little Black Dress, the mini white dress is extremely versatile and can be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion. While searching for summer outfit ideas that I can easily transition from day to night, I came across two current favorites from The Lillipad Boutique, a new online shop that carries an adorable collection of on-trend fashion.

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Summer Outfit Idea 1: Daytime Bohemian

Nothing says summer than a touch of cool bohemian to a favorite summer outfit. I adore the airy silhouette of this white off-shoulder dress. It's casual enough for window-shopping but equally interesting to be paired with strappy heels for a fun dinner date. 

The off-shoulder detail adds just the right amount of sass, so it shows a little skin but still exudes an overall classiness. I absolutely love the boho-inspired stitching as it gives a lovely visual interest against an otherwise all-white dress.

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To make it appropriate for a completely chill Saturday, I paired this summer dress with a statement piece—a pair of gladiator sandals. These Roman-inspired sandals make for a killer fashion piece for summer as they can be worn with shorts, dresses or denim skirts.

To finish off this daytime boho-inspired look, I opted to accessorize with a subtle Dear Isabella necklace with Larimar gemstone in safety pin design and a Jessica Simpson white and gold weaved shoulder bag.

Summer Outfit 2: After-Hour Classic

When I saw this Temple dress by The Lillipad Boutique, I know I've found a versatile piece that I can wear with a pair of flats for a daytime coffee run or heels for a night of dancing.

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For an evening look, I kept the accessories minimal so all eyes are on the ultra-feminine lace and ribbon detail around the neckline. The lace says prim and proper but the skater silhouette suggests adventure and fun as it makes for a great swing dress. 

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Ultimately, I opted to pair this with simple strappy heels but kept the evening bag interesting which has embroidery, sequins and glass beads.

Which summer outfits are pulling double-duty for you as you transition from day to night? Which statement piece do you add to change the vibe of your dress so it may fit from beach to happy hour? Let's chat fashion, style sisters.

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Disclosure: Although this post is sponsored by The Lillipad Boutique, we always give our honest opinion as we only work with brands we love. To learn more about this new online shop, read their latest blog. Or keep up-to-date on their latest arrivals by following them on Facebook and Instagram.

Styled by Trendage: A Fashion App for the Style-Savvy

If you are old enough to remember Clueless, a classic teen cult movie in the '90s starring the adorable Alicia Silverstone, then you know Cher Horowitz and her drool-worthy revolving closet. Goodness, I can still recall how my knees turned weak at the sight of Cher's collection of high-fashion ensemble! 

Yes, I would be lying if I say adulthood has turned me sensible and that a revolving closet is no longer on my wish list, but truth is, this mama would give up precious nap time for a brief access to Cher's closet so I could elevate my sartorial game! 

In this day and age, the next best thing to a revolving closet is an app that serves as your digital stylist on speed dial. While tinkering on my phone for style apps that could help alert me on the latest fashion releases on the racks as well as highly sought-after markdowns, I happen to discover Styled by Trendage.

 Need a revolving closet? Styled by Trendage allows you to virtually try the latest finds on the racks.   

Need a revolving closet? Styled by Trendage allows you to virtually try the latest finds on the racks.   

And what do you know? The iOS-compatible app was actually created with Cher's revolving closet in mind. Universe alignment, anyone? This means after creating a digital avatar of myself, I was able to virtually try on a revolving collection of clothes available in stores like Nordstrom, Little Black Dress and David's Bridal. 

More than anything, I'm a window-shopper, so I enjoy the concept of virtual shopping and the surprise of not knowing what dress awaits with every swipe. After spending some time testing out the app, here are a few highlights of the things I love and the things I wish it has.  

What I Love:

I love that I am able  to take a selfie and customize my hair style and body measurements.

The app gave me the option to either take a new selfie or select from my photo library. I then was able to select different hairstyles and body shapes as well as add my height and weight information. I appreciate these customization features because I am able to see the looks on my own size and silhouette, as opposed on models.

I love that the clothes shown are completely shopper-friendly.

As if it's not fun enough to tap on the screen and see how clothes may fit virtually on me, it's even more exciting to know that all in-season looks are actually available for purchase online. By clicking on "Details," a thumbnail that shows the price and store location pops up. Clicking on "Visit Website" redirects to the store's online product page for easy purchase.

I love that I am able to earn discounts with every new looks I discover.

Each time I search for more looks, I was rewarded with unlocked discount codes that I can use to shop in some of my favorite shops, such as Bath & Bodyworks and Target.

 Styled by Trendage allows you to customize your body weight, height and hair styles.

Styled by Trendage allows you to customize your body weight, height and hair styles.

What I Wish It Has:

I wish it has better photo editing and touch-screen features.

While customization is a plus, I wish the app creates better avatars. Even after customizing my height and weight, the proportions didn't seem to look right. I've played with a similar style app in the past that gave me the option to resize hair styles by touching on the screen. Unfortunately, this app doesn't allow me to do that. In my opinion, having this feature will not only make it easier to fit the right hair style on to one's avatar, it would also ensure that proportions are conveniently customized.

I wish it offers a personalized survey so it can customize my style preferences.

Although I love the idea of being surprised with every tap, I do think having the option to fill out a survey that helps to narrow down ensembles based on my personal style will make the experience better and increases the likelihood of me actually purchasing an apparel online. 

I wish it has an option to mix and match fashion pieces.

Part of why I enjoy virtual shopping is the opportunity to mix and match clothes and accessories with a flick of a finger, making styling a painless experience. A mix-and-match feature will certainly be a game-changer as it would allow users to create personal looks and turn runway-fresh finds into street-wear style.

Have you ever used an app to help you find the latest on-the-rack styles? Let's exchange some style tips on the comment box below, fashion sisters!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Styled by Trendage. All opinions are my own.

Style Chat: A Mother's Take on Fashion and Wardrobe Essentials

Style Chat is a special section about fashion influences, style evolutions and wardrobe staples. In this first Style Chat feature, we highlight Leah Weber, the fashion-loving mom behind the blog, scenesfromcedarstreet.com. If you want to be on our next Style Chat seat, connect with me at thegospelofbeauty@gmail.com.


 Stay-at-home mom Leah Weber favors classic comfort over trends when shopping for her style essentials.

Stay-at-home mom Leah Weber favors classic comfort over trends when shopping for her style essentials.

As a mom, Leah Weber wears many hats. She juggles her time between taking care of her 10-month-old baby girl and working alongside her husband who works for a ministry called Campus Outreach at The University of West Georgia. "I help provide counseling and lead Bible studies and Discipleship groups to college students. We live in a small town and our favorite activities are having people over to hang out, playing with our baby, and hanging out on the square in downtown Carrollton," she says.

In this Style Chat, the stay-at-home mom talks about her personal style, her fashion influences and the style essentials she can't live without. 

The Gospel of Beauty: How would you describe your fashion sense?

Leah Weber: Classic, feminine and simple.

TGOB: What's your typical mommy weekend outfit?

Weber: My favorite pair of jeans, a comfy but cute blouse, and a pair of boots, Converses, or sandals—depending on the season.

TGOB: Who would you consider to be your biggest fashion influence?

Weber: Joanna Gaines. She’s obviously known for her amazing interior design skills but I also love her fashion sense. She has impeccable taste and combines function and style well together. This is essential for any mom.

TGOB: What's the one piece of wardrobe staple you can't live without?

Weber: It’s a tie between my my black LuLaRoe leggings and my favorite pair of jeans.

TGOB: What types of apparel fill up your closet?

Weber: I’ve recently downsized my closet to include only the things I love. I have a dress for every season and occasion. Numerous neutral-colored tops and blouses, and a few fun, colorful pieces.

 This pair of black LuLaRoe leggings is one of Weber's favorite items in her closet.

This pair of black LuLaRoe leggings is one of Weber's favorite items in her closet.

TGOB: Where are a few of your go-to shops for your fashion essentials?

Weber: We live in a small town so shopping for clothes can be difficult sometimes. I like our local small boutiques as well as jane.com. When I do have the chance to go to a mall, my favorite stores are Anthropologie, Madewell and The Loft.

TGOB: Who are some of the fashion icons who inspire you?

Weber: Audrey Hepburn, Kate Middleton and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. 

TGOB: What's the best fashion tip you've ever received?

Weber: Trends come and go. Wear clothes that you love and feel comfortable in.

TGOB: Looking back at how your fashion style has evolved, what's the one fashion item you swore yourself you'll never be caught wearing again?

Weber: I hated skinny jeans when they first came back into style. I thought I would never wear them. Now, I wear them almost every day!

TGOB: How do you share your love of fashion to your little one?

Weber: My baby girl is only 10-months-old so I haven’t been able to share my love for fashion with her yet but when she’s older, I want to teach her not to be defined or consumed by the latest fashion trend or whatever everyone else is wearing. I want her to be confident in who she is and not let fashion define her. I want her to be a trend setter, not a trend follower.

TGOB: What's your advice to other mothers to help them elevate their personal style?

Weber: When you become a mom, it’s easy to neglect yourself in a lot of different areas of your life because you are completely consumed by taking care of your baby. I would encourage you to take time for yourself and your style. Re-evaluate your wardrobe. Go through your closet and get rid of clothes you don’t like and slowly replace your wardrobe with pieces you love. Don’t feel like you have to keep up with the latest trends. Just buy what is comfortable, practical for your lifestyle, and makes you feel beautiful.

SHOP OUR STYLE FINDS

Treasures and Gems: Style Lessons from Mother to Daughter

  LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DAUGHTER.  Dear Isabella necklaces in safety pin design make for the perfect mother-and-me heirloom that can be passed on from one generation to another.  PHOTOGRAPHY BY Realtor Brian Johnson .

LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DAUGHTER. Dear Isabella necklaces in safety pin design make for the perfect mother-and-me heirloom that can be passed on from one generation to another. PHOTOGRAPHY BY Realtor Brian Johnson.

When it comes to style influences, no one has probably influenced us more, especially during our young and transformative lives, than our very own mothers. After all, didn't we all once sashay in our mother's oversized heels while we pretended to walk down imaginary runways? Was it not that the first lipstick we played with belong to our mothers? Didn't we once dig through their treasure box of accessories so we could wear one precious item to match our own Sunday's best dress?

  SAFETY FIRST.  Dear Isabella's safety pin necklace is the perfect symbolism of a mother's love and protective care.

SAFETY FIRST. Dear Isabella's safety pin necklace is the perfect symbolism of a mother's love and protective care.

I have my mother to thank for exposing me to the possibilities of mixing and matching style pieces. A firm believer of self-care, she would never be caught looking anything less than put together. Her trademark bold red lipstick spoke of unmistakable confidence, a trait I continue to emulate now that I've become a mother myself. 

  MOTHERLY LOVE.  She's always put your wants first. Return the favor this Mother's Day and surprise mom with something she would want: a stunning piece of jewelry.

MOTHERLY LOVE. She's always put your wants first. Return the favor this Mother's Day and surprise mom with something she would want: a stunning piece of jewelry.

As it comes full circle now that I have become my daughter's first style influence, I look back—in a timely manner as Mother's Day is just around the corner—of the gems of style lessons my own mother imparted upon me: 

1. Look for soulful details.

This is especially true in jewelry. There are some pieces that simply speak to you, one that evokes good energy. When I first saw this necklace by Dear Isabella Larimar Jewelry Company in an adorable safety pin design, it called my name.

Perhaps it is because the brand itself is founded by a mother inspired by her own daughter so I felt a kindling connection with the brand's story. Dear Isabella, eponymously named after the owner's daughter, is one mother's way to celebrate her daughter, aside from honoring the treasures of her birth home, the Dominican Republic. The brand's classic collection pays homage to the unmistakable bond between mother and daughter and each fine piece honors this lifetime love and connection.  

  MOMMY AND ME.  When twinning with mommy is in order, accessorize with a piece of jewelry that your daughter could treasure for a lifetime.

MOMMY AND ME. When twinning with mommy is in order, accessorize with a piece of jewelry that your daughter could treasure for a lifetime.

2. Find timeless pieces.

Whether it's shopping for clothes or shoes, I tend to favor classic items that can last through multiple fashion seasons. This is also true in my choice of accessories. My mom, always the practical woman, taught me to invest in pieces that never go out of style, such as black dresses, white tops and precious gemstones.

  CARIBBEAN GEM.  Larimar, the Caribbean gemstone, ranges from subtle green to deep blue in color.

CARIBBEAN GEM. Larimar, the Caribbean gemstone, ranges from subtle green to deep blue in color.

The part that has drawn me most to Dear Isabella's collections is that it is made with a unique gemstone called Larimar. A rare blue variety of the silicate mineral pectolite, Larimar is only found in one place: in a little paradise island in the Caribbean called the Dominican Republic.

According to historians, when the gemstone was discovered in 1974 by Miguel Mendez and Norman Rilling on a beach at the foot of the Baroruco Mountain Range, Mendez named it Larimar after his daughter's name (Larissa) and the Spanish word for the sea (mar). Rightfully so, it is also known as the "Caribbean gemstone" for its color evokes the aqua blue Caribbean waters, although it could generally range from subtle green to deep blue in color.

Like many gemstones believed to exude positive energy, Larimar is thought to provide peace and clarity, radiating healing and love energy.

  LESS IS MORE.  Let an intricate jewelry shine by pairing it with a simple top.

LESS IS MORE. Let an intricate jewelry shine by pairing it with a simple top.

3. Embrace the anomalies in design.

In design, there's always that one beautiful imperfection that makes an item perfect. This is something my mom had shown me through her style choices, whether she was buying a local pottery or a piece of jewelry. 

You often get a little of that design anomaly in handmade creations, as no two items can exactly be alike when crafted by hand. When I look carefully to inspect Dear Isabella's necklaces, I can see how each piece is carefully handcrafted, giving every piece a unique craftsmanship that's fitting to become a treasured family heirloom a few years down the road. It is easy to tell there's much effort made in selecting the best possible gemstone. When it comes to Larimar, the general rule of thumb is this: The more blue the color, the higher the quality. 

  SMALL BOXES, BIG SURPRISES.  The best things in life truly comes in small boxes. Delight mom with a thoughtful gift enclosed in a lovely blue box.

SMALL BOXES, BIG SURPRISES. The best things in life truly comes in small boxes. Delight mom with a thoughtful gift enclosed in a lovely blue box.

4. Live in style, but make it look easy.

In a nutshell, this was my mom's style mantra: Live in style, but make it look easy. She always made it looked effortless to dress up appropriately, put on makeup and fix her hair like it's nobody's business. I try to live in her example by taking the time for genuine self-care and putting comfort as high as looking chic. 

To do this, I try to dress up with the mindset that less is more. If the print design is screaming, tone it down by wearing a simple jewelry. Unless you are the iconic fashionista Iris Apfel, it is difficult to get away with wearing layers and layers of chunky necklaces against a psychedelic print. 

  BIG HEARTS.  Nothing says "I love you, mom" more than a fine jewelry with a rare gemstone. 

BIG HEARTS. Nothing says "I love you, mom" more than a fine jewelry with a rare gemstone. 

As for this style shoot, the spotlight was on the stunning Dear Isabella jewelry, so I opted to showcase it with a bare neck and a simple black corset top. It can't get any more effortless than that.

Mother's Day or not, how do you plan to surprise the most important woman in your life? What style lessons have you learned from her? Let's share thoughtful ideas in the comment box below.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Dear Isabella Larimar Jewelry Co. All opinions are my own. To learn more about their latest launches, including on their upcoming bridal collection in June, follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Dear Isabella ships free within the U.S. and internationally for orders more than $75. Browse their collections today to find the perfect Mother's Day gift!

Old World Charm: 5 Ways to Wear a Bohemian Chic White Dress

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Realtor Brian Johnson | LOCATION: Ybor City | KID's OUTFIT and HAIR ACCESSORY: The Hair Bow Company

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Think of your little white dress as LBD's free-spirited little sister: less formal, casually easy like Sunday morning, hopelessly romantic like a hippie wild child yet equally classic at the same time.

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With the change in season and warmer weather creeping in, the little white dress is the perfect wardrobe essential for a lovely spring and summer affair. Oh, did we mention it's also versatile to wear? There are a million ways to style your little white dress, but this mommy-and-daughter duo's favorite is wearing it with a touch of vintage bohemian.

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To channel our inner boho spirit, we stepped into Ybor City, Tampa's historic district, which once thrived as a cigar industry town prior to the Great Depression. The place was named after Vicente Martinez Ybor, a prominent Spanish cigar entrepreneur who relocated his cigar-making business from Cuba and Key West to Tampa in the late 1880s.

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Today, Ybor City is named National Historical Landmark District and recognized as one of the "10 Great Streets in America." It continues to have a diverse blend of cultures, thanks to its first immigrant settlers primarily of Cuban, Spanish and Italian descents who brought with them their own unique food and traditions. 

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Ybor City has since been transformed as a favorite local spot among foodies, party night owls and art lovers, as evident by its unique fusion of international-themed restaurants, cafes, bars, theaters and street art.

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That being said, it served as the perfect backdrop for a vintage-bohemian fashion shoot. It's easy to be adventurous when wearing a little white dress, so let your inner child run wild and play with a few fun details. Here are five ways to rock the bohemian rhapsody style:

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1. When it comes to frills, poufs and laces, go big or go home.  

When shopping for your little girl's white dress, choose a baby doll silhouette like this flouncy dress by The Hair Bow Company. The pouf at the bottom makes twirling hard to resist and the silhouette gives the dress an ultra-fun and girly vibe. A touch of lace around the neckline is always a good idea as it makes the overall look romantic but mostly, whimsical.

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2. Wear white with gold.

Add an interesting element to take away the "blah" in basic white. For instance, gold adds a touch of elegance to white. A word of caution: Keep the gold element subtle, you don't want to look like you've just been cursed by Midas' touch. A gold belt or hair accessory should do the trick.

For this photo shoot, I opted to give my overall look with a metallic touch by wearing The Hair Bow Company's gold leaf headband.

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3. Pair it with a romantic head dress.

When it comes to a white dress in satin and lace, a little accessory goes a long way. Jazz up your little one's look with some floral and lace head dress, like the one shown on top and sold at The Hair Bow Company. It's not only a great way to pull the hair away from your little one's face and keep her day look neat, but it's a style piece that could effortlessly tie in the overall old-world, bohemian look.

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4. Have fun with a pair of gladiator sandals.

As far as vintage style goes, wearing the right pair of footwear matters. It's really amazing how shoes can single-handedly take an overall look from day to night. For instance, a gold pair of stilettos could make this white dress by Forever 21 "happy hour ready," while a classic pair of nude pumps could make it work-appropriate. For this style shoot, I slipped on a pair of gladiator sandals to complete the boho chic look. Hello, is that you, ancient Rome, calling?

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5. Keep the look organic by sticking to neutral colors.

Think of woodsy colors like forest green or caramel brown. These colors go well with a simple white dress in creating a very "chill" and Woodstock-inspired style. Let your individuality shine with your style choices, whether that means adding a mocha fringe messenger bag, a pair of feather earrings or some oversized bows. Ultimately, it's about embracing your free-spirited inner child!

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by The Hair Bow Company. All opinions are my own. Follow them on Facebook or sign up to their newsletter to enjoy a five percent discount on your order.

Going, Going, Gone! How to Win on an Online Shopping Auction

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by tophatter.com. All opinions are my own.

Anyone who knows me would agree that I can sniff a good deal a mile away. It's a skill that has served me well now that I am a bargain-hunting mama, always on the look out for ways for the family to financially save and spend wisely.

Much of this value-hunting skill was developed when I worked as an editor for the shopping guide section of a local daily, hunting down bargain deals, writing about second-hand stores and profiling small-business owners.

Although I have a propensity to window-shop more than to sit in front of my Macbook and shop online (I always joked window-shopping is my "poor man's version" of a workout!), I always manage to control my expenses by staying away from impulsive purchases. So how in the world did I end up ferociously bidding on an online auction website if impulse-buying is not my cup of tea? 

Believe it or not, as I've discovered after my first-ever online auction experience on tophatter.com, auction websites can actually be a great way to save money—as long as you shop with a strategy.

1. Research the products offered on the auction website before placing a bid.

Think of it like you are going to war—you want to be armed as much as possible. In this case, being armed with product information is winning half of the auction battle. Browse the product gallery of the auction website and click on products to read more on product descriptions and specifications. This is very important when buying gadgets to ensure it is compatible with your other devices. 

2. Set a bid limit.

Similar to live auction events like Tophatter where you have less than 90 seconds to bid, it is easy to get swept in the moment and make the rookie mistake of overbidding on a product for fear of losing the bidding war. To avoid this, compare prices in other stores once you've determined the product you'd like to bid on. By comparing prices, you can wisely set a bid limit for yourself and ensure that you are always bidding with a mindset to save while shopping. 

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3. Sign up for bidding alerts and reminders.

Because products in auctions can easily come and go, set a bidding alert and reminder to ensure you get notified when products you are eyeing on are up for bids. For instance, I wanted to surprise the little one for her upcoming birthday with an old-school Mario Bros. handheld gaming device which was one of the featured products on the auction website. Instead of staying on the computer all day to wait for it to go on the live auction, I simply set up an alert. It was a smart strategy—I ended up winning that device as a birthday gift for the little one! 

4. Refrain from getting emotionally attached.

Easier said than done! It is expected that the competitive spirit will kick in when in the midst of a bidding war. It can get competitive fast and even personal at times, but the only way to truly win on an online auction is to detach yourself emotionally from the idea that you must win every bid, every time. In fact, in order to shop wisely, you must be willing to lose and walk away from a bid. There will always be another opportunity.

5. Study the bidding pattern.

Visit the auction website during different times of the day and be observant. Are there more bidders during the day? Are you more likely to get less competitors at night? Whatever that bidding pattern is, work it to your advantage. 

Eager to get into the bidding war yourself? Click HERE and enter CODE: a850f2 to receive a $10 credit when you sign up at tophatter.com . Happy bidding!

Gift Ideas, With Love: 20 Uber-Cool Valentine's Day Gifts for Him

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Ah, the day of hearts! Cupid has a way of sneaking up on us. In fact, it feels we've just barely caught our breath from the mad dash and last-minute holiday gift shopping for loved ones and here we are again, going through the same motion of online shopping for Valentine's Day. We feel your pain, it's never easy to find the perfect gift for a loving dad, husband or lover. Well, guess what? Amazon does have several neat gifts if you know where to find. Here are 20 uber-cool Valentine's Day gift ideas for every man in your life:   

1. StudBucket

What man doesn't need a stud bucket? Get him a gift set with a flask for his favorite bourbon, a sleek headphone, a 4-in-one bottle opener and a $10 Best Buy gift card.

2. Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphone

Is he a music lover? Elevate his listening experience with this Beats wireless headphone that is as gorgeous as it is functional.

3. Bodum Pour-Over Coffee Maker, 34 oz.

Who's grumpy in the morning? You can help change your man's morning mood by getting him this elegant pour-over coffee maker so he can easily get his daily caffeine fix, whether at home or in the office.

4. Sphero Star Wars BB-8 App-Controlled Robot

Here's every Star Wars geek's fantasy: To have his own Star Wars droid. Indulge your man's adorable geeky side with this fun collectible that can roll around like a real droid using an app-controlled remote.

5. Mixology Dice

Is your man a fan of DIY happy hour? Make blending signature cocktails even more fun for your bourbon- or tequila-loving man with this Mixology Dice which comes with eight laser-engraved dice and an instruction booklet.

6. Ray-Ban Andy, 55mm non-polarized

What's cooler than a super dad? A super dad sporting a cool Ray-Ban!

7. Vintage Canvas Backpack

When it's time to retire your man's backpack, get him a travel rucksack that's equal parts classy and manly. Bonus nachos: It is waterproof and can fit a 15.6-inch laptop.

8. Yeti Vacuum Insulated Rambler Colster

The trusty Yeti---every real man needs one. This Yeti colster keeps his drink cool while football tailgaiting or camping outdoors because no one likes a warm beer. 

9. Wacaco Company MiniPresso GR Espresso Maker

Is he an espresso man? Surprise him with this MiniPresso so he may enjoy a cup of energy-boosting espresso while on the go.

10. Chemist's Spice Rack, 14-piece

Does daddy or your beau loves to experiment with new flavors in the kitchen? Get him his own spice rack so he can easily mix and blend sauces and seasonings of his own culinary creations.

11. Clocky Alarm Clock on Wheels

Is your man not a morning person? Give him a little more motivation in the morning with this wheeled alarm clock that runs away to persuasively get him out of bed.

12. YUMQUA USB Wireless Bluetooth Waterproof Roll-Up Foldable Keyboard

Is he often on the go with his job but also needs to stay connected? A foldable keyboard would ensure he packs light on his way to his next sales or business meeting.

13. RAVPower Luster Mini 3350mAh Portable Charger Battery

Nothing could be more frustrating than running out of mobile juice when you need it most. Be his hero and get him this elegant portable charger battery so he can stay connected anytime, anywhere.

14. ICE Portable Wireless Floating Bluetooth Speaker

Wow, talk about giving him one to talk about! A sure conversational piece, this wireless floating speaker makes a wonderful addition to his man cave and one that he can brag about to his friends. 

15. FRYE Logan Antique Flap Briefcase

In case your man needs to look sharper than usual, get him this antique flap briefcase in cognac color so he can always report to work looking like a boss.

16. LBFEEL Cool Watch Movement Cufflinks

The devil in the the detail. Get him a pair of watch-inspired cufflinks so he can accessorize in style the next he goes to a big business presentation.

17. OURAI 13-inch Laptop Sleeve Case and Notebook Carrying Case

Help your man take care of his mobile devices with these briefcase bag and carrying case that protect his gadgets while in transit.

18. Amazon Echo

YOU: Alexa, how do you make a man as happy as a kid in a candy store? ALEXA: Get him an Amazon Echo.

19. Crosley Ranchero Retro AM/FM Tabletop Radio

Looking for a gift for your dad or husband that may touch his soft, nostalgic touch? Let him walk down memory lane with this retro radio. Oh, so Mad Men!

20. Garmin Vivosmart HR Activity Tracker

Is he a health and gym buff? Motivate him to stay active with an activity tracker which records the number of steps he has taken, calories lost, activity intensity and distance covered. It also receives texts, calls and email or social media alerts so he could stay connected while working out.

Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. All content in here, however, are my personal and honest recommendations. 

Tights Season: Style Tips on How to Rock Them!

I've been in your shoesdesperately looking for the right opaque tights or fishnets to keep me warm as the season transitions, but still fashionable enough beyond wearing those good ol' boring black stockings. While there's no denying that black tights make the most versatile choice (especially if your closet is full of colors and patterns), choosing one with a little design may go a long way in creating a style statement. 

So how exactly should you wear tights this season? Two words: Own them!  

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1. If you must wear black, pick a designed fishnet.

Wearing fishnets is a proven-and-tested way to keep your look stylish and edgy. However, because there is a fine line between sexy and sleazy when it comes to wearing fishnets, tread lightly. To stay in the chic zone, avoid tight skirts with short hemlines or body-hugging dresses. Instead, opt for silhouettes like A-line or pleated skirts as well as slightly loose dresses. I prefer to wear fishnets with a leather A-line skirt that comfortably grazes above my knee and pair this with a crisp white shirt. The final look is often polished or preppy, but with a slight style edge. 

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2. Choose colors that are bound to stop traffic.

That's right, when it comes to your choice of the season's staple, take risks! While this is likely not a fashion tip for the weak of heart, selecting tights with fun colors make a great way to jazz up one's look, especially if you tend to pick neutral and basic colors for most of your clothes. Pair complementary colorsand as you may have already guessed by the look I've put together above, my favorite combo is purple and yellow! Because these winter essentials are both versatile and functional, it's certainly a great way to breathe new life to non-seasonal choices. For instance, because the Sunshine State's winter is far more forgiving compared to other places, wearing a pair of summer shorts is no longer a crazy idea as long as it's worn with trusty tights to keep the bare legs warm. 

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3. Have fun with prints and patterns.

While they undeniably serve a utilitarian purpose, wearing tights is also about having fun! If you must choose a solid color, choose one with a little pattern. I adore tights with polka dot printsthey're classic and easy to match with tweed skirts, but also look like an invitation to have fun with one's ensemble. 

There is no doubt that, when it comes to wearing tights, the right pair of shoes, sneakers or boots can make or break the overall lookso pay attention to every little detail and never feel stuck in a winter wardrobe rut ever again! 

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Style Trend Alert: Pink Will Reign Supreme

Spring may be months away, but the style trend is evident: Pink will reign supreme. In fact, at the Paris Fashion Week which previewed spring 2017, collections on the runway were apparently heavy with femininity and shades of sweetness. PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRIAN JOHNSON | LOCATION: HYDE PARK, TAMPA

  Ariana's style:  Ballerina pink and gold dress by  Jenna & Jessie  and pink  Hello Kitty  ballet flats by  H&M .

Ariana's style: Ballerina pink and gold dress by Jenna & Jessie and pink Hello Kitty ballet flats by H&M.

Fashion powerhouse Balenciaga, for instance, featured a watermelon-pink turtleneck dress while the style house of Valentino showcased a knee-length cape hybrid dress in stunning Schiaparelli pink. Givenchy, on the one hand, featured a long-sleeved dress with coordinating fringes in muted blush. 

  Mommy's Style:  White heart-shaped top with pleat sleeves and fringe skirt in blushing pink by  Express . Nude pumps by  Nine West .

Mommy's Style: White heart-shaped top with pleat sleeves and fringe skirt in blushing pink by Express. Nude pumps by Nine West.

So what's all this fascination with pink? Haven't critics of the bubblegum color said enough about its "too saccharine" quality? The recent obsession with pink, it appears, can be partly blamed by the fact that one of Pantone's colors of the year is Rose Quartz. Ah, that explains it. Move aside vegan Greenery.

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The other part of it may simply be that the fashion gods want to rethink pink to slightly strip it of its "Barbie color" reputation. Thus, the runway was painted with shades that were deemed less sweet to the fashion taste. For a modern take, stylists have paired pink with edgier colors like sulphuric yellow and minty lime to slightly tone down its feminine appeal. 

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It appears the love of pink has spilled beyond the runway and into the red carpet as celebrities were spotted wearing various shades of pink in recent award shows. At the 2017 Golden Globes Award, Carrie Underwood wore a pink and ruffled Iris Serban gown, so did Felicity Jones and Zoe Saldana who both wore the feminine color to the award show.

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But what if pink is not in your list of favorite colors? Can you still look stylishly on-trend with spring's shade of choice? Our advice: Do it in small doses. Add a pink scarf, a fashionable criss-cross bag or a pair of pink pumps.

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If baby pink is too girly for you, consider a different shade of pink. A good rule of thumb is to find a shade that fits your hair color and skin tone. A blushing pink may wash you out if you have a fair complexion. Instead, opt for a hot pink dress to amp up your overall look. 

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Wear pink in combo. To give pink an edgier appeal, don't be afraid to shake it up. Limes and bright yellows have a jarring but pleasant appeal to pink. 

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Ultimately, whatever shade of pink speaks to you, remember the number one fashion tip: Keep it fun! For Ariana and I, when it comes to being playful with color choices, we say: "Yes, pretty, pretty pink please!"

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The Chill Effect: Dressing Up for Winter

A few weeks back, temperatures in the Sunshine State dipped and forced us to take out a few winter fashion essentials which, since we've moved here from the Bluegrass State, had been safely stowed away in a tote box in our closets. Don't get me wrong, we are not complaining. In fact, Ariana and I rather welcomed the brief change of temperature as we finally had our excuse to wear knits, vests and adorable leggingsminus the dreaded prospect of a two-foot snow.

How did we survive Florida's winter? Fashionably, of course. Here are a few fun tips to help you shop and level up your kid's winter style.

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1. Invest in a good knit dress that you can easily pair with a nice legging and a pair of adorable boots. I tend to keep my choices neutral as far as color and prints are concerned so I may have the option to jazz up Ariana's look with adorable leggings, many of which come in bright colors and prints.

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2. Shop wisely. Buy your kid's winter essentials close to the end of the winter season. This often means shops are getting ready for spring and are eager to get rid of their old inventory by offering deep discounts. Shop one age size in advance, I can't tell you how much savings I've had by simply shopping in advance in anticipation of the next season.

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3. Accessorize with stylish vests. This is the season to layer, so next time your are in the kid's section of your favorite children's boutique, don't ignore the vests. It's a great way to stylishly layer without wearing bulky winter jackets and pea coats all the time.

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4. Play around with leggings. In fact, mix it up with bright pinks, limes and purples. Don't shy away from prints which are adorable on your little ones but also invest in basic colors. They make the perfect pair with winter dresses that may be too glittery, adorned with too much sequins or simply too busy with holiday-themed prints. What has been your favorite winter look for your little one? Let's chat, share your comments below.

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