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.

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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Glitter & Gold: Ring in 2017 in Style

Hello 2017, we're all glammed up to welcome you! The New Year is every fashionista's excuse to wear glitter and gold, so Ariana and Mommy are not apologizing for bringing on the sparkle. Although head-to-toe glitz and glamour are more than welcomed this party season, this mommy-and-daughter duo opts to keep the golden touches subtle.

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Rather than wear gold all throughout, Ariana prefers to keep it minimal with a flowing pink dress with subtle glittery sequins on top. The dress is ultra-sweet and feminine, which suits this little girl's personality. To help teach her self-confidence, I allow her to make shopping decisions with me and guides her through style choices so she understands how to properly dress herself up. 

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By any definition, it was love at first sight the moment Ariana laid eyes on this princess dress on the racks of H&M. It's easy to understand why, I myself adore the tiny floral detail on topwhile the gold sequins add a regal and subtle sparkle.

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To ensure that her dress is the focal point, we kept the rest of Ariana's look clean and simple. She pairs this lovely dress with Hello Kitty ballet flats and the only accessory we added is an oversized white bow as an accent to her simple ponytail.

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For Mommy's New Year party look, sticking to the classic black and gold tandem is always a good idea. To add an edgier appeal to the basic black top, go for a sexier detail, like this season's hot style trend: cut-off shoulders. 

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A basic black top is a great way to tone down Midas' touch, but it also makes for the perfect contrast against any glitter or gold. For instance, this The Limited gold midi skirt shines brighter against H&M's long-sleeved top. To finish strong, pick a pair of edgy stilettosthey always scream for attention.

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If you must wear gold or sequins since it's after all New Year, don't be afraid to go all out. The trick to an "all or nothing" look is to keep it monochromatic so that, even if you are sparkling from top to bottom, it still looks stylishly coordinated and fashionably intentional.

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Another style tip is to boldly steer away from the expected black, white and gold color combination all together. Instead, be unconventional and surprise your party guests or hosts with an unexpected choice like bright yellows or punchy blues. Layer with a statement necklace to add a festive vibe to your overall look. 

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Gasp, while we are excited, we still can't believe we are about to say "sayonara" to 2016! Are you ready to ring in 2017 in style? Let us know in the comment box below how you are planning to make a style statement. Cheers to more sparkling style moments!

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Cheers and Sparkles: Shopping for the Perfect Little Holiday Dress

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Oh, there's nothing more adorable than to dress up your little one for the holidays! I absolutely love the sparkly, sequined and velvety little dresses that adorn most of the shopping racks around this time of the year. I must admit, I get a little guilty spending a whole lot on children's apparel, but a lovely holiday dress is a once-a-year splurge so it can be justified even for a bargain-hunter mommy like me.  

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In shopping for Ariana's dresses, I tend to keep returning back to proven-and-tested shops I know I can rely on for adorable dresses. Two of my favorite mall destinations are H&M and Gap Kids. They can be on the pricey side, but if you know when to shop, you can get really cute but deeply discounted dresses. I suggest getting on the mailing list of your favorite children's shops so you'll be the first to get seasonal sale alerts.

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For this photo shoot, Ariana is wearing a sparkly Gap Kids dress in lime color. Although it's common to see holiday dresses with full skirts (Ariana adores them as they are perfect for a princess twirl), I love the minimalist look and structured silhouette of this dress. It's simple enough for weekend dressing, but elegant enough for a holiday party.

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Do not rule out online shopping. Many online stores carry a varied line of kids clothing. Even if I don't often shop online, I like to browse what's out there, so I sometimes stalk online shops like Thumbeline, Fawnshoppe, Sweet William and Shan and Toad

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Finally, to complete your little one's holiday look, make sure to add a few lovely accessories. Because we opted for a minimalist holiday dress, it was easy to add bead bracelets in holiday colors and a metallic multi-band headpiece to finish off Ariana's holiday look. The best accessory of all? A joyful face. Spread the holiday cheer by always leaving a trail of sparkle. From our family to yours, happy shopping and Merry Christmas to all!

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Pretty in Prints

Prints are easy like Sunday morning. The right prints can add a pop of color to your work style and make it playful enough for weekend dressing. Although my aesthetics tend to be more clean and minimalist (I love to horde white shirts as well as pairs of nude cropped pants and black slacks), I also enjoy the occasional surprise of a lovely printed pencil skirt or a floral A-line dress. 

When shopping for Ariana's clothes, I tend to do the samefavoring neutrals for the most part, but snatching adorable finds with prints on several occasions. What's the best way to wear prints? Let me count the ways:

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Fashion Choice #1: If you tend to be a little apprehensive about committing a style misstep when it comes to prints, stay on the safe side: Wear a patterned skirt, for instance, with something plain or neutral. I kept this weekend look easy by pairing my printed Anthropologie skirt with a plain tee but in a bright lime color to add just the right amount of pop.

ARIANA'S STYLE:  H&M  STRIPE SHIRT AND H&M FLORAL PRINTED JEANS | MOMMY'S STYLE:  THE LIMITED  SHIRT AND  ANTHROPOLOGIE  SKIRT

ARIANA'S STYLE: H&M STRIPE SHIRT AND H&M FLORAL PRINTED JEANS | MOMMY'S STYLE: THE LIMITED SHIRT AND ANTHROPOLOGIE SKIRT

Fashion Choice #2: With the right kind of shape and design, stripes may go very well with prints. For her weekend look, Ariana kept it playful and casual by matching a pair of floral jeans with a stripe shirt. To create a cohesive look despite the mismatched prints, we picked a shirt with the same color as the floral design on her pants.

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Fashion Choice #3: Pair prints with patterns. There, I said it. Don't be scared to wear patterns with prints. It's bold, unexpected and refreshing. If you're worried that you may end up looking like a walking shower curtain, choose a sophisticated silhouette to create a more polished look.

Have you seen some lust-worthy prints in one of your shopping trips lately? Here are a few of our favorites: 

Clockwise:  Berlin Midi Skirt | Garden Party Skirt | Harvest Bloom Skirt | Pilato Maxi Skirt | PHOTOS BY  ANTHROPOLOGIE

Clockwise: Berlin Midi Skirt | Garden Party Skirt | Harvest Bloom Skirt | Pilato Maxi Skirt | PHOTOS BY ANTHROPOLOGIE

PHOTOS BY  KIDS H&M

PHOTOS BY KIDS H&M