Sunday, December 9, 2018

My new skin care routine


With the beautiful Toska Husted who I have to thank for my improved skin!

One of my most requested blog posts over the last year has been to share my skin care routine so today, I am doing just that.  A year ago I didn't have much of a skin care routine to be honest.  I washed my face and used a drug store night cream, but that was the extent of my "skin care".  One of my new year's resolutions in 2018 was to start getting regular facials and taking better care of my skin.  After all, I am not getting any younger and those years I spent baking in the sun in high school and college are catching up with me.

I didn't really know where to begin, but had heard great things about Toska European Spa here in Charlotte and decided to book an appointment in January of this year.  Toska Husted is a well known esthetician here in town and I had seen some amazing results on clients by following her on Instagram.  After seeing the improvements in her clients, I decided I was willing to make the financial investment to have Toska and her team help me improve my skin.  When it comes to clothes, I am all about looking for the best deal, but when it comes to my skin, I want to use what works even if it means paying more.  After all, it's the only skin I've got!

Reception area at Toska European Spa

So many amazing products!

I was a bit intimidated when I called to make an appointment because I had no idea what to even ask for!  Of course I had nothing to be worried about because Toska's staff was super nice and reassured me that I didn't need to request a specific facial.  They told me that my skin would be evaluated at my first appointment and they would tailor the treatment specifically to my needs.  True to their word, when I went in for my first facial, Toska did an in depth evaluation of my skin using a machine that reads hydration, elasticity, oil, and several other skin characteristics.  Based on her evaluation, my skin consisted of hyper pigmentation and fine lines.  With that in mind, she tailored a personalized treatment to rejuvenate my skin.  I was also introduced to Biologique Recherche products, as Toska's spa is one of the few places in the U.S. that carries this line from Paris.  I had read that Jennifer Anniston uses this line, and she has beautiful skin, so I was eager to try the products.

I have tried several treatments at Toska European Spa over the past year and most recently had the Supreme Oxylight facial.  It was by far the most amazing facial I have ever had! It involves several treatments including dermabrasion, light therapy, micro current therapy, and oxygen infusion spray.  Rather than trying to give you the long definition of each of these steps, I thought I would quote Toska's website.  It says this is "the ultimate combination of treatments for optimal non-invasive skin rejuvenation".   I couldn't have said it better myself!  My skin was tighter, plumper, smoother and looked better than it has in years.  There are a bunch of different treatment options available at the spa including a new client introduction facial which is a great one to start with.  Be sure to check the "Beauty" highlight on my Instagram Stories to see some footage of my recent treatment!


My favorite product - P50 balancing exfoliator

Even if you are not in Charlotte, you can still take advantage of Toska's expertise and the amazing products she sells.  You can fill out information about your skin on their website and receive a free consultation and recommendations for the best products based on your skin type.  Speaking of products, I thought I would share the products that I currently use.  Please know that I did not buy all of these at once.  I started with two products (P50 balancing exfoliator and Masque VIP O2) and gradually added additional items.  As I mentioned earlier, I have made a personal decision to invest in my skin.  Toska's staff can help you choose the best products to start with based on your needs.

Eau Micellaire Biosensible - gentle make up remover
Lait E.V. - milky cleanser
P50 Original 1970 - balancing exfoliator
Masque VIP O2 - brightening and unifying mask
Masque PIGM 400 -mask to make skin more even
Serum Dermapore - serum to help shrink pores
Serum Oligo-Proteines Marines - brightening serum (helps with dark circles around eyes)
Serum Collagene Natif - toning and tightening serum
Serum PIGM 400 - dark spot correcting serum
Creme VIP O2 - brightening and unifying creme

I know this may seem like a lot of products, but again, I started out using only one consistently each day and even now do not use each of these products every time I wash my face.  If I only had to pick one product to use, it would be the P50 balancing exfoliator.  It was the first one I started with and I quickly saw an improvement in my skin's brightness after using it.


I have now been using Biologique Recherche products and going to Toska European Spa for facial treatments for almost a year and have seen an amazing improvement in my skin.   My pigmentation has improved and the lines on my neck and chest are less pronounced.  My skin feels more hydrated and all around healthier.  I have received more compliments on my skin since starting this new skin care routine than I ever have previously.  I am so pleased that I made the investment of my time and money to get healthier skin and now have a regimen that I am comfortable maintaining.

If you have read this far in this blog post, thank you! I know this is a longer than usual post, but wanted to share my full skin care journey with you all.  I hope this has been helpful to you and would love to hear your feedback if you start using any of these products.  If you have any questions about my personal experience, please feel free to send me an email.  Of course if you have any questions about the specific products or treatments, you can read more on Toska's website or her Instagram.  Be sure to check out my Instagram and Facebook for daily Smart Southern Style updates.  I appreciate you following along!






Thursday, December 6, 2018

4 For Fashion & Luna Boutique




Happy Holidays!    Hard to believe that Christmas is only a few weeks away.  I hope you are enjoying this season and all of the festivities that go with it.

I am excited to be highlighting holiday fashion on the blog today with another 4 For Fashion post.  If you are new to Smart Southern Style, here is a little info about our style squad.  4 For Fashion is a group of 4 bloggers who all believe that you can find something that fits your personal style just about anywhere.  Our ages range from 20s to 50s and our goal is to provide fashion inspiration to ladies of all ages.  If you missed my previous posts featuring these lovely ladies, you can read a few of them here, here & here.

Today we have partnered with Luna to share a variety of holiday looks.  Luna has locations in Charlotte, Atlanta, Bethesda and Charleston.  They have a great inventory of casual chic clothing and an amazing selection of accessories too!  You can find a nice selection of your favorite designer jeans, dresses for a night out, and everything in between.  The 4 For Fashion gals all picked an outfit from Luna that would be perfect for a Christmas party or other holiday event.




First, let's start with my outfit.  I am a big fan of wearing red at Christmas time, so I was immediately drawn to this pretty red satin shirt by Velvet.  I paired it with a faux fur vest and some black velvet jeans by Citizens for Humanity.  I love mixing textures, and liked the combination of satin, fur and velvet in this look.  I added some tassel earrings and a beaded necklace and finished off the look with a black studded clutch.  You could wear a similar look to any of your Christmas festivities and each piece could be worn individually as well.  


Barbi from Southern Blonde Chic chose a beautiful black fur vest that looks cozy yet chic.  I love the pop of leopard from her top, and can we talk about those pretty sleeves?!?  She wore black jeans and added a clutch and some statement earrings to finish off her look.  I think this outfit would be perfect for a holiday party at the office and could easily be worn before and after the holidays as well.  


LauRen from All of the F Words is wearing a pretty green bodycon dress.  This color is great for the holidays and the dress can be styled so many different ways.  LauRen added a tan leather jacket for an edgier look and I love it!  You could also style this dress with a blanket scarf or layer under a cardigan.  So many options!  LauRen accessorized with a layered necklace and some pretty earrings and finished off her look with some fun leopard booties.


Rachel from Queen City Chic chose a chic casual outfit perfect for a Christmas brunch.  I love the black and white boyfriend blazer she is wearing!  She dressed down the blazer by layering it over a graphic tee and wearing it with sneakers.  She paired the blazer with some cropped black jeans and a delicate necklace.  I love the pops of red from the cute red purse along with her red lips.  This look could easily be worn all year round!





As you can see, we all chose different looks, some dressier than others, and we found the perfect accessories to go with each outfit.  You can find all of our looks at Luna.  They are located at Phillips Place in the SouthPark area of Charlotte.  They also have locations in Atlanta, Charleston and Bethesda.  For those of you who are not local to one of their boutiques, you can shop on line here.  They post new items all the time on Instagram so be sure to follow them for updates on all their new arrivals.  If you stop by the store, be sure to tell them that the ladies of 4 For Fashion sent you!

Big thanks to Deeana Kourtney Photography for the photos in this blog post.

Stay tuned for another edition of 4 For Fashion coming soon.  If there is a particular style or shop you would like to see featured in this series, please comment below or send me an email.  And don't forget to follow along on Instagram here and on Facebook here.  Thank you so much for reading Smart Southern Style.  Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season!






Sunday, December 2, 2018

Affordable Holiday Outfit Ideas



 


Happy Holidays everyone!  Hard to believe that it is already December and Christmas will be here before we know it.  This time of year, we all have holiday functions to attend, from office parties to church on Christmas Eve.  It can get expensive to buy a new outfit to wear to all of the different events going on this month.  I have teamed up with Cato Fashions to bring you some cute and affordable holiday outfit ideas to wear to your December events.

It is no secret that I love a good ruffle sleeve, so when I saw this sweater dress with the double ruffle sleeve, I knew I had to have it.  I chose the dark green dress to wear for Christmas events, but it also comes in a pretty grey that would be great to wear anytime.  I love the length of this dress, as it hits above the knees but is not too short.  The sweater knit is soft, comfortable and not too thick.  I find that it runs true to size and it is really affordable at only $34.  Cato has some other cute ruffle sleeve dresses here and here.

I chose to pair my dress with a festive plaid infinity scarf.  Sometimes scarves are too bulky and hot for me to wear, but this one is thin and comfortable to wear.   My exact one is not on line, but you can find the same style in a similar pattern here.  Cato has several other cute scarves that would be great for the holidays here, here & here.  You could also pair these scarves with a basic sweater or cardigan for a casual, everyday look.  These scarves are all priced under $12 and are an easy and affordable way to add a little something extra to your outfit.




There are several shoe options you could wear with this dress.  I opted for some brown ankle booties  for a more casual look.  I love that the buckles give them a little bit of edge and the thicker heel makes them comfortable.  You can't be the $32 price either!   If you wanted to dress up your look a bit, you could opt for these faux suede pumps or these over the knee boots.

I finished off my look with a few accessories from Cato.  I opted for some simple gold hoops since I was going for a more casual look.  You could easily dress up your outfit by adding some earrings with a little bling like these or these.   I picked a beaded bracelet set that is versatile enough to be worn all year round.  Just like the earrings, you could chose a bracelet with more bling if you wanted to dress up the outfit.  This stone stretch bracelet and this thicker stretch bracelet are both good options.  Most of the accessory options at Cato are priced under $10, so you can easily add a few statement accessories without breaking the bank.

I hope this post has been a good reminder that you don't have to spend lots of money to look cute and stylish for your holiday festivities!  Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook for more holiday outfit inspiration in the days to come.  Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season.  Thank you as always for reading Smart Southern Style!

Thank you to Cato for sponsoring this post.  All ideas, opinions and photographs are my own.  

Thursday, November 22, 2018

The Best Black Friday & Cyber Monday Sales






I hope you all had a wonderful holiday surrounded by loved ones.  There are SO many amazing Cyber sales going on right now, so I wanted to provide you all with a comprehensive list in one place.  I have updated this page with any changes to sales and promo codes for Cyber Monday.  I shared a few photos above of items I own that are part of Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales.  There are direct links under each photo if you want to shop for those specific items.

You can easily shop all the sales using the links below.  I have listed sales for stores where I personally shop and they are in alphabetical order, so you can easily find your favorites.  Happy Shopping!
Wow! Did I tell you the sales were great or what?!?  Be sure to follow me on INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK as I will be sharing my top sale picks over the next few days.  Thanks for reading Smart  Southern Style!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Tunic sweater styled two ways



I am so excited to introduce you all to a very special guest in this blog post!  My sweet mama, Carol, is on the blog today, and I've decided her blog name will be "Smart Southern Mimi".  My girls call her Mimi, and she is as southern as they come, so I thought that name worked for her!  I asked Smart Southern Mimi to join me in sharing how to style a basic tunic sweater two different ways.  A tunic sweater is a great staple to have in your closet.  It is timeless and versatile and can be worn with various pieces to create completely different looks.  You can shop each of our looks by clicking the links under our individual photos.



First of all, how cute is Smart Southern Mimi?!?  I think she looks beautiful and love the classic look she created with her tunic.  My mom dressed her sweater up a bit with grey pants and black booties.  This is a great look for the office.   If you are feeling a bit more daring, you could also pair the tunic with some patterned pants.  I have worn my tunic with camo pants and it would also look good with leopard or plaid pants as well.



I opted for a completely different look by layering my tunic and dressing it down with jeans.  I added my favorite suede jacket for some additional color and dimension.  It would also look great under a denim jacket or a vest for another layering option.  I added some leopard booties to complete my outfit, because animal print is always a good idea!


As I have said before, I am a firm believer in maximizing every item in your closet.  A tunic sweater is a great piece to wear different ways and it doesn't go out of style.  I hope this post has given you some inspiration for thinking outside the box when styling the clothes you already have.

As a reminder, I post every day on Instagram and Facebook, so be sure to follow me on there for daily fashion posts and sale info!  Thanks so much for reading Smart Southern Style, and a big thanks to my mama, Smart Southern Mimi, for joining me for this post!

Friday, November 2, 2018

Making the Most of your Wardrobe with The Charlotte Today Show

Pictured left to right:  Erika, Alisa, Me, Lee, Barb

Hi Friends!  I had the pleasure of going on the Charlotte Today show recently to talk about how to style pieces in your closet multiple ways. Charlotte Today is on NBC every weekday here in Charlotte and I am honored to be a fashion contributor for the show.  You can read blog posts regarding a few of my previous TV segments HERE and HERE.

I recruited 4 friends to be models for the segment including two blogger babes here in Charlotte, Erika Taylor from Tayloring Style and Barb Brooks from Southern Blonde Chic.  I have linked their Instagrams so you can go check out their feeds!   I partnered with a local boutique, Luxe Angel Boutique, to provide clothes for me and the models.  They have a great selection of clothes, shoes and accessories and if you live in the Charlotte area, you should definitely visit their store.  It is located in the Morrison Shopping Center in the South Park area.  They also have a website for those of you who are not local, which you can visit HERE.

On the TV segment, I talked about ways to maximize the clothes you already have in your closet by styling them different ways.  I selected 2 basic pieces that two of the models wore, and gave them completely different looks.  Sometimes people think "I can only wear this sweater with these jeans", but in reality, there are so many ways you can wear items already in your closet.  My objective with this segment was to get everyone to think differently about items they already own!  All of the items featured in this post are from Luxe Angel Boutique.  I have linked similar items in this post, as the exact pieces are not currently available on the Luxe Angel website.

Similar faux fur coat HERE and HERE \\ Similar booties

I chose the most amazing faux fur coat to wear during the segment.  I paired it with a floral top, jeans and peep toe booties for a more casual look.  You could also dress up this coat by pairing it with a dress or a silk cami, black skinny jeans and heels for a night out.

The first basic piece we styled two different ways is distressed jeans.  Erika styled the jeans for an everyday casual look by pairing them with a cozy hooded sweater.  She is wearing the sweater oversized to be able to put it off the shoulder.  We added some slip on metallic sneakers to complete the look.  Lee dressed up the jeans with a silk cami, faux fur jacket, and some heeled sandals.  We all have jeans (distressed or not) in our closet, and they are so easy to dress up and down as you can see in the photos below.



The next items we styled two ways is a basic black sweater. Barb is wearing a more casual outfit by pairing her sweater with a scarf, jeans and booties.  She looks put together yet is still comfortable and could wear this outfit just about anywhere.  Alisa dressed up the sweater a bit, by pairing it with a grey denim skirt.  We added some tall black boots, a gold bag and a long necklace to finish off her look.  The ladies are both wearing the same sweater, but look completely different!  

Similar black booties \\ Similar scarves HERE and HERE 


As you can see, both of these examples show that you can get completely different looks by using the same piece of clothing.  Don't be afraid of mixing things up and trying new combinations!   I hope these examples were helpful and I'd love to hear from you if you decide to try out some different looks with items already in your closet. 


With Charlotte's favorite weatherman, Larry Sprinkle!

Behind the scenes during the segment -
Talking about Barb's outfit with host Colleen Odegaard 

Pictured with host Colleen and producer Natalie after the segment 

Thanks so much for reading Smart Southern Style!  I appreciate you following along here on the blog.  I generally post every day on Instagram and Facebook, so be sure you are following along there as well.  Stay tuned for more blog posts and another segment on Charlotte Today soon!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Smart Southern Style Turns One






Thank you. Thank you.  Thank you.

That is the only way I know to start out this post, as it was exactly one year ago today that my blog Smart Southern Style first went live!  I can't thank you all enough for joining me on this journey over the last year.  Whether you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, read and subscribe to my blog posts and/or purchase items I share, I am so appreciative of your support!

For at least a year before launching Smart Southern Style, I had thought about starting a blog, but kept telling myself I was crazy to take on something else. After all, I already had a demanding full time job that required travel, two beautiful daughters who were busy with activities, a hubby I wanted to spend time with, and other family relationships and friendships to maintain and grow.  However, I finally decided to take the plunge into blogging and am so glad I did!  It has been WAY more work than I thought it would be, but I have enjoyed every minute!

A while back, I asked you all on my Instagram Stories to share what you would like me to write about as I reflect on my first year of blogging.  You sent in questions, so I thought I would answer some of them in this post. So, here it goes...

What have you learned after a year of having a blog?
As I referenced above, blogging takes a lot more time than I thought it would.  I thought I would just post a photo or blog and people would just find me.  Nope!  Building and growing a blog takes a lot of time - engaging on your posts and others, planning content, writing blog posts, networking with other bloggers and brands, the list goes on!  I have also learned that it is important to be grounded in a firm foundation of who you are and not get swept up in the game of comparison.  When we are comparing our "insides" to someone else's "outsides" (Instagram feed, clothes, number of followers, etc..) it is easy to experience feelings of inadequacy.  But, nothing I see on a phone or computer screen can compare to the grace and love of Jesus, my family and friends.  If I fall into the comparison trap, I will take a break from social media and blogging and spend time doing what fills me up.

What advice would you give someone just starting a blog?
Set goals for yourself, but make them realistic.  When I first started, I said I would write two blog posts a week. I quickly found that to be unrealistic with the limited amount of time I had available.  In addition to setting realistic goals, I would pinpoint the target audience you are trying to reach.  For example, the objective of Smart Southern Style is to provide fashion inspiration for busy mamas in their 30s and 40s who want to live a fashionable life without breaking the bank. And my last bit of advice...HAVE FUN!  Give yourself grace, make the most of every opportunity that comes your way and enjoy the ride!

How do you balance your blog with your full time job and personal life?
I'm not gonna lie, it is TOUGH!  I love to put 110% into all of my "jobs" - wife, mom, corporate job, blog - but that leaves little time for me!  There have been times in the past year that I have had to put the blog to the side when other parts of my life are busier than normal.  This balancing act is still a work in progress, but I am trying to give myself grace and not be as hard on myself.  And I am thankful to have a supportive husband who has taken on even more with our family since I started blogging!

What have been the highlights of your first year as a blogger?
This is a tough question, because there have been so many highlights!  Being able to connect with all of you has been the best part of starting this blog.  When I get an email or DM from you saying that you found inspiration in some way from something I posted or wrote, it is the highlight of my day!  In addition to connecting with all of you, I have been able to meet some amazing ladies who are also fashion bloggers. They have been so helpful and kind and I want to specifically thank Anna DeLeon of Peppered in Style and Jan Correll of Silver Is The New Blonde for meeting with me and answering a bunch of my questions when I was just starting out.  (Give them both a follow if you don't already!) I have also been able to work with some amazing brands in the last year and I am so thankful!

Who takes all your blog photos?
I work with a fabulous photographer named Deeana Beckley, with Deeana Kourtney Photography. She is great to work with and was so helpful and patient when I did my first few photo shoots.   I asked her questions like "What do I do with my hands?" and "How should I pose?" because I was completely clueless and she gave me great advice and suggestions.  If you are in the Charlotte NC area, I highly recommend her.  Occasionally my sweet hubby takes photos of me, especially when we are traveling.

What are your favorite trends for fall?
I am actually wearing several of my favorite fall trends in the photos in this post.  Leopard (or any animal print) is definitely one of my favorite trends. Even if you don't want to go bold with a sweater or skirt, you can incorporate some leopard in a more subtle way with a belt or handbag.  I also love burgundy and plum colors for fall.  You can wear them with clothing, a handbag or even with your lipstick or nail polish.  I am also loving pointed toe booties for fall. I think the pointed toe gives them a bit of a dressier look, and you can wear them with anything from jeans to a dress.

Do you have one article of clothing that is your favorite?
I have a basic black sheath dress I bought about 5 years ago for an event that is still in my closet.  It is  flattering and timeless and can be worn so many different ways.  I have worn it several times over the years and continue to hold on to it because it it is a classic piece that is easy to put on if I cannot figure out what else to wear to an event!

I tried to cover as many questions as I could without this post getting too lengthy.  If you have any questions that I did not answer in this post, feel free to comment below or send me an email.  Thanks again for reading Smart Southern Style and making the past year so much fun!

 

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