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Why I’m Participating in Dressember 2017 (And You Should Too!)

For all of my life’s proudest and most memorable moments, I’ve worn a dress.

My university graduation.

My wedding.

My first public speaking gig. 

Call me a “girly girl” all you want but dresses have always made me feel confident and powerful. But unfortunately, there’s many women around the world that currently do not have the opportunity to experience such moments.

So when I was invited to become an advocate for the Dressember campaign, it was a no brainer.

dressember

According to the International Justice Mission, “there are more than 40 million people in slavery today”. That’s a large, scary number. But, through reclaiming the symbol of a dress, we can begin to bring more awareness to slavery and sex trafficking industry, ultimately dismantling it and restoring the dignity of the many female victims worldwide.

Here’s a little background on the campaign:

In 2005, Blythe Hill began to learn about the issue of sex trafficking but wasn’t exactly sure what she could do to help. At the time, she was a fashion blogger and wanted to come up with a way to leverage her fashion background to make a difference. She challenged herself to wear a dress every single day in December (coining the name ‘Dressember’) and year after year, more friends and then friends of friends began to join in until it developed into a full-fledged collaborative movement, leveraging fashion and creativity to restore dignity to all women.

Amazing, right? Well, here’s how the campaign works:

From December 1 – 31, each woman that participates pledges to take on the creative challenge of wearing a dress. No, skirts do not count – a full dress each and every day in the month of December. You also sign up on the Dressember website to create your own fundraising page that brings attention to your personal campaign and allows you to raise funds based on a fundraising goal that you set.

The funds are then put towards efforts such as relief, recovery and resources for the victims. After-care and rescue operations require the most funding as of course, it takes an extensive amount of time and money to safely free victims and provide them with the long-term care they need to restore their health and dignity.

How you can show your support

There are two ways that you can participate:

1) Commit to wearing a dress every day in December and create your own fundraising campaign

This is what I’ve opted to do and you can view my fundraising page here. My goal is to raise a minimum of $350 – let’s make it happen! I’ll be sharing my dresses on social media everyday (you should too!) so be sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter. A few hashtags that you should use are: #IJM #IJMCanada #ItsBiggerThanADress #Dressember #UntilAllAreFree

To learn more and to sign up, click here.

2) Advocate and donate

Maybe you’re not up for the creative challenge of wearing a dress for 31 days this year but you can still show your support by spreading the word about the campaign and donating whatever you can to this important initiative. Every single dollar counts.

*Please note: Dressember is an organization based in the US and as a result tax receipts cannot be issued for Canadian donations.

dressember

How I’m preparing for it

31 days of dresses? Now, that’s certainly a creative challenge! It may sound like it will be difficult (especially if you’re located in a cold climate like I am) but interestingly enough, I find that I actually wear more dresses in the winter! There’s nothing I love more than layering a dress with my trusty pairs of fleece-lined tights. I’m really looking forward to this challenge to not only become a Dressember advocate but as a personal challenge to see how creative I can get with my wardrobe. You don’t need 31 different dresses to get through Dressember – just a few (I say anywhere between 5-10 is good) that you can add layers and accessories to in order to create a unique look each time you wear them.

These are the items that I consider to be essential for this challenge:

  • A few pairs of fleece-lined tights (you can typically pick these up at a store like Winners or Marshalls (probably Target too, for my US friends) or even your local drugstore (Canadians – I’ve picked them up at Shoppers Drug Mart before). Basically, you can look at any store where you can get tights.
  • A few pairs of coloured tights (I currently have a light pink and dark pink pair but I plan to pick up a few more colours from Charming Charlie to add to my collection)
  • Earrings and necklaces
  • Turtlenecks
  • Striped tops

If you have all of these already – you’re good to go! If not, I recommend taking advantage of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals coming up so that you can stock up on any additional items.

Yes, the issue of sex trafficking and slavery is bigger than a dress but we can certainly use a dress to make a difference. I hope you’ll join me in making it happen. 

 

Note: This post is not sponsored – I was invited to learn more about the campaign and ultimately made the decision to become involved. I’m not receiving compensation for this and all thoughts shared are my own. 

Photography by Gooseberry Studios.

Why Every Woman Needs a Pair of Rescue Flats

“Give a woman the right shoes and they can conquer the world.”

Marilyn Monroe was definitely correct but if there’s anything I’ve learned – the right pair of shoes does not always mean the most comfortable.

I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve had to deal with uncomfortable shoes. They end up being too tight, rubbing against the back of my foot or after being in them for too long…I want nothing more than to kick them off.

To listen to an audio version of this blogpost, click below!

But, what happens if we’re out and we don’t have any other shoes to change into? This has happened to me one too many times and I know I can’t be the only one. You know the feeling – let’s say you’re at a networking event where we should be concentrating on networking yet all we want to do is nurse our feet? At a wedding and we so badly want to break it down on the dance floor yet our heels hurt way too much – so we either go barefoot or sit down (side note: my wedding heels lasted all of 10 minutes before I kicked them off and never ever put them on again to this day).

My point is, we have so much to do and accomplish yet sometimes our shoes can really stand in the way of this. How can we get a comfortable and compact pair of shoes that can save us in these situations?

Well, that’s a challenge that Rescue Flats took on and have succeeded. Their flats are the “world’s most comfortable emergency shoe” and trust me when I say, you don’t just want a pair of these – you need them.

rescue flats

rescue flats

The flats are super compact making them very easy to slip into a bag, clutch or even a desk drawer. Personally, I now keep a pair in my car and my handbag so I can always have a pair nearby. They also come with a handy shoe bag so once you change out of your uncomfortable shoes, you can carry them stylishly instead of dumping them straight in your handbag.

But aside from an awesome product, I love the story behind how Rescue Flats was created. Here’s a little excerpt from the Founder, Sarah:

“Rescue Flats started back in 2012 when I was at home on maternity leave with my second child.  One year later my sister-in-law, Jeni joined the team and things really started to take off. Today, we have grown to a fantastic team of 5 and still design all of our products from our home offices in Stony Plain, Sherwood Park and Calgary, Alberta. We have warehouses in Vancouver and Pennsylvania and are proud to sell our Canadian-designed products all over the world! To date Rescue Flats has sold over 200,000 pairs of flats for weddings across the world including: Canada, the United States, England, Australia, Sweden, Ireland and United Arab Emirates.”

Amazing, right?! Their success highlights exactly how important comfortable flats are in our everyday life. But, Rescue Flats are more than just flats – they are an inspiring company created by awesome Canadian female entrepreneurs:

“For us it starts with helping women get back on their feet with a pair of incredibly comfortable Rescue Flats. But that is just the beginning. In everything we do, we aim to empower women. From the exceptionally talented women we hire to the charities we support, we are focused on empowering women to be the best they can be. We are on a personal and professional journey to define success for ourselves as women, mothers, friends, entrepreneurs and leaders. When women support each other, we can accomplish amazing things.”

rescue flats

Each box set comes with 5 small, 10 medium and 5 large pairs which means that you end up with a whole lot of flats! Here are three things that you can do with them:

  • Hosting a holiday party? Provide your guests with the opportunity to swap out their boots or heels for a pair of flats
  • Don’t forget to put a pair in your bag as you head to holiday parties and events this season!
  • Give them away as gifts (or stocking stuffers!) to family, friends and colleagues

What will I be doing? I’m definitely giving the gift of comfort to some ladies in my life and that includes 5 lucky readers! I’ve partnered with Rescue Flats to give away 5 pairs.

Here’s how to enter: Follow @rescueflats on Instagram, follow me @dowelldresswell on Instagram and comment on my photo with your shoe size. Contest is open from November 21 at 8am EST to November 26 at 9am EST – open to those in Canada and the US only.

I don’t know about you but I’m over being stuck in painful heels. After all, it’s a little hard to do well and dress well without a comfy pair of shoes on your feet 😉

 

Thank you to the Rescue Flats ladies for partnering with me on this post.

 

10 Fall Essentials You Need in Your Wardrobe

I don’t know about you but I absolutely love putting together outfits in the fall. “Sweater weather” is such a cozy time as we can get creative with layers, while pairing pieces from our summer wardrobe to extend their wear a little further.

fall essentials

However, it can be easy to get caught up in the fall shopping frenzy. With cute jackets, sweaters and booties everywhere we turn, it’s hard to restrain ourselves. In an effort to save a little money and challenge myself to be more creative, I purposely limited my new fall purchases. Instead, I wanted to focus on curating a fall wardrobe that I could build tons of different outfits with that would take me from work to weekend with ease.

Click below to listen to an audio version of this post!

Want to strategically upgrade your wardrobe for fall? Here are the 10 Fall essentials you need in your wardrobe:

  • Embroidered jeans
  • Cropped coloured jacket
  • Black and white striped shirt
  • Sweater dress
  • Black booties
  • Patterned tights
  • Coloured dress shirt
  • Leather skirt
  • White bell-sleeve top
  • Long, cozy cardigan

fall essentials

Want some more inspiration to build a sustainable fall wardrobe? I asked two of my favourite style bloggers to tell me one item they can’t live without in their fall wardrobe:

“A killer pair of jeans! Living in Michigan, fall seems to be our shortest season before the REALLY cold weather hits! That’s when I make sure that my jean game is strong with a variety of styles {skinny, wide leg, distressed} and colors {dark wash, black, green} to create a cohesive fall wardrobe.”

Kherington from Currently Kherington

“One of the staple pieces in my Fall wardrobe are definitely my Stuart Weitzman over-the-knee boots in black with a heel (“Highlands”). Despite how much coverage they give (especially for a shoe!), they’re extremely easy to style, and make those days where you’re wearing lots of hats (student, retail employee, blogger, and human being that socializes) a lot easier in terms of putting together a “one-size-fits-all” outfit. A shoe that can be styled both dressy and casual, it makes picking what to wear on your feet super easy.”

Ella from Ella Voyage

What’s your favourite item in your fall wardrobe?

5 Reasons Why You Need Outfit Formulas

Have you ever looked at someone and wondered how they put together such a stylish outfit?

It may seem as though they spent hours deliberating on each particular element of their outfit but truth is, some of the most stylish people simply have an outfit formula.

What’s an outfit formula? It’s a signature outfit that you feel most comfortable in and you know that each element suits you perfectly. You don’t even have to think about it – you slip it on and go!

Earlier in the year, I released an e-Book that shared 5 outfit formulas for spring and summer. They aren’t just any outfit formulas though – they are my personal, tried and true outfit formulas that I use on a weekly basis for work.

My typical work outfit formula usually looks a little something like this: Solid top + patterned skirt or pants + solid flats or heels.

I personally love this formula because it’s simple yet stylish as it allows me to make a statement through the skirt or pants that I wear. Knowing that this formula works for me, shopping trips are a breeze as I can easily pick out new items that fit into my signature style.

Here’s why you need to uncover your own outfit formulas:

Getting dressed becomes easier

If you’re someone that gets overwhelmed when you open your closet, this should be all the reason you need to spend time determining your outfit formulas. You’ll always know exactly what to wear and won’t even need to think about what items go together.

More daily outfit options

The great thing about outfit formulas is that each item can typically be mixed and matched with other items and they can easily be transitioned for various occasions!

outfit formula

Shopping trips become easier and faster

It’s always best to head on a shopping trip with a plan in mind – if not you end up aimlessly wandering the store and purchasing items that you’ll only wear once or not at all. When you know your outfit formulas, you’ll easily be able to pick out items that fit into your signature style. Don’t get me wrong – I love myself a trip to the mall but when you can save yourself some time, that’s always a good thing!

You’ll pack lighter for trips

Instead of packing 20 different shirts for a 3 day trip (I know a girl needs options but you don’t need that many), you can pack 2 and mix and match with different bottoms to achieve a completely different look each time. You’ll have way more space in your suitcase so you’ll avoid overweight fees plus have room for any purchases you make while away.

Remember, dressing well requires strategy. But, determining your outfit formulas is just one part of that. Being “stylish” is also very much about the confidence you exude and the way you pull everything together. Nothing you put on should every be random – dress with intent and you’ll never go wrong!

 

How to Wear a Jumpsuit at Work

Dressing for work in the summer can be difficult. It’s hot outside yet cold inside (why do offices insist on blasting A/C?) so finding the right outfit that will keep us cool yet professional can be a challenge.

Enter the jumpsuit.

jumpsuit

I’ve always been a fan but quite honestly, it never crossed my mind to wear it to wear until I found the right one. This one-piece wonder has changed the way I think about summer work attire (I typically stick to dresses) and has made getting dressed so much quicker. Anything that allows me to get even 5 extra minutes of sleep in the morning is a win in my books!

Here are 3 things to keep in mind when wearing a jumpsuit at work:

Find a professional fit

Jumpsuits come in all different shapes and styles. From cold shoulder to side-cutouts, the options are pretty much endless. Take the time to find one that has a sleek, professional look – one that isn’t shorter than just above your knee, fits well and isn’t revealing.

jumpsuit

Add the right layer

Still not sure about whether you can make the jumpsuit work for work? Add a layer. Whether it’s a cardigan or a blazer, you’ll find that this extra piece will instantly take your professionalism up a notch. Plus, it almost makes it look like you’re wearing two separate pieces!

Accessorize

Like any piece of clothing, there’s always an accessory that can add the perfect finishing touch. A great pair of earrings or a necklace can be exactly what you need to showcase more of your personality.

 

There’s something about a jumpsuit that instantly makes you look put together. Take your work style up a notch by incorporating a jumpsuit and you’ll find that you’ll transition from work to play with ease!

Jumpsuit: Ann Taylor

Heels: Call it Spring

Photography by Gooseberry Studios

What to Wear to a Summer Networking Event

Oh, summer! I absolutely love this season as not only does it allow us to wear fun summer attire but as the temperature rises so does the amount of networking opportunities! I think it’s safe to say that no matter where you’re located, there’s an opportunity for you to get out and meet new people every single week. So if you’re eager to get out, take advantage of the warm weather and meet new people, there’s only question I have for you – what are you going to wear?

Related: Check out this post on How to Find Local Networking Opportunities

Dressing for summer networking events (and just dressing in the summer, in general) does pose a bit of challenge as since it’s so warm outside, many of us become tempted to dress super casually (I mean, flip flops and shorts type of casual) and show skin. Although summer events tend to be held in more casual settings such as a restaurant patio or rooftop, it’s still important to look professional as after all, first impressions are important no matter what season it is!

networking event outfit

When Nine West Canada provided me with the opportunity to select a pair of shoes from their summer collection, I knew immediately that I needed this red pair in my closet. They are a sleek and classic pair of wedges that you can easily transition for different dress codes.

I wore these shoes during the networking event I hosted in June and I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable they wore! I was running up and down all afternoon and didn’t complain about my feet once. Finding a stylish yet comfortable pair of shoes can be tricky but it’s not a challenge you should back down from. I speak from experience when I say that if you wear uncomfortable shoes to a networking event, it will make you super miserable and you’ll end up leaving early. Do you want to potentially miss out on meeting someone important all because your shoes are uncomfortable?

Here are two different networking outfit options featuring the same pair of shoes:

The Fun, Patterned Dress

I love this outfit because it’s one that you can wear both to the office and an after-work networking event! In an effort to remain cool yet stylish, I recommend choosing a light dress that is flattering and exposes little to no skin. Try to find a dress that is hemmed just below your knee to achieve an elegant look. I also typically go for sleeveless dresses especially on super humid days to ensure that I avoid those embarrassing sweat pits.

networking event outfit

Summer is also the perfect season to wear some fun colours and patterns to your networking events. This dress is great because it’s super colourful but is still very clean and elegant. Of course, you should always wear a statement necklace when you can – not only is it the perfect icebreaker but it adds the perfect finishing touch.

I loved how the open-toe wedges really complimented my dress as they were a great match with the colours on my dress and they helped to give me an overall friendly and approachable look while still looking professional, as open-toe shoes typically do.

The Statement Jeans

I know this outfit might not work for many office settings but it’s a look that I love for super casual weekend events! In fact, this is the exact outfit I wore when I hosted my event last month. Embroidered jeans seem to be “on-trend” this summer and although you know I’m not a big fan of following fashion trends – I can appreciate embroidered jeans as they are a great way to make a statement! Pair them with a neutral top so that your jeans become the focal point – I’m sure you’ll even get a compliment or two on how great they look! To bring out some of the colour in the embroidery, the wedges were perfect and of course, super comfy!

 

So, there you have it – one pair of shoes styled for two different types of networking events! Any pair of shoes that I can wear from work to weekend is a winner in my books. Find yourself your own pair of comfortable networking shoes and you too will be ready to make a great first impression no matter where you go!

Outfit details

Wedges: Nine West Canada (they’re on sale!)

Dress: Zara

Statement Necklace: H&M

Earrings: Charming Charlie

Top: Zara

Embroidered Jeans: Zara

Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

Disclosure: My shoes were sponsored by Nine West Canada but all words and opinions are my own.

 

How to Feel Confident and Comfortable in a Suit

How do you feel when you wear a suit?

For many people, suits are considered very “corporate”, boring and simply non-stylish. It’s something they just put on for an interview and then take off as soon as possible afterwards.

suit

If this is you, don’t worry – I won’t judge but unfortunately I can’t relate. As soon as I put on a suit, I feel happy, comfortable and super confident. But you may be thinking – why does it really matter whether or not I feel comfortable in a suit? 

Well, have you ever noticed how some people look so effortlessly cool in their suits (or just business attire in general) while others look like they’re a fish out of water? In other words, they can’t wait to get back in their jeans and sweatpants.

Here are 3 things to consider so you can get that confident and comfortable look?

1 – Find the right fit

It’s important that your suit isn’t too tight or too baggy or else your overall appearance will suffer. If your suit isn’t the right fit when you buy it, take it to a tailor. For my fellow petite ladies, I highly recommend checking the petite section if possible as it will instantly give you a more neat and tailored fit.

2 – Pick a colour

When you think of suits, I bet the first thing that comes to mind are simple black and grey suits, right? Depending on your office dress code, you may not be able to get away with a pink suit but try to find something with a little bit of style! This could be a subtle pattern or a light colour shade that’s still professional for the environment you’re in. Suits don’t always equal boring and there are tons of options out there.

3 – Be yourself

I know this may sound super corny but if you try to act like someone you’re not, it will be completely obvious. Don’t overthink your outfit or what others will think. I actually wore this suit earlier in the year to a presentation and although I knew I’d be “overdressed”, it was more important for me that I wear an outfit I feel most confident and comfortable in.

As soon as you put on the suit, look in the mirror, admire how amazing you look and then go out and conquer your day.

Feeling and looking comfortable in a suit will not only allow you to build your confidence but you’ll demand attention and respect wherever you go.

Photography by Gooseberry Studios

The Professionalism of Pink

When I was young, my favourite colour used to be blue.

I know…it’s shocking, right? Considering the amount of pink that I wear and the fact that it’s one of my core brand colours you would think that my love for the colour started from a young age.

Well, believe it or not – I went through a pretty extensive “tomboy” phase. I loved hoodies, basketball jerseys, tracksuits and sneakers and that was my clothing of choice most days. I clearly remember my outfit for my first day of high school – a grey TNA tracksuit from Aritzia and a pair of pink and white Adidas sneakers.

But as you know, high school has a way of really impacting your self-esteem as you try to figure out where you belong. We all want to be accepted by the “cool kids” and of course, have people notice us. I quickly began to change (both literally and figuratively) from a tomboy to someone who embraced their girly side. Thinking back, it sounds so ridiculous but at the time, I felt as though I had no other choice in order to be accepted by my peers.

Fast forward to current day and of course, I’m very comfortable and happy with my personal style but I now find myself with a new dilemma – navigating the “professionalism” of the colour pink.

Continue Reading

How to Wear Yellow

Yellow is probably one of the most neglected colours of the rainbow. I mean, I sort of understand why. It’s bright and it’s loud (maybe even a little intimidating?) but yet that’s exactly why I love it. When you wear yellow, you’re making a statement.

I’ve had a lot of people tell me that yellow isn’t flattering on them. Part of me thinks this is an excuse used to avoid looking like a bumblebee or Big Bird as I personally think it can suit everyone as long as you find the right shade.

Due to my darker complexion, I typically avoid yellow if it is very light or pastel but I absolutely love mustard yellow! The deep undertones in it mix well with my skin and it gives me a nice, natural glow. Whenever I wear mustard yellow, it’s like there’s a sign on my head that says “This girl is friendly!” as I find I have more strangers feel like they can strike up a conversation with me.

{photo credit: Wikipedia}

According to the “fashion experts”, yellow is “in” this season and I know you can’t see me but I’m totally rolling my eyes right now. I’m personally not a fan of waiting for fashion to tell me what colours I should and should not be wearing. I’ve always been a huge fan of yellow. However, since yellow now seems to be everywhere, I thought I’d show you a few ways that you can incorporate it into your wardrobe!

As a Top

{Photographer: Gooseberry Studios}

As a Jacket

As a Coat

statement coat

{Photographer: Daniela Mileto Photography}

As an Accessory

{Photographer: Nancy Asante}

As a Shoe

{Photographer: Gooseberry Studios}

I hope these outfits inspire you to appreciate this beautiful colour. I’m on a mission to encourage people to wear more yellow. If you decide to incorporate yellow into your outfit (in any shape or form!), share your photo on Instagram and tag me @dowelldresswell and use #wearmoreyellow!