National Park Tour Series (1 of 4): What I packed for our 2-month, cross-country camping trip!

On June 21st, 2017, we packed our family-of-four in a little Toyota Prius and headed out on a two-month, cross-country, National Park Tour. Our plan was to hit 10 - 15 parks out west, and camp out all along the way. 

So that's 2 months, 14 parks, 9500 miles... with 4 people in a Prius. 

But let me step back a bit and give you a little backstory as to HOW and WHY we made this happen.

Last year, when my daughter was a third grader, I learned about the Every Kid In a Park pass program, which allows all 4th graders in the US (and their families) FREE access to all federally managed lands and waters - which includes ALL of our nation's National Parks and National Monuments. (To learn more about this initiative, started by President Obama in 2015, click HERE.)

You can actually buy a National Park pass for around $80 so it wasn't a gigantic savings, but what it did was give me the idea.  I had never ever dreamed of doing a National Park Tour before, and then all of a sudden, it was all I could think about.

What a gift this would be to my kids!  We would spend two full months together, outdoors, uninterrupted by work and laundry and toilet-bowl cleaning!

Then came the logistics. Could we do a trip like this in a Prius? Could we afford to take two months off from work? How in hell would all of our camping gear and clothes fit in such a small car? And will my husband's work EVER give him the time off? 

But you never know until you try... so we talked about it like it was going to happen for MONTHS, and then in the late spring, my husband submitted a proposal to his company, and hell if they didn't say GO FOT IT!!  

When we got the YES, we were shocked, realizing that we were really DOING IT! 

We did some rough planning, made a few camping reservations, and then before we knew it, it was time to go.

We're the last-minute type, so naturally we started packing the night before we left. 

We joked with the kids, telling them they could each bring one pair of underpants and that's it... and let me tell you, that's not far from the truth. 

SPACE. WAS. LIMITED.

We did buy a Thule rack for the top of the car so we could jam all of our camping gear up there (1 tent, 4 sleeping bags, 4 sleeping pads, 4 camping pillows, 4 chairs, 4 backpacks), but the itty-bitty back of the car had to hold all of our clothes for multiple climates (hats, fleece and rain gear, along with bathing suits, shorts and t-shirts), our cooler, all of our kitchen gear (plates, cups, bowls, table-cloth, silverware, cutting board, pots, pans, french-press, dish pan, detergent, etc.), our bathroom stuff and our dry-goods/food bin. And our mini pharmacy + first aid kit. And water. And a gajillion water bottles. And my solar shower because I WILL NOT go to bed without taking a shower first. A pile of turkish towels. And a couple of battery-operated fans. And books books books and more books. 

Up until 3 minutes before we left, we had NO IDEA how it was all going to fit. 

And just to give you a little perspective... we allowed ourselves two (2!!) carry-on sized bags... for all of our clothes, FOR TWO MONTHS!!

Let me show you what made the cut for my quarter-section of carry-on space... for better or for worse.

ACCESSORIES

You all know I'm a HUGE fan of earrings, so yes, I brought 7 pairs of them on my camping trip. As far as I'm concerned, earrings are THE BEST way to add BOLD to any outfit when it's hotter-than-hot outside because they don't touch your skin. 

TOP LEFT - Leah Pastrana
TOP RIGHT - Roots in Silver
BOTTOM LEFT - Nickel and Suede
BOTTOM RIGHT - Mettle Edge

Leah Pastrana
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Roots in Silver
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I brought two light-weight necklaces that can be worn long or layered together for some added fun! 

LEFT - Curios and Co.
RIGHT - Megan Auman

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Megan Auman

I ALSO brought a couple of leather cuffs... because I LOVE them, and 3 scarves (make that 2, the striped one didn't fit), because there is nothing worse than air-conditioner-neck!  Plus, adding a patterned scarf is a great way to add whim and whimsy to any fit!  

BRACELETS - The Turquoise Tomato
SCARVES - pink polka dots (ebay), pink stripe (purchased in Turkey circa 2004), and the blue chambray is from Aventura Clothing

The Turquoise Tomato
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CLOTHING

Here's where the picking gets SLIM!

Town / light hiking clothes

  • 5 dresses (3 handmade-for-me patterned dresses + 2 plain colored dresses from Aventura Clothing that were both antimicrobial, which means you can wear them for days and not get stinky!)
  • 1 pair of under-the-dress shortie-leggings
  • 1 jean jacket
  • 1 pair of sandals

Outdoorsy hiking clothes

  • 3 skorts
  • 2 t-shirts
  • 1 hoodie + 1 long underwear top
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 1 baseball cap
  • 3 socks
  • 2 sports bras
  • 1 pair of sneakers
  • 1 pair of Chaco river sandals


Basically, I left my entire closet at home. 

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You guys. Here is everything I brought. For two months. And no space in the car to shop along the road... unless I get rid of something.

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EXTRAS

PRIORITY ONE - I hadn't spent an entire summer outdoors since doing a backpacking course through Alaska with NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) about 25 years ago, and I remember FRYING my skin. Not this time! So, I brought Mom's Stuff Salve day cream + night cream to keep everyone's skin good and moisturized. I also brought their piñon salve because it's super for cuts, bites, stings, scrapes, etc.  (NOTE  - the piñon salve ended up being the BEST most useful thing we packed for our trip!)

PRIORITY TWO - Since I wouldn't be working on my computer or doing any housework at night (now that's a vacation!), I thought I might go a little bananas and do some "light" reading at night.

PRIORITY THREE -  Barr Hill Gin, but I didn't get a picture of that!  (Let me be honest... this was more important than underpants!)  

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Of course, the husband and kids had their share of space in the carry-on duffle bags, and as it turns out, we did a pretty darn good job packing. There were a few things that went unworn, and we were short a few REALLY IMPORTANT THINGS, but I'll tell you about all of that in the next blog post! 

For now, I'll leave you with this awkward picture, taken minutes before we hopped in the car!

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Love, Stasia 

The picture I've been too ashamed to show you.

Every day I watch the news, and everyday it becomes more and more clear to me as to WHY women have body image issues. When a nominee for the President of the United States of America can get away with flippant misogyny, sexism, harassment and blatant objectification of women on the political platform... well, it makes me mad.

She's a 4. Miss Piggy. Such a Nasty Woman.

And I won't even say the most offensive comment... you know the one.

I've worked REALLY HARD in the past few years to see my body as more than the sum of its "imperfect" parts. I've practiced, actually PRACTICED looking at my naked body in the mirror, staring, until what I saw before me normalized and I could see my body as whole. 

I've come SO FAR in the past couple of years, but sometimes it's still hard.

Just this summer my husband took a picture of me at the beach that sent me into a completely unexpected body-shaming tail spin. I thought I was past that nonsense. I internalized all the garbage we hear about our bodies, and I let it paralyze me.

 
 

I cancelled date night. I hid in a cover-up for a few days. I didn't play with my kids.

I shared my anger, sadness and shame with my husband, and do you know what he said?  "No wonder you feel the way you do, sweetie. The only women I saw walking on the beach this week without a cover-up on were tall, slender, muscular women. Where in hell was everybody else? I'll tell you where they were. Sitting in their beach chairs, hiding their bodies!"

It was true. WHERE WAS EVERYBODY ELSE?

I got back in my suit before our vacation was over, but when I did, I was inhibited. I tried like hell not to be, but it was hard.

The how-to-have-a-beach-body societal pressure has always made me bristle.  I want to believe that I am stronger than any societal message, but sometimes, when I'm feeling open and free and vulnerable, I get gob-smacked and I crash into a puddle of self-deprecating tears. And I believe every slanderous comment and magazine headline that says my body is not beautiful enough.

Except right now, I don't feel myself weakening with every nasty comment I hear on TV, I feel myself gaining STRENGTH.

So today, I'm taking that picture that I've been too ashamed to show anybody, and I'm putting it on the damn internet, and saying... YOU MIGHT THINK I'M A 4, BUT MY BEAUTY CANNOT BE MEASURED ON YOUR MISOGYNISTIC-SEXIST SCALE. IT'S TOO BIG FOR THAT.

I'm not gonna lie, I had to look long and hard at this picture to see my beauty. It was hard for me to look past the cellulite on my thighs to see my gentle smile, my relaxed shoulders, and that smokin' hot pink bathing suit I'm wearing!

The longer I stared, the more I saw.

My dignity. My brave. My strength. My fierce. My happy. My kids. My beauty.

(Whoa... it makes me tear up just to read those words.)

And I can see YOU too.

Listen gals, the ONLY WAY we are going to start seeing ourselves as normal, is if we reclaim ourselves. If we say... NO WAY BUDDY, YOU WILL NOT TALK TO ME THAT WAY!

We cannot hide. We cannot sulk. We cannot forsake our collective power as women because we are afraid.

We must STAND UP and reclaim OUR BODIES. We must STAND UP to the rhetoric, and say NO MAS. We must STAND UP to the bullies and say, HERE I AM.

I just finished up the most recent round of Stasia's Style School, and I'm so incredibly proud to say that there are literally DOZENS more women in the world, STANDING UP and saying, I WILL NOT HIDE ANY LONGER.

(I love you SSS5 Style Sisters!!  You know who you are!)

Meet Jennifer, Style Sister (and total fire cracker of awesome) from the latest round of SSS, and read what she has to say about reclaiming HER body!

 
 

"Before Style School, my default clothing choices were all about trying to hide my “problem areas” by dressing in long tops and dark colors, basically trying to be invisible. After seeing my photos every day in Style School, it was so clear that trying to hide those areas just didn’t work – more often than not it actually emphasized what I was trying to hide! So, despite my great resistance to it, as a Style School experiment, and in that safe space with the Style Sisters, I gave up trying to hide. It’s been an amazing mental shift to give up dressing from a place of shame and hiding and instead moving into a place of celebrating what I love, and who I am on the inside. I feel so much brighter and lighter, and more engaged in the world – more confident. It’s like I let go of a burden that I didn’t even know I was carrying. It’s been a much deeper and more meaningful change than I would have ever expected. Style School is so much more than the usual style "guides" - Stasia gives us the tools and the safe space to learn how to figure out how to let our best selves shine, inside and out." Jennifer G.

Right now is the PERFECT time to RECLAIM YOU!

Put on your shorts and your mini skirts. FREE YOUR KNEES. And your arms. And your belly! 

How in hell are we EVER going to normalize ALL WOMEN'S BODIES, if every perceived imperfection under the sun is being covered up and hidden from sight??  

It starts with me. And with you. 

If the thought of it gives you heart palpitations. Good. Do it anyway. I'll be doing it alongside you!

xoxo Stasia

PS. If you're interested in signing up for the next round of  Stasia's Style School, click HERE to get your name on the list!  

How I Turned a Too-Tight Crewneck into a Cardigan

Do you know how to sew?? If you do, consider yourself lucky and madly skilled! If you don't... girl, I feel your frustration! I've always thought that because I didn't know how to wield a needle and thread, I couldn't alter my clothes. I thought a needle and thread was the ONLY way to make alternations, that is, until I started experimenting... with SCISSORS.

Do you remember when I turned my too-small-denim-jacket into a denim vest? If you missed that post, you can click HERE and see how easy it was.

And you KNOW I'm always cutting the necks out of my crewneck t-shirts!  Because let's be honest... crewneck t-shirts, in most cases, are not flattering.

Today I'm going to add to my scissor-alteration-repertoire, by showing you how I transformed a too-small J.Crew crewneck cashmere sweater into a cutie-pie-cardigan!

As you can SEE here, the sweater is a wee bit too small for me. Even when I'm perfectly still, my belly is peeking out from under the waistband, so you know that as soon as I move, that thing is gonna pop up like one of those suction-cup-poppers.

AND, the too-tight-crewneck really emphasizes my triangle body shape, making my hips look wide RELATIVE to my torso.

 
 

Since I picked up this sweater for FREE at a clothing swap, I figured I had nothing to lose by CUTTING IT IN HALF, to see how it would work as a cardigan!

So that's exactly what I did. With my son's $1 kid scissors.

 
 

WAY better, right?

And you know what, when I hand-washed the sweater, the cut-edge just rolled right in on itself.  It didn't fray, frizzle or fall apart.

Not only does the sweater fit my body better now that it's not so tight, but it also helps balance out my proportions! See how my hips look balanced with my torso?

If you've got a too-small tight-knit cashmere sweater sitting in your donation pile, try cutting it in half to see how it might work as a cardi!  I mean, you've got nothing to lose* by trying, right?

Now that I know how successful this little trick is, I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for honey-I-shrunk-the-cashmere sweaters at the thrift store!

And to be honest, I like the cut, raw edge better than I do buttons. It feels a little more gritty/creative/edgy, and I kinda like those feelings!

What do you think? Would you try this trick at home?

And can you do me a favor... LEAVE ME A COMMENT with YOUR favorite closet-hack! Maybe I'll try it at home, write all about it, and thank YOU for the inspiration!

xo Stasia

PS. Gals, this is just a little reminder that YOUR BODY IS NEVER THE PROBLEM. I was feeling wicked-hip-heavy in the crewneck sweater, but as soon as I cut it in half, and balanced out my proportions, my hips felt curvy and delicious!  Whoa, right!  If, for even one second, you wish your body were different than it is, then I'd suggest you consider signing up for the next round of Stasia's Style School, so you can put that nonsense behind you, and learn to appreciate and dress your body, just as it is!  

*Any alterations you make are done at your own risk. I shall not be held liable.

How I turned my too-tight denim jacket into a denim vest

How many of you have a way-too-tight-in-the-sleeves (think sausage arms) denim jacket hanging in your closet? One that you save for occasions when you know you won't have to say, lift up your arms? Here's a picture of me, trying like heck to s-t-r-e-t-c-h out my (relatively new) too-tight denim jacket to MAKE. IT. WORK. But no matter how many awkward praying-mantis type stretches I did, the jacket was STILL too tight.

 
 

Since it was destined for donation, I decided to do a little experiment.

I donned a pair of really dull paper scissors (not recommended), cut as close to the sleeve hem as I could, and did THIS:

 
 

No sewing machine. No stitching. Not even a pair of fancy fabric scissors. I just used what I had, and went for it. And I'm totally digging the results.

 
 

The denim vest works particularly well on my triangle body shape (torso narrower than my hips and thighs), because it adds oodles of volume to my upper half, creating the illusion of overall body balance!

(NOTE - I am not seeking to recreate a "perfect body". I am seeking balance. The same kind of balance I'm seeking when I arrange decorative pillows on my couch.)

If you're in the market for a denim vest, here are your options:

  • buy a fancy one at J.Crew (HERE) for $70
  • cut the sleeves off a denim jacket that you already own for FREE
  • or buy a denim jacket at the thrift store for a few bucks and then cut the sleeves off

Happy Upcycling!

xo Stasia

How to avoid HANGER NIPPLES

Hanger Nipples. Otherwise known as "Shoulder Nipples". I can't stand them. The way they poke out like that... drives me crazy! You DO know what I'm talking about, right?

 
 
 
 

I thought I had invented the term, but according to google, I didn't. It's no wonder they have the name that they do, because well, they look like nipples.

My advice around hanger nipples is two-pronged...

First, AVOIDANCE. Second, REMEDY.

HANGER NIPPLE AVOIDANCE.

The bottom line here is this... knits don't belong on hangers. They belong folded up on a shelf or in a drawer.

(In case you don't know, a knit is a textile that results from, well, knitting, like a t-shirt, tank top, sweater or sweatshirt. You can detect a knit by it's stretchability. If it's stretches when you yank on it, it's probably a knit.)

This is how I created the hanger nipples seen above. A few days on this hanger and BOOM. Hanger Nipples. If I had used a metal/wire hanger, the results would be 100 times worse! (Don't do that.)

When you hang a knit garment, it stretches. Not only can you end up with a serious and unsightly case of Hanger Nipple, but the piece itself can actually lose its shape and become droopy if left on the hanger for too long.

All of your sweaters, t-shirts, tank tops, knit-dresses-with-sleeves and hoodies belong folded, in a drawer or on a shelf. They SHOULD NOT be hanging in your closet.

HANGER NIPPLE REMEDY

Hanger Nipples are easy to get rid of, so don't panic. Just machine or hand-wash the piece in question, dry it (either on the line, laying flat, or in the dryer) and then fold.

If you find yourself out in public with Hanger Nipples, or spot a friend with Hanger Nipples, all you need is a little bit of water to tame the protrusion. Wet your fingers, and massage the nipple with your fingers until the nipple subsides.  It won't go away completely, but you can at least tame the beast until the garment can be washed and reshaped.

This is one of those tips you might want to share with your girlfriends. You might even want to share it on Facebook as a Public Service Announcement. (You can do that by clicking the Facebook "share" button below!)

Don't wait until fall is officially upon us to inspect your knits for nipples. If you have any cardigans or long sleeved knit dresses on hangers, remedy the situation NOW so you're ready for the inevitable dip in temperatures.

And do me a favor, leave a comment letting me know how many cases of Hanger Nipple you have hanging in your closet.  I'm curious to know the extent of the nipple-demic.  ;)

xo Stasia

PS. Now that you know what Hanger Nipples are, you'll notice them EVERYWHERE!

Is STYLE petty or superficial? Should it matter?

When I asked my Style Sisters from the January round of Stasia's Style School WHY they struggled with style, this is what they said...

"I try to emulate what others wear, but it doesn't reflect MY inner essence, so it's never quite right. I want a style that reflects MY personality."

"After the birth of my daughter and some serious weight gain, I was left wondering WHO AM I, and how in heck do I dress myself."

"I want to look in the mirror again, and like the person looking back."

"I feel like I have lost myself along the way (kids), and I'm ready to find out WHO I AM again."

"I've done a lot of heart and soul work in the last few years, and I want my outside to reflect my inside."

"I'm turning 60 this year, and I want my life to be about ME and MY choices, not what I think everyone else wants for me."

"I'm ready to stop hiding behind my clothes. I want my wardrobe to say THIS IS ME."

"I'm often frustrated of not BEING ME and not SHOWING UP."

"There is an identify confusion - WHO AM I?"

"How am I supposed to know what MY style is? It's easy to default to old clothes I've worn forever that no one will notice. But I'm sick of that. I'm sick of discomfort. I'm sick of feeling unsure of WHO I AM."

WHOA, right?

Any of that sound petty or superficial to you? Or is it the damn opposite? TRUTH, HONESTY and VULNERABILITY. Were you nodding along, saying yes YES, me too!

Listen, STYLE is NOT synonymous with "getting dressed". Getting dressed is an action. STYLE is a feeling.  It's a reflection of WHO YOU ARE on the inside. I call it Inside-Out Congruency, and if you ask me, it is the absolute foundation of style.

The most beautifully curated closet in the world will feel like a complete farce if it isn't a reflection of YOUR SOUL FIRE.

Fashion magazines have missed the boat on this one, perpetuating the myth that style happens on the outside. They teach you how to fit in, and ignore what it means to truly belong.

Let's look at my daughter, Raisa, for a minute, so we can truly understand the difference between "fitting in" and "belonging".

Raisa is a bowtie wearing, blazer sporting, pattern mixing little turkey that I couldn't imagine any other way. If she followed the conventional rules of what a girl is "supposed" to wear, then she'd be WAY off the mark. Sure, she'd "fit in" with the girls if she wore tunics and headbands, but in the process of fitting in, her soul would wilt, her confidence would tank, and she'd begin to question who she was.

But when she SHOWS UP like this, shoulders back, smile beaming, and eyes smiling... she let's you know exactly who in hell she is. No pretense. No shame. No HIDING.

And BECAUSE she said NO THANK YOU to fitting in... she knows what it means to BELONG.

To BELONG is to feel LOVED for WHO YOU ARE, not for who are are pretending to be.

The problem with conventional style is that it's too damn categorical. We feel like we have to choose.

Is my style Bohemian? Artsy? Preppy? Outdoorsy? Classic? Yogi?

What happens if you're an artist who's traveling the globe in her caravan, playing classical guitar along the way, stopping off to do some sailing in Cape Code, hiking in Vermont, and some downward-facing-dogs at the nearest Wanderlust venue?

What goes into your suitcase for the haughty jaunt! Talk about an IDENTITY CRISIS!

This was my struggle for just about my whole life. I was an international traveling, tree hugging, Times Square loving, Maine girl who loved sparkly things, my clothesline and that new-car-smell. WHAT? That doesn't make sense. So, I picked "outdoorsy and sensible" and suffocated in fleece and khakis for far too many years.

I used to think that MY ROLE and the THINGS I LOVED defined my style. Except it didn't, because I couldn't chose just one role and I loved too many things. Which made me feel like a complete style failure.

I became lost, and I felt like I didn't know WHO IN HELL I WAS.

And then things changed (you can read about that HERE), and I figured out that my approach to style was all wrong.

Here's what I want you to do...

  1. Ask yourself WHO AM I?  Grab a pen and paper and write write write until your fingers hurt. Come up with a list of words (NOT ROLES) that describe WHO YOU ARE.
  2. Take that list of words, and narrow it down to the top 5 words that suit you the best.
  3. Go to your closet, and see what you have that connects you to those words/feelings.

In other words, if one of your words was BRAVE, then go through your shirts, try them on, and see if any of them make you FEEL BRAVE. Try on your earrings, necklaces, boots, and headscarves, and ask yourself... DOES THIS MAKE ME FEEL BRAVE?

Do it over and over again. Find those things. Use your closet to help connect you to WHO YOU ARE.

It takes work. It takes practice. It takes motivation.

That's why I created Stasia's Style School. It is a framework from which to practice, with a built-in sisterhood of woman who are on the same journey. It is equal parts inspiration, motivation, and accountability. And there are lessons. OH THE LESSONS!!!

(Inside-Out Congruency is the foundation of style, but girl, you still have a body to dress!)

When you bear witness to another woman's stories and SEE her beauty, you will slowly begin to SEE your own beauty.

xo Stasia

PS. Here's a little BEFORE/AFTER testimonial from my gal, Jennifer!

"How do I put into words the freedom I have found in Stasia’s Style School? Because that is what it has been for me. Freedom from the comments and pushback of people around me, freedom from being a prisoner to my wardrobe, freedom from the negative cassette tape in my mind.  But most importantly, freedom to be exactly who I am, inside and out.

The other day I was scrolling through my pics from Style School and I thought to myself, "Wow! Look at me! I am radiant! I am even stunning!" I started to stop myself because hello! Am I that full of myself?? But no, that's not it. For just a moment I was able to see myself through soul eyes. The eyes each one of us has for one another.

My style sisters pushed me to be brave... and then braver! Thank you, Stasia, for creating this sacred space for us. It has been a glorious unveiling of some of the most beautiful and brave women I have ever met."

Jennifer, The Turquoise Tomatoe

#stylebymychild TURNS ONE!!

Hello! It just occurred to me that Raisa (my daughter) and I have been doing #styledbymychild on Instagram + Facebook for OVER A YEAR!!

That's right, for ONE WHOLE YEAR I have allowed Raisa free reign of my closet EVERY SINGLE MONDAY, to pick out my ENTIRE outfit, without a peep of rejection or resistance from me.

I used to think I had a pretty good handle on my closet... until #stylebymychild came along. In the past year, I've learned MORE about my body, my closet, my limiting beliefs, and my emotional attachment to STUFF than I would have EVER anticipated.

Imagine for a minute, giving YOUR child free reign of your closet, telling them their only task was to MAKE MAMA BEAUTIFUL. (No kids? How about your mother/sister/brother/partner/neighbor/BFF.) You sit back and watch, as your babe thoughtfully works his/her way through your clothes, shoes and accessories and picks out...

Wait. Let's STOP here for a minute, because I want to know what you're thinking.

A) Being #styledbymychild sounds like a GREAT IDEA, Stasia.  I'm totally going to do this!! B) Are you bananas? Hell no. NO WAY. Never.

I'm guessing that B (for BANANAS) is the resounding winner.

Which is precisely WHY I'm going to share with you the lessons I've learned in the past year that have made it ALL WORTH IT, because it hasn't ALL been pretty!

LESSON ONE. It's ok to LET GO of guilt.

Why in HECK do we have things in our closets that we don't like, want or need? You know... the orange blazer with the baggy boobie darts. The gold dress that is a static-cling-nightmare no matter how many times you try too de-static that thing. The black shoes that pinch your toes with every single step. The orange tights that you really really REALLY don't like but keep putting back in your damn drawer!!!

#styledbymychild
#styledbymychild

(Note the orange blazer with the baggie darts, the static-cling gold dress, the black shoes, and the orange tights! This is real life, yo.)

The answer... 50 SHADES OF freakin' GUILT.

"I SHOULD like it. I mean, I like it in my mind so I SHOULD just be happy with it, right?" "But it was expensive." "It was a gift." "I've gained so much weight, nothing else fits. I don't deserve to buy anything new." "My body is too short/tall, skinny/fat, wide/narrow." "It fits so I feel like I SHOULD like it."

I could write a blog post called 50 Shades of Guilt... because seriously, I have heard (and USED) at least 50 guilt ridden reasons why we hold on to stuff we don't like, want or need.

It's almost like there is a part of Raisa that is intuitively drawn to the stuff that I like the least. I moaned my way through those orange tights at least six times before I finally learned the lesson and let those things go, because "I SHOULD like them" has no place in my closet.

And it has no place in your closet either.

Pay attention to the rhetoric inside your head when you get dressed. If it's laced with 50 Shades of Guilt, listen to it, learn from it, and then let that shit go.

LESSON TWO.  It's OK to go a little wild.

I've worn some pretty wild closet concoctions in the past year! Things I would have NEVER worn in public otherwise...

#styledbymychild
#styledbymychild

And it's been AWESOME!

Being #styledbymychild has taught me that it's OK to push my own boundaries. To step outside of safety. To live on the edge!

It has helped me EXPAND and become MORE of myself.

When you step outside of your zone of safety, you will undoubtedly find a place that EXHILARATES and THRILLS. A place you might never have found without that little nudge.

LESSON THREE.  It's OK to be FANCY.

For some reason, we think we have to SAVE FANCY.

We think that feeling CONFIDENT, BOLD, CREATIVE, STRONG, and downright GLAMOROUS is something we have to save for special, and that our baseline should be frumpy, uninspiring and plain old boring.

#styledbymychild
#styledbymychild

No. WAY!

Being #styledbymychild has given me an excuse to wear my fancy on a Monday, and guess what? Nothing bad happened! In fact, GOOD happened. Because I felt good. And when I feel good I do good.

So now, you might find me being fancy... even on a Wednesday.

Here is what I KNOW to be true: 1. My body is BEAUTIFUL, just the way it is, so if something doesn't fit, I now it's the CLOTHES that are the problem. NOT MY BODY. 2. My clothes MUST be a reflection of who I am on the INSIDE. Just because they fit, does NOT mean they are right for me.

Those TWO THINGS right there, are the foundations of style. You MUST understand how to dress YOUR body and you MUST be able to answer the question WHO AM I AT MY CORE, without reservation.

Style is fluid, NOT static. As you grow, and become more of who you are, your style will inevitably shift. That's why what worked 6 months ago, might not work now. That's why you might think you like something, but realize that it no longer suits you.

Being #styledbymychild keeps me on my toes, but YOU don't need to be #styledbyYOURchild to learn and implement these basic, but very profound, lessons.

That's what Stasia's Style School is for.  ;)

Where are YOU at with style? Do you think your BODY is the problem? Do you know what it means to dress your INSIDE on the OUTSIDE? Why do you struggle?

Leave a comment and tell me your number one hang-up, and I PROMISE PROMISE PROMISE to get back to you!

Love, Stasia

How to Wear a Hat.

People often ask me how to wear a hat. Or they say something like... "I LOVE hats, but heck if I can wear one". It's a complex issue, and I figured it was time I attack it HEAD on, right here. Right now.

Before you click away, convinced that YOU are not a hat-girl, let me ask you this... What would you have done if it were the 1920's and Carson and Mrs. Hughes had invited YOU to their wedding?

SNAP!

You would have found a hat that suited you because there is NO WAY in hell you would have missed THAT wedding!! I mean seriously...

All the women in the cast of Downton Abby have different face shapes, hair styles and body types... and they ALL look lovely in hats. If it's possible for them, it's possible for you too.

What's the old proverb... "Saying you don't look good in a hat is like saying you don't look good in shoes." ;)

So, now that I've proven YOU CAN WEAR A HAT AND LOOK GOOD DOING IT (you just need to find the right one), it's time we talk about WHAT IT TAKES to wear a hat.

To be honest, I'm not sure about all of the how-to-find-the-perfect-hat-for-your-face-shape charts you can find online. I swear my face doesn't fit into any charts, and I'm convinced one must consider more than face shape when buying a hat. But for those of you that are curious, the best resource I found online for finding the right hat for you face shape was HERE on the Goorin Bros website.

Here's MY advice. Go shopping. Try on every single hat you can get your hands on. If you live near a hat shop like Goorin Bros, go there and ask the experts. If you live in the sticks like me and shopping online is your best bet, then ASK A MILLINER (aka - hat maker)!

That's what I did!

A few weeks back I found fellow Vermonter, Kristen Silverman, a milliner at Silverhill Creative Millinery on Instagram, and messaged her right away and said LET'S COLLABORATE!

All of her hats are HANDMADE, and they are just WOW!

I wasn't sure which hat would work on me, so I asked Kristen, and she suggested a fedora and a cloche.

I could see the cloche, but a fedora?? Am I cool enough to wear a fedora?

I was leery.

The cloche was LOVE at first site. The color was perfect for my skin, the whimsical twirls suited my character and personality, and the style was indeed flattering.

 
 
 
 

And now, the fedora.

As soon as I put it on, I decided NOPE and took it right off. Then I tried it on again. Still nope. I took it off. I tried it again. Left it on. Walked around the house for a little while. Put on some BOLD lipstick. Added earrings. Then sequins. Checked myself in the mirror about one bajillion times. And then it hit me... I LOVE THIS HAT!

 
 
 
 

The fedora connected me to that part of myself that is LIVING AT THE EDGE OF HER THINKING.

The risk taker. The rule bender. The fierce lover.

The cloche connected me to my fun and whimsy, which is easy and comfortable for me. Like tinted chapstick.

The fedora, on the other hand, was like that first time I wore red lipstick. At first I panicked and said NO WAY, and then after a few tries, I fell IN LOVE!

I AM one of those gals that can wear a fedora!!

What kind of hat-gal are YOU?? Tell me in the comments about YOUR favorite hat style!

Let's hop on this hat-wagon together!

With Love & Gratitude, xo Stasia

When Tweaks are not Enough, it's time for Transformation.

I'm going to say it again...

"When tweaks are not enough, it's time for TRANSFORMATION."
Saul Kaplan, Business Innovation Factory

Communities. Government. Business. Education.

Yea, of course. But what about STYLE?

I know a lot of you are stuck in tweak-phase. Making little adjustments here and there. Trying to shop, but getting frustrated because you're not sure WHAT in heck to buy.

Another pair of earrings? A new shade of red lipstick? A denim jacket?

You've done tons of tweaking, but you STILL feel like your clothes don't represent your YOU-NESS.

You're still not happy with your body. You're focusing on your growing belly, your mama-stretch-marks and the cellulite on your thighs.

BRAVE... that is something you know is INSIDE you, but right now, you're feeling kind of like a whimpy-pants.

There comes a point when you've got to STOP TWEAKING & START TRANSFORMING.

As far as I see it, you need at least THREE THINGS in your pocket:

Inside-Out Congruency, Body Confidence, Bravery

Unless you have all three of those things, tweaks aren't gonna do you diddly.

Tweaks happen on the outside. Transformation happens on the INSIDE!

Let me show you what I mean...

 
 

Ack!

Right before my husband and I left left for the Peace Corps, we did a photo shoot with a local photographer, and THIS IS WHAT I WORE.

ON A PHOTO SHOOT!!!

I didn't have a CLUE about Inside-Out Congruency at the time, and this outfit is testament to that. It in NO WAY reflected my SOUL-FIRE!

That thing that I was doing there... trying to hide my hips and thighs because I was ashamed of my body - NOT WORKING!!

And you see those curved-in, lacking-confidence shoulders? Though I was doing something BRAVE (joining the Peace Corps) I wasn't feeling the POWER of my decision. I approached big change with a little bit of grit... and HUGE amount of trepidation.

STYLE is something I LEARNED.

I spent years tweaking, trying on different kinds of oversized drawstring pants and hippy pendants. And like a true science-gal (my background is in Ecology) I realized a new methodology was needed.

So I invented one, and things changed.

 
 
 
 

Seeing my own BEFORE + AFTER pictures still blows my mind. The "before" feelings, when I remember them, hit me hard right in the gut. I remember...

  • the frustration and disappointment when I looked at my body in the mirror
  • the sadness and defeat that would overwhelm me when I HAD to go shopping
  • the blow-down fights I'd have with my closet each morning
  • the feeling that I was a freakin' style disaster, no matter how many tweaks I made
  • and constantly feeling misunderstood

Here's a side-by-side, to bring it all home.

Believe it or not... I was around 15 pounds lighter in the BEFORE picture.

HIDING DOES NOT WORK!!

THIS is why I started Stasia's Style School.

And this is PRECISELY WHY Style School is not about TWEAKS... it's about TRANSFORMATION.

And it works.

During the last round of SSS, TRANSFORMATION was the name of the game.

One of our #stylesisters, Michelle, transformed into a mighty force right before our very eyes, and it was A-W-E-S-O-M-E.

 
 

Though the pictures of Michelle speak for themselves, I think you need to hear from her directly:

"If I’m really being honest, when I look at these photos, I just see the before side. And I cringe. Seriously. The hair. It’s all I see. Realistically I know you’re looking at both photos... and I’m pretty much hoping you’re looking at the after side far more. So, I’m sitting here trying to get over myself and not dwell on the fact that I’m letting the whole world see something completely unflattering. Nothing like testing my capacity to be real!

What you see when you look at the photos is clothing changes and a new haircut. But the transformation is much bigger than that. You might see it in my eyes and smile. It was soul deep. It’s lessons learned about who I am. About what I was and what I no longer choose to be. It’s about bravery and laughter in the deepest parts. And it’s about community, confidence and caring – both about others and myself.

Wait, you didn’t think Style School could do all that? Well, neither did I. It was the best investment I've made in myself in a long, long time. I’m not sure I could say Style School changed my life. But it did transform me. And I’m the author of that life."

So let me ask you... are YOU ready for TRANSFORMATION?

UPDATE:  The winter 2016 of Stasia's Style School SOLD OUT in 24 hours. Keep your eyes peeled for the spring 2016 launch! 

It's time to WEAR YOUR SHINE.

xo Stasia