Category Archives: Real Life Style + Beauty

Creating an Intentional Wardrobe


A peek into our closet

I read a great post on Wardrobe Oxygen this weekend about Honing Your Personal Style Through Closet Organization and it struck me that this is *exactly* how I taught myself to get dressed. I am an organization JUNKIE, and it was actually a closet organizing technique that spawned my desire to think more about my personal style.

A decade ago I loved having a closet FILLED TO THE BRIM with clothing. The more shiny, crappy, polyester clothing options I had the more abundant I felt. During a closet organizing whim one day years ago, I decided to try this little trick and I realized what I was REALLY wearing. I consistently wore clothes that were comfortable, well-fitting and were in similar colors and styles. I am no minimalist and I’m certainly not advocating owning one pair of well fitting jeans and fiver shirts in different colors, but when I did that exercise I realized that there was a method to my dressing madness, even when I thought there wasn’t.

Unsurprisingly, what was happening was that I was consistenly wearing the clothing that made me look and feel good, and ignoring the large majority of my shiny, glittery, “fun” wardrobe. It was clear that I was living in fantasy land when I shopped, but in reality when I got dressed. There was lots of lovely clothing (ok and some that wasn’t so lovely) but for one reason or another, the stuff I wasn’t wearing just wasn’t a fit — for my shape or for my lifestyle. And it was a wasteful disconnect that made me want to start building a more intentional wardrobe. (I say start becuase it is an on-going process.)

These days, even though I deal with a much smaller and more specific wardrobe, I feel much more abundant. Part of that on-going process is that every few months I clean out my closet to remove things I’m not wearing or just generally not digging, and then twice per year I do one BIG closet switcheroo based on the seasons. I try to only keep two seasons worth of clothing out at a time (Spring/Summer clothes and Fall/Winter clothes.)  Despite the fact that my closet can accommodate all of my clothing being out at once, the hanger exercise taught me that when my visible wardrobe is a little more tightly curated, I seem to feel more creative. (Strange, but true.)

Perhaps you like to look at all of your clothes at once, and that is okay too! But I thought we could talk about where one would start when they want to build an intentional wardrobe; which to me, is a wardrobe where the clothes that fill up your space are the clothes that you actually WANT to wear. Revolutionary, it is not. But despite its simplicity, it actually took me a while to get the hang of. In case I’m not the only person who learned this a bit late in life, I thought I’d share some of the steps I took to get there and some fun resources that might help:

1. Define YOUR Signature Style

As with anything important, there must first be a vision, right? Your clothing is reflection of who you are in your life, whether you are are making an effort at it or not. I want to look nice, but I don’t want to spend a lot of time thinking about it. It has been helpful to pick a mission statement for all of my clothes and stick to it. They must be classic and comfortable, but with a little bit of flair. For me that ends up being simple prints, bright colors or dramatic accessories. It helps me to have a checklist in my head to walk through so I can say “No Holly, despite the fact that you think it is beautiful, you don’t need this white lace dress with 900 buttons, even if you do have just the place to wear it!” (Uh, except I don’t. haha)

Related Reading: How To Find Your Personal Style

2. Determine Clothing Staples That Work For Your Body

I am attracted to so many different styles and types of clothing just because I think fashion is creative and artistic. But I don’t need the analysis paralysis that comes with buying an entire closet full of artsy clothes. I’ve learned through trial and error the silhouettes that do and don’t work for my body – and honestly, taking daily photos of what I’m wearing helped that immensely. Now that I know what works well and what to AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE, I try and keep things in that arena and buy variations of those. It may sound boring, but these days there are a million different pencil skirts out there, so knowing that this is a flattering cut on me doesn’t actually make my wardrobe boring it actually helps keep focused so I can seek out the most fun versions

Related Reading: Fashion 101: Proportions – How to Achieve the Appearance of a Well Proportioned Body

3. Start With a Capsule Wardrobe

I’m sure you have heard this advice a million times but if you are just beginning thinking about style I absolutely think a capsule wardrobe is a must. Of course you can expand on this idea once you get comfortable, but start with a small grouping of versatile, well-fitting items that you can mix and match and you will be amazed at how many outfits you have.

Related Reading: Wardrobe Oxygen is a gold mine of Capsule Wardrobe Ideas from realistic retailers

4. Buy Clothes That Fit You Well Regardless of Their Size

I currently have 4 different sizes in my closet and shockingly: THEY ALL FIT. Clothing Manufacturers have no regulation about sizing and sometimes the sizing within the same store can be weird based on the style of clothing or place the clothing was made (I’m looking at you, Old Navy. The store where I own clothing all the way from Medium to Extra Large — what???) As a consumer I will acknowledge that this is totally annoying, but being flexible an unattached to the size of your clothing often allows you to access to better fitting clothing. And more styles! I often hear people saying “Oh I just can’t wear skinny jeans, they don’t fit me.” Well they wouldn’t fit me right either if I bought my regular size. But sometimes if I go up a size (or two!) they end up looking AWESOME!

Related Reading: What Size Are You Really? The Truth Behind Vanity Sizing


Hopefully that has given you a few ideas for creating a more intentional wardrobe. I’ve found it to be so helpful for getting dressed! You don’t have to have a huge budget, or an innate knack for what looks great. Also you don’t have to shop at a million stores. Find what you like, what looks good on you, and then (here’s the big secret) BUY THOSE THINGS! It will make shopping and dressing a more creative and satisfying experience. If you have any other awesome tips to share, please do so.

A Few More Fun Resources:

*The True Longevity of Timeless Items

*A handy dandy flowchart showing How to UnF**k Your Closet.

*A Guide on How To Set Your Wardrobe Budget

*The Truth About TJ Maxx

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Real Life Style: February Closet

What I Wore - February

As always, click any of the links below for details about all the items I’m wearing and where they came from.

1. Failing at Stripe Rehab, 2. Turquoise Pants!, 3. Super Bowl Party, 4. More Stripes. Crap., 5. Cold., 6. Layers, 7. Color Happy, 8. Friday, casual., 9. Saturday Afternoon, 10. Pink Shoes!, 11. Polka Dots, 12. Linen, 13. V-Day ❤❤❤❤, 14. TGIF, 15. Monday. Un-Creative, 16. Yay Jeans!

So hey, I’m a little behind on this, but I thought I’d revisit how I got dressed in February. If you remember, my goal was to wear less stripes than in January.

What I’m Currently Loving

It shouldn’t be  a shock that I’m still loving scarves this month. It was February and it was COLD! Also I was feeling a dark palette with just a little bit of color. (Not a pop! Down with the expression POP OF COLOR!) I get this way every winter, February especially, but I just want to wear cozy black things and leggings. Obviously I had to spiff up that concept a bit for “business casual” attire, but it was definitely what I was feeling.

Tights + Leggings 4 EVA!

What Inspired Me While Getting Dressed

The first half of the month was me trying to back off on the stripes and honestly getting layered. It was cold outside, it was cold in the office, and layers were a serious necessity but I didn’t want to look like a bag lady. I got offered my new job mid month, so honestly I didn’t even take outfit photos for a few days because I was inspired mostly by the concept of “Just get dressed and get to work.” Not that fun. Towards the end of the month it was beginning to feel like spring so I got slightly more colorful and I will keep that up. I love color! (And polka dots, apparently.)


This was my favorite outfit of the month. It’s not super exciting but it had all my favorite elements: scarf, simplicity, black, comfortable but not boring. And um, leopard shoes, HELLO.


This was my lease favorite. I think busted out the linen a little too early. It was super springy day, but by the end of it I just wasn’t feeling “light and bright” clothes yet. Also: I hate how that sweater hangs every time I wear it. I should really just get rid of it. Maybe it’s time to do a Shop My Closet cull again.


So that was my February closet! March should bring some more spring-y looks and some new jeans. I had to throw away my FAVORITE jeans this month (my 1969 Gap Boyfriend Jeans) because…uh…well after owning them for forever the thigh area sort of…uh, gave out. WHAT? Shit happens. My thighs touch. THIS IS REAL LIFE STYLE, Y’all. 🙂

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Real Life Style: January Closet

I post a daily picture on Instagram of what I wear. Well let me rephrase: what I wear when I actually put on an outfit that looks reasonable. If I’m home all day writing or watching Real Housewives of Anywhere in my yoga pants, I generally don’t bother with a snap shot. You’re welcome. 🙂

It seems a little vain to take pictures of your clothes — I get that, and to a certain extent it is —  but over the past year I found it fun and inspiring to have a log of what I wore. It’s helped me figure out where my style is at currently and it gives me a foundation from which to decide where I want to go. Understanding those things actually makes it easier (and more fun) to get dressed in the morning, and both are a total win – so vanity be damned!

When I did my summer survey last year there were a lot of requests for more Real Life Style posts. Many of you responded to the idea that everyday style vs aspirational style was helpful to see, and I love that! But I have struggled with a way to do that on this blog that isn’t just a roundup of pictures with captions of where all of it came from. It’s not that I don’t enjoy those types of posts (I do!) but personally, I find them a little bit tedious to write and not all that helpful unless I’ve just purchased something that I can link to. Unfortunately a lot of my outfits include Stuff I Bought At Target A Long Ass Time Ago. It’s my style-statement, I guess…but you gotta work with what ya got!

I thought a monthly roundup could be a happy medium — photos of what I wore (in case you don’t follow me on Instagram) but also bit of talk about HOW I got dressed. I mean, yes yes “One leg at a time” but more about:

*Items I’m Currently Loving (ie: Repeating)
*What Inspired Me While Getting Dressed

So enough explanation…here’s how I got dressed in January:

(Click the links below the photos if you are interested in the specifics of an outfit. I listed each item (with links where applicable) but I warn you, I wear a lot of old stuff! :))

January - How I Got Dressed

1. Hot Pink Accents, 2. Running Errands, 3. Channeling Hannah From Girls, 4. Favorite Outfit This Month, 5. Oldie But Goodie, 6. Comfy Basics, 7. Black Skinny Jeans I Love (FINALLY!), 8. Pattern Mix (Stripes and Spots), 9. Dress/Tights, 10. Polka dots/Mini Peplum/Puppy, 11. Biker Bitch (but a nice one!), 12. Stripe on Stripe on Stripe!, 13. Jeggins/Chambray Layers, 14. Semi Chic Hobo, 15. Black & White & Red All Over, 16. Unapologetic Stripes, 17. Layer w/ A Bit of Color, 18. Polka Dots!, 19. Plain Jane, 20. Bathing Suit Coverup! What?

What I’m Currently Loving

A visual grid makes it very clear I am loving scarves and stripes. I think I’m going to get over stripes here shortly. Obviously I love them, but I want to branch out with some other prints. Stripes tickle the geometric part of my brain, but there must be something else. I’ve got my eye out!

As for scarves, let me make a confession: this isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. I LOVE SCARVES! (What? They are like purses and shoes! They always fit!) I was really into infinity scarves this month thanks to a clearance purchase at the Gap (the gray knit one) and a gift from Elizabeth (the turquoise one, which I LOVE!)

What Inspired Me While Getting Dressed

Honestly, this month it was all about functionality. I work in an office that is freezing one minute and burning up the next, so layers are kind of a must. Also, I wanted to wear dresses this month but it was also 40 degress on the regular. Best purchase so far this year: $8 leggings from Target.

In addition to functionality, I was really feeling like exercising my minimalist brain this month and I repeated quite a few things. My wardrobe isn’t that big actually. The rack that I stand in front of taking my pictures is basically ALL OF MY CLOTHING. So yeah, not much. But I was hoping to mix them up in a creative way so that it wasn’t glaringly obvious that I was wearing all the same stuff. I feel like that was pretty successful.


This was my favorite outfit of the month.

Also, I still have so much love for Gap Sexy Boyfriend Jeans. They were the only jeans I wore this month, actually. Every time I link to them I think “$80 is a lot of cash! DAMN!” But ya know what…they are TOTALLY WORTH IT. Really versatile, stylish and durable — For $80 I have completely gotten my money’s worth. I don’t have a large clothing budget (in fact I don’t even HAVE a clothing budget written in as a line item) so it’s nice to remind myself every once in a while that sometimes a higher quality item is worth paying for.


This was my least favorite. In fact, all day long I kept thinking I was channeling Hannah from Girls…who we all know is kind of a hot frumpy mess. I even read a fun article about how they tailor her clothes to be ill fitting. Not my best day!


So that’s my closet this month! What do we think about this format? Helpful? Unhelpful? Holly, get your face outta my face? 🙂

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My Naked Face (Again) + A Cetaphil Product Review + $100 Visa Gift Card Sweepstakes

I really should get paid to post naked pictures of my face on the internet.

(Oh wait, this time I did 🙂 While I was compensated for the time it took to write this post, my opinions are not for sale.)

BlogHer recently contacted me and asked if I would like to review two Cetaphil products this month. You all know I have struggled with acne-prone skin, so I am pretty game to try anything that may help. On top of that, you may remember that I had complained earlier this month that I still did not have any kind of sun protection at all in my routine, so when I read that one of the products was the Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 15 I absolutely jumped at the chance.

If you have been reading this website for any length of time, you know that taking care of my skin really does excite me, and for the past few months with The Great Skincare Experiment I have been consistently looking for that perfect intersection where healthy food and lifestyle meets ideal products for my face. It has been years since I have used any Cetaphil products, and I wasn’t particularly unhappy with my current skincare routine, but the two main reasons I was willing to check out some Cetaphil products were:

1. It was the most common product that you all recommended to me back when asked for your skin care advice


2. Cetaphil products are recommended by more dermatologists than any other brand.

Recommendations from my readers and dermatologists? Alrighty then, I thought, Cetaphil products may be worth trying again!

It’s only been a little while since I started using the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser and the Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 15 and I’m happy to report that they really are both as gentle as can be. For someone with very sensitive and dry skin, this is absolutely a must, especially during the winter months! But the other thing that is important to me is that a cleanser actually get my face clean, and a moisturizer actually moisturizes. Both of these products did the trick, and most importantly they’ve done so without any irritation whatsoever.


I’m looking forward to seeing how it compliments my skincare moving forward, and you KNOW I will be keeping you posted.

Because it is the holidays and everyone is in the giving spirit, Cetaphil will be offering a printable coupon to save $3 on any two Cetaphil products. Click here to save up to $3.


Would like to be entered into a random drawing for a $100 Visa Gift Card? Leave a comment answering this question: *Of all the skin care products you own, which one could you not live without?


No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
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b) Tweet (public message) about this promotion, including exactly the
following unique term in your tweet message: #SweepstakesEntry and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post.
c) Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post.
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to respond, otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 12/11/12 -1/7/13. Be sure to visit the Cetaphil brand page on where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!

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It’s That Time Again: Choose My Haircut

We have very important superficial things to discuss today people. Namely, my hair. AND HOW IT MUST BE CUT.

If you remember, the last time we had this discussion was in May of this year, so it is HIGH TIME for a haircut. I’m pretty sure normal people do not go 7 months without getting their mops chopped, but I’ve never been one to be normal.

Here is the current lowdown on my hair. It’s longer than usual and sort of blah. This pic is from right after Thanksgiving:
Well, at least my scarf still feels pretty loose.   #ootd

This is also the picture that made me fantasize about Juvederm or other injectible things POURED INTO THE WRINKLES IN MY FACE OMG. But that is another blog post altogether.

Anyway, back to the hair. It’s not horrible, it’s just currently in that unruly state where it takes A LOT of work to get it to look only ok. And I prefer to have hair that is fun instead of just hair that is constantly pulled back into a ponytail. Though I am a sucker for ponytails with bangs, but we’ll talk about that in a minute.

I like hair that actually has a style. It’s okay if it take a lot of styling products and a hair dryer and looks fabulous, but I’m not that into hair that requires multiple tools and a prayer just to look “decent.” In my vast 34 years of mop chopping experience there are two things I do with my hair that fit those requirements.

A. Bangs


I like bangs. Blunt Bangs. Choppy Bangs. Swoopy Bangs. They’re just fun! But yes, they do become annoying after a while and then one must grow them out. First world problems and all that. But I do love a good ponytail with bangs, which might be a nice way to not cut off a lot of length, but still have a fun hairdo that is more functional. I just said hairdo. Do people under 80 still say hairdo?

For your reference: Me with bangs (Please ignore Garrett’s caveman beard. I don’t know what was up with that.)

B. Shorter Hair


Shorter hair is fun and sassy. It looks good straight, lends itself well to curling and always looks like it was cut to be in that particular style. But it can be a pain for workouts, and I haven’t learned how to expand my short hair repertoire beyond A-line bob. I’m up for suggestions.

For your reference: Me with my most recent shorter hair (Man, that photo makes me miss summer and sunshine.)

So. here we sit, two roads diverged in a yellow wood. Take a vote and let me know what you think.

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Ideas for Moving Toward More Natural Body Care

One of the easiest parts of The Great Skincare Experiment (at least MUCH easier than giving up caffeine) was beginning to transition to more natural body care. I say “more natural” but like food, I’m well aware that skin care is a marketing mine-field full of buzzwords to make you think you are doing a body good. There are a million resources out there to help clarify what you “should” and “shouldn’t” use, but I’m not going to link the them because they make my head explode. So much information about THE PRODUCTS YOU ARE USING RIGHT NOW ARE KILLING YOU AND THE ENVIRONMENT OMG, but quite frankly, I just can’t get motivated by alarmist tones. I find the recommendations overwhelming, and I don’t know about you, but when I get overwhelmed I just don’t do anything, which um…doesn’t help.

I decided to take a small step during my skin care experiment to see if I find some products that didn’t have parabens or pthalates that I enjoyed just as much as my old products. I focused on these two things because both P-words are thought to affect some of the natural hormone activity in your body, and hey — that aligns right up there with my reasoning for loving Paleo — because it keeps my hormone levels healthy and in check! Plus, let’s be real, avoiding only 2 things seemed to be something small and manageable that I could handle.

I wanted to share the stuff I’ve been using for a month because:

A. I’ve really enjoyed all these products and talking about beauty products is fun.

B. All of these things are easy, affordable changes to make and a good place to start.


C. I’m not an expert and I don’t really want to be. I’m just trying to move towards better decisions and have fun with it, so if this doesn’t help you or if you CAN’T BELIEVE THE AUDACITY OF MY RECOMMENDATION BECAUSE OF (INSERT OFFENSIVE INGREDIENT HERE), feel free to ignore it. Okay? Okay!

Now let’s talk about some natural body care products that are pretty cool:

(Clockwise from the top left)

1. Avalon Organics Vitamin C Refreshing Cleansing Gel – It’s a citrusy smelling gel facewash that doesn’t leave your skin feeling particularly dry. Also – it works well with the Clarisonic, foaming up just enough but not making your face feel like a bubble bath. I’m not into bubble bath face really, but if that’s your bag — GO ON WITH YOUR BAD SELF!

2. Yes to Blueberries Daily Repairing Moisturizer
– I was feeling a little sad about giving up all of my age-defying chemically face products but this has been a nice substitute. Note, it doesn’t have a sunscreen in it and I am not recommending a natural sunscreen because I haven’t looked for found one. Bad Holly! Doomed to a lifetime of wrinkles!

3. South of France Acai Pomegranate Bar Soap – I am a pretty steadfast showergel user but sometimes I just want a bar of soap. The only bars of soap that I have found that don’t make me feel sticky afterward are Dove bar soaps. Dove actually isn’t *that* offensive, but I thought I’d experiment with some hippie soaps. 🙂 This one smells FREAKIN AMAZING and doesn’t make me feel sticky either. Score.

4. Lavanila The Healthy Deoderant in Vanilla Lavender – Do you use deodorant with an anti-persperant? THEN YOU’RE GOING TO DIE OMG!!!! Is that true? I don’t know. But I’ll tell you what is a documented fact: most hippie deodorants without an anti-persperants really suck ass. That’s just science. Tom’s of Maine is the most offensive in my opinion. Their deodorant sticks may smell good but your sweaty armpits won’t after CrossFit, let me tell you. But this Lavanila, which is baking soda based, actually freaking works! Can you believe it? I almost couldn’t. CROSSFIT TESTED!!! If you aren’t allergic to baking soda: TRY THIS. The price is steep, yes. But it really does work.

5. Burt’s Bees Pomegranate Volumizing Shampoo and Conditioner – Less sudsy than regular shampoos, but very delicious smelling and I felt it worked just fine. I will continue to look for a shamp/cond combo that I LOVE, but in the meantime this one is nice enough and pretty affordable. Plus, I use the Burt’s Bees Pomegranate chapstick and I feel very secretly smug when my lips and hair smell the same. Kind of like when my underwear matches my outfit. Wait, what????

6. Alba Very Emollient Body Lotion
– Alright stop what you’re doing (cuz I’m about to ruin?) and pick up this lotion immediately. Years ago Elizabeth recommended this lotion based solely on its smell being “the best clean smell ever” and so I purchased it sight unseen, smell unsmelled. And I’ve almost used nothing else since. It’s an amazing lotion (aptly named “very emollient”) but it’s the smell that I love. Dear Alba Marketing Team – “Original Scent” doesn’t really help much as a descriptor, but I will say this: it kind of smells like you have just taken a shower in a Hawaiian waterfall. And you totally did it in a string bikini and you looked tan and AMAZING the entire time! I think it is floral and clean but for people who don’t like floral scents (which is people like me. Floral stuff? BLECH!) Anyway, PLEASE GO GET THIS.

7. Alba Very Emollient Bath & Shower Gel (Honey Mango Scent) – I don’t know how many scents there are in this line, but who cares — this is the one to buy! It’s warm and fruity and the shower gel itself is super moisturizing. I was so in love with it I bought the (somewhat) matching cream shave. (I’ll talk about that in a sec! Hold tight!)

8. Yes to Cucumbers Soothing Facial Towelettes – I’ve told you before that makeup removing quick wipes are one of my workout essentials, so these are a nice chemical free version. It’s like a mini-facial in a towelette. I hate the word towelette. It completely kills the spa vibe, actually. But regardless, these are lovely.

9. Alba Very Emollient Mango Vanilla Cream Shave – I enjoy shaving with coconut oil in the shower just like every other person who has just discovered that coconut oil is all the rage. But you know what I don’t like? GLASS IN MY SHOWER THAT IS NOT THE SHOWER DOOR. (Hell, I don’t even like glass shower doors all that much!) You see, I have the dropsies, like, all the time. Adding water doesn’t help the situation, so coconut oil in my shower is a no go unless I put it in another container and that’s ugly and far too sensible a solution. I just buy new things! Like this cream shave. Which is (oddly enough) VERY EMOLLIENT. And smells just like the Alba shower gel I just raved about. Win win!


Hopefully this helps you if you are contemplating taking a step towards more natural body care. I’m sure there are many awesome products out there that just Rule The School, but these were mostly affordable, drugstore options that helped me get the ball rolling. Feel free to recommend your faves in the comments!

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Time To Stock Up?

I generally don’t recommend Old Navy with zeal. Their sizing is funky, things are often ill fitting an hour after you put them on, and the quality of garments vary depending on the place they are manufactured. Every once in a while I find a gem, so I never completely count them out, but mostly I prefer to get my clothes from other places.

(Ok let’s be real, mostly I prefer to get my clothes from Target.)

But when it comes to well made, inexpensive active wear OLD NAVY IS WHERE IT’S AT. (Also: This is NOT a sponsored post. I just really really like the Active line, I promise.)

Their workout tanks are always cute and stylish and the compression pants are a part of My Workout Essentials. It’s rare that I hit the gym not wearing some element of Old Navy clothing, and (surprisingly) it is totally durable and the quality holds up over time.

Which is why I had to pop in to point out today that their Active line is pretty darn cheap right now!

$9 Tees

$7 Tanks

I recommend both! And while my favorite compression capris aren’t on sale right now, $23 isn’t too shabby.

And from now until 10/24 everything is 20% with the coupon code ONSAVE20.

If there ever was an excuse to go on a shopping spree, this might be it. I don’t know about you but new workout clothes always get me pumped to workout. (Lame, but true!)

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The Great Skin Care Experiment

I’m hatching a plan in my mind, are you ready for it? Of course you are, you have begun to expect my particular brand of crazy around here, right? We had The Whole 30, The Great Zone Experiment, last year’s Look Better Naked — I mean, You know I LOVE a good experiment! I start to get a little anxious if I am not challenging myself and it’s weird and I know it. We are all on the same page here. 🙂

What I’ve decided — and it’s been kind of a long time coming — is that it is time to get to the bottom of some of my skin issues. I have made some great strides with my diet and fitness over the last 2 years, dropped a ton of weight and improved my overall health; however, the skin situation is still hanging on to let me know that something still isn’t quite right. You skin is the largest organ in your body, right? So when stuff continually shows up there, it is my opinion that your body is talking to you. Mine seems to not want to shut up, so I’ve decided I’m going to listen.

Naked picture of my face. OH MY.

One of the most awesome takeaways I had with the Whole 30 is that sometimes managing the little things makes such a big difference, so I’ve decided to let that inform my this experiment. I think it is a complex issue and for me I think it is a mix of gut issues from a lifetime of carrying extra weight, lifestyle/stress issues, and hormones. And for the record when I say “Hormones” I don’t mean it in that in a once a month, blanket type of way that we as women have a tendency to use the word “hormonal.” Hormones aren’t the enemy. They don’t exist in your body to make your skin look crappy and to give you mood swings that make your boyfriend crazy. They are a system in your body that has a function, and if it is not functioning right — hey, why not get to the bottom of it?

Seeing a functional medicine doctor 2 years ago, going Paleo because of it, and learning so much more than I ever wanted to know about hormones, neurotransmitters and gut health and how it all interacts with the food we eat has really given me so many ideas of why my skin is potentially still flaring up a bit, but at this point I’ve just made a bunch of lists of things I could potentially change and never really said “Hey I’m going to pay attention to all of these little things at once and see if they make a difference on my face.” I’ve decided to change that and do something about it.

My hypothesis: I think the little things will make a difference. And so I’m going to make some changes.

And I’m making these changes during the month of October so let’s just call October the month of The Great Skin Care Experiment. I’ve done A LOT of thinking about most of this, and some of it has to do with my own personal medical history and my skin care history, so this post may seem like a willy nilly oversimplification but I assure you it is the culmination of a lot of research. Also, please don’t think I’m telling YOU to do this. It’s a bit nutty and I’m okay with that, and don’t think my methods are for everyone. But since this will be on my plate for October I thought I’d let you know.

Today, specifically, I thought I’d outline the main changes that I’m easing into right now, but will be going full force with starting in October. Where I can, I’m providing links to what inspired them, but I imagine I will be talking more about them in the future. If there is anything you would like me to address in more detail, feel free to let me know. There are 11 changes, and most are internal things I’ll be addressing (diet/supplement/lifestyle changes) but there are also a few external things going on (physical changes I’ll be making with respect to skin.) Here’s the rundown, and after 30 days we will see if monitoring these 11 factors make a difference.

A QUICK NOTE ABOUT DIET: Since I do think it is the foundation of this experiment, I think it is worth noting I plan to keep to 90% Whole 30 Eating, which I have found mostly easy to maintain. That 10% will include some Paleo-ified staples like banana muffins on occasion and my beloved red wine if I feel like it. But still no gluten, no dairy, and just generally eating for nutrient density. I’m keeping the diet clean with intentions on adding in some of the strategies below.

Internal Actions

1. HOLY CRAP, I’m giving up coffee (and subsequently, caffeine)

I’m not even sure I can talk about this just yet, but you all I am taking the plunge. 30 days, no coffee. HOLD ME CLOSER, TONY DANZA.
The upside: I really love herbal tea. (Just keep telling yourself that Holly.) I worked in coffee & tea for years so I really do enjoy a good cup of tea, but no doubt this will be a huge adjustment for me and I’m not quite sure I will survive. But it’s time. The relationship between caffeine and your adrenal system (something that I really need to keep a close eye on) coupled with my PASSION for a good cup are not always a match made in heaven. Plus, I’m also veering into a liiiiiitttle bit of an unhealthy place with my coffee dependence and when I saw this the other day it spoke to me:

So. Let’s do this.

2. Taking a Fermented Cod Liver Oil/Butter Blend supplement Supplement

If you spend any time listening to the Balanced Bites Podcast, Diane and Liz make a great case for this supplement. For your skin, and for your life. Ooooh, didn’t that make it sound extra dramatic? 🙂 Anyway, I’m trying it.

3. Incorporating Brewer’s Yeast into my routine
The inspiration genesis of Brewer’s Yeast (as well as the Fermented Cod Liver Oil Supplement) came mostly from this Cave Girl Eats skincare post. I mean, hello, results. So. Let’s add that into the mix as well since we’re shaking things up.

4. Exploring (eek!) Organ Meats
Is pastured liver the cure all for everything? I don’t know, lots of people make great cases for the nutrient density of organ meats so I am going to work to find some ways to incorporate them into my diet. I don’t know whether to cringe and crawl in a hole, or get excited for the culinary challenge. I’ll get back to you on that. 🙂

5. Regularly Eat Fermented Foods
I started this during the Whole 30 with sauerkraut, but I’m thinking about doing a little more exploring. This was a great podcast on kombucha (organ meats too! YIKES) so I may explore that a bit just for fun. Allison (who is a wonderful resource you should all be reading) sent me an email full of information (Thanks, lady!) and I’ve gotten some amazing links from readers of things to explore on this topic, so again – more on this possibly in the future.

6. Adding in Some Bone Broth
Do you drink bone broth? Have you heard of all of it’s wonderful properties? Why inject collagen when you can drink it, eh? I don’t even know what I’m saying right now, so forget that, but bone broth. I’m exploring that. I made a huge batch this weekend. I’m uh…too scared to use it so far, but baby steps.

7. Potentially focusing on some particular nutrients

Chris Kresser has been putting out some amazing resources for addressing skin issues with diet. His 3 part Nutrition for Healthy Skin series(Part One, Part Two and Part Three) has been really enlightening as well as his podcast about gut health and acne. He makes some great recommendations I’m considering.

External Actions

1. Purchase a Clarisonic — Yep I took the plunge. And I’m excited to see if it is as life changing as everyone claims. Since it is made by the same folks who make my Sonicare toothbrush (which DID change my life!) I have high hopes.

2. Use only Non-Toxic Skin, Makeup + Body Care Products

I’ll talk about this in another post, but basically if it has Parabens, Pthalates or other crap that isn’t doing my body good, I’m swapping it for something else. I’m not gunning to be the world’s best hippie or save the environment on this one. What I’m doing is trying to keep things as natural and non-toxic as possible during this period of time. (Bye bye super awesome wrinkle creams. Let’s just see what happens, eh?) I know I keep saying skin is our largest organ so I best be treating it right everywhere. I figure if I’m going to be complaining about how the skin on my face is acting, I better at least make an effort to treat my skin EVERYWHERE pretty well.

Makeup, lotion, skin care, deodorant. We’re going full on Au Natural. This actually wasn’t too big of a change for me, but to be honest I had never paid too much attention. Come October, the labels on my beauty products are going to be short.

3. Dry Brushing

I just think this sounds fun! And since it is supposed to promote skin and organ health, why not use this month to get in the habit? Fun times.

4. Give Oil Cleansing Another Try

I had a very…um, not great experience with Oil Cleansing the first time around. I experimented with many different formulas and all of them (even the 10% castor oil one) made me feel like I was washing and moisturizing my face with battery acid. But you know, I’m a glutton for punishment, so I may try again. And instead of using jojoba for the moisturizing element (my skin is SUPER dry) maybe I’ll roll with coconut. We’ll see.


And that’s the plan man. It’s kind of nutty right? But as with everything nutty I do, I always seem to learn something. I don’t imagine this will be any different.

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Shop My Closet

I spent the weekend organizing and updating my closet. Clearly The Organization Bug is still in effect. I have a lot of articles of clothing that no longer fit but have only been worn a few times. I would like to see them go to a happy home!

I decided I was going to sell them on eBay, but before that I thought I would check here to see if anyone was interested. I know a lot of you are shopping on a budget while your size changes, so maybe something here will pique your interest. Most everything is from Gap, Target or Macys so feel free to check out the size charts accordingly.

I tried to include a picture of the garment as well as a picture of it actually being worn if I had one. I’ll be charging $4 to ship individual items, for more than one item we can work something out. Right now I’m only entertaining US Buyers and all sales are final. I will be billing through PayPal.

Email me at hawoodcock {at} gmail {dot} com if you have any questions or are interested in purchasing.

Navy Gingham Shift Dress


Brand: Merona
Size: XXL
Worn: Maybe 3 times
Condition: Good
Price: $7

Black Shift with Rosette Collar Detail


Brand: Merona
Size: XXL
Worn: Less than 5 times
Condition: Great.
Price: $9

Black Ponte Stripe Dress

Brand: Gap
Size: XL
Worn: Less than 5 times
Condition: Good
Price: $16

Pink + Brown Printed Pencil Skirt

Brand: Merona
Size: 18 (runs slightly small)
Worn: Less than 5 times
Condition: Ok. The pull on the zipper came off, but the zipper still works perfectly fine.
Price: $5

Khaki Striped V Neck Dress


Brand: Merona
Size: XL
Worn: Once
Condition: Excellent. This dress is comfortable and amazing. It is a plunging V-Neck and requires a tank top underneath per the photograph.
Price: $8

Navy Striped V Neck Dress


Brand: Merona
Size: XL
Worn: Less than 5 times
Condition: Good. This dress is comfortable and amazing. It is a plunging V-Neck and requires a tank top underneath per the photograph.
Price: $8

Chambray Tank Dress with Rosette Detail


Brand: Merona
Size: XXL
Worn: Less than 5 times
Condition: Good. This dress is versatile and easily belted, but looks cute not belted. The Rosette is not as fluffy from washing but still looks cute on.
Price: $5

Multi Colored Wrap Dress


Brand: Anne Klein
Size: 2X
Worn: 3 times.
Condition: Excellent. I love this dress and have great memories of the times I’ve worn it. It photographs well, looks office appropriate, and I once wore it to a wedding. Super Versatile. Probably equivalent to a size 20/22 but the wrap nature makes it pretty forgiving.
Price: $22

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Things I’ve Worn Lately & Where To Find Them

Starting tomorrow and for the next six weeks I get to wear jeans to work. Hooray for casual dress! You may remember this inspired last year’s 30 Days of Denim, but this year I don’t have the energy for that (hoooooooooo boy did that take some time!) While I’m not documenting what I wear every day on the blog, I still like popping in on occasion and talking about clothes. I’m still posting my Outfit of the Day almost daily on Instagram (follow_holly) so if you are jonesing for some denim, you will get it over the next 6 weeks.

I’m feeling a little uninspired with respect to style lately mostly because my mind is ready for fall but it is still 100 degrees out. There are actual coats hanging in stores. I mean, it’s gross to look at, but I still want to wear it all! So in the meantime, here’s what I’ve been wearing, and where I got it.

#ootd running late version! It's Monday.....

Shirt: Banana Republic Outlet (old) Skirt: New York & Co. Bracelet: Target Shoes: Target (old)

Funny story about this outfit. One: I hate ruffles and this shirt has ruffles. Why do I buy ruffles? I’m thinking on getting rid of this. It annoys me every time I wear it. Two: This skirt. I am in love with it. I walked into the mall and saw it recently in every size but mine. Boo. Then I tried to buy it online and it said sold out. Then I looked at 2 other NY & Company shops with no luck. Then I gave up. But then! Then! I had to go to Reno for work, and just happened to drive by a NY & Co with 30 minutes to spare before a meeting and VOILA! Said skirt became mine. This shit was hard earned. I may just wear it every day. No bigs, since it totally blends in.

Have to sit thru 8hr class on negotiating today. Shoulda worn pjs. At least this feels like pjs. #ootd

Sweater: Nordstrom Rack (old) Necklace: Target (old) Skirt: Costco Tank: Target Mossimo Tanks, which are the bomb, btw, and $5 right now. Shoes: Missoni for Target

You really need to do yourself a favor and buy this skirt at Costco because it feels like yoga pants. And I’m going to keep telling you this until you buy it. YOU GUYS, IT IS SO COMFY. Which is why I wore it on a day when I had to sit through a Negotiating Seminar, which was not comfy at all.

It's going to be 98 degrees today. It was either linen pants or my Nick Lachey t shirt. #ootd

Shirt: Gap Necklace: Banana Republic Outlet (old) Pants: Gap Wedges: Target (old) Bracelet: Target

We need to discuss these pants. They are “Linen” and I love them. Well, they look like linen, feel like linen but they actually aren’t linen so you know what they don’t do? Wrinkle the second you exhale. I’m in love! Also, I have worn this shirt a million times. I wish I would have bought every style! It’s so light and awesome to wear when it is hot, but it still looks professional.

Casual Thursday, I'm taking you Seriously! #ootd #jeansandtshirt

Shirt: Banana Republic Outlet (old) Jeans: Gap Sexy Boyfriend Belt: Target Shoes: Target (suuuuuper old) Bangles: Target (so old)

I don’t understand why Gap calls these sexy. They aren’t sexy at all. Just SUPER comfy. It’s probably the same reason they call those other pants linen when they are really some rayon blend. Whatever. Oh, if you are a belt beginner, I highly recommend this belt from Target. It’s really versatile. And this post, of course.

Today's #ootd brought to you by the color brown. Oh wait, whit too (forgot about my legs!)

Shirt: Old Navy (old) Skirt: Gap Outlet (old) Shoes: Target (old) Necklace: Target (can’t find it online but it’s on clearance in the stores.)

This is CLEARLY why I’m not a style blogger. I wear a lot of old stuff.
Oh wait — the watch — that I can actually link to. Woot!

Now I’m just getting desperate. 🙂 Who wants to go shopping for fall clothes?????

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