The Depressing World of Instagram

This one may not be directly style-related, but is a message that I feel is incredibly important to share in 2019.

Over the last year, I’ve been a “style blogger”.  Not a REAL one.  Just one that enjoys sharing tips and outfit ideas in my spare time.  I’m not even that good with technology.  I’m literally learning as I go. I, too, look for inspiration for photo, article and outfit ideas.  Naturally, I’ve started following more bloggers and influencers to help with this.  This has really opened my eyes to what I feel will be (and already is) one of the biggest challenges of our future: an unrealistic view of people’s appearances and lives… and sadly, the depression, anxiety, loneliness, and lowered self-esteem that accompanies these.

Social media and the blogosphere are likely here to stay.  If we are going to play on this playground, we MUST adopt a lens when looking at ALL of these images that flood our minds daily.  We MUST remind ourselves that the photos we’re seeing are NOT representative of typical daily living.  The Instagram page of whomever we’re following is their BEST portfolio. The best of the best.  We MUST NOT compare ourselves to others.


I’ll absolutely come clean that I am VERY selective with what I share. I don’t try to make my life look “perfect” by any means… but I’m a very private person (you’d be surprised). I rarely share publicly our biggest struggles or family challenges. To me, that’s private. But PLEASE don’t think they are not there.


You won’t see many photos taken in my house.  Why?  BECAUSE IT’S A FREAKING DISASTER. I have four boys.  There are matchbox cars everywhere you step.  There is a craft bin that is constantly vomiting construction paper and activity books.  When I do finally find a clean corner or angle, there is chipped paint or better yet… a self-portrait sketched onto the wall by my two-year old when I wasn’t looking.  I can assure you that my house and kitchen look NOTHING like those of most bloggers that I follow.

In addition, I’d rather not share the photos that highlight my stretched out post-partum belly or showcase my giant varicose vein. Although I avoid stamping them into cyberspace, it doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.

img_3718-e1553725497564.pngSomeone who follows me came up to David and I last year and said, “you’re so photogenic!”  We died laughing.  We laughed because WE know just how many photos we take before we get a good one. Sometimes there is an outfit that I can’t wait to share and that looks great!  He’ll take 20 photos, and not even one is good.  Guess what?  It never makes the cut.  I probably post about .01% of what we take. Now these are MY edits… what happens in MY “fake” style blogger life.


How about what is happening “behind the scenes” of some of these major influencers’ sites?  I feel obligated to remind you (especially my younger readers) that it is often not the life that you or I know.  Many of these girls may have left their children with a nanny and started their day with a personal trainer. Many stopped for a quick spray tan, which always helps them to look slimmer and more photogenic.  When they arrive home, they may be met by a glam squad.  They may spend two hours getting blowouts, hair, nails and makeup done.  Their amazing makeup selection was likely provided to them free of charge.  Many grab a quick and healthy meal that was delivered to their home to help them stay “picture perfect” and to be featured on their sites. Many have one or a team of photographers that step in when they’re ready.  All this time, their children may have been screaming and overtired.  When calm, the nanny may place the child in the set, exit stage left, and allow for the perfect, happy, family shot, where they are squeezing fresh OJ in the most gorgeous kitchen I have ever seen.


pexels-photo-415824.jpegOne group of women who feel tremendous pressure as a result of these unrealistic expectations are women in their post-partum months.  Here’s how it happens:  you have this amazing baby.  You’re elated, but exhausted.  The sleepless nights bring heightened emotions and often, a bit of post-partum depression.  The home-based days and nights often result in more “scrolling” than usual.  You’re likely following some “influencers” who are in the same phase of life as you are.  However, you SURELY don’t look like them.  Why are YOU having such a hard time?  Take all that potential “behind the scenes” help I mentioned earlier and add another element: add the fact that these women may have had a little surgical help immediately following the birth of their child.  Add the fact that they may have night nurses who are allowing them to get GREAT sleep.  Then add cosmetic procedures and skin treatments that may be causing them to look MUCH more awake than you.  I can speak from a LOT of experience… looking and feeling “back to normal” after a baby is a long road, and the “normal” is a new normal.  ANYONE suggesting otherwise is not being truthful.


I’m not suggesting that every woman you follow has all of this help at her fingertips.  I’m simply asking you to consider these “could be’s” if you’re active on any social media.  According to mental health professionals, the increase in social media use is expected to continue to cause increases in depression rates.  If you EVER start feeling down and find yourself comparing yourself to a “friend” or influencer’s “best of the best” portfolio, remember my words.  Remember that EVERYONE is struggling with something, no matter what it may look like. Or better yet… maybe it’s time to take a break from scrolling. It’s time to have that long, overdue conversation with a friend or family member.  Because there is no group chat, instant message or text exchange that will EVER even come close to the genuine happiness that comes with a REAL chat.  Like the good old-fashion face-to-face kind.  I’ll bet you a million photo “likes” that you’ll agree.




My Favorite Jeans of Spring!

I’ll be honest with you… I’ve never been a jeans type of girl.  For years I have found them so difficult to fit on my unique shape (thick thighs + flat arse).  Years of experience jeans shopping has made it slightly easier, but it’s still a struggle for me, and always will be.

Fortunately, between the internet and some great shops in town (so much easier to bring a “pile” into the dressing room and get to work), we all have access to just about any style, fit, size, wash and price point. I continue to find “pencil” jeans tough, so I gladly welcome this season’s “roomier” fits, including boyfriend jeans and overalls.  Below are some of my favorite jeans this spring, in a variety of styles and price points. Be sure to click on links below if something strikes your fancy… many have a variety of colors and/or washes available!

Let’s start with a personal favorite : the “boyfriend” jean.  These are generally a more relaxed fit, often worn cuffed and with a white tee or button down and sneaks.


  1. Eddie Bauer Slim Leg Boyfriend Jeans
  2. AG Ex-Boyfriend Slim Jean
  3. Citizens of Humanity Emerson Slim Fit Boyfriend
  4. GAP High-rise Best Girlfriend Jean
  5. Kut from the Kloth (Macy’s) Catherine Boyfriend Jean


I’m thrilled that long and lean flares and wide legs are back.  Pair these often high-waisted styles with a super high (yet super comfy) wedge sandal for legs a mile high!


  1. Boden Helston Sailor Jean
  2. AE Wide Leg Jean
  3. JCrew Wide Leg Trouser Jean
  4. 7For All Mankind Slim Illusion Dojo
  5. HUDSON Jeans Holly High Rise Flare


“Demi boots” and crops are ALL over this season, and are look SUPER cool!  Personally, I find these very difficult to wear (any cropped pant tends to shorten you). But, as I always say, if you try them and love them… then get them!  Pair them with sneaks, slides or heels for a variety of chic looks!


  1. Anthropologie Paige Nellie High Rise Culotte Jeans
  2. JCrew Demi Boot Cut Jean With Seam
  3. Levi’s (Free People) Mile High Cropped Flare
  4. The Reformation (Nordstrom) Fawcett High Waist Crop
  5. Madewell Cali Demi Boot Jean


Last, and surely not least, overalls!  NEVER in my life did I think I’d ever buy a pair of overalls again.  Last spring, I walked into a Lucky store, tried them and decided that they were the easiest, comfiest “denim” I ever remember wearing.  I’ve bought two more pairs since then (even though my husband sings Come on Eileen EVERY time I wear them).  Go ahead… give them a try. You never know!  Style with a turtleneck and loafers, or try a crop top / fitted white tee and flip-flops for a more casual look!


  1. Universal Thread (Target) Wide Leg Overall
  2. Topshop Black Slim Leg Dungarees
  3. Abercrombie & Fitch Twill Camo Overall
  4. Lucky Jeans White Boyfriend Overall
  5. Free People Boyfriend Overall

With all these option this spring, you’re bound to find something that fits both you and your  lifestyle. Happy spring jeans shopping! Even though it will still be another two months until winter boots are OFFICIALLY stored, here in upstate NY.

XOXO, Ally




15 Style Tips That Every Girl Should Know!

Two weeks ago, I challenged myself to come up with a tagline for The Style File.  It didn’t take long:

Let's frolic though the garden!-2

This has been my philosophy for decades.  Yes, I’m guilty of spending on the occasional luxury item, but it’s always something I LOVE and never just for the logo.  At the same time, the majority of my wardrobe is made up of lower cost brands, from Target to H&M and everything in between.

I thought I’d share my “Top 15 Tips” for creating your most wearable wardrobe, with a few links to some items mentioned.  These are mantras that I have personally lived by for many years now.


  1. Buy jeans slightly smaller than your size. They will stretch to a perfect fit.
  2. Keep your classic pieces updated by incorporating inexpensive trends that compliment your body shape and lifestyle.
  3. Great fits need great tailors. Whether it’s nipping the waist of that sheath dress or hemming your pants to a certain shoe, a small tweak makes a HUGE difference.
  4. Dress for your shape. Choose the right pieces to downplay your most “challenging” areas. Show off what you’re proud of, but keep it classy!
  5. The best way to hide belly bulge is with the right bra. Don’t be afraid to wear a padded bra. This helps prevent your pieces from “clinging” to your midsection.
  6. Everyone needs a collared white button-down. Whether it’s tucked, untucked, tied in front, collared up, sleeves rolled…. you ALWAYS look put together in a crisp, white shirt.
  7. If you know a silhouette works with your body shape, stick with it! You can always find a way to keep the outfit current by changing out the pieces or accessories around it.
  8. The single most (bare) leg-flattering shoe is a nude pump. Not a heel kind of gal?  Opt for a basic nude flat with a little bit of point for your longest leg.
  9. Classic and edgy balance each other beautifully. Wearing a skin-tight leather skirt?  Choose a feminine, modest top.  Outfit feeling a bit stuffy and boring?  Throw some leopard or snakeskin into the mix.
  10. Choose one amazingly bold accessory and keep everything else minimal. Let that item steal the show!
  11. Structured layers like blazers and more casual jackets (like cargo/safari designs) instantly “polish up” a simple pair of jeans.
  12. “Curvy” in the thigh area? Pencil jeans can be tough to wear.  Choose straight, flared or wider leg jeans for your most flattering fit.
  13. Who is on your “best dressed” list? Be sure to follow them on Instagram or Pinterest, save your favorite looks, and steal shamelessly!  I do it ALL the time (and FYI, my current obsession is Victoria Beckham)!
  14. Solid, light-colored tees and performance fabrics always show more bulges than their dark-colored counterparts. Stick with navy, black or small dark prints to help conceal those problem areas.
  15. It’s better to have a few outfits that ALWAYS look fabulous on you, versus an expansive wardrobe with lots of “so-so” looks.

Hopefully these golden nuggets help you to create YOUR best wardrobe!  And remember… whether it’s Forever 21 or Ferragamo, it’s all about HOW your wear it.

XOXO, Ally



The Art of Stacking

Years ago I had an epiphany. I realized that several stacked or super chunky bangles looked WAY better on me than those little delicate things. I guess it’s because I’ve always been a rather substantial girl (mom called it “big-boned”). From a young age, I always felt that small chains or bangles seemed disproportionately small on my body. So I started layering, and layering. Fast forward 20 years, and these layered or “stacked” bracelets have become part of what I would consider my signature look. The best part?  Anyone can do it, at any price point, with any material. Just pick a theme, and start building.

Here are the stacks that you’ll just about ALWAYS see on my wrist. The details are included with links to help you achieve a similar look.


This is probably my favorite look, worn year-round.  I’ve taken one of the many leather bands I purchased from a street vendor in Barcelona, paired it with some wooden beaded elastics I’ve had for YEARS from Kohl’s, a gold vintage Tiffany & Co. watch, bronze metal chain link bracelets from H&M, and the Hermès Behapi leather strap.



There are many ETSY vendors that have beautiful leather wrap bracelets, like this one from Asenath Designs .  I also love the color scheme of these affordable wooden beads from Love Beach Days, also available through Esty. I like the simplicity of this Michael Kors Pyper Gold-tone watch and this Shinola, with it’s gorgeous brown leather, would be perfect in this stack.  The Hermès Behapi Double Tour wrap is still available and comes in various lengths, colors and hardware options.


For this look, I combine a chunky interlocking silver bracelet with some hardware-inspired bangles (both cheapies purchased years ago). They are usually paired with this black leather strap, the hubby’s TAG Heuer casual watch, and a leather jacket.



These  J.Crew double stretch bracelets, offered in three tones, are almost identical to the one shown. TAG Heuer Formula 1 designs have hardly changed in these past two decades and are still available in a variety of sporty looks. I love the edgy look of this black leather Alexander McQueen strap from Nordstrom. Banana Republic has collaborated with Giles & Bros. and launched a super cool line of jewelry, including this Railroad Spike Cuff, which would fit quite perfectly in this stack.


If any of you have walked into an Hermés store, you’ll understand that it’s hard to pick just one bracelet from their enamel collection. The display is truly a work of art, and usually grouped by color story. I thought long and hard about what color I would wear most, and ultimately chose these turquoise designs with gold trim.



Pick a color, and collect! I chose enamel, but you can do it with beads, wooden bangles, wovens… whatever you like! The Hermés Enamel collection includes so many gorgeous colors and designs that never go out of style! Neiman Marcus carries a great variety of Tory Burch enamel bracelets in a variety of widths and colors. These art-inspired enamel bracelets from Erwin Pearl are gorgeous, and I can completely envision stacking these affordable preppy designs by Fornash during the spring and summer months!


This is my “fancy” cocktail party look, often worn around the holiday season. I love pairing blingy sparkles, like this chunky crystal bracelet (drawing a blank where it’s from) with this vintage long pearl necklace that I wear as a bracelet. I usually combine them with these interlocking crystal bangles that I picked up at Off-Saks and this diamond pave Michele watch.



I love the vintage look of a multi-strand pearl bracelet with diamond clasp, like this one from Ross-Simon. Here is a great basic long faux pearl necklace that can be wrapped (like mine above) from Nadri. Michele has a variety of great watches, with or without the sparkle. MVMT has reasonably priced fashion watches with clean lines that can be dressed up or down, like the rose-gold Hermosa. This Nadri Filigree Bracelet is the perfect width to add just a bit of sparkle to your stack, or add a bit more with their Micro Pave Bangle.

Want to “stack” locally? Pop into Lifestyles of Saratoga and let them help you build the perfect boho stack with their fabulous leather and beaded wrap designs. Check out Lola of Saratoga and walk out with a party-ready stack that includes sparkle, enamel, and a fabulously stylish smart watch band!

Lastly, don’t forget to think “out of the box”… out of your OWN jewelry box, that is. I hope that these looks give you the inspiration to brush the dust off of those bangles you haven’t touched in years and try something new!

XOXO, Ally







The Case for Spanx

In 2006, Gwenyth announced at an award ceremony that she was wearing Spanx, and that all the Hollywood girls do it. Many of those “Hollywood girls” have gone on the record to say that they rarely arrive to an event or set without a little “support”.  Since then, Sara Blakely, the company’s founder, was named the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire by Forbes. Kudos to anyone who can make girdles cool and become a billionaire along the way.

Lots has changed in these past two decades. The word “Spanx,” which once referred to a specific product line, has become the word that references any and all shapewear. More importantly, the shapewear industry has boomed, shifting away from one composed solely of super-restrictive sausage casings, to one of more comfortable, versatile products. And guess what? I’m a fan.

I’m proud to say that I’m in much better shape than I was 20 years ago when shapewear was not a part of my vocabulary. HOWEVER, a few things have happened since then. Four children later, this stretched out belly shows a bit more than I’d like in certain pieces.  Secondly, most product lines (that are within my financial reach) have done away with lining. Lastly, I’ve become very particular about the way I look in clothes, wearing more fitted and tailored pieces. Meaning panty lines, jiggles, visibly tucked shirts, and exposed bras are avoided whenever possible.

Here are the types of items in my personal “shapewear” arsenal that I faithfully rely on, with links to those and similar products:



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I LOVE my Retro Briefs by Spanx.  I’ll admit that I rely on a thong for daily avoidance of panty lines, but turn to briefs when wearing a fuller knee-length or midi skirt. The cheek-covering brief gives me some extra confidence JUST IN CASE there is a windy moment and I’m forced to expose more than I anticipated. I also like the Sexy and Smooth Commando Thong, for those of you want the belly support but no VPL (Visible Panty Line). The Spanx Everyday Boy Short is also a cute option under a full skirt.



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Yes, women still do wear slips. I wear my half-slip for one main reason: to hide and smooth a shirt tuck under a fitted pencil skirt. My go-to slip is the Spanx Two-Timing reversible half slip. It smooths my tuck without feeling restrictive.  I love the lace on this Commando half slip from Bloomingdales. Full slips like this one from Wolford are a great way to provide a smooth base layer under a sheath dress. (ALL Wolford products are absolutely gorgeous… hence the price point!)



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I get so much use out of my skin-toned microfiber tank, used primarily to conceal a bra when wearing any blouse that is somewhat see-through (think lace, chiffon, etc).  It also helps to eliminate bra lines if wearing a very fitted shirt. This Whisper Weight Tank by Commando has great stretch and creates a comfortable layer.  I also love wearing bodysuits as layering pieces, like this amazing Commando faux leather bodysuit, which I could totally envision wearing with jeans and a blazer.  (FYI: Violet’s of Saratoga has an amazing selection of Commando products, including some of their faux leather pieces!) There are also a variety of camis available with more high-functioning belly-shaping panels, like the Maidenform cami  shown above.



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Shapewear companies continue to expand their product lines to include more and more apparel, with a focus on leggings. I have personally ADORED Yummie leggings since I first put them on.  Shortly after having my second baby, I was shopping at a department store in NYC and whimsically picked up a pair because I loved the subtle sueded leopard print, similar to these faux suede reptile print ones. I had never spent close to $100 on leggings in my LIFE but OMG. They washed beautifully, were SO soft, and were the perfect match for my postpartum belly. There is nothing girdle-ey about these.  Just a soft, high-waisted panel that, even today, makes me feel slightly less jiggly. I also love the look of moto leggings, like the ones shown above from Spanx.  Specialty leggings are also making their way to more formal events, like these Commando velvet leggings with tuxedo stripes. Oh the holiday outfit options!



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This is my go-to layer for super-fitting floor length gowns in non-summer months (way too warm in the summer!) Spanx has several waist and support level options.  I find high-waisted versions like the Spanx Higher-Power Capri more comfortable and less likely to roll when compared to the mid-waisted version, like the Skinny Britches, shown above. However, bathroom runs with a gown and high-waisted capri do become complicated, so don’t break the seal.

You have to consider your goal when choosing shapewear: are you looking to smooth, shape or conceal? In my case, the outfit completely determines the answer to that question. Also, don’t be afraid to go up a size or two if you’re achieving your goal but feeling a bit too sausage-ey.  I’ve done it many times.

So there you go. I’ve given you full x-ray vision into all of my outfits. I have no shame. I’m one of those girls who has NO problem asking for help when I think I need it. My philosophy has always been… if you feel good in it, you’ll look even better in it. The radiance that comes with this extra confidence is an added bonus. Kind of like the little trial packets they add to your Sephora order.






My Winter Survival Kit for 2019

And so we enter these tough months in upstate NY. The months that stretch the thermometer into the single digits.  The days that feel so short. The weekends that you pray for the snow to ski, but not for “foot-warmer” lows. The cough drops, humidifiers, endless supply of tissues… winter is tough around here.

To make matters worse, it’s not all that much fun getting dressed this time of year. My style attitude, come January, shifts from wanting to “look great” during the holiday season, to wanting to “look acceptable but be warm and comfortable.” SO sad, but so true. (Notice many fewer outfits shared on my IG feed… now you know why!) I thought I’d share some of my winter essentials.  In other words, the “stuff” that makes MY winter months slightly more pleasant. As always, a description and direct links to items are under photo.


  1. PERFECT WINTER HAT, like this customizable cutie from Ralph Lauren. How fun!  Choose your stripes, letters, and pom-pom!  I LIVE in hats during the winter months to avoid having to do my hair as much as possible, and need to order one of these!
  2. WINTER LAYERING CAPE, like this wool cape by & Other Stories.  I love wearing blazers and furry vests during the winter months, and it’s often tough to fit a coat over all those layers!
  3. LIGHT MATTE BRONZER, like my ALL-time fave, the Two Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer. When my pale winter skin becomes transparent mid-season, I always appreciate a little “sun” on my face.
  4. WINTER BOOTS with warmth, traction AND style! I live in Sorels, but I LOVE my Bean Boots (as discussed in my very first style post!). These shearling-lined 16″ Bean Boots are on my winter wish list!
  5. GREAT WINTER PARKA, like this white The North Face Arctic Down II Parka (Backcountry).com. A warm coat is essential in the Northeast, and some definition in the waist always will prevent you from looking like an oompa loompa.
  6. SMALL VERSATILE CROSSBODY, like this super cute SeeByChloe Camera bag.  When it’s this icy, I want my hands free when running around town with the boys. When out with the baby or traveling, I usually use a tote for my larger items but keep my personal essentials “on me” in a small crossbody.
  7. INSPIRING BOOK, like my most recent read, The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein. Gabby’s books are great for overcoming fears and ego, and living your best life through prayer and reflection.  I enjoy using these slow, quiet winter months for self-reflection and improvement.
  8. OVERSIZED SWEATER, like this super cozy cable knit from H&M.  I often go one size up, look in the men’s department, or order the tall for some additional coverage.
  9. SKINNY JEANS WITH STRETCH AND SUPPORT, like these GAP Super High Rise True Skinny Jeans with smoothing pockets. I always choose a flattering dark wash that tuck neatly into boots, and I love how these high-waisted jeans hold me in and don’t stretch out after only one wear.
  10. WINTERIZED BOOTIE, like this Blondo bootie from Nordstrom. One step up from the casual winter boot, with a small heel, textured sole and waterproof upper to get you through the slushy puddles of upstate NY.
  11. LIGHTWEIGHT FACIAL OIL, like the No.1 Brightening Facial Oil from BEAUTYCOUNTER.  I’m OBSESSED with how my skin has stayed moisturized during this frigid ski season, and the clean, citrus scent brings the spa to YOU!
  12. LONG LAYERING TUNIC, like this textured one from Anthropologie. Worn over a tissue turtleneck or under a chunky sweater or blazer, this piece can make or break my (emotional) comfort in leggings or skinny jeans.
  13. COZY PJ’S, like this classic cotton set from J.Crew Factory. I can get SO warm when the heat cranks on, and sometimes flannel plus my down comforter is overkill.

Hopefully something I mentioned will make YOUR winter a bit more tolerable. As my girlfriend pointed out last week at dinner: “Look on the bright side. It’s not bathing suit season… it’s sweater season! So let’s order the duck fat fries.”

Let’s live in the sweater weather moment, while we have it.

XOXO, Ally








The Game Changing Habit.

bedroomWhat if I told you that you could make a SIMPLE lifestyle change this year and see gigantic results. What if those “results” came as noticeable improvements in every segment of your life, including (and not limited to) work product, parenting, nutrition, fitness, appearance, and physical and mental health? You wouldn’t believe me. NOPE, I haven’t started selling anything.  This totally FREE and amazing thing is called SLEEP, and it’s something most of us are not getting enough of.

Anyone who knows me well will tell you: 1. I’m certifiably crazy about my children’s sleep habits and bedtimes.  2. I turn into a pumpkin at 10 (I may not be up for after-hours but I’m great fun during happy hour)!

Ever since I became a parent, I value a good night’s sleep more than just about anything.   David and I have always been “regimented” (a.k.a. Type A) and knew if we had kids we’d want a (somewhat) predicable, scheduled day to fit in what WE wanted too (a jog and a glass of wine in peace).  However, when my oldest son began having major behavioral issues as the result of a spectrum disorder, I needed ALL the patience I could muster. Most days, that wasn’t even enough.  With three little ones back then, sleep was absolutely non-negotiable… and it still is.  (I will write a future piece on sleep training / habits if readers express interest.)

This holiday season absolutely kicked my butt, and it was a great reminder of how incredibly important sleep is to both me and us as a family.  The aspects of my life (and everyone’s lives!) that are so quickly negatively impacted from lack of sleep include:

Parenting.  I am so incredibly impatient with my kids when I’ve been out too late or didn’t get a good sleep.  Frankly, I’m just a bad parent.  I’ll raise my voice, snap over minor things, and give them more screen time than I normally would because I CAN’T DEAL.   And then I feel guilty.  I bet I’m not alone here.

Relationship with Spouse.  Remember how short you were with each other during those months with a new baby?  When no one was getting sleep?  Oh, I remember it vividly.  A good, continuous night’s sleep helps everyone to be less defensive and emotional. (Let’s face it, the spouse usually gets the brunt of it!)

Nutrition and Fitness.  We have MUCH better impulse control and make better choices after a good night’s sleep.  And, I’m SO much more likely to get up and go!

Mental Health and Clarity. When I’m feeling great, this truly overflows to all other personal connections.  I’m so much more likely to approach people with an open mind and heart.  Also, tasks that may seem overwhelming when exhausted become do-able after a good night’s sleep.  Poor sleeping habits can spin you into depression.  Studies show that children with good sleep habits perform better and have an easier time attending to classroom assignments than their overtired peers.

Physical Health.  Have you ever felt yourself coming down with something?  Then you go to bed at 8 and sleep for 12 hours, waking up feeling perfect?  Good sleep is amazing in helping the body’s immunity and staying healthy.  I see what happens to my kids’ health when I “give a little” on sleep (doesn’t happen often).  It spirals downhill, and quickly.

Now I am NO sleep expert, but I’ve read plenty of health-focused articles and lived long enough to identify three common obstacles that, in 2019, are interrupting our sleep.  These three things include:

  • Children’s Poor Sleep Habits.  Whenever I am asked to give advice to a mom-to-be, this is my mantra: Get that child sleeping through the night ASAP.  When parents get a good night sleep, they are better parents.  Start early and stay firm.  YOU are the boss here.  Good sleep habits from the start create children who are able to self-soothe through colds and nightmares and are able to fall asleep much quicker when feeling “less than perfect.”
  • Alcohol.  It’s like clock-work.  If I have more than 2 drinks on a given night, I wake up in the middle of the night and have difficulty getting back to sleep.  The nights that I have nothing to drink, I usually sleep SO soundly and through the night.  If you’re waking, try cutting back on the booze.
  • Technology.  Whether it’s late night social media scrolling, responding to unimportant text dings, or simply watching a mindless reality show, we’re all guilty of using a screen in bed.  Pediatricians recommend turning devices off hours before bed to encourage the mind to “wind down”.  This goes for adults as well.  Still feel like you “need” that device close-by?  Try listening (instead of watching) to a calming audiobook or doing a short sleep-focused guided meditation.  I promise you it helps.

A tiny change that results in SO many benefits?  Go for it!  And you never know, it could also give you the strength and motivation to keep that resolution that you’ve never ONCE successfully kept.

Besides, NOTHING looks good on the outside when you’re feeling bad on the inside.

Happy New Year!














LOCAL Last-Minute Gift Guide (SARATOGA Style!)

You’re FULL OF IT when you say you’re all done with your shopping. There is ALWAYS that lone teacher, hostess, or other deserving individual that just kind of fell off the radar.  I’d like to say I created this local gift guide with these people in mind.  BUT I DIDN’T… entirely.  I created this guide, also, with your significant others in mind.  You know those who say “you STILL haven’t given me any ideas… and I have NOTHING for you to open next week!”  So please, feel free to forward onto any of YOUR special someones, noting the “#” and size… and let our amazing local shops do the rest!  One walk down Broadway this season proves that we have some FABULOUSLY stylish gifts, from accessories to home goods.

Happy hunting… AND hinting!

And of course, Happy Holidays to you and all your special someones.

XOXO, Ally

Collage1. Charles David Black Western Booties: Did someone say Girls’ Night Out?  Violet’s of Saratoga, $249

2. SECRET BOX Gold Necklace : Wear your astrological sign,  alone or stacked with other faves!  Silverwood, $28

3. PINE Coconut Wax Candle: Amazing Balsam Fir Scent, my personal fave this season and the PERFECT hostess gift!  TOGA Heritage, $38

4. Joules Faux Fur Lined Vest: A great color and shape, and the gorgeous faux fur collar and hood are both detachable.  The Pink Paddock, $190

5. Lilly Pulitzer KAT Leopard Crossbody: Lilly’s gettin’ all crazy with the leopard!  (which I firmly believe IS a neutral.)  The Pink Paddock, $178

6. Tortoise BaubleBar Geometric Earrings:  Who says you can’t wear tortoise in the winter?  NOT ME!  LOLA Saratoga, $38

7.  Silver Horse Bit Platter: A perfect gift for the Saratoga or horsey home who loves to entertain!  Silverwood, $65

8. Pendleton + Stanley Buffalo Plaid Thermal Mug: Caffeinate in style!  Silverwood, $48

9. Joules Honey Bee Wellies: Honeycomb lining (so sweet!), perfect for our sloppy weather seasons.  Caroline and Main, $73

10. KJP Fortunate Sailor Gold Rope Wrist Wrap:  I love these stacked… or alone!   The Pink Paddock, $58

11. Tory Burch Juliette Crossbody: I’m loving the updated and streamlined hardware, and a perfect size!  LOLA Saratoga, $398

12. Tortoise Apple Watch Band: Style-up your wearable gadgets ladies!  LOLA Saratoga, $88

13. TOGA 10″ Melamine Plates: Tartan, Buffalo Plaid, and other seasonal designs.  Available by the single or in sets of 4, 6, and 8.  TOGA Heritage, $26 each

14. Chanel Vintage Button Necklace:  Additional bracelets, necklaces and earrings available in various designers (Louis Vuitton, YSL, etc. ) Loved ’em so much, I got one for myself!   LOLA Saratoga, $95-$275

15. Plaid Luggage Tag : Wellies, Stirrups, and more!  Travel in style!  The Pink Paddock, $24

16. KJP Anchor Earrings:  A staple for the modern-day preppy fashionista.  The Pink Paddock, $57

17. FRYE Faye Cognac Pull-On Boots: The perfect marriage of casual block heel and shaft height.  Violet’s of Saratoga, $398

18. Louise et Cie Chestnut Circle Crossbody:  I love the day-to-night vibe and great color!   Violet’s of Saratoga, $198

19. Silver Cuff bracelet by Kashmiry Fine Jewelry.  Modern design.  This accessory alone would make your outfit!  Encounter, $150

20. SUPERGA Tartan Sneakers: “Spruce” up your cold-weather outfits with some fun plaid kicks!  Caroline and Main, $99

21. Hooked Wool Skier Pillows: Customize your sofa with their many retro snow sport designs!  Chandler4Corners at Silverwood, $80

22. COVEY Parfums: They will look as pretty on your vanity as they smell on your body!  A variety of scents available at Encounter, $110

23. TIFFANY’S TABLE MANNERS for Teenagers: A perfect excuse to gift a book to your teen, or raise the reading level of your tween!  And frankly, most adults I know (including myself) could use a primer.  Silverwood, $17.99












Fall Favorite #2 : Wide Leg Trousers and Suiting Blazers

I was so excited to see a flurry of wide leg pants hit the stores this Fall.  I’ve always loved their flattering nature and was aching for them during these past years of “nothing but skinny jeans” (as mentioned in my How to Wear Wide Leg Pants post last spring.)

I got these TOPSHOP pants from Nordstrom in winter white, navy and black, and envision wearing them for years.  I consider them good quality for the price.  Each season, Theory has a great variety of long, lean designs, like these.  I also love the sharp look of these checked wide legs from MANGO.

DSC_1482When I go out I often drape blazers and coats OVER my outfits and wear them like a cape.  I also do this in the heart of winter, when my coat won’t fit over my layered blazer look.  I got this long check double-breasted blazer (that feels like a sweatshirt!) from GAP at the start of fall.     Although it’s just about sold out, it’s still available in long (I usually buy my blazers in LONG for more butt coverage). The same blazer is available in a slightly different plaid here.  I also like this double-breasted one from ZARA.  The black windowpane design of this Joie blazer is a classic alternative to the plaid.

I consider a basic black turtleneck a wardrobe ESSENTIAL, like this black ribbed one I’m wearing from J. Crew, or this wool-blend turtleneck sweater from Banana Republic.  A lightweight cotton one is also a good alternative when layering, like this basic from Everlane.

Lastly, this bag!  For decades, Gucci has featured bamboo in their handles and hardware… such a classic look!  I love the bamboo-handled bag from Mark & Graham that can be monogrammed!  This Lilly Pulitzer gold and bamboo tote could easily go from holiday party to beach!  I also love this smaller woven one from Halsbrook.  Locally, Silverwood has a great bamboo handled bag design currently available in two sizes.

I hope your holiday shopping has been a success… and that maybe you throw a little something for yourself in your cart this holiday season.

XOXO, Ally

Fall Favorite #1: The Midi Shirt Dress

When my super artistic and talented friend Sarah offered to take some photos of my favorite fall outfits, I decided to give my 5,7 and 9 year-olds a break and take her up on that offer.  The midi shirt dress immediately came to mind since it’s been in weekly rotation since the end of summer.

Back in August, my favorite blogger at Atlantic-Pacific featured this Nordstrom 1901 shirt dress.  I ordered it, instantly fell in love with the forgiving fabric, and then ordered every other solid and print that was available until they sold out.  Since then, I’ve worn them to horse races, formal and informal dinners, temple, fundraisers, meetings… talk about versatility!  Soon after, J.Crew released a similar version in a variety of stripes and fabrics and it’s still available.  Brooks Brothers currently has a great, slightly shorter alternative in this holiday-inspired plaid and is both reasonably-priced AND perfectly preppy!

The basic, classic design of this dress makes it the perfect backdrop for some fun, girly accessories!  Any friends who have seen me frequently this fall have noticed the current infatuation with hair bows!  The navy one featured here was an inexpensive no-brainer and purchased from H&M, and I love that it is a bit larger than most.  J.Crew Factory has a sweet tartan plaid  bow that is perfect for all your parties this season!  I also LOVE these “trailing bow ponytail holders” , available in a variety of gorgeous crushed velvet colors, from Anthropologie.

The navy polka-dot scarf featured is one of the many sweet designs I found at Violet’s of Saratoga, one of my favorite local stores for dresses, shoes and accessories.  ECHO also always has a fun variety of shapes, sizes and prints at reasonable prices, like this diamond Tiger Lily design.  Scarves too complicated?  Have you heard of a “twilly”?  (Think scarf for dummies.)  An Hermes “twilly” is a narrow, long strip of silk fabric, very easily worn as a choker, wrist tie, or attached to your handbag to add an interesting or colorful element.  Check out this great tutorial on how to tie an Hermes Twilly.

Lastly, I feel that everyone should have a great, “go-to” navy bag in their fashion arsenal.  I got this unique leather floral Kate Spade clutch / crossbody last spring from Lola of Saratoga.  Lola has a variety of fabulous bags, from new Tory Burch and Kate Spades, to “mint condition” vintage designer treasures (Chanel, Louis Vuitton, etc).  This all-purpose  Tory Burch Fleming Convertible bag, available locally at Lola of Saratoga, would get plenty of use in your closet and can be worn with everything from dresses to jeans.  I also love the navy suede and leather combination of this small Botiker crossbody.  This simple navy Madewell crossbody  is versatile AND affordable.

I look forward to sharing some more details of my favorite fall outfits in the weeks to come!  Fortunately, these looks can still be worn even with winter arriving two months early!  Ugh.

PS… Thanks Sar!

XOXO, Ally



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