Review: MM. LaFleur

I’d been dyingggg to order from MM.LaFleur so I bit the bullet and DID IT! Especially since starting House of Cards (I know, took me forever to get on that wagon), I’ve been reassessing my wardrobe choices. When I see Claire Underwood, I see someone whose wardrobe is just as calculated and no-nonsense as her modus operandi.

While my wardrobe is devoid of frills and bright colors, it errs on the side of Japanese minimalism á la Muji. Loose boxy tees, simple sweaters, and cropped straight-leg pants; all in hues of black, grey, olive, and oatmeal. On any given day, you can find me in either oxfords or loafers. Unless I’m hiking – then I’m in Chacos.

On my MM wishlist for the longest time were two tops: the Deneuve and the Franklin. Unfortunately I waited too long and the Franklin was discontinued (a few pieces left on last call). But it looks like the Deneuve will be an MM staple for years to come.

Conflicted between black and blackberry Deneuve, I asked Reddit’s r/femalefashionadvice for just that – fashion advice. 100% of responders told me to go with blackberry. Turned out to be a solid choice for my predominantly dark wardrobe. The material has some weight to it, accentuating the built-in drape. The color helps show it off more. It’s sophisticated and makes me feel like a boss.

I also ordered the Fey in black. This is a super soft top that is very curve-hugging. I suspect a lanky, lithe figure would pull this off perfectly but with my smaller bust and short torso, I was conflicted about keeping this top. Spoiler: I ended up keeping it. The potential work outfit combos far outweighed the slightly, only-visible-to-my-discerning-eyes awkward fold in the bust area. Ndb. Turns out, no one but me noticed. So I’m glad I cut off the tag before I could have umpteenth thoughts about sending it back.

I am completely sold on MM.LaFleur’s aesthetic! It fits into mine perfectly, elevating my wabi-sabi style to a more corporate level. I think I’ve found my “thing” for formal wear. Draping and wraps. Simple, fuss-free draping and wraps. Next on my list is the Peyton top (whenever my size is back in stock).

 

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Integrity Botanicals

Mail day! This is my second order from Integrity Botanicals. Ordered on a Friday evening after realizing my beloved Josh Rosebrook Tinted Nutrient Day Cream was all out, the package arrived promptly on Monday. And that was on regular shipping! Yay!

I’ve been using the JR Tinted NDC for two years now. It’s my HG daily SPF. The tint isn’t terribly noticeable but rather evens out my skin. Perfect because I don’t use any foundation or concealer regularly. Groomed eyebrows, clear skin, and a swipe of Aromi liquid lipstick in Stella Rosae is all I need.

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Is as is customary with any IB order, I also got three free samples: Vintner’s Daughter serum, Maya Chia’s Super Couple oil, and Laurel’s Anti-Inflammatory serum. Stay tuned for a review on these stellar samples in the near future.

One Year at IBM

August 1st marked my one year at IBM.

When I was younger, it was hard for me to fathom the next 5 years let alone a year. After 26 years of life, even a year becomes unpredictable. I came to IBM doing one thing and have pivoted into a field I’d never anticipated would be for me.

Out of college, I started and failed at entrepreneurial life with two RPI classmates in Troy, NY. I was then thrust into fashion and beauty advertising at a boutique agency in NYC. I learned a lot about not only my ability to take on various skills on the fly but my preference for stability, which a small company could not afford me.

So I landed at IBM in August 2016 for building and maintaining a sense of community within the Analytics & Data practice. I was in charge of the internal site, newsletters, editorial calendars, and enabling over 5,000 marketers worldwide with analytics education. That lasted until the end of December 2016.

I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis on January 3, 2017. The left side of my body was numb and immobile. Three months of medical leave left me sick with worry about if I’d even be relevant in Analytics & Data at IBM by the time I got back. Those months tried me physically and mentally. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and endless support from coworkers, friends, and family got me back on my feet in time for a new chapter in my career at IBM.

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I pivoted from community work into actual analytics work in March. My transition into content analytics was nerve-wracking. I’d never done anything like it but learned to query from various databases in SQL, ask the right questions to analyze pivot tables, and help advise marketers with their campaigns. Helping my coworker implement a 3rd party content analytics dashboard revealed a fundamental flaw in our content tagging standards and taxonomy. So I learned about that as well.

In June, I was graciously offered the opportunity to be the A/B testing and optimization lead after the departure of another incredibly talented coworker. With big shoes to fill, I was thrust yet again into a game of catch-up and keep-up. So far in the last month I’ve learned about setting up experiments and personalization campaigns, tackling synchronous vs asynchronous snippet loading issues, identifying certain digital data objects, creating calculations and dashboards in Tableau, and managing various work streams to create a center of excellence for testing globally at IBM. And by no means am I accomplishing this alone. It’s thanks to my supportive and (very) intelligent team and manager.

My new responsibilities are daunting and fulfilling and humbling. I am learning from the best and if you’d have asked me a year ago what I’d be doing at IBM, I’d have probably guessed just the same community initiatives. I’d have anticipated a healthy, consistent year. Now the future holds fun new topics to learn in data science. The future also holds regular MRIs to check that the lesions in my brain and spine haven’t grown.

So much can happen in a year. I’m grateful for my coworkers, my friends, my family, my Aetna case worker who calls me monthly to check up, and everyone else who does their part in my life.

What does the next year hold? No clue. I’ll keep going with the flow, soaking in as much as I can.

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Jamie and the Jones

It’s here! Nothing like a good mail day.

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On my mission for a more conscious closet, my purchase from Jamie and the Jones arrived this afternoon! They are a small design house in Nashville with a set, sophisticated collection of raw silk tops in a palette of neutrals.

I’m so excited to begin adding these two tops in my regular rotation. Clean, ethical (as far as silk can go… I know, a debatable topic for the silk worms. But the fiber is eco friendly), and hardy.

Next purchase from J&J will be a piece in black once I’ve saved up enough (including some extra for Elizabeth Suzanne’s Clyde Work Pants in cotton twill).

Staying the Path… Is Tough

Transitioning into clean green beauty took about 3 years of trial and error. Testing products was a big part of it. But I adhered to one rule – one in, one out. For every time I finished a “toxic” shampoo or face moisturizer, I replaced it with its green equivalent (or better). Sometimes, I’d splurge and get another clean green face moisturizer just to test out. At least I never looked back to my toxic old beauty/grooming routine.

2017 has inspired a new transition to tackle – that of slow fashion. I’m pretty frugal so saving up and budgeting isn’t too much of a problem. The main problem is my guilt about spending over a certain amount for a pair of pants or shirt. I’m so used to fast fashion’s insanely low costs that I forget to look at the real cost. The human lives living below wage and in danger to sew up trendy looks that will fall apart in a year. I’m proud to say my first few purchases of 2017 were clean and ethical! Slowly transitioning my wardrobe. I need to stick to the “one in, one out” rule. I bought two tops from Jamie and the Jones, a pair of pants from 1.61, and two sweaters from Everlane. I’ve already almost ruined one of the sweaters by snipping a snagged yarn. Lesson learned.

Speaking of bad moves, I bought a new leather bag. I am racked with guilt. As a pescatarian (a pseudo vegetarian who eats fish) slowly weening herself of seafood and vowing never to hurt an animal again, I fell hard for a beautiful bag by 324 New York. When offered a discount, I pounced. Without a second thought I bought the bag. The realization of what I’d done only hit me when I was holding the bag in my hands. Sculptural, sleek, impractical, and made of leather.

What animal had to suffer for this? I feel so terrible. I was going strong! I usually buy my purses from vegan brand, Matt & Nat. But this one bag with a very chic Instagram account made me abandon all of my ethics. I’m ashamed. I’ve considered selling it on Ebay or giving it away as a gift. But I’ve decided to keep it. It will serve as a daily reminder of why I aim for a cruelty-free lifestyle. There’s a sense of guilt every time I look at it. I promise never again.

This will be the beginning of thoughtful living and mindfulness. Ethical, cruelty-free, and clean.

Journey

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” ―Marcel Proust

Ticket in hand,

Soaring through clouds about to burst.

Bloodshot eyes and an appetite for adventure.

Chatter of crowds engulf you,

Rickshaws and cars whizzing by at dizzying speed.

Intoxicating colors. Chaos and beauty-

This is what you live for.

Red dirt roads kicked up in the wind

Carry you away

Past purveyors of gourmet, goods, and gold.

Taste the world and savor the moment,

Tongue burnt from spices and fingers sticky with sweets.

You are a pioneer with every step you take.

A cosmic clash of curiosity

For virgin territories and deep oceans.

Romance and pleasure, solitude and suffering.

Stand at the edge of the precipice and shout –

The vast world consumes you.

Bullet trains and paper planes

Face pressed up against the glass

Eyes wide open. Full speed ahead.

Open roads trace your sweaty palms.

You carve out new paths with your feet

And new memories with your mind.

This journey takes you round and through.

The more you explore, the bigger your universe.

The more you explore, the more you become.

Come back to your familiar home

To dream of places unseen.

Stay curious.