2018 Holiday Party Look Book

November 30, 2018

Hi loves! Coming at you, after scouring the internets👀, with some great holiday style inspo that I hope will help you with all your holiday party circuit needs.  I don't know about you but December is a busy month.  There is my office party, my husband's office party, colleagues holiday parties, dinners and then of course the actual holidays!  This year my family will be heading south for the holidays and by south I mean good ole Atlanta, Georgia!  I have never been and I am excited to spend some time with family but also doing some exploring while we are there.  Anyone have any recommendations? Leave them down below.  Anyway back to the purpose of this post.  My head spins as my calendar fills and I try to find looks that are appropriate for all of these occasions and of course finding things that can work for my professional engagements as well as my family engagements.  I am showing you how I styled these pieces on the gram, so go check that out.  Now lets jump in, shall we?

1. The Suit

Suits are soo versatile and worth your investment.  The suit I am wearing I purchased from Asos three years ago and I have never stopped incorporating the jacket or the cigarette pants into my office wear. You can style these pieces a hundred different ways and that alone justifies the price tag.  Here are some comparable options. 

2. Classic Jumpsuit 

I just added this jumpsuit to my wardrobe.  It is a thrifted find and it fits like a glove.  I love the built in support it has and I recently wore this jumpsuit for my Friendsgiving cocktail party.  It was hit and the best part was it was SOOO comfortable.  Adding a jumpsuit to your lineup is the easiest way to look put together and classic without any fuss at all.  Now, if you are thinking of wearing this strapless number to an office party I would recommend throwing on a blazer.  I work in higher ed and conservative is the name of the game.  Shop some comparable options. 

3. Show Stopping Body Con Dress 

This is also a new addition that, yes, I thrifted on thredup.com! I am telling you before you buy a cocktail dress, check out their options.  They have everything from cocktail to gala event styles for a fraction of the price.  I am talking about almost BRAND NEW designer dresses for a steal!  I think every woman should have a dress that just fits them like a glove that they can pull out for a night out on the town.  This is a great option for a New Years party or a fun girl's night out.  Shop some comparable options below.  

I hope you enjoyed this post and find it helpful when planning your holidays looks this year.  

Until next time, don't forget to subscribe to my blog and follow me on instagram and facebook so you can stay in touch between posts. 

by LifeStyledbyErica 💋

Currently In: Media and Entertainment November Round-Up

November 16, 2018

I realize this is only my second installation of "Currently In" but can I say it is my favorite series yet! In case you missed the first one Ive linked it here.  So "Currently In" is where I share my monthly finds in all things entertainment i.e. books, podcasts, movies, tv shows, online articles, clothes, makeup..basically any and everything I can get my hands on.  I love doing the leg work and scouring the internet for things to share with you guys.  So lets jump in shall we?

Current Read: Frankenstein 

I will admit I never read this classic before.  I had seen a few versions of it on the big screen before decided I should add it to my list after it was referenced in another book I shared with you in my first currently in post.  It is a classic novel written by Mary Shelley at a time when women weren't believed to capable of such an act!  She actually told by her, would be publisher, that a woman could never think of such a story and so her husband must have written it! I know don't get me started.👿  I thought it was the perfect read especially as we are moving into the fall where the days are shorter, it feels like a bit of a scarier time all around so why not introduce some horror into my reading?  Let me start by saying the monster isn't the monster at all.  If you haven't read this book, what are you waiting for?

Current Podcast: Radiolab

WNYC's Radiolab is a GREAT podcast to add to your favorites.  They talk about all sorts of fascinating topics and what I love the most is they don't seek to explain it, only probe the question leaving listeners to see a topic in a totally different way.  A close friend of mine had recommended I listen to a three part series called, In the No, where they explored sexual consent, specifically times when a woman is with a partner and doesn't want to have sex but her male counterpart doesn't take her no as final and so continues his advances until they ultimately have sex.  I found this conversation to be fascinating, I mean who hasn't been in that type of situation? You like a guy, you want to hang out with him but you aren't interested in doing anything more than maybe cuddling and some kissing and he decides he is turned on and continues to pursue the issue until you concede.  It is thought provoking and upsetting if I am honest, but I love that these things are even being discussed in mainstream culture.  They also have a series on sexuality, it is a great podcast to check out I promise!

Currently on Netflix: Five Foot Two

You know last month I was all about Lady Gaga after seeing A Star is Born and obsessing over the soundtrack so when I saw this documentary on my netflix queue I was all about it! So "Five Foot Two",  follows Gaga as she adds the final touches to her 2016 album Joanne and prepares for her 2017 Super Bowl performance.  She is completely bare in this documentary although in my opinion also a little, oh whats the word, self serving, maybe?  I am no newbie to the documentary genre and they can really shape public perception.  I know honesty when they see it, but I felt this seemed a little forced, a little scripted.  When Gaga first dropped on the scene I found her completely over the top with all of her crazy costumes, seeking attention not so much for her talent, although she is full of it, but for her shock value, she admits to that and she is asking that we allow her to grow and evolve from that persona.  I get it, do you boo boo.

Currently on HBO:  Insecure Season 3


I LOVE me some Issa and Molly and while I will admit the first episode of Season 3 did not grab my attention, even though I had a viewing party to commemorate the occasion, this season was the best so far!  The season is only 8 episodes and all episodes are 30 minutes long so I decided to to just binge watch the whole season on one Saturday morning.  I wanted to kick myself for waiting so long because this season was amazing!  If you haven't seen season 1 and 2, DO IT!  Season 3 digs deeper into their friendships, relationships, careers while exploring themes of gentrification, racism and sexism.

Currently in Music: Chicano Batman Freedom is Free

This Mexican American band out of California is everything and a bag of chips!  Their music is unapologetically political and a big F.U. to this government's demonization of our immigrant population.  While the lyrics are emotionally charged, the music is upbeat and infectious.  My favorite is their bilingual spin on This Land is Your Land which they shared in a commercial for Johnnie Walker's Black Label which you can watch here .  They are definitely a band to watch out for.

Currently in Mental Health: Why Do I Feel Sad for No Reason?

This is a little bit different but definitely worth a share!  I stumbled on this article and shared it with a few friends who loved it!  This article introduces the concept of an emotional cold, you know those times where you feel melancholy for a spell with no good reason.  You aren't going through anything at the moment that might cause this sadness and yet there it is!  It happens and this article proves it is more than ok.  Enjoy loves!

Currently Purchased: 

Finally I can't leave you without sharing some of my latest acquisitions!  If yesterday's snow storm in NYC was any indication of the winter we are in for you better start filling your carts with warm and cozy coats, hats and knits! Shop my favs including my look with the shoppable links below! 

So there you have it my, November round up.

Until next time, don't forget to subscribe to the blog so you can get my posts sent straight to your inbox and follow me on instagram and like my page on FB.


by LifeStyledbyErica

Practicing Self Care During the Holidays

November 14, 2018

Holidays! You either love them or you hate them and that pendulum can swing back and forth every year.  The truth is, the holidays can be an especially difficult time for many, many people, myself included.  This time last year I hated the question, "what are you doing for the holidays?" easy enough question, right? Harmless even? But the truth is this time last year I was in the very beginning of the most difficult time of my life.  I shared some of it in my last post which you can read here.  It was right around late October that things were falling apart with my son compounded with the biggest falling out with my mother, sister and father so having them over for the holidays was not an option.  This is life, right?  Throwing curve balls at you around the most "wonderful time of the year".  I want to share with you a few things that helped me get through the holidays last year in the hopes that this reaches someone who feels alone and distraught.  I will preface this list by saying that pain is very real and the only around past the pain is right through it.  This list is in no way meant to undermind a struggle or a loss in your life right now, these are merely things I learned to practice to help keep my head above water.

1. Take a Social Media Break

This seems like a no brainer and it might seem cliche by now but stay off of social media.  Last year when I would go onto FB or instagram and scroll through pages of happy faces filled with laughter and warmth, big families, big feasts and not a care in the world it made me feel bad.  Don't get me wrong, I was happy for all of my friends but it made me feel my own perceived loss even more.  Everyone else has this, why can't I? Why is this simple thing unattainable to me? Why can't I have these relationships with my family?  I mean it can really make you spiral into an endless rabbit hole of comparison and shame.  Why do it to yourself?  Sure those photos are real, they are happening but it is the best of what is happening, you don't know what they are really going through.  Life is much more complicated and messy but we seem to forget that as we are scrolling.  Just unplug, be present in your life.  

2. Do More of What Makes You Happy

Pain is real but so is joy and you can find that in the things you love to do even during the difficult times.  Some distraction is fine, its healthy even.   Read a book. Watch your favorite movie and make it special somehow.  I am not kidding you but on Valentine's Day, when I found myself single my favorite tradition was watching Goodfellas!  It was one of the best mafia movie ever made and the complete opposite of love, same thing for the holidays.  I am not saying watch crime movies although I would recommend them, watch some genre that you love.  Don't watch a movie that is going to mirror your pain, if that makes sense.  Plan some friend time.  Last year I made sure to meet up and have a meal or a glass of wine or a cup of coffee with my closest friends before ringing in the new year.  Everyone is busy during the holidays but putting some things on the calendar right around this time before everyone goes off can be so important.  

3. Get and Stay Physical 

I am not even kidding with this one.  Get thee to the gym, get thee to a yoga class, get thee to a soul cycle class, get thee arse up and head to the track.  I know I am making light of this one but I can't tell you how important it is to get your body moving!  You've heard this all before, endorphins, serotonin all of those good hormones, you get them during a good ole fashion sweat session.  If you don't already have a workout regiment or you think you don't have the time, you do!  Trust me, I shared in this post a 28 minute at home workout you can do with minimal equipment.  This time last year I was hitting the gym at least 3 to 4 times a week for a good cardio session and some weights.  It was my sanity.  It was an hour or so that I tuned the world and bad thoughts out and focused on the music in my ear and motion of my body.  Seriously, get physical.  Your whole outlook will change.  

4. Find Things in Your Life to Be Grateful For.  

I know this can be difficult but there is always something to be grateful for every day.  It can be as simple as getting a parking spot in front of your home, or not hitting traffic on the way home, or being grateful for an extra blanket to keep you warm at night.  My point is that where there is life, there is hope so even being grateful for waking up every morning and being able to get out of bed is a win.  The things to be grateful for can be that granular. There are so many things in our lives that we just take for granted, people at work that always welcome you to the office with a smile, or ask you if you want to join them on a lunch order, or take time to share with you pictures of their children or grandchildren.  Those interactions are special, they add value to our lives.  We have to see that and count that as a blessing.  Last year an older faculty member stopped by my office for a chat.  This was an especially rough day for me.  She didn't know it when she stopped in but I had been crying and just trying to keep it together.  She sat down at my table and shared some photos of her 1 year old granddaughter and she was just beaming.  She looked at me and saw the tears in my eyes and asked me what was wrong.  I told her I was going through a very difficult time and my son had moved out.  She held my hand and said, "Oh Erica, I am so sorry." She said when she went through a particularly difficult time in her life she kept a journal.  Every night she told me I had to make an entry and share my raw feelings, a sort of letter to Tyler.  She assured me everyday would be different, some days I would be mad, nostalgic, regretful, reflective and the list of emotions go on, but it would be a safe place to share that pain.  I took her advice and it did help especially on the darker days.  Ok, I realize this is turning into a "start a journal" tip and yes you can take that away from this one, but the point is that she stopped in when she didn't even know I needed it.  I am grateful for people like her in my life and we all have these people in our lives if we look close enough.  Little angels that just seem to swoop in and offer a shoulder when we need it the most.  

I will stop there, four is a nice round number.  For those who are reading and are in a really good place, thats wonderful, honestly you are blessed but just bear in mind that there are others who are not.  Holidays bring out all sorts of feelings, and we can't assume they are all good because that is what the Hallmark channel is pimping out to us 24/7 since October.  Realize life is complicated and tricky and we all need to be kinder, more mindful and more self aware.  With this in mind instead of asking someone at your office party or in passing "so what are you doing for the holidays?" ask, "so how are you doing today?".  A seemingly easy question but a much more generous one.

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Thank you for reading.  

Until next time..

by LifeStyledbyErica💋

I Am A Bad Mom: This Time Last Year

November 2, 2018

Where do I start this post? From the beginning, I guess.  This time last year was an extremely difficult time in my life and if you have read my blog you know I have had many, who hasn't? But it felt like this was different, this time would break me and possibly everything I had worked so hard for.  As you all know I am the mother of a 19 year old son and last year lawdy, lawdy.  I don't want to go into great detail but I will say that my husband and I were in a struggle for my son's future.  We had been here before, but when a child turns 18 years old the rules are slightly different.  We can't necessarily ground him for questionable behavior.  We can set ground rules and norms but we have to allow him space to explore himself and who he is becoming, where he is going, what he wants to do, I mean it is a lot for a young person to figure out.  Around this time last year he was working a part time job at a supermarket while he was attending a community college full time.  I thought it was important for him to maintain employment while attending school to keep him occupied and focused on the prize.  His choice in friends were questionable and his choice in lifestyle was also worrisome.  We tried on so many occasions to get through to him and it felt as if it fell on deaf ears.  My husband and I would spend so many hours talking through our feelings, making plans, trying new ways to get through to our young man.  Maybe if we give him some space, get less emotionally charged, allow him the time to figure things out but at the same time setting parameters that would keep him safe.  I recall feeling hopeless at times and other times feeling like I haven't done enough. I haven't thought through this enough, even though it occupied every single waking hour of my day.  It consumed me.  I reached out to my father at a very low time and shared with him what we were up against and tried to recruit him to reach out and talk to our son.  He agreed and tried to reach out but our son wouldn't answer and never returned the call.

Then a family drama that had been brewing for about two years unraveled at my weakest moment.  I had the biggest argument with my mother.  She said terrible things to me, things you just don't say to another woman, a mother, and your own child.  But especially at this particular moment when I was in crisis with my own child it was an even deeper cut in an already open wound.  I was reminded that hurt people hurt people and I could no longer allow this in my life.  I needed to focus on my family and my son specifically.  At this very same time my husband's youngest brother suffered a sudden and shocking brain aneurysm and was rushed to the hospital for emergency brain surgery.  My husband jumped in his car and took the 12 hour drive to Atlanta to be with his family.  I stood behind to be with our boys until he could send word back.  To say we were in a dark place is not saying enough.  When someone close to you, younger than you suffers this type of medical emergency you realize your own mortality.  Life is not guaranteed to anyone.  It is this precious gift we are given every day we open our eyes to welcome a new day.  You realize in these moments that what you are holding on to or holding against someone else is trapping you and stealing your happiness.  This is all to say that life doesn't wait until you are done with one crisis to throw you with another.  Quiet often you are thrown a few at the same time that will test your resolve.

Back to the original story, my son.  Well a lot was going on in our home, there was a lot of tension, a lot of worry, a lot of everything.  The holiday season approached and it was a lonely one.  I cut off all communication with my family and my in laws where spending the holidays with their son in Atlanta. My husband and I decided to have a small dinner for us at home and I invited a good friend over for dinner.  I tried my best to keep my spirits up but I struggled luckily I was surrounded by people I didn't have to pretend around.  The dinner went well but my son left half an hour before dinner was served.    He had been home all day and didn't mention having plans. I was upset and hurt.  I don't remember much of the rest of the evening but I know I remember crying myself to sleep that night.  The whole thing blew into an even bigger crisis later that weekend, again I don't want to go into too many details because it involves my son's life and that is not my story to tell.  I will just say it got REALLY bad.  I found out my son had quit school and pretend to be going for the past month.  He had no plans of telling me or returning in the spring.  There was a lot I found out that day that I didn't know.  I was devastated and I thought I wouldn't make it.  I was on the verge of losing my only son.  I had no control over anything that was happening.

About a week later I had to make the toughest decision of my life and ask my son to leave our home.  I thought he would move in with his father and this would shake some sense into him.  This plan would show him how much good he had in his life and cause him to reflect and want to come home.  I will tell you now, that this was NOT an easy decision to come to and my husband was not consulted in the making of this decision.  I decided and shared with him what I thought was best and he supported me as he always does.  My son decided to move out the next morning in a hurry with my father waiting outside for him.  I felt betrayed by my parents for giving him an easy way out and not even talking to us about what was going on.  At the same time it gave me peace of mind knowing that he would be safe.  The next few weeks were tough.  I had barely any communication with my child, or my family and I was trying to recover from what had happened.  I missed my son and longed for his phone call or his visit or some sign that he had some understanding of all of this.  My husband and I tried to return to some normalcy but proceeded with caution.  We traveled early in 2018 to Iceland and being able to get away from our routine for that week and take in all of the beautiful landscapes and just being together meant so much.  My husband and my closest friends treaded softly but always checked in to see where I was and how I was feeling which would instantly bring tears to my eyes.  I confessed some days I felt completely hopeless and other days I believed it was all going to be ok.  I was seeing a therapist very regularly and I also started my I am a Bad Mom series  all in an effort to work through my pain and try to understand where it all went wrong.  As the winter past and spring sprang I was feeling closer to who I was and feeling like although everything was not what I hoped for yet, having faith in God and our (my son and I) relationship.  I am his mother, I raised him, I have loved him and taken care of him his whole life, surely that means something.

Where we are a year later. 

I got a call from my son in July right before my birthday, he called to tell me he was sorry for going silent for so long but he had a good reason.  He had just completed his Marine Corp Bootcamp and was graduating in a few days.  He was flying into NY and wanted to take me out for a birthday lunch.  My heart melted and so many emotions flooded in.  When I saw him, a lot had changed but a lot hadn't.  He is currently stationed in Missouri.  We are not where we once were and we are not where I would like us to be but I believe in this process.   I believe in myself as a parent and in my son as a person.   We are working on our relationship.  I am learning boundaries and remaining available and open to my son when he is ready.  He is on a journey all his own, and in a way we both are.  We are living our lives for the first time, separately and its been hard but I also know it is very necessary.

I am in a totally different place than I was this time last year and all I can say is how grateful I am to everyone who picked me up, dusted me off and put me back on my path.  I dont know exactly what I did to deserve except to say I have had my fair share of heartache and maybe this is the universe's way of giving me a break.

I am sharing this because I went through this privately.  I didn't share my pain with the world, only my close circle.  Growing pains are real.  Change is hard and even though it was one of the most painful things I have ever gone through, I am still standing.  It has not broken me and instead has given me a whole new perspective on parenting, love and life in general.  There was so much I thought for sure I had control over.  I have spent the last year letting myself off the hook.  Allowing myself this time of nonjudgemental reflection.  Did I do everything right? Did I make all of the best decisions? That is for no one to judge and personally a waste of time because that time has passed.  Of course I have spent most of this time reflecting because its important to understand how you got to a certain place but I DO NOT spend my time exploring those moments in regret.  I know who I am.  I know my intentions.  I also know I cant undo any of it.  The only thing I can do is learn from it.   I am a different person than I was a year ago.  You don't go through something like that and not be changed by it.  I am a stronger, wiser, much more confident and grounded person.  I am finding my voice in a lot of different areas and I couldn't get to this place without my experience.  I have learned so much about my husband and the strength and resilience of our marriage and I am eternally grateful to him every single day.  I have never felt closer to another human being and so secure in his love for me and his commitment to our marriage as I have this past year.

We all fear the unknown, we fear change, but it is exactly in those times when you are facing those fears that you grow exponentially if you just release control and allow for life to take shape.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post.  This space has helped me so much this past year, it has been a distraction, a creative outlet, an inspiration and so much more so thank you for your endless support!  I look forward to continued evolution.

Until next time.

By LifeStyledbyErica

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