July 31, 2014

In Retrospect...

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

I did a little review of my style over the past few months to survey how it has evolved and what it is now, and I've come to a few conclusions once again defining my personal style: I like to keep it simple, I adore classic looks with feminine lines, I love a good pair of black heels, and clutch bags are my friends.

Yup, that's me.

July 30, 2014

Who Am I?

Shirt: Forever 21 (similar) | Skirt: The Limited (similar) | Shoes: BCBG via Ross (try these) | Bag: Zara (similar)

I've been sporting a ponytail since Monday (sooo unlike me) while trying to recover from ACI 2014, a youth event I helped prepare for and attended last week. Truth is, my hair is just as tired as I am. Hopefully we'll both recover over the weekend.

I learned a lot about myself during an entire week away immersed in a God-filled atmosphere: I am light. I am beautiful. I am powerful through Christ. I am so much more than others' perceptions of me... and, at times, even my own perceptions of myself. To be honest, a lot of these things I already knew, but there's a difference between knowing versus seeing, believing, and acting upon that knowledge. And, while I work on that, I still have a lot more knowledge to gain.

July 24, 2014

Made By | "The Typhanie"

Dress: Made By | Shoes: Forever 21

Yup, it's official. I'm in love with the final product of "The Typhanie," now available on www.shopmadeby.com.

I debuted the design for the first time last night at Apostolic Camp International (ACI) 2014 (which has been AWESOME by the way), and it was all of the things I love in an outfit  easy, comfortable, simple, classic, feminine and fun. The main goal was for the dress to be versatile for easy styling, but the details including the soft pleats, printed pockets and exposed back zipper make it unique and memorable. I paired it with cobalt blue shoes to add an extra element of surprise.

I'm eager to know your thoughts! Please leave a comment here or on Instagram, or shoot me an email, letting me know what you think of the final product. Also, as a My Garments of Praise reader, get 25% off of your entire order on www.shopmadeby.com using promo code GAROFPRAS14 at checkout until July 31, 2014.

Thanks for following along during the process of this great opportunity, and special thanks to Made By for thinking of me!

Genesis 1:27
Psalm 139:14

July 23, 2014

Made By | Collaboration Process

Yesterday, I introduced you all to a brand that I've recently had the opportunity to collaborate with to create an exclusive dress design. Before the product reveal here on the blog, I'd like to walk you a little bit through the collaboration process with Made By which allowed me to learn more about the fashion industry while working with a team that shares my values when it comes to style.


My first assignment was to share my ideas and vision for the dress with the Made By team through inspirational photos. (I actually had the choice of choosing between designing a dress or a skirt, and I chose to design a dress. You all know I love a good, easy dress!) Of course when I considered where to find inspirational photos, Pinterest was the first thing that came to mind. I created a board called Inspired By / Made By and posted silhouettes and color palettes that represent my personal style. I know I wanted the dress to have a very classic and feminine shape to it. Also, lately I've been loving the black & white look, so I knew I was either going to go for all black & white or black & white with a pop of color. Here are a few inspirational photos I posted on the Pinterest board:

Fabric Selection

I've been craving grid print for over a year now, but I could never get around to finding the perfect way to rock it. So, when I came across the print worn perfectly in one of my "pinspiration" photos, I thought, why not incorporate grid into the dress design? 


I struggled between choosing an all black & white look, or pairing the grid print with a pop of color (for example, bright pink or neon green). Made By and I decided to stick with black for the skirt of the dress for now, and perhaps make more colors available in the fall. (Perhaps...) The sketch gave both Made By and me a visual depiction of the look I was going for in order for me to better explain the details I wanted brought to life in the actual product sample, and I loved it!

Sneak Peek

After the sketch process, we agreed on the final notions of the dress, and the Made By team began the construction process of the sample that I would receive. They continued to involve me, asking questions along the way, to ensure that the dress would come out meeting my expectations. And that it did! Here's a sneak peek of the final product which will be available on www.shopmadeby.com:

Stay tuned for the final product reveal!

July 22, 2014

Made By | Interview

Over the last two months, I've had the amazing opportunity to work with the lovely ladies of Made By, a newly founded online boutique that provides a modest wardrobe for the new millennium while embracing the current and upcoming trends. (See how I styled this Made By skirt earlier this month in this post.) I could not refuse their offer to live out every blogger's dream: to have a garment designed by and made for me to be featured in an online shop! 

When the owners of Made By reached out to me in May, I immediately knew that I wanted to work with the brand because its design aesthetic is so classic, feminine and fun, kind of like how I view my own personal style. I opted to create a dress, and after an enjoyable design process with Made By's team, it's finally finished! I've posted a few teasers on Instagram, and plan to reveal it this week. However, before I do, I thought it would be a good idea for you to get to know the beauty and brains of both of the women behind Made By a little better via an interview I conducted. Meet Samantha Hylton and Julia Storey...

TS-Tell us a little bit about yourselves.

JS  My name is Julia Storey. I was born in New York but raised in the heart of Florida. I earned my degree in Legal Studies but later found a calling in creating modest apparel. It was then that I shifted my focus to sewing and teamed up with Samantha in relaunching her modest clothing line now called Made By. I am happily married to the most wonderful man in the world and have been blessed by God with four amazing little ones. My family truly inspires me to do my best in everything that I put my mind to. I love doing DIYs with my little ones in my free time.

SH – My name is Samantha Hylton. I was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, and currently reside in the sunshine state of Florida. I have always had an eye and passion for fashion that lead me to pursue my degree in Fashion Design and Merchandising. In the midst of working and pursuing my education I married the love of my life. We are currently heavily involved in ministry at First Pentecostal Ministries (FPM) of Orlando. During our free time, we like bike riding and catching up on some good ole’ fashioned classics.

TS  Can you briefly explain the concept of your brand, how you came up with the name, and what prompted you to start the company?

SH  The concept of our brand is to conserve modesty. I have noticed that as time has passed, the value to modesty is disappearing in the fashion industry. Standards of modesty vary by culture and/or generation, but Made By aims to maintain modesty in an Apostolic (UPC) point of view. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created mankind in His own image, in the image He created them; male and female He created them.” We were MADE BY and in His image and as children of the King. Therefore, we, as believers, should dress ourselves in a manner that respects God’s work. I was prompted to start my company by my love for God and fashion. I also work closely with many young women and was inspired to create MADE BY after hearing from some of these ladies how hard it was find modern yet modest apparel.

TS – Did you face any challenges during the concept and launch phases of your company?

JS  Currently, I work from home as a full-time mom, and Sam works full-time in an office setting. Although the both of us are extremely involved in our church and work, we take time to focus on the store and our future ambitions. Our business plan and God’s grace are what keep us dedicated when challenges come our way.

SH  Finding time to talk with one another in person is always a challenge. However, being that we are in the 21st century, there is always a way to connect through phone or the Internet. We have faced other challenges on this new journey, but at the same time we have learned so many lessons over the past couple of months. One of our biggest goals right now is to provide the best customer support and satisfaction possible.

TS – What has been your favorite part about starting your own business? I gather that Made By is actually a relaunch. How has Made By changed from what was previously FineTwined Linen?

SH  Yes it is! Unlike FineTwined Linen, we no longer sell just vintage apparel. Instead, we now sell our own apparel in different sizes and colors. We launched our first line in February of 2014 that consisted of women’s clothing and accessories. Our favorite part was watching each of our sketches come to life. We’re both very creative and it’s great to express that through our brand with each item we create.

TS – What is Made By's design aesthetic? What do you think makes your clothing unique?

JS  For starters, all our items are handmade in the United States, and aside from the occasional collaboration, everything is designed in-house by Made By creations. Therefore, you’re looking at a fashion line that is designed and manufactured within the country.

In regards to the actual look of our products, I would describe the aesthetic as being a mix of what you find at Zara, J.Crew and Anthropology while still the tasteful level of modesty our clients are looking for. We believe that you shouldn’t have to sacrifice cutting edge looks to wear something that supports your faith. You can have both.

TS – Right now you offer a wide selection of skirts and hair accessories, and your website tells us that the men's department is coming soon. What is the next step for Made By?

SH – Yes, we currently have been focusing on women’s attire however in the near future we plan to add men's, children's and bridal wear. A long-term goal we have is to open a local boutique in our area. In the meantime, we are excited that we have a few collaborations with style icons and bloggers as well as some pop up shops planned.

I'd like to give special thanks to Samantha and Julia for considering me for Made By's latest blogger collaboration project, and for taking the time to interview for this post. Check out their fabulous designs and clothing line at www.shopmadeby.com.

You can also find Made By on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Say hello, and tell them I sent you ;)

July 18, 2014


Dress: H&M | Vest: Old Navy (very similar) | Shoes: Forever 21 | Clutch: Forever 21

You may or may not have noticed that I've added drop-down menus to the navigation bar. I'm aiming to make the reader experience here as organized, convenient and aesthetically-pleasing as possible so that you'll come back. Kind of like if you were to visit me at my house; I want you to be comfortable.

Speaking of convenience and comfort, this grey dress from H&M was one of my smarter purchases, and I didn't even realize it until after I'd worn it a few times. First off, it's knee-length and has sleeves  it's hard for me to ever leave a dress in a store once it has these two features. (If a dress is knee-length, with sleeves, AND has pockets  forget it! No further questions, it's coming home.) Secondly, it's grey  a nice basic color that's not as expected as black, yet not as restrictive as white. Third, it's versatile. I dressed it up for a Sunday morning church service, dressed it all the way down to run errands, and styled it for this post, after which I kept on the same exact outfit but opted for mustard shoes and wore it to youth bible study. All of this for about $25 regular price. No-brainer.

P.S. - Coming soon to the blog will be a "Shop My Picks" page where I'll add items I find online that I love and recommend as well as a "Shop My Closet" page where I will post unworn or barely worn items from my closet for sale. Be on the look out!

July 17, 2014

Let's Discuss // Is the Thrift Shopping Trend Over?

Until about a year ago, thrifting had a strong influence on fashion, retail and the overall U.S. economy. Now, we hardly hear about it anymore.

During the economic downturn, shoppers turned to thrift stores to meet their basic need for clothing while sticking to a tight budget. In the process, many quickly realized that vintage gems and even the latest fashions could be found in the most unexpected places. The secret got out, and thrifting turned into the trendy way to shop. A handful of people thought it necessary to set themselves apart and make it known that thrifting for them was a lifestyle and something they had been doing for years before it became popular. Others unashamedly admitted that they would have never thrifted before their income dwindled and they found out that thrift stores sold like-new and even brand new designer clothing for less than a fraction of the original retail price. If this was the case, why do we hardly, if ever, hear about it anymore?

A few reasons: 

1) When something becomes popular, the novelty wears off not too long after. 
The more and more people "scoring gems" at thrift stores, the less gems there are to score. Plus, the exclusivity of knowing the best places and the best times of the year/week/day to thrift disappears along with the gems after every style blogger spilled the beans. 

2) Retailers started to compete. 
Understanding that their target demographics were mostly broke young people who couldn't land jobs, trendy retail stores started having more sales and implementing creative ways to save. The shoppers who weren't loyal to thrifting decided, why go through the inconvenience of rummaging through the weird smelling, disorganized racks at thrift stores to save money on that one item that took three hours to find when you can buy a brand new item from half a season ago for just a couple of dollars more. 

3) The economy improved... slightly. 
This was partially due to retailers finding ways to get their shoppers to shop again, which led to more jobs, which led to consumers making more money, which led to a "flight to new" mentality again for young shoppers. The economy still has a long way to go though, so while stores like Forever 21 and H&M rejoice, high-end department store sales are still not what they used to be.

While only a few loyal thrifters remaining, that second-hand way of shopping is certainly not getting the attention it used to. Was it a trend? Is it over? If the answers are yes, then congrats to the committed thrift shoppers and quality vintage lovers. You'll be able to find your gems again.

Note: Quite often, readers engage more in discussion topics on Instagram, so feel free to check out people's thoughts there.

July 15, 2014

Tropical Storm

Dress: Zara (get it here) | Blazer: The Limited (similar) | Shoes: Zara | Clutch: Forever 21

One day, I was minding my own business while scrolling through moments of people's lives on Instagram (no contradiction there), and suddenly I came across the two most beautiful words ever... "ZARA SALE." Everything that happened after that was a blur. All I remember is my voice coming out of my mouth in a very high pitch, trying its best to form words. I really can't recall if the words made sense or connected at all, one to another. My husband would have to clarify. Anyway, a little less than a week later (without delay even though there was a hurricane – shout out to FedEx), this dress and these shoes greeted me on my doorstep, and I welcomed them with open arms. 

Gotta love Zara's end of season sales. It's like Christmas four times a year.

Don't you love when shopping stories end with a happy ending? Very rarely for me do they not. 

July 11, 2014


T-Shirt: Forever 21 | Skirt: H&M | Shoes: Zara (similar) | Clutch: Bijuju Boutique

Probably the most essential items a girl should have in her closet are a white tee and a black skirt. Besides the fact that the two together make a sophisticated, timeless, and fun look, they each can be paired with just about every and anything else.

I mentioned in a recent post that I'm working on editing my closet. The only downside to this long arduous process is that as soon as I pull out an item I'm no longer wearing, I'm made aware of something else that I need want. Perhaps I should quit while I'm ahead.

Moral of the story on a monochrome look: Whether black and white or built based on one color, a cute outfit doesn't have to be complicated. 

July 10, 2014

6 Trends We'll Look Back At and Wonder Why

Have you ever looked back at some old photos of yourself and wondered, "Why in the world did I wear that? AND I thought I was the bomb!" Well, to save you some time  and from future embarrassment  I've compiled a list of six current trends that will make us all look back and cringe.

1. Birkenstock Sandals
I'm not quite sure how or when exactly these things made it back on the scene, but they are hideous. What's funny to me is that the fashion world knows and admits this, yet Birkenstock-style sandals are still all the rage having been seen on virtually every well-known blogger and Hollywood celebrities alike. I gather that the appeal of these shoes (the genuine Birkenstocks, I assume) are the vegan materials they are made out of and the orthopedic comfort they provide. Apparently ugly is the new black. I'm not quite sold.

2. One-Sleeved Tops and Dresses
I'm not sure if this style is quite trending just yet, but I have seen it recently on the sites of a few popular stores. The thought of one-sleeved/one-shoulder tops and dresses coming back makes me eager to bring up the question at hand   Why? Whyyy would you fork out bills to purchase 75% of what could have been a perfectly good top? I can't figure it out.

3. Iridescent 
Iridescent clothing and shoes were all over the high-fashion runways as a hot trend for 2014. (Be prepared for a spike in traffic accidents this year.) I find it difficult to grasp the reasoning behind wanting to be a walking bike reflector. My eyes have never done anything to me to make me want to put them through that type of turmoil, let alone those of perfect strangers whom I would pass by on the street. Neon is just about my limit when it comes to making blinding, eye-popping fashion statements.

4. Knee-High Gladiators
Now this trend is one that I definitely cannot get into. I would wear Birkenstocks before these; at least those are comfortable. I find it uncomfortable enough to wear one-strap sandals that leave imprints on my feet, so why on earth would I want 57 buckles digging into my skin? Furthermore, wearing these would making me feel like I'm preparing for battle during bible days, and I'm just not cut out for it.

5. Maxis with Short Slips 
Fellow modesty-lovers... Isn't it annoying when you think you've found the perfect maxi dress or skirt, only to take a closer look and realize that the slip underneath would barely cover your underwear and from the high thigh to the ankle of the skirt is see-through? UGH! Some ladies may not think it's a big deal and just wear a long slip underneath the short one, but I still have two problems with that. #1) I don't like extra layering. I prefer to buy clothes that make me feel comfortable right off the hanger. #2) Whoooo or Whereeee still sells long slips??

6. Summer Scarves
I live in hot sticky Florida where it's sketchy to wear scarves even in the winter, yet I still see people down here wearing summer scarves. This is not okay to me. The risk of dying from heat stroke is real, people, and a fashion trend is not worth it. I just saved your life. You're welcome.

Please, please  If you've been caught sporting one of the trends mentioned in this post, don't be offended or feel embarrassed. It's all in the name of fun, and these are just my opinions. Plus, there is still time to put away your ugly sandals and summer scarves and pretend like they never happened.

All images used in this post were found on Google.

July 9, 2014

When It Rains, It Pours

Dress: Thrifted, Old Navy | Vest: Forever 21 | Shoes: BCBG Generation via Marshalls | Bag: Steps

Hello! I've been away for a whole week, but it's not my fault. I can give you a bunch of reasons why I haven't been able to blog, but I'll only share one using one word: RAIN.

It's been raining cats and dogs here. Which, by the way, reminds me  we got a cat. Her name is Allie (Allie Cat Stewart), and unfortunately we can't keep her because my husband found out the hard way that he's allergic to pet dander. (Sad face.)

But yes, back to the rain. It held up this morning just long enough for me to take a few photos, but the hot steamy humidity nearly kicked my butt. Shortly after my one-woman-show photo shoot, the rain started again, and it's still at it. I guess the old saying is true: when it rains, it pours  literally.

Malachi 3:10