Category Archives: Fashion

Your Beauty is Now

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Over the years, a little file of school photos that I took from my student ID file my senior year, has moved from one USB stick to another, to my parent’s PC and eventually, the file has ended up on my portable hard drive. I haven’t opened my hard drive for quite a while, but just the other night I was sifting through it looking for something specific, and low and behold, there sits the file of old school photos. I opened the file and literally saw the photos of myself with new eyes. It hit me like a ton of bricks. There was this pretty young lady with long wavy brown hair and a pretty smile. She looked happy! Alive! Comfortable in her own skin. She was in shape, she was vibrant, she was fun. My mind immediately traveled back in time to how I thought of myself back then. I hated my teeth and thought I had a cheesy smile. I thought I was fat because I was one of the tallest girls in class and didn’t wear a size 0. I thought my hair was scraggly and plain. Yes, I definitely did a great job hiding my lack of self-worth at all times. As my friend Sarah describes it, “You gotta fake it till you make it!” And that’s just what I did. I faked it till I made it. Why could I not see my charisma and my beauty then? I suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of regret that I had not realized those things. I regretted not realizing that I was beautiful.

Fast forward three nights and I am in the process of trying to find something to wear to my company Christmas party. Why didn’t I go shopping to find something festive to wear?! I scrounged and dug, I threw every dress and pair of dress pants out of my closet trying my hardest to find something nice enough for a semi-formal Christmas party. I didn’t think I wanted to wear a dress, but I thought I would try a few on just in case. This one was a little too tight, and so was the next one and the next one after that. What in the world?! I know it’s been a while, but two or three years ago these dresses fit like a glove! Then I try on a pair of dress pants….nope, those are a little too tight as well, and so is the next pair. Words cannot describe my disappointment in that moment. I literally could not believe my eyes. What happened? I have been trying so hard. I was on the precipice of giving up on the whole evening when I just decided to invite Jesus into the entire situation. I just started praying that I would not lose heart and that I would embrace who I am. Suddenly He spoke to me in a very quiet thought, “You’re beauty is now, Sierra. It’s not sometime in the future. It’s now.” I suddenly realized that I was doing just what I had done in high school- losing sight of my beauty in a way that I would only regret. Soon I found something pretty to wear, put on my makeup and curled my hair. And you know what? I looked beautiful. Thanks, Jesus.

We cannot love our neighbors as we love ourselves if we have no love for ourselves. God has made woman to bare His image in her tenderness, mercy and beauty. We cannot bare His image if we believe we have no beauty to offer. Embrace who you are right now, ladies. Your beauty is now.

Be blessed!
-Sierra

Favorite Summer Looks

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Like every season, summer comes around and we we have to think about how our current wardrobe can accommodate the current trends…..Sometimes things work from the years before and sometimes they don’t. Going shopping in preparation for a new season can be daunting for a couple of reasons, including but not limited to: How much is this going to cost me? And do this seasons trends flatter my body type? Some people may not have many issues with the latter, but both issues are something that I personally have to take into consideration. I love to shop, but I really prefer to buy things on sale, or at outlet prices (I will make exceptions for shoes). But when you limit yourself to a budget, you also have to consider that things in your sizes and favorite cuts may be limited. That is always a fun challenge for me- it teaches me to get creative. Now, I am 5’7″ and a size twelve, I have long legs and a waist that is only moderately trim, I’ve got some junk in the trunk and strong arms, so I have to take all of these factors into consideration while shopping. Several things really caught my eye this year, which I found a way to pull off with my particular body type. I really enjoyed the button-up shirts buttoned all the way to the top, the floral and solid colored jeans, the edgy metal embellished shoes and shirt pockets, the sherbet colors, the gold jewelry, the chambray shirts and the mixture of different patterns. Over all, I really just appreciated the mix of classical clean lines with a bit of an edge.

Attached here are some photos of some pieces from my wardrobe that I really liked this year, along with where I got the clothing and how much I spent. I hope this inspires you to find great deals and really put yourself out there to be trendy- not matter what shape or size, and no matter what season!

Be blessed!

-Sierra

How to Give Your Room a Classic Pair of Grey Trousers…

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Bow Tie Trouser - Gray il_fullxfull.293721499

…Or maybe a timeless piece like a grey pencil skirt. What do these articles of clothing have to do with home design? Think about the infinite number of color-pairing possibilities these wardrobe staples have to offer. Talk about options! Almost any color palette can be combined with a neutral like grey and it totally works! Anyone from the Boho flower child, to the edgy trendsetter, to the uber-chic business woman can find something in her wardrobe to go with classic pieces like these. They transcend personality, style, and budget making them a useful item for everyone.

Here is where I found the inspiration for our bathroom renovation. My husband and I have continued a tradition that we started in our first home together. Every year, we would choose one room to remodel, or to give a face lift to during the slower winter months at work. Last year, in our new home, we did our guest room. This year, we tackled the boys bathroom downstairs, which also serves as our guest bathroom. Let me just say, this bathroom was in serious–SERIOUS–need of a make-over. From floor to ceiling, it was a hot mess. Popcorn on the ceiling–gross–slaughter house/gates-of-hell red on the walls, a florescent light fixture (no joke…) and dark ceramic tiles made to look like hard wood flooring. Between the oppressive red and the awful lighting, that room honestly just filled me with angst. I can’t help it, I am literally emotionally affected by color and I needed to do something about that room.

The problem is that I love. love, love color…so how am I going to commit to a color palette? Bathrooms are not cheap to renovate and I needed to choose colors that could stand the test of time. The other issue that I had was that the bathtub is cream. In a perfect world, I would love to have a bright white ceramic tub, but we just did not have the money to replace the tub. So, cream was definitely going to have to be a part of the color palette. We did, however, have to replace the toilet (curse low-flow…) and the sink.  I really did not want to replace them with cream, so I decided that any permanent fixtures like these would be white. Now my color palette is cream and white. I have seen this done really well on design shows and in magazines, but this would definitely be a first for me.

Continuing our quest to seek out timeless pieces that would be permanent, we chose a Black Galaxy Granite counter top…definitely an investment piece, but we saved a lot by choosing a remnant. So now the color palette has grown to include black. I really wanted to add a classic touch to the floor and incorporate the black somehow, so we chose a black and white mosaic tile. Our house was built in 1996 and is in serious need of some character. These tiles remind me of an old Victorian home, adding some history and nostalgia to our mid-90’s goodness. We installed the tiles ourselves and somehow managed not to lose our minds while cleaning out 5.6 million 1/8 inch grout lines…haha! We chose polished chrome for the light fixture, faucet and toilet paper holder, but opted for matte black cabinetry hardware. Echoing that, I chose matte black towel hooks hung low enough for the boys (in theory) to be able to hang them. These hooks are installed on what I believe is the star feature of the bathroom. We installed a board and batten treatment to the walls with cheap 1×3 pine boards painted a glossy bright white. The background color is simply named “Cream” from Sherwin Williams. I love the subtle contrast and could not be happier with  how it turned out.

Now for the walls…here’s where those classic grey trousers come into play. I chose a true grey by Olympic called “Secret Passage.” Here is a little tip for choosing the perfect shade of grey that I learned from Sarah Richardson: look at the darkest shade on the color swatch and it will let you know if there is a bluish tint to the grey, or a greenish/khaki tint to that selection of grey. I wanted a true grey that did not spill over into the cool or warm side. I simply looked at the darkest shade to make sure it fit the bill, then chose the lightest shade on the color swatch for my walls. Classic. Timeless. Fabulous. 😉

So, the color palette for all the permanent features of the room now include: cream, white, black and grey…classic, yes, but where’s the color?? Here is where you can take a little more risk and go with something a little more trendy. I chose to use a few punches of yellow which really brightens the room and somehow makes a gray room look so happy! =) =) =) There is just a sprinkling of yellow in the shower curtain, bath mattes and some really yummy soaps displayed in an apothecary jar. Just like a belt, handbag, jewelry or sassy pair of shoes, you can accessorize your room however your style, taste or budget dictates.  The real beauty of it is that all of these items are easily replaced with any other color of your choosing–for not a lot of money–giving it an instant and affordable transformation!

I hope you can see how a trip to your closet can inspire some color and design choices for your home. Here are the end results for our bathroom reno, plus a few bonus options in case the mood strikes for a little change up. May you be inspired! God bless!!!! ~Shanna

Disclaimer #1: The “bonus’ color selections are a little over the top, more to prove a point than to make a design statement. In this rare case, I do believe less is more….

Disclaimer #2: I wrote an article last fall about how I used to be terrified of wearing color and had zero fashion sense. Writing this blog and posting these pictures has been such a humbling experience. I guess you could say I have  rediscovered my own wardrobe, shoes and jewelry. I was struck by the realization of how far Jesus has brought me in my journey to find my beauty and has blessed me with so many lovely things. Thank you, Jesus!

Disclaimer #3: I should never, never ever complain about ‘not having anything to wear’ ever again…I confess I probably only wear about 30% of my clothes…#still a work in progress…..

My Personal Style…A Work in Progress

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Does having a personal style really even matter? Well, the short answer is yes, in my opinion. Why?? Honestly, I feel completely inadequate to answer that question. Sierra is definitely the fashion guru in our family, while I went most of my life without giving it much thought. My so-called ‘style’ was your typical jeans, t-shirts and tennis shoes. When the occasion called for something a little more ‘dressy’, my go-to get-up was a pair of black slacks with some form of a blue shirt. Black and blue…like some kind of giant walking bruise. I confess, I have had some pretty deep-seated issues with the world of fashion. First of all, I never felt worthy of fashion. I didn’t like my body, so why would I attempt to drape it with the latest trends? Secondly, I think that a pre-requisite to having a style is knowing a thing or two about who you are. If you don’t have a strong sense of self, how will you know what you like? What you love? How will you present yourself to the world? Your clothes make a statement about who you are, irregardless of whether you are trying to make that statement or not. (Thanks to Clinton Kelley and Stacy London from What Not to Wear for teaching me that!) This is true of so many things in life, not just clothes. How will you create a home? What colors do you love? What textures and patterns? Decorating your home requires you to know what you like in order to infuse your character into what otherwise, is just four walls and a roof over your head. For crying out loud, how will you choose the person you will spend the rest of your life with, if you don’t know who you are???

If you don’t know the things that you love, you will find yourself aimlessly floating through life in a fog of confusion and despair. And that’s where I found myself each time I attempted to participate in the world of fashion. Let’s face it, the deeper issue was most certainly my body image, but not knowing what I loved or how to dress my body type definitely made it worse. Here’s the deal, there was no way that I could have even considered having a style all my own until I allowed my Abba Father to do some restorative work in my heart. Like the title says, it’s a work in progress, but I am finding that if I can just accept my body right now for what it is, honor it as the temple of the Lord, I can find ways to dress my body and express some sense of style.

I will tell you the first step I took toward finding my beauty and my style. I discovered a true love for shoes. It seems so silly, but I’m telling you, that’s where it started for me. That’s where I discovered that there was still hope for me…in the shoe department. A little over five years ago, the dedicated space for shoes in my closet was occupied by one pair of Nike’s, one pair of rather drab brown heels, and a lack-luster pair of black heels…and maybe a pair of flip flops. The same could be said of my hand bags…one black purse, one brown, because they go with everything, right?? Tragic, yes I know. The first bit of color that I allowed to creep into my life was a pair of red wedges with a little bow at the toes…color and feminine detail! Hallelujah! Since then, I have learned that shoes can be a great way to add pop and color to any outfit.

The next step in the road to style happened when I met a beautiful, fiery Portuguese hairstylist named Kym. God has used this woman to bless me from the first moment I walked into her salon. I came to her for the first time about four or five years ago, a hot mess, both in body and in spirit. My hair was a total train wreck…mostly because I had never really made it a priority. Making an appointment at a salon was about like making an appointment at the dentist’s office. It was only done on an absolutely must-be-done, totally necessary basis. I finally broke down and made an appointment at The Catwalk Salon where I met Kym for the first time. She not only gave me a super cute, short and sassy hair style, she also spoke such beautiful words of affirmation into my life. I left her salon feeling pretty for the first time in a very long time. It was like a drink of cool water to my  dry and thirsty soul. It was just what I needed to build some confidence and to feel worthy of looking good. It was the first time in a long time that I considered taking some pride in my appearance. I am forever grateful to my friend, Kym.

In the grand scheme of life, a pair of shoes and a cute hair cut seem so trivial, but just like John and Stasi Eldredge wrote in their book, “Captivating”, beauty matters. That was the next piece of the puzzle for me. That book rocked my world beyond belief and was the true catalyst for my own journey to find my beauty. I don’t think it is possible to overstate how profoundly “Captivating” has affected the lives of the women in my family. You will see many of the themes from this amazing book reflected throughout this blog. Captivating was, at times, difficult for me to read because it penetrated places in my heart so deep and so tender, it was so painful. It’s amazing how we as women neglect areas in our heart in order to just get by in life. It can be a painful process to shift from survival mode to a place of thriving, being healed and whole. We cannot get there without lancing old wounds and allowing Jesus to do his restorative work on all the areas of hurt, pain and neglect. I know women who have read Captivating who seemed to be wholly untouched by it…I don’t know how other than if it is read with a disengaged heart. I don’t blame anyone for disengaging their hearts. Getting well can be so incredibly painful. But, the end result HAS to be worth it. Captivating seemingly wrecked my life at times. My whole paradigm was shifted, spun around and turned on its ear! But in the end, it opened my eyes to so many things about my faith and my God that I never even dreamed possible. It spoke of the vast, broad, deep and wide love that the Creator of all humanity has specifically towards women…not as an afterthought, but as a reflection of His beauty and His glory. We bear His image. He speaks of His beauty to the world through women…through you, through even me. Wow. Amazing. That’s where it became possible for me to see a glimmer of my own beauty . That’s where the healing of my heart began…and still continues. The process is never ending, but because I allowed myself to be vulnerable enough to go along with it, I am learning to love myself and even develop a sense of style…Bonus! =) =) =) I’m not finished yet. I have such a long way to go, but I cling to this promise:

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

Until then, I’m abiding in Him and trusting Him to continue the process in my heart, my mind and my body. May the Spirit of the Living God wash over you in your own journey to discover your beauty and in turn, your style. May He heal your heart and make you whole and holy. May you reflect His glory and speak to the world of His vast, rich beauty in a way that you, and you alone can speak. Blessings! ~Shanna

Developing a Passion for Fashion: Magazines

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Ever since I was a little girl I have always had very strong opinions about my attire. My mother used to make me these “bubble suits” when I was four or five years old and I hated the things. I remember feeling pure and utter shame at wearing such a hideous, baggy, one-piece outfit. A girl does not feel pretty, even at five years old, in any ANYTHING with the word “bubble” in it. Another thing that I could not stand as a small girl were these big bows that my mom would put on top of my hair that looked oddly over-proportionate for such a small head. Apparently she thought it was super cute, but I dreaded those things every Sunday morning. It’s funny how we simply are who we are from the moment we enter into this world. Some kids grow up having a special passion for a certain sport, a certain game, a certain musical instrument, it’s kind of their “thing”, the something that really helps define them. For me, my thing has always been fashion.

Growing up in a big family, with only my father as the bread-winner, finances were usually tight to say the very least. We usually got a few new things for school and maybe at Christmas or birthdays, but other than that we were pretty much on our own in the clothing department. I can remember the absolute exhilarating excitement at getting a bag of hand-me-downs from friends or family. I learned at a very young age that if I was going to try to dress nice, I was going to have to get creative and think outside the box. And so I did. I consider it a pretty invaluable gift to be able to look through a grab bag, a sale wrack or a Goodwill shelf and find something that really looks and feels great. Necessity truly is the mother of invention- or in my case it is the mother of my “creativity”.

I know that there are plenty of ladies out there that have a hard enough time buying things brand new that flatter their body type, let alone taking a dive into the endless sea of clothing at a thrift store. It’s a fact that some women just naturally have an eye for things that flatter them, while others struggle constantly to put things together. For all of us woman that can’t afford the stylists of the stars, fear not! There is hope! You just have to be willing to expose yourself to the windows into the fashion world. For me, the best, easiest and cheapest way to expose myself to the latest trends and styles is through magazines.

Here is the beautiful thing about magazines- The more that you look through them (even just leafing through without reading the ground-breaking articles…)the more you will familiarize yourself and expose yourself to things that you would not normally see on your weekly trip to Wal-Mart for groceries. You start to see things that you want to try, clothes that you might try to look for, hair styles that you might like to try for work the next day. Suddenly you are starting to develop your own sense of style without even spending a dime at the department stores. I really believe that the first step should always be to develop a set of styles that flatter your body type and fit your taste best. Yes, you can always mix things up a bit with a flash of color, a scarf or jewelry, a new pair of shoes but you have to develop the basic template for your body-type and stick with it as best you can. Magazines are, in my opinion, a great starting point.

Magazines also help to familiarize you with the best brands. There’s nothing cooler than seeing a designer pair of boots or purse in a magazine that would normally cost hundreds of dollars, and then finding that same designer brand name on a pair of boots or purse at a second hand store for three or four dollars. It’s a very energizing experience, believe me! But you have to know your stuff. You have to at least be familiar with quality so that you can spot it when you see it.

About a year and a half ago I decided that if fashion was something that really meant something to me, that I should really try to develop my understanding of it a little bit more. Not only have I always enjoyed playing around with it (though I won’t claim to be an expert), but I also believe it is a defining part of who I am. I decided to get my first subscription to Vogue magazine. It has been so good for me and I have enjoyed it so much. And I will also tell you that, much to my delight, once you are on Conde Naste’s subscriber’s list, you have an endless list of magazine offers coming in the mail at very affordable prices. I have since also subscribed to W Magazine, Town & Country and Veranda. I have never spent over $15 for a year subscription. In fact, I just got an offer in the mail for Elle Magazine- $6.00 for a one year subscription, which is pretty amazing in my book. Vogue magazine is $5.99 an issue off the news stand and Elle is normally $50.88 a year. You can even find affordable subscriptions to many fashion magazines on Amazon.com. This, my friends, it a really fun and practical investment! I seriously recommend trying it out!

Be blessed, friends!

-Sierra

Post Script- If you are planning on investing in any of the major fashion magazines and you have children, be sure that you do a little censoring before you leave them out on the coffee table. It is not typically anything too extreme, but unfortunately, sometimes these magazines have lay-outs that are not necessarily appropriate for little eyes. If I find anything off color or tasteless, I just tear the pages right out! Take what you like and trash the rest!:)

Little Blessings at Downtown Discount

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A couple of weeks ago, our sister Serena had us over for a night of drinking good coffee, talking, laughing and facial hair removal. Much to our delight, she had recently bought a hot wax bowl for doing facial waxing at home. After waxing both Starla and I’s brows, she then proceeded to do Starla’s makeup. Star had mentioned that she was hoping to find a “new look” and Serena was only too happy to oblige! After doing a fantastic job on Starla’s makeup, I asked her if she would also do mine (much to her surprise!). Let me tell you, I am not into other people doing my makeup. For some reason they always try a smokey eye on me and then I come away from the experience looking like a man in drag….or a scary clown. So far no one seems to know my facial dynamic better than me. But it was late and it didn’t matter if I turned out looking like a man in drag! I was going to go home and go to bed anyway, so I insisted that she give it a whirl! The result was amazing. It was as if she had unlocked something that I hadn’t been able to find the key to. I have always struggled with dark circles around my eyes and the key seemed to be a light concealer around the bottoms of each eye. You might be thinking, “Duh, Sierra!”….I know! Why hadn’t I thought of that? Either way, it was great and literally changed the look of my whole face, giving it a cleaner, more evenly balanced look. By the way, the rest of the makeup was super as well! Every color she used was spot on. At the end of the evening we wrote down the brands, and colors and names of all of the makeup she used that we really liked, so that we could look for it the next time we went makeup shopping. Star and I figured each of us would have to spend at least $50 or more on all the makeup that we had written on our little wish lists. Wow! These purchases were going to have to be made in spurts.

 

The next week we were in Lakeview helping our sister Skyla move into her new place, and at the end of the day, we thought we would pop into a local grocery store called Downtown Discount. They are apparently well known for their meat section, but they also usually have large buy-outs and bins full of the most random merchandise. I had my eyes peeled for makeup, but wasn’t having any luck. Suddenly I strolled around the corner and found two large banana boxes full to the top with every kind of makeup that you can think of! What made it even better was that the sign above the boxes said, “All Makeup $.99” Pretty awesome! You might be thinking, at that price it was probably all old and crusty and outdated, but it wasn’t. Most of it was really nice stuff. I walked out with new foundation (Revlon), powder (Almay), blush (Covergirl), bronzer (Jane), five different eye shadows, eyeliner (Almay), lipgloss (Maybeline), nail polish (Essie) and two different concealers (Almay)! Starla also found just as much as I did, if not more. She even found the very eyeshadow that we had both loved so much from our little makeovers with Serena. If you must know, it is called “Mink” by Covergirl. 😉 In the end we both spent about $15 on all new makeup! Such a blessing!

 

The moral of the story is this- If you have a desire to make a change and feel more beautiful and feminine, it is possible. And if you don’t have tons of money to buy new clothes or shoes, or in this case, new makeup, ask and you shall receive! Keep an eye out in your local newspapers for drug store ads! Sometimes drug stores have great coupons for makeup (Thank you, Heather Redmon, for the tip!). Also, have a good look around your local discount and buy-out stores for makeup and skincare products. The Lord knows the true desires of our hearts and He will provide. He cares that much about the details! Amazing, right?! I hope this inspires you! God Bless!

 

P.S. And for all you gals out there that only use mineral makeup, they did have some! I saw both ELF and Physicians Formula in those banana boxes. 🙂

 

And, of course, much thanks to our beautiful sister, Serena! Your makeover was a true inspiration!

 

-Sierra:)

 

Sure! I’ll be a Madden Girl!

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If there is one thing that you should know about me, it is the fact that I am in love with shoes. Heels, boots, sneakers, sandals- you name it! And throughout every thrifty venture that I set out on, my first question to myself when I step through the door of a musty scented thrift store is, “Where is the shoe section?” I make a bee-line straight there, not even stopping to check out a cute hat or purse. Everyone has their priorities, right? (Or maybe a more appropriate word would be “weakness” rather then “priority”….) And I am proud to admit that shoes are mine!

My lovely sister (and roommate) Starla, and I were out together this past Saturday to do our weekly banking and grocery shopping in town when we decided to add a little thrifting to our daily duties. We popped over to St. Mary’s to one of our favorite thrifting spots called Agape. As usual, I made my trip straight to the shoe section. I scanned my eyes over the “size 8 and 8 1/2” section over and over. I had my eyes peeled for some new boots (my favorite foot-wear), but I simply wasn’t having any luck. I wondered over to the housewares section and found some fantastic transfer-ware china with a pretty, pink flower print. They wanted $50 for it! CRAZY! And pretty soon I was wondering back over to the shoes for a second scan. I always make a second scan because I usually ALWAYS miss something good the first time around. On my way over a realized that the lovely ladies of Agape ministries had set up a special “winter wear” section near the cash register and it had a whole separate selection of winter boots. Nice! But I looked them over closely and they just looked blah….You know that look, right? Like maybe the people should have just thrown some of those boots away…?? Okay! Okay! I know! It’s charity! Fine!…..So anyways, I didn’t see anything that suited my taste, so I ventured over to the hats and found a knit winter cap that I may try wearing if I do any snow boarding again this winter. Very cute. Very college-kid cute….

Ok, so we’ve been in this thrift store for about 45 minutes to an hour now and I’m thinking that I haven’t found much that I can’t live without. (A top rule of mine when buying clothes or shoes- Don’t buy it unless you LOVE it!) Star tells me that she found some boots that she thinks I might like over in the winter-wear section. I see them and they don’t strike me….but wait! What to my wondering eyes would appear?? I freshly set out pair of black riding boots, by Madden Girl ( a Steve Madden company)! And in my size! Victory!! Poor Star was a bit disappointed that they weren’t in her size….She has been praying to find a pair for months….But, oh well! Ha! I revel in my thrifty find with grateful heart!

I love my Vogue magazine and always try to be familiar with the current season’s looks. Though riding boots are sort of a classic look that doesn’t really go out of style, I find it really cool to see ads or shoots that display looks that I have found at a reasonable price. Here is an ad from Vogue magazine that displays several different types and variations of riding boots. Not sure of prices on these beautiful boots, but I got mine for $6.99 at the lovely Agape Ministries, of St. Mary’s, Ohio! Nothing like finding a great deal that makes you look great as well! Love it!

-Sierra:)