Tag Archives: Style

2014 Style in Pictures

What a beautiful year 2014 was! I am looking back at some of my favourite style, travel and cultural moments in this post and re-living the joy.

I am looking forward to sharing more stylish moments with you in 2015! Stayed tuned for new lifestyle and travel pieces.

Happy New Year!

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Mexico City, The Blue House, where Frida Kahlo lived
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Playa del Carmen, Mexico
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Beach hair… Playa del Carmen
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Traditional style Mexican jewellery and Balinese silk dress go well together…
Pastels to celebrate spring in London
Pastels to celebrate spring in London
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Arriving in Venice…
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This place needs no introduction!
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Dressed up for Secret Cinema’s screening of Grand Budapest Hotel
San Francisco city style
San Francisco city style
Matching my outfit with beautiful Lisbon blossom
Matching my outfit with beautiful Lisbon blossom
Cadaques, Cataluña
Cadaques, Cataluña
Brightening it up in Spain
Brightening it up in Spain
Blending in, Santorini
Blending in, Santorini
Paris in October
Paris in October
At a reception in Kyiv
At a reception in Kyiv

 

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe, New Mexico

 

Winter style, London
Winter style, London
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Life lessons from a year of blogging

I received a happy one year anniversary message from WordPress today. Love Your Style is one year old. Compared to some of the more established blogs out there, this is not significant, but to me this is a big milestone. I heard many people, bloggers to be precise, say that blogging changes your life. It is true. Blogging slowly changed my life. It became my creative outlet, something I have allowed myself to do out of inspiration, rather than forced myself to write because I had to. It started as a project without specific targets and it has evolved together with me. Love Your Style has been my way of exploring what inspires and motivates me. It started off as something I did for fun, for myself and for the sake of expressing creativity, not impressing others, achieving something or receiving recognition. This was really liberating. Eventually, the blog has started to serve as a platform for sharing my views, life lessons and expertise and connecting with people long before I decided what I want to do as an entrepreneur.

A year later, after experimenting and exploring, my vision for the blog is much clearer. Love Your Style is a place where I will continue to share my inspiration, style ideas and travel stories and photography (“A picture is worth a thousand words”).  My professional website and blog www.nataliashpek.com, a resource for women in business, who desire to define success on their own term, will feature posts on how to present yourself with confidence and style, become more visible as a woman in business and work (and live!) in a way that inspires you. You can sign up for weekly newsletter here.

My intention for Love Your Style for the coming year is to bring more fun and inspiration into your lives. Next several posts will feature photos and stories from my summer travel destinations, some of them familiar, some quite unexpected (at least for me) and summer outfit ideas. There will be an occasional life lesson post – I can’t help it, I am a lifelong learner – but in general expect more photographs, stylish destinations, outfit ideas, lifestyle inspiration and who knows what else as the blog continues to evolve in its second year.  I would love to hear from you: what would you like to see/read about here?

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Back to the fact that the blog has changed my life. I would like to share the lessons I learned from blogging over the past year that have created big shifts in my life:

1. Being creative, whether it’s taking piano lessons or doing an occasional life drawing class, or blogging, makes life more enjoyable, less stressful and can be a very healing experience. What is your preferred form of creative expression? Please share below.

2. Perfectionism is not a strength to brag about in job interviews, it is, in most cases, an avoidance strategy. The best way to deal with this state of fear (this is essentially what perfectionism is, as it turns out) that I have discovered so far is to be creative for the sake of enjoying, not thinking about the end result.

3. Sharing myself openly and allowing myself to be vulnerable is one of the scariest things I have done. Once I did it, it was incredibly liberating. The best way to get through the fear of sharing yourself for me is to focus on the intention of helping or inspiring at least one person.

4. One person telling you they love what create/write/photograph or that they are inspired by what you share is enough.

5. You don’t have to have it all figured out before starting something, a blog, a project, a job. Just know what your next step is and trust. Exploring is often the best thing we can do for ourselves in our achievement and target-oriented culture.

I would love to hear from you. What would you like to see more of on Love Your Style?

How to stand out elegantly and confidently

Just over two weeks ago I was packing my bag for a short weekend break in Lviv, Ukraine. It was late, I was tired and the weather forecast wasn’t inspiring, so I just picked some random pieces, making sure they are warm enough for cold nights I was going to spend outdoors at international jazz festival Alfa Jazz Fest, and zipped my suitcase. I didn’t think more of it. I was going to a music festival, not some glamorous party. Only I forgot that in Eastern Europe any social occasion is a glamorous party. Feeling somewhat unglamorous in my smart casual outfits, I was ready to go into my judgement mode, which happens very often when I travel to my home country. And by that I mean make comments about how tasteless the society is with their love of extreme glamour and desire to show off everything they have in one outfit. Only this time, something was different: I didn’t feel like judging. I simply wanted to observe with an open mind. Women of all shapes and sizes chose very different outfits – from dresses to jeans with blouses and stilettos – and wore them confidently. It would be very difficult to stand out in that crowd – almost everybody stood out in their own way. I quickly realised that, with some exceptions, I was among a tastefully stylish crowd. Still, it would have been easy to find women dressed in a stereotypical over the top manner – you always find what you are tuned in to see. This time, instead of focussing on the few women that stood out for wrong reasons, I decided to learn from being among all these beautiful and very visible women, all judgements against the way the society operates and chauvinism aside.

At the after party
At the after party

What I took away from my weekend in Lviv is something I would like to invite women across many countries to consider.

1. Eastern European women are not afraid to be visible

They wear brighter colours, trendy outfits, fitted clothes. They are not afraid of being feminine and being noticed by others. They accept their beauty and show it off instead of hiding it. But looking your best is not so much about attention seeking (contrary to what some may think), it is a mindset.

When we change our mindset, we are able to see that there is nothing wrong with allowing ourselves to be noticed for the right reasons.

2. Looking stylish and feminine does not mean you are not intelligent 

At the jazz festival, I met female bankers, economists and high profile advisers, all of whom wore gorgeous feminine outfits. They didn’t seem to worry people would not take them seriously or perceive them as less intelligent if they show off their femininity and beauty in a stylish way.

How often are we muting ourselves or dimming our beauty just because we are afraid we won’t be taken seriously? It is possible to be both – beautiful and intelligent.

A beautiful friend of family in Ulyana Sergeyenko dress
Beautiful Lyudmila (a bank manager) in Ulyana Sergeyenko dress

3. They receive compliments gracefully

These women attract many compliments because they own their beauty and don’t shy away when someone notices it. They accept compliments with ease and grace, projecting natural confidence. This confidence and relaxed attitude helps conversations flow more easily and deepens connections.

4. Looking after yourself is a non-negotiable

Having lived for the past 14 years in Western Europe, I forgot that making a lot (by European standards) of effort is seen as entirely normal in Eastern Europe. A woman there would’t think twice about booking her weekly beauty appointment, nor would she show up anywhere with unmanicured nails or messy hair. My mother books my manicure and pedicure appointments even before I arrive in the country.

When we as women make self-care a non-negotiable, we show to ourselves (and to others) that we value ourselves.

Upon my return I decided to apply these lessons in my every day life. Last weekend, I had a lot of fun dressing up more than I would normally and felt amazing. Getting ready for a women’s networking meeting I felt inspired to wear some old pieces in an entirely new way and wore my “dressy” shoes instead of trying to blend in. I met incredible women who wanted to talk to me simply because they liked my outfit. This week instead of wearing a casual outfit, I wore my vintage dress to have dinner with girlfriends, inviting compliments comparing me to Audrey Hepburn. I accepted with grace. For my bank meeting this week I dressed on brand (stay tuned for my new brand and website reveal soon!) in a stylish dress and blazer and made a real effort with my hair and make up. The meeting went really well, I felt confident and in the flow at all times even when a bank manager asked me difficult (very masculine) questions about my new business.

These experiences helped me to realise that making an effort and looking stylish on whatever occasion I feel called to is not shallow or self-indulgent. It gives me energy, creates new exciting opportunities, enables me to feel confident in a relaxed way and shows that I am worthy, worthy of making an effort for, worthy of being seen and being listened to.

 

Ready to embody confidence, be seen and be heard as a woman in business? I invite you to book a complimentary discovery session with me here.

 

 

What to wear when you are working from home

Working from home has many advantages. Not having to get ready and leave the house in the morning, jumping out of bed and picking up your laptop without the commute are only a couple of them, right? Not for me… Don’t get me wrong, I love working from home. I enjoy being in a beautiful quiet environment, being in charge of my schedule, being able to burn my favourite scented candle or have fresh flowers on my desk. But for me, ditching style and hanging out in my pyjamas all day just because nobody sees me does not work.

This week, for example, I had to change my outfit before I could focus on work because it wasn’t right for me. It did not matter that nobody would see me, I didn’t feel good in my sweater dress and pink cardigan, something about that outfit wasn’t stylish, so I swapped the cardigan for a beautiful scarf, which made me feel more elegant. The following day, I felt called to put some jewellery and make up on before a call, audio, not video because I wanted to feel confident and beautiful. I know it made my call go better.

So why bother choosing an outfit and possibly even wearing make up or jewellery when you work from home?

1. It makes you feel good

Looking good helps us to feel good on the inside (yes, it goes both ways), and feeling good makes us more confident. Plus, feeling like you’ve made the effort to do your work puts you in the work mode right away.

2. It increases your self-worth

When a woman makes a conscious effort to look good, she shows to herself that she matters, that she values herself, that she is worth the effort. You are amazing and therefore deserve to be wearing your nice clothes and jewellery just for yourself. And we all know what happens when we value ourselves – others value us, and this translates into financial value too.

3. It awakens creativity

For me, putting together an outfit is a creative process and this always awakens my creativity for other activities. If I need a creativity boost, I wear bright clashing colours or bold accessories. In fact, I started writing this post in my pyjamas (I am the first one to admit I am not perfect), but it didn’t go anywhere until I changed into something more stylish.*

4. It shows integrity

If you are an entrepreneur or a freelancer working from home, helping others to create a stylish business or increase their visibility, confidence and value, walking your talk even when nobody sees you makes you and your brand more authentic and therefore more powerful.

5. You never know what opportunities might come up

Your ideal client may want to skype with you, you might feel inspired to go for a walk in your neighbourhood or have a spontaneous coffee break withy our friend. Be ready to be visible.

I realise I have not fully answered the question about what exactly to wear when working from home. There isn’t one formula fits all solution. For example, I love cashmere (as you may know by now) or silk dresses when it’s warm, colourful wraps or scarves, peg trousers, simple t-shirts with a chunky necklace because these clothes make me feel comfortable, stylish, elegant and ready to do my work. Without knowing you I cannot tell you what exactly to wear because style is a personal matter. What I can tell you is make sure your outfit makes you feel good, gorgeous, high value, confident and unique. If you need further guidance, think what outfit you wouldn’t mind being accidentally seen in by your ideal client.

*Apologies for a lack of photographs in this post, my personal photographer is away this and next week.

 

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Interested in discovering how to increase your confidence, visibility and value to attract stylish opportunities into your life? Book a discovery session here

 

Thoughts on the power of style

As London Fashion Week is approaching, style and fashion is the topic of the moment. Many people are excited to celebrate the time of creative expression through design. But many simply ignore it, claim they have no interest in it or use it as an opportunity to judge fashion as pure vanity. Regardless of what each of us thinks of the fashion industry or even LFW itself, I believe something needs to be said in defense of style and individual desire to look beautiful. Here is a note on the power of style in my life…

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On a grey and wet Monday morning a couple of days ago, I was feeling equally grim. As I was rushing out of the door to make my dentist appointment before going to work, I felt overwhelmed by all I needed to do even before properly starting the day. My promise to myself to stay calm, grounded and slow down this week went out of the window when I couldn’t find my travel card as I was already running late.

At that moment I became very aware of how tired I feel of this long winter, wearing the same clothes for the past three month and wearing multiple layers to keep warm, yet still feeling cold. At the beginning of the season I enjoyed winter fashion. I had fun mixing patterns, colours and textures – soft cashmere in different shades, silk with thick wool – to create new sweater-skirt combos, my favourite look this season. But after nearly three months of winter I have worn every possible combination and I am bored. Last week, noticing that I was slipping into a style rut, I promised myself to be better at honouring my desire for style in my life every single day (even when I am tired or uninspired). I finally found some creative solutions working around my busy schedule to have my dresses ironed and high-heeled boots re-heeled – so I could no longer use excuses that being stylish is too time consuming when I have to rush out in the morning.

On that Monday morning I had a choice: to wear flat boots I am so tired of wearing so I walk faster to make it to my appointment on time or to wear my recently re-heeled stylish suede black wedge heeled boots. I was stressed and late but something inside me spoke in favour of a more stylish choice. As I put on the boots admiring myself for a quick second in a mirror, I noticed a coat I hadn’t worn in months and decided to put it on. It went perfectly with my new burgundy hat. I no longer felt bored of my look. This may seem irrelevant: I was running late and there were more urgent and important things to do than throwing together a stylish outfit. But bear with me…

As I walked into my dentist’s office (she ended up being more late than I was), I was immediately showered with compliments: “Look at how stylish she is!”
“Let me see your handbag!”
“What a hat!”
“You look like a model”

The morning wasn’t so grim any more. I gracefully accepted the compliments and walked out without a hint of rush. Walking at a normal pace (as opposed to my typical speed walking) I saw that  several people in the street were noticing me. It didn’t feel inappropriate. I was surprised at how peaceful and empowered I felt, even though I was still running late for work, where a long to-do list was awaiting me, the weather was still wet and cold and my travel card was still missing. But none of this mattered because I felt beautiful both on the inside and the outside, and there was an incredible sense of empowerment from expressing who I am through style. I kept this awareness throughout the day. Choosing to honour my need, my desire for style in my daily life even when there appeared to be no time for it (regardless of how other may judge it) made my day.

What are your thoughts on style? Does it empower you?