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SPRING IS HERE

The personal pages of a New York City based fashionista's notebook

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Here's the Thing About My Skin Care Regimen -- And Yours.

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Airport Style is Officially a Thing: Thanks Lipault Paris.

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I initially became aware of the fact that the airport experience, as it relates to fashion, is relatively indistinguishable from the one in which street style gurus clamor for sidewalk space outside of the most coveted (and photographed!) runway shows when I spotted a picture of Victoria Beckham waltzing through Heathrow in a pair of sky-high Louboutins and reflective glass aviators. Immediately at her side, like a small, chic football team (pun intended!!), were her equally posh (pun intended!!) looking children — Harper stealing the show in a Burberry dress and a matching pink hair bow.

When Chiara, Negin, and Olivia post photos of themselves perched atop roll-along Louis Vuitton suitcases, looking fresh faced and beautiful, one might reasonably assume that each girl is headed straight down to the beach rather than directly into what promises to be a germ infested, claustrophobic, twenty-one hour nightmare.

But here’s the thing: I, too, spend a fairly exorbitant amount of time boarding flights for a living. Since there are a whole host of pre-existing horrors dedicated solely to the experience of simply being in an airport, it’s especially important to ensure that I’m travelling in an efficient, stylish and streamlined way; that’s the one aspect of the situation that I actually can control.

And so, when I discovered Lipault Paris, I made a direct beeline towards their products. Since commencing my gypsy based life smack-dab in the center of LaGuardia, I’ve become cognizant of the fact that a substantial deficit exists in the way of finding chic and affordable travel pieces. More often than not, I watch the same mid-size, black canvas bags work their way around the conveyor belt, shouting things like “Each of use are just as drab and depressing as the next – instant outfit ruiners, for sure!” and “We’re all the same color, shape and size; just put us out of our misery already!”

Listen — it suffices to say that the majority of modern day fashionistas don’t have a particularly compelling interest in pulling out all of the stops to dedicate five hours of hair and makeup — and the potential threat of a broken ankle — to becoming Victoria Beckham prior to boarding transatlantic flights. But who doesn’t want to feel put together and organized when commencing a trip, knowing that their cute outfits and must-have products are neatly stowed away in style?

Lipault Paris is all about rich colors, textures, and — WAIT FOR IT — affordability. Created in Paris about a decade ago (Anything French – #obviously, #getonit, #nobraineranyway), the bags are basically the inedible equivalent of those delish macaroons that we like to photograph (and consume) all day long. In slowly commencing the process of planning for my honeymoon, I’ve already decided that I want one of the bags in every color — I won’t pack in anything else nowadays.

To see what it is that I’m so fervently raving about, visit http://www.lipault-usa.com.

Let the obsession commence.

X

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Here’s the Thing About My Skin Care Regimen — And Yours.

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Dear NoteBrooke,

Here’s the thing about my skincare regimen: for the greater portion of my adult life, it ceased to exist.

Unless you factor in that one plastic hand soap dispenser with the white pump top that I’d press down on each night to retrieve a small sampling of an emulsion that was more conducive to sterilizing dirty dishes than it was to removing makeup from — human flesh — then it would be accurate to assert that I’ve spent far too many years willfully neglecting my pores.

But before you start drawing parallels between me and 2007 Britney – you know, the one who proudly noted that she often slept in her makeup for several consecutive nights in order to avoid the inevitability of having to go through the reapplication process in the AM – let me just remind you of the maddening (and ubiquitous) skincare introductory scenario that the majority of women experience.

If you’ve ever visited a cosmetics counter, then you’ve probably already had the displeasure of listening to a sales pitch that resulted in the confused purchase of seven “completely necessary” and “highly effective” serums.

And although your newly acquired high brow potions are mixed with bizarrely named ingredients that you can’t even begin to pronounce, but that your over zealous associate tosses around as though they’re every day adjectives (“And this one is infused with lavender julep mint tea extract (!) excavated from the single most plush rainforest (!) in Sri Lanka”) – they’re just never going to provide that instantaneous Karlie Kloss complexion that you were so steadfastly guaranteed.

As I’ve gotten older and learned to veer away from things like dish soap and Bounty paper towels when it comes to washing my face, I’ve accepted the fact that skincare is, in fact, extremely important. It turns out that dermatologists really do seem to know what they’re talking about. And, with my wedding date quickly approaching, I’m especially particular about what I get into the habit of putting on my pores.

That said, the Avon ANEW AHA Refining Cream, the ANEW Clinical Strength Retexturizing Peel, and the ANEW Vitamin C Brightening Serum (click down on product names to see for yourself!) allow me to care for my skin in a quick/simple/effective way.

While I think it’s safe to say that most aspects of my life are relatively high maintenance require a lot of time and the occasional indulgence, skin care just isn’t one of them. With a trifecta of mini bottles that keep me clear and glowy (And I mean, what more could I really ask for out of life, anyway?), this is one thing that I can be very pragmatic about.

Head to ANEW Game Changer’s Landing Page (click on it!) to see my trusty and transportable skincare favorites.

X,

B

 

 

 

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What Three Years of Living in NYC Has Taught Me.

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It’s 8pm on a Friday night, and I’m jonesing to make a smooth escape from the cubicle where I’ve spent the entirety of my workweek, flexing and unfurling my lower limbs in the same manner that a meth addict does when she’s patently itching for a stockpile of smack.

At 8:o7pm, exactly, my boss retrieves his briefcase and careens through the secure glass doors that divide us – the newsroom: a small, if not eclectic, group of producers, reporters, and tech gurus – from the city that’s unleashing its rush hour based rigor twenty stories below.

As the resident underachiever of the group, it’s inherently understood that I’ll be the first to leave for the night. Despite the fact that the minimum base fare of an Uber ‘X’ has surged to something that equates to what a substantial percentage of Americans — outside of the New York major metropolitan area — pay in property taxes, I make a heated beeline to the nearest black car and enjoy a cushy ride back to my apartment on the East Side.

There’s a theory that’s not often discussed – probably because it exists solely within the recesses of my own mind – that suggests that nobody in New York, with the exception of parents and/or a small fraction of the resident elderly population, puts forth a particularly compelling effort to establish any semblance of a robust savings account.

I’m producing content for MSNBC, and for a long while, I’m completely enamored with the act of being part of the largest media market in North America; at twenty-five years old, I’m fulfilling my dream of playing in the the majors. But unsurprisingly, the days are arduous and exhaustive and my shoots can be as physically taxing as they are emotionally jarring. As such, I quickly realize that I’m willing to forego things like heat and electricity in exchange for espresso laden venti iced coffees and a few extra minutes of sleep propagated by the aid of a bi-daily Uber ride.

By 9:15 pm, Caroline, my best friend, arrives at my doorstep. Fresh off the heels of what appears to be a grueling therapy session, I immediately detect familiar shadows of my own demeanor in her overwrought, tense expression. Together, we meander onto the small, concrete terrace that’s directly outside of my bedroom window, and with a blue bottle of cheap Moscato in tote, commence a candid dialogue about the fact that we’re both terrified of everything.

Caroline is a true genius – not the obnoxious kind who consistently mentions “Harvard this, Harvard that” — but the kind whose passions and predilections are so genuinely out of sync with her physical appearance that she herself becomes an object of fascination to the world at large.

Sitting on the 2×4 slab of concrete that is my terrace, with the New York skyline standing prostrate in front of us, as if to ask, aggressively, acerbically, “Oh, you thought this would be easy?” we resemble two characters in the center of an utterly tragic Lana Del Ray video. Beneath the full moon, we’re lounging on the floor, sipping white carbonated wine and obsessing over the idea that all of our worst fears could so easily come to fruition, obliterating our pre-constructed life plans and rendering us perpetually alone and wholly unfulfilled.

We talk about our careers and wonder if we’ll end up intellectually underwhelmed and eternally destitute. And what about our relationship statuses? Tonight, I’ve successfully managed to convince myself that my boyfriend, the love of my adult life (and my now fiancé), will disappear into oblivion via a Joe Jonas like breakup text. Failing to find a partner to spend forever with seems like a tragedy of sorts, but I make absolutely certain to remind myself of the fact that it’ll be ten times more horrific to finally feel something this poignant and then to watch it all slip away.

We take turns analyzing the potential root causes of our wide spanning list of anxieties and try to decipher what our respective purposes on the planet ought to be. It’s a lot to tackle for two young girls on a Friday night, especially while readying ourselves to go downtown for an evening of…fun. But with each free floating anxiety that we ruminate over, ultimately, we end up laughing so voraciously at our own melodramatic musings that I literally have to beg Caroline to “shut up!” because eyeliner is now dripping off of my face, and, per usual, we’re running late. I grab her metallic gold YSL tribute heels and she pulls an outfit from somewhere in my closet. We leave.

Truth be told, some of our fears are entirely valid: they’re far more deeply rooted than the surface level stuff that we’re touching upon in conversation. Caroline knows my darkest demons. But she’s also aware of the fact that my rational side, the one that allows me to function on a day day to basis, is still firmly in tact, and that while a bout of situational anxiety might’ve reared its icky, foundation free face for a moment, it’s actually unbelievably cathartic for both of us to let it out.

I understand certain things about Caroline, as well. I recognize what people consistently expect her to be – a leggy blonde girl with Kennedy-esque Massachusetts based roots and messy hair that always falls perfectly into place (proverbial eye roll, ensue). Both of us are well aware of the fact that lots of people don’t have particularly kind things to say about us, but we’ve stopped caring about baseless assumptions and personal insults. There’s no time for that anymore. New York feels like a microcosm of social darwinism at play, and we’re primarily focused on surviving in the new maze that’s become our adult lives. While I recognize that Cara is decidedly a well coiffed glamor puss and a ridiculously talented stylist to some of the greatest talents of our time, to boot, I also know that she’s a scientifically and mathematically driven engineer before she is anything else, that she n-e-v-e-r utters a negative word about anyone (a seemingly impossible feat that I’m working on being able to lay claim to myself), and that, regardless of any of her fears, she’ll always be OK.

I project onto her life a mirror of sorts, a luminous window into a complex mind and an old soul. She, in turn, does the same for me.

And now, a couple of years into our respective journeys in New York, when we worry, we don’t run towards the darkest parts of our psyches, but instead, we go out into the city, the one that’s shown us how resilient we really are, and if nothing else, we’re finally free.

8

NoteBrooke Needs Summer.

 

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Boots | Cold Shoulder Top | Romper | Black Dress

Dear NoteBrooke,

I’ve legitimately spent the past seven to nine months doing nothing more than attempting to protect my little limbs from the onset of intensive frostbite during outdoor shoots. Admittedly, I’ve given far too much extra attention to all things leather, cashmere, and cushy in the name of relative warmth. BUT, with the onset of spring/summer (praise God!)! finally approaching here in NYC, I’ve recently put a great deal of obsessive thought into creating a look that’s as fun and simplistic as it is cost effective.

Of late, I’ve been on a manic hunt for the must haves — great fits, rich color options, and affordable pieces, which is how/why I came to discover the g-e-n-i-u-s that is XOXO. Incredibly fresh and original, XOXO offers up lots of magical goodies that can’t be found/duplicated/ripped off in every other major department store either. After rocking my pale blue booties, cold shoulder top (which is decidedly the best name for a shirt ever) and hello-yellow romper for the past week or so, it suffices to say this line, as a whole, is essentially giving me life, and I’ll be sporting it all summer long. 😉 See for yourself at XOXO.com

X

B

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3

Moving to New York City in Three Weeks or Less.

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[I’ve partnered with Corcoran to tell the story of what inspires me about the process of creating a New York City based home.  For further creative goodies, be sure to visit their brand new blog at inhabit.corcoran.com -xx, B]

Dear NoteBrooke,

When I was a child, I spent a considerable amount of time architecting what my ensuing move to the Big Apple would look like.

Clad in dark leather pants, a fitted blazer, and a red/blue/forest green plaid scarf (Yes, my meticulous attention to detail was presumably the first indication of the chronic bout of all-consuming OCD that was still yet to surface), I’d swoop into town with a repertoire of only the most coveted essentialsthe kinds of things that organically fell within the purview of the entirely attainable and the universally fundamental…for a seven year old with her head in the clouds, or like, Ken Vanderpump.

In addition to a newly acquired editorial position at Conde Nast and a well organized haute couture wardrobe, surely I’d manage to scoop up a killer pad with a view of the Park and a walk in closet that starkly resembled Carrie Bradshaw’s sprawling oasis amidst the clouds – you know, the one with the customized white cabinetry that was gifted to her from Big in an apparent effort to underscore his understanding of her passion for electric blue Manolos as a fundamental component of intellectualized personal expression.

But what I actually encountered when I arrived to New York were the remnants of a bad breakup and an egregiously constructed attempt at adulthood. Fresh off the heels of a cancelled engagement, I found myself unemployed and homeless in the literal center of a pile of bulging white trash bags that had come to comprise my “life” (or whatever remained of it) as a bonafide Manhattanite.

Um…somebody call Corcoran?

Without a plan, a job, or an apartment, I launched headfirst into the process of creating some semblance of a reasonably operative day-to-day existence. But despite landing a pseudo well-paying gig as a celebrity personal assistant, finding my soulmate (!) and slipping into a bustling downtown social scene, I found myself aching (Literally. Think wholly incapacitating stress induced tummy pains) — for a place to call home.

In a city that never sleeps, it feels all the more imperative to find a peaceful little box in the sky (or even just a few stories up!) where one can retreat beneath her comforter and shut the literal/proverbial door upon the surrounding labyrinth of madness that’s sure to be ensuing atop the crowded, noisy, and air polluted city sidewalks below.

A longtime fan of the Corcoran Group, I quickly came to appreciate the fact that despite my childhood predilection for parquet floored penthouses and limestone constructed skyscrapers, my broker was equally enthusiastic about the prospect of helping me to find an apartment that fit both my budget and my individual list of must haves. A good view?  Check.  Hard wood floors?  Yep.  Closet space?  Praise Jesus!

Within less than a month, a brand new mattress was laid down on my bedroom floor – which, by the way, is  the first step to any successful move. Slowly, I breathed in the fresh scent of my newly acquired home (If I could somehow bottle that fragrance and sell it as a Dyptique Candle, I would)  in the same way that a particularly devout yogi might inhale during the pinnacle moment of her morning transcendental meditation.

In my quest to find a perfectly personalized Brooke nook (potential URL name for an interior design blog?!) somewhere amongst the endless barrage of sirens, I discovered all of the requisite touches that made my urban apartment feel like a South Floridian beachfront oasis to me.

And although I ultimately moved in with my fiancé upon getting engaged last September – two years post my initial arrival to New York — I still maintain that all I really to need to feel comfortable in my living space is a couple of personalized touches and a view of the city that surrounds me.  Everything else is extra.

My fiancé and I have now managed to create our very own home together, one that houses (hehe) tons of special memories and all of the creature comforts that we both covet, respectively. That said, my initial move to the city is decidedly the one that prompted me to reflect upon the importance of turning a house or an apartment into something significantly more than just that alone.

Head to Corcoran.com to check out the launch of their new blog. It contains some pretty spectacular imagery and inspo 😉

Blog: http://socialyte.9nl.me/kelr

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thecorcorangroup/

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5

The Mass Marginalization of the Young Woman: Becoming a Caricature of Myself.

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Dear NoteBrooke,

Deliberate avoidance of a visit to the ATM out of fear that one’s bank balance has become so irreparably attenuated via overdraft fees – those pesky, dirty little dings that are inflicted upon us each time that we swipe our thin plastic life lines through the requisite Bergdorf/Starbucks/Duane Reade (I’m just naming the essentials here) credit card machines long after they’ve been sufficiently maxed out –- is a tactic that’s as effective in amassing some semblance of a savings account as is my ability to avoid bum rushing all of the kitchen cabinetry the moment that my fiancé cavalierly asserts that he ordered up a jumbo jar of Nutella from Fresh Direct earlier that afternoon.

I’ve learned, more aggressively than most, perhaps, that denial only begets a slew of egregiously misguided life choices — those that eventually, invariably, render one physically and emotionally displaced upon a coarsely carpeted, sickly colored hotel room floor while commencing a manic search for a place to call home and clutching a newly ascertained rendition of the King James Bible. This is, of course, a brief allusion to the disastrous conclusion of my previous relationship and to the abrupt/urgent move to New York City that ensued immediately thereafter.

In more extreme instances, it can also catalyze undercover jaunts to markedly unsavory destinations across the globe, those that are generally presupposed to house a slew of sticky, heat saturated Central American brothels in their tropical custodies — the types of establishments that smell of thick, low hanging cigarette smoke and that cater to a predominantly pale-skinned, fair-haired customer base of gringo pedophiliacs looking to fulfill their criminal perversions behind the semi opaque veil of extreme third world poverty.

If you’re immersed in a culture that propagates a consistent barrage of stringent generalizations regarding the female identity, then you’ll soon realize that most of us are allotted just enough room to be catalogued as either a Kim Kardashian or a Kate Middleton, an ideology that subliminally disseminates polarizing extremes and virgin/whore complexes aplenty.

So if it means disproving widespread, preordained notions that draw staunch parallels between fashion savvy, fresh faced young females and vapid, vacuous superficiality – you know, the especially icky kind that lends itself to labels like spoiled rich girl, airhead, gold digger, frivolous, self-absorbed, pathetic, disposable – (Because, I’m quite certain that I’ve been assigned all of those titles at one time or another), then you, too, might engage in your own game of Russian Roulette, disappearing into the previously mentioned Central American Red Light District with nothing more than a poorly concealed Go Pro camera and bits of badly broken Spanglish under your belt.

You’d be on a no holds barred mission, after all – not only to unearth the complexities of the story at hand, but maybe, in some way, to produce (pun intended) your personal truth, as well.

Which is all to say, that I’ve spent the greater portion of my twenties making a lot of wildly erroneous life choices in an internal quest to seek some measure of external public credence. I’ve pursued more than one misguided career trajectory, including, as much as I hate to say it – journalism. Here’s the thing: although I l-i-v-e-d for the actual act of producing worthwhile, worthy content — the kind of stuff that I’d be willing to sleep in grimy, bug ridden motels sequestered between hidden hills in desolate and dangerous foreign lands for — I didn’t want to be Lisa Ling if it meant that I couldn’t be Miroslava Duma, as well.

Because, why should a penchant for contoured cheekbones and swoon worthy street style outweigh my requisite intent to hop on a plane and to risk my right to things like – well, habeas corpus, for instance, in the name of storytelling?

Tell me: in 2016, why do static characters and predilections regarding the female gender continue to penetrate and permeate our society? What if you could see who I really am?

I wonder what you’d think; I wonder how differently I’d feel in my own skin.

X,

Brooke

 

 

2

The Indelible Value of a Spring Statement Shoe.

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Dear NoteBrooke,

If presented with the opportunity to fast forward through my youth by a few decades and to slip right into a South Floridian retirement community instead, I would take that deal in about seven seconds or less.

Born and raised in the Tristate Area, I’ve become all too accustomed to elongated spasms of snow/hail/sleet/frostbite/tears/et. al. And so, despite my penchant for eighty-two degree days and the occasional beach wave, I’ve compiled a wardrobe that’s decidedly more conducive to ensuring that my limbs remain in tact than to begging the [rhetorical] question:

Don’t I just look so summertime chic right now?!

It stands to reason, then, that whenever springtime (finally) does roll around, I consistently experience a recurring bout of fashion panic, racking my brain for stylistic options that seem as fresh and unique as the balmy spring days that have eclipsed my six month stint in semi-reclusive hibernation.

When I first found M.Gemi, the shoe line that birthed these bad girls (!), I was uber surprised and pleasantly taken aback. Because, come May, I often find that I’m wholly disenchanted by the cookie cutter-esque options that are strewn across the shelves of every major department store in New York City. Do I really want to opt for another pair of Jesus style lace up sandals and/or ballet flats that aren’t actually flattering on anyone other than Olivia Palermo?

M.Gemi is the first line that I’ve found that offers absurdly cute and cost effective sandals, pumps, flats, booties and sneakers. In styling an outfit, or building a wardrobe that one loves, I always suggest starting with the right pair of shoes and building upward from there to create a silhouette, color scheme, and vibe that lends itself to the themes of chic and unique. Upon scouring the M.Gemi website, I quickly found that they essentially do the work for you insofar as creating options that are instant outfit completers, especially in the way of street style.

Everyone loves a colorful espadrille, a seasonlesss pointed toe flat, and a tastefully done lace up bootie that instantly elevates a wardrobe by way of texture, fit and individuality. And thus, it’s safe to say that I’ll be rocking A LOT of M.Gemi when it decides to stop freezing rain and being grey here in New York City.

Check them out and thank me later. 😉

X,

B

 

2

Swimwear Season, Let’s Get Real.

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[Photography: Conor Doherty]

Although the majority of my girlfriends are relatively unapologetic in their emission of a dejectedly collective sigh as it relates to summertime planning and the overarching subject of obligatory swimwear purchases (Because, hello, no matter how much you think you want to, you really can’t rock that full body snuggie to the beach without assuming the risk of either heat exhaustion or mandatory institutionalization), I experience a slightly different, if not more poignant, brand of horror at the mention of the ultra taboo topic of

…bikini season.

Because, in visualizing the experience of shopping for suits, my brain consistently makes a recurring beeline to the deeply entrenched image of an old Instagram photo that I once spotted of Isabel Goulart — yes, that’s the ultra fit, I-always-make-time-for-the-gym-lah-dee-dah-dee-dah Brazilian supermodel.

Sporting her itsy bitsy teeny weenie, not only is Isa the physical embodiment of goals on goals on goals, but she’s also…get ready for it….J-U-M-P-I-N-G  R-O-P-E on the deck of a yacht amidst a friendly group of eager onlookers.

TALK ABOUT CONFIDENCE.

Listen, I’m well aware of the fact that I have an ironing board like/Gumby-esque physique (Attribute that to my Grandfather and his deeply entrenched Eastern European roots/a diet that consists of fairly well balanced moderation — sometimes), but generally speaking, I don’t even feel self-assured enough to get up out of my lounge chair while donning a set of strings, let alone to prance into a patch of glaring overhead mid-day sunlight in order to commence a full blown jump roping excursion. I mean…who wants to shake in their swim garb?

And for me, it’s not usually about body image issues concerning weight or shape, per se; however, I’m perpetually plagued by all of those other physical flaws that probably exist mostly in the recesses of my brain but that haunt the heck out of me nonetheless — think moles, dark body hair atop a Casper like shade of pallid skin (not a cute subject or look – sorry, dolls), excessive razor stub, et al.

So, then, how did I end up enjoying a bikini shoot so much? Well, I finally found some swimwear that I actually felt Isa-caliber comfortable in. No – seriously!

In the past, I’ve spent pre-summer hours/days/weeks scouring racks of bathing suits at both department stores and random boutiques only to walk away with wildly overpriced and often ill fitting options – those that were too big, too small or just wholly unflattering altogether. But upon clicking through Express.com and taking a gander at their impressive selection of goodies, I enjoyed a totally different kind of shopping experience, one that had me positively giddy over the imminent arrival of beach season.

And with a whole host of super affordable options (!) at my immediate disposal, I was able to order up a few unique styles without enduring the residual effects of buyer’s remorse.

Imagine this: you poke through a collection of cute suits on Express.com and decide on a couple of well-priced wonders. When the requisite package arrives at your doorstep, you tip toe over to a full-length mirror and carefully open the plastic packaging; hey, history has proven to you that return (coupled with excessive self loathing) is an inevitability when it comes to this endeavor, right?

WRONG!

Not only do you now have a couple of adorable bathing suits that actually fit TRUE TO SIZE (there’s a concept!), but you’ve also avoided breaking the bank, which is obviously an amazing rarity and a total bonus. Now, enjoy your tanning, swimming, photo opping, and maybe even jump roping (?!) for several months to come 😉

Visit Express.com to see what I mean.

 

X,

 

B

8

Finding the One.

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Dear NoteBrooke,

After launching a full blown career in fashion upwards of one year ago and spending the greater portion of my life (we’re talking at least from toddlerhood and beyond here) attempting to effectuate a level of stylistic perfectionism that could only be categorized as a derivative of some severe form of obsessive compulsive disorder, you’d think that I would have managed to find the perfect “go-to” white T-shirt by now.  Assuredly, such an acute wardrobe staple should hold a ubiquitous presence in the closet of any fashionista looking to birth her own stylistic identity, let alone one who works to create different looks for a living.

But while I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time contorting my limbs into various states of distress, switching from outfit to outfit in the tiniest…and grimiest…of Soho café restrooms (think mysteriously sticky floors), and then emerging from the ordeal(s) looking “freshly powdered enough” to shoot my next post, I still couldn’t manage to ascertain the holy grail of must have items of apparel — that is, a perfectly fitting white tee.

…until I stumbled upon this gem.

So, THANKS, Kate Spade New York!

In celebration of the fact that I no longer have to tip toe into my fiancés closet to swipe one of his oversized monsters, attempting to fold, tuck and maneuver it so that the fabric somehow falls well enough (Is that really the barometer for acceptability in the way of apparel purchases?!) to be photographed for an upcoming shoot, I incorporated my newly acquired and perfectly fitted Kate Spade top into three different looks today. With Spring quickly approaching, I’ve been big on new discoveries of late, including, of course, this long sought after wonder. In fact, I’m seriously lusting after various KSNY goodies at the moment. Take a look for yourselves, my loves, and let me know what you think!

X,

Brooke

4

Daddyless Daughters.

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I’m a magnet for anything involving Iyanla Vanzant. The very title of her show on OWN contains a command to “Fix My Life!” so I mean, really, what more could a viewer ask for in the way of a reality television spiritual guru.

Although I’ve admittedly scoured perused old Iyanla YouTube episodes with titles like, “A Father of 34 Children Confronts His Painful Past,” and “My Toxic Obsession: A Former Model Battles an Addiction to Butt Injections For Beauty,” it was the five minute segment called “Daddyless Daughters” that rendered me something of a human rag doll — a sudden mix of nausea, full body shakes, tears and snot — lying solo in the fetal position on my bathroom floor.

Sorry neighbors. Sorry readers.

But you see, I am a Daddyless daughter.

That I might possess a societally ordained disguise as a well bred, high functioning woman with two parents who live in the heart of Greenwich, Connecticut, matters little when Iyanla poignantly, and so fucking factually, states the obvious — “Daddy Gone –” encouraging all of the other daddyless daughters in the audience to own the enormity of their pain/hurt/confusion via the use of three short, grammatically incorrect syllables that cut, like a flesh ripping blunt blade, right to the crux of the matter.

Daddy Gone.

Statistics would suggest that I’m one of twenty-four million Americans who grew up in a biological father absentee home and that — for all intents and purposes — I’m decidedly one of the more fortunate byproducts of a broken system.

It stands to reason then that I’ve never allowed myself to bask in an elongated state of self-pity or to feel the residual effects of a rejection that I still can’t even really begin to process myself. Although I was made aware of the sobering, “wow-this-is-really-kind-of-a-conversation-STOPPER” circumstances surrounding the situation, like my father’s apparent demands for my mother to have a first trimester abortion (cat’s out of the bag now, guys!), by the age of fifteen, I was determined to play sleuth, spending my summer vacay hidden away on the desktop computer in my attic and ascertaining all of my Dad’s noticeably covert contact information while blasting Ashlee Simpson’s, “Pieces of Me.” Eventually, I reached out to him via letter (From what I’d been told, we both had a penchant for writing) and we actually corresponded via a series of enthusiastically riddled long distance phone calls.

But for reasons that I can’t quite make sense of, the deeply articulate voice on the other end of the line suddenly slipped away again like a helium balloon passing through the fingers of a credulous child as it soars through the boundless blue sky above. Fly if you must, John, but fix me first. Give me back the piece of myself that you took with you at the outset.

Beyond the absence of my “bio dad,” one could easily assert that I lead a fairly privileged existence, especially because at the age of five, my stepfather arrived onto the scene like a brand new pink Power Wheels Corvette convertible (That was the hot toy car circa 1992) — the pinnacle of big red bow surprises sent straight from the universe.

Offering up an entirely new identity that came replete with a two-parent family, a big white house, pre-paid tuitions aplenty, and a little sister, to boot, surely, I could no longer be categorized as a daddyless daughter.  In fact, even within my household, we rarely spoke about the subject or mentioned the fact that I had another father floating around somewhere within the continental United States.

Here’s the thing: my stepfather provided for me as if I were his own, and I believe that he genuinely intended to view me as his biological daughter. My Dad, as I came to call him, was indisputably good to me for the large majority of my life. That said, there was always a palpable disconnect that existed between us — an unspoken, if not inconvenient and tragic truth, that alluded to the fact that a fundamental piece of our emotional bond was mysteriously absent.

I can’t speak from his perspective, of course, but I can tell you that although I loved him, I loved him, I loved him, I consistently felt largely inadequate beneath the glare of his presence. The relaxed cadence that he seemed to enjoy around my mother and sister quickly dissipated when it came to striking up conversation with me.  Was there something wrong with the way in which I communicated?  Was I boring?  Was I stupid?  Worse yet, was I a subconscious physical reminder of another man — one with dark features and Grecian roots?  As a child, I really didn’t want to be that; the very idea of it sickened me to my core and made me feel guilty, helpless and dirty.

Although I’m deeply appreciative of it and believe that it’s something that shouldn’t just be swept under the rug, I needed more than the financial stability that my stepdad afforded me. I craved some further measure of warmth, expression, cajoling, empathy, humor, love –- anything to break the unyielding glacial barrier that rudely, aggressively, purposely wedged itself between us for twenty some odd years.  If I could have knocked it down by myself, believe me, I would have, but ultimately, it was too strong, and I needed his focus and concentration to dismantle it in its entirety.

Of all the people that I’ve encountered in my life (sans my biological father of course because, well, again, I’ve never actually encountered him), ironically, my stepdad was the only one who I could never quite win over despite my foremost efforts. I always believed that if we could somehow remove the invisible wedge that consistently drove us into an awkward abyss of horrible politeness, struggling at times even to form small talk, we could’ve enjoyed a profoundly rewarding father/daughter relationship.

Recently, my Dad and I decided to go our separate ways. He’s another helium balloon in the bright blue sky now, and regardless of our conclusion, I’ll always pray that he soars safely and peacefully amongst the gentlest of winds.

But I had to stop looking up at the sky in order to face what’s right here in front of me.

At the end of the YouTube segment, Iyanla sat upright in front of the women like some kind of eretheral maternal deity.  She encouraged them to “clutch their pearls,” which is really code for “I’m-Iyanla-Vanzant-and-I’m-about-to-dispense-some-really-fucking-unbelievable-wisdommmmmmm-so-listen-up.”

And then she chided, “You really have to be able to forgive yourself for the things you told yourself as the result of the story that you made up about the reason why your father wasn’t there.”

In doing this — that is, in retracting all of the less than kind words and sentiments that I’ve developed throughout the course of my life about myself, I’m healing.

While I try to reserve most of my blog entries for substantially more uplifting topics, the preeminent reason for creating the written portion of NoteBrooke.com was to normalize either esoteric, unattainable or hard to talk about topics — to make them more chit chat worthy and less… dire.

So, here’s my truth: I’m a Daddyless daughter, and I forgive myself for it anyway.

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