Shopping and Styling JCPenney Looks for #theCURVYcon! (with links!)

Its 2:37am and I’m sitting in my friend’s living room in her cute little Washington Heights apartment half-watching the new season of the Great British Baking Show. No better time to start a blog entry right?? I’ve been in New York just over 2 weeks now for NY Fashion Week, shoots, and Curvy Con, and it has been an exhausting blur. I’m in the middle of a 5 week road trip and getting excited for the international leg of my trip that's coming up in 2 days (what’s up London Fashion Week?!). Before I my memory fails me, I want to start sharing more things with you! First up…

#JCPenney at #theCURVYcon!

There is sooo much I can say about #theCURVYcon. The highs, the lows, the sweat and the star power. But that will be set aside for another post. Full disclosure folks: I partnered with JCPenney at Curvy Con to do some sponsored coverage of the event, including this post, and to find some hero pieces to wear to the event They approached me and since I was already planning to attend it was a perfect match.

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I first worked with JCPenney this past spring and took my IG followers shopping with me to find a cute dress for a pop-up shop in Brooklyn. I loved that the overall tone of the engagement from women in response to what I was trying on was surprise at how many great options I was able to find in store! Helloooo, I couldn’t have found a dress I loved more than this blue one. :)

So I was excited to have the chance to partner with JCPenney at theCURVYcon and show that I could again find some great affordable AND on-trend options for women my size.

Let’s Shop (IN Store - gasp!)

Ok no, shopping in store is not really that retro - its not like there isn’t still a mall every couple of miles. But for me, the vast majority of my clothes just arrive at my front door, whether I’ve purchased them or been gifted them by this brand or that. Actually, my place is admittedly looking like the mid-stages of hoarding, with dangerously high stacks of clothes I haven’t worn yet and all sizes of pretty boxes that every brands seems to be using now in their packaging. I don’t know about you but my heart hurts every time I have to throw out something pretty, so I have to keep them all, clearly…

Clothing storage concerns aside, thankfully knowing I was now working with JCPenney for Curvy Con was a relief - “yes, that’s 2 days worth of Curvy Con outfits that I don’t have to pull out of thin air!!” If you haven’t been, it’s basically a 2.5 day fashion show so you want to represent.

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So after a couple runway castings, I stopped into the Manhattan JCPenney and about 10 minutes in this top immediately caught my eye. It’s by the brand Bold Elements and it’s right on trend with the popularity of sheer/mesh pieces as well as embroidered/laser-cut details. The lacy-style, high neck and half bell sleeve gave it a sophisticated appeal that I liked. And it’s not pictured, but it has an exposed gold zipper all the way up the back. I tried it on over my own bra that I had on that day. I LOVE a piece that has a contrast of sexy and sophisticated - that’s what I aim for most days actually.

I tried on about 7 other options and left the store with a couple options for Curvy Con that you’ll see below. Plus another option I had to have for my upcoming trip to Greece!

The JCP Booth @ The Curvy Con - Look #1

Shocker! I snatched the same top in pink/blush as well (if you love something get in at least 2 colors, right? #firstruleofhoarding)

This version of the top gave me super feminine vibes, which is not always my aesthetic. So I kept the outfit light by pairing a white spaghetti strap body suit underneath, and thin brushed-gold hoop earrings. I also got it in the XXL instead of the XL to keep give it a little more flow and movement for a day look.

Then there are these jeans….I fell in love these jeans. Just check the length and the fit - being 5’11.5” and having the rise and the length fit, along with a good amount of stretch and no gapping, is an easy yet. If I make it back to the store this week I’m going to check for a pair in black.

I loved the light wash, especially with the lightness of the top. It gave me a flirty but casual day look which I’m all for. Then I tied it together with my own pink and clear (a.k.a. nude!) block heels that are life savers for long NY days like this (although I stashed a pair of rose gold strappy flats in my bag for the afternoon.)

JCPenney Look #2 - Quick Change!

At the booth I spotted this cute, Chanel-inspired jacket that is part of the JCPenney pre-fall collection (designed by the lovely @alltheprettylayers)

  • Jacket - XXL; Brand - Worthingon

  • This brand is carried in the women’s section and the plus size section to my knowledge.

I already had the perfect base outfit on so I threw it on and put up a pic with a voting button on my IG story. After 600 of you voted yes (versus 130 nos) I put in that order to add one to my closet back home. (notice a problem? ;) )

After Party JCPenney Style - Look #3!

Curvy Con ended with the fun after party hosted by JCPenney at the chic Andaz Hotel on 5th Avenue. For this evening, I wanted a dressier vibe for my next JCP look. Now, the caution with combining faux leather and see-though material is that it can easily be, let’s say, the opposite of classy. However, again the actual cut of this top is almost demure, and then I paired it with my own to-the-knee faux leather skirt and then to make it playful I added a bra with on-trend, harness-inspired straps. Having your bra exposed may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it allows the intricate details of the shirt to be seen and it’s playful. Plus this top actually looks like it could be handmade (aka expensive).

I got this black top one size smaller than the pink one since I know I will mostly wear it for going out in the evenings when I want a slimmer, sexier fit.

  • Top XL, Brand - Bold Elements; Original price $44; Sale price $22.40

Wrap Up

My takeaway? As a curvy woman who likes to accentuate her body shape, stay on trend without being too flashy, and doesn’t (yet anyway) spend money often on high-end designer brands, I know that I can find great options here and there at JCPenney. No, it may not necessarily feel like I’ve hit a fashionista gold mine right when I walk in. BUT, when I’ve taken my time to really look through what they have to offer and give new styles a chance I’ve been really successful. One great thing? The sizing is forgiving when you compare it to a lot of these fast fashion brands that I’ve gotten used to wearing where at a 16/18 I find myself barely fitting into a 3X - the biggest size available. At JCPenney I’ve found I can often size down (e.g. perfectly fitting that black XL top when I usually get a 2X, and fitting the size 18 jeans when I usually wear a 20). Plus, it doesn’t hurt that after you find a cute outfit you can always stop by the in-store Sephora that most locations offer……#winwin #morestuffformybeautyhoard

Have questions about shopping? Styling? Let me know :)

#AllAtJCP

Health & Wellness: Let's Try Meal Deliveries - Part I

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Hi guys! So, one of the big things I wanted to try this year was a meal delivery service because, as mentioned in a previous blog post, I don't want to worry about cooking and I need to break the habit of ordering take out! So this week I have the chance to try Model Meals! It's a fresh, already prepared meal delivery service, where the meals are based on the Whole 30 plan, which really appealed to me. 

Full disclosure, after mentioning on my IG story that I was considering trying Model Meals, they reached out and offered me $150 worth of meals to try.  So, I placed an order on a Friday and placed my order to have half my meals be delivered Sunday and the other half on Wednesday.  I'm going to add my reviews of the meals as I go this week, but if you're already thinking about trying them, use my link for $25 off your first order! -->  https://www.talkable.com/x/hnrn9s  <-- 

Meal Reviews!

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Monday 3/5/18 - I tried the Buffalo Chicken Salad & Dill Slaw

Verdict:  Decent!

I liked the flavor of the chicken.  The slaw doesn't taste great just on its own because its not really dressed, so I ended up mixing everything together which probably is the way it was intended to be eaten. I'd call this a pretty light lunch. If you wanted to amp it up, you could easily make it into a sandwich or wrap. 

 

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Tuesday 3/6/18 - I tried the Pork Carnitas Fajita Bowl

Verdict: THIS WAS SO GOOD!!!

I was really surprised by the amount of flavor!  The pork was good and the veggie were flavorful.  It didn't come with  microwave instructions, which at first I was pissed about because I wanted it to be as quick as possible.  But it was super easy - I heated up a saute pan, sprayed it with a good amount of coconut oil, and cooked the meal for about 5 minutes and it was perfect. 

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3/6/18 - I also tried one of the RXBARS

So on they offer a few thing in addition to regular meals, and one option is this brand of protein bars called RXBARS.  I'm not a big fan of protein bars, but I gave it a go and unfortunately, I'm still not a fan. I didn't get chocolate chip flavor, or really any flavor of anything. So, I left this one after a few bites. 

TO BE CONTINUED...

2018 Priority #1: My Health!

This past December, I spent more time than I ever have thinking through my priorities for 2018, manifesting my 5 year vision, and brainstorming business generating ideas. I'm still not done- you should see the amount of flip chart paper all over my bedroom.  But the first thing to pop on my list of priorities was my health. 

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After years of fluctuating in weight - losing 75, gaining 60, repeat -  I've decided that anything extreme, or where I feel restricted, is not the route for  me.  I have prided myself of being really good at weight loss competitions because when I get serious I've always been able to drop weight quickly.  We used to do a "Biggest Winner" competition at my corporate job (yes, the PC version of Biggest Loser) and my team was always in top or winning.  I also did Optifast in 2015. If you've done it let me know! It is NOT easy, but I managed to stay on it for maybe 6 months and I lost a good 80 pounds.  Gained it back of course. I always do the "hey I did a great job, let's celebrate with a day/weekend/week/month of eating whatever I want."  Makes perfect sense.......

Photo above is me with about a 90-100 lb difference.

So my approach now, is to find ways to eat in a balanced and SUSTAINABLE way that doesn't require any additional attention like counting macros or weighing my food.  I don't want to be suffering through dressing-free salads and cold baby carrots every day of my life - I love food way too much.  I'm also busy and have a lot going on and don't want to let an obstacle like finding time to COOK AND CLEAN get in my way.

With that my first vow/priority is to cut back on eating out/ordering in.  No ordering in when I'm by myself, and only eating out socially 2-3 times a week.  I don't know if you understand but this is HUGE for me.  My life the past X months was a sad abyss of hoping the same delivery person doesn't work for more than one of the food apps I have.  

My second vow was to experiment with a meal delivery service.  What could be easier than having ready-to-heat meals - that aren't covered in a layer of ice - at the ready.  This is something I'd thought about for a while and when I realized the savings versus eating out, I was sold. More on my delivery service venture in a future post :) 

My third vow was to get myself to the gym at least 3 times a week.  Ideally 5-6, but I just need sustainable progress here.  Nothing too overwhelming.

And lastly, I want to start hiking again! Not real hiking, just LA hiking.  Once a month, inviting friends and acquaintances from various circles to meet up at a local spot - accomplishing a workout and some networking all at once.  Seems easy enough....

My actual GOAL?  Yes, to lose weight and get stronger - not because I don't like my body or because I can't book work at my size - but because I've been feeling like TOTAL crap for months and with as much as I want to accomplish this year, I want to be ready for any and everything. No more losing 75 pounds or hoping to fit in a size 14 by X date.  I just want to feel healthy and be confident.

There you have it - my health stream of consciousness lol. Best of luck to anyone that reads this with your own journey this year.  Let me know if you're doing any of the same things or anything vastly different.  Always curious :) 

#stayready2018

What, a calendar giveaway?! #monthofthanks

Hi there!

So, if you follow me on Instagram you might possibly be aware that I have been doing a #monthofthanks for all of December, with various giveaways and shout-outs to say thank you to all of you that have shown me support.   I can't tell you how much I've been positively impacted over the past year and half by starting this modeling career and having more support than I could have ever imagined - especially since the very thing that held me back from starting was the fear that people I knew or didn't know would judge me for even thinking I had what it takes to be a model.

Well, I have one last opportunity to do a giveaway this month so here are the full details to enter! 

WHAT CAN YOU WIN:

  • A $100 Fashion to Figure gift card, OR
  • The first ever Erica Lauren 2018 Calendar! (words I never thought I'd say/write haha )  I'm running only a few copies exclusively for this giveaway and they will not be available for sale anywhere!!!  The photos included in the calendar include the ones from my Best Nine of 2017 post, as well as a few never posted images from 2017.  The calendar can also be signed if desired.  
  • The winners (there will be at least 2 chosen) will have a CHOICE of which prize they want!

3 STEPS TO ENTER:

Step 1:  Visit this link http://thebwordmerch.bigcartel.com/product/beinyourskin-plus-size-editorial-wall-calendar-standard

Step 2: Order the #BEinyourskin 2018 plus size editorial wall calendar, produced by @the_B_word_ Brianna McDonnell.  This is a very cool body positive project that I was excited to be a part of - I am featured in the month of August in the Baywatch-inspired photoshoot.

  • Purchasing the standard version is only $10 and will get you one entry into the giveaway.
  • Purchasing the exclusive version is $25 and will get you double entry into the giveaway.

Step 3:  Be sure to use code ERICA at checkout!   This is the only way your entry can be tracked specifically for my giveaway.

EVERY order of the #BEinyourskin calendar using code ERICA will include:

  • 1 #BEinyourskin calendar, AND
  • 1 signed 8"x10" photo of me :) 

Alright, time is running out so enter TODAY! (Seriously though, tomorrow is 2018 (eek!) and you have to enter by January 4 so that the winner can be chosen and calendars distributed ASAP!  

Thank you so much for all the support this year <3 

 

Issa Blog!

As I've read - you can never be a successful blogger without actually starting a blog. 

You for sure don't want to be 40 (or 50, or 80) and remembering how you used to talk to your sister about creating a blog together, but never did...never with her, never on your own...just never.

Do I know EXACTLY what to write a blog about though???  NOPE! But I know I have a varied background, varied interests, and often particularily strong opinions about food, poor customer service, and eyebrows, to name a few. Soooo with that, I'm here to share myself and my experiences (and of course those very important opinions!).  Then, in an ideal world, this experience of sharing will lead to a magical light bulb moment where I wake up in the middle of the night with THE perfect niche idea to focus on, and it will take me down a lucrative path to live my best life. (If you're wondering, my best life involves an unlimited travel budget where I finally get to stay in the fancy bungalows I only see on reality shows and Instagram.  And also involves a maid and personal chef.  And personal trainer.  And one of those electronic cat litter boxes that cleans itself. #seriousgoals

I don't claim to be an expert in anything.  Right now.  Thing is, it's not that I'm not an expert....it's the claiming it that doesn't come easy.  Finding your voice is the challenge I'm here to sort out for myself. Follow me or not, I'm excited to see where it takes us!  Welcome to the blog.

Erica Lauren M., expert in TBA. 

@theericalauren