Hail to the models

Good morning sunshines,

Have you ever stared at the cover of a Marie Claire or Cosmopolitan magazine and oggled over the model? Her beauty? Her confidence? How EASY it must be to stand there and get paid to smile while a professional photographer takes her picture? I have! I mean, how hard could it be, right?


I have been behind the scenes at fashion shows, dressed gorgeous models to walk the runway, and on the sets of photo shoots, but I have never (until VERY recently) been the subject of a photo shoot. For my 30th birthday, I decided to have a photo shoot done of myself Рyes, myself! I have never felt better on the inside (or out) in my entire life, and I wanted to celebrate that, so sue me.

Are you shocked at how self-centered I am?
Are you over it yet?
Tick, tick, tick…
Ok you’ve had enough time ūüôā

Being on the other end of the lens is NOT as easy as it looks! I went into¬†the shoot¬†thinking “this is going to be a breeze! I styled the perfect outfits. My hair and makeup look great. I’m just going to smile and it will be done!” Instead, I learned a few things¬† during the session:

  • Pictures come out much better when¬†you are relaxed (geee, I wish I had¬†thought of that). This just didn’t happen for me at first. I was a nervous wreck in front of the professional’s camera! Big smile? No smile? Half a smile? Where do I put my hands? Eyes up? Eyes down? Turn right? Chin left? When did my body somehow stop moving in fluid motions and start working like Wall-e? Did I have too much coffee? (Well, that’s always a¬†given). I was SO out of my element!
  • Photographers are the producers AND the¬†directors of the shoot¬†for a reason. When photographers have a vision, it is because they are the professionals and they know what they are doing! I had my photo shoot done with Brooke Whicher of Brooke Whicher Photography (BWP) and she was a GOD-SEND. While I was a nervous, silly wreck, Brooke gave clear, concise direction. Whether or not I could follow her direction was a¬†matter of me being my goofy, uptight self! Luckily,¬†about thee-quarters of the way in, I loosened up a bit and it absolutely showed in the pictures.
  • Professional photography is an art. The photo-journalistc style used in the session was¬†gorgeous and classic. Because I’ve¬†seen a lot of BWP’s work before, I was not surprised by Brooke’s ability to make even the simplest of shots visually interesting and pretty. It was a far cry from the “Glamour Shots” of the 80’s and 90’s! Remember those?
  • Models get paid the big bucks, and they deserve every penny. I have a new-found-respect for these women (and men), and their ability to make it look SO EASY because it is hard to be in front of that camera. Then, to top it all off, the whole world scrutinizes the photos! Phew, I’m glad I’m just making a Snapfish photo album with these pictures instead of¬†having¬†them featured¬†in Vogue…haha.

The moral of this little story is – I am 30, and I am awesome. As crazy (and egotistical) as it may sound to some, I am¬†unbelievably proud of this photo shoot, and who I am today. If you want to ¬†encapsulate your amazing-ness in time, I would highly recommend getting in front of a professional’s¬†camera. I will forever remember my 30th year as one of taking chances, and loving myself for it.

A big thank you to Brooke Whicher Photography for flattering me, and my style, and for making me feel beautiful!



P.S. I know what you’re thinking. SHOW ME A PICTURE. Fine…now I’m blushing!
2012 12 30 Hail to the model - Tara - photoshoot


Ruching and peplums – say what?

Hello my loves,

The high-holiday of fashion is upon us! New Year’s Eve has always been a dress-to-the-nines kind of night for me. I thought this would be the perfect time to share my love for ruching and peplums as we all shop for that perfect, figure-flattering dress to ring in 2013!

First, what in the world is ruching? Ruching a sewing technique in which fabric is gathered to form ruffles.

Ruching is universally flattering. Truly,¬†this “gathering” of fabric to one side on a dress or blouse modifies the look of your body. The “trouble spot” on my body has always been¬†my tummy. When I wear anything with ruching, my least-favorite-area is disguised by fantastic pleats, making me feel much more confident! I spend a lot of my time at Bella Sera Bridal and Lorraine Roy at Bella Sera Bridal dressing bridesmaids and mothers. The one element I always recommend is ruching because this trend looks lovely on just about everyone.

Another trend that is becoming more mainstream is the use of peplums. A peplum is a short flared, gathered or pleated piece of fabric attached at the waist of a women’s jacket, dress or blouse.

Image source: blog.shopstyle.com

Image source: blog.shopstyle.com

When peplums came back onto the market this year, I have to admit, I was unsure of them. Since seeing more and more designers add peplums to their collections, I have tried on and purchased a dress with a peplum, and I love it! Like ruching, the piece of fabric attached at the waist of the jacket, dress or blouse hides the very area in which I am most self-conscious about! What a miracle! I have to share this super cute find from T.J.Maxx. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I discovered this black One Clothing dress yesterday for $19.99 – yes, people that is correct – $19.99.

Dress from: TJ Maxx - One Clothing - $19.99

Dress from: TJ Maxx – One Clothing – $19.99

There is a good chance I have at least 20 little-black-dresses in my closet at one time, but I don’t have any with a peplum AND an illusion neckline. How could I pass this up?

So, think “ruching or peplum” when you are out shopping to flatter your beautiful body this weekend! Have a happy and safe New Year!


Belts change everything

Hello my loves,

Today I’m feeling inspired by belts, yes belts. I love them, but I haven’t always. A few years ago, I thought a belt was¬†a piece of fabric or leather that held up my over-stretched pair of jeans. Today that just isn’t so. The right belt can transform a dress, skirt/shirt combination, dress shirt/pants ensemble, even a wedding gown! I wear a belted outfit at least four times per week because they make me feel great. My waist looks smaller, and the belt seems to pull the outfit together. “But seriously, Tara, I don’t wear belts,” you are probably thinking. Do not fret, my friends, I am here to tell you how! Along with some handy photos, you too will be belting your outfits in no time.

Here are the two belts you need in your closet:
1. A long black ribbon belt. This belt can be made of any soft fabric – chiffon, organza, grosgrain, cotton,¬†etc. It should be about an¬†1-1.5″ wide, and about 60″-80″ long.
2. A wide black elastic belt. This belt can be plain, or have embellishments. It should be between 2″-4″ wide, and should fit snuggly around your waist.

We will start by belting a dress. As you know, dresses come in many shapes – empire waist, natural waist, a-line, fitted, long, short, tea-length. The¬†number one¬†reason to belt any dress, no matter what the shape,¬†is to cinch in your waist, and draw attention to the naturally smallest part of your body. Either of your “staple” belts will fulfill this need, and one will absolutely look better than the other. Start by adding the skinny belt to your dress¬†– wrap it around the smallest part of your waist and tie it in a bow, then move the bow off to the side. How does it look? If you love it, leave it! If not, take it off and add the thicker black belt.¬†Buckle, snap or tie this belt on to the smallest part of your waist and stand back for the¬†flattering¬†transformation. To enhance the look, add a jacket!

Next, we will belt a skirt/shirt combination. I love to wear¬†bright colors, as well as black, and I feel that no matter what skirt/shirt I am wearing, a belt always makes it look as if I am wearing a dress because it hides the line between the shirt and skirt. I love this¬†little trick¬†because it makes me feel a little more sophisticated! First, make sure your shirt is tucked into your skirt – trust me, just tuck it in. Next, add the¬†thicker belt¬†to your waist, covering¬†over the line where the top of your skirt and shirt meet (keep in mind that this may or may not be the smallest part of your waist, but that’s ok). Step back from the mirror and voila – very flattering!

Last, but not least, try belting a shirt/pants combination. This will work with almost any blouse, short sleeve¬†or long sleeve dress shirt, and pants (even jeans). This time do not tuck your shirt in, and¬†add the thin belt to the smallest part of¬†your waist. You may want to tie the belt into a bow like you did with the dress, or try wrapping the belt around your waist¬†twice,¬†tying the ends into a knot. You can choose to keep the knotted ends in the middle, or move them off to the side. Either way, you’ve accomplished a tailored, and flattering look.¬†Add a¬†pair of high heels, and you are ready for the office. Add some accessories, and you are ready for a night out!

Just a note on wedding gowns – I work for the best bridal shop on the North Shore of Boston in Danvers, MA, Bella Sera Bridal and Lorraine Roy at Bella Sera Bridal. Almost every bride I dress comes into Bella Sera Bridal¬†with a specific “look” in mind for her wedding day. No matter what her body type, or dream gown, adding a belt enhances¬†her look 9/10 times. Belts are versatile,¬†fun, but most¬†of all flattering on all shapes and sizes!

Happing belting my friends!

Belts change everything - soft, thin belt
Belts change everything - wide elastic belt

Flatter yourself…

I’ve finally decided to start my fashion blog. I’ve been toying with this idea for quite a while, and I’m officially inspired. Why start a fashion blog?

  • I live my life in fashion – I wake up each day¬†and think “what am I wearing today to make me happy?” Putting together a “look” for myself each day makes me smile and brings me confidence! I want to¬†pass on these fabulous¬†feelings, and fashion tips,¬†to¬†anyone who wants to listen.
  • This blog will give me a place to store my work in one place. I have styled over the years¬†for friends, family and photo shoots, but I don’t have one central location for everything.
  • Flattery is everything. I love when I put a look together for¬†a friend, family member or bride¬†and they say “I love this, I would have never put this together for myself.” I get such a high when people adore the way they look! Fashion is¬†personal, but¬†there is one simple rule I follow –¬†FLATTER YOUR BODY, and¬† you will look and feel amazing. I hope to help readers learn how to shop for their unique beauty, no matter what shape or size.

Flatter yourself today my loves!



P.S. For your viewing pleasure, below are pictures from my favorite recent styling jobs – more will be added once the magazines publish in January 2013:

Hellenic Center Fashion Show 8-2012

Cruiseport Fashion Show - 1-2012

Danversport Bridal Show - 2-2012