H&M + Fearlessly Curating Your Own Style

H&M + Fearlessly Curating Your Own Style - offbeat + inspired

My love for H&M has everything to do with this key combo: quality x options x price.

It can be overwhelming walking into a store with dozens of sections devoted to every possible mood. It’s like being asked to choose a personality for yourself on the spot with a debit card screaming at you from your purse — which is kind of genius on their part because my inner monologue always goes something like this: “Am I preppy/outdoorsy? Yes…but I also have yet to find the perfect LBD, which means I should go to the ‘party’ section. Vintage is always fun, buuut that classic European vibe over there is something I’ve always wanted to try out.” And after a few rounds of that, the inevitable, “WHO AM I?” and then, victoriously, “WHOEVER I WANT TO BE! PUT THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT…SELF!” This whole thing happens while I’m still standing at the entrance, mind you. Fast forward 2 hours, and I’ve burrowed through all the sections, raided the dressing room and emerged with an armload of personalities to test drive in the real world.

H&M + Fearlessly Curating Your Own Style - offbeat + inspired
H&M + Fearlessly Curating Your Own Style - offbeat + inspired

Because of the awesomeness that is this style diversity, every fashionable guy or gal that comes out of H&M looks completely different. For instance, on my last shopping trip I picked up a chunky knit sweater with an adorable arrow pattern from the new arrivals section (another favorite, here), a floppy wool hat (similar here) from the impulse-buy section, and a pair of high rise skinnies from the denim wall. I took those pieces home, paired them with my old standbys, the Tamiko Oxfords by Fossil (similar here) and the Sabrina Tiered Pendant from Free People, and a gorgeous handmade leather backpack from Hiptipico. I looked like me.

On the flip side, my friend Taylor Stanley (Visual Merchandiser at H&M Cincy) came down to Lex last week so we could shoot some new gems from the Alexander Wang X H&M collection, and she arrived looking like a gorgeous Tim Burton character. From her violet/silver locks to a dark ensemble with edgy accessories and exaggerated platform boots — you never would have guessed that she and I were outfitted by the same shop.

H&M + Fearlessly Curating Your Own Style - offbeat + inspired
H&M + Fearlessly Curating Your Own Style - offbeat + inspired

She paired the Alexander Wang goodies (sports bra, bustier, socks) with some older H&M favorites, like the quilted leather jacket, a thin blouse and black high rise skinny jeans. Some killer boots brought the whole thing together.

H&M + Fearlessly Curating Your Own Style - offbeat + inspired
H&M + Fearlessly Curating Your Own Style - offbeat + inspired

When you have so many choices, it’s a challenge to conquer all the self-doubt and figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. I like that. H&M is a great place to start if you’re just beginning to curate your own unique style. I say, stand at the entrance, give yourself a minute to have the unavoidable existential crisis, then go after everything that intrigues you. No exceptions. Weed stuff out in the dressing room, make sure you’re staying within your budget and purchase only what you love.

H&M + Fearlessly Curating Your Own Style - offbeat + inspired
H&M + Fearlessly Curating Your Own Style - offbeat + inspired

And here’s my last tip: don’t let what you love be influenced by anyone else’s opinion. If you really love it and you can responsibly afford it, it deserves a spot in your wardrobe. When you get in the habit of being fearless when it comes to developing your own style, what you wear will become a creative tool — something you can use to express yourself every day. Not only is this a huge confidence builder, but it’s sooo fun and you’ll look more and more like the one and only YOU.

What advice would you give to someone struggling to find their style voice? Are you experiencing your own fashion conundrum? Let’s discuss!

Follow me (@tifforelie) and Taylor (@foreverroverdressed) on Instagram for more looks and other fun stuff!

Outdoor scenes shot in downtown Lexington (#sharethelex), indoor scenes shot at National Provisions.

H&M + Fearlessly Curating Your Own Style - offbeat + inspired
H&M + Fearlessly Curating Your Own Style - offbeat + inspired
H&M + Fearlessly Curating Your Own Style - offbeat + inspired
H&M + Fearlessly Curating Your Own Style - offbeat + inspired
H&M + Fearlessly Curating Your Own Style - offbeat + inspired
H&M + Fearlessly Curating Your Own Style - offbeat + inspired
H&M + Fearlessly Curating Your Own Style - offbeat + inspired

Homemade Butterbeer + A Trip to the Wizarding World

Homemade Butterbeer + A Trip to the Wizarding World - offbeat + inspired

Confession! I was SUPER late to the Harry Potter party. When the movies first came out, I was actually kind of annoyed by all the hype. I refused to see them in theaters and avoided family movie nights once they were out on DVD. I couldn’t even put my finger on why I was so against HP because I had no idea what the story was even about. But after all the buzz died down, I watched the first one…and was hooked.

All of my siblings love Harry Potter, so watching with them was a lot of fun. There’s so much to love about the story, the characters, the entire world they created. Before I digress into all the spiritual and philosophical parallels that really get me going, I’ll skip to the part where I got to visit Universal Orlando’s “Wizarding World of Harry Potter“, and experienced the BUTTERBEER. Cue heavens opening, angels singing…

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Life + Waffles

Pumpkin Spice Belgian Waffles + Toasted Pecans - offbeat + inspired

Life happens in phases. They can be marked by jobs, boyfriends, schools, hair colors, diets — anything and everything. I was recently reflecting on my own phases, and noticed that no matter how chaotic or calm, easy or hard, routine or ridiculous a time in my life was, there was always a constant. I could chronologically organize my phases according to what I was baking.

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Autumn Squash Strata With Elizabeth Cauvel

Autumn Squash Strata With Elizabeth Cauvel - offbeat + inspired

As promised, the delectable Autumn Squash Strata recipe as seen at the orchard brunch with Poppy Barley! This one was created by my lovely friend, Elizabeth Cauvel, at my apartment the day before the event. It was kind of funny, two tall girls, tons of food and a honkin’ DSLR crammed into my tiny kitchen — but she cooked, I photographed, and we loved it. Here’s a photo journal of the process. Recipe at the end!

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An Orchard Brunch with Poppy Barley

An Orchard Brunch with Poppy Barley - offbeat + inspired

I met the Poppy Barley team on a trip to Edmonton about 6 months ago. Edmonton is a sweet little city in Alberta, and I was there to experience the culture and creative community for a weekend (see the highlight video here!). When I toured the Poppy Barley studio, I fell in love instantly. PB makes extremely high quality, custom-fitted leather footwear. I went for a fitting while I was in town, and about 6 weeks later I received my beautiful boots in the mail. I’ve never worn a more comfortable pair. It was unbelievable. I wrote them an e-mail to rave a bit, and that’s when the idea of hosting a Poppy Barley gathering here in Lexington was born. I wanted to share about this wonderful company with a small group of girls, and suddenly the vision of a rustic barn wood table covered in pastries and breakfast treats, surrounded by vibrant apple trees came into focus.

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Clean Apple Cinnamon “Pop Tarts” (Grain/Gluten/Dairy/Sugar-Free)

Clean Apple Cinnamon "Pop Tarts" (Grain/Gluten/Dairy/Sugar-Free) - offbeat + inspired

Phew! These have been such a long time coming. When the pop tart train rolled into blog land, I couldn’t help hopping aboard. Who didn’t, at some point in life, LOVE pop tarts? I was a huge fan of the funky flavors like s’mores, chocolate frosted (with those majestic white sprinkle crumbles), apple cinnamon, brown sugar and so on. Toasted or not, with milk or on their own — there was just something about that crumbly crust and thin layer of filling that I couldn’t get over.

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Crust-Lover’s Layered Apple Pie

Crust-Lover's Layered Apple Pie - offbeat + inspired

Apple pie. It’s in a league of its own. And for such a highly revered dessert, it’s very forgiving. There are thousands of recipes and renditions of “traditional” apple pie being celebrated all over the country. From the type of crust, to the variety and cut of the apples, to the spices and toppings — apple pie lends itself generously to adaptation.

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Autumn Layers | Anthropologie, Free People + Block Shop Textiles

Autumn Layers | Anthropologie, Free People + Block Shop Textiles - offbeat + inspired

If I have any say in this at all — fall has arrived. It’s decided! This morning, I woke up at 6AM and it was perfectly chilly outside. My sisters and I had plans. We were going to eat spiced pancakes, drink hot coffee and watch the pilot episode of Gilmore Girls while the sun came up. We did, and it was wonderful.

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SOUTH | a rooftop dinner with MasterChef Season 5 Competitors Elizabeth Cauvel + Dan Wu

SOUTH | a rooftop dinner with MasterChef Season 5 Competitors Elizabeth Cauvel + Dan Wu - offbeat + inspired

I haven’t hosted an event since my own wedding. It’s something I’ve thought about and awkwardly tiptoed around, but there was never anything pushing me to actually do it. That push came about 2 months ago when Dan Wu, Lexington’s resident MasterChef Season 5 competitor, sent me a message on Facebook telling me that when Elizabeth Cauvel (one of his co-MC5 competitors) found out he and I knew each other, she told him she’s been a huge fan of offbeat for a while and it’s what inspired her food styling aspirations! I can’t accurately explain my reaction to that news. “Giddy” is the world’s biggest understatement right now.

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Outfitted | Elizabeth Cauvel of MasterChef Season 5

Outfitted | Elizabeth Cauvel of MasterChef Season 5 - offbeat + inspired

Meet Elizabeth! You probably already know her because she’s kicking butt on MasterChef Season 5 right now. The girl just made top 3! Hashtag awesome.

How we met is kind of crazy. She had been following offbeat + inspired for about a year prior to the airing of MC5. I found this out because fellow Lexingtonian and early MC5 competitor, Dan Wu, told me that when Elizabeth found out he and I lived in the same city, she flipped! Well I flipped too. We all flipped. Before I even knew she was a fan of the blog, I had picked her as my fantasy BFF from the show. Naturally, Dan and I lured her to Lexington with the idea that the three of us should host a MC5 dinner together. [I posted all about the dinner here!]

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