Can’t Figure Out What ‘Cocktail Elegance’ Means? Me Neither! 6 Tips On How To Avoid Dress Code Confusion

It’s a well known fact that party planners have become tremendously “creative” when it comes to defining dress codes. Many potential guests are left scratching their heads as they try to solve the mystery of what is considered appropriate attire for the event. Dress codes have now begun to range from “business casual” and “black-tie” to “casual-festive”, “intergalactic” and “eleganza extravaganza”…(okay, so I made up “Eleganza Extravaganza” but don’t be surprised to find this on your next invitation card).

All of this hoopla is likely due to the fact that party planners become so completely immersed in the world they have designed for the event that they forget that we sometimes have had very little build up and our excitement for the party begins at our first glance of the invitation.

Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth puts out a 36-page dress code document, which they call a style-guide, for the Royal Ascot to help guests uphold the long standing tradition of remarkable, and yet, conservative style. And us commoners, well… we are left to cope with one or two lines of ambiguous description.

All this party dress code mayhem is causing some guests to ghost events all together simply because they can’t figure out what they should wear. But if you dare to attend despite the confusion of it all, here are 6 tips to help you arrive in proper style.

1. Do not ignore the dress code 

Imagine arriving to this year’s Met Gala, themed Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, in “island-chic” attire. Anna Wintour’s dead stare would have you transformed into a pillar of salt before you had a chance to explain yourself. Party organizers go to great lengths (often, expensive ones!) to make your night, so you should respect their invitation by arriving in the attire requested.

2. Become familiar with the basics of dress code lingo 

I’m pretty sure dress codes have been a party goer’s dilemma since the Middle Ages. Thankfully, there are now a number of charts that break down the difference between “black-tie optional” and “smart-casual”. Understanding the fundamentals can minimize the anxiety that comes with a desire to nail the dress code. Here’s one by Bright Side that can be saved for future reference. It’s incredibly handy!

3. Ask the host or hostess for clarity

Don’t be afraid to call the host or hostess if you’re finding the dress code too difficult to decipher. He or she will welcome your enthusiasm and you may be the first to let them know that guests are not clear on what to wear to the event. But do not wait until the last minute—you do not want to have to start from scratch in the eleventh hour.

4. Gentlemen, always be ready 

Dress codes like “black-tie”, “formal” and “business-casual” all require that men wear a suit. Be prepared for this by having at least one tailored black and one navy suit in your closet. This will then make it quick and easy to find a suitable shirt and tie for the party’s vibe.

5. Don’t worry about being overdressed

The fear of feeling overdressed is a real one amongst party guests. They dread the “Ken e ta kere e ta?” stare as they tiptoe to the dance floor. But my motto has always been Go Big or Stay Home!

6. Don’t be a party style-pooper

When it comes to yearly events, regular attendees often have their own ideas on how to interpret the dress code. Guests tend to relax their interpretation of “island elegant” and replace their wedges for plain-old flip-flops. This is a real fashion faux pas! Achieving a chic and Instagram worthy party atmosphere is a collective effort between planner and attendee. Look fabulous and have fun!

One final word to party planner…djis leumay! Be kind to your guests by providing a dress code that is easily understandable so your guests won’t have to become Dora La Exploradora to fulfill your request. Instead, channel that creativity into other aspects of the event that will have guests talking and reminiscing about the night until the next bon fiesta. And for rainbow’s sake, one All White-Party per year is more than enough for this stylist.

 

Photography by Ayrton Tromp.

5 Tips On How To Be More Stylish in 2018

The day I saw Kuro’s photography in my news feed I thought, “Who is this photographer?” I found his work so beautifully understated and enchanting. I started digging and soon discovered ‘SLV Models’, an up and coming model agency that Kuro had founded at the start of the year. We met soon after for coffee and talked about his life in Holland and the inspiration that led him to launch a model agency that breaks the mold, in terms of what we perceive to be “model material” here on the island.

Now, obviously, I am not a model! I have never had illusions about walking down the pasarella hand in hand with the likes of Alessandro Michele. And yet, there I was, in Rooi Spoki taking “spontaneous” photos with Kuro. And then he said it: “You should try modeling!” (Immediate shock and horror!) Uh, what? How did we get here? How did I get here? In the back of my mind, I could hear the voice of my friend, Joann, saying, “Abo tin durf pa haci e cos n’ey!” Me? The durf? Does it really just come down to that?

The truth is, she’d be right: durf or confidence is a key ingredient to looking and feeling stylish. Even to the point where you might find yourself feeling comfortable enough to strike a (maybe awkward) pose for the sake of a good photo. This is what I try to instill in the people I style and in those who invite me into their homes for Closet Overhauls.

Personally, it took me many many years to develop the durf to do this sort of thing, but here are some tips that can help you to feel more confidently stylish:

 

1.  Get Naked

We spend a lot of time covering up and manipulating the illusions created by our bodies and I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “I will wear this when I lose weight” or the even more popular, “I bought these jeans two sizes smaller because I plan on fitting into them someday.” We are constantly wishing for what we used to be or for what we think should be. How about loving the body you are in now? Doesn’t matter if you are chubby or skinny, tall or short, young or old. Take a few minutes every night before bedtime to look at yourself in the mirror,…naked. Yes, naked! Just as we have grown accustomed to the sight of our clothed bodies, this exercise can teach us to accept things as they are, build self-acceptance, high self-esteem and confidence.   

2.  Listen To Uplifting Music

Name that tune that has the power to wake up your inner diva (or divo!). Mine is RuPaul’s 1993 hit, “Supermodel (You Better Work)”. As soon as this tune comes on we start walking down imaginary runways; it’s so silly but…it feels so good! I love listening to music when I am getting ready for the day because it keeps my energy high and positive while I decide what to wear.  

3. Dress The Part

Dress with the event that you are going to in mind. Think about who else is going to be there. What is your role at the event? Are you the supportive friend who is not upstaging the blushing bride? Or are you the newly promoted boss lady? It’s important to ask yourself these questions to help you achieve a well put together look. If this sounds like too much to think about, try laying out your outfit the night before to give yourself some extra time to reflect. Knowing what you are going to wear may give you an extra kick in your step.

4. Fake It Till You Make It

Ok! So there are some days that not even RuPaul can help you feel good about yourself. You are tired, overworked and your confidence is low. That’s when you just have to “fake it”…that’s right, fake it! Fake your confidence and soon enough, you’ll start to feel a little better about yourself. You’ll walk straighter and you might even get a compliment or two. Give it a try!

5. Biba bo Bida! (Mow Your Own Lawn!)

Constantly comparing yourself to your friends, celebrities on TV (*cough-cough* looking at you, Kardashians) or even that well-curated Instagram account is a surefire way to get down on yourself. It may be time to unfollow those accounts that are causing you to feel not-so-stylish, in favor of another that might inspire you to try a new look or an exciting makeup routine. Avoid wishing you had your colleague’s body or your neighbor’s bank account, and live your own life to the fullest! Embrace the beauty of your individuality and where you are today.

 

In The Nook with Janiro Eisden

Janiro Eisden is many many things. He is an artist, a writer, a performer, an influencer, a legend. In this chapter of ‘IN THE NOOK’ I get to have a conversation with Janiro, the fashionista! You are invited to sit back and listen in.

6 Tips to Turn Shopping Disasters in Aruba into Successful Retail (-Therapy) Experiences

Shopping in Aruba can be tough. From the inflated prices to the lack of diversity; developing a healthy shopping routine can feel like reinventing the wheel. So much so that many locals have all but given up on the idea of shopping on the island, and instead fly – yes, fly – to Florida, in the hopes of returning with one, two, three or more newly stocked suitcases – a reality, which to me, is truly disappointing.

So while it is true that shopping in Aruba is tough, it’s also far from impossible. Here are a 6 useful tips that may help you to bag a killer outfit without booking a plane ticket:

N.B. All parallels to Dating are completely accidental – OK, maybe not completely….

1. Be Realistic

Don’t obsess about what you want to wear until you see what’s out there. Committing yourself to unrealistic expectations is the easiest way to bring about a full-blown “I Have Nothing to Wear” panic attack.  

2. Strike When The Iron is Hot

If and whenever you find something you like, buy it – regardless of what’s on your events calendar. There’s nothing like the heartbreak inspired by The One That Got Away.

3. Be Adventurous

Try shopping the “Turista Riba Mi Isla” way. Don’t avoid ‘tourist trap-ish’ or souvenir shops – even the kiosks near the Oranjestad cruise terminal. You’ll be surprised by the gems you’ll find – and you may even score a discount! Check out the ones in Palm Beach for more high-end treasures.

4. Try it On

Be open to trying things on! Too many people walk in and out of stores without trying anything on – disappointed because they didn’t find anything. But it just so happens that clothes are not meant to look good on hangers. When in doubt, always try it on.

5. Be Patient

Some real ironclad patience is required to navigate unreasonably packed clothing racks, less than gracious sales staff, and the midday Aruban HEAT, before you can find something that you love. So prepare yourself to give it time and try to enjoy the ride.

6. Get Zhuzhed

Finally, if you are still unconvinced, or aren’t sure you have what it takes to brave it alone just yet, book a Personal Shopping session with me to zhuzh your next trip den caya! Because two heads are always better than one.

Now get out there and stimulate Aruba’s economy. (lol jk….no, but for real, though – do it)!

Chris: The “Wow, I Look Good” Look

I met Chris on the set of the music video for Lizemarie, which is a waltz featuring poetry by another client, Rosabelle Illes. I had planned Rosabelle’s look a few weeks ago but I was not in control of what Chris would wear.

Chris arrived and I was immediately drawn to his striking green eyes. Yet, I couldn’t help but notice his mismatched outfit; he wore faded black jeans paired and a faded black polo with a white trimmed collar. His look was definitely not fitting with the “taking in the breeze on a Sunday afternoon on an Aruban porch” look I had in mind. But luckily, Chris also had a light blue buttoned down shirt in his car and I politely suggested that he wear that instead,…politely, because I had only met the guy 10 minutes before that.

That was almost a year ago and I have been styling the guitarist extraordinaire, Chris Kross, for high profile performances ever since.

On this Saturday afternoon, Chris and I were taking some photos to document his past looks and we started talking about his experience with Zhuzhed By Ali.

Ali: Tell me about your experience the first time we met on the set of Lizemarie.  

Chris Kross: Well Rosabelle you knew and was working with you already. Rosabelle and I were doing this song together, and you volunteered to help me (on the set) and you went the extra mile and I really appreciated that. My motto is do something pero but do it well, don’t cut any corners. If you need to invest money then do that because that is the only way that you will get good results. You can’t constantly cut corners and ask people to do favors for you because you can’t always rely on them and at some point they will say but I am already doing this for free. We had so little to work with but you made it work anyway and I felt that if I worked with you all the way it could become something really big. And that’s when I reached out to you.

Ali: Because the Lizemarie music video required two look but you only had only, or actually did not have anything because she you came with a polo shirt. And we went to Ron’s house.

(Going to Ron’s house explained: Chris is friends with Buleria front man, Ron Martis. Ron lives near the location of where the music video was shot. Chris called Ron up to see if we could go through his closet for a change of clothing for the next scene of the music video.)

Chris Kross: Man! Thanks to Ron. That’s what I mean. You had so little to work with and you made it work.

Ali: But what were your thoughts in that moment? Because you didn’t really know this girl?

Chris Kross: Well you know, somehow I knew that you must be good if Rosabelle worked with you. I know Rosabelle and I know how she thinks. She thrives for the best, a perfectionist, in my opinion. So I felt that I could trust you because you were working with Rosabelle.

Ali: I got the stamp of approval.

Chris Kross: Right away!

  

Ali: We started together and I realized that you are really really busy person. As soon as you land in Aruba (Chris attends Florida International University) I get voice-notes from you telling me about this and that gig that you have lined up. What’s like having Zhuzhed By Ali to set up all your outfits for these gigs?

Chris Kross: I wish I had more of you to do other things for me, not just in fashion but for booking….everything!

Ali: Ok! Haha. But in this case we are talking about fashion!

Chris Kross: That’s what I want to say. You have helped me a lot! You save me so much time. I don’t have to go shopping for my stuff. You even iron my clothes sometimes. You prepare my outfits in advance so I don’t have to think about what goes well with what. You check what’s missing and you go shopping for it. That service saves me so much time.

Ali: You get home and your outfits are ready to go.

Chris Kross: Ready!

 

Ali: Have you received any compliments on your outfits since you’ve been working with me? Or not yet?

Chris Kross: Absolutely! I get a lot actually. Even the last concert I did with Rocco, Tony Sherman and Boy Thode. They tell me you looked good, (ba echt lusi). The Ser’i Noka concert. It makes a big difference and I even realize it myself. In that moment you may not realize it because you don’t walk with a mirror but then when you look at the pictures you notice that “Wow” I looked really good.

Ali: Have you noticed any differences in the way that you feel or perform since we’ve been working together? Knowing that you look good, how does that help you?

Chris Kross: You know, not to be egotistical or anything like that but once you start getting the compliments and people telling that you look good…it gives you more confidence. That confidence shines through…I am not talking about it going to your head but…

Ali: It’s a boost! A confidence boost.

Chris Kross: Yep! It’s good.

  

Ali: Ok… well! Thank you very much.

Chris Kross: That’s all?

Ali: Yeah! That’s it. Is there anything else you want to say about that perhaps you haven’t said yet about Zhuzhed By Ali?

Chris Kross: Well, um… you are easy to work with. I trust you very much. You can be at my place alone. There’s a lot of trust there. And… you are like family…you know what I mean?

Ali: Aw! How sweet!

Chris Kross: It’s not just like any other work relationship. Although I don’t see you very often but I trust you.

Ali: Thank you very much for trusting me and I hope that will continue to work together for many many more years.

Chris Kross: Bigger things are ahead.

Ali: Big things poppin’!

 

Chantell: The “Stepping Out Into A New Me” Look

About a week ago, I got a call from a close friend and surrogate sister inviting me to attend a screening of the groundbreaking documentary, He Named Me Malala, that is being hosted by the Ministry of Education here on the island. My friend, Chantell Martha, whom you may have heard of, had been personally invited by the Minister of Education to take part in a panel discussion on girls’ education in Aruba and other countries around the world that is scheduled to take place at the event.

 

No offence to the Ministry of Education’s powers of perception, but what they saw in Chantell is something many people had already taken notice of months before. Back in July, Chantell posted a video on Facebook that has since been viewed over seven thousand times (Note: these are “viral” numbers on this here little baranka* we call home). In the video, Chantell shares her story on the power of self-belief despite adversity, which for Chantell included everything from being marginalized by educators who were convinced she couldn’t achieve much academically and being bullied by her peers because of the color of her skin a reality many dark-skinned women face on a daily basis. Yet, what sets her apart is that rather than allowing these truly vile opinions to dictate the course of her life, Chantell has managed to prove these voices wrong in the most inspirational way.

Since graduating early from a primary school for children with special educational needs, Chantell has gone on to overcome every academic challenge she has faced and is now enrolled in her third year at the general secondary school on the island (Avond MAVO), where she is currently in the top percentile of her class. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, Chantell has learned to love herself from the inside out. She was featured in one of last year’s Famia Planea (Aruba’s Planned Parenthood) promotional videos as part of their “I Love My Body” campaign and has recently snapped about the joys of wearing an actual bathing suit (rather than shorts and a t-shirt) to the beach for the first time in her life!

 

As Chantell continues to develop into a confident young woman, we thought it would be best to ensure that her style also reflect this change. At the time, her closet mainly consisted of heavy jeans, button-down shirts and dresses that Chantell has unfortunately grown out of. In other words, there was nothing in her closet that said, “I’m about to meet with Aruba’s Olivia Pope.” Okay, so…no Ms. Hooyboer-Winklaar is not romantically involved with “the Leader of the Free World,” but our Minister of Education does have impeccable taste and always looks amazing! So obviously, my first question after accepting the invitation to be her guest of honor was inevitably, a nearly hysterical and definitely panicked: “What are you going to wear???” To which she replied, basically yelling into her phone: “I don’t know!!!”

  

Once we had both settled down, I started to picture Chantell standing on stage, looking  professional and youthful in an outfit that perfectly reflected who she is today. As soon as we started her Personal Shopping experience, I realized that we were in absolute agreement on the question of color, but had conflicting ideas when it came to the pieces of clothing we thought most appropriate for the occasion; I was picking up dresses and skirts and she was looking at tight pants and bodycon jumpsuits. I encouraged her to try on my selections and thankfully, she quickly responded, “OK! I want to get out of my comfort zone, anyway. I should be looking at things that I don’t like.” Of course, her immediate acceptance of my advice was great, but I also needed her to understand why it was not a good idea for her to attend this incredibly important event in a catsuit. Because can you imagine Julia Roberts, pre-makeover in Pretty Woman, going on that too-good-to-be-true Opera date with Richard in those knee-high boots? No, of course you can’t, because that wouldn’t make sense. Very much in the same way that meeting Olivia Pope in a catsuit wouldn’t make sense!

So after that life-changing realisation, Chantell set her mind on a bright pink blazer and I pulled a multicolored full tea-length skirt to complement the look. We rounded things off with a basic white top and coral pumps. She instantly fell in love with the bold print and colors, and it all worked so well to flatter her figure as well as her skin tone. With our shopping experience complete, we sat back and reflected on what we had accomplished and celebrated the fact that we were able to buy a brand new outfit for just Afl.175 ($100)! Then Chantell remarked that despite not being a huge fan of skirts, she really enjoyed trying on the one we chose and would even consider buying one or two others. I smiled my big smile at this development and asked if she could picture herself walking onto a stage; and she said, “It’s breathtaking…like I am stepping out into a new me!”

 

* “boulder” in Papiamento

 

The Look:

A-line tea length skirt by DShop Outlet

Blazer by DShop Outlet

Basic white tank top by Mango

Coral pumps by Aldo

Makeup by Georgina Doremy

Rosabelle: The “Zhuzhed By Ali” Look

This picture symbolizes the beginning of something larger than what I had imagined for myself and my role as a stylist on the island. This picture marks the beginning of #zhuzhedbyali.

Rosabelle Illes, a dear friend and hugely talented local artist/writer, and I had been working together for a while; her Closet Overhaul was long completed and we agreed that I would style all of her looks for upcoming appearances and performances. When not on stage or in front of the camera, Rosabelle manages to do her own thing (with my voice in her head, of course).

This went on for a while until preparations for New Year’s Eve 2015 changed everything! Part of our culture here on the island is to ring in the new year in a completely new ensemble. Some people even have dresses sewn for the occasion. It’s a big deal, and everyone does their best to look fresh! A group of friends and I, including Rosabelle, decided to attend the New Year’s Eve celebration on the island, the heavily attended and much-loved “Party at The Lee’s Bedazzled Babylon.” Rosabelle and I had put together an appropriately named “black on black on black” look weeks prior, but we were still waiting for the perfect occasion that might complement this classy yet seductive outfit. So when we heard that the Lees had called on us to be “bedazzled,” we knew that this party was what we had been waiting for.

A few weeks before that, I attended a fashion show in San Nicolas presented by Ateliers ‘89, a contemporary art studio based in Oranjestad. The fashion show was the culmination of a 6-week fashion workshop taught by Dutch fashion designer Mirte Engelhard. Darwin Winklaar, an absurdly gifted local designer, presented his largest collection to date at this show, entitled “Back to Violeta.” The collection, which was dedicated to his mother Nidia Violeta Vries, was colorful, creative and deliciously fashion-forward. His high-waisted wide leg pants drove my imagining wild as I pictured all kinds of looks for different people. Needless to say, I fell deeply in love with every single piece. But there was one piece in particular that was truly The One; it was a wearable art piece, or brooch, styled as part of a look that came down the runway. Instantly I knew it was meant to be the finishing touch for Rosabelle’s “black on black on black” (and bedazzled!) outfit.

 

I reached out to the young designer hoping that he would see my vision and allow me to borrow his design for the last night of 2015. His answer to my request “Of course you can! But only because it’s you!”was exactly what I was hoping to hear. I was so happy and honored to be the Rachel Zoe to his Oscar De La Renta! And Rosabelle was our muse, our star that would grace the proverbial “red carpet” with a look that was perfectly #zhuzhedbyali.

 

 

The Look:

Pants and button-down shirt by Banana Republic

Blazer by Benetton

 

Black patent leather Oxford shoes by Mansfield

Wearable Art piece by Darwin Winklaar

Sunglasses by Urban Outfitters

 

 

In The Nook with Darwin Winklaar

Aruban fashion designer, Darwin Winklaar and I have had countless of conversations about fashion, art and design. This time we talked about the wearable art pieces he created for his lines ‘The Tea Trinataria’ and ‘Back To Violeta’. Oh, and we filmed it! I am so excited to share this with you.

Aissette: The “Put Together” Look

About a year and a half ago, I attended a screening of Mighty Lords, Kings and Queens, Calypso and The Politics of Recognition, an intriguing documentary by Shareli Emanuelson and Gregory Richardson on the role of Calypso music in the history of the Caribbean. Young professionals, musicians, artists, and local celebrities had all flocked to Cas di Cultura for the occasion. Among this excitement is where I first met Aissette. Our interaction was brief, but her energetic personality left a definite impression on me. Aissette does it all: she is a Media Manager, a Public Relations Assistant, and an active radio and TV personality (you may recognize her as the host of Brindis, a local television show that follows brides and grooms on the island down the aisle). I can’t imagine where Aissette finds time to sleep, because on top of all that, she’s also a proud single mommy.

 

So at our first sit down, Aissette explained that she strives to look “put together” in spite of everything she has going on. But while Aissette definitely knows what she wants, she was also quite sure that she is really not hitting the mark. She confessed that she tends to “look and feel disorganized”, not quite sure what pieces work well with her body type, what colors compliment her skin tone, or what exactly makes for a good/bad outfit. In other words: Aissette needed my help! Luckily, I was able to give her the full blown Zhuzh experience – all the way zhuzhed up!

 

Because this includes a Closet Overhaul, we agreed to meet at her lovely home, located in a residential area in Oranjestad. I had the pleasure of meeting her daughter and her 84-year-old grandmother (who could have fooled me!). We sat down to strawberry cupcake flavored tea (Aissette’s favorite), and shared tips on yet another hot-button topic: hair products and how to maintain curly hair! But luckily, grandma brought this fussy conversation to a swift close when she pointed out that in 1945, many people on the island used none other than good ol’ blue cake soap to wash their hair, due to shortages during the war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so the time came to have a look inside Aissette’s closet. She was so nervous and feared that I would go all Kanye on her and force her to get rid of everything (remember when he pretty much raided Kim’s closet?). Turns out, it wasn’t as serious as all that, but there sure was a lot to go through! Nevertheless, I was confident that we would be able to assemble more than a few “put-together” outfits. Of course, this was not until we were passed all the hand-me-downs that she had never liked or worn because they didn’t fit, or because they were maternity clothes! There was even one piece of clothing in particular that I couldn’t recognize, until Aissette let me know, between fits of laughter, that it was a baby sling.

 

After the umpteenth hand-me-down, I realized that this was something we needed to address.

She says she accepts hand-me-downs because she enjoys having the illusion of having lots of options. Good point, I thought; having lots of options or pieces to choose from can be great. But when the chips are down, too many “options” can also be a massive headache! Narrowing down your options is a major time-saver, making it much easier to create an outfit that looks ‘put together’ in the morning. The easiest way to do this is to only keep pieces that mix and match well together in your closet.

 

This is something I learned while shopping with my mother as a teenager. While incredibly strenuous at times, these trips to Caya were almost always an exercise in creativity and imagination. She taught us to only buy a new top or pair of pants if we knew that it could be paired with something we already owned. So Aissette and I created a “keep” and a “toss” pile with this in mind. The “keep” pile was noticeably smaller, but in the end, we were able to come up with 24 looks that made her look and feel confident, professional, and put together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Look:

Skirts: Her pencil skirts were kept because they show off her curves and accentuate her waist beautifully.

Tops: I am a fan of basic tops. They transition well from day to night and can be repeated without anyone knowing.

Jacket: A jean jacket is a wardrobe must-have. It’s super versatile and they never, ever, go out of style.

Hair: Her hair has a lot bounce and it adds to her overall natural beauty.

Makeup by Georgina Doremy

 

Naomi: The “Not My Baby Daddy” Look

It’s hard to believe Naomi and I have been friends for almost 20 years. It’s even harder to realize that I seem to have forgotten some of the most priceless moments of our friendship. With much of the same glee that you might rediscover a forgotten gem in your closet, I listened as she reminded me that she was the very first passenger to ride along in my parents’ 1995 Buick LeSabre hours after I got my driver’s license. She was also quick to remind me that I jumped a curb and almost hit a street sign. No big deal, okay! – we are fine and lived to tell the story. The point is that we’ve been friends for a long time. (The part about almost hitting a street sign is not true, but it helps to add dramatic effect, no?)

 

Still, there are some things about Naomi I will never forget. Her Colegio Arubano personal style is forever etched into my mind. At 7:15am, Naomi’s curly hair was wet and gelled down at the front – in classic “Savaneta Bombshell” fashion. She had an enviable variety of mini skirts, although she seemed to prefer the one in khaki. And she always – ALWAYS! – wore white Adidas sneakers. Above all, her style expressed that easy going personality you might ascribe to your favorite ‘girl next door’.

 

Since then, Naomi has become a wife, a mother of two and the owner of a small local bridal shop. When we chatted about her desire to get dressed up more often, she was afraid that her typical daily routines were not justification enough, despite her many accomplishments.While this is a very common concern, I explained to Naomi that it was not one that I shared. This is most likely due to the fact that I grew up watching my mother clean our house while wearing her pearl necklace. But I’ve also come to realize that personal style should celebrate whoever you are at any stage in your life, no matter how (in-)significant the occasion. So when the time came to overhaul her closet, we kept several dresses that she hasn’t worn in ages. A trip to the grocery store, a trip to the bank, meeting with a potential customer, playdates, girls’ night out (with me!) and date nights with her hubby are all reasons for Naomi to get dolled-up, and the dresses she has are all perfectly appropriate.

 

 

For her 7th wedding anniversary, Naomi asked me to style her outfit. It was a special occasion: Naomi made sure to let me know that she was looking forward to “going on a date with her husband, not her ‘baby daddy’.” So they made childless dinner plans at the chic and “so-romantic-you’ll-melt” Screaming Eagle restaurant, where diners enjoy a “Dinner-in-bed experience”. Needless to say, this was going to be a big deal; we made sure she looked the part!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Look:

For this occasion, we felt the most important thing was that Naomi’s look allow her to express the woman she is today, while staying true to her ‘girl next door’ personality.

Dress: The mini-dress was love at first sight. I think it was the color, she still loves khaki! (Mango)

Shoes: Naomi’s got legs for days, so there could not have been a better choice than nude stilettos to give her a sleek look from head to toe. (Ladies Choice, Aruba)

Accessories: We added color and some much-needed bling with a grass green clutch with gold asymmetrical detailing. Pearl earrings and bracelets are more than enough for someone who does not regularly accessorize. (D Shop, Aruba)

Hair: Her curly girl hair is swept up in a loose ponytail that says “young and fresh” to add some balance to the overall look. The best part is: the ponytail will never go out of style and it’s quick and easy.

Makeup by Georgina Doremy