The Unexpected Fall Wardrobe Staples

Hands down, fall is my favorite time of year. Not only for the beautiful change of colors in the trees, but for the fall fashions that come with it. Every year, I go on the hunt to try to get a few unique pieces that I can wear for work and on the weekends. This year, I came across Nordstrom’s Halogen line of transitional leather bombers that are great for both. I paired this with a pair of Cole  Haan grey suede boots that I bought last year. Every time I wear them I get stopped by women who love the color and ask me where I got them, so I researched them and found this year’s beautiful version at Macy’s. Together or separate, I always pair them with accessories that add interest or a pop of color. Easy to pull together and always a classic look that I can get out of the house quickly and feel great. See below for the links to these finds!


Nordstroms Halogen Leather Coat

Cole Haan Arlean Suede Boots

Designing Your Time –A Work Life Balance Discussion with Cynthia Rowley

Last year, I had and incredibly exciting opportunity to meet fashion icon Cynthia Rowley and talk to her about one of my favorite topics, work life balance.

I  attended the William Blair Annual Woman’s Leadership Luncheon where Cynthia and designer Mario Pinto were on a panel to discuss how they found their success as designers and business women.  It was packed full of business women,  journalists and budding designers all trying to get a glimpse into world of fashion and pick up a few business tips along the way.

Cynthia emphasized the need to constantly be re-inventing, reimagining, rethinking and evolving to grow. This was not only with her brand, but with her business and how she operates as a leader.  Constantly challenging the status quo and thinking of new ways to work is not an easy task, but necessary to stay at the top.

While there were so many great points made about managing a business and how she expanded her brand, I was most intrigued by my one on one conversation with her after the session ended.

I waited patiently for a few moments to talk direct with Cynthia about another challenge I knew she faced, how she juggles it all with her family and business. It was without hesitation that she responded that she was surprised nobody asked about this in the Q&A, but it was a challenge for sure. She approached her work life balance like she approached her business, with progressive thinking to create an environment where both her business and family could thrive. In New York, she set up her offices close to her home so that she and her husband could manage the logistics of her demanding schedule. Beyond designing clothes and products, she works hard at designing her schedule to be there for the important things for her family, while meeting the business expectations as well. She was insightful, kind and genuine in her support to other women to inspire them to create their own success.

This conversation stuck with me as I faced my own challenges and decisions in how I design my balance and career decisions. This year, I faced a job change and I took her advice. I set up my new offices for my consulting business close to home and created a small workspace for my kids to come after school to do their homework on days that they don’t have activities. I changed how I flex my schedule so that I can finally enroll in that exercise class that I’ve been thinking about for years, but never thought I could fit in. I ditched the traditional office look and made the space inspiring and beautiful so that I looked forward to going to work and think creatively about my work. Most importantly, I realized that it’s easy to stay in the box of the traditional way of working, but when we open our mind to new ideas in how we can create our own success, the sky is the limit of what we can accomplish.

Check out Cynthia’s beautiful new line of dresses and accessories at

Working Women Wardrobe Pieces Nordstroms Halogen Line

While shopping for my kids back to school outfits, I couldn’t help but wander to the women’s section to see what was new for fall.  Always looking for basics that I can use for work and transition to my life wardrobe, I fell for these great pieces from Nordstrom’s Halogen line!  Modern with a little edge, moderately priced and well made, these are easy pieces to say yes to.

Halogen Asymmetrical Zip Pencil Skirt:

Halogen Merino Blend Cardigan:

Halogen Belted Short Wool Blend Coat:

Accessorizing with Adorn 512


I’m always looking for pretty little things that I can add to my jewelry and accessories collection. I especially love items that I can wear to work and in my casual wardrobe as well.  I discovered jewelry designer Dana Mitchell’s line Adorn 512 when I was shopping at a boutique in Geneva, Illinois and I purchased her initial necklaces.  It turns out Dana is from Chicago and has an online boutique where you can find many amazingly dainty and unique necklaces, earrings and charms to add to your collection.    I recently bought some pieces that I have been wearing non stop in many different ways.  Check out Dana’s collection and shop local!

Making it Real- Jewelry Designer Dina Mackney


It was an unlikely Saturday. I was on my way to Neiman Marcus on a mission to exchange a gift I was given.  Unlikely, because I don’t shop at Neman’s frequently, but I love to see high fashion, in real life beyond my magazine pages to get ideas for my own style and wardrobe.

After I exchanged my handbag, I strolled on over to the jewelry department to check it out.  There was a small crowd near a counter with curious women checking out a trunk show for jewelry designer Dina Mackney.  I followed suit and quickly became entranced with the beautiful unique pieces of interchangeable pendants and necklaces-each one of them with their own story I would quickly learn.

Dina herself came to help me, as she saw my curiosity with a jade green glass pendant that I was trying on.  Her story of how she found the Italian glass she used on a trip to Italy led us to a conversation about traveling for work.  Although my global travels aren’t nearly as creative and inspiring, we instantly connected on a topic that we had in common-traveling for work with young children at home.

It turns out she’s just like us, trying to figure it out and balance the needs of her business with the needs of her family. She’s got to be where the action is to get the job done and build her brand globally, but it’s not easy.  While I couldn’t give her any design ideas, I could share my strategies and ideas to manage the challenges that travel has with kids at home.

I bought that necklace as a treat for myself, but it now has an even more interesting story behind it, the story of two working women navigating their careers, helping each other figure it out. Check out Dina’s amazing pieces at

Fear is Not an Option


Diane Von Furstenberg is a style icon. Known for her famous wrap dress that skyrocketed her to fame in 1972, she built a successful fashion business empire that made her a respected business woman and multimillionaire. She took risks to reinvent and relaunch her brand multiple times throughout her career by identifying opportunities and channeling her confidence to take the next steps. Aside from her business success, I am most inspired by five words that she shared in an interview that I read a few years ago and have stuck with me since.

“Fear is not an option” 

As the story goes, she learned these words from her Mother, but she used this mantra to guide her career steps and life. She has real fears in life, just like we do, but she developed her own way to overcome them by following her mother’s words and pushing through fearful times with focus and determination.

There are a lot of fears that can stop us in our career tracks, slow down our progress or even derail our success. The fear to change jobs, take on that next role, give a speech, ask for the flexibility, just to name a few. Tackling these challenges is difficult for all of us. Even the boldest and the brightest struggle. However, fear can be tackled with confidence and a plan.

Here are three steps that I think are helpful to tackle your work fears:

Step 1: The Decision:

Make the powerful decision that you will not allow fear to control your career progress. Make it your mantra like DVF has and commit to working through fears for the betterment of you. Take a few moments to envision your potential to thrive without fear in the way. Write down your commitment and put it in a place where you can easily remind yourself of your decision.

Step 2: The Plan:

Understanding what is driving your fear is critical to developing your plan of attack. Are you afraid of rocking the boat at work? Worried that you will not deliver in a new role? Ask and answer that question. Then, flip the question around and ask yourself how you can minimize that risk with a plan.

Engage the right person to help you map out your plan. While family and friends can be great support, sometimes it takes people outside of that circle who have faced the same challenge to help. Trust a mentor, member or your network or industry contact and ask for their input on how they have faced similar challenges.

Then, develop the steps you will take to address your career challenge. It could be as simple as writing and practicing your script to your boss to request the flexibility you need, or updating your resume and summarizing key accomplishments that remind you that you have what it takes to be successful in that next job.

Step 3: The Actions:

The final step is to put your plan in action. A good plan and the right support behind you creates confidence, which can shut fear down. Every challenge is an opportunity to get better and move your career forward. It takes practice and work, but the results are worth it.

We are bigger than the fears we face. Move fear out of the way and open up the doors of opportunity.
Thanks Diane, both for your wrap dress and your five little words.