Highlights from Mercedes-Benz Panama Fashion Week

After attending my first Fashion Week, I have a lot of respect for the fashion press who sit through shows all day, work all night to go through their photos and notes, and then repeat it all the next day. Sifting through the 600+ pictures I took during the three-day event was exhausting (and there were entire shows where I didn’t bother taking any photos!), but I’m thrilled I had the privilege to be part of the excitement.

Below are some of my favorite highlights. Since pictures speak louder than words, I’ll let them do (most of) the talking. Enjoy!

PFW-2The ever chic jewelry designer Melina Typaldos dancing down the runway. I love Panamanians; they’re always ready for a good time!


A glimpse of the front-row audience. [Read more…]

8 Funny Styles from Panama Fashion Week 2014

It’s not Fashion Week without some styles that are so strange, they’re hilarious. Not that I don’t appreciate creativity and artistry. There’s a reason runway shows are distinguished from ready-to-wear, because it allows designers to explore certain concepts that they wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. But I’m a firm believer that art needs to engage the audience, to provoke thinking, not befuddlement. If the viewer has no idea what the artist is trying to convey, then the dialogue is lost. If the emperor is naked, then someone needs to point it out.

Here are 8 styles that left me in confusion (perhaps you can lend some clarity?):

Chanel has the $12,500 grocery basket, and Anya Hindmarch has the cereal box clutch, so I guess it only makes sense we should sport nutrition facts on our wardrobe as well. [Read more…]

I Can’t Believe It’s Not a Dream!

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Panama? Who knew? When I first heard about it a month ago, I inquired the coordinators for a possible invite. Instead, I was offered a press pass. Wait, me? As I’m writing this, I’m standing next to a photographer with a camera lens three times the length of mine.

PanamaFashionWeeksphotographersNo joke. I’m still pinching myself that this is all real!

The event is for three days, with the runway shows from 5:30pm – 9:30pm. My first thought when I got the schedule was, wait, what about dinner?! Will there be food? Or is everyone expected to starve since it’s the fashion industry? To be safe, I had a hearty lunch of fried chicken and a chocolate cookie beforehand. No dieting for this girl!

I did, however, buy a last-minute outfit from Forever 21 and a pair of kitten heels from Zara. I had to explain to Mr. Wonderful why the travel clothes in my suitcase just weren’t going to cut it.


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Best Shoes for Travel (that aren’t ugly)

It used to be that I would buy travel shoes with slightly more style than comfort. I survived multiple trips to Europe and Asia this way, bringing my Tory Burch flats and Sam Edelman Trina sandals that were so popular with fashion bloggers. Sure, my feet would hurt a bit after 10 hours of sightseeing, but it was nothing unbearable.

Last year, I wasn’t so lucky. In the middle of a trip to Copenhagen, my right foot started hurting badly. It turned out I fractured tiny bones in my foot pad, which sometimes never heals. My podiatrist explained it was simply one too many cobblestone roads in shoes with thin soles, and there was a price to pay. I now have chronic sesamoiditis, so wearing high heels and flats with thin soles can cause a lot of pain for me.

Now that I’m forced to err on the side of comfort over style, my choices are more limited. I spent the summer checking out shoes in stores like The Walking Company, Aerosoles and Clarks, in addition to selections offered at Nordstrom and Zappos. Some pairs, like the Adam Tucker brand I purchased from Nordstrom, felt heavenly when I first slipped them on and then gave me cramps after a few hours of wear. The problem is that we tend to fall for the “cloud-like” feeling of soft padding, but what your feet actually needs is firm padding with some flexibility. Thank goodness for Nordstrom’s satisfaction policy! When I explained my situation, they were more than happy to take them back.

After a few months of trial and error, I finally made some purchases based on the five criteria for purchasing travel shoes from my last post. Here they are!

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Five Tips for Purchasing Travel Shoes


Since I started traveling, some readers have asked me, “What is the most comfortable and stylish shoe for traveling?” It’s a tricky question, because everyone has their own style preferences and feet are as unique as individuals. I’m a size 6.5 with a slightly wider toe box and a high arch, so what works for me may not work for others. I did, however, literally try on over 30 shoes this summer in my personal hunt for the best pairs, so hopefully my upcoming reviews will save you some frustration and time!

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Miss Me jeans and Zara tweed blazer


Before I left for Panama, I lived in these jeans all summer.

For a few years, my favorite jeans were a pair of Citizens, in Ava Straight Leg. I wore them even when they turned three shades lighter and there was a huge hole in the knee with dangling loose threads, until one of my male friends (who does not care for fashion whatsoever), informed me it was time to get a new pair.

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And…Life Unrefined is back!

Dear Readers,

As many of you know, my Life Unrefined blog disappeared this past June. And while I grieved over the loss of two years of work, I also seized the opportunity to take a rest and rethink the purpose of my blog. I originally started a fashion blog because I wanted to encourage other women to embrace themselves and their natural beauty. Not in the overly simplistic, “You’re fine, just love yourself!” sense, but because I battled with body image and self-esteem for most of my life. It’s still a struggle to not feel intimidated in a room full of women who seem so confident and self-assured.

Yet while I loved writing for my blog and meeting other fashion/beauty bloggers, something began to nag me. You see, I enjoy shopping and talking about style, but I realized I wanted to talk about other things, too. Who I am is so much more than just what I wear. I wanted to talk about the beauty and struggles of marriage, my love of traveling, and the journey in my Christian faith. I know that not everyone will want to read about all of those things, but ultimately I have decided that the blog needs to be a true reflection of myself.

So I hope you will stay around as I begin again. I value the friendships I have made through this blog, both in life and online, and look forward to continuing that with you!

Very best,


3 Steps to Building a Work Uniform


I’ll be honest. Sometimes I go to work wearing just jeans and a sweatshirt (an embellished one, of course!) because I’d rather sleep in than figure out how all my layers are going to look cute together topped with arm candy. A lot of the outfits on my blog are usually weekend or date-night outfits, simply because I don’t have the capacity to think quickly on a weekday morning.

Over the years, however, I have developed a sort of go-to work uniform. If you don’t have one already, hopefully this gives you some ideas on how you can come up with yours!

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Blacklisted from Anthropologie


Recently, I received a letter from the finance coordinator at URBN (the brand that includes Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Free People) that I am “no longer eligible to shop online” at any of their stores.

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