A ‘Model’ of Confidence

Confidence can be born out of any set of circumstances — that’s what model Kanya Sesser is teaching us.

The 23-year-old Los Angeles model is representing top brands such as Nike, Billabong and Rip Curl says The Huffington Post UK, and earns earning $1,000 every day to do so. But Sesser isn’t your average model.

According to The Huffington Post, Sesser was born without legs, only to be abandoned on the steps of Buddhist temple in Thailand. At 5 years old, she was adopted and brought to live in Portland. Now, she’s shattering industry standards by showing that confidence is not reserved for the flawless.

The Huffington Post says Sesser started her career at 15 years old, originally modeling sportswear before finally landing in underwear modeling. Sesser spoke of her modeling to the Mail Onlinesaying “It’s something fun and it shows my story — I’m different and that’s sexy.”

Sesser went on to say that her photos show her strength while also letting her beauty shine through. “I love showing people what beauty can look like,” she said. “I don’t need legs to feel sexy.”

And as if modeling weren’t enough, The Huffington Post says that Sesser, a lover of extreme sports, hopes to be able to compete in mono-ski competition in the 2018 Winter Paralympics in South Korea.

Thank you, Kanya Sesser, for being the definition of confidence, beauty and determination.

Nicole’s Favorites: TV Moments Edition

At every award show, there seems to be one speech that stands out among the others. And while every recipient is overcome with emotion when they’re accepting their awards, there was one actress at this year’s Emmy Awards who delivered a noteworthy acceptance speech.

Enter Viola Davis, who made history at the Sept. 20 award show by becoming the first African-American to win an Emmy for best actress in a drama. As if winning weren’t enough to seal her place in history, she proceeded to deliver perhaps one of the most touching and inspirational speeches not only of the night, but also in Emmys history.

The New York Times provided this transcript of her speech online:

Transcript via The New York Times.

Transcript via The New York Times.

Davis’ speech spoke to the importance of her winning the award, while also pointing out the trailblazers that have cleared a path for actresses like her to have a chance for success in the industry. She also acknowledged her fellow actresses who help to further the prospects of future generations of women and women of color.

There was no better way to cap off the Emmys than with this speech. And what was equally touching about her win was that when Davis’ name was called, her fellow nominees were just as excited for her as they would be if they had won. Couple this with her speech, and we are dealt two major takeaways from this one moment: that success is possible despite the restrictions societies and industries may place on women and women of color, and that it is more than possible for women to support their peers in their successes.

While we can watch award shows idly and comment on the fashion, it is a moment like this that makes award shows worth watching; here, we not only celebrate the success of a talented actress, but we received a speech that will inspire countless young women across the country and around the world to fearlessly and passionately pursue their dreams.

Somewhere, a little girl was watching Davis win that award. And what she saw was more than an actress in a pretty dress receiving a trophy — she saw a woman who has transcended barriers to achieve her dreams. She heard a speech that not only recognized the hurdles Davis overcame, she heard her graciously celebrate her peers.

She saw that dreams do come true, and Davis’s Emmys win may be just the thing that inspires this little girl to go after her own dreams without fearing societal barriers and racial or gender restrictions.

While Davis expressed her gratitude in her Emmys acceptance speech, we — the women of the world who watched with pride — want to thank you, Viola Davis, for being an inspiration to us all.



A Touchdown for Thomas

In July, we heard news of the Becky Hammon taking on the position of assistant coach for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, as well as Jen Welter rising to hold a coaching position in the NFL. And now, we have a yet another female breaking into the predominantly male sports industry, specifically the NFL.

According to Amy Poehler’s Smart GirlsSarah Thomas has made history recently as the first female regular season official of the NFL. The Mississippi mom of three has been officiating football games since 1999, and made history once before by becoming the first woman to ref a college bowl game.

Smart Girls says that Thomas got the opportunity to officiate in a regular season game passing through the preseason as a finalist in the NFL’s Officiating Development Program, and her first game was during Week 1 of this year’s football season, calling the Houston Texans/Kansas City Chiefs game.

Thank you, Sarah Thomas, for showing us that hard work, determination and persistence is what it takes to break into a male-dominated industry.

Take Her Look [For Less]

The fall TV season kicked off with a scream — Scream Queens, that is. The new FOX show premiered on Monday, September 21 with a star-studded bash at The Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles, California, and of course, there was no shortage of great fashion.

One of our favorite looks came from Glee star Lea Michele, who showed up to the premiere party in what InStyle reports was a David Koma dress. Her sexy black gown featured a thigh-high slit and a plunging neckline offset by a band at the bust. She styled her David Koma number with black embellished sandals, large stud earrings and handfuls of rings.

Michele’s David Koma number may be a stunner, but what’s equally stunning is its lofty price tag; her dress, the Low Cut Chest Strap Gown, is available at Forward for $2,614. If this price makes you want to ‘scream’ just as much as it makes us want to, you’ll be relieved to know that we’ve found all the pieces necessary to recreate Michele’s entire look for less than $100. Read on for the results!

Finding a dress to rival Michele’s sexy David Koma number was no easy task, but we thought the Slinky Cut Out Detail Maxi Dress from Missguided was the perfect alternative to Michele’s pricey gown. Although this dress does not have a similar neckline, it makes up for that with its thigh-high slit and sexy side cutouts. Another feature this dress doesn’t have — a high price tag. This dress is a fashion steal for a sale price of $30.

The Slinky Cut Out Detail Maxi Dress from Missguidedus.com.

The Slinky Cut Out Detail Maxi Dress from Missguidedus.com.

An embellished heel will complete our look for less, and there is no better pair for the job than the Zigi Soho Madyson Sandal from DSW. Featuring a similar beading across the foot, these heels will add a bit of shine to your all-black ensemble, and they will do so for only $69.95.

The Zigi Soho Madyson Sandal from DSW.com.

The Zigi Soho Madyson Sandal from DSW.com.

Although the $2,614 price of Lea Michele’s Scream Queens premiere party look made us want to scream, we were able to create a look-alike ensemble for only $99.95. Pair your new look with some simple rings and bold earrings, and you’ll have successfully taken Michele’s look for less.

Happy Shopping!

‘MACnificent’ No Matter What

Beauty has no size restrictions. That’s what Luzmaria Vargas is teaching the world in her winning video for MAC Cosmetic’s “MACnificent Me” campaign contest.

According to The Huffington Post, Vargas, a California native, was chosen as one of six winners of a video contest to be the face of MAC’s “self-love campaign,” an effort by the cosmetic company that aims to celebrate “people’s personal styles and beauty — both inside and out.” The campaign’s page describes what it means to be ‘MACnificent,’ which involves being “creative, being confident, having fun and most of all, being true to yourself.”

As one of the winners, Vargas was flown to New York City to receive a makeover, and MAC chronicled her experience in a video, in which she confessed that as a bigger woman, she sometimes struggles with being confident in her appearance. “Some people just think because you’re overweight you don’t have feelings,” she said.

However, The Huffington Post says she found that receiving the makeover from MAC and being featured as one of their models helped her feel beautiful. In reflecting on her ‘MACnificent’ experience, she said, “It feels so good because I know there’s so many women out there that won’t express themselves [because] they’re overweight. But if I did it, they can all do it.”

Thank you, Luzmaria, for teaching us that true beauty is not bound by size, and that we are all ‘MACnificent’ no matter what.

Take Her Look [For Less]

While Sunday night’s Emmys honored the most talented actors and actresses in television, the Emmys red carpet payed homage to the style of the small screen’s biggest stars. And as if their red carpet looks weren’t stylish enough, their after-party style was even better.

Take Modern Family‘s Sarah Hyland. After wearing a gorgeous wine-colored Zac Posen gown on the Emmys red carpet, she opted for a black Kaufmanfranco swing dress for the Emmys after party, says InStyle. Her sweet little black dress featured a high neckline and an oversized bow at the back of her neck. She completed her look with some silver jewelry and black strappy heels.

Hyland took to the Emmys after party in style, but her style comes at a price. A similar Kaufmanfranco dress retailed originally for $2,995 at Forward, but if you love her post-award show style, we’ve found all the pieces necessary to recreate her look for less than $200. Read on for the results!

While nothing will ever quite compare to her bow-back Kaufmanfranco frock, we thought the High Neck Crepe Swing Dress from Missguided certainly came close. Featuring a similar high neckline and billowy silhouette, this dress could easily pass for Hyland’s look. But, the best part is that this look-alike dress is available at a fraction of the price, coming in at only $40.

The High Neck Crepe Swing Dress, from Missguidedus.com.

The High Neck Crepe Swing Dress, from Missguidedus.com.

Black strappy heels will complete our look for less, and there is no better pair for the job than the Jessica Simpson Sabreeni heels from 6pm. These heels have a strap pattern at the toe reminiscent of Hyland’s heels, but they also feature tiny studs to give the shoe an edgier feel. These sassy heels will finish off your new outfit for a mere $49.99.

The Jessica Simpson Sabreeni Heel from 6pm.com.

The Jessica Simpson Sabreeni Heel from 6pm.com.

Sarah Hyland’s Emmys after-party look may have been pricey, but you don’t have to spend like a star to achieve a similar look — we were able to recreate her look from head to toe for only $89.99. Add a silver cuff and earrings, and you’ll have successfully taken Hyland’s look for less.

Happy Shopping!

Take Her Look [For Less]

Wearing an outfit composed from head-to-toe with pieces from one of your favorite designers sounds like the stuff of every fashionista’s dreams. That dream was a reality for Kiernan Shipka, who attended Coach’s 75th Anniversary runway show on Sept. 15 at the Highline in New York City wearing an outfit composed solely of Coach pieces.

According to InStylethe Mad Men alumna attended the show wearing a black and white floral printed button-down top, which she paired with a leather-trimmed mini skirt. She completed her look with a black and white crossbody bag and black peep-toe ankle booties.

Because we know that Shipka’s outfit is composed of only Coach pieces, it should come as no surprise that this amounts to a pricey look — her crossbody alone, the Swagger 20 with Chain, totals $395. If you love her entire look but can’t bear to know the lofty price of each individual piece, we’ve recreated her outfit from head to toe for less than the price of her Coach crossbody. Read on for the results!

First on our shopping list is a black and white printed button-down, and the Diamond Print Shirt from Forever 21 is the perfect replacement for Shipka’s Coach piece. Featuring a similarly-sized print, this collared top will easily pass for the Coach shirt while only costing a fraction of its price, coming it at a mere $22.90.

The Diamond Print Shirt, found on Forever21.com.

The Diamond Print Shirt, found on Forever21.com.

Finding a leather-trimmed mini skirt to rival Shipka’s Coach style was no easy task, but we thought that the Patch Pocket Mini Skirt from Forever 21 came pretty close. Offering faux leather banding at the waist and hip pockets reminiscent of the Coach skirt, this piece will easily combine with the printed top to recreate Shipka’s look for only $17.90.

The Patch Pocket Mini Skirt, found on Forever21.com.

The Patch Pocket Mini Skirt, found on Forever21.com.

One of the essential pieces of Shipka’s look was her black and white crossbody, and although nothing compares to a genuine Coach purse, we thought the Anne Klein New Recruit Perforated Crossbody was a good alternative. This crossbody not only delivers a similar silhouette, it also offers a chain strap reminiscent of Shipka’s pricey Coach style. But this crossbody will only set you back $47.99 as compared to the Coach’s $395 price tag.

The Anne Klein New Recruits Perforated Crossbody, found on Macys.com.m

The Anne Klein New Recruits Perforated Crossbody, found on Macys.com.

Black peep-toe ankle booties will cap off recreated head-to-toe ensemble, and Aldo has the perfect pair in the form of the Jutras bootie from Heels.com. These booties will not only offer a style comparable to Shipka’s pair, they will also add a bit of height to your overall look with their 4 1/2 stiletto heel. Coming it at $89.99, these shoes will be the biggest splurge of our entire look for less ensemble.

The Aldo Jutras Bootie, found on Heels.com.

The Aldo Jutras Bootie, found on Heels.com.

Kiernan Shipka’s all-over Coach ensemble was certainly enviable, but we definitely didn’t envy her crossbody’s $395 price tag. Our look-alike outfit, however, will allow you to recreate her entire look from head to toe for only $178.48.

Happy Shopping!

Britton’s Bottle-Up Magic

A woman who is considered beautiful often garners questions of what the secret to her maintained beauty is. And if you’ve ever wondered what Nashville star Connie Britton’s beauty secret is, wonder no more.

Britton recently revealed that her beauty regimen relies on a healthy dose of something shoppers can’t find on the shelves — feminism.

According to The Huffington PostBritton’s admission via a quasi-PSA video came as part of The Representation Project’s 2015 #AskHerMore campaign. This campaign is pushing for red carpet reporters to deviate from their standard questions inquiring about the designer of female celebrities’ gowns to ask them something more substantial. The video was written, directed and co-produced by fellow Nashville actress Laura Benanti, says The Huffington Post’s Emma Gray.

Benanti told The Huffington Post that because many young women are hesitant to proclaim themselves as ‘feminists,’ it demonstrates there is still a great misunderstanding surrounding the meaning of the term. “All people should be feminists. Also… feminists are funny, too,” she added.

In the short, Britton explains that when used regularly, “feminism has been known to produce amazing results, such as a woman’s right to vote, a woman’s right to her own body, a woman’s right to become a kickass athlete, the Violence Against Women Act, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act and more.”

Before the ‘side-effects’ of feminism are shared at the conclusion of the video, Britton tells us that not only do women need feminism, it also “is made to be used on a daily basis and works best when shared.”

Thank you, Connie Britton and Laura Benanti, for showing us that women are more than the designers they wear and the products they use, and the only way to find out is to #AskHerMore.

She Leads, You Follow: 2015 Emmys Edition

The stars of the small screen took to the red carpet outside of the Nokia Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles on Sept. 20 to recognize the year’s stellar television performances at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards. And while the award show itself brought some surprising wins, it should come as no surprise that the the red carpet prior to the main event showcased some stunning fashion. Although it was hard to pick our favorite looks, there were several leading ladies who led the pack with their red carpet style.

Sparkling in a silver St. John gown was none other than Sofía Vergara. The Modern Family star walked the red carpet in a body-hugging beaded gown with a strapless neckline and modified mermaid silhouette.

Viola Davis was the picture of elegance as she walked the red carpet with Julius Tennon on Sunday night. According to E! OnlineDavis wore a Carmen Marc Valvo gown, featuring dense black floral beading at the waist that dispersed as it neared the gown’s fuller A-line skirt. The highlight of Davis’ night was yet to come, however, as she went on to win the Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a drama series for her role in How to Get Away With Murder.

Keeping it simple in an all-black ensemble was Modern Family‘s Julie Bowen, who donned a Georges Chakra number for her walk down the red carpet. Featuring a multi-strap neckline and a trumpet skirt, Bowen took her gown to the next level by pairing it with bold jewelry and a shiny frame clutch.

The Good Wife’s Christine Baranski added a pop of color to the Emmys with her bright pink gown. Baranski walked the red carpet in an eye-catching hot pink gown, featuring a cap sleeve, a cutout at the neck and a defined waist. She completed her look with a gold clutch and gold jewelry.

Amy Poehler continued the cutout theme with her all-black ensemble, which featured  cutouts at the ribcages to accentuate her waist. The high-neck Michael Kors gown featured a column skirt that fell from her natural waist straight down to the floor. Poehler offset her minimalistic look by adding a stack of bold bangles to each wrist and dainty gold earrings to frame her face.

It seems like good style is all in the ‘family’, as Modern Family actress Sarah Hyland rocked the red carpet in a wine-colored Zac Posen gown. The dress featured an off-the-shoulder neckline (which created a cutout on the back of her dress) and a modified trumpet skirt. Hyland completed her red carpet look with a maroon bangle, beaded earrings and handfuls of rings.

Rounding out our favorite looks of the night was E! host Giuliana Rancic, who took her turn on the red carpet in a soft pink Zuhair Murad gown with all-over beading. The off-the-shoulder gown featured a defined waistline and soft, ethereal mermaid skirt.

Although these ladies are dressed to impress on the red carpet of the Emmys, there are certain elements of their glamorous gowns that we can apply to the way we dress every day:

  1. Define your waist – The one common thread among these diverse gowns that they define a waist in some way, whether it’s through cutouts, like Amy Poehler’s dress; a simple band, like Giuliana Rancic’s dress; seaming, like Sarah Hyland’s gown; or even embellishments, like Viola Davis’ gown. Defining your waist allows you to create the illusion of a smaller frame, while also making it seem as though your legs begin at your natural waistline (making them look much longer than they are). Each gown defines the waistline in a unique way, so there’s no excuse not to do so in your own outfits every day!
  2. Less is more – There were some simple gowns on the red carpet, but simple doesn’t necessarily mean ‘boring.’ Amy Poehler, Sarah Hyland, Julie Bowen and Christine Baranski all wore solid-colored gowns, but they each had intrinsic features that made then stand out, such as cutouts, an off-the-shoulder neckline, a multi-strap neckline and intricate seaming respectively. They also punched up their looks with jewelry and accessories, which instantly added visual interest to the blank canvases of their gowns. It’s so easy to discredit a piece of clothing just because it’s not flashy or loud enough, but these ladies showed us that sometimes, less is more.
  3. Confidence is key – The most essential part of any outfit is something that cannot be bought: confidence. All of these women (and those we didn’t have space to discuss!) walked the red carpet with confidence in who they are. The expensive dresses, jewelry and shoes, the hair and makeup all add up to make a stunning red carpet look; but all of this doesn’t equal the priceless value of confidence. So no matter what you’re wearing, be confident in who you are and believe in your own beauty, because that’s worth so much more than the cost of your outfit.

The Image of Achievement

Despite the achievements of tennis superstar Serena Williams or UFC fighter Ronda Rousey, female athletes are still judged more on what they look like than on their abilities and accomplishments — at least that’s what tennis great Billie Jean King thinks.

According to The Huffington PostKing not only offered her opinion on the recent criticism of Serena Williams’ body, she also shared her belief that women in sports are judged mostly for their bodies — men, she said, don’t receive this type of treatment.

“Particularly with women athletes, people talk about their looks the whole time, and they don’t talk about their accomplishments. And they would never do that to a man,” King explained.

Further into the discussion, King called into question the role social media has played recently in attempting to assuage this treatment, saying that even though it has changed the way people view the bodies of female athletes, their achievements should matter much more than the shape or build of their bodies.

King continued, “I think most of the women just want to be as strong as they can be, period. It doesn’t matter what their shape is.”

Thank you, Billie Jean King, for teaching us that the accomplishments of female athletes far outweigh their looks or stature.