She Leads, You Follow: Critic’s Choice Awards Edition

Following on the heels of the Golden Globe Awards, the Critic’s Choice Awards on Sunday, Jan. 17 honored the best in film and television of 2015. The 21st annual awards, held in Santa Monica, California, bestowed honors on the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio for his role in The Revenant, as well as Brie Larson for her performance in Room. While the awards played host to Hollywood’s most talented, the awards also brought out their most fashionable looks.

Take Kate Beckinsale, for instance. She walked the Critic’s Choice red carpet in a silver Monique Lhullier gown with intricate beading, says POPSUGAR, which she paired with Butani earrings and a purple marbled clutch.

Wearing a pastel blue Altuzarra number with a geometric print was January Jones, who paired her embellished dress with strappy sandals and a simple updo.

Saoirse Ronan also got the memo to wear light blue, opting for a simple Antonio Berardi gown with silver beading at the shoulders, which transformed into a slight cape at the back. Ronan completed her look with Stephen Webster jewelry.

Breaking the blue trend in a colorblocked ensemble was Abigail Spencer, who wore a light pink and black halter dress by J. Mendel. She polished off her red carpet look with a matching clutch, gold earrings and a gold cuff.

Although Hollywood’s leading ladies are styled for the red carpet, there are some things we can learn from their looks to apply to the way we dress every day:

  1. Simple isn’t boring… – Although Saoirse Ronan and Abigail Spencer are wearing light colors with minimal embellishment, their looks are still compelling. That’s because both looks fit perfectly while also having a small, yet impactful detail to punch up the look. For instance, Ronan’s look incorporates a defined waist on a solid, column-style gown, but it’s accented by a beaded shoulder and cape to add some drama to the look. While Spencer’s gown looks deliberately oversize in the bodice, it is fitted in the waist, which then allows the skirt to pull away from her hips. The light pink of her gown is then contrasted with the black bandeau, creating a colorblocked look that is both modern and elegant. Small details like these create detailed looks that are simple but stylish nonetheless.
  2. …But details don’t hurt either – Kate Beckinsale and January Jones are perfect examples of how to use embellishment to your advantage. The beading on both dresses first emphasizes the bust while also narrowing their waistlines. Then, the embellishment creates curves on their hips; while Beckinsale’s gown has lines of beading that follow the curve of her hips, Jones’ dress has two strips of small floral-like beading that starts at her waist and falls on her hips on a diagonal line, accentuating her curves. These dresses serve as perfect examples of how details and embellishments can create shape in a garment. When you are shopping for any garment, keep in mind anything as simple as a seam at the waist or even pockets at the hips that will accentuate your shape.

Inside the Inspired Life: The Social Media Mentor

Becoming a social media maven was never Aliza Licht’s original goal. She was on a pre-med track while studying at the University of Maryland College Park, but quit this pursuit three years in, discovering that her initial path just didn’t sit right with her. Her decision proved beneficial: after starting her career in the fashion and media industries as an intern at Harper’s Bazaar, Licht eventually found herself as the senior vice president of global communications at Donna Karan International and the voice behind the @DKNYPRGIRL Twitter. Although Licht has since parted ways with the company she spent 17 years with, she is setting out on her own to share her secrets to success with those hungry for similar pursuits.

After starting her career at Harper’s Bazaar with an editorial internship, Licht moved on to Marie Claire where she spent two years as an accessories specialist, says The New York Times. In 1998, Licht opted for a public relations job at Donna Karan.

Eleven years into her time with the fashion chain, a new platform that would become essential to public relations surfaced: social media. According to Forbes, the onset of social media prompted the company to create a social media presence that was equally inspired by the TV show Gossip Girl as it was a need for authentic human conversation. The product formed a social media presence no one could predict, one that launched Licht’s career: @DKNYPRGIRL.

The account was run anonymously for two years, garnering well over 300,000 followers by 2011. In October of the same year, Licht revealed her identity as not only the voice behind the ever-popular account, but also as the brand’s senior vice president of global communications. The reveal attracted the attention of major news outlets, including The New York Times, pointing to the popularity of her online persona.

In reflecting on her former position, Licht attributed the account’s popularity to her conversational, noncommercial approach to creating an engaged yet authentic following.

“My goal was to be their best girlfriend while giving the community a unique and privileged behind-the-scenes view into the world of fashion through my role as SVP of Global Communications at Donna Karan,” she explained. “It was about public relations and not the newest handbag that shipped to store; at least not a majority of the time. People didn’t view the account as a brand as much as they did an entertaining friend who had this cool job they could get a fly on the wall view into.”

In May 2015, Licht offered a more in-depth view of her life with the release her first book, Leave Your Mark: Land your dream job. Kill it in your career. Rock social media., in which she shares her personal and professional experiences to help others succeed in their careers and build their own personal brands. “Personal branding is not about being famous or amassing millions of followers,” Licht said. “It’s about aligning how people view you with what how you intend them to view you.”

To create a personal brand, Licht explained that it is first important to know “what you stand for, how you present, what people take away from meeting you or working with you are.”

One way to create a personal brand that Licht seems to specialize in: social media. Allowing people to create their personal brands online, Licht said social media “allows the everyday person to create a curated, smart presence that can help leverage whatever that person wants to promote.”

There are several steps to building a personal brand, said Licht. “First decide what you stand for. What do you want to be known for? Then create your brand filter- 5 adjectives or statements that can help you create parameters for what you should or should not be speaking about.”

The remaining steps, she said, are found within the pages of Leave Your Mark, a work dubbed “a mentorship in 288 pages.”

In explaining the book’s aim to mentor its readers, Licht said, “It’s a mentorship [book] because it teaches through storytelling and tough love. It’s also a comprehensive experience, as if you and I had a very, very long coffee.”

Although Licht decided to leave Donna Karan International in 2015, she still has a lot more to offer — and a lot more to teach. On Jan. 11, 2016, Licht launched “Blackboard,” a newsletter designed to share inspirational and insightful content while she learns just how she will leave her mark yet again.

Licht has learned a thing or two throughout her illustrious career, which she details in Leave Your Mark and will most likely share in her forthcoming newsletters. But in reflecting on the best piece of advice she’s received in her life, Licht offered, “Say thank you, sincerely and often.”

Thank you, Aliza Licht, for sharing your wisdom with us.


Follow Aliza Licht on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and visit her website here. Sign up for her Blackboard newsletter here


Take Her Look [For Less]

Looking your best every day requires time and effort to put together a string of stylish looks ready for all occasions — but when you’re Jennifer Lopez, it all seems effortless.

On Jan. 13, the Shades of Blue star attended the 2016 NBCUniversal Press Day at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena, California wearing a sleek royal blue one-shoulder dress. InStyle says Lopez paired the asymmetrical Victoria Beckham creation with nude Casadei pumps while polishing off her look with assorted rings and bracelets.

Lopez’s royal blue Victoria Beckham dress may be just the piece your wardrobe needs, but don’t get the credit card ready just yet. Her one-shoulder fitted dress is available at Barney’s New York for a steep price of $2,600 — yes, you read that correctly. Although the price of her designer frock may keep you from buying that exact dress, we’ve recreated her entire look for under $200. Read on for the results!

Finding a frock to match the color and asymmetrical shape of Lopez’s Victoria Beckham number proved to be a difficult task, but we finally landed on a worthy replacement. The Adrianna Papell Draped One-Shoulder Dress from Lord & Taylor in electric blue provides a rich color to rival the Victoria Beckham number while also delivering a one-shoulder design reminiscent of Lopez’s look. As if this dress needed another positive attribute, its price gives us one more thing to smile about: this formerly $98 style is now available for only $36.74.

blue dress

The Adrianna Papell Draped One-Shoulder Dress, found on

Completing our look-alike ensemble are a pair of suede nude pumps, and the Varcityy pumps by Steve Madden are the perfect pair for the job. Done in a light nude suede in a pointed-toe silhouette, these four-and-a-half inch heels will take your look to the next level for a sale price of $62.98.

steve madden varcityy

The Steve Madden Varcityy pump, found on

While Lopez’s press look may cost upwards of $2,600, our recreated look will only set you back $99.72, a full $100.28 below our $200 budget. To complete your look, stack some silver bracelets on your wrists and add handfuls of rings, and you’ll have Lopez’s look in no time.

Happy Shopping!

Physicist of the Future

Women in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are few and far between; as of a 2011 survey, the United States Department of Commerce found that while women fill half of the jobs in the U.S. economy, they tend to hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs. But one Alabama scientist is drawing attention to the field and making a name for herself in the process.

Meet Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green — one of less than 100 black female physicists in the United States, according to The New York Times’ Women in the World.” Green earned a degree in physics from Alabama A&M University, and upon graduation, she received a full scholarship to the University of Alabama in Birmingham to pursue her Master’s and Ph.D. There, she became the first to deliver nanoparticles exclusively to cancer cells, thus allowing them to be specifically targeted by lasers for removal, and she successfully carried out this treatment on living animals.

As points out, Green’s determination to treat cancer stems from her personal history with the disease. After her parents’ deaths early in her life, Green spent the rest of her childhood in St. Louis with her uncle General Lee Smith and her aunt Ora Lee.

But when Ora Lee was diagnosed with cancer, she refused treatment, said Green. “It was heartbreaking, but I could appreciate she wanted to die on her own terms,” she said.

Three months later, Green’s uncle was diagnosed with cancer, and she took time off from school to help him through chemotherapy and radiation treatments, witnessing firsthand the devastation such intensive treatments wreaks on a patient’s body.

But today, Green has not only pioneered a laser-activated treatment that could change the way cancer is treated, she is also the recipient of a $1.1 million grant to further the develop the technology.

Although her responsibility is growing, Women in the World explains that Green makes it a point to speak at schools, Boys & Girls clubs and other events. “Usually if there is an invitation to speak at a forum like that, I accept it because I feel like it’s a responsibility,” she said of accepting guest speaking requests. “There are so few of us (black women in STEM fields) I don’t feel like I have the luxury to say I’m too busy.”

Green also saix that she usually accepts such speaking requests to provide young women other role models to encourage studies in the STEM fields. “Young black girls don’t see those role models (scientists) as often as they see Beyonce or Nicki Minaj,” said Green. “It’s important to know that our brains are capable of more.”

Thank you, Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green, for showing us that we are, in fact, capable of more.

Inside the Inspired Life: Cooking With Confidence

After graduating in 1993 from Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, Donatella Arpaia pursued a brief career as an attorney before becoming one of the most influential women in the culinary world. But for Arpaia, switching from the law to culinary arts was only natural; in fact, her passion for food runs in her blood.

Spending her summers in Italy and her childhood in her parents’ restaurants, Arpaia not only developed a love of food, but also a passion for the business. Despite her natural fascination with the culinary industry, Arpaia explains on her website that her parents persuaded her to attend law school, leading to a career as a corporate attorney. But her stint as an attorney was short-lived, as her love of food proved much stronger than the law. Arpaia soon decided that a career in the culinary world would fulfill her inherent passion for food.

“I grew up in a family of restaurateurs and always had a passion for the business. It was scary to make a drastic career change but my fear of living a life that wasn’t a good fit for me was more scary,” she said of her career change.

Once Arpaia decided to pursue her passion, she’s never looked back. She opened her first restaurant, Bellini, in 1998, and has since opened other highly-acclaimed restaurants, including Davidburke & Donatella and Mia Dona, as well as Kefi, a restaurant New York Magazine says is a joint project with chef Michael Psilakis featuring a rustic Greek cuisine.

Arpaia’s success soon began to attract media attention. “I started getting small write-ups about my first restaurant Bellini because there were very few 26-year-old female lawyers-turned-restaurateurs at the time,” she said.

This attention eventually landed her a spot as a judge on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” in 2005, according to IMDB. But Arpaia explained that her time as a judge didn’t end there; after doing one appearance on the show, she said, “the reaction was so great that they kept asking me to return!”

On the heels of her success, Arpaia landed in the spotlight once again, this time being recognized not only as a successful restaurateur and Iron Chef judge, but also as an influential businesswoman. In 2008, Arpaia was listed among the most powerful women in New York City by The New York Post, ranked above the likes of Rachael Ray, Mariah Carey and Robin Roberts.

Being listed among equally successful women is not something that Arpaia takes lightly, but she knows that she earned her place with her tenacious work ethic. “I was a trail blazer in a field that, at the time, was dominated by men. My legal background gave me an edge because it taught me how to think. I am humbled to be part of an amazing group of women and constantly aspire to grow and develop,” she said.

Arpaia certainly finds plenty of inspiration around her to incite further growth and success. Reflecting on her experience as an “Iron Chef” judge, Arpaia said she realized she finds inspiration all around her: “Everything I experience impacts my cooking; of course being surrounded by the best chefs in the world inspires me constantly.”

And on Feb. 26, Arpaia is set to inspire others when she returns to her alma mater. Fairfield University’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts will be hosting an Open VISIONS Forum called, “From Undergrad Stag to a Hotshot TV Foodie: How This Iron Chef and Restaurateur Followed Her Dream to Success,” where Arpaia will share more of her story. According to the University, tickets are available for $45 and can be purchased via the Quick Center’s box office (203-254-4010 or toll-free 1-877-278-7396) or online at


Follow Donatella Arpaia on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Take Her Look [For Less]

When one stunning look isn’t enough, having a second, equally gorgeous look is only natural. That’s exactly what Jennifer Lawrence did post-Golden Globes, trading in her red Dior gown for a navy number to attend the Globes after-party on Jan. 10.

InStyle says that the Joy actress made her way into the after-party wearing a navy Versace slip dress. The beaded frock was accented by a beaded clutch, a diamond bracelet and Jimmy Choo platform sandals.

If you love Lawrence’s frock, you may have to put the credit card away for a while before it becomes available; according to The Daily Mail, her beaded slip dress is from the Versace Pre-Fall 2016 Collection, which makes it currently unavailable to the general public. But if you have your eye on her platforms — the Dora sandals from Jimmy Choo — they are currently available for $950. $950 for these fabulous sandals may not be in the budget, but if you can spare $200 on some new pieces for your wardrobe, we found a look-alike outfit so you can take Lawrence’s look for less. Read on for the results!

Although finding a dress comparable to Lawrence’s Versace number was quite the task, we finally landed on the Angie Beaded Strappy Shift Dress from Nordstrom. Although the pattern of the beading on this dress has a more linear look, it is cut in a silhouette similar to Lawrence’s frock, while also featuring double straps and a v-neckline. This dress makes an affordable alternative to Lawrence’s Versace number, available at a sale price of $40.80.

beaded shift

The Angie Beaded Strappy Shift Dress, found on

Nothing compares to a good pair of Jimmy Choo heels, but the Jessica Simpson Banda Embellished Sandals come pretty close. These platforms feature stone embellishment on the heels reminiscent of the green marbled heel of Lawrence’s sandals. While the Jimmy Choos cost $950, these heels will complete your look for only $129 from Macy’s.

jessica simpson banda

The Jessica Simpson Banda Embellished Platform Dress Sandals, found on

While Lawrence’s Globes after-party ensemble may have cost upwards of $950, our look-alike outfit will have you Beverly Hills-ready for only $169.80. Add a sparkly bracelet and style your hair in loose, tousled waves, and you’ll have JLaw’s look for less.

Happy Shopping!

Sarandon Selected as Face of L’Oréal

The beauty industry is about to get a bit more inclusive.

On Jan. 8, L’Oréal Paris announced that actress Susan Sarandon will be the brand’s latest international brand ambassador, according to Yahoo. At 69, Sarandon joins the likes of Helen Mirren and Diane Keaton as over-65 spokesmodels for the brand.

Yahoo’s Sarah Bliss writes that the decision to feature Sarandon sends a message that beauty is not contingent on age, pointing out that L’Oréal seems to have selected models for every decade of life: “Julianne Moore is 55, Naomi Watts is 47, Lara Stone is 32, Blake Lively is 28 and Karlie Kloss is 23. No matter what age you are, they have a spokesperson to reflect where you are. With a dearth of models over 30, it’s a smart choice that is being noticed.”

Bliss points out that while younger models seem to be chosen based on their appearance, over-65 models are selected not only because they are beautiful, but also because they are strong and successful women. Cyril Chapuy, L’Oréal Paris’ brand global president had this to say on selecting Sarandon as their spokesmodel:

“Susan is a cinematic icon … She is strong, charismatic and talented, and has a compelling sense of self. Her outspoken activism, captivating film work and authentic charm continue to inspire women to be fearless and believe in their convictions.”

According to Yahoo, Sarandon also feels that her partnership with the beauty brand will be impactful. The actress said that she is proud to represent L’Oréal and join in their mission of empowering women.

“The very first time I heard ‘Because I’m Worth It’ [the brand’s motto], it definitely was a shift in the framing of why you should look good. It had to do with women becoming the master of their own lives and decisions. It’s an extremely powerful statement that has transcended time. Beauty comes from the inside; it’s a state of mind,” she said.

Thank you, L’Oréal and Susan Sarandon, for showing us that true beauty transcends age.


She Leads, You Follow: Golden Globes Edition

Awards season has officially begun, and at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California, the red carpet was rolled out for the finest actors and actresses to be honored at the 73rd annual Golden Globe Awards. The Jan. 10 awards brought out Hollywood’s best, and they certainly dressed their best for awards season’s kickoff event.

First to impress us with her white-hot ensemble was none other than Empire‘s Taraji P. Henson. Channeling Cookie Lyon’s fierce persona, Henson rocked the red carpet in this stunning white gown with a Watteau train, which she accented with Kimberly McDonald jewelry.

Glimmering down the red carpet was How to Get Away With Murder star Viola Davis, who wore a tulle Marchesa gown covered in beading, according to The Huffington Post. She added a little more sparkle to her look with a Jacob & Co. ring and drop earrings.

Bringing some color into our lives was Jennifer Lawrence, who opted for a bright red Dior number, says E! Online. The Joy actress’ gown was replete with cutouts, featuring two at the sides and one at the back . She topped off her look with a neat updo and a jaw-dropping statement necklace.

Although these ladies are dressed for the kickoff event to the 2016 awards season, there are some things we can take away from their looks to apply to the way we dress every day:

White is far from boring – Henson’s stunning gown shows us just how exciting white can be; its sleek silhouette and dramatic train combine to create a sexy, yet elegant look that makes us pay less attention to the (lack of) color and more attention to the style of the gown — not to mention how gorgeous she is. Henson wasn’t the only leading lady to take to the red carpet in a white gown. Others like Orange is The New Black‘s Laverne Cox and Brooklyn‘s Saoirse Ronan wore white in completely different ways; Cox’s gown gave us a more regal vibe with its high neckline and dramatic train, while Ronan’s gown delivered an ethereal, yet elegant look with its deep v-neckline, its soft skirt and its goddess-like shoulder train. All three women show us that it’s not the color but the cut that makes the gown.

Use cutouts to your advantage – Take a cue from JLaw and use well-placed cutouts to your advantage. Her side cutouts not only accentuate her waist, they also create a curve on her hips in an otherwise column-like gown. The quasi-croptop style of the top of her gown also exaggerates the effect of her cutouts, adding width to her bust while making her waist appear even smaller. If you want to try cutouts in a dress, start with smaller cutouts at the sides of your waist; this will have a similar effect to Lawrence’s cutouts without showing so much skin on your first attempt with the style.

Try a gem tone – Although Davis’ gown is covered in sparkly beading, it is also a gem tone. Her navy-sapphire dress delivers a rich, deep color that warms up all skin tones. Gem tones seemed to be a big trend on the red carpet this year, with everyone from Jennifer Lopez to Lola Kirke to America Ferrera wearing the same yellow garnet shade to attend the Globes. Colors such as these are universally flattering to all skin tones and generally pair well with other colors and neutrals, so when you are shopping for a dress, a blouse or even accessories, try to look for pieces in colors like sapphire blue, yellow garnet, amethyst purple and ruby red — these are sure to be versatile, yet flattering pieces that will only benefit your wardrobe.

Happy Awards Season, everyone!

Chopra’s the ‘Choice’

As if being the first Southeast Asian actress to star in a major network’s drama series wasn’t enough, Quantico’s Priyanka Chopra claimed yet another title to add to her already-growing list: becoming the first Southeast Asian woman to win a People’s Choice Award.

According to Mic, Chopra expressed her gratitude for the award this way: “It’s my first year in America … and to come to another country, and actually to get this kind of acceptance, I guess [is] what America is all about. Thank you all for accepting me.”

Although Chopra is seen as a trailblazer for women and people of color, the actress sees herself a bit differently. When an interview with the Los Angeles Times in October if she sees herself as “‘breaking some boundary,'” Chopra said, “I believe we’ve created borders with too many colors … Entertainment is entertainment, cast the right person for the job. Let’s get beyond looking at each other for where we come from.”

Explaining the importance Chopra’s People’s Choice Award win, Julie Zeilinger of Mic says that her victory is especially meaningful given the dominance of the film and television industry by white males:

“Hollywood studio senior management is 92% white and 83% male, according to a 2015 Women’s Media Center report. On screen, women still only accounted for 12% of protagonists and 30% of speaking parts in 2014, according to the same report, and actresses of color fared even worse: White people fill lead roles more than twice as often as people of color, and 17% of films failed to include speaking black characters at all.”

While Chopra may think otherwise, her win solidifies her a dominant female figure in the television industry, and hopefully signifies a shift toward more diversity in Hollywood.

Congratulations, Priyanka Chopra!


She Leads, You Follow: People’s Choice Awards Edition

The People’s Choice Awards recognize America’s favorite celebrities, musicians, TV shows and films of the year, as chosen by the public. And while the fans may have chosen the winners, they certainly didn’t chose the winning red carpet fashions we saw on the red carpet of the Jan. 6 awards show.

Walking the red carpet outside the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles was actress Kate Hudson, who took a minimalistic approach to her red carpet look. Wearing a white jumpsuit, Hudson paired her look with a white clutch and silver drop earrings.

Alison Brie brought some subtle color to the red carpet when she wore this pale green dress for the awards. The “Community” and “Mad Men” star paired her faintly-colored frock with silver strappy sandals and some diamond bracelets.

Meghan Trainor opted for a sparkly black number to attend the PCAs, wearing a mini dress accented with gold sequins. The “All About That Bass” singer completed her look with a gold clutch and matching gold pumps.

Contrasting Trainor’s black ensemble was Camilla Luddington, who wore a  white mini dress with silver beading at the shoulder. The “Grey’s Anatomy” actress polished off her look with simple silver sandals and a black clutch.

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

  1. Fit is key – This may seem like a given, but if the garment doesn’t fit, it will ruin your entire look. Notice that each outfit fits properly, whether it’s a dress or a jumpsuit. For instance, Hudson’s jumpsuit fits in the bust while the legs of the pants fall straight from her hip to the floor, and the hem of the pants stop right at the tips of her shoes. Brie’s cutouts end right at her natural waist, accentuating her waist and creating shape in the sheath-style skirt. Trainor’s dress also creates shape with its wide waistband, but the slightly exaggerated shoulder creates breadth at the shoulder while the lines of sequins in the skirt pull away from her waist and create curves at her hips. Finally, the seams at the shoulder of Luddington’s dress fit right at the top of the shoulder as they should, which is important because the beading serves to emphasize her shoulders while narrowing her waist and balancing out her hips. When shopping for yourself, look for small like these to ensure that the garment you are about to purchase fits you like a glove. If it doesn’t, don’t worry — you can always have a garment tailored so it does work for your body shape. Remember: if something doesn’t fit, don’t assume that you are the problem; make the clothes fit you, and don’t assume that you have to fit the clothes.
  2. Use details to your advantage – Brie’s dress and Luddington’s dress are perfect examples of how to use the small details of your outfit to work for your body type. Brie used cutouts to draw attention to her small waist, which in turn, creates curves on her body. The beading at the shoulder of Luddington’s dress broadens her shoulders, while simultaneously narrowing her waist and balancing out her hips. Looking for details like these in clothing allow you to play up your best features while downplaying anything you might be wary about. Features like these don’t have to be so blatantly obvious, either; a simple seam at the waist can achieve the same goal as Brie’s cutouts, while a slight pintucking detail at the shoulder of the sleeve on a blouse or dress can add some width to your shoulders in the same way Luddington’s beading does. Just remember: it’s all in the details.