Christmas gift ideas for the ladies in your lives

Christmas gift ideas for the ladies in your lives

SM gift guides - moms

We visited the SM Store last weekend to get some ideas for Christmas gifts. It’s only sixty or so days til Christmas — yay! I enjoy shopping for our gifts in SM, especially when it’s not yet crowded by the Christmas rush, like around this time. There were a number of ideas I picked up, not just within the department store, but among the partner establishments, too. I listed down some that I thought would make good, practical and pretty gifts for the moms in particular! Here we go.

SM gift guides - moms

Playful throw pillows from John Lewis (SM Makati): Throw pillows are a great way to spruce up a sofa or bedroom, and they are always useful. These cute ones actually make a great mom & dad gift!

SM gift guides - moms

Tea service in casual white, John Lewis (SM Makati): A coordinated set of china is always a delight for the lady of the house.

SM gift guides - moms

Scented candles, Croft Collection (SM Makati): Candles are useful in our country because we get that occasional brownout, but they also help make a home feel more cozy, not just during the holiday season. These Croft candles come in various scents, and are perfect gifts.

SM gift guides - moms

Origins Gift selections (SM Makati): I know any mama would love to receive a gift pack of Origins skincare. They are not famous for their creams, balms and masks for nothing! This brand is only available at the SM Makati store, but it is worth a trip. The staff are very helpful in guiding you to make a gift purchase, and you can also get one of their ready-to-gift boxes, to save on time and wrapping.

SM gift guides - moms

A playful handbag (Available at all SM Store Ladies’ sections): There are soooo many bag choices inside the SM Store that it’s actually a fun idea to get a bag each for all the women on your list, like your mom, sister, aunt or grandma. I recommend either a nice large tote or satchel (for busy work days) or a nice sleek clutch (to encourage that mama to get up, get dressed and party).

SM gift guides - moms

Travel-inspired accessories from Kultura (SM Megamall, Makati, North EDSA, etc.): The Kultura section of the SM Stores are often overlooked for being tourist-y and the haven for balikbayan type fare, but it is a wanderluster’s happy place! I found a number of interesting, beautiful and budget-friendly accessories such as woven totes, pouches, cosmetic kits, hats and handheld fans — all very gift-worthy! I especially like this new natural-and-black & white themed collection.

SM gift guides - moms

SM gift guides - moms

For the more extravagant shoppers out there, try the Kultura section of the SM Store Makati, where they have a curated selection of handcrafted luxe accessories using authentic semi-precious gems and stones. These are priced much higher than the usual Kultura fare (about Php3000 to 5000 per necklace, for example). But these are one-of-a-kind pieces, so you can be sure each piece is unique.

SM gift guides - moms

Crate & Barrel entertaining ware (SM Makati, SM Mega Mall – Fashion Hall): Crate & Barrel has some gift-friendly items worth mentioning! At the time we visited, their homeware selections were at 30% off, so there were a lot of finds worth looking at for gifting. Currently, these copper pieces (Moscow mules, bowls and trays) are the hot ticket items, and much more affordable here than other department stores. (I grabbed two mules for myself — couldn’t resist them for me and Ton!)

SM gift guides - moms

Another great gift idea from Crate & Barrel are these woven pastel-colored baskets from their bath section — one of my favorite areas. A great mom gift might be one of these baskets filled with a lovely guest and face towel (also from Crate), coupled with some bath oils or bath gels from SM’s beauty section, or even from Watson’s personal store (which can also be found at any SM mall). Tie that basket up with some tulle and a holiday bow, and it makes a thoughtful, practical and pretty gift for any lady of the house.

SM gift guides - moms

H & M Home home accessories (SM Makati): The H&M Home store in SM Makati is quite well stocked, so you’d be able to find a lot more selections here. I thought these “Mr & Mrs” acrylic cups can double as caddies for dressers, and make a cool “dad & mom” or “couple gift.” Instead of giving it as is, you could fill the caddy up with personal items: rolled hankies or a playful pair of socks, perhaps.

SM gift guides - moms

These pink bathroom accessories also add a sweet touch. Couple the liquid bath dispenser with a nice tall bath & body wash from Watson’s, or even from the supermarket, and you have a practical, affordable gift. (Wrap them in a nice box from National Bookstore, protected by some pretty tissue paper, then tie it up with a nice bow, and am! You have a gift.)

SM gift guides - moms

Pampering treats at Beauty & Butter nail salon (Selected SM Malls): Beauty & Butter nail salons are in many SM Mall locations, and offer full service pampering services — something all moms need! Visit any branch and purchase some gift certificates that can be exchanged for any of their services. To make the gift more impactful and pretty, wrap it inside a small gift box along with a bottle of Zoya 5-free, vegan nail polish, available in loads of colors at any Beauty & Butter branch.

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I hope I gave you some ideas for gifts for moms, which you can buy at an SM mall nearest you! (For ideas on what to get dad, check out fellow blogger Carlo Ople’s blog post “Holiday Gift Guide: 10 Things You Can Buy for Your Dad“, with other selections that you can also find in your neighborhood-friendly SM supermall). Finally, remember to check out the fine deals and shopping treats happening right now at your nearest SM Supermall (see poster for details, or visit SMsupermalls.com). Happy holiday shopping!

MERRY SM CHRISTMAS_Let the Holiday Shopping Begin!

 

Sensible Tips For Building a Capsule Wardrobe

Sensible Tips For Building a Capsule Wardrobe

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by Vanessa of Shedmom.com

Like most Catholic girls growing up in the Philippines, I wore uniforms to school. And I wager that I wouldn’t be the first to say that I hated every minute of it.

It felt constricting at the time, but now I can honestly say that I fully appreciate the wisdom behind it. It’s called “capsule wardrobe” nowadays, but the principle remains the same: it takes the guesswork out deciding what to wear in the morning so that you have more time and energy to spare for other things. It’s a productivity hack used by the likes of Barack Obama, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg to remove decision fatigue.

It’s not just the high-powered workaholic type A’s who see that value in capsule dressing, either. Saatchi and Saatchi Art Director Matilda Kahl wears the same white silk shirts and black trousers everyday. That’s a job that requires plenty of creativity, but she’s opted to focus all that artistic juice on what she does, not on what she’s wearing.

I get it: style is subjective. There are also social requirements to be mindful of. What works for a stay at home mom like me might not be acceptable for, say, a corporate woman or a college girl experimenting with fashion. But through the years and various life transformations (along with the requisite outfit changes) I’ve followed some basic guidelines to build a capsule wardrobe.

I admit, I’m no fashionista. I do, however, have a keen interest in looking good. These aren’t new or earth shaking ideas, but they’ve helped keep my current wardrobe small and stylish while keeping my sanity intact.

Don’t buy something on sale if you wouldn’t pay full price for it otherwise.

There’s a reason why it’s on sale, and it’s not always because it’s out of season. Chances are, that outfit has been sitting there for ages and has seen countless wear and tear from many others who ultimately decided not to buy it. There’s probably a missing stitch that you’d end up noticing when you get home. Or the fit might be slightly off kilter, and you might have to return or exchange it but promptly forget about until the outfit languishes in the deep recesses of your closet for all eternity.

I’ve been a slave to the sales bin, and still am. This is why I ask this question first before I shell out cash for an item: Am I willing to pay full price? If the answer is no, I move on.

Cheaper is seldom better

While I’ll probably not buy a six figure handbag anytime soon, I am willing to pay a little bit more for a timeless white blouse or the perfect pair of jeans that makes me look and feel great each time I wear it.

A good piece of clothing that you pay a premium for will be well worth the investment if its something you’ll end up wearing repeatedly for years to come. I’m willing to pay P2,000 for a basic blouse that will continue to make me look beautiful for several years down the line, compared to a P250 shirt that might look identical to the quality brand at first, but will turn yellow or fall apart in two months and unwearable.

As with most anything else, it’s all about quality over quantity.

Stick to colors and accessories that you love and that flatter you.

Most of us have our staples and reliable go-to’s. I personally prefer neutral colors, but you might be one of those lucky ones who look outstanding in a plaid shirt and polka dot jeans. I’m not one of them, but if it’s an outfit that works for you then go for it. Whatever your fashion inclinations, stick with what makes you look and feel good, and buy them in multiples. When I find a brand that fits me perfectly, I buy the same style in several colors.

Accessories are also a great way to liven up an outfit. I treat my mostly neutral wardrobe as a canvas on which I can splash colorful necklaces, rings, or bracelets for a bit of flair. Scarves have also become a staple in my closet because they’re practical and stylish, especially when traveling.

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Only wear items that fit you, and your real life, perfectly.

No matter how expensive your outfit is, if it’s ill fitting, you won’t look your best. Go to a reliable seamstress if you must, but make sure the size, shape and length is just right on your frame.

A perfect fit also means finding clothes that is appropriate not just on your body, but for your lifestyle choices, too. To put it another way, wear things that fit your real life, not your fantasy self. In my case, I bought a two piece Brazilian bikini two sizes too small that I thought I’d wear to the beach after losing the muffin top, but it never happened. I stuck with the one piece that makes me look great, and didn’t constrict my movement, instead.

Whenever I buy things for my fantasy self they only end up in the storage, unworn. So now the only ones left in my closet are things that I actually wear fairly regularly.

Factor in ethical considerations

This is where not so great topics like fast fashion and mindless consumerism come in. I personally include them in my guidelines because it narrows down my choices, thus making me feel less overwhelmed. I get to make a positive contribution too, however small it might be. I strive to buy local products to lower my carbon footprint, and I buy and throw away less often to generate less trash, which lessens our overburdened landfills in the process.

The best thing about a capsule wardrobe? Unlike those school girl uniforms I grew up with, I now have a choice. There’s no need to settle for a so-so outfit that doesn’t make me feel great, and my closet is filled with carefully curated pieces that will add to my quality of life.

For me, it all boils down to this: I want my clothes that make me feel confident and ready to face the day. I don’t want to have to fuss over a blouse that’s showing my bra straps or a tug a too-short skirt that I’m self-conscious about. I want to forget about what I have on so that I can focus on just being awesome and productive and wonderful!

Do you have your own capsule wardrobe tips? I’d love to hear them in the comments section below!

Blissful Finds.

Blissful Finds.

Sept - Blissful Picks

I find it amusing that this edition of Blissful Finds is full of a whole lot of pink! Wouldn’t you say so? I mean look at this collage here? Haha! I hope you won’t get tired of the color, because it happens to be my favorite. I’ve tried hard to like other colors, but I just keep going back to pink! Anyway… just thought you might like to know what’s been on my “it” list lately.

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Elin Circle Scarf. I’ve been wearing Elin everyday since pregnancy, all the way through to this day. I’ve already written praises about it here and here, but this multi-use scarf deserves special attention. I just love how I can use it as an accessory, a wrap, a nursing cover, even as a bolero-type garment on occasion. Available at Elin.ph, in various colors.

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Grace Home Candle. I indulged myself during Grace Home’s trunk show last June and bought this candle. I first sampled it during Grace Baja’s luncheon launch for a few of her blogger friends, and I’ve been in love with its clean and romantic scent ever since. This candle goes from my workspace to my bedside, seriously! I use it when I absolutely need to feel relaxed and a little bit spoiled (naturally, because it’s by The Spoiled Mummy herself). Available at Grace Home, Seek the Uniq, Craftsmith and Casa Bella.

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Hey Jow. I was given this beautiful layered set of necklaces by Joanna Gube, the creator of fine jewelry pieces under her brand, Hey Jow. I’d been seeing these pieces on several of my friends’ Instagram accounts, so you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when I received this beautiful customized set! I love how I can wear all the pieces together (for that luxe, layered look), or separately, for an elegant, minimalist touch. Available at HeyJow.com.

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Chic Curator. Another affordable accessory haven I’ve recently discovered is the Chic Curator, which sells beautiful, delicate and always stylish accessories and apparel. My current favorite earrings are these rose gold hoops! I have been wearing them almost every week, while this delicate wishbone necklace is a favorite when I want to add a simple touch to a plain top. Their well-selected pieces are very much up my alley, perfect for daily wear. Available at Instagram.com/chiccurator

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Vases from PlantariumPH. I happened upon an Instagram account for airplants, @plantarium_ph, which also sells accessories like these vases, pats, planters. I liked these vases because they had that minimalist style that I have been pinning a lot of on Pinterest, and because that shade of pink on the slimmer vase is the pink I’m currently obsessing over (like I did over this new blog design). The vases made it to my blog header’s picture, but they really are very useful! I’ve since put eucalyptus stalks in them, and they lend such a nice touch to our dining-living area.

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Little Luli playclothes. I found out about Little Luli early this year, when a press kit arrived in my home from the Project Mom event. At the time, Krista was still too small to wear their pretty yet practical play clothes, so I started off buying their baby headpieces. (Those are really cute and chic, by the way, like the crown Krista’s wearing here in the photo.) During the recent Spectrum Fair, I bought this cute play dress with a tulle skirt, as I’d been eyeing it for Krista for some time now. I love how all of Little Luli’s clothes are thoughtfully designed while being cool and airy for the kids — such thougthful designs! Available at @littleluli on Instagram.

Blissful Business: Elin Women’s Apparel

Blissful Business: Elin Women’s Apparel

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Yours truly in the Maggie dress, by Elin

 

One of my favorite brands these days (well, for the past over-a-year, to be exact) is Elin. They’ve been my go-to apparel line ever since I got pregnant again, but I loved their pieces even before I found out I was pregnant. (Check out my #blissfulInElin tags on Instagram for a rundown of my Elin picks.) Since this year, Elin chose me to be their brand ambassador, it’s only fitting I feature the ladies behind the brand in my Blissful Business column. So, here’s their story!

Tell us about the beginnings of Elin. What sparked the idea for this business?

In 2011, we put up our first website which was a multi-brand online store that featured all-Filipino brands for women. This was when online shopping in the Philippines still meant Facebook or Multiply messaging between the buyer and seller. We wanted to give Filipino online shoppers a more sophisticated and streamlined shopping experience similar to international sites like Amazon or JCrew.

After a few months, we decided to start our own brand and make it available on our site. We wanted to give women a more subtle option in a local market we felt was dominated by flashy brands. The idea was to give women timeless yet updated designs through pieces that were polished yet still easy to wear. Our pieces were mostly loose and comfortable and pretty soon, we started receiving feedback that women were using them as maternity wear! It also became the best-selling brand on our website. Admittedly, we were surprised at first that expecting women loved our clothes but we decided to embrace it and this is how Elin evolved into what it is today – clothes that women can wear before, during, and after pregnancy.

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The Avril dress

 

How were your personal lives as women intertwined with Elin’s brand values and mission?

 For me, in particular, Elin came about almost the same time I got pregnant and had my first child. When I was pregnant, we started consciously making more maternity-friendly clothes. We also discovered that we had existing designs I wore all the way until my 9th month of pregnancy and continued to wear even after giving birth. Elin decided to venture into nursing wear when I was also nursing my son and I became the default fit model. JWhen we started this business, we were all single women. Now, we are all married so Elin’s brand values and mission have also followed our growth and maturity as women.

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The Ginny dress

 

Who is the “Elin woman,” in a nutshell?

The Elin woman is a modern woman who wants to look polished yet stay comfortable while juggling work, taking care of her family, and other endless obligations. She is not interested in keeping up with trends nor does she want to overthink what to wear every morning. She knows what works for her, is confident in her own style and understands the importance of looking polished and put-together.

Who does what in the Elin team? Of course, we’d like to know how your designs are inspired?

We have our own roles and responsibilities but we are also very flexible in helping each other out when the need arises. Kathleen is in charge of design, merchandising and finance. She also created our website. I take care of our marketing and customer service. Pat is involved with our special projects and major events.

The Maggie dress

The Maggie dress

What have been some of your favorite pieces and styles from your collections? Name some and why?

I have a lot of favorites! In our tops, I love the Jana, Cris, new Sydney, Bran and Kristen tees because they are super comfortable and have very flattering cuts. I practically live in these tops since I am a jeans and top kind of girl. I also love the Ellie, Casey and Sam nursing tops because they make nursing so easy and convenient. For the dresses, the Lia, Alice maxi and Carrie maxi are my go-to dresses when I need to be a bit more dressed up than my usual look. I also like our newer designs – the Sasha dress, the Graham skirt and the Melina tee.

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What are your hopes and aspirations for Elin, in the future?

We want Elin to be the go-to brand for women looking for comfortable, stylish and updated classic designs. Our hope is to give pregnant and nursing women a variety of options they can look and feel confident, and comfortable, in for their 9 month journey and beyond. We really want to give women clothes they can wear for years to come – before, during and after pregnancy.  Another aspiration is to go international and have Elin available in other countries. Hopefully, soon!

Visit Elin today at elin.ph • Follow them on Instagram @elin_ph and on Facebook at facebook.com/elinPH

blissful in Elin

Thoughtful Gifts from the Blissful Box

Thoughtful Gifts from the Blissful Box

 

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I’ve been getting emails from people and private messages on Facebook and Instagram, asking about our Blissful Box. It really began as something I wanted to do for the people who had been most supportive and active in the Make it Blissful community of bloggers and creatives. It

So, I know it’s just 7 days til Christmas, but you can still get some wonderful #thoughtfulgifts for your loved ones and special someones! Here’s our Blissful Box Gift Guide, to help you check off more names on your gift list.

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Style pick: Yosi Samra Flats

I’ve been buying Yosi Samras regularly for the past two years. Love them! The perfect gift for any lady on your list, because they are practical, comfy, and come in a range of styles and colors. For info, visit the Yosi Samra Philippines page on Facebook.

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For families: A Vanilla Story & The Vanilla Co.

The Vanilla Co. and A Vanilla Story produce organic vanilla-inspired products. Cooks and home bakers will love receiving these vanilla beans, while anyone will enjoy the home decor and bodycare products from A Vanilla Story, like a wooden vanilla bear ornaments, as well as the cologne, sanitizer spray, bug-off spray and body cream.

You can purchase A Vanilla Story products at cutieverse.com, and visit thevanillaco.com website for orders of organic vanilla bean, vanilla extract, vanilla paste and vanilla powder. Also available at Sweet Craft, Mandaluyong, and in select Gourdo’s branches.

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Eco-chic picks: Zoya Nail Polish & Hurraw Lip Balms

I think a nice little pouch with a couple of polishes and some lip balms will make lovely gifts for teen girls, single ladies, and colleagues on your list! Zoya polishes are cruelty-free, no-toxic and “5-free” (free of the 5 major toxins in most nail polishes), so they don’t yellow your nails after you remove your polish. Plus, I love their range of colors, especially their new Naturel collection of muted neutrals — my current faves, especially when paired with some of the Pixie Dust glitter polish overlays. Hurraw! Lip Balms are made in Montana, USA and are all natural, vegan, made from organic, raw, and wildcrafted ingredients.

Full Zoya color ranges may be purchased at all Beauty & Butter Branches. See their Locations here. You can also send a private message to Zoya Philippines on their Facebook page to inquire about ordering. Over 20 Hurraw! Lip Balm variants may be bought online via Cutieverse.com

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Bath & body picks: philosophy Facial Care & Jean Perry Bath Linens

Can you tell I absolutely love bed & bath products? I’ve been using the Hope in a Jar oil-free moisturizer for some years now, ever since I discovered philosophy through one of Oprah’s Favorite Things shows. The Microdelivery Facial Wash is a great companion to it. Pair those up with a nice fluffy guest towel from Jean Perry, available at Blims stores around Manila.

philosophy stores are located at the 2nd level of Greenbelt 5 (Makati), 2nd floor of Mega Fashion Hall (Mandaluyong), and 2nd level of Glorietta 4 (Makati). You can inquire about Jean Perry Bed & Bath at Blims Furniture stores.

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For everyday giving: Paper products from Craftsmith & Room Sprays from Heima

I love lifestyle concept stores like Craftsmith and Heima. Both are very different in terms of aesthetics and inventory, but both companies focus on quality products and living well. These postcards from Craftsmith are great for giving to travel bugs, but you may also want to frame them for your recipient’s wall display. The parcel tags make great gift tags, but I like to use them for labeling and organizing things at home. Meanwhile, these room sprays from Heima are perfect gifts for couples and homebodies.

Visit Craftsmith Living at Unit 2-J Crowne Tower, H.V. Dela Costa Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City, and follow their online store over Instagram @craftsmithliving. Visit Heima’s branches at LRI Design plaza in Makati, or in 3 Brixton Street, Kapitolyo, Pasig. You can shop online via heimastore.com

Maternity Style for the Non-Fashionista Mama

Maternity Style for the Non-Fashionista Mama

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Photos by Benjo & Raniel • Location: Slate Studio • Clothes: Elin.ph

I’ll never be a fashionista. I admit in my younger days, I was quite the clotheshorse and shopping addict. I would have gone through so many loyalty cards in a year! Honestly, local brands like Bayo and Kamiseta and Plains & Prints would have thanked me for being a regular patron of their lines (and not just during sales seasons). Haha!

But, ever since I became a mom (and a homebased working mom at that), I’ve not been as concerned with updating my wardrobe as I used to be when I was single and working in an office. When I was pregnant with Vito, I was still working, so my clothing budget would go to pregnancy and maternity pieces that were in the market, however limited the choices were. In recent years (when I was way past the baby bump & breastfeeding era), several brands cropped up out of nowhere offering even more functional and fashionable choices for expectant moms. I secretly desired to wear them, if ever I’d get pregnant again, haha!

Well, sure enough, here I am: 5 months pregnant, enjoying the bump phase again, and eager to try the preggy fashion brands in the market for moms! I believe that every woman should deserve to look good and feel good, especially during pregnancy. I’ve been told I “bloom” when I’m pregnant, and whether that’s true or not, I myself try to make the effort to look pretty when I’m expecting.

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Here are my tips specifically for non-fashionista expectant moms like me, who believe that looking good and feeling great are about minimum effort and maximum satisfaction.

Start with a happy face.

When I say “happy”, I mean that physically, make sure you go out of the house with a well-maintained face. This means being aware about skincare, using the proper products so that your face looks fresh and clean, and having well-groomed brows! (Yup, trust me, the brows make everything better, because they help frame your face and give you a cleaner, “kept” look.) I’ve also seen how much of a difference a bit of moisturizing tint/BB cream (depending on your skin tone), brow gel, eyeliner (or mascara) and some cheek & lip tint make me look fresher.

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On my face: BeneTint by Benefit on my cheeks and lips; Youngblood brow pencil; They’re Real by Benefit on my lashes. Dress: Multiway Skirt in Navy Stripes from Elin

Helpful links:

Invest in quality basics for every stage of motherhood.

Enter Elin. I found out about Elin before its launch last year, when then-preggy mom Martina Pangilinan and I met over coffee one afternoon in Bonifacio Global City. I loved how she and partners conceptualized the brand as being “a collection of timeless and comfortable wardrobe essentials for women, including maternity and nursing wear.”

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To me, the brand just resonated with my unofficial criteria for my wardrobe: everything has to be purposeful and beautiful. It’s a brand that can stay with me from pregnancy to nursing and beyond, making it a fine fit for the #makeitblissful community. We’re not fashion-forward or trendy women, but we believe that personal style should be a good fit for our lives, no matter what life-stage we are in. For me, Elin’s pieces achieve that by providing effortless basics that look great on their own or dolled up, and fit on any body type.

The multi-way maxi dress/skirt is one of my favorite pieces, because it can be an adorable tube dress for weekends (as shown above), or worn as a maxi skirt with a solid-colored top (like I wore during the recent homeschool conference I hosted).

Here are some practical looks you can try using Elin’s versatile dresses. (These styles are my current favorites.)

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The Angelina Nursing Dress

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The Amanda maternity dress (also useful for nursing when you pull down the bust area.

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Check out my Facebook album “Martine in Elin,” for more pictures from this impromptu shoot I did in Slate Studio (which I recently closed down). Note how I didn’t do anything for the shoot: no professional makeup; no setup; no photography lights. I hired Benjo Beringuela and Raniel Hernandez  — two guys I’d met from the Instagram community — to do the photography. I love how the session turned out, because everything was natural, very “me,” and effortless.

Which brings me to my last point:

Go for comfort and style.

Pregnancy is a temporary stage, and it is a learning stage for any woman. We have to be comfortable throughout the entire process, so that we can look back and enjoy our “baby bump” phase. When you shop, remember to listen to your body. Don’t go for clothes that you don’t feel good in, but at the same time, don’t go for clothes that will make you look frumpy. Our bodies are at their glorious peak during these nine months of pregnancy, and we should honor our femininity through well-chosen, quality clothes that frame and flatter us.

That’s it, really, for my tips! I hope you picked up something useful, and I hope you enjoyed my photos as much as I had a fun time on the shoot!