Real Talk

How To Move to New York & Land a Dream Job

This October marks 5 years of living in the big ol Apple. Which is wild because there are still mornings that I’m mid-commute with Ryan and murmur “I can’t believe we live here.” It’s been a real dream, save for being homesick, and the subway (see @SubwayCreatures on IG for what I mean), and one horrid case of bedbugs. It’s an actual professional blessing to say “my friends at Vogue” or “Hi, this is Haley on for the Refinery29 team.” I pinch myself at fashion shows or when I’m perusing the new collections at Hermès or Coach with colleagues.

I haven’t even touched on my incredible friends here who are truly my family. We really stumbled into the jackpot, you guys. But I’ll circle back on what this post is about: how I landed my dream job(s) at some of the most in-demand companies in New York, creating content for other outstanding fashion, retail, and beauty brands.

Haley Hoover Allure Magazine

With My Marketing #Sisters at Allure’s Best of Beauty Reveal Party – Oct. 2017

 

Spoiler: it involves a lot of prayer, a ton of optimism and hard work, and #blessings.

After living here for 5 years and being fortunate enough to have worked at some well-known companies in the fashion publishing, I often get emails or DMs from friends or friends of friends—or sometimes total strangers—about how I got there and what they can do to do the same. Ryan and I have an unorthodox career path, which should be encouraging to anyone thinking they don’t have the skillset, so I’ll start from the beginning.

  1. We Prayed
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Ready To Go – Nashville, Oct. 2013

Like crazy. I believe that my life was designed with and for purpose and that I can use passions and talents that we can use to glorify God. Ryan and I were styling in Nashville and looking to develop our career, and New York had always fascinated and excited me. So, we set a goal to move to New York and pursue styling or work at magazines. Long term, we plan to use our experience to help us in a smaller market—leaning into our resumes to snatch what we want. (No updates on moving anywhere, yet! Love you, NY.) We prayed for God to open doors and make it clear we should move. Our parents, ever pragmatic, recommended we start by selling our cars, and when mine sold in four days, we felt we were taking the right steps.

  1. We Started Small—And With What We Could Get

Ryan and I applied to dozens of entry level fashion jobs before we left Nashville. With no response. Not even a follow up email. I was working at Nordstrom at the time and even though I wanted to be far, far away from retail, I told my store manager I saw a role available at Nordstrom’s Manhattan Rack store. She put in a good word and I ended up interviewing the weekend we went to the city to look for apartments. I got the job, much to my dismay. We figured at least one of us would need a job to start out, so I accepted. It wasn’t what I wanted at all. But it was a job.

3. We Took Our Saved Money—And Moved!

Somewhere during our time in Jackson and Nashville, I realized most people don’t get a call to move to NYC. They get themselves there first, and then sort out the rest. It’s a really lovely mental test, the first of several thousands you’ll experience in this city. The night before we left Nashville, the apartment we applied for fell through (more on that another time), but I had the Nordstrom job waiting on me, so on we went. We pulled into NYC on our one-year wedding anniversary, homeless. Honorable mention goes to my cousin who put us up in Astoria for a few days. Give me your tired, your poor, and your homeless millennial, am I right? Our second day in the city, we found a place on the Upper East Side that was tiny and awful (and wonderful). It was below what we budgeted and didn’t require a guarantor so we signed the lease after seeing it for 5 minutes. Voila, Hoovers have a home.

  1. We Continued Looking For Jobs

I vividly remember coming home to my cousin’s from my first day at Nordstrom Rack

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Ryan @ The Barney’s Stylist Studio – Feb. 2014

and declaring I hated it. My cousin is a dancer and had her fair share of horrible gigs. She sweetly shared that her first job in the city was Planet Hollywood and it was three months and she hated it. Boom: I found a new goal. I gave myself three months at the Rack, applying to anything fashion-related on my off days. Ryan got a job as a PA for an author which didn’t last very long. We were three months in and still at square one when things shifted.

  1. We Pivoted

Our original goal was to be stylists when we moved here, but we were open to anything in fashion. Our pivot to marketing and publishing was more practical than anything, though. Becoming an editor or stylist in this city, in my opinion, means low pay, long hours, and hustling for longer than I wanted to. To be a full-time stylist here, you need a schedule that allows for constant networking and random, last-minute (and often low-paying) gigs.  I was (and still am) too cautious to gamble our savings, so I continued to look for fashion brand jobs. There was one memorable conversation Ryan had with the VP of Sales at Saint Laurent early on that shaped this decision. Styling was a “tool in your toolbelt,” he said. And it is, I reference my styling experience often.  My current role allows me to work directly with the fashion and beauty brands I love. I go on set, weigh in on imagery, creative direction, and even the styling. The pivot was a good choice for me here, but I still dream of having a roster of clients I’m shopping for. #Someday

  1. We Learned To Get Specific

When we first moved here, we truly were open to any job fashion-focused that wasn’t retail. Turns out that saying “I’m open!” is not super helpful to a hiring manager or mentor; specificity is needed in order to make a strong recommendation or connection. We learned to reference our experience and point out specific roles we liked at companies when meeting new people.

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Ryan @ The Longchamp Terrace – SoHo, May 2014

It was during my hot pursuit during those first three months of living here that led to me getting a job at Longchamp. I stumbled across a role for a showroom assistant with their HR contact’s phone number. I had worked very briefly as a buyer in Jackson, TN and referenced that experience when I called five minutes after I found the job listing. Admittedly, Longchamp wasn’t my ideal dream brand to work for, but it was a known fashion brand and ended up being the most amazing experience. Managing the showroom allowed me to meet editors, designers, artists, buyers, and production teams, pulling back the curtain for how fashion “works” and ultimately solidifying my desire to work as a marketer in publishing—I always loved meeting the editors and magazine marketing teams the most.

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Fun, Last Days @ Condé – July 2018

Funny enough, Ryan’s retail job led him to Vogue. He met a customer, now a dear friend, who worked at the now-folded Details magazine and knew Condé Nast was hiring entry level roles. Ryan interviewed and started working on digital media for Allure, W, and Vogue, and was dedicated exclusively to Vogue within a few months. I ended up at Brides about a year later—it was just luck that my resume got picked up in the HR portal. I had been interviewing unsuccessfully elsewhere: DVF, Derek Lam, and others, and by the time I made it to Brides, I had said all the stupid stuff in other interviews and was able to really focus my responses to help me land the job, which was great, because it was the one I really wanted. From there, one thing has led to another, but the fundamentals of staying proactive and specific when networking are concepts we lean on constantly.


I share all of this because it seems that people are under the impression that Ryan and I have this sort of special sauce for getting to certain places. We don’t. Our focus is simple: we work hard and are proactive, we try to be kind, and let God do the rest.

When I recently made a move from Condé Nast to Refinery29, I was really scared. I was sad to leave my team and a job I had dreamt of having. I wondered if I could fill the shoes I was being ask to fill (still working on that!). But this time, I was able to look back at five years of my career in New York to show myself I was capable. I had no idea how to get a fashion job in New York City, but somehow I managed to meet the right people to help make it happen. I didn’t know how to “do” marketing for a magazine, but I learned; I asked hundreds (it felt like thousands) of questions and had amazing supporters around me who taught me. I didn’t know how to make my dreams come true, but I kept my head down and worked. And when I looked up, I was living them.

xx – hh

All photos are my own, except for the hero, which is by J. Demetrie Photography for Refinery29.
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Casual, Daytime Look, Fall/Winter, Real Talk, Shopping Guide

Proportionally Speaking

At this point in my life, I’ve seen hundreds, maybe thousands, pictures of myself, but for whatever reason it was this picture (above) that Ryan snapped of me this summer that made me notice something totally new about myself. Could it be? Is that right? Right there in front of me, I noticed that I have a short torso. All of the pieces started to fall into place: high-waisted pants and empire waists always look flattering on me and longer tops always felt way too long. Right then, at the age of 28, I realized I have a short torso.

A friend and colleague of mine who happens to have excellent style and taste always says the first two rules of fashion are “Find your waist, and then find a tailor.” When I’m dressing clients or friends, I always consider their “lengths” first—it’s the easiest way to pull together outfits that truly look amazing on you. There are tons of little tricks to make sure that you’re dressing in a way that suits you proportionally, like always wearing heels with midi-length dress or wearing shorts with an oversized jacket to keep your legs looking long. Skinny jeans end up making lots of people looking stumpy when worn with flats, but so much taller with heels—something about that extra few inches of ankle and top of your foot make all the difference. Since I realized I have a shorter torso, I’m looking for more cropped tees to wear with high-rise pants so I look taller.

So how do you figure out where you fall length-wise? For one, if you’re always having to get your jeans hemmed or if they’re never long enough, you can probably gauge if you have short or long legs. If jumpsuits always result in a bit of a camel toe, you’ve probably got a long torso and if crop tops hit where a regular shirt would, I’m calling a bit of a shorter torso. Also note—I’ve discovered that this concept is incredibly difficult to express by writing, but I’ve found some articles that express it better than I do here and here.

I’m a list maker and getting dressed is so visual, so I pulled together some images (yay! my Illustrator skills on display!!) and a checklist of some super steller looks from some of my style icons. I’m deeply obsessed with how Kortney Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, and Sienna Miller (I know, why not Kim? Probably because it’s hard for anyone I know to relate to her shape) dress. I know, I’m the worst, but I think they’re solid examples three different body builds: short torso + petite figure, long torso + long legs, and equal lengths torso + legs. Pulling images of them gave me such great inspo for my fall wardrobe too!

For my girls with long torsos – look to Kendall Jenner!

Ladies, you are the drop waist queens and can rock an oversize tee like no-one else. If you’re blessed like Kendall with super long legs, lean into wide-leg pants and flares, because it’ll just make you look more sky high! Make friends with a front tuck (Hi, Tan France) to define where your torso ends and legs begin. It’s also likely that you can wear a the ever-tricky mid-length bootie, just in time for fall.

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For my girls with shorty torsos – go for Kortney Kardashian!

I’m so obsessed with Kortney’s style. She’s a tiny petite person, but still manages to look super fly and leggy no matter what. The biggest take away – cropped tops are your friend! And no, you don’t need a six pack to wear them. Even if they hit the top of your pants and show no tummy at all, it’ll still make your legs longer looking.

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If you can’t decide if you have a particularly short or long torso, you may be “Equal Length! Good for you, this means life is a little easier for you, but not without need for tailoring or some nuances. 

I think Sienna Miller, although petite still, is pretty proportionate. She’s just kinda fashion heaven too. Take a close look at wear pants hit her—even full length pants are expertly tailored to hit right at the ground to avoid “pooling” or having too much of a break. She almost always wear a high-waisted pant to make herself look long and lean.

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There you have it. It’s a good exercise to survey your own lines! Consider this the next time you’re trying something on. And please, remember, just because something doesn’t fit you right does NOT mean that you’re body is wrong or bad, it might just mean that proportionally, it’s not the right fit, or you just need some tailoring or the right pair of shoes to make it right! Be kind to yourself. We all have different, beautiful bodies. I’m just here to help you get dressed in a way that makes you feel 100% you and 100% amazing.

xx – hh

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Shopping Guide

Shop Like A Pro

A few months ago, I shared the brands I shop to build a closet full of clothes that I absolutely love. And today, I’m calling out how I shop because—letz be honest, the stuff I gravitate towards can be pricey. I have no problem investing in my clothes, but that doesn’t mean I can run to Saks every other week. Unless I wanted to live out the phrase “all dressed up and nowhere to go…because she broke.” (I added that last part.) To avoid bankruptcy, here’s what I do to stay focused and grab the items I want for a season.

  1. Make A List

It all starts with a list. I begin building mine a few months before a season. I’m starting to think about fall now. New fall usually hits stores around the first week of August, and is in full swing by September 1. Which is about the time I start getting ready to actually pull the trigger on anything.

I build my list on Pinterest and pull in inspiration images to keep me focused, which really helps me ensure I’m building a cohesive collection of clothes. Most of my fun summer pieces I bought for my Paris trip in May, but here’s a small version of what my summer list looks like – Kardashian vibes, anyone?

 

2. Start Obsessing

For the most part, I know exactly what I want to buy, but mama can’t always shell out $500 for a new pair of shoes at the drop of a hat. Double fashion pun! So, I start being a crazy ex-girlfriend and check in on the things I want endlessly. Another tip is searching the exact style on competitive websites to see if you can find it for less.

I’ll even go in-store and try the thing on so I know my size and am fully prepared to click “Buy” if the price drops. Once I did this with a pair of tan, suede Rag & Bone boots and got hella lucky. For whatever reason, these $500 boots didn’t sell super well, and one day I checked the Rag & Bone website (crazy ex-girlfriend shopper, here) and they had been marked down HALF OFF. HALF, you guys. I called the Soho store and picked them up that night. Cue the choir singing behind me.

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Acne Studios is always on my list.

Also, if you want a certain style of thing, and not a specific item, Google is your friend. Need a green long dress and want to pay less than $100 for it? Go for “Green Long Dress Asos”—usually something right-ish will come along.

The moral of the story is you gotta know your options, and check in on them.

3. Wait For The Weekend

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“Oh hello, are these on sale?”

I worked over a decade in retail and wholesale, and the one thing I know for sure is that most things eventually go on sale. This rule does not apply, however, to most designer bags, ready-to-wear, and shoes. A Chanel jacket or that new Gucci bag aren’t going on sale (at all, ever) so look on TheRealReal.com or just shell out the money, honey.

But for your Nordstroms, Zaras, Saks, Neimans, Macy’s, J Crews, etc., everything else will pretty much go on sale, and usually on the weekend. Hop on the website on Saturday and try your luck—you can typically score 15-30% off. Some retailers are super crazy and notice if you have something in your cart or even merely LOOKED at an item (eek! Technology is creepy) and may lure you back with 10% off. I’ll take it.

If your item is selling out quickly or you’re on a deadline, hit up ebates and just buy the dang thing. At least with ebates I get a few pennies back + points on my credit card. Hallelujah! All is not lost.

4. Stay The Course

Haley Hoover Shopping

Something that didn’t make the list this season.

Be choosey about what you bring home. Having a tiny New York City apartment has made me a master editor. I’ve met way way way too many women with closets literally overflowing with clothes and only 10 items in there that they actually wear.

Go back to your “inspiration images” and “the list” or look at the items you have that make you feel the most amazing—and look for more pieces like that. Getting dressed should be an empowering experience, not a chore! Beware of those $10 items from the Target sale rack that “kinda fit.” You’ll wear it once and never again and that, to me, is $10 I could have spent on coffee and a treat with a friend instead.

And that’s it! Get going on those lists, people. And tag me—@hihaleyannie—when you make them, I want to see what you’re shopping for this season. It’s going to be our best one yet.

xx – hh

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Memphis, Real Talk

The Very Best Day of Junior Year

Everyone has that one year that, when they think about it, even decades layer, makes them cringe. For me, that was junior year of college. A really tough (hindsight caveat: I guess?) break up and (hindsight caveat: mostly) years of my own insecurity all mounted together to send me spinning into a well of depression. I struggled with some unhealthy habits with food and exercise, and felt very lonely for several semesters.

But amidst all of that yuck, there’s one day in that year that glows as a happy, glorious memory: The Very Best Day of Junior Year.

  • First Win: The caf was serving salmon and because lunchtime was a very stressful time for me—I was thrilled because salmon felt like a healthy indulgence
  • Second Win: While waiting in line for my salmon delight, a friend texted me saying he had an extra ticket to the John Mayer show in Memphis and wanted me to join. I, like most college girls in 2010, LOVED John Mayer desperately. Not because he was hot, but because, you know, he was a true musician 😉
  • Third Win: He actually had two extra tickets so my very best friend, Ellen, could come along too
  • Fourth Win (!!): No need to pay them back, tickets were on them
  • Throw in a cancelled Management Information Systems afternoon class and boom – I had myself a five star day

Ellen and I went to the concert that night and had a total blast with our friends, in complete disbelief that we were sitting a mere 20 rows from “The Greatest Guitarist of our Time” for free and by surprise. It truly felt like a giant silver lining in a stormcloud of a season. But it was after all, the very best day of junior year.

Haley Hoover HiHaleyannie

Ellen and I living our best life—and check out that fashion 😉

 

Nearly 10 years later, I was sharing with my husband, Ryan, how much that day meant to me and what a wash of relief it sent during a particularly tough time. (We went to the same university, but we weren’t very close then.) When I think about that day, even now, I smile because blessings were raining down on me. And when I told him about it, he looked up and quietly said, “Those were my tickets, I gave them to Jordan and told him to invite some friends. I was too busy and couldn’t go.”

That revelation of my own story knocked me over. Somehow, my generous, kind, and patient husband who gives me really good gifts almost daily, managed to gift me my very favorite day out of an entire year, even when he had nothing to do with me.

I believe that God is good, even when things are hard. And sometimes it takes years to unravel the little pockets of blessings He’s hidden in my story. And I’m sure there’s some things I’ll never know about. But I’m certainly glad one very good day involved the person who now makes all of my days even better. Salmon fillets and all.

xx – hh

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Shopping Guide, Spring/Summer, travel diaries

4 Days In Paris & 5 Things You Need

Bonjour mes amours!

Reporting to you live after a month of waiting to go away to Paris, four days actually in Paris, and then ten more days wishing I was back in Paris. One of the blessings of being in a relationship with two incomes and no children is the ability to be a petit willy-nilly from time to time—including jumping on a plane and running around Paris for four days with your friends. I say this with only the utmost thankfulness and disbelief that I get to type that sentence. 

Since I’ve arrived back stateside, I’ve spent no less than 1,700 hours staring longingly at all of the photos we snapped during our getaway. Some of my faves are the shots of two of my closets girls—Jenna and Kate—and myself; I love how we all have different styles we gravitate towards, but how well they work together.

Meet Jenna, a poised and ultra-femme social media and photography dynamo. She laughs at all my jokes and could easily be best friends with Taylor Swift. Her style is ladylike, effortless, and incredibly chic.

Meet Kate, my Aussie angel who never met a designer brand she didn’t like. She rocks her Valentino heels like no one else, but also looks fabulous in an oversized jersey from Rag & Bone. Basically, she’s glam, and she’s my style icon.

And you know me, Haley. I think I fall somewhere in the middle of road between these two, which seems fitting because I identify best with street style.

Drawing inspiration from the three of us, I thought I’d round up five things that I suggest you add to your “To Shop For” list for the summer months, all while taking you through some of the amazing pictures from our trip. Two birds, one stone! Between the three of us, I’m sure you’ll find a piece or two that speaks to you.

Un: Fresh Sunnies

For sunny days, and ignoring people.

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L to R – Jenna: Le Specs, Haley: Quay, Kate: Maison Margiela

Deux: A Flirty Dress or Jumpsuit

For beating the heat and making ’em sweat.

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L to R – Jenna: Reformation, Haley: FaithfultheBrand, Kate: Rachel Comey

Trois: A Bag That Goes Everywhere

Can’t stop, won’t stop, and won’t be weighed down.

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L to R – Jenna: Chloe, Haley: Gucci, Kate: Saint Laurent

 

Quatre: Frilly Tops

For feeling—and looking—lighter than a cloud.

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L to R – Jenna: Sezane, Haley: L’Academie, Kate: Veronica Beard

 

Cinq: The Perfect Jacket

Sealing the deal, just in case a chill sets in. 

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L to R – Jenna: Alice & Olivia, Haley: IRO , Kate: Zara

 

It only takes five little pieces (and maybe four days in Paris) to jumpstart your summer style. Happy shopping, mes chéris.

xx — hh

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Shopping Guide

How We Curate Our Style

By now, if you know me, you’re familiar with my small extreme addiction to shopping. If I’m being honest, it has always been the one thing in my life I’m positive I’m good at. But in our world of shoppable social media, a continuous stream of ads, and retail stores for days, even I get a little overwhelmed by the options.

Enter my husband and style crush Ryan, who keeps a list of five brands that he loves and shops exclusively. It takes all the guesswork out of where to start when he needs something new. And it means that typically, more things go together. (We have two tiny closets; focus is everything!) We’re into quality over quantity and wear our favorite pieces repeatedly during a season. Exhibit A, B, C, D.

To help my friends who feel clueless when it comes to a “capsule” style aesthetic, I’ve done it for you! I’m sharing five brands that work for four distinct styles. And I left out the obvious choices of J.Crew and Anthropologie, because it’s nice outside of the obvious choices, pinky swear. I even curated Pinterest boards with a style icon for each vibe to help you stay inspired as you build out a thoughtful wardrobe, click on those to shop items that fit within each aesthetic. Use my picks to inspire your own “Top Five” list and challenge yourself to go to those brands first when you need something new.

Capsule Collection Examples

My Capsule Style Reco’s

THE FRENCH CAPSULE

Style Icon: Camille Rowe – Effortless sexiness in a killer pair of jeans

Brands To Start With: APC, ALC, L’Agence, Levi’s, COS

For the girl who loves J.Crew, but really wants to branch out. Keep it simple and no fuss. Look for high-waist, vintage denim, stripes, stripes, stripes, sexy silks, and a tailored jacket or blazer. Shoes are loafers, pointy-toed heels, or plain sneakers. Bonjour, chicness!

THE FEMME CAPSULE

Style Icon: Taylor Swift – America’s sweetheart with an unabashed love of all things girly

Brands To Start With: Club Monaco, Ganni, & Other Stories, Aritzia, Banana Republic

I basically built this for my friend Jenna, using Taylor Swift as inspiration. Need I say more? No, but I will. You love frills, florals, and Anthropologie. The wild card here was Banana Republic, who has been turning out some exceptional pieces lately. Look for pleats, ruffles, and prints that make you sigh with happiness.

THE STREET CAPSULE

Style Icon: Any Editor at Vogue 😉 – No-one does it like a Vogue girl with a love of crazy layers and anything different

Brands To Start With: Adidas Originals, Acne Studios, Rag & Bone, Zara, Opening Ceremony

This is for the girl who longs to get her photo snapped coming out of a fashion show. Pair sporty pants with structured button downs. Go for oversized pieces and t-shirts that make you say “Is this cool or ugly?” Honestly, it may be both. Stan Smiths are the go-to shoe, and a street style star’s best friend!

THE PATTERN CAPSULE

Style Icon: Miroslava Duma – This former editor of Vogue Russia slays all day in checks, stripes, and cheetah—sometimes all at once

Brands To Start With: Sandro, Kurt & Lyle, Être Cécile, Equipment, MINKPINK

For my ladies who love Lilly P, but maybe want to elevate a little. You’ve never met a colorful dress you didn’t like and the thought of #allblackeverything makes you very sad inside. Look for high-impact tops and pair them with a “neutral” print bottom like small polka-dots, hounds tooth, or stripes. Don’t sleep on Kurt & Lyle, a Brooklyn-based brand with killer outerwear.

Can’t narrow down to five brands? That’s fine! But take note of the pieces in your closet that you feel amazing in (yoga pants don’t count, y’all) and shop those brands first when you want something new. Tip #2 – make a list on your phone of what you actually need so you don’t come home from the mall with 7 items that look like that top you already have in your closet. Smarter shopping = less days where you say, “I have nothing to wear.” I promise.

Happy Shopping!

xx – hh

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Real Talk

The Part With The Reality Show

I once told someone—and still stand by this statement—that part of living in New York is crying in public places. Once I decided to walk from Union Square to my job at Longchamp in Soho. Not far, but I ended up getting lost in Bowery—in a full on snowstorm. I was freezing and soaked and my phone was dying and I went into a Whole Foods, walking through the produce with tears half-rolling, half-sticking to my face.

There have been rough mornings with Ryan when something dumb was said that left me frustrated and upset, and I had no choice but to sit in meetings, staring straight at the table while silent *hopefully unnoticed* tears have crept down my cheeks.

But one of the most memorable cries was when I full-on wept in Madison Square Park. Even when I think about it now, my heart hurts a little for my 25-year-old self who had heartbroken tears streaming down her face in February amidst teams setting up tents for Fashion Week parties and FIT students struggling past, carrying sketches and garment bags.

Did I ever tell you about the time I was in casting for a reality show? It was a few years back for Season 2 of House of DVF on E!. I filled out the unbearably long and introspective application and was shocked—thrilled!—to get a call from a casting producer. Ryan filmed me going through my closet, dancing like a lunatic, and wearing my sole piece of DVF: a green printed dress I won for selling the most of the brand’s dresses during my Nordstrom days. A producer called me every couple of days, encouraging me to prep for my on-camera test, which he said was a meeting and also sometimes said was a job interview. The producer kept telling me to bring my husband to my interview. “It’ll really set you apart,” he’d nudge. I declined; TV show or not, I didn’t want to be pegged as the girl who couldn’t do anything without her guy by her side. To meet them in the middle, I printed out pictures of the two of us, and packaged those on top of my portfolio for my Test/Interview/Whatever.

The big day finally rolled around, and I found myself in the DVF showroom, waiting to meet Stephanie Greenfield, the brand’s creative director and resident terrifying lady boss. At one point, a camera guy pushed a door back and as it swung open, I saw a brunette sitting on a tufted love seat, looking petrified. It turned out to be a mirrored door and that brunette was me. “PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER, this is your shot” I remember think-screaming to myself.

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Me In DVF, 2017

After shaking Stephanie’s hand about 17 times for the camera, we sat and she opened my portfolio, and I watched as a look of what I can only describe as “High Brow Disgust” washed over her as she stared down at an image of Ryan and Haley Hoover. “What’s this?” she clipped, with one eye-brow raised. I crumbled into a puddle. And will spare you from all of the ways she proceeded to poke holes in my dumb resume and tear me down and how I failed to stand up for myself. DVF had just written “The Woman I Wanted To Be” and I often think if I had repeated a few soundbites from the book, I wouldn’t have gotten a call later that night that casting needed 12 girls for the show, and unfortunately, I was lucky number 13.

 

But I knew I was out after my 15 minutes were up in that showroom. I called Ryan and told him it was bad. She hated me. I missed my shot. We had moved to the city in hopes of sky-rocketing to fashion success, and this was the break I had been waiting for. And I blew it. So to the park I went, at 10am, and cried. I cried most of the day, only breaking to host an event for Models For Christ to kick off Fashion Week, and then went home to resume my misery. I would liken the feeling to having the most beautiful diamond ring, and accidentally losing it down the drain in the bathtub.

I learned 2 things that day:

  1. I would keep trying to pursue my fashion dreams
  2. Other than that, I had no idea who I was

I could pursue the former, but needed to really invest in the latter. Self-discovery is no easy or instant task. It was a tough year. I struggled through knowing myself and understanding who I am—and still do. Being “fearfully and wonderfully made” has long been a very tough concept for me to grasp, although I do believe that the God I serve is so good and wants only the best for me.

When I recount my story, the part with the reality show serves as a pivotal moment for me. Growth hurts, the stretching and the bending can be painful. Somehow that burden of that rejection gave way to a sting and then to an ache, an ache to a winch, and a winch to a memory that simply makes me shake my head. I constantly second guess myself and my worth, but bit by bit I know a little more about the woman I am, and the one I want to be. Optimistic, enlightened, and persistent.

xx – hh

 

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