Hello, and welcome to Dressed for My Day! I’m so glad you dropped in because this is kinda a special day. I’m pausing here on New Year’s Eve to look back at my first year as a style blogger. And you, dear reader, are such a big part of my journey.
In case you didn’t know this, I just started this style blog last March, and y’all! It has been such an amazing ride. I’ve made lots of mistakes, felt inadequate and plain out foolish, fretted over numbers and unsubscribes and missed opportunities, and even shed a few tears.
BUT a lot of good things have happened, too. At the top of my list is the fact that my husband, James, and I have done so much of this together. It’s been a learning experience for me as a wannabe fashion blogger and for him as a never-meant-to-be fashion photographer. Ha! But really, by the grace of God, this has been a good thing for us as a couple. We really enjoy the collaboration.
Besides obviously learning a lot about my own personal style, growing as an entrepreneur and learning boatloads about the behind-the-scenes mechanics of running a style blog, Dressed for My Day has done one other extremely important thing in my life this year. It’s helped me heal. I’ll share more of that in a bit.
Now, let’s look back at the past year here at Dressed for My Day! I’ll share my most popular posts and my favorite outfits from each month, but I’ll also tell about things that were going on in my personal life as we go. Plus I’ll share some insights and lessons learned.
No, I don’t have a favorite post to share from January because I hadn’t even started this blog then. But this really is where the story begins.
On January 1st I began participating in the FASTer Way to Fat Loss. I know some of you are tired of hearing about the FWTFL, but you need to know that if I hadn’t happened upon that program this blog would not be here. It’s because of the weight I lost but also the confidence I gained from that program that I finally decided I could go forward with a dream I’d had for so long.
I guess that’s why I’m so passionate about sharing about the FASTer Way to Fat Loss. For me it will always be where this blog was birthed.
I started praying about endeavoring to become a style blogger mid January. I only told two other people about my aspiration – my husband and one friend, Annie, who I knew would pray for me. I felt too foolish to voice the dream to another soul.
In February I began researching how to do this thing. I discovered that there was even more work involved than I had ever imagined. I had had my other website professionally designed, but I knew I would need to create this one from scratch all by myself. I just didn’t have the funds to hire it out.
In case you’re considering starting a blog, this post by Jo-Lynne Shane helped tremendously.
Two really significant things happened in March. First of all, I put together my first few posts and officially launched Dressed for My Day. My first post, a draped cardigan and jeans, posted on March 6th, but I didn’t actually “go live” and tell anyone about my blog until March 16th.
Gals, I was so green! Well, I’m still green. But I was greener then! It amazes me how much I’ve learned this year. They say that consistently stretching your brain by learning new things can help stay off dementia and Alzheimer’s. I hope that’s true because the learning curve has been extremely high this year.
I have no idea what my most popular post was in March because my analytics weren’t set up right at the time (so green!!!), but one that continues to draw readers from Pinterest is this Home Manicure with OPI Infinite Shine post.
My favorite outfit from the March posts is this Sheath Dress in Lace for Easter. And I probably would have worn that dress on Easter Sunday except something else happened in March, too. And most of you know nothing of this. But for the first time, I’m about to share.
In late March, the week before Easter, my husband was forced out of his pastorate of almost 13 years. We were beyond shocked. Numb, really. We’ve been in church ministry for over 25 years, and we had never expected something so hurtful to happen to us. I have no need to vent or share ugly details, but it is important to me that you know that my husband had done absolutely nothing to warrant his dismissal, much less the rude treatment he was given.
It hurt beyond belief. But very quickly God began the healing process. He has been so good to us. We have felt His grace and goodness and amazing love every single day. Most important to us was that we didn’t want to be bitter or so permanently hurt by church that we would become resistant to serving in the church again.
To be brief, we have come so far since that stunning day when James came home with that horrendous news. We have a new church that is healthy and vibrant. It is such a blessing to minister with these people. But there are so many other ways that God has provided healing and new life to us, too.
And one of those agents of healing has been this blog. I would undoubtedly be making more money to contribute to our cut-in-half income if I were doing something else. But this work has been what I’ve needed. And like I said, James and I have enjoyed doing it together. And you gals have been a breath of fresh air to me. Thank you.
In April I had the opportunity to go home to Georgia for a couple of weeks. The timing felt off, considering what had happened to my husband in late March. But it was good to see family and be “home” for a little while.
Before I left for Georgia, my friend Hannah took a boatload of photographs for me. She’s an amazing photographer and she has really helped me and James learn how to photograph my looks for this particular medium. Hannah has been such a blessing in this process.
My most popular post that month was 5 Fashion Fixes that Will Help You Look and Feel Beautiful…so You Won’t Look So Old. (Ha! What a long title!!) I look back at posts like that and think, “What did I know? Who was I to be handing out such advice?” But here’s one thing you can count on with me. I do my research. So even though I was a newbie to style blogging, I think that post has some pretty helpful information.
My personal favorite outfit from April’s posts is one I continued to wear throughout the summer. I absolutely love these embroidered girl friend jeans and pink linen sweater.
I think it was in May that I really began to get a feel for posting regularly. I had also gained a large number of subscribers at that point because of Jo-Lynne Shane generously mentioning me one day on her Facebook feed. With just a brief mention on Facebook of this “new 50+ blogger” and a link to my blog, she sent over 1,000 visitors and 450 subscribers my way. Y’all. That’s a powerful, but generous woman. I am forever grateful. That’s probably the wave many of you rode to get here. And I’m tickled pink that you did!
My daughter Abigail visited in May and we got to do a photo shoot together. She’s the real model, y’all. So very photogenic. I aspire to be like her!
My most popular post that month is one that still almost daily brings readers my way via Pinterest. I’m sure I’ll be updating Mother of the Bride/Groom: What to Wear & Other Tips soon. My son and his fiance have set a date for their wedding this next October. Yay! So I’ll be hunting for a mother-of-the-groom dress soon.
It’s hard to choose one favorite outfit from May. Remember, I had lost about 20 pounds and was needing to restock my wardrobe almost completely. So I was enjoying wearing clothes again for the first time in a long time.
In June, James and I attended a free pastors and wives retreat in Texas, sponsored by Double Honor Ministries. If you and your spouse are in full-time ministry and are in need of a refreshing retreat or if you know of someone who is, I highly recommend you look into Double Honor. Or if you’re looking for a worthwhile nonprofit cause to contribute to on this last day of 2018, definitely take a look at this ministry.
Unfortunately, while we were at the retreat, we learned that James’ forced termination is not at all uncommon. Too many ministers, dare I say all ministers, are forced to weather such difficulty in their pastorates that most eventually leave the ministry before they’ve fulfilled their career. Many leave the ministry in fewer than 10 years of service. Y’all, pray for your pastors, and support them.
My most popular post in June was, no surprise here, How to Dress Your Body Your Way. That post, of course, led to subsequent posts that helped us understand our body shape, proportions, variations, coloring, lifestyle and personality, and how those things factor into dressing for our day.
That’s also the month I started offering freebies to my email subscribers. There have been many to follow and I promise lots more! If you’re not an email subscriber and would like to be, click here to learn more.
July was a great month. James and I had already planned and booked a trip to the coast of Oregon, where our daughter Abigail was working at the Cannon Beach Conference Center. We had a tremendous week visiting her and then spending time at the home of some dear friends in the Portland area. God continued to bless us with healing and provisions while we were on this much needed vacation.
My most popular post from July continues to send readers my way. It was part of the Dressed for My Day My Way series. Yep, it’s How to Discover Your Body Proportions. I learned so much doing this series, and it has really stuck with me. I hope you gained something from it, too.
Honestly, I was kind of hard pressed to choose a favorite outfit from my July posts. I don’t think I like summer clothes all that much, as crazy as that sounds. But I do love this silk kimono with my white jeans.
In August a group of people who had been meeting with James and me and encouraging us since April, decided with us to launch a new church, with James as the pastor. We started High Desert Bible Church, and it has been one of the biggest blessings of our life. In fact, I’ve realized just in the past few weeks that this has been the year that we experienced the absolute worst time of our ministry and the absolute best time of our ministry.
Don’t get me wrong. The very best thing does not excuse or equal out the very worst. I still have nightmares some nights because of what happened to us in the spring. And what was done was absolutely, unequivocally wrong. But God is good to work all things together for the good of those who love and follow Him. At this point we just feel blessed to have been able to witness what we have seen Him do this year.
My most popular post in August was, not surprisingly, a collaboration I did with Jo-Lynne and Susanne at Thompson Hill: Three Ways to Style a Denim Skirt. But I also saw an upswing when I posted 10 Colors, Textures and Patterns Essential for Fall.
Like I said, I am so very grateful for the amazing women who have been willing to collaborate with me this year. I’m a firm believer in women helping women rather than competing. And these gals are great examples of that spirit. Hopefully, there will be more collaborations this year. In fact, Susanne and I have already scheduled a week of spring fashions for the first full week of March.
My personal favorite outfit in August is this blue silk popover and pull-on dress pants. I love that this outfit is so simple and yet so elegant and classy. Oh, and comfortable!!
September’s most popular post surprised me. I drew the most readers with 5 Pairs of Shoes You Need this Fall. I say I’m surprised, but when I look back over that post I can see why it was popular. And honestly, I think I nailed it. I really did wear those five pairs of shoes and almost nothing else all fall. Ha! In fact, the two pairs in the graphic get worn at least two or three times a week still.
I loved so many of the outfits I shared in September. I think fall clothes are just more fun to put together for obvious reasons: colors, layers, textures, etc. But if I have to choose a favorite (and I guess I do!), I suppose I’ll go with this classic fall go-to outfit, a simple sweater and jeans.
It’s almost a neck and neck tie for most popular post in October, so I’m sharing both. This one on the 5 Shopping Mistakes We All Make just barely edged out the next most popular.
A close second was one of my favorites, 10 Tips for Wearing Leopard Print Without Going Wild. Y’all, I just love that title! Hee, hee!
Once again, I loved the clothes I got to share with you in October. I think one of the reasons I liked the clothes in the fall better than the summer is that I was learning so much about my personal style. In the first few months of blogging I was just trying and sharing everything. But as I learned more from researching the Dressed for My Day…My Way series, I began to focus on clothes that really fit my style aesthetic and body type more.
But my all time favorite from October was definitely this pink cashmere sweater with these plaid pants. I have gotten so much wear out of this outfit. I adore it! In fact, I’d go so far as to say this is my favorite outfit of the whole year. Yep!
It feels like November was just yesterday to me. Wasn’t it???
I went home to Georgia for a brief visit in November. I got to see some pretty foliage on the trees, and of course I loved visiting with my family and friends. In fact, I got to link up with half a dozen girlfriends from high school who I hadn’t seen in years. I love those gals!! Unfortunately, we yapped and yapped and completely forgot to snap a picture. Ugh! Oh well, the memory is sweet!
November’s most popular post was my Winter Coat Round-Up, which is really just a reflection of good SEO because, let’s face it, this Arizona gal knows nothing about winter coats!
Coming in a close second for most popular post in November was What to Wear to a Casual Christmas Gathering. Good thing because that’s also my favorite outfit of the month. This is in fact what I wore to so many casual Christmas gatherings this holiday season!
This December has been bittersweet. I have enjoyed my Christmas decorations and celebrating the Reason for the season with our new church family and friends. But we didn’t get to visit or host any of our family this year. It was just me and James.
But you know what? I’m learning to be content with whatever blessings God provides. Honestly, we can wrestle against our circumstances or we can rest in the Lord of our circumstances. It was a good Christmas, all in all.
My best received post in December was 9 Tips to Help You Look Great in Pictures. These were simply tips I’ve learned along the way this year from other bloggers, my friend Hannah and just experience. But I’ve received a lot of feedback from gals who used these tips, and I’m glad to say they felt like they worked. That’s a win!
Once again, I’m hard pressed to choose a favorite outfit. I got back to posting more jeans and tops in December after posting so many holiday looks in late November and earlier in the month. So I think I probably like this relaxed sweater with my black jeans the best. Shoot, anytime I can add a little leopard print is a good day and a great outfit!
Whew! What a year!
What I Learned
I know this post is long, and you may not care to stick around for what I learned. But I need to type this out. This is old school blogging at this point! Good for my soul and all.
Perhaps the most important lesson I learned in my first year as a style blogger is the importance of defining my own personal style. For the first 6 months or so I was just buying and sharing clothes willy nilly. Honest to Pete, I was all over the place. When I look back at some of the clothes I shared, I wonder what I was thinking.
Well, I think I was trying to please the readers I was trying to attract. And I don’t know if you were pleased at all, but I do know that many of those fashions have no place in my personal wardrobe.
So from this point on I can tell you that you will be seeing a more defined style. Whether we share the same style aesthetic or not, I don’t know. But I – like you – have to be true to myself.
Yes, I want to provide tips and steps and how-tos, and I definitely will. I’ve begun reading through the surveys, although I’ve not done a comprehensive search through them yet, and I know that many of you would like to see some specific things here at Dressed for My Day. I’m hearing you, and I’m taking your requests and comments into serious consideration. I really am. But I also have learned that I must buy and share clothes that fit my personal style aesthetic.
What is that exactly? Well, it’s still under construction. Ha! But I’m thinking I really like very classic, timeless clothes with a slight modern twist. I want my closet to mostly consist of classic neutrals, but I also want to incorporate a few well-chosen trending pieces that keep me looking relevant, young and timely.
So that’s what you’ll be seeing here from this point forward. I hope. Grin.
What I learned about style blogging is the same thing every style blogger learns their first year: this is a lot of work!!!!
But I love it. I really do. I’m a writer by education and trade, so I love the researching and writing a good informational post. That definitely feels like my sweet spot.
But I’m also enjoying flexing my modeling muscles. Ha! I took modeling lessons in high school, actually. And I am enjoying putting that little bit of training to use.
The social media facet of blogging is essential…unfortunately. I really don’t like trying to keep up with all the algorithm essentials of Facebook and Instagram. And sometimes I wonder if it’s even worth it to try. But when I stop…I feel like I’m missing out on a huge potential portion of my business. And ladies, like it or not, this is a business, too. It’s not just a business. But this is my contribution to our income. And so I have to treat it like a business. I have to work it and stay up to date and research and push myself and set financial goals and advertise and sell product, etc.
It’s a fine line really. And I struggle with it almost daily.
I hope the struggle doesn’t come across to you. What I want more than anything is to create a community here. A safe place. A landing place for weary women who need answers and a friend and a trusted sister…to go shopping with. Or at least browsing through your closet with. I want to provide well researched styling information, beauty tips and fitness inspiration. I want to serve you. I really do.
About other things
I also learned that there are some amazingly generous people out there. I’m so thankful for the other bloggers who have given me a hand…and a few hundred subscribers here and there!
I’ve learned that when we keep our hearts soft and resist bitterness, God will heal the wounded heart…eventually.
And I’ve learned that I love meeting you here each day. Thank you so much for giving a few minutes here and there to make this a vibrant, safe and sweet community of women…mostly over 50. Whether we talk about our wardrobes, our empty nests, our aging bodies, our hurting hearts or our plans for Christmas, I like spending time with you. I like you!
Thanks, gals, for a wonderful, adventurous first year! XXOX
If you haven’t had a chance yet, don’t forget to complete my 2018 Reader Survey. I’d love to hear from you. And if you leave your email at the end of the questionnaire, you’ll be registered for a chance to win a $50 gift card to a favorite retailer. Please only complete the survey once. Thanks so much!
Blessed for My Day
I’m a little amazed today that I actually completed this year on the blog. It’s been even more work than I first expected. And some days it has felt heavy, like a burden. Honestly, there are less difficult things I have thrown the towel in on before, so it’s amazing to me that I didn’t just stop somewhere along the way.
I think the difference this time was that I really counted the costs before I began. I prayed about it, did my research, prayed about it some more and did a lot of prep work before ever clicking “publish.” That has taught me the importance of planning ahead, counting the costs, recruiting support and accountability, praying through things thoroughly and setting goals.
If you have New Year’s resolutions or goals, I simply want to encourage you to take the time to think them through, pray them out, write them down and speak them out loud. I wish you the very best New Year with lots of dreams come true. And I ask God to bless you in all that you dream and plan and reach for.
For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ ~ Luke 14:28-30