Update on Life | Journal

It has been awhile since I've blogged a journal post, and if you follow me on Facebook and Instagram you have probably seen a lot of photos and posts about Kansas City Fashion Week. If you aren't already following me on social media, click here. Lately I've been getting a lot of questions about what I am doing with modeling, how I find photographers to work with, etc. Read on friends and lurkers, I am about to address these issues. 

Photo:  Mira Visu Photography  (2012) 

Photo: Mira Visu Photography (2012) 

When I started Luna Elise nearly a year ago, I definitely didn't consider myself a "model," just a girl with an overdeveloped closet. However, ever since I started shooting with Rebecca from Mira Visu Photography way back in 2012 (see pic above for a throwback to my first ever photoshoot!), she was insistent on my "model status." For those people asking how I get professional photos done--the answer is, start by having photographer friends. For most photographers I've encountered, photography is their passion and they welcome a model with open arms to try out new locations, lighting or styles of photography! Remember, you should NEVER have to pay for modeling images--there are so many talented photogs willing to trade creative time!  

Dave Gillispie and me! :)

Dave Gillispie and me! :)

At this point you are probably saying, "come on Elise, you can't have THAT many photography friends!" To that, I say, yes that's true. I don't even have that many friends in general (too stressful). Once again, Mira Visu's Rebecca has been instrumental by adding me to a photography group on Facebook. I have met so many great photographers through that group who have been excited to work with me. The point here is, value the connections you make, AND learn how to recognize good connections. That guy in your Instagram DMs who wants to shoot in his basement at night=no. Photographer setting up a shoot through a Facebook private and pre-vetted group=yeah man! When you work with a photographer you like, make a friendship with them, and you never know what could come from it. I shot with Dave Gillispie for the Women of K-State Swimsuit calendar in 2012 and we are still friends who shoot together to this day. 

Top:  shopthelocale.com  Shorts: One Teaspoon Shoes: Adidas Bag: Alexander Wang

Top: shopthelocale.com Shorts: One Teaspoon Shoes: Adidas Bag: Alexander Wang

My location has made a huge difference in my blog. I live near KC now and I take full advantage of that. I try to get into the city at least once a week to work with a photographer, meet friends or check out an event. You never know where you're going to meet people! 

Model Selection Photo for TRBrown Fashions

Model Selection Photo for TRBrown Fashions

After a year of blogging, I turned my perception of myself as a model on its head by getting involved in Kansas City Fashion Week. I tried out for the runway and will be walking in three of the four shows in March! This achievement has been HUGE. I've gotten to meet so many amazing designers, models and photographers--and fashion week hasn't even happened yet. I won't lie, I'm slightly nervous for my first time on a runway, but I am excited to push myself out of my comfort zone and take my blog modeling to something next level! Get tickets to see me walk the runway HERE

Photo: Jason Atherton MUA: Sophia Binder Designer: Atelier Samosi 

Photo: Jason Atherton MUA: Sophia Binder Designer: Atelier Samosi 

When you book three shows your first season of fashion week, you get noticed and people want to book you. I was honored to be chosen to represent the first launch of the new Moda Shoot collaborative sponsored by the Kansas City Fashion Council! More on that (and all the photos) in another blog post. 

Behind the scenes:  Shop the Locale  photo shoot 

Behind the scenes: Shop the Locale photo shoot 

The more I have put myself out there, lately I have had photographers approaching me instead of vice versa. Last weekend, I did a fun commercial shoot for ShoptheLocale.com shot by Jerry Wang Photography. It is interesting to try out the commercial side of photography and fun to meet even more fashion and photography friends! 

I am also dabbling in the design end of fashion...but that's all I have to say about that, for now. :)

So, to summarize this tutorial-turned-explication--I am at an exciting point in a process that started years ago when Rebecca first wanted me to style and model a shoot I'm using my resources, feeling things out and having a great time doing it. If photo shoots, runway fittings, and red carpet charity events sound out of reach...don't be so cynical (rich words coming from me, I know). I never in a million years thought I would find these types of opportunities in KC, but you never know until you try. Unfortunate news for the extra lazy out there--you have to actually work to make it happen.

Ride or Die Essentials | Closet Essentials | Beauty Bar

With every new year, I find myself finding new excuses to buy new items. A resolution of style, so to speak. If you find yourself in a similar situation--wanting to overhaul your wardrobe or beauty routine--read on to discover some products that I literally can't live without, year after year. 

1. White V-Neck Tee 

Anytime I pack a weekend bag, I always include a white v-neck tee. Why? Because it is the perfect outfit-saver. A white tee can take you from day to night--just add a leather jacket! My favorite tee is the Essential V-Neck from Victoria's Secret PINK. It is semi sheer which adds a sexy factor over a bralette and the sleeves are the perfect length (not too short). 

2. Black Skinny Jeans

Like the white tee, black skinny jeans have so much day to night potential. I prefer black denim over traditional blue because it is more slimming, more easily dressed up, not to mention more bad ass. While I have always enjoyed black skinnies on a budget, I splurged on rag + bone this year and will never turn back. The fit is so flattering! 

3. Jergen's Natural Glow Body Lotion

I've been buying this lotion since I was 16--no joke. My skin is naturally olive toned, so I never really get too pale, but the subtle color in Natural Glow give my tone an extra boost during the winter months. It smells great too and the formula has really improved in delivering even color over the years! Only downside is the price, but take it from me, off-brands are not as good. 

4. Over-the-Knee Boots 

If you've been following along here on my blog, you've definitely seen thigh-high boots in plenty of my posts. This is for good reason--they are such a great addition to anyone's closet! When investing, look for a good quality leather, a comfortable heel style and a color that will go with most of your looks (in my case, I ended up buying brown and black, haha). Personally, I love a low, comfy heel so I can take the boots with more outfits from dresses to jeans and a tee. Stuart Weitzman makes the holy grail of OTK boots, and they are so worth the money (especially if you find a good deal on eBay!). 

5. Animal Print Bag

When you think of a bag that goes with everything, animal print styles probably aren't the first things that come to mind. However, I find myself reaching for my jungle-inspired bags more than any others (and that's not just due to my penchant for leopard). An animal print adds a subtle pop of pattern to simpler ensembles and can add that extra bit of edge your outfit needs. Find a shape and print that speak to you and go for it! You'll be surprised how many looks your animal print beauty can tie together. 

6. Black Leather Jacket

What can I say? Words cannot express how I feel about my black leather jacket. It has gotten me through so many lazy quests to find a good outfit. It has given me all the model-off-duty feels. It has just made my life so much better. Buy one now. Invest in a good one. You won't regret it and you'll have it forever. 

7. Little Black Romper 

One time I was talking to my dad about how it sucked he didn't get to wear rompers because he was missing out on the extreme levels of comfort. Quickly, I got a disturbing mental image of my dad in a romper, but in all seriousness, hail to the romper! If you invest in even just one or are an addict like me, you need to have a good black onesie in your closet. Keep the styling simple and the piece will take you from day to night (there and back again, a romper's tale, by Luna Elise?). Ok, clearly too excited about rompers here...on to the next topic.. 

8. Ray-Ban Aviators

The classic green-black lens, gold frame Ray-Ban aviator shades were my first high-end sunglasses purchase. To this day, I still wear them all the time. If you have never invested in a higher end pair of shades and want to do so, please look no further than this style. The color and shape will literally never go out of style! Once you add these to your collection, feel free to get addicted and add all the other fun (yet classic) shapes and colored lens styles to your collection. :) 

9. Kevin Aucoin Contour Palette 

This palette came into my life through a random Sephora binge through the sale section. It was one of those instances where I checked out online, the order total was much more than I had originally planned, and I felt like I made some bad impulse decisions. Happily, I was wrong. This palette has been my go-to ever since! The contour isn't too orangey and the highlighter isn't too over the top, so this makes for a great everyday look. I was not sold AT all by the eyeshadows while looking online, but when I got the palette, I gave them a shot and--you guys--they are amazing for creating a natural smokey eye (which you know I'm all about). For all of my shoots this fall/winter, my makeup looks have been created using this palette so I'll let that speak for itself. 

10. Black Leggings

I'm ending this list with something really basic, but I would be lying to you all if I left it off my essentials! Leggings! I wear them all the time, which is not a surprise, but I wanted to share my favorites for this one. Pictured above are mesh leggings by Alo which have been amazing for travel and weekend trips and everything in between. The mesh gives them a cool vibe, and that means you can easily wear them out as well as during the day! They are a bit pricey, so if you're on a budget, you can't go wrong with the classic Victoria's Secret PINK black legging. I have multiple pairs on hand and wear them at some point literally every day. 

That does it for my top ten essentials! Alternative titles for this post could have been "I Really Love to Wear Black" or "How to Pack Like a Pro for a Weekend Trip." But seriously, add just a couple other things to this list and you will have all you need for a laid-back weekend away. Plus, your S/O will be so impressed by your minimal and efficient packing skills. You're welcome. 

My Skin Care Routine | Beauty Bar

It's the season of New Year's resolutions once again--for better or worse! This year, I am focusing inward and resolving to be more vigilant and aware of my depression. 2016 taught me the lesson that depression doesn't just disappear; it's a beast in the brain that lives there permanently and must be tamed. Seasonal affective disorder can bring out this beast in everyone, so take care of yourself after the comedown from the holidays as we head into the long winter! Surely by now, you are saying to yourself "Wtf, Elise, where's the skincare?" Dear reader, I don't mean to disappoint you. Another beast that must be tamed especially in winter is dry skin. Getting into a good skincare routine is a great external resolution for 2017. Read on to see what works for me and get inspired to take better care of your best accessory--your skin! 

*SIDE NOTE: All of the following pictures are taken by me. All selfies are no make-up, and all of the product shots are no skill, haha. Enjoy :) 

Step 1: WASH OFF YOUR MAKEUP

A for-real "woke up this way" image filter by the morning sun. :)

A for-real "woke up this way" image filter by the morning sun. :)

I used to be HORRIBLE at washing off my makeup, especially during college. I would fall asleep still in heavy makeup and then wake up, and with a couple touch-ups, rock that second day makeup to class. This was bad for two reasons: first, it's terrible for your skin, and second, I wasn't confident enough to be barefaced around my then-bf or in public. It's a vicious cycle; if you let your skin stay dirty constantly, of course you aren't going to have the glowing, fresh skin that makes you feel confident to go bare. And, ladies, if you are dating a guy who makes you feel like you need to be in makeup 24/7, he doesn't deserve to have you staying over at his house. Long story short, wash your face; it may be a hard habit to get into but your skin will thank you. To wash my face I use Olay face wash and Garnier make-up removing wipes (as you will see through this post, I keep my face routine drug store and affordable for the most part). 

Step 2: Moisturize 

This step is important year-round, but winter is a time when moisturizer becomes even more essential. I moisturize my face twice a day. In the morning, I use Jergen's Natural Glow face lotion and the L'Oreal eye cream pictured above. At night I use a richer moisturizing formula, plus eye cream. Lately, I've been enjoying this L'Oreal night cream with added collagen. For me, I am hoping to prevent wrinkles by taking good care of my skin before they start. Since I do not need serious wrinkle repair, I just buy moisturizers from the drug store. It's affordable and gets the job done. Consistency is key--once you get into the habit of moisturizing your face, you will feel the difference and not want to go without lotion! Don't forget about the rest of your body as well. After every shower, I use Jergen's Natural Glow Firming Lotion

Step 3: Add-On Treatments 

Everyone's skin has its own unique set of issues. Luckily there are lots of products out there to help out your individual need! For me, my top three issues are puffy under eyes, spot acne and face hair.

I was always annoyed by my under eyes crinkling and puffing when I smiled in pictures, so two years ago I started using this roller ball formula by Garnier. It cools and tightens skin when rolled on, which feels great, plus it does fix under eye puff! I use it every morning and night. 

Luckily, acne has not been a big issue for me. Once I went on the Pill back in the day, all mass breakouts stopped. However, I still do get spot acne. About once a month, I'll have a gross spot on my face that requires action. That's where this Clean & Clear Advantage acne spot treatment comes in. I have been using this stuff since college and it is my holy grail. It really does work! I have also used it for body acne when I get a spot on my chest or thighs during sweaty summer runs. 

As I typed "face hair" as one of my skin problems, I laughed to myself at the visualization of having a beard. While the hair situation is great for my eyebrows, it's not so great having that excess peach fuzz that makes your makeup go on less smoothly and can even make you look like you have a mustache--yikes. So, long story short, I shave my face. And this is one of my best skin care tips! And NO the hair does not grow back faster or stubbly. The process is technically called dermaplaning. You use an eyebrow razor (the pink thing in the pic above) and carefully shave your face. Not only will you be amazed at how much downy fuzz comes off, but the process is also extremely exfoliating as the razor takes away the thin layer of dead skin on your face. Studies have shown that this exfoliation can prevent wrinkles and keep the skin looking fresher longer. Take my word for it, your skin will have a new glow and will feel soft and smooth as a newborn! I first learned of derma planing through Carli Bybel's YouTube channel. Click here to watch her how-to video on shaving your face! 

Step 4: Face Masks

Sorry for my crappy pictures! :) Literally the products I use, though. 

Sorry for my crappy pictures! :) Literally the products I use, though. 

It saddens me how long it took me to start using face masks. I feel like I missed out on an essential chapter of girl-hood. Until now. I bought the Peter Thomas Roth Meet Your Mask set this summer and I was instantly hooked. The set is a great way to start if you don't know where to start with masks. It's only $25 and you get to try six different masks. I went through two of these kits before I narrowed it down to my favorites. Now I love to use the Blue Algae for hydration, the 24K Gold for a gorgeous lift and glow and the Pumpkin Enzyme for exfoliation. I usually put on a mask every evening. The pumpkin enzyme is perfect to follow a demaplane treatment for that extra level of exfoliation! For a more affordable mask option, the L'Oreal clay mud masks are actually very good and available at drugstores. Not only do masks make your skin feel amazing, they also make you feel very glamorous ;) I encourage you to give them a try!

Step 5: HYDRATE

Hydrate should have been step one. This is the most important thing you can do for your body and your skin. Drinking enough water, like washing off my makeup every night, was a conscious choice I made for myself a few years ago and I have been sticking to it. Obviously, water is key. I like to keep a big water bottle full with me at all times. It's easier to drink more water that way as opposed to a glass which you have to fill up all the time. I love my S'Well water bottle because it holds lots of water, keeps it cold and looks cute! 

Coconut water is a hydration game changer. I read an interview with Adriana Lima in which she swore drinking coconut water daily has made her skin as gorgeous as it is. With a reference like that, I had to try it. It might be in my head, but I do notice more of a glow when I drink a glass of coconut water daily. Hard evidence for coconut water is its unfailing ability to make me feel better if I have a touch of a hangover! I recommend Vita Coco coconut water; it is all natural with no additives. Whatever brand you buy, make sure it has no added sugar! 

This may all sound like a lot of steps and products, but once you get into the routine of taking better care of your skin, it will become second nature. Plus, I guarantee you will thank yourself for investing in yourself as you feel more hydrated and healthy and more confident and beautiful fresh faced! If you enjoyed this post for external New Years resolutions, check out my feature post on myrisestory.com which features self-reflection and inspiration to make those internal resolutions come true as well. :)

Five Finds | The Hidden Gems of Walmart

The other day I was unfortunately in Walmart, waiting for my prescription which should take a couple minutes to grab off the shelf and hand to me, but took an inconceivable 45 minutes to fill. During this time, I sleuthed around Walmart, going where most people haven't gone before and I was surprised at what I found. I apologize for the quality of the below photos--they are live action stealth shots. ;) Also, I didn't link any of these finds to the online site because 1) that site is enormously overwhelming and 2) in encouragement of your going out on a Walmart fashion excursion of your own. 

1. Plaid Button Downs

A plaid button down is a fall and winter staple. In today's world of overpriced flannel shirts, Walmart takes a share in the running with these $13.88 gems. I found a variety of cute color combos and the material was pretty soft! Walmart doesn't oversize their clothes, so if you want a baggier look, you will have to size way up on this. Only downside: the material is pretty thin, so this is for style not warmth. 

2. Blanket Scarves 

The scarves of Walmart...surprisingly good! Here I have to relate back to this post I shared last month wearing a scarf from Walmart. So good. The quality is great and the prints are on point. There is no drawback on these, go to Walmart now and get one (or five for the price of one scarf at the mall). 

3. This Soft and Cozy Fleece

For under $10, you can be so warm and cute in this tribal print fleece. I recommend sizing up as much as possible for extra cozy factor. 

4. Faux Leather Backpacks

These backpacks are actually great. No, they aren't real leather, but the lines of the style are on point, and the simple hardware is elegant. This would be a great item to pick up if you've never used a backpack purse before and want to try it out before splurging. It would also be perfect for a vacation where you don't want to haul around an expensive bag but DO want to haul around all your stuff. These guys were $19.97, I believe--literally a bargain bag. 

5. Any Athletic Gear

I love Walmart's athletic ranges! They have so many fun colors and prints. Almost all of my sports bras are from Walmart. I used to only buy Nike, but then I discovered the offerings of Walmart are more comfortable and MUCH easier to take off (you ladies with Nike sports bras know what I'm talking about). The only downfall for me (with my stick legs) is that these items tend to run a little large, especially the leggings in the calf area. 

I saved the best for last...

I had to go over my traditional five finds because....VELVET CHOKERS!! These are so trendy right now. While I have loved the style ever since I saw it hitting the trends, I never owned one for the sole reason that I couldn't justify spending $20+ on a tiny piece of fabric. Walmart just came in and changed my life. Earlier this fall, I also found the ubiquitous leather string bolo chokers at Walmart. Some of these chokers are admittedly a little gaudy (I'm not a fan of the blingy ones), but since they come in sets, you can pick and choose to find the perfect one. If you love the choker trend, but can't stomach the Vanessa Mooney prices, Walmart has made your Christmas wishes come true with these babies. 

Hopefully this post has inspired you to be open minded about fashion, Walmart and life in general. If anything, perhaps it will make going into Walmart during the Christmas rush a little less terrifying since you can go on your own treasure hunt now. :)