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Confidence Boosting Apparel

Going Off The Grid

4 Black Blazers (clockwise from top) Peplum blazer, fitted single button blazer, open front blazer, cropped blazerThere was a time in my life when all I wanted more than anything else was peace. I eventually found it and one of the things that helped me arrive there was a simple blazer.

It’s hard for me to believe that it was around this time 24 years ago when I lost all of my material possessions. The situation was dire and one mistake could mean the difference between surviving or not. With three small children in tow I had serious misgivings but after months of creating a paper trail, filing police reports, an arrest, a hearing, and nearly escaping, only to be drawn back in, I had to take drastic measures – it was the only way.  

Careful planning was critical and bringing in two close friends to help me getaway kept me up at night as I was concerned for the safety of us all. Every call I made had to be followed up by a separate call to a different number so that my original call could not be traced. Even though I rehearsed the plan in my mind once the day arrived my nerves were on edge.

I had previously given my two-week’s notice at my job because things had gotten so out of control at home that I was afraid for my co-workers and the only way to ensure their safety was to leave. Calling off work on my last day was necessary so that I could monitor things at home and tie up any loose ends before making a hasty departure in the wee hours of the following morning.

Outfit #1 - Black Blazer, Black & White Striped Tee, Blue Jeans, Black Bag & Camel Ankle Boots
Outfit #1 – Black Blazer, Black & White Striped Tee, Blue Jeans, Black Bag & Camel Ankle Boots

Life is different when you lose almost everything you worked so hard for and it changes your perspective. Small things like the kindness of a stranger or sitting around a kitchen table with women who shared similar experiences and being able to laugh meant so very much. It meant we were surviving.  

While I felt a little strange accepting donations of clothing and other necessities these things helped to create a sense of normalcy in a situation far from normal. My oldest son, who was in 1st grade at the time, was enrolled in an area grade school and each day while he was in school I began the task of rebuilding our lives.

Living in a temporary environment with other women and children wasn’t easy but it was essential as it kept me motivated in taking back our lives. Looking for housing, job, and day care were just a few of the things I needed to do to get our lives back on track and the one item that helped me to keep it together was a black blazer.

Outfit #2 - Black Blazer, Black & Camel Striped Midi Dress, Black Ankle Boots, Camel Bag & Black Sunglasses
Outfit #2 – Black Blazer, Black & Camel Striped Midi Dress, Black Ankle Boots, Camel Bag & Black Sunglasses

While I may have had little else, my black blazer was a constant companion that I continually wore when I had to take care of business. Aside from the versatility of this garment it also gave me a boost of confidence whenever I wore it. 

Though a couple of decades have passed since that tumultuous time, blazers continue to be one of my signature pieces. For me whenever I put on a blazer, and especially a black one, it’s all about business.

In the three photo collages one set contains four blazers and the other sets are two outfits I created on Polyvore described below:

  • Outfit #1 – Black blazer, black & white striped long sleeve tee, blue jeans, black bag & camel ankle boots
  • Outfit #2 – Black blazer, black & camel striped midi dress, black ankle boots, camel bag & black sunglasses

I saw a quote today that I’m going to have to paraphrase but it said something to the effect that just because we are experiencing tough times with a smile on our face doesn’t mean we are phony, rather we are making a conscious choice to be the best we can be in the given situation. 

94 thoughts on “Confidence Boosting Apparel

  1. It is amazing how one can be uplifted and transformed with an article of clothing. A very bold, positive and inspiring post. Thanks for sharing your story Steph

    1. Thank you for reading it, Jen <3

  2. I love the black suit and what it symbolises. From what I read, I know you have been divinely guided and you are a very strong woman, who even in spite of the troubles you went through with your ex- husband, choose not to demean him or speak bad about him in public. I hope you find love and trust again, if not found yet.
    I like your style statement and the boldness that your blog portrays. In fact l like bold women and how they have faced adversity.
    God bless !
    Susie

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Susie.

  3. Thanks for sharing your story. Those must have been terrible times. That you survived them with grace and dignity is a testament to your strength of character.

    1. Thank you for your kind words Robyn. <3

  4. I am glad you are safe dear Steph! xxx

    1. Thank you Lynz, it’s been a number of years since that occurred but I am still so grateful me and my kids were able to get out intact.

  5. Wow. Hard stuff, indeed. You’re a strong woman.

  6. Yes the classic black blazer! Got to love it. I love my blazer too. Thanks for sharing your powerful story of strength and self-determination.

    1. Thank you for commenting Empish!

  7. You are a very strong person to have endured these life changing events. Well written and I love the way you put this together with your wardrobe. I agree that blazers are a great wardrobe staple.

    1. Thank you so much! Yeah one never knows what they can do until faced with a particular situation. I’m a coward at heart but when family, friends or people I care about in general are threatened I go bonkers – go figure. Thank you for your kind comment.

  8. I have found one of the long term positives about having lost it all and living to tell the story, is a deep appreciation and acknowledgement of the good that shows up in your life for the remainder of your life.

    An excellent post and hopefully inspiring to those women who need to make big changes.

    All my best to you.

    1. Oh my goodness yes, yes, yes. An example for me is every time I step into the shower I’m so grateful to have running water #1, being able to have it hot #2 and lingering is I so desire #3. In the shelter with so many others of course all of us were on a schedule with a limited amount of time and with 3 kids, well sometimes it was a little challenging but even then we were appreciative because I knew the alternative. My best to you as well. Thank you for stopping by. ~Steph

      1. Mine is hot water, not splitting wood for warmth and cooking, stocked pantry, art supplies.

      2. I never had to split wood, that probably would have pushed me right over the edge. I forgot about art supplies, after the boys were born I seldom had time for craft projects but I enjoyed helping them with school projects. Art was so soothing.

  9. Your story is very moving and my heart goes out to you . But my biggest emotion is one of inspiration , it was very inspiring for me to read this post. Your last quote was beautiful

    1. Thank you so much. Several people have mentioned that quote and I had to apologize because I could not recall the exact wording but the message was so powerful I had to share as best I could. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  10. I was fascinated by your post. On one hand you are referring to an extremely difficult time in your life with no self-pity and interspersing the blog with lovely fashion pics. I entirely agree with you about focusing on one item that has positive vibes – in this case perhaps a blazer represented a new independent life with a career and the hope and optimism of the future. I am really struggling with some issues just now (bereavement, husband laid off, mental illness) and have an appointment with the hairdresser today. I was going to ask him to cut it in a style that I could grow out my pixie but now I am going to have it cut in my usual style and embrace my first interview next week with bravado. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for coming by and reading I really appreciate it. So sorry to hear about your struggles I know that when in the midst of them they seem insurmountable but what I’ve found that sometimes works is picturing myself coming out on the other side. This one little thing has helped me to refocus and get through some stuff. Kudos to you on embracing your interview next week with bravado. Go in there and give them heck. <3

      1. You are most welcome Kerry!! I’m looking at your blog now.

  11. I do that…go around with a smile on my face. I am writing this quote down! You are one strong woman!

    1. Thank you Deb. I’m sorry I couldn’t remember the exact quote but the meaning behind it was so powerful. And I know from reading part of your story that you’ve been through some stuff as well. You are also a strong woman <3

  12. You are such a strong woman, Steph. Brilliant quote at the end as well. And clothes can really empower an already strong woman : )

    1. Thank you C.S. I was telling one of my other blogger friends that I know I butchered the quote but I tried to capture its meaning . Thank you for coming by and reading, I appreciate it. 🙂

  13. Amazing story of survival and strength–I get it on so many levels. The black blazer…I’ve got a couple of my own and remember like it was yesterday how I felt walking into a meeting of 25-30 men and being the only woman. My blazer did something to my demeanor and I never felt the least bit out-smarted, out-classed or out-powered. I always wore my black suit when I was ‘playing with the big boys’ and it worked for me. I’m glad you found the power you needed and I know just what you mean about looking back. It seems like somebody else lived that life. Thanks for stopping in today and leading me over here. I’m anxious to know your story. xx

    1. Love, love the black suit! Confidence is so critical to achieving what we want out of life and I’m glad that I figured out early on the role that clothing plays in being/becoming confident.

      After I wrote this piece I was talking with my brother about it and told him it feels like I’m having an out of body experience because it’s so hard to believe what I had to do to get us out of that situation. We are so fortunate that it turned out like it did,

  14. Wow, what an incredible story Stephanae! I’m so happy you made it through and I’m sure you’re stronger than ever. I agree on the black blazer. It’s a confidence booster and it just makes you feel like a badass. I love the collages. They are definitely my style. So happy you decided to stop by my blog. 🙂

    1. Thank you! I am so far removed from a badass it ain’t funny, well that is unless someone would be foolish enough to try to harm me or my family then yeah I’d be all over them so yeah I can be badass most especially in a black blazer. I’m glad I stopped by your blog as well. I think it’s great when folks like OM post an opportunity for other bloggers to network.

      1. I agree. OM was one of my very first followers. Great source of info on his blog.

      2. Yes and he’s got at least a bazillion followers.

  15. You are so courageous Steph! Such an inspirational post. And yes, I love my black blazer too! I love the pictures of your outfit ideas, just my style 🙂 Except I can’t seem to walk well in high, spiky heels, haha! Lower heeled boots are perfect for me.

    1. Hahaha, I was born in heels even wore them through all my pregnancies. Although when I first started losing my vision I did go with lower heels and even flats because a part of me thought it was expected as a person who couldn’t see well. Then when I started this blog I said to myself “I love heels and darn it I’m gonna wear them” and so now I do. But to your point about lower heeled footwear I’m going to do more posts on this particular topic because not everyone likes or can wear heels. Stay tuned.

      1. Thanks Steph! And good for you, if you love them, then wear them! They look so pretty, I just feel like I’ll break my ankle, haha! My oldest daughter can wear 6 inch heels, with no problem at all. She walks beautifully in them. My youngest daughter and I prefer flip flops, tennis shoes, or low boots 🙂

      2. Bless her heart for being able to wear 6 inch heels, now those would cause me to break my neck. I try not to go any higher than 3-1/2 to maybe 4 inch but that’s stretching it a bit.

  16. This seems like something that would make a great story. Or movie. Or both. If I were an agent, I’d take you on! 🙂

    1. Thanks CM, it actually got worse before it got better and then I had a breakdown but thank goodness I got through it. The one lesson I took away was the promise to give back which is one of the reasons I’m all about community service and even when my boys were young I’d take them with me on projects so that they would understand the importance of giving back. There was a lot of good that came out of the darkness.

      1. I’m very glad that it worked out for you. I’m no stranger to that same darkness, or to breakdowns, either; and though things are much different now, I suppose I’m still waiting for my “light at the end of the tunnel!” But maybe that’s the point. Maybe it’s not riches or fame — maybe it’s just getting past the darkness, and finding the light.

      2. Yeah, I think you’re right. It’s like life not being a destination but rather the journey. I’ll tell you what though since this particular episode everything else in comparison (well maybe except for losing my vision) has been a cake walk and I really treasure my peace. Still have moments of depression but I’ll take that any day as opposed to that craziness.

      3. Absolutely. I don’t think the depression ever completely goes away; but the moments of peace really are something to treasure.

  17. You are a phenomenal woman Steph! You continued to inspire me. And yes blazers have a way of saying, “I mean business”:-).

    1. Thank you Khaya!! I’m gonna have to show these comments to my sons the next time they start making fun of me. 😉 Love me some blazers and pencil skirts. Well nix the skirts in the winter because I don’t do cold.

      1. BTW, what temperature is extreme cold there in your part of the world?

      2. This past week our temperatures have been in the single digits with wind chills way below zero. Brrrr I can’t take it and now we’re bracing for a nor’easter that’s supposed to dump up to 2 feet of snow in the DC/New York area. My area is only expected to get about 6 inches.

      3. OK, not too bad. Today we woke up at -28℃ and now has dropped to -13℃. Fun times:D

      4. Geez!!! I just entered -28℃ into an online converter to see what the Fahrenheit equivalent is and YIKES its -18°F. Yeah, we don’t know what cold is. I’ve been humbled lol. How in the world do you stay warm? Is it even safe to go outside?

      5. LOL! Of course, life goes on. We have to go to work, school, shops, exercising, etc.:-)

      6. Seriously I’d just die. Even though I’m laughing as I’m typing this I wouldn’t be able to function. I think I may be suffering from the same princess complex that my dog has lol.

      7. 😀

    1. Thank you so much for this awesome nomination. Unfortunately due to very tight time constraints I am unable to participate but I wanted to let you know how very much I appreciate you taking the time to visit my blog and nominate me, I am honored. Thanks much ~Steph

      1. You’re welcome

  18. I don’t think choosing to face the world with a smile makes someone a phoney. A smile is a kind of psychological shield. Maintaining a positive attitude is so important for our mental wellbeing. Giving in to despair never helped anyone.

    1. It definitely is Bun not to mention the fact that a smile is contagious. The light from a smile also leads to a temporary reprieve from whatever darkness may be lurking. Can’t say I haven’t given into despair because I have but as you say it’s futile and when I’ve gotten like that I would hide away until it passed, no sense in being a Debbie Downer.

      1. Yep, smiles are a while lot better all round than frowns, no doubt about it.

  19. Steph you have the courage of your convictions. We all draw confidence from different things. It sounds like that blazer helped you and your kids through an extremely difficult time. I think your a wonderful example of what can be accomplished when facing some pretty adverse conditions. You drew strength from the blazer at a time when things looked pretty hopeless. You did yourself proud. :O)

    1. Awe, thank you Paul. What’s funny is that I don’t even think I realized it at the time, at least consciously, that it was the blazer. Survival mode is like being on auto pilot which allowed me to be hyped focused to get through it.

      1. It is pretty amazing what our mind can do, when we have to focus on what’s important. I’m just glad you came through it.

      2. Me too Paul. It was very rough especially after this episode and I did reach my breaking point but as you say, I came through it.

      3. And I think better and stronger for it. But, like you suggested Steph, I hope no one would ever have to go this route to find their strength. I’m glad you found it though.

  20. What a courageous woman you are! You just amaze me. I am so glad you shared this. I hope someone out there who is currently in danger might read this.

    I also understand having the need to have an outfit that bolsters confidence. I try to have at least one for both cold and warm seasons.

    Blessings,
    Theresa

    1. Thank you Theresa. I’ve alluded to this situation in previous posts but it’s during this time of year when I think on how fortunate me and my kids were. I watched one woman in particular come through the shelter with most of her hair pulled out. All I can clearly remember was her holding a towel with ice in it against the wound. She stayed for one day and then went back to him. I think the day she left was the most emotional day for us because we felt so powerless.

      It’s funny you should mention the warm and cold seasons because my main boosters with the exception of a black pant suit (love, love, love) are dresses, skirts and of course the blazer. With my strong aversion to cold one would think I’d be donned in wool pants through the entire winter and while I like them they sadly aren’t my faves.

  21. Blazers tie an outfit together. Love a well-tailored piece. This black blazer you talk about, it made my tear up. Steph, what a powerful way to express yourself through fashion.

    1. Thank you Susan. Even though we can be fashion enthusiasts life goes on and sometimes it can be real ugly. But it’s during the ugly times that we take hold of whatever we can to get us through. For me it was my faith, my kids, and this little article of clothing.

  22. Great post Steph! You are an inspiration.Thank you for sharing. There’s no doubt that certain items in my wardrobe give me confidence.

    1. Thank you Caroline. My other confidence boosters are pencil skirts followed closely by wrap dresses.

  23. I’m truly sorry you were ever in a position where you lost most of your belongings, your job, your home in order to survive. Since I have to assume this is because of a partner/husband I have to apologise yet again for the male race and say not all are like that.I’d go so far as to say most are not like that but something like that happening can sour your trust in men.
    I’m surprised the police didn’t step in and arrest him so you could at least remove your clothes and things for the children.
    I hope after that day you never again had to walk in fear and that you and the children remained safe.
    xxx Hugs Galore xxx

    1. Thank you for your very kind comment David. Yes it was an ex-husband and funnily enough I had a mistrust in men way before meeting him which added to my confusion of how I found myself in this position. You know how they say it’s complicated? He was actually arrested at my place of employment (I wasn’t there the day of the arrest b/c this was the first time I left him). He was held on $50,000 straight bond but was released after the hearing with heavy stipulations and of course I still had my PFA (protection from abuse) papers. I did go back for several reasons which I can’t get into but going back while risky was part of the plan to get out for good. And the police became acutely familiar with our situation. There was a transition period of fear but we got through it and on one of my milestone birthday I got a tattoo of a dove carrying an infinity symbol which represented to me everlasting peace. It’s faded with the years but it’s still a reminder to me to be appreciative of life.

      1. I’m just happy you came through everything safely.
        xxx Hugs Galore xxx

      2. <3 Hugs right back at ya David <3 How's that little grandbaby of yours? How's your daughter?

      3. My daughter is healing nicely thanks and my granddaughter is a little delight. Or maybe I just haven’t seen her at her worst yet.
        xxx Huge Hugs xxx

      4. Awe, that’s so good to hear. She’s such a little cutie pie. And how’s her brother handling a new sibling?

      5. So far he’s been as good as gold with her, being big brother protective. Told his mum off for making her cold as she took a nappy off. I’d like him to stay this way instead of rivalry between them.
        xxx Huge Hugs xxx

      6. Yeah let’s hope so. The bond between siblings is so special. <3

  24. I’m sorry you went through but so glad you and the kids made it out!

    1. Thank you Katelon. Yeah, to some degree when I look back it’s like I’m reading the story of someone else’s life. It was all so surreal but being in survival mode definitely helped.

      1. What a journey you have had! My ex was a crack addict. One day, I may get the courage to write about all of that. But I totally understand what you mean when you look back and it feels like it happened to someone else. I’m so glad you and your family made it out if there and that you are thriving. You are a strong and courageous lady!

      2. Thank you. Never considered myself courageous, I shouldn’t have married the nut anyway but I’m glad we got out. There really were no alternatives we had to get out or we wouldn’t be here now.

  25. Steph, I am a big believer in “that which does not kill us makes us stronger.” It is inspiring to hear how in your history you didn’t settle for setbacks and kept pushing forward. I have certain clothes I wear which give me more confidence as well…in some instances because I had them in reduced circumstances also. Great post!

    1. Thank you Bruce. My grandmother used to say that a hard head made for a soft behind but in my case it was partially my stubbornness that carried us through. I cannot take all the credit because God was definitely in the mix guiding my steps.

  26. You are an amazing woman Stephanae! God bless you abundantly:) I bet you are one sharp lady sporting one of those classic blazers:) blessings, denise

  27. That is a great quote at the end of your essay, Steph. I remember seeing the same one some time ago. We do have the power over the choices we make and you made the choice to vote for yourself. That is something not enough of us do. I love blazers and have a collection of them. I love/need structure for some of my outfits and blazers bring them together. Congratulations on making it this far and best wishes. xo

    1. Thank you SB. I know I butchered the quote (something told me to write it down when I saw it). Whenever I reflect on those days (and it’s not often) but I’m reminded again of how blessed I am and no matter the daily struggles I’m so appreciative to even have these struggles. The story could have ended significantly different.

      1. It could have. I am very happy it did not. Here’s hoping many more women in a similar situation follow in your footsteps. xo

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