Beyond Words

Words, Wit and Wisdom for Today's Style and Decision Makers

First Lady of Style May 30, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 11:00 pm

Can we talk? Can we talk about Melania Trump and how stunning she is? Here’s where I wait for all the haters to stop reading.


Okay, for all those of you who are mature enough to call a spade a spade or put away your bitterness, let’s talk.


Truth be told, there’s not a stable or honest person out there who can’t agree that our new First Lady killed it on Inauguration Day and on so many other occasions.



This being the case, it should come as no surprise that Melania Trump knocked it out of the ballpark on her first official international tour with her husband, President Trump.


So why, are we not seeing her on popular fashion blogs and magazine covers. Because, hate trumps respect.


Haters gonna hate.


Fashionistas used to love both her and Ivanka and even put them on countless covers.


But not no mo. Why? November.


Sad to say we saw more of Bella and Kendall’s Cannes Film Festival fashion than our First Lady’s stunners in Saudi, Israel, and Europe. And while I have you, can someone please remind me what films Bella and Kendall were in? We also saw a lot of the Pippa and Kate show for Pippa’s wedding. But hey, they’re real life royalty.


I will admit both Bella and Kendall are gorgeous and on most days I do admire their sense of style. But then again, they are models. They have one job and it’s to look fab.


A former model herself, Melania puts the “F” in fab and is not only gorgeous but smart. She speaks five languages (English, French, Italian, German, and her native Serbo-Croatian) and is her own woman, choosing to live in New York until son Brandon’s school is out rather than uprooting her son and following her husband to D.C.


She’s also an immigrant and the first naturalized citizen to become First Lady. Melania was born in Slovenia, which was then communist Yugoslavia, and earned her American citizenship in 2006.


Prior to Melania holding the FLOTUS title, all we heard for the past eight years was how gorgeous and stylish Michelle Obama was as First Lady. The flared skirts, the kitten heels, the arms. Politics aside, I have to admit I just didn’t see it. Yes, some of her choices were lovely but I personally do not put her right in the “gorgeous” category and I’ll call those flared skirts with an A-line, those kitten heels with stiletto pumps, and those arms with…okay checkmate. But for the overall winner, Melania trumps all. In a word, she is simply stunning.


For proof of this, I present “Melania’s Foreign Stage Debut.”


Melania started her trip in an orange leather Herve Pierre skirt, cream Max Mara knit sweater, and nude stilettos as she boarded Marine One that had everyone saying “wow!” Pierre also designed the lovely white gown she wore to Inaugural balls this past January.




In Saudi Arabia, she caused quite a stir by not wearing a headscarf but I applaud her and am on board with saying had she worn one, haters would have likely criticized her for not standing up for women’s rights.


Arriving in Saudi, our First Lady was not only stylish but respectful in a stunning black Stella McCartney jumpsuit with gold detailing on its high neck and paired it with a striking gold Saint Laurent belt and conservative black pumps.



Later in Saudi she donned a traditionally-bent Ralph Lauren khaki shirt-dress that she accessorized with a chunky brown belt with thick white stitching. The 47-year-old completed the sleek look with zebra-patterned Manolo Blahnik pumps that featured a high stiletto heel.




For the Arab-Islamic-American Summit, Melania made a business-chic transformation into a tailored white Dolce & Gabbana pantsuit and black blouse with a ladylike bow detail. Black Manolo Bahnik pumps completed the look.




Finally, her raspberry Reem Acra floor length cape-style gown was simply stunning for an evening dinner at Murabba Palace. The color. The cape. The matching shoes and diamond collar. Simple makeup and flowing hair. Perfection in pink.



On to Israel, where our First Lady was poised and polished in white.


The notched hem and collar Karl Lagerfeld jacket and skirt she wore in a photo opp was stylish and sleek and the Michael Kors skirt suit with yet another wide belt that she wore to pay respects at the Wailing Wall was paired with the red and white version of her previously worn zebra print Manolo pumps. Do I sense some signature looks here? Hey, if Kate Middleton can wear the same shoes over and over, Melania can too!




The white hot fashion continued with a sleeveless dress with bands of white and off white made by Serbian-born Roksanda, which the First Lady paired with those same nude pumps to attend a moving memorial service. Roksanda also designed the striking white dress with poof sleeves that Melania wore to the Republican National Convention.


Then, it was off to Europe, a place known for all things fashionable and stylish. The well-traveled Melania however, was more than up for the challenge.


In Italy, she was both reverent and refined yet oh-so chic.


From the moment she landed, donning a custom-made Dolce & Gabbana black coatdress with gold brocade details on the collar and sleeves to the black A-line stunner and loose chignon in her hair upon leaving Italy, Melania was on point and a big hit.




In between, she was elegant in white as she posed with U.S. Army members who she graciously thanked on Instagram for scuttling her and her staff around and showed her playful side as she took selfies in a Rome children’s hospital.




Perhaps her moment though, was the black lace dress, matching lace pumps, and veil she wore to meet Pope Francis. Yes, she covered her head at the Vatican but not in Saudi, and for good reason. Melania is the first practicing Catholic First Lady since Jackie Kennedy, but she is not a practicing Muslim and was “allowed” to not cover her head during her visit to the monarchy. She respects the strict dress codes forced upon Saudi women and was thoughtful in her clothing choices while there, but she also refuses to compromise her own beliefs and pretend to be something she’s not.



Mrs. Trump kept it toned down when she arrived in Brussels in a conservative Michael Kors blue and white gingham belted coat and matching shoes, proving she’s both in style and on trend. She stayed on trend in a blush suit made by Belgian designer Maison Ullens that included her signature wide belt and striped pumps.



Lauded in Saudi for her “classy and conservative choices,” Melania spiced it up a bit in Europe. The burst of color D&G coat she wore in Sicily was anything but boring, while the shimmery silver dress with matching D&G pumps she sparkled in for an evening concert with G7 leaders was a true “I have arrived” statement.




She wasn’t perfect though. I didn’t much care for either the dress or shoes she chose when meeting NATO wives but hey, no one is perfect right?



Melania Trump is basically a quiet and reserved woman who has been thrusted upon the world stage in a big way. But she’s also very smart and worldly. She knows how society works, how the media operates, and how to make the right impression. I feel confident in saying Melania not only proved she can hold her own but that for the next four years (maybe eight), she should also own the fashion pages. Can I get a high five?





A Tough Way to Live May 7, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 6:59 pm

This morning Father Larry said something in his gospel that caught my attention. He mentioned that being a true Christian is probably the hardest life to live. I immediately thought, “No way! Being forced to wear a burka or not being able to drive without my husband’s permission would be way harder than being a Christian!” I also thought about all the polytheistic religions in the world that worship more than one god such as Hinduism and Buddhism, and how difficult it would be for me to believe in more than one god.


But then, as he always does, Father Larry made it all very clear. He went on to explain that the rules of a Christian life often go against today’s way of life. He then suggested we look at the Seven Deadly Sins if we didn’t believe him. Yep, he had me at oh no.


Let’s refresh our memories of those seven sins: lust, greed, gluttony, envy, anger, pride, and sloth. So, if we are to live a true Christian life and follow Christ’s lead, or just be a good person in general really, we are to avoid all of those? Yes, Father Larry, that is quite a challenge. If you don’t agree, you are either living in denial or simply don’t believe.


Most of the seven are fairly self-explanatory, but what about gluttony and sloth? At first thought gluttony conjures up images of large tables of food and people eating to excess. Sloth? I think of that lazy zoo animal. Both, ironically, are somewhat accurate depictions of the sins. Gluttony is basically over-consuming beyond what you really need, food or otherwise, and sloth is not using your talents for good and just being flat out lazy. Yikes. I can be such a sloth!


But moving on, who doesn’t let their anger out, show their self-pride, and get a little too comfy sitting on that couch? Well, probably all of us. Most likely we’ve all also been envious, greedy, and either drank or shopped excessively, right?


And for all my Protestant friends who are pulling out their bibles as they read this, no, there isn’t a comprehensive list of the Seven Deadly Sins in the bible, but if you check out both Proverbs 6:16-19 and Galatians 5:19-21 the list of “sins to guard against” and that “I forewarn you about” are eerily similar.




What is in the bible is the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would want others to do unto you.


So there you have it. Written out. Plain and simple. Clear and concise. Or maybe not.


Father Larry joked about how many of us would probably prefer the unwavering rules in the Old Testament over the more eloquent writings of the New Testament in which Jesus often talks in parables. In the Old Testament we of course have only The 10 Commandments:



Pretty cut and dry, right? Catholics, Protestants, and Judaism all follow these rules handed down to Moses from God and when the great prophet addressed the Israelites before they entered the land of Canaan, he urged them to keep all the commands and to “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road.”


Talking the talk and walking the walk they command can sometimes be challenging and avoiding those seven sins is indeed a hard burden. But, a rewarding one in the end. So what can we do? Maybe turn to 1 Thessalonians 5:14 where it says to “scatter joy!” I love this!



“Comfort those who are scared and help those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.

Always be joyful and always be praying. Scatter joy. This is God’s will.”  Thes. 5:14



Now we’re talking, right? We can all do that!



Maybe it helps to not be so negative about it all and instead think back to the simple WWJD? He would help someone hurting. He would give to someone in need. He would show humility rather than pride. And most of all, He would love.



“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” Saint Teresa of Calcutta



When someone pulls in front of you in traffic, rather than get angry, consider that the woman driving might be a single mom who is rushing home from a 10-hour shift to feed her kids.


That rude waiter just might be a college student working to pay for his classes and is feeling a little overwhelmed.


That homeless person at the intersection is a human being and a person who is hungry and ashamed to be asking strangers for help.


And that elderly person at the grocery store blocking my way down the aisle might be lonely and dealing with multiple health issues. I’m talking to you Carla!


Remember, life’s challenges are designed not to break us, but to bend us toward God.



Another way to go is to pray for the Seven Virtues that overcome the Seven Deadly Sins, which are:


Chastity overcomes lust

Charity overcomes greed

Temperance overcomes gluttony

Love overcomes envy

Patience overcomes anger

Humility overcomes pride

Diligence overcomes sloth


Every day we should pray to be pure, giving, grateful, loving, patient, humble, and enthusiastic. But we will fail. No matter how hard we pray or how hard we try. We are human and we will fail. I fail every day.


But we should never give up. Keep fighting the good fight and focus more on what God thinks of you and less on what others do.



Sadly, today’s world tells us that the more Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat followers we have the more important and better we are. Not only is this just silly, it’s greedy, gluttonous, and a whole lot of prideful. No, we can’t fully fill God’s shoes, but we can follow His footsteps and be followers of Jesus.



There is so much hate in the world right now, and you need look no further than your own Facebook page or internet site. Every day I scroll past posts that insult and offend me and are so full of anger and resentment, but I try not to let them sway me or hurt me. Maybe Saint Teresa of Calcutta said it best when she said, “peace begins with a smile.” Maybe today the best way you can be like Jesus is to just smile.




Waaaay less me and waaaaay more Jesus, right? Yes. God wants to make us like Jesus. Think about it though, does this mean He wants us LIKE Jesus or does He want us to BE like Jesus? I’m guessing both.


I’ll end today with more wisdom from Blessed Saint Teresa of Calcutta, whose following prayer is not only the subject of a wonderful book titled “Anyway,” but should be the goal of all of ours, Christians and non-Christians alike.







Nap Time May 5, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 1:23 am


Can you relate? We fight naps tooth and nail through childhood and then some time around adulthood we long for them. We may squeeze them into our days during college and then start them up again as we hit retirement age, but for the most part, a nap is a thing of the past from about six-years-old on.


Maybe they shouldn’t be.


Study after study shows that a nap can improve mood, energy, alertness, and performance. Some of the world’s greatest thinkers and accomplished humans were big nappers, including Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Napolean, Albert Einstein, Ronald Reagan, and Thomas Edison. Maybe they were on to something.


Not only is napping associated with the benefits listed above, it can lead to improved memory and creativity and the habit of a mid-day rest has been associated with a 37 percent reduction in mortality. The reduction of cardiovascular stress induced by daytime sleep is why. Still, the United States is becoming more and more sleep deprived with more than 40 percent of Americans saying they get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep a night according to a Gallup poll.  Wake up people and realize that a mere 15 minute nap can make a world of difference.


Other places in the world know this, particularly the Mediterranean, Southern Europe, and much of Latin America where “siestas” are common. Originating in Spain, these early afternoon breaks came about not because people were tired, but because they were looking for a way to avoid the scorching mid-afternoon heat, especially during the summer. In countries where siestas are common so are heavy midday meals; another reason for afternoon drowsiness.


I’m sold but not necessarily on board because, as much as I love a good nap and the idea of regularly doing so, I find it hard to just doze off in the middle of the day. My mind reels and I think about the many things I could and should be doing.


Still, I loved that my father-in-law had what my mother-in-law called his “10 Minute Chair,” meaning you got in it and could doze for just a bit. I also stopped in awe when I got home from work the other day and saw my husband and his cousin who was visiting from NY both “head back, mouths open, and sound asleep” on our back patio. At 2:30 in the afternoon. So restful.


It all makes sense when you consider that more than 85 percent of mammalian species are polyphasic sleepers, or sleepers who do so for short periods throughout the day. Much of the animal kingdom falls in this group like the otters on an Alaskan lake I caught resting in Alaska in this photo. Humans, on the otherhand, are monophasic sleepers, meaning days are divided into two distinct periods: one for sleep and one for wakefulness. Ironically, infants enter the world as polyphasic but change to monphasic as toddlers.



Children need their naps. The Univeristy of Colorado discovered that kids who didn’t take an afternoon nap displayed less joy and interest in things around them and had higher levels of anxiety and lower problem-solving skills compared to those who napped regularly. Kids get cranky, right? Well, so do adults.


Truth be told, siestas are becoming fewer and far between among Spain’s adult professional workers, but you will still experience the closing of shops, restaurants, churches, banks, museums and other places of business between 1-5 p.m. in smaller towns. I remember when my sister lived in Spain she had to get used to scheduling her days around the siesta. Imagine all those errands you run every day not available between 1 and 5 p.m. Crazy, right? But like I said, this is also the case in Portugal, the Phillippines, Malta, Costa Rica, Greece, Nigeria, and in Italy where the naps are called “riposo.”


Originating from the Latin “hora sexta,” “siesta” relates to the fact that a day’s hours traditionally begin at dawn so noon, the sixth hour, is the perfect time to rest, as depicted in Barcelona painter Ramon Marti Alsina’s “Las Siesta” painting shown here. Traditional siestas in Spain can last for two hours, but experts recommend short 10-20 minutes naps to improve health and productivity.


It’s those short “power naps” that can prove most beneficial. According to the National Sleep Foundation, these types of catnaps provide improved alertness and performance without leaving you groggy. They also don’t interfere with getting a good night’s sleep. Not all naps are created equal though.


“Planned” napping are those snoozes you take before you actually feel tired. Think napping when you know you’ll be up late or when you want to avoid being tired later for a special event. “Emergency” naps are when you suddenly feel tired and just can’t go on another rminute with sleeping. Lastly, “Habitual” napping is the practice of taking a nap at the same time each day.


If you want to integrate the practice of napping during the day, make sure you have a comfy and restful place to do so. This would include limiting the amount of distracting noise and bright lights. Timing your nap is just as imperative. If you try to do so too early in the day, your body may not be ready for sleep but if you take a nap too late in the day, it might affect nighttime sleep patterns; a big no-no!


A nap longer than 20 minutes long is not recommended if your goal is to improve alertness and production because snoozing for any longer will result in just the opposite. It’s called sleep inertia, which is that feeling of grogginess and even disorientation when you wake up from a deep sleep. We all know the feeling. You say “I’m just going to shut my eyes for a bit” but then find yourself sound asleep in bed, unable to get up and get going. This is because when you wake up from a nap lasting longer than 20 minutes or so, you do so just as your body was starting to enter a deep stage of sleep. You don’t want to go into that deep sleep; you merely want to relax.


This was proven in a study by the research journal “Sleep” that examined the benefits of napping. The results showed that a 10-minute nap was most beneficial in reducing sleepiness and improving cognitive performance but a nap lasting 30 minutes or longer was more likely to result in sleep inertia.



Naps aren’t for everyone though. I can think of several friends and family members off the top of my head who I can’t ever imagine napping during the day. You know who you are and you shall remain nameless!


I think of them mostly because they are solid Type A personalities who can’t sit still or just live extremely busy lives. In addition to these types, napping isn’t for someone who has trouble sleeping any place other than their own bed or someone who simply has trouble sleeping during the day. Naps are not necessary or mandatory. If they don’t appeal to you, no biggie.


Those who do revel in naps report the reduction of mistakes and accidents in their work place and researchers say regular nappers also gain psychological benefits like relaxation; rejuvenation; and the feeling that your brain is being rebooted, refreshed, and, in the words of the tech sphere, defragged. Think of a nap as a way of “cleaning” your brain’s “cache” and “deleting cookies.” Some even equate them to taking a mini-vacation or experiencing a pleasant luxury.


Corporate America is listening.




Where as sleeping on the job was once a major taboo, today more and more companies are not only encouraging it, they are providing places to get it.


Zappos, Ben & Jerry’s, and Google all offer in-house napping rooms with Google’s being a futuristic lounge with womb-like chairs that boast built in soothing sounds. At athletic giant Nike’s Portland headquarters, employees have access to quiet rooms where they can nap, meditate, or just relax.


A lack of sleep costs the U.S. $63 billion a year in lost productivity and 29 percent of American workers say they have fallen asleep at work. Smart companies like these aren’t turning a blind eye to some office hours shut eye and are instead embracing the idea of napping during office hours.


Perhaps former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan said it best when she siad, “Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and they lay down on our blankets for a nap.”


I’m in. Are you?






Met Gala Fashion Follow Up May 3, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 1:40 am

I’m not sure how many of you watched last night’s Red Carpet arrivals to the Met Gala and I’m pretty over celebrities as a whole but I watched, because…fashion. The Met Gala is an A-list fundraiser that benefits New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute but in recent years it’s morphed into a star-studded “bring out your most dramatic and innovative fashion” event. Think more Star Trek meets the MTV Awards then the Oscars.


Each year there is a theme around which the fashion is supposed to revolve, and this year it was avant-garde Japanese fashion designer Rei Kawakubo. The annual event is held the first Monday in May, which is also the name of an entertaining docu-film and if nothing else, it’s eye-opening.



It’s where Taylor Swift showed us her punk side



Rhianna wowed us in yellow



Beyoncé dropped the fashion mic in latex



Ivanka Trump stole the show in cobalt blue



And in 2004 it’s where her dad proposed to current First Lady Melania


But those are so previous years. What about last night?



Here are my Best and Worst Dressed attendees:


South African Supermodel Candice Swanepoel brought the drama is this stunning black gown by UK retailer Topshop. I was both impressed and surprised by how many other attendees wore Topshop creations.



Vogue Editor and Met Gala queen bee Anna Wintour was sparkly and festive in this Chanel complete with tulle and feathers. So unlike her and I liked it! She’s even smiling!



I remember watching a young Blake Lively in “Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants” and thinking, “Wow! She’s gorgeous and should be a star!” Well, hell-oh stardom! Lively was regal in this gold and feather-trained Versace. And her earrings? Flawlessly cobalt. Perfection.




I’m not usually a fan of most anything that “actress” and model Emily Ratajkowski wears as it’s normally way too much Emily and way too little fabric, but this shimmering turqouise Marc Jacobs sheeth was fabulous. Simple meet spectacular.



Julia Roberts’ niece Emma did her aunt proud in this red Diane von Furstenberg. I love the peek-a-boo lace inserts beneath the straps and I loved the red lining of her bubblegum pink stole.



Karlie Kloss in this Carolina Hererra short take on a tuxedo is a bit too low cut for me but I would die to be able to wear it, albeit with a little less plunge. Those legs! Those shoes! That hair!



Reese Witherspoon pushed her traditional style limits in this one sleeve, thigh high, black and blue Mugler and I love it. It’s sassy, stylish, and stunning.



Model Taylor Hill in this custom burgandy Carolina Herrera is breathtaking. I think Taylor is so beautiful and if I could have any one designer dress me, it would be Carolina Herrera. What’s not to love here?!



Actress Zoey Deutch dazzled in this clean and chic Tory Burch with oh-so-trendy flounced sleeves. I loved that she paired the traditional look with modern disk-shaped earrings and that Burch is proving herself on the Red Carpet.



Now for the Worst…


Let’s start with the “It” Girls…Bella, Kendall, and Kylie.


We get it Bella, you’re stunning. We also get that when you have to witness this cuteness between your Ex and Selena Gomez, you opt for an attention-getting cat suit and try to bring it. Maybe next time don’t try so hard. And is it just me, or do they have the same hairstyles? Awkward. Selena -2. Bella – 0.




Next up, Kendall and Kyle. It pains me to write about any K family member (and I’m purposely not including their older half-sister because her white dress was …yawn…underwhelming) but I’m the first to admit Kendall is a natural beauty and in that family, natural is hard to come by. Still, her barely anything La Perla number was swooned over as was Kylie’s Versace. Kendall’s “gown” fit like a tee and fits right in with La Perla’s famed undies line and the fact that her bootie was out there to be seen by all was just unnecessary. The top model’s younger and uber-surgically-enhanced sister’s flesh colored mesh gown seemed to wash her out, as did her blonde wig.




Katy Perry looked so ridic I don’t even know where to start. Maybe just start over.



Zendaya is a very pretty young girl but it sometimes seems like she’s still trying to prove herself as anything but the reason Giuliana Rancic tarnished her Fashion Police hostess crown. IMHO this hideously-hued gown won’t help her case. I keep hoping but the fashion verdict is still out on her.



Anytime I see Lena Dunham I think “ick” and this only makes that a capital “Ick.” Girl gone wrong.



Ri-Ri, you always bring it but I just can’t bring my head around this one. I don’t even like the lace-up sandals.



Is this a case of “we really don’t give a flip” or was the dress code really “Coachella goes glam?” Either way, I don’t blame Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson for not smiling. I’d frown too if I had to wear either of those get ups.



And for the worst of the worst I bring you Madonna. Can someone please tell this aging woman to grow up and quit begging for attention? A grill and a camo dress? Please. Maybe it’s time someone blows up her fashion choices.



I always have some “on the fence” choices, and here are my Met Gala ones:


I loved the idea of Cara Delevingne’s dazzling Chanel pantsuit and I’m obsessed with her silver stilettos, but something is just not right here. Maybe it’s the hair. Was it too much? Maybe it’s the plunge. It was definitely too much. Still, there’s hope. And it’s Chanel.



Kate Hudson’s one-shoulder white Stella McCartney is probably one of my favorites on her but I’m not sure about the matching hair. I like the top knot but am still shaking my head. Maybe it’s because I’m not her biggest fan. Still, the dress is killer.



I like the idea of trench coat gown, and have long swooned over this Ralph Lauren gown from previous years:


But for some reason Priyanka Chopra’s custom Lauren just didn’t seem right. Maybe if it had been in black. Yeah, that would have worked.



As for couples who worked it, here’s the best dressed:


Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen, Selena Gomez and The Weeknd, and Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriquez.



Bundchen looked every bit her super model self in this silver, open back Stella McCartney, but who wouldn’t look dazzling with Tom Brady on their arm?



If anything says the opposite of a black cat suit, it’s Gomez’ simple and serene Coach dress. On a Red Carpet filled with “look at me, look at me” drama, sometimes less is more.



JLo for once covered up and looked every bit as breathtaking as a princess in this lovely blue Valentino that screamed “old school glam.” On a Red Carpet filled with young girls, sometimes it pays to dress your age. Are you listening Madonna?


And that’s a wrap. Let me know whose dresses you loved and whose you loathed. Did I miss anyone? Did I mislabel anyone? I love hearing your opinions!