No matter the season, one of my favorite items to shop for are dresses. From minis to maxis, there's always a range of lengths and styles that are a must-have when adding to your wardrobe. This year is all about stylishly bold looks no matter the occasion. While being restricted to sweatpants and t-shirts for over a year, I'm excited to get my sexy back with casual yet timeless pieces that can be worn in steady rotation.
As I get older, I'm becoming more in tune with my feminine side, adding all types of dresses to my wardrobe. Not only am I opening up to a range of new looks, it's the ease that comes with throwing on a dress and boots this season. I'm loving both classic yet conservative chic options that are still bold and fun at the same time. On my list of must-haves are styles and silhouettes I can wear both day and night since I'm all about getting the most wear out of my fashion purchases.
As I've scoured the internet for inspiration, I couldn't get past these looks for fall that should be on everyone's radar.
1.The Blazer Dress
The blazer dress speaks for itself and many different women from all walks of life. No matter your personal style, you can rock a blazer dress while making it your own. Pair with a boot, sneaker, or slay in your sexiest wrap-around heel for a range of looks. What I love most are the non-traditional blazers like this belted wrap dress. The cinched waist adds an elevated element that's perfect to transition from day to night.
2.The Mighty Maxi
When I think of fall fashion, I think of maxi dresses. The color of this knit maxi dress and contrasting black buttons is everything a fashion girl needs and more. Pair with a flat or heeled boot and a contrasting bag to cure your winter blues.
3.The Layered Corset
For a sleek night out, a corset dress is definitely on the top of my list for head-turning looks when on the town. If in need of a cute daytime look, layering a strapless dress with a long-sleeve button-up underneath is a chic balance of conservative and sexy. As we've entered into fall, a layered look is also a great way of enhancing your summer wardrobe.
4.The Casual Knit
I love a casual long-sleeved knit dress mainly for its versatility. Dressed up or down, with either heels or sneakers and you'll get plenty of wear throughout the cold weather seasons. The length of this knit dress is perfect for those that want a less conservative yet casual take vs a traditional knit maxi dress. When shopping, look out for styles with trending colors and textured prints for an eye-catching take on this classic dress style.
5.The Satin Number
The satin slip dress is indeed a go-to for every woman, no matter her age. Typically worn during the spring/summer months, a great way to transition this dress is by simply pairing a matching blazer or jacket for an extra layer. I'm loving this monochromatic hot pink maxi look accessorized with dramatic jewels and a printed zebra bag for an ultimate fashion-forward fall moment.
To get your fashion fix and to stay up to date with the latest trends, check out the xoNecole Style section here.
Featured image by @dessalexandria/Instagram
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How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
As I move through life and experience different highs and lows, one thing that has become increasingly clear is the importance of self-love and self-worth. Now, I’m not saying it’s always easy, but I do feel like if it’s in a good place, people experience life more fully. And when it comes to love, my friend Amanda Wicks and her husband, Will Ford, are the perfect example.
Amanda may not remember this, but years ago, on one of her many visits back to Atlanta (we both went to Clark Atlanta University), she sat across from me at a dinner table and declared she was done looking for love. She was happy with who she was, and while she still desired it, it was no longer something she was chasing. “If it happens, it happens,” she said. The statement was so bold it made me quickly reroute our usual dating story catch-ups and awkwardly move to a different topic.
Well, the next time we met up, she told me she had met someone and was moving to Houston to live with him. Imagine my surprise and concern. Later, I’d find out that this decision, like so many other elements of their relationship, flowed naturally and organically. Their whole partnership has been full of peace and vulnerability.
Fast forward to today’s conversation, they’re still living together, celebrating four years of marriage, and planning to create a family. And while this stage of their story sounds generally normal, the way they got there is nothing but. Check out the "How We Met" feature below to see how a couple who never spoke on the phone and lived in different states ended up in a loving marriage full of ease, art, and authenticity.
Photo courtesy of Amanda Wicks and Will Ford
Walk me through your ‘How We Met’ story.
Amanda: We met on Instagram (laughs). He followed me first, and I followed back because he does art, and I was intrigued by that. Honestly, we followed each other for a while before we connected. But I remember one day I saw a post where he had on a Martin t-shirt that I liked, and that sparked our conversation. He ended up telling me he made the shirt and actually mailed me one. So when I got it, I made a post wearing it, and that’s where the conversation started. Since that day we’ve communicated every day since.
Will: Yeah, I initially saw her on a short-hair Instagram page and followed her because I thought she was attractive. I actually showed her to my co-workers on one of our monthly outings as an example of my “type” – something I had never done. But one thing I will say is, I noticed she had on a Nina Simone shirt in one of her photos, that’s what got me. It showed she had more depth.
I guess that answers my next question. Did you have an initial attraction to each other?
Will: (Laughs) Yeah, I did.
Amanda: For me, no. I just wasn’t looking at him through that lens. I didn’t follow him because he was attractive. I don’t follow people online because of that. I actually remember a time when we were going back and forth, and I was like, “Aye, you kinda cute.” It was a specific moment. Once I started looking through his page more often, I started to view him that way, but it still was more of an acknowledgment. We really connected primarily because of our creative interests.
So, how did it go to the next level?
Amanda: I was in Nashville, and he was in Houston. But I’m somebody where if I feel like doing something, I’m going to do it. I had been meaning to go to Houston for a while to see a friend, so I felt like it was the perfect combination of a circumstance. We had been talking a lot, and I knew I liked him as a person and really wanted to meet him, but of course, I was aware of the idea that it could blossom into more. I remember I sent him a text saying, “Would you think I was crazy if I pulled up to Houston?”
Photo courtesy of Amanda Wicks and Will Ford
What was your reply? Did you think she was crazy?
Will: In my mind, I was like, I don’t know. (Laughs) I wanted her to, though, so I wasn’t going to say yeah. It was a little wild, but I encouraged it.
Okay, so tell me about the date.
Amanda: I don’t know if you’d call it our first “date,” but the first time we met, we went to a skating rink. I was a little nervous about meeting him in person. Like, what if we don’t have chemistry – that was in the back of my head a little. But I brought my friend with me as a buffer, and thank God I did because he was so quiet the whole night. I literally can’t think of one thing he said the entire time. But the saving grace was that we had built a rapport. We reconnected the following night and were together until 5 a.m. – just sitting there talking. We ended up spending the whole weekend together.
Will: I’m socially awkward if I don’t know you. Also, before the date, I didn’t know what she sounded like or anything because, that’s another thing, we hadn’t talked on the phone. (They both really don’t like phone calls, so everything was through texts at this point.) I guess I could say I was kinda nervous, too. I had never met someone through social media, and then here I was, meeting her in person at a skating rink. I hadn’t skated in years, I was hoping I didn’t fall. But we had just been talking so much that I was open to it.
What made you want to take that risk?
Will: She has a level of authenticity that I’ve never seen in any other woman before, and once I saw her, it solidified that. I knew I wanted her around.
Amanda: I don’t think it was anything specific. It’s not hard for me to connect with people. But there were no red flags. We align across the board. That was different. We really connect on how we see the world.
"She has a level of authenticity that I’ve never seen in any other woman before, and once I saw her, it solidified that. I knew I wanted her around."
Photo courtesy of Amanda Wicks and Will Ford
Out of curiosity, what are your love languages?
Amanda: I connect with all of them. I think it just depends on what I’ve been lacking. I appreciate words of affirmation because I’m so big on actions that I like those bold statements of love, and of course, I appreciate quality time. The older I get, the more I appreciate physical touch, but that’s not something I need. With receiving gifts, I like thoughtfulness, and I like giving thoughtful gifts, too. But acts of service is for sure my biggest one. I love when someone considers me and makes my life easier. That speaks to me most.
"I love when someone considers me and makes my life easier. That speaks to me most."
Will: I think it all depends on how I’m feeling, too. But probably also acts of service. I like how Amanda will buy me deodorant when I run out (laughs). She just does so much all the time to show that I’m thought of.
At what point in your connection did y’all have the “what are we” conversation?
Will: I don’t think we ever had that convo. We never defined anything, we just kinda went with how it was going. However, I knew I wanted it to be more serious when I went to visit her. She had been coming to Houston once a month, and I went to Florida (she was there for work) to see her. I realized I felt comfortable coming into her space, too. That gave me that last little bit of whatever I needed.
Amanda: Yeah, I can’t say I had a defined moment like that. But again, as we had more and more interactions, there were just no red flags. The more we thought about it, the more we realized no matter where we went relationship-wise, we were adamant about being a part of each other’s lives. We never had the “talking to other people” conversation or anything. But we did both understand we weren’t going anywhere. Eventually, it graduated to convos around building a life together, but even that was over six months in. I just liked him as a person.
Have there been any negative revelations that your partnership and marriage have taught you about yourself?
Amanda: I’ve always felt that partnership is supposed to make the other person’s life easier. For me, it was a struggle to let someone help me in all the ways I didn’t really know I needed help. As I started having less capacity, I had to realize that it doesn't work anymore. It was hard for me to acknowledge and ask for help. I think that’s something I am still coming to terms with, even with other relationships in my life.
Will: I think I’m learning and still learning how to get out of my head. I’m the kind of person who always has to visualize stuff before it happens. And this relationship is the first thing that I don’t do that with. Of course, we plan stuff, but I know it’s gonna be good regardless. It allows me to stay in the moment. If I can do that with this, which is the most important thing to me, why can’t I do that with other things?
Photo courtesy of Amanda Wicks and Will Ford
What challenges have you faced together?
Will: For me, the preconceived challenge was living together. I’ve never lived with a woman before. Even in my previous relationship, it was long-distance. I’m also the type of person that likes my space, but as soon as she got here, that was out the window. It was so smooth it made me feel stupid for questioning it.
Amanda: I’m grateful to say we don’t necessarily have challenges between each other together. But we have been struggling with infertility and health issues. Our biggest challenge thus far is trying to get pregnant. Even articulating that makes me realize I’m grateful it hasn’t caused a rift between us. I think we have been able to face it in a healthy way. But that’s an example of how having someone else there can be helpful. I was so functional as a full-blown individual doing everything by myself.
So, in my head, I don’t need anyone, but having someone there who is happy to support me has taught me it’s okay to welcome that. It’s made us stronger because it’s taught us how we both function under duress – it’s good to know it’s not terrible (laughs).
"Our biggest challenge thus far is trying to get pregnant. Even articulating that makes me realize I’m grateful it hasn’t caused a rift between us. I think we have been able to face it in a healthy way."
What are some of the shared values that are important to your relationship?
Will: How we see life, what we’re here for, and how you’re supposed to treat people. It sounds really simple, but it’s not as common as you think.
Amanda: We value being really good people – without strings. We both don’t value money, but we value stability. So we don’t have to endure the “why are you not hustling” arguments. We were both stable people individually, and we came together. Also, we both value meaningful connections, alone time, reflection, and family. That guides us in what we do and how we build a life.
Finally, what is your favorite thing about each other?
Amanda: I’ll say one of my favorite things about him is that he’s brilliant. I view myself as a smart person, but in my head, he can do what I’m doing ten times faster. There are times I want to push myself to do stuff, and I’ll just ask him because I know he can do it. It’s incredible.
Will: My favorite thing about her is how people see her. Being a witness to how important she is to other people’s lives is amazing. Standing to the side and seeing how she affects them is really special.
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Feature image courtesy of Amanda Hicks and Will Ford
Dating can be a complicated journey, especially if you are someone who was never taught how to date. It serves various purposes for different people, but two distinct approaches stand out: dating for practice and dating with the intention of marriage.
Understanding the difference between these two approaches can help individuals navigate the world of romance more effectively.
Should We Be Dating for Practice?
As a dating coach for women of color for the past 13 years, I tell my clients all the time that dating is an opportunity for practice. Dating for practice is often characterized by meeting new people, broadening your horizons, and enjoying the process of getting to know others without the immediate intention of tying the knot.
This less pressurized environment is a prime opportunity to learn about yourself, your preferences, and your values in a relationship. By interacting with diverse individuals, you discover what traits, interests, and personalities resonate with you!
Dating for practice and without immediate commitment allows you to take your time and make informed choices. There's no pressure to rush into a serious commitment, and it's acceptable to date multiple people concurrently to find the BEST person for YOU. Dating, like parenting, brings up all of your ‘ish’ to the surface, which gives you the opportunity to heal it (without serious repercussions).
Any unresolved inner child wounds, lack of boundaries, and fear of vulnerability can be examined and changed by using dating experiences to explore the parts of ourselves that we don’t normally acknowledge.
Charles Olu-Alabi/Getty Images
The Argument for Dating for Marriage
“I’m dating with intention (marriage)” is something you’ve probably heard often if you’ve been in the dating scene for a while. While it sounds great, there are some potential pitfalls that you may want to avoid. The aim of dating for marriage is clear: to establish a committed relationship that may lead to marriage. Conversations about the future, family, and life goals are often on the table from the start, which brings a level of clarity to the courtship.
By being goal-oriented, most people dating for marriage will stick to dating longer. This is important because dating is a marathon, not a sprint. The longer you are dating, the more successful you will be. The downside of being goal-oriented is that some will be so focused on getting married that they will overlook some serious red flags because they want to be married so badly and end up in horrible relationships.
Dating for marriage requires a level of selectivity to know what you want, which is great. The downside is that what you want is maybe not what you need.
As someone who helps women get into amazing relationships every week, most of the time (90-95%), their partner doesn’t look like what they imagined, but they feel the way they always imagined. Individuals hyper-focused on marriage may be eliminating people who would be good partners for them because they don’t align with their pre-existing vision of marriage.
Zia Soleil/Getty Images
How Do We Balance Dating for Practice With Dating for Marriage?
It is important to remember that these two dating approaches aren’t mutually exclusive, and people often shift between them as their life circumstances and personal preferences evolve. My recommendation is to combine both and date with strategy!
Dating with strategy looks like:
- Dating online and offline to give yourself the best chance of finding love
- Date without expectations – 97% of people you talk to won’t make it past date three
- Having a phone date before going on a physical date
- Getting clear on your needs (based on what you didn’t get from your parents), not just wants (based on what looks good)
- Widening your net and evaluating potential mates based on your new clarified needs
- Practice your vulnerability (sharing feelings) and boundaries (expressing desires) often
Dating for practice and dating for marriage are two distinct approaches to romantic relationships, each with its unique merits and intentions. The key is to have a dating strategy with your personal goals and values, ensuring that you are on a path that feels right for you at any given stage of your life.
Ultimately, dating is about personal growth and building meaningful connections, regardless of the specific goals you set.
Coach Anwar is a certified dating and relationship coach who has 13 years of experience helping Black and brown women date with strategy, meet relationship-ready men, and get into the best relationship of their lives.
Featured image by Lorado/Getty Images