At the start of each season, I browse the net to get an idea of the latest styles and trends to look out for when adding to my closet. When shopping, not only do I love items that are hot for the moment but mainly those that I can keep in rotation year after year. I especially look for styles that are both modern and classic, giving off an effortlessly timeless vibe.
Within the last year, I've added essentials to my wardrobe that are still key items for my everyday looks. Options like button down long sleeves to block heeled calf boots, there are plenty of ways to build a functional yet chic wardrobe. Here are a few more fall essentials that you can keep in rotation not only this year but into the next.
The Ultimate Trench + Leather Trousers
First and foremost, everyone should own a trench coat. No matter your location, a trench coat is the ideal situation when in need of a perfect fall/winter coat. Whether a 90's dad style or ultra chic faux leather, this addition to your rotation is so necessary. I opted for a sleek longline trench coat paired with matching leather pants. For a super casual day, sneakers are a must. Dressed up or down, I can't wait to experiment with more looks to come.
A Blazer in Every Color + Wide Leg Denim
Blazers are a personal favorite when creating looks this fall and just about any other time of the year. I truly aspire to have one in every color. With a world of endless looks when opting to layer, blazers are a staple investment. No matter your style, this is another great wardrobe essential for every wardrobe this season. Pair with a wide leg denim jean for an everyday fall look.
More Knits + Calf Boots
I'm extremely excited about all the knitted looks this season defining what it means to be cute and comfortable. If sticking to the classics, go with a traditional knit like a neutral sweater dress complimented with a chain belt for a perfectly snatched waist. Add a matching calf boot to complete this super casual chic look.
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 Shahirah Ahmed/xoNecole
This post is in partnership with Amgen.
The seemingly simple task of taking a breath is something most of us don’t think twice about. But for people who live with severe asthma, breathing does not always come easily. Asthma, a chronic respiratory condition that inflames and narrows the airways in the lungs, affects millions of people worldwide – 5-10% of which live with severe asthma. Severe asthma is a chronic and lifelong condition that is unpredictable and can be difficult to manage. Though often invisible to the rest of the world, severe asthma is a not-so-silent companion for those who live with it, often interrupting schedules and impacting day-to-day life.
Among the many individuals who battle severe asthma, Black women face a unique set of challenges. It's not uncommon for us to go years without a proper diagnosis, and finding the right treatment often requires some trial and error. Thankfully, all hope is not lost for those who may be fighting to get their severe asthma under control. We spoke with Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq. and Jania Watson, two inspiring Black women who have been living with severe asthma and have found strength, resilience, and a sense of purpose in their journeys.
Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq.
Juanita Ingram has a resume that would make anyone’s jaw drop. On top of being recently crowned Mrs. Universe, she’s also an accomplished attorney, filmmaker, and philanthropist. From the outside, it seems there’s nothing this talented woman won’t try, and likely succeed at. In her everyday life, however, Juanita exercises a lot more caution. From a young age, Juanita has struggled with severe asthma. Her symptoms were always exacerbated by common illnesses like a cold or flu. “I've heard these stories of my breathing struggles, but I remember distinctly when I was younger not being able to breathe every time I got a virus,” says Ingram. “I remember missing a lot of school and crying a lot because asthma is painful. I [was taken] to see my doctor often if I got sick with anything so I was hypervigilant as a child, and I still am.”
Today, Juanita says her symptoms are best managed when she’s working closely with her care team, avoiding getting sick and staying ahead of any symptoms. Ingram said she’s been blessed with skilled doctors who are just as vigilant of her symptoms as she is. While competing in the Mrs. Universe competition, Juanita took extra care to stay clear of other competitors to ensure she didn’t catch a cold or virus that would trigger her severe asthma. “I would stand off to the side and sometimes that could be taken as ‘oh, she thinks she's better than everybody else.’ But if I get sick during a pageant, I'm done. I had to compete with that in mind because my sickness doesn't look like everybody else's sickness.”
Even when her symptoms are under control, living with severe asthma still presents challenges. Juanita relies on her strong support system to overcome the hurdles caused by a lack of understanding from the public, “I think that there's a lot of lack of awareness about how serious severe asthma is. I would [also] tell women to advocate and to trust their intuition and not to allow someone to dismiss what you're experiencing.”
Jania, a content creator from Atlanta, Georgia, has been living with severe asthma for many years. Thanks to early testing by asthma specialists, Jania was diagnosed with severe asthma as a child after experiencing frequent flare-ups and challenges in her day-to-day life. “I specifically remember, I was starting school, and we were moving into a new house. One of the triggers for me and my younger sister at the time were certain types of carpets. We had just moved into this new house and within weeks of us being there, my parents literally had to pay for all new carpet in the house.”
As Jania grew older, she was suffering from fewer flare-ups and thought her asthma was well under control. However, a trip back to her doctor during high school revealed that her severe asthma was affecting her more than she realized. “That was the first time in a long time I had to do a breathing test,” she describes. “The doctor had me take a deep breath in and blow into a machine to test my breathing. They told me to blow as hard as I could. And I was doing it. I was giving everything I got. [My dad and the doctor] were looking at me like ‘girl, stop playing.’ And at that point [it confirmed] I still have severe asthma because I've given it all I got. It doesn't really go away, but I just learned how to help manage it better.”
Jania recognizes that people who aren’t living with asthma, may not understand the disease and mistake it for something less serious. Or there could be others who think their symptoms are minor, and not worth bringing up. So, for Jania, communicating with others about her diagnosis is key. “Having severe asthma [flare-ups] in some cases looks very similar to being out of shape,” she said. “But this is a chronic illness that I was born with. This is just something that I live with that I've been dealing with. And I think it's important for people to know because that determines the next steps. [They might ask] ‘Do you need a bottle of water, or do you need an inhaler? Do you need to take a break, or do we need to take you to the hospital?’ So, I think letting the people around you know what's going on, just in case anything were to happen plays a lot into it as well.”
Like Juanita, Jania’s journey has been marked by ups and downs, but she remains an unwavering advocate for asthma awareness and support within the Black community. She hopes that her story can be an inspiration to other women with asthma who may not yet have their symptoms under control. “There's still life to be lived outside of having severe asthma. It is always going to be there, but it's not meant to stop you from living your life. That’s why learning how to manage it and also having that support system around you, is so important.”
By sharing their journeys, Juanita and Jania hope to encourage others to embrace their conditions, obtain a proper management plan from a doctor or asthma specialist like a pulmonologist or allergist, and contribute to the improvement of asthma awareness and support, not only within the Black community, but for all individuals living with severe asthma.
Read more stories from others like Juanita and Jania on Amgen.com, or visit Uncontrolled Asthma In Black Women | BREAK THE CYCLE to find support and resources.
I know it’s an unpopular opinion these days, but I still like setting goals for the New Year. I think it gives you a tangible reason to revisit old desires and achieve new ones. That’s why every year on NYE, I write down my aspirations for the next 365 days on a whiteboard in my bedroom – that way, it stares me in my face, and I’m forced to be held accountable. But this year, something stuck out to me: improving my finances had made the top of the list – again. That’s when it dawned on me. I need more of a financial plan. “Saving better and making more” wasn’t making enough of an impact. That’s why I’m so grateful for women like Cynthia Smith and her vulnerability. Because when you know better, you do better.
Cynthia Smith is a renowned financial expert, business coach, serial entrepreneur, and author of Untangling the Ledger. The self-made millionaire started her tax service with only $500, and today, she’s made up to $100,000 a month through varied business efforts. But as expected, she had a plan for every dollar she made, and it was a journey.
“Before taxes, I worked in oil and gas. I’ve been making six figures since I was 26 years old, but I had poor money-managing skills. Also, I had twins at 18. So, anything they wanted, they got,” she admitted. “But as I got older, I realized I wanted to do more, so I had to stop spending so much to allow my bank account to grow. I positioned my mind to get uncomfortable with over-spending. As a people, we don’t teach money management, and it’s important.”
While she’s unique in the sense that her 9-to-5 allowed her to live generally comfortably, she still enjoyed doing taxes as her side hustle. Cynthia comically shared how she’d initially meet people at coffee shops to use the free wifi. But, like many, her main source of income started to come at the expense of her peace. “I recall being on my last project, and it was a hard project to be on because there were so many egos. I started to feel like why am I here? I had a successful business, but my job was my crutch,” she explained.
Once she became a full-time tax accountant, she started to experience extreme highs and lows and learned quite a bit along the way. “Some people look on the outside and don’t realize the hard work. There were nights I cried and nights I had to make payroll when I was still working,” she said. “At some points, I’ve had a $10k payroll, along with a mortgage, and still had to support my twins.”
There’s also been struggles she’s endured throughout the company’s process. “My business is predominantly women, and we usually get along well. But I had one messy situation. There’s been times where I could’ve been a better leader or manager or explained components better,” she confessed. “Now, when we’re together, we’re family, but I also don’t allow anyone to put holes in my ship.”
In addition to her accountability and hard work, Cynthia credits varied streams of income and responsible spending to her financial success. “I wasn’t strict in the past. But I started budgeting in 2017. The twins were in college so I had to change how I was spending, and I maintained that discipline. Now, as an empty-nester, I spend less. I don’t purchase large items every day.” Today, Cynthia owns her tax office, tax franchise, a tax software, skincare line, and teaches taxes. In their entirety, the tax offices have roughly 8,000 clients.
She also differs from a lot of her peers in how she invests. Most of her investments are primarily into her own endeavors, like the skincare line and tax software – not stocks and bonds. “When it comes to anything, I like to see a fast turnaround. I like to see where it’s going; I don’t like to wait. I made over $1 million in less than six months,” she said. “It may not be the right way, but that’s how I operate. However, I maxed out my sons’ 401k. I’ve seen the market go up and down, but that’s one of my favorite things I took from my oil and gas job.”
When asked what other financial tips she has for our readers, she mentioned the importance of credit and budgeting. “Instead of using my own cash, I use credit cards. Get one with points. For my birthday, I took my boys and my baby sister to Vegas. All of their trips and vacations were paid for by points,” she explained. She also encouraged eating in and being very specific with your budgeting spreadsheet. “For 2024, forget the outside. You don’t have to be in the in-crowd. Walk your journey. Read the fine print, and block out the outside noise. Focus on you and growing and learning yourself and passion.”
She continued, “My money mantra is to ask God to do exceedingly above all that I ask for and make me a good stewardess over my family. I put God first, and I know it’s nothing but him that keeps me going. Looking into the future, her goal is to become bill-free and have little overhead. “When I reach 50, I don’t wanna worry about my mortgage, and I want to retire.”
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