How To Own The Room This Season, No Matter The Party Or Event

Say goodbye to the casual chic summer vibes and hello to the glitz and glamour of the fall/winter season.

Life & Travel

It's that time of year again, when the casual chic energy of too-hot summers takes a backseat to the deliberate effortlessly sexy, cool that segues with the brisk front of autumn and winter. The glitz and glamour that events like weddings, countless holiday parties, themed dinners and friendsgivings, and ringing in the new year calls for an extra dose of regality. Thus, it's high time to step your style game up. After all, fashion may fade but style is forever.

This year and every year, radiating "fabulous" energy should be a forever mood, no matter the event or occasion.

For "The Perfect Guest" Styled Shoot, Atlanta-based vendors came together to create magic that told a story and will hopefully inspire you to make a statement regardless of what room you happen to enter as a guest while also giving you pointers on how to throw the get-together of a lifetime as a host. Styled by Jasmene Bowdry of SHIFT StyleHouse, we were invited to journey through three parties at the W Hotel Atlanta - Midtown: a resort chic party, a girls' night party, and black tie affair.

Taking cues from the attire and venues, Michelle Gainey of Lemiga Events designed three very distinct celebrations that are beautiful and adapt easy to details. Photographed by Mecca Gamble McConnell, she captures models Amer Woods, Eric Ryles, Russell Wendell, Maya Elious, Kimberly Cherrell, and Quiana and Anthony Watson in this impeccable styled shoot. Let's elevate and turn up!

Resort Chic

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

Resort chic style is casual and breezy, but plenty chic.

WET at W Atlanta - Midtown is a rooftop pool with views of the Atlanta skyline, private cabanas and chaise lounges. Being inspired by the outdoors and clear blue pool, Michelle designed this space using greens, whites, and golds with pops of blues.

The party continued into the Living Room's Forbidden Garden where the luxe space seamlessly transitions from inside to the patio with a unique wrap around bar.

"We created a backdrop using white and gold balloons with monstera leaves for guests to snap photos in between fresh cocktails and delicious light fare," says Michelle. This resort chic party would be perfect for an afternoon with friends that's equal parts swank and relaxing.

"I attend and shoot a lot of parties and events in the summer and fall seasons and noticed that the guests enjoy getting dressed up just as much as the hosts! I love seeing the attendees enjoy the venue's ambience and interact with any Instagrammable backgrounds and any fun props, food or activities included at the event. They always make for fun and authentic event photos," says photographer, Mecca Gamble McConnell. Always remember to clean your phone's camera of fingerprints and take the time to find good light and the best angle. Don't be afraid to practice in the mirror at home.

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

outdoor rooftop party decor

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

outdoor rooftop party decor

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell


Russell Wendell

Eric Ryles

Amer Woods

Girls' Night Cocktail Party

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

There's nothing like a night out with your girls, dressed up with your favorite pair of heels. The goal was to design the ultimate girls' night cocktail party with exciting colors, plenty of patterns, and unique accessories.

The setting of the W Atlanta - Midtown's Living Room provided the perfect bohemian backdrop and for event planner Michelle, it was exactly what the doctor ordered. "Plush velvet seating in an intimate setting surrounded by collections of art, animals, and books gave plenty of eye candy," she shared. "My favorite element was the Hidden Lounge where we created a vibrant balloon display in shades of pink with pops of gold. I love creating surprises for guests at our events, which make for unforgettable memories."

Based on the setting of choice, the stylist of the shoot Jasmene Bowdry felt like themes that echoed versatility, class, and femininity were in order. She revealed, "Living coral, the pantone color of the year, is vibrant and embraces warmth and comfort. The caped jumpsuit look is perfect for events where you may have to showcase the 'boss chick' vibe while still retaining a little sexiness. Finally, green is a perfect color for late summer/ fall parties where you want to stand out like a gem and be seen!"

Makeup artist Robin Hill, who did the makeup for the models in both the Resort Chic shoot and the Cocktail Night shoot, believes the key to a bomb makeup look is timelessness and staying power. "My favorite go-to products for the perfect glow and long-wearing foundation is Estée Lauder's Double Wear Foundation, Skin Glass by Noorface, and I can't forget my favorite nude, Velvet by MAC Cosmetic."

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

Girls' Cocktail Night Models:

Kimberly Cherrell

Maya Elious

Amer Woods

Black Tie Affair

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

A Black Tie event always means the ultimate level of sophistication. The Overlook Foyer with W Atlanta Midtown's statement gold cages as a backdrop created a whole mood for the tablescape.

They designed a dramatic estate table with a luxe black lace linen, ivory gold rim chargers, and lush white flowers. Deep shades of emerald extended from the table to the stunning guest, Quiana Watson, who was adorned in Charbel Zoe Couture from Elite Pour La Vie.

Black Tie is usually reserved for special occasions but it's nice to have a reason to go all out every once in awhile.

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

Photography by Mecca Gamble McConnell

Black Tie Affair Models:

Quiana Watson

Anthony Watson (husband)


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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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