Sweet Emotion Boudoir Photography

Fellow blogger babes June of geminijunemoon and Laura of Weird Culture invited me to a small gathering to introduce internationally-published photographer, Michael Abrams. He offered to give us a mini-boudoir shoot in exchange for sharing his work. I've never done a boudoir shoot (and wasn't entirely sure what it was) so I happily accepted the invite. I began to have second thoughts, however, when I realized that a boudoir shoot aims to create sexy yet classy images. The wardrobe of choice for most boudoir shoots? Lingerie or nothing at all. Um, no.

The closer the date for the party got, the more anxious I became. Could I really go through with this? I did more research and discovered that boudoir shoots can also be done in "regular" clothing like an oversize shirt or form-fitting dress. The point is to create sexy shots that still leave things to the imagination - all of your major parts are covered. Whew! Knowing I was going the non-lingerie route, I decided on a little black dress with cutouts and stilettos that I've been too shy to wear. (And, sadly, haven't really had any place to wear.)

Having an outfit planned took my nervousness down a notch until I realized one thing: Michael, our esteemed photographer, is a man. Once I met him, it was clear that Michael is very professional. Married with a child, he made all of us feel comfortable and answered every question we had. He does a thorough consultation before every shoot, to make sure everyone is on the same page about how high you want the scorchometer to go. Regardless of how much skin you choose to show, Michael can take pictures that guys think are hot, which may not be the same as what female photographers consider hot. His work is stunning! My girlfriends were right in the other room. . .I decided to go for it!

After getting my makeup done by stylist Kristen Parks, I mustered up my courage and started the photo shoot. I immediately felt confident and kinda like a supermodel. (Hey, no harm in dreaming, right?) Michael gave helpful directions on poses and showed me some of the shots as we went along. He was kind and encouraging throughout the shoot. It was really, really fun!

If you're considering getting a boudoir shoot, I would say do it. Be sure to research your photographer (looking on Craigslist is not recommended) and find a professional you're comfortable with. It is an investment that may not fit everyone's budget, but having gorgeous, intimate shots of yourself is special. Give the photos to your partner as a gift or just keep them for yourself, to remind yourself how beautiful you are. (Yes, you.) The model-type girls on the web site are just that: models. Michael explained that most of us "regular" gals don't feel comfortable putting pics on his web site, hence, the use of professional models. So don't let those photos intimidate you, because you're a total babe. I'm thrilled with how sweet yet spicy my photos turned out. I plan to do another shoot with Sweet Emotion Boudoir Photography. . .but those photos will be for Brian's eyes only. ;)
black dress with cutouts

boudoir photo

You can see more of Michael's work at www.sweetemotionboudoir.com. You can also connect with him on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. If you book a shoot within 30 days (through 4/3/15) and mention The Ruby Zipper, you'll get 10% off your boudoir shoot!

The Hamburger Skirt

At the close of Saint Louis Fashion "Week" (it really felt like a whole month, not that I'm complaining), I wrapped things up with some local and guest blogger babes at a fun girls' night. We started at local boutique CLR-MNSTR. (I always thought it was "Clear Minister" but it's actually "Color Monster.") The eclectic boutique has art, accessories, on-trend duds, and vintage garments. I tried on several things, but landed on a wacky piece that can only be called "The Hamburger Skirt."

Yum. The skirt has a mouth-watering pattern of juicy burgers with all the fixins' like tomatoes and lettuce and a side of fries. Just looking at it makes me hungry. The friendly, uber-cool sales crew told me that there was a matching top to the skirt that had sadly already sold. The staff had been wondering just who would be ______ enough (insert any adjective between "nutty" or "daring," perhaps a bit of both) to buy the last hamburger skirt in the store. That would be moi.

I proudly wore this conversation-starting, tasty getup to the Tribute fashion show last weekend. Getting to hang among St. Louis' fashion community, I figured it would both fit right in and stand out. As they said at CLR-MNSTER, #bethebestordie.

Before the show, my husband and I went out to dinner at Vin de Set courtesy of a gift card from Lookie Lou. The restaurant was incredibly scrumptious, but did I mention it also has vegan options? Yep, I wore a skirt dedicated to the yumminess of cow-meat to a vegan-friendly restaurant (oops!). I guess the burgers on the skirt could be vegan or made with some type of alternative meat, right? Highly doubtful. :)

Let the drooling commence. . .

Top: Nordstrom; Faux fur vest: Material Girl; Skirt: CLR-MNSTR; Necklace & Shoes: Gift
What? Is that a new tattoo? Yes it is! The dress form was inked at Thunderdome. ;)

Thank you, Mood

Have you ever felt your mood change based on what you wear? Are you more productive in an outfit you like? You're not alone - a group of researchers in Queensland, Australia are studying how people use clothes to change or mask their moods. Women especially attach emotions to clothes: an outfit associated with a bad time elicits negative feelings, while a garment that was worn during a special time can draw out a smile. We've all heard the phrase, "when you look good, you feel good." Why is this?

Dr. Alastair Tombs, a lead researcher from the University of Queensland compared clothing to a "photograph," reminding us of memories that bring up certain emotions. I would never dream of getting rid of my Beastie Boys tee since I met my husband while wearing it. But, Dr. Tombs believes that people sometimes use fashion as a "scapegoat." Rather than direct negative feelings towards yourself, it's easier to project bad feelings on an object. Several years ago, I found a floral dress on clearance that I thought was super-cute. One of the first times I wore it, I went on an interview for a job that ended up being a bust. Assuming that was a fluke, I wore it again and got unceremoniously dumped by the person I was dating. The final chance I gave it was on the day my grandfather passed away. Needless to say, that dress wound up in the trash. Very therapeutic, I might add.

On the flip side, a 2008 study found that just thinking of certain items in a wardrobe can give you a boost in confidence. For example, if you have an outfit that consistently earns you compliments, the mere sight of it can elevate your mood. Wearing it again gives you a double-boost: not only do you feel good that day, you also have the residual uplifting feelings from past admiration you received in the outfit. My green vintage dress seems to be a guaranteed-compliment generator, which is probably why I wore it so much last season! On hard days, though, wearing a cute outfit may not change your mood significantly. Nevertheless, it can give others the appearance that you feel happy. The 2008 study report refers to clothing as both a source of "pride" and "anxiety." (Word.)

I definitely feel more efficient, happier, and all-around-better when I'm wearing something that I think looks good on me. What do you think? For more info, read this article.
I can still concentrate in flats, just not as well. Lots of us have that problem.
Top: Mood Fabrics; Cardi: Delia's; Skirt: Target; Tulle: DIY; Tights: Spanx; Shoes: Steve Madden

P.S. - Do you have your tickets to TRIBUTE on November 22 yet? It's going to be a fashion extravaganza featuring some of the nation's top models from Mother Model Management. Just for you lovely readers, use code RUBY for a $10 discount on tickets! Buy them at tributestl.com.

Meet Tiffany Rae: Designer, Stylist, Model

Tiffany Rae, wearing shoes she designed
Photo c/o Mind of A Fashionista
One of the best parts of going to fashion shows is peeping the off-runway looks. At Shan Keith's Boundless show, I spotted a woman wearing a killer pair of heels. Here's the scoop on Tiffany Rae, St. Louis-based designer (of those killer shoes and other incredible pieces), wardrobe stylist, and model:

Tiffany Rae describes the start of her career as "destiny." After photographer Kay Shea saw Tiffany Rae's picture on Facebook, she invited her to a modeling casting call. Curious, Tiffany Rae went to the casting call - and got the job. As her intrigue and experience with the industry grew, Tiffany Rae was motivated to expand into wardrobe styling for models.

This ambitious, self-taught artist didn't want to stop there, though. Inspired by the idea of re-purposing ordinary materials into something beautiful, Tiffany Rae began creating her own designs for models to wear. She crafted her first dress from leftover holiday cardboard boxes. Other design mediums include drinking straws and duct tape. (I think she'd have quite the edge on Project Runway's infamous unconventional challenge.) Tiffany Rae garners new skills and unique memories from each design, and loves the pride that comes from seeing something tangible that she has constructed.

Tiffany Rae's talent has been featured in local and international digital and print magazines, runway shows, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and on local television stations. Most recently, her designs were highlighted in the arts and entertainment publication, Solis Magazine. Although she currently balances a "regular" job with her design career, she knows it is only a matter of time before her professional goals become reality. Tiffany Rae plans to design for celebrities (Lady Gaga being her dream client), movies, and grace the pages of mega-magazines like Vogue. Once her ready-to-wear collection and heels enter stores all over the world, she is poised to "go down in history." You go, girl!

With her signature smile, confidence, and attention-grabbing outfits, Tiffany Rae has met each challenge as an independent artist with drive and a "corny" sense of humor. For other emerging artists, Tiffany Rae's sage advice is to "believe in yourself, let setbacks motivate you instead of holding you back, and create steps to reach your goals." Looks like she's well on her way to doing just that. . .
Tiffany Rae wearing one of her shoulder designs.
Photo c/o Kay Shea
The Cardboard Box Dress
Photo c/o Kay Shea
Drinking Straws Design
Photo c/o Kay Shea
Toothpick Design
Photo c/o Djeneba Aduayom
Eating Utensils Design
Photo c/o Djeneba Aduayom
To see more of Tiffany Rae's stunning work, visit www.tiffanyraestylist.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Instagram!

Liebster Award

Great news - I've been nominated for a Liebster Award by the sweet and stylish Laura of Weird Cult(ure)! Created for bloggers, by bloggers, the Liebster Award is a cool way for bloggers to connect and for readers to learn interesting tidbits about the people behind the computers. Here are my answers to Laura's questions:

1. Why did you start blogging? As a first step to my career transition, I went back to school to study Fashion Merchandising. I did an internship where I wrote for St. Louis In Style and loved every minute of it. When the internship ended, I was really sad until I realized I could start my own blog! I started The Ruby Zipper last year while I was pregnant, which made for, um, interesting outfit posts. :) Being able to hone my craft and share my style with others makes me very happy.

2. Who is your favorite designer? Betsey Johnson. I think she loves bows even more than I do.

3. What local boutique do you frequent most? Well, since I work there, I'd have to say Rung & Sprung Boutique. LOL (I would shop there even if I didn't work there though, since the deals and one-of-a-kind clothes are tough to beat.) On days off, my husband and I love The Green Shag Market. The mini-booths of antique and vintage knick-knacks are a blast to sift through.

4. What do you splurge on? Sushi or any take-out. I'm typically very thrifty, but I can usually justify paying for convenience when it comes to food. 

5. What staple is in your closet for fall? A vintage camel leather jacket I bought 18 years ago gets near-daily wears every fall. 

6. Where is your dream travel destination? Hawaii!

7. What was the first concert you ever attended? The night before I started 3rd grade, I went to a Whitney Houston (RIP) concert at the St. Louis Muny with my parents and sister. I wore a denim skirt and blouse with a fruit pattern, an outfit I had planned months in advance. 

8. Provel- yay or nay? On pizza, nay. On salad or otherwise, yay.

9. What is your favorite film? Aside from the obvious (Clueless and Sex and The City Movie), I love under-appreciated horror films like "The Stepfather" and Stephen King's "The Langoliers."

10. What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? I ate a dog biscuit in high school. It was dry and not very tasty. But then, I'm a cat person.

In the tradition of the Award, I now get to nominate some of my favorite bloggers and generate new questions for them to answer. And the nominees are. . .
1. Why did you start blogging?
2. What is your dream job?
3. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
4. If you could choose only 3 albums to take on a desert island, what would they be?
5. If you could wear any designer on the Red Carpet, who would you wear?
6. What was your favorite subject in school?
7. Name one of your quirks.
8. Would you rather go back in time or see into the future, and why?
9. What is your favorite hobby (other than blogging)?
10. What are you wearing as you answer these questions?

Thanks again for the nomination, Laura! You all should check out Weird Cult(ure), pronto. With her awesome photos and local event commentary that makes you feel like you were there too, it's no surprise why her blog was named "Best Newcomer" at the St. Louis Fashion Blog Awards. :)

Shan Keith: BOUNDLESS Fashion Show

Project Runway is one of my all-time fave shows, so I was quickly hooked on the spin-off Under The Gunn, featuring teams of emerging designers mentored by past contestants. The early front-runner was Shan Keith, a gifted designer from St. Louis - holla! I felt he should have won solely on the basis of his showstopping sequin top for the "real woman" challenge, but in a shocking twist, his model was allergic to the top and unable to wear it. (Shan insists that the poor woman really did break out in hives). In true Project Runway fashion, he whipped up a substitute outfit in an hour and still won the challenge. Don't ask me why he didn't win the overall show, but it hasn't stopped him from continuing to design amazing garments.

Shan Keith debuted his collection at a runway show appropriately titled "Boundless." Held at the swanky Plush, the men's and women's designs highlighted his signature fearlessness with prints and textures. Check it out:

Always a fan of jumpsuits and rompers, I love the chic accents and gold embellishments on Shan's pieces.
Photos c/o Ced "the Photographer" Scott
Fringe. On a blazer. Enough said.
Left & center photos c/o Ced The Photographer Scott
Animal print has been called the new "neutral" given its widespread appeal - but there's nothing neutral about Shan's take on the trend. That middle sweater has my name written all over it!
Photos c/c Ced The Photographer Scott
Normally, I'm not too excited about menswear. I mean, I am a woman - and a rather girly one at that. But what cool looks! Definitely for a bold, confident man who wants to stand out.
Photos c/o Ced The Photographer Scott
Here are some more pics from the event:
Accessories from Hazina Boutique

Here's what I wore for the evening. My faux fur fit right in!
Faux fur vest: Material Girl; Dress & Socks: Rung & Sprung; Shoes: Gift; Necklace & Clutch: Thrifted