Paris and the Smallest Ballerina

Location: Paris, France

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The tank top didn’t look right under my leotard. None of them, all three I tried in vain. They were bunchy. The other girls’ had looked … different. But why?

Eleven years old I stared at myself in the mirror trying to decode how to look like the older girls in my ballet class.

Swap ballet with school or church and didn't you try too?

Explaining to my mom wasn’t helpful. She apparently didn’t know anything about cool girl ballet style.

So I decided to be brave; ask Kristen, one of the bubbly, busty, high school girls in my advanced ballet class where I was the youngest and tiniest.

“Where'd you get your tank top?”

“It’s not a tank top, it’s a sports bra.”

Oh … I had the wrong name, the wrong idea, the wrong everything. And very clearly zero need for a bra, sporty or any other kind. Blushing to match my pink tights I hurried off to class to learn to be graceful, ladylike, to move with a feminine maturity beyond my years ... to be beautiful. 

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It starts so youngthe questions, the seekingwhat does it mean to be lovely, to look like the women we desire to emulate?

How does one do it? What are the secrets?

And come age 27, 35, 41 and beyond it persists.

Why does that look different on her? How come that doesn't work the same on me?

And neither mom nor magazines nor well-meaning salesgirls in the Anthropologie dressing room hold the answer.

We don’t outgrow our desire to feel lovely. It is not a secret bequeathed with age. It can feel like a whisper you’ve almost caught the tail of your whole life. 

But it doesn’t have to.

You have someone to ask. Hello, nice to meet you, I’m Hilary, former kind of average but not tragic but not particularly cool girl turned stylist.

I’ve spent six years on my own journey, helping hundreds of clients and students, listening to the desires and challenges of women’s hearts and bodies.

And this month, with the fresh hope of a new year, I want to share everything I know with you.

For today, let’s begin with the simple truth that your beauty matters.

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It is not superficial, silly or superfluous. It is not about trends, being cool or fashion.

Style is how you honor your heart’s innate desire to feel captivating, to be beautiful, whatever that means or feels like to you.

Your personality, lifestyle, Tuesday afternoons, Saturday mornings, creativity, joy and body just as it is today.


Tune in for the conversation this month starting with a free video series coming soon and I promise to bring more joy and less overwhelm to your mornings.

For every girl who’s stood in ballet class wondering where the cool girls got their tank tops, take my hand and let’s be ladies in silk coats walking the streets of Paris.

Because if I can, you can, and our hearts deserve nothing less.

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[ dress + jacket: american vintage // necklace: boutique, brooklyn // shoes: boutique, milan // belt: vintage, london // watch: kate spade // photography: federico guendel // location: paris, france ]

P.S. Quick secret of how to wear a giant shapeless coat: Show some skin and belt it.

The tie in the back gives a bit of a waist, as does the belt of the dress, so you aren't swallowed, get some feminine curves. And the bare ankles and wrists [as opposed to chunky boots and sweater] show it's the coat, not my frame, that's larger. 

Twirling and swishing while you walk, optional, but highly recommended. 

P.P.S. Whose style did you try to decode growing up? Have a reaction to this post you want to share? Please join the conversation on Instagram below this post!

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