SUMMER IN THE CITY // KANSAS CITY

Summer is one of the most beautiful seasons. Even though I’m naturally drawn to cooler weather and crisp fall leaves, there’s something about a Kansas City summer that I love. I slip into The Emma Dress… It’s one of my favorite pieces in the latest Baldwin summer line and it’s ideal for the balmy 95+ degree weather that Kansas City natives are all too familiar with. I grab my Madewell bandana and tie it loosely around my neck to add a chic Americana vibe and head off to one of my favorite events in Kansas City, Boulevardia.

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While we’re on the subject, what is your favorite item in your summer wardrobe? Leave your answers in the comments below!

When I arrive, I’m engulfed by the smell of food trucks and the sounds of Hembree playing on the main stage. I grab Kyle and wander through the crowd to catch the last few songs by this amazing KC band. Nostalgia hits me hard as I remember listening to some of these guys in their pre- Hembree days. It’s been a while since I last saw them live and it feels good to celebrate their success. The band line up is excellent this year, with bands like Guster and Sir Sly gracing the stage.

I take it all in, reminding myself to live in this moment of light, laughter and joy. I’ve got Boulevard Wheat in my hand and a whole lot of beauty right in front of me.

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After the set ends, I take a lap around the grounds. My dress is hiding the sweat and the beer I’m spilling on myself. I plow through crowds of people in the Makers Market and scan over some of my favorite goods from Gypsy Bandits (if you’re a fan of Back Bite, these vintage threads are for you) and The Jeweled Gypsy truck.

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I can’t help but notice how wonderful this event is for the KC community. It allows people to celebrate art, music, culture, food and all of the little things that make life so nice. I truly believe if we could all learn to love our every day surroundings just a bit more, we might actually have a chance at finding happiness.

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Speaking of local makers, I had the pleasure of hosting my TSO pop up shop at one of Kansas City’s most iconic events, First Friday’s in the KC Crossroads. Accompanied by two very talented friends, we had everything from handmade candles and crochet tops to new and pre-owned designer clothing. It was a fantastic way to engage with the community and fellow artists. I certainly hope Kansas City continues to cultivate these types of events, because I’ll be attending as many as possible.

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The Boulevard Jam Band Berry Ale is fully stocked, our Western Auto sign is back in all its retro glory, and life as a KC lady is pretty good.

– Photos taken for TSO by Kyle Graas + Kinsey Cates

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TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER

Cranking out content is important… I get it. But, I’ve always been dedicated to authenticity. So, when I say that sometimes it just takes a minute to get into your groove… I mean it. I typically only write when I’m feeling inspired and know that what I have to share with you is bigger than just some random musings. I want you to feel inspired, empowered and just a little more jazzed about getting out there and trying new things for yourself.

Recently I’ve been feeling very inspired by all things culture, lifestyle and art and there is no better place to wake up my brain cells and truly inspire me than Colorado.

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A couple of weeks ago I made the trekk to Denver for a few days. I packed lightly and was ready to see more of what Denver had to offer. This time was different from the last, the call of the mountains was a bit louder and that landed me in some beautiful moments. One of my favorite Colorado adventures was my trip to Boulder… I fell in love with that town. Let’s just say the girl who has always had her eyes on New York miiiight just be having eyes on, well… Boulder (and that’s a big deal, y’all.)

I was lucky enough to wonder into what I think might be one of the coolest restaurants I have ever been to…. Emmerson Restaurant . I’ve been to some pretty amazing restaurants throughout Kansas City, NYC and Chicago, but Emmerson in Boulder absolutely won my heart (and my taste buds) over.

I’m now going to try to explain why…

Emmerson opened in August 2017 as a Cafe, Neo Bistro and Cocktail Bar and I must say it is all of those things and more. The craft cocktail list is extensive with vintage comic book style characters representing each drink… And just to really drive the whole “cool” argument home… There’s a fricken Mezcal cocktail called Queen of the South. You win, Emmerson.

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One of the minds who helped craft all this coolness is Benjamin Foote, who was artfully preparing our cocktails for us as we chatted about tattoos, restaurants and other things life and style. I love hearing stories about how places like this started, especially when they are told by the people who cultivated them. There is a passion and joy that is all their own.

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The interiors where retro meets vintage perfection with pops of light pink and a delicate mix of modern and eclectic…. Yeah yeah you know that’s my style.

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Adventuring is fun, especially when you get to do it with people you love. Some of the coolest experiences I have ever had were because I let myself stumble through the randomness. Walking along Pearl Street, I had no idea where I wanted to go (other than Buffalo Exchange). I followed my senses and landed in the right place. Sometimes you have to trust the call of the mountains to guide you. When you do, you’ll end up in towns like Boulder and in spaces like the Emmerson Restaurant.

– Photos taken for TSO by Kyle Graas + Kinsey Cates

BELLA DONNA // FASHION MODEL

Isabella Fernandez, know as “Bella Donna” has set the bar very high for fashion models all over the Midwest and continues to grow her career and brand on a global scale. After graduating from Stephens College in 2016, Bella pursued a career in retail and curated her own shoots which were artful, fresh and featured herself as the model. Over the past year, she has walked in New York Fashion Week and been published in Vogue Italia   — all while representing some of Kansas City’s most iconic brands.

Recently TSO sat down with Bella at the Made in KC Café and picked her brain…

TSO: How would you describe your style?

BD: Vampy Grandma. I like to wear loose clothing and be comfortable! A majority of my outfits have dark, sexy colors in them (hence the vampire part.) Wearing color is difficult but I know black will match everything. After all, if you’re going to spend money on an item, you want to know you’re going to wear it.

TSO: Why do go by the name “Bella Donna” for modeling?

BD: Bella is short for Isabella and Bella Donna, also means “beautiful woman” in Italian and “Donna” is a joke from eighth grade… So that worked out very well!

TSO: What do you do on the weekends?

BD: If I have a day off, I do things intentionally. I’m an introvert with extroverted tendencies so I always try to schedule days just for myself. I work A LOT and am always going to meetings or photo shoots. Many of my activities incorporate work in some way.

TSO: Does your work play a role in your personal style?

BD: I’ve been lucky to work (retail) for places that are very open to personal style and comfort. When it comes to life outside of modeling, I just want to be comfortable. I don’t want to have to worry about anything.

TSO: What’s your favorite item in your closet?

BD: Dresses are my go-to as the weather gets warmer, but my vintage denim jacket with faux fur cuffs is definitely my favorite! Although my style doesn’t always reflect it, I love 70s aesthetic. If I had all the money in the world, those are the items I would buy.

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TSO: What brands you are passionate about?

BD: I love Reformation and their message. Sustainability is key. I was raised in a very environmentally conscious household so I like to thrift. I’m constantly changing up the items in my closet. When I need something new and funky, I hit up Arizona Trading Company in Westport or Rivermarket Antiques.

TSO: What is your favorite food?

BD: Cheese and hotdogs. I lived in Chicago for two and a half months and had a goal to try to eat 50 Chicago dogs. I consumed about 27 hot dogs in 54 days… I was basically eating hotdogs every other day.

TSO: I can imagine you’re busy all the time, but what does your ideal day off look like?

BD: Being at home, enjoying breakfast, organizing my space mentally and physically and going to the gym. Then the rest of the day would be spent doing nothing. I strive for stillness.

TSO: So are you basically always working?

BD: No, but I do model for things like figure drawing classes, which help strengthen certain aspects of my nude modeling. It’s actually very relaxing. I do hang with my friends! [laughs]

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TSO: What do you want people to know about you?

BD: My education and what I learned in the classrooms of Stephens College really shaped who I am today. My education made me stronger and it made me not take any shit. They taught us that there will be times when you’re not going to feel empowered and people will try to walk all over you… They gave me the tools I needed to fight the bad guys.

TSO: What did you want to be when you were little?

BD: [laughing] A garbage man!

TSO: That’s a little different from what you’re doing now…

BD: Honestly, I’m very happy with my career, but I’m always fighting for more. I want to continue to inspire others even after I’m finished modeling.

Bella has recently taken her career to the next level by launching her model consulting and coaching business and hopes to one day start an agency of her own.

TSO: How did you come up with your Instagram @bellatrixortreat?

BD: My favorite holiday is Halloween and I love Harry Potter. I wanted something with my name in it, so it was perfect.

Regardless of whether Bella learned her tricks inside the classroom at Stephens College or in front of the camera during her extensive modeling career, she is an inspiration, a role model and a TSO Creative Cultivator.

TSO + SOT

South of Truman… Also known as SoT — A tasteful and artsy cocktail bar located in Downtown KC. It’s one of my favorite spots in KC and I’ll tell you why. Rarely do I find a gin cocktail that I can happily sip, and I’ve defiantly NEVER found one to match my personal style. I’ve been disappointed at some cocktail bars in KC recently because I feel they lack consistency and continuity. At SoT, I’m not just getting a delicious drink… I know I’ll receive an incredible experience.

Continue reading TSO + SOT

LE FEMME FATALE // MAGGIE MARIE

The Style Operandi is all about sharing and celebrating the journey that others are on… I’m here to help facilitate those stories. However, sometimes you just let people take the reins. So, here’s Maggie… Our featured femme fatale.

Prince said something I think of often…

“Cool means being able to hang with yourself. All you have to ask yourself is ‘Is there anybody I’m afraid of? Is there anybody who if I walked into a room and saw, I’d get nervous?’ If not, then you’re cool.”

Style is the cool elixir. It’s social armor. If you’re feeling your fit, nobody can intimidate you. How I dress is no different, and it’s funny how we even got here. My style is the surprise result of adapting to life’s curveballs. I know- it sounds weird… But it’s true. It’s odd to realize that the whimsy I crave in clothing is seemingly the direct result of a former darkness.

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I used to wear all black- entire outfits, and black hair to match. I took myself so seriously. I hated my body. I had zero concept of self love. You know how they say “what’s bad for your heart is good for your art”? That’s true. I have to credit heartbreak a little- I had my feelings hurt badly and just COULD NOT live any longer in my body as I knew it, and that included what I was wearing (we almost had to throw the whole Maggie away, lol).

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Pink Two Piece: Club Exx

A remodel was coming and it wasn’t for anyone else. I knew I had changed inside and the outside had to reflect that change. I wanted to feel lightness instead of the heavy dark I’d been used to, I began craving color. My taste in music changed. I had to shed my old skin I’d lived in too long in.

For the first time I felt truly alive in more revealing cuts, in pastels, in sparkles, and just about anything with a sense of humor.

I find the purest joy in festival wear because it allows me to see MYSELF how I feel internally. Y’all, what a feeling! People think I’m extra but I just feel blah any other way.

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Top: Little Black Diamond // Bra: bedazzled by Maggie // Shorts: J. valentine

I think we should dress in what and for what makes us happy. This is just a meat shell our souls live inside, why should we be content to be bored with it?

Romper: J. Valentine // Hat: Dollskill // Boots: Demonia

Make sure to follow Maggie on IG // @glitterdagger // and keep up with all her amazing outfits and musings…

LE FEMME FATALE // VANESSA FROOK

Today I’m featuring Kansas Jayhawk babe, Vanessa Frook.

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Top: Forever 21 // Pants: Brandy Melville // Shoes: Vans

When it comes to her style inspiration, she follows some of her favorite bloggers & Youtubers… And I’m def hoping TSO is one of em! I just officially launched my Youtube channel where I’ll be sharing beauty and styling tips will y’all and I’m s t o k e d. But back to my girl Vanessa. She could spend hours on Youtube watching clothing hauls & getting style ideas and inspo.

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Jacket: Forever 21 // Jeans: Topshop

Some of her favorite ladies on Instagram are Tess Christine and Olivia Jade. Her go to fall and winter outfits include lots of black and warm colors, but when summer rolls around, she loves bright girly attire.

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Two Piece: White Fox Boutique

Her absolute favorite summer clothing websites are Australian boutiques like Showpo and White Fox Boutique. Vanessa also enjoys shopping at places like Urban Outfitters, Revolve, and Lulu’s.

“I always go to the sale section first at any website I go to for clothes, I’m a college girl on a budget! I love to dress up but you’ll definitely find me lounging around in a comfy shirt and shorts when I’m at home or studying.”

I’m loving her girly vibes mixed with sophisticated edge. Plus, she’s always adding amazing accessories and casual elements.

LE FEMME FATALE // LEAH OSBORNE

The Style Operandi features women who are absolutely k i l l i n g  it when it comes to this thing we call life + style. Today, I’m excited to feature the stunning Leah Osborne. When it comes to fashion, Leah falls somewhere between high fashion street style and boho chic. Like other featured ladies, she loves black because it’s clean, flattering and sophisticated. When it comes to style, she’s not super adventurous because she knows what she likes… And I’m absolutely on board with that.

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Coat: Michael Stars // Jeans: Madewell // Shoes: Aldo // Earrings: Zara

“I always make sure to have a statement piece. I’m into big, bold earrings.”

According to Leah, her Michael Stars coat makes her feel some type of way…

“I feel more confident in this coat than any other piece I own. For me, it represents how much I have progressed personally over this past year.”

Now she finds herself seeking self-confidence and love from within instead of validation from others and she’s not afraid to celebrate that in her personal and evolving style. This means so much when it comes to dressing for yourself and not for others. After all, you’re the most important person in your own life.

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As far as wardrobe staples go, Leah’s black Baldwin hat, white high-top Vans, and ripped denim jeans are first on the list. Lately, she enjoys mixing casual ripped jeans with dressier fabrics like lace and silk. The contrast offers more versatility, which she enjoys.

“If a nice dinner on the Plaza turns into dollar night at Johnny Kaws, I’ll be dressed appropriately.”

Make sure to follow Leah on IG for more…

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SUNDAY BEST

Typically clad in leopard print and accompanied by amazing friends, I usually have successful brunches, lunches and dinners. My first choice for brunch is almost always Westport Cafe and Bar and if you ask me, they have the best blue point oysters in Kansas City. Not to mention that whenever you order off of the brunch menu you receive a complementary Bloody Mary, mimosa, or Bellini with your meal. There’s something about that place that totally warms my heart.

Continue reading SUNDAY BEST

SHADES OF WINTER

Simon & Garfunkel were not wrong when they sang, “it’s the springtime of my life” because I adore winter. There’s something about the chilly air and bleak scenery that soothes my soul. Call me crazy, but it actually motivates me and is yet another method to my madness. So, for the people who don’t like winter, one question… What’s in your wardrobe?

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Sweater: Madewell // Hat: Spyder

 

Continue reading SHADES OF WINTER

INDIE ON MAIN // OPEN MIC NIGHT

My passion for being a life and style blogger runs deep, but it’s not only because of my own lifestyle. I celebrate the methods and talents of others and I’m always fueled by events and spaces that cultivate individuality. Last Wednesday I visited Indie on Main (connected to The Midland Theatre) for their first acoustic open mic night. The moment I entered the cozy corner bar at 12th and Main, I was engulfed in the sweet sound of folk singer-songwriter and guest host, Jessica Paige.

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Jessica Paige // Photographer : Calvin Hoeun // Photo access from Indie on Main

“I wanted to bring out as many talented people as possible because there are a lot of different sounds coming out of Kansas City right now,” Said Jessica, “and I want to always encourage artists to share their music no matter what genre.”

I took my seat and glanced over the newest list of winter cocktails. I was pleasantly surprised because instead of ordering my drink from the bar, their new Marketing Coordinator, Sydney Coldiron took my drink order.

“I’m creating an environment that supports and fosters creativity and artistry,” Explained Coldiron, “a place where everyone can come together and feel comfortable sharing their talents.”

As I sipped my Captain Morgan Holiday Punch by candlelight, I watched local musicians pile in and make themselves comfortable. Buzzing around the room with her iconic pink locks was singer songwriter Crystal Clayton, who preformed an angelic version of the Alicia Keys favorite, “If I Ain’t Got You”.

Vibes transitioned from relaxed and romantic to funky and upbeat when rapper Kemet the Phantom took the mic. Kemet is also a member of KC band, The Phantastics but on Wednesday he was accompanied by talented musicians like Lucas Parker, who beatboxed and played guitar.

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Kemet the Phantom // Photographer : Calvin Hoeun // Photo access from Indie on Main

“I’ve been to several open mic nights around the city, but a lot of them are always so dry and cold. Jessica broke down the barrier and made everyone feel unified.”

The friendly bartenders cranked out Cranberry Mules, Cinnamon Spritzers and other mouth-watering holiday sips, but what I also loved about the evening was the energy from such a centralized location. Indie Bar is open regardless if there’s a show at the Midland. I worked across the street and lived around the corner for a year and a half. Before Coldiron joined the Midland team and launched this event, people didn’t even know Indie Bar was a thing.

“I’m a promoter of all things women led because they have a different touch and such a welcoming vibe,” Concluded Kemet.

And I couldn’t agree with him more. From what I’ve gathered from several different artist who attended on Wednesday, Coldiron has changed the trajectory of the typical Wednesday night for downtown KC. Indie Bar just might become the best place for musicians all over Kansas and Missouri to jam. The Wednesday night event is already pulling in singers from places like Nevada Missouri and young talents like Jordan Mackenzie.

“Whether people are new to the game or veterans, I want them to immediately feel welcome,” Coldiron added. “It’s like hosting your own house party, you just want everyone to have a good time!”

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Photographer : Calvin Hoeun // Photo access from Indie on Main

I had a fabulous time and open mic night will be back again this Wednesday (tomorrow) at 8pm sharp! Kadesh Flow will be hosting AND BONUS, I’ll be selling lots of winter goodies at my first ShopTSO pop-up. Come grab a drink and finish last-minute holiday shopping all while celebrating authenticity, creativity and local talent.