Sunday, November 5, 2017

Dressember Essentials + Outfit Ideas for Men and Women

One of the most intimidating things about Dressember can be the issue of what to wear, especially if you're in a region with cold, snowy winters. Don't let this discourage you, it's not as hard as you might think. That's why I have assembled an updated list of my Dressember Essentials, plus some outfit ideas. And I haven't left out the men either! (Keep scrolling if you're looking for some Dressember Men ideas.)

Also, if you have to wear a school or work uniform that prevents you from wearing a dress or tie, just wear your Dressember-wear when you can. Any time you can choose your outfit, choose to wear a dress or tie. You don't have to wear it all day, just as long as you can. Personally, I make sure to get a photo in my dress to share on social media so my donors can see that I am keeping my commitment. I also make sure to wear a dress whenever I go out in public.

Dressember Essentials 2017

1. Versatile dresses. Start with checking your closet for the most comfortable and versatile dresses you own, even if they are more summery. I love mixing things up with a floral print sundress or a neutral-colored t-shirt dress. Remember that layering is key, so you can make light fabrics work.

If you want or need to add a new dress/dresses to your wardrobe, check what's available in the Dressember shop. If you're shopping on a budget, check out your local thrift shop, or borrow a dress from a friend or family member.

2. Tights and leggings. Look for warmer options, like fleece-lined leggings and sweater tights. You can also layer up with ponte pants or even jeans. If it's really cold where you live, try layering tights under leggings.

3. Sweaters and cardigans. Really any type of outerwear is great and can be layered in multiples. Cardigans with pockets are handy if you have a pocket-less dress. And a pull-over sweater can completely change the look of your dress.

When choosing a cardigan or sweater, think about the climate and what will pair well with most of your wardrobe. If you're in a cold climate, go for a thicker, chunky-knit sweater. If it isn't as cold, go for something lightweight. Choose neutral colors if you have mostly bold or bright dresses. If you have a lot of solid-color, neutral dresses, go for a bright color or bold print to brighten things up.

4. Layering pieces. Layering pieces can add warmth, and they can also change the look of your dress. Add a fitted t-shirt underneath a tank dress, or wear a skirt over a shorter dress to make it look like a top. Don't forget scarves, mittens, wool socks, and knit hats for extra warmth.

5. Boots. Boots are cute and will help keep your feet warm and dry, especially if there's snow on the ground. Switch things up with different styles, from ankle booties to riding boots, and different colors.

6. Accessories. Top off and switch up your Dressember styles with fun accessories. Cinch your waist with a belt, add a pop of color with a bag, and work in some glitter or metallics with jewelry.

Want some specific outfit inspiration? Check out my Dressember board on Pinterest! I've pinned looks from casual, to cute, to dressy.

Dressember Men Styles

I didn't want to leave out the men, so here is some inspiration for the guys who plan to participate. Typically, men wear ties or bow ties for Dressember, but can also choose to wear something else throughout the month like suspenders or vests. The key is to choose one type of item to wear each day throughout December. This will give consistency and provide a talking point to share about the campaign.

Combine multiple elements including fun socks, cuff links, dress shoes, or hats to complete your look. If you want to look put together and stay warm, choose a peacoat in place of a suit jacket or casual coat, and don't forget to add a scarf. If you need some new items, check your local thrift shop, or see about borrowing things from a friend or relative.

I've got some more outfit ideas for the guys on my Dressember Men Pinterest board. You can also check out the hashtag #DressemberMen on Instagram to see what other guys have done.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Dressember 2017: Art Giveaway

I am excited to tell you about a new initiative I am doing for Dressember 2017! It's called #LetterForDressember, and it's an art challenge + art giveaway. If you want to participate in the challenge, creatively letter each day's prompt and share it on social media using the hashtag. I am also giving away my challenge artwork to those who donate to my Dressember page. Keep reading to find out how to receive a piece of my lettering art.

Here's how it works:

  >   Anyone who donates $20 or more to my Dressember campaign is eligible* to receive a piece of lettering art. Donors are eligible to receive one piece of lettering art for each $20+ donation made to my campaign. So if you snag one piece of art, but see another one you want later, you can always get two!

  >   Each day I will post a new piece of art on my Instagram account, @elm_creative. The first person to comment "claimed" has 24 hours to make their $20+ donation to my campaign. If someone has already commented, comment "next" to be the next in line. If the first person doesn't donate within 24 hours, the next person in line will be able to claim the art, and so on. I'll reach out to you if you're next in line!

  >   If you donate $20+ ahead of time, comment "claimed" first and you will be sent the lettering art as soon as possible.*

  >   If no one claims a piece of art within 24 hours, I will share the art on Facebook for someone to claim there. The art will also still be available on Instagram, so I will go by the time the first "claimed" comment is posted.

  >   If art pieces remain as of January 1, I will attempt to distribute them to donors.*

  >   All donations of $40 or more are eligible for a piece of custom lettering art. If you would like a custom piece, please contact me after making your donation with the word/quote you would like lettered. Custom pieces must be 5x8" or smaller.

* I will need to receive each donor's address in order to send the lettering art.

If you have a question, please contact me! I am so excited to combine my love for lettering with my passion for Dressember. And I can't wait to share what I create with you!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Exploring Creative Worship

Earlier this month I wrote a post about reclaiming creativity in Christianity. I have felt challenged to find ways to be more intentionally creative in how I worship, particularly in my personal time. I want to change how I view and behave in my time of Bible study and prayer as a response to the Creator. I want to reflect His creativity in an effort to glorify Him. So I have been asking, what does it look like to merge creative expression with worship?

I see many ways that the church has worked to merge creativity and worship--music, spoken word, lights, design, acts of service, potluck dinners. But as with most elements of Christianity, I know that we can do more, internally and externally. What exactly that looks like, I am hoping to uncover in the coming months.

As a first step, I am making a creative worship journal. I will be filling it with artistic pieces that I hope will reflect the truth about God creatively. It will incorporate verses, hymn lyrics, prayers, and responses to God out of my personal time of study. I will be starting with a goal of adding to the journal throughout the month of September. After that, I want to evaluate what I have learned and experienced to see what I should change and explore in the future.

As a second step, to move outside of my personal time, I will also be sharing what I design on my creative Instagram account. My hope in doing this is to authentically and truthfully honor God in a public forum. I also want to bring worship to an area of my life that I tend to engage in selfishly. I often do creative projects for myself or to earn money. While I don't think that is inherently wrong, I want to challenge myself to intentionally worship God in whatever I am doing.

If this sounds interesting to you, I want to invite you to explore creative worship as well. You can create a journal, or find another way to worship God through an area you are gifted in. Creativity is never limited to just art, it encompasses every skill from gardening to tech, parenting to cooking. Anything that we as humans can make or do is inherently creative as it is a reflection of our Creator.

If you decide to join in, please let me know. I would love to discuss your thoughts and what you are learning throughout the process.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Reclaiming Creativity in Christianity

I've been working through the latest IF:Equip study, Reflections of God: The Theology of Beauty. There have been lots of moments where I've felt like it has totally given me a huge kick in the seat. But today as I was working through some different topics on the arts it struck me just how much the Christian faith should not be boring.

I think if we're honest, we would each admit that there was at least one thing about being a Christian or about going to church that seemed boring at one point in time. It might have been the repetition and routine nature of a Sunday morning service (stand up, sit down, stand up...), or the endless silence associated with a time of prayer and Bible reading, or the exhausting language of whatever version you were reading ("thee before thou except after thine"), or a pastor's sermon that was impossible to follow and felt like it would never end.

I've been there for all of those things, and while I've tried to find the value in the midst of the seemingly mundane, sometimes it can be really hard not to check out. It can be even more hard to not view God as equally boring. After all, isn't the Christian life and church supposed to be a reflection of God? For many people, their first experience might just be that dry, routine church service, and they might think that's all there is to having a relationship with God. They might think that's all He is, a boring, routine being who speaks in old English and sits in silence.

I have loved the Reflections of God study because it has challenged this stereotypical view of God and our response to Him. And to be honest, I don't think He enjoys the boring and monotonous experience any more than we do. Certainly He desires our attention and worship, but I don't think He wants it to come from a place of stale monotony and obligation. None of us would want to be "loved" in that way, so why would God?

The first thing we learn about God is that He created. He is Creator. And He didn't create with just one color or sound or shape. He made tiny, minute animals alongside the vastness of the cosmos. He made humanity through a creative process of shaping dirt and bone to make male and female. He made an array of flavors and a tongue that could taste them. He made endless textures and the sense of touch to feel them. He spoke and with His voice He made the orchestra of sounds that fill our planet. And best of all, He made us in His image, so that we could create things too.

I look outside my window, and I see a world that is anything but boring, made by a Being who could never be boring. And yet, often times in the church and in our own lives, that is how we respond to Him. Perhaps we think that's what reverence is, a quiet, routine form of worship in which we endeavor to focus on Him alone. And there is nothing wrong with quiet or routine rhythms. But I think we do God, and worship, a disservice when we dumb it down, make it monotonous or boring, colorless or stale.

I think God wants to be worshiped in our creativity as well as our silence. He wants us to use our creative capacity to draw hearts to Him, to display His image, to worship passionately, both corporately and on our own. God wants all of us, and He wants us to tap into all that He has made us to be. We can sing and speak, move and dance, make art and music, design and illuminate, write hymns and stories, create delicious foods, grow flowers and plants, teach and train others, all for His glory.

Friends, let's change the stigma of Christianity as boring. Let's leave behind the colorless, lifeless, and the mundane for the colorful, creative, and beautiful. Let's tap into all that we can do and make to bring glory to the One who made us in His image and called us very good. Let us become the catalyst for change in how the world sees and understands the Gospel, the church, and the Christian life.
"Creativity is not an end in itself. Creativity is a means to achieving something better, something more salutary, productive, or beautiful. It exists for improvement, not impression... The gift is given for a purpose: The chief end of man is to glorify God, not man.

"Work has a duel purpose: to continue the process of creation and to counter the consequences of sin. The way you think about God influences the way you think about yourself. Thus we will be Godlike in our work if we recognize it as an assignment from Him... Creative behavior begins in the brain of a thinking individual with a desire to cause constructive change." - Howard Hendricks

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