What to pack for a beach vacation

Tomorrow I’m going with my husband’s family to the beach for a week! Yes, I’m excited. It’s been awhile since I went to a beach in the USA… I’m guessing there won’t be any cows roaming around?

This post boils down to one thing: procrastination. That’s right. Instead of actually packing, I’m taking pictures of all of the things that I should be packing!

Here’s a glimpse at what I’m {eventually} going to pack to bring to the beach:

My uniform for the week.

My uniform for the week.

I know this suit is a little too conservative for miss-always-wears-a-bikini Khady, but she lived in France for like 100 years, so that’s different. This suit is from Target and I love the halter neck, the brass beads, and the colors. If you have more than one suit, bring it! You’ll be happy to mix it up since it’s the main thing you’ll be wearing. Just pay attention to tan lines, and adjust straps if necessary while laying out. A hat is a great way to keep the sun off of your face, and a fun way to look stylish at the beach, with zero effort. I wish I had one of these to wear.

A great cover up is a MUST.

A great cover up is a MUST.

My sister sent this “dress” to Senegal in a package one time and I was SO excited, since I’m a stripes lover. However, it was just way too sheer, so I turned it into a swimsuit cover up. 

Multi-use pieces are great staple pieces.

Multi-use pieces are great staple pieces.

I actually bought this dress at an Italian shop in Saly, Senegal last year. It’s thin and flowy and works great as a multi-use piece, as I can wear it as a dress, wear it with leggings, or as a swimsuit cover-up. Do you have any multi-use pieces? Tell me about them! The more multi-use pieces you pack, the lighter your luggage will be in the end.

Short & sheer.

Short & sheer.

How cute is this peach and grey dress? My sister-in-law Kristen surprised me with it when we arrived in the US in July. It’s from Forever 21 and is a fun way to show off some leg without being too “in your face” for someone like me who isn’t used to showing lots of leg. I’ll probably wear it out to dinner / whatever else we decide to do in the evenings.

An assortment of pants, skirts, shorts.

An assortment of pants, skirts, shorts.

Four things:

1. I’m a denim fan. So these “bottom” pieces are almost all denim, but you can bring whatever you have. Flowy skirts, satin pants, etc.

2. I bought that light blue skirt for $5. Go me!

3. I like to bring  an assortment of capris, shorts, pants, etc. and I like to bring an assortment of colors that can be mixed n’ matched with whatever shirts I’m bringing. I’m also bringing some white pants which are another MUST for summer!

4. I’m bringing the blue jean jacket for those freezing air-conditioned restaurants or cool evenings by the water.

My selection of shirts.

A few shirts and a black scarf.

Here are some of the tops I’m bringing. Note the black scarf {from Senegal} that can be used as a wrap, a shawl for cool evenings, or a scarf. Another great multi-use piece! I have a few t-shirts, some fancy tops that can be paired with colored jeans, and tank-tops too. Also, note the Downy wrinkle release. That stuff is a—-mazing and a handy thing to have when you just want to spray, shake out the wrinkles, and go!

Bringing these too.

Bringing these too.

These fit into the denim category, and are great for any time you’re not in the pool or the ocean. Also, I only paid $9 for these bad boys. Don’t you love end-of-summer sales?!

3 pairs are all I need.

3 pairs are all I need.

It’s sometimes hard to decided on exactly what shoes to bring. I’m bringing these wedges for dressier outfits, sandals that can be worn with anything, and flip-flops for at the pool and beach.

Last-minute things.

Last-minute things.

These are some of those last-minute things that you don’t want to forget! Sunscreen, sunglasses, a few pieces of jewelry for day-trips and evenings out, a good book and some magazines, and those just-in-case band-aids, cold meds, and vitamin C packets {I think I forget that I’m in the US now and don’t have to pack it all – haha}.

Snacks!

Snacks!

And last but NOT least… you can’t go on a 10-hour road trip to the beach without some candy and snacks! Right, Amy??

OKAY. Now I need to stop writing about what I’m going to bring and actually go pack!

What about you? What are some of your must-pack vacation items?

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UNDANGAROU

Handbags anyone? We all know that no outfit is complete without the perfect handbag….and I have found the PERFECT handbag. Uniquely handcrafted and designed by an artist in Saint Louis, Senegal.

Sandrine Gomis has always had a love for fashion. She grew up in Paris, but her father is Senegalese. Three years ago she moved to Saint Louis to start a new life for her and her son. She started making handbags. Her brand name is “Undangarou” and you can find her online at http://www.undangarou.com. She mixes leather with wax prints and/or the hand woven fabrics found in Senegal. One of her inspirations is the Touareg jewelry. If  you look below at the very first handbag she made you can see the obvious inspiration within the leather.

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Currently she does not have a shop but some of her bags are sold at a local hotel here in Saint Louis. Interested in one of her bags? Give her a call 77-806-96-40 or email her at contact@undangarou.com.

Sandrine Gomis with the very first Undangarou bag.

Sandrine Gomis with the very first Undangarou bag.

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This is my first "UNDANGAROU" purchase.  This size bag costs 20,000CFA.

This is my first “UNDANGAROU” purchase. This size bag costs 20,000CFA.

Look deep (around) my eyes…

I have to admit that I feel pretty silly posting this, so I’m going to consider it a new kind of fashion risk. And if The Gazelle Skirt isn’t a safe place to take such a risk, well then I can’t imagine where is!

I’m needing to buy new glasses because:
a) my prescription has changed juuust enough to justify it.
b) my toddler will eventually destroy this one pair I have.
c) I’m in the US now so makes sense to go ahead and order them.

I decided to shop on Zenni Optical because:
a) It was originally recorded to me by my friend Valerie and she gives such good advice that one day I plan to write a book called ‘Valerie Says…’
b) My husband and I have bought from Zenni before and of the fours pairs we bought, we loved two, liked one and disliked one.
c) It’s cheap! Like $7 to $30 a pair cheap.
d) You can ‘try them on’ virtually.

It’s that last one that brings me to this post. These are eight pairs I’m considering. Care to give me your opinion and some feedback? I prefer a more feminine look and lean towards browns over black or silver. I’m not against trying a bright color, but haven’t quite worked up the Jenn to make that jump.

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Just call me 32 eyes.

If you’re interested in shopping on Zenni and sharing your images on here for feedback (or looking to try a new ‘do, testing out manicure polish colors, or whatever!), just shoot us an email at gazelleskirt@gmail.com or post it on our Facebook page.

Fashion lessons and observations

Greetings from green, hilly, humid southern Ohio! How is everyone? Good? Good? Good? Good!

Here are a few fashion lessons that I have learned lately, along with some good reminders, and some observations about my own wardrobe {here in the US} that I wanted to share with you all:

+ Polka dots are my fave. On shoes, on shirts, on headbands… but not all at once of course. They’re just so fun and whimsical, how can you not love them??

What's not to love?

What’s not to love?

+ I saw on the TODAY show that jeans with holes in them aren’t so much the look for fall 2013, but jeans with patches on the holes are “the look”. That sounds easy enough to pull off. Also, leather leggings {ewww, not so sure I like the idea of that} and flannel {always a cozy classic} will be big this fall.

+ Florals and stripes DO work together. I’m not brave enough to wear the floral flowy pants and a striped shirt or anything, but I do wear a striped shirt and a floral pastel infinity scarf together… and it works!

+ Nail polish does NOT have to match your outfit. It can, but it doesn’t have to. Just pick a color that you like and go for it.

+ Speaking of infinity scarves, my mom bought me one and I wear it all.the.time! It’s one long, continuous circle, hence the name. You just fold it however many times you want, and wear it short or long around your neck. It’s a good way to add a little “something” to your outfit. (I saw a white one the other day with little black whales all over it and now I’m wishing I would have bought it…)

+ If you’re going to go with the low-rise jeans, please, please make sure they aren’t that low, if you can smell what I’m stepping in. Along that same line, a good belt can do wonders.

+ Flip flops don’t work for anyone. Sure they’re fine for at the beach, the pool, or to run a quick errand, but they’re terrible for your back {just ask any chiropractor}, and they kind of make you waddle just a lil’ bit.

Sandals that strap to your feet are better for you... and cute, too!

Sandals that strap to your feet are better for you… and cute, too!

+ African print totally work here. In moderation, that is. When I wear my AfricaNubian earrings, I get like 5,000 compliments.

Some of my Africa-made jewelry.

Some of my Africa-made jewelry.

I could go on, but I want to hear what fashion lessons you’ve learned this summer. What have you observed from your own wardrobe?

What to wear in Afghanistan

red outfit

This was on the roof of our building, relaxing out of sight in a long, loose tunic, pants and head scarf.

Recently my parents had the opportunity to travel to Afghanistan, where the dos and don’ts of dressing in a Muslim culture are quite different from in Senegal. After seeing The Gazelle Skirt series on what people wore for a week, my mom decided to chronicle her clothing on the trip and ask questions of the women she was visiting and met along the way.

You ready? Here we go!

Beverly's polka dot tunic

What I wore around the guesthouse in Kabul, so indoors and around other expats. But if I went down to ground level where the male Afghani staff worked, I needed to wear a head covering.

What were the general guidelines for what you could wear in Kabul?

In public or at home with males outside your immediate family, I had to wear outfits with long sleeves, like three quarters or longer. Tops had to loosely cover your rear and fall at least below the knee. And this was over long pants. Your head has to be covered with a long scarf, but my bangs could show. There weren’t any restrictions on shoes, so most women wore very glamourous shoes, like strappy heels. There were also a lot of bedazzled iPhone covers, henna designs on hands and feet and sparkly nail polishes to accessorize.

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A long robe, worn over my long tunic with sleeves, worn over my long pants. It was hot!

And you have to wear this even when it’s hot out?

Oh yeah!

How hot was it?

It was over 100 degrees most days and there wasn’t much that was air-conditioned.

You came to Senegal in July one year. Better or worse?

As miserable. Wearing a burka or chaddor in Afghanistan in May, and they said it was cooler than usual, was as miserable as Dakar in July without AC.

blue & pink dress

This I wore indoors and around the Afghani staff. Three-quarter length sleeves, long tunic covering knees (and everything above!) and a head scarf.

What kinds of fabrics did you see?

It wasn’t drab at all. The women love bright colors, metallic threads, rhinestones…

yellow Pakistani outfit

This is a Pakistani-style outfit that I actually bought in Kosovo before the trip. (I hear you can buy them in Dakar at Marche HLM.)

burka

Putting on the burka to travel into the Taliban area.

How different was it in the Taliban area?

The women love the bright, beautiful clothing, but it’s all under their chaddor or burka. You can even see their love of color in their homes which are decorated with richly colored tapestries with cushions and pillows similar to the Persian rugs.

burkas

Whenever you go out in public (outside your compound) in a Taliban area, you have to wear a burka like these. To walk, you grab the bottom corner by your ankle and wrap it around to cover the front of your legs as you walk.

Thanks for sharing your clothing experiences with us!

black outfit

This was actually taken in Dubai on the way home. I bought the top at a market in Kabul for about $12.

Bulges disappear like magic!

Hi Gazelles,

I’m posting this from the US where I’ve just come across a surprising discovery. As you can imagine, I’m enjoying all the treats in America that I can’t easily get in Senegal. But in the Sunday paper I saw an ad that made me realize that the (fashionable) grass is not always greener here.

Take a look for yourself:

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Figure-flattering Styling – Cool, Breezy & Comfortable!

– Pretty and elegant for a cozy evening at home!
– With the delicate feeling of silk!
– Roomy and perfect for any shape and size!
– So versatile to wear around the house and yard!
– Feather-light!
– Perfect for all-day and year-round wear!
– Full length, flowing style for a ‘barely there’ feeling!
– So easy to take on or off!

I know, right? Even at half-price they are charging $14.95 for this caftan dress when we can get them for just a couple dollars (well, a couple thousand CFA) at HLM market! I had no idea we were so fortunate. Makes me think I should run out and by a bunch once I get back. Plus, at the rate I’m enjoying Starbucks and Chick Fil A, I’m going to need all the magical bulge disappearing action I can get…

Happy summer, everyone!

What does your culture teach your kids about body image?

Today’s guest post is by the Tina, a wife and mother of three kids (also known as the Traveling Tribe.) She’s a freelance writer, photographer, language school goodie tushu and family cook. Her blog, Flying House, is about living a creative and beautiful life from here to there. And at times, Tina’s ‘here’ has been Spain, Morocco and the U.S. but is currently Denmark.

You may not give it too much thought, but it might surprise you just how much the culture around you is dictating a message to you and your children about body image. In many countries having a little more weight on your hips is a sign of wealth and prosperity while in the next it is a sign of poverty. And it is not just your hips they are talking about either. In one place you might be tempted to augment your small bust to keep up with all the ads and media filled with girls with large, perky breasts while in the next that same bust line is being judged by it’s ability to nurse and nourish babies.

In Morocco, I was constantly being asked why I did not eat more. Was I ill? Were we having troubles? My friends could not understand why I wanted to be thinner. The men preferred their women with soft lines and voluptuous curves.

I was feeling pretty good about myself.

Then we came to Denmark. And all those good feelings began to dissipate. I was one of the chubbier girls at the gym. (Yes. I am telling the truth.) Everyone was so tall and thin, talking constantly about the evils of sugar and fat, and I suddenly felt the need to step it up. It is not like anyone was telling me I was fat, but all around me, culture was dictating a new norm to me.

I have thought a lot about how the cultures around us affect our children because if it is so difficult for me as an adult, how much harder will it be for my children to have a healthy image of themselves? What is right the size and weight? What is healthy? How do I teach them to love the skin they are in?

Here are a few things that we are talking about with our kids, particularly our almost-teen daughter:

1. Don’t compare yourself to others. We all come in different shapes and sizes!

2. At times you will have to go against cultural norms and decide what is best for yourself.

3. Be healthy and love the body you have been given!

So, What do you think your culture is teaching your kids about body image?