Summer Clothes to Protect Your Skin

If you can’t take the heat, wear this…

HSN has asked for dressing tips on how to stay “Safe and Stylish in the Sun.”

If my 25 and under self was writing this, it would read much differently. It wasn’t until about 25 years old that I realized dressing in the summer wasn’t always about how to avoid tan lines, but more importantly about staying cool, being comfortable and protecting your skin. For 3 years I drove along the Pacific Coast on my way to work. (That didn’t suck! Actually, the traffic did, but not the view.) Researchers have stated that American drivers’ with skin cancer had more of it on the left side of their face compared to their right.

I say that because I didn’t use to wear a moisturizer with SPF—thought only to do that when heading to…the beach, lake, pool etc. In talking with several ladies, the general consensus is that we used to get much darker when we were kids. Yes of course, that is party due to the fact that we slept in our swim suits and were outside for much longer than we are now, as adults. It isn’t just that though, my body just can’t take the heat like it used. My face and shoulders get hot very quickly. My maxed out skin color is much lighter than it was growing up.

Just like how our styles evolve as our lives and bodies do, so too is the way we handle dressing for the sun.

If you can relate to any of the above, then here are some suggestions—on looking fantastic while doing your skin a favor.

Lena Porter_for HSN_Safe and Stylish in the Sun campaign 1


tops—lightweight material with sleeves provides coverage for your shoulders

sheer is sexy, cotton is classic. knotting the bottom and rolling up the sleeves adds interest.

* As always, pair opposites to visually look balanced. i.e. flowly linen pants with a form fitting tank; loose top with structured jean shorts

hat—fedora for everyday/driving/errands/BBQs

wide brim sun hat—for some, this is one of those hats you feel more comfortable wearing…while on vacation…in Monaco (because it quite GRAND and maybe not practical for home life.) I like wearing hats like this while gardening—gives full coverage of the ears and shoulders. If this is too luxurious for your tastes, opt for a less wide brim.

sunnies—it’s real annoying when you have on a pair of shades that lets the sun in through the sides. Instead, try on before you buy.

backpack—less is more in the summertime. That rings true for bags, jewelry and makeup. I love my vintage woven backpack in the summer. It’s less weight and gives my shoulders a break. Plus, I dig the texture.

scarves—this one doubles as a beach wrap. There are tons of ways to tie a sarong (and a million videos on Youtube to watch).

* bonus! I have owned all of these items for YEARS. Another beautiful thing about summer clothes is that they really don’t go out of style.

Tigers fan

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Fashion & Jewelry Workshop Recap

Here’s what happened at the fashion & jewelry workshop I did last weekend at the Showroom of Elegance—as shown through these snapshots:
 Everyone on the planet can wear this tie front blouse.

{does not discriminate against size or personal style}

I was frightened by patterned pants.

{kidding. caught me mid-sentence}

A woman yelled out, ‘uniboob’…

{and it actually described what I was talking about quite nicely}

The ladies took a style personality quiz.

{who doesn’t like quizzes?!}

Indigo Salon gave hand massages

{an underrated luxury}

All the clothes were made in the US.

{think: Ella Moss, Splendid, Rachel Pally, James Perse, Mitten State}

Thx lolaryan!

Stripes CAN be flattering.

{This surprised many. It’s all about the spacing and angle. Thin spacing and stripes do not widen you; wide spaced stripes do. Stripes on diagonals are your friends too.}

Lena Porter, Personal Stylist, holding up clothes at the Showroom of Elegance

event planner and hair stylist pose for a picture, clothing and jewelry are displayed, a striped maxi skirt


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A ‘mother-daughter’ boutique

It’s the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day. How fun!

In honor of this, I want to talk about 3 things:

1. A contest! Long Elegant Legs is a fashion site that caters to taller women.

To win a printed canvas of your mom, as well as a gift card of your choosing, all you need to do is leave a comment below this post, describing the best fashion or life lesson your mother has taught you. Then, LEL will choose a few of their favorites to win!

Cindy & Lena

2. I recently stumbled upon a new boutique (new to Ann Arbor; they have other shops in Kerrytown, Petoskey & Charleston, SC). While chatting with the manager about their merch she said, “We’re a mother-daughter shop.” She means, moms and their daughters can both successfully wear the clothes. In this case, I agree. (unless your daughter is a child) The very fun part of this is that each of you can walk away with a new find, instead of the ‘your store, my store’ shopping excursions. Who knows, you might even pick up the SAME item, but wear it differently. If shopping is a favored pastime for you & your mum, check out V2V.

bustier + long skirt at V2V women's boutique (Arbor Crossing) Ann Arbor, MI

V2V boutique display


glass table jewelry display at V2V Arbor Crossing Ann Arbor, MI

3. If your mother wasn’t or isn’t a big style influence in your life but you love her so damn much…and would like to give her a heart-felt gift, how about creating a Pinterest board of your favorite mom memories? Then, SEND the board to share with her directly on Mother’s Day!

*Pinterest is running a contest too, in which you make a public board of your mom and they select a winner to receive a Teleflora gift card. I read their message yesterday, the deadline is May 7th. Really should check their emails more often.

Pinterest Mother's Day ChallengeP.S. Mollypacks has met and surpassed their goal on Kickstarter—we’re getting fanny packs! Thanks to all of you who pledged and promoted her designs.


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Fashionable leather fanny packs

A long time friend of mine has designed Mollypacks: a line of leather fanny packs—two styles in a variety of colors. The strap is removable, so it doubles as a clutch, giving you lots of use—like concerts and cocktails. I also see this being really useful for all you young moms (hands free!).

models posing outside in New York City with leather fanny packs

This is Molly’s debut line and in order to fund production, she’s created a Kickstarter campaign. In less than a week, she’s already reached 50% of her goal!

To pre-order your favorite one (at a discount) go here:

As with all Kickstarter campaigns, you have to have a video—check it out!

In her words:

“I love a good fanny.

Last year, I found myself in extreme physical and emotional pain. My back was killing me from lugging around my huge handbag everywhere. Not to mention, I was hitting the concert scene pretty hard and I was tired of bumping people with my bag as I squeezed myself to the front row. I needed something smaller and easy to carry, but still fashionable. Then it dawned on me…I needed a fanny pack.

Unfortunately, the only high quality fanny packs I could find were upwards of $500 and I wasn’t even that crazy about the styles. So I decided I would design my dream fanny pack myself. I’ve been working in the NYC fashion industry for several years, so I knew exactly what to do.

Eventually, I made two sexy fannies (Envelope and Circle).”

Here’s my soon-to-be (if funding is raised):

leather fanny pack in vintage green color

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Which necklace to wear? + Style workshop invitation

Jewelry. It hints at your mood, and is usually the last piece you put on before you leave.

Just like clothes, there are specific types of jewelry that are flattering on you. Your bone structure and personality play a part in the selection—as does the image you want to convey.

Never mind the fact that I’m not smiling in one of the photos below. The agate graduated stone necklace is intense and sleek; it feels fitting to match it with a sleek ponytail. Do you also see how my neck looks longer in that picture? The yellow necklace, in an obviously cheerier color, seems more approachable. (to anyone I come into contact with) It also visually shortens the appearance of my neck, which is fine, because it’s long to begin with.

black agate graduated stone necklace and yellow necklace on lena porter

I like both necklaces, for different occasions. For a first session with a new client, I most likely wouldn’t wear the black, as it might intimidate him/her. (And I want the people I work with to listen to me, not to be scared!) But, if I have a meeting with a brand, then the black necklace would fit in perfectly. As for that audience, the piece can come across more so as creative, and not ‘rah!’

Disclaimer: the photos were taken at the end of the day, hence the reason I look so sleepy!

Speaking of jewelry, here is your Save-the-Date! I’ll be speaking at the fashion & jewelry workshop in May. Hope to see you Michigan ladies there. :)

jewelry and style workshop with Lena Porter invitation


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Tops to wear after a double mastectomy

This title feels very blunt…so I guess I’ll continue on with the feeling.

Last month my grandmother had a double mastectomy. We found out 2 weeks prior that she had breast cancer. So the whole thing happened very quickly, and the timing made it tough to [want to] celebrate my birthday.

The surgery went well and when my grandma woke up, she looked around and said, “Well, I guess I’m still here!” Then joked to the doctor, saying that her boobs would grow back. Ha. When you’re close to 90 years old, people have to laugh at your jokes. Or maybe you just get funnier?

family photo

I don’t want this post to bum you out. Instead, I want to address the very real conversation of life after a double mastectomy. Each of us knows someone affected by Breast Cancer, it’s alarming how many people I can count. (including my namesake grandmother, whom I never got to meet)

Not everyone diagnosed has surgery. Not everyone who has a mastectomy has reconstructive surgery. (or as some say, “their boobs put back”) I’ve learned this is a general misconception; you have to choose to have this reconstruction, it isn’t ‘included.’ Remember, it’s not the main purpose of the operation!

Each woman has her own choice to make. For my grandmother, she chose not to [have reconstructive surgery]. This is mainly because of her age—she really doesn’t give a damn if she’s now flat chested. To me and my sister, it was a little odd when we first saw her, post surgery. Our plump Polish ‘Bacia’ wasn’t the shape we grew up loving. And since we are both at the age where we DO care what we look like, it kind of made us rethink the female body and what is its ideal.

i.e. Are you not feminine if you don’t have boobs anymore? I felt ridiculous just writing that. We do put a lot of emphasis on our bra size though. Post surgery, post breast feeding, pre-puberty…us girls can get preoccupied with the size and shape of our top half.

So what if you don’t go Angelina Jolie and instead, stay without breasts? You use similar techniques to that of a small chested women—to add volume to your top so that you visually balance your appearance.


LOFT model wearing dot collared shirt


LOFT model in mint top


model wearing a leopard post mastectomy tank top


In tops, these are your friends:

1. ruffles

2. chest pockets

3. pattern

4. cowl neck

5. scarves

I stumbled upon the site CureDiva and am incredibly impressed. Your arms can swell after surgery and their compression sleeves come in a variety of patterns…kind of makes me want to sport one, just in support.





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Leather bow ties by ReformedSchool

“Wait, is that…leather?” The knot of our fit model’s bow tie caught my attention. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten so excited about something that I couldn’t wear. (I mean, yes, girls can wear bow ties—just not this girl.)

Adult Recycled Brown Tweed Bow Tie with Leather by ReformedSchool on Etsy


Last week I taught a packed New Stylist training class for J.Hilburn in Chicago. During the measurement section of the day, I demonstrate how to take a man’s 16 body measurements. After, the class pairs up and practices what they’ve learned on our fit models. Mind you, these aren’t professional models; they are current clients that live in the cities in which we’re conducting a class. I’ve met so many interesting people that have ‘modeled’ for our classes—finance guys, surfer dudes…they’ve all been different shapes and sizes—which makes for great practice!

In Chicago, I had the privilege of working alongside four gentleman who work in theater. If their physique didn’t clue you in on their profession, seeing them, subconsciously, stand in first position while having their measurements taken, would!

I learned that the bow tie wearing gentleman actually made his bow tie and has a variety that he sells on Etsy! I was totally impressed with his hobby that I wanted to let people know about it. (The price is SO reasonable that if you are a bow tie wearing guy, you can stock up on Reformed School’s selections or if you aren’t, but have wanted to try, now’s an excellent time.)

A sneak peek—check out the distressed denim, floral and love note!

a display of Adult bow ties with leather, distressed denim, floral, studs and red tartan plaid




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A jazzy bag made by a U.S. soldier

As I walked into a meeting, this bag caught my eye. Then I learned the story behind it and I liked it even more!

daughter posing with a leather hide cross-body bag with guitar strap made by her father, a former U.S. soldier

photo: Lena Porter

I’m sure a lot of women can relate to the work bag dilemma: you don’t want something so big that you stuff it full, and look like you are struggling to carry it (because you are) but you also need room for all your things. (tablet, notebook, headphones, giant March issue of a fashion magazine, snacks, etc.) For this reason, I particularly like a cross-body bag. (less weight on your shoulder)

handmade leather cross-body bag with guitar strap on display

photo: Cyndee Harrison

Check out its details. The leather used here is so soft and the contrast of the textured hide on the flap gives more interest. And yes, that strap is, a guitar strap. Fun! Even more impressive, this bag wasn’t made by a chic young lady selling her creations via Etsy or Of a Kind. It was handmade by this woman’s father—a man who learned to sew while in the Army. I smile to think that sewing was one of the ‘survival’ skills he learned during his 27 years in service. Now, his daughter can benefit from this useful and unique everyday bag!

Do you have something that was uniquely made? I’m a sucker for good stories and interestingly crafted pieces—be it clothes, accessories, furniture and so on. If you have something to share, please tell me about it!


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Cam Newton in your pants

This was the title of an email I wrote to a new client.

It unintentionally sounds sexual! (not professional) Which I thankfully realized right before sending…and therefore erased half of it. Do you write your subject before or after composing an email?

My client had selected this (gorgeous) Blue w/Light Blue Deco plaid fabric to be made into a pair of trousers by J.Hilburn. NFL quarterback Cam Newton recently wore one of our sport coats in this same material. Through experience I’ve learned that all guys like to see a visual when it comes to understanding how pieces ‘go’ together—whether he tries it on himself, or in the case of custom clothing, can see a picture of someone else in it. That’s why I wanted to send this photo; so my client could picture a piece of fabric as a fully made garment.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton wearing a J.Hilburn  blue plaid sport coat at the ESPN ESQUIRE party

photo: J.Hilburn

The title more clearly could have been Cam Newton is wearing the same fabric you picked out, only he got a sport coat made from it, not pants. That doesn’t have as nice a ring to it.

I like how Esquire Fashion Editor Nic Screws paired red, an often intimidating color for a guy to wear, with the low contrast of blue and grey. The Pro Bowl QB is wearing a dress shirt, sweater and blazer, yet he doesn’t look the least bit bulky. Take note: you can do all 3 and not look or feel stuffy. It seems many men think it has to be an either or—sport coat + shirt or sweater + shirt. If you wear a lightweight sweater underneath, there’s room for it all.

So there you go, a few tips on suit layering and an example of Cam Newton in your pants. Ha.


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The Mexican skier + what you wear to work

I want to talk about Hubertus von Hohenlohe, the slalom skier —Mexico’s only competitor in these Olympics—more specifically, his mariachi-inspired uniform.

Hubertus von Hohenlohe  wearing a mariachi  ski uniform at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia

He is 55 years old and had little chance at winning a medal. That doesn’t seem to bother him as he’s also a musician, a photographer…and a (German) prince.

I think this uniform is great! Not only from a design perspective, but also because it very clearly portrays a planned image. von Hohenlohe is obviously creative, up for a good time and wanted to generate some buzz for his birthplace. It worked—NBC named him the “Most Interesting Olympian in the World.”

We can all relate to this. Each time you have a meeting, a date, an interview or pick your kids up from school, every time you get dressed and leave the house, you are deciding the image/mood you want to project.

This month I had fun dressing two of my clients for a media tour. Even though you want to feel like yourself in your clothes, there are different versions of yourself; you tailor your look based on your audience. In their case, it was important to dress more conservatively/family friendly for a show on the Hallmark channel, and more lively/dressed up for Arsenio. You are still the same person, but you are coming across as more relatable to your audience. Another example would be how you dress at work (obviously excluding the scrub-wearers!). Virtually everyone nowadays gets ‘more dressed up’ if he/she will be seeing a client that day. All other days, the office rule is more lax. Then of course, the type of client dictates what you will wear. (If they wear suits, you do too; if they wear jeans, you wear jeans…and a blazer—you get the point.)


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