Monday, October 18, 2010

What my toddler taught me about fashion

I have a 23-month-old daughter - my mom likes to call her the Divine Miss M (Bette Midler ain't got nothin' on my baby!) - who likes to be dressed up, likes to be pretty, & loooooves to be fancy. Some days she'll wear a boa to the commissary. Others, she'll wear her tiara to the coffee shop. But no matter what accessories she wears, she's certain to pick her shoes first. She just doesn't feel complete without shoes. And I love that about her. She'll slide them on, shuffle her little toes tap-dance style, & then say, "Pretty shoes." Shoes make Miss M feel polished.

And that makes me think, what makes me feel polished? What can I not leave the house without? Or, since I'm a mom & can leave the house without pretty much anything, my dignity included, when the situation demands it, I guess the better question for me & my fellow mothers is, "What makes me feel complete & wholly confident when I wear it?"

That's a hard question for me to answer. I might say a manicure, because I do obsessively gawk at my hands when they're all spiffed up, but I am a cyclical nail biter, so periods of manicuring never last longer than two months for me. Perhaps makeup, but that's cliche, & it's also patently untrue for me - I am happiest when I'm fresh-faced (provided my skin hasn't had a puberty relapse). Maybe wearing really great jewelry? Except that I know for a fact that I can feel poised, even at the gym, when I am blingless.

I guess, for me, I feel most polished when my unruly hair has been straightened - something I rarely have time to do, because taming the beast that is my hair is a thirty to forty-five minute ordeal at a minimum. A blowdryer & ponytail can be accomplished in fifteen minutes, tops. As a result, the practically of a ponytail wins out around here very frequently. But on the days when I do straighten my hair, brush each lock out until it's silky & shiny, until it cascades smoothly over my shoulders, I feel most confident & put together. Most ready to take on the world as a take-no-nonsense, multitasking mother. Most polished.

What Miss M's shoes are to her, my sleekly straightened hair is to me. Knowing that about myself is powerful, because it helps me know which events are worth the time to give myself that extra boost, that finishing touch. It's good to have that feeling that makes me want to shuffle like my toddler & beam, "Pretty hair." And that's what fashion is really about at A.C. Valor. It's not about getting the hottest trend off a runway in Milan or wearing a big name label on your arm. We make our clothes & accessories with the thought, "What detail can we add that will make someone smile into the mirror? How can we help them capture their signature style to present themselves to the world?"

So what makes you feel polished? What's that one finishing touch that gives you your personal femme fatale? (Or, men, your, er, man fatale?) Tell me what really makes your day, what you consider your fashion "thing". And I'll get back to you later, because I think I need to go straighten my hair now.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Striped Pink Pajamas & a Holiday

That's what the top of this blog reminds me of.  I wish I could say I own a pair just like it, but I don't.  Maybe I'll suggest pink stripe pj pants as the next A.C. Valor fashion-forward idea.  Even the most motivated among us have to sleep, you know.

Speaking of, I probably *should* be sleeping right now.  It's fortunate for me that blogging while drowsy isn't as dangerous as driving while drowsy, because I apparently lack the willpower to not get behind the keyboard right now.  I have to publically celebrate that today is the greatest holiday in the month of October, (except maybe for Halloween, but definitely a close second).  Why, golly gee, it's National Boss's Day!  I know that, traditionally, because it falls on a Saturday, that most workplaces celebrated it yesterday, on the 15th.  But since I don't work in a cubicle down the hall from my boss, but, rather, a day's drive across state lines away, I feel absolutely free to embrace the holiday ON the day.  On a Saturday.  Imagine!

According to The Huffington Post via Adecco, the greatest percentage of Americans polled would like to work for Oprah.

It's a shame that no one included me in this survey, because I, for one, would like my vote to be counted that I would rather work for no one but Michaela Smithley.  Michaela, who embodies the determination, dedication, & resilience that makes other military wives proud.  Michaela, who gracefully balances a busy family of 6 (and soon to be 7!) with a successful business, all while having an active duty Marine husband whose own schedule is none too accomodating.  Michaela, who was my friend before she was my boss, & I'm proud to call her both.

This is Michaela.  She really is as sweet as she looks.  But don't let that fool you.  She has grit, determination, & ingenuity in spades.  Also fashion sense that makes me envious.  (That's probably why she's the designer & I'm the blogger.)  She started the business that is now known as A.C. Valor in her living room six years ago, sewing camouflage totes from old uniforms when the Marine Corps made the switch to digital cammies, rendering the macropattern obsolete.  Within two years she was creating a licensed company & introducing a line of clothing, which was carried in Marine Corps Exchanges worldwide within another year.  The business has done nothing but expand, serving a growing population of young, trendy military wives, girlfriends, mothers, & children, to name a few of our customer base. 

And yet, Michaela is humble, approachable, & willing to roll up her sleeves.  This spring, when her head printer was called to jury duty, Michaela gladly screen printed 300 pairs of shorts herself.

This might be less exceptional in its own right if you didn't know that two hours later, she had to be at the airport to greet her husband, who was returning from a six month deployment!  And yet when he arrived, she looked fresh as a daisy. 

And yet even while keeping the schedule she keeps, Michaela has an innate ability to be thoughtful & gracious.  In the years we have worked together, we've PCSed to new states, bought new houses, seen our husbands leave for and return from foreign countries.  We've even been pregnant together.  And she has always found time to remember & to ask about my children, my husband, even my parents.  She has commemorated milestones with me, & I'm so very grateful to have her as my boss, & even more grateful to have her as my friend.

So here's to you, Michaela, & a very happy Boss's Day.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

In the Beginning

Good heavens, we've done it.  We've stepped confidently across the threshold of the blogosphere & prepared to introduce the innermost thoughts of A.C. Valor to the world.  It's thrilling.  It's shocking.  It's a little intimidating.

What does one write about in a first blog of a military pridewear company?  It would seem that introductions are in order for those who stumbled upon us by sheer internet happenstance.  To those who have done just that, welcome, & thank you for sticking around long enough to begin reading.  To those for whom A. C. Valor is a household name, welcome, & thank you for standing by us!  The official company introduction goes something like this: 

A.C. Valor is a company, founded by a military spouse, that is dedicated to creating a stylish line of clothing and accessories to honor the men and women of the Armed Forces and their families worldwide.  A.C. Valor's Core Values of honor, courage, & commitment are a direct reflection of the values of the United States Military - an elite group of men, women and families whom A.C. Valor supports through the design and marketing of Military pride wear.  Currently, Glam Gal by A.C. Valor can be found at Marine Corps Exchanges around the globe, online at, and other fine retail stores across the country. The company is a testament to the spirit of the Marine Corps family with their ever-changing, fresh approach to providing families with fun, fashionable military pride wear!

See?  Official, right?  All 100% true, but still not exactly capturing the essence of A.C. Valor.  At our core, A.C. Valor is a family.  It's a calling.  It's a passion.  It's a service for those who serve our nation.  It's a company of men & women who stand shoulder to shoulder with their customers because they're living the same lives.  When a son waves goodbye to his tearful mother & boards a plane for a foreign land, we've been there.  When a breathless young girlfriend rushes through a graduation-day crowd to leap into the arms of her new Marine, we've been there.  When a toddler takes his first faltering steps before collapsing unceremoniously onto a camoflage-clad lap, we've been there.  And we love it.  We embrace it, & we're proud of it.

So it is easy for us to make military pridewear for thousands of families around the world because we are personally invested in it.  We step out of our houses in it in the mornings & dress our children in it before we tote them onto base for an event. 

I could go on, but, really, I think for now I'll end this cyber-handshake, conclude the how-do-you-do, & just express, once again, how appreciative we are that you've come to our blog to get to know us better.  Leave us some comment love, ask us questions, & just generally make yourself at home!