As a blogger, I’m part of a beautiful community of creatives. We may share our ideas through a virtual network, but often times we have the opportunity to connect in person, sit down and chat, and really get the creative juices flowing! Grab your coffee and meet my friends, appearing as guest bloggers in this near-to-my-heart section.

Embrace the Transition to Fall

With thoughts of the crisp air that is soon to flow our way, I believe we are all waiting with zealous anticipation. Boy, it sure has been a hot summer, right ladies? I am positive I’ve gone down a dress size or two with the amount of “moisture” released from this ol’ body (a girl can dream, now can’t she?).

I am super excited, as I’ve said before, to style my fall wardrobe. What tickles me even more, is National’s new fall collection. From warm and fuzzy, delicate and pretty, to a hint of the wild side, there are fall outfits to dress you for any occasion. Everyone loves a little leopard-oh don’t you worry, National has just the right amount of animal print to keep you on trend. Let’s not forget to accessorize, I’ve got the perfect new design of pearl earrings you’ll just love to showcase all season!

Here are a few of my favorites coming your way now:

Crochet Button-Front Blouse

Animal Print Kimono
Jessica McClintock

Pearl Neckline Top

Pearl Dangle Earrings
Carol Dauplaise®

Charmy Loafers
Hush Puppies®


So, fill the house with cinnamon and pumpkin goodness because fall is knocking on your door. I know, I know, it still feels like a heatwave, but as I’ve said, a girl can dream, right? Ha! Ha! Ha!

Happy fall ya’ll,




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Our Seven Week Texas Treat

Occasionally, you are gifted a treasure you know will be for keeps. Here at National, our gift was and will always be, Ms. Kylee Willmoth. Kylee hails from Cypress, Texas. She attends Baylor University and we were privileged to have Kylee join our National team for seven weeks as an intern. Kylee is majoring in Apparel Merchandising with a minor in Entrepreneurship.

As I reflect on the last 7 weeks with Kylee, I recall how eager and thorough Kylee executed the tasks asked of her. The in-depth research Kylee conducted was so helpful to the Merchandising, Marketing, Planning and Forecasting, as well as the Technical Design teams.

While we do not want her to leave us, we are super excited for her to walk the Baylor stage in December and await her return to visit us often, we hope.

I captured many moments of Kylee’s hard work and fun times this summer. Kylee’s sweet smile and gracious southern demeanor is simply infectious. She leaves us with a lighter, brighter outlook on the world of fashion and design. I am confident we all have the sweetest of memories as we wish Kylee all the best as she begins her new career! Baylor University should be most proud.

Kylee working hard








Taking a moment to smile!

Technical Design

 Fit Sessions with Kylee


Kylee creates design and pattern sequence storyboards

Fit Sessions are the best

Kylee gets National goodies

Kylee with Carol (CFO), Lynda (Owner and President), and Belinda (CMD)

Brava Kylee!


To new beginnings,



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National Shapewear Day is Putting on the Moves

Having confidence in your clothes is a big deal. Thank goodness we no longer live in a time of 16th-century corsets and the types of fabric in classic shapewear that promote the loss of breath! We have come a long way baby!

Modern shapewear has been redefined and is created from some of the most advanced materials available. Did I say thank goodness yet? We can expect the construction of modern movement shapewear to be breathable, flexible, and made with durable fabrics. Bring on the wicking and cooling shapewear, I say! These days, it is for the safety of all living creatures, in my world, that I stay as cool and comfy as possible. Just saying… (wink)

I am a big fan of modern shapewear targeting areas I wish to promote less, and “gathers” me more, so I can have confidence in my dresses, jeans, leggings, pants, and tops. I am thrilled to talk about the sophistication of shapewear from National.

For fall fashion 2019, I want to rely on soft, modern, even with a bit of cotton shapewear that hugs and supports me; so, I can walk the catwalk [in my mind] all day. With fall dresses by National I can be comfortable and feel the oh-so-soft fabrics I love. Modernized shapewear enhances my dress outfits with ease.

Celebrate National Shapewear Day tomorrow, August 10, 2019. Why not join me in a little fall shopping for comfortable and affordable shapewear by National? I for one, will be on their webpage bright and early. 😊 Release your inner bomb-body ladies and celebrate the movement!

National Shapewear Day with Shop National

Shop the Cool Shapewear @ Shop National


Shape on,



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In Her Own Stylish Words-Interview with Julie Harbour

Recently, we had the pure joy of partnering with the Los Angeles Image Consultant and Personal Stylist, Julie Harbour.

Julie Harbour rockin’ it LA Style

We asked Julie to choose dresses that spoke to her true style and we were blown away by how she fabulously styled them like a true fashion professional!

The Stylish Paradox Way

Julie in the Multi-Print Caftan

We couldn’t wait to learn how Julie beautifully executes style and grace, HER WAY:

How would you define “style”?

To me, style is what makes you stand out as an individual.  Many times, people are pigeon-holed into a particular style, ie, classic, romantic, edgy, etc.  I like being a little bit of all styles rolled into one.  Have fun developing your unique style!

From your closet, what do you first grab to “start” an outfit? (or, from where do you draw inspiration in crafting your personal style?)  

It may seem a little odd, but I generally start with shoes and work my way up.  And it can also depends on my mood for the day.  If I wake up feeling a little down, that means vibrant color!  Bold colors totally lift my disposition!

What is your go-to staple style/piece and how do you like to incorporate it?  

During my work week, it’s dresses of all types.  My favorites are Maxis and Midis, which can look more corporate with just adding a blazer. I love my red embroidered midi from National!  On the weekends, it’s distressed Levi’s.  They fit the curvy woman fabulously!

I tend to rely on neutrals in my closet. What do you recommend for folks starting to bring bold colors into their wardrobe? (I.e. how do you add to your closet and where do you start in making sure you pick the right color for your complexion?)  

For those who tend to shy away from color, I recommend beginning with a colorful scarf, bold bag or shoe and slowly begin incorporating color into your wardrobe.  Personally, dressing in colorful pieces give me a mood lift!  Because I have a deeper complexion, bold colors such as reds, hot pinks and yellows look great on me.  According to the color. 

Fall is around the corner. What recommendations do you offer for transitioning your wardrobe? 

I recommend light layering.  I love wearing jumper dresses for the office with a classic while button down, for a classy chic look and a jacket. If it warms up a bit during the day, off goes the jacket! 

Pretty Posh with Julie Harbour


We want to thank Julie so much for sprinkling her innovative and super stylish apparel creations on North Carolina. We love being a part of your audience!

-Parker & Ronelle




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Prints Charming Awaits in Patterns and Pantone® for Fall

It’s that time again, and fall fashion 2019, is sure to motivate us. Have you begun to plan your fall trends 2019 wardrobe? Believe it or not, late summer is an exciting time for me. While I love a good lay out by the pool, I am always inspired by thoughts of cuddling up by the fireplace with a good book or buried in a blanket, wearing soft pajamas,while watching an intriguing, mystery on the tube (I pray you too, used this term once upon a time). 🙂

To that end, I ponder all things comfy and anticipate wearing warm tones. Hues that remind me of beautiful fall colors that will soon possess the leaves on trees takes me to a happy place. Think gorgeous gold, rich maroon, and sugary almond. Can’t you just picture how to incorporate these colors into your fall fashion 2019 wardrobe?

I always consult ‘the authority’ for the upcoming season’s color palette, Pantone®. For fall fashion and design, Pantone® does not disappoint us ladies. Their color creations are so inspirational! I am happy to say, National is not only on trend in this regard, but features the classic fall styles we all know and love.

I am jump starting my fall fashion collection for women with these brand new items. I based my selections on comfort and style for the office as well as some serious lounging in the next few months. 😊 National is serving us fun prints, sassy patterns , fashionable embroidery placement, and savvy patchwork that lends for endless styling possibilities.

It is my hope that you are equally inspired for fall fashion 2019. I look forward to your comments and do send pictures of you in your new picks for the season!

Diamond Print Pintuck Top

Sydney Striped Tunic National®

Patchwork Print Crinkle Dress

Ruffle Knit Jacket

Embroidered Jeans

Print Medley Dress
La Cera®


Happy fall,




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National gets Jiggy with Jim Quick & Coastline-Alive After Five

The Alive After Five Concert Series is held right here in Lexington, North Carolina. It offers free-to-the-public, summer concerts and much more. Folks came out from all over the area, to enjoy good music, good food, and refreshing drinks. It’s the perfect summer activity for family and friends to gather at the Breeden Amphitheater.

(image courtesy of Alive After Five Facebook®)

On July 12, 2019, National was honored to sponsor the live music for this event. The infamous, Jim Quick & Coastline jammed out as usual. It was a wonderful opportunity for National, especially because we are super fans. Boy, we had the best time seeing old friends, making new friends, and dancing the evening away!

Our CFO, Carol Snow gearing up for a great time

Skip and Bobby from our Maintenance Team

Jordan Powell (l to r), Print Design Specialist, Skip, Bobby, and me

Creative Marketing Director, Belinda Thomas; CFO, Carol Snow; President and Owner, Lynda Smith Swann

Lynda meeting and greeting

Apparel Technical Designer, Tashia Jones and daughters, Natalia and Haleina

We also hosted a $500.00 Getaway  Clothing Spree Drawing. Two individuals would be the fortunate ones to each win a $250.00 gift certificate to shop with National. Many filled out the entry forms for a chance to win.

Advertising Manager, Karen Benfield (red tee) and Jordan assisting the contestants

We drew two names and were very excited to announce that Ms. Glenda Everhart and Ms. Sandy Fritts were both winners. The very next week, Glenda and Sandy came to our office to retrieve their gift certificates. We were tickled to learn these gals not only shared the winnings, they are neighbors and cousins.

Congratulations Glenda Everhart and Sandy Fritts

Karen giving these lovely ladies their gift certificates

The pair told us they were on the phone with one other when the winners were announced. Sandy tells Glenda she’s won the gift certificate, and Glenda right away replies to Sandy [in a slightly higher octave], “Well, I don’t know how you could be the winner, because I just won!” We were all in stitches. They happily share the winner’s circle. 😊

 Included in the AAF event, we had beautiful models who flowed through the crowds wearing our beautiful caftans. They were truly all the buzz. “Where can I get one of those?” many asked. Summer is the perfect time for cool dresses, lounging, and enjoying family fun with National. So, ladies, stay connected for the best in fun, comfort and style.

Models (l to r) Katelynn Pureza; Addie McBryde; Darlinda Belton; Liselotte Stratman


The Models hanging out with Ronelle


Darlinda chatting it up with onlookers at the event

We had the best time, thank you Alive After Five, we’ll see you next year!

Happy summer vibes,











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There’s a Summer Remodel in You

 Last night, my husband and I were tossing around ideas for a backyard remodel. We recently moved into a charming home. Do you recall the older home I mentioned in my post last week, “The Cool Truth – Intimates that help Beat the Heat”? Yep, that’s the one!

There are so many innovative home designs in the marketplace these days. I found myself drawn to the ever-inspiring, HGTV®, 55 Incredible Outdoor Gathering Spots. Sure, I too, want to create an outdoor haven for us to gather; whether it be ‘just us’ time with our beloved fur babies, enjoying the evening’s moonlight, or a few good friends around the pool sipping Rosé. Sound inviting? No worries, I’ll leave our address for you at the close of this post. 😊 Did I mention we were gifted with an outdoor grill? Parker’s recent post on summer grilling has the perfect recipes for me to try.

Our forever home will be an ongoing work-in-progress, and we are up for the challenge. Well, as you know with me, my mind starts to wander, and I ask, “how can I apply this same energy to myself, my inner fashionista, and my summer wardrobe?”

Nothing could be better than relaxing outdoors and living in loungewear. National has the perfect, UPF50+ sun protective clothing to keep my skin safe. National also has the best summer dresses to keep me cool in this summer heat. I am inspired to give my summer closet a remodel now that I’ve seen all the fresh and cool summer styles on National’s website. Why, you ask? Because, my body is my haven and I am that midlife stylist who is an ongoing, work-in-progress. 😊

See ladies, we all have a summer remodel in us! Your reno begins now:

Floral Caftan Winlar®

Paisley Crinkle Cotton Dress

Calypso Caftan


Chambray Stripe Dress


Happy summer remodel,





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The Cool Truth – Intimates that help Beat the Heat

There’s no need to sweat or fear, National is here. Ladies, I am sure you can recall at least one occasion when you thought you’d just die from the steamy, sticky, and sweaty results of the summer heat. Have you found yourself in a pickle, without air conditioning in 90+ degree weather lately? The very thought of this situation brings on a sweat session!

Last week, I tripped a breaker in my kitchen because I had too many things plugged in at one time. You guessed it, an older home, but very charming, i have to say. You gotta love it, right?  Oh, did I forget to mention I have the oh-so lovely privilege of ongoing ‘private summers’? I recently discovered this expression for “the change”. I told my gal friends we should start using it! LOL Within this new midlife, there are many rewards, but ladies, let me tell you, I have some serious perspiration issues. Please tell me I’m not alone! Fortunately, National saves me every time I gear up to dress up this summer.

Now is the perfect time to dress in your favorite summer cooling dresses and sassy sandals. But, the “stickies” are always soon to follow. National has the perfect ‘beat the heat’, cooling intimates. So, let your summer wardrobe foundation be full of wicking and cooling to keep you dry all day.

Here are a few selections to wet your appetite (no pun) for summer! 😊

Stay cool,


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Summer Sass in Sandals

The heat is on and you are sizzling-Let’s beat the heat together in the best of comfort and style. I am always excited when I know we will be getting some consistent summer rays, so I can show off my toesies! It’s the perfect pedicure weather, wouldn’t you say, ladies? The styles of summer sandals are both versatile and so much fun.

With all the summer dress styles to complete our warm weather outfits, the possibilities are simply endless! I love to pair with my light, sundresses. What favorite summer outfits do you pair with your sandals?

Here are some of my favs:

Valarie Mindi Sandals

Stella Suzanne Sandals
Earth Origins®

Marilyn Sandals

Delana Venna Sandals


From grocery store runs to glamorous evenings out on the town, let National lead the way to step into the ultimate of comfort and style.

Here’s to your Happy Feet,


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Interview with Blog Influencer – Amy Christensen of STYLIN’ GRANNY MAMA

Recently, we had the greatest pleasure to work with Fashion Stylist and Blog Influencer, Amy Christensen of Stylin’ Granny Mama 

Real Women, Real Life – A Faith & Fashion Blog

Beauty, Style & Grace with Amy Christensen of Stylin’ Granny Mama

I so enjoyed reading about Amy and learning about her very unique approach to fashion, style, trends, and all things that are REAL for her lifestyle. These were some of the areas I was excited to learn more about the gal behind, STYLIN’ GRANNY MAMA:

What first inspired you to craft such wonderful styles from your closet? And how do you go about selecting a “look” for the day?

What is your go-to staple style/piece and how do you like to incorporate it? 

I tend to rely on neutrals in my closet. What do you recommend for folks starting to bring bold colors into their wardrobe? (I.e. how do you add to your closet and where do you start in making sure you pick the right color for your complexion?) 

Summer is here, so, what trends do you anticipate for this year and how are those reflected in your summer wardrobe? 


What first inspired me:

I grew up with two older brothers, so being a tomboy was a perfectly natural choice as a child. When I married and had children, I dressed like a typical mom…hair in a ponytail, mom jeans (which are now trendy, by the way), socks that matched my shirt…if you would have told me at that point, I would be a fashion blogger, I would have laughed in your face.

As my girls grew older, they developed their own sense of style and started to share with me things they thought were good, or more often, bad about the outfits I was wearing. I distinctly remember being at my in-laws for the holidays when my girls were both out of high school. At that point I was taking some of their fashion advice and had donned a particularly cute outfit. My younger daughter said, “Wow, mom! You are really stylin’!” I laughed and said, “Yup, that’s me! Stylin’ Granny Mama.” I had become a grandmother by that point so the name just seemed perfect.

What actually kicked me in the seat of the pants to start the blog, was my desire to write. I really want to be a published author. I was affiliated with a writing guild at the time and one of the pieces of advice that stood out to me was, start small, but get writing. I thought, why not. My older daughter was a photographer and my younger daughter a make up artist, so I had a lot of help getting started.

How do I go about selecting an outfit for the day:

In all honesty, I am a clothes horse. I love to thrift shop, or just shop in general, so I have plenty of clothes. The further I’ve gotten into this blogging adventure, the more I realize that I have a closet chuck full of sensational outfits, just waiting to be put together. I always pick my outfits out the night before, so I am not scrambling in the morning to figure out what to wear. I don’t really have a method, so most of my day to day outfits are picked out according to how I feel. On a cold drab day, I might feel the need to be cuddled in a cozy sweater and a good fitting pair of jeans. On a warm sunny day, I might choose a graphic tee and a moto jacket because I feel more confident and ready to chase after my dreams. Mood is often my main motivator for picking out an outfit. Occasionally, I’ll choose something the direct opposite of how I feel, because in doing so, it makes me feel better.

What is my go-to style piece:

Definitely jeans. I love my jeans and I wear them in all washes and all silhouettes; flares, skinnies, straight leg, you name it. I wear jeans to work and dress them up with a floral button up and a sharp blazer. I wear jeans for date nights with heeled boots, graphic tees and fun moto jackets. I wear jeans when I need to feel confident and tuck them into combat boots with a silky bomber jacket. Jeans are always my go-to.

Bringing bold colors into your closet:

If you have visited my blog, you know I love color. Each year since I have started blogging, I do a spring/summer and a fall/winter series, based on the Pantone Color Institute’s New York and London color palettes. I think the best way to bring bold colors into your wardrobe, especially if you are more of a neutral kind of gal, is to do it minimally and slowly; think accessories first. Start adding color to your closet by purchasing bright colored jewelry, scarves, bags or shoes. From there you could add a piece or two, like a bright colored sweater, say pink or yellow for spring, then a royal blue or rusty orange for fall. I am a firm believer that all women can wear all color. Sure certain shades look better on us than others, but just because one red doesn’t look good on me, doesn’t mean I can’t wear red at all. It is just a matter of finding the shade that looks right on you. My advice is go shopping with a girlfriend or someone you can trust to be honest. Compare how certain shades look on you and ask your shopping buddy what they think. Remember, the lighting in most dressing rooms is not complimentary. Buy a piece, take it home and see how it looks in natural light. You might be surprised how many colors really do suit you.

Summer Trends:

Whenever we talk about trends, I go to the web to see what is currently out there according to names like Bazaar, Vogue, or Cosmopolitan. I am not a trendy person, so what I like to do is research what the big names in fashion say and then pick the trends I find most suitable for me. Not everyone is able, nor wants to wear trends like the 80’s mini skirt or fishnet anything other than hose, but this summer offers a few trends that never go out of style: florals, bold patterns and soft pastels.

Fortunately, being the clothes horse that I am I have many of these trends currently taking up residence in my closet. Even though we are still having cool weather in the midwest, I am trying to incorporate pastels, florals and bold patterns into my clothing choices when I decide outfits for the blog and for my everyday wear.

National offers a variety of pieces that feature these trends. Florals are featured in pieces such as the Eric London Solvron Jacquard Cold Shoulder blouse (Item #20791) and the Gingham Floral Blouse (Item #20662). I love the bold patterns of the Tiered Shutter-Pleat Blouse (Item #20046), and the Aruba Print Top (Item #20730). Soft pastels are easy to find with pretty feminine pieces like the Eyelet Knit Top (Item #20733) and the UltraSofts Knit Tank (Item #8409).

I tell you what ladies, I learned so much from Amy and her creative flair for fashion styling. One thing is for sure, I will visit Stylin’ Granny Mama again and again for neat tips and tricks for all things fashion forward. I suggest you do the same! 🙂 Thanks so much Amy for working with us here at National!

Welcome new friend,




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