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.

Giving Back With Gratitude

“Gratitude” may not be the first word that comes to mind when asked about 2020 as we ’round the corner to its end. Yet during the time leading up to this Thanksgiving week, National has been head-first in hands-on projects to help those in need—from the local community to children around the globe—and we are grateful to be able to do so this year.


It has been a decades-long tradition for National to engage in philanthropic and charitable endeavors, especially around the holidays—and despite the setbacks of 2020, this year is no exception. Some examples:


    • Samaritan’s Purse — An International Relief Project that collects and distributes essential items to children in need. Volunteers traditionally fill shoeboxes to be flown to locations worldwide and distributed one per child. This year, National employees rallied to fill 38 shoeboxes with hygiene items, toys, clothing, and more.
Samaritan's Purse Donations

Lynda Smith Swann, National Owner & President, Stands with Donations for Samaritan’s Purse.



    • Lexington Food Pantry — National’s employees have all pitched in to fill two large boxes with nonperishable food for local food pantries to distribute to the needy.

      Food Pantry 2020

      National Executives with Donations for Local Food Pantry


    • Uncommon Threads — A non-profit, Boston, MA boutique founded by stylist and influencer Susan Kanoff. It doesn’t stop with providing clothing for low-income, disaster-affected and at-risk women; Susan goes above and beyond by employing her talent for fashion to style the donations with personal care, creating new looks and ideas that ultimately boost self-image, self-confidence, and provide new opportunities.
      National has teamed up with Susan and Uncommon Threads this season, collaborating with her professionally on social media and donating clothing to her charity, supporting a desire to help others as well as those women whom the clothing will impact beyond just fashion.


      Women's Charity Boutique

      Uncommon Threads, a Boston, MA Empowerment Boutique


      Susan Kanoff, Founder

      Susan Kanoff, Uncommon Threads Founder


    • Christmas Angel Tree — The Salvation Army’s holiday charity is an annual must at National. This year, employees chose twenty children and bought them their “wishlist” items. From clothes to shoes, sports equipment to a Barbiedoll Dreamhouse, no request went unanswered.
      christmas gifts

      Gifts for Christmas Angel Tree Children at National’s Headquarters


    • American Children’s Home — National is currently running a week-long sale at their nearby brick-and-mortar outlet, where everything is priced at just three dollars per item. 100% of all sales will be donated to the American Children’s Home, the local orphanage where founder Eddie Smith was raised.

Lynda Smith Swann Stands Outside of Lexington, NC Orphanage.




Company Founder

Eddie Smith left a practice of doing good in Lexington and National continues to foster and pass along that culture. Throughout the uncertainty and tension of late, helping others and spreading good is something we can all do, and be thankful for, any and every year.



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Meet Susan Kanoff of The Midlife Fashionista

We are so thrilled to have Susan Kanoff of The Midlife Fashionista as our #styleinfluencer for October—and Parker has gotten some wonderful perspective from yet another great interview. Read on to join in on Susan’s inspirational story, and get the scoop on some great fashion advice for the season!


Q:  What first inspired your love of fashion and styling?

A:  For as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been drawn to clothes. This is actually quite surprising since my mom is probably one of the least fashionable people I know! I attribute my love of clothes to my best friend’s mom, who let us kids play dress-up in her closet. What a good sport she was!

Clothes became magical to me.


Q:  When selecting your outfit of the day, where do you begin/where do you find inspiration? 

A:  My inspiration comes from fashion magazines, social media (Instagram and Pinterest) and by following other influencers and style bloggers. Street style also fascinates me, and I can spend hours people-watching.

Many of my outfits are photographed in advance, so they may or not be what I’m actually wearing that day. I adore getting dressed up, but the reality of pandemic life is that I’ve been living in comfy clothes!

Susan wearing Stretch Thermal Hoodie by Cuddl Duds® and Flat Waist Leggings by National®



Q:  For those of us a little intimidated by color and pattern, where do you begin in selecting bolder pieces? 

A:  Baby steps. Add in a splash of color or a subtle pattern and see how you feel. Start with accessories like a printed scarf or a fun handbag. If you’re feeling bold, choose a basic color, head to toe (for instance, black pants with a black turtleneck) and add a cardigan, blazer or coat, in a striking color or pattern. But if you’re not feeling it, that’s ok, too. Some of chicest outfits I’ve seen are monochromatic. There are no rules in fashion! Wear what you love.


Q:  What are a few of your favorite trends/styles for fall?

A:  On-trend are cropped blazers, chunky boots with feminine dresses, faux leather jumpsuits (on my wish list), fringe, and my all-time favorite, faux fur.

Having said this, I’m not a super-trendy dresser (although bring on the faux fur!). Each season, I incorporate a few of the trends into my wardrobe, but I usually opt for timeless, quality pieces.

My favorite fall staples are a great pair of black leggings, turtleneck or tee, and a fun vest or jacket for layering (that third piece really “makes” and outfit!).


Q:  What was the catalyst for the launch of Uncommon Threads? And what impact have you seen for the women in your community? 

A:  My story is a bit unique. I was a social worker for over 20 years, running a federal program designed to move low-income families out of poverty. As a fun “side-gig,” I started a wardrobe styling business that evolved out of my love for clothes. The styling soon turned into a blog: and The Midlife Fashionista was born.

In the fall of 2016, I combined the two worlds to create Uncommon Threads, a non-profit program that empowers low-income women through clothes and image.  Uncommon Threads is different from other clothing programs as work is not a requirement for services. Our focus is building self esteem through an outside-in, inside-out approach—so we can dress a woman for any occasion, such as a job interview, birthday party, church, or for everyday life. We serve women of all ages, including domestic violence survivors, cancer patients, women in recovery, female veterans, the unemployed/underemployed, and the homeless. Our philosophy is that every woman deserves to look and feel beautiful and empowered.

The impact has exceeded my expectations. In three years, we’ve served thousands of women with dignity and respect and have over 350 local social workers who refer clients for services. The program has been featured on local (Boston) and national press and television including WCVB Boston, WGBH, The Boston Globe, and Woman’s World Magazine. We also opened a small social enterprise called Uncommon Closet that sells designer items to the public and even has an online presence! All proceeds support Uncommon Threads.


I am grateful to National® for partnering with Uncommon Threads and for donating boxes of beautiful new clothes. Kindness matters.


“I left with a great level of confidence. Beautiful! As a survivor, I had been told otherwise.”
          –Carolina, Uncommon Threads client



For more information, please visit



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10 Ways to Keep Your Cool

With record-high temperatures topping the charts around the globe this year, I think it’s safe to say things are heating up! And as the mercury rises, there’s more than one way to keep your cool. Read on for ten heat-defying ways to help keep your cool this summer.



  1. Apply a cooling cucumber mask to your face. While enjoying the frigidy-fresh feeling, your skin might even benefit from a reduction of swelling, irritation, and breakouts thanks to the anti-inflammatory and mild astringent properties of the wonder veggie.


  1. Wear light-colored clothing—the lighter, the better (white is your friend this season)! Going with moisture-wicking fabrics will also help with staying dry and cool (see this week’s style blog for more ideas).


  1. Carry your own portable shade, like a sun umbrella or wide-brimmed hat.


  1. Meditate. With all the world throws at us, taking time to seek peaceful moments can definitely help with keeping your cool.


  1. Don’t forget to hydrate! (I know, I know, but It’s a hackneyed phrase for a reason.) Carry a water bottle or thermos (Yetis are amazing) that will keep your drink chilly for hours.


  1. Make slushies, popsicles, gelato, or just get some ice cream for a sweet summer treat.


  1. Switch out the bedsheets for satin or breathable cotton to catch some cooler zzz’s at night.


  1. Aloe vera soothes like none other. Especially after a day in the sun, applying aloe vera is super cooling and naturally counteracts all the heat the skin absorbed. It’s a great natural remedy for burns as well.


  1. Refresh your diet! Go with chilled shrimp instead of steamed, cold chicken on a fresh, crisp salad, and cold soups like gazpacho that cool from the inside out.


  1. Treat yourself to a spa day – at the salon, at home, wherever. Plus, feeling great from self-care is definitely cool.



How are you beating the heat this summer? Share with us in the comments!



Chasing the chill,




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Summer’s Coolest Styles

August is here (already?) and I think it’s safe to say most of us are feeling the heat! – Wearing the right types of great-fitting clothing helps to keep cool and feel better—but beyond that, there are some great wardrobe tips and tricks that I’ve found actually make a difference. Luckily, National is offering some great options for these to help keep cool this season. Here are some of my favorites:



This sleeveless Picot Knit Tank by UltraSofts® feels especially great when the heat rises. Nine out of the ten colors it’s available in are lighter colors, which deflect more heat—and with its UPF 50+ rating, it makes for a great everyday shirt during the hotter months.

womens tank shirt

Knit Tank by UltraSofts®


It’s what’s beneath that counts—and barely-there comfort never fails! This 18 Hour Cooling Comfort Wirefree Bra by Playtex® supports you keeping your cool, with silken cups that feel great and wick away moisture all day long.


18 Hour Cooling Comfort Wirefree Bra by Playtex®


Crinkle cotton fabrics – try in a muumuu style. You won’t regret it. This Santa Fe Border Print Dress is a great choice because the drape feels worry-free and offers ample breathability and room to move, letting you feel fantastic even on the hottest of days.

crinkle cotton dress

Santa Fe Border Print Dress by National®


Be level-headed keeping your cool under a UV-protective sunhat. But make sure it’s a breathable one, like in straw, mesh or airy fabrics, so that body heat can still escape. This Beach Basics Hat has a shady 4” brim and is available in white to deflect even more heat.


Beach Basics Hat by Sun ‘N’ Sand®


At the end of the day, catch some cool zzz’s in these short-sleeved Moisture-Wicking Pajamas by Najerika Lingerie® for a better night’s sleep and a renewed, refreshed morning.

womens pajamas

Wicking Pajamas by Najerika Lingerie®


What are you wearing to keep cool this season? Share with us in the comments section!


Beating the heat,




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Easy Ways to Be Slightly More Active

Getting the ball rolling is always the most daunting part, but knowing what’s best makes it all worthwhile. And with practice, incorporating different types of activity into daily life becomes second nature—a feel-good way of living. Even with the shift in many people’s lifestyles these days, opportunities for taking even the smallest of steps to be more active are still all around us and can ultimately help improve the body, mood, and mind.

Here are some minimal-effort, any-day, everyday ways to be more active:


  • Park further away and walk. Whether it’s a bit further out in the parking lot or a few blocks away, this is a great trick to get more exercise in an easy, routine way.
  • Volunteer. Whether running a 4k or helping out at a local soup kitchen, volunteering is a positive and effective way to be more active physically, mentally, and in your community.
  • Take the stairs.
  • Cook your meals rather than order out. Even if your homecooked dish has the same amount of calories as the takeout, burning extra calories from moving about in the kitchen will automatically put you ahead and will probably be healthier, anyway.
  • Set aside some time each day for an activity you enjoy. Whether going for a daily stroll, tuning in to your inner self during yoga, or doing some easy stretching, setting aside even just a few minutes for the littlest things can make all the difference.


Are there any tips or tricks that work well for you? Share with us in the comments section!

Taking it one step at a time,




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Action-Packed Styles

As we move through the week, one thing I’ve been especially grateful for is having breathable, cooling apparel in my wardrobe as the days grow hotter—especially as I’ve been trying to incorporate extra movement and exercise throughout the days wherever possible. And thank goodness for moisture wicking—you never know when it will come in handy! Add some UV protection in the mix, and I’m ready for whatever the day brings.


So, for these reasons, Wic-Tech™ by National® has quickly become a summer favorite. They have all of the above–and feel exquisite! Which style is your favorite? Share with us in the comments!


Ready for action,


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12 Ways to Celebrate Christmas in July

’Tis the season to be merry, bright, and HOT! That’s right folks, it’s Christmas in July this week! This unofficial holiday, reportedly founded in Brevard, NC in 1933, has since become a fun concept celebrated all across the globe, whatever the season. Here at National, it’s undoubtedly summer—and we’re always in the thankful, joyous spirit.


In lieu of the twelve days of Christmas, here are twelve ways to celebrate Christmas in July this year.


  1. Make a Christmas dinner. Whether a traditional bird or a conservative casserole, fun with food is one of the best hands-on ways to dive right in to the holiday spirit!
  2. Strut around in your favorite holiday sweaters and your best red and green attire.
  3. Don’t have a holiday sweater, or just want something new? Perhaps try starting a knitting project! Here are some free “getting started” templates from
  4. Send mini Christmas cards to your loved ones – a sure-shot way to spread good cheer.
  5. Bake some sweet holiday treats. From classic Gingerbread Men to Soft Sugar Cookies, there’s nothing like the aroma of warm baked goods to bring the holiday season to life.
  6. Buy yourself and/or your loved ones small “Christmas” gifts.
  7. Any leftover material from the cards and packaging can be used to decorate your living space! Here’s a neat DIY wreath idea from, as well as some paper decoration ideas that are absolutely adorable!
  8. Enjoy some Christmas classics. Hallmark channel will be airing a medley of Christmas movies 24 hours a day up until Sunday evening, so pick up the remote and enjoy a binge fest any time of day or night!
  9. Sing, play, and/or listen to Christmas carols.
  10. Do some early Christmas shopping. Certain retail stores are even offering discounts on Christmas décor and the like, so grabbing some stuff early could help save time and money later on in the year.
  11. Craft some fun Christmas-themed drinks. But since it’s not exactly the month for hot cocoa, try sipping on something cold, like these super cute Polar Bear Frozen Hot Chocolates!
  12. Give to a charity or sponsor a child. After all, giving is one of the very best things about the holidays.


How will you celebrate? Share with us in the comments!


Wishing you good cheer,


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Top Picks for Christmas in July

Did you know Christmas in July actually started in North Carolina? Yep, nearly 90 years ago at a girls’ camp in Brevard. And here in Lexington, National is celebrating with our own mini event! We’re featuring different daily savings all week long. (To keep current with these, you can have them e-mailed to you each morning.) Here are some of my favorite brands and styles of the week—’tis the season!


UltraSofts® are such a good wear this time of year – as the sun tends to linger around these days, the UPF 50+ helps shield the skin from harmful UV rays, making for a great “Christmas” gift, as well! A couple of my favorites are this Diagonal Yoke Top and the Isabella Top – so classic and comfy!

Shirt women's UltraSofts®

Diagonal Yoke Top by UltraSofts®


womens shirt

Isabella Top by UltraSofts®


To kick that UPF 50+ up a notch, Wic-Tech™ apparel sports that along with moisture wicking. The fabric is easily movable and feels fresh and breathable—ideal for anything from my daily walks to athletic activity. The Skort is super cute and feminine, too!

Wic-Tech™ clothing

Wic-Tech™ Attractive-wear by National®


These Reebok® Princess Classics are so comfy – I could wear them every day. The soft lining absorbs moisture, they’re vented, and are padded on the inside—the combination of which really does the trick for me for summertime wear.

womens reeboks

Reebok® Princess Classics Tennis Shoes


After a long, hot day, there’s nothing like kicking back in a lightweight lounger! This Santa Fe Border Dress is actually fitting for any time of day, but the easy crinkle cotton style just makes it a good go-to for cooling off.


Santa Fe Border Print Dress by National®


Christmas in July can still be celebrated, even from the comfort of home! Which styles inspire you most? Share with us in the comments section!


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How to Look Good in Clothing

It may sound simple, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Did you know…the mere way we carry ourselves and style what we wear can be a game-changer on how we look in clothing! Here are some easy tips & tricks that anyone can do to look better in everyday, any day attire.


  • Tricks on the side: Tops, blouses, and jackets with side panels or princess seams can help enhance and slim the midsection while staying as comfortable as ever (I’m loving this Promenade Jacket as well as this Full Zip Jacket!). Also, garments with a brought-in waistline, whether with gathers or elasticized accents of any type, add further accentuation and shaping (like with this Eyelet Jacket).


  • You’re in good shape for summer. Shapewear: a woman’s go-to to bring things in—wherever you need. The process is simplified through garments that have it built in, like these Pull-on, Pull-in Pants by National®. So easy!


  • Long-lasting style safe to camp out on: Women’s camp shirts. This look has been taking the fashion industry by storm this year due to its versatile wear that flatters any body type. With features like traditional notched collars and button-down fronts, they can be worn over a tank or tee or buttoned up, and tucked or untucked. Plus, Camp Shirts by Donnkenny® offer a no-iron bonus—a must-have if easy care is important to you!


  • Grade-A style: Muumuus. Another classic, flattering drape. To get the most out of your A-line fit, practicing good posture can help the drape from the top-down while thinning out the rest of the body. A knee-length or lower cut can help create a flattering silhouette as well.


  • Throughout the ups & downs, turn to vertical stripes. While horizontal stripes can cast a widening effect, their vertical counterpart does just the opposite, making the wearer appear taller and thinner. To take it a step further, combine with a slight heel to elongate your look.


  • A healthy variety of wardrobe and lifestyle: Practicing a good diet (here’s some go-to recommendations by the American Heart Association) and keeping hydrated will also help with looking our very best in clothing, every single day.

What works best for you? Share with us in the comments section! Also, remember that when you do find something you love, don’t hesitate to build a section of your wardrobe around that theme. Go with what works!



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Summer Crinkle Styles

Making the most out of lightweight, easy-care fabrics is one great way to be more comfortable this season. Let’s talk about one style that deserves some time in the spotlight: the classic crinkle. Since the puckering process takes so well to airy, lightweight fabrics like cotton, rayon, and polyester, and so little of the fabric actually touches your skin, the scrunchy style makes for ideal wear in the warming seasons right around the corner.


Personally, I think my favorite thing about crinkle fabrics is that I never have to iron them—just wash and dry! Priceless. Also, the typical draping fit combined with the aforementioned non-cling aspect tends to offer a more flattering look (no matter the coming or going of a few extra pounds).


Luckily, crinkle fabrics are available in all sorts of women’s dresses, blouses, and nightgowns—and here are some that I love!

womens crinkle dress

Printed Crinkle Crepe Smocked Dress by National® – with a smocked bodice in an easy, flowing fit.


donnkenny camp shirt

Donnkenny® Camp Shirts – notched collar, comfy shoulder pads, and side vents – in Donnkenny’s signature yoryu polyester.


crinkle nightgown

Crinkle Cotton Gown with Lace by National® – for breathable, stylish zzz’s.


crinkle blouse

Lorelei Lace-Up by Blouse National® – just subtly crinkled, tunic style, rayon gauze.


crinkle dress

Floral Crinkle Lounge Dress by Metropolitan® – the muumuu style doubles down as a day dress or a comfy lounger.


What’s your favorite type? What styles will you be wearing this summer? Share with us in the comments section below!



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