the best way to spread christmas cheer

Libby

When it comes to Christmas cheer, I believe firmly in the words of my friend Buddy, the Elf: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” 

It’s fair to say that the sheer, child-like joy I have this time of year may give Buddy a serious run for his money, but how can you not be giddy about Christmas lights and peppermint hot chocolate and pretty packages and the sweet spirit of the season?

As an early gift from us to you, we curated a list of our all-time favorite holiday tunes. From Nat King Cole to Frank Sinatra, Michael Bublé and Mariah Carey, this playlist has all the best tracks—perfect for wrapping, celebrating or cuddling next to the fire.

What records resemble this time of year for you? Our girl gang is always on the hunt for new music + we’d love to hear what you’re listening to! It’s our hope that this playlist will become a compilation of our all your favorite tunes, too. Send us your suggestions and we’ll add them to the list.

Sending love from us to you!

it’s the most wonderful time of the year

Libby, Matti

Anyone else stoked that it’s DECEMBER? Fa la la la la, love it. This month is my all-time favorite. I love the spirit of the holidays—I love the smell of pine in my home, I love the enchantment of Christmas lights and the sounds of crackles and pops on my dad’s favorite Christmas records. Seriously, this time of year is the best.

In true V+V fashion, we curated a beautiful mood board to celebrate the holidays. Head over to our Pinterest page and take a look at all the things inspiring us this season!

winter mood board

coming out: an open letter to my fellow silence breakers

Baili

I never particularly enjoyed New Year’s Eve. Between the hassle of making plans, paying exorbitant cover on whatever venue you stand in line at, and stressing over not having a New Year’s kiss [insert eye roll emoji] it never seems to be worth the trouble.

As we near the big day where we get drunk and naively pray that the subsequent year will bring us newfound prospects and renewed faith in humankind, I sat back on the couch in my therapist’s office and inhaled the scent of green tea before telling her what I am about to tell you.

Both 2013 and my nerves were at their final moments when I walked down the stairs at a party to find my then-boyfriend weeping on a couch. Confused, and admittedly feigning concern, I approached him slowly. 

“What’s wrong?” I asked him.

“I..” he choked, “I just don’t think we should be together anymore.”

And that was it. It had been a long time coming, and though perhaps the moment wasn’t as auspicious as one could have hoped a breakup would be, I nevertheless felt compelled to leave the party and get some space.

I slipped on my coat and left the party quietly. I told nobody.

The ice on the ground was getting harder and harder to negotiate with in high heels and I had nowhere to go. My now ex-boyfriend had my car keys in his apartment, and I wasn’t even about to try to drive in the weather that late at night. I just wanted to be warm and away from the crowds of people. It was then that I texted “him.”

“He” was a friend with whom I had a strange history with. Though we had never dated, to his dismay, we had been quite close throughout school. The timing was never right, and he had issues he needed to work out. He was notorious for drinking heavily and becoming, though largely inadvertently, violent when he had one too many. Several broken chairs, holes in walls, and shattered bottles will attest.

But he was close, and I needed the comfort of a close friend. We went back to his house.

Less than one hour later, I was barefoot in the parking lot of my vacated sorority house, wearing nothing but my coat, and hugging the utility pole just to stay vertical. I called a friend in absolute hysterics, who promised she and her boyfriend were leaving the party and were on their way in a taxi. The last thing I heard before climbing into the car was a complete stranger in the distance, who yelled “where ya going so fast, baby?”

My story doesn’t end here, but my public narrative does. The reason being that, while it is highly triggering not just for myself but for others, it isn’t important to know the details. I was raped that night, and that’s that.

Typing it out so plainly has my heart racing. Everyone who follows my writing already knows it happened. There’s just something so ominous about saying it so definitively. The word itself, rape, sounds particularly sinister. It is a word as ugly as its meaning.

And here I am, sitting alone at a computer in the comfort of my own space, speaking to you. If this is how it feels to “come out” as a survivor, I can’t imagine how terrifying it must be to be one of Time Magazine‘s People of the Year.

These people had to do what I’m doing now, only their audience was much larger, and much more brutal.

There seems to be a large amount of skepticism in regards to survivors’ experiences, both high and low-profile. I often hear people say through grimacing faces, “she’s probably just trying to get his money” or “they’re just trying to get attention.” Now honestly… you have to understand that this is the kind of attention that nobody, literally fucking nobody, wants. Exposing ones self to the world within such a traumatic context is terrifying.

But here we are. We’re speaking loudly and plainly. Not for money, not for attention, but for humankind.

As I have continued my writing, I’ve been blessed not only with the support I never believed I would attain, but also with the many brave people who have reached out to me to share their own similar experiences. As survivors of something so internally damaging, our natural instincts are to disassociate, hide, and bury. While the events that led to the recent worldwide discussion of sexual assault are far from acceptable, I have never felt closer to my fellow humans.

Through the ugliness that has tried so hard to shade my life, health, and sanity, I have found a purpose.

I want you– my sister in suffering, my forlorn friend, whoever you are–to someday feel strong enough to tell your story. I want you to know that there is someone out there who believes you unconditionally.

You have seen things that most people cannot imagine. You have knowledge that can only be acquired by experiencing trauma for yourself. You have resilience that the majority of the world envies. I am sorry for what happened to you. It is not right, and it is not fair.

Please understand that, in that moment when your power was stripped from you, it grew back tenfold.

The discussion cannot stop. I now open the floor to you.

 

the truth about victoria’s secret

Libby

Raise your hand if you’ll be watching the Victoria’s Secret fashion show tonight! I wish all of you could see me waving my hand about. I’ve got my wine poured and after admittedly stalking Karlie, Lily and Bella, I’m ready.

I’ll be totally honest… I get a little giddy inside when I think about the show. As a girl who grew up in the world of competitive dance—roaming around in dazzling sequins, vibrant colors, eloquent fabrics and anything that sparkled—I get all the heart eyes for the details that make this show all that it is.

While the planning and production of this monumental fashion event amazes me, I’ve seen this show evoke a negative conversation around the standard of beauty and body image over the last few years. Influencers, magazines, and brands in the fashion/style sphere often share critical content through a comical lens that elicits and fuels a negative conversation around what’s sexy. By playfully insinuating a sense of urgency to hit the gym, shaming the art of stuffing your face with a perfectly good pizza and demeaning different forms of beauty that don’t replicate the beauty strutting down the runway, we’re all contributing to a conversation that suggests a very distinct and determined definition for what constitutes beauty. Even if the intent is to be light-hearted and funny, I think this show translates as an opportunity to celebrate all forms of beauty, instead of acknowledging just one.

It’s easy to watch a fashion show like this once and subconsciously sink in to patterns of comparison and self-criticism, and I think that’s true for all of us. So, as the founder of a blog that celebrates female empowerment, body-inclusivity and women who are unabashedly themselves, I want to take the time to start a conversation where we all celebrate the things that make us beautiful. And I want you all to join me!

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(Photo // Anastasia Gentry of Chapel Lane Photography)

This past year I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with some amazing photographers in the Cincinnati area. These images are just a few shots that bring my favorite features forward and make me feel confident and beautiful. I love the way these photos compliment my eyes, my style and me doing what I love most.

View More: http://brookeandwilhelm.pass.us/libbythefrock

(Photo // Brooke Genn of Nomadic Newlyweds)

While we’re ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the glitter and glam of tonight’s fashion show, I challenge you to remember that no matter how our sizes differ, we, as women, are united in the fact that we are all victims to self-criticism. We all have things we’d like to change about ourselves and we all have features we dislike, but when it comes to the things that make us beautiful – we’re all in this together. Defy the tendency to fixate on your shortcomings and consider a few of  the things you love about yourself instead. We’ve all got to remember that we can admire the beauty of other women without questioning our own. It’s on us to rally together, lean in to these conversations and define what beauty is on our terms. Pick out your favorite self-portrait and share it with us on Instagram using @velvetnvinyl. We can’t wait to see all the things that make you lady bosses feel like your best, most beautiful self.

 

what it means to be a woman

Maddie

Velvet Vinyl Collage

 

As I sit at my desk wearing my “Girl Power” t-shirt I ask myself, what does it mean to me to be a woman?

I am restraining myself from writing a novel on this topic as there are so many facets to womanhood. While I can only speak from my experience, there is a quality that I keep going back to that I believe all women possess, strength.

Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg said, “… we shouldn’t be afraid of our own strength.” Strength is something that women have contained since the beginning of time, but I feel that today women are truly owning this fact. Why should we be afraid of our own strength, talents, and unique qualities? At times women may have been encouraged to suppress these things in order to fit the roles and life choices society deemed fit for them. Today I am realizing that there is something extremely powerful about embracing my strength, my vulnerability, and appreciating every experience and quality that makes me the woman I am today.

As women we are capable of anything.

We are makers, mothers, bakers, bosses, creators, photographers, artists, authors, designers, we are STRONG and resilient. Women DO. 

To all my super women out there: embrace your uniqueness, your gifts and your strengths. These things are not arbitrary. These things are the assets that will take you far if you choose to nurture and foster them. Who do you want to be? What do you want to do? Nothing will be able to stop you if you don’t let it. What would you do if you weren’t afraid? If you realized your true potential and power?  

These are my thoughts and opinions as a 20 year old woman and while my views may shift with each year there’s one view that will always remain, women have and always will be forces to reckon with.

I challenge you to reflect on what it means to you to be a woman. What experiences, conversations, and relationships have molded you into the woman you are today? What does being a woman mean to you?

Please feel free to leave a comment, I would love to hear your thoughts and stories. xoxo

what it means to be a woman

Baili

IMG_5332The first time I heard the term “androcentrism” I was a sophomore in college, sitting amongst a group of newly acquainted girls from my sorority. The class: Women’s Studies 101. The teacher: tall, thin, straight medium brown hair parted down the middle, no makeup, wearing a tee shirt that read in all caps, “THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE.” At the time–before my assault, Trump, the Harvey Weinstein investigation, the MeToo hashtag–she suited my expectations perfectly. I rolled my eyes and my friends scoffed. We knew little about the world at large.

For those hearing the word the first time, androcentrism is basically a 50-point word for “the assumption that all perspectives are inherently male.” For example, when one hears the term “actor,” one assumes the person in question is a male. The term “actress” does exist for binary clarification, but the word “actor” is not, in fact, exclusive to males. The basis of the assumption is androcentrism.

I want to point out that, this concept is so underutilized that it is being underlined in red as I type it.

When I was asked to write about what it meant to be a woman this last week, I wasn’t sure what to write. Of course women have hardships that men will never experience. Of course women live in subtle (and not so subtle) fear of being attacked and objectified. Womankind has, with or without present knowledge or consent, been cooped up in the same shitty boat traveling up Shit Creek without a fucking paddle since [the androcentric term] “the creation of Man.”

Here’s what’s awesome about being a woman: bigots will tell you that, as a woman, you get special privileges. Leniency. You can flirt your way out of a speeding ticket (guilty). You can have doors opened for you. You can tee off 50 feet closer to the green.

Sure, those things are nice.

But I think I’d rather not have to bear the bullshit that comes with it. I would rather not live in an androcentric world where heroes are always tall, dark and hypermasculine men.

When I think of what it means to be a woman (in a totally binary world, for the sake of this blurb) I think about how women were literally built to survive. I am bracing myself for the angry feedback I’m about to get for this…

…From an evolutionary standpoint, men are disposable. They were made to plant seeds, if you know what I’m saying. They literally eject their most precious components, daily. Women, on the other hand, were biologically engineered to last. We carry weight on our stomachs because it is cushioning and insulation meant to protect the humans growing inside of us. During and after pregnancy, our breasts enlarge with food that we have produced ourselves. We store higher percentages of fat which helps us stay warm and sustains us in times of famine. The SSA reports that women live statistically longer lives than men. Despite the omnipresent danger that plagues womankind, we still manage to live longer, healthier, more educated lives. Fuck yeah.

Now, before half of my high school Facebook friends start roasting me with grammatically inept comments, allow me to humbly state that I am not a biologist. In fact, I have always been and will always be terrible at science.

However, as a woman, I want to point out that despite our genetic advantages, the world still has it out for us. I love men. Don’t get me wrong. The male species certainly has biological advantages over women (it would be so nice not having to wear a bra when running, if I ever ran lol). But women have to do so much more just to accomplish what men do. I’m talking everyday things: walking to a car at night, securing a job, safely arriving to a destination utilizing public transit, enjoying a drink at a bar without getting drugged… the list goes on. We fucking persist.

If your eyes have glazed over and you’ve skipped down to this part, know this: to be a woman is to succeed in a world that has systematically been engineered against you. Know that you were literally born to survive and succeed.

And if any of you guys from high school want to pick a bone with me over this, just know that I’m not afraid of you, I probably already have screenshots of you hitting on me, and the bone you pick is the only bone you’re getting with me.

fierce and femme: 2017 AMAs fashion

Baili

This was supposed to be a fun post about how amazing all the American Music Awards attendees looked last night. I poured myself a glass of wine and sat at my computer refreshing the Vogue coverage site, Copic markers loaded and ready to go.

As the night progressed, my excitement began to fade. I was so excited to whip out the chartreuse-colored marker I had traveled 20 minutes to purchase. I wanted to see some jewel tones and cascades of taffeta. Yet time after time, it was nothing but black. On black. On black.

While many people think that fashion is just clothing, I (and you, my savvy and brilliant darlings) know that this was no mistake. You and I recall the flood of white we saw last year as an homage to the suffragette movement. You may also have noticed the severe lack of females nominated for awards. In the wake of perhaps the largest wave of sexual assault allegations in Hollywood history, I hesitate to think that this sable salute is anything short of a declaration of girl power. Let’s begin:

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First, we have Demi Lovato. She stunned the crowd in her Ester Abner gown which, though composed of delicate netting and a darling sweetheart neckline, boasted her curves in the most unapologetic way possible. Here, I like to think she is making a statement about how not-sorry she is for being a strong, loud woman. She may be packaged prettily, but she is tough as nails and wants you to know it.

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Next, we have Selena Gomez who rolled up in a Coach leather jacket-dress. Honestly, I didn’t know I needed a leather jacket-dress until I saw hers last night. Santa please deliver. Anyway, like Demi, this ensemble urges viewers to ponder where the line of feminine and masculine is drawn. The form-fitting microdress is certainly a nod to the female form, but the leather, patches, and chunky hardware allude to traditional masculinity.

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Last but certainly not least, we have my personal favorite look donned by none other than the young but fierce Hailee Steinfeld in a Mugler ensemble. Not only is her outfit tailored phenomenally, but it also screams “fuck with me, I dare you.” At an awards ceremony in which nearly every nominee was male (save for the female-exclusive awards) and on a red carpet flooded with impeccably-crafted suits, this peaked-lapel stunner physically challenged the men around it.

What It Means To Be A Woman

Rachele

One woman can change the lives of many women, but it takes many women to feed the confidence and broaden the intellect of each groundbreaking woman.

It’s like the age old story of how a flower can’t grow on its own; it needs water, soil, sunlight, and then pollination of course to continue its legacy. So, women are like flowers. Beautiful, blooming flowers.

They are delicate yet strong. Unique and unpredictable. Growing and wilting with the seasons. Endless, and relentless.

There is nothing more breathtaking than a field of blossoming, florals.  They’re an army standing against nature. Feeding into one another, feeding off of one another, growing with one another.

The women in my life are the sunlight, the soil, the water I need to bloom. The women they give me the opportunity to touch are the pollination that will take my words and the words of other great women and pass them on. They criticized and empowers me to grow from a tiny little seed. Everyday they push me to develop into the most magnificent flower I can be in order to stand amongst the unstoppable field of flowers that is the women of 2017.

What does it mean to be a woman?

It means not only being the flower, but the oxygen to grow other flowers in a field we are proud to call ours.

Accepting criticism. Criticizing society. Building a better home.

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