First Time Back in NYC

Last week was the first time I'd visited NYC since I no longer have belongings there. No bed, no apartment key, no job. It was strange, exciting and in a way felt like a familiar dream, but one this time I felt I had control over.

Landed at LGA and hitched a cab with some new friends from the flight.

Where? Meatball Shop
What? Beef meatballs over angel hair spaghetti and cream sauce
Where? Momofuku Milk Bar, aka Milk
What? Crack Pie, yes you heard me right.
A photo posted by MOLLIE BRADFORD (@secretstostylist) on

Where? The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf UWS
What? Vanilla Latte and cream cheese toasted bagel

A photo posted by MOLLIE BRADFORD (@secretstostylist) on

 Peeked into Francesca's Collections (despite the fact we have them back in NC) and treated myself to BOGO 50% earrings. From there I headed downtown to meet a friend for some exploring. Unfortunately the Museum of Feelings line was INSANE so we walked around the 911 memorial then went back uptown to catch a glimpse of the Rockefeller Christmas tree I missed out on seeing last year. Probably should have gone at night to see it with all the lights on, but I'm checking it off my bucket list regardless. 
Then we found the giant nutcrackers on 6th ave and I felt compelled to give one a hug.

We took a break from all that walking to enjoy my favorite Fresh & Co. dish, the Mediterranean salad bowl to eat in Central Park just like I used to do when I worked on 5th Ave. It was a crazy beautiful December day. I wrapped up the day with a visit to Hillsong Church in Times Square with friends and sushi dinner on the upper west side.


 So begins the work part of the trip. Luckily, I love what I do so it was fun putting together looks. Zach and I hopped around from one showroom appointment to the next. Thankfully he was sweet enough to help me carry things because we had quite a bit of clothing and accessories!

A photo posted by MOLLIE BRADFORD (@secretstostylist) on

A photo posted by MOLLIE BRADFORD (@secretstostylist) on

Our handbag shoot was that evening with Sharina from DNA models who killed it. You can catch the final shots on my site.

A photo posted by MOLLIE BRADFORD (@secretstostylist) on

Where? Dino BBQ
I think this was my first meal of the day but worth it. I got a burger with a side of mac and cheese (because of course) and Syracuse potatoes. I spent until about 1 AM prepping for tuesday's shoot after dinner.

Where? Starbucks
What? Coffee and a cake pop 
(because I needed sugar to start off the day and I'm basically a big kid.)

The day started bright and early with call being in Dumbo, Brooklyn, just around the corner from my old neighborhood and favorite part of the city. A little nippy, presumably because we were so close to the river, but nonetheless a good day for shooting. More details when I can share the publication!

I didn't have much time after we wrapped up with the shoot to head to the airport. In fact, I made it to board just 4 minutes before they started letting the other passengers on, eek! 
In the end I'll admit my body was tired. I went hard for 3.5 days on minimal meals and heel wearing (which is typical for New York Mollie). I had the best time catching up with friends and doing what I love, styling, but when it was time to go I got that oh too familiar feeling of missing my puppy's face waiting at the door for me. I guess in the back of my mind I thought there may be an "oh no, what did I do moment?" shattering any certainty that I had made the right choice for me by moving back to NC, but thankfully I didn't feel that sinking feeling. If anything my trip confirmed for me how much I appreciate and love the city, but how I can stand to live with only seeing it every few months. It had taught me so much about who I am, what I stand for and what I'm capable of but it's not my identity. I look forward to our next memories.

So until next time New York.



5 Fall Accessories You'll Adore

t's back to school and back to style. As much as I hate saying goodbye to summer nights, autumn days offer plenty of opportunity for amped up style. I'm talking layering and accessorizing, baby! Now that you're back from the beach, it's time to get back to having fun with playing up your wardrobe. I've scoured magazines and the internet for my favorite on-trend pieces I think you'll love to add to your closet this season.

Fall accessories report 2015


While a bit of a splurge, Tom Ford makes a great patchwork sandal that is both sporty and chic. Try Aldo or Farfetch for a similar but more budget friendly style.

I love these starry earrings. The perfect touch to adding a little umph to your day or evening look.

Break up your outfit with a textured or printed belt. Oversized belts are also a must have this year. Don't pass by stores like Target to land a good find.

Get edgy with a pop of color and reptilian printed bag. Support local businesses by scoring one of these from your favorite boutique down the street.

While not exactly an accessory, sometimes I go minimal on bling to allow a colored lip to be my statement 'piece.' A shade with brown undertones will transition your classic red lipstick look to one more autumn appropriate. Nars has some of the best lipsticks out there!



Today's Look: A Fine Romance

s a professional shopper it's less common than you might think that I see something on one of my shopping excursions that completely sends my heart into flutter overdrive. But the other day was an exception when I passed by this feminine floral top and skirt duo in the Bebe store window. It had Valentino on a budget written all over it. Of course I'd be insane to resist! So needless to say, it came home with me. You can find the look details below!

P.s. You can also find this look featured on my friend Zach's blog (the photographer). He's wonderful and we'll be trading places when he moves to NYC later this month.


Top & skirt, Bebe
Bag, Stella McCartney
Shoes, Chinese Laundry
Earrings, Aldo Accessories
Lips, NYX in 'Pure Red'



Life After NY: Uptown Shoot

'm back at it! Excited to be invading the Charlotte fashion scene once again! It's been awhile since my last post but Secrets to Style will never be off my radar. Between getting settled in my new apartment (no more shoebox for this chick!), drumming up my personal shopping business, being on set and delving into the world of weddings as a bridal consultant, you could say I've been a busy gal. Nevertheless, I'll say life after New York has been treating me even better than I could hope for and I am seriously beyond grateful! When you stop living with other's expectations of 'success' and happiness, you become an artist. You set your soul free, and darn if it ain't liberating. If I've learned anything in the past year it's to keep chasing your dreams but never compromise your integrity and surround yourself with people who truly inspire, care and support you. 

I'm aiming to do lots more here on the blog so stay tuned! You lovelies are truly incredible and I thank you for sticking with me through this journey! In the meantime, enjoy one of my latest styled shoots. We survived the southern summer heat for this one. It's a labor of love and I'm stoked to share it with you all.  

Photography: Zach Alston
Wardrobe: Mollie Bradford | Directions USA 
Model: Carlyle | Directions USA
Hair & MUA: Chelsea Kimrey



Your Guide to a Flawless Summer Glow

It's no secret my legs are pretty pale! When I was younger I spent all my time outdoors, but as I've gotten older I've noticed a decline in my ability to acquire a natural glow. I've tried everything except laying out in the sun or going to a tanning bed (lotions, makeup, spray tan, etc.), which I refuse to do. I picked this one up from Sephora last year when I was looking to try a new product that didn't leave me looking orange and wouldn't rub right off. I was recommended St. Tropez perfect legs spray. It dries instantly, giving a much more natural look to my fair skin. It's as simple as spraying 6-8 inches away and rubbing in. The only down sides are I had to scrub my hand I rubbed the product in with several times (but I'm thinking that should completely fade by tomorrow). Also, the can costs $18. Overall, I give St. Tropez a good review and would say it's worth the money!

I feel like Jergens is improving their natural glow lotion even more every year. I picked up a bottle for myself the other day at the grocery store finding they had added protection to their product. This lotion acts as an allover gradual tanning lotion (without all the orange and faux-looking tan offered by others) as well as a daily moisturizing sunscreen with broad spectrum protection. For all of us who aren't big fans of the tanning bed or maybe are and want to cut back on spending on packages, this is the perfect solution. My favorite part is the gradualness of the tan. You appear much more natural if you don't suddenly look like a piece of cinnamon toast in the middle of spring.

If you're looking for another quick fix, I occasionally use Sally Hansen's leg spray for an instant glow. But be wary! If you don't like sparkle, there is a hint of glitter in the formula. While the spray is easy to use, it can be a bit messy. To avoid getting it all over your bathroom, I suggest applying in the shower, tub or secretly in your backyard away from nosy neighbors. It also comes in a liquid version, but personally I like the spray best for overall smoothness in color and ease of use. You can snag this product at Target, CVS, Walgreens and Ulta for about $10. I wear the fairest shade.


Why I Quit New York

 lost myself a little when I became overwhelmed with the idealized version of what being successful at a young age looked like. Growing up I was a pretty well-rounded, creative kid. I invented worlds to conquer in my very own backyard, hosted talent shows for the neighborhood kids and performed songs I had written at local art gallery crawls. I took on new hobbies as they came to me and eventually broke out of my shy tendencies thanks to them. I didn't do all those things because I felt I had something to prove. I simply lived life with the belief if I dreamt it, I certainly was capable of accomplishing it and was lucky enough to have been raised in a family who supported that notion.

When I was studying in college I wanted to be really good at one thing so I made fashion a priority, majoring in just that. Since I was about 10, it had been my dream to move to the Big Apple and create a career for myself there. I was inspired by shows like What Not to Wear which showed me how a makeover could completely alter someone's self-confidence and revive their self-esteem. At 21 I stuck to my ambition and moved to New York City with the upmost optimism to pursue a career in fashion. For six months I put in the dirty work and worked humbly as an unpaid intern. There'd be days where I felt like a slave to fashion and others where I felt I had learned something of value I'd never forget. I had left the comfortable life I knew behind and spilled my guts out for a shot at making it big in a fast-paced, cut-throat industry. But somewhere along the way it all became less of a creative outlet and more of a mindless emotional bog I had pinned myself down to.

Finally, I was ready to move past the intern life so I found my way to Fifth Avenue, assisting clients with lives most of us only dream of. To put it in perspective, clients would leave with a pair of pumps to strut around the city in what literally cost more than two months of my rent (which trust me, is NOT cheap) all to be worn on grimy pavement. As I became more involved in participating in charitable work outside of my job, I grew more aware that what I was witnessing was the pieces I had so long admired as art being distorted into overpriced and frivolous consumptions. I like pretty things just as much as the next female, so a little splurge every now and then seemed reasonable (I'm not here to bash fine craftsmanship, which of course comes with a price tag), but watching the overindulgence by those of which who consumed on a more regular basis had me thinking "when will you be satisfied?" And when would I say enough is enough? While many women I came across were kind and seemingly more down to earth, the ones who came in weekly to bury their insecurities and loneliness under Gucci are what made me truly realize that designer doesn't buy happiness, it just suffocates the problem and believe it or not, even Jimmy Choo soles wear down eventually.

photo cred: mountainsoftravelphotos.com
But how could I walk away from one of the most prestigious avenues in the world without feeling like I was a complete idiot for having given up a taste of a life of luxury? And should I have been embarrassed I was rocking some reasonably priced TJ Maxx designer? Well first, before I made any rash decisions, I had to consult with the big man upstairs. Yep, you know the One. So, when I was trying to gather my thoughts I made an effort every day during lunch to find my own space (typically a large rock to sit on) in Central Park and we had a meeting. I thought of it as my sanctuary upon the rock where I could let the endless demands of the day melt away. It helped me begin to envision the kind of person I saw myself as in two years if I had remained right where I was like expected of me. To be honest, I didn't like that girl. She was out of touch with reality and was willing to starve herself to fit in to that D&G gown. But me, I had always been a meat and potatoes kind of gal with a little curve I wasn't keen on shaming. I had always seen fashion as a daily opportunity for self-expression, a way to help others feel good about themselves, and a tool to show one's best self to the world. But I was coming to the realization that I had surrounded myself with successful people who, astoundingly, I didn't want to become like after all. Not that I didn't want success, I just craved more substance, so I respectfully made my exit. From there I continued to work on projects on a freelance basis and kept fighting. Because if you want something bad enough, especially in New York, you've got to fight for it every day. And I wasn't ready to give up on what I thought the fashion industry should be.

While all the glamour seems well...glamourous, there's a lot of dirty work that goes in to making people look great, trust me. All of this had me realizing there's a fine line between having fun dressing yourself and others up and believing the latest designer handbag is going to fill a much deeper void than your empty pockets (not to get preachy, but only He can mend that void). That acquiring more and more things will present yourself to others as being more successful, more attractive, more desirable. And in some ways it will, but only temporarily. All over the city there is this heightened desire to work harder, earn more, buy more and repeat. While flattered, I was not interested in taking the invitation to an exclusive material girl club that only serves Evian. I wanted to be beautiful in a way that doesn't fade, a way that inspires other girls to fight for what they believe in too, because the real strength comes from the woman who's wearing the clothes. Clothes are nothing until someone lives in them and creates memories.

Gif cred: The Devil Wear Prada
Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade my experiences for anything. New York has helped me become the tough-but-grounded chick I wanted to be. It's taught me diligence, faithfulness and most importantly, it's given me my story. Because I'm more than a city. I'm more than legs in a skirt. New York is really just a state of mind and something you can carry in your heart. This is why I'm quitting New York.

Not completely, of course I'll visit. But I've decided I'm taking what I've learned with the upmost gratitude and moving on to, dare I say, greater things. Why the sudden shift? It hit me when I was last at home visiting that the life I so wanted to break free from upon graduating is calling me back as if to say, "I'm not done with you, there's something for you here." I guess you could say I've had a change of heart. This is why I've decided to move back south to Charlotte, NC. I didn't think I'd ever say that, but I think that when something calls you that wasn't in your plan, you've got to listen. I suppose when you're being shifted in a new direction it can come without warning and will have you reexamining everything. In my case, my revelation had hit like a ton of bricks.

Did I personally want to be 30, single, living with roommates and living from paycheck to paycheck, all while being consumed by work? NO. But it seemed inevitably this is the kind of life I was setting myself up for. And the truth is, I'm ready to work towards building a home, I want to have a backyard and I want to use my talents to help people see their true potential. I don't want to miss out on being a part of my nieces' and nephew's growing up and I'm waaay over spending so much time traveling underground via dirty subway stations.

I'm embracing change and believing in new possibilities. I believe everything happens for a reason and taking risks is what makes life interesting.

I'm a dreamer, a hopeful romantic and learning the growing importance of not letting those who touch my life go without knowing they do so. I'm not perfect and I'll never claim to be. At times I'm broken but I believe vulnerability is a form of beauty and a part of the healing. My past is not my burden, but serves as a reminder of my strength. I am in control of my reality and I choose happiness.




Shoes With a Statement: Exclusive Presale

I love a good statement piece. That's why Secrets to Style has joined up with StandFor, an up and coming European-based company with an innovative approach to footwear that just launched it's first men's and women's collection. With styles that will get you talking about more than their look, each collection StandFor releases takes statement making to a new level. Their first collection, Smoke Less is all about the positive ways cutting back smoking can improve your life and the others around you as told through a sweet pair of kicks. My favorite styles are Leaf and Fertility.
All shoes are leather-free, made from high quality materials, and have a comfy, breathable fit.

Find out more about StandFor here.




VLOG: MASSIVE Lashes, Coral Lip & How to Keep Your Makeup Looking Fresh ALL Day

Check out my latest review of these iconic beauty products: 
Urban Decay Perversion mascara
Two-Faced Melted 'Melon' lipstick
Mally Evercolor Poreless Face Defender




Wide Open Spaces

Do you ever just feel like packing your bags and shipping off to new horizons? There's something exhilarating about hopping on a plane and going somewhere new, somewhere you can get lost and if you're lucky enough, be found. I love how clothes can tell a story like that. The garments hanging in my closet aren't just pieces of fabric, they're memories. For me, this looks speaks to my inner free spirit.

HOW TO PULL IT OFF: Pair this drop waist dress with a deep red fringe handbag and wide-brimmed hat for a boho friendly look. Highlight your natural beauty with Nars blush, Two-faced blush and D&G lipstick.




Today's Look: Night on the Town

The other day I was walking in Chelsea when I came across Second Time Around, a consignment shop in Manhattan that sells high end gently worn clothing. I thought I'd step in and browse while I had a few minutes before I headed to the CEW Beauty Awards but what I found made my heart swoon. A spectacular gray beaded Parker dress was calling my name. So, I quickly snatched it up and headed to the fitting room. Just my size! I couldn't resist so I continued my love affair to the register. 

HOW I WORE IT: Perfect for going out on warmer nights ahead, I like the idea of pairing the dark gray with a pop of color like I've done here with my fuchsia lipstick. When I wear something embellished I try to keep accessories to a minimum so I've paired this look with fun earrings (made by local jewelry company, DavikiNYC) and kept the bracelets simple. If I'm wanting a more bid con look, I can throw on a skinny belt to draw more attention to the waist. A little blush and an opened toe sandal pump and I'm good to go! TAXI!

Parker, dress (from Second Time Around)
Chinese Laundry, sandal heels
DavikiNYC, earrings
Maybelline lipstick in '5th Ave Fuchsia'
MAC blush in 'Warm Soul'




Get That Look: Uptown Girl





HUGE Makeup Haul

Join me as I try out some of the products you've had your eye on...or maybe should! Everything from Mary Kay, NYX and even Essie. If you're thinking about reinventing your look, but just aren't keen on spending a bunch of dollar bills on items that may not do you any justice, look no further! I've gone ahead and done the dirty work for you and now am dishing out the latest scoop on several products you may have had on your radar. 


'Absolutely Shore', $8.50
'Demure Vixon', $8.50
'Aruba Blue', $8.50
'Bahama Mama', $8.50

Mary Kay
Satin lips, balm & mask set, $18

The Curve Liner in 'Jet Black', $15
Dream Catcher eyeshadow palette, $15
BB cream in 'Nude', $13
Matte lipstick in 'Eden', $6
Liquid illuminator in 'Born to Glow', $7.50
Dark circle concealer in 'Fair', $6
Lip liner in 'Nude', $7
Control freak eyebrow gel, $6

Eyebrow gel in Brunette, $7
Curvaceous lush lashes mascara, $7




Best Dressed Oscars 2015

Tonight's the night we've all been waiting for! The 87th Oscars awards ceremony is kicking off as we speak and stars are heating up the red carpet with looks to die for, but not everyone will make the best dressed list! Here are a few of my picks, chime in with yours!

Edie Redmayne looks suave in his navy suit and bowtie 
Photo cred: Vogue
Dakota Johnson's custom red St. Laurent gown makes her pop
Photo cred: Getty Images
Anna Kendrick dawns a lovely soft coral Thakoon dress
Photo cred: Getty Images
Zetus lapetus! Lupita shines in her CK custom dress with a whopping 6,000 pearls!  
Photo cred: Getty Images
Rosamund Pike looks radiant in red 
Photo cred: Getty Images
Cate Blanchett looks sleek with an attention grabbing statement necklace
Photo cred: Getty Images
Adrien Brody looks handsome in this 50s inspired suit
Photo cred: Getty Images
And finally...which leading lady do you think rocked the sparkly gown look best?
Sound off in the comments!