Cooking

National Chocolate Cake Day

(Picture from Southern Living: https://www.southernliving.com/food/entertaining/top-ten-five-star-layer-cakes)

It’s National Chocolate Cake day and what better way to celebrate than by baking my all-time favorite cake – this gorgeous, delicious chocolate pecan praline cake! Come along as we celebrate one of America’s best holidays!

Fashion

Summer Staples

(shop this outfit HERE!)

I feel like summer hasn’t really started (unless it did and I just didn’t get the memo!) and for me, that means hitting the ‘refresh’ button on some of my favorite summer staples that I wear on repeat, year after year.  

I’ve rounded up some of my favorite pieces that will make getting dressed in the summertime a snap…


1. White Pants

I always teased my mother about her obsession with white pants but I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!  I could live in white pants during the hot months.  Not only are they full coverage for more dressy occasions, they’re versatile enough to go with almost every top/blouse you throw on. 

**Word of caution: avoid ketchup and red wine!

2. White t-shirt and tank top

If I wear one thing more than any other in my closet, it’s a basic white t-shirt.  I usually grab one from a less expensive shop so I’m not shelling out major bucks for basics.  

I also can’t stress enough how important it is to own several tank tops to wear under sheer blouses or as a base for layering.  Again, I usually pick up a few every so often to keep them bright and fresh!

My favorite places for basics:

  1. Old Navy
  2. Target
  3. Walmart

3. Black t-shirt and tank top

This is basically a copy paste moment from the above but again, always great to have those basics for layering!

4. Slip-on sandals

As someone who pays attention to trends every season, I’ve noticed a theme among footwear producers.  There’s usually a standard sandal or wedge that gets a slight makeover each summer.  Same shoe, small stylistic difference.  

I always recommend a brown, black, and white slip on sandal that’ll last you for several seasons.

My favorite places for summer sandals:

  1. DSW
  2. Old Navy
  3. Target

5. Easy cotton dresses

 For those quick errand runs, leisurely shopping, or even casual dinner, dresses are a ‘win’ in my book.  I opt for midi dresses as I am 5’9 with long legs and don’t feel like constantly tugging at my hem or being worried about showing too much. (Can I get an amen from the tall ladies?!)  

As for fabric, cotton dresses are an A+ as cotton lets you breath and keeps you cooler than synthetic fabrics.  

And for color/pattern, I usually stick with block colors so I can mix and match.  I’ll throw on a jacket if it’s chilly or a fun necklace for a pop of sparkle.

Favorite places for dresses:

  1. HM
  2. Asos
  3. Target
  4. Walmart
  5. Old Navy
  6. GAP

6. Accessories

There are a few accessories that I will *always have on hand to create a great summer outfit with as little thought as possible.  

I always have multiple sizes of gold hoop earrings, a thin patterned scarf, and a woven brown leather belt.  You can find these accessories pretty cheaply and in tons of fun options!

Best places for accessories:

  1. Target
  2. Etsy
  3. Amazon
  4. Asos
  5. Walmart
  6. Luv Aj (for more expensive jewelry)

Lifestyle

How to take your own Pictures

There was a period of about three years where I didn’t have any pictures of myself.  I thought I didn’t want any documentation of the weight fluctuation I was going through or the terrible box hair dye color I chose to try and achieve the Kate Middleton glossy chestnut mane (a true cautionary tale).  

But when I was going through my old Facebook albums, I realized there was a HUGE chunk of my late teens/early 20s that basically didn’t exist! (If you didn’t post about it, did it even happen?) I don’t even remember what I looked like!  It was actually heart breaking.  

But on that day, I decided I was going to have more than enough photo evidence of every stage of my life. 

I was going to become a (big breath!) photographer, more or less.  I didn’t, and still don’t, own a fancy camera so I do everything right on my phone.  I am the poster child for the ‘Shot on iPhone’ campaign. 

Rather than constantly bothering my family or hiring a photographer ($$$), I needed to find a way to become self-sufficient.   Enter Amazon.  I bought a tripod for my phone, a bluetooth clicker, and a ring light.  All in all, it cost me less than $100.  

The first few I did on my own will never see the light of the internet.  But as I continued taking picture after picture, I could tell a real improvement!  I usually take a picture a day, or at least most days.  Whether they make it to the point of public consumption is a different story but nevertheless, my camera roll has got some pretty crazy stuff on it. 


But I don’t want to look stupid…” That was a thought that kept me from doing a lot of weird things to get a good photo.  Once I realized that it really didn’t matter what other people thought, I was free to venture away from the white bedsheet background or studio-esque style pictures.  I went ~outside~. Now, I don’t really care who sees.  In fact, I’m aiming to be on the Influencers in the Wild Instagram page.  

It might seem vain but it’s a practice that truly makes me happy!  It allows me to flex my creative muscles and constantly has me looking at everything through a lens (pun very much intended) of how to take a better photo.  I’m not saying I’m Anne Leibovitz (although I highly recommend her MasterClass) but I do believe that the best pictures are the ones we create.  You can be your own creative director, model, producer, and publisher!  That’s the beauty of social media in 2020.  And guess what, there’s no one stopping you.  


So if you’ve ever wanted to have more, or even better, pictures of yourself, today is a great time to start!  

Here’s what you need: 

  1. Cell Phone tripod (link here)
  2. Bluetooth clicker (included with tripod)
  3. Ring light (link here)
  4. Your Phone! 

There’s no trick to getting the right picture. Play around with what works best for you, whether that’s finding your best side or trying out new colors/lighting. Just have fun with it! And most of all, just do it!

Fashion

My Favorite Interview Outfit

I remember the first time I wore a blazer for an interview – it didn’t fit, it was itchy, and I felt like a straight fraud.  I was reminded of the times when I would play dress up with my mom’s clothes, drowning in the oversized jacket and scooting around her closet in too-big heels.  Sometimes that memory feels a lot more like last year rather than 20 years ago… 

Now, as someone who’s done her fair share of interviews and worn quite a few blazers in her life, I can confidently say that blazers (while odd the first time you wear one) are the ONE thing you must wear in a job interview.  But that doesn’t mean you have to wear boring colors with a plain white button up and “sensible” heels.  

If you caught the podcast earlier this week, one of DeRetta’s tips was to add a personal touch to the basic interview outfit.  That way, when the interviewers think back to your interview, they’ll remember the tiny details that make you stand out. For instance, I usually wear red shoes.  They’re a way to show your style (and attention to small things) and let the interviewers know you’re thoughtful all the way down to your feet.  

I also love this grey patterned jacket because it provides more than your basic black blazer.  

I’ve paired it with a white turtleneck shell (which I highly recommend you invest in) and black dress pants.  

SN: whether you prefer pants, skirt, or a dress, make sure that your base (the piece that goes under your blazer) is a block color that isn’t distracting or competing with you blazer or accessories.  I also recommend that you not make your base a loud color. Red is my power color but you never want to overdo it. Red pants would be too much for a professional interview. But if you’re applying to work at a more creative company or organization, the rules are slightly different.  

As far as accessories go, do keep them to a minimum.  I opt for small diamond studs and one or two rings. You can wear a watch (I wear my apple watch everywhere so I obviously agree with wearing it into an interview room but always turn it on ‘do not disturb’).  If you’re a fidgety interviewee, take extra precautions to not wear something that allows you to fiddle during the meetings. This is distracting and could be off-putting to your potential employer.  

As far as hair and makeup, I also keep that at a minimum.  I have my hair out of my face so my bangs aren’t distracting me.  While I usually curl my hair, you can also wear it straight but the main point here is to keep it in its place.  Use as much hairspray as necessary to keep it out of your eyes. And in regards to makeup, I won’t use as much as I would on another day but I do make sure I have a neutral lip color and use a brown palette on my eyes.  

If you have to ask yourself if it’s too much, it probably is so err on the side of too little makeup rather than too much.  

One final point that’s important to remember: While you want to stand out in the interview, make sure whatever you wear is true to who you are and that you’re comfortable. 

I remember doing pageants and the #1 thing people always told me was “Be true to who you are…that way, no matter how things shake out, you can feel confident knowing you were yourself the whole time.”  Same with outfits. If you’re wearing something for the sake of being ‘different’ but you’re not comfortable, you’ll be distracted, you’ll probably distract your interviewers, and potentially not get the position.  Always, always, always be true to your brand and take into account the type of interview you’re going into. 

For formal positions like government, traditional corporate, finance, or law, err on the conservative side.  This will look a lot different from a creative or tech company outfit. As always, if you have questions, please ask! 

I hope this gives you direction on your next interview outfit – if you enjoyed this post or if you want to listen to my conversation about job interviews with Atlanta Braves Sr. VP of HR, DeRetta Cole Rhodes, click here

Lifestyle

How to Land your Dream Job with DeRetta Cole Rhodes

Welcome back to another episode of the Tess Hammock.com podcast!  As part of Interview Week, I’m so excited to bring you knowledge from the best in the business.  Deretta Cole Rhodes currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Human Resources for the Atlanta Braves (my favorite MLB team).  But before that, she served in leadership roles at FirstData, YUM!, Turner Broadcasting, Ersnt and Young, ADP, and the YMCA.  

And if that’s not enough to convince you that Deretta is the woman with the answers, you can check out her TEDTalk titled “From Survive to Thrive: Women of Color in Corporate Leadership.”  Deretta is also a fellow University of Georgia alumna so Go Dawgs!

I hope you enjoy our conversation but more important, I hope this gives you the tools to crush your next interview and land your dream job!

If you enjoyed this podcast, check out this past podcast episode on Millennial Wedding Manners!

Lifestyle Monday Minute

Monday Minute – Nail Your Next Job Interview

Hello and welcome to the first Monday Minute of 2020!  

For a lot of people, the start of a new year has them on the hunt for a new job.  And while it’s exciting when you start to receive invitations to interview with your dream company or organization, actually nailing that interview is easier said than done.  

That’s why this week is dedicated to helping you crush your next job interview and look good while doing it.  

I’ll be sharing the second episode of the podcast where you’ll learn from the absolute BEST in the HR world (seriously, she’s literally the best and you won’t want to miss it).  This podcast isn’t just for people on the job hunt, it can also help you better interview potential employees if your company is hiring!  

I’ll also be sharing my styling tips for the perfect interview outfit.  

That’s all for now and thanks for watching the Monday Minute! 

Beauty Lifestyle

Smile Brilliant with CariPro Ultrasonic Electric Toothbrush

(CariPro Ultrasonic Electric Toothbrush link HERE . Use code tesshammock20 for 20% off)

Confession time…I’m on the apps.  The dating apps.  And the ONE thing I notice most is a great smile! Which is why I started using the new CariPro Ultrasonic electric toothbrush and I’m. In. Love. 

I’ve always used an electric toothbrush but they were either too rough or just plain didn’t clean well enough.  And I’m not even going to start in on manual brushes. After years of trying different brushes, I had resigned myself to using off-the-shelf, mediocre toothbrushes.  Enter CapriPro

I started using this TOOTHBRUSH OF THE FUTURE weeks ago and my teeth haven’t been this clean in an embarrassingly long time.  Thanks to CariPro’s five settings (including ‘sensitive’ for my wimpy gums) and four gentle reminders to time brushing sessions to perfection, I actually get excited about brushing my teeth!    

And if that wasn’t enough to make me click ‘add to cart’, this gadget even has a ‘whitening’ setting to help lift plaque in order to whiten my teeth even more!  (White teeth = a more confident Tess). So in addition to everyday brushing, I use the “White” setting to help keep my smile bright and brilliant.  

I could wax on about my love for my toothbrush or I could just say that it’s honestly the best oral care system I have EVER used.  Not only do I stand by this brush, but CariPro does too, with a TWO YEAR warranty and amazing customer service.  

Now when I sign on to my dating app, I’m confident to put my best foot (and smile) forward.  So what are you waiting for?! Use CODE: tesshammock20 to get 20% off your order and start sharing your beautiful smile with the world.  

CariPro Ultrasonic electric toothbrush: 100% guaranteed to keep your mouth cleaner and get you more dates! 

Lifestyle Monday Minute

Monday Minute – Saving Money During the Holidays

Happy Monday and Welcome to another Monday Minute!

We are in the throws of the holiday season where our waistlines are expanding but our wallets are shrinking! 

While there’s a ton of festivities going on, I’m going to share a few ways to actually SAVE some money this year. 

  1. If you’re going to a holiday party with friends, coordinate a carpool and share parking expenses.  Parking can cost up to $25 dollars in the city for only a few hours and that’s money that can be better spent on other things.
  2. Don’t buy a new dress or outfit for every holiday party. I’m mostly talking to myself here as this is my one toxic trait…  You can throw on a fun pair of shoes, add blingy jewelry, do your hair differently, or try layering to get a fresh look (while going full Lizzie McGuire outfit repeater *gasp*)  
  3. DON’T buy clothes full price. Typically, the discount cycle isn’t very long and the BEST time to buy party dresses or winter clothes are in late December or January.  

I hope these tips help you save money this season and thanks for joining in on the Monday Minute.

Fashion

Metallic Work Wear

(Silver Blouse Link Here . Silver Skirt Link Here)

Can you wear metallic to the office? I don’t know, is the sky blue???

In other words, metallic absolutely has a place in the corporate world.  On the Monday Minute this week, I mentioned that you don’t have to go full Tin Man to incorporate shine into your work wear. 

(Silver Blouse Link Here . Silver Skirt Link Here)

I was wandering around Target one day (if I’m not at home, I’m at Target…wandering, spending, shopping) and this blouse caught my eye.  I thought “Wouldn’t this be awesome if there was a matching skirt?!” Ask and ye shall receive, y’all. The Lord heard my prayers and the light of heaven shown down on the coordinating skirt to this top and the angels wept.  Okay a tad dramatic but I’ve got to let that high school theater kid out somehow!!

I doubt you’ll weep when you wear this outfit but it will add joy to your 9-5!  I found both the blouse and the skirt run large so I recommend sizing DOWN! This fabric feels incredibly comfortable as opposed to other slinky material; it didn’t make me feel ~weird~.  

(Silver Blouse Link Here . Silver Skirt Link Here)

I threw on a patterned coat for when you’ve got to run to lunch or the meeting down the street.  This particular coat is from TopShop and while it’s from last year, there are tons of similar styles available.  The great thing about a classic style like this is the year after year use you get. I also love the somewhat neutral color and pattern as it goes with just about anything and can be dressed up or down.  

You could continue the metallic theme with a shiny shoe but I paired it with a pair of black pumps.  If you don’t currently have a pair of simple black pumps, I *highly* suggest you invest in a good pair that will last you many moon.  I wanted to make sure this look wasn’t too off the charts so adding black brought it back down to earth.  

(Silver Blouse Link Here . Silver Skirt Link Here)

In case a top and skirt weren’t enough, I also grabbed the matching silver purse that I’m never, ever letting go.  It’s the perfect size and comes with a shoulder strap.  

If you liked this post, check out how you can incorporate metallic into your New Year’s party!  

Happy Holidays, y’all!  

Fashion

Metallic New Year’s Eve

(Sweater Link HERE . Silver Pants Link HERE . Earrings – Similar HERE)

Admittedly, my favorite holiday is Christmas (i luv bb Jesus) BUT my favorite party is a New Year’s Eve shindig. Something about saying “buh bye” to a full 12 months of the past feels somewhat righteous. And nothing fills us with hope like the resolutions that we’re definitely going to break keep this year. 

I love the sparkle, the confetti, and the forever fruitless optimism that this’ll be the year there’s someone to kiss as the ball drops… still waiting on that one. 

(Sweater Link HERE . Silver Pants Link HERE . Earrings – Similar HERE)

Nevertheless, this is the time to dress UP! I’m talking full metallic, full sparkle, bring.it.on. I’ve done NYE a plethora of ways but my favorite kind of party is a house party, which means style is a bit different. For my “house NYE party” look, I’m keeping my metallic theme going with these silver culottes, grey Fairisle sweater, and fabulous (and cheap) rhinestone earrings. I can honestly say this is my favorite look to date! It’s comfy but still brings the glam, even at home. 

(Sweater Link HERE . Silver Pants Link HERE . Earrings – Similar HERE)

This grey sweater is oversized so make sure to size down if you want a more fitted look.  And the pants run large as well so choose your size accordingly. 

*SN: Some of my favorite sources for NYE party pieces: HM, Asos, Macy’s, Nordstrom 

Grocery List:

Grey Fairisle Sweater

Silver Pants

Rhinestone Earrings (sold out but similar here