bloggers chicago

Friday Fashion - HSM Style Icon - Meet Rachel of Suburban Style Challenge

Friday, July 25, 2014 Shaylee Emert

Rachel of Suburban Style Challenge truly proves that you don't need to live in the city to be chic, cool or on top of fashion. She's a blogger based out of Hoffman Estates, IL and style blogging is more than a hobby to her, it is a way of life. She's fun, quirky and isn't afraid to poke fun at herself. 

She doesn't take herself too seriously and that's what we here at Halfstack love most about her. Rather than being an overly serious, stuffy and a slave to trends, Rachel pushes herself to find her own style. It's a challenge she isn't afraid to face and we hope you readers are inspired by her lead. Enjoy today's Friday Fashion & Style Icon and don't forget we are accepting submissions through the end of this year! Learn more HERE.


Can you tell us more about you and where you are from?

I grew up in Deerfield, IL and after graduating from Bradley University, moved back to the Chicago ‘burbs. Currently, I live in Hoffman Estates and work in Schaumburg. At Bradley, I majored in communications with an advertising focus. I’m 32 years old and married with a wonderful rescue mutt-dog named Trixie (and no kids). I used to be a big car enthusiast, and still am by association thanks to my husband, who works in that industry, but I’m not into it as much myself any longer. I love to read, spend time outdoors (especially with the dog), do crafty stuff, shop, and laugh (even if it’s at myself). I don’t particularly like doing laundry or dishes, and currently my fridge has more beer than food in it. I’ve also discovered that I really enjoy yoga, and have been trying to do it more often.

Can you tell us more about your blog, how long you’ve been blogging and why you started it?

I started Suburban Style Challenge about three years ago. I’d been blogging in one form or another for years, but noticed that most of the local style blogs were written by girls who lived or worked in the city, making their blogs very city-focused. At the same time, most of the suburban-based blogs were very mom-oriented. Friends and family have long complemented my style and my nose for a good deal, and at the urging of a few close friends, SSC was born, filling a void in the bloggy world (or at least I like to think that’s the case).

Do you blog for a living or do you have a day job, if so what do you do?


Blogging is my “whenever I have time” gig. By day, I’m a Creative Marketing Manager for a company that makes computer peripherals. I’m in charge of everything from website and sales collateral design to packaging design and the overall management of the company’s brand. It’s a pretty awesome job, and not only is my inner nerd allowed to come out and play, but I have the freedom to wear pretty much anything I want to the office (within reason, of course).

Can you tell us more about your personal style and how it developed over time?


I’ve had a long, interesting personal style journey. I once longed to fit into the “cool” crowd, and then gave up and started wearing what I wanted to wear. When I graduated college and got my first job, I had to start dressing “business casual” (a term I can’t stand, to be honest), and II interpreted that as “boring”. My closet became filled with yawn-worthy clothes that fit the dress code more than my style. Eventually I changed jobs and went somewhere where my creativity was, to some degree, allowed to show in my dress. I used that freedom to figure out who I was, style-wise, and in the past couple years have really begun to realize what I’m comfortable in and why. I read a book called I Have Nothing To Wear!: A Painless 12-Step Program to Declutter Your Life So You Never Have to Say This Again! (by Jill Martin and Dana Ravich) that I recommend to everyone struggling with their style, which helped immensely with that journey and figuring out that my style leans more towards “rockstar” than anything else.

I’ve always been a little more comfortable in worn, easy items (like jeans and a tee with Chucks or boots). Currently, I’m digging fun, unique, thrifted finds, as well as the sporty-chic look that’s on trend right now. I like mixing things--textures or patterns--and I like skulls, layered necklaces, and things that remind me of the 90’s. I own a lot of black, though I’ve been trying really hard to move away from that lately, and realize that the amount of shoes I have is ridiculously impractical. Admitting it’s the first step, right?

What are some of your favorite brands to shop?


Well, I love thrifting lately, and seem to have really good luck at both Savers and Goodwill, but I’ll wander into Salvation Army or any of the local shops too (Home of the Sparrow, Wings, and Shelter Inc. are ones I frequent). Plato’s Closet and Clothes Mentor are also resale shops I’ll go in (both to buy and sell). For trendy stuff, I usually turn to Forever21 first, but I shop often at H&M, Kohl’s, and Target, with frequent trips into GAP, Old Navy (I love their active line), DSW, and Express. I’ll even peek into Discovery if there’s something trendy that I don’t want to spend a lot of money on. I used to be big into Marshalls/TJ Maxx, but feel like I can find better deals elsewhere now. I also shop online a lot, with UrbanOg and GoJane being my go-to shoe haunts, and 9th & Elm being my number one stop for jewelry. Reality is, I’ll meander into any store that has a sale sign out, and have no qualms about going into stores that I’m clearly not the target market for (like Wet Seal, Hot Topic, and Urban Outfitters), and frequently peruse the boys’ and men’s sections. Largely, I’m more concerned about how something looks or fits over where it’s from or who it was “designed” for.

What/who are you listening to? Reading? Lusting after?

Right now I’m deep into reading the Game of Thrones series. I’m a big fan of the show and have finally gotten a chance to sit down and start reading the books, which I’m enjoying immensely. Normally I’ll have a few books “on deck” at the same time, but it’s just Game of Thrones right now--it deserves my full attention when I can get to it. I’ve got a very long list of “must read” books queued up though, including some old favorites, like Island of the Blue Dolphins and Of Mice and Men.

Aside from that, all I can think about lately is upgrading my technology. I need a new cell phone, but am trying to wait until November so I can upgrade for cheap. I also really want a new camera, even though I picked up a replacement for my 5 year-old point-and-shoot at the beginning of the year. I regrettably didn’t investigate using a remote with the new camera (it’s 2014, so I didn’t expect that to be an issue), and it’s not compatible with anything, which makes outfit shots a bit more of a hassle than they should be. I also need to upgrade my 9-year-old laptop, but haven’t quite decided which direction I want to go there yet, and we have a desktop at home so there’s no huge hurry.

What are your favorite guilty pleasure shows and why?


I can pretty much always sit down and watch some form of Law & Order (SVU is my favorite). I also enjoy Game of Thrones, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Hannibal, The Carrie Diaries, Walking Dead, Project Runway, American Horror Story, and recently started watching Penny Dreadful. I also enjoy watching Chopped, but haven’t watched in ages because it always makes me hungry, and I never seem to have much food around the house. I was going to say I don’t watch much TV, but with it all written out like that, I’m thinking I watch more than I think I do.

If you were granted three wishes, what would they be and why?

Uh, this question is one I always struggle with. I want to be selfish, you know, but I also want to be selfless and help others. It would be nice to have the financial freedom to be able to work part-time without struggling to make ends meet or worrying about insurance or future planning. Then I could spend more time on hobbies I enjoy (like blogging, but also painting and crafting), but also volunteer at local animal shelters or charity thrift stores. I used to wish I didn’t need glasses, but recently I’ve grown to not mind wearing them, so perhaps my wish would be that my vision were better so glasses weren’t so darn expensive. And finally, I wish it were easier for women to support each other, instead of putting each other down so much. I’ve been trying to be less negative, both about myself and others, and never really realized just how much “hating” goes on until I started focusing on it. We’re a much greater force to be reckoned with, ladies, if we stand together!

What gives you confidence and do you have any suggestions on how women and men can find their true self and confidence?


A few years ago I starting thinking about how I look at myself, and made a decision to stop looking at myself and focusing on the negative things I saw. Instead, I decided I’d find one thing I was happy with at that moment, and appreciate that. At first, it was really hard! After years of being “trained” to think everything was wrong with myself, it was difficult to find even one thing to think positive about. But each day it got easier and easier, and I quickly discovered that it helped me walk out of the house feeling better about myself. The positivity has even changed how I look at life. So give it a shot… instead of obsessing over [insert something you don’t like here] find something you do like, and obsess over that for a minute or two, and ignore whatever it is you don’t like. And keep at it, focusing on the good things you see instead of the bad.

Finally, where can we learn more about you and follow you on social media?


You can keep up with the blog at www.suburbanstylechallenge.com. I’m also on Facebook (www.facebook.com/suburbanstylechallenge), Twitter (www.twitter.com/sstylechallenge), Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/racheljay), and Instagram (www.instagram.com/racheljayssc). Oh, and the photos for this feature were all taken by Chicago photographer Moe Martinez. You can (and should) check out his work at www.moemartinez.com.


Information on my looks





Naturally broken-in Seven brand skinny jeans (purchased years ago at either TJ Maxx or Marshalls), grey Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars (you can find them various places, including DSW and Kohl’s), a Muppets tee, and a plaid flannel (both of which are probably older than the jeans, and I can’t recall where I got them). My necklaces are mostly old, but the long one is the Stella & Dot Sahara Pendant. My belt is from GAP, and also quite old. The cuff is, I believe, from Charming Charlie. Trixie was adopted from 4 Paws 4 U 4 Ever in West Chicago, IL and frequently adds her own touch to my looks with a dusting of dog fur.






These dalmation print pants are H&M, but came to me via Goodwill. The studded top is Forever21, but was a Plato’s Closet find. The booties are from MakeMeChic.com, but quite a few years old. The denim moto jacket is an old GAP favorite, but they’ve been doing similar ones lately.



The vintage and well-worn Scottie Pippen Bulls jersey is from Goodwill (a boy’s section gem), and is tucked into an H&M lace skirt. The clutch was purchased at the Shelter Inc thrift store in Schaumburg. My necklace is old, but from Express, the earrings are from ShopBevel (which, sadly, no longer seems to exist), and my watch is the Michael Kors Limited Edition Paris watch via the Michigan City, Indiana Fossil Outlet (yup Fossil makes watches for Michael Kors). My clear wedge shoes are either from UrbanOg.com or GoJane.com (they have a lot of the same styles, and I shop at both often enough to forget where I order things from, ha).



The sports bra is from Kohl’s, and the asymmetrical, oversized striped top is from Discovery (and rather old). The collar necklace and sweatpants (yes, those are sweats, and super comfortable) are both from Plato’s Closet, while my shoes are from GoJane.com. My black leather bag is Coach via the Coach Outlet in Michigan City, Indiana, and it is my go-to everyday bag.




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