The Best Ways to Transition Slip and Body Con Dresses

“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.” ― Lauren DeStefano, Wither

SEASONS: A voluntary opportunity for a new beginning. 

Sometimes I wonder what life would be like without a calendar, time or our track of changing seasons. Would we automatically recharge or seek a means of doing so? 

While I lived in the Midwestern U.S.A., I grew to look forward to the change of seasons and loved when fall approached. 

Running outdoors became more enjoyable as the air grew cooler and the leaves graced the canopy with various hues before their finale right before winter; new wildlife immersed while others prepared their nests and burrows for the colder months ahead. Me on the other hand, I found myself evolving creatively in style as I shopped my closet for outfits that could be layered and not just look nice together but was practical and functional as well.   

Temperatures may not be as drastic on this part of the globe, but cooler days still afford the opportunity to dress up minor staples for when the weather permit. 

Here are some simple ways to transition a simple dress from summer to winter or in my case "cooler winds." Hopefully these simple looks can help you to step out of your comfort zone and try new fun pairings with items you already own. 

Easy Ways to Transition Any Dress from Summer to Fall

1. Monochromatic Look

Keeping items within the same colour spectrum for a monochromatic look can take the guess work out of what to wear when layering a dress for the fall. 

Neutral tones afford you the opportunity to layer numerous pieces of varying colours be it a cardigan, sweater, coat or in this instance a cape. 

Choosing a shoe or boot/bootie is also easy as you can keep your colour palette monochromatic throughout wearing the same colour shoe or a colour in the same family. 

For my first look, I decided to pair this dress with my New York & Co turtleneck cape. To keep the look flattering, I took my brown belt and tucked the front part of the cape under the belt for a more defined and intentional fit. If you prefer a more baggy look, you can always let the cape or sweater hang down the front. 

To add a bit more of depth to the look, I added my tan fedora and brown booties with gold detail. 

This look can be worn for an evening out with friends, running errands in the day (if its cold enough) or even a date night with your significant other. 

Booties | Slip Dress (similar) | Fedora (alternative) | Turtleneck Cape (alternative)

2. Colourblock 

Adding a bold coloured piece on top of your slip dress not only adds depth to your outfit but also drama. For days where an extra layer is needed, the basic denim jacket is the easiest ways to add a colour-blocking element. 

I decided to pair my neutral slip dress with my waist length dark washed denim jacket. For an even more dramatic colour blocking effect, you can pair a longer length  coloured cardigan-a cranberry coloured one for example, or a lightweight multicoloured kimono for a lighter days. 

On days when the weather is chilly, layer on other bold coloured pieces like scarves or even a bright pair of stockings.  

We often think of colour blocking in one piece, but this can be achieved through by choosing simple pieces that work well together as a comprehensive look. Think about adding a beret or fedora, a headband or turban or even one of the more overlooked accessories a bag. 

3. Embellishments 

Lately I've been drawn to pearls and pieces with unique appliqués. They have a way of dressing up the most basic pieces and not requiring unnecessary accessories.

Earlier this year, while strolling through the local mall, I found an ivory coloured sweater-very basic-to say the least, on sale for $15.00. I decided to jazz it up a bit by adding faux pearls of various sizes to the front of the sweater. 

I've paired this sweater with paperbag pants, skinny jeans with a pair of white sneakers and even dressed it up a bit with a pair of nude pumps. It's a heavyweight sweater with a chunky look to it. 

The simplest way of utilising this piece, was to pair it with my baby blue body con dress that I found at a local boutique The Velvet Hanger. This dress is such a pretty pale blue colour and it's thicker than most pieces I've seen in stores. The material is lightweight and has some stretch to it and is very comfortable for all day wear. 

For cohesiveness and a bit of contrast I paired this look with my mustard pearled headband and fall booties. 

On colder days or nights, I plan on wearing a thicker pair of stockings, perhaps I may try my hand and add an appliqué to them. 

Make use of any vintage pieces you may have and pair your bodycon dresses with them for a simple summer to fall transitional look. 

Booties | Pearl Sweater (alternative) | Bodycon Dress (alternative) | Mustard Pearl Headband 

If looking for the dress locally, try Body Beautiful or The Velvet Hanger for affordable options. 

4. Prints and Patterns

If your wardrobe is filled with pieces in various prints or patterns, why not pair them with your slip or bodycon dresses and wear them during the fall and winter seasons? 

The easiest way for me to pair a piece with a print is to choose colours that are incorporated in the print or pattern. For example, I started with the baby blue bodycon dress as my base and added my navy blue tropical 3/4 sleeve kimono with it. 

If I wanted to wear this look while running errands throughout the day, I would have paired a small pink crossbody bag with it with a navy bootie or a low top sneaker. 

As my look in the photos are more of an evening out and about look, I anchored it with a navy floppy felt hat and my new fall staple, brown booties with gold accents. 

It's so fun to shop your closet to utilise pieces already owned to create new outfits for any season. If you try any of these looks be sure to tag me in your photos over on instagram. I'd love to see what you came up with. 

Are you going to shop your wardrobe this season? What was your favourite look? Let me know in the comments section below. 

The Road to Residency

Tips to Prepare for USMLE Step 1 by Dr. Teoria Murray.

God has truly blessed me with strong, phenomenal, professional young women who are open to sharing their experiences and encouraging others in their journey. Today's post was written by Dr. Teoria Murray; may you find useful tips as you prepare for the USMLE Step 1 exam.


Tackling the USMLE Step 1- One IMG’s Story

If you are a medical student or graduate anywhere in the world, chances are you have heard of the dreaded United States Medical Licensing Examination. This 3 step hurdle has been known to stir up fear, anxiety and frustration in the hearts of those with the goal of entering a US residency program. As a 2018 graduate of the University of the West Indies in The Bahamas, I was no exception to this rule. After completing medical school and then internship, I set my sights on the Goliath USMLE Step 1 and completed this task (mostly) unscathed. In this post I will share with you the insights I gained in the process so you can hopefully have an easier experience than I did. 

1.     Set clear, realistic goals

Medicine is vast with an estimate of over 120 specialties and subspecialties in the United States. What is the specialty of your dreams? Based on your research and experience thus far, what area do you think you could wake up and still enjoy practicing for decades to come? You may not have a clear frontrunner in mind and that’s okay. Maybe there are two or three that spark a light in you. Do not set a low bar for yourself because of the perceived disadvantage of being an international medical graduate. Look up the average IMG Step 1 score for your target specialty and aim above that. As you take practice tests, track your progress toward this goal. Work towards it. Pray about it. Hang it high in your mind as an achievable goal. 

Source: Charting Outcomes in the Match: International Medical GraduatesCharacteristics of International Medical Graduates Who Matched to Their Preferred Specialty in the 2018 Main Residency Match

2.     Create a study schedule

Once you know your goal score, you also need to decide the amount of time you will dedicate to studying. Generally, it is recommended that IMGs spend at least 6-8 months studying for Step 1 for 6-8 hours a day on most days. When I made the decision to take Step 1, I realized that the long days of hospital-based medicine led to exhausted nights and I wouldn’t have the discipline or energy to study like I needed to. This led to the tough decision of taking 5 months away from work for dedicated study. If you can do this, that’s great! However, many persons can’t realistically afford to do so. In that case, study time will have to be structured around your work schedule and other responsibilities. Towards the end of the study period, set aside a dedicated study time for serious review. 

There are lots of study schedules out there than you can adapt to your personal needs and it may take some trial and error to find one that works for you. There are templates for 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, 12 months and everything in between. I settled on Cram Fighter’s 4 month schedule because of the time left before my exam at that point, but if I could do it again I would have chosen the 6 month option. You can have a look at some sample schedules here

 3.     Choose your resources wisely

The amount of information that’s available to us in the 21st century can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, there’s so much useful information. On the other hand, there’s just SO MUCH useful information. How do you choose? The key isn’t how many resources you use but how well you utilize them. In this case, less really is more (especially since you will likely go through the material multiple times). For Step 1, the core resources are UWORLD, First Aid, and Pathoma (UFAP). To supplement these, I found Sketchy Microbiology and Pharmacology useful. Picmonic is also a good visual aid to cement these concepts. However, take consideration of your learning style as well. If you find yourself to be a more visual learner, you may use online learning systems like AMBOSS, Boards & Beyond or Lecturio to guide you through UFAP. The possibilities are endless, so the best advice I can give here is to CHOOSE EARLY. Then evaluate your decision and decide if changes need to be made but do this within the first weeks of study because changing tactics late in the process can be a costly mistake.


4.     Spend more time on weaker areas

Step 1 is divided into the major areas of Anatomy, Behavioral sciences, Biochemistry, Biostatistics and epidemiology, Immunology, Microbiology, Molecular and cell biology, Pathology, Pharmacology, and Physiology, with some genetics and nutrition sprinkled in. We all have those subjects that come easier to us. I would find myself almost enjoying studying behavioral sciences and pathology most days, but other areas of study seemed more painful than pulling teeth. (Biochemistry, I’m looking at you.) This is a discomfort you want to face head on. The subjects that you least enjoy studying and that you score lower on in practice tests are the ones that need your attention. Review them early and often.

5.     Practice, practice, practice

Get UWORLD early in your study period. You may be tempted to wait until you have seen all the information to start practicing exam questions. After all, that’s usually the way most of us did things up until now. You learn the information then practice exam questions when you almost feel ready. Step 1 is a whole different ball game. UWORLD is a useful tool with over 2000 questions and explanations. The questions are very close to those that will appear on the real thing so you want to give yourself time to get comfortable with the question format and the thinking that goes into answering them. The UWORLD subscription also comes with a simulated exam (UWSA) that is a bit shorter than the real thing but can give you a taste of what it will be like. 

You will also want to take NBME exams. These are the closest to the real deal you will see before exam day and tend to approximate your Step 1 score +/- 9 points. It is recommended that you take at least 3 or 4 of these prior to the actual exam as a concrete way of measuring how effective your studying is. If your NBME score 1 month from the big day is still a far cry from your goal, it may be a good idea to postpone your exam and give yourself more time to study.

6.     Take care of your health

As robotic as the rigors of USMLE prep can make you feel, you aren’t a machine. You will still need sunshine, fresh air, water, exercise, and some social interaction. In the era of COVID-19 this may take some creativity, but a healthy body, mind and soul will go a long way in boosting your productivity. Set fixed times for study and stick to them, without multitasking. Schedule study breaks and take them. Eat healthy foods that can fuel your brain whenever possible instead of junk food that can make your brain feel foggy. Don’t use caffeine as a substitute for sleep. This is a marathon not a sprint and you don’t want to burn out. Do things you love. Stay in touch with your loved ones. Read a book or watch a show that has nothing to do with medicine, even if only for 30 minutes every day. 

7.     Give yourself grace

Preparing for and passing the USMLE is taxing. Some days you won’t feel like studying. Study anyway. Some days you won’t meet all of your goals. You may score lower than you expected on a UWORLD question block. Your NBMEs may be less than stellar. You may doubt yourself, your abilities, your goals, your calling, and all the signs that led you to believe you were on the right path. Don’t beat yourself up. Take a deep breath. Stretch. Pray. Reach out to someone you know is always in your corner for a pep talk. Talk things through with other colleagues preparing for the exam or who have taken it recently. But whatever you do, don’t give up. You already know that you are capable of amazing things. God has brought you this far and it’s only up from here. So keep pushing and at the top of this mountain, when you realize it was all worth it, reach back and encourage those still climbing. 


Dr. Murray is a recent graduate of the University of the West Indies, currently practicing medicine in The Bahamas. Feel free to post your comments below if you would like to hear more from here in reference to the USMLE Step 1 examination.