Thursday, July 3, 2014

What to Wear: A Sweatshirt Dress Layered Up

I'm not sure if it's a residual effect of last winter's Polar Vortex (aka nightmare winter hellscape), but the weather in the Chicago area has been nothing short of weird lately. 

On some days it's super hot and humid (as it should be in the summer!), but on others, it almost feels as though fall is upon us with chilly winds and misty rain (boo!). 

Reluctant to voluntarily freeze my butt off in the name of wearing summer outfits, I've instead opted to wear some of my summer staples layered with other pieces in order to try to capture the breeziness of the summer without getting frozen out by the literal breeziness of this summer, in particular.

With this outfit, I started with one of my mainstays, this awesome sweatshirt dress from Madewell, and layered a lightweight tee underneath it. In the beginning, I only popped on my denim vest for commuting to work, but once I got to the office, I just decided to keep it on and work it! Anytime it's even kind of warm out and not rainy, I try to wear some kind of sandal, so this particular day was no exception, despite the lower temperature; and as usual, I just threw one some accessories that I felt worked well to complete the overall look.

Outfit Details:
Dress - Old from Madewell (no longer available) - similar, similar
Long Sleeved Striped Tee - J.Crew Factory
Denim Vest: J.Crew Factory
Sandals: Target
Necklace: Old from Target (no longer available) - similar
Skinny Belt - Old from Target - similar in patent leather 

I just need to talk briefly about this dress from Madewell. I bought it two years ago to wear to my bachelorette party (of all things), and at the time I felt like it was kind of pricey for a dress made of sweatshirt material (I think it was $118, but less with a coupon I got in a Birchbox), but while that is kind of a lot of monies to pay for one dress, I cannot stress enough how worth every penny it has been! I can wear it all 4 seasons with ease, and it's great layered or on its own; it has also seriously held up after countless trips through the washing machine. I think that Madewell fans everywhere need to petition the company to bring back another version of this dress, because I have no idea what I'll do when the one that I have finally disintegrates from so many washes and wears (hopefully not while I'm wearing it). 

Lets hope for some warmer weather going forward, but in the meantime, I plan on trying to just make the most the weather we have, and be happy that at least there's no snow on the ground.



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Let's Talk About... Giving Your Hair a Break

Confession time!

As shameful as it is to admit, while in pursuit of the style and color that I'm striving for, I have a tendency to overlook what my hair needs to stay healthy and nourished. This dismissive and destructive behavior often leads to breakage, earning me a stern talking to by my stylist once the time comes for a trim and root touch-up. While there really is no excuse for this conduct toward my tresses, I will say that it's nearly impossible to keep up with the style that I think works best for me without a combination of hot tools and styling products that often leave my hair parched and in need of some serious care.

This is why every week or so, especially in the summer, I have taken to giving my hair a kind of styling vacation; a much needed chance to soak up some products enriched with natural oils and curl enhancing properties. I may not love my hair in it's curly state as much as I do when it's just undergone the flat-iron-treatment, but I'm trying to take advantage of tutorials like this one (which I have adapted in my style below) in order to feel a bit more comfortable while I'm trying to do right by my stubborn locks. 

Here are some of the products that I have found help a lot with simultaneously treating and managing my curls. They all contain natural ingredients, which I love, and they can ALL be found at Target at affordable prices!

Clockwise from Top-Left:
Shea Moisture Curl & Shine Shampoo (cleans all of the crap out of my hair without robbing it of much needed moisture, plus it smells great!) - $9.99
Shea Moisture Curl & Shine Conditioner - (as a companion the the amazing shampoo, this defines curls like nobody's business, before I even step out of the shower) - $11.99
Carol's Daughter Black Vanilla Leave-in Conditioner (helps to both detangle and strengthen hair, both of which are crucial when dealing with curls) - $11.00
Carol's Daughter Black Vanilla Pure Hair Oil (I like to apply this beautifully scented oil right after the leave-in conditioner to add even more moisture and shine) - $10.00
Carol's Daughter Hair Milk - Styling Pudding (I use this to both define and hold my curls in place lest frizz comes in and ruins everything; a little bit goes a long way) - $12.00
Carol's Daughter Hair Milk - Refresher Spray (for the next day when my hair needs a pep talk, this handy spray brings it back to life without the need to wash and repeat the whole process) - $11.00

I'm sure that while reading this, you may have noticed a common theme: Carol's Daughter, but I really am so appreciative of their products! I had such a hard time finding the right products for my hair type growing up, that I often felt a bit cheated when it seemed like no companies were willing to make products specifically for girls like me. I only wish lines like Carol's Daughter (and Shea Moisture, and Mixed Chicks) were around back then; it would have probably made my (and my Mom's) life a heck of a lot easier!

Curls? Tamed. Hair? Looking shiny and feeling healthy, even in it's natural state.

Of course until the next time I force it through the dreaded Ultra Chi...the cycle continues.



Monday, June 16, 2014

What To Wear: Casual Dinner & Movie Date

Sometimes after a couple of busy weekends in a row, you just need a chill weekend, to recharge and refresh yourself. Dan and I chose to spend this past weekend mostly bumming around our neighborhood, taking the dogs for long strolls, and lounging in front of the TV (what better weekend to do it than that of the kickoff of the World Cup AND the GoT season finale!). 

We did manage to get ourselves decent (enough...) and leave the house to have a casual Dinner & Movie date, to which I tried to wear something that felt casual, while still put-together and fun. I don't wear pants often during the work week, so most of the ones I do own and wear are of the super laid-back, boyfriend-fitted, and destroyed variety, for use on weekends and off days only.

Outfit Details:
J.Crew Factory Airspun Baseball Sweater (I'm ALL about summer sweaters, and you should be too) - $65.00 (currently ON SALE for $31.99)
Gap Outlet Boyfriend Jeans - Old (simliar from Old Navy)
Target Lakita Sandal in Gold Glitter (LOVE these!) - $19.99

With things about to start getting busy for us around the corner, what with Dan on the cusp of a big birthday (30!), and me in the process of planning a family reunion in my hometown, we were definitely in need of a relaxing weekend to do nothing but enjoy our surroundings and each other. We'll surely lament for these kind of days in the near future.



Saturday, June 7, 2014

What to Wear: Dressing for a Concert

Happy Weekend!

I am excited to report that I am in the midst of a 4-day-weekend/mini-vacation with my husband to take in some much needed relaxation and fun times. We had the pleasure of being able to go and see one of our favorite bands, Vampire Weekend, at the UIC Pavilion, and it's safe to say that we had a fabulous (albeit sweaty) time! I tried to choose an outfit that was all-together casual, a little bit cool, and comfortable enough to allow for a healthy amount of booty-shaking! I started with something on the sporty-side with this super lightweight and fun baseball tee from J.Crew, pairing that with an on-trend denim vest. I chose jeans that are stretchy and slimming, so I could still feel at-ease while dancing like a fool, and from there I just chose accessories that I felt kept with the theme of easy and quirky-cool. 

Outfit Details:
NYDJ Stretch Ankle Skinny Jean - Nordstrom - $104 (currently ON SALE for $68.90)
J.Crew Factory Distressed Denim Vest - $75.00 (I picked mine up during a site-wide sale for $37.50, so always be patient)
J.Crew Factory Stripe Baseball Tee - $42.50 (I paid $21.25 during the same sale)
Taupe Suede Booties - Old from Target (similar and similar)
Taupe Crossbody Bag - Old from Coach (similar)
Marc by Marc Jacobs Henry Skeleton Watch - $250 (currently ON SALE at Nordstrom for $187.50)
Statement Necklace - Groopdealz (similar)
Ray-Ban New Wayfarer in Tortoise - $130 (currently ON SALE at Nordstrom for $97.50)

While I got a few decent shots (some of which can be seen on my Instagram), I feel so compelled to write about this one only because I now find myself obsessed with the stage background! I love vintage floral patterns, so it's a given that I can't seem to get this out of my head.

This was a truly fantastic way to kick off a long weekend, and the residual dancing-related soreness was well earned!



Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mixing Prints on the Weekday

When I'm starting to feel that familiar slump toward the middle of the week, I like to try to reach for outfits that are a little bit more fun while at the same time still easy and comfortable. I love that mixed-print outfits are having such a moment right now (thanks, Mindy Kaling), and I'm getting to the point where I basically think of stripes as a neutral that can be made more interesting paired with just about any other pattern.

I bought this dress from Forever 21 several months ago, and what a work horse it's been! It's really one of those four season dresses; it can be made to work with the right accessories just out any time of the year, and it's probably one of the most comfortable things that I own. To make it a bit more fun to jazz up my weekday, I added on a light, floral scarf that I picked up for a steal at Old Navy, and threw on my yellow and gray Seychelles two-piece flats that make me so happy every time I put them on.

Outfit Details:

Old Navy Watercolor Print Scarf - $16.97 (I picked mine up for $12 in-store) (similar)
Seychelles Freesia Flat - $90 (I picked mine up for only $40 on Amazon)
Marc by Marc Jacobs Leather Baker Watch - $175 (currently ON SALE at Nordstrom for $131.25!)

There is also no better way to spice up the monotony of the work week than to do something fun on a weekday for a change! Even if it's something low-key, it's nice to break from your everyday routine here and there. Case in point, when a dear friend at work offered me Cubs tickets (fo free) spur of the moment, I barely even hesitated! I was definitely feeling the lack of sleep the next day, but it was so worth it.

And the Cubs actually won!



Saturday, May 31, 2014

Affordable Crossbody Bags for the Summer

Whatever it is that you end up doing this summer, chances are you'll be busy. Despite the lazy feeling that the season has a tendency to exude, most adults have a packed schedule of parties, weekend trips, festivals/concerts and a variety of other social engagements during almost every weekend between now and Labor Day. 

With constant activity being a given eventuality, I like the idea of scaling down in terms of what I carry around with me when I go from place to place. I carry a huge, gigantic, commuter tote with me during the work week, so when I have free time, I would much prefer to carry a smaller bag that really only needs to hold the essentials. With so many great shape, color and print options out there for small bags, I like to try to purchase more than just one or two, so affordability is an absolute must. 

Smaller, crossbody bags are hard to beat in terms of style and ease of use. With neither of your hands having to hold onto a bag, you'll have the freedom required to, oh, let's say enjoy both a beer and a hotdog at the same time.

Summer Crossbody Bag Picks (clockwise from top-left):

Free People Reversible Vegan Crossbody - $42.00 (this is the smaller version of this bag, that I both own and am obsessed with)
Sole Society "Coco" bag in Cognac - $39.00 (currently ON SALE for $23.97)
Anthropologie Nolina Beaded Crossbody Bag - $68.00 (bucket bags are EVERYWHERE this season)
Zara Mini Bowling Bag in Fuscia - $49.90 (this is the color of the moment)
Target Xhilaration Crossbody Handbag in Leopard - $24.99
Forever 21 Mod Girl Satchel in Pink - $14.80

I hope that you all have some fun summer adventures on the horizon during which you can carry one of these beautiful handbags, and I guarantee that you will both look and feel amazing!



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What to Wear: Summer Maxi

It's safe to say that the maxi dress phenomenon is here to stay for the upcoming season and hopefully beyond. It's no surprise that so many women the world over, both fashion obsessed and style novices alike, have pounced onto the idea of being able to proudly wear something tantamount to pajamas (from a comfort perspective) out in the real world. These days, maxis can be worn effortlessly to the office, beach, and even to a casual summer wedding, depending on how they're styled. 

I recently made some purchases at J.Crew Factory, one of which included this navy blue maxi with a bold, tribal print. I love the stretchy jersey that's both comfy and forgiving, as well as the double side slits that add both a subtle sexiness, as well as some ventilation that will be very much appreciated as mercury continues to rise. 

Outfit Details:
J.Crew Factory Print Stretch Tank Dress: $89.50 (regular price, but if you're paying full price at J.Crew factor, no offense, but you're doing it wrong)
Denim Moto Jacket: Last season from The Gap (simiar, for $69.00 at Dorothy Perkins)
Target Mossimo "Lakitia" Sandals in Gold Glitter: $19.99 (make sure to keep an eye out for Target's bogo shoe sales; they run these promos constantly)
Free People Slouchy Vegan Tote in Brown/Coral (my favorite bag that I can't stop wearing): $68.00
Fifth & Mae Initial Necklace: For sale on Groopdealz (simialiar at Fifth & Mae $14.95)
Etsy Arrow Necklace: For sale on Groopdealz (similar on Etsy $13.00)

I really love to layer more delicate necklaces for a look that makes a slightly bigger statement than a necklace worn alone, but not so much as to overwhelm an already bold printed dress or top. Groopdealz is a great option for purchasing on-trend jewelry that's super affordable. I am slightly addicted to this website, to be honest, so before visiting it, keep that in mind. 

One last point about maxis is that I hear a lot from friends of mine that are of similar height and stature to myself, that they can't wear maxi dresses for fear of being swallowed up and made to look diminished or dowdy. This couldn't be further from the truth! Short and/or curvy women look great in maxis, as long as you find the right cut for your body type. I will suggest to any fellow curvy ladies out there to chose a maxi dress or skirt with some kind of waist defining aspect, or wear a belt around it in order to create the illusion of a waist; this will work wonders for the overall impact of the look, and make you look nothing short of va-va-voom! Also, don't immediately nix a maxi choice that's too long; several Dry Cleaners will hem them up quickly and without too significant of a cost (or you can do it yourself, if you're one of those babes who's super crafty).

I hope that you both enjoy and are inspired by this easy summer look.