dust

 
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Don’t worry- I’m not going to start this post with an “I’m back after a little hiatus!” bit. I’ve played it and it’s gotten old. The truth is, I just stopped writing. Not because I didn’t enjoy it or have anything to say, but simply because life got busy. Right after I published my last post in November, I finally got a job in Nevada. A job I love, and I decided early on I would give it my all. I put all my focus not just into my job, but also my marriage, which was finally back on the ground after a difficult move, and immersing myself in our new community. The last few months have flown by, and it’s almost a year-to-date that we found out we were leaving Detroit. And guess what? I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and it completely snuck up on me.

In all my contentment, I still I felt an itch to put pen to paper again (I write all my posts in a notebook before typing. Eat your heart out, Shakespeare!!!) Every day when I would walk into my closet, I would pass a framed copy of “The Nines” logo that my friendly so sweetly made me for my birthday one year. I would walk by it, think “I should write soon”, and then just go in my closet and get distracted by a sweater. But yesterday as I walked past it, I noticed all the dust that had accumulated around the frame, and it hit me. I was letting the dust collect around something I loved. I gave up on something that was supposed to be growing. And in true “Carrie Bradshaw” style (even though she is THE WORST, don’t get me started) , I had to wonder “When being content stunts your growth-is it really such a good thing?”.

No-one made me stop writing. It was actually the opposite. My husband would ask if there was anything new to read, my boss said she really enjoyed my writing. I feel supported by the people around me. But I used all the things going on in my life as a crutch to avoid doing something that was enjoyable, but required a lot of effort. I was so busy with life and happy with just-the-way-things-were that I forgot that growth requires doing. That in order to have a voice, you have to speak. I neglected the piece of me that loves to talk about women’s rights and skincare and how not needing a bra until 8th grade ruined my self esteem- we’ll get to that later, OH WILL WE EVER!

This post isn’t about “being back, guys!”. It’s meant to serve as a reminder that if you have let dust collect around something you love, something that makes you who you are-you can always clean it off and pick it back up. You can also hire a cleaning company. That has no double meaning- the dust was so alarming that we literally hired a cleaning company. Talk soon. xx

Fall Fashion Finds

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Judging by the abundance of pumpkin spice lattes and apple-orchard-selfies on my Instagram timeline, fall has arrived. Temperatures have even gotten cooler here in Nevada. I went from having to wear a bathing suit for survival to t-shirt weather, a major upgrade. But living in the desert has not deterred me from dreaming about scrumptious sweaters and turtlenecks so bulky, that they hide my hormonal chin breakouts. It will be another month-or-so before I start stocking up on boots and just about everything made of wool (upper lip would be drowning at the moment), but I wanted to get a head-start and share the best fall fashion trends, and my personal favorite finds, with all of you!

 

J. Crew French Girl Blazer

Blazers really made a comeback last fall, and don’t seem to be going anywhere fast. Gone is the formal undertone of the blazer, replaced with oversized, menswear inspired styles meant to be worn with t-shirts and over slip dresses. What was once a serious, masculine piece of clothing is now the pinnacle of every good wardrobe.  

I love the look of this one from J. Crew. It’s double-breasted and unstructured, giving it the ultimate cool, French girl vibe (hence the blazer’s name- kudos J. Crew). I’ve will live in this over a t-shirt and jeans, but I also love it over a lightweight sweater and bike shorts. YES! Bike shorts and blazers. Free blog name up for grabs.

*I found this blazer to be true to size. It’s naturally a little boxy and oversized.

Zara glitter turtlenecks

I’m a sucker for a good turtleneck. I think they’re the epitome of chic and looking put together. Also when I don’t feel like doing my hair, I can tuck it into the turtleneck, and no one has to know I didn’t have time to wash it because I stayed up all night thinking about Peter Kavinsky ( Calm down-he’s over 18. I checked.).

This turtleneck from Zara is a great basic, and sparkle was all over the runways for the season. Wear alone with jeans, skirts, or under another sweater or sweatshirt. Maybe on the one day in January that it dips below 50 degrees, I’ll wear mine with heavy white jeans and boots. Marking my calendar!!

 

Novelty/Fisherman Sweaters

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A few weeks ago, “The Cut” mentioned that Harry from “When Harry Met Sally” would be their fall style icon, and I’ll never be the same. Meg Ryan definitely has peak 90’s style in the classic film, but it’s Harry who’s quietly serving me bulky sweater CHICNESS. Paired almost too-simply with just jeans and sneakers, it’s the fall uniform. This is a unisex look, ladies and gentlemen! Honestly there’s nothing hotter to me than a man in a big bulky sweater. I really never thought I would say that Billy Crystal is a style icon, let alone a sex symbol. 2018 is wild.

I tend to either buy my sweaters one size up, or even look around in the men’s department. A slightly over-sized fit is best for a cozier, cooler look.


WESTERN-INSPIRED BOOTIES

Listen- I get that no one wants to look like Jessie from “Toy Story”- I haven’t since I was 10-years-old at least. But cowboy boots are back and better than ever. Don’t take it so literally- we’re talking stylized versions of the Western-wear. Extreme pointed toes, ankle cuts, outlandish colors like bright white (my favorite) and red. They’re a perfect update for things already in your closet- jeans, dresses and mini skirts. “80’s Western” is big for the season, further proving that Pixar really was just LIGHTYEARS ahead (PUN! INTENDED!)

Rad Plaid

A few years ago, I really wanted to be Cher Horowitz from for Halloween. I couldn’t find a plaid yellow skirt to save my life. Fast-forward to today, and I can walk into any Target and make a “Clueless” look for any day of the week. Plaid is back in a big way. Larger, exaggerated prints, mixing plaids by color and material. Tartan trousers, oversized coats in fresh colors, plaid nylon totes- I feel like a Golf icon and I’m all in.

To keep it modern, try mixing different colors of plaid, like with a scarf and blazer. My personal favorite is to mix by material. Sleek Tartan pants with a wool buffalo-plaid scarf. Will you look like a fool? As if!!!

 

Animal Print as a Neutral

I live for animal print. I don’t wear fur, so it’s the closest I’ll ever get to feeling like a cool a$$ jungle cat. I was thrilled to see it all over the runways, mixing different leopards and cheetahs, chic zebra trench coats and sultry snakeskin boots.

My favorite version is in the form of skirts. Having an animal print skirt can be a wonderful neutral in your wardrobe. Pair a brown and black cheetah-print midi with a turtleneck, white blouse, even one of those chunky sweaters mentioned earlier. Mix two different animal prints if you’re really feeling wild.

 
This Fall, jump in some leaves for me. Enjoy some cider and overdose on doughnuts. Wake up early and take a walk in the crisp fall air. This will be the first time in my life I don’t experience a Michigan fall or winter. Right now I’m feeling nostalgic, but I know come December, I’ll be pretty pleased when the only ice I’m scraping is off my frozen margarita, poolside. PERSPECTIVE!

Gift Guide GIVEAWAY!

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Didn't get what you wanted for Christmas (I don't know why socks get such a bad rap. I got two new pairs and I am PUMPED)? The Nines is here to help! To celebrate the end of the local gift giving series, here's one big, local loving giveaway!

 

What it includes:

1 Neroli candle from Detroit Rose

1 Citrus, 1 Hibiscus, and 1 Pineapple Jalapeno cocktail mixer from Wolf Moon Mixers

A laundry bundle from The Old White House, including linen spray, dryer sachets, laundry soap and a scoop!

 

How to Enter:

Head over to my Instagram, @alexandramauro, FOLLOW and TAG a friend in the comments of the most recent post (photo of a Neroli Candle)! By following/commenting, you will be automatically entered to win. Winner will be announced Thursday, 12/29. 

 

Regardless of the winner, I hope that this series inspired a few of you to start shopping local. I love to give, and giving local this holiday season made it that much sweeter. That, and the chocolate Santa overdose that took place.

Good Luck! 

 

Busted Bra Shop

WHO WE'RE GIFTING...YOU!

(this one is for the ladies...or men- it's 2016 and I'm not here to judge. YOU DO YOU.) 

 

It's no secret that I am a proud member of the itty-bitty-you-know-what-committee (keeping it G here, my future in-laws read this. Hi guys!!!). I kept waiting to grow, but eventually I realized this is as good as it's going to get. I'm not bummed about my size- after many years, I've learned to love and appreciate my body. But there was always one thing I couldn't get behind- or under, I suppose: bras. I was a Victoria's Secret, 32A, push-up ride or DIE. They measured me countless times- 32A, year after year. But if I was wearing the right size, why was I always so uncomfortable? I was constantly playing with the skin-grabbing straps, or adjusting the cups. I thought it was normal I could fit some snacks, my phone, lipstick and an ipad mini in there. I was uncomfortable, but at least I had storage, right? I accepted that bras suck, but they're a right of passage to being a woman. Then, I saw the light. 

On a bender to my favorite vintage store with a girlfriend, we were just about to leave when a trip to the ladies room ensued. Right next to it, was Busted Bra Shop. To this day, I don't know what made me go in there. It was most likely divine intervention (I really think God could be a woman sometimes, good looking out). 

Upon walking in, the first words I heard were "I bet you're wearing a 32A. And it's the wrong size". I was baffled! I wore the smallest size that existed, what's a concave girl like me supposed to be wearing? Sadly unknown to me, there is a whole other world of bras outside of the pink and white stripes. I let Lee, the owner, take me into a fitting room (my friend, waiting outside the bathroom wondering where I went, sorry girl). Less than 5 minutes later, I was standing in there, sans shirt, with my Miracle Bombshell Gorgeous Miraculous 32AAAAHHH bra in the trash. Let me tell you- you are never more vulnerable than when you are in a fitting room, girls out, having a full on conversation with a woman you just met. Trust level is at an all time high.  I think I told her things I had never told anyone- like how I used to ride my bike by my crushes house blasting Ashlee Simpson (okay, now everyone knows). BACK TO BRAS. 

Well folks, as it turns out, I am a certified 28B. A size I didn't even know existed. The second I put on my new, perfectly fitted bra, it was love at first hook. For the first time, I was comfortable- that really does something beautiful for your own body positivity. The right fit is everything, and it turns out that the majority of women do NOT fall within standard retail sizing. Busted has sizes AAA-N, and bands from 26-56. With that range of sizes, how can we honestly accept that MILLIONS of women fall within the standard FOUR sizes mass retailers carry? Secret's out- we deserve more. 

WHERE TO GO...

The Park Shelton Building- Midtown

15 East Kirby Street, suite A

Detroit, MI 48202

 

When you shop at Busted, you are not only getting top notch service, quality product and a life-changing experience, but you're supporting a locally owned, Detroit business. A bra that supports you AND the local economy? Truly, Busted Bra Shop is the gift that keeps on giving. 

 

 

*Photo credit: Man Repeller

 

Wolf Moon Mixers

WHO WE'RE GIFTING... Your Secret Santa 

You know the drill. You pull a name out of the Secret-Santa hat at work. You open it up , and see the name of a co-worker you know nothing about. What the heck are you supposed to get them? A book? What if they prefer Netflix? Socks and underwear? That's a lawsuit waiting to happen. Really, there's only one thing you need to know about them- make sure they enjoy an adult beverage, and proceed with Wolf Moon Mixers. 

At a party a few weeks ago, I observed a friend mixing a green juice with Vodka. Yes, kale, grapefruit, apple, celery, and vodka- I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. In no way, shape or form was it drinkable. My poor pal just wanted a somewhat healthy alternative to the usual Diet Coke or tonic water. I thought that there had to be something better than a vodka salad. Lo and behold, right in my own city, lived a company that thought the same thing. All natural mixers, made from fruits, vegetables, cane sugar and flowers- all designed to pair perfectly with your favorite spirits. 

Hibiscus ($15):

My absolute favorite. I'm a tequila girl (I can feel your judgement from here), and Hibiscus mixed with silver tequila, makes the most delicious, fresh margarita. It's like in college, when the weather would break, and everyone would be outside on a Wednesday afternoon having a drink-I mean, STUDYING, mom!!!- That happy, satisfying taste, bottled. 

Alternate recipe: Hibiscus mixer, vodka, a splash of club soda and some fresh blueberries, muddled. 

*Not only do these mixers taste incredibly delicious, but the 32oz, aesthetically pleasing bottles look almost too good to drink. BUT WHO ARE WE KIDDING. Pop that bottle! 

Citrus ($15): 

You know that feeling when you're on vacation, laying by the pool, drink in hand without a care in the world? Citrus is that feeling in a bottle, even though you're sitting under a dozen blankets with your long johns pulled up to your bra. My go-to is to mix with some champagne, and a squeeze of an orange slice. This is Beyonce of Mimosas.

Alternate recipe: Citrus mix, vodka, a splash of club soda, and a slice of grapefruit to garnish. 

Pineapple Jalapeño ($15) :

Spicing up your life has never been easier, or more fun. The perfect mix of spicy and sweet, this flavor is ideal to mix with some tequila, a little lime and a lotta false-self confidence. For me- this mix is the party pleaser. The taste is strangely familiar, but deliciously different. Scary and Ginger would be proud.

Alternate recipe: Pineapple Jalapeño mix, gin, club soda. GINNING (take away my writing privileges)!!

* Check out two bonus flavors on the WMM site!

 

I'm no mix master. Hell, 4 years ago I drank wine out of a box and thought Smirnoff was top shelf.  The good people at Wolf Moon Mixers sympathize with me, and offer a plethora of delicious recipes, available here. At a party with no wi-fi (are you also churning butter)? Fear not- recipes are also featured on the back of the bottle.

Find It!: 

City Market: Detroit

Our/Detroit: Detroit

ML Spirits: Birmingham

Beverage Warehouse: Beverly Hills

Heights Food Center: Ferndale

Market Square: West Bloomfield

                     ...Find a full list of retailers, or shop online, here!

 

These mixers are the fun, delicious gift that keeps on giving. Not only do Wolf Moon Mixers make the perfect gift for your secret santa, but for your close friends too (they can invite you over for a drink and you can mooch off of your own gift). This cool, perfectly curated present is sure to be the talk of the office-unless Barb gets too drunk at the holiday party again and busts out a freestyle to "Silent Night"- she's got you beat. 

 

The Old White House

 

WHO WE'RE GIFTING: Mom/Mother-in-law

(no, not because they do all the cleaning, but because moms are the bomb.com and deserve a great gift!)

A few years ago, a friend gifted me The Old White House's Lavender Linen Spray. I kept it on my nightstand for a while, never really reaching to use it. But after a horrendously bad day (I think it had something do to with work and Adam Brody getting married), I came home in desperate need of relaxation and calm. I spotted the chic glass-bottle on my nightstand and figured I would give it a whirl. From that day on, I refuse to sleep in anything other than a bed full of lavender goodness. After falling head-over-pillow for the spray, I ventured into the entire Old White House line. I love the idea of filling my home with all natural products, and I love even more that they're made right here in Michigan. 

Located between Grand Rapids and Lansing (okay, a tad out of Detroit, but still local!), The Old White House is dedicated to creating laundry and cleaning products, all natural, all infused with Lavender, and all obession-worthy. 

Here's a breakdown of my favorite products:

Lavender Linen and Room Spray ($12):

Like I mentioned above, this is the ultimate way to feel relaxed and clean- even if your room looks like a tornado of Zara came through. Not only do I use it nightly on my sheets, but I use it on blankets, drapes, even my shower curtain. A few spritzes on my pillow is an instant trip to relaxation nation.

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Natural Lavender Laundry Soap ($8):

I loathe washing my clothes in harsh chemicals (just like I hate when someone mixes the tofu with the falafel at the salad bar at Whole Foods. The NERVE). When I use this, my clothes turn out like I'm Julie Andrews in "The Sound of Music", hanging my things in the crisp air while singing about deer or thread or something. Giving your mom a way to  get her clothes clean and fresh, all while using natural ingredients? You're now the favorite child. 

*Highly recommend the one that comes with the wooden scoop. It's $2...your mom is worth it. 

Lavender Kitchen and Bath Cleanser ($8):

I live with a man. I have clean our bathroom every other day (Okay..between my hair and makeup, the mess is probably mostly mine). I started to get worried that the bleach I was washing our shower with, was soaking up into the pores of my feet, and I would soon turn into something out of a Marvel movie. This stuff really cleans, leaves a fresh scent, AND I get to stay human. Sold.

I also use this in my kitchen, in the sink and on countertops. I do a lot of messy cooking, and this cleansers antibacterial properties leave me with a sparkling clean kitchen, sans risk of Salmonella. 

*For these products, a little goes a LONG way, I only use a small sprinkle on a sponge to get the job done. 

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Lavender Carpet Freshener ($12):

When you get older, you start to accumulate nice things, like Oriental Rugs. But you walk all over it in your boots, dirty sandals, etc., making your once-nice-rug look as tired as Donald Trump's hair piece (too soon?). Sprinkle this stuff on, let sit for 30 minutes and then vacuum it up. Carpet looks and smells like new! 

The Bundle ($45):

Can't decide what to get? The "Bundle of Natural Lavender Goodness" is the fool-proof way to go. It includes all of the above, and a Lavender dryer sachet! A small warning: your moms house is going to smell so good and be so clean, that you may want to move back in. Think that one through carefully. 

Find it!

Lark & Co. General Store: Birmingham, MI

Blumz: Detroit & Ferndale

Eastern Market, shed 4: Detroit

Out of D Box 313: Detroit

        ...and of course, online! 

(You don't have to live in Detroit to support it!)

WHY:

To me, products from The Old White House say you care. They're quality, heart-warming gifts that any person could use and appreciate. The fresh, clean scents are comforting and soothing- a nice change up from harsh chemical smells and harmful ingredients. There is something about the smell of fresh Lavender filling your home that calms the soul- until "Westworld" comes on. Then I'm at a loss. 

 

The Nines Local Gift Guide 2016

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It was the great Cher Horowitz that once said "Tis a far, far better thing doing stuff for other people". I’ve always felt this riveting sentiment to be true. Especially around the holidays, when I try to do something thoughtful for each person in my life- whether it’s bake their favorite cookies, or buy that thing they mentioned 6 months ago, but never got. The joy of giving a great gift, big or small, to someone you love is a far greater joy than receiving (unless it’s a car or $5,000 gift card to Sephora, come back to me then). As Christmas draws closer, I've started thinking about what to give this year. Yes, I will give my time to charities and other philanthropic causes, but I’m talking gifts here, people.

I began searching Amazon, department stores, Target, etc., but couldn’t seem to find anything quite special enough for the ones that are special to me. I racked my brain for the things I love, and I quickly realized something: the majority of the things that I cherish in my home (non-human/animal), come from a local business. Then it hit me- what if every dollar I spent this year on gifts, got put back into my own community? Bought a kid dance lessons, or braces? Paid the rent, or funded a vacation? Is there any greater gift than supporting your local economy (okay…again see Car/$5K Sephora gift card..I AM ONLY HUMAN)?

And here we are, with The Nines Local Gift Guide, all with “Made in Detroit” products. Throughout the week, I’ll feature something for everyone on your list: mothers, brothers, friends, even that weird guy from work you picked for Secret Santa. And best of all- your perfect present supports local business right here in Detroit. Follow along here this week for a new, thoughtful gift every day. And since I know my readers are on the "Nice List" this year (except my coworker Gabi. There’s always next year, girl), there will even be a giveaway at the end of the series! 

So, sorry in advance, Santa, but I prefer my gifts to be made right here- no trip to the North Pole necessary (also, reindeer terrify me).  

I Don't Love Hillary. But I'm Voting for Her.

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I've kept pretty quiet this election. I had always thought that my political affiliations and opinions should be private, and not displayed via memes on the internet. But with the decision of who our next President will be upon us, I feel this election is too important to keep quiet any longer. I'm not standing on a soapbox telling you to who vote for. I am expressing my concern as to the kind of country we are at risk of becoming. Also it's my site and I can do what I want.  

I was a Bernie Sanders supporter. I had been feeling frustrated with this country for so long, and his revolutionary ideas gave me hope for America and its people. When Bernie did not win the nomination, I was hesitant to support Hillary. To be honest- I wasn't a fan. I thought her to be untrustworthy, fake, and a product of the political machine. I left my support with Sanders, spitefully holding onto my vote. 

But as time went on, I invested myself more and more into debates, articles, and coverage. I didn't find myself loving Hillary Clinton, but I found myself feeling in danger by Donald Trump. 

Here's the thing: I don't have to like Hillary. But I have to vote for her, and I will, gladly. I think a lot of women can resonate with this feeling. When you are a powerful, smart, "hard" kind of woman, there's a good chance people in business may not like you personally. The world likes us warm, fuzzy and sweet- and when you're not, you're a bitch. Hillary Clinton is not a bitch. She is educated, serious and capable. I may not like Hillary, but at least she doesn't make me feel like my gender is in danger. 

Donald Trump is not a punch line. He is a sexist, racist, misogynistic, narcissistic, dangerous person- that mongers fear and brings out the worst in this country. As a woman, I have never felt true danger as a citizen of this country. I realized this, as I drove to work the other day behind a truck with the bumper sticker that read "Grab America by the Pussy". This is not a game, this is not a joke. This is rape culture. This is the endangerment of women, minorities, LGBT, cops, and yes, men too. When we normalize sexual assault, when we make it into a joke, we are no longer the country built on the hard work of those who came before us. We are a country beyond recognition.

I am not saying Hillary is the perfect candidate- and trust me, I want her to be. The first woman President is a big deal- a monumental, emotional moment in history. But before someone goes off my comments about her emails, tell me- why are you not outraged that during the Bush administration, 22 million emails were "lost", during one of the darkest times in our nation's history? Screw your emails. This is life and death ( and not in the way I used to describe getting a new Hollister sweatshirt when I was 14). So- emails, which have been investigated thoroughly (no, your Aunt's not an FBI authority. Her Facebook memes are not law), or the endangerment of minorities, women, servicemen, the disabled and of the future of this country?

Tomorrow, I will gladly vote for Hillary Clinton. But it's more than that. Regardless of the outcome of this election- it is up to us. WE are what forms the cloth of this country. We help an elderly neighbor shovel her sidewalk in the winter. We teach our children tolerance, and that differences are what make people beautiful. We line up in the masses to donate blood when 50 Americans are killed at a nightclub.  We do not discriminate against our fellow citizens based on empty fear. We don't let negotiate with terrorists- so why are we considering one for President?

When you go to the polls, think about the country you want in 10 years. The country you want for your children, even your grandchildren- that is what's at stake here. If that includes dehumanizing women, isolating minorities and dividing us by hate- you may be in the wrong country to begin with. 

Vote. 

 

Good Jeans: Madewell

 

In a recent bender of "Laguna Beach", Season 3, I learned two things: in the early 2000's, True Religion was indeed a religion, and jeans were king. It got me thinking- I hardly ever wear jeans. And if I'm not wearing jeans, what the  $^!@ am I wearing all the time?

I am a notorious non-jeans wearer. The main reason being I hate shopping for them, and the way I look in them. I'm petite- 5 ft nothing. Every time I go to try on a pair of denim, I find myself mopping the fitting room floor with 3ft of extra fabric. Flare jeans? I look like a platypus. Capri-cut? On me- Boot Cut. It's incredibly discouraging, and a major blow to my self-confidence. 

This year, jeans reign supreme once again. Adorned with kitsch-y patches, intricate destruction, and un-finished hems, I found myself feeling left out, so I went shopping. Endless hours in fitting rooms, trying on styles that were too long, too tight and too expensive. Almost accepting my defeat, a group of girlfriends guided me to Madewell. I had always assumed Madewell was for tall, lanky girls, that like to shop at Whole Foods, listen to Vinyl and do hot yoga for fun (aka- girls way cooler than me). With nothing left to lose, I let a kind Madewell employee pick out some styles for me and corral me into a fitting room- and the rest is history. 

I tried on a few pairs of skinny jeans, and while they were undeniably good, I was looking for something different. This is the great thing about Madewell- styles that are on trend, and work on ladies 5'10 to 5'0. I walked out with three pairs that day- I even cleared out a drawer for my new collection (for comparison- I dated my Fiance for 4 years before I gave him half a drawer). 

 

The Cali-Demi Boot Cut

My favorite pair- it's been my go-to since I got them. The little "kick-hem" effect is perfect with my sneakers, even better with ankle boots that disappear under the unfinished hem. They're the ultimate cool-girl jean, with a universally flattering shape.  I love these in black, with an oversized sweater, or silk tank and leather jacket. 

BONUS: Madewell hems their jeans FOR FREE. This is usually a major expense for me, as 100% of my jeans have to be altered.

Cruiser Straight Jean

The comfiest jeans in the game. I've tried high-waisted jeans before. My Sophomore year of college, I stocked up on a bunch of cheap jeans where the waistband literally sat under my bra. Coincidentally, the extreme high-waist made me not notice that all the pizza and beer did NOT in fact disappear with my hangovers. On the Cruiser, the waist is just high enough, and the straight leg is a wonderful departure from the typical skinny-leg. Not to be confused with the Stanky-leg (still doing physical therapy as a result of that era). I love the lana wash- not too light, not too dark, just sheer denim perfection. 

 

9" High-Rise Skinny

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I figured I needed a staple-skinny jean in my arsenal. I typically stay away from skinny jeans, because they remind me of Delia's t-shirts and Etnies- circa 8th grade. However, Madewell has made skinny jeans cool again, with a leg that's not so skin tight, but skims the leg beautifully and comfortably. In another incredible feature Madewell offers, I got these monogrammed for just $10 bucks. You can get just about anything on your jeans, and while my first choice isn't appropriate for the 18-and-under audience, I decided to do a little self-promotion with mine. Other than FREE HEMMING!!, this may be my favorite feature from Madewell. It's a simple, personal touch to elevate your clothes. 

 

Although i'm on a strict wedding budget- I have my eyes on a few new styles. I can go without groceries for a month, no?

 

Cali-Demi Boot in Donovan Wash

 

 

I always thought jeans to be unnecessarily expensive, until I found the right ones. They are absolutely worth the investment, because of your cost-per-wear. I've worn each pair at least once a week since I got them, and they have yet to stretch out, fade out or give out. 

If you're like me, entering the fitting room with jeans is about as daunting as your gynecologists waiting room (Does everyone think I'm pregnant?!). But Madewell offered me a safe haven in my quest for jeans, with not just wonderful product, but exceptional customer service. Not only did they help me build on my wardrobe, but they have saved my legs from a lifetime of cold, leggings as pants, and best of all-razors. 

The Travel Series: Packing Your Carry-On

When I was younger, I used to have one of those Aladdin mini-suitcase carry ons that held one thing: beanie babies. As I got older, I started packing more practical things, like my walkman and my entire collection of burned CDs, filled with the likes of Yellowcard and Jessica Simpson (I was a complicated child). But it wasn't until I started traveling for work, that I really got the hang of what I need on a plane....other than an Xanax. 

Whether it's a quick flight or a journey to the other side of the world, your carry-on should be filled with only the necessities. Sorry beanie babies, that means you're left behind. 

THE BAG:

The aforementioned Aladdin suitcase just doesn't cut it anymore. I've learned that for me, what's best is a backpack or zippered tote, and a small purse if necessary. The key is it should zip or snap shut, so when you put it under your seat, your things don't go flying everywhere. I think this is what the kids call a "MAJOR KEY". For this trip to Ireland, I used a small backpack from Zara (currently sold out, but so many great options), as well as a zippered tote from Detroit is The New Black. It's the ideal travel bag, and only $34 bucks. 

CONTENTS: 

1) Blanket Scarf

An absolute necessity. While I'd love to invest in a good quality cashmere scarf, I know that planes can be dirty and I am prone to spilling my tomato juice and getting cookie crumbs everywhere while in-flight. I have this one from Asos, that has become a travel staple. Big, soft and cozy- and under $30. 

Blanket scarves are good for a multitude of purposes: warmth on a chilly plane, as a blanket, even rolled up as a pillow. The key to dressing for travel is to layer. I usually wear a comfortable pair of pants or jeans, t-shirt, sweater or jacket, and my scarf. A PLANE IS NOT YOUR BEDROOM. Nix the pajama pants and general sloppiness. You can be comfortable and still look put together. 

 

2) Headphones 

This is a given- however, based on my own experiences I wanted to make a note. My beloved Beats wireless were useless in-flight, as bluetooth doesn't work in airplane mode, or connect to the seat TV. Do yourself a favor and bring your regular 'ol headphones with a wire (sorry, iPhone 7).

3) Socks 

Sometimes, we wear sandals to the airport. Then, we have to go barefoot through a dirty security line. THEN we want to get on a plane and take our shoes off, and THEN you're going to get in your hotel bed with all the germs of the airport. This can all be easily avoided with a pair of socks. If you're wearing flats or sandals to the airport, pack a comfy pair of socks you can wear through security and on the plane. Your bare feet in public are like Donald Trump in a speedo- disgusting and better covered up. 

4) A Book/Magazine

I love to read, but rarely find time when I'm home. Being stuck 30,000 feet with nothing to do is an ideal time to catch up on a good book. Check out the Amazon top-sellers if you can't find one you like. If it's heavy, download it to an iPad or if you're REALLY cool- your kindle. Not me- I love the feeling of a big heavy book falling on my face when I (almost always) fall asleep reading it. But be realistic- if you're not a reader, don't take up room and weight in your bag for a book you won't read. 

5) Extra Underwear, T-shirt

When I was younger, for 5 years in a row, Northwest airlines lost my luggage on our yearly family trip. By the 4th time, I got wise. If you're going to be stuck with no clothes for a day or two, at least you'll have clean undergarments and an alternate t-shirt. If you're going somewhere tropical, pack a bathing suit-because past the age of six it's not cute to swim in your underwear in public. *NOTE: I hear this is different for Vegas. 

6) Toiletries

In the first part of this series, we went over in-flight beauty routines. On the plane, if I'm going to be using a mask that is in a bigger container, I transfer a little to a small jar. I am also sure to have face mist, face wipes, dry shampoo (or wave spray), and a rollerball perfume. If I know I'll be getting off the plane and right to seeing people, I'll bring my makeup bag as well. 

7) Wet Wipes

Call me a germaphobe, but I always wipe down the armrests, tray table and seat-belt before take-off. You can buy mini-packs of wet wipes just about anywhere (I get mine at Target) for cheap. Maybe I'm crazy, but you don't know who was sitting there before you, or before that, or before that, and now we're into a guy that sat there 3 months ago and clipped his toenails all the way to Tokyo. 

8) Medications

If you take any kind of medications daily (birth control, antibiotic, etc.), put them in your carry-on. If your luggage gets lost, you'll be stuck, especially if you aren't near a pharmacy. I wonder how many babies are born from lost luggage (should this have been a private question?)?

9) Gum/Mints

If you're like me, you can fall asleep anywhere- especially planes- and church, but that's a different issue. When you wake up without access to brush your teeth, do your neighbor a favor and pop a mint. Does this need any further explanation? If so, you might need a different blog...

10) Water Bottle

You can either bring an empty plastic one through security, or a reusable option. I love BKR bottles, because they're lightweight, and made of glass, keeping water colder and fresher. It's so important to hydrate in-flight, and you can't keep pressing your call button for a refill- well, you can, but don't be that person. 

11) Wallet

This should go without saying, but it's how you pack your wallet that matters. When traveling, chances are you don't need your Nordstrom card, library card, Kroger rewards card and a store-gift card with $2.04 on it that you're not sure how to spend. Bring only the necessities: license, credit card, debit card and insurance cards. 

The key to your carry-on is to simplify and keep it light. Many times I've been running through the airport, weighed down by my 500-page book, or freezing on the plane, casually cuddling up to the person next to me. I grew up Catholic, and I'm pretty sure that's not what the Bible meant by "Love Thy Neighbor".  Then again- I only went to catechism for the snacks.

 

 

The Travel Series: Beauty Bag

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Ahhh, the sweet satisfaction of vacation. You requested the days-off at work, packed your bags, and are off to your destination...only to get there and realize you packed 6 dresses, no pants and some weird t-shirt you promised "you would wear sometime!!!". Sound familiar? The number one question I am asked is how to pack for a trip (second to my knowledge of obscure Celine Dion facts). I figured as I get ready for my own trip to Ireland, what better time to create a travel guide? 

In this travel series, I'll be going through three different categories of packing: your carry-on, beauty bag and suitcase. Packing is a lot of work, but trust me, it's much better to do the labor BEFORE your trip, so you don't get there and realize you have no pajamas and you have to sleep in a hotel towel. That's a one way ticket to Chafe City. 

Let's start with the basics, what beauty you need to spend less time getting ready, and more time relaxing. Because you didn't take your vacation days to spend it contouring your every crevice. 

IN-FLIGHT:

Yes, in-flight beauty is where it's at. Long gone are the days of watching some cancelled sitcom on your seat TV and waiting for the peanuts to pass by again. When you're on a plane, your skin gets severely dehydrated, leaving it in bad shape for the rest of your vacation. Your 2x4 seat is now your own personal spa....the kid kicking your seat is as good as a masseuse, right? 

1) Sephora Sleep Mask Pods

These were MADE for travel. Small enough to fit in your carry-on, and invisible on your face, these will hydrate, even, and brighten for the duration of your flight. My favorites are Lotus and Pearl. 

2) Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask

Apply a thin layer (will appear a little white, like lotion) all over, and blend into skin when done, like moisturizer. You'll depart the plane looking like first class, even when you spent 3 hours squished in a corner, debating buying that Tupac-faced bird feeder from SkyMall. 

3) Dr. Jart Water Replenishment Sheet Mask

THE MOST HYDRATING! It's basically like drinking a gallon of water, but for your face. However, it's also the most frightening. Might put you on the terror watch list, but at least your skin would look fresh on the posters. 

 

Alright, you've made it to your destination. Before you stuff your face with chicken tenders (the official food of vacations everywhere) and put your 100 pairs of underwear in the hotel drawer (we'll address this later in the series), let's freshen up. 

*TIP: When trying out a new product, always test it out before your trip. Re: Alex's rash-gate 2011 when I tried Proactiv for the first time while in Italy. Remember when Hermoinie did a Stinging Jinx on Harry in Deathly Hallows pt. 2? That was me. 

REFRESH:

Face mists are key. You can take them on the plane, as long as they're TSA approved- they're perfect for the post-flight bathroom/taxi/rental car refresh. THE WORLD IS YOUR SPA! 

1) Tony Moly Pocket Bunny Moist Mist

My personal favorite, it's ultra-hydrating and refreshing. It also smells like fruit loops. Tou-CAN you say add to cart?! Please keep reading. 

2) Glossier Soothing Face Mist

If you love the smell of Rose, this is the one for you. It's not TSA friendly, but worth digging around in your suitcase for. This stuff really makes you feel like you've got your life together. Only people who have their life together use face mist, right ("Things I Tell Myself to Sleep at Night, a Memoir")?

 

CLEANSE: 

Even though you were straight-up dedicated to that in-flight beauty routine, it's still good to cleanse your skin from the recycled air. 

1) Ole Henriksen Cleansing Cloths-Brightening

That one-glass-of-Merlot-glow in a wipe. Okay, maybe it's just the wine that makes me think I'm glowing? Well, these noticeably brighten your complexion in one swipe. I hardly EVER go without makeup, and one use of these and I was out in public as bare as a baby's bottom. Okay, enough bad innuendos. These are the bomb. 

2) Ole Henriksen Cleansing Cloths- Grease Relief

Traveling can make you stressed out, sweaty and gross (I really hope I'm not just revealing myself here). These are perfect for removing any oils and grease, leaving you with a matte, even complexion. Extra points because they come in a smaller, travel version! 

*STORAGE: I pack all these in Glossier pink pouches, as well as a hanging cosmetics bag from Target. An absolute necessity for hotel-bathroom organization. To protect against leaks, I unscrew the lid off the product, put a small layer of saran wrap over the opening and put the cap/lid back on. Only YOU can prevent beauty wastage. 

MAKEUP: 

You've unpacked, you're ready to take the town, or see your grandparents- vacation comes in many forms. When I'm away, I like to keep my beauty routine as quick and simple as possible. Here's the products that get it done:

1) Glossier Priming Moisturizer

I've talked about it once and I'll talk about it 1000 MORE TIMES UNTIL EVERYONE HAS IT. You deserve the perfect moisturizer, and this is it. Holy grail because it looks just as good alone and as a base for makeup. Essential to my makeup routine. 

 

2) Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue

Fool proof- which is great for a fool like me. Makes skin so lush and so even- no kabukikiki/tapered unicorn hair brushes needed. Apply with fingers for the easiest, most naturally beautiful coverage you've ever had. 

3) Boy Brow

The appreciation for this never product never ends. Changing brows one quick-stroke at a time- no matter if you're Lily Collins brow-blessed or Gwen Stefani in the "No Doubt" days. 

4) Haloscope in Topaz

Swipe this on cheekbones for that coveted sun-kissed glow that usually takes 3 highlighters and a vat of bronzer. Also doubles as a subtle, yet beautiful eyeshadow. 

5) Generation G in Jam

Dual purpose, ideal for travel: great flushed color for lips, dab a little on apples of cheeks for a gorgeous, natural blush.

*HI! I've still got your back-here's that 20% off your Glossier order.  

6) Covergirl Perfect Blend Eye Pencil in Black and Last Blast Volume Mascara

I've been using these since high school for good reason. The eyeliner is creamier than any expensive brand I've used, glides on eyelids like a dream. The mascara is a drug-store staple. No clumps, no lumps, just natural looking lashes. YOU ARE A VACATION GODDESS! Easy and natural is the name of your makeup game. 

This whole routine takes under 15 minutes- less time on beauty, more time on margaritas- or hiking/being active. To each their own. 

HAIRCARE:

Hair routines can be tricky when you travel. Bad hotel hairdryers, humidity, weather changes- it's the perfect storm of a bad hair day. Fool-proof your routine by keeping it simple. 

1) OUAI Hair Oil

Another beauty brand that lives up to the hype- OUAI has created the perfect products for easy, beautiful hair. I rub 1-2 pumps of the oil in my hands and distribute throughout damp hair. Let air dry for the perfectly un-done, Olsen sisters hair (circa 2004, post-"Full House" but pre- "New York Minute"). 

2) OUAI Wave Spray

This is my holy grail of hair products. I used to blow-dry my hair every day. Since finding the wave spray, I'm at peak laziness and have gotten down to about once a week. I spray on wet to damp hair, scruch, and air dry. Again- perfect Olsen beach waves (this time, circa 2002- prime of the "So Little Time" era). BONUS: comes in a TSA-approved travel size!

 

 

Now that your skin is in tip-top shape, you can enjoy your vacation looking and feeling your best. In the next part of the series, we'll dissect the ideal carry-on. Sneak Peek: blanket scarves and hoarding those shortbread cookies from Delta. Who said traveling can't be fun?

 

Not Your Grandma's Dress (but maybe her blanket).

I am always buying things to "run around in". Seriously- I probably justify a good 90% of purchases because "I'll look cute while running errands!". However, I usually end up in my yoga tights and "Karl is my Father" sweatshirt (that one always brings in smart remarks from old folks). However, with this dress from Zara, I'm sticking to my word. 

When I first saw this crochet mini, my initial thought was that it's the perfect mix between a mexican blanket and something my Grandma used to have at the foot of her bed. In other words, ALL THE MAKINGS FOR MY DREAM DRESS! Not to mention, it finally incorporates a little color into my wardrobe. I was one black and white sweater away from professional Miming. 

The lightweight comfort of this dress is selling point enough, but when your roommate stops to tell you her grandma has a similar quilt..to the front of my closet you go, blanket-like beauty.

Paired with sneakers and an old Chanel-my dad gave it to my mom in the eighties, and knowing him, it's most likely not real, but still fun!-, this combo is perfect for running around (for real this time), and not having to make a lame excuse when a friend texts for impromptu drinks mid errands (I'm on a detox girl!!!!). 

If you happen to run into me about town (you can find me every Sunday at the butcher choosing the perfect chicken breast- "NO LARRY- THE FAR LEFT ONE. OTHER LEFT.") and I'm still in my yoga pants, with no signs of actually working out, take me outside. Really- I need help loading my car. 

 

 

 

 

The Slip

It took me a long time to get on board with "lingerie dressing". I'm still bitter at the Victoria's Secret sales lady that showed me a bra when I was 7 and said, "just a few more years until you need one of these!!". I am pretty positive she cursed me "Sleeping Beauty" style, because it's 18 years later and I'm still waiting to really need one (let's be honest).

However, my belief system changed when I saw Vetements S/S '16. After seeing the most insanely gorgeous slip dress, I started seeing them as a sexy staple, instead of chincy and sleazy (and not in the good, party Ke$ha way). 

             Slip Dress: Uniqlo (similar  here ) // Sleeveless turtleneck: Asos (similar  here ) // Pink Pouch:  Glossier  packaging FTW. 

             Slip Dress: Uniqlo (similar here) // Sleeveless turtleneck: Asos (similar here) // Pink Pouch: Glossier packaging FTW. 

Here's the thing: a slip dress (or camisole dress) can go from simple and chic, to after-hours at Déjà Vu REAL QUICK. So how do you avoid looking like you just ran away from a bad rap video? Layers. Try pairing with a sleeveless turtleneck like I did here, a bodysuit, tee-shirt, or even an oversized sweater over it for a silk-skirt effect. My new dinner go-to is to pair mine with a lacey bralette, delicate necklaces and an oversized trench. 

                                             (Blogging requires a lot of walking.. does this count towards my daily steps?)

                                             (Blogging requires a lot of walking.. does this count towards my daily steps?)

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The key is to not look like you're wearing the slip dress by mistake when you woke up late from binge watching "Love It or List It" all night (SPOILER: THEY NEVER LIST IT.) They're effortless, versatile, and undeniably sexy.

If anything, slip dresses are the ultimate excuse to abuse the saying "Let me SLIP into something more comfortable". It's my most used pun at the moment, and also probably why my boyfriend is screening my calls. Looking good and feeling powerful (and having fire puns) might just be worth it. 

Friday Finds

 

I love a good find, but what I love even more is sharing it with everyone I know. When I find something new, I want to tell my girlfriends, my mother, my sister, even my mailwoman (she complimented me on a vintage Prada sweater once. I SEE YOU RHONDA). 

With Spring finally on the horizon, it was time for a product reboot. Check out my best finds below! 

 

1) Stella McCartney Pop! 

When the seasons change, I love to switch up my scent. In reality, I'll create any logic to make a trip to the beauty counter. BEING BEAUTIFUL AND SMELLING GOOD IS HARD WORK. I am typically drawn to floral and vanilla undertones, but don't like smelling like a funeral home threw up on me (IMO, funerals should be filled with pugs and bottles of Veuve instead). Stella McCartney's newest fragrance, Pop, is perfectly feminine, but not too sweet or fruity. With a delicious mixture of tuberose and sandalwood, this scent screams Spring. 

 

2) NARS Velvet Matte Tinted Moisturizer 

I am horrible at doing makeup. If I ever do a makeup tutorial, just shut down this site. That being said, I am always looking for shortcuts to look ~*FlAwLeSs*~. I was looking to take a break from my beloved mineral powder (it's not you, it's my skin of a pubescent teen), when I stumbled upon this miracle product. NARS has taken tinted moisturizer, and given it velvety smooth, matte coverage. A monkey could apply this beautifully, and trust me, I'm not far off. In just a few seconds, you have light, yet substantial coverage that stays matte, never shiny.  I know, every makeup brand claims to create "that glow!!". I've tried them all- this is the real deal

Tip from the counter: use your ring finger to blend!

 

3) NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer 

I have used the same concealer for YEARS, but lately I have been craving something with a little more natural coverage. Once I had the matte tinted moisturizer, my new beauty BFF* at the Nordstrom Nars counter suggested I stay in the family . After using this, I can only assume 50 Cent's "Magic Stick" is about this concealer. Impossibly creamy and natural, it goes on like a dream and instead of hiding your skin, highlights it beautifully while covering up everything from dark circles to acne scars. 

* I assume we are BFFs because we traded favorite moments from the Celine Dion LIVE! In Vegas DVD. 

 

4) Mario Badescu Silver Powder 

When I was 14, everyone said that acne and blackheads were just part of puberty. I am 99.9% sure I'm past that stage, yet I still have them. Hello, God? It's me, BLACKHEADS. However, I may have found the holy grail of busting these bad boys. I knew it was good when my sister, who doesn't even know what an eyelash curler is, texted me saying I needed to run out and get this ASAP. I applied the powder with a damp cotton ball, left it on for 10 minutes and then removed with my toner. The results were truly UNREAL. Blackheads completely out of sight. Use it once a week and say Sayonara to those suckers.

FIND IT: I surprisingly found Silver Powder at Urban Outfitters, hidden behind the flower crowns and overalls I had in second grade. 

 

5) Graphique Note Cards

When a trip to Marshall's for dish cloths turned into an all-out bender, I found myself in my favorite aisle- stationary. Another notepad to write my lists in? OBVIOUSLY. A journal with an inspirational quote on it? I feel like a better person already!! One thing, however, that has always proved to be a useful purchase, is thank you's and notecards. Thank you notes are the most underrated pastime. There is nothing classier or more chic than throwing a note in the mail to express your gratitude for a gift, a favor, or even just dropping in to say hello. I love to have personalized ones on deck, but stores like Marshall's always have the best inexpensive options when you need to send a quick note. Also it is probably worth noting that last year, I stockpiled Harry Potter stamps and now need an excuse to use them. 

 

Have you tried any of these products, or have any new favorites of your own? Please share below, because I haven't been to the mall in exactly 78 hours and I'm developing a twitch. If not, just leave the number of a good therapist.  

Pants-A-Make-Her-Dance

In 2006, I frequently posted statuses of " You Must Not Know 'Bout Me", as I was obsessed with Beyonce's "Irreplaceable". I was 15- what didn't "you" know 'bout me? That my mom was home making me pizza rolls, or that I had 4 more freeway-hours to log for my permit? 

It was also around this time that gauchos were a thing, and I had always assumed I was too short for the flowy silhouette. Now in 2016, we brought back a version of the gaucho, and called it a culotte. Older and wiser, I disregarded my previous rule and snagged a pair at Club Monaco (similar here, and a ton on sale!), and I am forever changed. 

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But Alex!! I'm short!! JOIN THE CLUB, SISTERS! Culottes are universally flattering, because the wide silhouette tends to slim and streamline the leg. Culotte hems can fall anywhere from the knee to mid-ankle. 

Forewarning: alterations may be necessary based on your height. Clothes are not meant to fit everyone perfectly: 

a good seamstress is the pinnacle of your wardrobe.

This Club Monaco pair was fine, but my other pairs I've had to shorten an inch or two- sometimes you gotta work for it. 

Don't worry about culottes being too "trendy", they're more of a staple to a chic wardrobe than a trend. Cardinal rule on trends: once something becomes one, it's usually already on the way out. Just always buy what you like and know you'll wear for years to come. 

Welcome your new party pants with open arms and hangers, pair them with just about anything (use the same rules as blue jeans or black pants), and get ready for Culotte-s of fun (I'm sorry. I knew I couldn't get through this post without a pant pun)!!! 

 

March (Metallic) Madness

There are countless articles in countless magazines telling you what staples you MUST HAVE to form your closet. While I can get down with the black slacks and a tailored jacket, that does not a wardrobe make. Sometimes you need to spice it up a bit, and for that, you need a new staple: say hello to metallic skirts. 

Thanks to Gucci, metallic skirts are becoming just as much a staple as a good white button-down, or in non-fashion terms, what cocktail sausages are to a good party. STAPLE. 

Metallic skirts are basically the Bernie Sanders of the closet. Loud, sensible, and always a smart choice. (Am I still talking about skirts here? #Berndownforwhat). 

Skirt: Vintage Christian Dior from The Peacock Room. Sweater: Uniqlo. Shoes: Asos

Your new skirt is just as handy as a pair of blue jeans. Pair it with an oversized sweater, a basic tee, sneakers, heels, even a crop top or bandeau in the summer. I've found midi-length and pleated work best with metallics. If you go mini and solid, you run the risk of looking like a girl who's lost at the festival just looking for a bathroom and a vodka redbull. 

A few no-fail options below: 

 

Topshop Metallic Pleated Skirt, $130 (Nordstrom)

 

Pleated Midi Skirt, $69.90 (Zara)


Asos Pleated Midi Skirt with Metallic Foil, $60 (Asos)

 

If you haven't already, you're going to be seeing metallic skirts everywhere, and trust me, you want in on this trend. GRANTED, I also said the same thing about those one-size stretchy sweaters in middle school, but I promise I've learned from that, and am much more credible now. 

 

Photos by Lauren Montgomery at the Belle Isle Conservatory.

A Little Shoulder, A Long Way

 

When I first became infatuated with fashion, it was all about fun. I would mix my oversized Tweety Bird tee, ruffle socks and jellies and would not even think twice that my outfit wasn't on POINT and that I wasn't flexing on my fellow first-graders. 

But as you get older, you are just beginning to scratch the surface of becoming who you want to be, and you can get very easily influenced by friends, trends and in my case, whatever they were wearing on The O.C. (Marissa Cooper is still my style icon). 

I've gone through so many style lives, and still do from day-to-day. However, the biggest lesson I've learned over the years is that sexy does not mean one thing. It does not always mean short skirts (re: college pics), low cut tops (re:re: college pics) and un-walkable heels. It can be covered up, it can be baggy, and it can even be a little silly. 

Enter: This Shirt

I love the silliness of the culotte, but the undeniable sexiness of an exposed shoulder. The perfect union of covered/uncovered. 

We shot these in Florida on vacation-AKA a trip made so I could wear this shirt sooner.

 

 

In college, I presumed that the more skin I showed, the sexier I was. But I never actually felt sexy, and I really still don't a good 99% of the time. But trust me when I say a little shoulder goes a long way. I remember wearing mentioned Tweety Bird shirt in first grade, and being told on by a male classmate because my shoulder was showing. Well, eat your heart out, John*

 

*Name has been kept exactly the same. Not afraid to call him out 19 years later.

 

 

In the Jungle

 

The top item I have been in search of for the past few years is a faux- fur leopard coat. I grew obsessed when my grandma out-chic'ed me in one in 2009 (never forget). I searched high and low, but couldn't find one that didn't look like I sewed together a bunch of stuffed animals from a bowling alley arcade. 

This past October, I stumbled upon the perfect match in TopShop in Las Vegas. Fueled by one-too-many bloody marys, I didn't hesitate to make it mine, and it has been a staple in my wardrobe ever since. 

The absolute best thing about faux fur coats is that they instantly take any outfit to the next level. I've worn mine over cropped black pants and a white blouse, and hours later over a sports-tee and destroyed denim (that pairing seemed to really resonate with a man in a Gucci bucket hat at a basketball game). 

I know Spring is on the horizon, but right now may be the most opportune time to buy. Most stores have their coats on sale, and if you've been keeping track of the F/W '16 shows in New York, you'll see that next season will have no shortage of leopard love. 

 

Via Spiga Faux Leopard Fur Topper- Was $270, now $179.90 (Nordstrom

 

Faux Fur Coat in Leopard- was $137, now $83 (Asos)

 

The Kooples Leopard Print Faux Fur Jacket- was $575, now $287 (Stylebop)

 

The biggest apprehension I hear about Faux Fur is that it's "too much" for every-day wear. I say -GOOD. Be too damn much. Be larger than life every chance you get. Wear this coat to the theatre, then to the grocery store. Wear it over a cocktail dress, then joggers and a white-tee. Never be afraid to be too much. It is far, far better than being too little (I'm 5ft tall- trust me on that one). 

 

Shot by Lauren Montgomery at the Belle Isle Conservatory in Detroit. 

Photo editing by Leah Cranston.