Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Grownup Clothes on a College Budget

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If you couldn't tell from reading my blog, I tend to be most comfortable in workout clothes or boyfriend jeans. I love dressing up, but as I started the interview process this summer, I realized that my "adult" wardrobe was lacking some basics. The outfit I'm wearing here isn't necessarily appropriate for all workplaces, but it does look more polished than my ripped jeans or Nike leggings would. And the best part? It's all affordable - except my purse, which, like I said before, I wouldn't have unless I hadn't somehow scored it at Nordstrom Rack. Keep reading for links to similar pieces to the ones I'm wearing in these photos!

Side note - this transition to Richmond has been harder than I anticipated. There were some things and people that I had been somewhat counting on, and I had to re-learn that not everything always goes as planned. Straying from my personal plan is something I've struggled with for a long time - for example, if you had asked me one year ago where I thought I would be right now, I would have told you I would be nearly engaged, working in real estate, and living with my then-boyfriend -- but look at me now, working in advertising and blogging and living alone and shit. 
And doing fine, thank you very much.

Anyway, even from 3,000 miles away, my dad has made his presence in my life and his love and support for me known through a few well timed, extremely thoughtful mailed notes and personal gifts, like the jewelry I'm wearing here. 
It's made a world of difference in my outlook and self-confidence.

Most of the pieces in this outfit are sold out, but I've done my best to find similar items -- 

top: Leith via Nordstrom BP (similar), skirt: Old Navy (similar), shoes: Betsey Johnson via 6pm (similar), bag: Rebecca Minkoff, sunnies: Ray Ban, jewelry: Eight Women

Here's a list of the best places (in my opinion) to shop for "adult" clothes on a budget including both my favorite online retailers and brick & mortar locations.


  • - best for footwear on sale, like the scalloped Betsy Johnson heels I'm wearing in this shoot (bought them a few years ago), or Sam Edelman Felicia flats.
  • Hautelook - recently in a bar bathroom, I was touting Hautelook as my favorite sale shopping app and someone disputed me by saying Rue La La is better. Maybe it is, but I usually have better luck with brands I'm familiar with on the Hautelook app, which you can also use to access Nordstrom Rack online.
  • J.Crew Factory - this site is ALWAYS having some type of sale, and they're really pretty decent deals. Great for pencil skirts, office-appropriate blouses, blazers, and outerwear.

Real Life Stores

  • Nordstrom Rack - great for footwear, blouses, and office-appropriate dresses. One of my favorite work-type brands found exclusively and Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack is Pleione - they make really pretty basic blouses that go well under a jacket.
  • Clothes Mentor (and other resale/consignment stores) - adult clothing can get spendy, blazers and heels add up, and no one wants to spend their hard-earned paycheck entirely on "boring" stuff. This is a great opportunity to give back to the community and recycle your gently used college clothing in exchange for dresses and slacks at a discounted price point.
  • Old Navy - as J.Crew has slowly dropped off the radar of many fashionable young people (sad but true), cheaper mass-producers and mall stores like Old Navy and Banana Republic have vastly stepped up their games. Old Navy is a great spot for comfortable dresses, skirts, tops and pants that closely resemble J.Crew's famous Pixie pant - go take a look, you'll save big!

Still looking? Shop some of my grownup picks below!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Stuff You Can Actually Wear This Fall

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In this post, you can see one of my two little tattoos really well - it says "live your dash" on my wrist. I got it last spring when I came home from Austria and when, to be frank, shit started to hit the fan in my personal life. The phrase comes from a poem aptly titled "The Dash Poem". When I was a senior in high school, one of my cousins passed away suddenly at a very young age, and this poem was read at his memorial. The main message, or most memorable line to me is as follows: "What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash." The dash, in this case, refers to the little line between your birth date and the day you pass away - and the poem talks about how to fill that little dash in a meaningful and powerful way. It really resonated with me, and has become something I ask myself both in my daily life and also when making larger decisions. Am I living my dash? Is this the most respectful, full, and kind way that I can live? Am I packing my dash as full as I can right now? ANYWAY, back to the outfit at hand, now that you know a little something about my personal life.

There are a lot of ~outfit ideas~ out in the world that are super cute, really well put together and... often expensive and impractical. Take a minute, go to your closet, and answer the next few questions.

Do you have a suede skirt? Probably, since they've been huge since last year. If you don't, HERE is a very similar one to mine that you can buy for under $35.

Do you have a sweater? Doesn't have to be cream like mine, or a cowl/turtle-neck like mine, or anything like mine at all. But if you want a sleeveless one, which is another big trend this fall, HERE is a similar option for under $50. Now front tuck it into your skirt, leaving the back loose. This is an easy way to create a little visual interest in your outfit (I'm not sure that's the right phrase, but we're going with it) - like accessorizing without accessories. The key is to flip the front hem under and make sure that if the fabric gathers, it gathers in the middle. Front tuck everything. Front tuck or die. 

Do you have booties? Don't answer that - any type will work with this look. If you want fringy ones like mine, HERE are the exact same ones for under $80. I also wore them in this post and approximately three days a week. 

When I put an outfit on my blog, it's something I wear in real life. I don't get dressed up in a fancy getup just for the photos - I try to put together looks that my readers could recreate easily and on a budget - and also feel comfortable in. I got the skirt and booties via Hautelook, and the sweater is Free People that was on sale at 310 Rosemont last spring. My bag was on crazy sale at Nordstrom rack (you saw it first HERE), my earrings are from Sloan (fave boutique in PDX), and my glasses are Warby Parker. Nothing crazy here :) 

If you don't have the pieces to recreate this look on your own, shop my picks below! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

You Can Pull Off Boyfriend Jeans

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These boyfriend jeans are my number one go-to closet staple. Doesn't matter what I'm doing, where I'm going (other than church or dinner with my grandparents, bc they aren't a fan of ripped jeans - surprise!) or what season it is, I rock these nonstop with a variety of different tops and accessories. They're BLANK NYC, and I got them when I worked at South Moon Under - I had previously been stuck in the mindset that since I'm kinda curvy and have big hips and a butt, I would look sort of stumpy in boyfriend jeans - but that isn't the case. Every time I wore these to work, I had a customer come up and ask me if I thought she would be able to "pull them off" like I did.

I have words to say about the phrase "I don't think I can pull that off, but it looks so cute on you!" -- First of all, that's kind of an underhanded insult. It's like saying " no offense, but..." 

Secondly, IF YOU LIKE SOMETHING AND IT FITS YOU, YOU CAN "PULL IT OFF". End of story. Wear clothes you think are cool, and wear them in sizes that fit your body, no matter what number you see on the tag or what store you buy from. I'm planning a post about my opinion on "fat jeans" coming soon, so stay tuned for another rant or two about personal style, size, and being able to "pull things off".

Lastly - do you recognize this shirt?? It's the $10 Free People dupe I scored at Target and styled last week in this post - like I've mentioned before, dig deep in your closet before running out and spending $$$ on the latest fall trends. You might be surprised at what you can find! My necklace (which I'm currently obsessed with) is a gift from A Native Look (which you should check out, she's just down the road in Raleigh!), my booties are a repeat from last week's post, and my bag is Rebecca Minkoff - which I grabbed at over 50% off from Nordstrom Rack in August!

If you're wondering about whether or not you can "pull something off," forget about stereotypes and expectations and ask yourself two questions - and if you say YES to both, work it!
Is this piece/outfit cool as hell and do I love it???
Does it fit my body/will I be physically comfortable?

Friday, October 14, 2016

RVA Fit Gal's Guide: The Hot Yoga Barre

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Hot yoga is one thing. Barre is another. Hot barre - a totally different ball game. I've been repeatedly pushed to test my preconceived notions of how a "workout" ought to look and feel - and I've loved every second of it. The Hot Yoga Barre is situated right above Duck Donuts (why...) in Willow Lawn next to the Red Nails 2. The studio is clean, cozy, and friendly - the instructors and staff all seem really sweet, there's a small locker room with two shower stalls, cute apparel you can purchase, and cubbies for all your stuff. The studio is probably medium-size, well-lit, and heated. It can get feel crowded in some classes, but I would think this would all just depend on what time you come to your mat and which class you are taking. BURN was the most crowded, whereas 7:30PM Yugala Yoga felt more spacious.

If you don't do yoga a ton or are worried about starting for the first time, just bite the bullet and go to a class. I'd suggest starting with Yin or Yugala - just let your instructor know that you are new, and do your best to follow along. The hot room can be overwhelming at first (but so amazing when you adjust) so take your practice at your own pace and listen to your body first and foremost. You'll sweat a TON - and feel detoxed both physically and emotionally afterwards.

Classes I tried: (full list HERE)

  • Hot Barre Blast - I mentioned that Alex's class at TURN was the most challenging barre class I'd taken - and then I realized she teaches at HYB too! Barre is tough because it works muscles with tiny, precise movements. Doing it in a heated room made me feel even more accomplished afterwards because I was sweating so much. This class was an insane workout - I felt amazing after, but it was definitely a challenge for me because I wasn't used to either Barre or exercising in a heated room. You will need to bring a yoga mat for this class, and grab small weights, a ball, and a band in the closet on the way into the studio.
  • BURN - BURN is more along the lines of a sculpt-type class - you are led through 45 seconds of a toning/cardio exercise, 20 seconds of rest, and repeat for 45 minutes. It's amazing how heavy those 2lb weights can feel by the end! This class was a little more familiar to me because of the combo of strengthening and cardio moves - just add in a heated room, and you're glowing in no time. It was upbeat, challenging, and fun - a little faster paced than Barre. The class was led by Bethany, who I think has an unlimited energy supply. You will also need to bring your own yoga mat for this class.
  • Yugala Yoga - I will preface this with the fact that I am no yogi. I do yoga occasionally when I am home because my mom does and I know it's a good thing for my mental and physical health - but after Monday night Yugala Yoga, I felt like I was practically having a religious experience, I loved the class so much. Yugala Yoga is 25 pairs of poses - and doing poses in pairs allowed me to focus on doing them correctly and more deeply than I am usually able to in a power flow class. I also saw a really wide variety of bodies and fitness levels in this class, which is always cool. The weekend one was crowded, but Monday night was relaxed and chill while still challenging me mentally and physically. Grab blocks in the closet before going into the studio. Bring your own yoga mat and perhaps a towel to go on top. It's also totally okay to just rock a sports bra and leggings in this class! PS: I took this with Michele all three times I've gone so far, and I love her!
  • Hot Power Flow - I went to my first Hot Power Flow class at HYB on Thursday to celebrate my new job offer (!!!) - at first I was going to treat myself to a happy hour, but then I realized that the best way to spoil my soul and my body would be by taking some time to sweat, reflect, and be grateful. ANYWAY this class, taught by Marge, was a somewhat fast-paced vinyasa flow, made me sweat like crazy, and pushed me to focus on my body and breathing more than most yoga classes have. Marge's energy is infectious, and I forgot to tell her my nickname is Marge, too :) If you are new to yoga, I would recommend trying Yugala first, but like I said earlier, yoga is something that you can always take at your own speed.


  • drop-in - $23
  • new student first month (spark) - $79 for unlimited classes (this is a really good deal!)
  • monthly after first month - $139 for unlimited classes with 3-month commitment
  • 25 class pass - $375, breaks down to $15/class
  • 15 class pass - $270, breaks down to $18/class
  • 5 class pass - $100, breaks down to $20/class
Full-time students, K-12 teachers, policemen, EMT's, firemen, and active duty military are all eligible for a 15% discount on packages purchased in the studio, other than the spark membership.

What to Wear:

Nothing wild and crazy, really - for the yoga classes, I would just do a pair of leggings and a tank or sports bra, and for Barre or BURN you could do leggings and a tank/workout top or shorts with a wider range of motion (NOT classic Norts/Nike Tempos). You might want to bring a small towel with you as well, and definitely don't forget to hydrate. Have a favorite brand of workout clothing we should know about? Comment below!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Fall Trends for (way) Less

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Last week, I went to an event at Kendra Scott that benefited Caritas, a homeless advocacy nonprofit here in Richmond. The event was held by another Richmond-area blogger - Megan, of Sweet Sauce Blog, and I got to meet Amanda of Truly Yours, A as well - she works at KS Short Pump. I'm SO pumped to be doing some blog-related networking in my "new" home, and have had so much fun bouncing ideas back and forth with Megan.

This post was inspired by some of the thoughts she's shared with me lately - like the fact that you don't have to go out and buy all the cute (& expensive) fall clothes you might be seeing on everyone else's blog right now. No part of this outfit was over $100 (except the one Yurman bangle that belonged to my grandmother) - and a lot of it is last season, so I linked as many similar items as I could find, but you might be surprised about what's in your own closet!

Fun fact: Target gets new shipments every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during the wee hours of the morning. They don't replenish clothing on the floor once it sells out, so if you see something you love, grab it!

The top I'm wearing in these photos is a total Free People dupe - it was $10 from the sale rack at Target, and I've been wearing it nonstop. In fact, you may see it again on the blog very soon ;) My hat is from Target as well - they have a ton of really cute fall hats at affordable price points, so if you're hesitant about headwear, don't fear the cost! I collected a few of my faves for y'all to check out at the end of this post.

My black booties are via Hautelook, which is honestly both the biggest temptation ever and also the source of half of my closet. If you haven't already, join - your purchases can earn points towards your Nordstrom rewards! The black faux suede bomber is from Ross (under $30) and I haven't been able to find it online, but you can shop a similar one here or below. Jeans are Gap (similar here), and my tassel necklace is from Traveling Chic Boutique.

You might be surprised at the outfits you can create without spending a single penny :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Adulting 101: Skincare

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I feel like taking care of your skin is (although it probably shouldn't be confined to this) a very "adult" thing. Even though I know it's a necessity to use facewash and take off makeup before bed and all that jazz, having a "skincare regimen" feels very grown up to me. I've recently started using a new product, and I want to share it with y'all right here.

I grew up swimming year-round, mostly indoors - and my skin would show it by being red, dry, and uncomfortable. Putting makeup on over the top of dry skin is not cute. Even though my year-round swimming days are behind me (I coach now), my skin has retained it's susceptibility to dryness, specifically in colder temperatures. As we approach cold, dry weather here in VA, I was pumped to find a skincare brand I actually like - DERMA-E, which you can find at most Targets and drugstores. I've been using their hydrating day and night creme for about a week, and my skin hasn't been dry at all.

I've mentioned before that it's hugely important to me that I use the most natural products possible, not only because it's gentler on my skin, but it's also gentler on the environment. The packaging on DERMA-E products emphasizes their commitment to the environment and to global sustainability - two things that are important to me when I'm purchasing a new product. As you can see on the blue box in the photo below, the company's motto is "ethical beauty". That message, plus the quality of the product, means I'm pretty sold on this brand of skincare. Check out their website or your local skincare retailer (seriously, from Target to Whole Foods, you'll find it) and let me know what you think!

This product was provided to me by derma-e for my honest opinion and review - all opinions, as always, are my own.

Friday, September 30, 2016

RVA Fit Gal's Guide: TurnRVA Cardio Jam Studio

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For those of us who typically frequent Cary Town or the Fan, Scott's Addition is an RVA neighborhood full of hidden gems. One of these hidden gems is called TurnRVA Cardio Jam Studio. Don't run away just yet (I know you thought about it when you saw "cardio") trust me!

I'm at the tail end of completing two weeks of classes at Turn. And every single class I've taken has literally made me smile from ear to ear - whether it was a ballet class (!!!!!), Urban Boot Camp, or a taste of DanceTrance - this place is fun as hell. The whole idea behind TURN is that we're more likely to not only work out, but LIKE our workouts if we are part of a community. Each class I went to was full of really cool gals - from VCU grad students to a professional at the Martin Agency, there was a variety of participants of all ages and walks of life that I got to connect with. Read on for what to expect in the classes, how much you'll have to shell out, and to pick up on my general vibe on the place.

Classes I tried: (full schedule HERE)

  • Urban Boot Camp - YES this class is awesome. Seo (the instructor) pushes you without being intimidating or overwhelming - the focus is on doing everything correctly...which makes you get a better workout in the long run. I learned a ton and had a lot of fun - definitely doing a drop-in later this month!
  • SURF FIT - I've always been told, whether or not it's true, that I'm clumsy and not the most athletic. So typically I don't do a whole lot of balance-related sports or workouts - but I def couldn't resist trying a class that is taught entirely on SURF SET boards - basically surfboards mounted on Bosu balls. It was hard af but super awesome because it engaged my muscles in a whole new way. Would totally go back.
  • Urban Ballet - This is another moment when I said screw it to my normal, "I just am super uncoordinated so I'll pass...", type attitude. Even though I know I wasn't the best dancer on the floor, taking the class (and bringing a supportive friend along) made me feel more graceful than I usually do. The class was basically a beginner ballet class with some barre-type moves incorporated, and challenged me mentally as well as physically.
  • DanceTrance - Sandi, the owner of Turn (meet her HERE), called DanceTrance their "bread and butter". Think dancing at a club with all the flashing lights and killer music but with a group of 15 other gals in workout clothes following a super badass instructor. And that's DanceTrance. Not Zumba.
  • Urban Sculpt - This was probably the most challenging class I took - think BodyPump but a hell of a lot more fun and with different exercises all the time. Super good workout and amazing way to start my Saturday before getting my iced latte at Lamplighter!
  • Barre - I would say this was one of the more challenging barre classes I've ever taken. Barre is more about finding muscles you never knew you had than about being pushed to your max, and trust me, you'll be feeling it the next day.

SURF SET boards at TURN


Ah yes. We are recent graduates and unsure about monetary commitment. This is a concept I understand. So I'll break it down for you --
  • Drop in - $15 (approx. 3 vodka sodas with extra lime at District 5) (yes that's my drink of choice)
  • 3-Class Pass - $40 ($5 less than the tassel necklace I just bought at Traveling Chic, dang it)
  • 5-Class Pass - $60 (if you paid the drop-in fee once a week for 5 weeks, you would pay $75)
  • 10-Class Pass - $110 (so you could work out 10 times for the same price of this Rebecca Minkoff )
  • Monthly Rate - $95 (This is probably also my monthly expenditure at Target. So I could quit buying scented candles and cheap sweatpants each month and lose some weight instead!)
  • Also there is a Groupon! Check it out for some savings and maybe a more manageable time commitment :)


Literally this is the easiest question to answer. Normal workout stuff - I often reward myself with fun workout clothes when I've reached a weight loss or lifestyle goal (which I just did and I ordered new Zella leggings to celebrate!). Also, you don't have to pay Lulu prices to look cute when you workout - check out my alternative (AFFORDABLE) options below. Another option - remember when I styled a pair of Spunkwear leggings? I still love them - feel free to revisit my post here!

Since TURN has a really nice new floor, they do ask that you bring your workout shoes in a bag and change into them once you get to class - this keeps dirt and rocks off the floor and also allows you to hang out in your flip flops longer.

So that's it. I'm a fan, and I'm going to try to budget for a pass once I get this job thang figured out. Grab a friend, hit a class, and walk over to Lamplighter for coffee (or beer at one of the 398237 breweries in Scott's Addition instead) right after. Let me know what you think!

P.S. - follow me on Twitter and Instagram for BTS of the #rvafitgalsguide!