Under The Leopard Print

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Two weekends ago, we made a super quick trip to Richmond — I’m talking 24 hours total — to meet with my younger brother Alex and talk wedding planning. Alex is going to be the officiant at our wedding, so we set up shop at a brewery and planned out our ceremony. The scene was pretty funny, we literally had notebooks and paperwork strewn out over an entire picnic table while people were chugging beers around us, but it was definitely a productive meeting!

We also got to squeeze in time with one of my Maids of Honor (I’m lucky enough to have two!) and her new beau and meet the owner of one of my new favorite boutiques, Mod&Soul. Yes, Mod&Soul is where those epic orange flares are from. I picked up some items for our wedding, including this cute leopard print dress, which I’m also wearing to a pre-wedding dinner with family that’s coming in from Canada and Charlottesville.

I absolutely LOVE meeting owners of boutiques and small businesses. I think it’s so fascinating to hear the story behind their businesses and I feel a deeper connection to stores that I already love. You can check out some of my favorite woman-owned and small boutiques in this post!

Now, why you’re really here — what am I wearing under this cute dress? While the V doesn’t look super deep in these pictures, it’s deep enough that you can’t wear a normal bra without it showing, so I opted for my trusty pasties from Amazon. While a lot of girls like the paper-y flower cut ones, these are actually reusable and are silicone, which eliminates any chance of them showing through your shirt. Plus these are a heck of a lot easier to put on. I just bought them for my bridesmaids to wear under their dresses for the wedding!

The other thing I wanted to share is truly revolutionary — Spanx thongs. I’ve never worn shapewear before, but I wanted a little something to look and feel my best on the wedding day, so I took one of their thong panties for a spin and they are awesome. They’re essentially high-waisted undies with a little bit of compression around your lower stomach and I love wearing them under dresses that hug that area when I walk. They definitely aren’t as powerful as true Spanx, but they’re a nice alternative when you just want to feel a little streamlined!

Shop My Look 

Dress | Mod&Soul

Boots | Steve Madden

($45 here if you can wear an 8.5 or a 10, extremely similar here if you’re another size)

Clutch | South Moon Under (Similar)

VICI — What It’s All About

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If you have an Instagram account and engage with fashion related content, chances are you’ve been served an ad from @vicidolls. I’ve purchased a few things from the site, including the sweater pictured above, this dress, and this romper, and I get a lot of questions about it, so I figured I’d dedicate a blog post to it! Read on for five things you need to know about shopping at VICI. (I have no clue if the real name is VICI, Vici Dolls, or Vici Collection, TBH. All I know is the have a brick-and-mortar store in Cali, which I took as a sign that they have quality products!)

  1. They now offer free returns, but they only offer store credit. Old Forever 21 policy, anyone? VICI used to charge you postage for your returns, so at least this new policy is a step up, but you won’t be getting refunds. The good news is they have a plethora of great items, so it’s not hard to find something else to use the credit on.
  2. The quality varies. While I’ve had luck with the items I’ve linked above, I received one blouse that wasn’t up to snuff and my friend got a dress once that was literally mutilated. Thankfully, she was able to get a full refund after sending them multiple pictures of how messed up it was, so I think it was a rare occasion. This leads me to my next point…
  3. There are plenty of girls wearing the brand on IG. As you know, my favorite tip for shopping at new online retailers is to head to the brand’s Instagram account adn check out the tagged setcion. There, you’ll be able to see what real girls are wearing and it’s an easy way to gauge what the item looks like IRL.
  4. They constantly offer 20% discount codes. When you sign up for VICI emails, you get a new shopper code, and they frequently will send you promo codes for 20% off. I’ve never not been able to find a coupon when shopping on the site!
  5.  They are constantly getting new product in and restocking fan favorites. I usually hate promotional emails, but I always look forward to opening up the eblasts from VICI. Since the retailer stocks so much product, the emails are actually give you a nice snapshot of items so you know what to look for when you do decide to shop on the site!

Shop My Look

Sweater | VICI (sold out, of course.) Similar linked here

Jeans | TopShop 

Booties | Vestique (similar)

Jacket | DokoToo

PS — it is HARD to shoot in the snow. My hair was literally soaking wet by the time we’d finished shooting these pics and we were only outside for like seven minutes!

Amazon Finds Round 3

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I really should title this “Random Shit I’ve Recently Bought From Amazon”, but that seemed a little too ratchet. When I asked you guys if you wanted to see more of these Amazon purchase roundups, I was pleasantly surprised how many of you responded with yes!

If you missed my other Amazon blog posts, you can view the first one here and the second here. Since I shop on Amazon pretttty regularly (it’s not so bad that it’s once a week, but it’s not that far off), I’m aiming to write one of these on a bi-monthly basis, possibly even monthly. Read on for my latest finds!

Shop My Look

Sweater | Amazon

Jeans | TopShop

Boots | LuLu’s (similar)

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Off The Shoulder Sweater | For a festive but comfortable Christmas Day outfit, I snagged this tassel sweater. The description says it’s cropped (and it sure looks like it is in this screenshot), but it’s definitely not. I haven’t washed this yet so I’m not sure how the tassels will do, but since my distressed sweater did okay, I think this one will be too! I’m wearing a small.

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Tie Front Top | I love this versatile thermal top! Clearly, I’m wearing it for lounging here (it was part of my book roundup post!), but you can wear it off the shoulder and tied up either short or long with jeans and leggings. I’m wearing a small.

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Steve Madden OTK Boots | I bought these boots for my Bachelorette party and have been wearing them nonstop ever since. They’re a great price for good quality and someone even mistook them for Stuart Weitzman boots! I got a size 7 and they are true to size.

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Distressed Sweater | You’ve seen this trend of sweater all over IG this season, but I couldn’t bring myself to buy a ripped sweater for $60. This sweater is a whopping $12.19, but you do pay for lower quality with such low price point. I’ve washed it three times and it’s still standing though! Wearing a small and it’s a little big, size down.

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Slip On Sneakers | I’d been eyeing the Steve Madden slip on sneaks for about a year before I finally bit the bullet and bought this knock off pair on Black Friday. When I got them, they were on sale for $22, but $35 isn’t bad! They’re super comfy and I love pairing them with my Spanx leggings. I did get a nasty blister on the back of my ankle the first time I wore them (to be fair, I walked two miles in them), but haven’t had a problem since. I wear them about two times a week! I also got a 7 in these and they are true to size.

One Sweater |Two Ways

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At an event a few weeks ago, I was chatting with some fellow bloggers and we got to the topic of re-wearing and repurposing pieces instead of constantly buying new things. During this conversation, Jenn Rogg said something along the lines of liking to do blog posts using pieces she’s already featured because her blog wasn’t a shopping mall, but a place to go to find inspiration on how to mix and match items already in your closet, and it really resonated with me.

As a fashion blogger, There is a lot of pressure to consistently churn out fresh content, which pretty much translates into new looks. While I’m lucky enough to partner with brands that gift me product, having a new outfit for every event or occasion truly isn’t realistic! I try hard to keep my blog relatable and affordable, and after talking with Jenn, I realized I need to show how I re-wear my wardrobe to maintain authenticity and relate to my readers and followers more.

Realistically, I spend around $200 a month (some months less, some months more if I’m going on vacation or it’s the start of a new season) on new clothes (including workwear, athletic clothes, and “fun clothes”), mostly from Amazon, Forever21, or affordable boutiques so I get the best bang for my buck. (My last Forever 21 haul got me 3 sports bras, a chenille sweater, and a suede skirt for $68!) Of course I have my qualms with fast-fashion retailers since the quality is not what you’re getting when you invest in something designer, but since I get bored of items quickly and like to experiment with new trends, it’s cheap and cheerful for me over here!

I digress, in the spirit of trying to make sure I’m creating relatable content, I’m showing how I styled this $25, retro-inspired Forever21 sweater two totally different ways — one look for running errands around the city and one for a date night.

For some reason, this sweater reminds me of the west coast, so I channeled my inner Cali girl and paired the sweater with my trusty boyfriend jeans and western-inspired booties for a day of holiday shopping and picking up our Christmas tree.

The night before, I wore it with a faux leather skirt and OTK boots for a sushi date. If you had told me I’d be wearing a sweater for a date night two years ago I would have laughed in your face because they feel so casual to me, but I loved the way it helped tone down the high heeled boots and shorter skirt.

Let me know if you like the whole “one piece, two ways” thing!

Shop My Look 

Sweater | Forever 21 (similar)

Nearly identical, but in kids’ size if you can pull that off! 

Jeans | GAP

Booties | Vestique (similar) 

Skirt | Free People

(my skirt is from two years ago so I didn’t even know the model styled it similarly!) 

OTK Boots | Amazon

The Instagram Skirt

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The Instagram skirt: You know what I’m talking about — the piece of clothing that follows you around social media constantly until you cave and buy it. Or maybe you’re stronger than me and you don’t buy it, but you always wonder in the back of your mind if you should have and what it would have looked like IRL.

I have been scorned by the Instagram ad purchase before. The dress looked so cute in my feed and was an absolute nightmare when it arrived — I’m talking Pilgrim meets GAP Kids kind of nightmare. Of course, I couldn’t return it because it came from an Asian retailer, even though when I sent them a picture of the dress they replied back with “oh, that is bad.” LOL. I digress.

When I saw this wrap skirt pop up in an Instagram story ad, I thought it was an awesome piece but didn’t think I’d ever be able to pull it off. The second time I saw it I convinced myself that I could figure out a way to style it, and by the third time I was mentally planning to wear it to the opera the following week. I hate to say it, but social media advertising works people.

Whenever I buy something from a retailer I’ve never shopped at before, I always do my research and of course, read the site reviews, but I take it a step further and head to their Instagram page and check their tagged photos. If a retailer is credible, they’ll likely have tons of pictures of real women wearing their clothes and you can determine the quality or sizing you might need from that. I knew I had to press “add to cart’ when I saw how many women were wearing this leopard (cheetah?) skirt! I truly swear by checking the brand’s tagged photos, it hasn’t failed me yet. (I did not check the IG tags on the Pilgrim monstrosity.)

P.S. the igloo pictures are from Bourbon on Ice at The Four Seasons! It’s a super fun experience and it’s running through February! 

Shop My Look 

Skirt | Never Fully Dressed

(wearing a small, probably should have sized down to XS so that the slit showed more without sticking out my leg) 

Bodysuit | American Apparel 

Shoes | LuLu’s

Earrings | Forever 21 

Groovy, Baby

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I love Richmond, VA. Between its affordable cost of living, quaint neighborhoods, and growing food & beverage scene, it’s at the top of my list for the next move we make. In addition to its restaurant offerings, RVA is also chock-full of independent boutiques and I love going shopping in Carrytown when I go visit friends.

I love shopping at boutiques for a variety of reasons — they’re usually small, woman-owned businesses (an instant gold star in my book) and I love that each piece was hand-selected by someone whose heart and soul has been poured into the shop. Because boutique pieces are so carefully curated, I love knowing that there aren’t hundreds of the same item easily accessible and it makes the pieces I pick up feel extra special. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mass fast fashion retailers, but it just feels good to support smaller stores.

I’d been following Mod&Soul for awhile so I jumped at the chance to collaborate with them when they reached out. I instantly added these orange flares to my cart and since Richmond is so close, had them within just a few days. I’d been wanting to try the flares trend for awhile, but just hadn’t bit the bullet, so I’m so glad I did! I think this outfit is SO fun, and I can’t wait to style these pants with a black bodysuit and even possibly a crop top. The high waist and a cropped top is key so that your legs look longer and help accentuate your waist with so much volume on the bottom.

These pants are a litttle big on me, but I still love them. I’m wearing a size Small for reference, and am hoping a little time in the dryer will shrink them. I’m about 5’4.5″ on a good day and I’m wearing 4 inch heels in these pictures, so these are probably best for a taller gal. They do come in a size XS too!

Shop My Look

Pants | Mod&Soul

Turtleneck Crop Top | Vestique (similar)

Booties | LuLu*s (similar)

Jacket | Thrifted, but it’s Forever21 (similar)

Boutique Black Friday Sales

Shop My Look

Dress | Ivy Rowe (different pattern)

Boots | Steve Madden

Earrings | Red Dress Boutique

This may come as a shock, but I’ve never been a big Black Friday shopping person. One year in high school I stood in line with my friend, waiting for Target to open so we could get a highly coveted hot pink digital camera, and last year I picked up a few items online for Gerald’s holiday gifts, but this year I did my homework!

There are a ton of big brand deals out there today, but I love supporting small and woman-owned businesses, so instead of giving you a list of the specials you already know about, here are the deals my favorite boutiques are having for Black Friday. Each features unique items that are perfect for treating yourself, a friend, or even a fashion forward relative. I’ve had wonderful experiences with each of these small businesses, and I hope you do too!

Ivy Rowe

  • Spend up to $75 get 30% off
  • Spend $75-$150 Get 40% off
  • Spend $150+ get 50% off

Discount will automatically apply at checkout.

I discovered this Charleston boutique on Instagram when I spotted the dress featured in this post on a girl I used to work with and was able to buy it directly through Instagram messaging from the store! The dress wasn’t available online, but they invoiced me for it on the spot, helped me figure out my size, and even sent me a complimentary koozie with my package. That’s what I call customer service, and you won’t find that at big retailers!

Vestique

  • 30% off site wide till Friday
  • 20% off Friday until midnight
  • All lux brands, Spanx, and Show Me Your Mumu brands will be 20% off all weekend

If you don’t have a pair of Spanx leggings, RUN to your computer and get a pair now. They are the best investment to your fall and winter wardrobe that you will ever make and they rarely go on sale. I have both the plain and moto styles and would wear them every day if I could. Vestique also features a ton of on trend items, but sometimes sizing can run a little small (think like teen sizing) so definitely be sure to double check the sizing charts on each item!

Punch!

  • 15% off all day Friday, in-store and online
  • 25-50% off in-store on Saturday when you pick a spot off their “Dalmatian wall”
  • 15% off all day Monday online

This brand new DC store is so freaking adorable and the owner and on-site team could not be nicer. The store has a TON of amazing stocking stuffers in addition to trendy and extremely affordable pieces. It’s also right on 14th Street so you don’t have to schlep to Georgetown with all of the other holiday shoppers! Oh, and there’s champagne on tap, enough said.

Ivy Wild Beauty

  • 15% off all foundations and concealers through 11/30

Ivy Wild is a new, all natural skincare and makeup shop in the Manhattan Laundry building and I absolutely love their products and the knowledgeable gals who run (and own!) the store. (Read all about my love for the store here.)They changed my life by showing me my Saint Cosmetics foundation and I highly recommended trying it for yourself at the discounted rate! If you’re not local, you can call up the shop and they’ll happily take orders over the phone and ship it to you.

Red Dress Boutique

  • 30% off site wide

Another boutique with southern roots, this is where I got the striped dress as an option for my bachelorette party that you all loved! The shop has a huge selection of items online, all at affordable prices, and free shipping over $50.

Blast From the Past | My New Favorite Spot for Casual Tops

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Shop My Look

Top | American Eagle (on sale for $23)

Jeans | Madewell (on sale for $70!)

Shoes | Nordstrom (on sale for $50)

The secret’s out, I’ve been shopping at my high school retailer again, and no it’s not Abercrombie — I’ve been loving American Eagle lately. I’ve always been a fan of aerie, but stopped shopping at their sister store once I went to college. After I started hitting up Pentagon City Mall, aka The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, this year, I’ve been gravitating towards the store for its super soft tees and fun printed blouses.

I work in a very casual office — ripped jeans and Converse are the norm — so I’m able to get away with wearing pretty much anything I want. American Eagle’s fabrics hold up better than my beloved fast fashion retailer brands’, and I like that not everyone in my office or on my Instagram feed is wearing the same pieces I’ve bought from there! AE’s tops are perfect for work too because they come in fun patterns with interesting details, like the smocked detailing and square neckline on my top in this post, but they aren’t revealing.

I’ve been living in a camo t-shirt I got it this summer, pictured in green below, and even got a camo tee in a long sleeve thermal version. 

I also picked up this black floral print blouse at the start of fall and a navy printed, boho-y blouse, similar to the one below. They’re super easy to wear and look great paired with jeans without any extra styling, perfect for pulling together an outfit when I’m running out the door to work.

The retailer has tons of flash sales, all of these blouses are under $30 and if you choose to shop online you can order items from both aerie and AE in one fell swoop. Now that I’ve rediscovered my high school retailer, I don’t think I’ll be stopping shopping there any time soon.

Formulate Giveaway + The Perfect Friendsgiving Sweater

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Enter the giveaway here! 

If you’ve ever had trouble finding a shampoo that works for you, you’re not alone. Standing in the shampoo aisle can be overwhelming — there are so many options! Labels tout promises to make your hair more voluminous or shinier, but it seems that each bottle only has one purpose. I want a shampoo that volumizes, heals my split ends, and reduces frizz, but I’ve never been able to I’ve never been able to find one that does all it. Enter Formlate.

Formulate is a “chemist-to-consumer” company that works with you to create your own custom formula of shampoo and conditioner, factoring in your hair color, type, length, and even your zip code. You take a fun interactive quiz to let the company know your hair type, then pick “hair goals” — things you’d like your hair products to accomplish — and even get to pick your scent and how strong you want the scent to be! For my hair goals, I selected anti-frizz, mend split ends, oil control, lengthen, and volumize. I was skeptical that the shampoo would deliver on all of the above — after all, it was a pretty tall order — but was pleasantly surprised that it checked most of the boxes! I got a haircut halfway into my trial, so I’m not sure how the lengthening will pan out and my split ends were pretty un-mendable before the cut, but I’ve definitely noticed a significant reduction in frizz, volume, and oil control in the two 1/2 weeks I’ve been using the product.

I’m partnering with Formulate to give away one own custom set of shampoo and conditioner — basically all you have to do is submit your name! You get one extra entry for following them on IG 😉 You have until December 1 to enter! Enter here.

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This post is a bit of a double whammy, but this look was too good not to share the links to my outfit! My sweater is from Amazon and is a major steal at under $15. The cute boutiques I’ve seen with similar styles are selling them for about $60! The quality is pretty on par with what I was expecting for the price, but it’s held up well in the wash and for such a trendy piece (will distressed still even be in next year?) it’s worth sacrificing super high-quality material for the price! Unfortunately, it’s not eligible for Amazon Prime, but this cardigan comes in the same color scheme if you want instant gratification.

Shop My Look

Sweater | Amazon

Leggings | Spanx (read why I love them here!)

Booties | Steve Madden 

#CollieDogUnleashed | My Bachelorette Party

Shop my Look

Dress | Vici

Boots | Steve Madden

Bride Tattoo | Amazon (lol)

I’m still on cloud nine from my bachelorette party last weekend! If people say your wedding day is your best day ever I can’t even believe it because I truly think last Saturday was my best day ever.

I’m lucky enough to have two amazing Maids of Honor — Shivonne, my meatball and business fraternity brother from JMU, and Sharlene, my first roommate from DC and fellow dog lover — and they planned the most amazing weekend to celebrate.

With people coming in from out of town, I was being a diva and didn’t want to stay in my own apartment so they found an airbnb in Shaw that would sleep the people overnighting it in DC. They picked me up from my apartment Friday night and when I walked into our basecamp for the weekend, they had it completely decked out with engagement ring and champagne balloons! I kept them all and have been grinning at them like a lunatic in the corner of my apartment for the past week. They had also prepared “Bride Tribe” bags with cute hair ties, nail polish, Advil, light up rings, tattoos, and granola bars to hand out to all my gals the next day. I’m not into the over-the-too branded bride stuff, so the balloons and bags were tastefully perfect! They did however, insist on penis straws, but I let that one slide. The funniest thing was the life-size images of Gerald printed out and taped on popsicle sticks! Let’s just say things got weird in the limo with those.

The three of us had a pretty chill night on Friday that consisted of wine, sweetgreen, Moana, and Queer Eye, which was perfect because I’d had a super stressful week and didn’t want to be hungover for the festivities the next day. My childhood bestie Victoria rolled in at 2 am that night, and the rest of the gals showed up bright and early for breakfast (thanks for the spread, Jules!).

I love going to wineries, but since most of them are pretty far from DC, it’s hard to go visit them because you have to have a DD and rideshares out to Leesburg can get pretty pricey. I knew immediately when it came to planning that I wanted to do a winery tour and my MOHs chose Stone Tower and Bluemont for our destinations! They ordered a SUV limo to pick us up from the airbnb and we set off to meet my mom at Stone Tower.

While Stone Tower is arguably one of the prettiest wineries in Virginia, we had a bit of a snafu and almost left because the “bouncer” at the door wouldn’t let us in. Shar had emailed confirming we didn’t need a reservation, but the security guard literally had his arms up, barring us from entering, even after she showed him the email. (Note, we weren’t drunk and didn’t even have any bachelorette paraphernalia with us when this happened.) We eventually found the team member she had been emailing and things were sorted out, but the lack of hospitality was pretty jarring. It makes me sad to say this, especially since I had my engagement photos taken at the property, but after the way the treated us, I don’t think I’ll be back. Aside from that, we posted up with pizzas and a few bottles and had so much fun taking pictures and chatting with my mom.

We said bye to my mom and headed to the gorgeous Bluemont Vineyard about 30 minutes away, which is situated on top of a hill with stunning views. There were a ton of pups and while things started to get a little fuzzy for me around this time, we had perfect weather and loved petting all the dogs and lounging on the patio.

In the most anti-climatic bachelorette fashion ever, we headed back to the airbnb, changed into our comfies, and spent the rest of the night watching Carpool Karaoke and Crosswalk Musicals, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was actually quite amazing to wake up the next morning and not be hungover!

True to my personal brand, we headed to Mission the next day for brunch and margaritas and ended the festivities with rooftop drinks. It was the most perfect weekend ever and I can’t thank my girls enough for throwing such an epic party! I’m so lucky to have such wonderful humans in my life and I’ll forever remember the weekend as one of the best times of my life. Love you all!