A Summer Style Story: Flirty + Flowy Dresses

Summertime is always the best of what might be. - Charles Bowden

Words really can’t describe how I excited I am for summer. It may not be a big deal for all, but when you live in a state where the forecast is literally gray nine months out of the year, the breaking temperature is a welcome reprieve.

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My favorite part about summer? That I can release myself from lumpy sweaters and constricting layers! I know some of us live for fall and winter fashion but summer style is really where I live. My favorite summer style staples are sundresses, fun and bold accessories, and of course, gigantic sunnies. Bright patterned dresses are great for a casual day around town AND they can be dressed up for a night out. I like to keep my accessories simple and complimentary: a pair of earrings with a sweet ruffle detail or two necklaces, layered with each other are awesome ways to give a simple look some dimension.

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Ruffle Sleeve Wrap Midi Dress | Straw Round Bag | Necklace (similar) | Necklace (vintage)

Tell me, what are your favorite things to wear in the summer?

A Very Real Rent the Runway Review

Let’s talk about the subscription service that every girl wants.

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Sweater | Pants | Belt | Shirt | Shoes

For about a year, I have been THROWING my money at Rent the Runway. It’s kind of a problem but I’ve wanted to invest in this service for a long time. After hearing several people sing its praises and years of putting a bunch of pieces on my wish list without actually renting anything, I finally broke down and handed over my credit card information.

THE PRICE

Let’s get into it: this ain’t cheap. My first month was $89. I thought okay cool we can manage this. Then that price JUMPED and I was shooketh. Your girl was not equipped for that charge. And every month it still feels like a shock. If I’m being honest, the price for four rentals at a time does at times seem a little high. If you’re the type of person that like constantly having different options for your closet or if you attend several special events per month then this price may be worth it. If not? I would skip it and maybe rent for specific special events. The good news? You can pause your subscription at anytime for up to three months or even cancel and resubscribe at a later date. For your first month, take advantage of someone’s discount code OR the $80 off incentive.

THE CONVENIENCE

Now this is where it gets sticky for me. On one hand, the Rent the Runway takes away the hassle of shopping for a new outfit anytime you have a special event or want something cute for everyday. It saves time, money, and prevents me from having to venture out into the public. That being said, the turn around time isn’t great. If you want a new piece by Saturday, your best bet is to take your return to UPS on Monday. This way, it will be received on Wednesday and you can immediately order your next piece. I would also advise having a back up piece for whatever you really want to order. If you have great taste, the item that you want are probably very popular and could be unavailable. Staying on top of your rental schedule is important because you get your money’s worth that way. One time I had the same four items for a whole month because I wasn’t proactive about planning my rentals. What a waste!

THE SELECTION

If you love labels and unusual finds, the selection on Rent the Runway is your bestie. RTR features pieces from high end designers such as Phillip Lim as well as everyday brands like J. Crew. There are also some great finds from fashion favorites such as Opening Ceremony and DVF. Pieces range from casual to formal to eccentric and there are options for almost every occasion. It should also be noted that you can rent some awesome accessories such as handbags and jewelry that will amp up any look.

HOW I RENT THE RUNWAY

I feel like after a year of renting, I’ve got my process down to a science. I have a complete profile on Rent the Runway with my accurate age, height, and weight. This is helpful because the service will recommend sizes for you. This is helpful but I still comb through reviews in case an item runs large or small.

Every Saturday, I click on the new arrivals link and turn off the available by date. This way, you can see all of the new styles that have come in. Next, I heart EVERYTHING that I like. EV.ER.Y.THING. Next, I go back through my hearts and consider any upcoming events or shoots that I have planned. Anything that fits that those themes, gets put onto my Next Order List. I keep more than four but less than twelve items on this list (it gets cluttered really easily). This way, when my returned item is received, I can immediately go to my next order list and pick out what I want.

For items that I previously rented that I really loved, I have a list called order again. On this list are staples such as little black dresses that fit exceptionally well and trendy pieces that I wouldn’t necessarily purchase but were fun to wear.

As I previously mentioned, I try to return my items about a week before I need my next item. This is enough turn around time for me to get my next piece in time for when I need it.

Overall, I like Rent the Runway. Is it a necessary service? Absolutely not. When my budget gets tight it’s the very first thing to get cut. Is it fun? Of course! Is it great for bloggers? No doubt. Will it replace your closet? Yes and No. You’ll get some great pieces that you can wear as often as you like, but you still need basics. I would recommend this subscription to anyone who needs a rotating closet for their everyday needs.

Shape Wear is for Everyone: Using Shape Wear to Enhance Your Look

So here’s the deal: I’m here for this #bodypositivity movement, I really am. It’s so important that we unlearn the toxic language and habits that taught us how to hate our bodies and to see so many women doing the REALLY TOUGH work of actually loving themselves (like for real for real, not just on instagram) is crazy inspiring. So I’m going to say something that’s going to sound anti #bodypos but I swear I don’t mean it that way: I love shape wear. Cue the collective gasp. I KNOW mmkay? i know. But here’s the deal, I actually like shape wear and I wear it for me. Not because it sucks me in or smooths me out but because it enhances my shape. I think of it as more of a tool that helps to highlight my best features as opposed to a necessity that hides my “flaws”.

Yes, I wear shape wear. No, I’m not hiding anything.

Yes, I wear shape wear. No, I’m not hiding anything.

Below are my some of my favorite foundation/shapewear pieces that can take a look from an 8 to a 12!

HIgh Waisted Thong

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Honestly speaking, this not my favorite option. This is mostly because having a thick piece of spandex resting between your cheeks is not the most comfortable situation but sometimes you need the seamless look that a thong provides. This option is great for a slinky dress that shows any undergarments and I’ve also found that it improves posture.

Shaping Shorts

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Now these are the GOAT, the Real MVP, the kit’s tits. Honestly these work with almost any outfit and I love that the hold doesn’t prevent the necessary task of breathing. Shaping shorts are ideal shape wear for the girl who wears moderately form fitting dresses. These account for the changes that a woman’s goes through during the month and smooth out the overall fit. I also love that the shorts can be layered with other shape wear pieces.

Shaping Tanks and Camis

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I like these because they come in a range of styles. You can get a traditional camisole or tank or opt for a cut out bust design for low cut tops. I like to layer mine with shaping shorts for some extra shaping power.

Do your wear shape wear? What are you favorite foundation garments?













Treat Yourself This Valentine's Day | 5 Romantic Date Spots for the Single (ish) Girl

There is something special about showing yourself some love.

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Coat | Dress | Stole | Shirt | Shoes

I used to LOVE taking myself out on “dates”. I was no stranger sitting in a dimly lit restaurant, ordering a glass of the second cheapest wine, and settling in for a hot meal. I’m an only child so I found quite a bit of comfort in my own company. Fast forward to now and doing things by myself seems so foreign: when you become one half a velcro strip you kind of get used to having someone else around you like, all the time. While Valentine’s Day is typically a day recognized for romantic love, I would encourage you to give yourself a little treat if you’re not in a relationship. One of the most important things that I’m learning in my singleness is that I have to create my own memories surrounding important days so that I’m not depending on another person for my happiness.

I recently met up with Tysharda of TyTyme, who is married, to explore the most romanic spots in our city. I think these spots are perfect for those in a relationship, looking to celebrate Galentine’s Day, or just a great place to treat yourself.

Eastman Theatre

If you’re looking to see a show in a beautiful building, this is is where you need to be. The old school architecture and design is breathtaking and romantic and it’s always a classy date night option. This venue is especially great if you want to pull out that expensive dress that you haven’t gotten the chance to wear yet.

Apogee Wine Bar

Single ladies, this one is especially for you! Apogee is an adorable wine and dessert bar on Park Ave with reasonably priced drinks and delicious desserts. This is a great place for girlfriends to stop for a chill night out where you can share a bottle of wine, chat, and meet new people. Although they don’t have any Valentine’s Day specials, the atmosphere is perfect for cute date.

Ox and Stone

This newer restaurant is another one with the perfect ambiance. Dimly lit and artfully decorated, Ox and Stone serves delicious craft cocktails and Mexican dishes with an American twist. This would be a great place for the artsy couple or single girl looking to try something different.

Geva Theater

People who think that there’s nothing to do in Rochester, have clearly never been to Geva. Some of the most popular on and off broadway shows have dates here including Hamilton as well as up and coming shows. This is a great place to take yourself if you’re craving art in the form of theater.

Tournedo’s at the Inn on Broadway

The Millionaire Matchmaker said that if you’re trying to meet a man of a certain stature, then you need to go to a upscale steakhouse alone. Tournedo’s is that upscale steakhouse. Located inside the gorgeous Inn on Broadway, everything about this establishment screams high class and romance. Whether you’re treating yourself or having a romantic date with a loved one I would definitely suggest reserving one of the gorgeous rooms at The Inn and enjoying a four course meal at Tournedo’s. Not to mention there are plenty of cozy corners where you can cuddle up with someone special or enjoy a good drink. According to Ty, their Valentine’s Day menu is divine!

What are your Valentine’s Day plans? Are you spending the day with friends? Treating yourself? Or with a boo?

My Better Half: Bringing Back the Half Birthday

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Sweater | Shoes

Remember being a kid and telling people you were six AND A HALF? That half was very important. Why? Because people needed to know that you weren't regular six. You were six PLUS. The upgraded version of that age. You were a seasoned six. Basically seven, actually. You knew some thangs that a normal, run of the mill six year old wouldn't know.

 When did that milestone become obsolete? I'm sure most kids age out of this practice by ten. Halves no longer matter once you reach double digits and you let go of your childish ways (or so I'm told, I'm the biggest kid you'll ever meet and I'm almost 30). Still, when I think about it, that half year is an important marker.

Six months is a long time. Everything can change in six months. Your job, your relationships, your financial situation can all go through some crazy changes in the time that it takes for the Earth to revolve halfway around the sun. Honestly, if the last time you talked to me was on my birthday in 2018, you probably don't know me that well anymore. I mean sure, I still hold most of the same core values, but there have been some pretty major changes.

For starters, my goals are different. I was stuck in a "think small" mindset that had me shrinking into tiny boxes that weren't meant for me. I thought I didn't deserve to go after the big things I actually wanted. I decided that wasn't a good look and started asking for and going after more. Add to that a heaping dose of IDGAF. Not that I'm walking around being a savage as the young folk would say. I just care quite a bit less about people’s opinions of me. I’ve done the whole hide who you really are thing and it’s draining and doesn’t benefit me at all. Lastly, I realized that I have to put myself first. I had gotten so accustomed to putting the needs of everyone else before mine and ended up feeling so empty. At first, I blamed others but I quickly realized that this was entirely my fault. I was so busy pouring into other people and things and projects that I wasn't stopping to let anyone pour into me. How silly! I was empty because I wasn't allowing anyone, including myself, take care of me.

29.5 already feels different than 29. And to be honest, if you don't talk to me anytime between 29.5 and 30, you'll probably be meeting a completely different person in July.

Everything I Need to Know, 2018 Taught Me

Is it too late to say Happy New Year? I’m doing it anyway! Happy New Year and stuff. I don’t know about you, but 2018 was full of lessons. The biggest ones I learned also hurt the most.

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Vest | Top | Skirt | Shoes

1. It sucks that you're hurt, but you have to keep moving.

As a sensitive person who's also fairly dramatic, this one is tough. The small things can completely derail me from productivity so when the big ones hit? I'm down for the count. While I'm all for feeling all of your feelings, I learned last year that hurting isn't a good enough reason to stop. Just because my teeny tiny world stopped didn't mean that the ACTUAL world stopped. This concept can be fairly difficult to grasp for my fellow Leos but I think it's tremendously important. Hurt doesn't mean that time stands still or that you don't have work to do. 

2. Not everyone has your heart. Love them anyway. 

This is something I've struggled with my whole entire life. I've never understood how people (friends, family, significant others) do the things they do while feeling okay with themselves. I found myself constantly saying, "But I would never do that so I don't understand how they could". Simple. Because they're not me. It doesn't mean they're wrong, it doesn't mean I'm right. It only means we're different.

3. Get your oil changed! 

This is fairly self explanatory but just do it. And get new tires before the ones you have go bald. That's all. 

4. You need to save more. No, more. No, MORE.

Whewwwww CHILE. I can't tell you how many times in 2018 I thought I was good on the money front until xyz popped up. My savings aaccount took several hits which really let me know that I wasn't where I needed to be financially. This year I set some pretty bold financial goals but now it's the time to get really serious about creating a decent nest egg.

 5. Ask for what you REALLY want.

My dad used to always tell me that the squeaky wheel gets the oil because I would often stay silent about my wants and needs. It annoyed the hell out of me but I realize now that he was right. Don't you hate it when that happens? There are people that out here doing and getting the very same things that I want for myself simply because they asked. I used to think that I didn't ask for what I really wanted out of life because I was afraid of a no but in reality I was afraid of a yes. What if I get that thing I say I want and I drop the ball? What if I'm not good enough? Learning to ask for what I want and believe that I actually deserve to get it was one of my biggest take aways from 2018.  

 Y'all tell me: what are your biggest takeaways from 2018? What did last year teach you? How do you plan on applying it?

Change Your Language, Change Your Life

How getting rid of ONE little nasty word can completely change your life.

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Sweater (similar) | Skirt | Earrings (similar) | Backpack

Let’s get real: I have a potty mouth. I know and use almost all of the naughty words (except for slurs) and can get pretty creative when it comes to combinations. Almost every year , I pledge to stop swearing as much or if I’m feeling really ambitious I decide that I’m just going to go cold turkey. It never works. I’ve usually dropped a good F Bomb or two by noon and completely given up by five. So maybe I’m just meant to cuss. However, I recently discovered one nasty little four letter word that I can eliminate from my vocabulary. The word? Have. As in I HAVE to go to work. I HAVE to pay my rent/mortgage. I HAVE to call my mom.

You might be thinking that this is a completely harmless word and you might be right. But in my case, the word have comes with that nagging feeling of obligation. It’s that thing that you don’t really want to do but know is necessary for whatever reason. When you HAVE to do something, it's almost never fun. This all came to me as I was standing in line at my bank to get a cashier’s check (I ran out of personal checks and I’m not a real adult so I didn’t pre order more) to pay my rent. I was standing in line, complaining in my head that I have to give them this funky check every month when there are so many other things I could do with that money. Perhaps I was in a particularly good mood that day or maybe I had a good breakfast because suddenly it dawned on me: I don’t have to do this, I GET to do this.

Starting that day, I replaced have with get and my entire outlook changed. I don’t have to go to work, I get to go to work. I don’t have to go to church, I’m simply blessed to see another Sunday where I get to attend a worship service. Coming from a place gratitude as opposed to looking at certain tasks as a burden changed me in so many ways. I found myself being kinder, more patient, and more grateful. On a daily basis, we all take so much for granted and, for me, exchanging that one small word for an even smaller one made me realize how incredibly lucky I am.

DIY Your Wash Day: 3 DIY Recipes for Natural Hair

This one is for all of my kitchen beauticians!

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Jacket | T-Shirt | Jeans | Boots (similar)

Let’s get into these recipes!

Luxe Duo Hair and Skin Mask

2 TBSP My Fluffy Puffs Luxe Duo Mask

5 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar

1 TBSP Olive Oil

1 TBSP Honey

Once mixed to a smooth consistency, apply to freshly shampooed hair. Leave on the hair NO MORE than 15 minutes. Rinse out and condition. This masque is great for anyone who needs a good cleaning with a shot of moisture. It also doubles as great facial treatment!

Coconut Avocado Deep Treatment

1/2 Avocado

1/2 Can of Coconut Milk

2 TBSP Coconut Oil

1 TBSP Olive Oil

1 Aloe Vera Leaf

1 egg yolk (optional, adds a ton of shine)

Blend all ingredients until smooth as possible. Strain completely so there are no chunks in the mixture. Apply to clean hair and cover, leaving on for 15-30 minutes. For extra penetration, sit underneath a hooded dryer.

Black Tea Rinse

Water

2-4 Black tea Bags

1 TBSP Olive oil

10 Drops tea tree oil

Boil water and steep tea for 5 minutes. all olive oil and tea tree oil. Allow to cool before applying to hair. Use after washing and deep conditioning hair, pouring over the entire head. Let sit in hair, massaging the scalp. Rinse after 10-20 minutes.

What are your favorite hair DIYs? Let me know if you try any of these!

Slay Your Single Holidays

Whewwwww Chile! This has been a year. Like straight hellish in so many ways. Amongst other things, I am freshly single and not so ready to mingle. Summer was cute since friends are always down to hang. Fall was okay because there were so many activities on my calendar. But as we move towards Thanksgiving and Christmas, ya girl is feeling down. This is the first time in a LONG time that I don’t have anyone to snuggle with when it’s snowing outside and I know for a fact Christmas is going to be rough unless I’m with my family. That being said, I have a plan because left to my own devices I’ll be drowning in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, a bottle of spiked Egg Nog, and listening to Miss You Most by Mariah Carey on repeat. BTW, it’s not that deep (except for when it is) , I’m just dramatic AF.

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Always Be Cute

I’m pretty sure ABC is the technique salespeople use but we’re remixing here to Always Be Cute. Now I’m not talking about looking nice to attract the male gaze (or female if that’s how you roll) because boys have cooties, I’m talking about looking cute for YOU. Depending on what kind of chick you are, this could mean a full beat face just to go to Walmart to pick up a Patti Pie or just a cute sweater with jeans and Starbucks cup while running errands, I’m a firm believer that looking nice (by your standards, no one else’s) improves your mood.

Treat Yourself

So here’s the deal, you don’t have a boo to shower you with lavish gifts the Christmas/Kwanzaa so you have to treat yourself. That thing that you’ve been eyeing but can’t quite bring yourself to buy? Get it. Boom. Done. Now Enjoy Yourself.

Hang With Your Friends

So you know all that stuff you didn’t do with your friends because you were boo’d up? Go ahead and do it now! Plan a Secret Santa party, have a onesie sleepover, go get some drinks. Fill your time that you would spend being lonely with people you love.

Will the holidays be tough for me? Prolly. Am I gonna cry? Absolutely (again, I’m dramatic). But hopefully I can still make some sweet single memories.

How to Take Fire Pictures for Your Blog

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with starting as a team of one.

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Dress | Jacket (similar) | Shoes

I wish I hadn’t spent the last few years thinking I NEEDED someone to take my blog pictures for me. I swear, I would have gotten so much more shit done and I would be further along in this blogging game. Alas, I learned this lesson so you wouldn’t have to and now I can give you all the tea on being your own photographer.

What You’ll Need:

Yourself (duh)

Decent Camera (doesn’t have to be fancy), I use an old Canon T3

Smart Phone, if you don’t have a camera. iPhones take some dope pictures.

Smart Phone Attachment for tripod

Tripod

Any object that will help you focus

Natural Lighting

Absolutely NO SHAME

The first thing I like to do when taking blog pictures is scout a bomb location. I find a lot of them in my city via Instagram (make sure you follow your local creative tribe for inspiration) and some by just driving around. I normally have a look that will work for any given location that will match the vibe.

Next, I schedule my shooting days. Now this can be more difficult. Why? Well because I live in the grayest city ever and it has been raining for the last few months. This means that I have to take advantage of almost any hour of sunlight. I try not to shoot with flash because it washes me out something serious. Instead I position my camera so that the light source is behind the lens or to the side of the subject (That would be me. I’m the subject).

My set up is pretty simple. I use a light stand to focus my lens and set a self timer. Now this is where things can get weird. If you’re in a public place, people might be looking at you wondering what the hell you’re doing. This is when you have to decide that you don’t care. You’re out here working on something and if people aren’t helping you, then their opinion doesn’t much matter. Get over the awkwardness and move, pose, take tons of pictures. One benefit of doing things on your own is that you’re on your own time. This means you can almost always get the shot that you want. If your location isn’t giving you life, pack your things and go somewhere else. Try different angles until you get what you want.

I promise this is easier than it seems. I’ve been taking my own pictures for about a month now and I can honestly say this is the most I’ve enjoyed blogging over the years because I love having creative control.

Let me know, have you ever not created content because you didn’t have a photographer? Would you feel comfortable taking your own pictures in the future?