Lingering thoughts after TxSC

A month ago today, I was on my way to attend the Texas Style Council CAMP–a small, life-changing blogging and small business conference focused on creating a meaningful online presence. (Check out my recap if you’re interested in reading the breakdown of my experience.) Since that weekend, I’ve been reflecting on what I learned about myself and the blogging community. I wanted to share some of my lingering thoughts instead of keeping them bottled inside. I hope you’re prepared for a bit of a brain dump… :)

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I’m not as outgoing as I thought I was. When I first got to TxSC, I found myself not really talking to anyone unless someone approached me first. During the mixer the first night, I was so overwhelmed at the number of new faces that I made a beeline for the drinks and ended up meeting a few people that way. I did introduce myself to Tieka of Selective Potential because I’ve been following her blog since before I started mine and I caught her when she wasn’t talking to anyone. During the “khaki cool” jamboree, I talked to Caroline of Unfancy when she was alone by the fire (it was rare to see her alone!). I rarely approached someone if they were in conversation with someone else because I did not want to come across as rude. However, I noticed plenty of other people joining in conversations and it never seemed rude…maybe it was because they knew each other? I’m not sure, but I was hyperaware of how I may come across to people. I felt like such an awkward turtle. I hung out mostly with my cabin mates because, as you might expect, we got to know each other the best since we were together every night, sharing sink space and chatting until our eyelids grew heavy. Also, I was not brave enough to just give people my business card after meeting them. I wish I had been, especially because now I have over 100 business cards and no one to give them to.

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It was harder to talk about blogging than I thought it would be. As a grad student, I meet with people in my field fairly often and am always discussing “business matters” (i.e. current and future research projects). When I’m with family, everyone asks about school and what I’m doing. I’m used to answering questions about my research even though I dislike them because I can’t explain what I do very well. I was nervous that people at TxSC would ask about my research, but not one person did (woo!). Instead, we talked about what we had in common, of course–our online presence, which generally meant blogging. It was exciting to be at a conference and talk about something other than science! With that came a whole new set of challenges, though. Blogging is not something I bring up to people in my everyday life unless it’s my boyfriend and I’m bouncing ideas off of him or someone asks me about it. I feel like it’s still this thing that no one really takes seriously even though it’s such a fun hobby (or even a business) for so many people, me included. Even though I was with all these women who also blogged about their personal style, I still found it hard to talk about it. It sounded silly to me when I mentioned that I blog my style and my cats. No one ever laughed, and I never felt judged (even when I was wearing thrown-together outfits to combat the cold and a ginormous poncho to avoid the rain), but talking about blogging is still new to me. I can say this, though… Because of TxSC, I’m more proud of my blog now than I was just a month ago.

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The blogging world needs more friends, mentors, friendtors, and champions. Blogging does not need to be a rat race of who can make it to the top fastest and stay at the top longest. We do not need to feed into the idea that the bigger the following, the better. We do not need to get sucked into having the latest trends and wearing only new pieces in every outfit post. What we do need is more people–fellow bloggers–willing to be friends, mentors, friendtors (friends and mentors), and champions (those who have your back always). We need more people leaving thoughtful comments and fewer people commenting just for the sake of leaving a link back to their blog. We need passionate bloggers who are willing to share their stories. We need more people lifting others up than tearing others down. I want to make connections with bloggers who are on the same level as me–newcomers with meaningful content even if their numbers aren’t at the top. I love so much the bloggers I chat with regularly online, and meeting bloggers in real life at TxSC was huge for me. I appreciate the “bigger” bloggers who are still interested in connecting with others. We are all just people trying to get through life and blogging about it on the way, right? Let’s continue to cultivate a positive environment for each other and for whoever decides to join the blogging world in the future. :)

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Photos by Chelsea Laine Francis

Sunburst & stripes

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Oh hey, friends! Happy Saturday! :) I wore this outfit at the beginning of the week before the snowstorm hit mid-week. You would have no idea that there was about four or so inches of snow on the ground just a couple of days ago. It was crazy! We had a really strong frontal passage on Tuesday which caused really strong winds from the south. Since it was warmer to the south of us, the wind brought the warmth to us and we hit a high of 76 degrees. In a span of 20 minutes, the temperature dropped from 75 to 55 degrees and the winds shifted to the northwest, signifying the frontal passage. Two hours later, it was full-on snowing and it basically didn’t stop for 24 hours. The airport received more snow in 24 hours than it did in January, February, and March combined. Everyone in my department was freaking out, as atmospheric scientists do. ;) We love exciting weather! (Though I could have lived without the snow in the valley.)

Well, I was going to write something more substantial than “here’s my outfit and we had this kind of weather” but the day kind of got away from me, even though I woke up before the sun! (I’m waking up before the sun again tomorrow because Lilly for Target is here! I have never considered myself to be a Lilly girl, mostly because I cannot afford her garments, but I’m really excited to give her style a spin thanks to her Target collection. I hope I can get my hands on something!)

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Madewell cardigan (old; similar) and dress / J.Crew flats (old; new version; last seen here) / LOFT earrings and sunglasses

Lemon stripes

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Okay, I swear the stripes on this sweater are not nearly as bright in real life as they turned out in these photos. They look really bright, don’t they?! Haha. I’m kind of a lot in love with how this sweater looks with the necklace. The yellows don’t perfectly match, but they go; I tend to find myself matching when I’m not quite sure what to wear or if I’m wearing something new, but I’m trying to break out of that habit. Not sure how long it will last but at least I have this outfit to show that I tried?

I bought these light wash jeans at the beginning of the month and just adore them. They are the perfect light wash for spring/summer. I haven’t had light wash jeans in what feels like years…I mean, I literally cannot think of the last pair I owned, so it was probably before high school. (Denim was not allowed according to my high school dress code so that may be why I can’t remember.) Light washes also felt really dated to me, but I’ve changed my ways and now can’t get enough. Also, I’m not sure how I feel about wearing near-skin-colored shoes with long pants. I still think it looks a bit weird; if I glance at the photos too quickly, I look barefoot. These were my best shoe option, though, so…oh well.

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J.Crew Factory sweater (old; last seen here) / Madewell jeans / J.Crew flats (old; new version) / & Other Stories x Clare Vivier bag (similar from Talbots; last seen here) / BaubleBar necklace (old; last seen here) / Anthropologie sunglasses

Elevated weekend wear

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I chose to describe this outfit as elevated for two reasons: 1) because it’s a bit dressier than typical weekend outfits and 2) because I’m wearing wedged sandals. (Get it? Ha!)

A few weeks ago, Earth Brands contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in styling a pair of shoes from their S/S ’15 collection in an outfit post. After browsing the catalog, I found a few styles I thought meshed well with my personal style, and I couldn’t wait to say yes! (I mean, how could I say no to a free pair of shoes?!) The brand seemed familiar to me even though I had never owned a pair of shoes by them before, and it’s because both my mom and my step mom own pairs and love them. You know what, though? They’ve really been knocking their recent seasonal collections out of the park, and I find their styles to be fashion-forward for ladies of any age. The best part is that they are comfortable–like, truly.

My favorite collection of shoes is the Earthies collection. First introduced in 2011, Earthies focuses on fashion and comfort and features an “exclusive contoured comfort footbed” which repositions the body to a more natural position over the feet. I took my Morolo sandals out for a long walk on the first wear–to and from the grocery store almost a mile round trip–and can definitely vouch for the comfort, even with the moderate heel! I decided on the “biscuit” colorway knowing that it would make the perfect neutral for any spring/summer outfit, though the Morolo is also available in black, bright red, and denim blue. (The red and blue colorways seem to be sold out from the main website but can be found at Nordstrom.) I found the style to be true to size with a zipper down the back and some elastic in the sides to make it easy to get the sandals on and off. I have average-to-wide feet and did not feel any discomfort width-wise.

Suffice to say, you will be seeing more of these beauties this spring and summer! :)

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Madewell dress / Earthies sandals (c/o) / Coach bag (vintage; new version) / J.Crew earrings / Anthropologie sunglasses

Juxtaposition

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There’s something I love about the juxtaposition of the geometrically-shaped choker and the soft ruffles in the peplum. It’s sweet and a little bit sassy, which is basically me in a nutshell.

This past week, my car decided it didn’t want to work after just taking it to the shop to get a part fixed. Isn’t it fun when that happens?! It is an old car, but I’m holding onto it for dear life because I don’t have a car payment and I’m not even sure that Chris and I could afford one at this point. Luckily, the fix wasn’t too expensive and could have been much worse than it was. My fingers are crossed that it’s good now. I want it to get to at least 200k miles before crapping out for good, haha. We are planning a road trip this summer but depending on how it performs for the next few months, we may have to rent a car for that… Eeep!

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Elegantees top (on sale!) / Gap Factory jeans (similar from Gap) / ModCloth wedges (similar) / J.Crew choker (on sale; last seen here)

ModCloth’s Stylish Surprise: Spring 2015

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At the end of March, ModCloth offered the Stylish Surprise promotion as it does at the end of every summer (end of September/beginning of October usually) and winter (middle-end of March). For $20 for dresses, $15 for other apparel items, $10 for shoes, or $5 for accessories, jewelry, or apartment items, you get something random picked from the warehouse from leftover stock that wasn’t sold by the end of the season (in your chosen size, of course). Usually these are items that go on final sale and maybe don’t sell by a certain time or returns that were processed and not put back online for some reason or another. They aren’t items that you can currently find on ModCloth, so you usually have to go hunting on Google Images to find the items on the website and see their original retail value and any reviews.

I didn’t participate in the Stylish Surprise last fall, which I’m glad about because from what I read, it was handled terribly and lots of people got multiples or oversell notices. However, I was optimistic that this time they would have figured everything out, so I decided to participate again. I was originally going to buy only dresses and apartment items, but they increased the price of dresses to $20 each (when the original retail value did not increase and still started at $30), and I don’t think it’s worth paying that much for something I may not like and may not be able to resell. I opted instead for a pair of shoes and two apartment items and added a skirt to my order I’ve had my eye on for a while. I ordered before they announced the sale on social media and sent the push notification on the app, so the apartment items were still in stock and I didn’t have problems with checkout. Thank goodness! The best part was that I got a shipping notification only hours after I placed the order. That’s definitely the quickest shipping I’ve ever experienced with ModCloth!

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So, here’s what I got: a pair of slippers and two window drapes. Chris was very excited when he opened the box and saw the blue because it looked like the blue color of the TARDIS from Doctor Who, but it ended up being not that exciting. Haha.

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There are the Where the Slumber Party At Slippers, which originally retailed for $40. I personally do not like the style with the soles being wider than the rest of the shoe, but that ended up being the least of my worries. They are a half size to a full size too small! I could barely get my foot in. I checked reviews and sure enough, they all said they ran small. I wish there was some way ModCloth could mark the Stylish Surprise box with the size it actually fits like so we aren’t disappointed when something ends up running small or large. I wasn’t planning on keeping them anyway after seeing the style, but I definitely can’t even wear them. This was a bummer; since it was the March promotion and likely full of winter items, I had hoped for a nice pair of boots. Heels would have been cool, too. Oh well!

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I received two of the Film Leader of the Pack Curtain, which originally retailed for $35 each. I was bummed to have received two of the same apartment item, though I suppose it makes sense to have two drapes? The problem is that they are way too big for my windows and one would easily cover a whole window…plus they’re too long. The apartment item surprise is always more of a crapshoot when it comes to getting something good because they have such a wide variety: everything from magnets to kitchen utensils to bedding and other knick-knacks. I got lucky the first time I ordered an apartment item and was hoping to get lucky again, but at least I didn’t get something really weird!

All in all, this was a disappointing round. I still might partake in the Stylish Surprise promotion because I cannot seem to resist the surprise aspect of it, but I don’t plan on buying apparel items if they are going to be more than $10 each. It’s just not worth it to me. I hope ModCloth reconsiders and drops the price for the next round (and subsequent rounds). Interested in seeing what I got in previous rounds? Check ’em out here! :)

Hummingbirds

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Well, it has felt decidedly like spring up until today. It’s freezing cold (read: below 40 degrees) and raining/snowing depending on where you are in the valley. I watched snow accumulate in the foothills above campus…uh how about NO. It’s April! Get it together, weather. I wish those dang meteorologists could do something about it. ;) (Hehe.)

Anyway, here’s an outfit I wore last week when the temperatures were more bearable (but definitely still chilly, hence the tights and coat). I wanted to pull out this dress again since it hadn’t made an appearance in many months. Did you notice that the birds on the sleeves are a different color than the birds on the rest of the dress? They seem more white. I thought it was a recent development, but looking back at the last time this dress was featured on here, they were different, then, too! What the heck?! I swear they weren’t always different. It’s so weird because even the birds/half-birds along the seams are white if on the sleeve side or yellow-ish white if on the main dress part. My colleagues and I were perplexed at how that could happen. And I mean, if scientists are baffled…

Fun fact: Taylor Swift owns this dress, too (mostly the reason why I bought it in the first place, haha…). I want to ask her if hers did the same thing because I literally cannot figure out how that happened.

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ModCloth coat / ASOS dress (old; last seen here) / Hue tights via Nordstrom Rack / & Other Stories boots (similar in black; last seen here) / Kate Spade earrings via Nordstrom Rack

Outfit Re-creation: Kendi Everyday

It’s time for a new outfit re-creation! I’m constantly inspired by the bloggers I follow, and every once in a while someone wears an outfit that I never would have thought to put together myself and that I must replicate with things in my closet. Kendi of Kendi Everyday wore this particular outfit over a year ago. I loved it so much that I made a mental note to recreate it someday. (At the time, I didn’t own a white button down, burgundy pants, or a black crossbody bag, and I only had a mint cardigan.) I saved the look to Pinterest and featured it in my first Outfit Obsessions post, knowing that someday I would have all of the items and could put it together.

You’d be hard-pressed to meet a fashion/style blogger who doesn’t know of Kendi! She is a very well-known blogger who started years ago and popularized the 30×30 remix challenges. She mostly features her everyday, attainable personal style. Even though she has started dressing in more higher-end brands (likely due to her success!), I still find myself inspired by the looks she puts together. Nothing feels out of reach, and that is so important to me and why I follow the bloggers I do.

(Click on the photo below to go directly to her post! Then, scroll down for my version…)

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What is not to love about this look?! Here’s my version! :)

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There’s just something I love about mint and burgundy together. Plus, here’s proof that burgundy isn’t just for the fall/winter! Mint totally “springifies” it, I think.

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J.Crew Factory sweater (on sale in limited sizes; last seen here) / Uniqlo shirt (last seen here) / Madewell pants (on sale in limited sizes) / ModCloth wedges (similar) / Halogen bag / Anthropologie sunglasses

How to use Pinterest to find fashion inspiration

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I’m sure you’re all well aware of Pinterest, but I’m constantly surprised at the number of people I meet who know about Pinterest and don’t use it. (Whaaaaat?! How could that be?!) For some, online pinboards aren’t really their cup of tea–and that’s cool! But I’ve also realized that for those who are into it, Pinterest can be overwhelming if you’re just starting to use it and aren’t aware of how to find useful pins. There’s a lot of junk you probably sort through just to find a few good pins you like–I know this because it happens to me. So, here are a few tips I’ve learned to make Pinterest work for me and to minimize the time I spend scrolling for that one pin.

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Search using specific terms. Have a clothing item that you’re having a hard time styling? Want some general inspiration but don’t want to deal with lots of irrelevant pins? Try searching with relatively specific terms, i.e. “Navy blazer outfit” or “White denim for spring”. The results will show pins with those terms in the caption (not necessarily in the exact order, but in some form) and will likely be much more in line with what you’re looking for. Pinterest tends to show the pins with the most repins near the top of the search results, but you won’t be scrolling for nearly as long as you would on the general “Women’s Fashion” category.

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When you find a pin you like, scroll down to see the related pins. Often times these pins have minimal wording and don’t show up in search results as easily, so it’s easy to miss them, but I’ve found some gems! Also, you can get caught down a rabbit hole by looking at the related pins, clicking on one of those and then looking at those related pins. It’s fun to check out related pins when you’re just looking to browse. (The image above shows the related pins under the “White, grey, and blush look” pin on my “Style: spring / summer” board.)

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Check out the pinboards that have the same pins you like. Find a pin you like? In addition to pinning it to your own board, check out the board it came from! You may have found someone new to follow. Also, just above the “Related Pins” section, there is a section called “Also on these boards”–clicking on those boards may lead you to discover someone new that shares the same style as you! :) (Don’t forget that you don’t have to follow every board a pinner has; if you’re just into their style, follow only the style boards so your feed isn’t too crazy.) Want more? Check out who your favorite pinners follow!

I hope these tips help if you’ve found yourself overwhelmed with Pinterest but want to get into it. It’s super fun and can easily take hours of time if you let it, haha. Let me know if you have any more tips in the comments, and if you’d like, you can follow me here! xo

Spring neutrals

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I took my adorable new white leather bucket bag out for a spin this past weekend! If it wasn’t totally obvious in my most recent budget post, the obsession I have with this bag is real. I don’t carry a bag (besides my backpack) to work/school during the week, but it would be this one if I did. However, maybe I wouldn’t because I don’t want it to get dirty! I have to be really careful when I wear it because I’m kind of clumsy. I wore it to a garden center and didn’t get any dirt on it, so I call that a success.

I actually planned this outfit before I got this bag, and I was ecstatic when I realized the bag would go perfectly! I’m a fan of the subtle pattern mixing with the floral dress and striped sneakers, and the muted color palette ties it all together. I definitely see myself wearing this outfit again! :)

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Madewell jacket (similar from Sierra Trading Post; last seen here) / H&M dress (old; last seen here) / Keds sneakers (other striped options) / & Other Stories x Clare Vivier bag (similar from Talbots) / Anthropologie sunglasses