First Date at the Barre

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Since I moved up north to Tysons Corner (a.k.a. D.C.), I have been dying to get off my ass on my days off and actually get back into my workout routine that I tried so hard to instill while I was in school. Of course, I quickly realized that after long nine-hour shifts on my feet, all that I was motivated to do on days off was to lay in bed and watch Netflix or read one of the many books I brought from home. Finally, after feeling like I’d officially become a lazy BUM, I made the necessary move to get back into my groove and decided to purchase a series of classes (at a discount) to the new and hot fitness studio of the moment, Pure Barre. I hate to admit it, but I’ve always been really into the crazy fitness trends that go in and out of style just like every other fashion fad we see come and go. However, even though most of these workout classes that I’ve tested out have been the at-the-moment fitness trends, I completely fell in love with each and honestly didn’t understand why everyone viewed them as fads. For example, I tried SoulCycle in New York last summer, and I can absolutely say that I haven’t experienced a more moving, spiritual, and effective workout in my life. I can’t even explain the feelings of bliss I experienced when walking out of every class drenched in sweat, but I can verify that the ridiculous prices are there for a reason. When I returned to school in Georgia for my senior year, I sadly couldn’t bring SoulCycle with me and instead decided to take on a new fitness venture with yoga!

IMG_1981My TriBeCa SoulCycle studio!

Once again, I fell in love with what yoga had to offer and I still miss the calm and relaxing effects that would last for days after a good yoga session. Just as I felt when parting ways with SoulCycle, I was sad to leave my stress-relieving fitness routine when I graduated and moved to a completely new place and lifestyle last month. So, when deciding on what fitness habit to devote my time (and paychecks) to the other day, I was NOT about to weight my options lightly. I was VERY tempted to return to yoga or even SoulCycle because there are studios not too far away, but I really wanted to try something new and challenging. This is where the idea of barre class came into play. I’d heard a lot of great things about this type of fitness class, but wasn’t truly convinced that the tiny movements involved would actually give me the challenging workout that I wanted.

However, I made a bold decision and booked my first date at Pure Barre for this past Wednesday, on my day off from work. When I walked into the small and clean studio on Wednesday, I was immediately greeted by two lovely employees who then showed me around the studio and prepared me for what my first class would be like, including being given commands that I probably wouldn’t know the meaning of and the importance of wearing sticky socks. After my short prep for the class, I took a seat on the carpeted ground with a stretchy resistance tube, 2-lb. weights, a barre ball, and feelings of confidence about the workout that was about to ensue. To my surprise, after about two minutes into the 55-minute class, I realized that my initial lack of intimidation was about to be completely overthrown. Until that class, I’d never seen my legs, arms, and every other muscle group in my body shake so much…and as you now know, I’ve done my share of crazy fitness classes!

SHP-PureBarre-2The equipment for barre

The barre class began with a fast-paced warm up full of coordinated step-class style moves, followed by sections devoted to the arms, legs, seat (butt), and abs, and ended with a cool down stretching sequence for our tired muscles. We performed a combination of standing, sitting, and bar-based exercises that focused on holding poses for a certain amount of time and repetitions of tiny movements for the specific muscle groups. I never knew that such small moves could create such a burn in my body, but boy was my mind completely changed after that class! I really liked the upbeat music, targeted moves, fast pace, and positivity of the employees who walked around and taught the class, which has made me really excited for my next class! Of course, I’ll need a bit more practice to nail down the movements associated with the barre-specific vocabulary that I was warned about before my first class, but that’s what my next few classes are for, right?!  I hope that this testimony motivates some of you to try out your own barre class if you haven’t already because it’s SUCH a great workout and uplifting routine to get into!

Happy Sunday Everyone!

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In A Galaxy (not too) Far Away…

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I became the most avid Star Wars fan before I even started kindergarten (no joke). Even though I don’t exactly remember the first time that I saw the first “episode,” I DO clearly remember the life-sized Luke Skywalker poster hanging on my bedroom door and the kisses I gave poor Mark Hamill every single night before I went to bed. And yes, I was only about 3 years old at the time. Of course, 19 years later and I’m still just as a believer in the force as I was in the beginning. This love for anything and everything Star Wars that I have was recently recalled when I laid eyes upon the most exciting fashion development EVER… STAR WARS THEMED VANS!

photo%202-22I mean..come on, how adorable are these baby Vans?! 

I am so glad that companies are finally realizing that mixing awesome Star Wars graphics with classic Vans styling truly make for the coolest pair of shoes to add to the modern-day chic-geek’s wish list…and yes, I did just make that nickname up. I was shopping with my mom in our local mall the other day when my eyes immediately zeroed in on these sweet and unique kicks. Being somewhat of a beach/skater kid growing up, I naturally have a place in my heart for the Vans brand, but the nerdy part of my personality yearned even more for these gems than my fashionista or beachy personas could’ve imagined.

I am very determined to donate a portion of my next paycheck to a pair of these pretty pennies to not only express my pride as a Star Wars fan, but also because I can’t stop thinking about how awesome it would feel to literally be wearing Yoda on my feet all day. For all of my fellow Star Wars-loving fashionistas, to keep your nerdy woes under control while waiting to get a pair of these Vans for yourselves, feel free to follow my lead and munch on what I refer to as my ” Yoda popcorn” (see deets below) while rewatching episodes I-VI. Happy hump day and may the force be with all of you “chic-geeks!” (hehe)

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Get your Vans at a local Vans store or online here!

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My “Yoda Popcorn” (a.k.a. Quinn Popcorn’s Kale & Sea Salt pop) 

Rompin’ Around

Who would’ve thought that onesies would one day (a.k.a. today) become one of the hottest trends in the fashion world? Then again, I didn’t expect “mom jeans” to make a comeback either…but they have. Over the past few years, rompers, and more recently, jumpsuits, have moved their way to the top of every fashionista’s shopping list. I will readily admit that I was one of the very first who took the risky leap into buying a romper, or as we first called it, the onesie, and actually wore it outside of my own home. Quickly, the popularity of sporting a one-piece dress/shorts combination was one of the most exciting and new ways for women to show a flirty and trendy side without the discomfort or unmanageability associated with wearing multiple pieces at a time. Sadly, I’m quite positive that the majority of the male population (made up of those who don’t “get” fashion) didn’t exactly welcome this new trend with open arms…just like they’re still expressing animosity over our obsession with high-waisted fashion. However, I think that the displeasure of the male population toward rompers has started to shift its weight onto the romper’s increasingly popular counterpart, the jumpsuit. Just like with their opinion of the romper, the male dislike of the jumpsuit trend will soon enough move onto a newer style that makes its way into our culture. Therefore ladies, please ignore the snide comments from the unfashionable men in your lives and continue to wear your rompers and jumpsuits for as long as you want!

I honestly didn’t think that rompers, like crop tops and high-waisted fashion, would last as long as they have. However, their popularity among designers and retailers is still in full force and I couldn’t be happier about it. My annoyance with having to manage multiple components of an outfit was getting high enough that about half of my own wardrobe now resembles a shrine for rompers and jumpsuits. These styles are generally so much more comfortable and easier to embellish than most other outfits. Also, designers are now making them really cute, unique, and trendy, which helps keep their popularity on the rise. I was always a bit more wary of the jumpsuit style than of rompers because I simply thought they looked a bit too trendy and wouldn’t be flattering on my short frame. However, after forcing myself to finally purchase one from TJ Maxx, I fell in love and immediately bought two more. The jumpsuits that I own are basically pajamas that I feel comfortable enough to accessorize and wear out in public without feeling like a total slob. I haven’t taken the plunge and purchased a nicer-looking and more structured jumpsuit yet, but there are so many out there now that my temptation level is nearly on the verge of submission.

As I’m currently interning and working in the Topshop/Savvy department at Nordstrom, I’ve been exposed to and worked with styling many of these cute pieces everyday. I’ve provided a few photos of cute outfits that I put together, featuring a few of the Topshop floral rompers that we currently have in the store. After gathering the best accessories from other departments in the store, I found that these rompers could easily be styled for various day to night occasions, which is one of the lesser-known advantages to wearing a romper or jumpsuit. In addition, I‘ve featured a few of my favorite rompers and jumpsuits from other retailers that I’d also love to rock in the near future. Check out these looks below and take a ride on the onesie train if you haven’t already hopped on!

P.S. —– HAPPY FRIDAY!!!

photo%203-11Topshop romper and blazer, Rebecca Minkoff crossbody, Alexis Bittar earrings, Kendra Scott earrings

photo%202-21Topshop romper, Kendra Scott earrings, Celine bag

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Topshop romper and blazer, Alexis Bittar necklace and bracelet, Rebecca Minkoff crossbody 

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Topshop romper

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Paul & Joe Sister Nixon Overalls

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Lanston Boyfriend Romper

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Rory Beca Ludo Jumpsuit

Homemade Kale Chips: Salt & Vinegar

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So, last night I was watching Scandal (my new favorite show) on Netflix and trying to figure out what to do on a Wednesday night after a long and exhausting workday. I naturally spent some time browsing through Pinterest and eventually found something that I could do – make kale chips! I was already somewhat of a kale fan, but my delight with the nutrient-rich veggie has always truly depended on how it’s made. I have a DELICIOUS kale salad that I make every now and then, but the only kale chips that I’ve eaten and liked were Brad’s “Vampire Killer” Kale Chips from Whole Foods Market. Since I clearly didn’t have that much experience to base my opinion of kale chips on, I figured that I might as well give it a try since I had most of the ingredients that the recipe asked for.

The simple recipe that I found was for salt & vinegar chips and called for only a few ingredients: sherry vinegar, olive oil, kale, and salt. Super easy right? I didn’t have sherry vinegar so I just substituted it with red wine vinegar. Preparation for making the chips was just about as easy as the ingredients list looked. I first made sure to wash and thoroughly dry a bunch of kale that I’d previously bought for making salads. Since the leaves were already cut up and somewhat de-stemmed, this process went a bit quicker than if I’d used a fresh bunch from the produce isle. While the leaves dried in my salad spinner, I added about ¼ cup of vinegar, a few pinches of sea salt, and a little less than a tablespoon of olive oil to a big Ziploc bag. I then filled the bag to the top with the dried kale, sealed it, shook it up, and massaged everything together to make sure it was well combined. Next, I laid the leaves out onto a foil lined baking sheet and popped it into my oven, which was preheated to 300 degrees. I let my chips cook for about 20 minutes and they came out perfectly delicious and crisp! I really loved these kale chips and was so surprised that I actually liked my own chips better than the flavored ones that I usually buy from Whole Foods.

If you ever have the time and are a health nut looking for guilt-free snacks like me, I suggest that you try to make your own chips as well! If you want to try the recipe that I used or feel adventurous enough to try out another yummy flavor of kale chips, click here to navigate to where I found my tutorial!  Enjoy!!

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GlamGlow Supermud

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A few months ago, I was browsing through my twitter feed and read that one of my favorite beauty idols and TV actresses, Nina Dobrev, uses a facial mask called GlamGlow Supermud regularly to maintain her PERFECT skin, which I’ve always admired. I hadn’t ever really experimented with masks in the past, other than the cheap drugstore ones that we all remember using while playing “beauty salon” as kids, so I was totally down to officially dip my toes into the mask domain if it meant achieving perfect skin like Nina’s. Before diving right into buying this $69 treatment, I made sure to do my research to be certain that it would actually be a worthy purchase. I read over a ton of customer and company reviews of this “supermud,” and soon enough, my Sephora shopping bag was filled with my first “real” mask treatment! When I received my GlamGlow in the mail, I was so excited to try it out that I cleared my schedule for the night to give myself plenty of time to experiment. After opening the small container, I was initially turned off by the dark grey coloring and chunky consistency, but hey, if those chunks of charcoal were there to make my skin glow, I had no reason to change my mind. I spread a thin-ish layer all over my face and watched as the mud dried and darkened over my most problematic and oily areas. After about twenty minutes of letting it soak in and pull the impurities out of my pores, I washed it all off my face and immediately noticed some skin brightening results! My skin was SO smooth and looked much happier in general.

What the “mud” looks like…

in hand

After applying a thin layer (TRY to ignore my wet hair and embarrassing cat-ear headband):

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Letting the drying process begin (notice the specks of charcoal): 

before dried

All dried and ready to rinse off:

dried face

My first positive experience left me excited to continue using the treatment, and I have since been hooked to my first mask purchase! Here are some of the benefits that its company promotes for using this mask:

With six different acne-fighting acids, activated charcoal, clay, and natural ingredients, it works to…

o   restore damaged skin and improve skin texture

o   help de-clog to minimize pores and promote new skin rejuvenation    

o   help pigmentation, moisture, stimulation, and skin collagen

o   help fine lines, wrinkles, and aging skin

o   help effects of scarring and clear skin

o   help fight bacteria and breakouts

o   help calm, soothe, and heal skin

o   etc…

Clearly, there are a lot of benefits to using this mask on a regular basis and I really think that it actually works! I haven’t used it enough to be 100% sure of its effectiveness but so far my results have been awesome! To get your own GlamGlow mud mask, check out the company website or Sephora!

HAPPY FRIDAY Y’ALL!

Something Borrowed

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There’s something about those items that were once owned and worn by our family members and then passed down to us that tend to hold a very dear place in our hearts.  Not only are these “vintage” items seen as trendy and fashionable today, but they also give us the ability to carry a little piece of home around with us whenever we want.  I’m sure that those of you who are lucky enough to own something passed down from a family member, like myself, are quite familiar with the nostalgia and love attached to such an item.  My special item is one of the watches that my dad constantly wore during my youth, which he gave to me this past Christmas.  It’s a beautiful and classic timepiece that I know I’ll always love to wear.  Not only is it parallel to my fashion taste but it also gives me something to hold close to my heart and remind me of home when in need.

If you aren’t as fortunate as I am to have a nostalgic item in your wardrobe or jewelry box, don’t start begging for a hand-me-down right away.  Asking for it will take away most of what makes it special- trust that once you DO get your trinket, it’ll have been worth the wait.  Until then, I recommend that you stop by your local thrift or vintage shop to fulfill your nostalgic needs.  Who knows, you may even find an old-school Chanel bag tucked away behind those 1960s timepieces!

armMy very own “something borrowed” paired with a favorite bracelet

Out With The Old, In With The New

For women like me, who are in their early twenties and about to become immersed into the “professional world,” I believe that it’s important to start cleaning out your closet of clothes and accessories from your teenage years. From experience, I know it’s a nostalgic and time-consuming task to actually part with those theme-party getups and piles of sorority t-shirts, but it’s time to grow up and realize that part of becoming an adult requires this sort of “cleansing” of your immature past. No, you definitely don’t have to throw out (or as I recommend, donate) all of these items that you’re most likely keeping for only sentimental reasons, but you do have to reduce the inventory greatly. I, for example, have SO many oversized t-shirts from various sorority/college events and childhood vacations that I could fill up my entire walk-in closet with just those shirts. I still haven’t been able to get rid of a lot of them, but it’s a continuing process. I’ve had to face the fact that the only time that I’ll be wearing these shirts now, since I won’t be wearing them to class anymore, will be at the gym and in my own privacy. More importantly, I’m now realizing that I also need to start weaning myself off of wearing these baggy shirts, even at the gym and bedtime, because I’m a “young professional” now and I guess I should start dressing like one.

Just like me, I’m sure that many of you have one or a few parts of your wardrobe that need to be slimmed down and updated for the professional life. Since most of you are probably entering the workforce or graduate school, your way of dressing needs to be very different from what it was in college. Tees, jeans, and flip-flops are no longer acceptable and should be replaced with classic and more mature outfits. Think timeless flats, black and nude pumps, classy watches and jewelry, a simple and versatile bag, and lots of pencil skirts, blouses, and nice-looking pants. Now is the time to really pay attention to those annoying little phrases in life that you’ve previously ignored in respect to your way of dressing such as “less is more” and “quality over quantity.” These little phrases are actually relevant now. Of course, updating your wardrobe in this way doesn’t mean that you have to become a boring dresser- trends are still important and you should also feel free to show off some personal style and fashion sense! Aside from cutting down on the number of t-shirts that I own, I’ve also gone through all other parts of my closet and forced myself to realize that those items that I hadn’t worn over the past year needed to go to someone who would actually wear them. I’m a bit of a hoarder and getting rid of nostalgic items or generally anything from my past that has value is always a tough process; so for those of you who aren’t like me, this process may be quite easy and fun! For everyone though, I promise that you will feel much better once you drop those bags of old clothing off at goodwill and return home to a clean and updated closet!

Check out my tips below on how to clean out and update your closet!

Cleaning out:

  1. Turn on some music- this may take some time so you might as well relax and have fun while doing it!
  2. First eliminate everything that doesn’t fit anymore or has irreversible stains, fading, tears, etc…
  3. Then, take out the items that you haven’t worn over the past year or so. If you haven’t worn it in that long, then you probably won’t in the future.
  4. Double-check if anything left is out of style or unflattering- toss those items out as well!
  5. Now make sure you’ve eliminated those silly party clothes and accessories- you likely won’t need them anymore so get rid of them!

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Replacement:

  1. Spend more money on better quality staple items such as black and nude heels, comfortable flats, fitted blazers, nice and classy dresses, pencil skirts, jewelry, etc…
  2. If you can afford it, check out stores like Anthropologie, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Banana Republic, and JCrew for good work staples
  3. If you’re on a budget, go to TJ Maxx, Kohl’s or Target

laurenconradspring2014kohls5 laurenconradspring2014kohls10I LOVE these looks from LC’s Kohl’s collection!

Organization:

  1. Try to use the same type of hangers for everything in your closet and hang as much as you can to keep away wrinkles
  2. Turn your hangers in the same direction!
  3. Color-code and separate everything by clothing category (ex: skirts, shorts, dresses, blazers, etc…)
  4. Put shoes on a shoe rack or hanging organizer
  5. Organize your jewelry so that it’s easily accessible and not able to tangle together (ex: earring tree, jewelry box, and/or necklace organizer)

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My own jewelry station- necklaces hanging and earrings, rings, and bracelets in the box!