April 2016 - Prep Essentials





College & Post-Grad

College & Post-Grad
College & Post-Grad

5 Ways to Brighten Your Room for Spring!

Everyone who knows me knows that my bedroom is my absolute sanctuary, and I've worked really hard to make it a calm and relaxing atmosphere where I feel the most at-home. Adjusting to the city has been a long process, but having a place I can come back to at the end of every day and fully enjoy has been a total lifesaver on the toughest days.

Warmer weather and that sweet Chicago sunshine pouring in through my windows has had me in the mood for some changes! I wanted my room to embrace the nicer weather as much as I was, and really give myself an energizing and refreshed feel.

In my opinion, the bed is the focal point of any bedroom, and it totally steals the show. I like to keep my duvet cover simple, because I love using little accents all over the room and bed to really stand out. This way, I can always change them up and keep things fresh and new whenever the mood strikes! Plus, there are so many adorable patterned sheets out there - it's easiest to change them up if the rest of the bedding keeps a low profile! 

Here are some of my essentials and top finds for mixing things up in the bedroom and getting ready for Spring - hopefully it will inspire you to change things up and jumpstart your season, too!

Colorful Pillows Blue | Yellow | Orange Trim 
Patterned Sheet Sets Coral | Yellow
Lightweight Throws Blue & Grey | Coral

Changing up the color scheme can be incredibly refreshing, and make it look like you re-designed your entire room...when really you just picked up a few new pieces! As much as I adore fresh flowers, we don't all have that kind of budget, so follow my favorite tip: pick out one or two of your favorite types (mine are hydrangeas and peonies!) and find a really good silk bouquet on Amazon. Then you don't have to keep replacing them, and the scented candles will handle the rest! (I've had my bouquet of blue and white hydrangeas since the fall and they still make me smile whenever I see them against my exposed brick wall!) 

PS Definitely check out the different ways I use flowers to liven up a living space too!

I've also put together a few collection sets to help inspire you for a look that you will love featuring some of my favorite pieces from Crane & Canopy!

What are some of your favorite ways to brighten up a room for the sunny weather and endless spring & summer nights?! Anyone have any good spring candle recommendations? I'm definitely in the market for some new ones!

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The Only 5 Jackets You Need This Spring

It certainly hasn't been a conventional spring so far (snow in April? thanks Chicago!) But I'm holding out hope that it changes soon...in the meantime, the need for jackets and lots of light layers has never been more real. Minus the snow, this breezy almost weather is actually my favorite - light layers are by far my favorite way to dress.

It's so hard to know when a jacket is appropriate or too much this time of year though! Rather than buying 50 different jackets of varying warmth, make it simple and stick to these core 5 - you'll never be improperly dressed again - and you'll be doing it in style!

1. The Spring Trench Coat
Where to even start with these beauties...I finally bought my first trench coat this fall from Nordstrom Rack (most similar to this one here) and I absolutely love it. I got tan because it is versatile and works great for fall and spring, especially if you accessorize it right! While making this post though, I found this one and oh my gosh I am in love. The color, the stripes and the hood are so adorable and perfect. Talk about making a rainy day brighter! I always covet this Michael Kors coat (40% off right now!) when I see it around the city and I see it often. Go with something classic for your first one - save the fun colors for round two!

2. Classic Moto Jacket
Long on my list (we're talking years here, people) I could never find just the right one. Moto jackets, especially leather ones, are tricky because they're all about the details and it seems like whenever I looked in stores I'd find one detail I just wasn't content with. Last week I'm proud to say I bought this one, and I'm so in love with it (keep your eyes peeled for a fashion post featuring this jacket soon!) So you can imagine my frustration surprise when I began to search for options for this post and found all of these amazing choices! By far my favorite (besides the one I already own) is this one. The color, style and shape are perfect! Plus I love that it's a little different, and would definitely work for fall too. Moto jackets are great for layering over dresses, or with cropped jeans and a light top while we transition into warmer weather!

3. The Military Jacket
These jackets are great because so many people wear them in the fall and spring - partly because they come in so many different shades of dark green. A lot of them are also in navy, varying shades of grey & charcoal, and even white! Personally, I've had the downtown field jacket from J.Crew for a while, and I still wearing it constantly (and I'm a little jealous how many colors they've added since my purchase). It's classic, and the fit looks flattering on everyone. I'm really loving the softness and pattern of this one though, and I can name so many dresses and basic tees I would want to pair with one of the looser green options!

4. Drape-Front Cardigans & Jackets
The ultimate piece to your wardrobe for all things layering - this item is absolutely essential. I've had a thin black one similar to this one for years, and it is a staple in my wardrobe year-round. Every good fashionista knows that layers need texture & depth to really pull an outfit together, and these are just the thing. I especially love them because you can pile them on the bottom of a few other pieces if it's cold, or throw it over a tank on a hot day where you just aren't feeling the "naked shoulders" look.

5. The Classic Jean Jacket
This one needs little explanation - one of the most ultimate wardrobe staples of all time. A little bit harder to recommend my top picks, because everyone is very particular about the coloring, style, size and shape they prefer their jean jacket to be. Personally, I've had a trusty cropped faded wash one that has never let me down - but now that light denim is making a serious #comeback I really have my eye on this one and this one.

Layer up and keep your fingers & toes crossed for bluer skies asap!

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8 Things You Should Do For Yourself Right Now

This week (and really this past month) has been...rough. For a lot of reasons - none of which are major - but when added together, have become incredibly draining for me. By Thursday night last week, I vented to two of my best friends that I felt like I was at an absolute breaking point and ready to just snap if I couldn't make something change. It felt like nothing was really going right, everything was irking me more than usual, and I needed something to help me just hit refresh and start new. 

So that was the main goal of my entire weekend: hit refresh, and feel renewed and ready to start over by Sunday night. The more I talked to my friends, the more I realized that a lot of people are feeling this way, especially at this time of year! Winter is coming to a close and everyone is ready for that clean start and a new energy, but sometimes it's not as simple as a few extra rays of sunshine to make that happen. 

If you can relate to these types of feelings, and like you just can't shake that greyed-out winter gloom and doom feeling of stress, pressure, and overall frustration - you need to try these 8 things right now. You will feel like a brand new person, and your body (and mind) will thank you!

1. Indulge in something. Anything you want. Sometimes I get so caught up in staying on my strict healthy diet + fitness routine, in keeping everything super tidy, and never letting myself have those little things...the ice cream I'm craving for no reason when I'm already full, or the cheese fries that just smell so. good. walking by the restaurant. Just let yourself have one.

2. Drink a lot more water. I preach this one a lot, like here & here...but that's because nothing in the world that I'm aware of could make you feel better. It's the easiest, fastest, and simplest thing to do - and it will heal you from the inside out. 

3. Stretch. I still haven't been able to get much into yoga, partly because I can't touch my toes (no, seriously...) and partly because I just can't make time for it on top of my regular workout routine.This weekend though, when I woke up each morning I turned on an old throwback pop playlist (think Britney, Christina & some Hillary Duff) and just did simple stretches for about 10 minutes. It was an amazing way to start my day, and it somehow left met feeling more energized. 

4. Read something. Even if you aren't a big reader like me, this doesn't haven't to mean a book. Go on Pinterest and actually read some of those articles you 'pinned now to read later'.  Flip through a magazine and actually read through some of the articles. Anything to just open up your mind a little bit, push away those things that are stressing you, and give you 30 minutes to an hour of quiet time alone.

5. Make a plan. I know some people feel like they desperately need to do nothing in order to relax, but personally I've been doing a little bit too much of this lately. I realized I was making myself stir crazy with all of my nights forcing myself to stay in, sleep, relax and save some money. This was when I almost snapped - I could not take one more night alone in my apartment doing nothing! So I made plans with friends and just forgot about everything else for a few hours. I didn't worry about spending money at lunch, or the calories of my delicious guava margarita, or how many hours we wasted binge-watching the same Netflix show in my friend's apartment while chowing down on some sushi. Get out and do something, because sometimes sitting at home alone is the worst possible thing for a stressed and over-stuffed mind full of worries.

6. Take some time primping. Isn't this supposed to be one of the most fun parts of being a girl? Sometimes we get so busy always trying to put in all this effort, we forget how relaxing a beauty routine can be. Indulge in an extra long shower or bath, light some candles, put on a face mask, paint your nails a new spring color, put on an outfit that makes you feel great, and enjoy feeling your best!

7. Get some exercise. I know a lot of people will groan at this one - but this can literally mean anything. If this bizarre "snow in April" thing isn't still happening, go outside and go for a walk with friends or your headphones. Try a new workout class, or just finally force yourself to get back into that routine. After several several weeks of feeling completely out of control of my own moods, my friend pointed out (nicely) that it was the longest I'd ever gone without the gym, and that my body was probably desperately craving the endorphins. She was totally right. (And that night, when I finally did go, I felt like I was on the highest high of energy and good vibes that I had been on in months. Totally worth the sweat).

8. Take care of that one thing. You know the one. That thing you keep putting off, or avoiding, that has been building up bigger and bigger in your mind. The thing that is bothering you so much, it has begun to affect your mood in ways you aren't even realizing. The thing that is making you feel out of control enough that you read all the way to the bottom of this blog post in hopes of curing yourself of that awful way you've been feeling lately. You're not alone! For me - this was my tax return. I knew it was going to be so frustrating I had actually managed to stress myself out before I even glanced at it for weeks - it was literally making me cranky and I hadn't even started it! Whatever it is, just take care of it. Leave the other things on your to-do list for another day...but get that one thing over with. The sense of accomplishment alone will be more than half of the battle.

This list might not be ground-breaking, and it certainly isn't going to solve every single fiber of stress in your body...but it's an amazing place to start. From the inside out - this list will make you feel like an entirely new person if you really put the effort in. Tried and tested by me this weekend - & trust me, I needed it more than you could ever know!

Hang in there. Warm weather and better times are ahead!

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Spring Accessories for A Pop of Color

Despite all of the adorable colors that come along with spring, I tend to love keeping it super neutral - all whites, tans, & grey mixed together in light layers. It's the warm weather version of my tendency to wear all black the other 3 seasons of the year.

One of the best parts of wearing all-neutral all the time in Spring is you can make an outfit look like it took a lot more effort by pairing it with one or two eye-popping colorful accessories - it instantly pulls together the entire look and makes it stand out perfectly! I already have a few perfect accessories for this, including a royal blue cross body and a bright green clutch (both from Kate Spade, of course) but this year I'm trying to add in more scarves, hats & might even attempt some colorful sunnies to shake things up a little!

Light scarves are perfect for the windy days walking to work downtown (hats, not so much...) and I've always been a fan of using jewelry as the focal point of any outfit!

Bracelets: One & Two | Three | Four | Five
Sunglasses: Six | Seven | Eight | Nine
Bags: Ten | Eleven | Twelve | Thirteen | Fourteen
Scarves & Hats: Fifteen | Sixteen | Seventeen | Eighteen | Nineteen

I think I sadly already have enough Longchamps...but this light blue is just the prettiest shade I have ever seen! *wishful thinking*. Some key accessories that are sorely lacking in my closet include a straw bag for the beach, a hat, and more colorful bracelets to pair with my never-ending collection of gold pendant necklaces. 

PS the light blue enamel bracelet from J.Crew is on sale right now!

Does anyone else like the all-neutral look with pops of color for Spring? What's your favorite way to accessorize & layer in the Spring?

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Chambray, Gingham & Eyelet - It's Spring!

As if I needed another reason to add even more blue to my already bursting-with-blue wardrobe (can't help it) it seems like blue is absolutely everywhere this spring! Probably thanks to the Pantone Color of the Year, various shades of blue are popping up in all of my favorite stores and they are cuter than ever. 

I'm going to have to up my chambray game, because it is clearly the thing to be wearing this spring. I've been subconsciously avoiding J.Crew for a little over two years now, and I think it's because they were slipping there for a while (no, really!) 

Whatever the case was, J.Crew is definitely back and better than ever. It took me only minutes on the site to find countless new favorites that I'm dying to add to my wardrobe, all featuring blues, eyelet, gingham, chambray and adorable patterns that will be perfect for work, weekends & running errands around the city.

Top Row: One | Two | Three | Four
Bottom Row: Five | Six

I'm especially eyeing the buffalo check popover top...and already envisioning the dozens of ways I want to wear it! Must. Have.

With these picks in mind, I think my weekend is going to consist of finally spending that J.Crew gift card I've been holding onto since Christmas. Happy Friday everyone!

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