January 2017 - Prep Essentials





College & Post-Grad

College & Post-Grad
College & Post-Grad

The Pros & Cons of Pure Barre!

Towards the end of last summer, I was feeling really frustrated with exercising. No matter how often I went, or how long I stayed, I was simply seeing zero results. Having played team sports all of my life, after high school ended I struggled to find a workout routine that genuinely worked for me and my lifestyle (rather than just going through the motions). 

Group fitness classes never truly appealed to me - I always found them really intimidating, often insanely difficult to the point that one class was enough to scare me off, and nothing ever stuck. A lot of my friends in Louisville are HUGE fans of Pure Barre (a lot of them are actually instructors!) but those intimidated me as well. 

Finally I decided it was time to suck it up and try again. I found a Gilt coupon for a month of unlimited classes at the Pure Barre Old Town location, and gave it a shot. The first day...I was sore the minute I walked out of class. In the best way. I felt like I had really accomplished something. Since then, I've purchased an annual membership, and it is the most consistently I've ever stuck with a workout since high school - and the best part is, I only dread it about 1% of the time!

I've had a lot of friends ask me whether or not Pure Barre is really worth it, and I always reply with a very strong, "Absolutely!" Given how many people seem to wonder about this though, I thought it might be helpful to do a quick pros/cons list for all of you now that I've been attending for about 7 months!


1. You can see & feel the difference in your body very quickly.
It wasn't anything to brag about, but I could definitely tell within about two weeks of consistently attending that there were subtle changes in the shape and tone of my body - and I could feel myself getting stronger too! The more I went, the stronger I got - and it was the biggest motivator I've had in years! Important note: It takes at least 5 classes to truly get the hang of it. You will feel confused, the pace is fast, and it won't be perfect. But you will get there, and it's such a satisfying feeling when you do!

2. The Class Length & Convenience
Class only takes an hour, but you use that hour to the absolute fullest. I always walk out feeling accomplished (and already sore), but I never feel as if I didn't get a good enough workout in. Time well spent, without taking up your entire evening. 

3. The Instructors
Obviously, every location has different instructors, but from what I've gathered, they're all amazing. They do such a great job of motivating you, helping you adjust certain moves if you have an injury that needs accommodating, and they actually get to know you personally - which ends up being very motivating!

4. It Tones Body Areas that Women Typically Dislike
Pure Barre targets five core areas: Your Arms, Abs, Thighs, Back, & Seat (aka your booty). You can run all day long on a treadmill, but until you do movements that isolate and target those pesky love handles or the side of your butt that just won't burn fat...you won't see results. The movements are designed to really isolate very specific muscles to the point of total fatigue - and that's where you really see a change!


1. Cost
It's no secret that Pure Barre is definitely pricey. There are a lot of different memberships to choose from, but the unlimited class pass is by far the best deal. I signed up for an annual contract to wiggle my price even lower, but it's still an investment. The way I justify it? My friend and I agree it is the best we have felt about our bodies in literally years. I personally don't want to put a price on my own self-esteem. Besides, gyms in Chicago are hardly affordable as it is!

2. You Get What You Put Into It
The instructors are great at motivating, but I hit a point about two months into attending where I felt like I wasn't being as challenged. At first I thought I must just be super strong (kidding..that's hilarious) but then I realized it's because I had gotten stronger, and wasn't pushing myself to my limits anymore. If you aren't willing to put the work in, you won't get the rewards.

3. Schedules & Waitlists
It varies between every studio, but sometimes it can be difficult to find one with a location and class times that are perfect for you. I personally don't love morning workouts, and don't have time to go before I head to work in the morning. Luckily for me, there is a class immediately after work that I go to nearly every day. Problem #2? Sometimes, if you don't sign up soon enough, the class becomes full and you get put on the waitlist. I usually get off of the waitlist, but it's still a bit of a nuisance!

Hopefully this has helped give you a better idea of whether or not Pure Barre might be worth a try. If you're still hesitant about dropping the $99 new-member fee to try a month of something you've never done - try checking out Groupon and Gilt City like I did to find a deal to get you started! You can also watch this page that explains the process in a little bit more detail.

Happy toning!

PS - for my Chicago friends, there is a coupon right now for a Chicago location here!

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Cheap (& Free!) Winter/Rainy Day Date Ideas in Chicago

Being long-distance, Dalton and I usually try to make the most of the weekends that we visit each other. We are always on a limited schedule, so we're often packing a lot of activities into a very small window of time, and given the moody weather that Chicago likes to put on display between October and April, this can get tricky! 

Sometimes we have a hard time coming up with fun and new things that we can do when the weather doesn't always have you dying to linger outside. We also like to avoid breaking the bank, since we're already spending a good amount of money on flights here and there. 

Thankfully, Chicago has a pretty endless supply of fun (even in the winter or rain), so over time we've picked up a few pretty great date night ideas that work no matter what the weather is! Here are some of our favorites:

1. Whirlyball - I heard people talk about this off and on after I moved here, but it sounded like a made up place to me. Now that I've done my research, it's next on our list! They have bowling, laser tag, and a very unique game called Whirlyball that seems a little bit strange and equally awesome. We love being active and finding fun new experiences, so this is perfect on a day that we need to be stuck inside. 

2. Second City Comedy Shows - You've likely heard of this famous venue, considering a large amount of SNL comedians got their starts right here in Chicago. The shows are surprisingly super affordable (usually around $14 per ticket), and absolutely hysterical. If you've already been, you could also try the Laugh Factory, which I've heard great things about! We love to make dinner and have drinks at home before heading over. 

3. Ice Skating Downtown -  This one may seem a little bit obvious, but I think it's always fun (not just at Christmas). The views you get while you're surround by the Chicago skyline are unparalleled. If you aren't interested in skating in circles, you could also try the new Ice Skating Ribbon right next door! 

4. FTW  - This arcade bar with cocktails, lounge areas, and a mini golf course themed after Chicago landmarks got some seriously high praise from my roommate, and we can't wait to check it out. I love that it's a good spot to both hang out, and get a little bit competitive. Plus, if the arcade games get tired, you can walk right next door to Lucky Strike!

5. Lincoln Park Conservatory - If the terrible weather has you feeling in a particularly dreary mood, try heading over to explore the warm (and humid) pathways and flowers in the Lincoln Park Conservatory. It's open to the public, and it's a great way to walk off a huge dinner at the famous Pizza Oven & Grinder Co. which is a short walk away. 

Winter weather, torrential downpours, and 450 miles hasn't been able to cramp our date-night style, so don't let it put a downer on yours either! Have fun exploring!

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Essentials of the Week!

I had an incredibly productive week (despite a fairly sleepless weekend - that 60 degree weather demanded some quality time with brunch on a patio!) I've been feeling entirely re-motivated, and finally found my focus on a few projects and decisions that have been plaguing me all month long. 

Can anyone else relate to the weight-off-your-shoulders feeling of finally crossing those major lingering items off of your to-do list, making a tough decision you've been weighing for a while, or simply getting into a strong rhythm with your routine? It's the best, right?!

Hopefully my travels this weekend to Pittsburgh with Dalton and D.C. for a work trip don't throw off this pattern I've gotten myself into...

Here are my essentials for this week!

1. Adorable Father-Daughter Moments - Considering the amount of hours I spent alongside my Dad and his guitar singing some of my favorite childhood songs, this one put the biggest smile on my face. Too precious.

2. A Producer's Response to the Upsetting 'A Dog's Purpose' Video - I, like many others, was pretty horrified by what I saw in the TMZ-leaked video of behind-the-scenes filming of A Dog's Purpose. I don't want to share the video here (that's a little bit much for a Friday) but if you really want to see it, it's easy to search. I thought this producer's response and reaction to the video was very well thought-out and well-written. Worth a read, regardless of whether it changes your opinion.  

3. The Jacket Already Topping My Spring Essentials List - Okay, so I know it's technically not even February, but we've been having some unseasonably warm-ish weather (and a LOT of rain), so I'm feeling optimistic. I'm in need of a new rain coat, anyway!

4. The Self-Forgiveness Bucket List - As you may know, I'm a huge fan of bucket lists. They help push me to step out of my comfort zones, get off the couch, and experience new things, places and people. This list had me nodding along the entire time, and while I may not be 30 yet, I am turning 24 next month, and I definitely imagined my life differently at this point. Worth a read!

5. Life-Changing Innovation for the Blind - I couldn't believe this video! What an incredible way to give some semblance of sight and awareness to those who unfortunately don't have vision of their own. I thought this was incredibly innovative, and can't wait to see what else they do with it! 

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend with (hopefully) some more good weather! 

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Favorite New Additions to J.Crew Sport!

I was more than a little bit excited when I saw that J.Crew had released a new collaborative collection with New Balance back in the fall...and I'm even more excited now that I've been able to confirm for myself that the fit, flexibility, and comfort of the collection certainly lived up to the standards I was hoping for it!

I finally scooped up my first pair of leggings from the new line, and I've been absolutely living in them. The price point still hardly differs from my favorite Lululemon leggings, but it's nice to have a new option and design brought into the mix.

Now they've added even more options in preparation for Spring, and the colors + designs are absolutely to die for! It's like they tapped into my constantly-growing obsession with olive green and ran away with it.

I've got my eye on quite a few things for the spring season...especially this gorgeous olive green rain jacket! (Mine was getting a bit old, anyway, right?!)

Which items have caught your eye? Does anyone else feel like getting the occasional new workout clothing totally re-motivates you to get going??

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Coffee Table Books to Inspire You in 2017

One of my all-time favorite decorating pieces is coffee table books (a trait I suspect I inherited from my mother, who had a seriously impressive collection). I kept all of my favorites that belonged to her, and I've been slowly incorporating new choices into my apartment as I discover ones worthwhile. 

For some time, I never quite saw the point in coffee table books. To me, it was something you flip through once from cover to cover, and then you leave it sitting on the table. In the last year or so, I've found myself flipping through them when I want to feel inspired, while I'm relaxing inside on a rainy day, or if I just want to re-visit some of the amazing pictures and stories within them. 

Not to mention most of them look gorgeous on my glass sofa table...anything to add a little color, right?!

Inspiration has started to emerge as a theme for me so far in 2017 - searching for it, acting on it, and seeing it in as many places as possible. Whether you're inspired to travel, to change up your personal style, pick up some home decor skills, or learn more about a public figure you admire, there are an endless supply of options to choose from. 

Here are some of the most inspiring coffee table books I've had my eye on this year...which one is your favorite?! Does anyone have any other suggestions?

Top: Southerner's Handbook // Vogue Living // Bobbi Brown Pretty Powerful // Big Book of Chic

Middle: Tom Ford // Luxury Hotels: Top of the World // The Things That Matter // Slim Aaron's: Once Upon A Time

Bottom: Kate Spade: All In Good Taste // Elements of Style // Humans of New York Stories // Preppy: Cultivating Ivy Style

I don't currently have much room for new decor in my apartment, but I'm keeping these at the top of my wish list to buy once I do have the space! I especially love the lifestyle books...although I could always use some new inspiration for travel, too!

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5 Steps to Refresh Your Career Post-Grad

Being about a year and a half out of college (that's scary), I've been noticing more and more that there has been an uptick in friends leaving their first jobs, getting promoted, changing companies, or even their entire career path. 

We've reached that point where people are learning more about what they want long-term, and actually accomplishing it. (small applause for them, because I'm fairly positive I still have no clue what I'm doing, or even what's for dinner tonight...)

Whatever the career challenge is that you might be facing, there is never a bad time to step back and hit the 'refresh' button. Maybe you're really comfortable where you are, but you're not challenging yourself to achieve even more. Maybe you're dying to leave the company you're working with or even the industry, but you're not sure where to begin. 

I can definitely relate to a lot of these different "what am I going to do" questions - and I've slowly been tackling them over the course of the last few months. It can be really daunting if you don't know where to begin, which is why I've broken down the most simple and effective ways to refresh your career and help you plan for what's next!

1. Constantly Re-Evaluate 

You likely work in a place that has some sort of review process in place (midyear reviews, annual reviews, performance evaluations...) These can be very helpful, but realistically no one knows you better than you know yourself. Sit down every few months and evaluate yourself. What have you been enjoying in your current role, and what do you wish was improved? Where are your strengths and weakness in your role, and what skills do you need to enhance to get to the next level or promotion? Write them down, and take real steps to accomplish them.

2. Start Developing Meaningful Connections & Get References

You may have done your fair share of networking and establishing relationships with your coworkers at this point, and perhaps you've gone so far as to really work to get to know your superiors as well. However, there is a huge difference in being an acquaintance with someone, and actually taking it to the level of a professional connection. Are they someone you'd be able to sit down for coffee with and ask for a recommendation? If not, what steps can you be taking to get to that point? Starting to gather references will go a very long way down the line when it's time for a promotion, or perhaps a change of pace.

3. Update/Scan Through Your LinkedIn Once A Month

I was definitely late to the game when it comes to embracing LinkedIn as a platform...and there is a very good chance that hurt my chances and made me miss a few opportunities. You don't have to enjoy scrolling through it every morning in place of Instagram, but doing a quick audit once a month on your profile to see if there is anything you can add/update will go a long way.

4. Keep Learning

Education and learning doesn't just stop because you wore a cap and gown and have a diploma hanging up in a frame somewhere. The real world has even more opportunities to continue to grow your skills and learn something you didn't have the chance to in college - maybe there is a coding course you find really interesting, a conference in your city with an incredible chance for networking, or some other way you can expand your skill set. These are also great conversation starts in the interview process.

5. Know Yourself & Your Strengths

A lot of people think they know what they'll enjoy or thrive in, only to find out 1-3 years after college that it wasn't exactly their dream job. When you're in that place of feeling stuck, knowing your strengths/weaknesses as well as your likes/dislikes makes a major difference, and will save you from interviewing for jobs you won't end up wanting. I used the LevoLeague App to find out my best professional skills, and it gave me an incredible amount of insight into myself. I highly recommend giving it a try!

Has anyone else felt like they're stuck in that rut of not really knowing what their next move is? It can be really daunting. I'd love to hear some of the ways you've tried (and either succeeded or failed) in hitting the reset button in the comments below!

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Cozy in Cashmere

With the exception of the amazing 60-degree Saturday we were blessed with this weekend, I've been living in cardigans and cozy sweaters as my daily uniform lately. My favorite Christmas gift by far was this ultra-soft cardigan from Banana Republic - I can't stop wearing it! 

Sweater (sold out) similar here and here and here // Jeans // Booties // Necklace // Watch //            Scarf // Sunglasses // Earrings

The days I've worn it to work have felt like having a blanket wrapped around me, and it's definitely a bit of a mood brightener! I've been trying to mix things up with my cardigans to spice up the outfits and make them stand out a little more, but honestly these days my number one goal is: warmth. 

Pairing them with a cozy scarf like my favorite one from Madewell has been a great go-to during my commute to work. For my softer scarves, I usually end up keeping them on all day!

I've been pairing it with my new favorite Sam Edelman booties pretty much any chance that I get, and they go perfectly with just about everything. Layered necklaces have proven to be another great way to mix things up with my cardigan-constant wardrobe lately, too.

Unfortunately, this exact sweater just sold out (but I'm hopeful they'll bring it back to the site soon!) I managed to find a few of my other new favorites that are super similar though! You can shop them and the entire look below:

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Essentials of the Week!

Thank goodness this was a short week. I don't think having an extra day to get myself together has ever been more needed than it was on Monday...last weekend was definitely a whirlwind, and I was so grateful to have all of Monday to really shift into productivity mode. 

Finally having everything in place, Christmas decorations put away (oops), 6 loads of laundry, and my room being the cleanest it has ever been really helped me center my focus for the week.

I'm looking forward to a weekend of (mostly) working on some big things coming to the blog next month, some career planning, and relaxing. 

Here are my essentials from this very productive week!

1. On My Watchlist This Weekend - I go through phases with documentaries. I'll go months without watching one, and then suddenly I watch six in a row. This list of women-empowerment documentaries on Netflix definitely has my interest!

2. Disney Pixar Reveals the Truth - This video showing the secret ways that every Disney Pixar movie we've ever loved was too much. I couldn't believe how many things I'd been missing (in movies I'd seen dozens of times!)

3. A Sweater with Perfect Details - I've been focusing on keeping my closet and shopping habits to trend towards classic items that will last me a long time, but with enough differentiation that they're still interesting and cute! This sweater fits into that perfectly. Now to decide which color...

4. Ellen Makes History - Little known fact about me, I have never in my life watched a single minute of an award show on TV. No, seriously... That doesn't keep me from reading all about the highlights though! When I saw that Ellen broke an all-time record by winning her 20th People's Choice Award, I knew I had to mention it. I've always loved Ellen, and I think it couldn't be more deserved!

5. The CUTEST shift dress - for only $65! - I've been setting my sights a little bit past winter now that I've booked my birthday trip to Puerto Rico in March. All I can think about is dresses, swimsuits, and resort-wear. This shift dress immediately caught my eye, and it's only $65!

What's on your agenda for the weekend??

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Fitness Playlist for 2017!

Towards the end of last summer, I really re-dedicated myself to working out consistently throughout the week. I still have my days where a conflict in my schedule prevents me from going, but anytime that I don't have something else planned I make sure to make it to class (even on the horrible rainy winter days that make me want to curl up in bed). 

I've found that the more often I go, the more excited I've become to go again and again. I think a huge part of it is having found a workout routine that finally works for me (more on that soon!), but it's also just the way that it makes me feel overall. (Especially in all of my super comfortable athleisure clothes like these!)

There is a very noticeable difference in my mood and demeanor if I've been going to the gym vs. weeks where I haven't been able to find the time. (Translation - I get super cranky. Sorry Dalton!)

One of the best parts about the classes I attend is that they always have great and energizing music, and I'm constantly wondering what the songs are called. I finally started taking screenshots of their playlists so that I can download and listen to them when I'm walking around or running errands, and I decided this was the perfect excuse to make a new fitness playlist for my Spotify account! 

You can listen to the playlist directly below, or you can open it up in your Spotify app and save it! The playlist is a little over 2 hours long, so if you're like me and tend to skip around a lot during workouts, you'll still have plenty to choose from!

Happy listening!

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What To Bring to Sorority Recruitment!

While it's definitely been a little while since my last sorority recruitment, I still have a lot of friends on campus (and a sorority family member who is the recruitment chair), so I still hear about it...a lot. It's almost like I never left!

Earlier last week, I shared a round-by-round outfit guide for winter recruitment to help incoming Freshman (and sophomores) navigate the process in style! Shortly after posting and sharing it to my friends on campus, my inbox was flooded with emails full of questions from girls asking about recruitment, what to bring, and whether or not the dresses they sent me were a good fit! 

It was honestly a blast, and I'm loving answering all of them, so keep them coming! One of the main questions that kept surfacing was what to bring in your bag the day of. This honestly applies to everyone, both new members and active sorority members alike! 

Unless you're some kind of superhuman, I don't know anyone that can withstand 10 hours straight of chatting, cheering, and sweating it out in a crowded room without needing a few things to help them get through the day.

That's why I wanted to share exactly what to have in your bag to survive recruitment and look your best from round one to the final round!

1. Hairbrush + Straightener/Curler - This one kinda speaks for itself!

2. Mini Perfume - Obviously you don't want to overdo it, but smelling your best is definitely a priority, and not the simplest task after sweating in hot rooms all day!

3. Headphones + Phone Charger - Sometimes it can be nice to just turn off all the white noise and take a break from talking in between rounds (your vocal cords will thank you, too!)

4. Makeup Wipes/Remover - You'll definitely need touch-ups throughout the day, and in my opinion it's best to have a fresh start! Wipe off any smeared or smudged makeup and re-apply!

5. Lip Balm - Even more important in winter recruitment, all of that talking will leaves your lips seriously dry!

6. Hair Ties + Bobby Pins/Clips - You're likely planning on wearing your hair down, but these still manage to come in handy from time to time. 

7. Deodorant - enough said. Keep it fresh!

8. Makeup Bag + Makeup - You probably don't need to bring your entire makeup arsenal, but having a few things for touch-ups on hand is a good idea.

9. Nail Polish - This one might seem a little silly, but you didn't go to all of the trouble of having them perfectly polished only to have them chip halfway through the day!

10. Snacks + Energy Drink or Coffee - These days are seriously draining, and you can't expect to be at your best when you're running on fumes.

11. Hairspray/Texturizer - I've been absolutely swearing by DryBar Triple Sec. It gives my hair great volume and texture, and it acts as a dry shampoo too!

12. Bandaids/Advil/Lint Roller - The mom's trifecta of essential items to have on hand. It will spare you from blisters, inevitable headaches, and outfit struggles.

13. Notepad & Pen - Between each round, I always liked to jot down notes about everything I could remember, and rank a house/my experience on a scale of 1-10. It's a rough system, but it's at least slightly helpful when it comes to scoring at the end of a very long day where all of your conversations have blurred together in your memory!

14. Water - Drink about ten times the amount you think you need! Sweating, talking and moving around takes it out of you more than you can imagine. 
                      Confession - I didn't drink enough water during one of the rounds as a freshman, and I nearly fainted in a house! I had to interrupt a girl only moments after we started talking because I thought I was going to collapse right in front of her. They had to get a chair and glass of water for me, and it was beyond embarrassing. So drink up!!

It's definitely a physically and emotionally draining process, but try to remember that it's supposed to be fun, too! You're about to have four years of fun, friendships, memories, parties, and moments that will completely shape your college experience for the better. 

Good luck to all those who are rushing! Feel free to email me at: prepessentials@gmail.com if you have any questions!

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The Perfect Leather Booties

I was way late into the game when it comes to loving shoes. It's not that I don't like them, but considering I'm 5'10", I never got quite as excited about things like heels and wedges the way my friends did. 

Towards the end of college, I learned to suck it up and embrace my height, heels and all, and I've slowly been embracing my ever-growing shoe collection. I still only buy shoes that add something new to my closet, and that I can wear in almost any occasion, but it's still been a definite improvement. 

Over the holidays, Dalton got me a pair of Sam Edelman Booties, and they are officially my new favorite pair of shoes in my closet. They are so comfortable! I was hesitant to start wearing them at first because breaking in new booties is never fun, but there has been absolutely no blistering or pain at all! 

These booties are perfect for dressing up or wearing with a casual look, and I've worn them for almost five straight hours of running errands without feeling a moment of discomfort. 

The best part? They're on major sale right now! I'm definitely going to get myself another pair in a different color as a birthday gift for myself next month because they're simply too good to pass up. 

You can shop these boots in every color below!

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13 Things I Wish I'd Known Before My Last Semester of College

Whether you're one of the few who manages to complete college early, you're right on time, or you've taken longer than the traditional 4 years to complete your time as an undergrad, that last semester is full of a lot of different emotions, memories and experiences. 

For me, time was moving so quickly I don't feel like I ever really got to take a second and just savor everything - to really take it all in. I was constantly reminding myself to appreciate all of the friends, fun, and special places, but time still traveled at warp speed all the same. 

One thing I wish I had known to do before beginning that final semester was sit down and think about all of the things I wanted to make sure I accomplished. Some may call it a bucket list, but to me it's a little bit more than that. 

After speaking with a few of my friends (both current post-grads, current seniors, and even a few juniors) I've pulled together a master list of our best ideas and advice for the way to make the most of your final semester of college before you begin the next phase of your life. There are some things that you'll never be able to find or experience once you walk across that graduation stage!

1. Say Yes More - If you're exhausted, say yes to drinks with friends. If you're in a cranky mood, don't let it stop you from missing out on something fun. Time is limited!

2. Take pictures of absolutely everything - This one is easier, in theory, given how glued we are to our phones...but looking back on my final semester, there are infinite things I wish I'd taken pictures of. They don't need to all be your best photo ever, or even a great one at all that's worthy of Instagram. Document the little moments.

3. Pull More All-Nighters (the fun kind!) - My final semester was definitely my most exhausting one, but I am so glad that I spent more time getting out of my house and doing things than laying around sleeping or missing out. 

4. Stay In Bed All Day Watching TV - Despite #3, the luxury of sleeping in on a weekday and having absolutely nothing on your agenda is something you won't have for years and years. Take it all in. 

5. Explore Places on Campus You've Never Been - I couldn't believe how many places on campus I fell in love with in my last semester that I'd been missing out on. There were a ton of activities, places and fun things we could have been doing that we just didn't take the time to find!

6. Look Up School Traditions & Cross Them Off - Every school has a ton of amazing traditions. Look them up, and make sure you're not missing a thing!

7. Take Your Graduation Photos in Advance - Besides the fact that our graduation took place during a torrential downpour rain, we had plenty of sunshine before the ceremony and absolutely zero time to do anything about it. That morning is frantic, so take pictures with your friends and anywhere on campus that you want ahead of time. 

8. Don't Stop Networking (even if you already have a job) - I went into my senior year with a job offer already signed, which was an incredibly luxury. One disservice it did for me though? I stopped taking the time to network with other professors and even students! You're going to need connections later in life, whether you have your first job locked down or not. 

9. Find Other Students Moving to the Same City Post-Grad - I was fortunate enough to move to the beautiful city of Chicago...alongside hundreds of other kids who went to Miami. Some I already knew, many I've met since moving, but either way it's always nice to see a familiar face. Find out who else is heading in the same direction as you and get their number! You'll be glad to have someone to navigate your new territory with. 

10. Stop Sweating the Small Stuff - You just don't have enough time left to be sitting around worrying about someone who didn't text you back, petty drama with friends, or that one single exam score you didn't ace. 

11. Help Out Younger Friends - You're among the most knowledgeable and experienced group of people on campus now. Be a good resource for your younger friends, whether they need internship advice or just someone to look up to, it's incredibly rewarding and they'll be so grateful.

12. Sell Everything You Can - There are a ton of things at the end of college that you'll simply never need again. Sell it, pass it down, or throw it out. The less stuff you bring with you, the better! This is one of the freshest starts you'll ever get in life, so use it well. 

13. Take At Least One Spontaneous Trip - While leaving campus is never appealing while time is winding down, my absolute best memories of college and frankly in my life include a few of the spontaneous day or weekend trips I took with friends during my final semester. Find somewhere nearby and have a new adventure.

There are obviously a lot of ways to make the most of your time remaining on campus, but the most important thing above all is to just enjoy it and have fun with whoever is around you. Post-grad life can be intimidating, and absolutely amazing all at the same time.

Good luck, and have fun!

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Essentials of the Week!

This month has been a little bit...rocky so far. Things have all been completely turned upside down for me, both personally and professionally, and as a result I keep flipping from feeling in control and confident to confused, stressed and exhausted. 

Being the first full week back at work, I thought things might start to sift back into place but...no such luck. This weekend I'm going to focus on getting back into my routine, focusing on myself, and cutting myself some slack. With any luck, by the end of the weekend I'll have a little more faith that things always work out for the best in the end.

Something about the new year always makes me ten times more critical of myself and my decisions, as if I'm setting the tone for everything else with my first two weeks of January. I'm planning on taking tonight to unplug, step away from socializing and just getting lost in a book on the couch. 

With that being said...here are my essentials that got me through this hectic week!

1. The Shoes I've Been Coveting All Week - I've essentially decided that the minute I can imagine enough outfits in my head that I could see myself wearing these with to justify the cost...I'm scooping them up! I love the bow detail, and they're so different than anything else I have!

2. Journey to the Past - I personally am not really a big fan of Musicals (I think my last one was Wicked on Broadway at age 13, which was amazing) but the minute I saw this my jaw dropped. I will absolutely plan a trip to NYC the moment I can to go watch this. Did anyone else sing these songs for hours growing up? I had the music box and everything. Let the countdown begin...

3. Packing My Bags - I (somewhat impulsively) decided earlier this week that I wanted to spend my 24th birthday in Puerto Rico, where my cousin just purchased a house! I visited her for spring break senior year, and she taught me how to surf! I'm already eyeing this swimsuit and this one. 46 more days!

4. For the Readers Out There - I'm planning on doing another book roundup soon of what I've been reading/what's next on my list, but I had to share this series now because I've read books 1 & 2 of the trilogy in three days flat and I am loving it! It's a dark/modern twist on Alice and Wonderland.

5. Set Your Sights on Sunshine - With the decision to go to Puerto Rico, I've been looking to re-vamp my swimsuit wardrobe and couldn't believe how many sales there are in JANUARY! This one-piece is amazing, and I think it might be the first one-piece to make it into my closet (unless you count old swim team suits from elementary school...which I do not, ha!)

That's it for this week! I hope you all have amazing weekends!

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Studio-To-Street Style

I've been staying much busier than normal in recent months, especially so far in January. While I love always being on the move (I get energy from being busy almost to the point of stressed - go figure!) I can definitely sometimes feel limited in my style choices based on what my plans are for the day. 

Having to deal with multiple outfit changes for different occasions is such a pain, and who wants to carry around a mini-wardrobe in their purse all day? Not this girl. 

Thankfully, I work in an office that doesn't have a dress code policy, and I've been slowly incorporating more athleisure items into my daily wardrobe to take me from work, to Pure Barre, to whatever social event I have that evening (and by social event, I usually mean the couch with Netflix...)

I've found a couple of brands I love, but I don't really like shelling out a ton of money for what I still consider to be "active-wear". I've compiled some of my favorites from a few different brands (and budgets) that I've been loving and wearing nonstop lately below!

Sidenote - these leggings might be the greatest things I've ever purchased. I love them. I wear them all the time, even when I'm not planning on working out that day! Such a fun twist on my normal black pairs.

The items below are great when you're just trying to stock up on your athletic/athleisure wardrobe, and don't necessarily need everything to be top of the line or super high quality. I don't like to fill my closet with these, because I'd rather just invest in something I know is built to last, but I definitely sprinkle these into my wardrobe occasionally!

One of my favorite ways to take my outfit from work to working out is using wraps, long-sleeves, and lots of layers. I can remove them as I warm up in my Pure Barre classes, and they pull the look together for other activities outside of the studio.

The easiest possible way to really pull together an athleisure look is with the right accessories and smaller pieces. Here are some of my favorites I've picked up in the last few weeks (and a few I'm still keeping on my wish list for my birthday in March!)

Let's be honest - any excuse I can find to stick to leggings all day every day is just fine with me! Thankfully this athleisure trend seems to be here to stay, and I'm loving my new cozy winter looks.

Does anyone have any fun fitness goals for the year? I've been challenging myself to attend 20 Pure Barre classes in 31 days - it's been going so well, I think I'll do it again next month!

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Tortoise + Camel

If you've been following my Instagram feed lately, you may have noticed that I have a bit of an obsession with neutral tones...I think they pair so perfectly with simple accessories and boots, and I love mixing a few different shades to create new outfits. 

I've picked up a few new sweaters lately to help feed my obsession, like this absolutely amazing mock turtleneck sweater. It's super roomy, the neck fits loosely (which is a must for me), and extra soft. Checking all of the boxes? Yes. 

Lately I've been pairing my favorite neutral sweaters and cardigans with my go-to Madewell tote, some tortoise accessories like this bangle and this one, and my favorite new brown booties! (these things are insanely comfortable...more on those soon!)

Thankfully the Chicago weather has even graced us with lightening up on the frigid temperatures long enough for us to ditch the parkas for a day or two - let's hope it lasts a little while! 

My favorite part about this sweater is that its long enough in the back to pair with leggings, but comes up in the front to mimic that 'tucked-in' look and show off your jeans (currently wearing my comfiest skinny jeans - I have four pairs!)

I can't say enough good things about these boots though...I think I'm in love!

You can shop the full look below! Is anyone else obsessing over mixed neutrals this winter like I am? I'm already brainstorming ways to carry on the trend throughout spring...I'm thinking trench coats! Hope you're all staying warm!

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How to Dress For Winter Sorority Recruitment!

One of the things that surprised me the most when I decided to attend Miami was that the sorority recruitment was in January, instead of the fall. Of course, this doesn't happen everywhere, but I realized it was a lot more common than I thought!

This became a lot trickier when I actually experienced winter recruitment and realized...outfits just got a whole lot more difficult to plan! It's not as simple to throw on a dress when you're trying to be seasonally appropriate. 

Every school has a slightly different set of rules when it comes to outfit guidelines, but they are more or less fairly similar. Check your campus Panhellenic website, and see if they might have a Pinterest board with suggestions like Miami does! I've rounded up some of my favorite outfits appropriate for the different dress codes of winter recruitment to make things a little bit easier!

(If you're still not sure if Greek Life is right for you, check out my post on helping you decide!)

Before I share these ideas though, I want to make sure to take a second and emphasize how important it is to be yourself. While the rounds tend to have guidelines, think of them more as a dress 'code' than being told to dress in a way you wouldn't normally! If you aren't yourself, the process will not work. Own your personal style and let it be reflected - sororities want girls who are beautifully and uniquely themselves!

Open House/Welcome Round
The First Round (often called Open House) almost always comes with a t-shirt that all girls are given. This round is fairly casual, and usually pretty brief! Simple, classic and natural looks are the way to go.

Pick out your favorite pair of boots, booties or even flats to pair with a great pair of well-fitting jeans and the shirt provided. The best way to stand out and personalize your look on this day would be to use some casual and classic jewelry or accessories. Remember, you're wearing a t-shirt - crazy intense makeup or super fancy jewelry will look a bit out of place here.

Shop some of my favorite options for shoes, jeans and jewelry for this round below!

First Round
This round can have different names (depending on the school - could be called first round, philanthropy round, sisterhood round, skit round...you get the idea! Obviously follow the dress code provided to you for each day). For all intents and purposes, we will assume that this is the day you've been instructed to wear a casual, nice outfit. 

This round was my personal favorite! You aren't incredibly dressed up, and the outfits are still casual, but you're given a lot more room to let your personal style shine through. Options would typically include jeans, dressier tops, casual dresses or skirts. Shoes would still be boots, booties, or a simple and classic pair of heels or flats. 

The way to think of this round would be to imagine what you would wear to a nice dinner, on a date night, or to church!

I've included a few outfits for inspiration below, and you can shop my favorite pieces to string together some of these looks too.

Second Round
Things are starting to get a little bit more narrowed down, which might make you nervous - but it should be making you excited! You're given the opportunity to spend more time with the sororities you've connected with the best, and you get to meet girls on a more personal level. 

Again, this differs with every school, so be sure to check the Panhellenic Website for your campus to find the dress code guidelines. At Miami, we are told to dress "Business Casual" - this one really threw me off as a freshman. I had never worn business casual before, and I had no idea where to start. (To me, that sounded like it would be impossible to be dressy and not look frumpy or plain. Definitely not the case!)

Here, your best bet is to aim for a nicer dress or skirt/top combination, with a pair of simple and comfortable heels or flats. A cardigan, cute belt, and fancier jewelry are all good ways to personalize this look and make it feel a little more fashionable. Classic neutral tones, black dresses, or simple color combinations are a great idea!

I've included a few outfits for inspiration below, and you can shop my favorite pieces to string together some of these looks too.

Preference Round
You've made it to the big round! You've narrowed it down to around 3 sororities, and you're so close to finding your home and sisters for the next four years. 

This round is all about ritual, and meaningful connections and conversations. A lot of sororities tend to wear either all black, or all white dresses for this round. For this reason, I personally might try to find a dress that would stand out in a sea of those colors and avoid white or black, but this is by no means a rule. I actually wore a white/black/silver patterned dress for this round, so I blended in a little bit, but still stood out in my own way. 

I recommend that you wear either a classic and comfortable cocktail dress, or a nice skirt and blouse combination. Something you would wear to a nicer event, wedding, or formal dinner. You could try adding tights to the look, too! For shoes, stick to heels or flats. If you have a special piece of jewelry or nice earrings that you love, this would be a perfect time to put them on!

I've included a few outfits for inspiration below, and you can shop my favorite pieces to string together some of these looks too.

Hopefully this gave you enough variety and ideas to feel inspired and ready to rock every round of recruitment! Remember - it's so much more than the outfits, but you will feel like your very best self if you're wearing something you're comfortable and confident in. It's all about showing them who you are!

Good luck to everyone going through recruitment - I hope you all find your new homes on campus!

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