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SUMMER PLANS + SEERSUCKER STRIPES

My summer bucket list reads as follows:

I’m not going to check in on work emails when it’s a sunny Sunday afternoon and I’m lying out in the park.

I’m not going to let it throw me off course if we stay out for just one more cold drink on a hot night and I end up skipping a workout the next morning.

I’m not going to care if I don’t always have a new outfit to post here because I have plentyyy of cute dresses already in my closet (this one included).

I’m not going to stress about spending weekends finishing up the last of our apartment projects by any set deadline, and run off to the lake house any chance I get instead.

I’m not going to compare myself to what anyone else is doing – whether that be having a baby this summer or island hopping off the coast of Greece, and instead feel content with everything I’ve got going on.

You get the point. Less worry, more in the moment, at ease, enjoyment.

And if you’re thinking – ugh, sounds nice but no one is that relaxed in reality.. what a charmed life. Know that last summer I was in such a rough spot I spent weeks, maybe months, not truly enjoying a single aspect of summer. There have been summers where I was so stressed about work and life that I spent sunny Saturday mornings in an anxiety-ridden frenzy in our old, dark apartment. So this hasn’t come easy.

Adam and I are in a sort of funny position this summer as so many around us are having babies this year (no less than 6 couples we know either had a baby this spring or are due by the fall!) and as I watch their lives dramatically change – I feel myself almost giddy with the incredible freedom of our own lives. This summer we’re going to drink margaritas and dance in the streets and go on midnight swims in the lake and sleep in late and get too much sun and anything else we damn well please. Call it selfish if you will. But I hear a lot of new parents say they wish they had reveled in this stage more. So that’s exactly what I intend to do. No aspirational list of do’s. Just a vague list of dont’s.

And while I’m having all of the aforementioned fun, I’ll likely be in simple outfits like this one. A seersucker dress, comfortable sandals (sold-out now, sorry! But they’ve got lots of other super cute options) and a cheap pair of sunglasses. Ready for you summer!

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POLKA DOTS AT THE PALAIS-ROYAL

You know how sometimes a place becomes heavily photographed on Instagram and then when you actually go, it’s not quite as nice as everyone’s photos make it out to be? The Palais-Royal isn’t like that. I had actually come to this spot back in 2008 on my first trip to Paris (armed with just a digital camera) and remember loving the grandness of the old French courtyard and gardens set against the graphic pop of these raised columns at varied heights. So I knew I wanted to swing back through on this trip. Although I have to say, I don’t remember what I wore back in 2008 but this may be my favorite outfit I wore on our whole trip.

I actually bought this polka dot midi dress back in March for my girl’s trip to Charleston with my Mom and Sister (it makes me think of a cross between Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman), but I knew it was destined to make an appearance in Paris too. I stepped it up a bit with these cute little polka dot flats too which I picked up as a replacement to a similar gingham pair that I wore to shreds over the past couple of years.

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5 WAYS TO WEAR A FLORAL MIDI DRESS

After such a great reaction to my last styling video (5 ways to wear a linen blazer) – and honestly just having so much fun doing it – I polled you all on IG Stories over the weekend to see if you’d like to see a Midi Dress or White Jeans next. The midi dress won by a mile and so I’m back! You can see the entire IGTV video here and shop each look below. Since a few pieces are older from my closet I linked the closest possible thing (and the YSL clutch you see in the first look is vintage). Hope this inspires you to try wearing your own midi dresses in new ways this summer!

*And a quick note on this specific dress – it was a bit of a splurge (although I waited to snag it on sale for 20% off) but honestly the fit is so flattering and as seen here it can be worn a million different ways. I found it to run a little small though. I’m wearing a size 4 here and definitely couldn’t have gone any smaller.. especially if you’re curvier up top you may want to size up. However it has smocking in the back so overall I find it really comfortable!

SHOP LOOK 1: CLASSIC DATE NIGHT

SHOP LOOK 2: GIRL’S NIGHT OUT

SHOP LOOK 3: WEEKEND ERRANDS

SHOP LOOK 4: PICNIC DATE

SHOP LOOK 5: UPTOWN BRUNCH

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THE STEELE MAIDEN BOOK CLUB: CHAPTER EIGHT

I’m not quite sure why it took me over 2 months to read 2 books, but here we are. I’m looking forward to warmer days when I can read in the park or spend a weekend at the lake, reading beside the water – pretty much my all time favorite activity! Anyway.. below are my thoughts on the books I read in March/April and what’s on my shelf next. And if you’re looking for more – you can always find all of my book club picks here.

Becoming by Michelle Obama: First of all, drop whatever political baggage you’re holding at the door. This book isn’t here for that. This is the incredible true story of a woman born on the south side of Chicago, raised in a one bedroom apartment who went on to graduate with a law degree from Harvard and become the first African American First Lady this country has ever seen. It’s such an incredible story about the power of knowledge, hard work and resilience. It’s a story about what it means to be a young black girl in Chicago and how if you don’t like what that story typically is – you can fight to write a different one for yourself. It’s about marriage through difficult times and motherhood through crazy circumstances. It’s a human story and I highly recommend it.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante: This book is by an Italian author and was translated into English and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that for me, there may have been a little something lost in the beauty of the translation. This is also the first in an anthology (The Neopolitan Novels) of four books and something about that kind of seemed daunting in the back of my head while I read it, like I’d still have so much more to read. All that being said, it’s still a precisely crafted novel about the story of friendship between two young girls – starting at about aged 5-6 and ending at age 16-17 taking place in a small village in Italy in the 1950s. Painting a complex story about coming of age mixed with poverty, family relations, education and community that felt like a slow burn – in a good way. And by the end? I still knew I’d have to pick up the next book at some point.

Next up: I’ll be reading Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly (a novel based on the real-life story of a WWII-era New York socialite and a renegade group of concentration camp survivors), Maid by Stephanie Land (the memoir of a working mother’s will to survive), French Exit by Patrick DeWitt (a romp of a story about an Upper East Side Mother and Son who fall from grace and flee to Paris), Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (a multi-generational novel about how a decision by two people can affect families for years to come), and Black Swans by Eve Babitz (about the wild world of NYC in the 80s and 90s). I’ve got a lot of reading to do but I’m so excited about all of these books. Hope you’ll pick one or two of them up for yourself!

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DREAMING OF PARIS IN THE SPRING + HOW I GOT THERE

I had been dreaming of this trip for a long time. The first time I went to Paris was 11 years ago. I was just 20 years only and followed my study abroad tour group with big eyes and a stomach hungry for crepes. It was an amazing few days but honestly most of it passed in a blur. As the years ticked by I would think about Paris often and how grand the city felt, thinking – just hoping someday I’d get the chance to go back.

A year ago I made a list of places I’d like to travel in 2019 and Paris sat firmly in the Spring. For 6 months I thought about it wistfully but it seemed unattainable. But then I realized – everything is unattainable until you make a plan. And so I did. Adam and I decided not to get each other Christmas presents, I took 3 whole months off from shopping and I packed my lunch every single work day so far this year. We slowly set aside our pennies instead. I combed AirBnB to find a cheap option in the neighborhood we were dying to stay in. I tracked flights religiously to find the best deal. We researched how to take the train from the airport to save on costly taxi rides. In short – we found a way to make the dream a reality.

I wanted to share all of this before I dove in to sharing the “pretty pictures” because I think blogs/Instagram often gloss over all of the realities. I see a lot of people take these extravagant trips and share this gorgeous “content” – and say nothing of what it might have taken to get there. Sure, maybe some of them are just lavishly wealthy, but I’d guess a lot of them are likely cutting the same corners as we do and have to carefully save their money too. But not a lot of people mention that. So it comes off looking/feeling like everyone but you is leading a glamorous life.

I don’t want you to feel that way when you look at our pictures from this trip. Instead I hope you feel inspired to set a big goal for yourself and then make a plan to get there. Paris lived up to every single memory and wish I had for it – and then some. And it was even sweeter knowing that we had worked hard to get there. As opposed to my last trip, I know I’ll be remembering this one in crisp detail for many years to come.

Stay tuned for the full travel guide + lots more outfits of the outfits I wore there that are perfect for spring/summer!

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Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.