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THE BEST SUMMER BAGS TO SHOP NOW

Is it just me or is the selection of bags available in the world right now especially good? I’ve been making such a point of being really careful with how I shop so far this year – only buying things when I know that they’re filling a gap in my existing wardrobe or can be worn a handful of ways – but a fun summer bag definitely meets those qualifications. Even with a simple cotton dress or jeans and a tee, any one of these bags would completely make the outfit. My favorites are this seventies-style wooden bead bag, this fun gingham fabric bag, this colorful vintage clutch and this seersucker lined straw tote (which I just got in and it’s even better in person). It’s going to take quite a bit of self control to not scoop of an armful of these babies.

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5 WAYS TO WEAR A LINEN BLAZER

I’ve been seeing quick little styling videos pop up on Instagram lately and I love how kind of unpolished and in the moment they feel. So I decided to do a try-on session using one of my favorite new closet additions – this linen blazer. It’s the perfect neutral and lightweight so you can throw it on in a chilly office or in the morning before the temps warm up, and I like that it looks lived in so it’s casual enough for weekends too. Watch my full video here – and below I’ve linked each outfit so it’s easily shoppable.

(P.S. It looks like this blazer has sold out in a lot of sizes right now, but definitely check back because I find that they re-stock often enough you can usually grab your size – if not, this or this would be a good alternative)

LOOK 1:

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LOOK 3:

LOOK 4:

LOOK 5:

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LET’S CATCH UP 4.27.19


I feel like I have lots to catch up on (both in real life and here on the blog). After being away with family the past two weekends in a row and then being knocked out with a dreadful cold all week, I’m thrilled to be resuming my regular New York life this weekend. Below, a few things on my mind:

  1. If you’re looking for a new show this weekend – I highly recommend ‘Shrill’ on Hulu starring Aidy Bryant. I’ve been a fan of Aidy’s for a long time now via SNL but this show is something else all together. Essentially it deals with her relationship with (and society’s views of) her body – and plus size women in general. The whole show is great but there’s one scene in particular in which there’s a pool party and every woman there is plus size. I don’t think there has ever been a scene in TV history where that many curvy women were shown in swimsuits. It’s wasn’t the one “token friend” – it was everyone. There was cellulite and rolls and bikinis and I just was so happy that the next generation of girls is going to grow up and not only see one type of stick skinny body represented in media. The whole show is really powerful. And also brilliantly funny. Please watch.
  2. Two weeks from now Adam and I will be in Paris which feels frighteningly soon but also extremely exciting. I went once 10 years ago while studying abroad in London but he’s never been so we have lots to see and do. Aside from planning our site-seeing and restaurant research I know I’ll be grabbing these cute polk dot flats (on sale in Talbots Friends & Family 30% off sale) for all the walking we’ll do on this trip. Bon voyage!
  3. A few weeks ago I got my second earring holes pierced and a follower on Instagram asked for my tips. For some reason my friend and I thought it was going to be a really breezy experience – like we’ll grab a coffee, pierce our ears and go on. She had her first holes done as a baby so had no memory and I had mine done in middle school so it’s pretty foggy (plus my eyebrow pierced in college but that’s a whole other rodeo I won’t go into right now). To make a long story short it was not breezy. We picked an affordable tattoo shop and while it was fine, I can’t say I’d specifically recommend it either. I’ve known people who have gone to the trendy Manhattan places like Maria Tash and had a good experience but paid upwards of $150 for a single piercing by the time you buy the jewelry. I wasn’t down for that so we went the tattoo shop route (I paid about $70 total for both ears including jewelry). Just read reviews! Now to the piercing. My friend went first and her ears shockingly bled so much that she legit had blood down the back of her shirt. I watched in horror while wearing a white eyelet dress. Don’t do this. Apparently it’s perfectly normal to bleed a little or a lot – which we didn’t know – so wear dark colors just in case. Afterwards, you’re supposed to wear your hair pulled back for awhile so nothing gets tangled up and you’ll be cleaning them at least twice daily which honestly has added a solid 10 minutes to my morning and night routine. So I wouldn’t plan to do this right before traveling or a big event necessarily. Also, I spent several nights barely able to sleep because I could only lay on my back until Adam brilliantly thought I should try an airplane pillow (so that I could sleep on my side but that my ear would be in the middle not touching anything). That truly saved me. Basically, know that it’s kind of going to be a drag for about a month. But I’m happy I finally bit the bullet and did it because I’m excited to be able to wear tiny studs in the second holes and this will likely be my last piercing… like, ever.
  4. My sister and I are holding each other accountable for a 21 day online workout course called ‘Beach Body On Demand’ – a ridiculous name but honestly the best workouts I’ve had in years. These 30 minute circuits have me using muscles that I never even knew existed. I’m on Day 8 and feel stronger already. I haven’t weighed myself in years so I won’t be able to report on whether or not I lose any weight but I’m excited to see new muscles form and my stamina increase. It’s also just so good to raise the bar for yourself every once in awhile. Aside from the extreme soreness, ha, I feel really mentally recharged in a surprising way.
  5. After monthsss of searching for a couch that’s not too long but also not too short for our space, cool and modern but still completely comfortable and bold but not overly trendy – I think we’ve found “the one“. The best part is, they’ll carry it up the stairs of our 4th floor walk-up.
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SPRING STYLE + WHY I (SOMETIMES) AVOID SALES

Back when I decided to give up shopping for a month (you can read about my Dry January here), I hadn’t realized just how many sales there are in a given month. Especially in January. And apparently… in April. Armed with my new shopping philosophy this year (less is more, stay true to my personal style and think of my bigger financial picture before hitting ‘buy’) I had been doing extremely well so far this year. In fact as of today I’ve only bought ONE SINGLE ITEM OF CLOTHING so far in 2019. #humblebrag

But then this past week hit and it was like all of my favorite stores conspired to put their cute new spring clothes on sale and tempt me. I nearly hit ‘buy’ at no less than 3 different stores this past weekend alone. But each time, something stopped me. And that’s my “wishlist”. About a month ago, knowing I would inevitably want/need a few new things for the season ahead I made a list of things that made the cut. A new spring blazer (the ones I had for work in Fall and Winter got a ton of wear so it makes sense to get a lighter weight one for this season), a belted shirtdress (the one shown in these photos was something I got last summer and wore countless times – a new color will be good to add into the rotation). And so on.

So this past weekend, every time a sale nearly tempted me (hello cute gingham swimsuit that’s only $27!) I referred to the list. Is it on there? If not, then pass. For god sakes I already own a gingham bikini! But it’s so easy to get swept up in 50% off and something shiny and new. I’m not saying I’ll never impulse buy again, but after years – nay, decades – of that habit, I’m more than willing to at least finish out this year with a more stringent approach.

That being said, a new spring bag was on my list and this one (which is, ahem, on sale right now) hits all the marks. Feels fun thanks to the gingham print but the neutral colors means it will match with nearly everything in my wardrobe. What’s on your “wishlist” this spring. See more of mine here.

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5 EASY AND AFFORDABLE RENTAL-FRIENDLY UPDATES

The Steele Maiden: Before and After - Apartment Entryway Makeover

This time of year always makes me want to switch up my home decor. Luckily, we’ve still got plenty of projects to work on here – but if you’re in the mood for something that freshens up your space, below are my favorite weekend projects that are big on impact but still simple, affordable and rental friendly!

CREATE AN ACCENT WALL:

Hands down my favorite way to make a big statement in a room without a huge commitment. My go-to has always been a rich, dark color – in my first NYC studio apartment I carved out a “bedroom” nook with a deep charcoal grey color behind my bed and it felt so cozy, but in this apartment I love our navy wall that leads into the entryway). And if your landlord approves it – I can’t recommend wallpaper enough. More expensive than a can of paint but SO much fun and personality can be added via print on a wall.

SWITCH YOUR HARDWARE:

I found the below nightstands at Home Goods – and while I loved that they were simple, narrow and included a drawer, the original black knobs made them look cheaper somehow. I found these agate and wood rectangle knobs at Anthropologie, swapped them out in 5 minutes and it elevated the whole look. Plus no one else will have the exact same nightstands now! An under $20 upgrade that makes me happy every time I see them.

The Steele Maiden: Fall Reading List

CHANGE YOUR LIGHT FIXTURES:

The only thing I truly disliked about our current apartment was the stock, rental light fixtures. If you’re a renter you know the kind. Those sort of gross flush mount ones that barely put off any light? Yeah.. get rid of those. I store mine high up in a closet so that when we move I can throw them back on and take my new lighting with me wherever we go next. While you’re at it? Add a ceiling medallion. I found this one for around $20 at Home Depot and it adds an instant bit of old world elegance to the place. Another 5 minute project that makes your place look really finished.

JUST ADD PLANTS:

To be honest, it’s really taken me a solid year in this new apartment to feel like I’m developing a green thumb. It takes daily maintenance. But the rewards of walking in to your home and seeing LIFE all around you is huge to me. Plants are proven to help filter the air in your home and definitively make people feel happier. Grab a new green friend this weekend, put it in a pretty pot and voila!

DIY A CUSTOM HEADBOARD:

I wanted the look of a custom headboard but didn’t want to commit to the price. So we found a cheap upholstered headboard online, covered it in batting from the craft fair and then wrapped it in a beautiful rich velvet fabric I had (and secured with a staple gun on the back). The entire project cost $100 but looks so much more expensive then that.

The Steele Maiden Book Club: Chapter Three

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Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.