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FALL’S BIGGEST TREND: LEOPARD PRINT

Honorable mention to snake-print and zebra-print.. but leopard print is still the biggest cat (I mean trend) this Fall. Luckily for me, I’ve always loved a dose of leopard print so I was able to jump feet first into this trend as soon as the first chill of air hit New York this past weekend.

There’s something very 1960s glam about leopard print to me that pulls at my vintage-loving heartstrings. Picture actress Sharon Tate in a mod leopard coat or pin-up Jayne Mansfield in cheetah print pedal pushers. Leopard is timeless and luxe and undeniably sexy in its confidence. Which I suppose is why I decided to go for a double dose of it.

A little or a lot is up to you, but regardless your level of daring – there’s plenty of leopard to go around this fall. Below a few similar dresses plus some of my favorite accessories in the print.

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ON CAREER: WHAT KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT

I think its safe to say that work keeps a lot of us up at night. Stress over your next career move, worry about a big project deadline.. as an adult these are the things that go bump in the night.

I’m a notoriously good sleeper. I’m asleep before Adam’s head has hit the pillow after kissing me goodnight. Give me an 8 hour flight and I’ll be asleep before we’re off the tarmac.. the stewardess gently nudging me at landing. But lately, I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night consumed with thoughts of work.

I moved into a new role at the beginning of the summer and its been stressful as I transitioned into a more managerial position. Each week, without fail, come Wednesday or so and I’d start to get restless in the night. The sounds of sirens out my window not enough to drown out the noise inside my own head. Little things that I needed to add to my to-do list or bigger picture things like budget planning for 2020. And what’s worse is that first my brain would think of work and then it would veer into new (old) territory – that time I said the wrong thing to that person 7 years ago. The perfect comeback line I should have used on that ex-boyfriend. How it would have been best to stop at three tequila shots that time at that bar. You get the idea. It seems my transition at work was strangely digging up my entire past.

Joan Didion once said “I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4AM of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.” This summer has been the first time I truly understood her.

But then last week – something changed. I launched a project at work and was really happy with the results, then came home and had spent the evening feeling very excited about a side project I’ve been working on, thinking about how it perfectly combines some of my passions and will be a great creative outlet besides my full time career. That night I predictably woke in the dark, but this time – my mind was bright with ideas. I was back asleep before I knew it. I’ve been sleeping soundly ever since.

It turns out – you may need to shake your mind awake so that you can sleep. There’s always going to be things to be stressed about (career-wise or life-wise), but for me at least – once I managed to flip the script and think of all the possibilities of the future, the missteps of the past started to quiet down in my head. Here’s to a solid eight hours.

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ON MONEY: HOW TO CHANGE YOUR MONEY MINDSET

I was floored by the fact that so many of you responded with a resounding ‘yes!’ to my prompt about financial posts here on the blog. In general, I find the conversation among young women about money terribly lacking. Couple that with the fact that most of us were raised not to discuss money and never taught anything about the practical side of things like bills, student loan debt and retirement savings in school (why is this not a required class??) – and I think it deserves at least a blog post or two. 

To begin – I’m clearly not an expert on any of this. But I think that’s a good thing. It’s intimidating to read advice from financial experts – but from a woman who is working hard to pay off her credit cards and find more ways to save money plus plan for the future? That seems easier to swallow. I’ve made money mistakes too, so you’re not on your own.

I’ve got a lot of ideas for posts surrounding this topic – but to start, I wanted to share how I changed my money mindset at the beginning of the year. To make a long story short – I spent a lot of years pretty broke. A combination of student loan debt, high cost of living in New York and entry level wages. Then a cross-country move to LA.. then a cross-country move to get back home to New York. It all took its toll. And even years after I was not necessarily broke, I was kind of just getting by. There never felt like there was enough to substantially save let alone plan for my long-term future. And somewhere around January 1st of this year I kind of just snapped. I couldn’t take one more day/week/month/year of letting my finances control me. I wanted complete control. I wanted to feel the freedom of knowing I was financially secure.

That tipping point will likely be sparked by different things for different people. Maybe you just got a big raise and finally want to spend it smartly. Maybe you found out you’re pregnant and are freaking out about how you are going to afford it. Regardless, I think when you’re really truly ready to make a change to your money mindset – you’ll know it. From there, think long and hard about your goals. Do you want to retire early? Travel the world now? There’s no wrong answer, but you’ll want a clear set of goals in order for these changes to really stick.

To begin – you need to get a really firm grasp on every single dollar in your life. I made spreadsheets that laid out every dollar I earn, every dollar that goes to a fixed cost and every extra dollar. Then all of those got further broken down into categories. You’ll start to see patterns.. do you have 15 subscriptions you never use? There’s $150 a month out the window. Do you buy your lunch instead of planning ahead and packing. Boom, there’s $50+ a week back in your pocket. Decide what you feel like you can’t live without and what you can, cut the fat, wait a day and then look again. Repeat the process.

Once you see your money staring back at you it’s a lot easier to make decisions about it. There are great apps for this (Minted and Every Dollar are both good), but a simple google sheet will do the job too. When I started and needed the most radical help, I found apps a little bit passive – but when I actually had to type out that I paid $14 for a salad.. it held me more accountable and kept inspiring me to make changes in order to create a spreadsheet that I would feel proud to look at every week. And instead of vaguely thinking at the end of each month – I wish I could have saved more, I started considering my debt payments and the savings fixed costs. Like rent, they became non-negotiable.

Once I felt like I had a real handle on what was possible in a given month, I made a one year plan. Plus a five year, ten year and twenty year financial plan. Obviously there are things that could radically change over that period of time, but if I think in 10 years I want to own a getaway home outside the city or in 20 years I want to have a college savings fund for a couple of kids.. I need to be thinking about that now.

So the plans were set. Now how did I stick to it? I made it a habit. Habits are easier than self control. It doesn’t take a lot of will power to brush your teeth every morning (it’s a habit), so I wanted to get to the point where managing my money properly felt the same way.

And when I was tempted by a cute new pair of shoes or a dress on sale? I consulted the spreadsheet. Like literally would stand in a store and pull up the spreadsheet on my phone. Sometimes just that simple act was enough to remind me that I had bigger goals and I’d easily be able to walk out the door. But just in case – I unsubscribed from store emails too and started walking home a different way so I no longer passed by some of my favorite Fifth Avenue shops. And if I still wanted that dress? I wrote it down on a list of “wants”. Everything from a new couch to those cute shoes would go on the list and then as I looked at my weekly discretionary money I could consult the list and decide what I really wanted most and what I could stand waiting on.

In short, I made a lot of lists. 8 months later though? And I’ve never felt more free. Sometimes Adam and I just look at the number in our savings account and are dumbfounded at how we saved so much so far this year (listen it’s not like we’re running away to the South of France anytime soon – but it’s more than we’ve ever had in that account before). And it’s because I made it a habit for us. I drew a firm line in the sand and refused to step back over it. Every single day I think about my money for at least a few minutes. I check in, I remind myself why I started and I plan for tomorrow.

If it sounds overwhelming, I promise you the feeling of living paycheck to paycheck is more overwhelming. We devote time every day to our mental and physical health, surely we can give 5 minutes a day to financial health, no?

Next time I’m going to tackle my strategy for fall shopping (in keeping with my new money mindset) and I’ve got posts planned for how I deal with living in a veryyy expensive city, decorating a home on a budget and how I balance money in my relationship with Adam. Lots more to come! Happy saving my friends.

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THE BEST FALL SHOES TO SHOP NOW

There are few things that soften the blow of summer’s impending end to me.. but fall footwear is one of them. This past weekend I felt the first of fall’s cool air creep in and promptly did what any rational New York woman would do.. I went shoe shopping. The picture above shows the two perfect pairs I snagged and the rest I’ll just be dreaming about from now until when fall truly shows up. I’m not rushing it though.

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LET’S CATCH UP 8.4.19

As we sit at the beginning of August, still in the thick of hot summer days but with the realization that they’re passing all too quickly, I figured it was a good time to hit pause and catch up. Below, a few things on my mind before we head into what will no doubt be another whirlwind week.

  1. This past week (amidst a difficult work week) I started making lists on my phones of random things that made me happy each day. It really shifts your perspective. This week here are a few things that landed on my list: Saw two old men who seemed like old friends unexpectedly run into one another in the park, saw a very little girl hug a very big fluffy dog, a big bunch of limelight hydrangeas bloomed along my walk to work, Adam made me laugh until I was in tears, I tried a new workout… the list goes on. This post mirrors my sentiment.
  2. Adam and I set a goal to be “finished” with decorating the apartment by October. Not that it still won’t evolve as we live here but we have a few things that we want to push ourselves to wrap up so we can finally start entertaining this fall. This rug is at the top of our wishlist for the living room and we’re thinking of popping up to Brimfield in September to find a few more vintage finishing touches.
  3. Speaking of homes – this house tour is like a Wes Anderson movie come to life. That incredible kids room is exactly what I’d do if the lake house were mine alone to decorate (it’s doubtful that Adam’s family would agree to this – ha!). Life is too short to not have fun with decorating.
  4. We’re almost done season 2 of Big Little Lies (HBO) and Ozark (on Netflix) – both are so suspenseful! What should we watch next? I could go for some comic relief.
  5. August always signals “back to school” shopping for me and as a kid that meant a new pair of jeans. My friends at Talbots just sent over this pair of girlfriend jeans and they’re the perfect relaxed fit in a timeless dark wash. I’ll be wearing them everywhere come September.
  6. Our tiny local park (we call it our backyard) plays free outdoor movies in the summer and this week we’re going to see Wall-E. The animated pixar movie first came out in 2008 and was set in the “future” and shows all of these humans who only communicate through tiny screens fixed in front of their faces, even to speak to someone right next to them, and have had to leave their planet because it’s overrun with trash. I think it will be incredibly poignant to watch it now that we’re firmly in said “future”.
  7. Speaking of things that should be cautionary, fictional tales, but are frighteningly our reality – the gun problem in this country has reached an absolute fever pitch and I don’t know how we’re still not agreeing on this. It’s not a partisan issue when people are afraid to go to the movies, send their kids to school or do their weekly shopping for fear of being gunned down in a mass shooting. Here’s a great site with 30 ways to take action.

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Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.