2017 - Sensible Stylista

Find of the Day: The Velvet Mini ($25)

I am super DUPER excited to tell you guys about my latest purchase! This fabulous minidress from ASOS is everything and more.  It fits me like a glove and flatters my body in the best way possible. Although it's only $25, the velvet doesn't look cheap at all - it could easily pass as "designer" IMO.  I actually bought it in purple first but returned it the second I found it in blush - I liked the color better AND it was cheaper...only by a few dollars, but still! Ha.
If you're looking for a sexy dress that slays, I highly recommend purchasing this!  It's comfortable yet figure flattering which is (obviously) ideal.  It cinches the small of your waist, exaggerating your curves and elongating your stems, while the draped bottom gives you extra breathing room.  This piece is perfect for a fancy date, a night out with friends or even holiday parties.
I accessorized this number with a dainty gold choker and carried a mini-evening bag to match!  Both pieces are from Charming Charlie, andddddd speaking of CC, I actually blogged about them on here a while back - the article was called, "Where to Buy Kate Spade Lookalike Bags for Less," in case you missed it.
Now, I know today's find is all about my new dress, but I gotta mention my shoes as well because I purchased them along with my mini.  If you're a fan of metallics like me, you're def. gonna want to purchase a pair since they're still available online for $15 (!!!!) They were originally $61 so scoop 'em up while you still can.  
 Dress:  ASOS ($25) || Bag:  Charming Charlie || Shoes:  ASOS ($15) || Necklace:  Charming Charlie
Photos shot by the incredible Sung Shin.

How-to Pull Off Plunging Necklines with Class

This is the 2nd wedding I've gone to this month - 'tis the season for 'em I skapose!  I forgot to take OOTD shots for the first one, BUT I took this with my fab photographer Sung Shin a while back because I had already decided this would be my look at some point, ha.  I discovered this gem online while browsing ASOS and couldn't resist - not my most sensible purchase but embellished mesh and 3D detailing?  ...you can't expect me to pass that up! Anywho, I won't bore you any longer with my elaborate shopping excuses.  Let's move on to the heart of today's topic: plunging necklines and how to pull them off.  
First off, you need to wear the right undergarments.  A u-plunge bra works beautifully most of the time (love this one from Bare Necessities), but this baby has a plunge back as well so I had to wear nipple covers.  I don't really have a large chest so I didn't have to tape anything in place, but if you need the extra support, definitely make sure to do so!  On the other hand, if you have a small chest and want to create extra cleavage, tape can come in handy.  The Ultimate Bra Guide's post to Taping Breasts is super informative so clicky if you want to read more!
Now, I'm definitely not afraid to show skin, but plunging necklines still kind of intimidate me because I find them somewhat scandalous.  I know that's my inner goodie two shoes speaking, but whatever, it is what it is! Luckily, I know how to wear 'em and still look "classy."  Sidebar: For the record, I am NOT judging other women for the way they dress - this is just personal preference.  You should wear whatever you want, whenever you want!  As long as you feel comfortable and confident, you will look like a total rockstar.

Anywho, it's all about balance in my opinion.  Take this dress for example, it has a plunging neckline but the a-line skirt hits me below the knees = beautiful yet modest-ish.  If it was tight and short, it would've been a bit too much, at least for me!  Personally, I only like to "show off" one body part at a time, ha.  That sounds reallllly strange, but I promise it works.  It also depends on the occasion, too! I was dressing for a wedding so I didn't want to bare too much, but if I was hitting up NYC, I'd feel more comfortable wearing something a bit more risque.  How do you guys feel about plunge necklines - are they a do or a don't?
Other fabulous deep-v pieces for your browsing pleasure...
Dress:  Asos || Shoes:  Qupid
Photos shot by the fabulous Sung Shin.

Sampling the Prime Rib's Dessert Menu: A Photo Diary

Last week, the fine folks at Live! Casino & Hotel invited me to come get my nom on at their Casino, and I ended up having a ginormous dinner at Luk Fu and an equally ginormous dessert course at Prime Rib.  Luckily, my mom was in town to help me out...not that it made much of a difference, we barely made a dent in the food!  

Regardless, I'm glad I got to try so many different dishes - I'm all about trying new things, and desserts are my kryptonite so this was my idea of a bangin' time.  I'll be recapping my dessert experience at Prime Rib for my latest, but Luk Fu dinner feature will go live next week sometime so definitely check back.
Their spiked milkshakes were decadent, delicious...and limited edition, ha.  The 3 flavors were Birthday cake w/ 3 Olives cake vodka, ultimate s'mores w/ Kahlua liqueur, and salted caramel apple piece with Rumchata.  Sorry guys - I hope they bring 'em back sometime soon though? Let's keep our fingers crossed!  
Next up, their Strawberry Lemon White Chocolate Mousse - a light, refreshing dessert that's ideal for summer. You'll be able to devour this even after the heaviest of meals since it's so airy!  I'm still blown away by the presentation.
Onto the Coconut Vanilla Panna Cotta w/ Tropical Fruit Gelee - this was yet another one of my favorites!  If you're a fan of fruity desserts, this is an absolute must-try.
Anddd the Bailey Lover's Dessert: coffee flavored cake topped with candied bacon and served with Baileys infused ice cream (!!!!)
The classic crème brûlée...
...and another classic: their NY Style Cheesecake, which is to-die for yummy BTW.
And last but not least, their Citrus Chiffon Cake with brandy peaches.  
I was beyond impressed with the presentation of everything, and although it all tasted good, I highly recommend the NY Style Cheesecake, the s'mores milkshake, the Bailey Lover's Dessert, and the Coconut Vanilla Panna Cotta. If you want something rich, go with any of the first three dishes listed above.  If you want something a bit lighter, order the Panna Cotta!  Alright guys, that's it for today. As always, let me know if you guys have any questions.  I hope you all have a fabulous Thursday!

Where to Buy Kate Spade Lookalike Bags for Less

Alright everyone, how many of you like Kate Spade bags? Now, how many of you guys can afford to drop $$$ on her designs on the regular? While I'm sure many of you can - and all the power to you if so - there's a store out there that sells stuff with a similar vibe for a fraction of the price, and that magical store is called *drum roll, please* Charming Charlie.

They're pretty big so I'm guessing a lot of you already know about them, but I wanted to blog about CC because I discovered them not too long ago.  I shopped their store for the first time a few months back at the National Harbor, and I was totally blown away by their selection.  It was like accessory heaven!  
The quality of their clothing's comparable to Forever 21 or H&M, they have a lot of trendy items in stock so you should definitely get your browse on if that's your thing.  I personally prefer their jewelry & bags, but not everything's super high quality so definitely take your time when shopping! 

The last time I was there, I purchased two evening bags: a fabulous faux-velvet handbag (aka the piece I'm carrying below) and an adorable starfish clutch.  Both pieces were under $20, and they looked exactly like something Kate Spade would sell:  whimsical, flirty, and fun!  
The designs I bought are no longer available on their website, but I've linked other adorable options for you guys! I haven't seen anything over $50, and most of their stuff's under $20 so it's definitely affordable.  

Dress: Asos (currently on sale for $47) || Bag:  Charming Charlie (similar-ish) || Shoes:  Jessica Simpson (similar)
Photos shot by the amazing Sung Shin.

Magical Denim that Won't Break the Bank

Sensible Stylista's all about shopping smart, and that means knowing when to save versus when to splurge.  A lot of people mistakenly assume that there's a direct correlation between price tag and quality, but I'm here to tell you guys that that's not always the case.  When it comes to denim, I opt for the more affordable options because they fit and feel better than the designer styles I own (...and trust me, I own quite a few).
My fave store for jeans is Aeropostale.  I know they have a not-so-great rep, but I swear by their denim.  I've purchased at least 6 pairs of pants from them, and they all fit beautifully.  My mom was actually the who got me hooked! They were having a huge blowout sale so she went in and got her browse on.  Their jeans were $15 at the time so she ended up purchasing a bunch: 3 pairs for herself and 2 pairs for me.  I was hella skeptical when she presented her haul, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt because she has fantastic taste in clothes.  Lo and behold, 5 years later they're still wardrobe staples.  No joke.  Definitely give them an unbiased shot!  You'll pay less than $20 for killer jeans that'll last you year after year.  You're welcome in advance.
Stitch Fix is yet another favorite, but since I'm super picky with pants, I didn't even bother ordering them in my fixes.  I just assumed they'd be fails, BUT when I visited SF for their 3-day influencer event, I tried on their jeans, and it's been a done deal ever since.  I now ask for denim every time I place an order!  Their pieces tend to be a bit more expensive than Aero, but that's what your style survey's for - just remember to set a budget for your stylist so he or she knows what you're comfortable with financially.
If you're still set on purchasing designer denim - which is totally fine BTW - be smart and don't pay full-price! Stores like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Last Call carry lines like Joe's, 7 for all Mankind, and the like for less.  Also, since denim's timeless, take advantage of blowout sales (ie. after-Christmas, back-to-school) and stock up. Anywho, that's it for today guys! I hope you found this helpful, and let me know what you think of their denim if you give either of 'em a try.

Photography by Sung Shin & Jared Wolfe.

The BAMF Suitcase You Needed Yesterday

Holy freaking crap, guys.  I can't WAIT to tell you all about my new suitcase!  I'm not gonna lie, when I first saw the price tag, I kind of flipped the eff out, but now that I've experienced the magic that is Raden, I'd happily dole out more $$$ for another.  After lugging around heavy cases for years, this baby was a godsend.  Like, I don't even know how this is real.  It's ridiculously light yet hella strong, and I love that it glides effortlessly.  My model's an A28 check, but the A22 carry is also available for purchase.  
...the A28 check is (obviously) luggage you check, and the A22 carry is an carry on.  I know that's basic, but hey, gotta cover all my bases just in case.  Anywho, my beautiful case is bronze, and it only weighs 13lbs (!!!!)  The silver, gold and bronze cases are more expensive at $445, but the others (there are 7 additional colors available) are $395.  You can get them in either gloss or matte!
The A22 only weighs 8.4lbs and is available in 12 colors total!  Like the A28, the gold, silver and bronze hues cost more ($345), while the other shades are priced at $295.  I know it's a hefty sum, but think about it this way, you'll be using this for years - and I mean YEARS - to come.  Plus, it's built with kickass tech that'll do you good + give you so much peace of mind.   
Once you get your case, you sync it up with Raden's phone app where you can locate your case with bluetooth technology.  You literally NEVER have to worry about it getting lost because you'll be able to track it wherever you go.  You'll also be able to weigh it with its ergonomic handles, which is all kinds of awesome.  You guys have no idea how many times I've had to unpack my sh*t and stuff clothing into my carry on in front of Southwest's ticketing booth in order to avoid getting charged a ridonkulous amount of cash for my heavy @$$ bag.  On top of that, this baby CHARGES YOUR PHONE (!!!!) Soooo, lesson of the day:  go out and purchase a Raden suitcase because this will seriously improve the quality of your life.

...you're welcome in advance.
Oh, and I almost forgot to tell you about my OOTD!  My top's from Marled Clothing, my white skinnies are from Stitch Fix, and my adorable headphones are from Ankit.  I'm always cold on planes so I make sure to bundle up, even during the summertime.  Anywho, that's it for today! I hope you enjoyed my latest.  A huge thanks to Sung Shin for taking awesome photos like always!

The Ultimate Special Occasion Dress for Summer

On Monday, I told you guys all about my favorite stores for bargain buys and luxe finds for less, but I'm doing something a little different today.  I've featured a pricier special occasion dress for spring events and the like.  This fabulous number is truly goddess-like with its sparkly mesh overlay, and it's a two-piece set, so you can wear something different underneath if you want.  If you're interested in purchasing this dress, it's available online at ASOS for $88.
Shoes:  Qupid (similar) || Dress:  ASOS ($88) || Clutch:  Similar
Photos shot by the lovely Eva Liz.

How I Show My Hair, Skin, and Nails Some Extra Love

I am SO ridiculously passionate about skincare it's not even funny.  No matter how crazy things get, I always make time to take care of my skin & body.  I blogged about my nighttime routine in the past, and it's a little on the intense side, but I find it to be completely and utterly necessary.  You can afford to skip a step or two in the aforementioned post, but one thing that's totally non-negotiable is diet. You wear what you eat so remember that the next time you sit down to get your nom on.
Now, even if you're eating healthfully on the regular, you still may not be getting enough of one nutrient or the other, which is why you should be supplementing!  I take Nature's Bounty's Hair, Skin and Nails Gummies to support lustrous hair, vibrant skin and healthy nails* from within.  Their gummies contain Vitamin E (an antioxidant that supports skin health), Vitamin C (involved in collagen production and formation, which forms the basis for healthy skin), and Biotin (a B complex beauty-supporting nutrient that plays a crucial part in hair, skin, and nail health), which is all kinds of awesome.*
Plus, their gummies are straight up delicious.  I was actually really surprised when I saw that they were made with naturally sourced colors and flavors - that means no artificial flavors, milk, lactose, soy, gluten, wheat, yeast or fish AND 100% sodium free (!!!!) I've been eating really clean so I actually "splurge" on these babies!  I have to stop myself from eating more than 2 (the suggested serving size) because they're so tasty - they're strawberry flavored with a hint of sour which I love! 
I've been taking their supplements religiously for years now because my hair's not as thick as it used to be which BTW freaks me the eff out.  Before their gummies, I was taking their capsules, and it's definitely given me peace of mind.  Don't just take my word for it though, give 'em a try yourself (either gummies or softgels) risk-free for their 30-day challenge.  If you DON'T like 'em, they'll give you a full refund.  You can also enter to win a a bunch of awesome prizes so make sure to take advantage while you can.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.  *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

What to wear to Summer Weddings: Your Questions Answered

I've been getting questions regarding summer wedding dress attire so I decided to write a post on the topic (featuring some of your questions) rather than email everyone back individually. I'm going to keep things simple for today's blast because the last thing I want to do is overwhelm you guys with rules.  Dressing up should be fun so let's try and keep it that way!
"What should I wear?"  

It all depends on the wedding! What's the dress code (ie. white tie, black tie, etc.)? Where's the wedding going to take place (ie. church, beach, someone's house, etc.)? What time do the festivities start? These are all factors you need to take into consideration!  For example, if your friend's having her wedding outside, you're going to want something airy to keep you somewhat cool in the sweltering heat.  If your buddy's having his in a church, you won't want to bare all for two reasons; a. it's a more conservative setting (obviously) and b. you don't want to upstage the bride.  

IMHO, the "safest" bet is a cocktail dress that hits you below the knees (like the midi dress I'm wearing).  You'll be able to re-wear this for all different kinds of weddings so it's the most practical option if you're looking to save money and only purchase one outfit.

"I don't want to spend a lot of money.  Where can I find something affordable?"

I actually wrote a post on SS a while back on dresses and where I purchase them for less.  That should give you all the information you need, but in a nutshell, I recommend Forever 21, Last Call Neiman Marcus, and TJ maxx amongst others.  Also, here are some cute designs I recommend (all under $50).
"Is it ok if I wear black?"

Absolutely - the only color you should NOT wear is white (or any variation of it, ha)!  With that said, I think pastels and florals are beautiful options for summer weddings.  Don't be afraid to experiment with color...as long as it's not obnoxiously bright. Please, please, PLEASE do not show up in hot pink from head-to-toe - like I mentioned before, you don't want to steal the bride's thunder.  It's her day so you want to make sure she's the star of the show!

"Do I have to wear a dress if it's black tie?"

That's a great question!  Black tie's not as formal as white tie, but most women still sport floor length gowns for the occasion.  There ARE ways to avoid it though if you're not a fan of dresses.  Jumpsuits and pantsuits make great alternatives.  Throw in some killer jewelry, and you're good to go!

"I hate walking around in heels.  Can you recommend dressy shoes that are comfortable?"

I recommend wedges.  They're obviously not as fancy as stilettos, but they're dressy enough.  I actually wore a pair as my cousin's maid of honor years ago because I knew I'd be running around all day long, and it was such a good call.  Embellished flats or sandals also work - just make sure they're dressy and save your flip flops for the beach.

Here's an outfit I recently wore to a friend's wedding in PA.  As much as I love looking cute, being comfortable is my first and foremost concern - I truly believe that if you feel self-conscious, you'll look it.  So, I went with an adorable midi dress from ASOS.  I've put on a little weight these last few weeks so the A-line silhouette is currently my best frand.  

I don't usually like strapless pieces because they pinch my arm fat, but this dress was surprisingly flattering.  Plus, I have a weakness for all things girly so the bow totally sealed the deal for me - I even have a board dedicated to bows on pinterest, #sorrynotsorry. Ha!  To finish things off, I accessorized with a fun clutch for a pop of personality and threw on Valentino-inspired heels to match.  Anywho, I hope you guys found this post helpful!  If you have any additional questions, feel free to email me and ask.  I'm not than happy to play stylist for you all.  
Dress:  ASOS || Heels:  Qupid || Clutch:  Aldo
 Photos shot by the wonderful Sung Shin.

City Perch at Pike & Rose: To Die For Bread Boards

A few weeks ago, my bf and I hit up City Perch in Bethesda for dinner, and I'm beyond excited to tell you guys about our nom highlights.  Located next to AMP and iPic theaters, it's a great place to grab apps and/or drinks before heading to whatever show you're there to see.  So without further ado, here's what you should get:
Drinks (range from $9-20): ... I honestly can't remember what these were called, ha.  I believe we got the Mandarin Mule and Norma Jean, but I'm not 100% sure!  Their cocktail menu was extensive so we had a tough time choosing - and now everything's kind of a blur - BUT it all sounded delish.  I'd definitely go back for happy hour (daily 3-6PM featuring cocktails, wine by the glass, and craft drafts) because these were amazing!
Bread Board: I can't even. This was, hands down, the highlight of the evening.  I'd seriously go back to City Perch just to have their cornbread again.  How's this for foodporn? A cayenne + parmesan popover with smoked sundried tomato butter, honey-dipped corn bread with whipped goat cheese drenched in wildflower honey, a butter bun with whipped Trickling Springs butter + sea salt, and an orange sage biscuit served with maple bourbon pecan butter.

...yeah, I may or may not be drooling right now.  If you aren't, I don't even know what to think, ha!  In all seriousness though, everything was ridiculously tasty, but my faves were the cornbread & popover.  I would've happily eaten cornbread all night long, but I had to save room for the various dishes we ordered.
French Onion Soup ($10):  This isn't pictured here, but it's DEFINITELY worth mentioning!  I'm hella picky when it comes to this soup because it's one of my go-tos, but City Perch did a truly solid job with this dish.  Enriched with braised beef short rib, gruyère + white cheddar gratin, the flavors were spot on even after sitting for a good 20 minutes or so while I took these shots.  This baby gets 5/5 stars!
We also tried the "everything" waffle ($16) and the brioche-crusted Maryland blue crab cakes ($18). The former featured Norwegian smoked salmon, dill crème fraîche and salmon roe, and the latter came with old bay remoulade and a frisée + citrus salad topped with yuzu vinaigrette.  I don't eat fish so I didn't get to try the waffle, but I had the crab cakes and they were fine - not bad but definitely not worth $18 to me.
Mac + Cheese ($8):  fun fact, if I see mac + cheese on a menu, I will order it 99.99999% of the time! If I don't, it's either because I'm not feeling well or I'm already food coma'd out.  CP met my (extremely high) standards and left me completely and utterly satisfied!  Made with farmstead artisanal cheeses + bacon crumble, this gooey goodness is all sorts of yum.
Roasted Long Island Duck ($28):  Very impressed with the flavor and tenderness of the duck!  It came with rolls + pickled goodies, which was fine but kind of misleading because the menu said it'd be served with southern-inspired fixings? I don't know about you guys, but when I think of southern fixings, I think mac n' cheese, collard greens or baked beans, but maybe that's just me?  The rolls were good because CP apparently can do no wrong when it comes to carbs, but the pickled stuff was "eh."  I'm still a fan of this dish though!  
Other entrees we tried: the Pan Seared Scallops ($29) and Braised Beef Short Ribs ($28).  The scallops came with roasted brussels sprouts, cipollini onions, bacon lardons, thyme + veal jus, and the beef came with creamed spinach, crispy shallots, and a potato pancake.  

I felt like there was TOO much seasoning going on in general with these two plates!  I would've appreciated a "purer" flavor if that makes sense, like I want my sauce to complement and enhance the natural flavor, not mask it.  I do give them props for cooking the scallops perfectly though - they were seared beautifully.  The beef was pretty good but definitely order the duck if you're craving meat!
We were completely stuffed by this point so we passed on dessert, but I'd be down to go back again - order their magical bread tray and nibble on their mac n' cheese, which is big enough to be an entree by the way! Soooo much yas.  They also validate parking for up to 3 1/2 hours which is AWESOME!  For my non-dmv friends, they have locations in NJ and NY if you're interested in trying their noms.  Happy eating, frands!