Saturday, February 27, 2016

Spring Styling Tips & Giveaway

I'm going to let you in on a little styling secret! The key to any chic outfit is a great foundation. Choosing the right (or wrong!) pair of undergarments can have a huge impact on how your look comes together. As I've been going through my wardrobe with the konmari method & reading "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up", underwear is one of the surprising pieces I've been much more intentional about. Why keep around old pairs that are falling apart? Set the tone for confidence and style with those pieces that start at the foundation of your look!

This styling premise goes hand in hand with choosing the perfect pair of panties for each outfit. I'm collaborating with Kohl's to share my tips for selecting the right styles. Be sure to enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post for a chance to win a $50 gift card!

Styling tips: choosing the right undergarments for each look

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Dressed up Date Night
Get the Look: Lilac Dress | Nude Heels | Statement Earrings | Pink Lace Tanga Undies

For dresses, choose underwear with a bit more coverage. I recommend a tanga or boyshort style. For twirly fit and flare skirts a bit of lace is fine, but, for a slimmer fitting style opt for something seamless for no visible pantylines. If you want a little extra streamlining, check out a pair of shaping underwear (these were a blessing while trying on wedding dresses!).

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Summer Concert Style:
Get the Look: Denim Shorts | Peasant Blouse | Tassel Purse (similar) | Seamless Thong
Gold Medallion Bracelet

Opt for comfort on sunny spring days- this thong is seamless and tagless! If you're wearing a pair of white denim or pastel chinos, consider wearing a nude colorway to avoid accidentally end up making a fashion faux pas.

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Girl's Night Out
Get the Look: Olive Lace Trim Tee | Light Wash Flare Jeans | Tan Ankle Boots (similar) | Lace Thong

This one size fits all thong is stretchy to provide the perfect fit. It's one of those styles that's an instant confidence booster as soon as you slip it on (couldn't we all use a little more of that in our wardrobes?!). It's a versatile silhouette that works with most looks- perfectly paired with these denim flares. A pair of hipster underwear is another alternative that offers a bit more coverage, but still feel sassier than your average pair.

Have more styling questions? Feel free to reach out any time and if you're in need of upgrading your undies and building your wardrobe foundation check out the deal happening between 3/3 and 3/10 at  Kohl's (use code INTIMATES10 is for $10 off of $40)!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for a $50 Kohl's gift card:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

xoxo, lauren

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Kohl's, but all opinions are my own. Thank you Kohl's!

Friday, February 26, 2016

La Petite Wedding: Choosing a Caterer

Of all the activities we've done so far, choosing a caterer has been the most mutually fun for my fiancĂ©, Kyle, and I (we're big foodies). It also represents a good chunk of our budget- it's coming in at around one third right now). I'm going to share a bit of our thought process for choosing a menu, which extras we think are worth it & a few things we didn't expect when looking for a caterer.

Additonally, I'll be sharing my secret weapon for DIY wedding planning, a new site launched by seasoned event planner & friend- The I Do List. Be sure to check out the rest of the recap of planning our Wisconsin barn nuptials in my La Petite Wedding series. 

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Choosing a Caterer:  Menu

I could see how this could be one of the trickiest decisions for a couple to decide on in the wedding planning process. Thankfully, Kyle and I both have similar taste in food which made choosing a caterer a lot easier than we imagined. We both agreed that food is one of the most memorable aspects as a guest and it was super important that not only was the food delicious but fit with the entire mood of our event.

As for the menu, southern barbecue is one of my favorite meals. When trying to land a menu, it was something that we both continued to go back to as an option. We decided that based on the laid back vibe of our wedding we wanted to do a gourmet take on comfort food with a southern style bbq. We'll be having grilled chicken in a whiskey bbq sauce, smoked beef brikset, gouda mac & cheese, cabbage slaw, cornbread & a baked potato bar! Seriously, my mouth is already watering.

When choosing a caterer and a menu, think about the food that brings you joy, restaurants you love going to together. Some of the ideas I love are- having your rehearsal dinner at the same restaurant you had your first date, hiring food trucks to stop by for late night cuisine, or a mobile coffee bar if you're both coffee lovers. Sometimes the less elaborate a menu is, the more memorable and delicious it can be.

Choosing a Caterer: Budget

As I mentioned in my first La Petite Wedding series post, we're trying to keep things around $10-$11K for our budget. We originally planned for food to represent around 1/4 of our budget, but it was something that we quickly realized wasn't going to be workable for us based on our needs (i.e. a staff to refill buffet trays).  When we reworked things it actualized at about 1/3 of our budget (for 150 guests). We chose a buffet because it was less expensive than a seated meal and a bit more casual.

A few of the things to keep in mind and questions to ask when sticking to a budget are:

  • Are there any additional fees besides the per plate fee? travel? warmers for buffet platters? 
  • Does the rate include plate rentals? linens?
  • Is there a cake cutting fee? (many vendors charge $1 or more per slice to serve-- which is why we ended up with self-serve cupcakes)?
  • What are you willing to sacrifice to save money- and what's worth it? 
For us the last question was the most important. We wanted to make things the least stressful as possible for our families. For example, even though it may be cheaper to rent dishes ourselves- let's be real, our mamas would be the one's helping wash & return them all after the wedding. Striking a balance between convenience and affordability is our priority.

The caterer we ended up signing a contract with is from a smaller town outside of Madison and offered a lot of additional extras like a bartender, plates, linens, and more at competitive rates. They created a custom menu for us, met us at our budget and since there's so close to our venue, there was no additional travel fee. All of those little things really add up! Most importantly, the food was delicious.

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As I mentioned, my friend Sarah, is an incredible event planner. She's collaborated on many photo shoots for La Petite Fashionista magazine and we went to college at Florida State together. She has a ton of experience in the industry and saw that there was a niche and a need for an online resource for wedding planning - which led to the creation of The I Do List. Are there articles you can read & checklists you can download? Yes. But there is nothing that has everything manageable in one place. Planning a wedding can be incredibly stressful, but this gives me major peace of mind to have so much information and insider expertise at my fingertips.

Her new website, The I Do List has been the most amazing resource. Especially for a list maker like myself, trying to stay as organized and independent throughout the wedding planning process as possible. I've even had experience planning events, but there are some questions I just had no idea to even ask. The "I Do List" (i.e.). It's an easy to use interface and even stores all of the vendor info you add in to create a wedding day timeline for you, storing all of your key contacts info in it at a glance.

The app creates a digital to-do list you can check off for every stage of your wedding and even includes handy lists of questions to ask each vendor and a place for your to store all of their info once you decide who you're working with. If having a wedding planner is out of your budget, this can be a great way to feel in control of your wedding and equip you with many of the tools that can make planning less stressful. For an additional fee, you can have a wedding planner's one-on-one advice and expertise, which is SO amazing!

The I Do List currently offers three tiers, depending on your needs.

The List - $100
Access to the wedding planning tools

The Total List - $400
Access to the wedding planning tools
(4) 1 hour one-on-one consultations

The Ultimate List - $600
Access to the wedding planning tools
(4) 1 hour one-on-one consultations
Unlimited phone and email access to me to ask any questions they might have about wedding planning

If you use code “lapetitewedding” they will be able to get $200.00 off The Ultimate List option!

I'm so overjoyed for Sarah and my fellow brides to be that this resources exists! As I mentioned, I know for a fact that Kyle and I actually saved money when selecting a caterer because we came equipped with the right questions to ask (thanks to the I Do List). 

What's been your most memorable wedding meal?

xoxo, lauren

Want to see the details from our actual rustic modern wedding on Kyle's family farm? Head to our new blog, La Petite Farmhouse!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Spring Trend Styling Tips

Trend forecasting is one of my favorite skills I've picked up from my time studying fashion and working in the industry. I love to get the scoop on the runway shows and get a major thrill when some of the trend I've predicted come to fruition. Last year I shared my two cents on a few looks that were all over the Spring/Summer 2016 runways (read the post here).

Now, that SS16 is officially here, I'm back with a few ways to get the look & sharing some styling tips for wearing a few of this season's top trends. Personally, I'm partial to the lilac & lavender hues - especially as a nail polish color!

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Shop the Post:

Try This TrendSpring/Summer 2016

Patchwork: This look is a subtle nod to homespun Americana.  Diane von Furstenberg had this look all over her spring 2016 runway show. To keep the style feeling modern, choose a piece that pairs two complementary patterns. Maaji is a total expert at this in the swimwear department.

Shop the Patchwork Look: Boho Tunic Dress | Patchwork Maaji Bikini

Off-Shoulder: This style is subtly sexy, in the best way! They key to wearing this look is finding a supportive strapless bra. The off-shoulder floral dress would be beautiful for date night paired with black wedge. Wear a floaty off-shoulder blouse with cutoff denim or light wash skinny jeans.

Crochet: This trend is going beyond the beach. Look for it as a design element to give a sweet, 70's vibe to accessories, dresses & summery tops. I can't stop thinking about the adorable crochet wedges, they literally would go with everything!

Lavender: We saw this trend on the runways being paired with unexpected colors with a punchy feel like peach and vibrant orange-y corals. Challenge yourself to wear this pastel with other pieces besides pastels and neutrals, I promise you'll love the results.

Shop the Lavender Look:  Lavender Utility Blouse | Lavender Lace Fit & Flare Dress (love this one for Easter or Spring Weddings) | Amethyst Drop Earrings by Kendra Scott

To see even more of the looks I'm loving for this spring, be sure to stop by my Pinterest board. Even better, if you're not sure of how to wear a trend for yourself this spring, and bring things from the runway to the real life way..  let me know! I'll be happy to share some styling tips on La Petite Fashionista!

xoxo, lauren

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Olive Coat & Hot Pink Beanie

"No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow". I've been trying to remind myself of this (oh-so-true) proverb! My girl Ali was nice enough to shot these photos of me while we froze our butts off last week. Literally, I was slipping around in snow and holding on to her to stay on my feet. So thankful to have blogging friends who are also uber talented photogs!

It's times like these that I can only laugh and think that fate landed this Florida girl in Wisconsin. This week is actually the 5 year anniversary of my move to the Midwest! It's hard to believe how much life has changed since then. Gaining independence while moving somewhere thousands of miles from home, career shifts, and a fiance! It's crazy how much can happen in the course of a few short years.

Life is good my friends, even if by this time of year I can't come up with any more creative ways to style a chunky cable cream sweater! Thank god for colorful cold weather accessories!

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What I'm Wearing:
Cable Sweater: Aerie (similar) | Distressed Denim: Aeropostale (similar) | Olive Green Wool Coat: Roxy (similar) | Leather Ankle Boots: Splendid (similar) | Pink Beanie: H&M (similar) | Pearl Necklace: Forever 21 (similar) | Chloe Audrey Sunglasses: Smart Buy Sunglasses (similar) | Leather Clutch: similar

I spent some time in the great outdoors this weekend with Kyle. A nice walk in the woods and fresh air was much needed! I'm so glad we both share a joy for being outside in nature. It's the perfect remedy for a stressful week!

What did you do this weekend?

xoxo, lauren

Friday, February 19, 2016

8 Ways to Embrace the Slow Living Lifestyle

One of the common values that Kyle & I share is wanting a simpler life. We both work in the digital marketing world and it's so easy to get caught up in comparison, non-stop change, and the exhaustion that being constantly connected brings. We love our jobs, but equally as important is taking time to slow down, enjoy unplugged moments together, and enjoy life!

I've been reading a few articles that introduce the formal name for this as "slow living". What exactly is slow living you ask? It's the idea of incorporating more mindfulness into your life- a more conscious lifestyle that includes the way you approach everything from relationships to purchases. This article does a great job of breaking it all down. For me it means taking a more thoughtful approach to my lifestyle, but at the same time accepting progress over perfection.

I thought I'd share a few of the ways that we like to approach "slow living" and ideas to incorporate the concept in a way that works for you.

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8 Ways to Embrace the Slow Living Lifestyle:

1. Coloring Books: This is seriously one of my favorite activities with Kyle. It's an excuse to get creative, get off the computer, and break out the colored pencils (I linked to a ton of fun adult coloring books here).

2. Plant a Garden: Some day, I'll have an actual garden (and hopefully I've inherited my sweet nana's green thumb), for now I'm happy with our succulents. Live in the city? Try a teeny herb garden that you can keep in your kitchen (love this mason jar herb DIY kit).

3. Reflecting & Journaling: The "Our Q&A a Day Journal" is full of thought provoking daily question prompts for couples if you're looking for something solo, try Moorea Seal's "52 Lists Project" Journal.

4. A Slow Dinner: Though it's so tempting to go out or take a shortcut or something ready-made from the deli counter, few things are more gratifying than a truly delicious meal from scratch. Making bread with Kyle's mama is one of my favorite ways to warm up on a winter weekend and this ice cream maker is definitely going on our wedding registry.

5. Phone-Free Date Nights: Keep those phones put away when you're out with friends or your significant other. It makes for better conversations and better connections! Kyle's "love language" is quality time - for him nothing means more than knowing that I won't spend our sushi date on Instagram or checking emails.

6. Read a Book: Growing up I was the biggest bookworm. I was an avid reader and checked out books from the library regularly. Now, it's something I have to make time for, otherwise I'll convince myself that I'm "too busy". I'm trying to read more fiction too, my girl Joyce always has great recommendations.

7. Self-Care: Jess Lively talks a lot on her podcast about self-care almost sounding like another item on the to-do list, which totally defeats the purpose. I've started taking some more time during my nightly routine before bed (derma e charcoal mask, yes to coconut eye balm, and philosophy miracle worker).

8. Say Yes to What's Important: I wrote an entire blog post about What I'm Saying "Yes" to this year. Living more intentionally means you don't have to do it all. It's okay to ask for help or admit you have too much on your plate. It's about feeling less obligated to say yes to every single opportunity if it doesn't make you feel fulfilled.

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What's your favorite way to slow down and enjoy more of life?

xoxo, lauren

Monday, February 15, 2016

Current Faves: February

February has been off to a great start between heading to Chicago for a blogging conference, Galentine's Day get togethers, and lots of wedding planning (..did someone say cupcakes?). I thought I'd check in and share a few of the things I'm loving most at this very moment. I've been doing lots of reading about "slow living" (this is a great intro) and it's a concept I'm putting some major focus on- enjoying small moments, stressing less, and practicing better work/life balance.

So, I'm taking the time to share a peek at this very moment & what I can't get enough of this month.

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Current Faves: February
Why Not Me- Mindy Kaling: Mindy is hilarious and her book is no different. It's an over the top but relatable collection of personal essays that highlight "adulting" at its finest.

Blue China Saucer: This was a thrifting find from a couple of years ago and it's served many purposes- currently it sits on my desk as a fancy coaster for my coffee.

-Stoneware Pottery Mug: I picked this up over the summer at Madison's Art Fair off the Square, handmade by a student artist and perfect for cozy evenings.

Rishi Jasmine Tea: I sampled some tea from local Rishi Tea during my Visit Milwaukee trip. It's organic, smells heavenly, and you can see the tea brewing in a knit tea bag.

P.F. Candle Co: My sister gave us all San Francisco goodies for Christmas including P.F. Candle Co candles- handpoured in California! I love the sweet grapefruit scent.

Kendra Scott Elle Earrings: I've become more minimalist with my accessories lately (though still can't resist a good arm party!). These earrings have become my go-to; I want them in every color!

KAI Body Glow: I tried this dry oil at a boutique when were in Maui and instantly wished I had bought it after I got home. Thankfully, I was able to track some down stateside. It smells absolutely amazing, exactly like you'd envision Hawaii to be! It reminds me of our engagement.

Midi Rings: I love layering these up with other rings. Kohl's has an awesome selection from the Lauren Conrad collection that are fun to mix and match with.

Shop the Post:

What are your current faves?

xoxo, lauren

Friday, February 12, 2016

Our Story

You've seen my fiancĂ© Kyle pop up on the blog many times throughout the years, but in honor of Valentine's Day, I thought I'd share a little bit more of our story! Let me tell you, when I moved to Wisconsin for my first job out of college I was not expecting to find love. In fact, I thought I'd probably get my feet wet in the fashion industry and move on to my next job.

When Kyle & I first met it wasn't love at first sight (though I always thought he was so cute). We ended up working together and a friendship began. It started as group dates- pitchers of beer with friends on sunny summer days at the Memorial Union and eventually led us to our first date. I felt something special from the start. I've always felt incredibly comfortable and secure with him. We can just talk for hours or binge watch the X-Files together and not get sick of each other.

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This summer we'll be dating for 5 years and we've been through a lot together- both the great times and roadblocks. Trips together (and an endless desire to explore), learning new things (cooking classes), and foodie date nights around Madison trying out restaurants. Plus he has this totally goofy side to him that very few people ever see. Though our personalities are different (he's more introverted, I'm more extroverted), I think we really complement each other's strengths.

He has been supportive every step of the way while I change career paths and venture out on my own- which I am so thankful for. I'm not going to lie, it can be challenging dating or being married to an entrepreneur. There isn't the financial security that a 9-5 provides, but it can also bring amazing opportunities, flexibility, and work life balance. He's even let me help him get started on Instagram @kylejanderson

As we plan our wedding and prepare for the next phase of our life as a married couple we've made focusing on our values a priority. We both want to live a simple but fulfilled life and are excited to start renovating his family's 100-year old farmhouse next year.

If you're interested in hearing more about our journey & future plans be sure to tune in and listen to our episode of Our First Drink (a podcast interviewing creative couples)! 

xoxo, lauren

P.S. Let me know if you'd be interested in hearing more about our journey into a farmhouse renovation and living a stylish & simple life out in the country? I'm currently debating if I want to branch off onto another blog, or incorporate more of that content on here?  Feel free to tweet me @lpfashionista!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Hot Pink Valentine's Dress

I believe that expressing love for one another and spending quality time together should happen way more than once a year! Thankfully, my fiance prescribes to the same belief. So, we don't put too much pressure on Valentine's Day. In fact, our super romantic evening is going to consist of going to see Deadpool (hellooo Ryan Reynolds!) together next week. We both geek out over sci fi movies and tv shows (has anyone been watching the X-Files reboot?)! Hey-whatever brings you joy, right?

Regardless of if we have fancy Valentine's Day plans I will without a doubt be wearing hot pink! I never need an excuse to wear my favorite color, but this hot pink dress just makes me oh-so-happy! Can you believe I scored it at Nordstrom Rack a few months ago for $10?!  

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What I'm Wearing: Valentine's Day Date Night Dress
Hot Pink Dress: Nordstrom Rack (similar) | White Furry Coat: Bloomingdales (similar)
Black Tights: H&M | Black Platform Heels: Steve Madden (similar
Gold Monogram Clutch: White House Monogramming | Pink Statement Necklace: LOFT (similar)

Tomorrow on LPF I'll share a few of my favorite Valentine's Day gift ideas (for anyone who's last minute like me!). One of my absolute favorite ideas is this "Our Q&A: a 3-Year Journal for 2 People".  I got one for Kyle & I at Christmas time and literally it's become my favorite bedtime ritual to fill out that day's entry- and I feel like we're both learning a lot of things about each other. I can't wait to see how our answers evolve over the next 3 years.

What are your Valentine's Day plans?

xoxo, lauren

Monday, February 8, 2016

Blog Your Best Recap // Dana Hotel & Spa

I can't imagine a better way to start the year off inspired than attending a blogging conference. I was SO thrilled when the ladies of Windy City Bloggers reached out to me about speaking on a panel at their "Blog Your Best" conference in Chicago this past weekend. 

I made it a personal goal to do more public speaking last year (purposely because it was so out of my comfort zone) & I think I've now done nearly a dozen speaking gigs in the past year. So crazy! I'm a big believer in putting what you want "out into the universe" because you never know what will happen. Speaking at events has even become a huge passion for me!

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(just taking it all in at the Dana Hotel & Spa)

You would think after blogging nearly 9 years that it would be hard to find value or learn more at conferences but that couldn't be further from the truth. I can always learn something new and one of my favorite parts is meeting and connecting with other bloggers! I think what was so great about Blog Your Best was that it was action-oriented, conversational & transparent. All about real experiences, best practices, and resources that have worked for top bloggers.

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(The CUTEST swag bags designed by Lindzy from The Trendy Sparrow)

I wanted to share a few of my top takeaways & resources from this past weekend's Blog Your Best conference!

  • Finding your niche & "your people" is essential to making it all click. Speaking of that- thank you for reading & supporting me, friends! This is going to be one of my biggest challenges as we make our move out into the country and I enter this new phase of life as a Mrs.
  • Always provide value. I know with my schedule I can't commit to blogging 5 x per week, but during the times I do I want to provide value whether it's style inspiration, ideas for saving more money, or tips for using your new planner!
  • Learn more about photography. My photos have definitely improved since the early days of LPF (mega-cringe!), but I have so much to learn. I'd love to learn more about using my DSLR to document more of life & of course better outfit details!
  • Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate! Think about mutually beneficial ways to partner with other bloggers and brands. As my favorite group, Rising Tide Society says- "community over competition".
  • Always overdeliver. This is true for blogging and business. Going above and beyond and "overdelivering" what is promised is always what to shoot for! Whether it's an extra social media shoutout or even a handwritten thank you note!
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(hard at work taking notes)

As always, one of the most rewarding parts of the conference is meeting new people! I was so thankful to have the opportunity to learn from inspiring blogger biz ladies like Alaina from the Everygirl, Kelly from Kelly in the City, Blair from the Fox and She & Amanda from the She Did it Her Way Podcast. A special thanks to Kit & Erin from Windy City Bloggers for putting together such an incredible day of learning and connecting.

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(Have you ever seen a cooler hotel room?)

The conference was at the Dana Hotel and Spa in downtown Chicago and I don't think you could choose a more creative and inspiring space. The team was awesome enough to put me up in a room during the conference. My hotel room was one of the coolest spaces I've ever stayed in- in fact it felt more like a fashionable friend's cool apartment. From the rustic modern furniture and decor to the giant walk in shower, and beautiful sweeping views of the downtown cityscape.

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(Obsessed with this wood side table)

The first night I was there I stumbled upon a "Fire & Ice" party at the Dana's rooftop bar which was SO much fun. Literal ice bars, tables & chairs and tasty drinks to fit the them. I was exhausted after the conference and grabbed a delicious dinner and cocktail with new blogger friend Olivia & Kit at the Freestyle restaurant on the bottom level of the hotel. I tried the macaroni & cheese, sesame chicken tacos & a basil St. Germain champagne cocktail. I even ended up bringing back a little to my room to snack on and watch "Fixer Upper" in my pj's! Please tell me I'm not the only one who does that?!

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(A beautiful blogger brunch at The Allis in Chicago)

Before I headed back to Madison on the bus I met up with Ali, Kit & Olivia for brunch at The Allis. It's a beautiful, light & airy spot inside the impeccably designed Soho House. I love that eating with bloggers means it's totally normal and okay to wait to eat until everyone's taken a few shots for Instagram. Yes indeed, these are my people!

I'm feeling so energized and excited after a great weekend in the city. I can't wait to implement everything I've learned and keep in touch with new blogging friends!

xoxo, lauren

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Mix & Match Spring Style: Muted Pastels

 If like me, you're ready to ditch the snow boots and add a spring into your step I have just the inspiration you're looking for. These looks are perfect for wearing now- just swap out sandals for ankle boots and layer on tights or a leather jacket. I adore this palette of muted pastels paired back to minimal but statement making accessories and strappy sandals.

I've always loved pieces that can easily be mixed and matched with each other, but after minimizing my wardrobe using the "Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up",Konmari Method, that has been taken to an entirely new level. With less pieces in my wardrobe, I want them to be versatile. When I go shopping I really try to evaluate if a piece will bring me joy and something I get excited to pull out my closet (more on that here).

Mix and Match Outfit Inspiration for Spring | muted pastels, chambray & stripes

Shop the Looks: Moody Pastels, Denim & Sandals

Look 4: Chambray Sundress & Fringe Tassel Bucket Bag
Chambray Off the Shoulder Dress | Peep Toe Mules | Pale Mint Bucket Bag | Round Statement Sunglasses  | Kendra Scott Gem Earrings

I think the best part about each of these outfits is their versatility. Pair the striped tee with denim & white lace-up sandals or the pink seaglass necklace with the chambray dress. Literally, I want to rock look #1 for our Valentine's Day date.

Which spring style is your favorite?

xoxo, lauren
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