PERKing up at Sephora

Want softer, brighter skin? You may want to take advantage of the Sephora PERK facial.

A few months back, I decided to take advantage of the PERK Hydrating Facial at Sephora in Tyson’s Corner. Let me tell you, it was a fantastic experience, especially for it being my first facial ever.

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What it is

In case you haven’t heard about it, Sephora has recently started offering 30-minute facials in select stores. While hydrating your skin, the facial will offer exfoliation and nourishment for your skin. It’s complimentary with a $75 purchase, which makes it a great opportunity to stock up on your skincare. You’re able to go do a walk-in or sign up online, which is super-convenient for anytime your skin needs a “perk.

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My Experience

Before getting into it, a Sephora consultant will measure hydration levels with what they call a “Moisture Meter.” Though I didn’t snap a picture of my exact number, I was informed that I had dehydrated skin. So, while I was oily, my skin was needing some moisture. Good thing I was getting a hydra facial.

To begin, my favorite skincare goddess, Laura Arzate, cleansed my skin. She used the Fresh Soy Face Cleanser – great for all skin types, as it doesn’t strip the skin of moisture, but leaves your skin feeling soft. For lack of a better word, it left me feeling – fresh. I have to be honest, at first, I wasn’t sure about how I felt about it, but eventually, I fell in love with it and it’s become a household favorite. My mom started to use it and she loves it!

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Then it was time for the actual treatment. The machine uses two steps to refresh your skin. First, the Sephora consultant will go in the Nourishing Solution. While nourishing the skin, the pen-shaped tool acts like a vacuum and sucks the impurities from your skin. As scary as that may sound, it’s not painful whatsoever. In fact, there are three different intensities that you can choose from. I decided to stick with the lowest setting as it was my first facial.

Next, we went in with the “Eye Replenishing Serum.” The serum offers hydrating nutrients that not only plumps the skin but moisturizes and replenishes the skin. It runs over your entire face, including your lips, and feels quite nice.

Final Thoughts

No matter how well you take care of your skin or how many scary movies you watch, nothing will prepare you to see what impurities are removed from your skin. After you complete your facial, the consultant will allow you to take a look at your “waste” and it may be a little shocking. Being able to actually see what comes out of your skin, while being completely gross, is very satisfying.

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Overall, I noticed a visible difference in my skin after the treatment was complete. My skin felt and looked fantastic afterward. It was much brighter and smoother than what I’ve ever accomplished by myself at home.

If you need to restock, it’s definitely worth it to take advantage of the Sephora PERK Hydrating Facial. You’ll be able to leave with bright, smooth skin and a bag of your favorite goodies.

A guide to executing a life-cleanse

As a girl that took five months undergoing a life-cleanse, I learned quite a few things about how to execute one. (And it’s SO much more than shutting down Insta.)

This is coming from a girl that has been gone for nearly five months. That’s right, a blogger took 5 months away from her blog. I broke rule number one – stay consistent, and it was all for taking a life-cleanse.

For a while, I felt like I was in a rut in my life. I found myself stuck and lacking creativity. While my writing was where it was most visible, it wasn’t the only part of my life that suffered. I lacked creativity in the way I carried myself, the way my conversations flowed, and in my career. I knew I had to do something to do get back myself, and that meant taking a step back.

While I didn’t mean for it to extend this long, I took five months “off.” Five months spent reexamining my life. Five months figuring out who I was. Five months doing what I needed to do in order to be the best Kat I could be. After five months, I believe I can truthfully say, I’m back to me.

As a girl that took five months undergoing a life-cleanse, I learned quite a few things about how to execute one.

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Take a step back to examine yourself
In marketing, there’s a strategic planning technique, called a SWOT Analysis. The acronym SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. You typically conduct this technique when planning a mode of action for a business. If you do decide to take a life-cleanse, it’s so important to give yourself an assessment. Figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are. From there, you can ask yourself what’s threatening you. It doesn’t necessarily mean physically, but what about mentally. Are there any opportunities for you to grow? When you’re answering these questions, be honest. I asked myself if I could truly say I was happy or if I enjoyed the person who I was becoming in the recent days. When I looked at myself in the mirror and said no, I knew that there needed to be an immediate change.

Find out what you need to change
After your personalized SWOT Analysis, you’re ready to take your first mode of action – finding out what needs to be changed. If you’re thinking about doing a life-cleanse, there’s undoubtedly something that needs to be changed in your life. Should you start making more time for yourself? Perhaps you need more time with family or friends? Find out what needs to be done for you to be happy. As I came to the realization that I wasn’t happy, I decided I needed to cut my stressors. While I welcome stress because it drives me to want to go harder, I found that I was stressed about everything – friends, family, finances, and my career. I realized that I took a lot of time from my day to agonize over each of these aspects, but never really took time to grab the reigns and take control of the various situations I was going through. I knew I needed to finally speak up and work through everything that was wrong.

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Close down Instagram
This step isn’t limited to Instagram alone. This step refers to anything that you define as a stressor in your life. Whatever it is – you need to shut it down. We all know social media while being such a gift, can also cause a lot of anxiety and feelings of inadequacy. Already being at a point where I wasn’t the most confident in my work, I knew it was unhealthy for me to be exposed to so many people that seemed to have it all together. Because of that, I decided to close the app. As an avid Instagrammer, I thought that not posting for a week (let alone five months) would be the death of me. Surprisingly, I weened myself off and was able to free myself from the constant anxieties of if my feed was aesthetically pleasing or if I remembered to post a story.

Get a change of scenery
It’s been said that traveling makes you feel better and as one that recently traveled to the other side of the world, I can attest to this. According to Forbes, the benefits of travel are endless. While boosting creativity and happiness, it can help you reinvent yourself. I did just that when three friends and I traveled to Tokyo. I let myself forget worries back home and focused on living in the moment. It was such a wonderful experience that I’m so grateful for.

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Come back stronger than ever
Before leaving for Japan, I had some anxiety about coming back. I was worried that more things would pile up and I’d be even more stressed out then I was to start out with. While I have to say, I had a lot of work to come back to, coming back I felt more relaxed than I have in a long time. I came back refreshed and clear-minded. Tasks that worried me prior to leaving felt more attainable and it was all because I gave myself time to breathe. When I began taking care of myself and allowing myself, I felt rejuvenated and more efficient.

A life-cleanse is so much more than shutting down Instagram or doing yoga once a week. It has to do with changing your life from the inside out. It’s about learning and changing yourself from the inside to prepare yourself for outside changes. It can take as little as a week for some or even five months, like me. Either way, if you decide to execute a life-cleanse on your own, remember to be honest with yourself and only make room for growth in your future.

Fun Facts with Bobbi Brown – Plus GIVEAWAY!

ICYMI, last month, I joined the oh so lovely Megan, of Sweet Sauce Blog, and the ultra-fab Christina, of Tiramisu for Breakfast for a fun event with Bobbi Brown in Nordstrom, Tysons Corner.

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I’m going to do something a little different today and start with some fun facts about me.

  1. I’m obsessed with KitKats.
  2. I’m super uncoordinated. (My family doesn’t even flinch anymore when I fall down the stairs.)
  3. Bobbi Brown has quickly become one of my favorite makeup brands.

ICYMI, last month, I joined the oh so lovely Megan, of Sweet Sauce Blog, and the ultra-fab Christina, of Tiramisu for Breakfast for a fun event with Bobbi Brown in Nordstrom, Tysons Corner. We got to learn about the brand from Bobbi Brown reps, which was amazing. (I’m still pinching myself because I’m still in shock.)

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We got a rundown on all things beauty from the amazing Bobbi Brown makeup artist, Tia Hebron. (Who you should totally be following.) With such an amiable personality, I enjoyed getting a mini-master course from her.

Fun fact #1 about Bobbi Brown – You’ll never see a contouring kit. In fact, Bobbi, herself, explained that she doesn’t like the idea of contouring because, “It’s telling people there’s something wrong with their face,” in an interview with The Cut.

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Recently, I’ve been really into the “no-makeup” makeup look, which Bobbi is known for. In fact, that’s one of the reason I’m so drawn to Bobbi Brown. Each product is designed to make the wearer feel three important things: empowered, good and confident. They manage to do this in such a natural way, which I adore.

Skincare was a hot topic during our chat with Tia. We got into what each age group should be focused on in terms of beauty. She explained that while in your 20’s, you should be investing in your skincare, your 30s should be focused on starting your treatments. For the fantabulous forties and up, you should be mindful of color choices.

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Being in my early 20s, with an irrational fear off aging, I’ve gone ahead and started my serum. I’ve been using the Intensive Skin Supplement, which is supposed to help with anti-aging. So far, I’m liking how plump my skin looks.

Fun fact #2 about Bobbi Brown – Bobbi Brown has a motto: Pretty Powerful. This means when you come to a counter, you’re already pretty!

Speaking of going to counters, I had the wonderful opportunity to get my makeup done by the wonderful Dajana at the counter. (If you’re in the area, you need to go see her!) The actual star of the show had to be the Sparkle Eyeshadow “AllSpice.” It’s the perfect everyday sparkle lid color for a natural pop.

Why I really loved my experience at the counter with Dajana is because we made sure there was a constant flow of communication between us. Oftentimes, people that go to the counter are very hesitant to voice their preferences in their makeup. In the words of Tia, “The time when you’re shopping for makeup is not the time to be passive.” Make sure you’re constantly telling the makeup artist what you do and don’t like because if you’re not honest about what you want, you’re not going to get the look you had hoped for.

Fun fact #3 about Bobbi Brown – Bobbi Brown has a very diverse range of shades for their foundations. Their newest release, the Skin Long-Wear Weightless Foundation SPF 15 has 30 shades.

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Huge thanks to my friend, Chloe for coming and taking some pictures for me! Follow her YouTube Channel.

It’s so important for a brand to diversify their shade range because people come in more than 12 shades. (This may come as a shock to some drugstore brands and select high end brands.) As a woman of color, it’s very important to me for a brand to have a diverse range of shades, which is why I’m so excited about brands like Bobbi Brown, which make it a mission to be as inclusive as possible. Also, the foundation lasted all day, which made me love the entire experience even more.

The Long-Wear Weightless foundation is definitely a must-try for those of you that are looking for something medium to full coverage. Make sure you use a primer for your skin type! (Which, oftentimes is built-in to their moisturizers!)

The Giveaway

Surprise! Christina, Megan and I are hosting a giveaway with Bobbi Brown in Nordstrom Tysons Corner! You’ll have the opportunity to win the makeup used on me, valued at more than $150! (OMG, right?)

In order to win, follow along below. It’s the perfect time to upgrade your makeup drawer and it’s really simple to enter!

  1. Follow me on Instagram and like the photo with this same caption.
  2. Tag two friends in the comments who would love to win, too!
  3. Follow @bobbirbwondmv, @tiramisuforbreakfastblog, @sweetsauceblog, and @beautyandbeyondtiahebron. (We’ll check to make sure!)
  4. BONUS: leave a comment on my post about what you like the most about the makeup look we created!
  5. DOUBLE BONUS: recreate one of our looks and tag us on Instagram this weekend. Just head to a Bobbi Brown makeup counter near you. Use can also use these hashtags:  #KPforBobbiBrown, #SSforBobbiBrown, #TFBforBobbiBrown.
  6. Winner announced Monday, March 12. We’ll announce it over on Instagram.

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What years of battling acne has taught me

As you all may or may not know, I’ve had some struggles with my skin in the past. And when I say some struggles, I mean a lot. I’m grateful for it because I’ve learned a lot.

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As you all may or may not know, I’ve had some struggles with my skin in the past. And when I say some struggles, I mean a lot. I’ve had issues with everything from oiliness and texture to scars and redness. There’s always been one underlying issue that’s been my biggest concern – acne.

If you’ve suffered from acne, you know the anxiety about breakouts right before school pictures and even the physical pain of it. I had a mixture of whiteheads, blackheads and painful, red bumps. The worst thing is that the red bumps weren’t constrained to a particular area of my face. They would appear on my forehead, cheeks and even my chin. All I wanted was clear skin.

I was tired of caking on foundation to hide the angry, red craters. I was tired of the concerned comments from friends and family, telling me that it was because of my makeup. I was tired of waking up from the pain of rolling onto one in the middle of the night. (This was the worst.)

I tried product after product, flooding my skin with every ingredient that magazines told me would “cure” my acne. There was charcoal, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Oh my!

That was my first mistake.

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I didn’t take the time to really get to know my skin and understand what it wanted. Instead, I wanted a quick fix and would put ten products on my skin right after each other. When something was causing bad reactions to my skin, I couldn’t pinpoint the culprit because I was using so many. Similarly, when something was working, I didn’t know if my skin was reacting well to the salicylic acid or the willow bark extract. While I knew this, I couldn’t stop.

I watched all the YouTube videos. I read all the magazines. I was under the impression that I was basically an expert, based on things that worked for other people’s skin.

That was my second mistake.

Everything changed about a couple months ago when I decided I wanted to stop making mistakes. While I did learn some things about my skin, I have to say that I still breakout sometimes. However, I am at a point where I just go out with a bit of concealer, which is something I was never comfortable doing before, which is what prompted me to write this.

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What may work for your favorite beauty guru might not work for you
Lord knows I’m still trying to figure this one out. Let’s face it, if Desi Perkins says something cleared her skin, there’s a 99.9% chance that I’m going to try it. Why? Let’s forget that she has beautiful skin for a moment. She’s someone that I look up to a lot because she knows what ingredients and products work for her. However, me and Desi have very different skin types so what may be a miracle product for her might not do the same for me.

Learn what your skin likes
Does your skin like witch hazel? What about charcoal? The only way to find out is to test it out. Testing out products will help you get a grasp of which ingredients actually work for your skin. From there, you’ll get a better understanding of which products in the store are worth your money. Just make sure you take time in between to know what in particular is working.

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Change your pillowcases
Okay, this is one tip that I’m sure will help everyone on their skin journey. Your pillowcase has so many germs and oils from your face and your hair, which can be causing your breakouts. That’s why you should make it a goal to wash your pillowcases and change them out once a week, especially if you have oily skin.

You don’t have to spend your entire paycheck
For all the girls obsessed with beauty like me, I’m going to reiterate it. You don’t have to spend your entire paycheck to have good skin. Yes, there are a lot of high-end products that work wonders, but there are also some really good items at the drugstore that might work for your skin as well.

Samples are your friends
I am a firm believer that you should always try before you buy! Maybe it’s my unjustifiable aversion to returning skincare, but I always like to ask for a sample of a moisturizer or mask when I can get one. This way if you do end up wanting something that has a higher price tag, you won’t have to worry about having to return it if it doesn’t work for you.

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Do you have any skincare tips? Let’s have a conversation in the comments section below! I’d love to get some tips from you or see if we have anything in common when it comes to taking care of our skin.

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A Date with Caudalie, Tatcha and Fresh

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by this absurd winter weather. *Knocks over my Fenty foundation as I raise both hands.* Yeah. Me too.

I’m not sure where you live, but I’ll give you a brief rundown on Virginia weather. Last week it was snowing one day then nearly 70 degrees the next. And no. I am not exaggerating.

So, with all of this finicky weather, my skin has been having a complete meltdown. That’s why I was so grateful to be invited by the lovely Laura to go visit the Sephora in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City for another skincare event. This time featuring Caudalie, Fresh and Tatcha.

My first stop was with Fresh Beauty, where I got to try out two masks. The first was the Lotus Youth Preserve Rescue Mask, which I might pick up later. It contains lotus seeds, seaweed flakes and red algae. I noticed that it gave my face a beautiful radiance, without a greasy feeling. The best thing–it only takes 5 minutes to work its magic.

The second mask we used was one of my favorites–the Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask. This was another hydrating mask because my skin has been feeling pretty dry recently. The “cool” thing about this mask is the fact that it has a cooling effect to it. (I have to admit that it freaked me out the first time I used it.) I found that I noticed clearer skin after using it as well. That was the case this time around as well!

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Picture taken by Laura Arzate

Next, I got pampered by the wonderful Amanda Lefaive from Tatcha, who taught me all about the brand. Did you know that all the products were inspired by ancient Japanese beauty rituals of geishas? You should know that geishas take much time to maintain the quality of their skin.

They have six steps to achieving their youthful glowing skin. These include purifying, polishing, brightening, nourishing, blotting and drinking Sake. The latter of which is optional, which means, I’ll be grabbing my glass of wine.

This heavily inspired products like the Rice Enzyme Powder. It’s an innovative powder product is actually a cleanser. It’s a powder that is activated by water. When you work it into your skin, it transforms into a beautiful lather that gently exfoliates your skin. After rinsing off, I felt clean and hydrated.

For moisturizing and treatment, I got to sit with the lovely Amy Schaeffer at Caudalie. Before starting, she had me give a brief rundown on some of my skin concerns. After going on and on about how shocked I was to learn that I had combination skin with some dry patches, she was able to give me some recommendations.

We started with the Vinosource S.O.S. Thirst Quenching Serum. It was a perfect choice for my skin. While it contains hydrating ingredients like, Hyaluronic Acid and grape water, I didn’t feel like it left a greasy layer over my skin. My skin just felt plump and hydrated.

Next, we hydrated with the Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet. This is another interesting product from Caudalie. It starts off as a gel and as you work it into your skin, it melts almost into water. The Vinosource line is really amazing because it all really sinks into your skin, without leaving you feel greasy or sticky.

We wrapped everything up with the Premier Cru Eye Cream, which she described as the “crème de la crème” of eye creams. She wasn’t lying. I have dark circles under my eyes, both hereditary and from lack of sleep. When we applied the cream,  I noticed that everything looked a bit brighter. I’ve been using it ever since.

What I love so much about these events is the fact that each of the reps of each brand are so knowledgable about their products. It’s so important to make sure you understand the products and ingredients you’re putting into your skin, which is why these events are so important. I even had some good friends of mine join in on the fun and they said they felt the same.

If you want to join Laura for a Skin Soirée, a little birdie told me she’ll be in Short Pump this Saturday, January 27th.

What are your thoughts on the Skin Soirées? What about your favorite products from these brands? Let me know in the comments!

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Double Up (On Your Mascara, That Is!)

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To this day, most everyone that I’ve come in contact with has commented on how large my eyes are. I’ve gotten everything from “They’re so big and beautiful,” to “Can you close your eyes a little bit? They’re freaking me out.”Middle school was a great time.

Because of this, I wanted to close my eyes off because I thought it would make me better. Cue a thirteen-year-old Kat with black liner smeared all around her eyes. Granted, it did close my eyes up, but let’s just say I won’t be going back to that style of makeup anytime soon.

Fast forward to present day, I rarely line my inner rim with black. In fact, I love accentuating my eyes and drawing more attention to them. And what’s the best way to draw attention? Mascara, of course!

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Everyone has their preference on mascara, but I’m here to give you a simple tip to getting the best lashes of your life! All you’ll need is a lengthening mascara, as well as a volumizing one.

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Start off with your favorite volumizing mascara as usual. My favorite at the moment is the L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise, which I got during my time at Beautycon this summer. You’re going to do one even coat, ensuring all your lashes are coated.

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After allowing them to dry for a bit (Not full dry!), you’re going to follow that with your favorite lengthening mascara. I’m using the Maybelline Volum’ Express The Falsies Push Up Drama Angel mascara, which is my favorite overall mascara. The wand is everything you need if you want length!

While applying, make sure your wand isn’t heavily coated when applying to your lashes. This is going to help you prevent clumps, while separating the lashes evenly. It’s also going to give you that length that the L’Oreal mascara didn’t!

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After that, you should see that your lashes are defined, but separated. Though it may seem like a lot of work to use two mascaras, but I promise when you do it, once, it’ll be a breeze!

Do you double up on your mascara? Let me know some of your favorite tips on getting your best lashes!

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Everything I’m Ready for This Fall

The fall trends that I’m super excited for.

It’s finally that time of the year again. The temperature is about to drop, PSL have taken over and the leaves are changing. I decided that the best way to jump into the new season was to make a post of all the things I’m so excited for.

Sweater Weather

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If there’s one thing that you should know about me, it’s that I love sweaters. Possibly a little too much if you ask my mother. She’s actually tried to ban me from buying any more sweaters. (Which undoubtedly failed.) I just ended up taking her sweaters, which she has started to hide from me.

Sweaters are an absolute must, especially for fall. There have been thousands of articles published on sweater weather so I won’t delve too deep into it. Just be prepared for several new sweaters to be featured on the blog. (Just don’t tell my mom!)

Fall Makeup Trends

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Recently, I’ve spent a lot more than I probably should have on makeup in Sephora, but it’s only because I’m so excited to get back on trend. I love the look of a smoked out lid, paired with vampy lips, much like I did here. Fall is the time to pull out your metallics and sultry tones, so rest assured to see me rocking these a lot. Some other trends you should look out for are fresh face with bold lips, monochrome looks and burgundy lids.

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To get this look, I used my Huda Beauty Eyeshadow Palette – Rose Gold Edition. “Dubai” is the perfect fall lid color. My lip is the Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lip Color in “Infatuation.” It’s super creamy and comfortable to wear!

Scarves

Fall

Even though it might not look like it, scarves come in at a close second to my sweater collection. They add a finishing touch to any look, while keeping you warm and cozy during those cool, fall night outings with friends. I’m a big fan of blanket scarves because I can easily drape it around my shoulders for a poncho effect.

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The one I have on here is a blanket scarf from Forever 21 and it’s only nine bucks! Thank goodness for their deals! (Similar)

The Decor

Fall

I know this may seem a little silly, but I’m obsessed with every item that remotely resembles fall. I’m so ready to bring out all my mugs, filling them to the brim with hot chocolate and marshmallows. Believe me when I say, starting today, I’m gearing up to drink at least one cup of cocoa a day. Add a little cinnamon and nutmeg for a touch of spice. Even if I’m actually drinking water in this picture. It’s all smoke and mirrors, guys.

Leather

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It’s now socially acceptable to wear leather jackets and you better believer, I’m so prepared! They add a little edge to every outfit, like this. I tied my shirt and paired it with high waisted pants and cut out ankle booties. Leather and faux-leather jackets are so accessible that you can find them at every price point.

What trends are you excited for this fall? I’d love to know so please leave a comment below.

Continue reading “Everything I’m Ready for This Fall”