Monday, February 19, 2018

Formal Dresses Under $70

We are officially starting one of my favorite times of year - formal season! 
In college, all spring is filled with a variety of formals - sorority, fraternity, ROTC, other student organizations. Throughout college, I have averaged 2-3 formals each spring (my sorority, my boyfriend's fraternity, and his military ball). That's 12 formal dresses in 4 years! Now I have re-worn dresses a few times, which I highly recommend, but no one wants to wear the same dresses every year, especially if you're posting tons of pics - which you definitely should if you're getting all dressed up!

I am pretty good at finding awesome dresses at better prices, if I do say so myself. I have never spent more than $70 on a formal dress and have loved my dresses every year. Today, I'm rounding up some of my favorite affordable formal dresses and giving suggestions on other ways to save on a dress for your next fancy occasion - including the dress I bought (can you guess which one it is?).

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10 // 11 // 12

Tips for Finding Cheap, Great Formal Dresses

 // Check online boutiques and flash sale websites //

Big online retailers or department stores tend to be more expensive. Online boutiques can have some really great prices, and they'll be more unique than the dresses that everyone else found at Nordstrom. Flash sale websites like Hautelook or Rue La La usually have amazing dresses for a fraction of their original price.

// ALWAYS check the sale section //

If you are looking at big online retailers, check the sale section! Some stores separate their sale and clearance items from their in season items. Search everywhere on the website - women's, juniors, sale, etc. You never know what you'll find.

// Consider the reviews //

I know some people who have had great luck with buying dresses on Amazon for formals. While this is great because free shipping and returns, Amazon quality can be risky. Also cheaper sites like Tobi, Romwe, and Shein can have iffy quality sometimes. Read through customer reviews to get an idea of quality, sizing, etc. This way you're more likely to get a dress that fits and looks great.

// Take your measurements before buying online //

This is something my mom taught me! Before I buy anything online, I always take my measurements - bust, waist, and hips. Then, I compare that to the size chart on the website. If you do this, it's a lot more likely that your dress will fit when it comes in, so you won't have to worry about returning it and rush shipping another dress.

// Consider renting a dress //

Rent the Runway has really pretty designer dresses, if that's what you're looking for. (Personally, that makes me a little nervous, because I wouldn't want something to happen to that dress and be on the hook for something expensive.) The Curtsy app allows you to rent from other girls on your college campus! The girls' also tend to rent their dresses for very cheap.

// Buy secondhand //

Poshmark, resale Facebook groups, or even from your friends. There are tons of options out there for buying previously worn formal dresses.

// Borrow dresses //

I borrowed a couple of my cousin's old bridesmaid dresses for formals. My sister has borrowed some of my dresses for her formal events. Ask around your sorority house or text your older sister and cousins to see if they have that gorgeous bridesmaid dress that they're never going to ~shorten and wear again (lol)~. Best part of borrowing dresses? They're free!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

My Favorite Influencers

Hi friends!
I still can't believe we're over two weeks into the new year! It already feels like it's flying and I am so not ready for that! But back to the point, like most people, I see the new year as a time to be refreshed and get inspired. I also think it's really easy to fall into the trap of comparison and beat yourself up because your new year isn't as perfect or polished as everyone else's. That's why this year, I'm making a point to follow accounts and people that inspire and motivate me. 

These are some of my favorite accounts to follow. Some I've followed for years, others I've recently discovered, some are big time bloggers, others are boss ladies, all are great. 

Dani Austin || Dani is awesome! I've followed her on Instagram for a while, but only recently really started paying attention. Do you ever mindlessly scroll through insta and just double tap the pretty pictures without really reading the captions? I do! Well Dani is someone whose captions you'll want to pay attention to. She is so inspiring and down-to-earth. She's made it her mission to be authentic online, which I think these days is so rare! Dani is goofy and silly, but also has awesome style and so many great words of wisdom to share. She also fearlessly shares her faith, which I really admire.

Stephanie May Wilson || Stephanie is someone I've recently started to follow, and let me just say, I'm obsessed with her, like I want her to be my best friend or mentor. I first found out about Stephanie by seeing her book The Lipstick Gospel recommended on Instagram. The e-book is available for free on her website, so I highly recommend checking it out! After reading her book, I followed her on Instagram, listened to episodes of her podcast, and ordered her devotional and prayer journal. Totally normal. Stephanie is just so relatable! She comes from a place of understanding and encouragement, not judgement which I think isn't totally common when it comes to Christian books. Half the time, I think her words were written just for me. 

Krista Robertson || I don't think there is anyone who blogs who doesn't know who Krista of Covering the Bases is, or at least I hope not. What I really appreciate about Krista is that she's real. No offense to other bloggers, but so many of them are toothpick thin and always look absolutely perfect with their flawless makeup, eyelash extensions, and fabulous outfits. Krista isn't an XS, she posts her comfy outfits and gets on insta stories without a stitch of makeup, and I think she rocks! The other day, she shared on insta stories during her workout how posing can completely transform the look of someone's body. We seem to think that blogs are more real than magazines and aren't photoshopped, but posing can do just as much as photoshop. I love that Krista wasn't afraid to show the reality of this. I think there need to be more bloggers who are transparent online (noticing a trend?).

Emily Ley || I could sing the praises of Emily Ley all day long. I'm obsessed with her Simplified Planner and loved her book, Grace Not Perfection. I am so inspired by how she has built her business and the message she shares through her work. She's not selling the idea of a perfectly organized life equals happiness, rather that a little organization can help make room in your life for what matters most. Pretty powerful stuff. 

Kristen Shane || I've followed Kristen on Instagram for a while and recently started keeping up with her blog. My goodness does this girl have a lot of wisdom to share, she's also still in college. Her blog is more on the lifestyle side, but she mixes in a fair bit of fashion and faith as well. I loved her post on who God is calling her to be, it really resonated with me. She also shared a great post on improving blog photography. Kristen is also rocking her insta game. Definitely check her out!

These are some of my favorite people to follow online. I love discovering inspiring women online, who are some of your favorite people to follow?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Colorful 2018!

Hi friends! Welcome to a new year. 
I can't even wrap my head around the fact that this is the year I graduate from college and enter a new, undetermined chapter of my life. 2017 was a wild ride and if I'm being entirely honest, it just wasn't my year. I have some great memories from the year, but I didn't grow or change or do anything really big this past year.
But that will NOT be the case for 2018. I am so determined to make this a great year, because there is so much I want to do before I finish college and begin my next chapter. Lots of people have a "word" for each year and I have never done that before but I want to give it a try. I didn't really have any idea what I wanted my word to be - there are SO many different directions I could have taken my word considering how big this year is going to be. As I processed a few different ideas, one word kept coming to the forefront of my brain, and it didn't really make sense.


What? You're probably thinking, Ashley you're silly, colorful is not a word to live by for an entire year. That's what I kept thinking too. But it just kept coming back up. The more I thought about it though, the more it made sense. I want a colorful year, a colorful life!

Now colorful doesn't mean perfect, or pretty, or perfectly curated in order to share on Instagram. To me, colorful is messy and real, and just plain happy, joyful even. To say I want my life to be filled with color means I want it to be filled with new experiences and new, interesting people. I want to say yes to the things that make me smile and spend a lot of time laughing and enjoying this last bit of college. I want to make new friends, because you can never have too many. I want to pursue whatever it is that sets my soul on fire. I plan to really dive into areas of my life that I've been holding back on and figure out what's next. I plan to cherish and appreciate this last semester in my perfect college town and love the people that have been a part of my college journey. I could probably keep going about everything colorful means for me in 2018, but I think some things are better kept to oneself when it comes to dreams, goals, and resolutions.

Have you ever picked out a word for your year? I would love to hear it!

Happy New Year, may your 2018 be beautiful and COLORFUL!!!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Embracing The Curl

For as long as I can remember I have not liked my hair. I have very thick, very wavy/sometimes curly hair. It has a mind of its own and I've never really known what to do with it. I don't think I ever even did my hair until I got to junior high - the ages when everyone is unhappy with how they look. Everyone I knew had super long, very straight hair. Naturally, because my hair was a curly mess, I would go to town trying to get it pin straight with my hand-me-down flat iron. This trend stayed through high school. I had a short bob that did not work with my natural curl.

It wasn't until college that I started to embrace my hair more. Not because I stopped caring, but because South Carolina humidity is absolutely insane and there is little I can do to protect my hair from it. I'm always looking for products that will help me manage my hair. 

These three products have been my go-tos lately to keep my hair nice, clean, and curly.

My hair routine starts with shampooing. About a month ago, Maple Holistics reached out to me and offered to send me a bottle of their tea tree oil shampoo. I switched to natural skin care earlier this year, so I jumped at the chance to try a natural shampoo. I've been trying out the shampoo for the past few weeks and really love it. As you can see from one of my other favorite products, I use dry shampoo often between washes. This tea tree shampoo is one of the only things I've tried that really makes my hair feel clean and removes any product build up. 

I typically shower and wash my hair at night and go to bed with my hair damp. When I wake up, my hair is soo curly. I highly recommend this shampoo! Especially because it has a great price point. If you're interested, you can try product samples for free!

Can you even go through college without dry shampoo? I don't think so. Batiste has been my favorite brand for a while now. I typically switch scents every time I get a new bottle, but they all work the same in my opinion. My only problem is that because I have dark hair, some times the white powder is very hard to rub in.

This mousse is my newest product to manage my curls. On days where I do shower in the morning, I'll put a dollop of this mousse into my hair when it's damp then use the diffuser attachment for my hair dryer. The combination mimics how my hair drys naturally and I really like it.

What are some of your favorite hair products? Do you have anything that helps manage your hair, I would love to hear about it?