H&M + Nicki Minaj: The Beautiful Fight

It’s no secret that I’m a huge kimono fan. It’s also less of a secret that I love a loud statement piece. When I came across H&M’s collaboration with Nicki Minaj, I was PUMPED. I love Nicki for several reasons: her loud yet chic sense of style, and her even more beautifully crafted intense musical sound. The fact that her collection at H&M had an Asian-inspired twist made it even more lovable. I often get described as intense, and I don’t take it as a negative. If you’re reading this and can relate, this post’s for you.

Intensity often gets a negative connotation, and I hate that. I feel that without it, we cannot truly appreciate or respect the passion of ourselves or others. There is beauty in intensity: fashion, art, writing, and our own feelings. I’m consistently drawn to artists of all kinds that embody such a genuine energy: Lady Gaga, Grimes, and Tarantino to name a few. I’ve always been a lover of intense films and music, from an emotion-filled record to classic horror movies. They contain so many different layers of humanity. I sometimes get asked why I love violence, and the answer is I don’t like it at all, I simply find it to be a fascinating and real side of our world. Lady Gaga articulated it perfectly.

I’m also going to reveal another fact about myself: I studied Taekwondo for the majority of my childhood, from 2nd grade through high school. I’ve always had a bit of a temper (blame the Irish in me, haha), and it turned out to be not only a way to work out, but also taught me how to control emotion and my actions under stress. Martial arts often get a negative connotation as well, being a form of violence, however, their teachings couldn’t be farther from that. One of the tenets of Taekwondo is discipline. While we were taught sparring techniques, it was taught to be kept in our back pocket, and not used boastfully. Yup, think Karate Kid. It’s formed me into who I am today: a mentally strong yet capable person. However, when backed into a corner, you can bet I’ll fight back.

This is the mindset I’ve visualized in my next OOTD Novela. When the world pushes you, it’s important to never lose sight of your inner discipline. Rather, feel all the feels inside, and form them into something better. One of my favorite musical artists, Grimes, is changing the way we look at intense or “scary” things and showing the beauty within them. Intensity and aggressiveness can be considered beautiful and shouldn’t always be synonymous with scary. She responds to the media with such personal discipline, refusing to fit a certain stereotype, and stay true to her craft. This is a mindset I respect, and one we should all take into consideration. We are most beautiful when we are genuinely ourselves, and that’s exactly what makes us special.

This outfit is a compilation of some of my most favorite brands that beautifully portray a more intense vibe. If I could live in Ultracor and Fenty all the time, I would. Additionally, H&M consistently has such great edgy pieces at an affordable price. I tend to keep my more trendy pieces in this category, and they make a great addition to a higher priced outfit. My challenge to you: pick a piece of this outfit that most speaks to you, and style it to bring out your own inner fighter or inner Nicki Minaj. Have fun with your style, and take a risk! You never know what you might learn about yourself!

Outfit Details

Kimono: Long Kimono, H&M x Nicki Minaj

Pullover: Form Foiled Pull On Jacket, Lou & Grey (SOLD OUT) similar here and here

Leggings: Ultra High Silk Bolt Legging, Ultracor via Carbon38

Shoes: Cleated Creeper with Ankle Strap, Fenty x Puma (on sale!!)

Makeup Details

Primer: Perfect Canvas Serum, c/o Ren Skincare

Foundation: Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation, Fenty Beauty in 210

Highlighter: Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter, Fenty Beauty in Lightning Dust/Fire Crystal

Blush: Air Blush Soft Glow Duo, Marc Jacobs Beauty in Lines & Last Night

Contour: Match Stix Matte Skin Stick, Fenty Beauty in Mocha and Rum

Eyes: Eye-conic Multi-finish Eyeshadow Palette, Marc Jacobs in Frivoluxe

Liner: Long Lasting 12 Hour Liquid Liner, Sephora Collection

Lips: Le Marc Lip Creme, Marc Jacobs Beauty in Slow Burn

Photos by Rachel Radcliffe Photography

Drinking Collagen: 6 Things You Need To Know

I’m talking all things collagen today, guys. You’ve seen me talk about it in my Instagram stories, and it’s building up quite a reputation in the beauty world. If you haven’t taken the plunge and started incorporating it into your routine (and diet!), start thinking about it! There are so many benefits outside anti-aging too.

What is collagen?

Yeah, it’s a popular buzzword these days, but what exactly IS it? Collagen is a protein. Wild, huh? Our bodies break those proteins down into amino acids and use them to support collagen production to build our connective tissue (veins, organs, bones, muscles, cartilage). That said, it has benefits beyond slowing the aging process, to include soothing sore muscles, joints, etc. If you hit it hard in the gym, it’s a solid piece to add to your recovery.

What if I have diet restrictions?

This is a great question, and the answer is that’s okay! Depending on the brand you go with, there will likely be no added sugar. It naturally carries no carbohydrates, sodium, or lactose, making it doable for anyone, whether you’re following a specific diet or have allergies. Of course, it’s always important to double check the label of the brand you’re buying to make sure it doesn’t contain any extras. Some brands do have added sugar to taste and flavors.

Does it taste gross?

Taste definitely depends on the brand you choose. After many tries, I’ve found that this particular one is truly tasteless and additive free, and I put it in legit everything: baking, my water bottle, coffee, and my oatmeal. The more scoops you add, the more likely you’ll get a bit of a chalky aftertaste, however, it’s not unbearable.

How often do I need to take it to see results?

The internal results will show up quicker, naturally. If you’re taking it to help with recovery or get stronger, you’ll feel a difference in about a week. I’ve been taking it consistently for a few years now and started noticing results in my skin and nails after about 8 weeks. When I forget to take it, I notice my skin showing more signs of aging after 2 weeks.

I use already collagen laced beauty products. Is drinking it really better?

Yes. Without getting all fake news on you: topical products won’t get you long-term results. If you’re like “well F%#K I must have spent bazillions of bucks on skincare products for this” don’t freak out just yet. They’re great for hydration, and in the moment results but not much else. Drinking them ensures all the amino acids will get to your body where they’re needed the most, and ensure that they are actually filling the gaps in your body’s cellular breakdown.

What other brands do you trust?

While I only regularly use my favorite brand from HSN, it’s sometimes sold out (it’s SO popular bc of the taste and lack of additives!). These are my other top picks I’ve used in a pinch when I forget to re-order and mine’s sold out:

Reservage Collagen Powder

Vital Proteins Collagen Powder

NeoCell Super Collagen

Outfit Details

Robe: JOY Plush Robe True Perfection Cosmetic/Bleach Resistant Set, HSN

Towel: Liss Luxe Hair Turban, Aquis

Collagen: Andrew Lessman’s Marine Collagen Peptides, HSN

Mug: Venti Mug, Starbucks (OLD)

Makeup Details

Primer: Foundation Primer Radiant, Laura Mercier

Foundation: Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream, IT Cosmetics

Mascara: Monsieur Big Mascara, Lancome

Brows: Brow Stylist, L’Oreal

Lips: Rose Balm Dot Com, Glossier

The Arrivals: The Greatest Wardrobe Investment You’ll Ever Make

When it comes to investment pieces, I get real serious about what I recommend. There’s nothing worse than spending an arm and a leg on a piece, to find out it’s a flop. It’s even worse when the brand doesn’t stand by their designs. This is NOT the case with The Arrivals, and I felt that their Moya Jacket deserved its own post as a result.

Who are The Arrivals?

If you’re wondering WTF this brand is, read on. My love story with their brand began late in 2015 when I saw a Facebook ad with a quote from Vogue about this particular jacket. It read “we’re going to call it this season’s go-to jacket” and went on to explain exactly why. New Yorkers take their outerwear very seriously, and if Vogue is on board, it’s certainly destined for greatness.

I spent the next year swooning over it and reading more press about it. The reviews were in, and they were pretty solid. Additionally, I couldn’t help but notice the “lifetime warranty” they have listed on each item on the site. There’s nothing more comforting knowing that they stand by their designs. Upon receiving a coupon code during the holidays, I decided to pull the trigger, and I’m SO glad I did.

The #NOTSPONSORED Review

We hear a lot about hyped items online, but it really means something when a lay-person writes about it of their own free will. I trust bigger purchases to reviews from fellow bloggers and the reviews of those who’ve bought the item. Here’s my opinion:

Fit

This is meant to be an oversized jacket, which is BOMB, especially if you’re a tall and broad-shouldered slender gal like me, and have a hard time fitting your shoulders into fitted leather jackets. I hated my moto jackets, and most were a total waste of money because I never reached for them due to fit. Who hates having a baggy body just to have your shoulders fit? Yeah, me too. This jacket hits me right below the butt, making it a practical choice for colder months, and the soft leather makes it sit perfectly on your curves, eliminating that rigid boxy look. It’s also a style that’s truly a classic, making it a safe purchase against trendier styles that won’t stand the test of time.

Feel

HOLY OMFG. I shit you not: this jacket literally feels like I’m wearing a silk Agent Provocateur robe, lined with Ugg boot shearling. I find myself keeping it on indoors, instead of shedding it immediately due to being uncomfortable.

Price

Yeah, I know, this jacket is ~$1,000. Worth it? Every fucking penny. I’ve NEVER felt that way about any clothing I’ve spent over a grand on. It’s not a museum piece like some of my shoes I only pull out for special occasions, it’s one that will get used consistently. That right there makes it worth it. Forego a pair of Valentinos or even a Chanel bag this year. This piece has (literally) got YO back, and usable across all codes of dress. Evening gown? Yup. Vogue editors are buzzing about wearing it at Fashion Week at events and shows. Wearing it to and from your workouts? That too. I won’t be taking it off once I touch down in NYC for good this year.

Want to never buy another jacket again? Go with the Moya. She won’t let you down.

Outfit Details

Jacket: Moya Jacket, The Arrivals

Top: Metallica Cropped Hooded Sweatshirt, H&M

Leggings: Ultra High Silk Bolt Leggings, Ultracor via Carbon38

Sunglasses: Rose Gold Aviators, H&M

Shoes: Cleated Creeper w/ Ankle Strap, FentyxPuma (ON SALE!!)

Makeup Details

Primer: Perfect Canvas Serum, c/o Ren Skincare

Foundation: Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation, Fenty Beauty in 210

Highlighter: Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter, Fenty Beauty in Lightning Dust/Fire Crystal

Blush: Air Blush Soft Glow Duo, Marc Jacobs Beauty in Lines & Last Night

Contour: Match Stix Matte Skin Stick, Fenty Beauty in Mocha and Rum

Eyes: Eye-conic Multi-finish Eyeshadow Palette, Marc Jacobs in Frivoluxe

Liner: Long Lasting 12 Hour Liquid Liner, Sephora Collection

Lips: Le Marc Lip Creme, Marc Jacobs Beauty in Slow Burn

Photos by Rachel Radcliffe Photography

Rack Addik: The Fabric Of My Grunge Glam Heart

Rack Addik, guys.

If you’ve been reading following along since last February, you probably remember it from my first post of NYFW. If you’re not familiar, it’s the label by Kelly Dempsey (Project Runway Season 14). Watching that season, I immediately connected with her vibe: unapologetically fashion forward. A rebel at heart myself, I feel my best when I take risks and give things 110%. I’m also not afraid to try something different or completely reinvent the wheel on life. Her designs are exactly that: IDGAF loud, authentic, and totally chic. Going to support her show was a no-brainer. She’s just as authentic in person, I had a blast getting to chat with her for a bit afterward!

The Harleigh Tee Dress reminds me so much of the vintage Nike tee dress I wore the second day at NYFW, and once Kelly released it on Rack Addik a few months later, I grabbed one. The “glitter is my favorite color” screen print on the front makes it even more fun to wear.

Loud dresses like these deserve an equally calculated styling; I paired it with a sale jacket from Forever 21 that I found last month during the holidays. Adding my favorite beanie, Fenty choker and flats completed the look and gave it that authentic Rack Addik feel. If you’ve never checked out her beanie and fanny pack collection, do it. They’re finally restocked, and I have one coming and can’t wait to wear it in NYC this year.

If you’re not feeling quite as bold, know that this dress is perfect to pair with your favorite pair of leggings and heels or sneaks. I wear it quite often this way, and took it with me for NYFW this past September and wore it with jeans and a leather jacket. During the winter months, it’s even fun to pair with leggings and OTK boots and a statement jacket, like the one here.

I’m starting off this year’s OOTD Novelas with Rack Addik as well, as signifies so much of my goals for 2018: boldly accomplishing new things, not holding back, and challenging myself. It’s what being a rebel is all about.

Outfit Details

Dress: Harleigh Tee Dress, Rack Addik

Jacket: Mongolian Fur Cropped Coat, Forever21 (OLD) similar here / here

Bra: Zero Gravity Bra, Michi via Carbon38 (ON SALE!)

Shoes: Rockstud Caged Flat, Valentino in Neon Yellow (affordable dupes here!)

Beanie: Gold Logo Beanie, Adidas

Sunglasses: Rose Gold Aviators, H&M

Makeup Details

Primer: Perfect Canvas Serum, c/o Ren Skincare

Foundation: Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation, Fenty Beauty in 210

Highlighter: Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter, Fenty Beauty in Lightning Dust/Fire Crystal

Blush: Air Blush Soft Glow Duo, Marc Jacobs Beauty in Lines & Last Night

Contour: Match Stix Matte Skin Stick, Fenty Beauty in Mocha and Rum

Eyes: Eye-conic Multi-finish Eyeshadow Palette, Marc Jacobs in Frivoluxe

Liner: Long Lasting 12 Hour Liquid Liner, Sephora Collection

Lips: Le Marc Lip Creme, Marc Jacobs Beauty in Slow Burn

Photos by Rachel Radcliffe Photography

Haute Playlists: Musical Inspo For Your Daily Life

Today’s post starts a new series around one of my favorite things in the world, music. There are few things I love more than making new playlists that inspire me to be more creative or productive, and it’s something I truly enjoy sharing with those around me.

Second: let’s face it, we’re all bored with our own music. Am I right? To save you from falling down the bottomless pit of searching for new playlists on Spotify, I’ve created an easy spot to find a playlist for any inspiration need. This week, I’m releasing two moods for you. Follow me on Spotify for monthly updates to these lists, and watch for new ones!

My Spotify

Got a mood you’re dying to turn into a playlist? Leave it in the comments or message me on social!

Chill Music To Work To

Step Up Your Workout Music Game

Outfit Details

Top: Bhakti Jacket, Lululemon (OLD)

Leggings: Align Pant, Lululemon (OLD)

Shoes: Wool Runners, Allbirds

Headphones: Studio Beats, Beats by Dre

Photos by Rachel Radcliffe Photography

Active Workwear: The Editorial (Part I)

Stretchy workwear clothes? Your office wardrobe daydream just came true.

Remember when I did a menswear post incorporating activewear? It was a tiny teaser into this year’s new editorial, active workwear. This is the first of several posts this year showcasing brands that are pioneering this trend. To be clear: I’m not talking about styling your fave leggings into a work appropriate outfit either. Spandex is awesome for just about everything these days, now including actual workwear. It’s been amazing to watch the activewear industry change so much since my original obsession with all things Lululemon back in 2005. Over Cyber Monday, I splurged on a new blazer from Carbon38, and I am so glad I did.

How many of you hate wearing blazers to work? I feel you. They’re often rigid, and difficult to keep looking sharp. If you’re over your dry cleaning bill this year, I urge you to check out Carbon38’s blazers. I wore mine out around the city this past weekend and was thrilled to see how well it held its shape and repelled wrinkles. If you’re a fellow city dweller, you’ll also appreciate the fact that it wicks sweat too. There’s nothing worse than sweating through your outerwear from commuting and racking up extra dry cleaning bills.

I’m also loving joggers as a workwear staple! These new joggers from Zara have a nice thickness to them, make them a staple for the office and the cooler weather this season. If you’re looking for a way to style these for the office, pair them with a statement heel and a blazer for a more professional feel. I’ve also been looking more into resold designer clothing this year in order to pump my closet up for daily office wear in New York City later this season, especially when it comes to shoes, as heels that are slightly broken in make for perfect office shoes! It’s been exactly two years of searching looking for these exact neon pink Valentino Rockstuds; I found them on eBay a few months ago and immediately grabbed them! They’re just slightly worn in making them perfect to hit the NYC streets.

Outfit Details

Blazer: Curium Printed Blazer, Carbon38

Top: Ignite Crop Top, Michi c/o Carbon38

Pants: Jogging Trousers, Zara

Shoes: Rockstud Leather Pump, Valentino in Fuschia (affordable dupes here!)

Hat: Pom Ball Cap, Forever21 (OLD), similar here

Wallet: Large Monogram Flap Wallet, Saint Laurent in Gray (below retail on eBay)

Makeup Details

Primer: Perfect Canvas Serum, c/o Ren Skincare

Foundation: Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation, Fenty Beauty in 210

Highlighter: Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter, Fenty Beauty in Lightning Dust/Fire Crystal

Contour: Match Stix Matte Skin Stick, Fenty Beauty in Mocha and Rum

Eyes: Eye-conic Multi-finish Eyeshadow Palette, Marc Jacobs in Frivoluxe

Lips: Rouge Pur Couture Dazzling Lights Limited Edition Lipstick, YSL

Hair: AIR DRY IT Undone Styling Creme, c/o L’Oreal

Photos by Rachel Radcliffe Photography

Home For The Holidays: Inside My Style & Family Tradition

Merry Christmas everyone!

There’s nothing like being home with loved ones for the holidays, am I right? Over the past 15 years living away from home due to college and my first jobs as a young professional, it’s always been a reprieve to head home for a few days to enjoy the familiar traditions of home cooked meals, Christmas mass, and spontaneous outdoor activities.

Growing up in a Catholic family, Christmas holds a very special place in our lives. It’s a time to reflect on the true spirit of the season, the first family of Christ. It’s our time to celebrate that exactly, as well as appreciate the love within our own family and those around us. They were some of my fondest memories growing up.

When it comes to my holiday Sunday best attire, I always love to incorporate a splash of fashion from the year past, blended with a piece of tradition pulled from my heritage or other foundation from my life. When I came across this jacket, I knew it needed to have a home in my closet for two reasons:

  1. I love a solid button breasted jacket. They’re just so damn sharp.
  2. Many of you may know I went to the Naval Academy for college. This jacket also bears an almost identical resemblance to our parade uniform we marched in for every national holiday. Yup, like literal marching! The formal etiquette of the military and our government has always been a part of our household and was part of my earliest memories as a child living in Washington D.C. This high collared and gold embroidered jacket brings back so many wonderful memories during the holidays.

Now, pair this jacket with some sporty and velvety splash? GAME ON bitches.

I’ve been wearing this skirt everywhere in every code of dress this season from Ivy Park crop tops to this polished look here. It’s now under $25, grab one before it’s gone for good in a few weeks! This soft pink hue is perfect year round to style up and down.

Another fun college memory surrounding our parade uniforms included trading out our usual white undershirt for one with personal flair, mine usually a track team or our class-specific shirt. I’ve been loving Nike’s tees lately, and couldn’t resist this deep red tee with metallic hues to breathe some life into my holiday look! I also added my favorite beanie of the season by Adidas, as the gold details made a perfect combo with the jacket.

I wish you all the merriest of holidays this season, whichever your faith, and wish you a wonderful and successful year ahead! This will be my last post until the New Year, and cannot wait to share with you what’s in store as I make my preparations to move East to New York later next month!

Outfit Details

Jacket: Velvet Jacket, Zara

T-Shirt: Dry Colorshift Training T-Shirt, Nike

Skirt: Velvet Skirt, Target

Shoes: Rockstud Slingback 100m, Valentino (cheaper dupes here!)

Bag: Vitello Daino Leather Tote, Prada

Makeup Details

Primer: Perfect Canvas Serum, c/o Ren Skincare

Foundation: Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation, Fenty Beauty in 210

Highlighter: Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter, Fenty Beauty in Lightning Dust/Fire Crystal

Contour: Match Stix Matte Skin Stick, Fenty Beauty in Mocha and Rum

Eyes: Eye-conic Multi-finish Eyeshadow Palette, Marc Jacobs in Frivoluxe

Lips: Rouge Pur Couture Dazzling Lights Limited Edition Lipstick, YSL

Hair: AIR DRY IT Undone Styling Creme, c/o L’Oreal

Photos by Rachel Radcliffe Photography