Author: Mandy Gragg

Carbon38 Ready-To-Wear: The Passport Collection

Let’s talk about the Carbon38 Passport Collection for a minute: the spirit of this blog is about showing the beauty in technical fabrics and sporty designs, and Carbon38 is hands down one of my favorite retailers in the space. Summer styles are in full swing, and if you haven’t heard that Carbon38 has released their first resort wear collection, drop what you’re doing, and PEEK. IT. NOW. I was drawn to the structured feminine details and the solid colors, and cannot wait for my second shipment to get here! Stay tuned for some of beautiful dresses and tops; I must say that they have really out done themselves this time.

This new ready-to-wear line comes equipped with everything you need for summer travels, and everything you don’t:

Wash and wear (wrinkle free)? Check.

Elegant designs? Check.

The ability to mix and match to dress your look up or down (aka less shit to pack)? CHECK.

Are they a little pricey? Hell yeah, but hear me out: if you remember my post about the Carbon38 Tommaso Pants, you’ll remember that the cost is built in because these pieces are truly like having 4 outfits in one, all in different codes of dress. Sound a little more budget friendly now? Trust me, I got you. You won’t be disappointed.

Grab your passport, and grab some of my favorites must haves from the collection:

Los Angeles Dress

Barcelona Top

London Bell Sleeve Sleeve Top

Singapore Ruffle Top

Paris Slack

New York Top

Dubai Cropped Slack

I am loving the Hong Kong full sleeved sweatshirt, as it’s elegant enough to style up for the office, yet casual enough to wear around town on the daily. I highly recommend it for travel, as you’ll be able to repurpose your flight OOTD for something a little fancier, or even an evening walk on the beach!

What are your favorite pieces from the collection? Tag me in your Passport Collection posts on social media, I love seeing you guys styling pieces I’ve posted!

Thank you to Carbon38 for sponsoring this post.

Outfit Details

Sweatshirt: Hong Kong Sweatshirt, c/o Carbon38

Top: Something Borrowed Top, ADAY

Pants: Tommaso Pant, Jonathan Simkhai x Carbon38

Sunglasses: It’s My Way Sunglasses, QUAY Australia

Makeup Details

Prep: Son & Park Beauty Water

Foundation: Laura Mercier Soft Luminous Foundation, in Linen

Primer: stila One Step Correct

Contour: Smashbox Step By Step Contour Kit

Eyes: Urban Decay Naked Ultimate Basics Palette

Lashes: Sephora Lashes Luxe, in Amour

Lips: Le Marc Lip Creme, in Slow Burn

Photos by Rachel of Rachel Radcliffe Photography

Makeup by Elisia at Sephora Embarcadero Center, hair by Drybar

Velvet For The Summer: Outside Lands Style (& a Nordstrom Giveaway!)

If you shopped the Nordstrom Sale with me, you know that the velvet trend is here to stay, long into the summer and fall! As a 90’s kind of gal, I cannot be more pumped about it. It was all over the runways during NYFW back in February, and its momentum hasn’t slowed down at all. That said, I’m adding into my summer outfits, and more specifically, adding it into the mix for Outside Lands. Whether you’re headed to Lollapalooza, Electric Zoo, or Outside Lands this summer, it’s an easy way to feel stylish this season!

I’ve always been envious of the amazing outfit watching that goes on at Coachella, and while I’ve never attended, I’ve always had a thing for music inspired fashion: remember my band tee obsession? Outside Lands is my chance every year to play around with my more whimsical and edgy sense of fashion, allowing myself to go all out like I do for New York Fashion Week with playful and unconventional ensembles. Not sure where to start? I’ve got you covered.

First things first…

Be a little practical.

One thing I’ve learned from 3 years of attending Outside Lands, is the need to dress somewhat practical. While I love being extra when it comes to my day to day dress code, for music festivals, I do a primary sweep of every item to make sure it’s functional enough to not ruin my day by being a distraction to my ability to enjoy taking in all the music sets.

Throws / Jackets

Since it’s San Francisco, layering is KEY. If your outfit is on the skimpier side, make sure you bring a suitable jacket or one that doubles as a blanket you can re-purpose during the warmer daylight hours. Don’t have the time or the budget to invest in a cool leather jacket? Rent one from Rent the Runway instead!

BB Dakota Black Faux Fur Draped Jacket (rent for less than $30!)

ASOS Denim Super Rip Jacket

Free People Spellbound Tie Dye Kimono

Chelsea28 Velvet Smoking Jacket  …on Anniversary Sale too!

Harvey Faircloth Peplum Camo Jacket

Bags

The bag you take WILL define your festival experience. My first year, I took I tiny cross body and was stressed as the day went on due to the lack of space for snacks, souvenirs, and my layers for later. It was miserable! The second year, I took a giant Never Full Tote and was equally miserable lugging around a bag on my shoulder all day. I now personally prefer taking a backpack, so you can have your hands free.

Clear Kawaii Angel Backpack

Rebecca Minkoff Julian Velvet Backpack (gold version here)  …both are on Anniversary Sale too!

Herschel Reflective Mini Backpack

The Rack Addik Fanny Pack

Shoes

Second cardinal sin: wearing impractical shoes. Trust me. I’m the queen of crazy shoes, and hear me out: THIS IS NOT the time to show them off. I wore sandals my first year, which was a fail. The second year, I wisened up and dug out my clunky All Saints leather high tops, and was SO happy. Go for a high top style, given the amount of grass and dirt you’ll be trekking through all day. This is San Francisco, and it’s cold (and often wet!) in August.

Adidas Superstar Slip On Sneaker  …on Anniversary Sale too!

Gentle Souls Velvet Carole Zip High Top Sneaker  …on Anniversary Sale too!

Dr. Martens Orchid Purple Zip Pascal Boots

Vans Sk8 High Tops

I am going to be wearing this insanely comfortable (and Instagrammable!) Kimono from the Nordstrom Sale, and highly suggest you take a peek at yourself! It’s a great item to layer with, and one that’s transitional between seasons given the velvet and short sleeve qualities. It flows so beautifully, and was an instant love the second I tried it on out of my first wave of sale shipments!

Outfit Details

Kimono: Hinge Velvet Kimono

Tee: Nirvana Logo Tee, H&M (OLD), similar here

Leggings: Michi Illusion Legging (SOLD OUT), similar here

Shoes: Milanoo Faux Fur Loafer (SOLD OUT), similar here

Makeup Details

Prep: Son & Park Beauty Water

Foundation: Laura Mercier Soft Luminous Foundation, in Linen

Primer: stila One Step Correct

Contour: Smashbox Step By Step Contour Kit

Eyes: Urban Decay Naked Ultimate Basics Palette

Lashes: Sephora Lashes Luxe, in Amour

Lips: Le Marc Lip Creme, in Slow Burn

Photos by Rachel of Rachel Radcliffe Photography

Makeup by Elisia at Sephora Embarcadero Center


This week I decided to team up with some of my favorite bloggers and bring you an amazing giveaway: One lucky reader will win a $700 gift card to Nordstrom!
Money Can Buy Lipstick | Blush & Blooms | Coming Up Roses | Brighton On A Budget | Miss Molly Moon | Blondes & Bagels
A Gallon of Glitter | DTK Austin | Pretty in Pink Megan | Trendy Chickadee | The Closet Crush | Greta Hollar
RD’s Obsessions | Gracefully Taylored | Posh in Progress | The Haute Sweat | Ashley’s Passion for Fashion| The Trendy Tomboy
The Dandy Liar | Super Fashionable | Style Weekender | My Boring Closet | Twenty Teenz | Audrey Madison Stowe
So Heather | Middle of Somewhere Blog | Something Dashing | Style Miss Molly | I’m Fixin’ To Blog | Truth or Flares

Use the widget below to enter the giveaway. The more “tasks” you complete, the more entries you will receive. The winner will be announced (on the widget) within 2 weeks of the giveaway ending. The giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada residents.a Rafflecopter giveaway

What’s In My Bag Right Now (& a Nordstrom Giveaway!)

I’ve heard a lot of your feedback on what I actually use on the daily, so I’m making my handbag snapshots a regular thing, as my last post was a huge success! Given all the recent sales this season, I’ve switched up some of my beauty and fitness go-to’s to account for the weather and summer styles, and I’m also more on the go which means my bags get a little makeover as well!

Summer Bags I’m Loving

I have a bit of a bag obsession (of the business flavor mostly) when it comes to a functional piece that needs to make it from my apartment, to work, travel, and sometimes even out on the town after work. Needless to say, most of my bags need to pull serious double duty.

Bartaile C12

This transitional backpack/briefcase was created for this very purpose! I first discovered this bag on Kickstarter through some of my friends in the technology industry, and I’ve got to say, it looks pretty freaking life changing. It comes in several models/colors, to include nylon and leather. Pre-order yours now, as they will begin shipping in September! I went with the black nylon model.

Madewell Paint Stripe Tote

Obsessed with that iconic Celine bag, but not feeling the multi thousand dollar price tag? Meet Madewell’s bigger twin! Madewell pieces are truly amazing when it comes to quality, pun totally intended in the namesake. This bag is also a part of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, for less than $130.

Beauty

Sweat Cosmetics Twist Brush Mineral Foundation

I had heard of this brand a couple years back but never got around to testing it out. As soon as it became available at Sephora, I knew I had to give it a try. For my minimalist makeup ladies and those of you that aren’t too sold on sweating in your skincare and makeup, this stuff’s for you. In my opinion, it’s better than Bare Minerals (especially if you’re oily like me).

IT Cosmetics CC+ Illumination Cream w/ SPF 50+

I seriously cannot say enough good things about this product. It’s my go-to year round when I want no-fuss coverage that will stay put, and summer is the perfect season for it. It saves me time in the morning and space in my bag, as everything my skin needs is already in it (cue that SPF 50+)! The illumination version gives you that subtle pearly glow that isn’t overly shimmery, which is a giant plus. Think Glossier Haloscope in a foundation.

Glossier Rose Balm Dot Com

For a little extra glow during the summer, I like to look into colored balms, as the weather is entirely too hot for all my matte lipsticks and liquid lipsticks. This Balm Dot Com has a cherry tint to it, making it functional as well as pretty to wear. Plus, it’s less than $20, and lasts forever.

Foreo LUNA Play Cleansing Brush

This thing is a LIFE (skin) SAVER. I swear by my Clarisonic Fit, but when I travel or need to wash up post gym, I carry around this tiny travel-friendly version by Foreo. Plus, it’s only $35!

Fitness

Bkr Spiked Naked & Tutu 16 oz Bottle

I cannot live without my Bkr bottles, and now that they’re on the Nordstrom sale, I had to stock up. These travel SO well, and are easy to drink out of, not to mention environment-friendly! Grab this amazing set of two bottles for a steal of a price.

….and last but not least!

If you’ve been filling up your Nordstrom cart, but haven’t pulled the trigger just yet, you might be in luck: enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a $500 Nordstrom gift card!

nordstrom giftcard giveaway

In celebration of the recent launch of Lili Alessandra a maker of fine linens and soft furnishings on Nordstrom.com. I have partnered with a few of my favorite bloggers to give away a $500 Nordstrom gift card! Simply enter below by completing the raffle copter. You’ll receive one entry per completion. This giveaway is open internationally and ends on 8/8. Winner will be announced here. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Photo by Christine of Christine Hanks Photography

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale: The Only 10 Things You Need To Get

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale opens live to the public tomorrow, so if you’re not a cardholder (OR missed out on something because it sold out) IT’S TIME. After experiencing the sale myself during early access, I was able to cut out a lot of leg time for all of you! Hate trying shit on/not being impressed by it when it arrives? Yeah, me too.

I’ve had an INSANE few months adjusting to my new schedule, and honestly, DON’T sweat the small stuff! Less IS actually more: I’m a firm believer in finding pieces that can work twice (or three!) times as hard, so I can eliminate the stress of added clutter, so this list is full of only efficient hard working staples that your closet and home actually need.

Strictly Athleisure

Nike LunarEpic Low Flyknit 2 X-plore Running Shoe Rose Gold: These sold out in HOURS, so nab ’em now, think later! They fit true to size, so order your usual running shoe size. Sold out? Grab these instead.

Nike SE Juvenate: Obsessed with the special edition design of one of my favorite Nike shoes! They’re only $70 too!

SPANX Faux Leather Legging: Dress up your legging game with a pair of these coated leggings! Sizing is pretty standard, I ordered an XS which correlates to sizes 2-4 in Lululemon for reference.

Nike Dry Versa Training Crop Top: I seriously cannot get enough of this top! As a crop top lover, this is a must. These throwback logos are making a serious comeback, so don’t miss out on it!

Accessories

Voluspa Maison Blanc Two Wick Tin Candle Set: These are some of my favorite candles ever besides Diptique, which is also included in the sale here. They smell amazing,

Quay Australia Living Large Aviator Sunglasses (Rose Gold/Black): These went SO FAST for early access! Grab them as NOW while you can, as they’re some of my most worn sunnies outside my traditional Ray-Bans, and a fraction of the cost! These other amazing Quays are also a must for only $36, here and here!

Worthy Investments

Rag & Bone/Jean High Waisted Skinny Jean: These fit incredibly! This Nordstrom sale is the time to stock up on quality denim, and Rag & Bone never disappoints on fit and style. I ordered two pairs!

Good American Good Legs High Waist Ankle Skinny Jean: Literally cannot say more good things about this brand. The quality is perfect and given their stretch, you never feel like you’re wearing jeans! Size down though, as they do run large. For reference, I usually wear a 26 in jeans and took a 0 in these.

Clarisonic Mia Sonic Cleansing System: This sale is also the time to invest in tools, and I swear by this. I have the Mia Fit, but recommend any of the Clarisonic tools, as they’re totally worth the investment. Use it with my favorite cleanser, which is also on sale!

T3 Black & Rose Gold SinglePass Luxe Flatiron: This is NOT A DRILL. This, and its sister hair dryer are on sale for nearly half off, and one of the best investments you can make for your hair. My hair is dried in record time, and it doesn’t damage my over-processed ends!

 

The Most Versatile Pants You’ll Ever Wear

You’ve seen me post about these versatile pants several times before, but after owning them for six months, I honestly believe they deserve their own post. Over the past year, I have begun to simplify my life, and that also includes my wardrobe. If you’ve been to my apartment, you know what I’m talking about: my 15-foot long closet is completely stocked full of clothing, accessories, and bags. In an effort to pare down the excess and focus on the necessities, I have started to strategize what comes into my closet more closely, and the key element? Versatility.

Part of the spirit of my blog is finding transitional pieces that can work twice as hard when it comes to styling, so when Carbon38 started to create their own line of pieces that double as workout attire and street attire, I was pumped! I finally took the plunge when the first designer collaboration came out, the Jonathan Simkhai x Carbon38 capsule. One of the staple pieces were the Tommaso Pants, and they were my impulse buy. From the day they arrived until now, I can confidently say they are some of my most worn bottoms, whether it be post workout or in the office! Ask any of my co-workers, and they’ll say they would never guess they were active wear. Pretty versatile, right?

Since summer is officially in full swing, I have been pairing these pants with my favorite dressy sandals of the season, the Rockstud Flip Flops. If you’re looking for a splurge pair of statement sandals, these are it! I bought them for my trip to Miami last year, and have never really taken them off. Talk about versatile! Try a pair of your own, or swap them out for a killer pair of platforms if you’re feeling a more bold look.

These pants have made dressing for work much more comfortable and have cut down on my dry cleaning bill as a result, which is amazing. It’s quite literally wash-and-wear, just like your leggings! While they have a higher price tag than most of my technical clothing, it’s a worthy investment being able to have its incredible versatility: it keeps my closet from getting cluttered by virtually replacing a pair of jeans, sweats, and slacks. Wish you could pack your regular work pants in your gym bag without ever getting wrinkled? You can with these. Sound a little more cost effective now?  Check them out while you can, as they’re selling out quick! I’m wearing a size S for reference.

Also- big heads up: Carbon38 will be releasing a new capsule full of summer resort wear that’s perfect for a night out or the office. Stay tuned for next week’s posts, I can’t wait to share it with you!

Outfit Details

Top: High Neck Striped Sweater, Victoria Beckham for Target (SOLD OUT), similar here

Pants: Tommaso Pant, Carbon38 (for 20% off use MGRAGG50)

Sandals: Rockstud Flip Flop, Valentino (price friendly option here)

Sunglasses: Chloe Sunglasses, TopFoxx in Rose Gold/Black

Makeup Details

Foundation: Too Faced Born This Way Foundation, in Natural Beige

Primer: c/o  Hourglass Ambient Light Correcting Primer, in Luminous Light

Contour: Kat Von D Shade + Light Contour Kit

Lips: Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme, in Slow Bur

Lashes: House of Lashes x Sephora, in Everlasting

Brows: c/o Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Definer, in Medium Brown

Makeup c/o Nina @ Sephora Union Street

Photo by Christine of Christine Hanks Photography

10 Things I Bet You Never Knew About Me

It’s been a minute since I’ve done a more personal post, and this time, it’s a super fun one at that: If you’ve ever wondered what I’m really like in real life, this one’s for you!

I was a Systems Engineering major for the first 3 years of my college career.

Many of you know that my background is in economics and finance, and you’re totally right on that! However, I initially started out learning to write code that controls electrical things like robots and Segways. I decided to switch because I knew I wanted to build my own business when I graduated (blogging) and knew having an understanding of how the market works would be extremely beneficial. I took the language skills with me (HTML, C++) and applied them to be completely self-sufficient on the design of my blog site! I’m super glad I got the best of both worlds and was able to use them both to build my career.

I’m an introvert.

You’d likely think the opposite given my professional career in technology sales/blogging, theater background, and group fitness experience, however, I couldn’t be any more opposite of extroverts. I truly love what I do and love spending time with those I love, but need more alone time than most to unwind after. Social hangovers are a real thing.

I was a collegiate cheerleader.

This one gets a “wait, WHATTT” by pretty much everyone who finds this out. I’ll give it to you: it’s a pretty fair assumption, and you’re not wrong for being confused by my signature RBF. Here’s why though: I love to perform, whether it’s singing, teaching group fitness, or theater, and I do a complete 180 from my usually stoic demeanor.

My first concert was George Strait.

Yep: between my love of grunge/metal/punk bands and personal style, you’d never guess I listen to country, much less go to shows. That said, I sure freaking do. I have an appreciation for every genre of music for the most part. The first concert I ever went to was George Strait when I was in second grade. We had front row tickets, and he gave me his pick at the end of the last song!

My biggest pet peeve is ignorance.

I’ve always been a super curious learner and reader, and pretty independent as a result (blame the introvert in me), so it’s always been a challenge for me to understand why others might not do their research before they boldly give advice or ignore another person’s point of view flat out. My parents always taught us to welcome and listen to both sides of a debate, as you need to in order to make an informed decision on where you stand. How I react to ignorance is a weakness of mine that I’m working on, and Eileen from RHOBH said it best: “I’ve learned that not everyone lives by the same values, and it’s something I need to take into consideration.” You can’t force others to see your point of view, but you can change the way you respond.

I can’t consume anything mint flavored.

Seriously. I have no idea why. My body just rejects it. That goes for toothpaste too, I use a bubble gum Hello Kitty one or that infamous blue sh*t by Colgate we had as kids. SERIOUSLY.

My guilty food pleasure is Taco Bell.

You’d likely not expect it given my fancy foodie/drink tendencies, and I couldn’t care less if people judge, because DAMN. A giant meal from TB just DOES it for me every now and then. Not sorry.

I love, love, LOVE a good horror/psychological thriller movie.

Call me a crazy person, but I share the same sentiments as Juno in the movie, Juno: “I love a good violent slasher movie.” Maybe it’s the far-fetched storyline or insane special effects makeup (swoon), but either way, they’re just my fave.

Kim Kardashian complimented me on my jeans once, while waiting for a table at the Hard Rock Hotel.

True story. I died: I was waiting for brunch with two of my guy co-workers in San Diego, and…yeah. I’ll never forget those crazy blinged out True Religions, they were 2009 in a nutshell. I remember hearing a girl’s voice behind me say “OMG your jeans are SO CUTE” and when I turned around, I had a mini panic attack internally, haha! Oddly enough, I was the cool one out of my group, thanking her, while my two guy friends stood with their mouths open.

Jenna Marbles is my spirit animal.

Would you ever guess?? It was her YouTube channel that inspired me back in the day to think about crafting my own creative space and turning it into a career that I loved. She’s just SO real, and smart as f*%k to boot, and I admire that. Her unconventional approach to becoming successful is inspiring and resonates with my own professional journey over the years. It was refreshing to see a wierd AF kindred spirit out there killing it yet remaining true to herself and values. If you’ve never checked out her channel, you MUST. I’ll leave you with two of my faves: one serious, and one hilarious AF.

Photo by Christine of Christine Hanks Photography

Makeup by Elisia at Sephora Embarcadero Center

My Top 15 Picks From Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

It’s no secret that my favorite season of the year is fall, so it goes without saying that my favorite sale of the year is the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale! There’s something SO magical about fall to me: the ability to be even more creative with layers, accessories, and of course show stopping outerwear. I’m a total sucker for a statement overcoat. The beautiful colors of nature during the season is also incredibly inspiring, and the crisp air makes me feel super cozy. I truly feel happiest during this weather, and it reminds me that the holidays are right around the corner, which means I will get to catch my breath from my fast paced life and get to spend some quality time with those that I love. Where are my other fall fashionistas out there that share this same sentiment?

If you’re not a Nordies regular, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. I hate the anxiety of massive sales, so I do my research thoroughly so I can simply dive in and jump out with everything that I actually need in my wardrobe, and none of the excess bulk I don’t. Who’s with me?

Now that I am well into my 30’s, I live by this philosophy:

Less is more.

Blame the minimalist in me, but less really is more, especially when it’s quality and transitional to boot! I’ve put my OCD tendencies to work to compile the most efficient list for you, because honestly, who really enjoys the mad hunt and anxiety, or worse, buyer’s remorse?

Under 100 Musts

Halogen Long Vest

Halogen Cashmere Poncho

BLANKNYC LIfe Changer Moto Jacket

Under 50 Musts

Halogen Mixed Media Swing Top

Milo Loafer Mule

Strictly Athleisure

Nike LunarEpic Low Flyknit 2 X-plore Running Shoe Rose Gold

Nike Free Focus Flyknit 2 Bionic Training Shoe

SPANX Faux Leather Legging

Zella Cece High Waist Open Knee Leggings 

Nike Dry Versa Training Crop Top

Zella Fly Away Jacket

Worthy Investments

Rag & Bone/Jean High Waisted Skinny Jean

Good American Good Legs High Waist Skinny Jeans

ALLSAINTS Mast Cross Body Tote

Diptyque Scented Candle Set