Literally in the Gray

We're finally within arms reach of Spring, or what we hope will be warmer weather. So I've decided to amp up my wardrobe for the new year and focus on finding classic pieces that will be staples in my wardrobe for years to come.

If you know me, then you know I'm a sucker for anything monochrome. I've learned that by sticking to the same simple basics and adding a few statement pieces, I can amplify my style to the next level. And, that's exactly what I've done with this chic and sophisticated look. It's simple enough to take my everyday black staples and bring me to the chic side of things. 

THE BASE

For all of my everyday looks I usually stick to my uniform of black on black.--What can I say, it's the NYC PR go to-- My favorite  pieces this season are a ribbed bodysuit and a pair of the best leggings Zara has to offer-all in black of course. I love Naked Wardrobe's "The All Ribbed Bodysuit." It's not too thin, and features a slightly high neckline that makes it a sophisticated piece to pair with anything. Now I know you probably thought, BASIC when I said I wear leggings, but Zara's "Wide Waistband Leggings" are nowhere near basic. With the wide waistband and the center seam down the legs, these leggings are sophisticated and work with any outfit. I'm not kidding, they look better than my best pair of slacks, and are 10x more comfortable. I may be a little bit crazy, but I have about 4 pairs of these leggings and equally the same amount of the bodysuit in my closet. 

For my feet, I stick with my favorite black booties, which bring me to new heights both figuratively and literally. I've had major success with these Lillia Boots from White Fox Boutique. As the weather gets warmer, I'll switch out my booties for some mules like this chic but simple pair from H&M (click here).

THE AMPLIFIERS 

Since my base is pretty much a constant, I like to add a boost my look with overcoats to cover up this tush and a simple handbag. I've been obsessed with Zara lately and I found both this suede overcoat and this cute box bag on my last online excursion. Both pieces are simple enough on their own, but added to the base they bring up the sophistication level without breaking the bank. 

And to obviously look cooler than I really am, I finish off the look with some sunnies from Quay.

What are your go-to staples in your wardrobe?

Waking Up in La La Land

What do you do when you can't take the cold of New York anymore? You take a weekend trip to sunny LA :) Now of course, my quick trip was half work and half play, but it's just what I needed to kick off 2018.

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We stayed at the Jeremy Hotel in West Hollywood, and it was absolutely amazing. The room was beautiful and the pool view was gorgeous. It's the perfect boutique hotel with a lush feel. I'm so happy I found this place through Hotels.com.

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Every morning before heading out to work, I'd spend a couple of hours at the rooftop pool, and thankfully since it's always sunny in California, I was able to make a pit-stop at a Forever 21 and grab this sporty two piece. 

FOREVER 21: TOP ($19.90) & BOTTOMS ($15.90)

Safe to say, this was a great mini getaway and I can't wait to do it again.

A Taste of Spring in February

Alright, alright.. I know I'm jumping the gun on this one, but this 77° weather today is giving me hope for warmer weather and a more vibrant wardrobe. So I did something that I rarely do on a work day... I put on a dress!

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Yes, I've officially gone mad! The girl who will literally avoid a dress for work at all costs, willingly jumped at the chance to wear this flowing frock on the first warm day of 2018. This stripped caftan style dress is totally up my ally. When I spotted it at Zara a couple of weeks back, the first thing that popped into my head was- 'Sophisticated Chic,' which is the exact mood I want my wardrobe to exude this year. 

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I paired this burgundy and navy stripped dress with my go-to crossbody from YSL. Being the girl that usually carries her whole life to work everyday, you'd be surprised that I've made this my go to every day bag. It's light- it's chic- and it literally works with everything. I paired this with a pair of booties that have been hiding under my desk for a bout a year, which keeps this "seasonally appropriate."

Overall, I feel really "adult" in this look and can't wait for you all to see some of my wardrobe upgrades for 2018.

Feeling Peachy On A Monday

Why have the Monday Blues when I can feel Peachy :)  

 

I know, I know I'm cheesy hehe, but I'm completely and utterly obsessed with my Sunday Funday outfit! If y'all only knew how long I've been waiting to wear this peach and white duo, you'd congratulate me on my patience. 

 

Chic with a classic flair was the inspiration for this look. I was able to pair something old with something new to freshen up my summer style without getting too far away from myself. I found this Lace croptop at Zara in early June and wanted to pair it with something that wasn't too casual but also not too over the top. My white wide leg trousers that I've had sitting in my closet since I wore them last August-(because really who am I kidding-I get white dirty even before I walk out of my house)-was the perfect option. Paired together, I looked like a cool glass of rosé on a summer day.

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For shoes, instead of going for my usual platforms that get me at least to 5'8, I decided to go a little on the wild side and have a peekaboo effect with my favorite fringe-tiered stilettos from Steve Madden. They were a fun and flirty touch to a streamlined look and I probably will continue to add some shoe pizzazz to my simple silouhettes.

So Close but yet so Far: The In's and Out's of Traveling to Cuba

I don't think there's a place more intriguing to an American than Cuba. While there's only 90 miles of water that separates us, we couldn't be anymore further away. So when I received an email from Delta Airlines in September saying that commercial flights would be available starting December, I just knew I would have to go. 
Here's a breakdown of my trip and what you can expect from traveling to our closest Caribbean neighbor.

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THE FLIGHT:

After convincing my girlfriends that we couldn't pass up this opportunity (better yet instagram convinced them), we booked our flights and started planning our trip. I originally planned to go in January and found a ticket for $204 round trip--ROUND TRIP PEOPLE. But, with schedules and timing we decided to travel at the end of February. While my girlfriends took SouthWest, I decided to stick with a direct flight through Delta. My round trip flight for a 6 day trip was $272, still an amazing deal for a country that has seen an influx of US travel. The great thing about these commercial flights opening up travel to Cuba is the ease of travel. With the price of your ticket, included is the required health insurance and you buy your Visa directly at the terminal for $50 before departure.


THE VISA:

Because there's still restrictions on flying to Cuba, you have to review the OFAC guidelines and state your reasoning for traveling to Cuba--aka this is not a trip that you can just go and lay on the beach for a few days-- you must have a legitimate reason for coming. As I've always been intrigued with Caribbean and Afro-Latino culture, I used the People to People reasoning. With People to People, you're basically stating that your coming to Cuba to interact and create a dialogue with the people of the island. 


WHERE TO STAY:

With any trip, it's important to look for a safe and secure place to stay, so when planning for Cuba we weighed both of our options for Hotel and Airbnb. As pricing for hotels are astronomical (+$350 per night) I definitely didn't feel it was economical to go that route. Airbnb, if you can find a good one, is a great option if your looking for a more affordable and interactive option. Just remember to READ THE REVIEWS. You never know what you're truly going to get with Airbnb or host.com, so reading other travelers experiences will definitely help when choosing the right ones. For the 4 nights my girlfriends where with me in Cuba, our total Airbnb cost per person was $34. Comparing that to almost to over $300 per night, there is no comparison.


ITENERAY:

There's soooooo much to do in Cuba, so having a detailed itinerary will save you so much time. From the museums, preserved towns, and monuments to iconic restaurants and bars, there's literally something for you to see every moment of the day. It's better to make a lists of must-sees and backburners so you can plan out your time and budget efficiently. Havana specifically is a pretty large town but is definitely walkable, but if you're going to another town like Trinidad that's 4-6 hours away, remember to take into consideration that travel time.
Airbnb also launched an excursion section on their website where you can pay for different experiences with locals (definitely fits into the People to People Visa requirement). From going on a literature tour to working out with a Cuban Olympian, there's so much that you can do.


FUNDS:

If you thought Cuba was just another Third World Country where you'd get stuff for pennies, you're definitely about to experience a reality check. Not only is the CUC a 1:1 conversion with USD, but Cuba imposes a 10% tax due to the Embargo plus a 3% exchange tax. So you're actually loosing a load of money. Although you can get a decent meal with at least 2 mojitos for under $30 and Airbnb hosts most likely offer a $5 hearty breakfast or have it included in the price, it's better to bring more money than less. For my 6 day trip I brought $500 and converted $460. With my conversion I ended up with $401 in CUC. Although my last day was pretty tight, (I only had about $65-even after converting my last $40 USD-- left to spend on food, drinks, a cigar, my last museum visit, and my taxi ride to the airport the next morning) I had a decent amount of money to enjoy for the full week. Also factor in the $25 CUC from the airport and back--you don't want that to be the reason you can't get home to the US. To be more safe than sorry, I suggest at least $125 per day. Convert about 2/3 of the full amount so you don't get hit with the double conversion on the way back when you try change CUC to USD.

ALSO REMEMBER: Credit and debit cards aren't recommended to use and probably aren't even taken. So you'll need as much cash as possible to last your whole trip.

TO LASH OR NOT TO LASH

I'm probably the least makeup consistent person you will ever meet. 

I can go days without using blush or making my eyebrows on "Fleek," and please don't ask me where my concealer disappeared to after lunch because I couldn't tell you if I actually put it on this morning. I definitely try and fit that "natural beauty" stereotype, not because I don't like makeup, but because its soooooo much easier. Forget the foundation and packing on the powder; let that skin breath is my motto. With that said, there’s one feature that I consistently try to play up, and those are my eyes.

And I have pretty big eyes.

Now don't ask me to do a winged liner or a cut crease (I'll leave that to my beauty professional friends). To dramatize my eyes, I go for the first item of makeup I ever bought when I was 16, Mascara. If there's one thing that I don't leave the house without, it's at the very least that. But, it's always good to try something new. I've tried doing lash strips, but that time I almost glued my eye shut, I knew that wasn't going to be for my everyday. So, after talking to some of my more glamorous co-workers, I decided to try lash extensions. 

 My natural lashes just with mascara

My natural lashes just with mascara

Before I decided to go through with this, I did my research. Being in New York, there's literally HUNDREDS of places that claim to do the best lashes, And I've bought bad Groupons before (never ever do a Brazilian Groupon that looks too good to be true--trust me). My biggest concern with getting my lashes done is the fear of having them all fall off and I end up looking like a naked mole rat (SOOOOOO NOT CUTE). So making sure I'm going to a well reviewed place with excellent service is way more important to me than getting a great price. 

I decided on LashWonderland located in midtown Manhattan. 3 of my coworkers have been going to them religiously and I loved how their extensions looked. I made my appointment last minute, but thankfully they were able to fit me in that same day (which is amazing since they are full pretty much all day long). 

Being that this was my first time, I wanted to go a little more subtle. I chose a more natural cat-eye look as my eyelashes are already pretty long and I was looking for more fullness than dramatics. I chose length 13 with a J curl. Surprisingly, I originally just wanted to do a 12 length but my lashes were longer and the 13 gave just enough fullness. My lash-ist, recommended for my next visit to try a mix of 13 and 15 to give a little more length and fullness to really mimic bombshell mascara.

2 hours and 80 lashes per eye later, i was done!

 Day 2 of Lashes with my best friend

Day 2 of Lashes with my best friend

And I have to say the result, although subtle are AMAZING! At first, I felt that my eyes were a little heavy, but I think it was more of my subconscious than the actual lashes. The first week, I maybe had 3-4 extensions in total fall out, which was my biggest concern. I’m now on week 3 week and they are just now falling out in larger quantities. 

 My lashes after 2.5 weeks. 

My lashes after 2.5 weeks. 

My only concern with the upkeep of getting my lashes down on a regular basis is the price. While I can wear a pair of $35 lashes about 30 times, these individually placed lashes will need to be replaced every 2 to 3 weeks, meaning dishing our $50 to $75 per application. That’s more expensive than my gym membership, bi-weekly eyebrow threading and monthly Starbucks allowance combined! 

So yes, I love the look and feel that these give me with little maintenance required on my end, but I’m not too sure its worth the price. Luckily, I just received a gift certificate that I can use towards 2 additional sessions. This will give me the chance to at least continue trying them out through February. After that, I'll probably just go this route for really special occasions.

A MARCH THAT BECAME A MOVEMENT

HERE'S TO STRONG WOMEN.

MAY WE KNOW THEM. MAY WE BE THEM. MAY WE RAISE THEM.

I was fortunate enough to attend the Women's March on Washington, and I have to say it will be something that I will cherish for a lifetime. It's not everyday that you get to see the beauty, grace and strength of women recognized and fought for on such a large scale. It was the first time in a long time that I've felt an overwhelming feeling of hope and success. This march wasn't just about showing up and showing out, it was about making a statement and creating a movement.

Our voices will not be muted, for I am a Woman, so hear me Roar.