Golden Hours

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Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

I’m sharing a short Frost poem this week, but don’t assume that its brevity makes it simplistic. These brief lines are filled with beautiful symbolism about youth, life, and the impermanence of things.

In the first five lines Frost asserts that the beautiful golden colors we see in nature are fleeting; I’m instantly reminded of the gorgeous oranges we see during fall here in Oregon, or the bright yellow tulips currently in bloom in my yard.

Yet I also think that he’s not only discussing nature–these images are metaphors for youth and time. Just as the hardest shade for nature to hold onto is gold, the blissful, golden days of childhood have that same quickness, that same elusiveness. He then mentions the Garden of Eden and how that paradise didn’t last forever either, much in the way that the sun rises, ending the beauty of first morning light.

And the last line–the poem’s title, the summary of it all–is that nothing precious can remain as it is. That’s part of why spring is so beautiful and childhood is so special. In Oregon, for example, we so cherish our sunny days because we get months of constant rain. Some things can’t last, and that’s precisely what makes them meaningful–truly what makes life itself meaningful. After all, if we could live forever or flowers could always bloom, we wouldn’t appreciate them as much, for we couldn’t grasp the true effect of time.

Remember those beautiful pink flowers from my post several weeks ago? Already falling off the bush and wilting! But, on the bright side, at least that means we’re heading towards summer.

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Top: J. Crew  Jeans: Vigoss (similar here and here)  Boots: Blondo  Bag: Chanel (similarly-sized black totes herehere, and here)

The coming week promises warmer temps and festive spring attire, but until then, I’ve been wearing some favorite basics during this transitional weather (in Oregon that means clouds, sun, rain, repeat–sometimes all in the same hour!).

My top is from J. Crew and currently on sale on their website for under $15! It’s soft and breathable and is a great layering piece for those cooler spring days. J. Crew has such quality staples, and they last season after season.

My jeans are Vigoss and I’ve had them for awhile, but I found some really similar options by the same brand on Nordstrom Rack’s website. I’ve been wearing these Blondo ankle boots nonstop lately–the pointy-toe adds a little edge, and the shiny leather has broken in so well!

The Chanel Medallion Tote I’ve had for a long time and is a beloved piece of mine. It’s a smaller tote that still carries everything I need for day-to-day. I love the shape, the iconic quilting, and the gold medallion zipper. When it comes to handbags, like a lot of bloggers and fashion editors, I’m more willing to invest in a classic style from a high-end brand because I know it will withstand the test of time. And it’s no secret that Chanel bags are my favorite! I linked some similarly-sized black totes in a variety of price points (since Chanel stopped producing the Medallion Tote around 2012, you would nowadays only be able to find it on eBay or in vintage/consignment shops).

Looking forward to sunshine here the next few days! I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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April Showers and Wallflowers

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“And there are people who forget what it’s like to be sixteen when they turn seventeen. I know these will all be stories some day, and our pictures will become old photographs. We all become somebody’s mom or dad. But right now, these moments are not stories. This is happening…. You are alive. And you stand up and see the lights on the buildings and everything that makes you wonder. And you’re listening to that song, and that drive with the people who you love most in this world. And in this moment, I swear, we are infinite.”

–From The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

We drove down to my alma mater over the weekend to watch my younger sister compete in the Oregon Relays. It was a gray, blustery Saturday, but the University of Oregon campus is especially lovely during spring, and I always enjoy seeing the places I used to frequent–the beautiful Knight Library, my old dorm at Barnhart, and great local cafes where I would meet up with my best friend. Some buildings are new, some restaurants have closed, but the feeling I get when I walk around campus is much the same.

I always loved school–maybe it’s cliche but I loved being surrounded by knowledge and the people in pursuit of it. I personally believe in being a lifelong learner and that knowledge can be gained in so many places and experiences (not just in books or universities). But for me, there was something special about college–not only was I figuring out what I wanted in life and who I wanted to be, I was also fortunate enough to study a subject I truly enjoyed.

Walking around campus usually makes me pretty wistful, and this Chbosky passage came to mind. It’s one I often come back to, even though I first read this novel when I was a junior in high school. It’s a perceptive, coming-of-age story of a boy named Charlie, who is something of a wallflower (hence the title), and the people he meets who end up changing his life for the better.

I love this quote in particular because it’s ageless–it doesn’t just apply to sixteen or seventeen year olds. The experiences we have now will all be stories one day, stories we recall with our old college friends or stories we tell our kids around a campfire. It also eloquently describes this modern notion of “living in the moment”–particularly being present in a way we were when we were younger, when an experience was fresh and brand new.

I’ve always enjoyed the idea of a single moment making you feel infinite–you’re well aware that the moment will pass and will become part of that story you tell, but for a second? For just a second, that moment is all that you have.

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Hat: Portland Gear  Vest: Nike (similar here and here)  Sweater: H&M (similar here and here)  Jeans: Hudson  Boots: Blondo  Sunglasses: Ray-Ban Clubmaster  Purse: Marc by Marc Jacobs (almost identical option here)

We’ve had downpours, drizzles, and wind these past few weeks, and I dressed accordingly over the weekend, knowing that we’d be outside for much of it. If you can’t tell by now, I love black and white outfits–whether dressy or casual–and this look kept me cozy and comfortable while we watched my sister compete.

My black cap is from Portland Gear, a wonderful local company that makes hats, apparel, and souvenirs. My black puffy vest is Nike; only one size was left in this same style, so I also linked some similar options as well (also, fun fact for those of you who don’t know: Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike, is a University of Oregon alumni). My striped sweater I purchased recently from H&M during their spring sale, and I found comparable styles (linked above). My distressed black jeans are by Hudson, my black pointy boots are by Blondo, and my sunglasses are my favorite Ray-Bans.

My black crossbody purse I’ve had for several years and is Marc by Marc Jacobs. Since 2016 the Marc by Marc Jacobs brand was combined with Marc Jacobs Collection (all items since that time have been under the label “Marc Jacobs”). That being said, I was able to find a Marc Jacobs purse almost identical in style to the one I have, and it’s on sale for under $70 on Nordstrom Rack’s website!

The flowers are in bloom but the weather hasn’t quite yet gotten the memo. Hoping for more sun in the days to come! Have a great week everyone, thank you for stopping by!

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A Million Things I Haven’t Done

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Hello, all! I’m doing something a little different this week, and instead of doing an analysis of a book or poem, I’m sharing my thoughts on Hamilton, which my husband and I saw in Portland over the weekend. Of course I’ll be discussing my outfit details as well, but I’m also including a restaurant recommendation of where we ate before the show.

First, a little context: I do not consider myself a theatre expert, though I did study quite a bit of Shakespeare and the works of other playwrights during college. I attend, on average, several plays or musicals a year–sometimes local productions, or Broadway musicals that are on tour, or when we travel we get tickets to something specific to that city (such as seeing Shakespeare at the Globe in London).

I went into Hamilton, not as a die-hard fan who knew every lyric, but as someone who’d heard several of its songs over the last few years and saw various TV interviews with Lin-Manuel Miranda (the show’s creator and original Hamilton). At the recommendation of a friend who watched the show a few days before we did, my husband and I brushed up on our 18th century American history, particularly on the real-life figure of Alexander Hamilton.

Honestly though, my husband and I wanted to go into this play with somewhat of a blank slate–it’s been so hyped the last few years that I wanted to watch it with just some basic historical background and no expectations.

First of all, no Hamilton review would be complete without mentioning the sensational music! Seeing Hamilton, Jefferson, and the other characters rap about historical events that I first learned in grade school was exhilarating and informative all at once. The play beautifully juxtaposes modern elements with a story that takes place during the birth of the US, which is why I personally think that people have responded to it so well. It makes history more approachable and relatable. And in telling the story through the life of one man, we also get a glimpse not only at his experiences, but at what it might have been like to live during that revolutionary time–or, to quote the song, what it might have been like to be “in the room where it happens.”

Hamilton’s life is truly an inspirational story–a poor orphan boy born on a small Caribbean island, who rises to become one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He’s a businessman, a lawyer, the first Secretary of the Treasury, George Washington’s right-hand man, founder of The New York Post–the list goes on. But what I personally loved most? I loved how the character of Hamilton is portrayed–he’s a complex, flawed human being who makes his share of mistakes, just like we all do. Yet he has such ambition and seemingly limitless drive that he overcomes so much adversity and achieves great things in his lifetime. The second half of the play I especially enjoyed because it really tugs at the heartstrings and shows the consequences of his choices, while also illustrating the redemptive power of love.

However, it is this particular line that has stuck with me all weekend: “There’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait, just you wait.” Alexander Hamilton was a man of vision, but he was also a man of action, who worked and worked and worked until he accomplished his goals. It’s a reminder that dreams and vision aren’t enough on their own–we have to follow it up with time, effort, and hard work.

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White Blazer: Philosophy (similar here and here) Lace Top: Paris Sunday (similar here and herePonte Pants: Jolt (similar hereBoots: Blondo  Purse: Saint Laurent (similar herehere, and here)  Necklaces: 6th Borough Boutique  Lip: Urban Decay Revolution High-Color Lipgloss (currently on sale for under $10 on Nordstrom Rack’s website!)

I kept it classic with a black and white outfit, a red lip, and the perfect accessories: a Saint Laurent clutch and my beautiful new necklaces from 6th Borough Boutique. I love a black and white color palette–it’s simple, timeless, and always chic. You’ll recognize this blazer from last week’s post: white blazers are so versatile and I wear this one often during spring and summer. It was a TJ Maxx find so I linked two comparable options above. My black lace top is from Paris Sunday (an Amazon brand). They have a similar version still available on their website, but I also linked an additional black lace top above. My purse is by Saint Laurent and is a beautiful, textured leather. I linked this particular one and similar options from other brands at various price points.

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I’m very excited to be collaborating with 6th Borough Boutique, a Manhattan-based company who produces gorgeous eco-friendly jewelry (available online through Shoptiques). Their necklaces layer so beautifully with each other; the combination of these two pieces added that extra something special to my monochromatic black and white outfit. The “M” on the triangle necklace stands for my name “Miranda,” and I love how simple and subtle it is.

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Last, but certainly not least, a quick restaurant recommendation! My husband (that’s him above!) and I loooooove Grassa–it’s a casual Italian restaurant in downtown Portland that makes amazing handmade pasta. We went there for a quick bite before Hamilton, and the dish pictured below is their Spaghetti Aglio Olio and Grassa Meatballs (I order my spaghetti without the chili flakes because it’s just a bit too spicy for me, whereas my husband enjoys it as is). That particular area has so many fabulous restaurants (next door is Lardo, across the street is Cheryl’s, down the block is Jake’s Famous Crawfish).

I know this post was a bit longer than normal, but I hope you all enjoyed my reviews and recommendations! If you’re from Portland or have ever visited, I would so enjoy hearing what your favorite restaurants are. Have a wonderful week!

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Hope Is Where the Heart Is

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“Hope” is the Thing with Feathers by Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
 
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
 
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
 
 
This is one of Dickinson’s more famous poems, and it’s short and sweet. It utilizes a simple–yet beautiful–extended metaphor: hope is a bird. And this bird, she claims, resides in our souls and never stops singing its melody. The bird’s song is sweetest during harsh winds and storms, signifying that difficult days are when hope truly means the most.
 
She’s heard the bird in the worst of times (“in the chillest land” and “on the strangest sea”), and yet this bird has never “asked a crumb” of her, has never demanded to be fed. It’s self-sustaining and sings on in our hearts, warming us from the inside out, even in our darkest hours.
 
I love literature that explores the resilience of the human spirit, the stories or poems that ponder: where do we get our hope? Where do we get the strength to journey on? Despite this poem’s brevity, it explores those very questions.
 
However, I’ll be honest; I struggle a bit with the last two lines–the notion that hope demands nothing of us. The Oxford English Dictionary defines hope as the “desire for a particular thing to happen.” It’s a desire for something that isn’t concrete or hasn’t yet come to pass.
 
And sure–I love the image of a resilient little bird singing in our souls, rooting us on, keeping our spirits up. But we’ve all been there, haven’t we? A time in our life when something felt hopeless?
 
When I was nine years old, my dad was in a horrific car accident. He hit black ice and went over an embankment. He was ejected from his vehicle, broke his neck in two places, ruptured organs, and was close to death. At first the doctors said that if he lived, he’d likely be a quadriplegic. And of course I wanted him to live more than anything, but I couldn’t imagine him not doing all the things he loved ever again–playing in his basketball league, waterskiing in the summer, going on runs while I rode my little pink bike just ahead of him. At nine years old, those were thoughts that filled my head, because those things were such a huge part of who he was, the things that made him my dad.
 
Months went by, and he had numerous complications. But his neck surgery had been a success, and he slowly learned to walk again. There were so many times when things felt hopeless, but something I admire most about my dad is that he never gives up. He’s stubborn to a fault, and he never loses hope. Yet it’s a choice he makes every day, even now–years and years later–to carry on with a hopeful heart in spite of his chronic pain and ongoing health issues.
 
This is exactly why I would assert that maintaining hope and continuing onward in one’s endeavor, whatever it may be, is an act of courage–because that elusive thing we yearn for is not certain or guaranteed. Though the bird may always be singing, we still have to hear it and choose to embrace its song.
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Jumpsuit: Monteau (similar here, here, and hereBlazer: Philosophy (similar here and hereHeels: Nine West (similar here and hereEarrings: Chanel Lip Color: Birthday Suit by Tarte
 
I really loved the colorful jumpsuit I wore on Easter Sunday! It was chilly here in Portland and–though I briefly contemplated wearing a dress–I was so glad I chose something that kept my legs warm.
 
I’m a big fan of jumpsuits–they have a certain cool factor for sure, but probably what I enjoy most is I feel like I’m wearing pajamas! Granted, some of the more form-fitting ones can be a bit constricting, but the wide-legged variety like the one I wore on Easter is so comfortable. When you can merge comfort and fashion, it’s truly a win-win. This particular one was a TJ Maxx find, so I linked several similar striped options above.
 
I think jumpsuits can be a great alternative to dresses for events like bridal showers, birthday brunches, and tropical getaways. They come in so many fabrics and silhouettes that there are countless options available. Since it’s a one-piece, my advice from personal experience is to move around in it before you decide to buy it. I have a long torso for example, and sometimes I have to size up to accommodate that.
 
On Easter morning when the weather was even cooler, I paired it with a crisp white blazer (shown below), which I think is such a versatile piece for spring and summer. (Also, if anyone is wondering, the bunny ears are from Target!)
 
I’m excited about the next several blog posts I have in the works–I’ll be sharing some great local restaurants, what I wore to the theatre, and a new jewelry partnership! Stay tuned, and I wish you all a wonderful week!
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Stop and Smell the Flowers

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Today by Billy Collins

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

 

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

 

and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

 

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

 

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

 

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

 

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

 

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

 

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.

 

The blooming flowers and scattered sunshine have me in great spirits this week! I feel like I’ve shared some rather melancholy poems in past posts; so to mix things up a bit, I found this merry, contemporary gem by two-time US Poet Laureate Billy Collins to celebrate the beauty of springtime.

The first element I enjoy about this poem is its structure (or lack thereof)–it’s one joyful sentence lauding a perfect spring day. The fact that it’s one continuous sentence mimics the way a person might speak when he/she is happy or excited, as each thought and phrase is a lively run-on into the next.

The imagery further captures that exuberance with phrases like “throw open the windows,” “rip the little door”, and “garden bursting with peonies.” The verbs in those phrases are very active and specific, which of course, is the hallmark of a great writer.

However, the image I love most is from the 6th stanza to the end, where Collins speaks of hammering open that “glass paperweight” (aka a snowglobe) and freeing the little figurines that live inside. The notion of releasing them into our world, “this larger dome of blue and white,” is a beautiful, poignant one.

To me, it’s a metaphor for the way we feel at the end of winter, after we’ve been cooped up inside our own little worlds for months and with spring we are reborn–we are welcomed once again into the outside world, full of bright sunlight, warm air, and bursting gardens.

Another interpretation of that metaphor has a lot to do with the poem’s overarching themes of freedom and wonder. In our day and age people talk a lot about being present, and that’s something I think that occurs when we break free of our metaphorical snowglobes–when we notice and enjoy the people and things that surround us. Or, to use the age-old adage: when we stop and smell the flowers.

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Lace Top: (similar here and here)  Floral Skirt: Faith and Joy (similar here and here)  Trench Coat: DKNY (similar here and here)  Heels: Nine West (similar here)  Watch: Marc by Marc Jacobs (similar hereBracelets: Natasha Accessories (similar here)  Lip Color: Marcia by BH Cosmetics

With Easter nearly upon us, I donned two of my favorite springtime pieces: lace blouses and floral prints. I love a great floral print, and this ensemble would also be perfect for occasions such as bridal showers or birthday brunches. My top and skirt were TJ Maxx finds, so I linked similar versions above. It’s still fairly chilly most days here in Portland, so I also wanted to showcase this look when paired with a gray trench–my DKNY one (shown below) is a few years old, but I linked two lovely options in a similar color palette.

Hope you all enjoy the rest of your week! Thank you for stopping by!

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Girl About Town

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“There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better: we find comfort somewhere–and those evil-minded observers, dearest Mary, who make much of a little, are more taken in and deceived than the parties themselves.”

The incomparable Jane Austen has countless words of wisdom throughout her stories and letters. This one ranks high on my list, as it celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and our ability to start anew. It’s from the novel Mansfield Park, which tells the tale of a young girl who goes to live with her mother’s wealthy relatives on their country estate. In a way, it’s a bit of a Cinderella story–a girl who is often mistreated for her lack of status and not valued for her true worth (and I won’t spoil the ending if you haven’t read it!).

Amidst the schemes for advantageous connections and romantic affections, an overarching theme of the novel is something that the above passage illustrates well. We can’t fear things not turning out the way we hope they will: “if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better.” We learn, we make changes, and we try again.

Though I’m only about 6 weeks in, it’s been such a positive experience for me thus far with Shakespeare Loves Chanel. I’ve enjoyed writing regularly again and sharing my thoughts on books I’m reading or poems I’m revisiting; it’s something I’ve truly missed since finishing up grad school. I’ve also loved styling outfits and choosing locations for photos, and it’s been great connecting with new people who share similar interests.

In previous posts I’ve mentioned conquering my fears–when the fear of not pursuing a dream or a goal outweighs the fear of failure. A big part of that fear has to do with what Austin speaks of in this passage. She calls them “those evil-minded observers.”

In that regard, the internet and social media can be a daunting place, when anyone anywhere can criticize your work and simply hide behind a computer screen. Yet Austin’s counter to that is truly just as applicable now as it was in 19th century England: such observers make “much of a little.” Or, in other words, they make a big deal out of nothing. They deceive themselves with their own judgments and assumptions, which is precisely why we can’t let their opinions dictate our lives.

All in all, we cannot fear mistakes, disappointments, or criticisms–instead we must have the courage to keep on growing.

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Blazer: Zara (similar here and here)   Boots: Blondo  Scarf: Burberry (similar here and here)  Purse: Prada (similar here and here)  Sunglasses: Ray-Ban (similar here and here)

I’m a girl who loves pairing classic pieces with statement accessories, and on this particular cloudy spring day, I stuck to some beloved wardrobe staples. I am a huge fan of mixing affordable items with high end investment ones; those in the fashion world call that high/low dressing, and you’ll see it on countless bloggers and celebrities. As such, I’ve linked designer items and some affordable options above.

I wore this look when my husband and I were out and about downtown, though it would also be perfect for a casual business setting. My wool blazer is from Zara (sidenote: hooray, Zara is finally coming to Portland!). My knee-high suede boots are from Blondo and–like all their boots–are waterproof!  Those boots are currently on sale at Nordstrom. My silk Burberry scarf I’ve had for four years but it has held up tremendously well, and I’ll continue to love it for seasons to come. My black Prada purse is made of a beautiful textured saffiano leather. It’s a special piece to me because it was purchased on our honeymoon in Italy. The Ray-Bans you’ll recognize from my last post (and you’ll probably see me wear them a lot in the coming sunny months).

The next few weeks I’ll be sharing more spring-specific looks that are perfect for events like Easter, bridal showers, and brunch. Thank you for visiting, and I wish you all a wonderful weekend!

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Reading Lists and Sun Slips

28340528_unknownToday, I’m sharing my spring reading list! I very much enjoy historical fiction, and my step-sister, best friend, and I are all reading Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel All the Light We Cannot See. His prose is lyrical and precise, and it’s filled with beautiful metaphors and symbolism that are powerfully juxtaposed against the harsh realities of WWII. It primarily follows two protagonists–a blind French girl and a German orphan boy–throughout childhood and adolescence. We’re about halfway through and the pair have yet to meet, but I’m really looking forward to seeing their stories converge. I’ll likely do a full post on this novel in a few weeks.

I’ve also started Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife, a fictitious account of Ernest Hemingway’s love affair with his first wife Hadley, told from her point of view. I’ve always been fascinated by the Roaring 20’s and have long been a fan of Hemingway’s works, and this novel imagines what the famed novelist was like in his youth and how it might have been to be that first woman who captured his heart.

Speaking of Hemingway, I would like to revisit a novel I haven’t read since my first semester of grad school (has that been 5 years already?): A Farewell to Arms. I have the Hemingway Library Edition that showcases early drafts and how he wrote 47 different endings before finally settling on one! It inspires me that even someone as brilliant as Hemingway did numerous rewrites on his journey to the final product.

We had lovely weather earlier this week, and I was able to spend time outside reading–give me a good book and some sun, and I will be happy for hours! What are you all reading this spring?

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I personally am not a huge fan of all the 90’s trends that have cropped up the last couple years (though I do like some crop tops–pun intended–you won’t see me in “mom jeans” anytime soon). However, one style I am thrilled that has resurfaced from the depths of the 90’s? The slip dress. The slip dress is super versatile, as it’s available in an array of prints, fabrics, lengths, and price points–from velvet options for winter to classic LBD’s for nights out.

This micro-floral print by Billabong is a Nordstrom Rack find from several months ago (still available in a few sizes on Billabong’s website and currently on sale for less than $25!) and is perfect for spring and summer. I plan on wearing lots of slip dresses in the months to come, and I love the lightweight fabric and super flattering midi-length of this one.

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Slip Dress: Billabong  Denim Jacket: Levi’s (similar here)  Sneakers: Jack Purcell   Heels: Nine West (similar here and here Sunglasses: Ray-Ban  Watch: Marc by Marc Jacobs (similar here and hereLip Color: Birthday Suit by Tarte

The great thing about a slip dress–and this floral print in particular–is the ability to dress it up or down. I paired it with a lace-up pair of Nine West heels for a dressier vibe, though I also enjoy the laid back feel when worn with a classic pair of Jack Purcell sneakers.

As it was mostly in the high 60’s on our sunnier days this week, I threw my beloved Levi’s denim jacket on top. My Ray-Ban Clubmaster sunglasses and gold Marc by Marc Jacobs watch finished off this cheerful spring look.

Thank you for stopping by, and I’d love to hear what’s on your spring reading list!