Beauty Products I’m Digging

You know, there really are a lot of things I’ve missed about blogging. Reconnecting with my fantastic readers, sure. Having the accountability to stay (relatively) on track with my health, obviously. The catharsis that comes with whining nonstop baring my soul on the interwebs, naturally. And, of course, we can’t forget the whole thing where blogging totally feeds my maniacally huge ego — and let’s face it, the fact that I’ve been writing about myself consistently for the past 3.5 years is a pretty good indication that my ego wasn’t really all that small to begin with, hahaha.

Aaaanywho, since I’m back on the regular blogging bandwagon, I once again have the opportunity to operate under the assumption that you guys actually care what I think, and so I thought it might be fun to update my list of beauty products that I’m currently vibing on!

After many years of devoted Urban Decay 24/7 eyeliner pencil usage, I have to admit that I am almost 100% a liquid liner girl now. I currently alternate between three, depending on the day, what look I’m going for, and how late I’m already running.


Left to right: Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liner in Jet Black, Eyeko Skinny Liquid Liner in Black, Urban Decay’s 24/7 Waterproof Liquid Liner in Perversion

First we have Stila. This is a fantastic, marker-style liquid liner with a very fine tip. This is what I use on any average day, as the pigment isn’t SUPER black (so mess ups are a little easier to fix) and it’s easy to maneuver. As mentioned, the brush tip is quite fine so it’s also super easy to get a very thin line using this product, which I never bother doing because my eyes are weird and Whasian and if my liner isn’t a certain thickness I might as well not be wearing any at all, haha.

In the middle is Eyeko, which I have in several colors. Somewhat ironically, given its name (“Skinny Liquid Liner”), this actually gives me the thickest line. Therefore, it’s what I go for when I’m just looking for some fast liner action. Zip-zip straight across each eyelid and, voila! I probably wouldn’t recommend this liner for someone who likes a really thin line though, because I find that very difficult to achieve with this product.

Finally, we have Urban Decay, which is wand style. For the uninitiated, using wand-style liquid liner is basically like playing through Halo in Legendary mode — it’s hard, yo! The pigment of this liner is amazing (it has almost like a sheen to it when it dries, so it really pops on top of my eyeshadow) but application takes like twice as much time and 10 times as much effort to get it A) straight and B) semi-even on both eyes.

I’ve also moved on from my previous obsession with Covergirl’s Lashblast Luxe mascara (the one with the sparkles in it) and am now toooootally into Covergirl’s Flamed Out Mascara… and while I may or may not have only heard about this product initially because it’s part of Covergirl’s Catching Fire collection, it really has become my legit mascara of choice. I love the brush, even for my tiny, super straight lashes, the formula is thick but doesn’t clump AT ALL, and best of all? OKAY FINE, yes, I love the fact that it is even loosely Hunger Games-related, but that isn’t what I was going to say. I was going to say that the best part is that it’s Covergirl so it’s totally inexpensive. Duh.

Next up is a makeup product that I have been having a LOT of fun experimenting with this year: liquid lipstick! Especially in bright, bold colors. I’ve always been partial to a nice red lip, but I had no idea what I was missing by staying away having other fun colors surround my piehole!


Left to right: Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Beso and Carina, Sephora Collection Cream Lip Stain in Forever Fuschia and Cute Pink

Back in March, when some of my Yelp coworkers came and gathered for a regional conference here in DC, I found myself awkwardly staring at my coworker Rachel’s amazing lip color — it was bright, bold, vibrant, and despite the many meals we all shared together, it never budged! Not wanting to totally creep her out in person, I waited until after we all dispersed back to our various locations before emailing her and demanding an explanation for her magical lip color. And so I am forever grateful to her for introducing me to Stila liquid lipstick.

The staying power is seriously impressive — I’ve made it through entire wedding reception dinners without ever needing to reapply! They do have a matte finish (how else are they supposed to stay in place?) so just be aware of that if you tend to have very try lips. You can of course apply gloss or balm on top, but then it comes off much faster. Beso and Carina are the colors I’m wearing in the photos above.

At $22 a pop, though, and knowing that bright lipsticks are very much still an “experimental” thing, I was looking for a more cost-effective way for me to play. So I also picked up a couple of Sephora Collection lip stains. They are currently priced at $13 (pretty sure they were $12 when I bought mine though!) and offer a nice collection of colors in both mattes and shimmers. Admittedly the quality isn’t quiiiite the same as the Stila ones (they don’t stay nearly as long), but they have good pigment and aren’t too drying.

Since I’ve already talked about what dry shampoo products I like, let’s move right onto skiiiiin. I am still — yes, still! — shopping around for the perfect facial cleanser and moisturizer (luckily, Birchbox helps out with this product hunt a lot), but at least I’ve got a pretty good handle on the body lotion part of things!


Left to right: St. Ive’s Naturally Indulgent Body Lotion, Fresh Brown Sugar Hand Cream, O’Keeffe’s for Healthy Feet

I used to be obsessed with this Caldrea lotion that I once received a sample of in a Birchbox loooong ago. I loved it so much that I bought an 8 oz. bottle for $22… and then promptly went through the entire thing in like 3 weeks. Which I should have known ahead of time, really. I mean, I have a LOT of real estate to cover here! #moretolove

Rather than driving myself into debt for the sake of freaking body lotion, I realized that while, yes, the lotion itself was very nice, what I really was obsessed with was its coconut & fig leaf scent. After much trial and testing, which included one lotion that made me smell like I was actually MADE out of coconut and one lotion that smelled so weird that I had to immediately wash it off in the shower, I finally found an amazing smelling, epically affordable lotion replacement, made by none other than St. Ive’s (yep, the apricot scrub people!).

St. Ive’s Naturally Indulgent Body Lotion has the fantastic scent of Coconut Milk and Orchid Extract (well, I’m not actually sure how accurate-smelling the scents are, but I do know it smells good!), is creamy and thick but absorbs quickly, and goes for like $4 for a huuuuuge pump-top bottle! Win-win-win.

Being so economical with my body lotion lets me be a little more indulgent in other ways, including with my haaaand cream. I’ve mentioned the fact that I get this terrible dry skin affliction every winter where my hands and feet get incredibly dry and flaky and eventually erupt into painful bumps (sorry for the visual, haha), so it’s actually pretty necessary for me to have a variety of lotions and treatments to ward off this particular winter woe as long as possible. My hand cream of choice is part of the Fresh Brown Sugar collection, and it smells divine — like lemon and sugar and happiness. It’s expensive, but since I only use it for my hands, it lasts forever. The same 2.5 oz bottle has lasted me almost a year!

As for my tootsies, I recently discovered O’Keefe’s foot cream and it has seriously — no joke — changed my life. It comes in a little container and almost has the consistency of solid coconut oil at first (so it’s not really a cream, per se), but it does amazing things to heal my broked out, busted up feet. It’s totally odorless and I picked it up for like $6 or $7 on Amazon.

Well, whaddya know, I was right! That was fun! I’ll cut myself off for now since I’m sure I hit the tl;dr limit like 1000 words ago, but hopefully the above list will prove helpful or interesting to at least a few of you! Obviously there is an even bigger array of products that I use on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis currently splayed out on my vanity, so if you’re ever curious about anything else not mentioned — BB creams, highlighter, perfume, conditioner, or even toothpaste (spoiler alert: it’s Colgate Optic White) — feel free to ask!

And I know I’ve asked it before, but I’ll ask it again: what is your current go-to or must-have beauty product?

Snapshots & Stitch Fixes

Happy Monday, friendos! I hope you all had wonderful weekends, the lot of you. Sean and I continued our 2-year anniversary celebration this past weekend, so it was pretty fab… though, as you can probably guess, involved a liiiiittle more foodstuffs than I probably should have indulged in. Thank goodness my weigh-ins are on Fridays now, eh? Hahaha.

Anyway, in the spirit of always being honest and transparent with you guys (plus the fact that I’m a weirdo and I love seeing what other people are eating), I figured I’d share a few snapshots of some of the things I’ve been eating recently. I promise it’s not all from dining out, too! I even have a couple of recipes to share with you guys this week, so there.

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Whipped up a glorious batch of my (and Katniss’s) favorite Lamb Stew with Dried Plums — although evidently the Polar Vortex made it so that there was no good lamb at the grocery store, so I used beef instead. Still delicious!

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Played a game of pantry roulette and ended up creating a hot steaming bowl of deliciousness that included farfalle pasta, bacon, peas, and amazing mushrooms with a super light cream sauce just to bind it together. I know you all probably read the word “cream” and your collective buttcheeks all tightened, but I promise that it was still a very diet-appropriate dish. Recipe to come soon!

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A iPhone pic collage of some of the amazingness that we experienced at Tuscarora Mill, where Sean took me for our anniversary dinnah. It’s in Leesburg and it is DEFINITELY worth the drive. You can peep my review on Yelp if you want deets about everything we ate (spoiler alert, it was a lot more than what is shown, hahaha), but that on the right there is a truffled goat cheese ravioli with mushrooms and pulled short ribs. I KNOW. I had never been so excited to eat leftovers the next day IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.

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And, finally, last night my friend Reema came over and we whipped up a recipe from my homegirl Cassie’s AMAZING new cookbook: Beer & Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese. It really was just as delicious as it sounds, and even Sean got on board with the hidden butternut squash in the sauce. Mm-mmm, good. I’ll post more deets about the recipe (and Cassie’s cookbook!) soon!

So, lots of good eats (though in retrospect, I realize that there is a lot of pasta pictured. I promise I’ve been eating, like, vegetables and salads and stuff, too, hahahaha.) over the past few days, and even better ones to come!

So, in addition to all the deliciousness, time with friends, and anniversary celebration stuffs, I also had another fun addition to last week: I received my first Stitch Fix! Those of you who are already familiar with Stitch Fix are probably sick of hearing about it, and honestly, I kinda was too. But just before the holidays I had a chat with my friend Rachel about how much she was enjoying it, and I finally gave in and figured I’d give it a try. And when they hit it RIGHT OUTTA THE PARK with my very first box, I knew I had to share it with you all!

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So, for the uninitiated, Stich Fix is like a mail-order personal shopping service. You set up a style profile and you can do one-time or monthly recurring “Fixes” (same price either way, $20, which is applied to the cost of the clothing if you end up wanting to keep anything) and they send you five items that they think you’d like! I was skeptical as to how personalized it would really be, but they let you link to things like your Twitter, your Pinterest fashion board (if you have one), and I even put my blog address in the extra field at the bottom. And when I received my box, and it came with a personal note explaining all of the items, AND it also pointed to my love of polka dots which they would only have known if they really HAD checked out my Twitter and blog and whatnot, I knew this was pretty legit.

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Of course, it helped that the totally knocked it out of the park! I received a dress, two cardigans, a shirt, and an infinity scarf. Every single item is absolutely my style, and has details that I looooove. The dress has a light polka dot pattern and has that vintage-ish silhouette that I love, the blue cardi has polka dot detailing on the pockets and down the button closure area, the red cardigan has a light butterfly cut-out print and AWESOME buttons — each button is different! — and the infinity scarf is a bright, fun orange and THEY PUT A BIRD ON IT. Many birds, in fact.

The striped shirt was the only item where, before trying it on, I was kind of meh about, but once I did put it on, I LOVED it. It’s actually really flattering, incredibly soft, and super comfortable. Horizontal stripes! Who knew?!

I ended up feeling the most iffy about the red cardigan after trying everything on, just because from a distance there was nothing too special about it. But because Stitch Fix offers a 25% discount if you end up purchasing all five items, it was essentially free — the cardigan cost less than the amount I ended up saving from the discount! Plus, it ended up being way cute when styled with the dress instead of on its own — I ended up wearing the combo to Tuscarora Mill for our anniversary dinner!

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Speaking of pricing, you can set your price points for all the various categories of stuff they offer. So in that way, you can totally emphasize the clothing items that are most important to you. For example, for jewelry and accessories, which I don’t particularly care about, I put “As cheap as possible,” but for dresses and outerwear, I said I was comfortable with paying over $100 for those. Now, it just happened that every single item in my first box was between 28 and 48 dollars (yes, even the dress! I ended up paying just over $100 for all five items with the discount and the $20 styling fee I already paid going towards the total), so this was like a double-win in that arena.

ANYWAY. Enough talk about Stitch Fix and my latest obsession. I promise that this is not a paid promotion or a sponsored post or anything like that — they’re not paying me to say these things! (Though, as a disclaimer, the “Stitch Fix” hyperlink above is my referral link for the site.) I was just REALLY impressed with this service, especially because I was admittedly worried that I was too big to fit anything they offer. Which, now that I bring that up, is probably the only real problem with it, because the biggest size they offer on their style profile is 14… and, let’s be honest, that is deeeefinitely pushing it for me right now. So it bodes well for my continued weight loss efforts, but it was kind of a crapshoot whether I’d be able to fit everything they sent this time around. Thankfully it did all fit… but still. Broaden your sizing horizons and you will be utterly perfect, Stitch Fix!

OKAY. Sorry, sorry, enough chatter for now. Hope you’re all having utterly tolerable Mondays, and I’ll see you on the flip side!

Under the Moon

Haaaappy Friday! I’m still recovering from the emotional trauma that was back-to-backing the Vampire Diaries season finale (WHAT THE WHAT?!) and The Office SERIES finale (all the sads), so I thought I’d post something light and fun today. It’s aaaaalmost like a Fashion Friday post, except instead of me awkwardly posing for you all, all the fashion you’ll see in today’s post is still firmly on their hangers.

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Last night I had the opportunity to attend an event at the South Moon Under store in Merrifield’s new Mosaic District. If you’re local and haven’t been to Mosaic yet, by the way, you need to get there STAT. It’s awesome — every week I feel like there’s some new hip trendy something-or-other opening up. Someone give me a floppity jillion dollars so I can afford an apartment there, k?

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The event was a special Rebecca Minkoff trunk show being hosted by the Real Housewives of Northern Virginia blog.

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Alas, I didn’t win any of the exclusive Rebecca Minkoff handbags they were giving away, but I did get to look at pretty clothes, nosh on some snacks, and hobnob with some local fashion bloggers, so that was fun! Bloggers also got a little swag bag at the end, which was a super nice touch.

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And, of course, because I am physically incapable of walking away from a sale (they were offering everything in the store 20% off during the event), I did end up making a couple purchases of my own.

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I debated for a long time between the lion head earrings and the elephant earrings, before ultimately deciding to get my elephant on. They’re so cute! I also picked up a pair of sassy combat boots that will be making an appearance before long, at which point you can tell me if I’m pulling them off at all… or if I’m just deluding myself, hahaha.

A fun night! I feel like this weekend is going to end up being very well-rounded, actually. Last night I got my dose of fashion and whatnot, and tonight I’m shooting photos for a classical concert series. Look at me, so cultured! Now, if I can just squeeze in some time to see the new Star Trek movie, I’ll have it made in the shade.

Have a great weekend!

Runway & Heartbreak

Haaaaappy Monday! Well, you know, not really. But it’s the thought that counts, right? I hope you all had amazing weekends! Mine started off with a bang and then eased into glorious lazydom. It was very nice, and super fun. And also a little bit heartbreaking. Which, granted, are things that don’t generally seem like they should be plausibly connected, but you will see what I mean in just a bit, I pwomise.

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So Friday night kicked off with me meeting the loverly Anne P. in downtown DC! Anne invited me to go with her to this LivingSocial/Rent the Runway mash up event. I love fashion, and I love Anne (uh, duh), so I was totally down!

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For those of you who are unfamiliar, Rent the Runway is an online service where you can rent expensive designer gowns for a fraction of the price they actually cost. So, for someone who didn’t want to shell out hundreds on a new dress for your second cousin Delia’s wedding, you can shell out like, $50 instead and get the dress for 4 days (there’s also an 8-day option). This particular event was a kind of pop-up Rent the Runway studio, where you could go and try on an offering of the dresses that the company offers on their website. Very cool, actually, since ordering things sight unseen is always kind of a risk.

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Since Anne had gotten invited as “press” (heh, a term I use loosely as a blogger, admittedly) we also got access to the press room where we were served adorable miniature pies, as well as champagne (win!). We chatted with some of the Rent the Runway folks for a little while, and then it was time to go get our dress-up on!

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I had a lot of fun fawning over and pawing at the various dresses that were there. They had dresses of all lengths and fanciness there–from long, floor-sweeping ballgowns to cute cocktail attire. I tried on a super cute Kate Spade number that I would easily have bought then and there, had it been for sale (thank goodness they only do rentals, haha!) as well as an absolutely GORGEOUS Rebecca Taylor strapless evening gown. I mean when else am I going to get the opportunity to try on a ballgown for funsies, eh?

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Just pretend my bra is part of the dress, mmkay? But seriously, if I had an extra $925 laying around, I would buy that dress in a heartbeat and just keep it hidden in my closet until someday I had an opportunity to wear it (you know, when I’m accepting my Oscar or something). It was soooo beautiful, and it skimmed over my curves in all the right ways and a bunch of complete strangers even told me how amazing it looked on me. *Sigh*

Somewhat disappointingly, the largest size that I came across was 12 (that I saw, at any rate), which luckily happens to be my size now. But considering me wearing this size is only a relatively recent occurrence, I do wish they had offered larger sizes than that. I mean, I don’t know if maybe they specified what the sample sizes were on the LivingSocial deal or something, but I just hate to think of someone buying a ticket to go to that event and then not even being able to try anything on. I know that a lot of high-end designers only make up to a certain size anyway (and a lot of times they’re not even gracious enough to go up to 12!), but still. Ah well, at least there were a zillion things for gorgeous Anne to try on! 🙂

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Anne and I did manage to get one blurry picture together at the event, haha. They were offering a 20% discount if you rented something at the event, but since I, sadly, do not have any debutante balls or inaugural dinners to attend in the next week, I didn’t end up renting anything. But I actually think I have a Rent the Runway credit thing I got in one of my Birchboxes (or maybe my sister gave it to me, I can’t remember), so now that I know the quality of the dresses, I absolutely think I’ll give it a try! Maybe for a wedding or something? Man, what I wouldn’t give to have a long evening gown-appropriate event to attend…

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So after we left the event, the two of us headed deeper into Chinatown and ended up at Matchbox for dinner. I was super excited, because I’d actually never been before, and had always heard such wonderful things about it. It did not disappoint!

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I’d had two little pies (one was this, like, pico de gallo-filled pie, and the other was chocolate pecan, haha. Balanced?) at the event, so I wasn’t crazy hungry. I ended up opting for a soup & salad combo–definitely one of my more brilliant ideas.

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The salad had mixed greens, pears, blue cheese, and candied pecans. Droooool. The soup was a cream of crab with soooo much crabmeat I was in Heaven. Om nom nom. Anne got a different salad that looked equally scrumptious, and a tuna tartare dish to go with it. I hear Matchbox is particularly famous for their pizzas though, so I definitely need to go back!

Obviously, a very fun (and girly, heeee) way to kick off the weekend. The rest of the weekend was pretty much made up of somewhat lazy hangouttery (Sean and I saw Django Unchained, which was AWESOME) and tears. Lemme ‘splain.

While I was writing Terra I put myself on a bit of a self-imposed reading ban. At least insofar as young adult novels went. But now that I’ve actually gone ahead and written a book of my own, I’m finally allowing myself to go through the giant pile of books I had been purposefully putting aside. And I’m not kidding when I say it’s a big pile.

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Plus add three four seven more books that I have loaded onto my Kindle. (Also, publishers, STOP PRICING KINDLE BOOKS AS HIGH AS HARDCOVERS. Seriously. My bookshelves are already too full.

I didn’t want to be unduly influenced by other works, and since the books I love to read tend to fall into a similar (if not the same) genre as the book I wrote, I figured it was better to be safe than sorry. So I’ve been plowing through my ridiculous to-read pile at a pretty good rate (already crossed Delirium off my list and am like 25% of the way through Uglies), and my latest accomplishment was…

THIS BOOK OF UTTER AND EPIC BEAUTY. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. God, I loved it so much, I just, I just, I just…

AUUUUGH IT WAS SO GOOD AND HEARTBREAKING. (Sidenote: Community comes back next month! HUZZAH!)

I mean, right off the bat (from the blurb on the inside cover, mind you, so no blaming me for spoilers) you know it’s a book about teenagers with cancer, so the fact that it’s a tearjerker should come as a surprise to no one. But, my God, is it beautiful. I loved everything about it: the writing, the teenaged characters who talk more like they’re forty and are so ridiculously witty and well-read it’s, well, ridiculous… even the I-can’t-even-call-this-bittersweet-it’s-too-sad storyline. I hate myself for waiting so long to read it. I finished it in 10 hours. Actually it was more like 6, since 4 of the hours in the middle were spent sleeping, but I swear, I was THISCLOSE to taping my eyelids open so I could keep reading straight through the night. As it was, I gave up just before 3 and started reading again around 7. Hours 8 and 9 were pretty much just spent sobbing.

Sooooo anyway, yes, I spent a good deal of yesterday morning in tears, but they were the good kind, even though they’re also the sad kind. Surely you must know what I mean.

And, thus, my weekend was.

I know, most profound ending to a blog post ever. You are welcome.

Fashion Friday: Lady in (Too Much) Red

So I was all set to do yet another holiday fashion post for you all, focusing on what I wore for Sean and my big cheese-y Melting Pot NYE date. Since, you know, the holidays are a pretty fabulous time to get all fancy and take advantage of my extreme vanity. (You know, the kind of self-obsession that propels me to post photo after photo of myself during these so-called “Fashion” posts every couple of weeks, hahahaha.)

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But as I opened up Lightroom to edit this batch of portraits, something struck me. A pretty intense wave of deja vu. Almost as if I’d seen something oh-so-similar before.

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Dress: BCBG Max Azria Outlet | Boots: Sole Society

But where? Where, oh where, could I possibly have seen this before?

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Oh yeah.

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And oh yeah… and yeah.

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And ohhhhh… yeah…

Haaaaaaahahahahahahaha. Okay, just one more, I promise:

Granted, this picture is from my sister's wedding in 2008, but I just thought it helped make my point nicely. Plus, recognize anyone familiar in the wedding party? Hehe.)
Granted, this picture is from my sister’s wedding in 2008, but I just thought it helped make my point nicely. Plus, recognize anyone familiar in the wedding party? Hehe.)

So, yeah. Kinda taking that whole lady-in-red thing literally, am I not? I’m thinking this is probably a trend I should take a break from. Embrace some of the other wonderful colors in the spectrum, you know?

Back when I was in high school, I made this sweeping declaration (since you all know how much I do love to make sweeping declarations) about how my signature color was going to be orange (mainly because every other girl I knew was obsessed with pink and I wanted to be different), so I made a point to wear an item of orange clothing, or an orange accessory, EVERY SINGLE DAY THEREAFTER.

Unsurprisingly, there are very few photos of me from back when I was in high school readily available on the interwebs (remember when we only had ONE computer for the whole family to share?! Oh, those were dark days indeed) but if you look closely at this random picture from, oh, I dunno, 2002? that I found on Facebook, you can see my super sweet orange Hawaiian-patterned halter top buried under my sister's head.)
Shockingly, there are very few photos of me from back when I was in high school readily available on the interwebs (remember when we only had ONE computer for the whole family to share?! Oh, the dark days!) but if you look closely at this random picture from, oh, I dunno, 2002? that I found on Facebook, you can see my super sweet orange Hawaiian-patterned halter top buried under my sister’s head.)

Until, you know, I came to my senses… eventually.

2005. I still have that jacket.
2005. I still have that jacket.

Thankfully, that obsession with having a signature color has faded, but OBVIOUSLY there are still certain colors that I tend to gravitate towards more than others. I’ll work on broadening my color horizons for my wardrobe’s sake though, promise. (And in other news, that is probably the most vapid-sounding thing I have written/spoken/thought in a long time, hahahahaha.)

Are you/have you ever been the same way? Do you have a favorite/signature color — whether it’s purposeful or accidental?