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may picks

1. Valentine's Day Milkshakes I don't really like strawberry milkshakes, but I love all things pink and obnoxiously decorated. Sign me up!

2. Declutter Your Wardrobe This Weekend I just cleaned out my closet last week of things that I just Don't Wear Anymore. It was a sad, sad day. I will admit. But now there's room for my clothes to breathe!

3. Guinea Pig Journalism in the Era of Kim Kardashian A guinea pig is always a great trail blazer.

4. Follow That 'Gram! Featuring @LisaFolawiyo I am literally in outfit heaven. She is perfect.

5. Countryside Ride to the Cityside Sarah Vickers never disappoints.

6. Wardrobe Staples I need to start purchasing more staples. Sigh, why am I on my spending freeze...

7. Charlotte Tilbury Shares Her Best Beauty Tips I'm taking these tips and am running with them.

8. Setting Smart Goals These are a bit different than #LifeGoals, but still important, nonetheless ;)

9. Couture Week Kicks Off With Dior, Without Raf Simons Still haven't had a time to look at the collections, but I just know that they're going to make me lust after the impossible

10. How To Figure Out Who You're Supposed To Be I have "This Is Me" stuck in my head now...

11. Skincare Secrets I need in on these secrets, ASAP.

What have you been reading lately?
I've been trying to branch out musically this month. Or rather, I've been trying to not listen to solely pop music (don't worry, it's still my main squeeze). I'm what I'd call "going back to my roots." So here's just a handful of songs that I've been enjoying listening to during the month of January!

And yes, I had to include Zayn Malik's first solo song. I HAD TO. I don't care if it only came out yesterday!

I wrote this as an enterprise story for my reporting class last semester and figured it should see the light of day at some point.
* * * * * * * * 
Charles Frederick Worth, a man regarded as the founder of haute couture fashion, had nearly 1,000 paid employees in the 1870s. He prepared several designs for each season that were shown off by live models to display the new fashions. Worth relied on word-of-mouth strategy in order for his clothing business to profit. Fashion today follows a similar routine.

There are two major fashion week circuits bi-annually as well as two intermediate collections where designers display their collections for the next season. Consumers used to have to wait until the collections appeared in that season’s magazines and print ads to view the new collections. Today, consumers are able to see them almost instantly. With a smart device and an internet connection, anyone can follow an event like New York Fashion Week, even 5,000 miles away.

In the last ten years, fashion has become a more universal industry. Elitism has been hugely eroded, as social media has triggered the floodgates opening to a new generation of consumers.

Society lives in a digital era. Social media has changed every facet of modern living, from listening to music to our eating habits and even to how we look at and purchase fashion. An average person checks their smartphone 150 times a day, turning social media into a dominant source of information.

“One of the biggest impacts social media has had is to expand peer reviews as a part of the buying process,” said Dr. Kathleen Stansberry, assistant professor of public relations and social media at Cleveland State University. “If you want to try a new restaurant, purchase a new product, or plan a vacation you can research the purchase by reading about other people’s experience. I believe that this makes corporations more responsive to their customers and makes for more informed consumers.”
There is a new innovative business model that incorporates social media, allowing firms to build a strong relationship with their customers and encourage loyalty to their company. Social media connects brands with their target market and audience and invites free and easy feedback from consumers. Brands can engage effectively with its customers on a more personal level and listen to crucial feedback.

Traditional media is no longer encouraging a two-way communication between fashion brands and consumers. Social media has created an open channel of communication between organizations and the general public, forcing brands to think more creatively.

Social media has revolutionized the fashion industry, beginning with the surge in 2009 by luxury brands. The industry became more accessible through blogs and Instagram pages, which have helped translate high fashion into daily life.

A company’s social media page is an extension of its brand, focusing on what their business represents both in values, aesthetics and what they offer. Brands focus on conversation, communicating with their customers through photos, status updates and videos that represent their business and products.

Some, like Maude Churchill, author at High Snobiety, argue that fashion is socially connected, yet is still more disconnected than ever. Churchill believes that a person’s pull or reach in the fashion industry is based on following, not talent. The Internet is crowded with content creators, and the well-connected and wealthy garner more attention than others.
“Like any major change in communication, there are both positive and negative effects,” Stansberry said. “I think social media has shifted a balance of power by opening access to distribution channels. Individuals can utilize social media to produce and distribute messages on an international scale with very little cost. That is a huge shift in the communication industry. I see it as positive–others would likely disagree.”

Chris Danforth, another writer at High Snobiety, noted that social media platforms have altered the requirements and credentials for those who wish to enter the fashion industry today. With fashion bloggers and opportunists like Chiara Ferragni (The Blonde Salad) and Leandra Medine (Man Repeller), who have garnered a combined following of 6.2 million followers on Instagram, the elitist industry has become more accessible and relatable to everyday consumers. Through social media and fashion blogging, the fashion industry is revitalizing itself. Social media can provide a creative outlet for those involved, whether they are citizen journalists, aspiring bloggers, editors, or even the designers themselves.

According to author Julia Yates, in 2006, there were a total of 27 million blogs and of those, two million were devoted to fashion. In a 2013 study by the Technorati Digital Influence Report, blogs came in as the number three most likely online service that could influence a purchase, right under retail sites and brand sites. The study surveyed influencers, consumers and brand marketers.

“I actually see fashion bloggers and Instagram and YouTube celebrities as the biggest distributors to the fashion industries,” Stansberry said. “Social media savvy fashionistas and fashionistos publicize street fashion, which in turn can influence runway trends and glossy fashion magazine features.”

Companies cut former payments to marketing because of social media. Instead of purchasing advertisements, companies choose to work with bloggers through monetary and itemized compensation as well as marketing activities that are focused on social advertising.

“Social media is used in a multitude of ways to build brands and enhance marketing activities,” Stansberry explained. “Companies and organizations are using social media to develop and distribute original content, communicate with publics, analyze customer concerns, amplify key messages, and in about a million other ways.

Before, fashion brands believed that social networking sites would weaken their relationship with customers. Today, social media is viewed as a chance to improve customer relationships and a way to capture a larger audience. Firms must continually find new ways to connect with their customers in order to build strong relationships and increase social engagement, which both can lead to growth within the firm. It can be crucial for brands to interact through their business model on social media.

According to designer Alexander Wang, the impact of social media today affects the designs.

“The way that we shoot it, the way that we showcase it and the way that we make the clothes and design them changed,” Wang said.

Word of mouth on the Internet can be powerful–especially when viral–whether it’s good or bad. The interpersonal communication about products and services between consumers is a marketing strategy of its own, much like how Worth’s business relied heavily on word of mouth each coming season in order to sell his products.

Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York is the single largest media event. What used to be an industry only event for press and buyers has turned into a global event and technologies have advanced. The public wouldn’t see the collections until months later. Today, new collections are seen almost instantly through Instagram (from both bloggers, other content creators, and editors) or through Vogue’s own newest addition, Vogue Runway. The accessibility of fashion has become immediate.

Instagram is the first place to look for new fashion rather than sitting in the front row. Brands like Alice + Olivia, Rebecca Minkoff, Kate Spade and Marc Jacobs thrive on the social media application, but another man used it to transform and heighten a dying brand.

Olivier Rousteing, Balmain’s current 28-year-old creative director, used social media to complete transform the fashion house’s image. In 2012, Rousteing first brought up using an Instagram page for the brand and his bosses were weary. The brand was meant to represent elegance and poise, a luxurious image far away from the casualty and realness of social media. Rousteing believed that more people would be interested in the clothes if they saw who the face behind the brand was.

Rousteing became one of the first creative directors to launch their own personal Instagram feed. This personal connection allowed him to reach out to his followers, affectionately called the “Balmaniacs.” With major celebrities like the Kardashians and Rihanna posting on their own feeds about how much they loved the brand’s designs, popularity skyrocketed and a connection between Balmain and high profile celebrities was created.

Oscar de la Renta and DKNY have social media accounts for their PR girls, a source for all of the information regarding the designers and their collections. Erika Bearman, the face behind Oscar PR Girl, left her position at the company back in August but her mark on the communications department was apparent after six years there. In the same month, Aliza Licht, the woman behind DKNY PR Girl, left her position with the company as well.

Licht cites that social media provides an effective vehicle in order for company’s and brands to get their message out into the world. Shows like Project Runway give a first insider look on what goes on in fashion, behind the scenes action for viewers to enjoy. Through its existence and its promotion on various mediums, the industry continues to become more transparent and accessible for those outside of the inner circle.

The media landscape is constantly changing as time progresses and technology advances. Fashion houses are catching on to the new trend of creating a social media identity, making their presence known to a mass audience through the channels provided.

1. Nine West Suede Booties

I've been wearing my mom's decade old (she'll correct me if I'm wrong, surely) black ankle boots for as long as I can remember. One thing about me is that I love lusting after shoes and looking at them, but the chances of me spending money on them? Slim to none. I have my staples and that's all I need. So for me to decide that I finally needed a cute and more feminine pair of black ankle boots was pretty huge. I wouldn't even say it was a conscious decision, really. I went to the outlets with my mom back when I was home earlier this month, not really for any particular reason. I saw that Saks was having a clearance sale and I wanted to check out their Wildfox stuff.

Needless to say, I took a peruse in the boot section and discovered these wondrous black suede ankle booties from Nine West. The exact pair I got aren't online, but I did find a similar pair. The only difference I can see is that there's no zipper on the back!

I've been wearing these booties no stop, if I'm being honest. I had to take a couple of days off from them because I didn't want them to get ruined in the snow. My mom's boots will remain in my closet because I think they look much cuter with jeans than my new ones. My little suede booties are perfect for all of my skirts and dresses though! They elevate my look that much more, both figuratively and literally. I love how tall I feel in them! If I haven't mentioned it before, my dream has always been to be 5'10" and instead, I stand at only 5'7" on a good day (if I'm not slouching, oops!) These get me to my dream height and I am grateful for them every day we're together.

2. Starbucks Spotify Stations

I saw this in an e-mail, but the true shoutout goes to my friend Hannah for reminding me about them. I'd be lying if I said that I haven't been listening to them all week. I'm what the kids would call #Obsessed. I've never had a bad music experience in Starbucks. Hell, I've been in a Starbucks where they played Ryn Weaver's album in full and I nearly cried, I was so excited. So truly, we have been #Blessed (another thing the kids might say? If not the kids, then at least Nick Jonas circa 2012) by the existence of these playlists. I personally love Coffeehouse Pop (I see that little "Walking in the Wind" by One Direction inclusion, Starbucks, and I love it), Paris Magnifique because I prefer listening to music that I can't understand while I'm doing my Spanish homework, Acoustic, and Coffeehouse.

3. Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in Stellar

I hate that I'm discussing a product that isn't available anymore, but really, it's been the only blush I've worn for an entire week. And if you've seen my blush drawer, this would be even more monumental than it seems. Truly, it's rare for me to wear the same blush and lipstick color in a week, but Stellar has just been a dream for me. I got this blush in a set of four a few years back and generally haven't used them as much as I should have. Granted, I do have a lot of blushes to cycle through, but still. However, I've been reaching for this shade more often than not because it's the perfect neutral tone for my face. It looks really brown in the pan, sort of like a shimmery bronzer would, but it applies with the most natural flush without adding a whole lot of color to your face. Sometimes, I have blushes that complement my outfit and the rest of my makeup pretty well, but on those days where nothing seems to be aligning, this is my go to. It's color without being incredibly obvious. Plus, these blushes wear like an absolute dream. I highly recommend having one if you struggle with pigmentation of blushes and getting them to stay on all day.

4. Not Washing My Hair Everyday

For the first time in my twenty years of life, I am finally able to not wash my hair every day. Yes, that's right, up until this point in life, I have been washing my hair every single night. I had to! My hair would get so horrendously greasy at the roots if I skipped a day that is was practically offensive to anyone who was within a 200 mile radius of me. I kid, I kid, but it wasn't a pretty sight. Dry shampoo wasn't even an option, it was beyond all help. However, my hair has decided to miraculously bless me with the perfect shade and texture to allow me to successfully have second day curls without looking like a hot mess. All it requires is a bit of my Batiste dry shampoo in the morning and I am set until later that night. It's truly, truly incredible. I feel like a brand new Francesca, honestly. Nothing can bring me down. Besides a bus. Or my schoolwork.

What have you been loving lately? 
Snacking is a necessary (somewhat) evil in my everyday life. If I'm on campus, there's never enough time to sit down and eat a proper meal. When I'm at work, I can't just kick back, relax, and eat a full lunch (I mean, I certainly could, but it's not ideal). But I also can't completely avoid eating in general because that would be terrible, both for my physical state and emotional state. True Life: I get lightheaded and hangry. 

In all seriousness, between playing sports in high school and having to stay after school for practice and games, travel sports, and just on-the-go types of vacations, I've dealt with a lot of snack foods in my days. Some, of course, were better than others and it always depends on what I've had earlier that day and what I'm doing. I have it down to pretty much a science for school and work, so I figured I'd share some of my favorite quick and easy snacks to eat on the go wherever you are. They might not be the healthiest, but at least they're not a bag of potato chips!

It's a new semester. Your schedule is different. You have new breaks, longer time periods between classes. You might be on campus for a lot longer than you're used to (or maybe a lot shorter!) With new semesters comes change and with change comes adjustments!

No two semester have ever been the same for me, so I always make sure to have a few things with me at all times in case I need to pass time. Especially now more than ever because I don't live on campus anymore and can't just pop back to my room during long breaks. Last semester, I was on campus from ten in the morning until six at night. This semester, I get there around two in the afternoon and get home around eight. So I'm generally on campus for a decent amount of time! Luckily, I have always had some sort of breaks between classes, which is where my list of five must-haves come into play!

1. My agenda

An agenda will always be featured in any post I make about college. I cannot imagine life without one, so I always keep it on hand. It helps me keep my classes organized, as well as due dates and other important events (I like to write down days of events that I could or should be covering for the student newspapers/assignments). During my  breaks, I like to go through my agenda and write down any new assignments or tasks to keep myself up to do and so I don't have to sit down at the end of the night and try to remember everything from earlier in the day.

2. Notebooks and writing utensils

I keep notebooks for my classes, but I always keep a spare notebook for miscellaneous things. Sometimes I'll write during my break or maybe I just need scrap paper for something. Rather than using up space in my notebooks for classes, I just keep a mess-around notebook on hand to keep me entertained during downtime.

3. Headphones

I walk everywhere with headphones in. I cannot stand walking on campus without them if I'm alone. But they also come in handy when I have breaks and want to just jam out a bit between classes, especially since I normally spend my breaks alone!

4. Reading material

I always have a magazine and a book with me, no matter what. I tend to carry those two things around even in my handbags, so it's really no surprise that I tote them to campus to. You never know how much time you're going to have! This semester, I have about an hour and a fifteen minute break, which isn't enough time for me to start something new (especially since I don't bring my laptop to campus), so I need to spend the time somehow. I get most of my reading done on campus now, Tuesdays and Thursdays between my first and second class! So far, so good!

5. Snacks

I could do a whole post on my favorite snacks to bring to campus, honestly. I've got a variety of little things I like to munch on during my breaks to keep myself from spending massive amounts of money on campus buying overpriced and less-than-spectacular food. I am on campus too long to not eat something (unless I want my stomach to growl uncontrollably. Talk about embarrassing), so I always bring a snack or two to tide myself over until I can have dinner when I get home!

What're your must-haves on campus? 
I haven't had an advice series with that sort of title in so long on this blog. Flashback to those posts from freshmen year! Tough situations are all around and generally, they're unavoidable. And as easy as it is to play into it, to moan and groan how "woe is me," I find that it's better to learn how to make the best out of it.

Double story time: Before I left for a long weekend, I was taking my normal route to work. It was a Monday, I wasn't feeling particularly great about being awake, but at the same time I was definitely looking forward to going to work that day. It was a bit chilly outside and it had just snowed a day or two before, but it was sunny and that was enough for me. I got halfway through my drive before my check engine light started to blink and beep. I know nothing about cars, absolutely nothing. The only thing I know how to do to my car is put gas in. I can't change a tire, I can't open the hood, nada, nothing.

Knowing enough, I pulled over to the shoulder and parked with my flashers on. Long story short, I called my parents back in New York, let my boss know I wasn't going to be able to make it, and waited about an hour and a half for a tow truck. In the meantime, a cute cop came by to make sure I was all right (it's his job, but still) and a very nice man from State Farm Safety Patrol (again, his job)  put out cones and waited behind me with his lights on because I was on the shoulder on the highway. My car needed about three things on it fixed, as it turned out.

For the first time in about twenty years of living, my first reaction wasn't to cry. I don't know how it happened, but I didn't shed one tear. I didn't yell, I didn't get stressed, I just accepted the fact that that was something that happened to me. I sat on the side of the road, had a dance party in the sunshine (in my car, of course), and felt lucky enough that my car wasn't externally damaged and that I wasn't missing anything that couldn't be put off. It could've been so much worse! I could've been driving to work on Friday and then I wouldn't have gotten my car fixed in time to leave Saturday afternoon to come back home. Or even worse! It could have happened Saturday on my drive back to New York! I wouldn't have been near my apartment or downtown and it would've been dark!

Was having to get my car fixed ideal? Of course not. Was missing two potential days of work ideal? No, not in the slightest. But what else was I supposed to do? I wasn't hurt, I wasn't missing class or a mega-important event, I was all right.

All of my stories might be car-related because there's just something so stressful about cars. I think it mostly has to do with my novice (at best) experience with them. I don't know anything about them and I am a mediocre driver, at best. I don't weave in and out of lanes, I use my turn signals, haven't gotten any tickets and all of that jazz, but I just am not a good driver. So when you factor snow into the equation...it's a mess. I'm a nervous snow driver. My car is apparently great in snow, I am just terrible in it.

I try to avoid snow driving at all costs. So when I was driving back to Ohio last Monday, you can guess how stoked I was to run into a white out snow storm throughout the entire duration of Pennsylvania and my drive through Ohio until it cleared about twenty-five minutes outside of downtown. I was thrilled, as you can imagine. Not only was I driving on poorly plowed highways, but I also couldn't see anything in front, behind, or off to the sides of me! It was really, really lovely!

I could've cried. In fact, I wanted to cry. I might have gotten a bit bitter when letting my parents know because they (see: DAD) told me that the weather would be clear. I'd hardly call that clear, but guess what? I'm alive. I took it like a champ. I sat up straight, didn't mess around with my music for two hours and got through it without shedding a tear. Sure, it took a whole lot of heavy breathing but the more I freaked out about it, the worse my chances of getting through without doing something stupid got.

Moral of the story? As hard as it might be, stay positive. Breathe through it. They're only the worst situations if you let them be. Generally, I find that there's always a way to come above and beyond.

1. Another 50 Creative Blog Posts Ideas Just incase you're struggling with a bit of inspiration!

2. January Favorites One of my favorite type of Youtube videos to watch are favorites videos, so monthly favorites on blogs are automatically a fave!

3. Life Lessons According to Spring 16 Men's Fashion Week Street Style I am absolutely fascinated by men's fashion, so here's to men's street style!

4. Faux Fur Oh look, my favorite winter trend! Faux fur is slaying me this year and I am 100% here for it.

5. 8 Things We're Coveting From Target I love Target...so much...I'm not crying, you're crying.

6. Grace Coddington to Step Down as Creative Director at Vogue New fashion news alert! New fashion news alert!

7. The Chatroom: Charlotte Tilbury I want Charlotte Tilbury products ASAP. Soon, self, soon...

8. Oh Boy Episode 19: Alexa Chung Alexa Chung is the ultimate babe.

9. Goals: How to Become a Winter Morning Person Man Repeller articles never fail to amuse me.

10. Goals for the Year Definitely want to add a few of these to my list...

What have you been reading lately? 
I took to Twitter on Tuesday and gave my first day of classes a solid 3/10 rating, solely because my hair and outfit were on point. Perhaps I was an unfair judger at the time, but overall, my first week wasn't thrilling nor was it a mind easer. I suppose it was just like a normal first week of classes, one where syllabus week scares the living daylights out of me. You come in not knowing what to expect and get this massive reality check when professors remind you that, yes, you do have to do work this semester and yes, it might not be the easiest. I think all of my bitterness really comes down to my spring semester not being a breeze. But honestly, when is it ever?

This semester, I have two online classes: Principles of Social Media and Principles of Public Relations. I mean, do I even need to explain how stoked I am for a class on social media? I'm fascinated by it and none of my other classes have done anything but very briefly touch on it (brief is an overstatement). My original intention when I came to college was to major in PR because I wanted to work in Public Relations for musicians, but then things changed along the way and I ended up in journalism *yawn* instead. I think it'll be fun to take this sort of course and get a general understanding of PR.

If I talk about my Spanish classes, I might actually burst into tears. I'm not ready for Spanish again, but I guess I'm going to have to get ready. Here's to another four weeks of classes until I can finally understand what my professors are talking about! Any time I have an extended period where I don't speak/read/write Spanish, everything escapes me and it takes like a month for me to catch up again. I definitely need that to kick in ASAP so I don't have to smile and nod every time my professor lectures.

I also have to take a newspaper lab. News. Proper news. Campus news.

Enough said about that one. Not my thing. At the same time, I know I can't be the only person in the class who feels the same way, so I'm going to be a big girl, suck it up, and only complain about it in private because THAT'S WHAT MATURE ADULTS DO *bathes in glitter*.

Overall....spring semester is just another semester closer to graduation. That's how I feel at this point.

Check in with ya around midterms!

What's your favorite class that you're taking this semester?

Admittedly, this is only a struggle that I've been dealing with for less than a year (next month is my workiversary for my first job in Cleveland!), but it is also probably the biggest factor when it comes to my stress and managing time. My first three semesters of college, the only thing I had to worry about was school. I'd work over the summers, save up all of my money, and would slowly dish it out as the year went by until I completely drained my savings come May when I came back home, only to start working again.

However, spring semester of my second year, getting a job while being at school became inevitable. There's only so much money that I can have saved before I get an itch and spend it all on stupid things (I'm sorry, lipstick collection, I don't really mean it). Having something else to tack onto school was a big adjustment I had to make and it got even more difficult once I started my third year. However, I think I've gotten the hang of it so far! Here's what I do to try to balance both work and school at the same time.

1. Keep separate to do lists

I am a to-do list kind of gal, so I keep separate lists for just about everything: house cleaning, schoolwork, and work work. This might not be necessary for most jobs, but mine has some online components, which means that I like to keep tabs on what I'm supposed to be posting and when. I keep my schoolwork in my agenda as well, but sometimes I split up my work if I have a long enough period between due dates, so I'll write a separate task or two on my to do list for the day. I find it's just easier to see when I'm done with work work and schoolwork and what not.

2. Bring your school work to work

This might not be possible for everyone, but if you can, bring your schoolwork with you. I was working at my other job during finals week, so I would bring my flashcards and study materials to work with me to utilize during the slower periods of the day. I knew people who used to lesson plan at work when it was slow. Make use of your free time!

3. School comes firsts

I mean, I feel like it goes without saying that school comes first. Some people might not live by this same sentiment, but in the long run, putting school first will pay off more than working that one shift. It sucks to call off or to not go to a work event because you've got school work to do, but sometimes you just have to suck it up and do it anyways.

4. Sleep

The only way to make sure that you're going to be awake and functioning during both school and work is coffee sleep. I do not nap and I like going to bed late and waking up early, but I'm slowly learning that the more sleep I get, the better I feel. Put your pride to rest and get some shut eye. You're not any cooler for staying up until two a.m. (unless you actually have trouble sleeping, and in that case, I'm sure there are alternatives for you!), so you might as well be well-rested so you're not a walking zombie.

5. Keep yourself focused

Easier said than done, I'm aware. Every person has their own way of keeping themselves focused on a task, so whichever method you use, utilize it. The more efficient you are with your time, the more free time you have. Sometimes I love to mess around and get side-tracked, but when I do it consistently, I waste so much time that I could have been doing other things. Try to get schoolwork done before or after work if possible. You might be tired, but then you won't have to worry about it later in the night or during one of your free periods during the rest of the week.

What's your best tip for balancing school and work? 
1. Essie's Recessionista

For the first time since Christmas, my nails are finally painted a solid color. Out of sheer laziness, I had been wearing the same champagne glitter polish for weeks upon weeks, merely painting over the sparse areas when they chipped off. It was a combination of knowing that it was an easy fix and just not wanting to brave taking off the glitter polish. But finally, I gained the strength to finally remove it and painted my nails a solid color. I forgot I owned this color, to be completely honest. I was going to go for OPI Lincoln Park After Dark but then I saw this in my collection and sort of did a little squeal. I loved wearing this when I first got it a couple of years back and I can't remember the last time that I wore it.

Recessionista is a gorgeous wine shade. It's not super dark nor super red. It's the perfect deep purple, or shall I just be repetitive and reiterate the fact that it's the perfect wine shade? Wine wine wine. Really though, it applies opaque in one or two coats, doesn't clump in weird areas, and seems to be wearing pretty well. I painted my nails Monday night and I only see two of my nails with any trace of wear on the tips (and they're only in one tiny spot).

2. Yankee Candle Christmas Cookie

I'm fairly certain I put this candle scent in every holiday related post I've ever done because it smells so good. It straight up smells like sugar cookies and makes me simultaneously happy and ravenously hungry. Yankee Candles are so strong and while I only have the small jar, it expanses my entire room and even into the hallway if I have my door open (#HermitLife). Nothing like extending the best part of the Christmas season (cookies, duh) well into January.

3. Burberry Sunglasses

I just...I love spending my money, okay? There was absolutely no way I could deny these gorgeous sunglasses at work. It was love at first sight and try on, honestly. I am normally not a colored sunglasses person. I like having my tortoise shell glasses in various hues, but I'm never one to branch out into proper colored frames. There's just something about this cranberry shade that enticed me. The shade is so flattering, the color isn't too in your face, and I just adore the ombre pink lenses. They're comfortable and just feel so luxurious when I put them on. I can definitely see them getting the same amount of wear as my Tory Burch and Chloe frames. Can't wait to keep putting them to the test!

4. Wet

When I feel lost in the music department, I tend to scroll through Spotify's New Releases section to seek inspiration. As you might know, I've sort of gotten obsessed with pop music and Top 40 over the course of 2015 and sort of lost my touch with more indie music (aka all I listened to in high school, sans Jonas Brothers/One Direction, of course). I missed listening to new music! I tend to become a creature of habit and listen to the same songs over, and over, and over again until I find a new set to cycle through. I haven't gotten majorly obsessed with a group in a long time, but I have been enjoying Wet's music as of late! There's just something so cool about it. Plus, whenever I start a Spotify radio with one of their songs, the mix is incredible.

To listen to: "All The Ways," "It's All in Vain," and "Weak."

What have you been loving lately?
In the past, I've done posts on riding boots, but they've typically been a chocolate brown or cognac leather shade. I find that a pair of black riding boots during the winter time are so sleek and sophisticated and can be that perfect addition to an outfit when it's too cold to wear your little black booties. Or, in my case, too snowy and slushy outside! Here are some options that can complement your outfit without having to compromise any warmth during this time of year!

Ah yes, the day is here...the first day of classes for spring semester...can you sense my excitement? Though I don't have classes starting until 2PM, I always like to be up and at 'em as early as possible. Though I will admit, it was pretty tough rolling out of bed knowing that I had no work to complete. I think that this 2PM class start thing will be easier once I have coursework I could be doing during the mornings rather than waking up to nothing but a morning routine that I'm used to doing in an hour and a half.

I have two online courses this semester, but today I have my three in person classes and I'm slightly nervous. My newspaper lab class is sandwiched between two Spanish classes, a language that I haven't so much as touched since last spring due to a busy summer and a crammed schedule in fall. I'm nervous. I've been taking Spanish forever, it seems, yet I can't help but feel like I've forgotten everything I learned because of this small break from it. I suppose we'll see how today goes...

Goals for today: 

1. Figure out how to dress cute for the weather. The sidewalks aren't shoveled and I am desperate to wear my new booties to class...but not if they're going to get ruined on the walk to campus...

2. Read the syllabi for my online classes. Familiarize myself with the subject matter, what will be expected of me, and most importantly, whether or not I need a book.

3. Breathe. I've done this start of a new semester thing five times before, I should know that getting jittery and nervous over it does me no good.
....is a physically impossible feat. I am not pumped for spring semester, besides having the opportunity to dress up every day again. It gives me an excuse to try out new lipstick colors, I guess. It might be nice seeing my friends on campus and maybe my online classes won't be awful. It's going to be nice reading and speaking Spanish again after about six months off (horrible life choice, but I needed to work and pay rent...what's a girl to do?), but damn, is it going to be hard the first few weeks.

For all of the things that scare me and make me nervous about spring semester, knowing that it is technically the start of my senior year is incentive enough to be excited about it. It's my penultimate semester, one of my last chances to squeeze the life out of college and gain as much experience as I can from my professors and peers. One of my last chances to enjoy a sporadic schedule and not have to worry about super adult problems (though, rent is turning out to be one of those annoying adults problems that I wish I didn't have to deal with).

But really, the best way for me to approach spring semester is to pretend to be psyched, put some lipstick on, and go dominate the world. Or at least Cleveland. Or at least downtown Cleveland. Or at least a tiny portion of downtown Cleveland. Or just my own little world. Fake it 'til you make it, am I right?

1. Is Gigi Hadid's Style Actually Good? A very, very interesting read! Do people really slip under the radar just because they look good in something, even if that something is a pair of baggy cropped jersey sweats?

2. Faux Fur Shawl I nearly bought an all white faux fur snood last night before I realized that I would absolutely trash it.

3. 10 Healthy Snacks To Keep On Hand At Work I need to check some of these out. I'm always looking for new things to snack on while I'm on campus or working!

4. How To Change Your Life: Tips For Creating Better Habits I especially like the advice to get more sleep...I'm going to try!

5. Six Chic Ways To Organize Your Clothes and Accessories My room needs a new organization system and I just can't decide how I want to do it...

6. Meet Me There In which Kelsey's writing is on point, once again.

7. Five Tips To Have A Productive Morning I'm all about productive mornings and since my classes this semester don't start until 2PM, I'm going to have mornings wide open to get things done!

8. Liquid Lipstick I love liquid lipstick. There are so many new brands I want to try out! Do you have a favorite brand of liquid lipstick?

What have you been reading lately? 
Welcome to the first dream closet post of 2016! Here's to another year of pining over expensive designer things that I can only afford in my dreams.

Nothing like gearing up for a new semester than planning out new outfits! Here are some ideas for your first week back on campus. Pro tip: outwear and footwear are the best ways to transition pieces for the weather! Add a pair of tights, wrap a scarf around your neck, and pile on those layers if winter is in full swing where you are!

1. Edamame

I really don't think love is a suitable enough emotion to describe how I feel about edamame right now.  I am truly, madly, deeply in love with this vegetable and I don't care who hears it. It's never bothered me when I was eating it in my rices, but I hadn't tried it by itself until I picked up a bag on a whim at Target. That one was okay, but it wasn't my favorite. Still, I decided to check out the prepackaged and frozen lightly salted edamame from Trader Joe's and holy sh*t, I'm in heaven. I literally will eat the entire bag in one sitting without even thinking about it. It's like #CantStopWontStop eating the edamame. I get mine in the shells because I just prefer popping them out of the shells, but they do make pre-shelled edamame that you can boil! Seriously, pop some into the microwave for about three minutes and you are golden.

2. NARS Creamy Concealer in Vanilla

I picked this up before Christmas on a whim because I've always seen people talk about the NARS creamy concealer. I just have a sample size because why commit to the full size when there's a perfectly fine sample waiting in the check out line at Sephora? I got a lighter shade to use under the eyes because I haven't quite found one that works for me yet (probably because I keep buying regular concealers and not specifically under eye concealers....I genuinely cannot be bothered to buy face products. All of my money goes to lipstick). While I definitely think there's a better one out there for me, I really do like this one! It's working for me right now because I'm a bit more well rested and hydrated than I am during the school year. It covers my dark circles and doesn't crease or flake on me! I usually set it with one of the lighter powders in my Hourglass Ambient Lighting palette, just incase!

3. NARS Laguna Bronzer

Ah yes, I finally purchased it...the product I've been pining after since I first started watching beauty videos in high school. You've probably heard of this before, you probably own it. I feel like everyone and their grandmas know about this product so there's really no use in me talking endlessly about it. I ran out of my TooFaced bronzer and hit pan on both my Tarte and Benefit bronzers, so it was about time I stopped being cheap and lazy and set out to find a new one. I got this on my friend's recommendation (because I'm all about new things) and I'm really loving it! It's not as intense as some of my other ones, or maybe I'm just applying it better (probably the latter) but it gives me a really nice and subtle definition without getting too crazy. It's perfect for my every day need and if I really need to build it up, I can do it without looking orange. Plus, it's freaking huge. You definitely get a bang for your buck.

4. Madewell Turtleneck 

So, I didn't get this from Madewell. I got it from the consignment shoppe that I work at (seriously, guys, shop consignment, it's a treasure chest). It is, hands down, the coziest piece of clothing I own. I've worn it with skirts, with jeans, even to lounge around on my lazy days so it makes me feel like I'm doing something with my life. The neck on it is absolutely massive, but it's also structured so it doesn't flop around and need to be fussed around with. The color is perfect, the fit is perfect, and it is just so comfortable and warm!

What have you been loving lately? 

Alternately titled: How To Be Productive While You're On Break

I suppose it would have made more sense if I had made this at the beginning of break and not the week before classes are in session again. But truly, how would I have known these things had I not taken all of break to figure out what worked for me and what didn't? This break was sort of a trial and error process, split between legitimate time off and then time at work.

On the days I had work, it was pretty simple getting out of bed and dragging my butt to the parking lot to drive to work. But the days where I don't have anything to do (even going to Target gets me out of bed and productive), motivation is far and few between. And as a person who constantly needs to be doing something, lacking motivation and not doing a single productive thing in a day drives me crazy. So, through trial and error, here are a few tips I picked up that helped me get out of bed and do something with myself on the days where I had nothing on my agenda. 

1. Treat it like any other day

On days where I don't have any work, I still get up and go through my normal routine. I pluck my eyebrows, I wash and exfoliate my face, I brush my hair and tie it up into a topknot. I'll put my moisturizer and topical treatments on and will generally stop there, just because there's no point in me putting makeup on when I'm not going anywhere. I'll have my usual coffee and bagel for breakfast and then I'll get dressed instead of lounging in my pajamas all day. My attire as of late has been an oversized turtleneck from Madewell and a pair of my fleece lined leggings. Fuzzy socks are optional! 

Doing this just makes it feel like a normal day. I'm still comfortable, but I've at least put a little effort into the start of my day to jumpstart any activities! 

2. Write yourself a to do list

To do lists are the one foolproof way to get me to do things. Shocking, it's right in the name. But honestly, I have a colorful array of post it notes at my disposal and I dish them out multiple times a day (I hate messy to do lists). I'll write down anything and everything on the list, even doing laundry or washing my makeup brushes (as well as things like blog posts and emails and what not). I don't use my school agenda over break, so I rely on post it notes to tell me what I need to get done and when!

3. Start small and take breaks

Obviously, there's no need in being in full of work mode when you've got a day off, so just start with little tasks. Maybe mine is to read 20 pages of a book or to finish a shorter magazine. When I'm working on actual school work or something bigger for work, I generally don't let myself have breaks, or at least not big ones. But I'll take frequent dance or tea breaks when I've got a day or two off, just to remind myself that even though I still want to be productive, I should still treat it as well deserved time off. 

What's your favorite way to stay productive when you're at home?