OOTD: End of Summer Shades

Just because summer has ended doesn't mean we have to lose all the color in our wardrobes! Personally, I don't pay too much attention when it comes to seasonal shades anymore. Part of trying to organize my closet and really focus on wearing what I want, when I want, is having items that work almost all year round. This wild-print vintage Wrangler shirt came to me by way of my beloved Avalon Exchange, and I practically live in it. Perfectly broken-in, with the right fit and funky flair... I think this shirt is me if I had to be a clothing item. 

As part of my moving into supporting almost strictly USA-made products, sustainable-focused companies, and shopping mostly secondhand, I did a little research while searching for a new pair of skinny jeans. I had learned about Agave Denim a few months back as the local men's boutique Mister Guy carries them, and was pleasantly surprised to find a pair of their women's jeans on super sale. Agave Denim is crafted in the USA and the quality is A+. Wearing these jeans feels like a second skin - they're that soft and stretchy. However, I think I might have them hemmed a bit, as my legs are obnoxiously short. 

Having friends that participate in and support your shenanigans is still something I'm getting used to. For a while there, being a young adult was difficult when it came to making new friends. However, this lovely lil' lady happened into my life by way of the hair salon I frequent, and she moved into an apartment on my street this year. Terresina and I have started getting together to work on our personal creative writing, and I'm stoked she let me take her photo for the blog as well. Hopefully we'll be able to share some of our work eventually!

These goofy round glasses get a lot of attention when I wear them, so I feel that I should mention I snapped them up for about $15 from Zenni Optical. It's a website where you can fill in your eyeglass prescription from your doc, and get some ridiculously cheap specs. I have a few pairs from Zenni now because the price is so right! 

Outfit Details:
Shirt & Shoes: Avalon Exchange   |   Jeans: Agave Denim   |   Necklace: Thrifted

Tune Tuesday: Tycho @ Murmuration Fest

If you peeped my post about Murmuration Festival a couple weeks ago, you'll know I was stoked to take in this new event dedicated to art, tech, and music! My weekend was already rather packed to the gills, so I managed to pop out just in time to spy Tycho on stage on Sunday night - and boy am I glad I stopped by! 

Seeing Tycho was, amongst other things I'll get into, a significant reminder that doing things alone is good for the soul. I don't think I've spent that much time in public in silence. The only time I spoke to anyone after arrival was to order a beloved City Wide from the bar tent. If you're going to do a festival based on elevating and educating St. Louis, it's a smart move to have one of our currently most popular brews available.

I was pleased to see a bit of a crowd forming at the beginning of their set, but by the end, nearly the entire lot dedicated to this stage area was full of people. I've always struggled with Saint Louis' propensity for small turnouts and un-enthusiastic crowds. For a brand new festival, and a show on a Sunday night, I was impressed and pleased to see such a turnout. Tycho, fronted by Scott Hansen. He is the primary creator, writer, producer for all things Tycho, and has a long background in creation and design, which is evident not only in the project's album artwork, but also in the visuals used during live shows. For a festival focused on the intersection of tech, art, and music, Tycho was an obvious choice! Peep a quick clip from my Instagram:

A few weeks back, I went on a winding roadtrip out west to desert and canyon country (I hope to have a fun little recap post up soon enough!). On the drive home, knowing that I'd be seeing Tycho live soon, I listened to the new Epoch album. Tycho's video visuals during their live show last Sunday featured sweeping landscapes that may have actually been Arizona and some of the rocky vistas I happened to spy, and I just about cried in the middle of the crowd. Funny how life works like that. I was intrigued, captivated, and drawn in by the pulsating designs, shimmering effects, and pretty silhouetted ladies throughout their set, and I could definitely tell that the visuals were calculated perfectly for each song. I can't wait to check out some of their older work on YouTube now that I've seen them live!

I'm disappointed that I couldn't attend more of Murmuration this year because I saw so, so, SO many fun, informative, interactive, and interesting activities being shared on social media! I sure hope it returns for a second year - I plan on trying to find a way to help advocate for it next year if possible. Our city is ripe for a recurring weekend of learning and entertainment like this. 

If you're interested in learning more about what this year's Murmuration was about, check out:
- Murmuration's website
- Murmuration on Twitter
- Murmuration on Facebook
- Murmuration on Instagram

This post was sponsored by the Midwest Influencer Network. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

OOTD: Secondhand Summer Fringe

Hi, lovelies! It's been a little quiet around the blog, but it's because some new things are brewing. I'm working on a new direction in my personal life that will bleed over into the blog, and although it's not an entire departure from my current ideals, it's going to be a serious focus. I can't wait to get more in-depth with that, but for now, here are some long-overdue photos from my darling photographer friend, Abby!

I'm sure I sound like a broken record when I say I generally avoid dresses, but this little tank dress gets worn pretty often during the summer. I scored it at Avalon Exchange last year, and it has just the slightest hint of acid wash, which speaks to my nostalgic love of '80s fashion. To up the interest factor, I layered this fringe shawl on top, which is just another way to hide peekaboo bra straps (my biggest pet peeve in the clothing world).

You've seen these sandals before, and they ended up being the only pair I've worn all summer. You should see the sweet tan lines I have going on now. I think I might do this every year - buy just one pair of nice sandals and wear the heck out of them. Black and white goes with everything, right? 

My addiction to shopping local comes through with my Fable & Lore necklace and JORD watch. I can't wait to have more Fable & Lore in my life - I plan to keep all my jewelry purchases from here on out from local or small shops. I'll cherish them more, and treat them better than $5 earrings picked up at the mall. 

My hair has since grown a little longer, but seeing these photos sure make me miss the super-short crop! Will I ever have long hair again? Who knows!  

Photos: A. Gillardi Photo

Kicking Butt With Trainer Jeremy Genin

In the past two years, I've learned more about my body than I can explain. I've learned what works for it and what does not. I've experimented with varying levels of fitness, different types of exercise, and changes to my diet. In 2014, I was probably in the best shape since I stopped playing sports 24/7 in high school. I weighed the same weight I did in high school, and I was confident, sleek, and proud of every inch of my body. Two summers later, and I'm 20lbs heavier, but still in love with my form. However, I know I can do better. All efforts fell through when I lost a job in August of 2015, and I packed on weight due to a coinciding loss of motivation. Classes, gym friends, and easy access (the gym was next door to that job) help keep me on track, and I lost those with the job.

When the opportunity came up to work with local personal trainer Jeremy Genin, I jumped on it. He operates Functional Fitness in downtown Saint Louis, which has been super convenient for me because I work downtown most of the time. Jeremy offers both personal training sessions and group bootcamps, so I'm ready to get moving hardcore. 

My photographer friend Allan Crain graciously tagged along on my first day to help me document my starting state and provide a peek into what I'll be doing over the next several weeks!

Something super fun and also new to me is kickboxing! Who doesn't like punching things, especially when it's for fitness purposes? I've always wanted to try something like this, so Jeremy's classes and sessions are perfect for me. We have worked on kickboxing in both group and personal settings, so it's varied and stays exciting. Jeremy is also in-tune to what's going on with his pupils, and I can tell that he's able to see what each person's boundaries are, push you right to them, and just past what you think you are capable of. That's why - for me - training in a gym or group setting is more effective when aiming to build muscle. If you are alone, you're more likely to quit before you really hit that breaking point. 

I certainly felt like a total badass getting to punch stuff during this session, and since then, I've had a few chances in group sessions to work on my form. Being a former dancer, I automatically go into a soft, fluid form when it comes to action. A lot of control and snappy movements go into kickboxing, so my first day ended in seriously bruising the tops of my feet. Lesson learned - you land roundhouse kicks with your shin, and not near your ankle! But as I always tell myself, no pain no gain. After last night's bootcamp, I'm stiff as a board, but nowhere near light as a feather. That will come in time, and with loads of patience and hard work. 

And one of the best things about having a trainer is that they're your support system when it comes to keeping you moving forward with your patience and hard work. I've noticed that Jeremy tailors your exercises to your individual goals, even when you're in a bootcamp with 5-7 other people. I died last night trying to do pull-ups, but I know he had me do those on my own because I mentioned missing my defined upper body and back muscles. Along with weight lifting, sessions always include cardio, and I've already noticed a difference in my stamina with jumping rope in just a few weeks. Outside of working with Jeremy, I play soccer twice a week, and I am really looking forward to seeing how training helps my skills on the field. 

I'll be sharing more about my journey as time goes along, so check back in a few weeks to see how things have been going! I'll be doing some "before and after" photos again like I did with my yoga bender, and I'm betting these will be a lot more obvious when it comes to changes. 

Please pop over to http://www.functionalfitnessstl.com/ to learn more about Jeremy and to sign up for his newsletter - which will give you access to free work out videos, special offers, and more! And maybe I'll be racing you in sprints and punching with you soon as well! 

All photos courtesy of Allan Crain.

Catching Up With Craft Alliance Downtown

I'm a huge champion for Saint Louis and all that it has to offer both residents and tourists alike. There are so many opportunities for creative types like myself, and the art scene is really booming. I had the opportunity to explore the insides of a current art fixture in Saint Louis recently - Craft Alliance's downtown location! I met with current Artist-in-Residence, Megan Singleton, and Michael Powell, the marketing manager of Craft Alliance, to talk further about the non-profit organization and its influence on our community. 

Yasmin of local blog Bangles & Bungalows also attended the meet-up, and we had a blast learning more about Megan's work. She is a fiber artist of sorts, and not the kind of fiber you find in clothes! Through a paper-making process, she creates her work from plant fibers that she collects. The image below shows a piece (that I apparently found amusing for a reason I can't recall) that is inspired by the yucca plant, which is native to Missouri. It grows in the most unlikely of places - from graveyards to deep urban areas. Megan explains that her work often focuses on "reinterpreting the plant's form" rather than creating sculptural recreations of the original plant. We asked how she best chooses plants to create from, and she explained her "twist test," which involved taking a part of the plant and twisting it over on itself. The farther it can go, the sturdier the fibers are, which make for better paper! We chatted further about where she finds her plants, what rules apply to the plants she works with (some invasive species cannot even be removed from their state, even if they're in the way and need to be killed off!), and how she'll never run into a shortage of materials in her process. 


Some of the work I liked best in Megan's studio were pieces based on how the paper she makes dried around shapes. She sells wearable art and creates pieces that have a skeleton of varying thicknesses of wire. She applies the wet paper product to the wires, shapes it, and as the paper dries, it contracts and pulls the wire into different shapes. Fascinating! She also works with dying fabrics, silk, and more. 

She explained that she was invited by Craft Alliance to become a part of their artist-in-residence program, which I think is super cool! As a former art student, I remember how competitive residency programs can be! Craft Alliance is specifically aiming to help make STL a more art-pedestrian friendly zone, especially with their downtown location and its artists in residence there. Megan says that being with Craft Alliance has allowed her to "branch out (a cute plant pun!)" in her work, and Michael quipped that it's helped her to explore an "ambassadorship for the plants" with her art. Megan and Michael also spoke about the mentoring program called Crafting A Future, which brings high school students into a learning environment regarding various kinds of crafting. I was intrigued by this, because I think it is so very important for aspiring art kiddos to have practice with presenting their work, accepting critiques, and exploring the business side of the art world before they are tossed into the fray of college!

Each year, Craft Alliance throws a huge party called the Makers Ball to help support their organization, invite the public to meet local makers, celebrate the artistry of makers and craft, and bring the art community closer together. The fundraiser supports the exhibitions and community education programs at Craft Alliance Center of Art and Design It's coming up this Saturday, and if you don't have plans, I highly encourage you to check out joining the fun! It's your chance to shine in a locally-made outfit, accessory, or wearable art. For my meeting with Megan and Michael, I wore jewelry crafted by two of my favorite local makers: 

My lil' brass ball locket is one of my favorite necklaces! Check out Fable & Lore on Etsy to shop her incredible handmade pieces!

Elle of Sahgol Jewelry created a pair of custom earrings for me, and I lost one by accident. Now I love an asymmetrical look!

I dressed casually for our day at Craft Alliance because I will not be attending the ball due to a previously-scheduled DJ gig. I really, really hope I can attend next year because I have never, ever, not once, been to a big gala, and I feel like I'm missing out!

So you should go in my stead!
Find tickets here: http://registeratca.org/civicrm/event/register?reset=1&id=2268

If you can't attend, there are other ways to be keep the arts community in Saint Louis thriving and growing! Support is always needed, so if you're interested in becoming further involved, you can enjoy great benefits by becoming a member of Craft Alliance! From classes and camps to exhibition and community programs, your support will play in a vital role in the organization. For more information, please visit this page.

You can also help by donating here: http://www.craftalliance.org/support/donate.htm

Thanks to Craft Alliance for inviting me to hang out with them on a Saturday, and to Michael and Megan for being such fun, enlightening hosts on our tour of the studios!

Major props go to photographer Brandon Halley for these amazing images!

Outfit Details:
Sweater: Madewell   |   Jeans: Urban Outfitters   |   Necklace: Fable & Lore
Large Earring: Sahgol Jewelry   |   Glasses: SEE Eyewear   |   Boots: Thrifted

#WCW: Downtown Witchy Woman

This beautiful little lady is one of my dear friends, a wonderful confidante, and a stylin' babe! She slid into my DMs on Instagram much like Yo Gotti talks about in his recent hit song, and we've been kickin' it ever since. She's an artist, models occasionally, and pursues salsa dancing as a hobby. We've shared laughs, bottles of wine, and secrets. A few weeks ago, she met up with me and my amazing photographer friend, Abby, for some snaps. Can you tell this girl is a pro? Yowza! 

You may follow Maddy on her Instagram: @crowemaddy
As always, many thanks again to A. Gillardi Photo for the stunning images!

Outfit Details:
Lace Top and Chiffon top: Kimchi Blu from Urban Outfitters  |   Shoes: Bakers
Jeans: "Joni" style from Top Shop  |  Hat: Merona from Target  |  Bangles: Gifted

Tune Tuesday: Le1f at The Luminary in STL

Even if you haven't heard of Le1f's recent work, he's been around since he produced Das Racist's "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell." If you're not familiar with the song, it was a massive viral hit while I was in college, and you'd fine drunk kids on campus shouting its lyrics every weekend. Who doesn't feel the vibe of being able to order both tacos AND pizza in one location? 

About the release of his recent Riot Boi album, Le1f says, "It's a very pro-trans, pro–clean water, Black Lives Matter record." He's not messing around when it comes to busting down boundaries, thrilling fans, and dropping visually delicious videos. In a world where rap music is generally expected and accepted as overtly masculine, drug-favoring, and violence-centered, Le1f comes around throwing down nerd references ("Wut's" Pokemon masks), shout outs to 90s television shows ("BOOM's" Good Burger knock-off), and throwing around LGBTQ slang I've never heard before. He's clever, catchy, and educational. What more can I ask for in rap? He has also studied dance since his early teens, which means his show tonight will be full-blown performance fun.

I've had his video for "Koi" on repeat all week. Check it out:

If you're down to get dancing with me tonight, head to The Luminary on Cherokee Street!

Le1f + Junglepussy
Doors: 8pm  |  Show: 9pm
Tickets: $17
[Event Link]

What2DoWeds: Saint Rita Parlor Trunk Show

St. Louis natives that go off and do their own successful thang make me smile, especially because we Midwesterners often return to show love to the homeland. Neil Bardon is no exception, and he'll be in town this weekend to debut The Florissant Collection from his Los Angeles-based brand, Saint Rita Parlor. If you've been reading along with me since the inception of this lil' blog, you might recognize these names! Bardon was last in town for a trunk show almost exactly two years ago! You can find my recap of the last trunk show here. 

In the above left photo, you not only get to see a great flashback of me with long hair, but also me attempting to wear the top-selling frame "1072." I have a tiny face - look how oversized they are on me! This frame is currently only available in black on the website, but never fear! if you're attending the trunk show this Saturday, you'll be able to peep three brand new colors of the "1072." They go on sale for the first time publicly at the trunk show, so you better hurry your fashionable four-eyed self to the show. 

I know I'm excited to see the new collection, and throw my name into the contest to possibly win my own pair of Saint Rita Parlor frames! With free 4Hands beer from 7-9m, and a peach-infused bourbon cocktail for just $6, you know I'm about to turn out and turn up. See you there!

Saturday March 26, 2016  |  7pm - 1:30am
The Night Owl by Tree House  |  3177 S. Grand Blvd (2nd FL)
DJ sets: Aaron Stovall (So Many Dynamos) & Mikey Wehling
More Info:
Facebook Event
Saint Rita Parlor's Website
First Image c/o Sequoia Ziff


Popping Into Downtown's Porano Pasta

If you're into checking out new restaurants in the Saint Louis scene, and you haven't heard of Porano Pasta yet, you're most definitely living under a rock. This fast-casual joint was opened on January 26th by James Beard award winner Gerard Craft of Nice Food Group fame, and has the city a-buzz. As adults, I feel like we have limited options when it comes to "playing" with our food, but because you get to completely customize your meal inside an airy, playfully decorated eatery, you'll leave Porano feeling full and happy.

I stopped in for my second time recently with Abby for lunch, and I'm not going to lie - I plan on being there rather often. With a bowl running me just about $8, and the location being a two block walk from work, it's just the right combination of affordable and accessible. 

So here's how Porano works: You hustle into line with all the other hungry cityfolk. There are pamphlet-style menus available for you to browse, or you can check out the menu above the lovely people preparing your food. You choose your base, your protein, veggies, and extras. It's sort of like Chipotle, if you're familiar with how that experience goes down. Porano moves just as quickly as Chipotle, and their staff is wildly friendly. I love being greeted with a huge smile!

Both times, I ordered similar items, but just with a different sauce. When I find something I like, I prefer to order it a couple times to see how the experience holds up back to back. The first time, I accidentally just told them the spicy sauce and was too chicken to ask for them to remake me a bowl. I'm an enormous spice wuss, but I was pleasantly surprised that the heat was just enough to make me warm up but not start crying. The second time, I ordered the Smokey Sunday Sugo sauce, which was really, really tasty. I chose the semolina pasta, chicken, green olives, and fresh herbs twice, and the quality, freshness, and texture was A+ both times. 

As Abby and I headed out the door, an employee politely stopped and asked if we'd like to try a gelato pop. I'm currently trying to cut back on sugar in my diet, but when it's thrown at me, my jaw unhinges and I just suck it all up without question. Especially when it's ice cream-textured! The pop I tried had a coconut flavor to it, and was perfect on our mild Saint Louis day.

Thanks, Porano, for opening a fun, friendly restaurant so close to me at work! 

Photos by A. Gillardi Photo.

Western Pattern Plays and Downtown Daze

To be perfectly honest, I can be pretty terrible at dressing myself. I work in an environment where we're allowed to be pretty casual, and I fall into a rut of wearing jeans and purely casual clothing. I've promised myself that from here on out, I will be better about more genuinely dressing like "me" all of the time. I believe I might have said that before on the blog, but let's be real - we're all works in progress. And this work in progress decided to dress like an escaped circus ringmistress, and went out to lunch in all of her patterned glory! 

I met Abby for lunch at Porano Pasta because not only is it right around the corner from my workplace, it's absolutely amazing and I've become addicted. In the category of fast casual, this Gerard Craft spot knocks it out of the park. I'll gush more about Porano another time, but I also have to say that the staff is ridiculously friendly. On our way out the door, an employee stopped us and asked if we'd like to try one of their gelato pops, and we couldn't say no. Yum yum!

I've been needing a new blazer in my life, and this one was creeping in ASOS' sale section, so I snapped it up. When I was hanging it up in my closet, I happened to put it next to this vintage blouse, and practically squealed in inspiration delight. Because I'm still working on getting back into shape, I've basically been wearing the same four pairs of pants/jeans. These Forever21 jeans haven't lost their shape yet, and I actually found them at Goodwill for $7! 

If there's one wardrobe quirk I have, it's that I now own NO pairs of flats whatsoever. I threw out my last pair just last week. They were falling apart, and I just find myself only wearing boots or heels anyway. Boots are just so much more interesting! This pair from Dolls Kill was on super sale, and I fell in love with their Western detailing and perfect height. 

Do you mix up your patterns all crazy-like sometimes too? Let me know what your favorites to mix and match are!

Photos by A. Gillardi Photo.

Outfit Details:
Blazer: ASOS  |  Blouse: "Russ," Vintage  |  Hat: Avalon Exchange  |  Jeans: Thrifted Forever21
Handbag: BCBG  |  Boots: Dolls Kill  |  Earrings: Leopard Boutique  |  Bolo Tie: Avalon Exchange