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2014: A Look Back

2014 was certainly a good year. It was filled with school (finally finishing coursework, passing comps, and being admitted into PhD candidacy), travel (to both new and old places), grant writing (which I will hopefully win in 2015 #fingerscrossed), great friends, conferences, organizing, redecorating, exciting blog growth (my first sponsored posts and many new followers - thank you!), and lots of outfits along the way! Before ringing in 2015, which I suspect will be even more exciting than 2014, I wanted to take a trip down memory lane:

(more of my apartment tour here and bar cart here)

(more on my tips for traveling solo here)

(more on Berlin here)

(more on Switzerland here)

(more on my love of pattern play here)

(more on my gallery wall prints here)

(more of my closet tour here)

(more of my kitchen tour here)

Cheers to a new year!

PS - Be sure to check back on the 1st, I have a great freebie planned!

Ashley B
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Outfit: Put A Pussy Bow On It

pussy bow // blouse // earrings (15% off with code: ashley15 through January 15th) //
jacket (last seen here) // jeans (on sale) // booties // clutch-wallet

As you already know, there is nothing I love more than a great pussy bow (you can learn more about the fascinating history of this accessory here). A pussy bow adds instant interest to blah button ups and can completely transform an outfit. Asos and Nasty Gal carry a great selection of detachable pussy bows that you can add to any collared shirt!

For this look, I paired the softness of the chiffon pussy bow and sheer ruffle blouse with black destroyed stiletto jeans. These jeans are surprisingly comfortable and I like that you can control the severity of the look by adding tights underneath (maybe even a fun pop of color with colored tights?).

My pussy bow and these jeans are definitely on my Europe packing list (which is currently being tweaked post-Christmas)!

Ashley B
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Merry Christmas!

Just wanted to wish everyone a merry Christmas! Was Santa good to you?

Ashley B
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Outfit: Feeling Festive

beanie (similar) // sweater  (on sale) // chambray top (on sale) // skirt // tights // wellies

Merry Christmas Eve! I couldn't resist saving this outfit to post today. The fair isle, the plaid, all the red... it's so festive! Too bad it's too warm to actually wear for Christmas. But that's December in Florida, one week is freezing (like when I wore this) and the next is sunny and 80 degrees.

Despite the warm spell, I am in Orlando enjoying lots of holiday fun with my cousins (as I type this we are eating cookies and popcorn and binge watching Gilmore Girls). And we are determined to have a fire in the fireplace, even if we have to sweat it out lol. With Italy fast approaching, I am trying to enjoy as much time as possible with my friends and family.

Speaking of Italy, after packing my clothes and taking stock of what I had and what I think I might still need, I identified a couple holes in my wardrobe. I was seriously lacking warm wool sweaters (I have sweaters, but not wool), a versatile chambray top, and cold weather accessories. When I saw this fair isle sweater online at J.Crew, I fell in love with it. The colors make it fun and interesting, but also very versatile.

I couldn't believe that my wardrobe was missing a long-sleeve chambray shirt, talk about a versatile wardrobe staple. Fortunately, I found the perfect one at J.Crew (#natch). Finally, I've been stocking up on my new hat obsession - beanies! This Old Navy one was too cute and too cheap not to snatch up (who doesn't love pom-poms?). Even though I am lacking cold weather accessories - like hats, gloves, and scarves - I am trying to only buy a couple before I depart. Instead, I will stock up after I arrive (sacrifices have to be made when trying to save weight in your suitcase).

I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas (you can read a fun fact about Xmas here)!

Ashley B
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Feminist History of the Pussy Bow

The pussy bow - a large floppy bow attached to the neck of a blouse or tied around the collar - is my all-time favorite fashion accessory. And nobody rocked the pussy bow better than one of my personal fashion icons, Blair Waldorf (exhibit A and B).

Yesterday, I uncovered an amazing PBS documentary on the history of modern feminism -- Makers: Women Who Make America. This 3-part series is amazing and inspiring, and I was surprised to learn an interesting little history of my favorite accessory.

In the 1980s, as women entered the executive world of business, and with no female examples to turn to, they interpreted the male dress codes and standards that surrounded them. The pussy bow was the female equivalent of the bow tie or neck tie. It was their attempt to be feminine while still fitting into a male world. 

For so many reasons I particularly related to this little history of the pussy bow. Just the other day my appearance and the way I dress came up in conversation with my advisor and some other faculty members. Because they only want the best for me, they mentioned that sometimes I can dress too feminine and that this femininity might diminish my academic achievements and how seriously I am taken as a scholar. Of course my department embraces my fashion sense and they have never underestimated me because it, but that doesn't mean it won't be a problem elsewhere. I know they only bring it up so I can be prepared. As an attractive, feminine, and petite woman I have to be aware of how my appearance will affect my career (how willing I am to change because of this is another story).

While I appreciate having an open dialogue about it, I still get so ragey when I think about the politics of dressing for women. In one sentence I am praised for how well I did on my comprehensive exams and awarded the honor of distinction, and in the other sentence I am cautioned against being too feminine and fashionable. The idea that one of these negates the other is still very prevalent in our society. Of course a man would rarely have to worry about this. Is it even possible for a man to dress too masculine? 

This, ladies, is why feminism still matters and why I will continue to rock my pussy bow with pride! Not only because I like it and want to be fashionable, but also as a thank you to all the amazing women who came before me and made my career and way of life possible. We still have to fight the good fight, but as this wonderful documentary shows, we have come a long way!

You can watch all three parts of the documentary free on PBS's website: part one || part two || part three

Ashley B
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Outfit: Comfort, Check!

It's winter break and I am all about the comfort (and print mixing of course). And nothing is more comfy than effortless braids (directions here), a striped tee, boyfriend jeans, a buffalo check jacket, and leopard slip on sneakers (I am currently breaking them in for Italy). 

So far I have been successful in not unpacking most of my clothes for Italy, which means I only have a handful of items to wear for the next couple of weeks... so I better make the most of them. Now I am working on packing my carry on and deciding what I want to wear on the plane. I also have tons of last minute items to acquire, like a 7-month supply of deodorant and dry shampoo (you can see more of my travel essentials here).

Fortunately, other than final Italy prep and present wrapping, this week will entail lots of relaxing and enjoying some quality time with my cousins. I am hoping there might even be a day or two where I can manage to stay in my pjs all day (I'm obsessed with my new Target macaron pjs, which are on sale in store)!

Anyone else have big plans to do nothing this week?

Ashley B
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Weekend Reading

I honestly cannot believe that this week is Christmas! Fortunately, I have already finished all of my shopping, I just need to wrap everything (thank goodness for Amazon Prime). Later this week I am heading to Orlando, but this weekend I have plans to just relax and enjoy the semester being over! Here is some weekend to help you enjoy your weekend:

How funny is this Instagram apocalypse? People are really freaking out over it. I lost 50-or-so followers (you will be missed spambots), but I think it's funny to see how upset people are and how many people buy followers! I would rather spend my money on clothes, but to each their own.

I've been living in this jacket and this hair.

I ordered this sweater for my winter travels (currently 30% off), and I am a little too excited about it! You can also follow my packing trials and tribulations here.

Have you been following the Sony North Korea hack? Craziness! This article really makes you think.

My new favorite purse for travel.

This has definitely been a heavy news week. In addition to North Korea hacking Sony, we've ended our embargo with Cuba! But why now? What has changed? This article offers some interesting insights.

How New Years is celebrated around Europe.

Great styling tips for short girls.

So many people are sick right now (I am finally better), I guess it is that time of year. This is a great article about what is in cold medicines and what you really need.

If you ask me oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are the most underrated cookie. I can't wait to try these over the holiday.

A gorgeous holiday lip.

Speaking of holiday style, this little lace dress is perfect for the holidays. I love that it can be dressed up for the holidays or down with black tights and boots for the winter.

I'm obsessed with these macaron flannel pjs.

Happy Weekend!

Ashley B
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Packing 101: Organizing with Packing Cubes, Sacks, and Envelopes

It's official... Ashley 1 - Packing 0

It's been touch and go, but this week I was victorious in packing. Here is the current state of my packing odyssey (I haven't slept in my bed in three days lol):

Can I just admit that packing for 7 months is hard? Like, really hard! But I have slowly been sorting (and whittling) and I have finally paired everything down to fit into two large suitcases (turns out almost all of my summer clothes will have to be shipped).

As you can see I have a packing cube obsession. I like to pack each type of item - sweaters, blouses, pants, skirts, etc. - in its own packing cube, which breaks down like this:

I do this for several reasons. First packing cubes keep you super organized and help you keep track of what you have packed. Second, they compress your clothes, which creates more room (I also roll my clothes in each cube to further maximize space). Third, and most importantly, packing cubes/sacks/envelopes allow you to remove/add items or rearrange things in your suitcase without destroying or unfolding everything else you've already packed. Have you ever had to completely unpack your suitcase or destroy all of your perfectly folded clothes because you were searching for one particular item of clothing? Well with packing cubes, you can remove or change one cube without disturbing your entire system!

Once I sorted everything, I began weighing each cube. I recorded the weight of each cube so I could total the weight of the clothing I wanted to pack and figure out how to distribute it evenly between the two suitcases (I'm at 72 pounds if you're curious). After I sorted the cubes into each suitcase I began the ultimate game of Tetris as I tried to figure out the best arrangement of cubes in each suitcase.

It feels like such a huge relief to have this done before Christmas! But now I don't want to unpack anything, so I have to stick to wearing whatever is left over in my closet lol. I have also promised myself that if I get anything for Christmas that I want to add to my packing plan, I have to stick to a one-in, one-out system.

Ah, glorious organization!

Here is what I ended up packing:
Blouses/Tops - 15
T-shirts/Sweatshirts - 5 (tees), 5 (sweatshirts)
Sweaters - 7
Pants/Jeans - 5 (trousers), 4 (jeans)
Skirts - 10
Dresses - 10
Blazers - 4
Coats - 5
Denim Jacket - 1
Puffer Vests - 4
Special Occasion Items - 3 dressier dresses
Loungewear - 3 sweatpants, 3 hoodies
Pjs - 3 pairs
Bras - 2 black, 2 nude, 3 sport bras
Workout Wear - 10 tops, 10 bottoms (mix of long and short), 3 cold weather jackets
Underwear - #alltheundies
Scarves - 3
Tights - 2 black, 2 navy, 2 nude
Socks - 2 boot socks, 2 black knee highs, 2 navy knee highs, 2 camp socks
Shoes - 2 pairs of Melissa flats, 1 pair leopard slip-on sneakers (I am packing my Hunters in my carry on to save weight and I'll be wearing my black booties on the plane)

Finally, here is a selection of my favorite packing cubes. Trust me once you pack with packing cubes you won't be able to just throw clothes into a suitcase (like a heathen) again!

Packing Envelope (perfect for keeping button downs in tip top shape)
Compression Packing Cube (once you fill it, it zips to compress the bag)
Regular Packing Cube (the medium size is the most useful)
Shoe Cube (I also really like just using shower caps to cover the soles of shoes)
Compression Sacks (I used one for my beanies and blanket scarves, I also use one to pack a complete change of clothes in my carry on)

What do you guys think? How should I celebrate my packing victory?

Ashley B
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