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Floral Mini Dress

Here is the thing I love about For Love & Lemons -- they take soft, feminine patterns and silhouettes and add an unexpected element of sexy. Whether it is a low neckline, open back, mini hemline, or strategically placed sheer/nude panels, For Love & Lemons has certainly mastered the art of flirtatious dressing.

While most of their items are not office appropriate per se, I love their flirty, easy to wear dresses for weekends, travel, and nights out. I have never struggled to find work clothing, but I always seem to struggle to find "night out" attire. I feel like you can only wear skinny jeans and a cute blouse for dinner and drinks so many times before you need something different. Enter For Love & Lemons. Their clothing is perfect for a girls night out, dinner and drinks, and espeically a date.

I think this floral, flirty number is my favorite purchase from For Love & Lemons to date. The cut of the dress is perfection. It manages to be flattering and flirty without being tight. In fact, it actually has a loose fit (I am wearing a small FYI). The soft floral pattern and sweet pastel color palette is juxtaposed with the mini hemline and strategically placed nude panels on the upper thighs. While it could be easily be dressed up for evening (and made extra sexy with heels), I dressed it down with a fisherman's hat (my new favorite fall accessory) and burgundy cross-body bag for an afternoon in St. Petersburg.

Shop this dress and more of my favorites from For Love & Lemons below!



Ashley B
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My Fall Wish List

I do a lot of online window shopping. It is part of my morning routine while enjoying my coffee. I love scrolling through new arrivals and seeing what styles, colors, and silhouettes are trending. RewardStyle makes it easy to save my online likes (even into different categories), which makes it super easy to collect and analyze what I am liking. This also keeps me from impulse buying. If you don't have RewardStyle, you can also do this on Pinterest.

I like to collect new arrivals and see what will work with my current wardrobe. It also helps me collect similar items and decide which particular style or price point works best for me and my budget. Where do I want to splurge this season and where can I save? Bookmarking items also gives me the sense of purchasing or shopping without spending money, which is always a good thing! If you want to keep up with my most recent likes, you can always click "MY WISH LIST" under the "GET THE LOOK" tab at the top of the page.

My online shopping over the past couple weeks (I have had lots of time during my move and Irma to do substantial online window shopping) has definitely revealed several key trends that I am definitely wanting to add to my fall wardrobe -- more yellow, military details, vintage accessories, velvet, millennial pink, and bold sleeves.

Of course, not all of the items saved to my wish list are realistic. Sometimes it is fun to save dream or inspirational pieces. This can help you develop your personal style and find similar items in your price-point.

You can shop my current fall wish list below:

What items, colors, or silhouettes are topping your wish list this fall?

Ashley B
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The Truth About the Academic Job Market

This should not come as a surprise to you if you are thinking of going on (or are currently on) the academic job market -- it sucks! It is pretty much like The Hunger Games out there.

If you were not aware of this, or don't know anything about the current state of higher ed/academia, let me break it down for you real quick. As more and more universities are being run "like a business," they are making the majority of their decisions based on profit margin and not on student achievement/success or the pursuit of knowledge. Now, you might think, "doesn't this mean higher salaries for professors and better fiscal management?"Nope. The only ones profiting from this are upper-level administrators. Students are paying more than ever and their professors are making less than ever.

The assault on higher ed is particularly frightening in the humanities. Simply put the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) bring tangible economic benefits to the university, unlike the humanities. So, these fields tend to be better funded, while disciplines like English, History, and Anthropology are continually underfunded. For example, to save money when a tenured history professor retires, the university simply hires a couple adjuncts to replace them. Rarely does the university hire another tenured track professor (for whom the university would have to fund research, travel, professional development, healthcare, and retirement).

This means that the jobs that should exist for graduating PhDs no longer exist. And, as their research funding continues to erode, they are forced to take temporary or adjunct teaching positions. When a standard tenure-track position does become available, hundreds of well-qualified PhDs are fighting for one job.

The sad reality is that most students are not even aware of the eroding of their education (especially in the humanities). They are being taught by exploited adjunct faculty who are teaching too many classes just to survive. Thus, they cannot care as much about individual students, course innovation, or competitive research.

You might be wondering, "what is wrong with hiring an adjunct?" I am not disparaging adjuncts. These are well-educated, and in many cases high-achieving, individuals in their field. My problem is with their exploitation. Someone with a PhD should not be earning part time pay with no healthcare because the university wants to save money. The average adjunct makes $2,987 per course. That means they would have to teach 20 classes a year to make 60k, and that is still without any benefits.* Nor should students, who are in many cases going into immense debt for their degree, have sub-par or overworked faculty.

Now you might be thinking, "well if you have to adjunct at first to get by, that's ok if it leads to a full-time or tenured position." This is a false promise, do not fall for it. The course load of an adjunct does not give them the necessary time to research, write, and publish, all of which are essential to landing a full-time position. Simply put, adjuncts are less competitive on the job market.

I am sharing this for two reasons. First, if you are a college student demand the faculty you deserve for the price you are paying. And second, becuase I think it is important that students who are thinking of a career in higher ed are fully aware of what is happening and the reality they will face -- you will likely not get your dream professorship, and if you are lucky enough to get job, you will likely have to move across country and shoulder a heavy teaching load with few of the academic benefits you once envisioned.

Of course, I was mostly aware of all of this when I entered my PhD program. Do I regret pursuing a PhD in history? Absolutely not. It was the best thing I ever did for myself. It made me more thoughtful and analytical in every aspect of my life. That said, however, I went in with my eyes wide open. I knew the challenges I would face and tried to position myself strategically to ensure I would be able to build a sustainable career when I graduated. Thank goodness I was successful, and I am so grateful for my amazing advisors and the support I received along the way.

I know this is long and a pretty doom-and-gloom kind of post. But I think it is important that people are aware of what is going on. I also have a couple follow up posts in the works in which I plan to share tips on how to position yourself to more successfully in order to better navigate this hostile job market.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this and some of your experiences on the academic job market below!

PS - Don't even get me started on how little we pay primary and secondary teachers. What is wrong with us? It is time to change and value education! Businesses invest in what is important... just saying.

*PPS - What kind of historian would I be if I did not give you sources for my data? I pulled my data from The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Education. You can read more on adjunct statistics and pay here and here.

Ashley B
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Fall Hat Guide

As I unpacked my new bedroom, I came to a realization -- I am a crazy hat lady... and I am totally fine with that!

But seriously, there are currently 13 hats hanging on my wall (like the little works of art they truly are).

I got into hats years ago out of necessity. Long days touring under the Tuscan sun was dangerous for my skin and bleached my hair. What I unexpectedly discovered, however, is that traveling with a hat is amazing. The right hat completes a look and makes you look instantly chic while covering un-styled and/or dirty hair. Paired with over-sized sunglasses, you can even look great in photos with virtually no make up! See exhibit A. After discovering this little travel and life secret, I fully embraced the hat... even when I was not traveling.

Each season I add to my growing collection. I take very good care of my hats, you might even say obsessive. I keep them clean them and never bend the brims. When boater hats took off two seasons ago, I was in heaven, since I have always preferred structured hats over floppy hats.

This fall hats are going to be a major accessory. I feel like the hat is making a come back, and I couldn't be happier. The boater is here to stay (but in darker colors and heavier fabrics) along with the wide-brim fedora. But a new silhouette has burst on to the scene -- the Greek Fisherman cap. I am also thrilled to see that berets are back in a big way. Remember my all-time favorite hat, my petite beret?

People tend to feel like they are either a hat person or not a hat person. But trust me, if you feel like you are not a hat person, you just haven't found the right hat. If you are looking for a good trial hat, I would stick to the classic beret. Berets pretty much look good on everyone.

To get you started on your fall hat shopping, I have rounded up my favorites in each trending style below. Happy hat shopping!

The Fall Boater:

The Wide-Brim Fedora:

The Beret:

The Fisherman's Hat:

Are you a hat person?
Ashley B
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Weekend in St. Augustine

I decided to spend my last weekend in my home state exploring one of my favorite Florida cities, St. Augustine. I had not been in years, and I was quickly reminded why I have so many fond childhood memories from there. Of course, the city has changed over the years, and I was fortunate to have my friend Annmarie (a local and also my friend who lived in Venice this summer) to show me around.

We hit up all of the usual sights - Flagler College, the old fort, lighthouse, and the charming historic streets in and around St. George Street. The highlight of the day, however, was our brunch at Preserved. This restaurant serves up locally-sourced southern cuisine in a historic house complete with front porch. The ambiance is great, and the food is even better. We tried the shrimp and grits, oyster Eggs Benedict, and homemade scones and biscuits.

We spent the rest of our time at the beach, because as much as I am not exactly a beach person, I think I will miss living so close to the ocean most of all.

For a day of walking and exploring St. Augustine, I wore this adorable printed wrapped dress from Madewell. I like it because it is easy to wear, will transition into fall, and can be dressed up for work (with a blazer and heels) or down with a field jacket and sneakers for weekend adventures. There is something about sundresses and sneakers that I love. It is unexpected and insanely practical. I swear these Superstars look great with just about anything, and I am dying to get them in this great pink color.

Have you ever been to St. Augustine?


Ashley B
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An Excuse to Redecorate

While moving is stressful and utterly exhausting, it is also the perfect excuse to purge your belongings and refresh your decor.

Most of my furniture in Florida was hand-me-down or DIY Ikea hacks, meaning the cost of moving everything to Georgia exceeded its value. Not to mention Ikea furniture doesn't exactly move well. So, I decided to purge. I actually love getting rid of things and simplifying my life. But, despite my natural proclivity to expel clutter, I was shocked at just how much crap I had accumulated in my Tampa apartment! After a solid week of cleaning, sorting, and purging, I was able to fit everything in two car loads to Georgia.

Of course, getting rid of almost everything meant that I had some serious furniture shopping and decorating to do for my new place (I love my new apartment by the way)! My new job and move happened so quickly that I did not have much time to think about any sort of decor scheme. So, I just started scanning Pinterest and my favorite decor websites like crazy. Not knowing where to begin, I started with trying to find a couch. Why is finding a well-made couch at a decent price so challenging? I ended up going with a gorgeous French-inspired tufted sofa from Lamps Plus of all places. They actually have a great selection at good prices, and lots of people online swear by their quality. Mine has not arrived just yet, but I promise to share my review when it does.

After spending a week obsessing over picking a single sofa, I decided to just start pinning anything I came across that I liked, figuring that some sort of pattern would emerge... and thankfully it did! Surprise, there is a lot of blue and gold. To help achieve a more cohesive look, I started a photoshop file where I could arrange the items and make sure everything worked together. This is a critical step for me. I need to be able to see everything together because pieces I thought were perfect, simply don't work. It also helps me make difficult decisions. Decorating is, after all, a long-term and costly commitment!

I am still waiting for most of my furniture to arrive, but below is a collage of what I have (or planning) to order. I don't want to brag, but I think I managed to find a lot of really chic and quality items for some really great prices! On that note, why are rugs and curtains so ridiculously expensive?

All prints are from my Etsy store, and the pillows are Caitlin Wilson.

Shop my Living Room:

Shop my Bedroom:

Shop my Office:

Shop my Kitchen:

If you have any great furniture and decor secrets an/or websites, please share! And be sure to follow along on Instagram stories if you want to see my decorating process in real time.
Ashley B
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The Ruffle Cropped Pant

You have probably noticed that I don't exactly wear a lot of pants. I have never really liked them. In fact, there was a period in middle school that I flat out refused to wear pants, even jeans. My argument was that they were so uncomfortable and skirts were far more agreeable. I pretty much stand by this still today.

While I have come around to jeans, I still gravitate to skirts over pants. I find skirts more comfortable, easier to wear, and more flattering. I do, however, make exceptions when warranted. These pants are one such exception.

I tried them on a whim while shopping the new arrivals at Club Monaco. My first thought was that they looked super comfortable and I loved the cropped ruffle hem, but I seriously doubted if I could pull them off. Cropped ruffle-hemmed pants are going to be all the rage this fall, but it is not always the easiest look for petite women to pull off, especially in a bold pattern. I was shocked when I tried them on and loved them! Not only are they as comfy as they look, but they are surprisingly flattering and easy to style. I plan on wearing them with a black blazer for work.

To ensure they did not shorten my already short frame, I wore them with my new nude, pointy-toe Melissa mules. Not to beat a dead horse here, but don't let the fact that these shoes are plastic PVC deter you. They look super stylish, are virtually indestructible, and feel like you are walking on little pillows. Melissa sent these to me a couple weeks ago with a bunch of other new fall styles. The nude doesn't seem to be available online yet, but the black is here. If you are looking for nude specifically, I also love these.

What are your thoughts on the cropped-ruffle hem for fall?


Ashley B
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Where to Eat in Florence

This blog post is long over due!

I am not going to lie, one of my favorite activities in Florence, and in Italy more generally, is eating. The food is simply incredible -- fresh, simple, and flavorful. No one should diet when in Italy. Of course, with all of the walking and the freshness of the ingredients you really don't need to. You can basically live out your food fantasies with little regret or weight gain (I said little not zero lol).

Since I love eating so much, I like to keep up to date on Florence's food scene. There is always a new and exciting place to try. Naturally, I have blogged about my favorite places to eat in Florence before (here and here), but, as with any city, places come and go and my recommendations were in need of an update. So I have made a comprehensive and up-to-date map of my favorite places to eat in Florence. I have also decided to round up my top ten below!

My Top 10:

Best Way to Treat Yo'self:
I normally don't advise eating at places located on major squares or near monuments. Irene, however, is the rare exception to this rule. As part of the Savoy hotel the ambiance and quality of Irene is unparalleled. The menu is fresh, seasonal, and creative. Whether you want to indulge in a 4-course extravaganza complete with calamari, asparagus and truffle bruschettone, risotto, and dessert (like Georgette and I did), or just fancy cocktails while people watching, Irene is a can't-miss chic bistro in the heart of Florence.

Best Pizza:
I became obsessed with Simbiosi this summer. I also lived around the corner, so I ate there a lot. Simbiosi is actually two restaurants -- a pizzeria and a hip eatery. All the ingredients, and even the wine, are organic and fresh. My personal favorite is the zucchini and pesto pizza. It's life affirming! The saffron lasagna at the restaurant is also amazing.

Life-Changing Gnocchi:
Osteria Santo Spirito
Osteria Santo Spirito is my go-to recommendation when people ask me where to eat in Florence. Why? The truffle gnocchi is the best thing that will ever happen to you!

Best Breakfast:
I use the term breakfast loosely here. Italians consider a pastry and a cappuccino breakfast. If you must subsist on just this, I highly recommend going for the best cappuccino in Florence, which is served at Roberto Cavalli's uber-chic bar, Giacosa.

My Favorite Gelato:
Cantina Gelato
Good gelato is not hard to find in Florence, but my personal favorite is Cantina. I love their Nutella and marscapone and ricotta and fig.

Most Local Experience:
Il Giova
I ate lunch here everyday when I was living in Florence and working in the archive. It is a tiny hole-in-the-wall frequented by locals. The menu changes daily based on what's fresh and you won't find any english here!

Crowd Pleaser:
Il Teatro
Il Teatro is always a crowd (and student) pleaser. They offer a great variety of traditional dishes and serve the best coccoli in town! Don't know what coccoli is? Put it on your must-try list in Florence. Prices are great and they are always group and student friendly.

Best Variety:
Mercato Centrale
Not sure what you want to eat? Maybe you want to try some street food or sample a bunch of different things. Then the central market is for you. The down stairs is the traditional market, but the upper level is a modern Italian food court.

Hippest Cafe:
La Ménagérie
Cafe and coffee culture have finally arrived to Florence, and there is no hipper and chicer place than this cafe, slash florist, slash boutique.

My Favorite Aperitivo:
I love a good aperitivo. It is a great way to get some much needed veggies and try lots of new foods. Gallery, hands down, has the best vegetable offering, which may not seem important now, but after a week or two of pasta, pasta, pasta, you will be happy to see so many veggies!

See all of my Florence picks below:

And be sure you check out my favorite places in Rome here!

Ashley B
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Effortless Summer Look

Summer in the city can be warm, to say the least. I have never been one who can wear pants or jeans in the summer (seriously, how do Italians do it?). On hot days I always gravitate to skirts and dresses, even better if they are silky and light weight.

I feel like lately Club Monaco can do no wrong. Seriously, they have been killing it for the last couple of years. Every time they release a new collection, I struggle to pick out a few key pieces, because I want it all! The worst part is that Club Monaco isn't exactly cheap, so I have to choose wisely. Fortunately, when I returned to NYC from Florence is was summer sale season and I picked up both of these fab pieces for a steal (by CM standards, anyway). And don't forget CM always offers a student discount with a valid ID and/or .edu email address, which even works on online orders!

With my new job fast approaching, I have been trying to only purchases items that I can also dress up for work. Building a professional, yet stylish wardrobe is never easy, especially when you have been on writing grants and researching/working abroad for the better part of the last three years. I have not exactly been investing in professional work wear. Whoops. Better late then never I guess.

What are your favorite stores for stylish work wear?


Ashley B
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Big Changes Ahead!

I don't know about you, but I have a love/hate relationship with change. On the one hand, I crave it. I love new places, new people, and new challenges. These keep me inspired and motivated. But on the other hand, too much change, too quickly can overwhelm me.

Over the past few weeks there has been a lot of change in my life, leaving me feeling excited, inspired, and totally scared!

Let me back up for a second. Over the summer while abroad I began applying for full-time positions in global education and international studies departments. I felt like a sent out a ton of cover letters and resumes and heard absolutely nothing for weeks. Slowly despair set in. My PhD funding ended in the spring and I was facing unemployment! Then, seemingly out of know where, I heard back from several schools. Three wanted phone/Skype interviews within the week. It is amazing how quickly things change sometimes. I went from no prospects to a couple very good prospects in a matter of days. Just before I left Italy, I was notified that two of these universities wanted to bring me to campus for on-site interviews.

Suddenly the ball was rolling. I didn't have much time to think. I focused on the task at hand and before I knew it I was excepting a great job offer in another state! The following day it hit me -- everything in my life is about to change. Don't get me wrong, I am so excited about landing such an amazing position, especially given the current state of the academic/university job market. Yet, at the same time, I truly enjoy my life in Tampa -- great friends, a home I love, close to the ocean, delicious food scene, my favorite gym classes, and the comfort of my routine and what is familiar. Yet, I also felt like I was beginning to stagnate in Tampa. I am nearing the end of writing my dissertation, but I am feeling very uninspired and I am laboring to finish. There also isn't any opportunity for me in Tampa, nothing to challenge me or push my career forward. So as anxious as I am to leave my happy life in Tampa behind, I am also ready for a new adventure.

In many ways landing this job was nothing short of a miracle. It is at a great university doing exactly what I love -- teaching and researching history and working on developing study abroad programs (for privacy reasons, I don't want to broadcast the name of the university). If you are familiar with the university/academic job market, you understand what a coup landing this job was. It is like the Hunger Games out there for young scholars. After watching so many friends get screwed over by the war on tenure or being exploited as adjuncts for years, I knew I wanted to take my career in a different direction. So from the start, I had my eye on more administrative positions. Over the next couple of weeks I hope to share what I learned about applying for and transitioning to the administrative side of academia. While PhDs acquire incredible skill sets over their (sometimes) decade-long education, we are rarely taught how to transition and market ourselves outside of academia.

And don't worry, I fully plan on completing my PhD. But, the reality is that a dissertation comprised of original archival research on early modern Italy simply cannot be completed in 4.5 years.

I plan on spending my last couple weeks in Tampa/Florida enjoying all of my favorite things, in between packing of course. Follow me on Instastories (@historyinhighheels) to see what I am up to and how I plan on decorating my new place!

Ashley B
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