This month I celebrated my right to vote as a woman in this country, outfit of the day details, working for the spectacular Andy Sams Photography, eating, eating, and more eating, and some adventures in things I've never attempted before.

With this, I bid November adieu and I excitedly welcome December into my heart. Bring it on, last month of 2012!

Follow along so you don't miss a thing @nicolahearts!

november grams

Earlier this week, Elizabeth over on Delightfully Tacky wrote up a post about what she's thankful for and linked to this article about raising girls. I've definitely mentioned my parents on here before, but I've not yet given them the blogratitude that they deserve. My parents are seriously my best friends and, even when they weren't, they have always supported me in whatever I wanted to do.

Some kids get to college and find themselves stuck in a major their parents chose; that was never going to be their path. This is a situation I cannot relate to at all because my parents never vocalized any expectations for me in that way. In fact, a couple of years ago, during a brief stint of moving back home, I asked what they had wanted me to be when I grew up. "Remember that time you wanted to be the editor of Seventeen Magazine? That would have been pretty cool."

When I was really young, I was able to be involved with the activities I wanted. My parents took me to Sunday School early so I could sing with the Zimriyah and stayed late to take me home from rehearsal for the Purim play. My dad was the co-leader of my Girl Scout troop and took the reigns on both camping trips and best cookie selling practices. In middle school, my parents were supportive of my fashion designer dreams and took an interest in my sewing habits (as long as I wasn't altering the more costly Chanukah gifts...oops!).

I've heard, you know, in the news and stuff, that daughters are sometimes forced into their brother's activities. Obviously, girls and boys can both totally enjoy and excel at the same activities, but even if she's interested in soccer and her brother does band, their parents might pressure her to pick up the clarinet instead of her cleats.

My parents were equally supportive of both mine and my brother's interests and Evan even drifted into my activities until he found his own niche. Now he's off studying to be a world-famous lighting technician and spends his extra time DJing while I've got an English Writing degree and I work in non profit.

As I've been working to find my footing in the real world, I feel as supported as ever to try things that I like and move on if I don't. My parents are pretty feminist and may be working class hippies,  but I don't think there is anything outrageous about them wanting to see their daughter succeed in what she wants, rather than what she's supposed to want. 

When I got my first flat tire several months ago, I insisted that my dad let me change it while he instructed, rather than doing it for me. I asked for a drill for my college graduation because I wanted to be able to put a desk together, even if my boyfriend was at work. I believe that I'm able to be independent and self-sufficient because my parents not only let me be, but encouraged it. Some kids become independent because they are neglected and have no other option than to do for themselves. My parents graced me with the empowerment of individuality.

Growing up, some kids live by their parents' mantra of "always be yourself." I can't recall my parents ever telling me this because I was so much an individual from day one that all they could say was "That's pretty cool."

raising me

It's about time I let that Dago of mine do a guest post on here. I may write like a girl, but he's a funny and smart blogger on his own domain over at Something Catchy. In the spirit of the holidays, Dago wrote an awesome guide to buying the perfect gift for the guy in your life--whether he's your beau, brother, or best friend. I'll let Dago take it from here.

Sometimes it seems like all guys want for the Holidays is a few bucks and for you to wear yoga pants for a week straight. That’s not really true, though. The Holidays are coming quickly, and you’re probably sitting around scratching your head over what your boyfriend may really want for Xmas/Charmukkah/Kwanz/Chinese New Year (I don’t know when that actually is)/Diwali. It’s cool, grrl. I gotcha. Nic invited me over from my sports-filled life to give y’all some sugar plum sweetened tips on how to shop for your manperson. 

Listen to your dude’s whining. Sometimes, guys will give away what they want in everyday conversation about how much they really wish _____. Yeah, maybe you can’t get everyone in the world to use a turn signal, but you can for sure get him really useful items that can make his life easier. Men in their twenties aren’t usually into the big extravagant Lexus-with-a-bow-on-it type gift. They want something that will make their lives convenient and a little more baller. 

Also, men are shopping online more frequently these days because of the simple and straightforward interfaces and the lack of lines and crowds. As potential buyers for men, you can use this to your advantage to meet his interests and knock his Holiday Season present out of the park. 

Let’s get festive. 

I’m a big fan of Amazon Prime. If your man, is an avid online shopper, something like Amazon Prime can make his life easier and a little less expensive over the next year. They offer free 2-day shipping, awesome deals, and not to mention a growing selection of streamable content. West Wing, anyone? Ch-yeah. This guy.

Amazon also offers really great deals on DVDs and Blu-Rays. Men love movies and TV. It affords them the time to do the two things they love doing -- talking shit and scratching. If it’s either just for him or for you both, DVDs and Blu-Rays are a cool, affordable way to go. 

Gift cards to online stores can also shut face in excitement. Sure, there is some aversion to the gifting of gift cards, but if strategically done, they can be something massively useful and a great idea. For the dapper gentleman/working stiff, Johnston & Murphy, J. Crew, and Banana Republic are great ideas for gift cards. WORST CASE SCENARIO: He gets some new duds to impress you, and you get impressed by the new duds.

If your guy likes shooting animals, Cabela’s. Music freak? Local record shops should have gift cards available. Nerd? Steam is having a sale! Maybe if you don’t like spending time with him. I don’t know. That’s your thing. Runner? A gift certificate to RunTex or Luke’s Locker here in Austin would be a fantastic idea. God knows they go through shoes and other things that runners probably need or do or whatever. Reader? Wait, where did you find a guy who likes to read? Books? Shut up. Okay. B&N (WHERE NIC AND I FIRST FELL IN LOVE) has some great offers on ebooks, non-ebooks paper bricks, and gift cards. Sometimes guys my age have a need but have never gone out and bought tools or tool sets. Go to a Home Depot and ask around for advice. They’ll be happy to help a dame. That’s what they tell me. Get a gift card, and show him around later like you own the place. Sneaky. 

Tickets to sporting events like football, basketball, or baseball games can also do the trick. Not into sports? Concert tickets are a great idea for a present as well. Sometimes people are so busy they totally miss a tour announcement and they whiff on getting tickets for themselves or for you both. Look months forward on the events calendar on sites like Do512 or Austin360 to get ideas. If you live outside of the Austin-area and have a account, there is a crowd-sourced calendar page with lots of upcoming concerts and music events wherever you may be. 

A freaking dog. No? Okay, selfish.

I think most dudes’ favorite outfit is jeans and t-shirt. If you think your man’s quirky t-shirt game is growing whacker by the minute, online shops like Etsy, Raygun, TeeFury, Threadless, or BustedTees can provide some much needed levity to an otherwise boring article of clothing -- t-shirts. Pfft. Guys also sometimes, maybe like sports or something. A jersey is a great idea for a gift. You can personalize jerseys on the NFL, NBA, and MLB sites. Also, there are numerous soccer jersey shops that will do just about anything.

Finally, a lot of guys I know don’t accessorize or don’t know how to. Help him out by showing him the way. Target has great stocking stuffers in stores in their men’s section. They have flasks, MF’ing cool socks, ties, and wallets that you can use to open your man’s door into the world of proper accessorizing. Also, ties, cufflinks, and tie clips are some of my favorite things in the world. You can find a lot of good stuff or ideas for him at major retailers and also places like Etsy or the Men’s Fashion Pinboards on Pinterest. Maybe he won’t wear what you buy him all the time, but he’ll think of you when he is. It’s sunny in Texas and other places, I think. How about some legit sunglasses that are all polarized and junk

Men may seem impossible to shop for, but it’s all in the cues he gives you unknowingly, which is something men are really adept at. Whatever it is you end up with, it’s the thought that counts. It sounds cliché, but so is gift-giving. So, deal. More importantly, in order to come up with a thoughtful, considerate, and/or amazing gift you don’t have to break the bank. All of the examples I gave you can range anywhere between $20-$100 depending on how much you actually care about your significant other or how long y’all have been together, ya jerk. Consider packaging some of these together and making a gift pack. Whatever it is, he’ll be happy you thought about him and you made his life a bit easier. 

Isn't he just the greatest? I'll be sure to share with you what I actually bought him this year sometime later this month (we're still deciding if we'll be exchanging on Chanukah or Christmas this year). I hope this guide helps you find the perfect present for your "manperson" and that either way, you have a holiday filled with the gift of love.

gift guide for guys

Being that it is Thanksgiving, everyone in the blogosphere has got the attitude of gratitude and are giving thanks to everyone and everything that made their lives full over the last year. This is an awesome way to sing praise, but it's getting a little bit sappy in here, so I'm going to keep mine brief. In no particular order...

I am thankful for:
my parents
my boyfriend
my brother
my besties
Amy Poehler
St. Edward's
fancy cheese
thrift stores
Sunday morning brunch
Smart Water
Hillary Clinton
animated gifs
breakfast tacos
pencil skirts
bubble baths
pop music
Glamour Magazine

hey thanks!

jacket: Nordstrom Rack // dress: Gap Outlet // boots: DSW (so old) // tights & necklace: Target
Something funny happened when I was taking these photos that made the stripes on this dress all spectacularly distorted. The effect is a little special, and more than a little unwanted, but I couldn't figure out how to make it go away, so here it is.

This is one of those outfits that I didn't have in mind beforehand or even spend much time thinking through as I was putting it together. Generally, I would say this outfit has a lot of elements I'm not to keen on, but I actually like it anyway. I am getting way more use out of this denim jacket (that I was guilted into purchasing while working at Nordstrom) than I ever imagined. I feel a little bit like a college student in the nineties--jean jacket & combat boots--so I'm pumping up the jams from my childhood today to celebrate.

Speaking of celebrating, it's my half-birthday! I don't know if anyone else celebrates these, but I like to see it as an opportunity for a little self-love and reflection of where I've come in the past six months and where I think I'll be in the next.

Probably unsurprisingly to my fellow disgruntled Texans, the high today is in the mid 80s, which is about the same as it is in May. Every where I went today, people were sporting flip flops and cut offs, but I am determined to make Fall happen.

See you tomorrow for Thanksgiving, my little turkey dumplings!

a very merry half-birthday

This week marks six months since graduating from college.

I have tried to start this post a couple of times now and getting past that sentence has been harder than I thought...and I'm not sure why. I don't know where I thought I would be six months since graduating from college, but I love where I am. I feel more confident and capable than I did my last semester or even at graduation itself. I actually find myself feeling the way I did as a college freshman: inspiration overload, open to new experiences, struggling with not comparing the experiences of others to my own. Even when I'm feeling down about my personal victories and "failures" or I'm anxiously filling out my application to receive food stamps, I am still really calm about where I have gotten myself in six months.

As I keep in touch with friends from college (this phrase will not seem not weird to me for a while, I'm sure of it), I find that my peers are all over the map. Some are off galavanting in what my English Writing department would consider "dream jobs," while others are fighting off discouragement as they don't hear back from jobs they've applied, or even interviewed, for. I feel as if I've made a sort of list in my mind about where I expected certain classmates to be at this point and I'm surprised with how many of us aren't reaching our so-called potential.

For someone who is characteristically both anxious and depressive, I feel really comfortable where I am right now. I'm not feeling the pressure of grades or midterms or showing up for classes that I have no interest in. In fact, I'm spending very little time doing activities I don't enjoy. I may not be working for a fashion magazine like some of my professors hoped, but I am equally challenged by and loving both of my paying gigs and my blog is in a better place than it has ever been. I have read more books since graduating college than I read during my whole college career and the writer's block that plagued me has lifted. I spend quality time with people I genuinely care about and whose company I actively enjoy. I don't have to answer to anyone.

I guess I have a couple of tips for six-months-out-of-college-ers and those who may be here in the near future. These aren't so much tips for college grads who want to backpack through Europe and find themselves or who have a trust fund to make them happy. Here's some advice, from my experience to yours.

1. Stay in touch with people you are interested in. In college, I almost constantly had 15 hours of class, 25 hours of work, and at least 10 hours of internship every week. That is to say, I didn't get out much. I had class friends who I saw in class and a boyfriend who I saw between submissions of his thesis and on my lunch break, but I was not able to tend to the friendships I really wanted. Now that I'm graduated, I have made friendship one of my top priorities. I split appetizers while talking about social justice issues and coffee meetings about the blogging community and ice cream dates to drown our unseen résumé blues and brunch to share our excitement and encouraging words about how actually great things are. It is wonderful and my support system is stronger now than it ever was in school.

2. Don't count your victories in how many job offers you've received. Count in how many books you've read or how many trips to the dog park you've taken. Your worth as a potential employee--or a person--has nothing to do with how many applications you've sent in before. Stay smart; stay interesting. When you do finally have the interview of your dreams, have something to talk about that isn't in your cover letter or even related to the position. Just like in school, being smart never really has to do with the test score. If you don't have anything to offer to a team as far as your personality, you'll be beat out by the more personable candidate every time.

3. Don't commit yourself to anything you aren't passionate about. This isn't to say that you shouldn't work hard in the jobs leading up to your dream job, but be aware of something not fitting. If you're applying to grad school, you better really want to do this for the rest of your life, not just think that you might. Even though you're graduated from college, internships are still out there and are still a good way to find out if you really like doing something. This goes for relationships and friendships, as well as "extra-curricular" activities, too. You don't have to stick with anything that isn't making you genuinely happy most of the time or that doesn't better you in some way.

Seriously, based on what I was told in college, I shouldn't feel this good about where I am. But I do. Take the extra semester before applying to grad school. Take a class on graphic design before you start working 50 hour weeks and don't have time. Every coffee date doesn't need to be a networking opportunity, either. Spend time with your pets and your parents and your class friends and your best friends. If you need to get out of the city for a weekend--go. If you need to get out of the city for good--go too! Do what you need to do and don't let anyone else's story or judgement determine your happiness. You don't have to answer to anyone.

tips | life after graduation

I think people sometimes have trouble being critical thinkers. In school and sometimes in life, we're taught that there is right and wrong and not a lot of in-between  I don't totally buy into all of that because most good things could be better and sometimes bad things can be good too. (This isn't to say that all bad things have a ~silver lining, because they don't. But that is another post for another day.) Popular culture is easy to tear down because it isn't necessarily based in reality. I don't think this is a good enough reason to write off most aspects on pop culture. I will defend a whole catalog of pop culture because most of it isn't inherently wrong, but that doesn't mean some of the things I love aren't things that I also take issue with. Here are a few of my favorite things...that also happen to be morally problematic to me as a person and as a woman.

One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful"
In case you're unfamiliar with One Direction, they're a perfect British-Irish boy band that was created on the UK version of X Factor. "What Makes You Beautiful," their debut single from Up All Night is a lovely pop anthem celebrating the insecure girls of the world. You know the ones: the glasses-wearing, modestly dressed, "average" girls who patiently wait for the right boy to come along and push their fallen bangs from in front of their eyes. Well, girls, you're in luck! All five members of One Direction notice you being mousy in the corner and they think you're beautiful. In fact, your mousy-ness is what makes you beautiful!

Queue poppy guitar intro. "You're insecure--don't know what for...everyone else in the room can see it, everyone else but you...but when you smile at the ground, it aint hard to tell, you don't know you're beautiful." Ugh. How romantic. So many school dances, I sat out, smiling at the ground, hoping that some boy would walk up and tell me I was beautiful. Lucky for me, the five guys of One Direction are finally here to save the day. "You don't know you're beautiful--that's what makes you beautiful."

Wait. That's what makes me beautiful? Not my brilliant puns or my love of contemporary poetry? Not even my well-planned outfit? Bummer. I guess these "quirks" require their own song. Something like "What Makes You The Weird Girl That Talks A Lot." Heaven forbid I show a little confidence in myself. According to One Direction, I may not be so beautiful if I have an inkling that I might be.

I struggle a lot with this one. I love One Direction and I love this song. When I first started to read critiques of it, saying it was bad for women, I spent a whole week talking to myself in the shower trying to come up with a solid defense. Unfortunately, there isn't one. One Direction is pretty much telling us that we need their permission to be beautiful and that the second we accept the compliment from them, we are no longer beautiful. Damn, that sucks, because this song makes me fist pump with joy. Now, when I fist pump at the red light on South Congress and Ben White, I don't feel judged for my dancing, but for buying into these boys' dictation of beauty.

Taylor Swift Lyrics
Taylor is my favorite pop star and I say that with no shame. She's my age and I can confidently say that if we ever met, we would be fast besties. I defend her music and her fame to jaded hipsters and grown ups who just don't understand, but that doesn't mean I believe she's a flawless creature.

Taylor is wildly attracted to romance that is all-consuming and outside of the lines and ultimately toxic. Simply, she's a masochist when it comes to relationships. She falls hard in love with the idea of love and drives her new Maserati right past sanity and into all-consuming heartbreak.

Girls my age love Taylor's lyrics because we feel like she found them in our diaries and 3 AM text exchanges. However, the more I think about her lyrics, the more I realize I do no relate at all. In the song "Stay Stay Stay" off her new album Red, Taylor sings wistfully about throwing a phone at her boyfriend during a fight and then proceeds to say that they should stay together because they've already been together for a while and he thinks it's funny when she's mad. What? Really Taylor? Definitely not okay to use intimidation to get your way in a fight. Also, it's a problem if your partner doesn't really hear you when you communicate with them because they are too busy laughing at you. "No one else is gonna love me when I get mad mad mad, so I think it's best if we both stay stay stay." No no no. No, Taylor. I don't relate with you. I am wildly attracted to healthy relationships. But I digress, because this track is the catchiest one on the album and I have it stuck in my head all of the time that "What Makes You Beautiful" isn't.

Even the songs that aren't explicitly unhealthy have questionable messages. For instance, Taylor has a problem with other girls. Her songs "You Belong With Me" and "Better Than Revenge" are totally slut-shaming. So what if the girl who got the guy wears high heels and has sex? Those are not valid reasons to hate her. Especially because we know you do both of those things, Taylor! As a woman, with predominately female fans, putting down other girls isn't just problematic for your career but also for women in general. If you want to hate her for stealing your man, that's legit, but don't hit below the glitter belt. Sing about her betrayal of sisterhood, not what she's doing in the sheets.

At the end of the day, Taylor Swift is still my favorite singer and I play her music on a loop. I justify this by thinking critically about her lyrics and not using them as a guide for how to live my life and deal with my problems. Even from scrolling through the Taylor Swift tag on Tumblr, you can see how much young girls are internalizing these lyrics and misunderstanding the message. If we can teach middle school and high schoolers to think critically, maybe we can stop the next generation of Swifties from knowingly entering toxic relationships or trashing their peers for the wrong reasons.

Maybe if we can teach girls that they are beautiful without One Direction's permission, then One Direction will have to start writing pretty songs about our What Makes Us Intellectual or What Makes Us Interesting. Maybe boys will look for these qualities in their crushes instead of just seeking hair-flipping and ground-smiling.

Unless we have these conversations, the messages will only ever be black and white. I encourage you to think about some of your favorite things and how they might not be as perfect as you want them to be and how you can start a conversation about making the message more positive for the future.

things that i love (that are also problematic)

Earlier this week I went to a networking event. Leading up to the event, I had in my head, for some reason, that people would be dressed like they dress for a holiday party. I'm not sure why I thought this, seeing as I've been to networking happy hours before--where people were not dressed like this--and it is not yet the holidays. Nonetheless, I couldn't get this image out of my mind when deciding what to wear.

Cut to me standing at the edge of my closet with half-dried hair, sobbing. I acknowledge that a holiday dress was not the right attire for this event, but I'm not sure what to wear instead. I know things that I could wear, but they don't feel special enough. I want to stand out, to make a statement, so that people will be drawn to me. Isn't that how networking works?

Cut to the hotel elevator. I am wearing a grey Gap dress that I have worn to several interviews and once to present at a conference. I'm wearing metallic flats and I have a sparkly headband on. There is one other person in the elevator besides me and Dago, so I make a joke. "You know, if there was a picture of an elephant in this elevator and I took it down, there would still be an elephant in the room." The joke bombs.

Dago and I both stop in the restroom before making our way into the ballroom. I quickly stash my sparkly headband and reapply my very red lip stain. I feel like the elephant in the room, but Dago and I go into the ballroom anyway.

I'm not entirely sure if it had more to do with my paralyzing social anxiety or the fact that I chose the wrong outfit, but I immediately wished I hadn't left my closet. Dago and I stayed long enough for him to enjoy the quesadilla bar and an upside-down pineapple cake martini and then we bailed. I handed out one business card. It was to the guy from the elevator.
The only proof that we were even there.
Okay, I tell you all of this because I know at least a few of my readers will be attending so many networking events over the next few years. I have come up with some tips and example outfits so that you can learn from my mistakes. I may not be able to help you with your crippling anxiety, but I can help you pick the right outfit.

Tips for choosing the right outfit for your night of networking:
+ This should not be an office or interview outfit. You're at a party that happens to be with professionals.
+ No slacks. Dark jeans, cords, skirts, and dresses are all good alternatives.
+ Don't wear white on black because you'll look like a cater-waiter.
+ Make a statement. You're here to get people's attention--this is not the time to blend in.
+ Use accessories as conversation-starters. Networking can be tough, so wear something that gives people an "in."
+ Choose your colors wisely. Does your branding use a certain color scheme? Use it in your outfit. Walking branding!
+ This may differ based on the industry with which you're networking, but don't worry too much about hiding tattoos or piercings. These can be conversation starters and show off your personality a bit.
+ Break out your fancy shoes. Chances are, other people will be under-dressed. You'll feel awesome wearing your most awesome shoes. (This can be anything from a really bold pair of sneakers to gold-capped heels to spiked booties.)
+ Edgy > cute. This is a good time, if no other, for people to take you seriously. I think that dark neutrals with bold pops of color look much more sharp than pastels.
+ Be comfortable in that you're confident. Don't be comfortable in that you look comfy. You're a professional and if you don't believe it, no one else will.
+ Try out a trend! Have you been wanting to wear a peplum top, but didn't have a place to wear it? What about a pair of deep oxblood pants or a leather pencil skirt? You have to appear to be the very hippest and most up-to-date in your fashion if you want people to believe you know what's going on in whatever field you work.
+ Please, oh please remember that there will be photographs taken. If you are wearing a dark colored top, wear a dark-colored bra. The opposite goes for a light-colored top. And no VPL.
+ Carry something to keep your business cards in. And a pen. Don't have business cards? Carry something to keep someone else's business cards in. And order yourself some business cards.

Outfits I really wish I had worn:

(net)working it

It's happened to the best of us. We throw in a dress to our boyfriend's laundry or, heaven for bid, you do it yourself and, for whatever reason, it gets dried. Consequently, the dress shrinks. One moment the hemline hit at an appropriate mid-thigh and now the dress barely covers your lady bits. The dress hangs sadly in the back of your closet where you periodically pull it out and hope that your legs have magically shrunk but, alas, they have not and the dress is still too short for public wearing.

So you have two options. You can purge your closet of the ill-fitting item or you can alter it to fit. Because I take my clothes pretty seriously and I bought this dress at full price (even if it was Target full price), I choose the latter. I now present to you my tutorial on how to make a too-short dress into a too-cute peplum top.
(the before...)
Waist-cinched or empire dress
Iron & ironing board
Measuring tape
Straight pins
Needle & thread
1. Put the dress on. Use the measuring tape to see how long you want your top to be. Remember to add about an inch to leave room to hem it later.
2. Take the dress off. Fold in the skirt part of the dress up inside at the chosen length.
3. Measuring the same length all the way around, use straight pins to attach the bottom of the skirt to the inside, creating a sort of pocket. I found it helpful to stick a pin through the measuring tape and the top as I went so that the tape didn't slide away while I pinned.
4. After you've pinned the dress up all the way around, use your iron to press the fold at the edge of your top. You want to iron just enough to make the fabric lay flat.
5. Carefully put the dress back on (don't poke yourself with the pins!). If you are satisfied with the length (keeping in mind that you'll lose about one inch to the hem), the great job! You got it right the first time. If the length is too short/long/wonky, unpin and repeat steps 2-4.
6. Iron the fold of the top with a lot of force. The goal is to make a very even mark with which to cut along in a minute.
7. Using your scissors, carefully cut along the fold. I started by making a very small cut upwards and then sticking the scissors into the fold. Follow the line as closely as you can.
8. When you've completely cut the skirt from the rest of the top, remove your pins and set aside the extra fabric.
9. You'll want to make sure that the new edge of your top isn't able to fray, so fold the very edge once and then over again making a seam of about a half an inch (see above). Use straight pins to hold this seam all around the top. This part can be a little tricky, but make sure the pins go through each fold of fabric, otherwise it will unfold.
10. Thread your needle and begin stitching from the inside of an existing seam. Be sure to keep your stitches near what will be the top of your hem, otherwise you'll have a funny little rim all the way around. Take the straight pins out as you go and keep your stitches as close together as possible.
11. When you have finished sewing all the way around the garment, you have created a hemline! Congrats!
12. Remove any remaining pins and trim any rouge threads.
13. If necessary, iron the top, focusing especially on the new hem. Put the top on and take it for a whirl!
(...and the after!)
So0o0o cute, right? I know, I'm so excited about it because I haven't had any money to buy a peplum top of my own. I love that I can use items from my existing closet to wear trends that I may not be able to afford right now.

What other trends are you dying to try that might already be hiding in your closet? If you make a peplum of your own, send it to me! I want to see your fashionable masterpiece.

broke girl tutorial: peplum top

Growing up, the cool girls were not the girls who hung out with their Girl Scout troop on the weekends or made home music videos to Dream and Hoku songs. The cool girls did not play with plastic horses on the playground or have No Boys Allowed birthday parties at the mall. Cool girls were one of the guys.

Growing up, girls were in constant competition to leave the girly clique and be accepted by the boys as one of their own. It didn't matter if we played soccer in the local league because we were playing with girls. It didn't matter if we had the newest shoes or shiniest lip gloss because we were only queen of the girls, which didn't hold a candle to being one of the boys.

Growing up, I had handfuls of guy friends, but no matter how hard I tried to run alongside them, I was still a girl and I couldn't really hang if it wasn't one-on-one. Our conversations were mostly about how they could talk to other girls or about things I could be doing better to attract boys--you know, because I was such a weird girl. I was weird because of my affinity for vintage clothing at the age of twelve and because I wore bracelets up to my elbows on both arms. I was weird because I sketched drawings of dresses on my history notes and wrote poems to a late Jim Morrison in language arts. I was weird because I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up and it didn't involve being married with children.

Even in college, no matter how much effort I put into my writing and my outfits for me, I was still trying to compete for the attention of my male peers. I wanted to workshop stories with the boys in the class and have them compliment my shoes too. The women in my classes were just as talented--if not more--as the boys, but I never felt the same longing to earn their respect.

Since I've started style blogging, the dynamic is totally different. I'm surrounded (through the Interwebz!) by thousands of women sharing their stories and style through blogging platforms around the world. Not only are we asking for a man's opinion, but we aren't necessarily concerned with whether or not they care that we blog in the first place. Style blogging isn't a Girls Only club, but the community self-selects individuals who encourage women to do their thing, whatever it is, without living up to a patriarchal expectation. If anything, women are expected to speak and choose, and when we don't, we are encouraged by the community to find our voice.

Sisterhood has long been my most important virtue; my religion. In my last few semesters of college, I left behind trying to be one of the guys and embraced my positive female friendships. No longer did I waste my time trying to impress people who would support me regardless. I'm not saying that men and women can't support one another, but there is something special and magical and remarkable about Sisterhood and strength in quality relationships with other women simply because we are women.

For those of you who are going through the transition between college and the real world--or any transition for that matter, at any age--I so recommend finding a support system of people who love you unconditionally. In the documentary Miss Representation, Rachel Maddow has a wonderful moment where she is talking about joining the news and political industry to find a community of women who want to see her succeed. She says "One of the things that really surprised me was the number of women in positions of power in television who reached out to me and said 'Can I take you out to breakfast? Can I take you out to lunch? Can I make sure that you have my phone number and email address in case anything comes up?'"

Isn't that crazy empowering? Not only do these women want her to do well, but by accepting her into their club they want to help her succeed and stand by to cheer her on. This kind of support is only present in a few industries. For instance, unlike the rap game where only Nicki or Azelia is allowed to be on top, women in comedy don't limit themselves to only one funny woman at a time. Tina and Amy don't ask Paul Rudd or Alec Baldwin if they are allowed to star in movies together. In fact, they don't even need a male co-star to make the movie successful.

I can only hope that someday we'll be able to dictate our own success in whatever field we choose and that all of us, no matter our gender, will be there to cheer each other on.

one of the girls

skirt and top: Old Navy (similar and similar) // boots: Charlotte Russe (similar) // Belt: Target
What's black & white and sparkles? Hey, that's me!

When I put this outfit together, I had this one and this one in mind from Pinterest. I love that I have a virtual look book of outfits to choose from when I'm feeling uninspired by my closet.

These pieces make so much sense together, but I never would have thought to pair them because I tend to shy away from black & white. The gold glitter belt and slate booties give this outfit the right amount of personality to be deliberately my style instead of just a top tucked into a skirt.

I wore this outfit last Friday to run around hanging up fliers for Andy Sams Photography all over Austin. You'd think I would have chosen more comfortable shoes for getting in and out of a car all day, but these boots gave me the extra boost of confidence I needed to go up to restaurant managers and baristas about designated flier hanging locations. Because I looked like I knew what I was doing, no one questioned me. Little did they know I was anxiously preparing myself for rejection in the form of "Get out of my taco stand and never return!" Thankfully, everyone was super chill and let me hang my flier on their window or community board.

Speaking of ASP, if you're in Austin, don't have anything to do tonight, and you like networking, free appetizers & cocktails, and dancing, then you should come out to Kaheschi: The Edge of Infinity. Andy will be there photographing the event and I will be dancing around with my business cards and schmoozing.

faking it

top: Zumiez (similar) // pants: Gap Outlet (similar) // shoes: Old Navy (similar) // headband: Claire's (similar)

No, I didn't ever master French in my several years of high school and college supposed to be learning the language, but I think the French would approve of my outfit anyway. Also, I may have partaken in an adult beverage or two before these photos occurred. 

Isn't there some saying like "When dressed like the French, do like the French do?" Is that not how the saying goes? Oh well, I think the French would approve of all of my choices.

parlez-vous français?

2008, Peahen // 2009, The Cat's Meow (also a LOL cat?) // 2010, Hello Kitty // 2011, Rosie the Riveter
This year, I'm back to dressing as an animal for Halloween. Rosie was a really great costume, but when else is it socially acceptable to wear cat ears in public?

I had an especially hard time choosing a costume this year because everything I come up with is really obscure. For instance, I wanted to be Taking Back the Tea Party and dress as a little girl going to a tea party, but with picket signs about taking my lumps of sugar back from the conservatives. So cute, right? But no one would get it without a long explanation. Last year, I wanted to go as Betty Draper dressed for Halloween as a forest. That doesn't even make sense to me, but I liked it.

This year, I ended up choosing a costume that's a little obscure--in that you can't find it at the Spirit Halloween store--but is still recognizable. Either you get it or think I'm a cat stuck in a box, which is still pretty much true. Can you guess who I am?
I'm Maru!

I actually ended up being can't-get-out-of-bed sick this weekend and missed all of the Halloween festivities. Since Dago is the best boyfriend ever and stayed in with me, I promised we would go out for Halloween dinner dressed in costume. What a fun idea, right? So off we scampered to Austin Java and had french toast and a chicken sandwich and delightful conversation. We were the only ones dressed up, but we were also having the most fun. See?

I hope you all had a Scrappy Howlaween!

ghosts of halloween past

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