We're getting up close and personal today, y'all! Check those weird naked eyelashes!

I am by no means a beauty expert or even a beauty blogger, which is what makes this eyeliner so fantastic. I have never been able to master even regular eyeliner, much less the little corner-flick cat-eye. I've tried every form of liner you can think of and even the tape trick with no success. But today, I'm going to introduce you to the most awesome eyeliner product on drugstore shelves and give a little tutorial of how I use it.

Introducing CoverGirl's LineExact Eyeliner!!1!

oo1. The Tools: I'm a blondie with creepy blonde eyelashes, so black eye products are too harsh for me. I've been a longtime user of CoverGirl's LashBlast Volume mascara. I've tried the fusion version and it wasn't for me because my lashes were too long for my glasses (#girlswithglassesproblems), so I've stuck to CG LB V in black brown. // This L'Oreal Wear Infinite palette (in Desert Sunrise) is another longtime fave of mine. All three colors are flattering on my complexion and I use the white shimmer often in the corner of my eyes. // And finally, the CoverGirl LineExact eyeliner in black brown.


oo2. The best parts about LineExact: Instead of having to re-dip the tip into the little liquid pot or sharpen up your pencil, you simply shake your pen for more liquid eyeliner goodness. Also, the tip is nice and precise so I can make really fine lines, as well as a bolder look. Finally, LineExact is shaped like an actual pen, so your hand already has a heads up on how this lining situation is going to go down. No more trying to balance tiny paintbrushes! The all in one liquid stick really helps with the precision if you have a shaky hand.


oo3. Shadow up! I don't get fancy with my eye shadow because no one can see it past my glasses anyway, but there are some great shadow contouring tutorials on Pinterest for those of you who'd like a little something more before adding their liner. Here I used the lighter of the two brown shadows.


oo4. Shake your LineExact and get to lining! What I couldn't get a very good picture of here is making sure to get the liner on my lop waterline. Because I have blonde lashes, if I don't smudge some liner along my waterline, I'll have a gap between my liner and the mascara where bits of blonde peek through.

After you've lined your top lid, make a little dash coming up from your bottom lid. See how it isn't connected to anything? I try to angle my dash so that if it and my eyebrow were to continue, they would eventually kiss.


oo5. Next part is a little tricky. Continue your liner from the top of your lid to meet with the far end of the dash you created. This should make a tiny triangle next to your eye. Now fill in that sucker and you've got a cat eye! Don't forget to lightly flick the liner at the very end so that the final line isn't too blunt.


oo5. I don't line my bottom lid because it will get all over the place and I don't need so much darkness around my eyes anyway (it makes them look smaller!). I learned a neat trick from Elissa to use two mascaras instead of one to get the most out of your lashes. I don't do this everyday, but if I'm going for a heavier liner look like I'm showing here, I want to pump up my lashes to the same degree. I think, according to Elissa's post, I'm supposed to use two different brands of mascara, but I only buy LashBlast. Here I am putting a 2 layers of brown mascara to darken my lashes and then 2 layers of black brown to fill them out and make them pop. Repeat on bottom lashes.


oo6. That's it! If you're a glasses wearer like me, put them on your face and marvel at your fancy new cat eye! You did it! And you look smashing, darling!


I really love this liner. I wore it downtown last week and expected to come home with some crazy raccoon eyes, but the liner stayed put all night. The cat eye bits didn't even smudge!

Disclaimers:
oo1. CoverGirl doesn't know who I am and all opinions are my own.
oo2. I did bolder liner in this tutorial than I would typically wear for daytime. Also, because I wear glasses, the whole look is a little more blunt that I would recommend to non-glasses wearers. We really have to pump up the jam when it comes to eye make up, which is why each line is a little bit thicker and heavy-handed than your average winged-liner look.

Past products that work post here
Past tutorials here & here

Have you tried LineExact? Are you an eyeliner master? Leave your tips in the comments!

products that work: CoverGirl LineExact (plus tutorial!)


Dago and I took a little trip up to the Round Rock Outlets this weekend to shop the 50% off sales at the Banana Republic, Gap, and J.Crew factory stores. BR was a bit of a bust for me, so I skipped on over to Gap to do some outlet mall damage.

I've been really good lately about only shopping for things on my list. The list fluctuates depending on where I'm shopping, but I've been pretty much looking for the same pieces to fill holes in my closet for months now. Thankfully, the entire store was 50% off, so I felt like I didn't have to leave behind any of the items that I knew I really wanted and wouldn't be able to find as perfect anywhere else. 

So here's what I got:

1 // Plaid shirts have been on my list for a couple of years now. I never wore them until then, so I don't have a very big collection. The last two winters have brought me a lot of flannel plaid, but they aren't useful at all for the majority of Texas' seasons. This plaid button down is actually a size too big and boyfriend fit, but I liked how it looked on me and it was on extra clearance, so I decided to get it anyway. The colors are easy enough to pair with things, no matter the season, and it can be dressed up with wedges and jewels or worn open as a swim suit cover up. 

2 // I have been searching for a utility jacket or vest for months. I'm extremely picky when it comes to certain aspects of clothing, and utility jackets have a lot for me to be picky about. The metals can't be silver, the collar has to lay right, the fabric can't be too flimsy, I don't really wear studs, and so on and so on. Every time I've tried on a utility vest or jacket, there have been several marks against it, so I left it behind. This jacket is really perfect. The neon piping on the inside reminds me of the vest from Forever 21 I've been lusting after (that quickly sold out in my size), there aren't any offensive decorations or a finicky drawstring, I can wear it buttoned, zipped, or open, and I can roll the sleeves up or down without feeling like I'm wearing it "wrong." Plus, it has all the pockets! Since I splurged and got the jacket, I probably won't look for a vest version anymore. Can't wait to wear it with little dresses and rompers this summer!

3 // The ever elusive boyfriend jean has finally made its way into my wardrobe. I am so, so excited. I only buy jeans from Gap, but can rarely afford to drop that much cash in one sitting. In comes the 50% off sale and I can afford to purchase my beloved boyfriend jeans. I grabbed them in my size and they actually fit the way I want bf jeans to fit: a teensy, tiny bit stretched out, but not actually too big. They hug where I want them to and don't slide down when I wear them. The cuff was pre-sewn a little higher than I liked, so I came home and snipped the thread to re-cuff them. Now they are seriously perfect. Sorry you'll be seeing me in these tons because they go with everything.

4 // A leopard belt! Finally! I need one 99% of the time when I'm getting dressed and always forget to buy one when I'm shopping. I especially like this one because the design is a little different than most I've seen. Plus, of course I love that the metal is gold. Expect to see this belt in high rotation on the blog too.

Would you call this shopping trip a success? Share in the comments if you bought anything this weekend or what holes in your closet you're trying to fill!

weekend shopping haul


you're amazing.
did you know that?
if you're reading this, you're a friggen superstar.

some people say bloggers blog for themselves, and to a degree i do.
but really, i wouldn't be where i am without you.

i reached 100 followers on Google Friend Connect this week.
i'll admit that's pretty exciting for me.
i feel like i've been through a lot with this little blog.
i've had three different URLs and then finally a .com.
i've changed content a bunch of times and taken breaks and given up.
but i've also written three posts in a day and woken up in the middle of the night to blog.
i've stood in the very cold to take outfit photos and i've sat paralyzed in my bed waiting for a page view on posts that i was terrified to publish.

and then the comments rolled in.
the things y'all say are brilliant and kind and so genuine.
that's why i blog.
maybe that's selfish--to say that i blog for the response--but for me it's about the connection.
the friends i've through blogging are so amazing. i consider so many of you my sisters.
you get me. i can tell you anything. i'll always be there for you.
if when we finally meet, i know we'll just be able to sit and not say anything and both know exactly what we're thinking.

i saw a blog post a few months ago, probably on IFB, that was talking about not being discouraged by a low number of followers. they said something to the effect of
"every blog had 2 followers at one point. and then 10, 50, 100, 250 and so on. even blogs like Kendi Everyday and The Daybook had a time when they only had 100 followers. it's not like each followers counts for 10 on big blogs. they earned each individual follower and you will too."
that definitely helped put things in perspective for me. every one of you 101 followers is an individual person who took enough interest in what i had to say to hit "follow." that's friggen awesome.

to celebrate you, here are some gifs to show my love and gratitude.

xoxoxoxoxoxo
nicole

100 thank yous


skirt: Cynthia Rowley at TJ Maxx (similar) // top: Old Navy // blazer + necklace: Forever 21 (similar blazer) // shoes: Lulu's (same)
Y'all unanimously voted that I go back and buy the peplum skirt at TJ Maxx, so I did! And I have no regrets. This is by far the most comfortable pencil skirt I've ever put on my body (it's entirely made of spandex, rayon, and nylon) and the peplum hides my "problem area" throughout the day, so I don't have to waste energy worrying about that or trying to suck in. Plus, it's tomato red, a color I've committed to for the summer. Y'all are so smart. Seriously, what would I do without you?

Do you like this blazer? It's in my pile of clothes for my in-progress shop my closet, but it went so well with this skirt that I'm not sure I should give it up. I really never wear it though and I know a lot of you would. Decisions are hard for me...halp?

I wore this to work a networking event with Andy on Tuesday night. Monday morning at work he was all "There are going to be really rich dudes from the Circuit of the Americas at this thing, so you might want to dress up a little." Um, duh! Do you even know me? When do I not dress up for anything with "event" in the title? Obvi I was the best dressed there (even if I was freezing!).

PS. Halfway through these photos I realized my shirt was on inside out. Oops...

So how else should I style this delightful skirt that you all lovingly convinced me to purchase? Where would you wear it?

the skirt you've all been waiting for

chambray: Forever 21 (similar) // jeans: Gap // belt: thrifted // booties: Charlotte Russe (similar)
I'm no stranger to the Canadian tuxedo, but today I'm rocking denim-on-denim for a cause.

In Rome in 1997, an 18 year old woman was raped by her 45 year old driving instructor. To make a longer, gruesome story short, she presses charges against the man and he is charged with rape, but the case is overturned days later by the Italian Supreme Court. Why? Because the Chief Judge argued that her jeans were too tight to have been removed without her help, and was therefore consensual. Soon after, Italian women began to protest the verdict by wearing jeans to work. California's Senate and the organization Peace Over Violence got wind of the protest and wore denim in solidarity with the women in Italy. In 1999, Denim Day was born and has been observed every April ever since.

Are my jeans too tight? Is my skirt too short? Can you see too much of my chest or arms or legs?
That is not an invitation and it is not consent.

Why do I wear denim?
To stand with my sisters all over the world.
To educate others about sexual assault.
To raise awareness about how much work we still have to do.
To feel sexy.
To feel comfortable in my skin.


Did you know about Denim Day? Send me photos of your denim outfits and I'll post them up!

denim day

shirt: Forever 21 // flower: Francesca's Collections (clearance, in stores) // jeans: Gap
I almost didn't take photos of this outfit because I didn't think it was "special" enough. But you know what? Adding this flower makes it remarkable.

Sometime's it's just that easy.

As y'all know, I've been looking for a gingham shirt  f o r e v e r. I finally tracked one down at Forever 21 this weekend and I'm so excited to wear it with all the outfits I've planned. Monday was a jeans day because I worked 13 hours and, well, it was Monday. But don't stress--many fab gingham stylings coming at ya!

Also, while I was looking for something to use as a post title, I found the following quote that I think you'll all enjoy:

I don't want to be stinky poo poo girl, I want to be happy flower child. - Drew Barrymore

flowers what i'm reppin'


Black and red is a color combo I tend to avoid. It reminds me of the Hot Topic days of long ago, and I couldn't hang even then. So how do I rock black and red? With a polka dot pencil skirt, of course! This skirt is one of my favorites, but probably not for the reasons you think. It's no secret that I love polka dots, but this skirt has the most phenomenal lining. What? A beautifully lined pencil skirt? And from Forever 21?! Yes, ma'am.

The top in the first outfit is the Gap blouse I snagged from Plato's Closet for $8. I was going to pair my yellow cardigan with this outfit, but I remembered throwing a blue cardigan in my pile to be swapped. I'm so glad I did because the blue is the perfect boldness to hold its ground against the bright red and loud dots. I wore this outfit to an early Austin Leading Ladies power hour. I love when strangers tell me my outfit is cute. It builds my confidence and makes it easier for me to speak up. More about that and the ALL meeting later this week! Overall, I was really happy with this outfit. I was not, however, happy with the weird lighting and giant gusts of wind all day. How the heck do you ladies take photos every day?? Even when I make time for it, the weather just brings me down.

For outfit two, I actually thought of the chucks + cat shirt outfit back when I bought the chucks, but I haven't been able to figure out wear to wear it. The skirt is much too dressy for either of my current jobs and the shoes are too casual for networking events. So I wore it to the Domain (fancy schmancy shopping center in Austin). Where everyone stared at me like a crazy person. Like, is this outfit that bad? Is it the cat shirt? The chucks with a skirt? I thought it was fun, but fash-uny.

How do you wear black and red without looking like a literal vampire?

look one
skirt // Forever 21 (oddly shorter version?)
blouse // Plato's Closet (originally Gap)
cardi // swapped (originally Gap)
shoes // Lulu's (same)

look two
skirt // Forever 21 (oddly shorter version?)
tee // Forever 21 (oooold)
pearls & jacket // Nordy Rack
chucks // thrifted

red + black // two ways

Sometimes, working from home calls for taking a break. And sometimes that break includes a little retail therapy. Honestly, I went looking for a gingham button down and gave myself a couple of other allowances, but I did not go to spend money.

I've been loving Danielle and Lynette's dressing room posts. I feel like I got to go shopping with my best girl friends without having to leave my comfy couch. Also, both girls have been reporting back from TJ Maxx with good news, so I thought I'd finally make a trip. I've only been there one other time and was so confused. It looks like a Ross but is priced like...not Ross. Though, after getting over the initial "What!? This isn't $4!?" I realized how awesome the prices are for what you're getting.


(above) Okay, I lied. In addition to the gingham shirt, I was hoping to run into this purple pencil skirt (it looks blue here, but it's really more of an indigo). I've been scouring the Internet for a J.Crew no. 2 pencil skirt from a bit ago in this color. Danielle mentioned in a comment the other day that she'd seen a really similar one at TJ Maxx, and she was right! I found it on the clearance rack for $16 and was so excited to try it on. Unfortunately, it was at least a size too big (I'm between sizes right now, so it's really hard to tell). Look at that little food baby down there! 
Verdit: Didn't buy 
(but might try another TJ Maxx to look for a smaller size.)

(below) As soon as I entered the store, I spotted this bright tomato peplum skirt. Also $16, I figured, why not try it on? It's actually the same size as the other skirt, but was a stretchy-thick material and fit so well. I really really wanted it, but ended up leaving it behind. What do you think--should I go back for it? What could I wear on top? 
Verdict: Regretfully didn't buy 
(but will almost definitely go back for it, depending on y'all's input!)


 And then there was a Ross next door, so I thought I'd look to see if they had caught onto the gingham trend yet...


(above) Apparently Ross has a Junior's dress section now? That was definitely not there when I was in high school and frequenting Ross. Anyway, this cute LBD caught my eye, so I decided to try it on for fun. If I had a homecoming dance or holiday party or something in my near future, I would have purchased this. It was $8! It fit surprisingly well. and had cute illusion netting on the shoulders, which is my favorite. It almost looks kind of cute with my boots, too! 
Verdict: Didn't buy

(below) This black dress...just looked weird on the hanger, so I thought I'd give it a chance. I was pretty sure it would look empty odd in the bust area, and I was right. It also had hip flaps, were surprisingly flattering, considering the ill fit. If I worked the kind of job where I needed to wear structured black dresses on the reg, I might have considered getting this tailored, especially since it was only $9 to begin with. The sleeves are kinda cute, eh? (If you're interested, I actually spotted this dress on the F21 site this morning!)
Verdict: Didn't buy


Oh yeah, there's a Plato's Closet in this center too. Better go there...


(above) I was using what I thought was strictly gingham tunnel vision, but the brightness and perfection of this Gap shirt could not be evaded. The reason I want a gingham shirt is because I'm seriously lacking on the professional looking tops. Since this blouse fit the bill, I tried it on. And then of course it fit like a dream and I started planning all the outfits for it. It was only $8, so I decided I could make an exception. I really love the little petal details and tie-neck blouses are my go-to solution to professionalism because they tend to fit my 12 year old boy frame. Plus, how great is this color?
Verdict: Bought! 
(and wearing now as I type this. I've already planned like 12 outfits with it, so I'll get my money's worth for sure.)

(below) Across from the register was a whole rack of rompers. Oh, Plato's closet, you really bring the freshman in college out in me! I sheepishly asked the guy to let me back into the dressing room to try on this purple and yellow dream. It actually fit really well, which is rare for me because my legs are so long and I have a curvy bum. I came to the conclusion that I might be too old for a flimsy romper (though I'm the perfect age for a more structured one like this), so I sadly left it behind. I'm probably going to regret this in a month or so when it's 200* in Texas or when I'm at Free Press Summer Fest in June. Darn, I wish I'd thought of that as an excuse...hm...romper or no romper, y'all?
Verdict: Didn't buy


Finally, not pictured, is the saddest shopping experience I've had in a while. I couldn't even take a photo because I was so upset. I went to Old Navy to try on this dress that I saw on Julia from Gal Meets Glam earlier in the week. I had already planned a toooon of outfits for it because it's the perfect shape for me and is my power color. I ran to the dressing room and starting zipping it up, only to find the zipper broken. I had grabbed two sizes, so I tried the zipper on the other dress. Also broken. I got dressed and went out to the rack and the zipper on every single dress was broken. Somehow, the zippers were all sewn into one of the eyelet holes and stretched so that they wouldn't zip properly. Because I was partially buying this dress to replace another fit and flare with a broken zipper, I walked away from it. But I was devastated. Maybe Old Navy will do a recall and put out a new batch since all of them are broken? Is that a thing?

So what do you think? Did I miss out or did I make the right decision on these pieces? Should I go back for the peplum skirt or LBD? ...Or the romper?

dressing room files

tee: Zumiez (similar) // skirt: Old Navy // oxfords: Aldo // belt: mama's closet
 I'm not entirely sure why I haven't worn this outfit before. I've had both of these pieces a long time and I clearly have plenty of pinspiration (see: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8). Anyway, I think for some reason I was putting it off to wear when I finally bought some oxfords, which is a decent reason I guess. Except that all day I wished I had been wearing sandals or wedges because the oxfords felt clunky. Thankfully, they look pretty cute with the outfit, but I still think I'll be recreating this outfit all summer with something a little breezier.

For previous oxfords + stripes outfits, check out rounds 1 2 & 3.

Weird question: is it possible to lighten leather? I love this (string? wrap?) belt that I for-life-borrowed from my mom back in high school, but the brown is too dark for me and doesn't match anything I own. I would wear it all the time because it fits perfectly, if only the color were lighter. So--leather lightening: yes or no?

 Annnd to make up for my lack of varied posing in these photos, here's a super awk photo of my spinning. I know it looks like I'm sneezing, but that's just my face. Womp womp.




//

Earlier in the week, I didn't post anything on my blog about Boston because I wasn't sure what to say. I don't really have any connection to Boston other than some amazing blog friends, but I was still crying at every article I read. My heart has been with Boston.

Last night, I was about to go to sleep around 10 pm and checked Twitter one last time before shutting my computer. My whole feed was filled with both local and national news sources reporting about my state. What happened in West, TX last night is absolutely devastating. 

Also, if you haven't watched the video going around with the explosion, I urge you to avoid it. You can't unhear a child witnessing such terror. I wish I could.

My heart is working overtime this week to mourn the losses in Afghanistan, Boston, and West, on top of the losses that occur every day.

Hang in there, loves. Take care of yourselves so that you're strong enough to take care of others who need you.

oxfords + stripes | round four

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