Friday, September 22, 2017

Fall Favorites for $50 & Under

     Plaid, riding boots, quilted vests, and snuggly scarves-- nothing quite gets a preppy gal's heart racing like the approach of the fall season. While it's always tough tucking away our shift dresses and seersucker until next summer, there's no denying that fall is quintessentially fashion-forward. As temperatures fall, it's super simple to throw together a chic outfit with boots, jeans, and a comfy sweater.

     With autumn coming faster than we realize, many women are stocking up their wardrobe with fall staples. I know all too well that it can be extremely tempting to drop a lot of money at the beginning of the season, but many of our wallets are still recovering from end-of-summer sales that were just too good to pass up. To help you all shop for fall without breaking the bank, I'm sharing some of my fall favorites from around the Internet that come in at $50 or less!




     Fall fashion is all about comfort and layering, so have fun with it and don't be afraid to pick up a new piece to change up your look! I can't wait to start sharing most fall posts with you all, regardless of the weather here in finicky Williamsburg. 

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!
Alex


   
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The College Girl's Guide to Dating

   

      If I'm being honest, being sappy makes me super uncomfortable. Although I love snuggles and really appreciate it when people say sweet things to me, actually expressing my feelings in words kind of freaks me out. With that in mind, I wanted to take a slightly unconventional approach to writing about my six month anniversary with my boyfriend.

     Relationships in college are WEIRD. Before arriving on campus as a freshman, I had this idea in my head that everyone finds a relationship in college; there are tons of intelligent, mature people living on a campus together who are allowed to fully express their emotions and sexuality, so it's only a matter of time until we all bump into our soul mate right? Oh boy, was I wrong.

     College is the first time many of us get to truly experience independence, and this newfound sense of self is not really conducive to finding a relationship. Especially at a college like mine, where students are constantly busy with their double majors and various leadership positions, hookup culture pervades because it's easy. And there's nothing wrong with that; admitting that you don't have time for a relationship and fully committing yourself to fun is one of the best things you can do in college.

     I spent the first year and a half of college in the wrong mindset, really hoping I'd find a relationship for no other reason than it seemed like fun. Don't get me wrong, I loved hanging with my friends, but in the back of my head I often wished I had a boyfriend and probably worried a bit too much about what boys thought of me. After being treated particularly badly by a potential love interest, I became fed up and finally felt truly happy and at peace with the fact I was single.

     Ironically, soon after I got comfortable with being single, I decided to get into a relationship. At this point, I had known my current boyfriend for a little over a year; we had gone through a lot of ups and downs as friends who were romantically interested in each other. Once I came to terms with being single, though, I realized that he was exactly the sort of person I had been dreaming of dating all along: my best friend.

     Okay, sappy stuff is over now, I promise. But in all seriousness, after a year and a half of navigating single college life and now six months of being in what I'd consider a pretty healthy relationship, there are a LOT of things I wish I'd known about the college dating scene.

     This post goes out to all the college girls who are making the most of their experiences, single or otherwise; here's a few pieces of advice my own experiences/the experiences of my friends...


  • Be confident in your love decisions // whether you decide to stick with your high school boyfriend when you transition to college or you want to play the field for the entirety of your undergraduate experience, be confident in your decisions and don't worry about what other people's opinions may be. Ultimately, only you can decide what's best for you
  • Don't be afraid to express your sexuality // While I personally haven't faced any adversity due to my sexual orientation, my college is very open about sexuality in general so I'm passionate about doing whatever I can to help others feel comfortable. I think everyone should be able to embrace the open college environment and date whoever makes them happy, regardless of gender.
  • Stay off Tinder if you're looking for something serious // Swiping through dating apps for fun or to meet people casually is definitely fine (and usually pretty entertaining), but if your goal is finding a serious relationship, delete it now-- end of story.
  • Get comfortable with being single // College is all about figuring out who you are as a person, which is hard to do if you're constantly chasing a relationship or making decisions based on your boyfriend. Seriously, be sure to enjoy having all of your time to focus on yourself and your friends rather than wishing you had a significant other.
  • Don't put too much pressure on relationships that form // While older generations often met their future partner while away at college, expecting that the same will happen to you can suck all of the fun out of a relationship. While college relationships are often more serious than high school ones, that doesn't mean you need to dedicate all of your time and energy to a college relationship; whatever is meant to happen will happen, so don't stress yourself trying to secure a future spouse on top of trying to get a degree.

     All in all, I think my perspective on relationships has evolved for the better, but I'm definitely still learning. I really admire people who balance college and/or careers with having a healthy relationship with both a significant other and friends. If you have any tips for achieving that balance, I'd love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading,
Alex 
Monday, September 18, 2017

5 Things to Know Before Becoming a Business Major


     As some of you may know, this semester is my first official semester as an accounting major. Although I had taken a few business classes previously and spent a semester as an accounting minor, but the jump in expectations when you become a business major (at least at my college) is huge. 
     There are a lot of misconceptions about studying business in college. For many people, the debauchery of The Wolf of Wall Street or the questionable practices of bankers leading up to the 2008 financial crisis come to mind. On the other hand, a lot of people are attracted to the idea of studying business because they think it's the quickest way to get rich. However, the reality of studying business is pretty far off both of those images. Today I'm sharing with you five things I think college students should know before deciding to major in business. 
  1. Business is a broad field // Many students will say that they want to major in "business", but that doesn't really mean anything considering how broad business is as a field. The most generic major you'll find within a business school is usually business administration, but it's usually better to specialize your skills a bit more; in fact, my college doesn't even offer business administration as a major. The most common specializations you'll find include finance, accounting, marketing, and business analytics. Think about which subfield you might be interested in, but realize that you'll probably be expected to take at least one class in each discipline.
  2. You may have to apply // Don't be surprised if another application stands between you and a business major. Many schools have students apply to the business school specifically either when they apply for college or later on in their college career. At my college, there are several pre-requisite classes to apply for the business school, and you can't apply until you have enough credits to qualify as an academic junior/third year during the semester you enter the business school. The first time I applied, I was only accepted for the minor program, so I had to apply again and cross my fingers very hard to get into the full major program. Be prepared to have to put in some extra effort to become a business major, and be ready for potential disappointment. 
  3. Don't do it for the money // If you choose a career based on salary alone, you're probably not going to enjoy the work you do. The money associated with certain business careers should be a plus, but not a deciding factor. Very few people end up making millions, with or without a business degree. Additionally, I'd caution that you should look for job availability and stability over a high salary; for example, investment banking may seem attractive because of the exorbitant salary, but it's extremely hard to get a position because of how competitive the field is. 
  4. Teamwork is unavoidable // One thing I definitely didn't expect was how much teamwork is expected in undergraduate business programs. In many business classes, you'll be put into teams to do analysis, create proposals, and pitch ideas. These teamwork skills are highly transferable to the workplace, so be ready to cooperate and compromise. I generally don't enjoy teamwork because I'm a bit of a control freak, but I'm prepared to work on trusting my teammates over the course of this semester.
  5. Expect to hone your skills outside of the classroom // The classroom experience is only half of studying business; if you want to secure a job and build your business skills, you're going to have to attend recruiting events, panels, information sessions, and club meetings. I'm required to attend mandatory sessions to practice skills like networking and interviewing, and we're also expected to attend career fairs and on-campus recruiting events. Additionally, clubs can help you gain experience in your chosen business field. Sorry guys, but you can't just go to class and expect to magically land a job. 

     Are you a current business major or thinking about majoring in business? If so, I'd love to talk and hear about your experience! And even if you've already got a main major, adding business on as a second major or minor can help you be more successful in your respective non-business field.

Thanks for reading,
Alex 
Friday, September 15, 2017

Fashion for Less: Online Shopping Hacks to Save Serious Money on Clothes

   

     When most people think of classic style, they also think of wealth. It's no secret that many brands favored by preps come along with a hefty price tag; Lilly Pulitzer, J. Crew, Tory Burch, and Jack Rogers are just a few pricey brands that come to mind. For most people, paying retail just isn't feasible, and even if you can afford the prices, why would you want to pay more for a product when you can get it for less?

     Personally, I avoid paying full price like the plague. As a college student, it's just not realistic for me to drop $200+ per item on clothes and accessories. The majority of my shopping takes place online, and lucky for us, the Internet makes it crazy easy to get great brands for less. Over the years, I've built up a knowledge base of different ways to get what I want for cheap online, and today, I'm sharing some of those secrets with you!

Ebates // Ebates is seriously the easiest way to save money while shopping online, and it can be used with hundreds of brand sites. By shopping through Ebates, you earn a percentage of your purchase back as cash, and Ebates will send you a check for your earnings! It's 100% legitimate, and although you won't make a ton of money unless you're shopping often, I've personally earned back at least $15 over the past year. Just go to ebates.com, enter the website you're hoping to shop on, see if they use Ebates, and hit "shop now" if they do! Ebates will send you an email after you submit your order letting you know how much you earned back. If you want to check the website out, be sure to use my personal link here.

ThredUp // My mom and I have been using ThredUp for a few years now to sell old clothes, but I just recently made my first purchase from the famous secondhand website. I was shocked by how many cute items they had on the site; seriously, I had to hold myself back from buying like $200 worth of secondhand J. Crew and vintage Lilly Pulitzer. Although I'm still waiting to receive my older, as long as I'm happy with the quality of the items, I'll definitely be a repeat customer because you just can't beat the prices on ThredUp-- not to mention, they also sell many items new with tags! New customers get 40% off their first purchase, and I have a personal link to the website that you can access here.

Brad's Deals // Brad's Deals is a website that people send in sales tips to, and they publish a daily email roundup. While the newsletter focuses on a wide variety of products including food and home decor, there are also plenty of deals on clothing brands like Nike and J. Crew as well as notifications about big sales. To date, my best deal I've found through Brad's Deals was by far my Canon printer that I use in my dorm-- I paid $15 for it, including shipping!

Best Online Sales // Although physical warehouse sales usually receive a lot of attention in the fashion world, online sales often offer the same deals without the hassle of making a trip to a distant store. Here's a few of my favorites:

  • Lilly Pulitzer After Party Sale: twice a year in January and August
  • Sail to Sable Warehouse Sale: once or twice a year, usually at the end of the season-- this one is wrapping up right now so check it out while you can!
  • Nordstrom Anniversary Sale: once a year in mid-July, early access for Nordstrom cardholders
    What are your secrets for scoring big while online shopping? I'd love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!
Alex
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

5 Minute Everyday Makeup Routine

     Disclaimer: This post is in no way sponsored, so all opinions are my own!

     Makeup has never really been a strong suit of mine, but I’m getting better at it. At my private middle school, we weren’t allowed to wear makeup (strange, I know), so I spent most of high school experimenting and trying to figure out how the heck to put on various products—I can’t even begin to tell you how daunting eyeliner was. In college, though, I’ve gotten a bit more confident (finally) and really feel like I have my everyday look down to a science. Today I’m sharing how I do my makeup on a regular basis, plus some of my favorite drugstore products that I use to get the look.

     To me, everyday makeup needs to be quick and practical. I’m taking 17 credits this semester and have an 8 am on Tuesdays/Thursdays, so the last thing I want to do is get up earlier to put on a ton of makeup. Going to school in southeastern Virginia also means that I’m liable to sweat while walking around campus for a solid portion of the year, so I don’t want to worry about my makeup melting off. What’s a girl to do in this situation?

     Perfect the 5-minute makeup routine, that’s what! So without further ado, let’s get into my daily makeup look.


     I always start out with clean, moisturized skin before putting on makeup. For me lately, that means washing my face with La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser, toning using a cotton ball and Neutrogena’s Alcohol-Free Toner, applying Caudalie’s Polyphenol C15 Anti-Wrinkle Eye and Lip Cream, and then finally Vanicream’s Moisturizing Skin Cream (unfortunately, this one is prescription-only, but I also love Cetaphil’s Moisturizering Lotion). Cleansing and moisturizing before putting on your makeup will prepare your skin for production application and ensures that your face makeup (i.e. foundation, tinted moisturizer) will go on smoothly.

     The base for my everyday look is Neutrogena’s Healthy Skin Enhancer in the shade Fair to Light. I’ve been using this tinted moisturizer since high school because I love how it includes sunscreen and is lightweight but very buildable; I also feel like it does a great job at reducing overall redness. Next, I use concealer in the corners of my nose, the corners of my mouth, under my eyes, and on any other trouble spots I may have that day. I’m not particularly loyal to any one concealer, but in terms of drugstore options, I’ve heard Maybelline's FIT ME! Concealer is a good standby.

     I set my basic face makeup with NYX’s Mineral Finishing Powder—NYX is by far one of my favorite drugstore brands and I have yet to try one of their products that I don’t end up loving. The last step to my face-specific makeup is to sweep some blush across my cheeks. Lately, I’ve been using Maybelline's Dream Bouncy Blush but this is another product that I switch up fairly often because I like to try new colors/formulas. In a pinch, you can also use a little bit of lipstick blended in with your fingertips as a DIY cream blush!

     Eyebrows are the non-negotiable of my daily makeup routine; I feel naked if I don’t groom them a bit. My current favorite drugstore brow product is L’Oreal’s Frame & Set because the pomade, brush-on formula is well-pigmented and gives just a little bit of hold. Next, I’ll curl my lashes and apply L’Oreal’s Lash Paradise mascara—I’m only on my first tube but I know I’m going to be repurchasing this product again and again for its lightweight feel and lack of smudging. Finally, I’ll swipe on L’Oreal’s Fairest Nude lipstick; seriously, this color is the perfect nude for girls for fair-skinned girls, and you can’t beat the drugstore price. A quick spritz of NYX’s Matte Setting Spray, and then I’m out the door!

     Have you tried any of these products? What’s your go-to quick makeup routine? I’d love to hear about it!

Thanks for reading,

Alex
Monday, September 11, 2017

Recruitment Team Reflections: What I Learned Running Recruitment



     As I sit starting this post, Recruitment Counselors are off delivering bids to the new members of my college's sorority community. After two incredibly long weekends facilititating Panhellenic sorority recruitment, I'm so glad to be done and (almost) affiliated again. By the time this post is published, I'll be affiliated again and can now share with all of you that I'm a Chi Omega! I'm excited to start going to chapter events again and to begin my search for a little, but I also realize that I learned a LOT from temporary disaffiliation while serving on Panhellenic Recruitment Team.

     I'll be honest, being on Panhellenic Recruitment Team was hard. Our team of six girls and two advisors arrived hours earlier than chapter members every day, and we were almost always leaving campus after midnight. No one really understood what we do, and thus no one really appreciates it, except for the Recruitment Counselors who saw a bit of our behind-the-scenes work. So today, I'm sharing with you some of my take-aways and observations from my experience.

Recruitment is a finnicky process that doesn't work out for everyone // The most practical information I learned as a member of recruitment team was the distinction between Quota and Total and how those numbers affect PNM's. It would take a whole separate post to truly explain those concepts, but Recruitment Teams across the country face a tough decision when setting these numbers after preference round because they can affect how many woman end up unmatched to a sorority. Even before final bid matching, women may be in for a rude surprise if they see a sudden drop in the number of chapters they're invited back to; I've witnessed more than my fair share of teary potential new members (PNM's) these past two weeks. Recruitment is ultimately a numbers game, and for some people, it just doesn't add up. 

No one understands what Recruitment Team does // I can't count how many questions and confused looks I've received when I tell people I'm on Panhellenic Recruitment Team. No one really knows what we do, and it's difficult to explain. The most succint way I can put it is that Panhellenic Recruitment Team does everything you never realized that someone has to do to make sorority recruitment happens: registering PNM's, managing and training Recruitment Counselors, scheduling which PNM's go to which chapter during each round, and making sure that Recruitment Guidelines are enforced are just a few of the millions of things we do. Even though no one understands what I did, I'm so proud of the hard work Recruitment Team put in to pull off a successful formal sorority recruitment. 

Extra effort pays off // There are a few instances were our Recruitment Team chose to do things the harder way, and I was a little bit skeptical. For example, before recruitment started, we spent several hours carefully analyzing where each PNM lived on campus so that we could split them into recruitment groups based on their dorms. While this takes a lot more time, it also creates a better experience for PNM's because they're able to get to know their hallmates throughout the recruitment process. Our college chooses to go the extra mile in a lot of cases and it was so rewarding to see how that effort improved the PNM's recruitment experience.


Never underestimate the value of Panhellenic sisters // Guys, it's been less than 24 hours and I already miss the rest of recruitment team. Among the five of us students and the two advisors, only two girls happened to be from the same chapter, but we all get long amazingly despite not sharing ritual or traditions. Our late nights and early mornings were punctuated by lots of laughs and plenty of cooperation. Chapter sisterhood is amazing, but Panhellenic sisterhood is a unique bond that can't be found on every campus, and I'm so blessed to have found it here at W&M. 

My big sister and me on bid day this year

   
Bid Day has come and gone now, and I can't help but feel a tiny bit empty. I've been wanting to be on Panhellenic Recruitment team since about this time last year, and we've been preparing for it for almost as long. Running recruitment has been one of my favorite college experiences so far, and I think this nostalgic feeling is going to be around for a while. If you have any questions about what I did or are interested in serving on your school's Panhellenic recruitment team, feel free to comment below or shoot me an email because I'd love to talk about it with you!

Thanks for reading,
Alex
Friday, September 8, 2017

Groomed For Success: Hair/Makeup/Nails for Work

 


    As you read this, there's a good chance I'll be suffering through a mandatory networking session at my college's business school at 8 am on a Friday-- joy, joy. My complaining aside, I'm really excited to be writing a follow-up post to The College Girl's Guide to Building Your (Stylish) Business Wardrobe since the original post was so successful. The truth is, having the right outfit is only half the battle of looking professional; you can show up to an interview in the world's most expensive and flawlessly tailored suit, but you'll still look sloppy if you don't pay attention to how you're presenting the rest of yourself.

     Luckily, grooming for a professional dress code can basically be boiled down to this phrase: simple but polished. Being well-groomed communicates your competency, and more importantly, it helps you feel confident! The basic idea is that you want to look like you put a little effort into how you're presenting yourself, but not so much that it's distracting. Whether you're headed to a networking event, an interview, or your first day on the job, I've got your complete guide to professional grooming right here!

Hair
     I've got some bad news-- rolling straight out of bed and showing up with your hair as-is isn't very professional. This may just be me, but I think leaving your hair down looks unprofessional, especially if it's extremely long and/or you're wearing a suiting jacket. It'll get all over your nice clothes, it'll fall in your face-- it's just not fun to deal with, but that's my personal opinion.

     If you're going to leave your hair down, you should at least style it neatly, whatever that means for your hair. Learning how to give yourself a good blowout is a skill that every college girl/future professional woman needs to learn ASAP (planning a blog post on this soon, but in the meantime, check out these "DIY" videos from Drybar). Aside from blowing your hair out, straightening, curling, or just taming any frizz with some product are all good options. Putting your hair half-up with a clip or hair tie is another style that perfectly blends fun and functionality.

     When in doubt, putting your hair up can always help you look a little bit more polished. Elevate a basic ponytail by wrapping and pinning a piece of hair around the base to hide your hair tie. Buns are also a great option; you can find tons of hacks and variations for creating buns on YouTube.

      Of course, take this opinion with a grain of salt; if your hair texture doesn't allow for frequent blowouts/other styling, do what works best for you!

Makeup
     Less is more when it comes to makeup for professional settings. Of course, wear what makes you feel confident, but keep in mind that harsh lighting in offices and other industrial spaces might make that dark lip and smokey eye combo look more clownish than couture.  Professional events and work are definitely not the best time to practice your contour.

     In general, a natural look is going to look the most professional. Personally, I like sticking to foundation, light blush, mascara, eyebrow product, and nude lipstick. Simple eyeliner and neutral eyeshadows also work well. Consider keeping a few sample sizes and blotting sheets in your handbag or office desk for quick touch-ups.

Nails
     You can tell a lot about people from the state of their hands and nails, so it's best to keep yours in good shape. At the very least, you should be trimming and shaping your nails with a file on a regular basis; ultra-long nails are impractical and tend to look a little trashy. I love this book by Rescue Beauty Lounge's Ji Baek for mastering the at-home manicure-- I found a copy at the library in high school and ended up buying my own copy so I could keep checking back on her advice for nail grooming and addressing common nail problems.

     If you're going to paint your nails, it's always safest to stick with neutral colors. Nudes and light pinks are a girls best friend; OPI's Bubble Bath and Essie's Ballet Slippers are two famous shades. Commit to filling in chips or just remove all your polish and start over, but never leave your nail polish peeling and patchy.

     If you've got a little more money to splurge, consider treating yourself to a professional manicure before a big interview or presentation. Gel polish manicures can last for over two weeks and I can't help but feel like a #girlboss whenever I've got gel polish on. That being said, gel polish can tear up your nails afterwords, so avoid indulging too often.

     How do you get yourself looking professional from head to toe? Do you have a pre-interview beauty ritual? Let me know!

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend,
Alex