Crochet Peplum Top + May Book Reviews

This month I'm trying something different by separating my book reviews out from my usual end-of-month recap. I also added a category for "Books" to my drop down menu at the top (under "Categories") so if you need a good book to read for the long weekend or an upcoming vacation, hopefully you can find something here! With that said, let's get on to the outfit of the day and then the book reviews!

Top: Charming Charlie | Jeans: Express | Shoes: Dolce Vita "Sand Nubuck" c/o Amazon (Budget Option) | Bag: c/o Amazon | Necklace: Stella & Dot

This top was an accidental Charming Charlie find (I went into return one thing and came out with this. I'm sure you've all been there!) It has a really cute crisscross detail in the back which unfortunately I cannot photograph for you, but you can see it in the product photo on the website. I sized up to a Small in this but only because it was all they had in store, so I didn't get a chance to try an XS (what I have typically ordered in their tops). I was happy with the fit of the Small, loved all the fun details of the top, and the fact that the fabric was very lightweight and breathable but still provided a lot of skin coverage. It is sheer so it does require a cami, and I'm wearing this $5 one from Target.

I shared several other of my Charming Charlie favorites in this post along with coupon codes you can use this month if you want to pick up a couple of things for yourself!

To get $10 off any order of $60 at Charming Charlie use this code Online: RBTOGOSY 
Or use this code In-Store: 720000000233 
(Both codes expire May 31, 2017)

I love these Dolce Vita Effie sandals and have seen them on quite a few other bloggers already but they add so much fun to otherwise simple outfits (the kind I often wear!) and like they can easily be dressed up or down. But I wasn't sure which color to order because the color displays across various retailers were inconsistent. I knew I wanted a cool-toned neutral sandal since I have a few warm-tone options, but the color displays varied across various retailers. Mine are "Sand Nubuck" which looks more warm-toned and tan on the Amazon site, but they are in fact more of a whitish-grey as shown in my photos.

Front View:
Top: Charming Charlie | Jeans: Express | Shoes: Dolce Vita "Sand Nubuck" c/o Amazon (Budget Option) | Bag: c/o Amazon | Necklace: Stella & Dot

May Book Reviews:
May Book Review 2017

Bottom Row (Audiobooks): Mini Habits | Blink

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
This book opens with a hit-and-run accident that causes the death of a child. The story covers the police investigation into trying to find the responsible party, and those left rebuilding their lives after the death of a child. The story has Part One (trying to figure out who caused the accident) and Part Two (trying to catch the killer). Part One for me was incredibly slow for me and I was not really into the book, but I hoped it would get better so I kept reading. (One Amazon reviewer said it was like "watching paint dry" and I have to agree.) Once it got to Part Two...whoa. It picked up and I was very into it. That said, I have to say I am not a fan of reading graphic, detailed accounts of domestic violence by very twisted methods. And this book contained a lot of that so I found myself skimming to get past those scenes. Would I recommend it? Eh, it's okay. If you know people who have read it and want to read it for curiosity's sake, sure. Otherwise it's not high on my "must read" list.

Before We Were Strangers by Renée Carlino
A few ladies I follow on Instagram have been doing Marci's book club and I thought it would be fun to join so I could read the same book at the same time as other people I know.  This was their selection for May and I really liked it! This is the second book I have read by Renée Carlino and so far my favorite of the two. I liked the first one I read ("Swear on this Life," see my full review here) well enough, but I liked this one even better. No real reason, just personal preference I guess! The story opens with a man who has a successful career but an unhappy personal life (recently divorced and he has to work with his ex and her new husband). One day as he's waiting for the subway, he just misses the train and happens to lock eyes with a woman who just got on...and it's a woman that he used to know very well. We learn their history/love story and how they try to re-connect after this chance sighting. If you're in the mood for a quick, easy, chick-lit read this is perfect.

Where they Found Her by Kimberly McCreight
In this book, a newborn baby's body is found in the woods. A local newspaper reporter is given the task of covering the story and we follow her as she tries to solve the mystery of the identity of the baby, who were the parents and how it ended up there. On top of that she is dealing with her own grief of a stillborn child, making the case even more emotional for her. Despite the fact that the premise of this book sounds very sad, the story itself really wasn't. I don't like to read too many sad books and this was more about following the leads and solving the case. I enjoyed the book and found it very easy to get into the story right away. It had a couple of twists that I didn't predict at all, and I would definitely recommend it if you like the mystery/suspense genre. Thanks to Gretchen for recommending this!

Mean Streak by Sandra Brown
Oh this was sooooo good. Kristen recommended this book and classified it as, "couldn't put it down." I am 100% in agreement! A woman in a troubled marriage goes out for a trail run in the mountains. She is knocked unconscious on her run and when she wakes up, she's being held captive in a cabin by a mysterious man. (I have to say, all through the story this man was giving me Dexter vibes. If you watched that show and would like to imagine an alternate ending for Dexter...read this book with him in mind!) She has to figure out how she ended up there (she can't remember anything prior to setting out on her run) and how to escape...but there's so much more to her situation than she knows. If you love suspense novels (à la Girl on the Train, The Woman in Cabin Ten) this is a must! After I finished it I immediately ordered another book by the same author (Sting, by Sandra Brown). I noticed most of her books have really great ratings and I'm excited to have a new go-to author!

The next two selections were my Audiobooks of the months, so technically I listed to them rather than read them, which does affect the experience. I try to pick nonfiction, enlightening or motivating books to listen to in the morning when I'm getting ready or while folding laundry, driving, etc.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
This book examines all the decisions we make and information we process in the blink of an eye...without even being aware ourselves that we are doing it. It was pretty interesting, but unless you're particularly interested in psychology and human behavior, it's probably not going to be your thing. I read Tipping Point by the same author several years ago and I thought was better and would recommend that to most people over this.

Mini Habits by Stephen Guise
I thought this book was excellent and had very practical, realistic suggestions for creating new habits. I posted a more detailed review of this book in this post.

If you've read any of these books I'd love to know your thoughts on them, or if you have suggestions on similar books I might enjoy I always appreciate those too!

If you have a recent outfit or fashion-related post, Amy Ann and I would love to have you link up with us below for Style on the Daily!

Linking up with:
grab button for On the Daily Express
<div class="on-the-daily-express-button" style="width: 200px; margin: 0 auto;"> <a href="http://onthedailyexpress.com/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"> <img src="http://www.straightastyleblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Style-on-the-Daily.jpg" alt="On the Daily Express" width="200" height="200" /> </a> </div>


Black Dress and a Black Belt

This weekend marked a big personal milestone and achievement of a goal I started working on two years ago. On Friday, I tested for my Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do...and I passed! As much as I would like to wear that around town in pride of my achievement, I wouldn't actually do that, so I just opted for this little black dress instead as a subtle, personal reminder of my achievement.

Jacket: Nordstrom - sizes M, XL remain (More sizes in similar options here for $53 and here for $40) | Dress: Express | Sandals: Target | Bag: c/o Amazon | Necklace: Kendra Scott | Ring: c/o Kendra Scott | Nails: Sinful Colors "Easy Going"

My dress is an easy, flattering piece that runs true to size. You can see the last time I wore it with a cardigan and lace-up booties in this post. I should also note that it's lower cut than it looks in my top-down photos. I do pull it up higher than it naturally sits for those since the camera is pointing straight down (which I guess is how tall people see me...yikes). The front view below gives a better representation of where it sits.

These sandals ran true-to-size for me and do have a bit of cushion in the sole. They looked completely unpadded in the stock photo so I was pleasantly surprised by that. For comparison they aren't quite as comfy as a Sam Edelman Gigi sandal, but they are less than half the price of those and still met my comfort needs. Plus the studded detail is such a fun touch on a nude sandal!

Amazon is my go-to for designer-look-for-less handbags and shoes, and they didn't fail me on this one! I wanted a small/medium neutral satchel and this is absolutely perfect. The size, shape, and internal structure (I prefer just one big internal compartment with a slot for my phone) are exactly what I hoped. It also comes with a detachable shoulder strap which I didn't use this particular time.

Front View:
Shop the Look:

Monday Motivation: Lessons of the Black Belt
Every Monday, I share a little about my attempts to stay motivated and on track with goals I've set for myself (especially my New Year Goals found here). As I mentioned in the intro, I just completed one of the big goals I've been working on for the last two years by earning my Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. The test itself was two grueling hours of being judged on skills such as basic through advanced kicking drills, nine Tae Kwon Do Forms, two sparring rounds, breaking boards with a variety of kicks and punches, and ending with an intense physical conditioning challenge of 100 push-ups. It was the most physically exhausting thing I can ever recall doing aside from childbirth, and very mentally and emotionally draining with all the memorization required plus the stress of being judged on my performance!

It is really hard for me to even believe I achieved this goal because I started it on kind of a whim and a dare, and I hit a lot of road blocks along the way (more about that here) that constantly made me want to quit. But I just kept pushing myself to go whether I wanted to or not, largely because I didn't want my kids to see me as a quitter, and finally I made it.

The thing that has surprised me the most about this journey is what I learned along the way.
Sure I learned some cool kicks, tricks, and techniques and gained a lot of confidence in my ability to defend myself against an attacker (I was at zero confidence before so any improvement is good), but the number one thing I learned from this whole experience was empathy for my own kids. (Well, kids in general, but this most directly affects my relationship with my own children.)

As parents, we are constantly making our kids do new and uncomfortable things, and they don't get a lot of say in the matter. They have to go to a new school because we moved or because they graduated pre-school/elementary school and it's time to move on to the next level. We sign them up for various sports and activities, and even if it's something they said they wanted to do, it's scary and intimidating and frustrating when they aren't as good as another child or the coach seems harder on them than someone else, etc.

As adults, I think it's easy to feel like we paid our dues as kids when we had to go through those things ourselves. So now our kids have their turn...that's just life! But by starting in a brand new, way outside my comfort zone sport, I got to experience all of those feelings again firsthand. Not only that, my kids got to watch me experience those things and deal with being corrected in class and personal frustration at not being as good as the other adult students (all of the other adults in my studio were already Black Belts, mostly second or third degree so I was way behind). So not only did it make me so much more empathetic to their current life experiences, but they know I have experienced those same things. I don't have to tell them about a time 30 years ago when something similar happened to me (which is ancient history from their perspective...we didn't even have the Internet so how could my childhood possibly be similar to theirs?), I can remind them of a time a few months ago where something happened and they were there!

So in addition the empathy gained on my end, this whole experience also earned me a lot of parental credibility when it comes time to motivate my own kids to do things outside their comfort zone. They know I walk the walk and I don't just talk the talk. That's not to say I think every parent needs to follow this exact path of signing up their kids up for martial arts and then following suit themselves a few years later...I'm sure there are other ways to accomplish the same goals! But it's an experience that made me a better person and a better parent and goal that I'm really proud I didn't give up on despite everything it took to get here!

Linking up with:


Cami Review and Comparison

The Barcelona Cami from Express has been one of my longtime favorite wardrobe pieces (for evidence of that go to the Categories > Barcelona Cami on my navigation bar up top) but sadly, it seems Express is discontinuing this item either permanently or temporarily. They only have two options left on their website (clearance section) and in very limited sizes. I've been linking to similar options when I wear mine but I wanted to try on some of those Similar Options in person to to be able to give you all a more informed opinion on the matter.

My favorite of the options I tried was the Easy Care Seamed Cami from Banana Republic. I actually think I like it better than the Barcelona Cami because it has a zipper on the side which makes it much easier to get on/off, and also allows it to be a little more fitted through the torso.

Cardigan: Target | Cami: BR | Jeans: Express | Shoes: Target | Necklace: Kendra Scott | Bag: c/o Amazon | Ring: Stella & Dot | Nails: Sinful Colors "Easy Going" | Pedi: OPI "Kiss Me or Elf"

This cami runs in numerical sizing and comes in Regular and Petite Options. I normally I wear an XS in the Barcelona Cami and I ordered a 0 Regular in this top and it fit perfectly.

My jeans, shoes and cardigan all ran true to size as well. My shoes were purchased during the recent Target BOGO 50% off sale and I was reluctant to get them because of the hassle of doing four buckles (two per shoe) every time I wear them. But luckily the buckles are fairly easy to do and I'm glad I didn't let that hold me back because I really do love them and find them pretty comfortable for everyday wear.

Front View:

Here are all of the current color options of this particular cami:
BR Seamed Easy Care Cami Options

Side-by-Side Comparison:
Let's look at the four different camis I'm talking about in this post side-by-side and then I'll go into more detail:
1. Express Barcelona | 2. BR Easy Care | 3. Topshop Swing Cami | 4. BR Seamed Cami

BR Easy Care Cami:
This cami is probably the most similar to the Barcelona Cami.  It comes in sizes XXS - XL with Regular and Petite options as well. The fabric is actually thicker and less sheer than the Barcelona Cami. The sizing is also similar (I'm wearing an XS in both), but what you can't tell from these photos (since my arms are at my side) is the BR cami has some gapping under the arms.  I could wear this as is, but I'd also be curious to try a size down. As you can see, this one is longer than the BR Seamed Cami (#4) and it also doesn't have the side zipper like that one does, hence the reason they can't make it as fitted or you wouldn't be able to get it on and off!

Here are the current color options of this style:
BR Easy Care V Cami Options

Topshop Rouleau Cami (from Nordstrom)
This cami also comes in Regular and Petite options, and I'm wearing the 0R above. This is a cute cami and it has a great selection of colors, but it's not especially similar to the Barcelona Cami or the Banana Republic options. It definitely fits the "Swing Cami" description since it's very flowy. Frankly, I'd be afraid to wear this here because it's pretty breezy most days and this would fly right up! It's also cut deeper than either of the other options so for both reasons I don't think it would work for me. But depending on your needs and style it may be just right!

This cami comes in over a dozen colors, and these are a few of the current options:
Topshop Cami Options
Red Version Here | All other colors (and more) Here

Barcelona Camis were normally priced at $39.90 for solids and $44.90 for prints. But there were frequent promotions for BOGO 50% off, or 30-40% off, so it was rare for me to spend more than $30 for one cami. The BR Seamed Cami is $58 full price, but they run 40% off codes at least once a week, so these can easily purchased for about $35 each. (That's what I paid and I personally think they are worth the extra $5 for the zipper feature, fit and quality.) The BR Easy Care Cami is normally $49.50, making it $29.70 during a 40% off promotion, which is even less than the $30 Topshop Cami. All things considered all three of these are very competitively priced, and it really comes down to personal preference on fit, color availability etc.

Hope this helps give you some additional info on current cami options and possible replacements for the Barcelona Cami! I won't have an Outfit Recap to post this weekend since it was just one of those weeks where I wasn't crazy about either the way the outfits I wore or how the pictures turned out, so they don't seem worth posting. But I hope you have a great weekend and I'll be back on Monday!

Linking up with:


60% off Sale at Abercrombie

1 comment |
Hello Friends! I'm stopping in for a quick Thursday post because I wanted to let you know about a killer sale at Abercrombie that ends tonight! Lots of summer items are currently a whopping 60% off, including this one-shoulder top I wore recently:

Top: Abercrombie | Jeans: Express | Shoes: Jessica Simpson (Similar) | Bag: Amazon | Ring: Express (Similar) | Bracelets: c/o Charmed Stacks

It's currently marked down from $58 to $23! It comes in six colors total and ran true to size for me. The spaghetti strap is detachable, and you can see it without that strap on the model in the stock photos.

Front View:
Top: Abercrombie | Jeans: Express | Shoes: Jessica Simpson (Similar) | Bag: Amazon | Ring: Express (Similar) | Bracelets: c/o Charmed Stacks

Sale Finds under $40:
There are a ton of other great Spring/Summer pieces included in the sale. Most of these items are actually under $25 (some are under $10!), with the jeans being the most expensive at $35.
Abercrombie 60% off Sale Finds

Top Row: Cold Shoulder Top ($10)  | Tie Sleeve Shirt (five colors) | Lightweight Cardigan ($23, five colors) | Peplum Tank ($10) | Off the Shoulder Peasant Top ($23)

Bottom Row: Embroidered Shorts (3 colors) | Boyfriend Shorts ($23) | Tie Waist Shorts ($22) |
 Cozy Shorts ($12) |  White Distressed Jeans ($35)

I have been wanting to try Abercrombie jeans to see how they compare to my favorites, so this sale will probably get me to do it! I also already own the Cozy Shorts in Row Two (in black and grey!) and they are the softest, comfiest lounge shorts I own. They ran true to size for me (although you can size up if you want a really relaxed fit) and I highly recommend them! I'm also loving the price and neutral color selection of their lightweight cardigans (Row One) and I always need a couple of those to throw on in the spring and summer.

There are lots of other cute pieces included in the sale - too many to include here! But just wanted to let you all know today so you have time to browse before the sale ends tonight!


Lace Top Love + Linkup

This Spring I am gravitating toward tops with fun details like lace or peplum. This pink top with lace trim  immediately grabbed my attention and was easy to style with white jeans and nude sandals. Although the styling was easy, I have to say photographing these tops (particularly from this angle) is the opposite of easy! Yet another reason (like I discussed here) that I don't want to collect too many in this style. But I can handle a few for times like date night when I don't need to be moving my arms beyond lifting a fork or beverage to my mouth!
Top: c/o Romwe | Sandals: Target | Jeans: Express | Bracelets: Charmed Stacks | Nails: OPI Let's Be Friends

This top is "One Size" sizing, and we all know that is never going to be true. It fits, but if I had an option to size up I would. So if you typically wear a size XS top you can get away with this (although you won't be able to move your arms a lot, typical of off-the-shoulder style). I wouldn't recommend this for any other sizes, though. The body is roomy but the shoulders are definitely tight.

On the opposite end of the practical spectrum, I have a feeling these sandals will get a lot of use this summer because they will go with everything! The low block heel makes them easy to walk in and the price is very affordable.

Front View:
Top: c/o Romwe | Sandals: Target | Jeans: Express | Bracelets: Charmed Stacks | Nails: OPI Let's Be Friends

Romwe was kind enough to send me a second top, but unfortunately it did not fit the way I was hoped. It's darling, but it's more of a crop top than a regular top, and that's not a style I really wear. It also runs extremely Small. The top pictured below is a Small, and I would probably need to order an XL to make it work at all. I had hoped to style it in a summer outfit like this:
Top: c/o Romwe | Shorts: Nordstrom Rack (Similar) | Earrings: Stella & Dot | Bracelet: Charmed Stacks | Shoes: Nordstrom

Since the white lace and crochet top didn't work out as planned, I did some browsing for more coverage, low fuss (in other words, ON the shoulder, not off!) lace tops. For almost all of the options below you could wear a regular bra. I'm not opposed to wearing a strapless bra but I definitely give bonus points to tops that allow for a regular bra. I've arranged these in price brackets (noted to the left) and they come from a variety of retailers from Amazon to LOFT to Nordstrom.
Low Fuss Lace Tops Spring 2017

Top RowOne |  Two | Three  | Four | Five 
Middle Row: One  | Two |  Three | | Four | Five 
Bottom RowOne |   Two | Three | Four | Five

At the moment my top options are #4 from the Top Row and #5 from the Middle Row. I also love #1 from the Bottom Row but would probably have to Sale stalk it to get it under $50. If you have a lace top you're loving that's currently available and reasonably priced I'd love to hear about it! And if you're a blogger I'd love to have you link up your latest style post for Style on the Daily below!

Linking up with:
grab button for On the Daily Express
<div class="on-the-daily-express-button" style="width: 200px; margin: 0 auto;"> <a href="http://onthedailyexpress.com/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"> <img src="http://www.straightastyleblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Style-on-the-Daily.jpg" alt="On the Daily Express" width="200" height="200" /> </a> </div>

Link Up Hosts:

Join us to share your Style on the Daily by linking up your latest fashion-related posts below! If you link up, we ask that you link back to your hosts Amy Ann and Gina and follow us on the social media platform of your choice. Thank you!


Charming Charlie Favorites + Mini Habits

We have just a few weeks left in the school year here and it feels like every day I am getting an email about some meeting, activity, assignment, performance, field trip, competition or celebration that I need to put on my calendar or my kids' calendars and somehow try to stay on top of it all. My brain feels like it's at max retention capacity and I am really looking forward to summer break! I wore this to a meeting at school last week because blazers are my go-to for important meetings and events at school. And with everything else going on I didn't have the brain space to think of a different outfit combination!
Blazer: H&M (*see below) | Cami: Charming Charlie | Jeans: Express | Shoes: Forever 21 (Similar)  Necklace: Kohls (Similar) | Bag: c/o Amazon | Bracelet: c/o Charming Charlie

This cami is a fun purchase from Charming Charlie, and you can see how I wore it without the jacket here/below. The sizing on this runs the same as tops from Express. One thing I liked is that the neckline comes up a bit higher than a lot of tops/camis at Express, so it felt more appropriate for a school event. It's also stretchy and easy to get on/off. Charming Charlie recently reached out to me to share some of their other pieces (such as the bracelet I'm wearing) and gave me a coupon code to share with my readers. I'll put the code here plus share a couple of my other favorites that I think are worth checking out at Charming Charlie:

To get $10 off any order of $60 at Charming Charlie use this code Online: RBTOGOSY 
Or use this code In-Store: 720000000233 
(Both codes expire May 31, 2017)

My blazer is from H&M several years back and it's been a great addition to my closet. They do have a white blazer in stock right now and since I haven't seen it in person, I'm not sure if it's a staple/the exact one I have right now or if it's just a current, similar option. It says New Arrival, but it looks exactly like mine, so it could be a seasonal release.

Front View:
Blazer: H&M (*see below) | Cami: Charming Charlie | Jeans: Express | Shoes: Forever 21 (Similar)  Necklace: Kohls (Similar) | Bag: c/o Amazon | Bracelet: c/o Charming Charlie

Charming Charlie Favorites:
If you want to take advantage of the $10 off $60 coupon code I posted here's a look at some other items from Charming Charlie that I recommend:
Left: CamiJeans | Shoes | Bag
Right: Top (Sized Up) | Similar Jeans | Shoes

The shoes I'm wearing in outfit one and three are probably my favorite Charming Charlie piece. They're very similar to a $150 designer pair but so much more affordable! They run true to size and are very comfortable and easy to walk in.

The off the shoulder top I'm wearing in outfit two is a cute, lightweight piece for Spring and Summer. It runs true to size. I decided to exchange it for the top in outfit three because as much as I love the look of off the shoulder tops, they aren't very practical. I already own a couple and I don't want too many in this style since I don't have enough occasions/events to justify owning a lot of them.

This Crochet Peplum Top is very sheer and does need a cami, but I happened to be wearing a white cami the day I tried it on in store and I liked the look of it underneath in this case. It has a lot of coverage up top which means I can wear it a lot more than the off-the-shoulder top. It has a very cute crisscross back detail too that you can see when you click through the product link.

Get $10 off any order of $60 at Charming Charlie with this code Online: RBTOGOSY 
Or use this code In-Store: 720000000233
(Both codes expire May 31, 2017)

Monday Motivation: Mini Habits

All year I have been working on improving some of my bad habits, especially when it comes to time management. I started listening to self-improvement audio books most mornings while I'm getting ready and throughout the day if I'm driving or folding laundry. A couple of months ago I listened to a book called "The Power of Habit" with the hope that it would help me make some improvements. It was very interesting and informative about how habits shape our lives, but it wasn't very specific about how to change and improve our own habits. (I shared more thoughts on that book here.)

My sister Denae read my post about The Power of Habit (she had also read the book and felt the same way about it..."interesting but not useful personally.") and told me about a book she had been reading and really liking called Mini Habits. I added it to my audiobook list and finally got around to listening to it last week.

It's a pretty short audio book (only 3 hours and 40 minutes) and I finished the entire thing last week. It was excellent! I think it really would have been the perfect follow-up to The Power of Habit because it has very practical, realistic strategies for changing your habits and/or developing new, good habits through his technique called "Mini Habits." (To be clear, I don't mean to say you need to read The Power of Habit before reading Mini Habits! You'll get enough information from that alone.)

In some ways I have already been doing Mini Habits with myself by setting a timer and rewards for tasks I don't enjoy (e.g. If I do ten minutes of work on my photo album I can scroll social media for ten minutes afterwards), but his method is more concise and probably better. It's also easier to apply it to more areas of life. The gist is that you start by creating "stupid small" habits for yourself that require almost no motivation, but they're baby steps in the direction of the habits that are your ultimate goals. So if you ultimately want to develop the habit of working out five days a week, you start by requiring yourself to only do one push-up every day.

It's given me some new ideas for "stupid small" goals I can make for myself to improve my habits. I would highly recommend this book if there's a particular area in life where you want to make changes but are overwhelmed by how far you have to go or just haven't found the motivation to get started for whatever reason. I also have to add I really loved his thoughts on willpower vs. motivation...I might have to change the title of this series as I shift my own focus from one to the other!

Linking up with:


Outfit Recap 5/13/17

Welcome to my weekend outfit recap! I have another batch of dark pictures this week since the cloud cover here just doesn't want to break. But here's a recap of outfits I wore this week with links to current or similar options if my exact item is sold out. If the outfit was previously featured on the blog with more details on fit and sizing for a current item I'll link to that post as well. Have a great weekend and Happy Mother's Day!

Striped Cami, Jeans, Blush Bag:
Cami: Abercrombie (Striped version sold out, other prints available.) | Jeans: Express | Necklace: Stella & Dot (Similar, Gift) | Bracelet: c/o Charming Charlie | Shoes: Charming Charlie | Bag: Amazon (Similar, Similar)

**For $10 off any order of $60 at Charming Charlie use this code Online: RBTOGOSY
Or use this code In-Store: 720000000233 

Lace Off the Shoulder Top, Jeans:
Top: c/o SheIn | Jeans: Express (Similar) | Shoes: Amazon | Bag: c/o Amazon

Olive Jacket, Black Jeans: (Full post with more Target Favorites here)
Jacket: Target | Tee: Express | Jeans: Express | Shoes: Amazon "Dark Taupe" | Bag: Sole Society | Necklace: Express | Ring: Stella & Dot | Nails: Essie Blanc

Denim Jacket, Olive Tank, Stripe Skirt:
Jacket: Nordstrom (Similar Nordstrom option, Love this Budget Option) | Tank: Target | Necklace: Stella & Dot | Shoes: Sam Edelman (Glitter version sold out) | Bag: Sole Society

Black Lace Dress:
Dress: Rent the Runway | Bag: Express (Similar) | Shoes: Target (Similar w/ more sizes) | Pearl Stretch Bracelets: Forever 21 (Similar)

White Peasant Top + Jean Shorts: (Full post with more details here)
Top: Abercrombie | Shorts: Target (Similar) | Shoes: Vince Camuto (Similar) | Bag: c/o Fossil

Linking up with:
 JoLynne | Lindsey 


What Stores are Similar to Express?

Last week I shared the news that Express is closing all 17 of their stores in Canada (full article here). I was pretty shocked to hear that at first because I have a few Canadian readers who are loyal shoppers, plus I know quite a few Canadian bloggers who love Express, too. So maybe my perspective is skewed as far as the popularity of the brand in Canada, and after further consideration, if Target didn't make it in Canada, how could I even be surprised?  It is what it is, but I wanted to talk a little more about this today with some of my Canadian friends and get their thoughts, plus provide some suggestions of other places that carry similar items to Express.

Model image via Express

I interviewed Christin (find her here or on Instagram) and Zeba (of Ella Pretty Blog and on Instagram) who both live in Canada to get their thoughts on the whole situation as well as some recommendations Express back-up shopping options for Canadians.

Q: First, what are your thoughts in general about Express leaving Canada? Why do you think it's so hard for popular U.S. retailers like Target and Express to make it in Canada? 

Christin: My first thought was, “Another one bites the dust!” I was sad that a retailer I like to shop at was closing up shop here in Canada but not really surprised considering Target closing and also all the dismal news about retailers in both countries recently. My second thought was that there might be some good sales as they get rid of inventory! I don’t really understand why its harder for them to make it here. You would think if the Canadian population is 10% of the US, then just open 10% (or less) of the amount of stores you have in the US but I guess its not that simple. Maybe the population is distributed differently here. One thing I did notice was that the Express website had the exact same prices in CDN and US dollars which is not the case with most retailers. So for example that cold shoulder top I ended up returning cause it was see-through [see the top she bought here] was $49.90 Canadian in the store, and it's also $49.90 on the US website. Most often, items are less expensive on the US websites since the US dollar is worth more. Not sure if that has any impact on people's shopping habits, you would actually think the opposite because if I’m paying $50 Canadian, I’m not going to want to pay $50 US to order it online because that's actually about $68 CDN. Plus then I also have to pay for shipping! Hey, maybe that's why they went out of business here, they weren’t charging enough for the clothes in the Canadian stores!

I'm VERY sad because I love the camisoles, jeans and shoes from Express. I think Target and Express left for different reasons. With Target, it was too much too fast...they were very ambitious and opened up too many stores without figuring out adequate infrastructure. So once something was out of stock, it wouldn't be re-stocked. What Express and Target both share is the perception of being overpriced compared to their US versions. Many people are happy to shop at these stores when they visit the US, but find the prices higher yet fewer options when shopping in Canada. With regards to Express, most people also seem to think of it as a "club wear" type of store.

Q: In general, what other Canada-friendly stores do you think offer similar styles to Express?

Christin: Zara, Le Chateau, RW and H&M

Zeba: Forever 21, H&M, Zara, Guess

Q: Let's get more specific. What are some of your other favorite Canada-friendly places to shop in the following five categories....


Christin: Gap, Department Stores, American Eagle

Zeba: American Eagle Outfitters


Christin: Old Navy, H&M, Joe Fresh

Zeba: H&M

3. WORKWEAR (e.g. blazers, blouses, pencil skirts, dress pants/trousers)

Christin: Zara, RW, Le Chateau

Zeba: H&M


Christin: Department Stores (Nordstrom), Steve Madden, Aldo, DSW

Zeba: Old Navy


Christin: Department stores or local boutiques for bags, Etsy or local markets for jewelry

Zeba: H&M

Thanks so much to Zeba and Christin for their input on this post! When I decided to do this I quickly realized I was out of my league trying to offer alternates on my own since I am just not that familiar with access and popularity of most stores/brands in Canada vs. the States. I know I personally have been shopping more at Abercrombie lately (and you'll see some of their similar-to-Express options below), but I had to ask a reader if they have Abercrombie too! Also, I think Banana Republic has some very similar, good quality workwear items but neither Christin nor Zeba mentioned them so I had to double-check on that before posting as well.

I put together a visual of some current clothing options at still-in-Canada stores vs. current Express selections. Generally here in the States, H&M is a little less expensive than Express and Banana Republic is a little more. Abercrombie seems to be priced about the same, but just like Express (and Banana for that matter) they have such frequent promotions you don't really expect to pay full price.

On Trend Tops:
H&M vs Express Options
Express vs.H&M | Express vs. H&M

Abercrombie vs. Express Tops

Dress Pants:
Banana Republic vs. Express Dress/Office Pants
Banana Republic (Logan) vs. Express (Editor) | Banana Republic (Sloan) vs. Express (Columnist)

H&M vs Express vs Banana Republic Blazers

Classic Shirts: 
Classic Shirts

I cannot speak to the quality or fit on all of these specific items shown, although I have shopped at each of these stores now and then and think they would be my own top replacement stores if I couldn't shop at Express. I do own two blazers from H&M and think they are really great for the price. I also own several tops and sweaters from Abercrombie and if I did a blind try-on where I couldn't see the tags I'm not sure I'd know they weren't from Express.

I hope this helps some of you all today! I will have my weekly outfit recap tomorrow so you can see what I normally would have posted today in that post. Aside from that, see you back on Monday!