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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What It's Like Behind the Scenes of a Photo Shoot

I'll be the first to let you all know how much I absolutely love Pittsburgh and living in this wonderful city. However, as a blogger, it can be a little tough because a lot of the events, companies, and opportunities are located in cities such as New York and LA. 

Sometimes, I feel like I miss out on a lot. I never let it get me down, though! Plus, it's fun to be able to live vicariously through other bloggers as they attend some really amazing events and behind the scenes fun. That's also not to say that I don't get to do some pretty amazing things while traveling or even right here in Pittsburgh...but, this experience might just take the cake on one of the cooler things I've gotten to be a part of while living in this great city!

As you can imagine, there's not a whole lot going on in Pittsburgh fashion-wise... however, a few companies call Pittsburgh home, one of them being Rue21. Last year I got to tour their headquarters (and meet Daya, who actually went to my high school!) and it was so neat to see how a company that large is run! They actually have an entire 'store' at their HQ that is just a mockup... kind of like you are playing pretend. Pretty darn cool. 

Typically, Rue21 holds their photo shoots for campaigns in LA or New York, but just last week was their first ever photo shoot in Pittsburgh! Needless to say, I was thrilled to be invited to go behind the scenes of their summer 2017 campaign. I had never been behind the scenes of a photo shoot and had no idea what to expect. 

I was so excited that I had trouble sleeping the night before! I remember being in middle school and high school and pouring over magazines and catalogs marking what I loved and reading all of the articles about models, fittings, and the top photographers. In high school, I was also a big America's Next Top Model junky. So I had always been so curious as to what goes on at an actual shoot! So in case you are as curious as I was, let me walk you through it! 

First, a few days before the shoot, I was e-mailed a call sheet from a producer. Think of this as a master schedule for everyone that will be on the set. Everyone from creative directors, art directors, photographers, hair and makeup artists, stylist, models (and even me!) was included on this list. It gives you the run down of where you need to be and when.

The day of the shoot, I arrived on the set just as they were finishing up setting out breakfast for the crew and starting the shoots! Rue21 has their own photo studio. From the outside, it's pretty nondescript and looks like a large warehouse. A few of the models had just finished hair and makeup (here's an instagram from Moiz, the hair stylist on set and the messy bun he did on June) and one of the guys was in the chair actually getting his hair cut! The area for hair and makeup looks just like what you'd imagine: products everywhere with directors chairs and vanity lights around a large mirror. 

Different 'sets' were set up with photographers at-the-ready. There were also stations with computers which transferred the photos from the camera immediately to the computer screen for review. At each 'set' there was also lighting set up to achieve just the right look.

They had a great playlist blaring as the models all posed and the photographers snapped away. It was so much fun to watch all of the different outfits being tried on by the models. There were so many cute pieces, it was hard to pick my favorite! Also, as the models moved around/switched poses, there was always someone there to touch up their hair or makeup and even to fix the clothing to make sure it looked perfect.

It was also interesting to see how amazingly organized everything was. The stylists had everything laid out and ready to go for each outfit... down to the tiniest details. There were people steaming clothes, pulling clothes from racks, and walls upon walls of shoes!

It was also really neat to see how certain photos are achieved. For example, there were special tripods just for the flatlays that you often see on Instagram and on product pages on the Rue21 website.
It was also really neat to see how certain photos are achieved. For example, there were special tripods just for the flat lays that you often see on Instagram and on product pages on the Rue21 website

Overall, the experience was one for the books. I had no idea just how many people and how many moving parts are necessary for a successful shoot. I love that the vibe was overall relaxed, but you could also tell how hard everyone was working to get the best results! You could see everyone's talents shining, but I loved that they all worked together as a team and really respected each other and their opinions and ideas!

I received a ton of questions from those of you who were watching my snapchats and insta stories about the two outfits I wore while at the Rue21 shoot. I tried my hardest to get back to all of you! Everything I am wearing is Rue21 and will be available the first week in May! I'll let you all know in a future 'Lately' blog post once everything is live. The pieces are really cute and very affordable. I noticed lots of blues and ginghams (love love love) as well as comfy basic tees, cute slide sandals and mules. A big thanks to Rue21 for having me behind the scenes!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Weekend Night Out Outfit Ideas

Thank you to Kohl's for sponsoring this post! 

Outfit One:

Outfit Two:

I've always shared my opinion on 'going out' outfits and how I struggle stocking my closet with anything that serves that purpose. For a hot second, I thought I was outgrowing my bar hopping days, and just when I think I am, my friends and I plan a night out! Not to mention, all of the bachelorette parties on my calendar. When trying to dress for a bar/bachelorette party, or something that requires me to dress outside of my comfort zone, I get a little intimidated. 

I like to try new things, but I also like to stick with what I know, too. On nights out, I will usually try and dress a little trendier or more my age since I've always tended to dress more conservative/mature. I also don't like to spend a ton on these types of outfits. I was introduced to the brand, k/lab, which is available at Kohl's. It offers on-trend items that are inexpensive. It makes trying out a trend affordable.

I love Kohl's for housewares and appliances. When I moved into my apartment, that's where I bought my coffee maker, placemats, etc. I didn't know they had such a cute selection of clothes/shoes/accessories, too. What I like about the k/lab brand is that it has higher quality pieces than most fast fashion brands but for the same prices or even less!

Today I'm sharing two outfits that I styled for a girl's night out! They are very on trend but also inexpensive. I love the slimming effect that the blush romper has due to the draping and tie at the waist. I also think that the black dress is so fun because of the dramatic bell sleeves. Besides the actual outfit, they also had a selection of trendier shoes. I've always wanted to try the strappy sandal trend, but never wanted to spend too much one them, so this was a really great opportunity for me to try it out! I've actually been wearing these sandals non-stop. They're not only fun and cute but so comfortable, too. I paired the blue sandals with the blush romper for a pop of color! 

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Post with My Mom

Photo overload today! Keep scrolling! 

On Mom:

On Me:

We are just three weeks away from Mother's Day! It's kind of hard to think of what to get your mom, isn't it? I mean, there is really nothing in the world you can give to her to ever let her know how much you truly appreciate and love her. However, there are definitely some good gifts and fun things that you can surprise her with to make her day as special as she is.

I did a post with my mom this past fall and we had so much fun doing it. It's kind of tough not living at home and seeing my parents every day. I really love them and am so close to them, so any opportunity to hang out with them is a good one. This time, we styled outfits from Talbot's spring collection that just launched today! I'd also love for you to check out the Style Stories page on the Talbots website that features my mom and me! I am sharing how my mom has influenced my style and you can see some great throwback photos of us (like the one above)! 

In fact, this past weekend, my parents came to my place for cocktails and then we walked to the William Penn Hotel for drinks and then headed to dinner at the Capital Grill. The weather was cooler than it has been, but it was such a gorgeous night to walk around the city. At the William Penn, there was a really great jazz trio playing. My parents made friends with the musicians and they were talking about jazz artists that they loved. I chimed in letting them know that I really love Ahmad Jamal (who was originally from Pittsburgh). The musicians couldn't hide how shocked they were that I not only loved jazz but knew and loved Ahmad Jamal. 

It's the little things like my love and appreciation of all kinds of music that my parents passed down to me throughout the years. I look up to them in so many ways and love learning from them. In this case, my mom has always guided and influenced my style. 

I can remember her starting me out young with dresses... she said that I always wanted to wear dresses when I was young. Then, as I grew older into middle school and high school, I started to dress much more casually. However, as I look back, my mom definitely helped me to keep my classic, timeless style, even through my awkward years, and for that, I can't thank her enough! 

One of the things that we have always agreed on is our love for Talbots. It really is a family affair when it comes to the brand. My mom, grammie, and aunts are known to get together and go to Mt. Lebanon's Galleria and have lunch and then stop into Talbots. We all love it and when we are together, there is a 90% chance that at least one of us is dressed in the brand!

It's one of those brands that looks great on everyone and has something for everyone. Their latest spring collection is gorgeous. It is made up of bright colors but also has some neutrals and my favorite color combo: blue and white. Any of the pieces would make wonderful gifts for your mom- or for the two of you to wear to a Mother's Day brunch!

A big thank you to my mom for always supporting me and being by my side... and especially for doing this post with me! Check out our Style Stories, here!

More Talbots Pieces I Love:

Friday, April 21, 2017

Quick and Easy Ways to Relax and Unwind

I hate using the word 'busy'. I mean.... everyone is busy. It's thrown around so much that it has almost lost its value. But, at the end of the day, we all really are just that: busy. This month has been straight up busy and I'm using that word because I have no other word to explain what it was like!! It's like I looked up and we are already 2/3 through April and I'm now another year older. When did that happen?! 

As much as I try to unwind and relax, for the past couple of weeks, I haven't felt that I've fully been able to enjoy times where I'm supposed to be relaxing. Either I feel the need to respond to e-mails at 1am while I'm in bed, or I sit down to rest and watch Netflix, and 5 minutes later, I feel guilty and I'm up running the vacuum cleaner. Maybe I'm crazy.... I'll get back to you on that one...but I'm thinking it may just be my lack of sleep.

In reality, it's my fault. I haven't taken on too much per say, but I took on more than I think I wanted to. It happens. Life happens. But something else that is important? Rest and relaxation. Doing things that you actually enjoy... things that bring you calmness and peace. I personally don't like when I have to-do lists a mile long and I'm always-on-the-move because I find it harder to appreciate people and the little things in life that are so special. I saw this quote on Pinterest and it really resonated with me: 'Your calm mind is the ultimate weapon against your challenges, so relax.'

That's going to be my thought process in May: slowwwww it way down. So whether you have 5 minutes, 5 hours or 5 days, today I'm sharing my favorite ways to relax and unwind. 

Turn Your Phone to Do Not Disturb
I'm always hesitant to turn my phone completely off in case of emergency. I don't have a landline, so having my phone on at all times is kind of necessary. But do not disturb mode is brilliant because you can set times for when it will automatically turn to Do Not Disturb. Mine starts at 10pm and stops at 9am. For 11 hours, I don't hear a ping or any type of notification and just that in and of itself is SO amazing. If you haven't used it, you can also 'allow' certain people to get through or let people get through if they call repeatedly in the event of an emergency. 

The only thing I wish it would do is offer an option where you could let anyone/everyone know your phone is on 'do not disturb'. Wouldn't that be nice?

Go for a Walk
Whether it's a purposeful walk, like you're walking to the store or dinner, or you're just out for a stroll, just walk. This week, we had such nice weather, I actually ended up going on several walks. 

Put on Your Pajamas
Chances are, your pajamas are the most comfortable 'outfits' you own. And let me tell you, these pajamas I am wearing are most definitely the most comfortable thing I own. They trump my cashmere, and that's saying something coming from me! And what easier way to relax when you are comfortable? I seriously sometimes stay in my pajamas until 2pm on Saturdays (if no plans). Regardless of the time of day, being in pure comfort is a luxury. 

Take a Nap
This is my favorite way to unwind. I'm such a sleeper, so any excuse to get some shut eye and I'm down. But really, taking a nap not only can recharge you, but I also feel so calm and more focused after waking up from a quick power nap!

Take a Bath
This is a weird one for me to recommend because I'm not really a 'bath' person. However, I took a bath in the Bahamas for the first time in years and it was heavenly. Quite honestly, the thought of a bath grosses me out, but I've changed my thinking about it. Rather than it being a replacement to a shower, I think of it more as a relaxation activity than a means to get clean. I'll typically shower after the bath. But, I think a great calming playlist like classical music or jazz (something without words), a calming candle like lavender, and deep breaths can be the best 20 minutes of relaxation there is! 

Movie Night
I did this last weekend.  It sounds straight forward...but for this, I totally recommend breaking out the good champagne, getting in your pajamas, turning your phone to do not disturb and curling up with a soft blanket and then afterward, do nothing but go right to bed. I think the 'do nothing and go right to bed' part is the most important. How many times have you done what I just suggested but then afterward, gone on your phone to check social media, or stayed up late and binged a TV show, or grabbed a late night snack, etc. The movie will get your mind off of your looming to-do list and then by ignoring everything and going straight to bed, you're calm and relaxed and will get a better night's sleep! 

Do A Face Mask
I'm face masked obsessed so this one may be a little biased. But when you think about it- when you are face-masking, you can't really go out in public. My friends just got me this magnetic face mask for my birthday and as a side note, it has to be the coolest thing ever. When I put the mask on, I lay in savasana and meditate for the full 10-15 minutes that the mask is on my face. I'm not really 'into' meditating but when you allow yourself 10-15 minutes where you are just laying there, it really clears your head.