WWSW: Date Edition

Love is in the air, especially during the Summer where hanging outside is a luxury. Finding something to wear for a date can become a daunting task, which can turn you off to the date altogether. On this edition of What Would Sara Wear: Date Edition, where I go over some date-night scenarios and justify how I marry function and fashion. Besides, who wants to leave the house if you don’t look good and feel good.

 

Summer Carnival Look

Candy apples, cotton candy, fried dough, oh my! What to wear when attending a Summer carnival? Sneakers are a must, as many rides require covered shoes or they’re forced to take them off. Instead of having to walk around barefoot, wear a cute pair of sneakers. These Adidas Women’s Stan Smith Sneakers are a perfect balance of cool and function. Pairing them with a super laid back cotton tank is essential. Summer nights aren’t always so comfortable, so opting for a lightweight tank can keep you nice and cool and avoid pesky sweat marks. Aritzia’s Community Muscle Tank is that super versatile tank that can be paired with leggings for an athleisure look or paired with jeans for a more elevated look. Picking a comfortable pair of jeans will tie the look together. Opting for something more casual, like this distressed Levi’s 724 High Rise Straight Crop Jeans are perfect. As a mid-stressed denim, they will keep their structure without sagging or bagging but enough stretch to keep you from feeling stiff. Picking a high-rise cut is super flattering and allows you to wear that crop top without feeling too revealing.

 

Water-Front Restaurant

There is no better time to dine outside like the Summer. Dining outside near the water can be super romantic and intimate. Picking an outfit that is flirty, fun, and comfortable after a meal may seem impossible. An A-line cotton dress is flattering, comfortable and still looks amazing after a meal. This BP. Stripe Strappy Swing Dress is one of those “jack of all trade” pieces that can be worn day to night. Just be wary of any wind that you can encounter when being near a body of water. A chunky heeled sandal is a perfect shoe to pair for this outfit, with the comfort of a chunky heel to prevent wobbly ankles and the beautiful nude color to elongate your legs. Target’s house brand, A New Day, has the Ema High Block Heel Pumps in four colorways at a great price. To tie the outfit together is a great summer statement bag. Rattan bags are on-trend and can become the centerpiece of your outfit. MimicDesigns has a made-to-order crossbody basket bag that is completely customizable, down to the lining. These bags are crafted in Bali with incredible quality and support Balinese craftsman and craftswomen.

Live Music Venue

If you’re fortunate enough to be near any live music venues, catching a show is a great date night activity. Cities like Austin, Nashville, and New York have amazing intimate venues that are great to stop by after dinner. Picking a flirty tank can elevate the outfit, but isn’t too fussy. This Topshop Scallop Cami is a perfect tank with just a touch of detail. Tucking it into a pair of high rise jeans makes for a super understated casual cool-girl look. A vintage jean cut is the new skinny jean, with all the sex appeal around the hips and butt, with the comfort of a straight leg towards the bottom. Madewell’s Perfect Vintage Jean: Comfort Stretch Edition has all the vintage feels without all that vintage stiffness. 100% cotton high-rise cuts look amazing but can feel like the modern day corset. Denim has come a long way by focusing on looks without sacrificing feel. Pairing everything together with a heeled bootie can bring a rocker vibe and elevating the outfit to a night-time look. Everlane Heel Boot is a 2″ stacked heel that is perfect for a bit of height but doesn’t strike fear into your heart when you decide to walk around after dinner or stand at a venue for a couple hours.

Brand Crush: Billabong

With a perfect balance of function and style, Billabong has come a long way from just a surfer brand. Originally an Austrailian brand developed in 1973 from handmade boardshorts, the brand can be found in surf shops and fashion department stores around the world. Their full product line includes everything from accessories like hats and shoes, to dresses and outerwear. Beautiful floral prints and vintage-inspired graphic tees bring that casual beachy look without sacrificing on-trend feels. The current line features Julie Sariñana from Sincerely Jules modeling perfect beachside looks in the south of France. These dreamy looks are the perfect balance of fashion and beach casual.

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Billabong x Sincerely Jules. Image property of Billabong

Billabong is one of my top brands because of their versatile looks. Most of their swim pieces can be worn as bodysuits or crop tops, and are amazing quality. I have a background in action sports and quality swimwear is something I cannot live without. If you’re the type to spend your days at the beach in salt water or cool off poolside, your swim pieces can receive a beating with regular use and can become thin and brittle. My favorite pieces have been their two-piece sets that can be mixed and matched for endless style opportunities and super romantic maxi dresses that can be dressed up or worn casually.

 

All pieces are lightweight and perfect for the hottest summer days. Many of the pieces I own have been able to double as beach cover-ups (two for one deal!). I’ve had pieces in my wardrobe that have lasted me years of wear and adoration. Despite my many fashion evolutions, I can always find room for Billabong in my wardrobe.

 

Cactus Care 101

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If you can’t tell already, I love plants. I’d choose to receive a plant over a beautiful bouquet of flowers any day. Cactus and succulents are my favorite because they’re not as needy as other plants. A green thumb didn’t come naturally, and a cactus was a great starter plant. As I do with any new hobby, I tend to start with a ton of research before I jump in with both feet. The north-east is a tricky place to keep a cactus alive but it isn’t impossible! All of my plants are kept in the enclosed porch, with plenty of access to sunlight and warmth. During the summer, cacti need to be watered once every 3 weeks and only enough water that the excess starts to drip through the drainage hole. During the winter water is limited to once every 3 months. Spring and Fall is usually a once or twice a month ordeal. I’ll be honest, I don’t set scheduled waterings for my plants. Using specialized potting mix for desert plants has definitely help drain excess water from the soil. I personally use Miracle-Gro Cactus Palm and Citrus Potting Mix for all of my babies and I’ve been very satisfied with the results.

Most plants come in a cute little planter when you purchase them, but most plant shops will sell them in plastic planters so customers can mix and match plants when repotting. Choosing a planter for your cactus and succulents is important for the welfare of the plant. You want to make sure your plant will be happy in its new home! Opt to choose planters that are smaller, rather than larger, as these plants thrive in more confined spaces. When looking for a planter, look for ones with a drainage hole, especially for more shallow planters. For planters without a drainage hole, like a terrarium, a mixture of charcoal, sand, and stone can properly drain excess water so your plants don’t overhydrate. The Zen Succulent has a great starter set for small terrariums for sale on their Etsy page.

I purchased my cactus in 2015 from IKEA! I had no idea they sold live plants and I wasn’t planning on leaving empty-handed so I grabbed two. Sadly, my cephalocereus cactus (right) didn’t last, but my ceroid cactus grew into a green giant. I’ve repotted this particular cactus into three different planters to accommodate its growth. I featured this Urban Outfitters planter in a desert inspirations post. I own both the 6″ planter and 10″ planter. It’s best to repot desert plants in the Spring or Fall during their hibernation so I’ve yet to put anything in the 6″ planter. It continues to thrive with new stems showing up every so often.

Wanderlust: Austin

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Panoramic view of HOPE Outdoor Gallery in Austin, TX

Oh, Austin how I love thee. Known for its eccentric character nestled in the conservative Lone Star State, Austin is quite the destination. Home of the University of Texas and an upcoming hub for tech startups, the city is filled with a youthful and vibrant energy. Limited skyscrapers allow residents to enjoy the surrounding natural landscapes. The city has just the right balance for city dwellers and nature lovers alike.

During my trip, I wanted an itinerary filled with museums, shopping destinations, and nature trails. Referencing any old travel site can lead to every tourist attraction in the area. My favorite reference for excursions is Atlas Obscura, a catalog of cool and unusual destinations all over the world. If you’re into the weird and macabre, it’s worth checking out spots in your local area. For shopping, South Congress Avenue was filled with shops, restaurants, and entertainers. This long strip is located just under Downtown Austin across the Congress Avenue Bridge. 6th Street is another exciting area located in the Downtown area filled with more shops, famous VooDoo Doughnuts and live music venues. Austin comes to life when the sun sets and the sound of live performers can be heard on the streets.

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Cooling down just off the Barton Creek Greenbelt trail

To top off a very fulfilling trip was a visit to the Barton Creek Greenbelt trail, which was an accessible 30 minutes drive away from our hotel in North Austin. Complete with two natural waterfalls and surrounded by dog-friendly company, this was one of my favorite spots in Austin. The nice flat trail was more cake walk and refreshing change of pace from the rocky scrambles I experience in Upstate New York. Austin is a destination that I would recommend to anyone, as long as you can take the Texas heat.

Desert Inspirations

I’ve always had an affinity for the desert and most thing South-Western (I love Tex-Mex). From the rich earthy tones to the minimalistic qualities, incorporating a mix-and-match, vintage and modern aesthetic. The Coyote House, an Airbnb located in Yucca Valley, CA, is my favorite example of how to achieve the look. The thing to take away from the cozy desert abode is how the white walls act as the backdrop and leave the dramatics and storytelling to the furnishings.

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Another example of Mid-Century design with warm desert tones. Photo courtesy of Pinterest.

Growing up in the North East, I hadn’t had the pleasure of experiencing the power and beauty of the desert growing up. If you had asked me back in 2008 if I would consider living on such vast, dry land I would think you were crazy. But here we are, 10 years later, and I am looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the Tri-State area by creating my very own desert-inspired oasis at my house. Growing a cactus in the North-East can be tricky but finding inexpensive furniture to outfit a desert-inspired getaway doesn’t have to be. My current favorites brands for inexpensive furnishings are Target and Urban Outfitters. I’ve listed some current favorite pieces that I own or love below. Mid-century furniture acts as anchors and provides focal pieces in the room, while the neutral decor ties everything together. I can’t help but add a pop of color with the orange sofa.

 

Sourcing furniture from thrift shops or tag sales is a goldmine for unique pieces that are otherwise seen as outdated. I also look to my parents for inspiration, who are, for a lack of a better term, collectors of furniture older than I am. My dad calls it garbage so I’m glad to be taking it off their hands.

Wedding Guest Dress to Impress

Wedding season is upon us and the challenge to find a wedding guest dress is just that, a challenge. Finding the perfect dress to wear to a wedding really boils down to attire requirement, location, and theme. For black tie, old Hollywood glam theme inside a venue, options can include a long slinky dress with a pair of stiletto heels, finished off with some major bling. I like to treat wedding dress attire as a costume for a costume party. You want to compliment the event and help create the overall experience with your outfit, rather than looking like you walked into the wrong wedding.

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A Rustic Wedding Reception at Barn Kestral in West Linn, Oregon

Although I only have to worry about one wedding to attend this Summer, it’ll be in August and I don’t exactly want to spend hundreds of dollars on a dress I’ll wear once or twice (if I’m lucky). The event will be an upstate New York rustic wedding in August, so I don’t want something too formal or too heavy, which, lucky for me, eliminates a lot of options. I opted to look for day dresses I can dress up for the event, and dress down for other occasions. I initially wanted to avoid looking at long dresses for an August wedding, but many shorter dresses didn’t look wedding appropriate or only came in white (groan). I decided to go with a lightweight off-the-shoulder dress from Lulus, complete with a high slit, perfect for humid New York summers. I’m only 5 feet tall so I’m forced to crop the dress to an appropriate length but after an endless search for options, I’ve finally found my multi-purpose wedding/brunch/long-weekend getaway dress.

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Dream Love Navy Blue Polka Dot Off-The-Shoulder Maxi Dress from Lulus

Lulus and ASOS are two brands I highly recommend. They offer a diverse assortment of dresses perfect for any occasion. ASOS also offers a student discount through UNiDAYS. Rent the Runway is an amazing source for designer goods for those not looking to purchase. Typically, I like to rummage through my mom’s closet if I run out of things to wear, but I am no longer a size 0 and can no longer squeeze into her vintage garb.