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Outfit: Tampa River Walk










Is anyone else super jealous of Taylor Swift's squad (#squadgoals)? Well, I am. In fact, Britt and I have long discussed our desire to assemble our own squad of amazing, empowered women (why is it so hard to make female friends as you age?). Fortunately, we have made some serious headway on this. First, I met Jen in Florence. Then we added Jess. And now we have found another kindred spirit (who is actually local!) - Kelly! Not only does Kelly have a fab fashion and lifestyle blog, but she also designs a line of super-soft and charming tees and sweatshirts. Our squad is really coming together nicely, now if we could all live in the same city.

Last Tuesday before I left, the 3/5 of the squad that was local ventured out to the "new" Tampa Riverwalk. I had not seen it since it was officially completed. I feel like the Riverwalk has been in the works since I first moved to Tampa (ages ago), so it was nice to see the finished product. It is basically a long trail along the Hillsborough River that you can bike or walk with several parks and art/sculpture displays disbursed along the way. It was especially hot when we went, so we didn't stay long, but I am sure that when I return home in December, I will be spending a lot more time along the Riverwalk (which also has a bike share station, who does like bike rides along the river?).

This red gingham skirt was one of the first things I purchased when I returned home. I don't normally shop at the Limited, but I couldn't resist it. Sadly, the skirt is almost completely sold out (only extra smalls left), but I did find a similar version, although fair warning it is from Chicwish (you can read my review of Chicwish here).

I must admit that I struggled to find a top to pair with the skirt (white tops are not a busty lady's friend). I finally stumbled upon this ruffled eyelet top, which I realized I could pair with my new favorite flats. These are definitely the "it" flats for fall, I feel like I have seen them everywhere. But I couldn't help myself, I loved them. Plus they are comfortable enough for walking around Florence in. I have linked a couple options, since they too seem to be selling out fast!

I am probably arriving in Italy as you read this. Hopefully I will be able to recover form my jet lag quickly, especially since I have to work tomorrow! It was harder than expected to leave Tampa. I figured I would be itching to get back to Italy, but I stayed just long enough to settle back into my old routines and feel like I was home. I am sure once I arrive in Florence, however, I will fall right back into my old routines there as well.

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Wear Now // Wear Later: Peasant Blouse



There is nothing better than an article of clothing that can transition through seasons. I wouldn't say that the 70's were my favorite decade for fashion, but I must admit that I like a good peasant blouse, flare jeans, and fringe bag every once in a while.

I found this peasant top at Anthropologie just the other day. I was immediately attracted to the gorgeous colors. I was sold, however, when I realized that I could pair it with shorts, sandals, and a straw hat for late summer (and for some exciting travel plans I have coming up), and I could also embrace that 70's vibe and wear it this fall with boots and flared jeans.

Boho silhouettes aren't the easiest thing for a busty girl to wear, but if you invest in a well-cut peasant blouse with just the right pattern, you can really elongate your frame with longer flared jeans and boots. Even though 70's-style influences seem to reappear every couple years, the 70's vibe is very strong this fall. What are your thoughts on this trend, love it or leave it?

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Beach Bum











One of the best parts about being home is visiting some of my favorite Florida beaches. I really missed the white sandy beaches I am used to. Italian beaches are gorgeous, but super rocky. Earlier this week I spent a couple days at two of my favorite beaches - Siesta Key and Clearwater Beach.

Siesta Key is a gorgeous more "untouched" beach just south of Sarasota. Because it is an outlying island (or key as we call it), it has the most incredible white and fluffy sand. It feels like velvet between your tows. In fact, it is a 99% pure quartz beach. This special sand actually keeps the beach cooler than other normal sand (i.e. pulverized coral) beaches. In addition to having the whitest and most gorgeous sand in Florida (and perhaps much of the world), it is also clear and shallow, making it very safe. Although I did see a dead baby hammerhead shark washed up on the beach (poor little guy). The combination of super-white sand and shallow green and blue water make for some gorgeous pictures (as you can see).

Unlike Siesta Key Beach, Clearwater is closer to Tampa and much more developed and commercialized, but it is definitely our go-to beach around here. Clearwater doesn't naturally have particularly good sand, but not to worry, the city is resourceful and actually imports soft, white sand. There is much more to do on Clearwater Beach, you can relax under umbrellas and cabanas, rent paddle boats and jet skies, or hang out on Pier 60.

Have you been to Siesta Key or Clearwater before?

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What is Authentic Travel?



I love helping people plan their trips to Italy whenever I can. I am happy to give advice and recommendations (which you can find lots of here) because I want to share a place that has given me so much joy in life, and where I have made so many incredible memories. But there is one question that I receive time and time again that truly puzzles me – How can I have a more authentic experience in Italy (or abroad in general)?

It is the notion of authenticity in this question that perplexes me. Searching for an authentic experience seems to be the new trend in travel and what tourists and travelers are striving for. How many times have you heard someone brag about finding off-the-beaten-path restaurants or having interactions and experiences with “locals” that are superior to other travelers’ because these were “authentic?”

But what constitutes “authentic” travel? Let’s take Italy for example. Can you experience the “real” Florence? Since most travelers romanticize and idealize their destinations, many visitors to Florence are disappointed to find the famous Renaissance city overrun with tourists, brimming with English speakers, and lacking local artisanal products (like leather… sorry to disappoint, but almost all of the leather handbags are made in China now).

Does that make Florence an inauthentic Italian city? Of course not. In fact, since the Renaissance Florence has been a very international place and tourists have been flocking to see the art collection of the Medici Grand Dukes since as early as the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Thus, you could argue that a Florence full of tourists and that is home to a thriving international community is the “real” Florence. You will find that almost all of the Italian cities you visit will have a different character, and none of these cities are more authentic than the other – just different.

From the overcrowded Vatican Museum and Florence Duomo to the small trattoria on the outskirts of town, all of Italy is authentic. I question this new trope of authenticity only because I don’t want anyone to miss out on incredible experiences and sights, or make traveling more difficult and costly, simply for some arbitrary notion of authenticity. Dividing modes of travel, experiences, and places of interest into two opposing categories of authentic and inauthentic is completely subjective! In fact, people who criticize certain destinations or experiences as inauthentic are the very ones who have been privileged to visit them in the first place.

While privileging certain types of travel or interaction as authentic irritates me, I think some of the ideas driving this concept are well intentioned. For example, visiting small, family-run restaurants, exploring places off-the-beaten-track, and interacting with locals are always a good ideas. But these are not the only forms of legitimate interaction. In fact, The Atlantic has a great article on the destructive tropes that often accompany the notion of authentic travel - static views culture/history and perpetuating the idea of the noble savage (you can read the entire article here).

As important as it is to explore and see more than just the highlights, it is equally important not to skip the highlights simply because they are famous or crowded. After all, they are famous and crowded for good reason. Of course, you want to avoid tourist traps that are just there to rip you off, but visiting major tourist attractions doesn’t mean you are not having a real or valuable travel experience.

Both group travel (which is usually seen as less authentic) and solo travel have their advantages and disadvantages (you can read more about my take on group travel here). At the end of the day you have to choose what is right for you and how you want to travel. Bottom line - Pursue what you enjoy not what others deem acceptable or desirable. If I could give any advice, it would be to diversify your experiences and have a balance of the established and more famous sights with your own personal exploration.

What are your thoughts on the notion of authentic travel?

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Outfit: Florida Vibes










This Lilly Pulitzer dress is the best purchase I have made since returning stateside. Not only was it on sale in store when I purchased it, but the pink version was included in the After Party Sale and I scooped it up for $69! This dress is beyond comfortable, it feels like a hug!

As much as I love the chic and dressier look of European fashionistas, I am, and always will be, a Florida girl at heart. That means I love me some Lilly Pulitzer, tunic dresses, bold patterns, bright colors, and the general relaxed elegance of Floridian fashion. Now, you might be wondering what the heck relaxed elegance is? It's about the only way I can think of explaining my style at home in Florida. I want to look stylish and (somewhat) dressed up, but it's hot and humid here and I still want to be comfortable. That is why I love this dress. The pattern and beading keep it looking classy, while the tunic shape and soft fabric keep it comfortable and practical. It's a win, win my friends. The dress is largely sold out, but I found one site where it was still in stock and have linked it below (for sizing reference I am wearing a small).

I brought back a suitcase full of spring and summer clothing to leave here and Florida. I plan on replacing the pieces I am tired of, or are out of season, with items in my closet that I originally left behind (like my favorite wicker Kate Spade camera bag). I was getting seriously tired of everything I had packed, so I am looking forward to reacquainting myself with some old friends. I will be brining back some warmer weather items (like these Lilly dresses) for some of the amazing trips I have planned for the fall... but more on that later.

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Packing MVPs: The Most Versatile Clothing for Travel



Despite my love for loud, colorful, and whimsical clothing, I must admit that whenever I pack or travel I always find myself reaching for the same key articles of clothing. Trip after trip, these pieces have proven to be functional, stylish, and easy to wear. With so many students packing for their fall semesters abroad, I thought I should share my packing MVPs.

Camel Trench Coat
A camel trench coat never goes out of style and is perfect for unexpected rainy and chilly days. Plus if you stick with the classic color, you are guaranteed it will go with everything!

Denim Jacket
Like a neutral trench, you can throw a denim jacket over just about anything. It is a great way to dress down a dress or throw on with shorts/skirts on a cool evening.

Field Jacket
Yes, my list includes three jackets. But let's face it, outwear when you travel is important. If you are looking for an alternative to a denim jacket, a field jacket is a great choice. I personally pack all three coat options when travel for a long period of time or when traveling in the fall or spring.

Striped Tee
Instead of packing a solid color t-shirt, opt for a striped one. It goes with just as much, but adds interest and style to a rather basic article of clothing. You can pair it with a pattern bottom when you're feeling bold, or with dark denim for a more classic look.

Dark Wash, Skinny Jeans
Of course jeans are a packing MVP, but I always suggest selecting a skinny, dark-wash version. A skinny silhouette works with both flats and boots, while the dark wash means you can wear them from day to night.

Chambray Top
Like a denim jacket, a chambray top goes with everything and is great for layering over short sleeves and dresses, or even under dresses in cooler weather. And bonus, in the summer it can double as a beach cover up.

Ballet Flats
European women (especially Parisians) love their ballet flats, and for good reason. They are classic, flattering, and comfortable for lots of walking. Of course, make sure you break in your flats before traveling. I highly suggest packing a metallic ballet flat, which is more versatile.

LBD
I never travel without a simple little black dress. A LBD is great for the unexpected fancy occasion, but can also be dressed down. The best part about a LBD is that it's super flattering and will look timeless and chic in photos.

A Bright Floral Dress
Versatile and functional doesn't have to mean simple and neutral. I always make sure to pack at least one fun (usually floral) dress. You can wear it by itself, with a jacket, or as a skirt under your striped tee!

Stylish Sneakers
Thank goodness sneakers are in fashion. It makes traveling in style so much easier. Traveling can be tough on your feet, so it is nice to have a stylish yet comfortable alternative for high traffic days of sightseeing.


You can shop my favorites in all of these categories below! And here are some more tips on packing and traveling with style.



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My Favorite Places in Tampa (Part 2)



As promised, I am sharing more of my favorite places in Tampa (you can read Part 1 here). It has been another relaxing week in Florida, soaking in the sun, eating way more than I should, and catching up on life in general (and roof repairs, which is less fun)!

I have definitely missed Florida, especially living so close to the ocean/bay. I live just one block north of Bayshore Boulevard, which has a long stretch of sidewalk that runs along the bay. I didn't realize how much I missed my evening sunset walks and dolphin watching. Not that my walk in Florence isn't gorgeous, it is just different.


You will probably notice that I have been rocking a lot of Lilly Pulitzer in my Instagram photos. I didn't bring a lot of pieces with me to Europe and it has been nice to come home and not worry about dressing too colorfully or loudly. I stopped by my favorite donut shop/bakery, Dough, to fuel up for Monday's Lilly sale (thank goodness I was home for this!). Dough makes the most delicious donuts. I am partial to the bacon maple donut. It is so sinful, but so amazing. They also have flavors like Reese's, Fruity Pebbles, and Smores.


For the actual sale I decided to skip the online craziness and shop at my local Lilly store, the Pink Palm. I love the ladies at the Pink Palm, they always take great care of me and carry a very large selection. Shopping in store is so much nicer, they match all sale prices, but you can actually try on! I highly recommend shopping in store, I really scored this year.


A couple new places opened while I was abroad, and the one everyone was talking about was Bar Taco. So Britt and I had to try it. It did not disappoint. They serve an eclectic, yet delicious assortment of tapas-sized tacos. Surprisingly, our favorite was the cauliflower taco. They also make an incredible margarita. Run, don't walk to Bar Taco! It seems to be taking off, so I am pretty confident it will still be here for me to enjoy when I return in December. Speaking of cauliflower, I also highly recommend the buffalo cauliflower appetizer from Datz.


Another new discovery was a wine bar called Cru Sellers. Not only does Cru have an amazing selection of wines, they serve lots of unique and delicious small plates. My favorite are the themed wine flights, which let you try three different wines. I went with the Italian flight (of course) but I also want to try the Rosé flight called April in Paris.

I can't believe that in just one week I will be heading back to Atlanta and preparing to return to Florence. Where does the time go? For my final week I definitely want to spend some time at the beach and enjoying Tampa's newly-opened river walk.

Have you visited Tampa?

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Fall Shopping Round Up



In addition to eating my way through Tampa, I have also been enjoying the US shopping seen. Despite my amazing Lilly sale scores, I have mostly tried to focus on pieces that can transition into and work throughout the fall. I am loving all of the blush tones for fall, especially this bag, which is on sale! I also picked up this fabulous felt hat at Nordstrom, which looks just a much pricier Rag and Bone hat I had my eye on (also comes in blush).

I also picked up some basic striped shirts, because you can never have enough stripes (especially when traveling), and this perfect v-neck cardigan. I love a great and versatile floral fluted skirt (it's just begging to be paired with stripes) and you can't go wrong with a comfy denim dress. My favorite purchases, however, are my army green field jacket, blush pleated skirt, and leopard d'Orsay flats.


Shop all of my picks for fall below. What are your must-have pieces for fall?


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Outfit: Dream in Color









Jen has done it again! She has created the cutest and most colorful fit and flair dress for summer, complete with a little bit of pattern play. I love all of Jen's creations, but this one is by far my favorite. It is so fun and colorful. It is also super comfortable and easy to wear while still flattering.

I stumbled upon this vibrant print while visiting the fabric store in Florence with Jen. I loved the bold floral pattern. But then I spotted the orange stripe and knew that I wanted to pair them. That was all I had to say and before I knew it, Jen had created the perfect dress for me! Jen has also recently created a watermelon dress that I am dying over! And, if you don't follow Jen on Instagram, you should. She has a wonderful feed full of whimsy and color.

Speaking of colorful, fun clothing, I am sure you are well aware that today is the start of the big Lilly Pulitzer sale. Since the website will inevitably crash, I am opting to shop at my local Lilly signature boutique that is price matching (and honestly will probably have a better selection).

Happy Shopping!


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Outfit: Ruffles Si Vous Plait









Unfortunately, this ruffled dress, like Chicwish in general, is great in theory (and a couple fun blog photos). In reality, it falls short in both quality and wearability. I had avoided ordering from Chicwish because I knew it was going to be cheaply made and poorly cut. But I kept seeing bloggers in Chicwish dresses and skirts looking great. I was also in Italy and desperately searching for feminine dresses.

At my low point, and despite my better judgement, I scrolled through their site and stumbled upon this ruffle-shoulder dress. This dress is a great idea. Who doesn't love a ruffled, off-the-shoulder dress? But sadly it's a cheap cotton poplin, which arrived super wrinkled (I had to steam it four times). On top of the poor fabric, the dress has zero shape (and don't get me started on the weird boob seam, you would have to be positively flat chested for it to lay right). Basically the dress is a sack with a tie around the waist, which is fine if you are a tall and straight model/blogger. When you are a "hanger" (as I like to say) getting dressed is easy, everything looks good so you can get away with cheaper clothing. Sure, I can make the dress look cute for some blog photos, but the reality is that it's too short and ill fitting on me to wear as anything more than a cover-up in some tropical destination.

This will be the last item I order from Chicwish. As much as I wish I could wear anything, the reality is that I just can't. I still love the ruffled shoulder and off-the-shoulder silhouettes, I just need to invest in a higher-quality version. I have linked some of the other styles that I have my eye on below.

Has anyone had better luck with Chicwish?


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