Today I did something completely out of my comfort zone, I took a fitness class. This was my very first time taking a class at a studio.
I’ve been thinking about taking a group fitness class for a while now, but I was just never brave enough. For the most part, I’ve been content enough following along to Pop Pilates and beginner yoga videos on Youtube.
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve casually been searching online for options near my town to take either a yoga, pilates, or barre class. While I do spend most of my waking hours in New York City, I didn’t feel like joining a class in the city would be very beginner friendly. Everyone I know who is a member of an NYC gym seems like a gym/class expert, something I’m not. I eventually found a cute studio in New Jersey, Studio 108, that seemed to offer everything I was looking for.
Earlier this week, I decided to sign up online for a class on a whim. My class of choice? BootyBarre. What’s that you ask? It’s a full body workout that takes elements from Pilates, Yoga, and Ballet. Last night I went out and bought a new pair of “yoga” pants and barre socks from Athleta to get myself excited and decked out for adventure.
Today was the big day! I was nervous and unsure of myself, but also a bit excited to finally take a leap and get myself out there and try something new. I’m not usually brave enough to try a brand new experience alone, and like to have a friend or my boyfriend tag along, but I decided to give it a go.
The studio was cute and welcoming. Everyone I met was super friendly, and seemed excited to have a new face come through the door. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would everyone be a barre wizard, and know how to do all the moves elegantly and effortlessly? Would I fail miserably and embarrass myself? Well, I’m happy to report I wasn’t the only new person and that everyone else found the workout to be challenging. While it was challenging and tiring, it was a lot of fun! I really appreciated how the class was judgement free, and that we were all able to learn something new together.
I’d definitely recommend buying no-slip socks. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to buy them for my first class, but I’m so glad I did. The socks definitely help keep your steady and from slipping around when doing leg lifts and a variety of moves that will get your legs shaking like crazy!
My only regret after taking the class today is that I won’t be able to make next week’s session due to traveling for the holidays. However, I’m definitely going to be hitting up Studio 108 again soon, and will hit the studio floor in 2 weeks. I might even sign up for a yoga class too!
Lesson learned today: Take risks, and try something new. You might just find something you love.
Growing up, I dreaded having to go shopping for clothes with my parents. Today, I still dislike going to the mall or a clothing store and trying on clothes. Who likes dressing room lighting? Not me! I’m all for services that make shopping for clothes easy, convenient, and comfortable. That’s why I decided to try out a new clothing service by a company called MM.LaFleur.
I’ve seen a number of advertisements for MM.LaFleur, from subway advertisements in the cars themselves, to ads in my Gmail Promotions tab. It was only a matter of time before I signed up and took a chance.
Sign Up Process
Signing up is pretty easy. You aren’t asked a lot of questions so you’re left wondering how well the stylist/company is going to know you and your style. When you sign up, you’re requesting what they call a “Bento Box.” It’s a box of 4-6 items from clothing to accessories.
Some of the questions you’ll receive are based around cost, what you do for a living, and if you’re more into business formal style, casual, or something in between.
These items are not cheap! Prices start around $110 for a top, to $325 for a dress. I feel like the company uses keywords like elevated, work, and business to help justify the higher costs, hoping you’re willing to splurge a little more on something that’s dressier and more professional. What I appreciate the most about this service is that there is no styling or requestor fee. You pay nothing to receive a Bento Box, and if you hated everything, you could just return everything, no risk, no cost.
When you check out on the website, you don’t actually find out how much you owe until a few days later when the company receives your returns back. I should note returns are free, and you get a UPS bag to send whatever you don’t want to keep back. Yes, you could do the math if you were price conscious, but I would have liked it to have been displayed when I checked out. If you were click happy you could end up spending an awful lot without realizing it.
At Home Process
When you get your items, you have a total of 4 days to try everything on and decide what you want to keep. You’ll get a neatly packaged bag of goodies in your box, tied with a pretty bow. I appreciated the effort that went into the packaging of the clothing items in my Bento Box. I felt they took the extra step to make me feel like I was experiencing an “elevated” clothing experience, which you should expect when you’re willing to dish out a lot of cash for clothes someone else picked out for you.
You do get a print out with a note from a stylist, which is pretty lengthy, explaining the items they chose for you, along with a list of all the items and their prices.
I’m not sure if this happens for every first time Bento Box requester, but I also received a free tote bag that was mine to keep no matter what.
Trying on the Clothes
#1 – The Etsuko
The first item I pulled out was The Etsuko Dress in black. The dress comes with a built in belt to emphasize your natural waist, and give the dress a little umph. There’s a lot of good tailoring lines going on here, from the chest area to your hips. What I didn’t totally love, was that the dress was a little funeraly. I have several little black dresses in my closet that I have yet to wear, so I couldn’t justify adding another black dress to my collection at this time.
#2 – The Foster Pant
Everyone could use a well fitted pair of black dress pants. If you’re looking for a great pair of dress pants, look no further. One neat feature you’ll want to check out is how you can transform these pants from regular length to crop, with use of a button within the inside of the lower pant leg, making them pretty versatile for year round wear. These pants are extremely slimming and look great on, however I opted not to keep them due to sizing. The zipper and buttons are right on the hip, which I found caused some difficulty for me. While I could get myself zipped and buttoned up, it wasn’t easy. These pants were my usual size, but I did notice later on the website they recommend sizing up. If the pants were a larger size I probably would have kept them, but alas back they went. You’ll see a picture of me wearing them in the following item review below since I pair them with another item.
# 3 – The Didion 3.0 Top
Another black item! We’re now up to a total of 3 black pieces in my Bento Box. Now I know black is a popular color for all sorts of reasons, but I’m not the biggest fan. I like to add color to my wardrobe, and as a pale redhead I worry wearing all black will make me look washed out.
The Didion Top is pretty comfortable, but I did have some trouble getting into it at first. There’s an interesting lining inside, that can cause finding the openings for your head and arms to be a challenge. Eventually I made it through and popped out. I wasn’t overly excited by this top, but it did look nice. They call this the work place friendly t-shirt, but it doesn’t feel like a t-shirt. I ultimately passed on this top because I had a very similarly cut black top that I had gotten from Forever 21. You may laugh, but why spend over $100 on something that I have almost an exact copy of that I got for a tenth of the price! You can see I paired this top with the Foster Pant for an all black work friendly look.
#4 – The Panel Scarf
I can’t say I expected a scarf in my Bento Box, but lo and behold, I received one. I’m not a fan of using styling services on accessories, especially ones I can only use one time of the year. I like my scarfs nice and cozy. The Panel Scarf, while it looked ok and was a nice professional color, wasn’t as soft as I would have liked. It felt a bit scratchy, and there’s nothing worse than a scratchy scarf in the winter.
# 5 – The Emily Dress
I was happy to finally pull out another dress from the Bento Box, and to see some color! I love blue, especially dark blues on skintones like mine so I was optimistic this could work. The cut of the dress reminds me of something a First Lady might wear, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but could look a little silly on someone my age who is still in their 20s. But, they say you can’t judge an item of clothing until you try it on. After I tried it on a couple of times, I felt this dress was fairly cute, very stylish, and made me look more mature. I could see pulling on this dress for a conference or presentation, and it doesn’t hurt to have some more professional pieces lying around so I bit the bullet and kept this one. Oh, and there are little baby pockets in this dress! Perfect for clipping on work badges 🙂
#6 – The Woolf 2.0 Jardigan
Next up is a cardigan that they call the Jardigan. The fabric is kind of funky, but I like it. It’s the lightest colored piece that I received in my box, and while it’s not exactly an exciting color, we all need neutrals in our wardrobe. This neutral is called “Taupe Pearl.” I like this piece because it’s very lightweight, while still being a more upscale feeling fabric, and it works with some of the dresses in the Bento Box that I received. I’m a fan of cardigans, especially for the office because I like to continue to wear some of my sleeveless tops throughout the year, and you can do that by throwing on a cute cardigan. This piece looks dressy and is a bit classier than a thin cotton cardigan that let’s be honest, get’s pretty wrinkly. I’ll definitely be using this piece in the upcoming months.
#7 – The Aditi 2.0 Dress
We round out my first Bento Box with a sleeveless dress in Dark Pine. As a redhead, one of my favorite colors to wear is green, so I was excited to see a green option, although still once again another dark color. I actually received two Dark Pine Aditi dresses in my box, each a different size. My stylist wanted to provide two sizes in this option to see what my preferred fit was. I ultimately decided to get the smaller size, my usual size, but was torn between the two. If you go for your regular size, the dress will be more fitted and tighter, but not skin tight! I was originally going to go with the larger size because I, like a lot of women (no matter what size we are!), can be self conscious about tight things around my stomach area, but my boyfriend convinced me that I could pull off my usual size in this dress. I really enjoyed the structured elements of this dress and I feel a lot more mature and professional in it as well. I’m sure some people will be a little confused when I walk into the office dressed in it, since it’s fancier than my day to day style, but I look forward to wearing it to work, and maybe even date night!
Checking Out After you’ve performed your own fashion show at home and decided what pieces, if any, that you’d like to keep, you have to head over to the MM.LaFleur website. The website provides small pictures of the items you tried on, and asks for you whether you’re keeping or returning an item. Each choice is accompanied by some further buttons for you to click to provide a bit of feedback on why you chose to keep or return an item. For the items you don’t like, there are further drop downs so you can get even more specific on what was wrong or why you weren’t in love.
After that, you mail back your items in the prepaid UPS bag provided in your box, and you’ll receive a confirmation of your order and ultimate cost once MM.LaFleur receives your box.
I wished my first box was more colorful. I felt the colors were all on the dark and drab side. Nothing stood out as being overly exciting, and I think that could have been improved upon had there been more light colors or a pattern thrown into the mix.
The overall styles and cuts I were given were definitely more formal and business like than I’m used to wearing. I do work at a tech company after all, where fashion isn’t something that’s on everyone’s minds. However, I did like the ability to give more professional office friendly styles a try, exploring new cuts and silhouettes that I wouldn’t typically pick up in store or consider for myself.
One observation about the clothing from MM.LaFleur is how heavy the fabrics are. The items, for the most part, aren’t lightweight, but they are built and constructed well. You can tell they care about tailoring and showing off the best parts of your body. I’m not sure how comfortable some of the items would be in warmer weather, but I might see what they have to offer come Spring when I hope the fabrics are lighter and more breezy.
This is definitely a great service for those who work in high fashion or typical office jobs where the dress code is stricter and you’re expected to wear a certain type of wardrobe. If you don’t work in an environment like that, I still think it’s worth a try. You can always use a few dressier pieces in your wardrobe, but you have to be ready to invest a bit if you want do so.
My stylist also just emailed me, referencing some of my feedback, and suggesting when I should request another Bento Box. It’s a nice touch to hear back from your stylist after you’ve checked out and left feedback. I have a feeling when they reach out they are more likely to get repeat customers. It might just work on me.
Would I try another Bento Box? The ruling is still up in the air. I might give it another go in the Winter or come Spring time. I did notice you can buy clothes directly off their website, so I might try that instead so I can try more interesting colors and patterns when I’m ready for another wardrobe upgrade.
How does MM.LaFleur’s Bento Box service compare to Stitch Fix? I’ll be unwrapping both services for you in the upcoming weeks, sharing my observations and suggestions.
Disclosure: This post contains Stitch Fix Affiliate links, and I may receive compensation.
This post is about a month late due to a bunch of work travel and work projects that kept me from having much down time, but fear not I’m here with another review and I’ve got a number of posts lined up for the coming weeks!
When I requested this Fix from Stitch Fix I requested some end of Summer pieces, hoping for some transition articles of clothing that I could wear into Fall. Thankfully, due to the crazy weather here in the North East this box and post is still relevant and I haven’t been able to wear everything yet! Let’s take a closer look.
#1 – Colette Chavez Pop Color Cuff Knit Top The first item in my Summer to Fall box was this super cute knit top by Colette. I love shirts and jackets that have pops of colors on the sleeve. In fact, this isn’t my first Stitch Fix item that’s used cuffs or sleeves to give you a little something special. As someone from New England, and a lover of beaches, including Cape Cod, I have a love for everything nautical. This top gives you a nautical feel, but elevates it with the pop of pink on the cuffs. It’s simply perfect! You can dress this top up or down, depending on your mood. Looking for a date night outfit? Pair this with dark jeans and some heels. Want to go apple picking or walk around the beach? Pair this top with some distressed jeans or capris and throw on some flats and you’re ready to go.
#2 – 41Hawthorn Evander Dress
My closet is getting full with 41Hawthorn dresses, but I’m not complaining! I saw this dress on Pinterest and I fell in love with it at first sight. The colors and pattern scream Fall, and are super red head friendly if I must say so myself! Green is one of my favorite colors to wear. Fall is finally here, and you can’t go wrong with this dress. It’s extremely comfortable, lightweight and has a liner on the skirt part of the dress. Another great feature of this dress is that it’s travel friendly, something really important to me. I had a conference to attend in California and this baby survived just fine. You won’t worry about wrinkles with this beauty.
#3 – Renee C Laverna Embroidered Tunic
I’m a sucker for tunics. Tunics should be an essential piece in every woman’s wardrobe due to how flattering, forgiving, and comfortable they are. You can also pair tunics with leggings, which you can’t pass up in early Fall. This tunic by Renee C is bright, cheery, and fun. The only thing I would suggest you be cautious about is the neckline. The top is cut very low and isn’t super tight around the chest which can lead to some minor gapping, showing off your bra in certain angles. If you’re worried about showing too much, or want to wear this to work, throw on a camisole or tank top and you’ll be good to go!
#4 – Just Black Joey Skinny Jean
You can’t go wrong with a great pair of skinny jeans. My skinny jeans compromise of blues or blacks, so pulling out a pair of colored jeans was a bit out of my comfort zone, mostly because I never know how to style them. This blush pair is cute, and my Stylist mentioned they’re a great unique neutral for Fall. The fabric of these jeans isn’t typical jean material. The only way I can best explain the feel of these super soft pants is to compare them to jeggings. They feel and fit much more like leggings than regular skinny jeans. I’m a little unsure about the length on me, my legs are long, so I’m always self conscious of the length of pants, but I think I can pair these with booties and call it a day. My Stylist suggested pairing this pair with the Colette top I received above. I’m not sure about the color pairing, but you check it out for yourself below.
#5 – Kut from the Kloth Callie Denim Jacket
Everywhere I look I see women rocking denim jackets. I was starting to get a little envious of their cute style. Low and behold my Stylist surprised me with a Denim Jacket, it’s as if Jan was reading my mind (I didn’t ask for a jacket), and I couldn’t be happier. When I first pulled this jacket out of the box my mom and boyfriend were in the room and they were worried about the proportions of the jacket. Just holding out, not trying it on, you’ll find yourself surprised by the length of the sleeves compared to the body of the jacket. My mom’s terms were “those look like monkey arms.” Haha. Well, you can’t judge a piece of clothing without trying it on! After trying on the jacket, I was pleasantly surprised and excited to be able to pair this with a few of my Summer dresses I wanted to continue to wear into Fall. Due to my chest size, I wouldn’t be able to fully close or button this jacket without looking silly, but I think the style is to wear these types of jackets open for a casual chic look, and hey, I’m good with that! I’ve already gotten some great use out of this denim jacket and I highly recommend you request it in your next Fix!
Final Thoughts – Jan has done it again, another 5 out of 5 for me. I particularly love the denim jacket and 41Hawthorn dress. I’m looking forward to some more cool weather so I can pull on the Colette top and Just Black jeans. I love how this Fix provided some items in my comfort zone (nautical and tunic styles) but also expanded my style a bit with pops of color like the jeans. Stitch Fix continues to excite me and make me feel great.
Don’t forget to follow my Pinterest Boards for more Stitch Fix fun!
This past weekend my mom and I visited Amish Country in Lancaster, Pa. I’ve always been fascinated by different cultures, particularly the Amish because it’s so amazing that they can keep their lifestyle as it is, when they are surrounded by so much technology and modern culture. For a time, I even considered majoring in a field that would let me study different cultures and people, Anthropology, after I took a class at Mount Holyoke College during my senior year of high school, but I opted for Broadcast Journalism and Political Science instead.
My mom had planned to visit Amish Country back in the day when she was pregnant with me, but her doctor suggested she skip the trip, so you could say this trip has been 27 years in the making.
Here’s my list of go to places and must dos
Where to stay: DoubleTree Resort Lancaster
There aren’t a ton of hotels in the region, so if you’re looking to stay at a place that isn’t a Bed and Breakfast, you’re options are limited, but the DoubleTree suited us just fine!
If you go to Amish country you absolutely have to take an Amish horse and buggy ride. As we drove into Lancaster, we ended up on some middle of the nowhere roads, even our maps app lost us, but the neat thing was we got to see so many people riding in their buggies. This was the number one activity my mom and I had on our list of must dos.
There’s a number of buggy riding companies, but there’s only one that is worth visiting, and that’s Abe’s Buggy Rides. This is the real deal! You’ll be taken on your ride with a real Amish person, unlike the other tours in town that are not run by the Amish and are extremely touristy and unauthentic. If you want an authentic experience, going through real Amish neighborhoods, you have to go to Abe’s.
We opted for the hour long ride ($45 a person). The best part of the tour was that it was just for us. At Abe’s you get a private tour, no sitting with strangers! On our ride we got to see an Amish school house, and school was getting out when we drove by, which was cute. We also got to stop at a bakeshop were we picked up a lot of yummy goodies.
Our driver, Sam, even allowed me to drive the buggy twice, which who can say they’ve actually driven a real horse and buggy!? It was so much fun.
If you’re interested in doing something focusing on food, there’s a few spots you should take a pit stop at nearby.
The first is Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery in Lititz, PA. It’s not too far away, around a 20-30 minute drive from Lancaster. The bakery is the first commercial pretzel bakery in the country. Here you can take a cute 20 minute tour for $3.50 a person. You’ll get to see how pretzels were made back in the day, hear some tales about the Sturgis family, and even get to roll out a “pretzel.” I put pretzel in quotes because I don’t believe it’s real pretzel dough and you don’t actually get to cook/eat it, but it’s a fun activity especially on a rainy day.
This factory chocolate store is only a couple blocks away from the pretzel bakery, and it smells heavenly. In the back of the store they have a couple tins of Wilbur Buds, a small chocolate they are known for, that you can sample. Pretty tasty! They also have a little section with windows where you can see some of the workers making chocolate.
Shopping If you’re looking for some shopping (not necessarily Amish ran businesses), you should check out Kitchen Kettle Village. They have a lot of fun shops here where you can buy everything from candles, soaps, fudge, decorations, and so on. The best shop here is The Jam and Relish Kitchen. So many tasty treats await you, plus tons of samples! In the back there’s also a canning kitchen where we were able to see a bunch of Amish women canning pickles that day.
Bird in Hand Farmer’s Market is another must visit shopping spot. You’ll find tons of sweet treats, meats, canned items, and more here. There’s also a number of craft shops to puruse as well.
Overall, Amish Country was a lot of fun. I’d recommend 1-2 days there depending on what you want to hit up. It’s amazing to see how different the Amish culture is, and you can’t go wrong with their cooking and baking!
Disclosure: This post contains Stitch Fix Affiliate links, and I may receive compensation.
What’s Stitch Fix: An amazing fashion company that provides you with your own personal stylist who picks out pieces based on your style profile, requests, budget and your figure!
A couple of weeks ago my boyfriend received his second Fix from Stitch Fix, focusing on pieces for Summer. The Fix consisted of one pair of pants, three tops, and one pair of shorts. Let’s take a closer look and see what Brian had to say about the items his stylist chose.
#1 – Mavi Edward Slim Leg Pant First up was a classic khaki colored slim legged pant from Edward. I highly recommend this type of cut for men who are tall and skinny. The slim leg is more attractive and flattering for long legs. Brian’s go to pants are cargos, so this was a bit of a style upgrade. While cargos are functional and I don’t really mind them, all the pockets have a tendency to bulk up a guy, which is why switching it up with a slim pant is always an easy way to dress up an outfit effortlessly.
Brian’s thoughts: I am afraid of white pants. When I saw the style card and saw a pair of white pants I thought to myself “well, this isn’t going to work out well”. Luckily, they turned out to be a very pleasant shade of grey (which Katie calls khaki – clearly unfamiliar with the intricacies of men’s pants). They fit well and, since they’re not actually white I’m not as worried about staining them. They’ll be a good addition to my pants lineup when the weather cools down.
We paired these Mavi pants with a Polo from this Fix below, for a cool casual Summer look. Check out item 2 for a fit pick.
#2 – Tailor Vintage Brett One Pocket Polo
You can’t go wrong with a good polo. Polos are a great staple for every guy’s wardrobe and can make you look more put together than just a t-shirt, plus it’s as easy to style and pair with other items. The light blue color of this polo is oh so dreamy and great for guys with blue eyes. Don’t mind the wrinkles in the photo, a little steaming of those bad boys and this shirt is ready to wear.
Brian’s thoughts: This polo was on the larger side for me, but with a washing or two I felt confident it would shrink down a bit. I wear polos a lot during the summer so this seemed like a smart addition to my closet.
#3 – Hawker Rye Long Sleeve Button Down Shirt
I was a little surprised to see a long sleeved button down for a Summer Fix, considering how hot it is here in the New York/New Jersey area, but hey it’s always good to get a transition piece for seasons, and I’m sure this one will be a great new addition as the Summer comes to a close and Fall starts creeping in. This blue long sleeve is a nice bright color and looks great with khaki pants. We also paired this shirt with the Mavi pants to give a more dressy look. While the button down isn’t advertised as being a slim cut, it seems to be cut in a slim style, which is great for guys like Brian who are thin and long in the chest.
Brian’s thoughts: My knee-jerk reaction was that this shirt was not what I wanted with this fix. I was hoping for some summer clothes, and this shirt is more of a fall/winter/spring/anytime but summer shirt. That said, it’s a nice shirt. My last teal-like shirt expired a few years ago so I’ll hang this up and pull it out in a few months when the weather cools off since it fit well.
#4 – Howe Fade Away Button Down Shirt
For the guy who isn’t into shirts with prints or designs that are too bold, this Howe shirt is great since it uses faded coloring. This piece screams beach to me, which is perfect for a Summer vacation (which I have yet to take). The top also gives me a bit of a “hipster” vibe. It’s not so extreme that it’ll turn off regular guys who aren’t into dressing all fashionable or hip, which is great because it can work for a variety of men. You’ll see a fit pick in the next item review below.
Brian’s thoughts: This shirt has been sitting in my closet for a few weeks, I’m still not sure what I think of it. “Bowling shirt” keeps coming to mind whenever I see it. I’ve seen people out and about wearing shirts like this in clearly non-bowling settings, but I don’t think I’m quite there yet. Maybe I’ll get there some day, or I’ll join a bowling league.
#5 – 7 Diamonds Weekender Chino Short
As mentioned above, Brian’s a cargo pants kind of guy, and that goes for his shorts as well. I was excited to see his stylist provided something a bit more dressy and classic. The nicest part about these Chino Shorts is that they can be easily dressed up and make the wearer look more stylish just by how the short is cut and fitted. You could wear these out to dinner while off on your beach vacation and still look nice.
Brian’s thoughts: Who likes short-shorts? On men… well erm… not me. These shorts are shorter than I usually wear but they weren’t uncomfortably short, striking a few inches above the knee instead of the usual knee-length short I wear. I know shorter shorts exist, but these were a nice stepping stone to more fitted shorts than the cargo-variety I usually wear. They don’t provide the cargo assortment of pockets so I’ve noticed my keys can irritate my thighs if I don’t put them in just right; on the flip side I feel more fashionable than usual when I wear them. It feels like a good trade off during the hot summer days.
Final Impressions: I felt the Fix was a pretty good success. I loved seeing Brian try some new pieces out of his comfort zone and see a bit more style come into his closet. Here’s hoping he joins me in requesting a Fall Fix so we can keep the fashion rolling.
Brian’s overall impressions: 3 / 5 items were suitable for summer which was exactly what I was looking for. The other 2 items were nice (I kept them), but will have to sit in my closet for a few weeks until it cools down. I was disappointed I didn’t get more summer clothes, a non-blue shirt or another pair of shorts would have been nice substitutes. Maybe if I request a summer fix a bit earlier in the season (like late spring) I’ll get a fuller selection of summer clothes.
Haven’t tried Stitch Fix yet? Want to get a personal stylist for yourself or the special person in your life? Sign up with my Stitch Fix code!