TGIF + Friday Links vol. 6

Friday, October 30, 2015

Image via Pinterest

We made it to Friday again guys! And tomorrow is Halloween, I'm so excited! Tonight Lauren and I are going to work on decorating our no-carve pumpkins! Follow along on Instagram to see which one we end up making! Tomorrow I'm heading to the the store to find one last piece for my costume and hopefully getting my nails done before going out for Halloween! Sunday will hopefully be a productive, but relaxing day. What are everyone else's weekend plans? Still not sure what to be for Halloween? Check out my post with three easy costume ideas which use items you probably already own!

Articles & Internet Goodness:

1// Three Best Friends build a community of adjoining apartments in SoHo - but I kinda want to do this with all my friends from college! Sounds so fun and definitely like a real life Friends or Seinfeld episode in the making.

2// Mr. G Dances to Hotline Bling - any other Summer Heights High or Ja'mie fans? Ok probably my FAVORITE Hotline Bling mash-up, trust me this one is goood. And it's the last one I'll post, I promise (maybe).

3// I have been listening to the new One Direction song 'Perfect' on repeat at work - its so catchy! They make the jams.

4// A Beautiful Mess, one of my favorite DIY blogs, has some good Halloween Costume inspiration!

5// 20 Halloween traditions and superstitions from around the world

Weekend Wishlist:

The perfect chunky heeled boots

A low cost alternative to the Chloe scalloped flats

An oversize check dress

Velvet leggings

Blogger Love:

I loved this denim skirt on Sheila

I love red lipsticks, Julia shared some of her favorites

Loving the decor in Mackenzie's living room

I love Chelsea's 70's inspired print dress

This past week on Laura Aime Vous:

Outfit: Pink Marled Sweater and White Jeans for fall
10 No-Carve Pumpkin DIY Ideas
Outfit: Faux-Fur Vest and Lace Up Flats
5 Lessons I Learned from Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Notable Sales:

$80 for Hunter Boots (tall matte or glossy) at Costco (or have Nordstrom price adjust the boots by live-chatting the sales reps after adding the boots to your cart)

Extra 31% off J.Crew factory with code "Spooky"

40% off everything at Loft

35% off Gap with code "Style"

Extra 30% off sale at Anthropologie with code "XTRAXTRA"

Hope you all have a great weekend and a Happy Halloween!
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5 Lessons I Learned from Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (#tbt)

Thursday, October 29, 2015


Today is an interesting anniversary in my life, it is the one-year anniversary of the day I completed the Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu. Also known as one of the most amazing, gratifying, and fulfilling days of my life. 






Machu Picchu

I mentioned that I did this a couple times before, but as this is the one-year anniversary I wanted to take some time aside from my typical posts and really reflect on the experience. To say it was life-changing is not an overstatement, and I didn't even get to snapchat it or Instagram it (well, obviously I posted on Instagram later, but not while it was happening, more of a "latergram" if you will). 

I tried to think about all the things I learned on that trip, and I was able to boil down the lessons to these: 

5 Lessons I Learned from Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

1) If you want something, make it happen. The world will not wait for you. 

I want to travel pretty much everywhere. I love experiencing new cultures, meeting new people, and learning new things. I think that's part of the reason I went to college halfway across the country from where I grew up. And then I was so ecstatic to study abroad junior year in France. And then I knew I had to keep traveling. So when I got my first "adult" job out of college, and passed my CPA exams, I knew I had to go somewhere exciting (#treatyoself). 

Catharine, one of my best friends from Tulane, and I had always discussed traveling to South America. So, when she called me randomly in December 2013, a few days after I knew I passed my CPA exams (also one of my proudest accomplishments) and asked if I wanted to buy a spot on a hike along the Inca Trail, I didn't think that hard about it. I said yes pretty much right away. The rest will work itself out later I figured, and it did. We bought plane tickets a few months later, booked hostels a little after that, and before we knew it we were off to Lima, Peru. 

Note, to anyone who would like to hike the Inca Trail and not just take the train to Machu Picchu, the government only allows 300 people on the trail per day, including guides and porters, so make sure you reserve tickets about 1 year in advance with a reputable tour company (it must be Peruvian operated). We used Valencia Travel Cusco and I highly recommend them. If you all would like a more detailed itinerary or details on the actual logistics of the trip I would be happy to write a post on that, just let me know!Also if you're planning a trip to Peru and have any questions please email me at and I will be happy to answer as best I can!

2) Unplugging from technology feels really, really good

When we were on the trail there was NO technology. No cell service, no internet, no nothing. We had to actually interact with the other hikers in our group and our guides *gasp*. This led to awesome dinners where we tried to sing the "Riff-off" from Pitch Perfect, played a game called "2 rocks", and listened to amazing stories about Incan and Quechuan culture told by our guide, Claudio. It really reminded me of what's important in life. It's so easy to get caught up in technology by always being connected via phones, emails, social media, etc. Sometimes unplugging (whether forced or by choice) is what it takes to really put everything in perspective. I think I'm going to try and find a day in November to totally unplug again and just spend time with Alex (and my cat Kalliope) and just enjoy life off-screen. 

3) Nature is the world's prettiest painter

The Inca Trail is one of the most bio-diverse hikes in the world. The entire hike is only 26 miles, however you go through mountain passes, valleys, cloud forests, and tropical jungle conditions in that time. I saw some of the most amazing scenery that I have ever, and will ever, see. Pictures just don't do it justice. It really reminds you that sometimes the prettiest instagram is waiting for you right outside at your local park. 

4. There is 100% such a thing as over-packing. You need so much less than you think.

Dear Laura, if you ever go on a hike that involves you carrying your clothing and personal items on your back for four days at high altitude again, please do not pack the following: cream blush, dry shampoo, jolly ranchers, chocolate covered almonds, 6 t-shirts AND three long sleeve shirts AND four tank tops (only bring 4 shirts please), waterproof mascara, an iPod shuffle, lavender essential oil,  and 'Not that Kind of Girl' by Lena Dunham. 

I did not need any of that. If you are packing for a hiking vacation ask yourself, will I want this after a physically exhausting day? Will I want to carry this on my back for a 14-hour hike each day? If the answer is no, do not bring it. Also, you will not be showering or wearing make-up. You will take sponge baths because that is all that is available to you. You will learn to deal with this for four days. You will survive. 

Also, take that time to remind yourself of how much you take for granted every single day. I don't want to get preachy on here, but when you're schlepping your stuff up a mountain because you couldn't go four days without certain items you start to think how silly it all is. And then you realize what's really important, the people you're with, the experiences you're soaking in, the adventure you're having. This is why I always like to try and get Alex "experiences" for presents rather than things. I usually get him theater tickets (we're both suckers for a good musical) but the experience is so much more fun and spending that time together is so much more valuable that another object.

5. The hardest things in life are the most rewarding

Not going to lie, I wanted to turn back on day 1. I was working out, occasionally, before going on this trip. I'd go to yoga maybe 2 or 3 times a week and a spin class now and then. I was not prepared. My feet have never been more sore. My arms have never been more sore. My back has never been more sore. I was so physically and mentally exhausted I thought I was not going to make it. I was happy I purchased traveler's medical insurance because that would cover the costs of my medical evacuation. I legitimately thought about trying to twist my ankle so my guide would carry me. It was HARD. But it was so amazing. You guys, I don't think I can convey in words what getting to the Sun Gate and seeing Machu Picchu in the distance is like. It just makes every ounce of your being happy. 

I am not faced with anything nearly as challenging in my everyday life. But sometimes I do face problems that stress me out and cause me anxiety. I try and remind myself that often the hardest things, what is causing me the most stress, will reward me the most in the end. Sometimes I try to remind myself how I felt at the Sun Gate. Smiling ear to ear, buzzing with life and adventure. And sometimes that is enough to get me through whatever I'm dealing with in my everyday life. 

Sorry for the long post! I really wanted to write that for myself, but I hope you all enjoyed it! Have you ever been on an amazing trip or had a life changing experience? What was it? I hope you all have an amazing Thursday!
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Faux Fur Vest and Lace-up Flats

Wednesday, October 28, 2015









Vest (option 1 and option 2) // Jeans // Shirt ($12!) // Flats
Earrings (also worn here) // Necklace // Ring (similar) // Lipstick (A Different Grape)

It should be pretty apparent by now that I enjoy a good vest in the fall (see post here). This faux-fur Banana Republic option is no exception. I got this last year, so unfortunately this exact one is no longer available, but they made a similar option for this season! 

I wore this exact outfit out to a comedy show and drinks last Saturday and it was so comfortable the whole night. The vest kept me warm even after it got chilly at night, and this Heattech top from Uniqlo which kept me so toasty even in the chilly weather. 

I also am loving these Topshop lace-up Ballet Flats! They look so much like Stuart Weitzman or Aquazzura version, but are only $45! They also are so comfortable, I wore them to work the day after they came in the mail and they were extra comfortable the entire day, no break-in time required! I will also note, I usually take either a size 10 or 10.5 in shoes, depending on the shoe. I'm a 10, 70% of the time, but I ordered these in a 10.5 and I'm glad I went with the larger option. 

What do you think about this look? Do you have a faux-fur vest? 
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10 No-Carve DIY Pumpkin Ideas

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Image Credit: Studio DIY

Decorating pumpkins is a fall right of passage. I remember trying to come up with interesting carving ideas every year and inevitably messing them up. Always halfway through carving the pumpkin I would get so annoyed with the entire process of scooping out the insides of the pumpkin that I would lose focus on the end goal (is this just me?) Well, this year I wanted to do something a little different. Luckily my friend Lauren has just moved to Philly and she is more than willing to help me DIY some fun, and different pumpkins. To decide what we wanted to make I put together this list of 10 DIY pumpkins that involve NO CARVING! Not only are they more unique that your classic pumpkin, I think they're much chicer and won't go bad as quickly! Hopefully some of these can provide you some DIY inspiration as well!

1. Donut Pumpkins by Studio DIY

2. Crackle Pumpkins by A Week from Thursday

3. Pastel Pun-kins from Studio DIY

 4. Gilded Ombre Pumpkin by Style me Pretty

5. Easy Glam Crystal Pumpkins from Setting for Four

6. Nail-Polish Marbled Pumpkins by Say Yes

7. Bling Pumpkin by The Swell Designer

8. Sharpie Skull Pumpkin by Brit Co (my favorite!)

9. Glitter Pumpkins by Martha Stewart

10. Confetti Pumpkin by Madigan Made

Which one is your favorite? Place your votes for which ones Lauren and I should re-create, we'll be posting pictures on Instagram of the finished products (hopefully, unless its a fail and then we will just pretend this never happened) 
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Marled Pink Sweater and White Jeans

Monday, October 26, 2015










Sweater (only $20!) // Jeans (similar 1 & similar 2) // Sneakers (on sale for $52!)
Necklace (mine says '504') // Purse // 
Gold Earrings (also come in silver and black) // Lipstick (color is Rikugien)

And it's Monday again. I hope everyone had a nice weekend! We were pretty busy around here, my friend Lauren has been staying with Alex and I until her apartment is ready (today!) and we've been enjoying lots of Tulane friend time. We went to a stand-up comedy show in the East Falls neighborhood on Saturday night to see one of our Tulane classmates perform, it was so funny! Afterwards we had drinks with some of the performers and it makes we really want get more comedian friends. Sunday we had brunch at Alla Spina, a place which had been on my list for quite some time. As seen in my instagram, it was pretty colorful and tasty. I always love spending the whole weekend catching up with friends. 

Lauren and I are cooking up some ideas for this blog, she's so artistically talented so get excited! She was also nice enough to take these photos of me on Saturday! 

I love this sweater. I was in Nordstrom Rack a few weeks ago and the marled look of this sweater immediately caught my eye.  And then when I saw it was $20 I was sold. I love how comfortable it is to throw on with some jeans for a cute, but casual weekend look. Also, I know every other blogger has posted about wearing white after Labor Day, so I don't think I really need to discuss how it's ok now. I've been doing it for years and I will never stop wearing white pants. Can't stop. Won't stop. 

Also in my current rotation? These calf-hair slip-on sneakers. I bought these last fall and have gotten quite a bit of use out of them. In my book, leopard is a neutral so I find myself always reaching for them and I want to add a little interest to an outfit. They're on sale at now for less than $60, so if you want a comfortable pair of leopard shoes (which you should) then I highly suggest scooping these up!

What do you think of this look? What are some of your favorite weekend basic looks? 

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TGIF + Friday Links vol. 5

Friday, October 23, 2015

Photo via my Instagram

We made it through another week! We're really chugging our way through October huh? Where has the time gone? This week was another long one at work, we're in full quarterly review mode so this week and next tend to be pretty hectic at work. This weekend is shaping up to be a fun one though, my friend Lauren has moved down to Philly from Boston and I'm so excited to have her around. She's my artistic friend, so I'm enlisting her to help me out a little with the blog, stay tuned! We plan on checking out Future's DJ, DJ Esco, on Friday night at a bar in Old City and then meeting one of my friends from Tulane, Michael, who lives in San Francisco now and happens to be on the East Coast on Sunday, I can't wait! 

Without further ado, here are some things I found interesting around the internet this week:

1// If you somehow avoided it, please watch Drake's Hotline Bling music video now. Then look at the 11 best memes from Hotline Bling

2// Do you drink gin? Here's a ranking of popular gins which I found interesting. I'm a Bombay Sapphire girl myself. 

3// ICYMI the trailer for the new Star Wars movie is out and IT IS FIRE. 

4// Did you hear the Gilmore Girls is getting a reboot? *insert praise hands emoji* here is what we know so far. 

5// Did you see Julia of Gal Meets Glam's Baublebar collection? I want this.

6// Anyone else not a morning person? Here's 32 ways to help you wake up better. I really need to do most of these...but don't.

7// I kind of want these shoes, but I don't need them at all. But I want them. 

8// I love this navy coat. Another thing I don't need, but I want it. 

9// How cute would this top be with liquid leggings? #madforplaid

This week on Laura Aime Vous:

Notable Sales:
Tory Burch private sale - there are some awesome options, including the York Tote from my roundup
50% off EVERYTHING at Loft  with code 'Halftime' 

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Career Spotlight: Interview with Pia and Melissa of Senpai + Kohai

Thursday, October 22, 2015

I'm so excited because today I am bringing you another interview with two local Philadelphia fashion designers, Melissa Choi and Pia Panaligan, the two brains behind the brand Senpai + Kohai. I first was introduced to these ladies' brand at the Philadelphia Fashion Alliance Spring Preview event, which I wrote about in this post

I was so impressed with the unique designs, beautiful fabrics, and wonderful colors incorporated in their designs I knew I needed to reach out to them to see if they would like to be interviewed for the blog. Luckily, they said yes and were more than willing to answer my questions! I'm so excited to share the experience and brands of local Philadelphia designers with you all, there's just something so great about supporting local designers (especially when their designs are so good!)

Melissa and Pia met in college in 2003 at Philadelphia University. After years of working for other designers and companies, including Urban Outfitters (another Philly based fashion company!), Free People, Anthropologie, and David's Bridal, they began collaborating on a collection of 12 pieces which was launched in 2012. Each piece was handcrafted at home by the designers themselves. Read below to hear more about the backgrounds of the designers, the brand, what its like to work in the fashion industry, and what's in store for Senpai + Kohai. 

Melissa Choi and Pia Panaligan of Senpai + Kohai

Q: When did you each know you wanted to be a fashion designers?

Melissa: I can't pinpoint exactly when, but I wanted to be an artist at age 8, I picked up sewing and realized I loved designing my own clothes.  

Pia: I realized I wanted to be a fashion designer when I took a home economics class, where I got reintroduced to sewing, my teacher then suggested I would be good at it. As a young girl, I was raised by my grandmother, who sewed a lot, so sewing has always been a big influence in my life.

Q: Tell me about your backgrounds and how you got to owning and designing your own brand.

Melissa: While finishing up my last semester at school, I started working for Free People doing design.  I stayed with them for a few years, took a break to travel, and ended up in India working for a vendor that produces for all of the UO brands.  I always wanted to have my own line, I knew I couldn't do it alone, but it was just a matter of gaining experience and waiting for the right time.

Pia: After graduating, I kept working retail and splitting my time going up to Greenpoint in Brooklyn to assist textile, costume & fashion designer, Christian Joy. In 2007 I got introduced to fashion styling for photoshoots at Anthropologie, where I got hired full time and became their Sr. Stylist. I started freelance styling in 2011 (and currently still doing so) and worked with UO Inc. brands as well as other Philadelphia and NYC brands. Having a freelance schedule was great when starting S+K where I'm able to focus on keeping my styling jobs while living my dream.

Piece from the brand's first collection

Q: What's it like being in the industry?

Melissa: It's a lot of work! It's exciting to see your work out there, but it can be exhausting, at the same time it's fulfilling. It's great to meet all these other designers doing the same thing we are though, we've met so many great people who have helped us along the way.

Pia: The fashion industry has been a real learning experience, especially in the business sense, it always keeps you on your toes but can be very rewarding every time you finish a collection.

Q: Can you describe some of the struggles that new fashion designers face?

A: The fashion world is very fast paced, you have to be on top of what people want to buy, quality is important and you also have learn to manage money because it's expensive to have a business. Running a fashion company isn't just about being creative, it's a business, if you don't acquire any business knowledge, it's going to be very difficult.

Also, as a new and small company getting the word out there about your brand is a lot of work, networking can be very tough.

Q: How are you working to overcome these struggles?

A: We've learned a lot since we first launched in 2012, a lot of it is trial and error.  We took some business classes which has helped us with marketing and creating a business plan. We realized we invested more time designing and on photo shoots but needed to better plan for more selling events. We had to learn to balance the time we put into designing and planning events to bring awareness to our brand, and that's only the half of it.

Q: How much of your time is actually spent designing and what other behind the scenes tasks do you need to accomplish?

A: Design happens for us twice a year, besides some small projects in between, so it's not a significant portion of our year. The rest of the time is spent planning, photographing, putting new product on our website, doing events, sewing our product, social media etc. We do everything ourselves with the help of our amazing interns.

Q: How would you describe your brand?

A: A Philadelphia based clothing brand that is globally influenced, created for the free spirited woman who approaches dressing  as an art. Senpai+Kohai strives to create value that is desired for a lifetime by focusing on textiles, fit, and quality to compliment the modern woman.  We like to show the "hand of the artist" so that each piece we produce has distinct personality.

Images from the brand's fourth collection, out now

Q: What are your inspirations for your fashion line?

A: Mostly the textiles we work with. We love mixing texture and pattern to create something dynamic. For example, we work with a Burmese weaver in South Philadelphia who makes amazing Karen tribe fabrics along with some vintage hand embroidered Indian textiles.

Beautiful kimono from Collection 3

Q: Tell me about your newest collection.

A: Our Fall Winter collection is inspired by modern silhouettes with a mix of structured and soft shapes. Our small but concise collection includes hand dyed and splattered silk tunics, long Sherpa fleece vests, gorgeous shibori-dyed silk scarves, tie-dyed hosiery and simple yet modern vinyl totes. We made everything in very limited quantities, so get it before it sells out!

Hand-dyed silk scarf

Q: What's your favorite piece and why?

A:  We like them all! It's hard to pick one thing out because we hand make everything ourselves so we have such a personal connection with each pieces.

Look from Collection 4

What can we look forward to from your brand in the future?

A: We have an on-going collection of one-of-a-kind denim jackets on our website using our vintage and handmade textiles. We are excited to do more season-less clothes that are relevant year round.

Q: Where can the readers go if they are interested in supporting your line or purchasing pieces from your brand?

A: Our website is the best place to find our designs or during our events, which we email out about from our newsletter (sign up on our website). We update our Facebook page regularly (@senpaiandkohai) and have an Instagram (@senpaiandkohai). We also sell some of our product at Toile in Fishtown and some of our denim jackets at Style Camp in Chestnut Hill. 

Look from Collection 3

Q: Do you have any advice for anyone out there who would like to pursue a job in the fashion industry?

A: It's hard work, it really has to be something that you are ready to invest 110% into, and most of the time it is not that glamorous. Interning is a great way to get your foot in the door and see what it's like. Just keep working and don't be afraid to make mistakes, that's the best way to learn and truly discover what you're passionate about.

What is your favorite piece from the collection? Mine is the plaid vest from collection 4, love it! If you liked this post, check out my interview with Victoria Wright of Victoria Wright Designs for another career spotlight featuring a local Philadelphia designer!

NOTE: All lookbook photos by Anthony Nocella. All photographs used with permission of the designers and were taken directly from the Senpai + Kohai website. 

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