What to Do in Rome

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Now that I’ve told you how we saved money while traveling to Rome, I’m excited to share what we did. Rome is a small city that is easy to conquer in a few days, or even less if you’re really pressed for time. If you’ve never been, make sure you visit the Colosseum and Roman Forum if only to look out over the crumbling structures and imagine what was nearly 2,000 years ago. Use the Roma Pass for these two attractions to get free admission and cut the lines. Sights like Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and the Pantheon are ones you’ll see often if you walk everywhere like we did. I would recommend visiting them all during the day and at night to get different views. Don’t forget to throw a coin over your shoulder into Trevi Fountain to ensure you’ll return one day. Duck into the Pantheon and download Rick Steve’s free podcast about it. He also has ones for the Colosseum and Roman Forum if you’d like to skip the tour guide.

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Vatican Tour

One thing we knew we wanted to pay extra for was a guided tour of the Vatican. This is by far one of the best decisions we made and my very favorite part of the trip. We booked the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums, and St. Peter’s Basilica Tour through Dark Rome. We were lead through the Vatican Museums, which are really extensive and featured some of my favorite art, including paintings by Raphael. This part of the tour transitioned right into the Sistine Chapel where we were allowed to take in Michelangelo’s masterpiece for nearly 15 minutes. Amazing. After that we walked through the incredibly massive St. Peter’s Basilica, stopping at major statues like the Pietà. Following the tour, our guide showed us where to buy tickets to go to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica. We walked up hundreds of stairs in spaces barely wider than our shoulders, but it offered some of the best views of Rome.

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Angelus

On most Sundays at Noon, you can see the Pope delivering the Angelus or blessing from his window overlooking St. Peter’s Square. Even if you are not religious, this is a really interesting experience. Thousands of people from all over the world come to hear him speak. His image is projected on large screens and people are singing, crying, and holding up signs. It’s a sight to behold.

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Piazza Navona

One of our favorite places to hang out was Piazza Navona. This is a lively square lined with restaurants and tourists. It features gorgeous fountains, amazing people watching, and a gelato stand every few feet. Performers, musicians, and artists reside here, adding to the festival vibe. It’s a great place to take in the beautiful architecture and characters of the city.

 

Trastevere

When I travel, I like to get to know some of the neighborhoods of a city. Trastevere is described as being closer to the “real” Rome and less touristy than some other neighborhoods. It’s also described as having a bohemian feel. I liked walking around the different shops and trying restaurants the locals might actually visit.

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Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II

When you go to Rome, you won’t miss the massive white marble monument honoring the first king of a united Italy, Victor Emmanuel II. I’ve never seen such a large tribute to any political figure in the United States. It’s impossible to take a photo of the entire structure unless you’re really far away. It featured some of the most impressive architecture of the trip, and that’s saying something.

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Capitoline Museum

We happened upon the Capitoline Museum as a backup plan when one of the museums we wanted to visit wasn’t open. The building itself is gorgeous and it houses some of the most famous statues from Ancient Rome.

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Steelers Bar

While in Rome, we watched the Steelers game from La Boticella, a Steelers-themed bar. You may not be a Steelers fan, but you have to admit it’s kind of cool to find an American football themed bar while traveling abroad.

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Lastly, I recommend walking into the many churches that line the streets. They’re all older than most historical sites in the U.S. Look around. Take in the architecture you see everywhere. Just walking through Rome is an experience like no other.

How I Shop Sustainably

As another Earth Day passes by, I’m left feeling guilty about the plastic bag I forgot to decline at Ulta the other day. I’m also left feeling a little hopeless, to be honest. Our climate change situation feels more dire than ever, and I wonder if enough is being done to curb its effects. I have to ask myself, what can I do to make real and lasting change? As a style blogger, I feel a responsibility to admit that the fashion industry is not the most sustainable model. Fast fashion seems to be taking over our news feeds with new items and new sales pushing us to consume more every week. I feel like we all need to be a little more conscious of the effect our consumerism has on the environment. In an effort to change my own habits, here are three ways I’m shopping more sustainably. sustainable-fashion-1

1. Buy less. This one is scary, I know. But if you focus on buying quality instead of quantity, you can get there. This is part of the reason I started a capsule wardrobe. I want to own less. By focusing on only the high-quality functional items I truly love, I can achieve that goal and make less of an impact on the environment. This J.Crew camel coat is something I wear constantly. It’s functional and I love the style. It’s something I intend on keeping forever.

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2. Buy secondhand. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I love a good thrifted item. The craziest/best part is that you can find items with the tags still on or like new. And now there are so many secondhand shopping options out there: Poshmark, eBay, thredUP, and many more. In Pittsburgh and Cleveland, we have Avalon Exchange and Clothes Mentor. This brocade skirt I wore for New Year’s Eve this year is just one example of my thrifting scores.

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3. Buy from Sustainable Brands. More sustainable brands are available than ever before and I feel like more are going to keep cropping up. Reformation, Patagonia, and my personal favorite, Everlane. I feel like I never stop talking about their loafers. They are my favorite pair of shoes. I’m also obsessed with their Day Market Tote. It’s my everyday bag and it’s roomy enough for my work laptop.

Our Rome Trip on a Budget

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I can’t believe it’s been almost two years since my fiancé and I went to Rome. That was such a memorable trip for me because it was my first time traveling to Europe. We fell in love with everything while we were there — the people, the culture, and oh yes — the food! I’ve been wanting to blog about our trip for a while, but I’ve continued to put it off because the task seemed so daunting. How can you sum up Rome? I decided the best way to share all of my thoughts was to break this up into several posts. Today’s post is the first in the series and I’m talking about all of the ways we saved money on our trip. Travel is definitely a passion of ours, and we learned during this trip that it doesn’t have to be out of reach financially. There are many ways to save while going abroad, but here are the three things that made a difference for us.

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Off-Peak Flights

Our flights to Rome were significantly cheaper, I’m talking less than $600, because we were open to traveling during an off-peak month. We went to Rome in November, which was actually a great time to go. The weather was in the 50s and 60s almost every day and it only rained once or twice. Other than that it was sunny every day. There were also fewer tourists. I’ve heard horror stories of waiting in line for hours to see attractions, and we didn’t have that issue at all.

Airbnb

Staying at an Airbnb instead of a hotel will save you a lot of money. And there are many to choose from in most European cities. Just make sure to go with someone who has a high rating and a lot of reviews. We stayed at the most charming Airbnb run by the nicest lady, Tersia. I honestly liked it better than staying at a hotel. It was clean and in a safe neighborhood. At the time, we were lucky enough to get her flat for $53 per night. The more nights you stay, the cheaper it is. The bed was so cozy and comfy and the windows opened up to the busy street below. It was 10 minutes from Termini Station, which has a train that goes to and from the airport, and it was at most a 20 minute walk to most attractions. Rome is a very walkable city, so that wasn’t an issue for us.

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Rick Steves

We used Rick Steves to plan our entire trip. His pocket travel guides are great because they are easy to carry around and he gives a lot of tips for saving money. One of the big tips for Rome is to use the Roma Pass. For €36, you get free admission for your first two attractions and it lets you cut the line. After that, you get discounts to a variety of other attractions. It also comes with an unlimited transit pass, which is good on the Metro, buses, and trams. We used the Roma Pass on the Colosseum and the Roman Forum since those are two attractions that can have long lines. His pocket guide comes with a full list of restaurant recommendations, including price points. This made it easy for us to select affordable, but quality restaurant options throughout the trip. We also saved money by listening to his audio guides for the Roman Forum and the Pantheon instead of paying for a guided tour. You can get all of his audio guides for free on the podcast app on your phone.

Well that’s it for now! I hope this was helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions about traveling to Rome. I’ll try to answer them in the next few posts.

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Under $50 Maxi Dress for Spring

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H&M Dress (Similar Dress) / Madewell Harper Mules / Old Navy Jacket / J.Crew Factory Necklace (Similar Necklace)

Hello! How is your week going? We’ve busy with wedding planning. We’re at the phase where we’re searching for a venue, which is fun but also stressful. There are so many little details to consider about each place and each one is different. And to make matters worse, our schedules don’t really line up this time of year. My fiancé is a coach for a high school spring sport, so most of his free time is occupied by that. I know whatever we decide will be beautiful. I just need to let the process unfold. Despite the craziness, I just had to pop in and share this dress with you! It’s less than $50, but looks so much more expensive. It has a great fit and the maxi style is so cute for spring, especially for those iffy weather days. I wore it with a jean jacket for a baby shower over the weekend and felt perfectly put together. This dress is not online, but I was able to find it in store at H&M.

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4 Capsule Wardrobe Myths Debunked

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After posting about my capsule wardrobe, I realized many people still have misconceptions about them. Some view them as too restrictive or boring, but that doesn’t have to be the case. A capsule wardrobe should be defined by a person’s lifestyle and preferences, so there should be a variety of ways to approach one. Here are some common capsule wardrobe myths debunked.

  1. You can’t add new things. A capsule wardrobe isn’t about not adding anything new. You will always have new clothing needs and your personal style will continue to evolve as you get older. It’s about adding fewer new items. You can do this by only adding the clothing you truly love and need. So that means you need to learn how to walk away from clothing that just isn’t the right fit for your life and style. My office recently changed the dress code so we can wear jeans to work every day. I’ll still buy work wear pieces for days I want to dress up, but I’ll certainly be adding fewer pieces like that to my wardrobe now.
  2. You can’t add trendy clothes. Trendy clothes should not be off limits. Especially if a particular trend really works with your style. Plus, trendier items can sometimes give your wardrobe a little facelift, making it look more current. And some trends stick around. Skinny jeans have been a trend since I was in college. That was over 10 years ago, and I don’t see that trend going away anytime soon. Just don’t let trendy clothes dominate your wardrobe.
  3. You have to stick to a black, white, and gray color palette. Once again, this is something that should be determined by your personal style and what actually looks good on you. You can use whatever color palette you want as long as the items of clothing are easy to mix and match. You can even have a few items that aren’t easily interchangeable as long as you wear them and find them useful. I gravitate to warm colors. I would say my main colors tend to be pinks, grays, and blues, mostly navy. Occasionally I throw in some greens. These are all colors that work together.
  4. You have to stick to a certain number. There is no right number. We all have different lifestyles and needs. Some people need a really dressy wardrobe for work and a casual wardrobe for home. Others can blend the two. That will inform the number of items that’s right for you. Like I said, my office has become more casual, so now that my work wardrobe is more like my after-work wardrobe, I’ll probably need fewer work wear items, causing my particular number to decrease.

Lastly, it’s ok if your capsule wardrobe isn’t exactly what you want it to be right away. It takes time to develop personal style and figure out what’s right for you. I think the best part of a capsule wardrobe is that it helps you try to define what your style is and hone in on that, instead of wasting time and resources on clothing that isn’t you.

A Great Long Cardigan for Spring

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Details: Target Cardigan/Tommy Hilfiger Shirt from TJ Maxx (Similar Striped Top)/Rag & Bone Jeans from TJ Maxx (Similar Skinny Jeans)/Madewell Harper Mules

One of my favorite purchases for my capsule wardrobe this spring was this pretty light blue cardigan from Target. I love the long length and the belt in the back. It’s great for layering over a blouse on these early spring days with unpredictable weather. I don’t have a lot of longer cardigans in my wardrobe, and I just love the structure this one adds to any outfit. The color is a really pretty light blue perfect for spring and is one of those colors that you can wear with just about anything. And it was only $25! I wore it over my striped Tommy Hilfiger tunic and Rag & Bone Jeans I found at TJ Maxx for dinner with friends this weekend. The Madewell Harper Mules continue to be a staple for me. What’s your favorite purchase for spring so far?

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My First Capsule Wardrobe: How I Did It and Why I Loved It

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At the beginning of the year, I decided to try a capsule wardrobe for the first time. It was winter and I wanted to save money, so I thought why not? Here’s how I approached it and what I loved about it.

If you’ve never heard of a capsule wardrobe, here’s a quick definition from Wikipedia:

“A capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces.”

The idea is to have a smaller wardrobe, consisting mostly of interchangeable pieces that stick to a coordinating color scheme.

I arrived at the idea of trying a capsule wardrobe for two reasons:

  1. I want to de-prioritize stuff
  2. I want to further define my personal style

I thought a capsule wardrobe would be perfect for accomplishing both of these things because it’s all about living with less. To live with less, you have to determine what is truly important and essential to you. In deciding what works and what doesn’t, you end up with only the clothing that suits you and your life ­— a wardrobe that is perfectly tailored to your unique style.

How I Did It

I mostly followed the steps outlined by blogger Caroline Joy in her blog post “How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe”. I augmented the steps below to create a process that works for me.

  1. Narrow down your wardrobe to the essentials. I divided everything into three piles: “Yeses”, “Maybes”, and “Nos”. The in-season “Yeses” stayed in my dressing room/closet in plain sight. The out-of-season “Yeses” went into storage along with the “Maybes”. And the “Nos” went to Goodwill. At the end of the season, I took my “Maybes” out of storage to reevaluate if I ever even missed them. I did not even think about them once! So they are going to Goodwill.
  2. Wear only your capsule wardrobe for the entire season. This part is pretty easy actually and forces you to be creative with what you have. Having all of my capsule items in full view all season helped a lot, so closet organization is critical. Hide anything out of season, so it’s not distracting, but don’t rule those items out as a possibility. They’re your clothes, so you might as well wear them, right?
  3. Plan and shop for next season’s capsule wardrobe. Ok, so I did this a little differently than Caroline Joy. She recommends buying for next season two weeks before it starts. I think that would have majorly stressed me out if I tried to do that. It takes me a while to find clothing that I truly love. There is a lot of research of different brands and styles and trial and error to find exactly what I’m looking for. Plus most brands start promoting next season’s styles pretty early. So I did this part throughout the current season and took my time. I do think it’s good to set a budget for these items. This will help to curtail any unnecessary, spur of the moment purchases. Just make sure you’re not continuing to purchase for the current season. That sort of defeats the whole purpose.

What I Love About It

I’ve been using a capsule wardrobe for the last three months, and I love it for a few reasons:

  1. It saves time. With fewer choices, I spend less time worrying about what to wear every day.
  2. It makes wardrobe gaps obvious. It’s easy to see what you’re missing when you narrow your closet down to only the essentials.
  3. It keeps things organized. I’ve moved to a system where my capsule wardrobe for the season is the only thing I see in my main closet/dressing room. Everything else is put in storage. It makes for a much more organized dressing room.
  4. It encourages creativity. With fewer options to choose from, I am forced to get creative if I don’t want to repeat the same outfits over and over again.
  5. It breaks shopping into seasonal chunks. Purchasing with a certain season in mind is so much more manageable. It’s also much more strategic. I think about my true clothing needs for the next three months, taking into weather conditions, events, etc. That way I won’t be rushing around before a big event to find the perfect dress or standing in the rain wondering why I don’t own a hooded rain coat.

Have you ever tried a capsule wardrobe? What do you think? Would you ever try one?