Love for Humanity

Last week, I visited one of my favorite hidden gems: Humanity Boutique in Lowell. My friend (and, you’ll notice, occasional photographer) Katie grew up in the next town over, so she knew about the cute shop long before I did. She brought me with her to scope it out one day, and I immediately loved the owner, Ani.

Ani is an adorable, welcoming presence with the perfect balance of kindness and quirk. She has worked tirelessly over the years to make her dream of owning her own store come true, and she never hesitates to offer words of encouragement for those following their own.

“I am inspired by the beauty of everyday life, places I travel, and people I meet. [I choose] style over fashion. I love celebrating womanhood and our own individuality. Being able to help others build confidence and be comfortable in their own skin is why Humanity Boutique exists. This is why I exist; I do what I love and I love what I do.” – AV

After months of struggling to get our schedules to match up, Ani and I finally got together at Humanity to play dress up! She was my photographer for the afternoon while I modeled some of my favorite merchandise in the store. Needless to say, it was my dream afternoon. At one point I said, “I wish I could do this every day.” Ani replied, “Don’t you?” Good point, Ani!

After managing the store since 2012 and taking ownership of the boutique in May 2014, Ani gave the store a facelift last spring. She added so many unique touches in every nook and cranny – there’s always a different detail to notice! Plus, Humanity Boutique has some great initials! 😉 In the photos above, you can see some of my favorite sections of the store – including the plush dressing room area where your fashion wing-woman can wait for you and give her opinions. Or, you can grab a seat and chat it up with Ani herself, who is always eager to learn about every new customer. By the end of your visit, you’ll have a new friend – and will probably end up with a new contact in your phone!

LOOK #1

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LOOK #2

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LOOK #3

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LOOK #4

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Thank you to Ani for letting me play dress up with all of these fabulous clothes. They are all available at Humanity on Merrimack Street in Lowell – and they are all affordable! Yes, even that amazing red bag is for sale. (The shoes are my own though. Back off.)

Next time you need a cute outfit on a budget, want to get out of your usual shopping routine, or just want to gab with an inspiring fashionista, head into Humanity – and tell Ani I sent you! ❤

For more photos from our fun shoot, follow Humanity (@humanitystyle) and visit http://www.humanitystyle.com!

Colorfully Yours,

Haley

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10 Under 10: Winter Hats

Last week, I witnessed a woman pay $89 for a simple winter hat. It was knit, black, and had a pom-pom on it – that’s it. While it was very cute, it would have been just as cute with a $10 price tag. I wanted to yell out to the woman that she could find a hat just like that one for 1/8 of the cost! But I kept my mouth shut.

I can’t let my readers make that same mistake, though. That’s why I’ve compiled a selection of ten cute winter hats UNDER $10. That’s right – not $89, not $50, not even $25. TEN. DOLLARS. You’re welcome. Oh, and by the way? Most of them are significantly under ten. Call me a magician.

And since you’ve realized by now that I have several personalities when it comes to my outfits, I’ve separated my finds into categories. You’ve got classic, cute, and cool hats to keep you warm and trendy this winter. Take your pick! Just click the text of each hat and you can purchase straight from there. Could I have made it any easier? Gosh, I should be getting paid for this.

Happy hat hunting, ladies!

CLASSIC
classic hats

Left to right: H&M Knit Hat, $5.99; Forever 21 Fuzzy Pom Pom Beanie, $9.90; Steve Madden Polar Vortex Knit Beanie, $9.97

CUTE

cute hats

Left to right: Forever 21 Felt Wool-Blend Beret, $9.90; BCBGeneration Colorful and Cozy Pom Beanie, $6.30; Lands’ End Dot Hat, $5.99

COOL

cool hats

Clockwise from left: Boohoo Cara Bad Hair Day Slogan Beanie, $7.00; H&M Hat with Ears, $9.99; 14th & Union Waffle Slouchy Beanie, $9.97; Betsey Johnson Jeweled Beanie, $9.97

Hair to Stay: R+Co Product Review

My R+Co loot from Robert Jason Salon

My R+Co loot from Robert Jason Salon

I would say I’m quite brave when it comes to my hair. No, I don’t mean I’ve tried the half-shaved look or that I’ve dyed my hair pink (unless pink highlights in middle school count), but I tend to go from one extreme to the other.

Even as a kid, I once went from Pocahontas locks to a bob on a whim, leaving my grandfather confused about who the short-haired girl seating herself at his table was. In high school, I contributed 10+ inches to Locks for Love. In college, I started with ombré but soon wanted more – so after a few months of going back and forth to the salon, I became a blonde.

Right after graduation, I went to my hairdresser and asked her to chop off the hair I had spent years growing and countless dollars coloring. She questioned my sanity, but I pushed until she did it. It still wasn’t drastic enough for me, though. A few days later, I went back and asked her to keep going.

Up until a month ago, I was back to an ombré look, albeit unintentionally. I just wanted to give my hair a much-needed break from processing, and growing out the remaining blonde was taking an eternity. Then one day I woke up, wanted to go dark, and booked an appointment. So today, I’m a mid-length, mocha brunette.

An awkward collage of my hair for the good of my readers

An awkward collage of my hair for the good of my readers

Ok, so you probably didn’t need a four paragraph history of my hair, but you must know by now that I like to talk – err, type. Anyway, my new hair became a topic of conversation between my boss, Honey, and her hairstylist, Robert. That would be Robert of Robert Jason Salon in Andover, MA, seen in Vogue, Lucky, Allure, Northshore, and Boston magazines. Robert wanted to help me out with my new locks, so he put together a bag of R+Co samples for me. How thoughful?!

I’ll admit that I hadn’t yet heard of R+Co, but it turns out I had been living under a rock. As soon as I was introduced to the brand, I started noticing it in several magazines, my friends’ beauty cabinets, etc. Better late than never, right?

While I am admittedly anything but low maintenance when it comes to my clothing, I am embarrassingly low maintenance when it comes to hair and makeup. I’ve always wished I had the motivation or skills to do my hair more than once every few weeks, but I guess I don’t have much space left in my mind for anything but my closet. I love getting my hair done, obviously, but I’m the girl that jumps out of the shower and lets the air around me work its drying magic. Sue me!

Needless to say, I was a little worried about these fancy R+Co products. How would I know what circumstance in which to use each product?! And, honestly, would I have the energy to put in the effort?

Enter these fabulous bottles of hair magic. The first thing that caught my eye was the packaging. Each bottle has an amazing backdrop, with clean white rectangles and simple black font featuring the name of the product. Some of you may be thinking that I’m putting too much stock into a bottle, but visuals are so important when it comes to products like these. If you say you don’t judge a product by its cover, you’re lying. Not only do we tend to go for the pretty packaging, but we go for the one that matches our vibe. The edgy, artsy, colorful packaging of R+Co? Yeah, those vibes spoke to me.

Moving on to the back of the bottles. They each give you a sentence or two about exactly how and when to use each product, and what the desired effect will be.

Example: “Chiffon Styling Mousse. Good for: Soft, girly curls on any length of hair. How to: Towel-dry hair and apply Chiffon section by section for the perfect blow-dry. Can also scrunch into hair and let it air dry.”

Thank you for working with us hair imbeciles, R+Co! It means a lot.

I’m sure you’re wondering about the price of these bad boys. There’s nothing I hate more than falling in love with a product in the salon and then seeing that the price tag is absolutely bananas. Unless it’s going to have hundreds of potential suitors lining up at my door, no hair product is worth high two-to-three figures, in my opinion. To be perfectly honest, most of my beauty products are purchased at CVS. *Pan to cringing beauty gurus everywhere.* Guess what, though? The R+Co products range from $20 to $29. For a stylist-recommended product that actually works? Now that’s a number I can get behind.

Now for the products themselves. Since I just explained that I don’t do my hair very often, I haven’t had a chance to try out all of the products just yet. But I didn’t want to withhold this info from you guys for much longer, so I’ll be reviewing them in two parts. Time for Part One!

Death Valley Dry Shampoo

Death Valley Dry Shampoo

Death Valley Dry Shampoo

Love at first spritz. I’ve been a loyal dry shampooer for quite some time now, but I’m constantly switching from brand to brand. There always seems to be a flaw with each of them. Perhaps it’s because up until now, I’ve capped my dry shampoo budget at $6. I guess you really do get what you (don’t) pay for. Anyway, despite the name, Death Valley smells like heaven on earth. The fragrance is called Rosy Eyed, which is described as “a spirited unpredictable scent.” I know that means nothing to you (or me), but you just have to smell it to understand. It is kind of “unpredictable.” It’s like an edgy-yet-sweet scent. Ok, I think I inhaled too much of it. Moving on. Since coloring my hair darker than ever before, I’ve unfortunately noticed that it tends to look greasy and limp much quicker than it used to. Well, this dry shampoo starts working on the first spray. It gave me a tousled, revived look. I think I’ve used up half the bottle already!

Aircraft Pomade Mousse

Aircraft Pomade Mousse

Aircraft Pomade Mousse

I’ve never really understood mousse. I always kind of thought it was for, well, older ladies. Turns out I was wrong. This one is pretty much the opposite of that – it gave me sexy, bedhead waves. R+Co describes the look perfectly: “studiously messy.” Like those models who look like they just rolled around in the sheets – but 1000 thread count, Egyptian cotton sheets. I also always pictured mousse as sticky and heavy, but Aircraft is neither. All it takes is a tiny little pump to thicken up your hair, and it feels like there’s no product in it at all.

Chiffon Styling Mousse

Chiffon Styling Mousse

Chiffon Styling Mousse

This packaging is Haley on a bottle. That bow blouse?! My ideal top. In fact, I have one just like it – but way less chic. Between the name, the art, and the description, I figured this was just the product I needed to finally morph fully into Blair Waldorf. But unlike Blair, I took the easy way out. I didn’t feel like blow drying my hair post-shower that day, so I did the scrunch-into-dry-hair-and-air-dry method. While it worked to give me a bit more volume and body, I wasn’t ready to take my ‘do gallivanting around the Upper East Side. I’m not giving up just yet, though. I promise I’ll put in the ounce of effort this calls for and let you know the real verdict in Part Two of my post! Xoxo, Gossip Girl.

I know by this point in my post some cynical little soul will be claiming I only wrote positive reviews because I was given these samples at no cost. While these products were gifted to me, they were given by Robert Jason Salon, not R+Co. Therefore, I have no reason to be biased about them in any way. Plus, if I was doing this for R+Co, I probably wouldn’t have said that the last product was underwhelming. All honesty from this low-mainteance, cheap-beauty-product-buying girl, folks.

Thank you again to Robert for my products! Head on over to Robert Jason Salon on Main Street in Andover to stock up on these and many more. Or keep adding to that piggy bank of yours and wait until I finish Part Two. Your call.

Dark-Haired but Still Colorfully Yours,

Haley

Orange You Glad…

…I didn’t make a pumpkin pun? 😉

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A couple of weeks ago, my friend Melissa and I went to Boston Hill Farm in North Andover. We had gone apple picking earlier in the day, but I wouldn’t rest until we fit in another fall activity on that beautiful day! As much as I miss being able to sit poolside in the middle of October (#FloridaLife), I always felt like I was missing out on fall in New England. Nothing beats wearing a cute flannel and preppy vest while the leaves crunch beneath your leather boots. Ok, except maybe wearing a bikini while a waiter brings you a strawberry daiquri. But we’re talking reality here.

For our pumpkin patch excursion I wore a faux-suede dress that I snagged at Marshall’s recently – where else?! If we’re being totally honest, I think it was maybe supposed to be a tunic. But hey, short girls gotta do what we gotta do! I paired it with more faux-suede in the form of booties I snagged last year at DSW and a felt hat I purchased at Charlotte Russe this spring. I guarantee that many of you readers would scoff at that store name out of context, but admit it – you love the hat, don’t you? 😉 My parents don’t call me a professional shopper for nothing.

After buying an adorable little family of mini pumpkins (because how could I not) we went to Maggie’s Farm in Middleton for dinner. I had heard great things about the restaurant but wasn’t totally sure what to expected. We ended up LOVING both of our meals (salad, burger, and a shared spinach artichoke dip) as well as our waiter and the ambiance. We treated ourselves to pumpkin beers with the cinnamon sugar rim because, well, FALL.

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The Colorful Details:

Dress Marshall’s // Booties Guess, DSW // Hat Charlotte Russe//Tights Asos // Photography by Melissa Pesaturo

Book Review: The One and Only

the one and only emily giffin
As I sit down to write a review of Emily Giffin’s The One and Only, I’m realizing how conflicted I feel about it.

Let me start with a brief synopsis. The story follows 33-year-old Shea Rigsby from Walker, a small town in Texas. The town takes a Friday Night Lights-esque approach to football – they live, eat, and breathe it. Shea is no exception. In fact, she loves football arguably more than anyone in town. She idolizes the local coach, who also happens to be her best friend’s father. Shea finally decides to step out of the Walker football cocoon career-wise, but soon learns that the obsession follows her everywhere.

I did finish this 400+ page book in two days. Then again, that probably doesn’t hold much weight considering I’ve said similar things about my last several reads. Being a bookworm and a night owl is a deadly combination!

Now let me follow up by saying how uneasy this novel made me feel. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like reading it – it just means that the storyline wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Frankly, it made me feel pretty weird.

It’s hard to explain that without giving away any spoilers. But I will say that based on the book description you’ll find on the inside cover, you’re going to assume this is your standard chick-lit. I sure did.

However, the novel covers some intense topics. And I can’t say I loved how Giffin addressed them.

In my opinion, though, some of the best books I’ve read present a sort-of moral dilemma to the reader. You keep changing your mind about whose side you’re on.

The One and Only certainly kept my interest, as I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. It was one of those “I’ll sleep after this chapter…no wait, after this one!” situations. So the entertainment value was certainly there.

At the same time, it seemed a little like Giffin went in so many different directions in the first three-quarters of the book that she ran out of steam in the last quarter. (See my little football reference?! I can be sporty!) Many of the topics that had been brought up felt undeveloped in the end.

You’re probably sitting behind your computer screen thinking about how completely unhelpful this review was, but I’m just going to have to let you find out for yourself.

Give it a read and let me know in the comments whether you loved it, hated it, or felt a little of both. Happy reading!

The LC Runway Collection

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It’s no secret that I adore Lauren Conrad. In fact, I wrote all about my love for her a month or two ago on this very blog. I entered (and won!) a contest on her site. And when my friend referred to LC as my “spirit animal” just the other day, I basically squealed.

So it comes as no surprise that I was psyched to find out that Lauren was premiering her newest Kohl’s collection on the runway at New York Fashion Week. However, I’ll admit to being a bit underwhelmed by the LC/Kohl’s collabs in the past, so I didn’t get my hopes up too high.

Boy, was I pleasantly surprised.

I am in love with the LC Runway Collection. It is ethereal, soft, feminine, and reminiscent of a woodland fairytale. The color palette is full of toned down neutrals and pastels. This is definitely outside of my comfort zone, as I tend to go for bold, bright colors, (duh) but it works so well here. The photos of Lauren herself in the collection actually glow. I’ve never had such a desire to be outdoors! Ha.

After making a mental ‘favorites’ list on the Kohl’s website, I couldn’t wait to get to my local store and see the items in the flesh.

Unfortunately, but not shockingly, my local Kohl’s had an extremely limited selection of LC Runway items. Regardless, it was nice to see the items in person – I was very impressed with the quality of each one I tried on.

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But…

I hate that there’s a but. Lauren is my girl. BUT I promised that my reviews would be honest and uncolored.

First of all, the price point is a little wacko for Kohl’s. I understand that Lauren is a legitimate designer and this is an awesome collaboration, but at the end of the day, we’re still talking about Kohl’s. The store needs to pander to its demographic. Full disclosure: if I’m going to spend $230 on a backpack or $120 on a little jacket, it’s probably not going to be at Kohl’s.

Secondly, the sizing was bizarre. I had to keep grabbing larger and larger sizes of the faux-suede motorcycle jacket – the item I wanted to see most. I finally felt comfortable in the size 12 – WTF? But although the body fit in that size, the arms were much too loose. Ugh. Next, I tried the scuba skirt in a size bigger than my usual. Still too small! The bow sweater that I tried was a cute and normal fit, but I’d be reticent when ordering online. I’m so tempted to order some of the items that I couldn’t find in stores, but I’m not sure how far up to go in size.

Anyway, odd sizing aside, the collection is just as gorgeous in person as it is on the website – and that’s not something you run into often. Hopefully I can get to another (fully stocked) location and try on some of the other items I’m lusting after.

Speaking of lust, I’ve chosen my favorite items from the LC Runway Collection below:

  1. Faux-suede motorcycle jacketI wish this had fit my body type better, because I’m obsessed. Girly and edgy – my two personalities in one item. The pale pink was amazing, but I’d love to see the deep green in person too!
  2. High Waist Soft Pants: I think I need these in my life. I’m not sure what I like best. That crepe? That blush tone? That sash? Ahhhh!
  3. Floral Scuba Skirt:  This skirt is thick and flattering. The sweet, feminine style and print would pair perfectly with the edginess of the motorcycle jacket, in either color!
  4. Tiered Fringe Crop Top: Daisy Buchanan, is that you? Oh, no – it’s just me looking fierce and flappery in my [currently imaginary] fringe crop.
  5. Tulle Maxi Skirt:  I’ve been hunting for the perfect tulle skirt for so long. Now someone invite me somewhere so I can buy this!
  6. Sequin Ombre Midi Skirt: Sequins + ombre + pink = a dream come true.
  7. Faux-Fur Collar Peacoat:  Don’t ask me how it even got into my head, but I’ve been wanting a pastel winter coat for the past couple of years. Hello, beautiful.
  8. Lace-Up High Heels: These are the ideal mix of classy and sexy. They’re so versatile, yet they’re reminiscent of a fairy princess. The perfect tie-in to the rest of the collection!

You may think I just listed most of the collection, but I promise this is an extremely narrowed down list. The collection is BIG. So much to choose from…so few money trees in my backyard. 😉

Keep my sizing comments in mind, but don’t let that stop you from shopping!

Support my spirit animal Lauren Conrad and channel your inner woodland fashionista while you’re at it. Time for your very own fairy tale!

Back to Cool

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I may have gone to public high school, but there were certainly times I fantasized about a school uniform.

No, not for the ease of getting ready in the morning or the leveling of the proverbial playing field. Rather, for the creative expression that comes with trying to make a uniform unique. Watching Serena Van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf turn the classic plaid skirt and oxford shirt into a runway-worthy ensemble left me drooling. Whether you were a boho babe or a preppy princess, the Gossip Girls probably inspired you to put your own twist on the basics.

Although I’m now well into my postgrad life, I can’t help but fall into a back-to-school mindset.

That’s why when KRZA by Krystle Dawn sent me an adorable handmade headband, it didn’t take long to decide what to pair with it. The Arctic headband in Stargazer is a black and white striped knit with silver threads woven through it. It’s so versatile that I thought it may take me hours to pick out an outfit. But then, like a moth to light, I walked into my closet and immediately gravitated towards my quilted faux-leather A-line skirt. Next, a crisp collared white oxford jumped out at me. In true Gossip Girl fashion, though, the collar is embellished with huge jewels. I feel like if I were a shirt, I’d be this one.

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In another school-girl-gone-edgy twist, I picked out my favorite pair of loafers – black with a lip print on one shoe and lipstick on the other. Yes, my loafers were giving some serious lip.

The outfit was practically screaming for a slick top knot peaking out from my KRZA headband. Private school approved, don’t you think?

My friend Elizabeth suggested winged black eyeliner, and I was all about it. The problem is, I’m horrible about makeup, so it took about 25 minutes to find one usable stub of an old eyeliner. I swear my brain spends so much energy on clothing that it won’t allow room for beauty products. Or money for ’em. Maybe that’s it.

I tend to feel a bit naked without a statement necklace, but my jeweled collar and a pair of big, sparkly studs did the trick.

I felt so cool yet so polished in this look. The KRZA headband completed it. After all, no prep school ensemble is complete without a headband – just ask Blair – and this turban-style number added the perfect amount of unique flair.

Krystle Dawn has tons of styles and prints of headbands on her site. She even makes “Mommy and Me” sets! She has an amazing Instagram account, her products are affordable, and to top it all off, she has been a sweetheart to work with! As you start to expand your fall wardrobe, consider accessorizing with KRZA.

As for the lesson of the day?

Whether you’re in school or not, you can always go back to cool.

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The Colorful Details:

Headband KRZA by Krystle Dawn (c/o) // Top Ann Taylor Loft (similar here) // Skirt Marshall’s (similar here) // Shoes UrbanOG (old) // Photography by Katelyn Derby