My Study Abroad Experience In Photos

Photography has always been an extremely valuable medium to me. Photos allow you to remember experiences exactly how they happen, but only the best parts. That's how I would like to look back on my past - remembering the best parts and forgetting the negative. While there were definitely pros and cons and ups and downs to my study abroad experience, these photos mean the world to me because they remind me how truly lucky I was to witness the beauty that lies in other parts of the world for such an extended period of time. These photos allow me to vividly relive the "pinch me" feelings I got every time I saw a breathtaking monument, natural landscape or sunset. 

Today is December 31st and watching everyone post recaps of their best experiences of 2017 inspired me to make this post. I can't thank God enough for this 4-month-long experience because it taught me so much and gave me some pretty incredible memories and stories.

If you are interested in reading more about my study abroad travels, below are links to some of my travel posts! 

Rome, Italy

Velvet Holiday

You may be surprised that one of the best (and most underrated places) to shop for holiday apparel is boutiques! I find that lots of holiday apparel sold at popular, widely known retailers can be sooo overpriced, whereas boutique apparel is typically under $100. The hardest thing to find at popular retailers are reasonably priced cocktail dresses for the holidays – I rarely find anything good for less than $200! Mint Julep Boutique (sign up for their newsletter and get $10 off your purchase!) is a great example of a boutique that sells trendy holiday apparel that won't break the bank. For this post, I am wearing two Mint Julep pieces that would be great for a holiday party – this velvet floral dress and pair of pumps (that are surprisingly comfortable given their height!). I paired the heels with these shimmery socks, which I think add a unique element to the outfit and are a trend I've been loving lately. Unfortunately, Christmas is coming up in the next couple of days, but it's not too late to shop for New Years Eve apparel!

Feelin' Purple

On the go

Gift Guide For Mom

I always think spend the most time brainstorming what to give my mom for Christmas because she's the absolute most important person in my life. Many of these choices (or variations of them) are gifts I've given to my mom and the past and she was so happy to get them – and better yet, she actually got a lot of use out of them. The best part is that most of these gifts are under $100! 

Gifts Under $25

1. Monogram keychain // 2. Bath bomb set // 3. Personalized GPS coordinates wall print (I got this for my friends last year with our school's coordinates!) // 4. Mini Waffle Iron // 5. Kate Spade Tumbler // 6. Bandana (comes in so many colors/patterns!) // 7. Pom pom hat // 8. Archipelago 'Bergamot Tobacco' candle // 9. Face mask set

This one goes out to all you broke college students out there! I usually have so many people to buy for during the holidays for that I have no choice but to keep my budget $25 and under per gift. Happy shopping! 

Gift Guide for Him

To be quite honest I think the majority of men's gift guides out on the web don't appeal to what the average guy wants. Of course there are actually some men out there who would be interested in an artisan shaving kit or a $300 leather man purse, but the majority of men out there are just simple dudes who want gifts that are functional or relate to their personal interests. I put a lot of thought into curating 8 gifts that any man in your life, whether it be your brother, boyfriend or dad, would actually use and/or be excited to get. 

1. Ugg Slippers - It is possible that some men regard Ugg as a girl brand, but even if they do, they won't be leaving the house in these slipper so it doesn't really matter. Oh, and once they feel how soft these are, they won't care. 

2. Portable speaker - Listen to music through a quality, yet small speaker - 'nuff said. 

3. Personalized Whiskey Barrel - I think most men love whiskey? Maybe that is a stereotype, but if it's true, they will love this personalized and unique way to store their fave alcohol. 

4. Pajama Bottoms - If you aren't looking to spend more than $40 or so, pajama pants are always the perfect way to go! Anyone could get so much use out of them.

5. Patagonia Pullover - I've seen a lot of gift guides include Patagonia and I think it is always a great brand to give as a gift. However, this pullover is especially awesome because it is only $59 - great for anyone shopping on a budget!

6. Yeti cup - These cups are awesome because they keep your drinks cold/hot for hours! Also, it seems like most guys really love the Yeti brand so that's a bonus. 

7. Portable Lounger - This inflatable lounge is really awesome for anyone. You can bring it camping, to the beach, or to a music festival or simply use it as extra seating in your apartment/house. 

8. Belgian Waffle Maker - Pro tip: buy a guy anything having to do with food and he will be happy. Buy this waffle maker along with some waffle mix so he will be able to use your gift ASAP! 

Festive Florals

Thanksgiving Outfit Ideas

Woohoo my favorite two months of the year are finally here! I'm not big on Halloween at all, but I am in love with both Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year, I'm fortunate enough to be going home for 10 days for Thanksgiving. This is a huge deal for me because I have only been home three times this year and miss my mom and cat like crazy. As part of tradition, I will be going to my grandparents' house in Mississippi to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. Personally, I end up wearing something pretty comfy and casual for the holiday because we basically just eat and lounge around the whole day. However, I know some people's Thanksgivings are much more eventful. In this post, I tried to include a variety of fancy and casual outfits. Even some of the "fancier" outfits are actually pretty comfy! Obviously I don't expect anyone to read this post and buy everything I recommend to create one outfit, I hope that y'all are just able to relate some of the pieces I suggest to pieces in your own wardrobe that can be substituted!

1. Ruffle Sleeve Sweater + Corduroy Skirt + Black Tights + Mary Janes 

2. Chunky Sweater + Leather Leggings + Lace Up Flats

3. High Neck Blouse + Distressed Skinny Jeans + Tan Booties

4. Ruffle Blouse + Paper Bag Skirt + Black Booties

5. Floral Dress + OTK Boots + Statement Earrings

6. Moto Jacket + Thin Turtleneck Sweater + Gingham (or any fun/patterned) Pants + Black Mules

7. Cardigan + Button Down + Cropped Jeans + Mules

8. Corduroy Dress + Thin Turtleneck Sweater + Gingham (any pattern) Flats/Mules

Suede Layers

Ruffle Love

Apple Farm Fun

How To Get In The Fall Spirit

I am super inspired to write this post right now because it's officially the first day of the season that hasn't been 500 degrees! I am a huge fall person (aren't we all?) and I like to live up the season to its fullest so I'm sharing with y'all 4 ways that I get into the fall spirit! 

1. Cozy Sweaters

I think this one is a given. However, I wanted to mention it so that I could share some of my favorites available this year! 

2. Pinterest

Pinterest is amazing for finding anything involving DIY's and decor ideas, as I'm sure y'all know. This goes for fall related DIYs/decor too! In addition, it is great for providing ideas about fall related activities and fall bucket lists. Below, I will link a few of my favorite fall related Pinterest posts.

Fall bucket list:

Fall front porches:

Free fall wall prints:

Fall scent diffuser blends:

10 ways to add a fall touch to your home:

Pumpkin french toast recipe:

20 free fall activities:

Fall breakfast hash recipe:

3 ingredient pumpkin pie dip:

Pumpkin alfredo recipe:

3. Tumblr Blogs

Pinterest is definitely great for finding fall related DIYs and ideas for fall decor, but when it comes to creative fall photography, Tumblr is the JAM. I follow so many Tumblr blogs that are solely dedicated to fall photos and have spent hours scrolling through them just to get that blissful fall feeling. Below are a few of my favorite fall Tumblr blogs (tip: Tumblr is more user friendly on the mobile app). 

4. Fall Scented Candles

Ok, so I am such a candle snob. It sounds really weird but I went through a phase Junior year of high school where I was absolutely obsessed with candles and would burn one every night. I probably asked for about $200 worth of candles for christmas that year. Because of this, I have discovered alllll of the best candle scents for fall. Below, I have linked my faves! 

NYC Restaurant Diaries

This summer was incredible and the reason was in-part due to all the delicious restaurants I tried out. While there were a couple of sub-par spots I came across, the majority were fantastic and I just had to write this post to rave about them. In no particular order, here are some of my favorite NYC restaurants from this summer including everything from brunch to dinner. 

1. Chalk Point Kitchen

I hate salads but I love eating healthy food. It can be hard for me to find restaurants that suit that desire but Chalk Point Kitchen makes it so easy! This little spot is in the trendy area of SoHo but has the cutest little farm/grandma's kitchen vibes. The entire menu is full of healthy brunch entrees and only several of them are salads! The "Avocado & Sweet Potato Hash" (pictured) caught my eye and it didn't disappoint at all. 

7 Best Mules for Fall

I don't even know what to call this style of shoe. Mules? Loafers? Slides? I feel like every shoe brand has a different name for them. I decided I wanted to add a new pair of whatever this style of shoe is called to my fall wardrobe. After searching high and low, I ordered this pair and am currently awaiting their delivery! This is such a popular style of shoe this season so I decided to throw together a little shopping guide of my favorites! 

Mixing Purples

4 Fall Transition Pieces

1. Overall Dress

So this isn't actually a piece I have in my wardrobe yet but it's something that I want so badly! It is such an investment piece because you could wear it with a t-shirt or with a long sleeve button down or blouse!

Red Stripes

Top: H&M | Shorts: Urban Outfitters (linked similar) | Bag: Rebecca Minkoff | Shoes: Steve Madden (linked similar) | Watch: Daniel Wellington 

I recently popped into H&M not really expecting to find anything good (I typically never find anything I like in H&M... everything looks really cheap to me, anyone agree?). However, I came across this adorable striped button down for only $25! Seriously an incredible steal. I usually never get button downs because I can't find any that have a relaxed fit that is also flattering, but this one is  loose, flattering and the material doesn't look cheap! Bonus: it comes in several other colored stripes and two solid colors! 

I know everyone is probably looking for fall outfit inspo right now, but it's still insanely hot in NYC –I was sweating my butt off when I took these photos! Hopefully it cools off soon so that I can get some sweater and boots looks going for y'all. I also hope it cools down because The Victory Polo Cup is next weekend and the dress I'm wearing is long sleeved (and I'm pairing it with riding boots) so otherwise, I'm going to be miserable standing out with the sun beating down on me all day. I'm super excited to share with y'all the outfit that I've put together for that event. It's the perfect fall look :)

Why I Blog

My blog came to be in a somewhat unique way. Three and a half years ago, I made a Tumblr account (which I named classy-kate, now you know where the name comes from if you didn't already) and started posting photos of my daily outfits. What started off as me nonchalantly posting these OOTDs became so much more important to me when people started asking me questions and interacting with me on Tumblr. People would ask me anything from what they should wear on a college tour to how to cope with getting dumped by their boyfriend of four years. I ended up getting such high volumes of questions (when Tumblr was at its peak) that I would spend up to hours each day answering them. It was very time consuming but I loved it so much and it was all worth it when someone would message me saying they looked up to me or I helped them through a tough time. This, right here, is exactly what has inspired all of my social media efforts for the past three years. I ended up making an official blog platform after a year and a half of having my Tumblr account. No lie, this was partially a business move as I did want to monetize my "brand" that I created and gain more company collaborations. However, my main intent was to help and inspire people. I do post a lot of outfit posts on my blog because I love photography, editing the photos and styling outfits –basically the entire process of creating an outfit post. But, the posts I feel the most proud of and always get the best reception are the ones that I was really inspired to make and put a lot of effort into. For instance, my Fashion Institute of Technology FAQ and my 8 Tips For Incoming College Freshmen posts –basically, the ones that involve more writing and are advice based. 

It is really hard to not get sucked up into obsessing over followers and monetizing your blog. Instagram is a huge platform for bloggers and has always been a more superficial platform, however, it has recently become so much worse in that sense. Massive giveaways, robot likers/commenters and purchasing followers in a desperate attempt to gain an audience in a painfully oversaturated market is rampant nowadays. I've noticed it grow exponentially within the past several months due to Instagram "cleaning up" spam accounts and trying to make more money for itself. I'm not bashing people who do this stuff in any way (I've done giveaways before and probably will in the future), I completely understand wanting to monetize a hobby that you are passionate about and grow it into a business. I understand how difficult it is to gain a following in the blogging world nowadays. Personally, though, I feel that it can become the equivalent of speaking to an empty room when taken to extremes. If monetizing your blog is all you care about and these methods are working for you, that is great! I'm not shaming you at all. But if I were in that position, I would personally have no motivation to keep blogging. I feel the most inspired to write a post when someone asks me a question or tells me I helped them (even if it is something as simple as helping them find a dress to wear to a wedding!). As long as I know that someone is actually hearing what I am saying and wants to hear what I am saying, I will continue to blog. Tumblr is dying as a platform and I don't get even a fraction of the questions that I used to. When I get an occasional message from someone telling me they love my blog or I've helped them out, it warms my heart and reminds me why I started pouring myself into my blog in the first place. I've screenshotted all of the nicest/most impactful messages I've gotten over the years and look back through them whenever I feel uninspired or start focusing too much on followers and money. 

I would love to hear y'all's thoughts on this post or on this topic in general –leave a comment or shoot me an Intagram/Tumblr message!

Business Casual

Cool Downtown

Summer Blush

Back To School Supplies You Need

Probably the only exciting thing about the school year starting is getting cute and brand new school supplies. TBH, I always feel way more motivated using fresh new pens to write down notes in a crisp new planner. Whether you are going back to high school or going back to college, the essentials that you carry around campus are pretty much the same. Below, is a master list of many cute and necessary back-to-school items. 

Buffalo Checks

Dress: Misa Los Angeles | Shoes: Hinge (linked similar) | Bag: Old (linked similar) | Watch: Daniel Wellington 

This weekend was a very rough one in terms of my personal life, however, spending lots of time with good friends helped quite a bit. On Saturday afternoon, two of my friends and I hung out in midtown and took these awesome photos near the iconic Flatiron building. I wore this incredibly adorable Misa dress that I got recently and paired it with some simple, neutral accessories. This dress is so flattering and the best part is you can wear it several ways: completely off the shoulder or as a one shoulder dress. I've linked some other, cheaper buffalo check/gingham options down below!