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The Blog

Approachable inspiration for a stylish life. 

 

Filtering by Category: Life

Six Go-To Shops for Fashionable, Affordable Workout Wear

Kristen Berry

People often talk about how casually people dress in L.A. And it’s true, there’s definitely a laid-back, slightly irreverent sense of style around here. But that isn’t to say that most people just throw on any old thing. That’s true for what they wear to the gym, too.

Angelenos may essentially be wearing yoga pants, sports bras and tank tops while working out, but these pieces often include little details that make them special. That make it seem more than reasonable to wear them to brunch at a cute outdoor restaurant following your pilates class (cue the “Activewear” video).

There is a lot of elevated workout wear out there (see Alo Yoga, Bandier), but I just can’t wrap my head around spending a ton of money on things I’m only going to sweat in. Here are my go-to destinations for affordable, fashionable workout wear.

The Sale Section at Spiritual Gangster

I love Spiritual Gangster’s whole laid-back, beachy, posi-vibes thing. I also love how consistently awesome their sale section is – both in the attractive selection and the price.

H&M

H&M is an obvious choice for stylish fast fashion, but if your regular trips through the racks don’t include their fitness attire, you’re missing out. The fabrics might not be as breathable and high-tech as what you might find at the Nike store, but they look damn good and hold up to washing and working out surprisingly well.

Old Navy

I’m consistently pleasantly surprised by the stylish, quality items available in the activewear section at Old Navy. I get some of the biggest compliments at the gym on pieces I’ve purchased from the store, thanks to the bold patterns and pretty colors they often feature. Old Navy is also regularly in the middle of a sitewide/storewide sale, so you can often get their already affordable items below retail price.

Boohoo Fit

I’ve come across Boohoo apparel on numerous occasions while perusing the pages of ASOS.com, but I had no idea they made workout gear until I was researching this very post. I’m loving the flattering cuts, cute cutouts and creative prints.

Nordstrom Rack

If you want big brand names at fast fashion prices, then the Rack is the shopping destination for you. And if sorting through actual clothing racks isn’t your thing, their online selection is seriously decent, too.

Target

As if you needed another reason for Target to be a bottomless black hole for your money, the workout section at the bullseye is quite dangerous (in a good way).

Jacket, Spiritual Gangster, no longer available. Sports bra, H&M, $30 at HM.com. Yoga tights, H&M, $35 at HM.com. Baseball cap, H&M, $13 at HM.com. Sneakers, APL Women's TechLoom Phantom in Dusk Purple, $165 at AthleticPropulsionLabs.com.

A Beginner’s Guide to Activism: Three Concrete Things You Can Do To Fight Back Against the Trump Administration

Kristen Berry

 Love (and focused action) trumps hate.

Love (and focused action) trumps hate.

My conversations with friends are beginning to fall into a familiar pattern. For example, when I met a good girlfriend for a Pilates class last week, the first thing she said was, “Have you seen the latest news about Trump? I’m so mad! I’ve never been this political before, but now, I’m pissed.”

I’m pissed, too. I was already devastated by the results of the election, and the first few days of 45’s presidency have shattered any illusion that the rhetoric he spewed throughout his candidacy was merely bluster. From the immigration ban, to the subsequent and sudden firing of acting attorney general Sally Q. Yates, to his reported efforts to roll back LGBT protections,

to his contentious interactions with some of the US’ closest allies, to the repeated attempts to undermine and delegitimize the press, it’s clear that Trump is every bit as dangerous as we feared.

I’m mad. I’m sad. And I’m frightened. I’ve already written about my feelings on the voter apathy that contributed to Trump’s election, and how I plan to do much more come the next election. But we have a long way to go before then.

This election has birthed a multitude of baby activists, inspiring a strong desire to make the jump from being simply informed to being involved. But when you’re brand new to the world of political action/activism, how exactly do you make that leap? Where and how do you start?

I’ve been looking into this, talking to friends about this, and doing quite a bit of soul-searching on this myself. Here are three concrete steps I plan to take to dive confidently into a more politically active life.

Step One: Do Something

 Uber-handy printable postcards created by the organizers of the Women’s March to make writing to your elected officials a snap. More below!

Uber-handy printable postcards created by the organizers of the Women’s March to make writing to your elected officials a snap. More below!

“I have been guilty on a few counts, you know. My Senator, Kamala Harris, has been very vocal about when she is standing up to certain things. And so, for example, if I see her tweet that she's going to do her best to block a certain nominee, I don't call her office. And then I saw an email from a friend of mine saying that she reached out to Dianne Feinstein's office – another generally pretty progressive senator from my state – but they were like, listen, we decide how hard to push on something based on the number of emails we get. And so if you don't email, even if your senator is on the same page as you, they don't know that it's a priority for you. And so that was a real wake-up call for me that even if my senator is on the right page and is telling me that we're on the same page, I still need to write the email, and keep standing up so that we don’t get these people confirmed or these policies passed.”
– Ann Friedman, Call Your Girlfriend podcast #77, “Executive Disorder,” 42:47

It was so refreshing to hear Ann Friedman, journalist, politically active human, and co-host of one of my fave podcasts, Call Your Girlfriend, admit that even she has found herself wondering just how much her calls and emails to her senators matter from time to time. And the anecdote she shared on a recent episode of her podcast underscores how much your actions really do count. But now that we’ve established the importance of contacting your elected officials, how do you go about doing it?

The organizers of the Jan. 21, 2017 Women’s March on Washington recently launched a handy new campaign, “10 Actions for the First 100 Days,” which serves as a simple, straightforward guidebook to push back against the administration. For instance, the first of their ten actions is to write a postcard to your senators, and they take all of the guesswork out of it – including providing downloadable, printable postcards you can use.

Not sure what to write? Check out the awesome templates created and shared by the brilliant Maryanna Quigless, here. Just pick a topic that’s important to you, and write.

Don’t feel like going out to buy stamps? Emails work just fine.

Rather call than write? Check out this step-by-step guide to calling your representatives from Refinery29.

Not sure how to contact them? Phone numbers, email addresses/forms and mailing addresses for all of the senators of the 115th Congress can be found here. You can also find your representatives by searching your zip code here.

Wondering where your representatives stand on the issues that matter to you? The Washington Post created an amazing resource – type in your zip code, and they’ll tell you where your local officials stand on the immigration ban, Obamacare, and Trump’s candidate picks. They also provide the rep’s phone numbers to make voicing your opinions a breeze. FiveThirtyEight created a tool that tracks how often each member of the House and Senate votes with or against 45. You can also check out The Campaign Promise, which serves as a crowdsourced scorecard for the campaign promises of each official elected in November 2016.  

Step Two: Donate Your Time, Your Money, Or Anything Else You Have to Give

Another great way to affect change (and do something positive in the midst of all of this negativity) is to contribute to the organizations who support and fight for the causes that are being threatened by the new administration. Have extra time, or a skill you can offer? Contact the organization whose mission is closest to your heart and look for opportunities to volunteer. Can you spare a few extra dollars? Make a donation towards change.

If you don’t have a particular organization in mind just yet, take a look at this super helpful list compiled by the folks at Racked.com, which will provide a great start. The list includes info on such causes as the American Civil Liberties Union, Black Lives Matter, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and Vote.org, among numerous others.

Step Three: Stay Informed – But Also Stay Sane

It’s very tempting to turn away from all of the negativity in the news, and hide under a proverbial blanket until the next election. However, being uninformed is part of what got us into this mess in the first place. It’s important that we stay abreast of what’s happening in the administration so that we can fight back effectively.

This means consuming news from multiple news sources – and not just the multiple links that appear on our Facebook/Twitter/Instagram feeds. Getting a sense of the news from several different outlets will help provide a more complete picture of what’s happening, and ensure that we’re hearing differing perspectives on the same issue.

This may sound like an incredibly time-intensive or laborious process, but it doesn’t have to be. My current routine is to scan my daily newsletter from The Skimm when I wake up, listen to NPR (via the NPR One app) as I get ready for the day, visit The New York Times’ website while I’m at work, scan The Atlantic and The Wall Street Journal a few times a week, listen to podcasts that often touch on politics on my drive home, such as Call Your Girlfriend, This American Life and the NPR Politics Podcast, and catch The Daily Show from time to time. Push notifications from my CNN app also help to ensure I’m aware of any late breaking news or major new developments as they happen.

Okay, okay, that kind of sounds like a lot, and I’m admittedly a news junkie. But the moral of the story is that given the multitude of mediums available to us, it’s actually pretty easy to incorporate several news sources into your regular content regimen.  

You may have noticed that many of the media I read/watch/listen to are known to skew a bit liberal – regularly checking out news coverage that tends to have a more conservative bent is something that I’m trying to work on. Perhaps I can work The Economist and National Review into the mix.

What’s on your political activism agenda?
 

Why I’m Officially Obsessed with Classpass

Kristen Berry

  Images Courtesy of ClassPass

Images Courtesy of ClassPass

When I last wrote about my fitness routine, I was all about YouTube workouts – so much so that I cancelled my gym membership to make these videos my sole workout, besides a once-or-twice-a-week run.

However, I recently relocated to Los Angeles from the Silicon Valley area, and while the Bay has quite a bit to offer when it comes to fitness options, nothing seems to compare to the depth and breadth of workout classes available in L.A. With so many incredible gyms, studios and classes in arm’s reach, it seems a shame not to explore them, and too daunting to commit to one choice just yet. And thanks to ClassPass, I get to play the field, fitness-wise.

Here are a few of the reasons why ClassPass has made a loyal member out of me.

I Can Create a Custom Fitness Schedule

  Images Courtesy of ClassPass

Images Courtesy of ClassPass

I’d much rather take a fitness class than hit a gym on my own. I always get a much more vigorous workout from one that’s instructed by a professional than one I lead myself. However, the group workout class schedule offered by most gyms tends to be so limited – I often find that the classes available at convenient times are few and far between, and the classes I’m most interested in are often held when I need to be at or on my way to/from the office.

I love working out in the morning in particular. I’ve found that a 6 am, 45 minute to 1-hour class held at a location within a 15-minute drive of my apartment is ideal. And I like those classes to vary from a super strenuous calorie crusher to a gentle, flexibility-focused yoga class depending on how I’m feeling. That’s a lot to ask from a single gym. However, with ClassPass, even with those strict parameters I’m able to find a perfect class near me.

The Class Cancellation Policy Acts as a Built-In Accountability Partner

While I prefer working out in the early morning hours before work, that doesn’t mean that crawling out of my warm bed at 5:30 a.m. is easy. I’m often tempted to snooze through the class altogether. However, the $15 fee issued when you cancel a ClassPass-booked class less than 12 hours before the scheduled start time (or $20 if you no-show) is an effective motivator to get my ass out of bed. It’s the monetary equivalent of working out with a friend who will give you crap if you don’t show up for a regularly scheduled workout session.

It Encourages Me to Get Out of My Fitness Comfort Zone, And Try/Learn New Things

It’s so easy to fall into a fitness rut, especially when you go the typical gym route. But this is bad for multiple reasons:

A)    It’s boring, which makes it less fun, which makes it more tempting to skip.

B)    Your body grows accustomed to the workout, which makes the sessions less effective.

C)    You miss out on the opportunity to try or learn something new.

Because there are so many options available on ClassPass, and because you don’t have to commit yourself to a single gym/studio, it’s incredibly easy to try something you otherwise wouldn’t. For example, I’ve always been curious about taking a boxing class, but when I’ve researched boxing gyms in the past, I’ve always gotten intimidated. After seeing one of those boxing gyms on ClassPass last week – Prevail Los Angeles, which Claire Marshall, one of my fave bloggers/vloggers, recently featured – I decided to take the plunge. I was instantly hooked – so hooked that I ordered my own boxing gloves the moment I got home, and signed up for my next class.

One of the potential downsides of ClassPass is that you can only visit the same studio 2-3 times per month, depending on the membership you select. However, I actually find this to be a positive thing. It discourages me from falling into a fitness rut, and encourages me to keep trying new things. It’s also proving to be a great way to get to know my new city and some of the awesome people within it.

Right now ClassPass is offering its services for just $19 for the first month – which is how I got hooked. Visit ClassPass.com to learn more. Right now I take about 2-3 ClassPass classes per week, and supplement them with a run or a YouTube class once or twice a week. I couldn’t be happier or more energized to work out, and I’m super pleased with the physical results. I only hope that ClassPass continues to grow and expand to more cities!

Blog for Love, Not for Likes

Kristen Berry

  Trying to earn my blogger self-sufficiency badge by managing my own photo shoot, thanks to a tripod and a camera with a self-timer.

Trying to earn my blogger self-sufficiency badge by managing my own photo shoot, thanks to a tripod and a camera with a self-timer.

People frequently ask me what my goals are for my blog. On it’s face, it’s a perfectly innocent question. However, I get a bit annoyed when asked. I mean, no one would ask what my goals are for playing on a weekend basketball league, or taking a Tuesday night pottery class.  What’s wrong with simply blogging as a hobby, purely because it’s something I love?

Of course, this question wouldn’t get under my skin if it weren’t a sore spot of mine. I’m a naturally competitive, goal-oriented, metrics-driven person. And when you’re a blogger, your metrics are your unique visitors, your page views, and, perhaps unfortunately, the number and engagement level of your Instagram followers.

It can feel incredibly narcissistic to care too much about how many people follow you on Instagram, but in the world of blogging, it’s naive to think that those digits don’t matter. Most brands won’t think of collaborating with you unless you hit a certain number of followers. And it can be difficult not to compare your stats with those of countless other seemingly similar bloggers with an astronomical following.

However, there’s a thin, gray line between working to grow your following and becoming obsessed with it. After all, I don’t think any of us aspire to become an Instagram girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse (see Instagram Husband; it ain’t pretty). When I find myself going down a social media rabbit hole, a web analytics shame spiral, or the beginning stages of an existential blogger crisis, here’s what I do/tell myself/ask myself to snap out of it.

Remember Why You Started Blogging in the First Place

I didn’t start a blog to become Internet famous, and I didn’t have any dreams of becoming an Instagram star. I started a blog as a fun creative outlet, an opportunity to take a break from the tech world I work in and revel in my passion for fashion and makeup. I started a blog to share the advice my friends and family often come to me for with a broader audience of people who might find it helpful, or fun, or interesting. And I started a blog to keep learning – to pick up a few skills in web design, photography, video editing, and social media.

When I feel the fog of doubt begin to roll in, I ask myself if I’m still having fun. If I still enjoy playing with makeup and clothes, and writing/taking pictures/making videos about it. And I ask myself if I’m still learning. If the answer to these questions is “yes,” I keep going. And I allow that to be my barometer for success.

I Probably Won’t be the Next Cupcakes and Cashmere – And I’m O.K. With That.

  Emily Schuman, the beautiful brains behind the highly successful blog    Cupcakes and Cashmere   , and her two fantastic books.

Emily Schuman, the beautiful brains behind the highly successful blog Cupcakes and Cashmere, and her two fantastic books.

I’m a definite believer that with hard work, dedication and a dash of luck, anything is possible. But I’m also a realist, and I know that there’s a slim chance that I’ll be packing it all in to travel the world on my blogger money. Acknowledging and embracing this helps me keep a healthy perspective on how important it is that I get a perfect shot of my new Zara purchase, or that I engage with my followers each and every day.

Don’t Believe the Hype

  Four incredibly talented beauty bloggers/vloggers who have amassed   impressive Instagram followings, and have shared their social media tips.

Four incredibly talented beauty bloggers/vloggers who have amassed impressive Instagram followings, and have shared their social media tips.

There are countless talented bloggers and Instagrammers who have worked incredibly hard for years to organically grow their followings. And many offer tips that you can apply to yours as well (see Teni Panosian, Shayla Mitchell, Karen Sarahi Gonzalez and Marianna Hewitt’s advice). However, not everyone’s methods are worth replicating.

It’s well known that many people buy their Instagram followers, or boost their followings with fake accounts (even Justin Bieber’s social media team was caught making this ‘Gram gaffe). Numerous others follow you on Instagram, just to unfollow you once you follow them back – a notorious method used to keep their followings-to-followers ratio low. Gross, I know. It’s also been frequently stated that the quickest way to boost your following/likes is with a little nudity. And I have no interest in going down that road.

Again, this isn’t to say that anyone with a strong following employs these shady tactics – it’s just a good reminder to take all of those numbers with a sizeable grain of salt.

Apply the Marie Kondo Method to Your Social Media Feeds

I have to admit, I haven’t yet read Kondo’s best-selling book “'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” But I’ve heard enough about it to know that the core of her process is to only keep belongings that “spark joy,” and (lovingly, respectfully) get rid of things that don’t.

I’ll occasionally take this same approach to clean up my social media feeds. Is there someone I follow on Instagram just because I think I should as a dutiful fashion/beauty blogger, but whose posts only irritate me? Buh-bye. Am I still following someone who did the whole follow-back bait-and-switch thing mentioned above? Poof, gone (Iconosquare is a great tool you can use to keep an eye on who has unfollowed you, among other helpful Instagram analytics). Now, when I scroll through my feed, I only see pictures from people I care about, or who inspire me, or who, you know, spark joy.

Set Goals That Have Nothing to Do With Numbers

If you, like me, blog in part for the learning experiences it offers, set a goal for yourself that’s tied to learning something new rather than a specific metric. Maybe it’s tackling a more ambitious or personal project. Maybe it’s recording and editing your first video. Maybe it’s mastering PhotoShop, or Final Cut Pro. Maybe it’s learning to do a bit of your own coding. Or perhaps it’s getting over your fear of taking your own photos, and going out alone with your tripod, a camera with a self-timer and a confident smile (like I self-consciously did to capture the photos accompanying this post).

Achieving goals that aren’t tied to a certain number of readers or followers or likes will not only provide an incredible sense of accomplishment – it will also reignite the passions that led you to blog in the first place.

Stick to an Analytics Schedule – And Leverage Tools to Use Your Time Effectively

Of course, I’m not telling you to ignore your numbers completely, or that you should let your social media presence(s) languish. Instead of endlessly and obsessively checking your metrics, set a schedule for when you review them, and use tools to learn the most from the numbers.

For example, I only allow myself to log onto Iconosquare twice each week. In addition to evaluating the folks I’m following, I can also see what time of day it’s most effective for me to post, which hashtags resonate best, and what types of photos generate the most engagement. This way, instead of simply stressing about my numbers, I can use this intel to use Instagram even more effectively in the days to come.

One of the many, many reasons why I decided to host Faux Fancy on Squarespace is their incredibly useful analytics dashboards. However, I only allow myself to visit this page once a month. Similar to Iconosquare, I can use this data to determine the types of content my readers enjoy most, where they’re discovering the posts (Facebook, Twitter, direct visits, etc.), which keywords are driving visitors to my site, and more. I can use this to decide how to prioritize the type of content I develop moving forward, and where/how I promote it. 

Additionally, I don’t allow myself to check my social media during certain hours. There was a point when the first thing I did in the morning and the last thing I did at night was obsessively like, comment, and follow folks on Instagram. Now that I force myself to leave the ‘Gram alone by a certain hour, and don’t allow myself to check my feed before a certain time, I’m sleeping much better, and starting my day much more mindfully.

There are so many areas in our lives where we’re tied to expectations and success metrics set by others, where we have to be constantly serious and results-oriented and stringent in our pursuit of greatness. If you’re lucky enough to have a blog as a side project, something you do for fun, then let it be fun. Obsessing won’t lead to success – it will only lead you to hate the thing you once loved. Taking the approach of blogging for the love of it, instead of for likes, will improve the way you feel about it. Which can inspire you to create even better content. Which, funny enough, might just lead to more likes.

  Dress: Xhilaration. No longer available, but numerous other cute, affordable options can be found at Target,    here   . Location: the beautiful    San Jose Municipal Rose Garden .

Dress: Xhilaration. No longer available, but numerous other cute, affordable options can be found at Target, here. Location: the beautiful San Jose Municipal Rose Garden.

- Kristen

What to Wear to an Outdoor Office Retreat

Kristen Berry

  Cutter Scout Reservation, Boulder Creek, California

Cutter Scout Reservation, Boulder Creek, California

If you know me, this will came as no surprise: I have never been camping. That is, until last week, when my company held its annual team retreat, this time during a two-night camping trip. As someone who likes to bring it wardrobe-wise at the workplace (and in every other way, really), this trip posed a bit of a packing challenge.

We were to depart for the campgrounds from the office Thursday morning. And while the itinerary for the trip was kept a surprise, I knew that previous retreats involved team brainstorms on business topics and presentations of the group’s ideas before the entire company. Given this, I wanted to kick things up a few notches above what I might wear on a casual camping trip with friends.
 

  J. Crew V-Neck Band-Sleeve Top (   on sale for $36   ) and Garden Short (   on sale for $24   ), both in the print “Palm Frond.

J. Crew V-Neck Band-Sleeve Top (on sale for $36) and Garden Short (on sale for $24), both in the print “Palm Frond.

When I spotted this adorable two-piece set on super sale at J. Crew (an extra 40% off the sale price? Yes please!), I knew I found my perfect first-day-at-camp outfit. Normally I shy away from wearing matchy-matchy pieces at once. However, this set worn together gives off more of a romper vibe, which lends it a charmingly casual and playful vibe that feels appropriate for the setting. I also love that the elevated fabrics make the pieces comfortable and breathable as well as a bit more refined than actual campwear – the top is silk, and the shorts a surprisingly wrinkle-resistant linen. The other benefit of wearing a cute, work-friendly outfit to your trip? It works like a wearable conversation piece, just as I described in my recent post on the role fashion plays in my battling the downsides of being an introvert.

I should also note that this trip was largely more “glamping” than “camping” – check out the gorgeous accommodations put together by Shelter Co., which specializes in this sort of luxury outdoor event setup. This setting made my choice of outfit seem all the more appropriate.

If you find yourself invited to a similarly rustic company event, I recommend taking a similar approach of thinking through the types of items you would likely wear to the same setting sans coworkers (shorts, tank tops, jeans, t-shirts) and fancying them up just a bit by opting for work-appropriate silhouettes, attractive colors and patterns, and avoiding items that are too revealing or threadbare. J. Crew is my go-to resource for dressed-up casual pieces – I can always count on them for classic, preppy items with a stylish twist, and in cuts that I'd be totally comfortable with my boss catching me in.

These same rules apply for sleepwear, loungewear and workout wear, too. Don’t bring your teeny tiny hiking shorts or sexy yoga top for your activities, even if it’s scorching hot outdoors. You want these folks to respect you at your Monday morning status meetings.

Here are a few key wardrobe/beauty lessons I learned along the way to help you further rock your next camping/glamping trip:

  • Baby Wipes and Makeup Wipes Will Be Your Best Friend. Even though our tents were gorgeously appointed, we were still largely limited to port-a-potties in the bathroom department. Wipes were ultra-clutch when it came to quick clean-ups along the way.

  • So Will Water Bottles. Because brushing your teeth with fresh water right outside your tent sure beats having to hike seven minutes uphill in the dark to the one bathroom with actual plumbing.

  • Everything will Get Dirty. Like, filthy dirty. If you wear black, it will show every speck of dirt. Only wear comfortable, durable shoes you can basically throw in the wash (or can retire on the trip, as I did with the old metallic gladiators pictured above). Re-wear whatever you can to limit what will require laundering upon your return.

  • You Will be Colder at Night Than You Think. I regretted not having a hat, gloves and scarf with me around the campfire at night. Bring them even if you don’t think you’ll need them. I was extremely thankful that I had packed my fuzzy fleece PJs and thick, warm socks, though.

  • Get Your Beauty Sleep. Ear plugs kept me blissfully unaware of the sound of the port-a-potty doors slamming throughout the night. Next time, I’ll be sure to bring a sleeping mask as well, to keep the early morning sun at bay.

Special thanks to my awesome coworkers Erin for suggesting this post, and Allison for snapping the OOTD :)

Happy Camping!

- Kristen