Tag: Tips

Finding Inspiration


When I started down my path of fashion design in college I had to discover a new way of learning and a new way of thinking. I was no longer completing my coursework through worksheets, quizzes and exams, I was completing projects; projects that included sketches, mood boards and original sewn garments. The most difficult part for me though was not learning how to sew or pattern my creations, it was finding the inspiration for those designs.

When I started my design work, the hardest part was to let my mind wander and to not overthink things. I felt as though my ideas were always safe and predictable. It took me a long time to realize that some of the best ideas come from some of the most unexpected places.

A lot of creative people suggested visiting art museums or looking at architecture or nature for inspiration. Well, living in Ames, Iowa made finding inspiration like that pretty difficult. I had to learn to look at the small things in life a little differently. What I learned is that you can find beauty and inspiration in some of the most mundane and random things around you. For example, my latest collection is inspired entirely off of office supply items, that’s right, items like pencils and rubber bands. The key is to take in the small moments of each day and pay attention to what you are doing and what is going on in every situation. Think about it; everything you interact with each day has some type of texture, color, shape, purpose and story.

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Talk to people around you, read books on history or art, visit museums (big or small) and take in everything when you venture outside. Let your mind wander and explore the ideas that seem the most ‘out there’ or impossible. Those crazy ideas are the creations that will set you apart.

Andy Warhol’s work has recently become my greatest inspiration. He was always able to find beauty in the most unexpected places. If he can make a Campbell’s soup can a work of art, anything is fair game.  IMG_0727

A Petite Girl’s Guide to Boyfriend Jeans


Being 5’2″ is both a blessing and a curse. Sure, I can still get away with the kids menu sometimes, but boy is shopping for pants a headache. Very few stores carry short enough jeans, and I have had so much trouble in the past adapting the latest trends to work with my tiny legs. Flared jeans.. nope… Boot cut… nope… culottes.. absolutely not.

When I first heard of the boyfriend jean trend a few years ago I instantly wrote it off too. My first thought was, “Oh my gosh, I would swim in boyfriend jeans..” I envied the tall, thin, models in the magazines and on the runway working the trend, and wished I had their physique.

Then one day when I was out shopping I decided to take a risk and try on a pair. They looked so loose and comfy…I caved and snatched up my size to slip on.

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When I first looked in the mirror with the boyfriend style on I initially was doubtful, i’m not going to lie… but then I played around with them a bit by adding a belt, cuffing the bottoms, and throwing on a pair of heels and instantly saw a difference.



When I style my boyfriend jeans now I typically pair the looser pants with a tighter or more structured shirt (like the one in this photo). I like to belt the jeans to sit a little higher on my waist, and usually roll the bottoms 2-3 times to get them to sit right above my ankles. A half-tucked shirt shows off my belt and waistline a little, but still keeps with that laid-back style of the oversized jeans.


This shopping discovery of mine goes to show that you should never be afraid to experiment with different fashion trends, no matter what your height or size is. Every girl can rock the same trends, it’s just all about your confidence and creativity.

How To Shop For Quality: 10 Things to Check Before Checkout

1. Check if fabric is ‘on grain’ – the lengthwise (vertical) and crosswise (horizontal) yarns will be at a 90 degree angle


2. Rub fabric together to check if it pills easily (small balls of fibers will form if it does)


3. Seams have tight stitching without loose ends (more than 9 spi, stitches per inch, is strong and 6 is weak)


4. Check to make sure buttons do not have loose threads (image 1) and also check to ensure that buttonholes have thread bindings (image 2), this will keep the buttonhole from stretching or ripping over time

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5. Look for zipper quality – Metal zippers will last longer than plastic


6. Try buttoning and zipping items a few times, check for difficulty and catches


7. If there is a design on the outside surface of the fabric, check if it is on both sides or just printed on the surface


8. Check lining for sagging or unraveling – This could affect fit and how long it will last


9. Plaids should always match at seams if it is a good quality garment


10. Look at seam finishes… a double folded hem, an enclosed seam or a seam hidden inside a lining will last much longer than an edge-finished seam. you should not see a jagged edge of fabric.



Packing for Europe: 10 Things to Pack You May Not Think of

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1. Bug Spray – Believe it or not there are mosquitos in Europe, specifically Italy, almost all year round. Many European stores do not sell normal bug spray, so if you want to avoid the bites, pack a small container of repellant.

2. Electricity CONVERTER – This is different than an adaptor. Europe has a higher voltage than the United States, so many of your electronics may get fried if you simply plug them into an adaptor. Usually Apple products can handle the European voltage of 240V, but many other products cannot.

3. At least 3 pairs of comfortable shoes – No matter how comfortable you THINK your shoes are, they will give you blisters…it’s a fact. With all the walking  you’ll do in Europe it’s best to alternate your shoes each day.

4. Crossbody zipped purse or money pouch – pickpocketing is huge in Europe, and they are pros at it. Always keep any credit cards and valuables close to you and zipped shut. Crossbody purses are best because they are harder for a thief to take.

5. A back-up credit or debit card – Incase your wallet or purse gets stolen, it is always a safe idea to bring an extra credit or debit card to keep locked in a safe in your hotel or apartment. This way if something gets taken you have a spare card to use until the other items can get replaced.

6. Copy of your passport – In parts of Europe, Italy I know for sure, it is actually said to be illegal to travel around the country without a copy of your passport on you. Having the copy on you at all times is a good idea incase you were ever stopped by the police.

7. Small pocket dictionary – Though many cities in Europe are very proficient in English, you will find a lot of establishments and locals that do not speak the language. It is best, and most respectful, if you attempt when at all possible to speak and greet individuals in the country’s language. Also, do not rely on a smart phone app for this because many apps rely on data or wifi, which you may not have in Europe.

8. Paper map of your first destination – Arriving in a new place, while also jet-lagged, is a complete mess. You’ll save yourself the headache if  you pack a paper map ahead of time in your bag, with your accommodation already marked on it. Again, do not simply rely on a smart phone for this, data and wifi are very spotty in Europe.

9. At least 100 Euros – It is also best to travel with a small amount of Euros so you have something to get started with. You will most likely need euros to pay for a taxi right away, and this way you won’t be obligated to use a cash exchange booth at the train station or airport. The interest rate at these booths is usually a lot higher than just using a normal local ATM.

10. Small umbrella – It rains a decent amount in Europe, and the rain tends to come unexpectedly. You cannot normally hail a taxi in many European cities, so if it rains you will be left to walk to your destination. You can usually buy an umbrella off of the street in urban European areas for around 2 euros, but chances are it will break after 2 uses… Trust me on that, I went through 4 while I was in Italy.

What not to pack?

do not pack any hot tools for your hair such as a hair dryer, straightener or curler. These products normally are not designed for that type of European voltage, and even if you plug them into a converter it may melt or even burn your hair. Use the dryer that your accommodation provides or buy a few cheap products once you arrive.

How to Shop Vintage

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Throughout my college journey thus far, I have learned to become confident in my own personal style and no longer be afraid to step outside of my comfort zone and buy those ‘weird’ items. One appreciation I have gained as a fashion student is vintage clothing. Having taken various fashion history courses at my university, I have enjoyed learning how silhouettes, materials and construction methods have changed throughout the decades. I have also taken note on how these old, vintage, styles recycle through the years and become a fashion forward option for the current times.

When shopping at a vintage boutique, it is important to analyze certain aspects of the piece you are interested in. You want to look closely at the quality of construction, level of previous wear, brand listed, estimated time period the the item was intended for and price they are asking for the item.

If you plan to wear a vintage item on a regular basis, it is important that you avoid buying something that is already damaged or too fragile.  Too often, vintage shoppers will fall in love with a garment’s silhouette and uniqueness, and avoid to notice the hidden stains, iffy smells, or weakness of the materials. It may be a great piece to buy and collect, but as far as adding it to your everyday wardrobe, it may only end up lasting one or two wears.

Speaking of materials, it is important for vintage shoppers to understand that because these garments are older, the textiles have most likely become less strong than they once were. You should try on items first if at all possible, and make sure they fit comfortably. Buying an item too small could lead to various rips and tears down the road. It is important to know that sizes have changed throughout the years as well, and just because the size listed may be what you wear today, it could end up fitting very differently than expected.

If you’re not much of a fashion history buff, and don’t always know what time period certain items are from, it never hurts to do a little research. You never know what you may come across, and though finding items dating before 1950 is rare, finding a gem like that could be a worth-while investment. Doing research on a vintage item can also add to your appreciation for what you are buying. Think of each vintage item as a historical artifact with a story. Knowing its past could be a great conversation starter if someone compliments you on it later!

Finally… let’s talk money. If you’re looking for a vintage, designer brand, item in perfect condition, expect to pay a pretty penny for it. Just because these items are old, does NOT mean they are all going to be cheap. If you’re willing to wear something less high-end though, and something that has a little wear to it, you can find some awesome deals. I found that dress and jacket pair above at a great vintage boutique and paid $36 total for both items. Had a little bit of wear, but wasn’t anything that I couldn’t work with.

Hope these tips help! Happy shopping to all!