the holiday $ale$ you need/needn't hit up + what I'm doing with my life

can you spot the parks and rec reference in the photo above? if so, let’s get married

today was a shopping day.

(my mom got me notepads with my FACE on them for christmas. conceit to the highest power but how cool is that??? photo by my amazing senior portrait photographer Gillian Carlin, check her out at

like most shopping trips, I ended up crossing off 3 of the items I intended to buy and picked up some extra things I didn’t.

but first, my shopping attire. experienced shoppers know that the ideal outfit for trying things on consists of a pullover, jeans/sweats, and slip-on shoes, and my outfit follows this model to a T.

below: the jewelry I wear daily

I’m one of those incredibly cheesy people who places meaning in everything, so every piece I wear each day has some sort of symbolism behind it. 

love: this cameo ring was given to me by my mom for my sixteenth birthday. on our trip to florida that year, I fell in love with the style and my mom remembered. a few days before my birthday, my mom took me to a local boutique and we found this one. fatefully, it is in my favorite color and features aphrodite and cupid. it is a constant reminder that no matter how insuperable things seem in my life, my family is always there for me.

labor: one of my first purchases as a small girl was a glow-in-the-dark purple flower watch from Target. I recall breaking open my piggy bank with my family and carefully counting out the money in quarters. I have worn a watch ever since. I purchased this beauty with my very first paycheck from Chipotle (my former employer) this year. my watch reminds me to be mindful of my investments and how I invest my time.

logic: this ring immediately reminded me of the Enlightenment period painting, “The School of Athens” by Raphael. one of my favorite teachers ever showed it to me (shoutout to Spence) and it has stuck with me ever since. this ring reminds me to practice logic in my actions and to put my education first always.

loyalty: I bought this ring at Tiffany and Co.’s flagship store in New York this September. it reminds me to be loyal to my ambitions of working and living in the city and not to sell myself short.

alright, done shoving symbolism down your throat. outfit time.

top: madewell; jeans: urban outfitters; necklace: holst+lee for LOFT; boots: hunter

I got this necklace (originally $69) for $26 on a markdown. it was created for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and 70% of proceeds go to breast cancer research.

madewell’s transport tote is really the only bag you will need for the rest of your life. it is my mary poppins bag. during a particularly busy day in new york, I lugged around a DSLR, a laptop, two raincoats, an agenda, a pencil case, and my daily necessities in there. it still emerged victorious. madewell has also mastered the classy, yet subdued monogram, which is a difficult feat. I like to pair a scarf with it to keep it fresh. during autumn it was a cute lil beagle scarf from anthropologie. for winter, it is a simple ralph lauren scarf from my mom’s closet. I could talk about this bag for several years but I will shut up now.

I was originally planning to wear my billie boots from madewell, but the weather had other plans. I slipped on my comfy Hunter wellies, which ended up being well worth the investment. Raleigh has been on a rainy kick lately. I’m so ready for snow season, that’s the Chicagoan in me.

oh, and my lipstick is a revlon lip butter in raspberry pie! I’m done.

I embarked on a mission with my mom, my aunt, and my grandma. first stop,


they didn’t seem to be running many big sales. I could be very wrong on this. I was on a mission to get a memory card reader because my Macbook Air (stupidly) does not have a memory card slot. If you enjoy taking pictures and are in the market for a Mac, get the Pro or the 13″ Air, because the 11″ doesn’t have a slot.


all of their holiday gear is 50% off. as well as calendars!!!!!! I picked up an Ansel Adams calendar because my family goes to national parks every year (many of which he’s photographed) and I love his black and white prints. It was $10. I also picked up some watercolor pencils for my fashion sketchbook, which I will get into later in this post.

my mom got a freakin Lego model of the Trevi Fountain as a gift for my cousin. I’m obsessed. visiting the Trevi Fountain is definitely a bucket list item for me.


my mom went in here to make a return, and they had 50% OFF EVERYTHING, YOU GUYS. I fell in love with this white button up, but my mom rationalized it for me. pictured below


Lush is having buy one, get one free on their holiday items. Unfortunately, all of the bogo shower gels I came in for were sold out, as well as my mom’s cleanser and my moisturizer. sadness. Lush is one of my favorite brands on earth, regardless. I’m going to do a post about their philosophy and their products I’ve tried in the future.


This is my favorite store in the entire universe. if urban outfitters and jcrew sat down and decided to have a baby, this would be it. all of the pieces are gorgeous, structured, and classic, just like jcrew, but have the edge and just-off-the-runway air of urban. I am drawn to texture in my wardrobe, and madewell has some amazing patterns and textures that are unparalleled. my biggest career goal is to one day be the creative director of madewell. I’ve considered carving out a portion of my paycheck each month to devote solely to madewell, but then realized the ridiculousness of that proposition.

my aunt knew the way to my heart was through a madewell giftcard. I love her.

Okay, wow, sales, yes: 40% off all in-store sale items and 30% off all online sale items. madewell’s prices can be really steep, but their sale section is reasonable and almost everything goes on sale. teachers and college students: you get an additional 15% off everything.

me in the fitting room making a stank squinty face

my winter wardrobe has been all maroon, navy, black, and grey, so I picked this up out of spite. madewell’s frontrunner tee in a bright red, totaling in at $17.84.  

last piece: madewell’s effortless tee in dot. they were running a $25 promotion on this tee, so it ended up being $21.25 with the educator discount (thank you, mom). kind of a frivolous purchase but nude and black polka dots are irresistible so the four year old in me indulged.

I had a $50 giftcard, so I only ended up spending $16.23 on those three tops.


if there is any store that wins in the holiday deals department, it is pacsun. seriously. go in there if you have any interest in looking like a california surfer with sun-bleached hair and a perfect tan. the whole store was basically buy one, get one free. these are my mom’s purchases that I helped pick out:

my mom bought this adorable on the byas sweater as a gift for my significant other, Jordan. the neff rents are the best.

my mom is having surgery again next month, so she wanted to pick up a shirt that buttoned down. I convinced her to get this painter smock-esque flannel by modern amusement. doesn’t their logo remind you of Portlandia? “put a bird on it!” 

this top was free. FREE. because we paid for the sweater. it is an absolute disorganized wreck in the stores right now, but it is so worth it. women’s and men’s sweaters both bogo, flannels bogo, winter wear bogo, essentially almost everything in there is bogo. and you can mix and match.

and I ran into my soul sister Sally in here! hey Sally if you are reading this!



I went in here to meet up with my grandma but my whole family accidentally left me so I snooped around for awhile. they had 50% off signs in various places, but it was unclear what was specifically 50% off. they had kate spade highlighters, notebooks, stationary, pencils, and, best of all, paperclips. I was in heaven. fortunately my mom called me before I could buy anything and told me that they were at Panera.

lunch break.

Panera’s black bean soup, fontina grilled cheese, an apple, and a mocha freeze. I originally ordered a lemonade but they were out and gave me this for the same price. shouts to Panera for killin it in customer service.

(my mom is so pretty)

aunt cheryl was the real winner today because she found a huge santa bag full of lindt chocolates for 50% off. 

mischief managed.

on our way out, we stopped at


the majority of their store was buy one, get one 50% off. they also had 8/$26.50 underwear. I didn’t buy anything, but my mom got some sweet sweats and a scarf for her next surgical recovery period. their joggers look incredibly comfortable and they have blanket scarves, if you are wondering where to find one! I got mine from ASOS but the variety at aerie is awesome.


look at this puppy we saw at a stoplight!

puppy greetings. nessa is visiting. bryn and nessa are always at play/arguing and it is amusing-dorable (amusing and adorable! I’ll stop)

look at that sweet face. bryn gives about a thousand kisses whenever I come in the door and it is the highlight of my day always.

taking down some photos from my inspiration board circa freshman year. it’s fascinating to see how my dreams have changed and how they haven’t.   

I’ve been into the minimalistic look lately and have been redoing my room over break to match. pictures to come once it is finished. my closet looks like death and I know I will do an organization post once Sahar comes over and helps me clean. she is the absolute best.

to conclude this monster of a post:

this is a fashion sketchbook my aunt bought me. as some of you may know, my intent is to attend the fashion institute of technology after high school graduation. I’m planning to get my associate’s in Advertising and Marketing Communications and my Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising, with a minor in English. if that doesn’t work out, I have been accepted into a couple of other fashion programs. college post coming eventually, probably around April when I have received all of my admissions decisions. senior year is crazy.

though design is not a part of my foreseeable future, I love sketching out potential outfits.


thank you for reading and thank you for all of your support on the last post. I am eternally grateful that some people spent time reading my thoughts, and I hope you hang on for the ride.

love, emily

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