Brittany

So Long, Farewell

I’m afraid it’s that time, readers. The von Trapp children are going to bed, and I am writing for the last time. This last year of blogging has been such an incredible experience. I have truly enjoyed this opportunity to connect with so many different people all over the country. It was at times challenging keeping up with deadlines while school and life became increasingly chaotic, but it has been so rewarding. I’ve loved getting to know Samantha and Aya, as well as you all through your comments. It’s been such a fun job, and I am very grateful for all the advice and encouragement which I have received. So, thank you all.

My advice to the new BP. bloggers and any other aspiring writers: Write about things in which you are personally interested. Your genuine passion will make your pieces more enjoyable and powerful. I am curious to see future posts! And what’s in my future, you ask? At the moment, I am just thinking about field hockey, school and SATs. But I will let you all know if I come back into the fashion blogging world.

Now, before I press the key to make the little squiggle before my name, it’s montage time.

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For the last time,

~Brittany xo

 

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Back to the Books


I am entering my last week of freedom before I have to return to the halls of high school. As a rising junior, this year is sure to be crazy to say the least. APs, college tours, SATs, ACTs are all coming up (not to mention homecoming, semis, and prom!). Thinking about it all even now is a little overwhelming.

To make the transition as stress-free as possible, I’ve already started compiling some of my school essentials. I don’t really do a traditional back-to-school shopping trip because of my school’s uniform; however, there are some necessities I have to get before I go back.

1. Flats
I have waxed poetic on the virtues of flats in several of my posts, so you all must know by now how much I love them. So I’ll keep it short. Oxfords, flats, sneakers, and TOMS are musts for navigating the stairs and halls of school.

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Favorites: BCBGeneration ‘Wallee’ Flat |TOMS ‘Classic – Swallows’ | BP. ‘Sidney’ Oxfords | Soludos ‘Sandshoe – Floral’ Sneaker

 

2. Snacks
My school fully understands the importance of food; we have a 15-minute break in our morning called “Snack.” To maximize this opportunity and keep my brain going for the next seven periods, I keep snacks like granola bars and whole, unroasted almonds in my locker…and I might just have a jar of Nutella in there, too.

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Homemade granola bar recipe (I add chocolate chips).

 

3. Moisturizers
I don’t know about you, but when I am stressed my skin gets really dry. So I try to keep a bottle of lotion in my locker as well as some Chapstick. Kiehl’s Skin Rescuer does exactly what it says, rescues your skin from cracking and redness. L’Occitane Shea Butter Lip Balm works wonders—I have probably 10 tubes of it. philosophy ‘pure grace’ body butter smells great and isn’t oily at all.

 

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4. Cosmetics Bags as Pencil Cases
I like using cosmetics bags to hold my pens, markers, pencils, etc. because they are generally lined to prevent makeup stains. Likewise, they protect your bag from rogue, capless highlighters. They are usually more interesting, too! This BP. ‘Blue Waves’ Cosmetics Bag is gorgeous.

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5. Polaroids
Pictures of your friends make lockers so much more personal, and they can lift your spirits in between classes. I have tons of Polaroids from this summer which I will be collaging and putting on the inside of my locker door.

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For those of you in school already, I hope everything is going well! And for those who are getting ready to go back, good luck!

~Brittany

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Looking for that Nike Swoosh

Sneakers, tennis shoes, trainers, whatever you call them, have been athletic staples, sure, but they are entering the style world. The wedge sneaker trend was big earlier this year and casual sneakers like Converse have always been popular, so I guess I should not be surprised to see running shoes popping up everywhere. But I confess, I am surprised.

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I have always considered athletic gear, especially sneakers, to be in their own secluded realm. To me, they were strictly for working out or sports practice. I would never have thought to pair them with girly dresses, printed jeans, or structured skirts. However, I am super intrigued by this trend; it’s totally growing on me.

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What I think is especially interesting is that the brand of choice, the only brand really, is Nike. Of course they are known for their running shoes and basketball high-tops, but they are incredibly popular on the streets, too. They are the only brand I am really seeing, which begs the question: Is it that iconic swoosh that makes all the difference?

~Brittany

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Fall is quickly approaching (even though I keep telling myself it’s not), and with the new season come new trends! Samantha already did a lovely job covering the Anarchic trend, so I will focus on five other top trends for autumn as seen on the runway:

1. Candy Coats

A common theme among the fall runway collections were candy-colored coats. Emilio Pucci, Carven, Celine, Rochas, Victoria Beckham and Jonathan Saunders were just a handful of the designers who incorporated pastel outerwear into their shows. This trend is pretty easy to work into your own wardrobe. If you are looking for a new coat, try one in an unexpected color. You’re guaranteed to stand out in the grey days ahead. (Shown: Jou Jou Studded Coat | Stoosh linen Moto Jacket)

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2. Belted Silhouette

This trend, best described by style websites as the “Hitchcock Effect,” is characterized by crisp, clean silhouettes. Waists are well-defined with belts. Skater skirts that sit on your waist, fit-and-flare dresses with emphasized-waist seaming, and belts on top of everything will help you achieve this look.

Shown: Lush Cutout Detail Skater Dress w/ Topshop Cracked Western Belt | Soprano Illusion Yoke Lace Skater Dress w/ Lulu Skinny Braid Belt

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3. Oversized Sweaters

Large, knit sweaters are back and bigger than ever this fall. Design powerhouses like Chanel, Theyskens’ Theory and Celine showed these mashmallow masterpieces on their fall runways. Balance out the volume of the sweater with metallic leggings, body-hugging skirts or skinny jeans.

Shown: Painted Threads Swing Crop Sweater | Love By Design Tiger Eyelash Sweater

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4. Furry Creatures

Again, designers are preparing for colder days and nights, and so they armed their models with dramatic furs in greens, pinks, purples, and everything in between. As an animal lover, I can’t fully get behind the fur trend, but I love faux fur! This Jack Faux Fur Vest is great with jeans or an LBD, and the Ted Baker London Faux Fur Collar would be great under your coat to keep you nice and warm.

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5. Tons of Texture

Finally, designers engaged our sense of touch this season with 3-D elements like beads, rhinestones, studs, plastic plates and more. Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, Akris and Belstaff pulled out all the stops by layering their fabrics with textures upon textures. Try spicing up your fall wardrobe with pieces with three-dimensional embellishments.

Shown: Fire Studded Acid Wash Skinny Jeans (on sale now!) | Cesca ‘Study Buddy’ Studded Faux Leather Backpack

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We’ve got some great trends coming this fall! I know I will be adding some ornamentation and candy coats into my wardrobe this season.

~Brittany

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A Lesson in Versatility

Living out of a suitcase for seven weeks has taught me a lot about versatility and utility. When suitcase space is precious you have to really maximize the outfit potential of every piece you pack. I want to incorporate this practice back into my life when I return home. As an exercise, I picked a couple pieces from the BP department and challenged myself to rework them at least five ways.

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Here’s what I chose:

  1. 1. Rubbish Plaid Shirtdress
  2. 2. Vigoss Distressed Crop Jean
  3. 3. Haute Society Tie Dye Sharkbite Hem Tank
  4. 4. Jolt Lace Appliqué Denim Shorts
  5. 5. Frenchi Seamless Long Bandeau
  6. 6. The Rolling Stones Crop Muscle Tank
  7. 7. Free People Macramé Cargo Vest
  8. 8. DV by Dolce Vita ‘Pace’ Boot
  9. 9. BC Footwear ‘Next in Line’ Sandal
  10. 10. Icon Eyewear ‘Gloria’ Retro Half Wire Frame Sunglasses

I chose these pieces more or less at random—although I really love the plaid shirtdress and the lace-up booties. As summer is entering its last phase (sigh), I themed the outfits around end-of-summer events.

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I love mixing denim and the booties add a pop of color in the otherwise monochromatically blue outfit.


 

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Keeping the jeans, which are perfectly slouchy, I paired them with a vintage band tee and metallic sandals for a comfy, rocker vibe.


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In the last few days of freedom, I like being outdoors with friends. We often explore cute little markets and outdoor shops that are set up in different neighborhoods. For trips like these, I would wear the metallic sandals with the high-low tank, and add the cute high-waist shorts with crochet detailing. The effect is very boho-chic.


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The weekend before school starts is for hanging with friends and enjoying your remaining days of freedom. What a better way to do this than a short weekend roadtrip? I kept the shorts and added the booties and tank back in to the equation. Don’t forget the sunglasses!


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Finally, it’s the first day of school. First impressions are everything, so bring out a cute dress. In this case, the casual shirtdress looks great with the denim vest and desert booties.


A few key pieces and a little creativity got me five outfits! How will you utilize your clothes’ potentional?

~Brittany

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Know Your Tartan!

Tartans—or plaids, as we call them in North America—are everywhere in Scotland. Everything you could possibly think of most likely can be found in a tartan pattern here, from blankets and kilts to stuffed animals and cookie boxes. Tartans date back to between 400 and 100 BCE! They evolved over the centuries to represent certain clans (families) in the British Isles. Now they are often thought of only as what bagpipers wear.

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However, tartans are still very current. I myself have a close relationship to tartans because I have to wear a green-and-blue plaid kilt to school as part of my uniform. Not to mention that my mother’s side of the family is Scottish, so we have our own family tartan. Some designers even embrace their family tartans. For example, Alexander McQueen designed several collections featuring the McQueen family tartan. (Stars like SJP, Emma Watson and Rihanna have all rocked it.)

 

But tartans are not just for school uniforms and celebrities. Plaid shirts are a universal wardrobe staple. They’re versatile, comfortable and chic—the ultimate layering piece. What could be better?

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Rubbish Plaid Shirt

Lately, plaids have been popping up in innovative new styles and colors. This Mimi Chica Lace Trim Plaid Bralette is a perfect example. It looks so cute with these skinny jeans and slouchy cardigan, but it could easily be paired with a white skater skirt or a pair of high-waisted jean shorts.

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Tartans are especially appropriate now, with fall around the corner and the resurgence of the punk or anarchic trend. Several designers showed strong tartans on the runway recently:

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 My advice for fall: treat yourself to some tartans!

~Brittany

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The end of my OxTrad adventure marks the beginning of the United Kingdom tour with my parents. We’ve affectionately named our vacation Anarchy in the UK. It started in southern England with a trip to Highclere Castle, otherwise known as Downton Abbey. The castle and the grounds are magnificient and proved to be a great photo opportunity! Additionally, the history of the house is incredible; for example, like in Downton Abbey, it was used as a hospital during World War I.

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Highclere-castle

We then explored Wales by driving along the coast and stopping in Swansea and Aberyswyth, two beautiful coastal towns. Along our drive up the coast (which, let me tell you, was nervewracking with my father driving) we stumbled upon a town called Fishguard, in which there was an old fort overlooking the sea. This is my favoite place so far because the sea was so stunning.

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Fishgaurd, Wales

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Swansea, Wales

After our journey up the coast, we stayed in Holyhead in order to catch the ferry to Dublin the next day. To be honest, Dublin was not my favorite because it is pretty gray and industrial, but the food is great! While there, I toured Trinity College—an historic university renowned for its huge library and the Book of Kells. As a committed bibliophile, I could have stayed in the library all day. It was wonderfully overwhelming.

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After a couple of days in Dublin, we took the ferry back to Wales and continued to Derby, England. We caught a production of Pride and Prejudice at Chatsworth House.  The spectacular manor was Jane Austen’s inspiration for Darcy’s Pemberley, not to mention the Keira Knightley version of the film was shot there. So it was an especially appropriate location for the show. We had a picnic on the lawn while we watched the stage production of the novel, and the next day we came back to explore the house and the expansive gardens.

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Finally, we rounded out the week with a trip to Hadrian’s Wall and Vindolanda. Since I am a Latin student and active member of my state’s Classics League (dorky, I know), this was fascinating for me. The Roman fort and village has survived for over 1800 years! They even have shoes, jewelry and letters in the museum which have remained intact.

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We are now in a cottage in Cupar, Scotland, where we will stay for the next week while doing daily excursions within Scotland. A little more than a week left, and I’ll keep you all posted!

~Brittany

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The Last Goodbyes

The last week of OxTrad whipped by us. One moment we were prepping hard for our Parliamentary debate on Tuesday, and then the next we were huddled around each other at 4 am saying goodbyes. These four weeks have been a whirlwind of excitement, joy, and a fair amount of stress, but none of those emotions come close to the utter despair we all felt on Friday and Saturday. Leaving one another was probably the hardest thing a lot of us have ever done; OxTrad became our family, and we were extremely reluctant to let go (as shown by me clinging to my friend Tudor after our last class).

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However, as horrible as those early hours were (no sleep + lots of crying = emotional roller coaster), I am so thankful to have had this experience. I have no words for how incredible it was to form relationships with all these people, explore Oxford, and delve into my classes. A highlight of the trip was definitely the Parliamentary debate in my Politics and Economics class. My friend Stephen and I were Minister and Deputy Minister of the Department of Defense! The debate was full of hard facts, sarcastic comments and plenty of people agressively yelling, “Hear, hear!”

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I learned so much in my classes and I am so grateful to the teachers and the courses for the challenges they posed each day.  I’ll treasure the information I learned. The highlight of the week, though, was the ball on Friday.  The last day’s celebrations started with a banquet and an awards ceremony. But the main attraction was the dance that night. It went from 10pm-1am, and trust me, it was crazy fun. We partied all night and wound down the evening by serenading each other with, “Don’t Stop Believing.”

Then began the painful process of saying goodbye. Watching 500 teenagers come together to say goodbye is a saddening sight. I don’t want to become too morose, so I’ll skim over the hours of crying. Let’s just say these relationships will last a while, believe me. We even created a Google doc to compile contact information!

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Tej and Me dressed up for the ball

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Rahul, Caio, me and Tej

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Rahul, Kolin, Matt, Tej and Caio, otherwise known as “The Guys”

I hope you all are having a great summer meeting new people, travelling and hopefully relaxing, too. The next post will come from Ireland!

~Brittany

 

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OxTrad Trends: Henna

There are many things one regularly sees at OxTrad. They include milkshakes from Moo Moo’s, cookies from Ben’sInstax cameras and henna. A few days into the program, a student stumbled upon this place in the Covered Market which sold henna in easy-to-use squeeze pouches.

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After the initial discovery, henna fever took over OxTrad. Everyone soon had swirling designs covering their hands, feet and basically everywhere else. I had my hand done, and I loved how pretty and delicate it looked.

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The process itself is very cool, too. It comes out as a gel initially, but after an hour or so it dries. You brush off the dried ink, and what’s left is an orange version of the design. Over the next day, the pigment darkens to a dark brown. They usually last a week or so, but mine lasted for about two.

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Photo cred: Haley Bolen. Oxtrad 2013

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I think henna designs are great because they allow you to experiment with body designs and art without regrets—not to mention they make beautiful alternatives to standard jewelry.

~Brittany

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Let’s Talk SPF


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During the summer, everyone wants to get oustide and just have a good time. No one wants to spend a lot of time thinking about their makeup. However, summer is the time when you have to be most careful about what you put on your skin. I know everyone wants to soak up the sun and come back to school with that perfect summer tan (believe me, I do, too), but protecting your skin is paramount in the summer months.

So, it’s time to talk about the SPF or sun protection factor of your makeup.  Nowadays most lotions and foundations have some sun protection in them because sunscreen isn’t just for the beach or the pool.  You should try to wear some sort of UV protection everyday because the sun’s rays can be damaging no matter how long you are outisde or where you are. Sunscreen can protect against types of skin cancer in addition to less lethal but still painful sunburns. So take two minutes to apply some SPF before you go outside because no tan is worth the risk.

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Featured:

  1. 1. Kiehl’s Since 1851 Cross-Terrain UV Skin Protector SPF 50. Kiehl’s is known for their quality, and I have to agree. This stuff stays on forever, even when in the water.
  2. 2. stila ‘stay all day’ 10-in-1 HD illuminating beauty balm broad spectrum spf 30. Try adding a moisturizer or balm that has SPF into your daily routine. That way, your face will always be protected.
  3. 3. Tela Beauty Organics ‘Guardian’ SPF 18 Sun Protection for Hair and Scalp. Don’t forget your scalp! I have had a couple of scalp sunburns, and trust me, they hurt. This protectant does double duty: protecting your skin and your hair from the heat and UV rays of the sun.
  4. 4. Fresh® Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15. I love Sugar because of its smell, but I didn’t know until recently that it acted as a protectant, too!
  5. 5. philosophy ‘take a deep breath’ oil-free oxygen moisturizer broad spectrum SPF 30. I love philosophy products, I use their daily cleanser.  I really like their moisturizer, too. It doesn’t make your skin feel slimy as mainy lotions and moisturizers do.

~Brittany

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