The Hidden Gems of Walmart, Vol. II

I've been meaning to do this for awhile, but my usual desire to slip in and out of Walmart as quickly and elusively as possible has deterred my aspirations. However, Walmart's clothing department has been really impressing me of late. During my last jaunt into the fray of bargain shopping, I was so astounded by the offerings in the womenswear department that I just had to whip out my phone and bring you...THE HIDDEN GEMS OF WALMART, VOL 2! 

1. THESE FLANNELS! 

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But really...THESE FLANNELS! Here we have a rack full of closet staples for fall. The black one looks just like a Rails button-down I've been eyeing. The green with the embroidery is spot on. The real test for me--the softness factor. These passed with flying colors...SO SOFT!! One thing with these, as with many Walmart items, the sizing is weird. For these shirts you will want to SIZE THE F**K UP if you want it oversized at all. 

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Does this one-piece even need an explanation? Love the side cut-outs, the ribbed fabric and the color. This one could totally be worn as a bodysuit into the fall once the pool closes. 

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I don't usually go for patterns, but this jumpsuit caught my eye for the bandana-inspired print and color! Upon closer inspection, the fabric was extremely soft with a linen feel. I have a black jumpsuit (not from WM) in this spaghetti strap, straight neck, wide leg cut and I wear it ALL the time. This one would be a fun addition to any closet (hello Labor Day weekend outfit??). 

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I think I may have featured this find in my last hidden gems post, but it is still available and still prevalent. This $9 bag is a very close rendition of a $100+ style by Rebecca Minkoff. If you want a bag that looks high end, but you don't have the cash--this is your find. 

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Here are the shorts you'll live in to lounge around the house, go to the gym and even run errands. They are so comfy, but the heathered fabric and cut of these doesn't look super sloppy. At only $4, you will want every color...and be able to afford them, too! 

As I mentioned in the first Hidden Gems of Walmart post, these images aren't linked to shop online because finding a specific item is nearly impossible in the behemoth that is the Walmart shopping website. Plus, hidden gems should always be the fruits of an adventure; and going to Walmart is ALWAYS an adventure. Happy bargain shopping! 

My Skin Care Routine | Beauty Bar

It's the season of New Year's resolutions once again--for better or worse! This year, I am focusing inward and resolving to be more vigilant and aware of my depression. 2016 taught me the lesson that depression doesn't just disappear; it's a beast in the brain that lives there permanently and must be tamed. Seasonal affective disorder can bring out this beast in everyone, so take care of yourself after the comedown from the holidays as we head into the long winter! Surely by now, you are saying to yourself "Wtf, Elise, where's the skincare?" Dear reader, I don't mean to disappoint you. Another beast that must be tamed especially in winter is dry skin. Getting into a good skincare routine is a great external resolution for 2017. Read on to see what works for me and get inspired to take better care of your best accessory--your skin! 

*SIDE NOTE: All of the following pictures are taken by me. All selfies are no make-up, and all of the product shots are no skill, haha. Enjoy :) 

Step 1: WASH OFF YOUR MAKEUP

 A for-real "woke up this way" image filter by the morning sun. :)

A for-real "woke up this way" image filter by the morning sun. :)

I used to be HORRIBLE at washing off my makeup, especially during college. I would fall asleep still in heavy makeup and then wake up, and with a couple touch-ups, rock that second day makeup to class. This was bad for two reasons: first, it's terrible for your skin, and second, I wasn't confident enough to be barefaced around my then-bf or in public. It's a vicious cycle; if you let your skin stay dirty constantly, of course you aren't going to have the glowing, fresh skin that makes you feel confident to go bare. And, ladies, if you are dating a guy who makes you feel like you need to be in makeup 24/7, he doesn't deserve to have you staying over at his house. Long story short, wash your face; it may be a hard habit to get into but your skin will thank you. To wash my face I use Olay face wash and Garnier make-up removing wipes (as you will see through this post, I keep my face routine drug store and affordable for the most part). 

Step 2: Moisturize 

This step is important year-round, but winter is a time when moisturizer becomes even more essential. I moisturize my face twice a day. In the morning, I use Jergen's Natural Glow face lotion and the L'Oreal eye cream pictured above. At night I use a richer moisturizing formula, plus eye cream. Lately, I've been enjoying this L'Oreal night cream with added collagen. For me, I am hoping to prevent wrinkles by taking good care of my skin before they start. Since I do not need serious wrinkle repair, I just buy moisturizers from the drug store. It's affordable and gets the job done. Consistency is key--once you get into the habit of moisturizing your face, you will feel the difference and not want to go without lotion! Don't forget about the rest of your body as well. After every shower, I use Jergen's Natural Glow Firming Lotion

Step 3: Add-On Treatments 

Everyone's skin has its own unique set of issues. Luckily there are lots of products out there to help out your individual need! For me, my top three issues are puffy under eyes, spot acne and face hair.

I was always annoyed by my under eyes crinkling and puffing when I smiled in pictures, so two years ago I started using this roller ball formula by Garnier. It cools and tightens skin when rolled on, which feels great, plus it does fix under eye puff! I use it every morning and night. 

Luckily, acne has not been a big issue for me. Once I went on the Pill back in the day, all mass breakouts stopped. However, I still do get spot acne. About once a month, I'll have a gross spot on my face that requires action. That's where this Clean & Clear Advantage acne spot treatment comes in. I have been using this stuff since college and it is my holy grail. It really does work! I have also used it for body acne when I get a spot on my chest or thighs during sweaty summer runs. 

As I typed "face hair" as one of my skin problems, I laughed to myself at the visualization of having a beard. While the hair situation is great for my eyebrows, it's not so great having that excess peach fuzz that makes your makeup go on less smoothly and can even make you look like you have a mustache--yikes. So, long story short, I shave my face. And this is one of my best skin care tips! And NO the hair does not grow back faster or stubbly. The process is technically called dermaplaning. You use an eyebrow razor (the pink thing in the pic above) and carefully shave your face. Not only will you be amazed at how much downy fuzz comes off, but the process is also extremely exfoliating as the razor takes away the thin layer of dead skin on your face. Studies have shown that this exfoliation can prevent wrinkles and keep the skin looking fresher longer. Take my word for it, your skin will have a new glow and will feel soft and smooth as a newborn! I first learned of derma planing through Carli Bybel's YouTube channel. Click here to watch her how-to video on shaving your face! 

Step 4: Face Masks

 Sorry for my crappy pictures! :) Literally the products I use, though. 

Sorry for my crappy pictures! :) Literally the products I use, though. 

It saddens me how long it took me to start using face masks. I feel like I missed out on an essential chapter of girl-hood. Until now. I bought the Peter Thomas Roth Meet Your Mask set this summer and I was instantly hooked. The set is a great way to start if you don't know where to start with masks. It's only $25 and you get to try six different masks. I went through two of these kits before I narrowed it down to my favorites. Now I love to use the Blue Algae for hydration, the 24K Gold for a gorgeous lift and glow and the Pumpkin Enzyme for exfoliation. I usually put on a mask every evening. The pumpkin enzyme is perfect to follow a demaplane treatment for that extra level of exfoliation! For a more affordable mask option, the L'Oreal clay mud masks are actually very good and available at drugstores. Not only do masks make your skin feel amazing, they also make you feel very glamorous ;) I encourage you to give them a try!

Step 5: HYDRATE

Hydrate should have been step one. This is the most important thing you can do for your body and your skin. Drinking enough water, like washing off my makeup every night, was a conscious choice I made for myself a few years ago and I have been sticking to it. Obviously, water is key. I like to keep a big water bottle full with me at all times. It's easier to drink more water that way as opposed to a glass which you have to fill up all the time. I love my S'Well water bottle because it holds lots of water, keeps it cold and looks cute! 

Coconut water is a hydration game changer. I read an interview with Adriana Lima in which she swore drinking coconut water daily has made her skin as gorgeous as it is. With a reference like that, I had to try it. It might be in my head, but I do notice more of a glow when I drink a glass of coconut water daily. Hard evidence for coconut water is its unfailing ability to make me feel better if I have a touch of a hangover! I recommend Vita Coco coconut water; it is all natural with no additives. Whatever brand you buy, make sure it has no added sugar! 

This may all sound like a lot of steps and products, but once you get into the routine of taking better care of your skin, it will become second nature. Plus, I guarantee you will thank yourself for investing in yourself as you feel more hydrated and healthy and more confident and beautiful fresh faced! If you enjoyed this post for external New Years resolutions, check out my feature post on myrisestory.com which features self-reflection and inspiration to make those internal resolutions come true as well. :)

Five Finds | The Hidden Gems of Walmart

The other day I was unfortunately in Walmart, waiting for my prescription which should take a couple minutes to grab off the shelf and hand to me, but took an inconceivable 45 minutes to fill. During this time, I sleuthed around Walmart, going where most people haven't gone before and I was surprised at what I found. I apologize for the quality of the below photos--they are live action stealth shots. ;) Also, I didn't link any of these finds to the online site because 1) that site is enormously overwhelming and 2) in encouragement of your going out on a Walmart fashion excursion of your own. 

1. Plaid Button Downs

A plaid button down is a fall and winter staple. In today's world of overpriced flannel shirts, Walmart takes a share in the running with these $13.88 gems. I found a variety of cute color combos and the material was pretty soft! Walmart doesn't oversize their clothes, so if you want a baggier look, you will have to size way up on this. Only downside: the material is pretty thin, so this is for style not warmth. 

2. Blanket Scarves 

The scarves of Walmart...surprisingly good! Here I have to relate back to this post I shared last month wearing a scarf from Walmart. So good. The quality is great and the prints are on point. There is no drawback on these, go to Walmart now and get one (or five for the price of one scarf at the mall). 

3. This Soft and Cozy Fleece

For under $10, you can be so warm and cute in this tribal print fleece. I recommend sizing up as much as possible for extra cozy factor. 

4. Faux Leather Backpacks

These backpacks are actually great. No, they aren't real leather, but the lines of the style are on point, and the simple hardware is elegant. This would be a great item to pick up if you've never used a backpack purse before and want to try it out before splurging. It would also be perfect for a vacation where you don't want to haul around an expensive bag but DO want to haul around all your stuff. These guys were $19.97, I believe--literally a bargain bag. 

5. Any Athletic Gear

I love Walmart's athletic ranges! They have so many fun colors and prints. Almost all of my sports bras are from Walmart. I used to only buy Nike, but then I discovered the offerings of Walmart are more comfortable and MUCH easier to take off (you ladies with Nike sports bras know what I'm talking about). The only downfall for me (with my stick legs) is that these items tend to run a little large, especially the leggings in the calf area. 

I saved the best for last...

I had to go over my traditional five finds because....VELVET CHOKERS!! These are so trendy right now. While I have loved the style ever since I saw it hitting the trends, I never owned one for the sole reason that I couldn't justify spending $20+ on a tiny piece of fabric. Walmart just came in and changed my life. Earlier this fall, I also found the ubiquitous leather string bolo chokers at Walmart. Some of these chokers are admittedly a little gaudy (I'm not a fan of the blingy ones), but since they come in sets, you can pick and choose to find the perfect one. If you love the choker trend, but can't stomach the Vanessa Mooney prices, Walmart has made your Christmas wishes come true with these babies. 

Hopefully this post has inspired you to be open minded about fashion, Walmart and life in general. If anything, perhaps it will make going into Walmart during the Christmas rush a little less terrifying since you can go on your own treasure hunt now. :) 

Five Finds | Online Boutiques

I've got to say it--I'm addicted to online shopping. And I know I'm definitely not alone. It is simply too difficult to resist the "buy X amount and get free shipping!!!" quote unquote bargain or the fraction-of-the-cost couture find on eBay. However, with moderation, online shopping is the key to a fantastically diverse wardrobe. Stores from across the globe are available to give your closet a unique boost, no matter where you live. I'm always checking out new boutiques I run across and lately I've found some keepers. Read ahead and hold onto your credit cards for my Five Finds list of online boutiques that have been on my radar lately.

1. The Oxford Trunk

Hate it or love it, your favorite social apps are the best marketing platform ever. Sometimes those "annoying" sponsored posts can lead you to cool stuff! In this case, a sponsored post in my Instagram feed led me to The Oxford Trunk and I couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised. The overall vibe is West Coast chill meets classic (too perfect). The price point is quite affordable on many of the items, with higher-end pieces sprinkled in the mix. The coolest part? The handcrafted jewelry offers a unique mix of delicate crystals and bold designs. Check it out!

2. Mindy Mae's Market

HELLO affordable basics!! If you are looking for simple, yet chic pieces that won't break your budget, Mindy Mae's Market is something you need to check out. A Facebook ad prompted me to this site, and I saw this adorable leopard clutch on Something Navy's blog--I knew I had to check it out. It's so easy to head to this site and see tons of things you absolutely "need," so proceed with caution. From comfy tees and hoodies to faux leather skinny jeans and booties, this is a must-shop. Added bonus: I love that they use women of various shapes for their models!

3. Effin Shop


Prepare your bank accounts for Effin Shop...you will "need" so many things from this site! I was drawn to it when I saw an ad featuring the beautiful lace dress above. When I scoped out the whole site, I was in love. I was drawn in by a statement dress, and I stayed for the amazing basic pieces. As if you needed anymore reason to fill up your shopping cart, the prices are reasonable as well. If you wanted to create your entire wardrobe at one stop, Effin Shop would be a good choice.

4. Tuckernuck

Tuckernuck would make the list on the basis of it's name alone--so fun to say! However, even with the most banal name, this eclectic offering of traditional preppy pieces and bold accessories would stand out anywhere. While the east coast preppy look isn't necessarily my thing, a few structured pieces can and should fit into any wardrobe. If you are a preppy type, Tuckernuck will be your mecca for '50s silhouette party dresses and collared button down shirts. For me, I can't get enough of the high-quality unique accessories!

5. Public Desire

Rihanna x Puma furry slides, the onslaught of velvet, Kim K's ubiquitous clear plastic footwear--there are tons of trendy looks circling the internet. To score these looks for a fraction of the cost, check out Public Desire. They offer SO many cute styles modeled after the latest trends--all for super affordable prices. This is a must for getting your shoe fix without making your bank account too sad.