Monday, March 12, 2018

Work Pant Favorites Under $100

Hey friends! As many of you know, I recently made the move from working in event planning to the financial services industry as a Wealth Advisor.  With this career change came a wardrobe update, which is definitely an added bonus :) I know many of you also work in a professional environment, so I figured you understand the agony of trying to find new work pants every year. Good, quality work pants are so hard to find now-a-days. You're either spending an arm and a leg for one beautifully tailored pair of pants or you're running to Target every month and buying new Merona skinnys (I still do this! #noshameinmygame). Over the last couple years I've found a few options that I personally love and luckily they're all under $100, so today I'm sharing the pros and cons of each of my favorite picks.

Also, these pictures were taken on my iPhone after work so I apologize for the low-quality mirror selfies!

J.Crew High Rise Cameron Pant

Price: $79.99
Colors: black, navy, gray and olive green
Fit: TTS, available in regular, tall and petite sizes

J.Crew High Rise Cameron Pant

Price: $79.99
Colors: black, navy, gray and olive green
Fit: TTS, available in regular, tall and petite sizes

PROS: I love that these are high rise, yet not restricting. You know how some high-rise pants may look great in the tummy area but make you feel bloated? These don't feel like that! They fit like a glove and are great quality for the price. I like that they have a double button fly and the material is comfortable, but keeps its shape. They also don't wrinkle easily. The biggest bonus of all is that these are machine washable! I've washed and dried these at least once and they kept their shape quite well. The look of these are very professional, classic and "dressy". They would be perfect for a business professional office environment.

CONS: I wish they made these in a few spring colors like a cream or pink color, but they have all the staple colors that you need. Because these pants are more of a dressy look, if you have a more casual office environment you may not need a pant like this. Not much to complain about with these!

Banana Republic Sloan Skinny-Fit Solid Pant

Price: $52.80 - $59.80 with code BRFAMILY
Colors: black, navy, charcoal, dusty pink, red and various other colors and prints
Fit: Slightly larger fit, go down a size; available in short, regular and long
Currently 40% off with code BRFAMILY

Banana Republic Sloan Skinny-Fit Solid Pant

Price: $52.80 - $59.80 with code BRFAMILY
Colors: black, navy, charcoal, dusty pink, red and various other colors and prints
Fit: Slightly larger fit, go down a size; available in short, regular and long
Currently 40% off with code BRFAMILY

PROS: These pants are very flattering and would look great on many different body types. I like that they flare out a little at the ankle, so they're easy to style with any type of shoe, like pointed toe flats or heels. These aren't as dressy as the Cameron pant, but the dark navy color I have works well in a professional environment. Comfort level wise, these are by far the most roomy. I ordered my normal size and probably could've sized down (not mad about it!). The sizes are available in short, regular and long to accommodate various pant lengths. They also have TONS of different colors and prints available.

CONS: These pants are dry clean only, which for some might be a "pro", but for me it's a con because I don't have too many dry clean only pieces. Not to mention dry cleaning bills are steeeeeep. I noticed throughout the day these pants seemed to lose their shape some, and they're wrinkle prone. Nothing that can't be fixed with a quick swipe of a steamer, but throughout the day I noticed how wrinkly the top portion was.  


White House Black Market Body Comfort Side-Zip Skinny Ankle Pant

Price: $29.99 without a code
Colors: black, navy and heather gray
Fit: TTS
Currently 60% off in "Sale" section, no code needed

White House Black Market Body Comfort Side-Zip Skinny Ankle Pant

Price: $29.99 without a code
Colors: black, navy and heather gray
Fit: TTS
Currently 60% off in "Sale" section, no code needed

PROS: These are a knit pant, so they feel like a legging! They are very flattering and make your legs look long and lean. They have an elastic waistband with a side zipper, so if you're in a hurry these pants are super easy to slide on and go. These are great for day-to-night outfits and would adorable with a cute satin blouse and moto jacket for after-work drinks. What I love about these the most is that they're extremely versatile and could work in any closet. They're machine washable and also the price is pretty amazing for a work pant!

CONS: I seriously loved these pants the first few times I wore them, so much so that I contemplated buying another pair in black and a pair in the other colors. With that being said, they haven't really lasted (I bought these in November). My biggest complaint is the side zipper. In theory, a side zipper works amazing and is easy to manage, however the zipper on these pants isn't the best quality and it constantly unzips, making for a few near-traumatic moments in the office. The knit has started to pill around the seams, causing a less put-together look than what I prefer. Overall, they're a good pant for the price, but just know that you'll need to watch the zipper during the day and you'll definitely have to replace after a few months of repeated wear.

What's your favorite? I'd love to hear your suggestions for your favorite work pants in the comments so I can try some new ones! Thanks for reading and have a great week!

My Look:

Blouse: old, similar under $25 | Pumps - shade: light beige | Bracelet | Necklace   

Monday, February 26, 2018

Travel Diary: Riviera Maya, Mexico | Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya Review

Hi friends! Two weeks ago Nate and I traveled to Mexico to get away from the cold and snow. We had such an amazing time - anytime someone asks about our trip I basically can't stop talking about the beautiful ocean, beaches, food, people, etc. Because we enjoyed it so much, I decided to write a blog post reviewing our experience. Be sure to grab a cup of coffee, because this post is LONG. 

I'll preface this by saying this is a review of the Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya Resort and not a review of Riviera Maya/Cancun since we never left the resort. We only stayed in Mexico for 5 days and we wanted to just enjoy the amenities of the resort and spend as much time by the beach relaxing and resting! However next time we would definitely do excursions and explore the area. 


We traveled from Des Moines to Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport and then from there to Cancun International Airport. We left on a Sunday morning which happened to be busier than what we were expecting. The Des Moines airport is pretty small and I've never had to get there more than an hour before my flight (praise the Lord!), however that was a big mistake! We got to the airport at 4:45am for a 5:50am flight and the airport was PACKED! Lines upon lines, people everywhere, and basically no one working the desks. When we finally got to the front desk to check our bags, the attendant helping us said we may not be able to check our bags since we were within an hour of our flight time! Thankfully we were able to check our bags and avoid disaster, but we were pretty freaked out. By the time we got through security we had to run to our gate and we barely made it on the flight. It was definitely a lesson learned and added stress that we could've avoided, but in all honestly we'd never seen the Des Moines airport that busy...ever!

We were delayed in Dallas, so by the time we got to Cancun it was late afternoon/early evening. Our travel agent had arranged for a transfer from the airport to our resort. We used AmStar as our transfer and they were wonderful. We traveled with another couple and between the four of us and another couple in the van we had plenty of room and the trip took under 30 minutes. 

The Resort: 

The Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya is an adults only, all-inclusive resort about 30 minutes south of the Cancun International Airport. The resort is off the main highway in Cancun, and you can tell upon arrival it's safe and well secured. There are huge stone walls along the highway with guards in tree towers every 50 yards or so. The entry is gated with security and they confirmed our names and reservations right at the front gate. Once through the gates, we drove another 2-3 miles on beautiful paved roads towards the main lobby. I was very impressed with all the flowers, green grass, and gorgeous wildlife. Upon arrival we definitely knew that the Valentin staff took pride in the landscape of the resort. We felt like we were in a beautiful jungle the entire time! 

Upon checkin we received warm towels and champagne cocktails. The only complaint from the whole trip was the checkin process. Although informational and thorough, it took almost an hour to get through everything. Additionally, when we were given the details of our room, we were informed that we wouldn't have a king size bed but rather two double beds and that we would have to move in two days to a room with a king size bed. The only other option was to upgrade to the next level room, which is what we ended up doing. We were able to negotiate a better rate which ended up being not much more than an extra $30 per day, but we were still disappointed that we didn't get the room we requested. With that being said, the room we stayed in was amazing! 

Our room was beautiful, spacious and updated. We stayed in Building 2 which was in-between the lobby and the largest pool. Our room was on the first floor and we never heard any footsteps from above or music from next door. Each room has a stocked mini bar with snacks, bottled water and Dos Equis! We also had an espresso maker for mornings, robes and slippers, and a safe for valuables. The bed was extremely comfortable and the bathroom was spacious. Each room also had a deck or patio with chairs that overlooked beautiful greenery, a pool or the ocean. We had a room that overlooked some trees and it felt like a private retreat!

Now to all the fun parts! Each day we would wake up and put on swimsuits. Then we'd head to one of two breakfast buffets for a quick bite and then run to the beach or one of the pools for the day. At night we would head to one of the many bars at the resort for a cocktail and then head to dinner, followed by some sort of show or concert and then back to the bars for late night cocktails and snacks. I'll explain all the restaurants we went to and the pools/beaches/bars:


La Hacienda: this is the Mexican restaurant and it was also our first meal at the resort. We had to wait about 45 minutes for a table (it was about 7:30 when we got there) but the food was amazing! The Chicken Tortilla soup is to-die-for! I also had a taco platter that was delicious.

Ginger: this is the Japanese restaurant that also has multiple Teppanyaki rooms. We tried the Teppanyaki the second night, and the fried rice and miso soup were pretty spectacular! The entertainment was great and it was fun meeting other couples during Teppanyaki. Ginger also had a sushi bar that you didn't need a reservation for and it was the best sushi I've ever had! We tried a few different rolls from the menu - my favorite was the spicy tuna - however they would make you anything you asked for. Almost every night we would stop at Ginger for our "appetizer" and then head to a different restaurant for the main course. So good! 

L'Olivo: this is the Italian restaurant. It's definitely one of the larger restaurants on the resort and we only had to wait 5 minutes for a table. We tried the salmon carpaccio and bruschetta for appetizers (both were excellent!) and I had pasta carbonara for dinner, which was decent. Nate tried their lasagna bolognese and it was absolutely amazing!! We were licking the plate clean it was that good! 

Dress: found at Katy Lynn Boutique 
L'Alsace: this is the French restaurant. We'd heard amazing things about this place so we were excited to try it on Valentines Day. We got to the restaurant at 6:20 (they opened at 6pm and it's the largest restaurant on the resort) and we had to wait over an hour for a table! However once we were seated we were not disappointed. I tried the french onion soup and it was the best french onion soup I've ever tasted! They bake fresh bread over the top of the soup... delicious! I also had the sea bass with sautéed spinach and it was excellent! By far the best sea bass I've ever eaten. Nate had the filet, which he was nervous about since we are spoiled with having the best beef available living in the midwest (in our opinion). He said the filet was the best cut of beef he'd ever had in Mexico. Like melt-in-your-mouth good. Everything I ate was very rich, so by later that night I wasn't feeling the best, but the food was worth it!

Dress: Nordstrom, similar here 
Taman Sari: this is the Indonesian restaurant. First off, the atmosphere was incredible and the service was the best out of all the restaurants. We both started with the pad thai - it had shrimp and chicken - absolutely amazing! Nate had a chicken dish that he said was the best meal of the whole trip! I had sea bass again with noodles and vegetables and it was also spectacular. We also had dessert - strawberries with dipping sauces and Pandan tiramisu. You must try this place!

Mar y Tierra: this is a breakfast and lunch buffet right by the ocean. This was our favorite place for breakfast! They had a custom omelet bar, as well as a variety of fresh fruits, breads, cheeses and fresh squeezed juices every morning. They also had popular "American" breakfast options, like pancakes and waffles. We never came here for lunch, but I heard they had great options. 

Le Marche: this is another breakfast and lunch option closer to the lobby. Their lunch options were different dishes from all the restaurants, so you could get sushi and fried rice, pasta, Mexican food...whatever you wanted really! They also had some of the best coconut ice cream I've ever tasted. We never felt bored coming here.

Bars and Entertainment: 

Don Miguels: this is a piano bar off the main lobby. We would come here every night before dinner for espresso martinis, jalapeño margaritas or their famous 1921 tequila drinks! They always had someone on the piano or playing the harp. After shows we would come back for one last drink and play cards with friends.

Dress: found at Katy Lynn Boutique
Sports Bar: accurently named, this bar has pool tables, darts and card tables, as well as TVs showing American sports games (they even had the Iowa Hawks basketball game on one night!). They also provided yummy nachos and cheese fries for late night snacks.

Salon Partagas: this is a cigar bar. The cigars were not provided in the all-inclusive fee, so we did not participate in this, however they had many cigar and hookah options. 

Martini Bar: right off the lobby is a martini bar, but we would frequent this bar in the afternoon for lattes and cappuccinos!

Golden Pool Snack Bar: located next to the lazy river pool, they had a lunch/snack menu where you could get salads, burgers, paninis and appetizers served poolside. Their shrimp burgers were amazing, as well as the mahi mahi ceviche! 

La Plaza Espana: this is the courtyard and bar outside the lobby. Every night they had the Valentin Imperial Band perform Spanish and American music. Everyone was dancing and hanging out by the stage. They also had vendors arrive every other night that sold different items, like jewelry, bags and paintings. The band was great and the atmosphere was fun and inviting. We would end many nights here taking in the sights and dancing the night away!  

El Palenque: this is the main stage for entertainment. Each night they had different performers. We saw a magic show (I was pulled onstage!), an acrobatic performance similar to a Cirque du Soleil show, and a caribbean dance and music show. All were impressive!

Excursions: we could have booked excursions through our transfer, AmStar. They had different options, like catamaran boat rides, snorkeling, and day trips into the city. All of these options were for an additional charge. 

Pools and Beaches: 

Large Pool: I don't think this pool had a specific name, but it was very large with lots of chairs and cabanas. You had to reserve spots at this pool pretty early - around 7:30am to get chairs right next to the pool - but it was worth it. They had live entertainment every day next to the pool, as well as two swim-up bars and a jacuzzi tub in the middle of the pool. There was also a quieter side if you didn't want to be around all the music. Everyday around 2pm a chef would make pork tacos poolside with grilled pineapple - these were delicious! 

Golden Pool: this was a lazy river pool that was much quieter. We came here a few times to relax and get away from the "party"! This is also where they had the snack bar for great lunch options. 

Beach: this was my favorite part of the whole resort. The beach was absolutely beautiful - hardly any rocks or seaweed. The water was turquoise blue and super warm for February. Each set of beach chairs were under cabanas that you didn't have to reserve. There were plenty of chairs so we never had to worry about getting there early. There was also a bar at the entrance of the beach, and they had waiters going up and down the beach taking orders and bringing drinks. We liked sitting in front of the sand volleyball area, and it was fun to watch people play! Nate and I took a long walk down the beach and it was clear that our beach was taken well care of compared to other resort beaches nearby. 

This dock is not at the Valentin but at a resort next door. We walked along the beach about 1/2 mile to get here. Worth it for this view!

Would we return?

Overall, our experience was amazing and we would definitely return to the Valentin. Next time we would probably fly out of a larger airport so we wouldn't have a connecting flight (we flew back into Dallas on our way home and almost missed our connecting flight due to long lines at customs and not enough time between flights). We would also reserve the same room again that we upgraded to because we loved the amenities the room provided. If you're looking for a fun and relaxing vacation for you and your partner or with friends, this is definitely a great option. 

To book our trip, we used a travel agent. We were referred to Michaela Moore at Creative Vacations, a Travel Impressions agency out of Des Moines, IA. She was wonderful to work with. 

Let me know if you have any questions about our stay! And if you have any other all-inclusive resorts you love, please share in the comments below! I'd love to hear about your travel plans and vacations. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Tips for Avoiding the Winter Blues

My Look:

Happy Monday friends! Is anyone else freezing in these cold temps? It was a -40 wind chill  in northwest Iowa last week. Apparently it was colder here than it was in Antarctica... I don't think that's normal! At least its a good excuse to put on some comfy clothes and curl up with a good book. Speaking of that, I think most of us tend to feel a little more like homebodies during this time of year. It's freezing out, the snow gets into everything, and soon enough winter has me feeling like I'm living in the pit of misery. Anyone relate?? 

A friend of mine recently told me about "the winter blues" and I definitely think this happens to more of us than we realize! After a few years of living in the tundra northwest Iowa, I've come up with a few ways to help me get through the winter months without feeling like a hermit. I know a lot of people reading here may not live in my area or even in the midwest, but these ideas could be used in any climate. Winter is winter wherever you live!

1. Practice Spontaneity

Now I'll be honest, being spontaneous is NOT in my nature! I plan out just about everything during the weekdays. However being spontaneous every once in awhile has proven to be a fun change. A few weeks ago my boyfriend and I were feeling stir-crazy. We had two friends bail on Saturday night plans (not a huge deal, both were for understandable reasons!) and we were stuck with nothing to do on a Saturday night. After going to dinner and seriously debating heading home for a Netflix bing, we came across an email I had for some unused hotel points that were about to expire. It was perfect timing - we already had plans to head to Sioux Falls the next day to finish Christmas shopping, our plans cancelled for the night and we had nowhere to be. How fun would it be to grab a hotel on the drive over and indulge in a little bit of luxury, even for just a night? We decided to pack our bags, grab some coffees to-go and drive up to Sioux Falls at 9pm! The hotel we chose had a hotel bar that was open late, so we enjoyed a few cocktails once we got there and were up early enough the next morning to get a head-start on shopping. All of that to say, being spontaneous for us was a nice change. Even if it's just grabbing a hotel downtown for a stay-cation or maybe heading to that up and coming restaurant you've been dying to try for a late-night treat, I've found that practicing a little spontaneity can prove to boost your mood, and make a fun story!

2. Indulge Your Loved Ones

This is something I want to practice more in 2018! My friends and I are pretty good about keeping in contact via text, but to me there's nothing better than receiving a hand-written letter from a loved one. I have an old envelope where I keep all the letters and notes from friends and family I've received over the years, and whenever I'm having a bad day I take a few out and read them just to boost my mood. Receiving these are wonderful, but writing them are even better. Even if you don't have a reason, sending a quick note expressing your gratitude for your bestie's friendship or leaving a little post-it note in your boyfriend's briefcase can make both you and your loved one feel a little extra special. I made up a little list of friends and family who I want to reach out to, and my goal is to write a quick note to one of them each week!

3. Stay Active

I know, this one is so cliche! But like Elle Woods says, "Exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy!". I started taking my heath and fitness more seriously last year after a particularly stressful couple months, and working out has helped my mood significantly in the colder months. What's helped for me has been using at-home workouts. I don't know anyone who really enjoys heading to the gym when there's a negative wind chill at 5:00am, and luckily my at-home workouts allow me to workout without the commute. Personally, I use Beachbody DVDs and their on-demand program, however you can find tons of free workout videos on YouTube!

4. Make plans... and stick to them! 

How often do we make plans with our girlfriends 10:00am to go out that night, and then by 5:00pm everyone bails because #sweatpantsandtakeout ? As much as I love to go out, sometimes it's hard to stick to plans, especially when its freezing outside. Speaking from personal experience, sticking to your plans no matter how you feel is typically the route to go! Even if it's just for wine night at your bestie's place down the road, keeping to your plans will have you looking forward to something to do and will also show that you're accountable to your friends. Wine nights with my friends have been a monthly staple, and I like to pair a cozy sweater with my most comfortable jeans. I recently bought these jeans for a steal of a deal, and they have just the right amount of stretch without losing their shape. 

5. Invest in a supplement regiment

Let me preface this by saying you should always speak to your doctor first before taking new supplements. Like I said before, I really started paying more attention to my health last year, and with working out and eating healthier comes investing in supplements. Vitamin D supplements have become a staple in my morning routine. You typically receive vitamin D from natural sunlight, as well as from foods like milk, eggs, and mushrooms. Vitamin D also helps in boosting your immune system and has been shown to ease seasonal depression!  I'm not much of a dairy person and I don't have time to make eggs every morning. I've noticed that Vitamin D supplements help make up for what I'm missing. Additionally, I like to take Emergen-C packets once a week as an extra boost for my immune system. I also use protein shakes like Shakeology to help me get a healthy dose of super-foods to keep me healthy during cold and flu season. Again, if you're interested in switching up your supplement rotation, consult your doctor first.

How do you avoid the winter blues? 

My Look:

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

2017 Year in Review

Hello, 2018! It's been nearly two years since my last blog post, and life has changed dramatically since 2016. When I actually write it down... almost two years since I last wrote on Stylin' Iowan... it certainly sounds like a long time, and it has been! Seriously, SO MUCH has changed since I last wrote a blog post. 
So where do I begin? I'll start from when you last heard from me. In May 2016 I made one of the hardest career decisions I've ever made. I decided to leave my job in events and marketing to try something different, and by different I mean.... different. Although I loved my job, I decided to pursue a new dream in the financial services industry. Like I said... different

When the opportunity was presented to take this new position, I was honestly scared. Going in a totally different direction (career wise) was exciting, however I knew more than anything that success was not guaranteed. I prayed for guidance, and what I found was that although I was put-off by the unknown, I knew God was asking me to trust in Him and take this leap of faith, even if it felt like I was taking a harder, tougher road. Almost two years later, I'm glad I trusted in Him.

Since then, it's been a whirlwind of learning, growth, rejection and earned trust. I studied many hours to receive various licenses, and it was the most rewarding task I've ever completed. I was also awarded the Young Professional of the Year award in my region (that was a huge shock!). It's been a crazy ride so far, and I've also had a little bit of fun tackling the challenge of a new business-professional wardrobe :)

Accepting the Young Professional of the Year Award
ShirtSkirt | Heels (on sale for $35!)similar | Necklace

Christmas 2017
My Look: Cardigan | Shirt | Leggings | Shoes

2017 brought a lot of new changes too! A new apartment, new friends and a new boyfriend! Although there's been a lot of "new" around here, I never really forgot about my little blog. The more time went by, the more I realized there was content that even I, the obsessive blog reader, was still not seeing, and that maybe others felt that too. To those of you who have reached out to me about when or if I would start blogging again, I appreciate your support and well wishes. I'm excited to interact with readers again and to talk about topics, including fashion, beauty, decor and more, that I hope are useful and inspiring. I have big goals for myself and this space, and I appreciate you all who have supported me through everything. 

See you soon, on January 15th to be exact! 


Pin It button on image hover