Farewell Summer

It’s officially fall in Iowa and in an attempt to bid adieu to summer I’m sharing one of my favorite summer looks! In the dead of winter I long for nothing more than to throw on a dress and sandals in order to be ready for the day. Don’t get me wrong, I love layers but I’m trying to preserve the tights-free and sweater-free days that are left, and those days are numbered.

This dress to me is quintessential summer. Gingham will forever remind me of picnic blankets and if I had my way I’d spend every obligation-free day sprawled on a picnic blanket, eating bread and cheese and drinking sangria… But that’s not a reality, my life is not a Pinterest board! But if I could, I would.

I love the fit and length of this dress. Often when I buy a dress it’s too long and I have to hem it up or it’s too short which makes it a tights only dress, which means I can only wear it in the fall or winter. This was a birthday gift and on the pricier side, but I’ve learned you really do get what you pay for. Here I get fantastic fit and adorable details like the buttons up the back!

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And then there’s the elephant in the room… My new cat tattoo!! I’ve been wanting a cat tattoo (or Cattoo) for awhile now but nothing I saw or thought of seemed quite right. Then along came John to save the day. Oh the perks of having an artist for a husband! I asked him to draw something up for me and he came up with this and I fell in love. It’s purrrfect, it’s just what I wanted and I’m happily to officially be a member of the crazy cat lady club!

Outfit details: Dress :: Modcloth | shoes, belt :: thrifted | sunglasses :: Ray-Ban | necklace :: White Rabbit

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Summer Cold Conundrum

If I look particularly happy in these photos it’s because… I am! Mar and I went out on a hot and sunny August day just as I was recovering from a nasty summer cold. Colds should most definitely be reserved for when the temperature dips wayyy down and chicken soup and blanks make sense. A summer cold when it’s 90 degrees outside is just too confusing to handle! Since I’d spent a few days before moping around the house with a fever and trail of Kleenex I was pretty excited to spend some time making myself pretty. I dyed and curled my hair, trimmed my bangs, painted my toenails, slipped on this new-to-me skirt and felt fabulous!

Since summer is nearing its end (sigh sigh sigh) I try daily to make the most out of my summer wardrobe. That means brightly colored skirts, crop tops and tank tops and sandals, oh my! I want to show off my tattoos while I can before they’re soon to be covered with long sleeves and sweaters, and, spoiler alert: I got another tattoo today and I think you guys are gonna like it! Check back in a couple of weeks to see the big reveal.

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I got this skirt from a friend’s garage sale and let me tell you, this garage sale was a dream come true! Seriously, piles and piles of rad vintage clothes for extremely low prices. It’s not even fair to call it a garage sale, although it did take place out of a garage… But it’s most like a super fun vintage pop-up shop run by my friends a few blocks from my house. Winning!

While I’m still loving summer I am getting the fall fashion bug. The release of fall magazines is one of my FAVORITE parts of the year. The fashion! The TV shows! The music! Bust and Nylon are my top picks, year after year they never disappoint. I’m gonna try and live in the moment but come on, I know y’all are excited for fall fashion too!

Outfit details: crop top, sunnies :: F21 | skirt :: garage sale gem! | necklace :: thrifted | sandals :: Urban Outfitters (similar) | ring :: Market Day Iowa

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5 Of My Favorite Things: Iowa State Fair Edition

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Iowa State Fair. The crowds and hot weather can be overwhelming and really make or break a trip to the fair. With that in mind I kept my outfit cool, casual, comfy and country. At the fair I’m a little out of my element and I want to dress for the occasion and still be me. Mission accomplished I think!
There’s comfort in the routine my hubs and I have developed over the years when tackling the fair and the novelty of this once-a-year occurrence is enough to drag my butt away from the pool for awhile and experience the greatness that is The Iowa State Fair. In no particular order here are my top 5 favorite things about the fair:

1) The Food
Once we walk through the gates and into the fairgrounds John and I typically hit up the fried veggie stand immediately. We especially love the veggie corn dogs and deep-friend pickles, cheese curds and mushrooms. This year we made two visits and on the second time around scarfed Tenderloins and a fried cupcake. Ummmmm yum! Also disgusting. But yum.

2) The People Watching
All kinds of people go to the fair. All. Kinds. Once we get our food we stuff our faces and observe everyone walking around. The fair fashion is incredible! I also try to spy on what other people are eating. Since I have tunnel vision about my favorite food I don’t often branch out, so there’s lots I haven’t tried.

3) The Sky Ride
It’s just a colorful ski-lift but it’s a nice reprieve from the crowds and walking.

4) The Photo Ops
There are many cardboard cut-outs peppered around the fairgrounds and are 100% my favorite pictures to take every year. Check out our pic below to see what I’m talking about. The cow barn is where it’s at!

5) The Midway At Night
I am a total sucker for brightly lit carnival rides, so the midway at night is basically a dream come true. I know carnival rides can be controversial but sorry, I love em! Pretty much the whole reason we went the second time was to experience the midway after dark. We always end the fair with a spin on the ferris wheel and it’s just ten times better at night!

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Outfit details: dress :: Hill Vintage | shoes :: Wet Seal | scarf :: gift from Marlena | belt, pin :: thrifted

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Cows, corn dogs and crazy rides: The Iowa State Fair!

The Iowa State Fair is one of those annual events that fellow Iowans either love or hate: there doesn’t seem to be much in-between. I for one love it! This year we kept it pretty simple; we saw the cows, ate a corn dog, and rode the Berry-Go-Round (which.. yikes! Charlie may have loved it but I thought I was going to get sick!). Then as we were leaving we stopped for some ice cream! We did meet up with Jessi and friends and took a state fair time-out to take some pics of our outfits.

I decided to keep it pretty easy and breezy for the fair this year. Jessi gave me this dress for my birthday and I have been wearing it pretty much every week. It’s so comfy and pretty! I decided to pair it with some ruffly socks and my boots for a bit of a country-fied look.

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One of my favorite things about the fair is that I’ve been going pretty much every year for the last 7 or so years, and I know for a fact that I’ve never seen everything. Take this pretty garden Jessi and I discovered right by the agriculture building; I’d never noticed this little beautiful pocket right off one of the main roads before!

Outfit details: hair bow :: JCPenney | dress :: birthday gift from Jessi, from Hill Vintage | belt and socks :: Target | boots :: Steve Madden, from Von Maur

Have a fabulous Saturday! And if you live in the Des Moines area, may I suggest a visit to the fair tomorrow? It’s half price!

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Road Trip + Family Fun

Last weekend John and I took some time off from our regular lives for a good ole family vacation! We drove up to a lake house in Wisconsin to hang with my brother and his better half as well as my mom, aunt and grandma. I grew up on road trips so the five hour trip it took to get to  our destination was no big deal. As a kid my family often drove to Colorado and we made several trips to Florida and even drove to New York once. Throughout the years John and I have taken many mini road trips to Omaha, Minneapolis and Chicago so by now we pretty much have road tripping down to a science. We stockpiled music and podcasts (check out our Podcast post to see what we’re in to!), got our requisite bagel and tea breakfast on our way out of town and stopped once or twice for road snacks and to stretch John’s long legs.

Side note: my fav road snack hands down is a Whatchamacallit candy bar. I can’t believe they still make those! So delish.

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We took these photos at a rest stop that was downright beautiful! It was tucked into the woods a bit and perfect for a photo op. When traveling in the car I like to dress for comfort, of course, but don’t ever want to get caught looking too schlubby. This outfit here has been my summer go-to of late. The top is actually a stretchy dress that I could not personally pass as a dress (too tight! too short!) but it works just fine tucked into a skirt or high-waisted jeans. I’ve really been in to scoop-back tanks or anything that reveals my tattoo. I almost forget about Gus in the middle of winter! I’ve gotta show him off when I can. I bought this denim skirt very recently from a store in the mall that I would not normally shop at (check out my outfit details at the end to reveal the mystery store!). I’m typically very into thrifting or spending as little as possible on anything, with the exception of dresses from Modcloth, my total weakness! I usually stay away from slightly higher end stores because of the price tag, but this denim is quality and it’s nice to own something that I know won’t fall apart any time soon. Oh the luxury! Don’t get me wrong though, I will thrift-shop until the end of time, I’m in no way fully converted. But this skirt is so comfortable and fits into my wardrobe really nicely. And it withstood the road trip test!

I spent the next few days in my swimsuit by day and leggings and boots by night around the camp fire. It was nice to get away and I 100% do not want to go back to work, right?!

outfit details: Top, seashell ring :: forever 21 | shoes :: urban outfitters | skirt :: Ann Taylor Loft (similar) | necklace :: Domestica | belt :: thrifted | sunglasses :: Ray-Ban

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Green Acres, Take 2!

This is part 2 of the farm photo shoot I took when visiting my mom in Mt. Vernon a few weeks ago (see my first farm post here!). If you want to get another peek at cute kitten Thomasina, you’re in luck!
I got this dress from White Rabbit in Iowa City (can I just live in that store please? I’m obsessed!) This dress is a true summer go-to with the light fabric and floral print. I’m kicking myself for not taking a picture lying down in the grass, I missed a great Virgin Suicides moment for sure.
I know I’ve gushed about Worishofer sandals here on the blog before but I can’t stress how great they are! These are my second pair and they’re truly like walking on air. One of the worst parts of my job is the fact that I can’t wear open toed shoes to work. Sorry to be shallow but this really bums me out! Instead I save these puppies for gallivanting around on days off.

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I don’t know about you all but I’m having a pretty great summer so far. I’ve got a bit of a tan going, have been hanging outside with my cats as much as possible and going on ice cream dates with my love.  The weather really turned up a notch today so I plan on hitting the pool hardcore this next week and I’m super excited about that!
outfit details :: dress, necklace :: White Rabbit | sandals :: Worishofer via Zappos  | belt :: thrifted

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80/35 Music Festival Street Style

Luckily while we were taking in all the music and booze this past weekend, Jessi and I were smart enough to stop some pretty kitties that brought their A-game to 80/35 this year. Since the first day of the festival was the 4th, we loved all the creative patriotic outfits. Of course, we were also pumped to see so many cat prints!

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Anna | Derek

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Bradie | Will | Jes

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Carly | Austin | Hillary

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Josie | Josh | Ramona

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Arin | Gina | Katie

We’ll be sharing our festival outfits soon!

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How to class up an otherwise normal outfit in 30 seconds

It only takes two things: dabbing on some red lipstick and adding a string of pretty pearls around your neck!

I’ve said it before, kitties: my husband is the only reason I have nice things. About a month ago he overheard me mumbling to myself that I should try spending more than $5 on a tube of lipstick. Well, he heard me and then some!

Today is my birthday (yahoo!) and Joe let me open my presents a day early: timeless make-up from the Chanel counter (think red lipstick, jet black eye liner, and a powerful mascara) along with this beautiful string of pearls. Pearls are my birth stone, and they will always hold a special place in my heart because the first gift Joe ever gave me were these pearl earrings I’m wearing.

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Last weekend Joe also took me out for a lovely date night in St. Louis for an early b-day treat. We went to Franco, a French restaurant in Soulard (shout out Krystle for the recommendation!) and it. was. so. good! Speaking of food, tonight Joe is making me my birthday dinner, which will consist of all of my fav foods: white cheddar mac and cheese, crab rangoon, and strawberry shortcake. Oi, you can tell I’m old because my birthday now revolves around food….

Outfit details: white bow accessory :: Forever 21 | sunnies :: Forever 21 | pearl necklace :: gift from Joe, Joseph’s | striped dress :: Charlotte Russe | red scarf as belt :: thrifted | black sandals :: Target

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Green Acres

A few weeks ago I visited my mom in Mt.Vernon, a couple of hours away from Des Moines. She recently moved back into the farm house she grew up in, a home that’s been in our family for over a 100 years. It’s not a working farm anymore but is pretty gorgeous in the summer. The yard is huge, and I would know, I used to have to mow it back in high school! The light was so nice when I pulled up to the farm that I made my mom take pictures of me right away. When your friend or family member is a fashion blogger you never know when you’ll get pulled into and bossed around for an impromptu photo shoot!

Anytime I go back home for a visit I try to make a stop in Iowa City for a quick shopping trip. I was short on time but managed to run into White Rabbit and pick up a few things. Yay! I’d been eyeing this necklace via White Rabbit’s Instagram account (@whiterabbitgalleryic). Since I’m prone to breaking/losing jewelry I don’t usually invest too much in it but I decided to splurge slightly and I’m so glad I did, I’ve worn it nearly every day since I got it. I also picked up this tank on my stop. It’s lightweight and the print is super cute! I don’t have much else like it in my closet, which is a new shopping rule for me. There have been too many times that I’ve come home from thrifting only to realize I had nearly identical dresses or tops just waiting to be worn. I’m gonna take a moment here to say I think that Cher from Clueless was spot on in terms of archiving all her outfits via Polaroid pictures. The girl is brilliant, obviously! New summer project, perhaps???

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The first order of business once I made it to the farm was to play with my mom’s new kitten, Thomasina. She was about 8 weeks old when I met her and just toooooooo cute! I’ve tried to talk my mom into getting another cat for awhile now and I’m excited she finally did! Suffice to say most of the evening was taken up with kitten time, much to the dog’s chagrin. But we did manage to take a break and visit Palisades Cafe in town (shout out Palisades Cafe!!) The food was super delicious and, even better, is owned by a friend of mine from childhood. We had a brandy cheese dip to start and I had a black bean and beet veggie burger… Yum yum! Highly recommended if you happen to be passing through Mt. Vernon, Iowa.

Outfit details: tank, skirt, necklace :: White Rabbit | Shoes :: Worishofer

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A fun take on mixing patterns

Kitties! I’ve been digging on some plaid + stripes these last couple of weeks. Try it out! Of the outfits I’ve tried, this one is by far my favorite. Bright colors + black and white are a no fail combination in my eyes. The last time I wore this dress on the blog I dressed it up for a Christmas party, and my goal was to dress it down for this post but it’s ended up in that fuzzy area of not overly dressed up but definitely not dressed down either. That fuzzy area is pretty much where I like to dress 98% of the time.

Also in classic Marlena fashion, I have three different bows on (belt, shoes, and a small bow on my purse). Bows! I just love them. This top has no bows but does include ridiculously puffy sleeves, and every time I wear it I definitely get some sidelong glances. I feel like a space commander in it, albeit the type that wears purple kitten heels.

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So I do have to take a time out and talk about my new purse, especially since I never want to use another one again. Joe and I just celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary, and we like to do the traditional wedding gifts. Joe was like, “Leather? That seems hard; any ideas?” haha uhhhh yeah! So now here I sit with easily the nicest purse I’ve ever owned and I love love love it! I got him some cute oxford shoes by Cole Haan. We definitely went overboard…

Speaking of presents, I can’t believe it’s my birthday month already. Yesterday I had a blast at our company golfing trip (I was lucky enough to score the position of Gator Driver instead of Golfer… I can say with real confidence I left all of my athletic hopes and dreams back in high school) but the entire time I was like, “Why is it so hot?” Uh, because it’s June, dummy! Still isn’t kicking in I’m afraid, but now I have sunburned knees to remind me.

Outfit details: plaid ruffle top :: thrifted | black and white stripe dress :: Charlotte Russe | brown belt :: Francesca’s | purple bow heels :: Grey Dog Boutique | Kate Spade bag :: gift from Joe, Kate Spade

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Pssssst! Did you miss our $50 ASOS gift card giveaway, happening right now? Hop to it and good luck! We will announce the winner on Monday.