To Save Money, Splurge on What You Really Want

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_DSC3565I know what you’re thinking after reading that, but hear me out.

For my entire life, I’ve been a fashionista on a budget. That means that after I browse Pinterest and stumble upon the dress or purse of my dreams, I usually scour the internet to find an acceptable substitute to save money.

Yet, nearly every time, I’ve found that the substitute doesn’t quite curb my craving for that piece. Then, I either throw my hands in the air and splurge on the item I originally wanted, or I toss the substitute into the back of my closet, never to be worn again.

I recently—finally–came to the conclusion that it would be better for my happiness (and my wallet) if I just bought the item I really wanted in the first place.

Otherwise, I will have completely wasted my money on something that I don’t even like, or I will have spent my money on the cheap substitutes PLUS whatever the original piece costs.

For example, I’ve been coveting these vintage, high-rise Levi’s for months now, and I’ve done my best to find a pair of jeans that fill the “vintage jeans void” in my wardrobe. I never really found an affordable substitute that had all the features I wanted, so I ended up paying $98 for this pair from Revolve._DSC3575 (1)_DSC3560

To many of you, that may not sound like a lot of money to spend on a pair of jeans, but for me, it is. I typically find my jeans at TJ Maxx or thrift stores, so I had a difficult time hitting “complete order” on this one.

Yet, I’ve never been so glad that I did. These are absolutely everything I ever wanted out of a pair of jeans, and I know I will no longer need to shop for substitutes because I am finally satisfied. 

Because I’m starting to splurge on the clothing and accessory items I really want, I’m not able to buy quite as many clothes, but that’s alright. I’m much happier with my fewer, better pieces than I ever was with my cheap substitutes.


So, even if you have to wait a couple months to save up the money to buy that Prada bag or that Beach Riot swimsuit, do it. Don’t buy the cheap knockoff.

I promise it will be worth it, and once you have that piece in your arms, it will leave you wanting for nothing.


Sabrina’s Wearing:

| Dillard’s Button Down Top (similar) | Levi’s Vintage High Rise Jeans |Amazon Block Heel Sandals | Lulu’s Necklace (similar) | Target Earrings (similar)


Photos by: Durrell Green and H+L Creations

Using Fashion to Craft Your Personal Brand


There is so much buzz right now around crafting your “personal brand,” whether it’s for the purpose of getting a new job, promoting your own business or craft, or simply giving the world an accurate idea of who you are and what you stand for.

As three creatives, we love using fashion to promote our personal brands because how we present ourselves to the world is quite important in each of our lines of work. Here are our thoughts on how we use fashion to bolster the world’s perception of ourselves and how you can do it too:IMG_6182-2



To use fashion to cultivate your personal brand, you first have to figure out what your personal brand is. Do you want to be seen as a logical woman who has her head on straight? A free-thinking creative? I personally want to be known as the girl people can turn to for advice or assistance with any of their personal style woes, even if their preferences differ from my own.

We will soon be launching a styling service (stay tuned for more details on that coming within the next few days!), so it’s important to me to instill a sense of confidence in my potential clients. That means even though I love risky, out-of-the-box styles, I know not everyone does (and I don’t want my clients to think I’ll be dressing them all in high-waisted referee pants and lace crop tops!), so I need to make an effort to reflect a variety of styles within my own personal style so clients trust that I can meet their own fashion wants and needs.

This is why I chose a relatively simple look for this shoot. I realized a while ago that I almost never wear jeans in photo shoots, and I don’t think I have literally ever worn a t-shirt for a shoot, so I figured I would give it a try and make those seemingly simple pieces feel fashion forward! There are a lot of women out there who live in jeans and t-shirts, so I needed to make myself relatable and my style accessible to them.  

So for you, what do you want to reflect? What do you want people to know about you before you ever even open your mouth? Keep your personal brand in mind when choosing outfits, and it will not steer you wrong.

-Sabrina Runge



As an independent musical artist, I choose how I am represented. I don’t have a record label telling the world who I am, and I like that.

As a natural performer, it’s easy to perform on and off the stage… to try to be something I’m not in order to feel “good enough.” I had to learn how to stop performing, and, as a dear friend put it, “just be.”

This year, I’ve begun to take that mindset on and off the stage; to do what I love because I love it, not to fulfill others’ expectations. It’s a privilege to “fill the air, the silence” (as my boyfriend says it) with whatever I choose and to remember that people show up to hear me and let me be myself with them. Nobody likes false advertisement, and with that in mind, I use style to visually represent my true self.

I prefer minimalism and consistency in my style. If I go a little out of the box from my day-to-day for a show, it’s because I want to use style as another way to express my creativity. However, with that exception, I usually prefer to let my personality and music do the talking. Choosing a simplistic, neutral-based style allows room for interpretation. It doesn’t make such a statement that others can automatically have a definitive opinion about me before actually knowing me. I desire to know others and be known truly, not superficially. I’m not saying I wear plain, homely things in some sort of “stick-it-to-the-man” mindset against our society’s focus on image. I do enjoy many trends in our culture, and I love expressing myself visually, but I do not depend on it.

IMG_6270All that being said, my style usually consists of mostly black, flowy pieces. I wear a lot of black because I view it as a confident color. (Honestly, I love any outfit that feels like pajamas.) I’ve come to love my nearly shapeless body, and I try to not deceive anyone into thinking it’s anything else. If my shape disappears under a flowy dress, that’s okay with me because in this heat, I’m just happy for cool clothing. As far as accessories, it’s safe to assume that I’ll almost always be wearing a key necklace that says “BE” on it to remind me to be real, along with the same gold studs, my mother’s ring, and black booties. I value consistency and simplicity. My style is constantly swaying between simply confident and confidently comfortable. That’s the mindset I try to live in as well. Confident but not conceited; comfortable and content with myself.

Tiffany Lee: Musical Artist, Nap Queen, and Plant MomIMG_6257-2


Whether you are a business owner, lawyer, or fashion guru, you are your brand. So, as your brand, the way you present yourself is the way you display your business. As a fashion blogger, photographer, and soon-to-be stylist, I use fashion as an avenue to make a good impression on others, thus creating a good impression for my business. Even if I’m simply running to Kroger to buy more Halo Top ice cream at 11pm, I still try to make an effort to dress nicely and look my best no matter the occasion because I never know when I’m going to run into a present or future client.

Always looking presentable and approachable instills a kind of trust with my clients. I’ve branded myself so they know they can trust me to always do the best work I can for them because I put that same kind of effort into myself (almost) everyday. Jogger pants, loafers and a chic, silk cami is one of my go-to outfits because it’s effortless yet sophisticated for wearing out, and I can still go home, plop down on the couch, and spend the day working and editing photos without ever having to change clothes!


When I started out branding myself as a photographer, I dove in headfirst and told people I was up for anything, from newborn sessions to weddings. Yet, I realized this wasn’t what I really wanted to do, so I began focusing on what I loved: fashion photography and portraiture. As a fashion blogger myself, I see both side of the lens, so I have a unique perspective when it comes to fashion photography, which sets me apart in this field and aligns with who I am as a photographer and a person.

It’s a lot easier (and more authentic) to cultivate your personal brand when you are honest with yourself about what you want to do. It’s no surprise that I didn’t get booked for many newborn sessions because my heart wasn’t really in it. Once I created my personal brand that aligned with each and every one of my passions, I began to see a lot more success in each of those fields, and you will too.

-Hannah Lewter



Hannah’s Wearing:

| TJ Maxx Metallic Cami (similar) | Forever 21 Jogger Pants | Amazon Backless Loafers | Target Earrings (similar) | Plato’s Closet Watch (similar) |


Tiffany’s Wearing:

| H&M Maxi Dress (similar) | H&M Strappy Heels (similar) | Forever 21 Body Chain | Target Earrings (similar) |


Sabrina’s Wearing:

| Zara Graphic Tee (similar) | American Eagle Ripped Knee Jeans | Amazon Block Heel Sandals | Gifted Earring and Necklace Set (similar) | H&M Rings (similar) |

The Dynamic Duo’s Guide to Beachin’ on a Budget

_MG_7343A trip to the beach is the quintessential summertime vacation, but it can be out of reach for a lot of people simply because of the expenses.

Hotel? Gas? Food? Drinks? And not to mention swimwear and stylish beach accessories?

It can add up very quickly. But, we managed to embark on a weekend-long beach getaway for us and our baes for a grand total of around $500.

Here’s how:_MG_7404_MG_7358


We were lucky enough to be able to stay with one of our friends in Perdido Key, which is on the line between Florida and Alabama. We saved quite a bit of money this way, but even if you are not fortunate enough to have a friend who lives on the coast, a hotel is something you should save on. You are not going to be spending much time there anyways, so it’s really not worth it to spend $200 a night on a fancy resort. Find a place that has a bed, a shower, no frills (and no bed bugs), and only hang out there when you want to go to sleep.


We did splurge a little on going out to eat by treating ourselves to brunches and dinners for two days, but that’s more doable when your trip is shorter, like ours was. If we were going to be there for a week, we definitely would have stopped by the grocery store to at least grab some burgers to grill or some lunch meat for sandwiches to make some of our meals cheaper. Also, when we went out to eat, we usually all ordered waters instead of cocktails (which I can’t even order yet anyways) to make those dinners a little more affordable because a drink usually costs as much as an entrée by itself!

I unfortunately broke my only pair of sandals right before we left for this trip (unbelievable, right?), and you can’t go to the beach without sandals, so instead of buying myself a brand new pair, I borrowed my mom’s sandals for the trip. They weren’t my favorite, but I simply took them off for photos, and they got the job done!


Right before we went on this beach trip, I was really struggling with what to buy for myself. I knew we were going to do at least one photoshoot, so I wanted a new swimsuit (or two), a beach towel, a beach bag—the whole works. Unfortunately, the more logical side of myself knew that I shouldn’t splurge on all of that, so I had to pick and choose.

I already had a new swimsuit (this amazing blush pink one!) that I bought a few months ago and hadn’t worn yet because I wanted to save its debut for the beach. So, one swimsuit down! All of my current swimsuits were solid colors, so I really wanted one that had a fun print. I did not want to spend a lot of money on it, so I turned to Amazon and found a cute one piece with a palm tree print. It was only $15, so I bought it. I actually didn’t even end up getting to wear it on this trip, but at least I’ll have it for my many days by the pool this summer.


As for the rest of the stuff, I borrowed a beach towel from the friends we were staying with and made peace with the fact that I would not be able to get an Instagram-worthy photo with an on-trend, circular patterned beach towel because it cost $45. I repurposed a cheap, lightweight tote bag into a beach bag instead of shelling out $70+ for one of those awesome straw ones. I figured out what was most important to me, spent money on it, and saved money on the rest. You don’t have to completely deprive yourself of what you want when you’re headed on vacay; you just have to prioritize!



What are some ways you’ve found to save money at the beach? Let us know in the comments!

_MG_7561Here are some of our favorite candid moments from the trip!

Hannah’s Wearing:

|  Forever 21 Swimsuit |  Target Cardigan (similar) | Aldo Sunglasses (similar) | Kroger Hat (similar) | Target Earrings (similar) |


Sabrina’s Wearing:

| Love Street Apparel One Piece Swimsuit | TJ Maxx Sunglasses (similar) | Target Earrings | Amazon Cover-Up |

What is ‘Cultural Appropriation’ Anyways?

IMG_5313IMG_5725For this post, we challenged ourselves to put together the most *American* outfits we could without doing any online research to see how much influence other cultures have on our sense of style.

In short, we failed. Miserably.

Literally none of the styles we chose originated in America. Then, we did some more research and found that the only styles that truly got their start in the United States are blue jeans and western wear.







This exercise was truly eye-opening because we saw firsthand that if we hadn’t taken styles from other cultures, there essentially would be no fashion in this country.

So, that brings us back to the idea of cultural appropriation. When is it okay to take ideas from other cultures and when is it disrespectful?


I remember people getting upset about things like the name, “The Washington Redskins,” or even more recently, not liking that Kendall and Kylie put their faces on t-shirts with the names of Tupac and other African American artists, but I didn’t realize there was a name for it: cultural appropriation. The definition of cultural appropriation is the adoption or use of the elements of one culture by members of another culture.

As someone who is half Puerto Rican, I do understand this on a personal level. Particularly when people use bits and pieces of Spanish without really knowing what they mean, like adding “el” before certain words and “o” after them , like “el car-o” to be funny and make those words sound Hispanic.




It’s not that big of a deal to me because I know most people who do this are just trying to be funny and aren’t trying to be disrespectful, but I understand why it is offensive to some people. Taking some aspects of a language and using them improperly is not respectful to that language and the people who speak it.


IMG_5555As we all know, America is a melting pot of different cultures. With so many different types of people coming to the States, cultures and lifestyles are bound to mix and take on aspects of other traditions. There are definitely reasons to tread cautiously when it comes to clothes, art, or anything from other cultures, but without this amazing conglomeration of people and ideas, we would not have things like Chicago-style pizza or New York Fashion Week.

I was researching cultural appropriation for this post because I actually didn’t even know what it was before Sabrina brought it up to me. I found this incredible article on how to approach cultural appropriation in a positive way, and I could not have put it any better myself:

“In the 21st century, cultural appropriation—like globalization—isn’t just inevitable; it’s potentially positive. We have to stop guarding cultures and subcultures in efforts to preserve them. It’s naïve, paternalistic, and counterproductive. Plus, it’s just not how culture or creativity work. The exchange of ideas, styles, and traditions is one of the tenets and joys of a modern, multicultural society. So how do we move past the finger pointing, and co-exist in a way that’s both creatively open and culturally sensitive? In a word, carefully.”

-The Atlantic, “The Dos and Don’ts of Cultural Appropriation


If we limited ourselves to just ‘American’ culture and didn’t share with others, we would not have much at all. Blending cultures and lifestyles is what makes America, America.

So, if you like good music, good food, and good fashion, we should probably keep mixing cultures (respectfully).




To be completely honest, I did not understand why people got upset about cultural appropriation until fairly recently. I thought that people should be happy and feel honored if another culture borrowed one of their ideas and showcased it. (Boy was I wrong.)

I finally understood why people got upset about it when girls started wearing shirts and toting coffee mugs with the phrase, “Nama’stay in Bed,” emblazoned on them. Namaste is a Hindi greeting, and one time when I asked a girl wearing one of those shirts if she knew what “Namaste” meant or even what language it came from, she had no clue. As someone who is half Indian, that’s when I got a little offended and realized that there’s a right way and a wrong way to borrow from other cultures.

It is acceptable to borrow another culture’s idea if you know the meaning behind it and you treat it respectfully. Such as, if a clothing company used tribal print on one of their artisan-crafted handbags and also told a story about creator of the bag and the origin of the print in the description, this would be acceptable. On the other hand, if a company put a Native American headdress on one of their Caucasian, underwear-clad models for a runway show, that is not okay (ahem, Victoria’s Secret).




Sharing between cultures is something that is unavoidable–and honestly desirable–if we want to bring cultures closer together. But, there is a right way to do it by honoring the history of the cultural idea and the people who came up with it, and a wrong way to do it, which is ignoring everything except the aesthetic value of the idea.

Learn before you wear.







Photos by: H+L Creations

Savvy’s Wearing:

| Forever 21 Satin Shirtdress | Marc Fisher Ankle Boots (similar) | Amazon Earrings | H&M Hair Piece | Fossil Purse (similar) | Plato’s Closet Watch (similar) | TJ Maxx Sunglasses (similar) |


Hannah’s Wearing:

| Forever 21 Slip Dress (similar) | Target Button Down Shirt (similar) | Amazon Heeled Sandals | Target Earrings (similar) | Aldo Sunglasses (similar) | BCBG Purse (similar) |


Sabrina’s Wearing:

| Amazon Crop Top (similar) | Forever 21 Pants (similar) | Zara PurseH&M Sunglasses | Forever 21 Mules | Amazon Earrings | Plato’s Closet Watch (similar) | Amazon Rings |

The Fashion Girl’s Guide to Fitness


For my entire life, I made excuses as to why I couldn’t reach my goals. Being a full time student and having two jobs are definitely good reasons, but they’re still excuses. But in January of 2016, something clicked in my head, and I realized how much control I have over my life. If I really want something, I’m the only person who can keep me from it.

I decided to dedicate my entire life to fitness and health. I began working out for one hour five days a week and eating clean six days a week. My plan was to lose fifteen pounds. I ended up losing thirty pounds.


After losing the weight, I kept setting new goals, and I kept reaching them. I suddenly enjoyed shopping for new clothes because I felt good about myself. I was finally able to wear cute outfits and not feel self conscious. I’d never had this much confidence in my life. _MG_6604Not only did I look better, I felt better. I felt strong and healthy. I felt happier and got better sleep. I started to realize it’s not about how you look; it’s about how you feel. Before losing weight, I was called fat. After losing weight, I was called too skinny. My response? “Well, I love myself and that’s all that matters.” And it truly is all that matters.

It doesn’t matter what type of clothes you wear, how skinny you are, or how much makeup you wear. As long as you truly love yourself, you’ll rock any look. It’s not the outfit that makes you look good. It’s your confidence and how you wear that outfit that makes you look good.

Life is too short to try to impress others. Do things that make you happy, things that make you feel your best.


I now train for at least an hour and a half five days a week and I count my macros. I’m climbing the ladder of the fitness world around me. People are constantly asking me how to look and feel better, and it makes me feel so happy. Everyone deserves to love themselves. This new confidence has not only helped me in the gym, but it has also helped me in front of the camera, with my job, with socializing in general.

People are drawn towards confidence. I think that’s because everyone strives for and wishes to love themselves. At the end of the day, it’s all about being the healthiest version of ourselves. We only have one life, and one body. We’re meant to take care of it and to love it.




Whoever said fashion and fitness had to be mutually exclusive was just plain wrong. Ditch those gray, baggy sweat pants because fashion and fitness have come together and had a baby, and its name is athleisure. From yoga-inspired looks like mine to bold, fresh looks like Sabrina’s, this new take on workout gear is anything but boring.

_MG_6740Last season was filled with bright colors, so I love the fresh take this season has brought with muted monochromatics. A number of traditional ready-to-wear stores have taken on athleisure sections, including H&M, Old Navy, and Free People, and even Beyonce has her own fitness line! Wearing Adidas sneakers instead of a pair of cute flats is the easiest fashion-forward way athleisure can play into your daily life. Yoga pants are no longer restricted to yoga classes, so pair them with a flowy top and hit up brunch with friends._MG_6815_MG_6546



Quite often, people make the mistake of thinking that you have to wear ‘traditional workout clothes’ when you work out, but I think the athleisure trend has definitely disproved that. There are many ways to incorporate fashion-forward trends into your athletic looks, like the strappy back of my sports bra or Sabrina’s velvet sneakers.


When it comes to fashion, it’s all about your perspective, so rock those silk joggers and feel free to wear patterned leggings until the end of time.



As a full-time student and aspiring entrepreneur, it can sometimes be difficult to find the time (or the energy) to hit the gym. I like to work out in the morning, so if it gets past noon or one o’clock, it’s probably not going to happen that day. Unfortunately, I also do my best work in the morning, so I frequently get caught up writing blog posts or knocking out homework assignments until my ideal ‘workout window’ has passed. So, what’s a morning girl to do then?_MG_7001My solution is to put on my workout clothes as soon as I wake up, even if I don’t know if I’m going to work out that day. Because if I already have my leggings and sports bra on, I’m a lot more likely to make that ten minute drive to the gym.


Changing into athletic clothes doesn’t seem like that big of a task, but when you’re trying to make the decision of whether or not to work out at like 12:59, already being in those clothes is a huge motivating factor. And there’s actually science to back up this idea. The theory of ‘enclothed cognition’ describes the mental changes we undergo when we wear certain clothing. One researcher from a 2012 study on the topic says, “I think it would make sense that when you wear athletic clothing, you become more active and more likely to go to the gym and work out.”


This doesn’t mean that leggings are magical, and as soon as you put them on, you’ll transform into a fitness guru. But, if  you’re already contemplating going for a run, wearing the clothes you subconsciously associate with running can give you the extra push you need to actually go through with it.

Plus, athleisure is as comfortable and cute as it gets, so what other reason do you need to stock up on track pants and funky tennis shoes?



Britney’s Outfit Details

Top: Express

Sports Bra: Forever 21

Leggings: Forever 21

Tennis Shoes: H&M

Hat: Nike

Sunglasses: Aldo

Hannah’s Outfit Details

Top: Forever 21

Sports Bra: Forever 21

Leggings: Target

Hoodie: Forever 21

Slip On Shoes: ASOS

Sunglasses: TJ Maxx

Sabrina’s Outfit Details

Top: Goodwill (revitalized by Awaken Atelier)

Track Pants: Forever 21

Tennis Shoes: Target

Sunglasses: Rue21