The Classic Brunette

Thursday, February 23, 2017

5 Current Favorites

The flu is going around like crazy here! Of course I got it (because if you didn't know, I tend to get every cold that comes through, ha!) and it's been a rough few days, and a few things I had scheduled for the blog had to be put off. So I thought I would share a few things in my life that I've been loving in the meantime. If y'all are into this, maybe I can make it into a monthly series, let me know what you think!

I am beyond excited about these shoes!!! If you're anything like me, you've been obsessing over these Chloé wedges (I linked the new version!) since they came out a few years ago. I heard about the Marc Fisher dupes a while ago, but $160 was still too much with my budget, so I have been patiently waiting for something cheaper to come along! AND IT FINALLY HAPPENED. Steve Madden, AKA one of my favorite shoe designers came out with these dupes that are only $60! Compared to the original $660 price tag this is incredible, especially since they look exactly the same. I've heard from others to size down half a size, but I'm a true 9 and they fit perfectly for me! Also, they are SO comfortable, I might have to buy the other two colors!

I got this case for Christmas, so it's been on my 'love' list for a while, but honestly I'm so happy with it! I had actually been wanting this case for over a year (and mentioned that in my 2016 favorites post!) and was so excited when my old laptop case finally broke so I could get this one. It's super durable, and exactly what I wanted. Other marble cases that I've tried in the past have peeled, chipped, or just broke. This one is smooth, looks professional, and again is very strong. I've gotten so many compliments on it since getting it!

Netflix Original: Santa Clarita Diet

Y'all this show is amazing. Okay, hear me out because it sounds like a crazy roller coaster of a show. It's about a normal family that has its world flipped upside down when mom Sheila (Drew Barrymore) somehow turns into a zombie. It's a cute, funny, and at times a little gruesome (in the best possible way, I assure you.) story of a family trying to deal with their challenges while still keeping their sanity and love alive. Throughout the season they attempt to look for a cure, with many ups and downs. I binge watched this a little while ago and ended up watching the whole first season in 4 days. The characters are realistic, charismatic, and hilarious as they try to figure out how to kill people without being horrible individuals. It's one of the best shows I've seen yet and I can't wait for the next season!

Starbucks Iced White Mocha
Alright alright, I've loved this drink forever, cut me some slack! It's just been a real life-saver lately! I have 8:30am classes twice a week and always need caffeine on these days. My campus luckily has a Starbucks, so I head there each morning and pick one of these up! I'm not a huge coffee person, but these have a good amount of sweetness so I can have all the delicious flavor and caffeine that I need! These also taste good hot, if it's still super cold where you live!

I posted this the other day on my Instagram, and I got the chance to try it out yesterday and am obsessed! I don't normally wear a full face of makeup, but when I do I definitely don't want it melting off or smearing! This powder is so lightweight and leaves my skin with a great matte finish. I tend to have a shiny forehead, even with matte makeup, and the powder actually covered up all the shine. I was so impressed, especially since my makeup was on for over 8 hours and still looked flawless when I went to take it off. Also I love the little poof applicator that it comes with, it makes it so easy to apply. Highly recommend!

I would love to know what products, shows, and other things you have been loving lately! I'm always excited to try new things, especially if it comes highly recommended!

Monday, February 20, 2017

How To Create The Perfect Flat Lay

How to create the perfect flat lay on Instagram. What are the different styles of flat lays and how can I create them? This post shows you how to take incredible flat lays in just a few simple steps!

I've been asked by a lot of you to share my secrets on creating my flat lays. If you're unfamiliar with the term flat lay, you probably still know what it is! A flat lay is essentially a way of creatively displaying items in a photo with a birds eye point of view. It can be a tough thing to master, as it requires a bit of photography skill and the careful balance of objects in an image. Now, of course I'm not the queen of flat lays (I believe that title goes to miss Aimee Song of @songofstyle) however I do have a lot of experience with creating them for my Instagram and have learned so much about what to do and what not to do!

Although each flat lay mostly requires a similar set of steps, there are a few different styles of flat lays that require different techniques. I'll be describing each type of flat lay and what I do to achieve specific looks for each, and then I'll just give a few more examples of flat lays at the end just to demonstrate! So be warned, this post is photo heavy!

Food Flat Lay
A flat lay of Watsons Diner's burgers and fries from Orange, California

A flat lay of a ham and cheese parisian sandwich and fries from Cafe La Tartine in Redwood City, California

A flat lay of Chevy's salsa chicken tacos, a strawberry margarita, and rice.

I might as well get the hardest flat lay out of the way first! I'm honestly not sure how food bloggers always create these perfect food shots. Food is a tricky subject to photograph, and can often leave you feeling frustrated, and if you're eating with other people, can often make others mad at you (what can I say, hungry people are vicious, myself included.) I believe the easiest way to get a nice flat lay is to first have desirable looking food. That may sound obvious, but there have been many food photos that I've seen on Instagram where I've questioned why someone thought it was a good idea to post their "meh" looking food. It also helps to have "clean" looking food. For example, we all know pasta is delicious, but that sauce can look extra messy and lumpy if being photographed. However something like the tacos above where there is a definite shape, can be more appealing to the eye. Although the food itself is "clean," the display of the food is allowed to be more free and real. Again, look at the tacos as example. The lettuce is sprinkled about the whole plate, however it doesn't give it a "messy" look, but more of a realistic appealing dish. To achieve one of these "clean" food flat lays, you first have to get rid of any excess food spillage (crumbs, sauce splatter, stains on silverware/napkins, etc.) and avoid anything that has a naturally messy look to it. I used spaghetti as an example before, but sauce/dips don't have to be an automatic "no" for these flat lays. Take the taco image above (can you tell that I really love this photo? It may or may not be my phone background...) the salsa is great as it's another detail that adds to the overall value of the meal/image. Just as long as everything works with one another and strikes a balance, it should look fine!

The 'Organized' Flat Lay
A fashion flat lay featuring a black and white striped tshirt, faux suede booties, bioclarity, ysl black opium perfume, and the l'oreal pink lip palette
Three of bite's matte and satin lip crayons
A flat lay of a computer with a monogram sticker, boxed water, Aimee Song of Song of Style's Capture Your Style coffee table book, and YSL black opium perfume.

The organized flat lay is one of the easier ones! Essentially you take all the items you want to share in your flat lay and organize them in a symmetrical way. You align all or most of the objects in perpendicular angles so they are all equa-distant to one another. It's as simple as that! 

The 'Messy' Flat Lay
A flat lay featuring a plaid scarf, the carli bybel eyeshadow and highlighter palette, a bite multistick in macaroon, and a mug from popsugar must have box.
All the eva hair nyc products that are now sold at select old navy stores
A fashion flat lay with a lavender victorias secret lace bralette, a gray marbled cowl neck sweater, a Nikon D3100 DSLR camera, pumpkins, and a marble laptop case.
As you can see by the examples, the 'messy' flat lay isn't as messy as it sounds, it's more like organized placing of objects. It's crucial in this type of flat lay to achieve a balance with the objects in the photo. You don't want to leave too much empty space, but you don't want to have your items cramped against each other either. I've found that it's better to have an odd number of items in the photo since it looks more casual rather than styled. Also, I've heard that photos with three items typically do best on Instagram, so you might want to give that a shot as well. For these shots, you shouldn't be afraid to let some items fall out of frame. This adds to the real-ness of the photo, and makes it look like you just took a snapshot of your life (even if you spent a half hour styling it!). 

The Simple Flat Lay
Brown mules/clog studed heels from madden girl
Along came a box gift subscription box service
Another easy one, can you tell by the name? These are when you really want to showcase a single item, such as a great pair of shoes or a beautifully intricate bralette. As for every flat lay, you should keep the background simple and on theme. Since I love light backgrounds, I always try to go for an all white background.  Then just place you item in an attractive looking position and snap away!

Overall Flat Lay Tips
1. Always keep a simple background. My favorites are marble (you can buy cheap marble contact paper on amazon!), white sheets, textured blankets, and fluffy rugs.
2. Always have about an inch of space between each object so things are not cramped.
3. Maintain balance in the flat lay. Never leave a photo with too much empty space or not enough empty space.
4. Always take the photo from above so you can get the best view and that "flat" view of the objects.

Other Examples
Cute outfit idea flat lay with a ribbed sweater, plaid blanket scarf, and gold glitter steve madden flats
The continental breakfast from Hotel Maison De Ville in New Orleans Louisiana. Mostly carbs and different beverages, although still delicious. One of the best hotels in New Orleans!
Breakfast at the Hotel Maison De Ville 
Patchology moisturizing lip gels and sugarfina sugar lip gummies
Bite multisticks that work as lipstick, blush, or face product.

Hope you all are having a great start to your week! If you try out any of these tips be sure to tag me @samimast in your Instagrams so I can see! :)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Spring Swimwear Guide

Spring Swimwear Guide from The Classic Brunette. Fun, flirty, and bright bikinis. Off the shoulder bikinis, cute coverups, beach totes, and more!

It may still be cold outside for most of y'all, but it's the perfect time to start thinking about swim suits! Swimwear for the upcoming season is just starting to become available in stores, and if you're like me, you might want to get your pieces now or you'll forget to buy one when you need it. We have a pool in our housing community that I want to start using more often this year, and having a pretty suit is always great motivation! 

I'm planning on getting a nice one piece when I want to be more active, but I love having some fun bikinis for more relaxing pool and beach visits. I'm already prepping for my spring break, and although I'm not sure if I'm going anywhere I know it will definitely be warm wherever I am! I also know that I have my annual trip to Lake Tahoe coming up early in the summer that I'll be planning for as well. I know it's a little bit early to start thinking about that trip, but I've found that most good swimwear sells out before spring break! I've rounded up all of my favorite swimsuits (including some cute strapless ones that are seriously dreamy!), coverups and swim accessories so that you can get a leg up on those who haven't planned ahead, ha! 

Which one is your favorite?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Favorite Candles For The Home

I am a candle addict. Candles are one of those things that I know I don't need any more of, yet I still keep buying them. They're great when you want to buy yourself a little something, but they're great for giving as gifts as well. I love having a candle burning when I'm doing homework, when I'm watching tv in my room, or basically any time. There really isn't any bad time to burn a candle, well, unless you're asleep and not watching it. You never know when something may catch fire so I always recommend being fully conscious when burning my candles. 😂  In all seriousness though, please don't set your house on fire. 

I've gone through many candles, and have ones that I am constantly going back to because they are just that good! I'm not horrendously picky when it comes to candles, but I do have a few things I look for when choosing out a new one. I want it to be long lasting, so I don't have to replenish it too often and have it be a burden. I also want it to smell good (duh!) and have a strong enough scent that I don't have to be right next to it in order to smell it. That's essentially it! Like I said, I'm not all that picky, so I'll go through a variety of different scents depending on my mood and won't limit myself to just one type. Although I am typically drawn to sweeter scents such as vanilla or my absolute favorite buttered rum (that I can no longer find!), you'll also find me burning more earthy, spiced scents when the mood strikes.

Here are some that are constantly burning in my home!

I recently got this Glade Free Coconut and Beach Woods candle in my January Popsugar Must Have Box, and I'm loving the scent it has! It has a strong coconut smell, but there's hints of beach wood, making it smell like an island paradise. It has a great lasting scent, and is perfect when I want to pretend I'm having a little escape.

My favorite candle on the planet, however is the Pink Sands scent from Yankee Candle. It honestly smells like what pink starburst candy (aka the best flavor) tastes like. It's very sweet, but with a little bit of a punch, and I'd imagine this is what heaven smells like. It's the perfect candle for Spring, as it's fun, vibrant, and delicious smelling. I love this scent so much I actually have it as an air freshener in my car as well!

Another favorite of mine is a decor piece and candle combined, the Golden Pineapple! I found this in target a while ago and thought it would be a cute decoration for my room, and thought I broke it in half when I realized it was actually a candle. Bonus! The scent is very light and almost citrusy. Weird, because you would think it would be pineapple scented, right? This one is great if you just want a very minimal scent that isn't overwhelming. I also love that even after I use this candle up I can make another use out of it somehow for decoration or even small storage.

My favorite earthy scent right now is the Lush Amazon scent from the signature soy candles line at Target. This particular line of candles always has such unique and fresh smelling scents that I enjoy! This one is no different and gives off that post rain smell. Essentially the smell after you walk outside after a rainstorm, it smells so fresh! This is a perfect cleansing scent, again if you just want something to keep your room smelling nice but isn't too overpowering. Also, these candles are only $5 or $10 depending on the size you get, it's such a steal!

Lastly, I really enjoy my Voluspa Gardinia Colonia candle that I received as a gift from one of my roommates last Christmas. It's got hints of coconut, but has a strong floral undertone that has a nice relaxing effect on me when I burn it. This is a candle I like to burn right before bed so that I can get in a peaceful mood and clear my thoughts. It's sweet without being obnoxious, and not too flowery that I feel overwhelmed. 

What are your favorite candles?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Dusty Rose Lace Up Dress

Lace-up Dress: Forever 21 (only $15!) | Faux Suede Drape Jacket: Forever 21 | Booties: Dolce Vita

I finally bought something in the lace up trend! Although I really love trendy items, I definitely don't see them as investment pieces. (Except I feel like a lace up sweater will be in trend for a long while...) On my last quick trip to the mall I grabbed this little lace up beauty for under $15 and was completely satisfied with my purchase! It's a little on the short side, so I'll probably be wearing it for nights out or when it gets really hot in the summer. I think the dress would also make a great beach coverup since it's super lightweight! I decided to make this outfit pretty simple because I wanted the lace-up detail to draw the eye. I think it's so girly and fun. Not to mention that the dress itself is super comfortable and in one of my favorite colors! I think I seriously lucked out that I got two trends in one! We all know how in dusty rose/blush is this season, so finding a combo of the two trends definitely had me running to the registers. 

Even though I really love this dress, I have to say that the faux suede jacket I'm wearing has to be my favorite thing I've added to my closet lately! I've been struggling with finding jackets I can just throw on before heading out. I either have zip ups, hoodies, or something with my sorority letters, and none of these really make for a fashionable look. So this jacket has been something I've been reaching for constantly, and I bought it less than a week ago! Plus it's crazy soft and so cozy! It's also been pretty chilly lately and this jacket is great for an extra layer of warmth. Plus as a neutral, it pretty much goes with everything in my closet. Although I'm thinking a white lace top would look amazing with it, so that might be my next mission when I head to the mall!

 I hope you're all having a great Thursday! Also, what would y'all like to see more of on the blog? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
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