Spring is officially here, but during March it is pretty chilly where I live in West Virginia, so I am still sporting all my favorite sweaters–including this thrifted beauty. To keep my most-worn pieces looking fresh, I absolutely love to mix-and-match different textures, especially knitwear, satin, lace and leather.

For a casual look today, I layered a beige turtleneck over a pale gray slip dress. The delicate satin and lace accents on the dress add a feminine touch to the chunky knit sweater, which made the entire outfit look effortless.

I also added black stockings for even more texture (and to stay warm). Then, I polished the ensemble off with my go-to snake print booties; the worn-in leather always kicks any outfit up a notch. To ensure focus was on my outfit, I tied my hair in a low, messy bun, and opted for minimal makeup. Finally, I accessorized with my rose gold nameplate necklace and a few decorative rings for some sparkle.

While a fluffy gray coat kept me snuggly on this day, I cannot wait for warmer temps so I can pair this ultra-femme slip dress with a badass leather jacket and fishnets.

Sweater, thrifted

Slip dress, thrifted

Booties, Free People, no longer available

Follow:

If you take a walk on any college campus, you will notice one thing for certain: a plethora of young women who tote designer handbags and trek in name-brand shoes, yet sport low-end loungewear in terms of clothing. And, it is no accident that a large percentage of young women dress this way. Their style, or lack thereof, is evidence of the garment gap: the phenomenon in which luxury clothing brands sell exponentially more accessories than actual garments.

“For me [producing every single look from the runway for retail] is absolutely necessary,” Dries Van Noten told The Talks in 2015.

Per The Fashion Law, the Belgian designer’s sentiment “sheds light on his ongoing resistance to conforming to a larger practice in the fashion industry,” i.e., “brands’ reliance on the sales of non-runway–and in many cases, non-garment–goods to derive the majority of their profits.”

There is no question that many big-name designers (think: Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent) sell more handbags, shoes, even makeup and fragrance than they do clothing. In fact, “leather goods represent over 50 percent of the €7.9 billion that the conglomerate’s luxury division earned in revenue for the 2015 fiscal year,” while “ready-to-wear accounted for only 16 percent,” according to The Fashion Law.

“At Louis Vuitton–by far LVMH’s most valuable and recognizable brand, accounting for no less than one-third of total group sales and almost half of its profit–bags play a significant role,” The Fashion Law Continues.

“[Louis Vuitton’s] current roster of bags and related accessories includes upwards of 850 products,” while “shop-able womenswear collections consist of just over 380 products.”

To anyone with fair reasoning skills, it may seem pretty pointless, for lack of a better term, for luxury fashion brands to design clothes anymore. After all, both the amount of effort and the cost of putting together just one fashion show are extremely high. But, high fashion has never been logical or practical–quite the opposite, in fact. The Fashion Law lists two major reasons high-fashion brands continue to show garments on the runway, despite the fact they never make the transition to retail:

“The first [is] that runway garments are simply not meant to represent marketable items but instead, serve a different purpose.”

“One could argue that modern day couture and ready-to-wear shows, in many cases, are more akin to large scale marketing events for brands–for the purpose of enabling and/or maintaining lucrative licensing deals–than buying opportunities for clients.”

When you think this through, it actually makes a lot of sense in today’s society. Fashion shows once served as buying opportunities for clients, as The Fashion Law states, but today, Fashion shows are more like pseudo-events. That is, they exist purely for publicity.

Chanel Fall/Winter 2017/2018 at Paris Fashion Week, March 2017 [source: Fashionisers]

“Over-the-top shows serve as an opportunity for brands to market themselves as luxury fashion brands,” The Fashion Law continues, bringing us to the second reason.

“The second reason centers on the tactic of putting runway garments on the back-burner in favor of brands more strongly pushing runway accessories and derivatives thereof–namely, bags and sometimes, shoes, [as well as] watered down garments, as these have proven to be key sources of income for brands.”

Plainly, this means clothes just aren’t selling for most high-end designers.

“For luxury brands, it is about licensing and handbags with nearly everything else taking the form of marketing,” according to The Fashion Law.

Thanks to Paris-based brands like Saint Laurent and Vetements, “the most recent rise of ‘it’ items…are not limited to bags.” Ultimately, when it comes to Saint Laurent, you think biker jackets, not purses. And, when it comes to Vetements, you think hoodies, sweats and activewear–definitely not handbags.

“Hoodies, bomber jackets, statement jeans and other eye-catching garments have taken center stage in street style shots, in Gucci stores, in editorials and elsewhere.”

But, this is a rarity and, not to mention, an extremely new phenomenon in the fashion industry.

“Most runway pieces never get produced. They’re marketing exercises. The legacy brands aren’t in the fashion business anymore. They’re selling handbags and lipstick,” Cameron Silver, founder of Decades, the posh Los Angeles vintage clothing store, told The Daily Beast last year.

Saint Laurent Fall/Winter 2017/2018 at Paris Fashion Week, February 2017 [source: Fashionisers]

“According to a report released by Exane BNP Paribas, accessories– namely, handbags–dominate in the luxury market. They represent one of the few categories with high sales densities and full-price sell-through rates,” according to The Fashion Law.

“As of 2016, they account for almost 30 percent of the total global luxury market, up from just 18 percent in 2003.”

So, why isn’t high fashion selling?

Silver has an answer: “Luxury brands have alienated the luxury customer.”

“Bloggers and celebrities, who either borrow or get clothes free, have replaced paying customers in the hearts, minds and front rows of fashion’s nabobs,” according to The Daily Beast.

Blogger Jetset Justine carries a Neverfull by Louis Vuitton and wears sunglasses by Ray-Ban [source: jetsetjustine.com]

“Runway clothes are made for magazines or loans,” Silver continues.

“Customers are low on the totem pole and they’re starting to rebel. It started in the mid-’90s with the red carpet and celebrities. Who wants to pay $250,000 for a couture dress they’ve seen loaned to some actress six months earlier?”

But, it’s not only couture that is failing to sell. Fast fashion has also taken its toll on ready-to-wear sales.

“Thanks to the Internet, [ready-to-wear] is also now instantly over-exposed,” writes The Daily Beast.

“By the time it’s in stores, it looks tired,” says Silver.

“The quirkiness of luxury, the artisanal experience, has largely been lost.”

Bloggers Chiara Ferragni and Aimee Song, among others, sit front row at Tommy Hilfiger’s Fall 2015 fashion show [source: runwaynewsroom.tommy.com]

Follow:

I’m a total Glossier junkie! Since the online beauty brand launched in 2014, I’ve gradually added a quite a few Glossier products to my makeup and skincare collection. Last year I stocked up on Haloscope, Glossier’s dew effect highlighter, in Topaz and Moonstone. I love to use these natural-looking highlighters as part of my everyday routine, and they are such a great change of pace from traditional opal-toned highlighters. For the holidays I received the limited edition No. 1 Pencil, a charcoal gray gel eyeliner that smudges perfectly for a sexy, just-rolled-out-of-bed Parisienne look.

Amidst a stress-induced breakout, I placed my largest Glossier order ever earlier this month. First was Super Pure: one of Glossier’s three serums. I was super tempted to purchase Super Bounce and Super Glow as well (after all, you save $19 when you order all three), but I ultimately decided my sensitive skin would be better off trying them one at a time.

Because the 3-year-old brow gel I already owned dried up, and because my concealer is close to running out, too, I added both Boy Brow and Stretch Concealer to my makeup routine. After hearing a ton of great reviews on Boy Brow from some of my favorite It girls (think: Emily Ratajkowski and Devon Lee Carlson), I was dying to try it out for myself.

Lastly, I picked up Balm Dotcom, a skin salve, because my skin tends to suffer from dry patches during the cold, windy months, and winter is far from over where I live.

Super Pure serum: This was my first time ever trying a skin serum, so it took my skin a little while to get used to it. Even though this product is intended to calm breakouts, it is still thicker than most products my face is used to, causing my super sensitive skin to breakout a little more before it got better. Once Super Pure started working, however, my breakouts quickly dried up and were easily covered with a little spot concealer.

I definitely would not recommend Super Pure as an everyday product, especially for those with sensitive skin, because it took a few uses for my face to warm up to it. But, it is great for tough breakouts–and, the easy-to-control applicator makes it perfect for treating specific problem areas.

Balm Dotcom salve: It didn’t take long for Balm Dotcom to become my holy grail beauty product. This odorless salve instantly heals chapped lips and dry patches without causing any breakouts or irritation. In addition to my lips, I love using Balm Dotcom on the dry areas around my nose and eyebrows. It definitely isn’t an all-over moisturizer, but it is perfect for quickly treating dry spots, including cuticles!

Balm Dotcom is also easy to use with other lip products–even matte liquid lipsticks. Because a little goes a long way with this salve, it applies smoothly over and under your lip color of choice. Plus, the squeeze tube packaging doesn’t pick up any color that you may have already put on your lips–something glide-on lip balms are very guilty of doing. You can even go a step further by mixing your favorite lip color with Balm Dotcom before you apply.

Whatever look I’m after, I cannot go a day without this product! The best part is, I only have to reply a handful of times throughout the day; Balm Dotcom has some serious staying power–even through tough workouts! No other lip balm compares to it.

Stretch Concealer (medium): When it comes to concealer, I 100 percent prefer pot formulas over liquids, which tend to look cake-y and unnatural on my skin. So, when Benefit’s Erase Paste, my long-time favorite, hit pan, I decided to switch things up with Glossier. Stretch Concealer absorbs into the skin, giving you that natural, dewy #NoFilterJustGlossier look, which makes it a great product for covering any blemishes or redness.

Boy Brow (brown): I have naturally thick brows, so I definitely prefer a gel product over a pencil when it comes to my arches because they are ideal for filling in small gaps and keeping the hairs in line all day. Boy Brow in brown matches my natural brow color perfectly, and it brushes “sprouts” upwards, instantly making the entire face appear more polished. This brow gel is saturated with product and packs a ton of punch without the dreaded “drawn-on” look.

Use my link to save 20 percent on your first Glossier order!

Eyebrow sprouts [source: Instagram user @glossier]

Follow:

Thanks to bloggers and influencers, the brands they promote gain popularity through the power of social media. Big names in fashion, beauty and lifestyle like Triangl Swimwear, Are You Am I, Pop & Suki and Glossier all rose to fame via promotions (sponsored or otherwise) from top bloggers and Instagram-ers.

If you keep up with any of these bloggers or social media influencers, it is very likely you’ve heard of The M: a Manhattan-based jewelry retailer specializing in personalized and nameplate pieces. It seems influencers, bloggers and models from coast to coast are obsessing over this up-and-coming Insta-worthy brand!

YouTuber Lauren Elizabeth in The Old English Choker (top) [source: Instagram users @themjewelers]

Bella Hadid in The Gothic Choker Nameplate [source: Instagram user @themjewelers]

Blogger Danielle Bernstein of We Wore What is a fan, as are YouTube sensations Lauren Elizabeth and Maddi Bragg; young supermodels like Romee Strijd and Bella Hadid have also been spotted in The M chokers. Dainty yet unique, The M designs updated pieces that are reminiscent of Millennials’ childhoods.

After their original stint in the 1990s, chokers came back into style over a year ago. Since then, online-based jewelers like The M reinvented this childhood favorite into a chic and sophisticated accessory that can be worn in both casual and formal settings, as exhibited by the brand’s high-profile fanbase. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that personalization has also been one of the past year’s hottest trends; it seems every other blogger owns a satin bomber jacket emblazoned with her name.

Romee Strijd in The Gotchic Choker necklace [source: Instagram user @themjewelers)

Bella Hadid in The Gothic Choker necklace [source: Us Magazine]

With over 216,000 Instagram followers alone, The M, which has a sizable and popular online boutique, competes with traditional jewelry retailers like Kendra Scott and David Yurman. Sure, Scott and Yurman have been household name long before The M’s rise to fame, but this social media star know exactly how to connect to its customers.

Branding via social media is nothing new, but few companies are so successful with it that they become anything more than a 15-minute fad. Most brands that start out on social media lack consistency and fail to truly connect with potential customers and followers, quickly turning them into a thing of the past.

By posting personal snapshots–including selfies, a Millennial favorite–of It girl customers like Devon Lee Carlson (older sister of YouTuber Sydney Carlson), The M becomes a friendly, relatable brand–especially when compared to standoffish high-end brands like Tiffany & Co.

Similarly, fans of the brand feel more connected  to these bloggers and influencers than they do to aloof models utilized by traditional retailers. After all, shots of young women grabbing a casual coffee with friends are way more welcoming than the luxurious settings designed by advertising professionals in the jewelry realm.

The M’s price point may also draw in followers. One of the brand’s most popular pieces, The Gothic Nameplate necklace, starts at $130, which is affordable, but pricey enough to remain exclusive, setting The M apart from fast fashion retailers like Forever 21 or BaubleBar.

YouTuber Maddi Bragg in The Old English Choker (top) and The Mini Choker Nameplate (middle) [source: Instagram user @themjewelers]

Recently, The M collaborated with Danielle Guizio, a young fashion designer also based in New York City, who has 120,000 Instagram followers of her own. Guizio’s tracksuits and oversized sweatshirts are popular among high-profile bloggers and social media starlets like Hailey Baldwin and Madison Beer.

The Gothic Choker necklace, which starts at $180, is her signature piece, and it is available on her website in addition to The M’s.

Likewise, both brands do an exceptional job promoting the choker necklace on their respective social media platforms, increasing its popularity in the blogosphere and beyond. While the personalized choker is certainly edgy, it fits in perfectly with The M’s range, as well as Danielle Guizio’s.

The Gothic Choker necklace (middle) [source: Instagram user: @danielleguizio]

The Gothic Mini Choker [source: Instagram user @themjewelers]

Follow:

When it comes to spring and summer style, I tend to keep it really casual. As soon as warm weather rolls in, I focus more on comfort and gravitate more towards laid-back clothes–including all my favorite vintage pieces. Worn and torn denim pairs perfectly with slouchy t-shirts, oversized knits and ankle booties.

Thankfully, none of these ever goes out of style! And, with high-end accessories a simple outfit like this instantly gets a polished update. Thursday evening for a low-key family dinner in celebration of my mom’s birthday, I paired a plain white tee with my favorite vintage Levi’s. I thrifted these bad boys from Compromise Lodge, a vintage shop, in Lambertville, New Jersey over a year ago.

They are a super unique medium rinse hue with tons of rips down both legs and some colored stitching and embellishments on the front as well as the back. These jeans are truly one-of-a-kind, and their relaxed fit makes them the most comfortable pair of proper pants I own.

To tie the look together, I added a chunky leather belt with gold hardware, a pair of patterned ankle booties and a fluffy gray coat.

T-shirt, Brandy Melville, $18

Belt, Free People, $38

Jeans, thrifted

Follow: