It’s October, one of the best months of the year! I have a lot more favorites than expected this month, and nearly all my new beauty favs are thanks to Sephora’s surprise Appreciation Sale. 😉

As the seasons change, I also discovered a number of fashion go-to’s I’ve really been loving, all of which are timeless and will be part of my collection for a long time.

Fashion

XLE: YouTuber Lauren Elizabeth has great taste is just about everything, so it makes total sense that her womenswear label XLE is exactly what the fashion sphere needed. I will admit that I was pretty skeptical to try an influencer-owned brand, but XLE blew me away!

A few days after the first collection dropped, I decided to try four pieces–two sweaters, a slip dress and a pair of booties. Everything is flattering and comfortable, in addition to gorgeous in a minimal, simplistic way. I definitely see myself in all of these pieces throughout the season and well into winter. The deep red snakeskin booties are already an everyday staple for me; they are beyond comfy for a heel and look badass with everything.

Réalisation Par: What’s not to love about this feminine and effortlessly chic label? Réalisation’s patterned dresses and blouses can be dressed up or down for a wide variety of occasions. Personally, I like to wear mine with athletic shoes and a messy bun; this combo is easy and makes me feel confident.

GRLFRND Denim: Anyone who reads Haute Mess regularly knows how much of a denim junkie I am, and I think I (finally) found the best pair ever. Via Intermix I chose a pair of high-rise flares with a light-medium wash that fit like a glove from the first time I pulled them on. Now, I don’t want to wear anything else!

B-Low The Belt: For so long I’ve had trouble finding the perfect belt; most are either too wide to fit through most belt loops or too skinny for my personal taste. And to be honest, the fit of every reasonably priced belt I’ve tried sucks–I almost always have to make new holes in mine, which looks awful to a detail-oriented person like myself.

Instead of investing in the same Gucci belt everyone else owns (I was seriously considering it), I picked two from B-Low The Belt during the Labor Day sale: a skinny beige one with a little snake for a buckle, as well as slightly thicker classic black one with Western-style hardware (both leather). I’m convinced there are no better belts for the price! And no, I didn’t have to create new holes in either of them. 😉

Earrings by Vanessa Mooney: The tiny silver hoops I used to wear every day were super worn-out, so it was time for a change. I found three pairs of beautiful and unique earrings that I absolutely love from L.A.-based designer Vanessa Mooney. The fresh pieces in my rotation were exactly what I needed to accent all of my fall looks this year.

Beauty

Glossier Zit Stick: Another month, another Glossier drop! As a Rep, I had the opportunity to experiment with Zit Stick a couple weeks before it became available. It was an instant win for me!

Zit Stick reduces spot size and redness in a matter of errors, but unlike other spot treatments, the thin (serum-y), see-through formula can be worn under or over makeup. Speaking of the formula, it includes three of the most trustworthy “breakout erasers”: benzoyl peroxide, capryloyl salicylic acid and tea tree oil.

I also love the oh-so hygienic stainless steel rollerball applicator, as well as the four-channel flow that evenly covers each spot in the product.

Fenty Beauty Moroccan Spice palette: Ever since the Moroccan Spice pop-up this summer, I’ve been drooling over Fenty’s eyeshadow palette of the same name. Moroccan Spice feels so much more grown-up and sultry than so many other palettes on the market, and it has a great range of shades, tones and finishes–everything from light to dark, warm to cool and matte to metallic. There truly are so many possibilities with the Moroccan Spice palette, including Ri’s look from her Wild Thoughts music video.

Fenty Beauty Tapered Blending Brush (210) & All-Over Eyeshadow Brush (200): Along with the Moroccan Spice palette, Fenty launched two eyeshadow brushes. I held-out until Sephora’s VIB Appreciation Sale to pick-up both brushes and the palette for myself, and although I wish I had these products in my collection sooner, they were definitely worth the wait!

The Tapered Blending Brush and All-Over Eyeshadow Brush are unbelievably soft and full; they disperse (and of course, blend) powder eyeshadow evenly *without* trapping any of the product in the bristles. There is so much less waste with these two brushes than with similar eyeshadow brushes, so they are worth the splurge in my opinion.

Plus, the extra-long handles make them so easy to use, and the nude-pink design beautifies any top shelf.

Pat McGrath Labs Permagel Ultra Lip Pencil in Contour: I knew this lip liner would be amazing (it’s Pat McGrath, after all). Contour is a must-have matte beige brown–perfect for over-lining the lips–that looks gorgeous under a ton of different lipsticks and glosses. I use a light hand when I want natural-looking coverage, and a heavier hand when I want more color payoff. Either way, the longevity of this luxury lip liner outperforms any other I’ve tried.

Pat McGrath Labs Lip Fetish Lip Balm in Gold Astral: A glittery lip product that doesn’t feel gritty? Only Pat McGrath could make that possible! From the first application Lip Fetish Lip Balm feels so soft and leaves a beautiful dewy, healthy sheen on the lips.

Gold Astral is an out-of-this world shimmer with a clear base. The gold color is never too yellow, and the glitter particles are never, ever chunky.

Sol de Janiero Brazilian Bum Bum Cream: Not to sound dramatic, but I am a little annoyed with myself for not trying this body lotion sooner. Brazilian Bum Bum Cream (pronounced “boom boom”) absorbs almost instantly, softening, smoothing and tightening the skin. The delicious pistachio-caramel scent lingers long after application and makes me feel like a goddess!

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I really wish summer would’t end, but dressing for fall is fun, right? Over the weekend I got into light layering for the first time this season–kind of like my street-style take on pre-fall.

Bright colors are everywhere lately, and now in the midst of fashion month, the trend doesn’t seem to be dying down anytime soon. And I’ve surprisingly been into it!

The teal Champion crewneck keeps me warm and works perfectly with Réalisation Par’s Devon Dress in White Squiggle. I love how it puts an athleisure spin on the ultra-femme minidress.

My (faux) snake print booties are casual yet instantly elevate an outfit. So, they were an easy choice when putting this look together.

Wearing my hair in an undone bun gives me the opportunity to show off a fun pair of earrings. Vanessa Mooney stole my heart recently! The L.A.-based jeweler has so many beautiful and unique pieces.

Last month I found a multicolore pochette by Louis Vuitton on The Real Real and haven’t put it down since! It gives me so much early 2000s nostalgia while playing into the bright-colors trend of the moment. Now that I have it, no outfit feels complete without it.

My look:

Sweatshirt, thrifted

Dress, Réalisation Par

Shoes, Free People

Earrings, Vanessa Mooney

Purse, Louis Vuitton via The Real Real

Makeup, details here

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Are You Am I swimwear: My obsession with Are You Am I is so real—it has easily become my favorite label over the past year or so. Everything they make is perfect; it was only a matter of time before I tried AYAI swim.

I quickly fell in love with the beautiful mauve-nude color of the label’s latest swim separates. I chose the Keela top (micro coverage with a ribbed texture and feminine ruffle trim) and Zora bottom (a high-rise fit with romantic knot details and a flattering ruched backside). This combo is something I see myself wearing for years to come!

NGL NYC Bikini Bites: How fun is this swimsuit with customizable body jewelry?! The best part is that all the hardware is made in the U.S.A. I absolutely *looove * wearing this bikini. The fit flawless, and I always feel like I stand out in the best possible way whenever I am in it.

Louis Vuitton Multicolore Pochette: Bright colors are huge lately, and as someone who wears mostly neutrals, I am surprisingly really into this trend—as long as I limit all the brightness to accessories only. The pre-loved Louis V Pochette I picked up from The Real Real is without a doubt one of the best accessories I have ever owned! It is big enough to fit all the necessities (and then some) while still looking super-cute and tiny. Plus, the multicolor pattern gives me *aaall * the early 2000s nostalgia in the best way possible.

Red boots: There is no better way to elevate an outfit than with a gorgeous statement shoe! The red boots I found at Free People are insanely comfortable and instantly dress-up all my favorite denim, day or night. Red has been my go-to pop of color lately, and these boots fit the bill.

Glossier Lash Slick: Can’t believe that I haven’t properly mentioned this product on the blog yet, because it is hands-down the best mascara I’ve ever tried (and I’ve tried A LOT).

No matter what, my mascara always smudges or flakes off quickly, leaving a mess under my eyes–but not with Lash Slick! It got me through allergy season, stressful days at work and countless military homecoming videos without smudging or flaking whatsoever. It’s unbelievable!

I really do love the long, feathery look it gives the lashes. This look works perfectly on “no-makeup” makeup days because lashes look so natural, but it is also allows bold eyeshadow to show through.

ColourPop The Zodiac Palette: If you are a regular Haute Mess reader, you already know ColourPop’s pressed powder eye shadows are my favorite formula ever. And The Zodiac Collection, ColourPop’s newest collab with YouTuber Kathleenlights, is so gorgeous.

Honestly, at first glance this palette doesn’t look all that wearable, but somehow all the shades work together perfectly. I love The Cancer, The Virgo and The Libra for more natural, everyday makeup, and The Aries, The Sagittarius and The Capricorn for intense eye looks.

ColourPop Super Shock Shadow in Fire: Wow—I don’t even know where to begin with this highlighter! The bouncy, gel-like consistency is of course amazing, but that is expected with ColourPop’s Super Shock formula. Fire is an out-of-this-world warm, peachy-gold that gives my skin a magical finish no matter where I apply it. It has the delicious wet look that I love in a highlighter, making it the perfect topper for the cheekbones, brow bones, cupid’s bow and beyond.

Jeffree Star Cosmetics Liquid Frost in Canary Bling: I started watching Jeffree Star on YouTube earlier this summer, and quickly fell in love with his honest and fun personality. As I learned more about him as a businessman through Shane Dawson’s YouTube documentary, I became eager to try his namesake makeup line.

Liquid Frost was my first pick from Jeffree Star Cosmetics; the ultra-fine glitters and glassy reflects are stunning. My favorite way to wear it is mixed in with my moisturizer and body lotion for an all-over glow. The shade Canary Bling is my go-to pale gold.

Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi: The first Drunk Elephant product I’ve ever tried! This multi-tasking formula is great. It has a serum consistency that easily mixes-in with any moisturizer or liquid makeup for a quick glow-y bronze finish (thanks to cocoa extract and platinum peptides). D-Bronzi is also equipped with a mix of vitamins, antioxidants and other good-for-you ingredients that help strengthen the skin and protect it from pollution and other environmental aggressors.

GLAMGLOW GLOWSTARTER Mega Illuminating Moisturizer in Nude Glow: Sephora’s birthday gifts always blow me away, and this year was no different. I chose the GLAMGLOW box with SUPERMUD mask (which worked wonders on my skin), as well as Mega Illuminating Moisturizer. The light, whipped texture gives me an airbrushed base under makeup—especially when mixed with D Bronzi. I can’t get enough (and I plan on purchasing the full size sometime in the future).

Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille: Warm and musky scents are definitely my go-to; I am not into anything fruity, floral or feminine when it comes to fragrances. In fact, I believe Tobacco Vanille is marketed as a men’s fragrance. But, that didn’t stop me from picking it up a few months ago. The spicy and not-too-sweet blend of Tobacco Vanille always warms me up on cold and gloomy days. Tom Ford can do no wrong in my opinion, and I will for sure be trying another one of his fragrances when this one is empty.

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My guilty pleasure is definitely swimwear–I own a *ton* of it! This summer I have really been crushing on designer swimwear, particularly Italian labels. Italian swim is flattering, skimpy, timelessly sexy and–most of all–fun! Each designer has a signature pattern that is unique to him/her. One of the most distinguishable is that of Missoni.

Lucky for me, I found this bikini by Missoni for a steal! (Like, under $100.) Similar suits by the same label retail for over $300. It is the prettiest color combo for summer; the turquoise and pink hues look awesome with a tan. And it fits like a glove because the fabric is so stretchy. I am so obsessed! *Insert drooling emoji here.*

Pulling the sides of your bottoms up is a huge trend. Yes, it is flattering because it lengthens the legs, but I can’t help but obsess over the ultra low-rise 1990s/2000s cut. It’s flirty and really stands out without being over the top.

I prefer unlined swimsuits with zero padding over lined and padded swimsuits. The less coverage the better for me! This ‘kini is perfect because it is unlined, not padded and has the tiniest strings to tie it–great for getting a tan!

What swimwear are you loving this summer? Let me know in the comments below, or on IG @maduhlyn_. 🙂

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How fun is Instagram’s new “Ask me a question” feature?! After receiving a few fitness-related questions, some of my followers insisted I put together an updated health and fitness routine for the blog–and how could I resist?! I really haven’t discussed anything like this in over a year, so it is about time I catch all my readers up.

Although I love staying in shape, I am slightly nervous to post anything health-related because I definitely am not a health or fitness professional. I do not feel that the information I have will work for everyone; I can only share what works for me. Of course, I encourage all my readers to consult a physician before upgrading their diets and/or fitness routines.

So, what’s changed?

My lifestyle did a major 180-flip when I decided to give up a full-time freelancing gig. Instead of a work-from-home job that allowed me to travel (both for work and for pleasure) as much as I pleased, I now work Monday through Friday in New York City.

Of course I was a little nervous starting out. For the most part I used to prepare food, eat and work out whenever I felt like it. I thought the lifestyle change would cause a decrease in how much and how hard I work out (and that the potential stress would cause me to binge eat more often). But I was totally wrong! I almost always make it to the gym five days a week (though which five days changes from week to week).

Being healthy and in good shape is really important to me, so I do my best to always make time for either a gym or an at-home workout. But when I am feeling run down, I listen to my body and skip it if necessary. It’s not a big deal and it doesn’t happen often when I am taking care of myself.

Not to mention, I have always been a take-the-stairs kind of gal, so I get a ton of extra exercise I wouldn’t normally be getting. In fact, my walks to and from the train station add up to 30 minutes total per day. I definitely break a sweat on most days, and I’ve learned to love it! It’s really rewarding and WORTH IT because it is part of an exciting career.

In addition to my take-the-stairs habit, I have been a pack-my-own lunch gal since, well, my mom stopped packing my lunch in high school. I bring healthy snacks to work with me every day (nuts, popcorn with sea salt and raw veggies are my favs), and I hardly ever eat out.

If given the choice between sleeping in or going to bed early, I would have a hard time choosing because I LOVE sleep. And having an extra-busy life has made me appreciate sleep so much more. It is so important to your health and your overall wellbeing. I never go to bed past midnight on a night before work. This keeps me energized and focused throughout the day. Plus, lack of sleep causes sugar cravings, and I can vouch for that firsthand; when I don’t sleep enough, I crave candy and carbs like crazy the next day. 

I’ve never been a heavy drinker; three drinks are more than enough to get me buzzed. So, I’ve never had a hard time limiting my alcohol consumption because I’ve never needed to. Since leaving college, I no longer have an excuse to drink on weeknights (and I miss Thirsty Thursday’s terribly), but that doesn’t mean I go crazy every weekend. When the occasion calls for it, I will enjoy a couple cocktails or a glass of wine on the weekends, but that’s only once or twice a month. And hello—drinks in the real world cost upwards of $10, whereas a gin and tonic cost me anywhere from 50 cents to $4 in college.

Surprisingly, a lot is still the same.

My eating habits haven’t changed a bit, with the exception of the times of day that I eat. Now, I have a bowl of oatmeal around 7:30 a.m., as opposed to my usual 9 a.m. when I was freelancing. I’ll eat my snacks throughout the day at work to avoid that too-full, sluggish feeling I get after eating a lot at once, and dinner when I get home from the gym around 9 p.m. This works perfectly for me, and I am never starving or left with crazy cravings at any point.

Like I said, though, my diet in terms of what and how much I eat is still pretty much the same as it has always been. I don’t have any restrictions; I just limit processed and packaged foods, as well as refined sugar. Carbs (including sugar) from fruit, quinoa and anything else natural and nutritious are perfectly fine with me! I eat meat or seafood most days a week, and dairy occasionally and in small portions. And yes, I give into cravings once or twice a week, too (I love fried foods, chicken wings and sour candy).

How do I workout?

It’s cliché, but I just don’t feel like myself if I’m not working out enough! To stay challenged, I have a three-day cycle. On Day 1 I do an hour of varied cardio, 10 minutes of stretching and 10 to 15 minutes of ab exercises. Lately I have been loving Alexis Ren’s video on YouTube, but sit-ups on a stability ball work perfectly fine, too.

I have the flattest feet, so running really hurts my knees and hips. That’s why I love the stationary bike! Over the years I have taken so many cycling classes, which means I really know how to get a good workout when I’m on the bike by myself. To make my workouts as effective as possible, I cycle in positions 1, 2 and 3 (if you’ve ever gone to a spin class, you know what I mean) and increase the resistance throughout.

On Day 2 I do half an hour of cardio (almost always on the bike) plus stretching and a number of exercises from Katrina Brodsky’s pilates-based Curve Builder workout program. Because this program requires purchase, I can’t share any information beyond that; Katrina developed Keller Rose Fitness alongside her personal trainer. It lengthens and strengthens the muscles while toning and enhancing your curves! I love that Curve Builder is easy to do at home or on the go (equipment is minimal).

Day 3 includes weight training. I warm-up with 20 or 30 minutes of cardio, stretch, then head into the weight room. To tone my bod without building bulky muscle, I do light weights (nothing over 120 pounds) and high reps (two to four sets of 15 to 20 reps). If I notice I’m not breaking a sweat or feeling a burn, I increase the weight and/or reps. Mainly, I keep the focus on my back and legs, but I like to work my arms, too.

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