My parents are huge rock ‘n’ roll fans, so we always see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers when they tour.

After a heat wave during the week, temperatures cooled down a bit this weekend, so I had the chance to get a little creative with my concert look. Normally, I’ll head to a summer show in a crop top and cutoffs, but thanks to the cooler weather and overcast skies, I opted for a full-length romper with a drop crotch.

The loose fit and soft, ribbed fabric was ultra-comfy to move around in, but to give the look a little shape, I added a nude corset belt–one of this season’s biggest trends. The romper has a low-cut neckline and a minimal racerback, so I layered a lacy black bra underneath for a feminine touch.

I polished the outfit off with a pair of plain black chelsea boots, which also gave me the height necessary for an evening concert.

The romper and belt are new additions to my wardrobe, and I am super excited to continue to style them differently throughout the summer and beyond. So, stay tuned for more posts featuring these two versatile pieces!

Romper, Free People, $78

Bra, Free People, $38

Belt, Free People, $30

Booties (not pictured), Free People, no longer available

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In 2015 I was fortunate enough to visit Los Angeles for the first time with Katie, one of my closest friends in the world! Flash forward two years, and Katie is now living there; I couldn’t be happier for her or more proud of her. And, of course, I couldn’t have been more eager to visit her as soon as she made the cross-country move out there. What can I say? I’ve been in love with the place ever since we landed at LAX the first time.

A couple weeks ago I booked myself a redeye flight and told Katie I’d see her on the 2nd! She’s a total city girl, and I’ve been a beach girl since day one–thankfully, LA has the best of both worlds (plus, the mountains, which neither of us can get enough of), so we didn’t miss out on anything.

Beach

I spent a couple warm, sunny days enjoying the Santa Monica/Venice Beach area–two neighborhoods in which we spent a ton of time our last trip. At the risk of sounding like a total tourist, I just cannot get enough of Venice’s world-famous boardwalk–there is always something new to see there. And the beachside views really can’t be beat.

Because we’ve only had a handful of good beach days so far on the East Coast, I was able to take a couple of this season’s swimsuits for a test run–including a pair of high-cut bottoms for my first time ever. I enjoyed fresh fruit on the beach, and later picked up a multicolor knit halter top in Venice–which worked perfectly for a night out with my black vinyl pants.

Silver Lake, Melrose Trading Post + Little Tokyo

These are three LA must-dos I missed out on last time I visited. Thankfully, I had time for all three during my second trip.

Katie took me out to her favorite (and super authentic!) Thai restaurant in Silver Lake called Night + Market Song. I ordered Kuay Tiew Khua Gai, a rice noodle dish with octopus served over romaine lettuce, and we shared a side of coconut sticky rice.

That morning I woke up bright on early so I could get to Melrose Trading Post when it opened. As I mentioned on Instagram, Melrose Trading Post is a vintage-lover’s dream; it was full of topnotch handmade and secondhand goodies.

I luckily found the perfect pair of light-wash Levi’s at one of the first vendors. As a size 25, it is really difficult to find a pair of booty-hugging vintage jeans–most are catered to women size 27 and up. Because these jeans are secondhand, they’re already broken-in and super comfortable! I seriously don’t want to take them off.

At Melrose Trading Post I was also able to enjoy local food trucks. For lunch I decided on an ahi poke bowl full of fresh, local ingredients. It was so flavorful that I’m still thinking about it…

Later on I made my way to Little Tokyo in the Downtown Arts District. I tried frozen boba for the first time, and stocked up on some Asian beauty products at Tony Moly and Make Asobi (haul + review coming soon). The Japanese Village Plaza was super cute and a fun place to visit! It made me forget I was in the middle of LA; I didn’t want to leave.

Hollywood

Kaite lives in Hollywood, so I spent the week with her in the Hills. It is a young, lively area where bars are busy every night of the week! My favorite spot by far was Good Times at Davey Wayne’s–a 1970s-themed bar with a major house party vibe. 

Instead of the beach, I decided to spend an afternoon at W Hollywood’s rooftop pool–and I am so glad I did! It was clean and quiet, but still a ton of fun. Plus, the view from the word-famous rooftop is incredible, even with a little construction happening in the area.

Earlier that day I met up with Katie for lunch at a small place on Melrose Avenue called Antequera de Oaxaca, where we had quiet possibly the best tacos and guacamole ever.

On my last full day in town, it was pretty chilly by LA standards, but we still managed to make our way to Griffith Park for a hike–and were definitely able to break a sweat! Hiking in LA is the best, and it is always a great way to end a West Coast trip.

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As I make the leap from college grad student to young professional, I am making a few key changes to my wardrobe in terms of curation and styling. I am striving for a career in the creative realm, so thankfully, my personal style is still allowed to shine through and I won’t have to make any major changes to the way I dress.

That being said, on a day-to-day basis, I tend to go for laid-back styles and neutral hues. I definitely gravitate towards denim, knitwear, practical shoes and the color white when it comes to putting together an everyday ensemble. In terms of trends, I never go over-the-top; if I’m loving a bold look, I always do my best to make it more “me” (for lack of a better term) and less mainstream.

In a nutshell, I’d rather appear effortless and relaxed than as if I am trying too hard. But, that doesn’t mean looking put-together is a difficult task. In fact, I find that trying too hard to appear polished often comes across as overdone and messy; there is definitely a fine line and we should all be wary of it!

So, that brings me to wardrobe essentials I wear all year long! Earlier this year, I discussed the benefits of creating a capsule wardrobe; it makes life so much simpler and easier. To encourage every Haute Mess reader to build a capsule wardrobe of her own, I decided to share the foundation of mine.

For my current capsule wardrobe I chose 13 pieces must-have pieces I can always count on to take me from morning to night on any given day. Because these pieces are my absolute essentials, I stuck to neutral colors when selecting them. Like I said earlier, I am a huge fan of white, but I also love beiges and browns, all types of gray, faded denim and, of course, black.

Layering is my favorite way to spice up an outfit; mixing different textures has the power to bring tired, old clothes to life again. All 13 of my staples can be worn in a number of different combinations for any given occasion without appearing outdated. When putting together a capsule wardrobe, you realize how far so few pieces can truly go.

A boyfriend cardigan: Like I said, layering is important.

Low Tide Cardi, $128, Free People

A pullover sweater: See above.

Bonfire Sweater, $108, Free People

A moto jacket: See above. (Plus, this piece brings structure to an otherwise frumpy outfit!)

As-You-Wish Jacket, $168, Blank NYC

A sleek blazer: One that fits a little longer and looser appears more fashionable and less corporate.

Aleida Blazer, $230, ALLSAINTS

A relaxed dress: You can never go wrong with maxi dress–especially a solid color one, or one with a muted, never-goes-out-of-style pattern.

Get Twisted Maxi Dress, $150, REVOLVE

A killer one-piece: Overalls and utility-inspired suits are both perfect pieces for those days when you have no idea what to wear.

Sierra Nevada Utility Suit, $200, One Teaspoon

A crisp button-down: A classic button-down blouse looks great with anything from boyfriend jeans and denim cutoffs to tailored trousers.

Stripe Off-The-Shoulder Top, $95, Free People

A silk camisole: Another must-have layering piece!

Up All Night Silk Cami, $68, Free People

Flattering mid- or high-rise jeans: Search long and hard for a comfortable pair that makes you feel confident, and, as with all pieces in your capsule wardrobe, don’t be afraid to invest in quality.

High-Waist Jean, $90, American Apparel

Cigarette trousers: Wear them to work during the week, or on the weekends with a band tee.

High Waisted Cigarette Trousers, $48, Topshop

Quality athletic pants: Thanks to Yeezy, performance leggings are now appropriate outside the gym. Capitalize on the comfort and wear yours with a crop top or a pullover sweater for a casual daytime look.

Nike Pro Women’s Training Tights, $48, Nike

Comfy and supportive sneakers: See above.

Nike Free RN 2017, $100, Nike

Sensible (yet stylish) booties: I have a brown snake print pair that look amazing with literally everything. Enough said.

Hunt The Plains Boot, $198, Free People

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One of my favorite ways to spice up a pair of denim cutoffs or ripped jeans is with a polished blouse. My springtime outfits tend to be a bit lackluster compared to my fall and winter outfits, simply because less layers mean less to work with. So, a button down shirt is the perfect antidote to that.

This one is slightly oversized, so it can be worn off-the-shoulder. And, with a few buttons undone, it is a little risqué, so despite the classic style, it still has the potential for some sex appeal.

It is no surprise that this simple blouse is super versatile, but personally I love pairing it with faded denim. Temperatures have been in the 70s and 80s here, so today I decided to rock this clean-cut shirt with my go-to cutoffs.

These faded Levi’s were my mom’s back in the day. They fit like a glove, and they work for any casual occasion. I love the relaxed vibe they bring to the somewhat polished top.

I accented the look with some sparkling necklaces and a blotted orange lip. Then, I slipped on my favorite brown snake print booties and tied everything together with a thick leather belt. These accessories are laid-back, yet have the ability to make any outfit look more put-together; I can always count on them to give any outfit a little oomph.

Overall, I am so happy with how this look turned out–it is an updated take on the classic Parisienne springtime ensemble.

Button down shirt, $52.98, Princess Polly

Cutoffs, vintage

Booties, Free People, no longer available

Belt, thrifted

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[source: La Revêche]

Swimsuits are my guilty pleasure! There are so many fun styles out there, and only about four months to wear all of them where I live. But, that doesn’t stop me from experimenting with both new and old styles every year. Last year I was all about floral prints and neon colors; while I still love those suits, I am eager to add a few new pieces into the mix this year.

Pool and beach weather are rapidly approaching here on the East Coast; plus, I plan on visiting a friend in Los Angeles sometime in the next few months. So, I’ve gradually started shopping for swimsuits–not to mention, as temperatures rise I am definitely guilty of obsessing over my favorite swimwear designers via social media. Lately, I cannot get enough Minimale Animale.

Kaja by La Revêche: This suit’s simplicity and timelessness is nothing like I’ve ever seen in swimwear before. Putting it on instantly feels like I’ve transported to a small beach town on the Mediterranean where I can read good books and sip San Pellegrino all summer long. Even though that is certainly not the case, this bikini is a dream–and fits like one, too. The ruffles add a delicate touch to an otherwise minimalist swimsuit, white the off-the-shoulder style minimizes tan lines and draws attention to the collar bones. Of course, the muted color palette ensures a couple things: 1) that this suit will never go out of style and, 2) it will match anything and everything. When the sun sets, I will be able to throw a pair of vintage denim cut-offs over this bikini for a serious model-off-duty vibe.

Because this suit is so simple, it is also super versatile. Beach-y waves, oversized sunglasses and statement earrings not only dress it up, they personalize it, too. Even though weather is warm and humid, this bikini totally makes layering during the summertime possible. Everything from thick headbands to floppy hats to flowing maxi skirts will accent this swimsuit perfectly. No longer available, La Revêche

[source: Triangl]

Elisa by Triangl: Velvet swimsuits are totally new to me this year; I’ve never owned one before! The Italian velvet range by Triangl swimwear is so, so beautiful–especially in this jewel-toned midnight blue color that will look killer with a tan. This suit’s shape is super unique, too; the skinny straps (which are adjustable, btw!), low-cut neckline and cheeky bottoms balance the thick fabric and keep it sexy.

This has to be the most comfortable bikinis I’ve ever owned. And because it’s Triangl, I know it is topnotch quality. It won’t ever stretch or fade despite years of sun, surf and chlorine. $89, Triangl

Bella Body one piece by Nina Rosa: I stumbled upon this ultra-femme swimsuit while browsing Poshmark, and it is my best find on the app to date. I am definitely a sucker for handmade pieces (as well as swimsuits!) so the Bella Body one-piece was pretty much a n0-brainer for me–I fell in love with it almost immediately!

This suit is low-cut and the back is completely open, so it maintains a sultry poolside vibe despite the feminine floral embellishments. Plus, its cheeky cut couldn’t be more flattering. I cannot wait for weather to warm up so I can show off this one piece by the pool and on the beach. $50, Poshmark user ninaroserusso

The High Mirage Brief by Minimale Animale [source: Minimale Animale]

High-leg bikini bottoms: These have been everywhere this season, and I am most definitely on the bandwagon! High-leg bikini bottoms are super sexy–not to mention, a great alternative to tanga and cheeky bottoms. A solid pair is casual and comfortable, yet still puts an old-school spin on any bikini top.

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