Happy birthday, America! What better way to celebrate than with a fresh swim editorial?

For the holiday I’m rocking a patriotic string bikini by LA-based brand Minimale Animale. Designed and manufactured in the U.S., these killer ‘kinis are not for the faint of heart.

Minimale Animale suits are made for celebrating–or so it seems. All their pieces are gorgeous, but lately I cannot get enough of this blue star-spangled bikini.

For me, the more minimal the coverage, the better–at least when it comes to swimwear–which is why I am so drawn to this label. I am much more comfortable in basic, minimal styles than I am in unconventional ones. So, I always feel my best in Minimale Animale’s ‘kinis, and this one is no different. It is super simple, so when I’m in it, I feel free to be myself because it lets my personality shine through.

I have never been a huge fan of “fashionable” swimsuits; I tend to favor classic cuts and string bikinis over trendy styles. When I want to make a statement on the beach or at the pool, I’ll opt for bright colors and eye-catching patterns, instead. On the Fourth of July and beyond, this retro-inspired suit definitely stands out.

The classic string style of this top is super flattering and allows for minimal tan lines, while the high-cut briefs provide cheekiness I look for in a swimsuit. This blast-from-the-past high-cut look is making a major comeback this season; it is a great way to spice up a plain bikini without looking overdone. In fact, the skimpy cut gives this suit the slightly undone vibes I am always coveting no matter what I wear.

Shop my suit:

The So Choice Top, $100

The Skinny High Cut Lucid Brief, $80-$90

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I can hardly contain my excitement for this post because I’ve teamed up with Summersalt, an up-and-coming, eco-friendly swimwear label!

Summersalt launched earlier this year, but that hasn’t stopped big-name publications like GlamourAllure and Elle from raving about it. Committed to sustainability, Summersalt constructs its swimwear (as well as its poly mailers, accent labels, postcards, notecards and envelopes) from recycled materials.

“Since our fabrics are 5-times stronger and more durable than ordinary suits, we hope you will wear it for longer and recycle it when it’s time for something new,” Summersalt’s website reads.

“It’s an industry standard that each suit arrives in a poly bag to ensure freshness and sanitation. The poly bag that your Summersalt suit arrives in is completely recyclable, and we are actively looking for a vendor that makes them out of completely recycled materials…Our resealable pack is 100 percent recyclable and reusable…Use it for wet bathing suits when you travel.”

Last week, the label generously sent me a few pieces from their collection! Being so heavily invested in the fight against fast fashion, I could not be more thrilled to share my new goodies with Haute Mess readers just in time for summer.

Summersalt’s swimsuits are both comfortable and stylish without being overly revealing; they’re made for active beach goers who spend more time moving around than lying in a lounge chair.

“Our durable fabrics retain their shape to withstand even the grandest adventures and activities,” the site continues.

Not only do their swimsuits provide UPF 50+ protection, they are able to withstand the effects of sand, sweat and chlorine–aggressors that can wreak havoc on other swimsuits.

As their too-cute packaging states, the only thing more eco-friendly is skinny dipping. (Plus, nothing is over $95!)


The Cabana, $50

The Mesh Low Rider, $45

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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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