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A new school year is about to start and that means back to schedules, carpooling, and packing lunches everyday. It also means a whole new classroom full of moms to get to know. I always think it’s great to know the other parents in my child’s classroom. One, because I’m overly social, but also because we have to have each other’s backs. We all need help with this crazy thing called parenting. I’m a firm believer that it takes a village and the parents in my child’s classroom are a great addition to mine.

5 Tips for connecting with moms at school

But, that raises the question: How do I connect with the other moms at school? I’m sure there are a lot of ways, but these are my best tips for connecting with the other moms and growing my own village.

1. Don’t be scared to break the ice.

Yes, this seems obvious, but I have witnessed a bunch of moms just standing in a room not talking. Don’t be afraid to be the talker. Say hi and tell everyone your name. Tell them which child is yours. Tell them why they should be your best friend and you should go have a glass of wine after this insane parent meeting.

2. Be yourself.

Again, this seems like a guide for middle schoolers, but I think moms seem to revert back to their childhood when it comes to connecting with other parents. You can’t expect to start a good relationship based on your fake alter ego. Don’t pretend you love to throw class parties or craft cute teacher gifts if you don’t really love to do that. Maybe your talent is writing great class newsletters, picking up the store-bought cupcakes, or just being the life of the party. Here’s a time when you shouldn’t fake it. Be true to who you are. People will like the real you better than the miserable fake you.

3. Don’t be judge-y.

The other side of being yourself is don’t judge others. Don’t judge them because of the way they parent, the way they love to bake homemade vegan cupcakes, or the fact that they have to work and can never make to any of the class activities. We’re all doing the best we can. If you’re judging everyone, you have no time to really become their friend.

4. Get involved.

This is one my biggest tips to moms looking to make friends. Whether it’s at school, playgroup, church, or even just the gym — get involved with something. You could join the PTA, help out in the classroom, be the room mom (if you’re brave), help out in the teacher workroom. Being active and involved in whatever organization you choose will help you connect with the other moms in that group. It’s basically forced friendship.

5. Just ask.

I’m betting if you just ask another mom at school if they want to hang out, they’ll say yes. If you want to connect with the moms in your child’s class, host a little brunch party at your house, invite someone for coffee after drop-off, or maybe even dinner or drinks one evening. The best way to connect with a new person is to ask!

I hope some of these tips will help you with the start of a new school year!

What tips or ideas have you used to help connect with the moms at school?

This post was contributed by Lindsey McPherson, owner of The Nashville Mom. You can find more from Lindsey on Instagram.

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Money matters seemed simple — before kids

Before we had kids, I was pretty sure my husband and I had our financial ducks in an impressive row. Of course our ducks were bolstered by a double income household, a starter home mortgage and one partner who finds spreadsheets, budgets and the stock market to be interesting pastimes.

kids and finances

Having kids complicated matters.

We didn’t start our family without thinking about the financial aspect of it, at least a little bit. Maybe we thought about it a lot, since both of us are planners. Reading about the potential costs of raising kids gave us an idea of how things would change, but reading about something and living it are totally different things.

How kids changed our financial planning strategy

We were prepared for the increase in food costs, but we hadn’t thought too much about how much more important organic food would become to us once our little ones started eating. We’d thought about college funds, but extracurricular activities began to add up more quickly than we thought.

You can calculate the cost of diapers, but it’s hard to figure out how to budget for the mid-week take-out you finally ordered because your potty-training toddler went through sixteen pairs of underwear and your favorite rug in a single day. All of a sudden, what we thought we knew about budgeting, saving and planning for our financial future seemed a little hazy.

Wescom Credit Union

Financial education with Wescom Credit Union

Thankfully, we came across Wescom Credit Union and we were happy to find some great tools to help families take charge of their finances. The Southern California Credit Union is approaching finances from different angles than that of traditional banks, including mobile banking events, complimentary financial consulting and even a newly launched Did You Know? Financial Education Portal on their site with helpful information for everyone from millennials to boomers.

Wescom Credit Union

The Big Blue Mobile Branch might be in your Southern California neighborhood soon, simplifying the banking world one person at a time. Wescom is committed to taking the intimidation out of banking and helping people in all stages of life find their own comfort zone with their finances. Learning banking basics has lifelong benefits, and it’s never too late — or early! — to become money-smart.

Wescom helps families plan for their futures

In addition to increased take-out orders, having kids changed our parenting finances in a way we hadn’t anticipated. As a middle school teacher, we calculated my family leave and thought about formula costs in case pumping didn’t work for me. However, after having our daughter and planning for our second child, we talked about the possibility of me staying home with our kids for a while.

Wescom has a tool that would have helped us quickly see how our finances would look without my income. Though I’ve already made that particular decision, there are several resources on their website, including budget tools like this Household Cash Flow Tracker, savings resources and a retirement section.

Families obviously aren’t the only ones who can benefit from learning about budgeting, saving and how to manage debt, and Wescom has something for everyone!

How did having kids change your financial comfort zone?
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Apothederm Acne Skincare

Summer is supposed to be the time for carefree skincare — sunscreen (always), a tinted moisturizer, and a little lip gloss, right? But maybe, like me, you’ve been a little too carefree this summer. Summer travels have thrown off my usual skincare routine — not as much exfoliating and treating like I usually do, and too much dairy (I’m looking at you Paris cheeses and summer ice cream cones) like I normally try to avoid to keep my skin happy. The result? A complexion that I need to send back to skincare school to solve some of these breakout problems.

Apothederm Acne Clarifying Skincare

Luckily, this package arrived on my doorstep days after I returned home from my summer travels: Apothederm Acne Clarifying System. The three-piece skincare system includes a cleanser, toner, and treatment lotion. Like all of Apothederm’s products, their acne line includes their SmartPeptide® biotechnology,  a unique combination of peptides that work together to deal with fine lines, a loss of fullness, rough texture, and other signs of aging.

The Apothederm Acne Clarifying System, step-by-step

The Brightening Cleanser is super gentle, but is packed with malic acid to loosen dead skin cells and help with hyper-pigmentation, as well as vitamin C, which helps hydrate and brighten the skin. I love that it thoroughly cleanses my skin without making it feel stripped or dry.

Back to School Skin Routines You Can Use

I’m usually not much a toner person, but when I use the Clarifying Toner, I do notice that it gets off those last traces of makeup and dirt from my face. Plus, it’s full of good stuff like green tea, aloe, cucumber, and chamomile to soothe and nourish my parched summer skin.

Last, but not least, is the Acne Clarifying Treatment, which may be my favorite. It’s designed to both eliminate breakouts and minimize pores — yes, please! It only has one percent salicylic acid, which helps to keep breakouts at bay without causing excessive drying. I love that the lotion is lightweight and absorbs quickly, making it perfect for warm weather.

Unlike some other acne systems which are designed for teen skin, the Apothederm Acne Clarifying System is perfect for adult acne — gentle yet effective and packed with other good-for-your-skin ingredients to help you battle blemishes and signs of aging.

So while you’re starting dig out those backpack from the back of the closet and psych yourself up for packing a zillion lunches in the coming months, be sure to take some time to get your skincare habits back in a good routine, too. You can learn more about Apothederm’s Acne, Brightening and Anti-Aging and Body products at Apothederm.com.

Savvy Sassy School Days Featured Image

Enter to win from Apothederm

You can win your very own Apothederm Acne Clarifying System and tons of other amazing prizes for kicking off  your school year in our Savvy Sassy School Days Giveaway.

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Yeah, we know it’s back-to-school time and that we should be focusing on the long, long list of the things our kids need. But… can we sneak a couple of things in the cart from our back-to-school wishlist, too? Here’s what our Scouts have their eye on for fall.

Back-to-School Style Picks for Moms

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Back-to-School-Scout-Wishlist-Buffalo-Check-Drape-Top
Back-to-School-Scout-Wishlist-Lululemon-Festival-Bag
Back-to-School-Scout-Wishlist-Cowl-Neck-Shift-Dress
Back-to-School-Scout-Wishlist-Velvet-Sunglasses
Back-to-School-Scout-Wishlist-Perforated-Booties
Back-to-School-Scout-Wishlist-Fringe-Boots
Back-to-School-Scout-Wishlist-Bell-Sleeved-Blouse
Back-to-School-Scout-Wishlist-Military-Jacket
Back-to-School-Scout-Wishlist-Frayed-Hem-Ankle-Skinny-Jeans
Back-to-School-Scout-Wishlist-Leather-Moto-Jacket

From Amanda: I just got this in a LeTote box and I’m obsessed! I can’t wait to style this flowy yet structured piece. Anything that is comfortable, forgiving and yet put-together looking is a win for me! (Noir Buffalo Check Drape Top, $68)

From Angela: I just ordered this in black! I needed a soccer game/outdoor school event/holy-moly-I’m-still-wearing-my-running-clothes purse. (Festival Bag II, $68)

From Elizabeth: I just bought this dress in black and love it. One word: pockets. I love the cowl neck, the length, the flow, and of course, the pockets! (Cowl Neck Shift Dress, $38)

From Jen: Because I live in the south and bows are a way of life. And, I’m watch obsessed. But really, I wear a watch everyday especially during the school year. We are always running to or from something and I like to make sure I always know what time it is. (Kate Spade Kenmare Strap Watch, $225)

From Jenny: This fall, texture is key! Everything from fur to velvet will be on everyone’s trends list. I bought these glasses a few weeks ago and even though they’re technically men’s, I die over them! They’re going to be my fall/winter glasses! (Ray Ban Chris Velvet Edition Wayfarer Maroon Sunglasses)

From Jessica: Oh the joys and sorrows of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. These boots are killing me. I stalked them during the preview period, then went to purchase them the first day of the sale and they were out of stock. Then *gasp* restocked, but tragically out of my size in the sesame color. The daily stalking continues… (Lucky Brand Bashina Perforated Booties)

From Katie: I fell in love with these cute fringe boots at Target a couple weeks ago… and so did my tween daughter! (Mossimo Supply Co. Tatyana Moccasin Boots, $35)

From Laura: Just give me everything bell sleeve! My eye is always drawn to this because as a photographer I love how bell sleeves photograph. I hope this trend sticks around for some time! (Auguste Bell Sleeved Top, $140)

From Liz: I’m probably the last person to join this bandwagon, but I’m so excited to wear this utility jacket I got during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale! I’m not a huge fan of military green on me so I’m so excited to have this in gray! (Madewell Fleet Jacket, $118)

From Rebecca: I just ordered these on sale at Nordstrom. You can’t beat the price tag and I’m loving the released hem/cropped jean, especially for my height. Throw on a cute tee and a pair of stylish sneakers and I’m ready for the bus stop or working at the preschool co-op. (Articles of Society Carly Frayed Hem Ankle Skinny Jeans, $64)

From Sara: I’m totally crushing on this leather moto jacket… guaranteed to make me the coolest mom at nursery school drop-off! (Topshop Orbit Leather Moto Jacket, $320)

What are you crushing on for fall?
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Despite being located above the nose on the face, I have noticed eye print patterns being worn on all different parts of the body. Sometimes as a necklace, and sometimes as bold as a patterned scarf, all eyes will be with you with the help of this unique trend. Here are a few subtle ways to rock an unconventional pattern.

Eye of The Beholder Style

 

The flirty t-shirt

This eye-winking cotton t-shirt can be paired with high-waisted jeans, a skirt, or shorts. Throw a blazer on for work or while travelling and you are ready for a look that’s fresh and flirty.

Flirty Cotton T-shirt, $69

A small accessory

The enamel eye pin adds just enough color to your blazer, denim jacket or your bag!

Georgia Perry Eye Pin, $15

Wallet on a chain

This whimsical eye wallet on a chain has just enough room to store your essentials and the removable shoulder strap is super convenient for the day and beyond.

Eye To Eye Wallet, $59

Quirky shoes

These quirky espadrilles with embroidered winking design will keep you comfortable and get you where you are going while keeping with the eye trend.

Soludos Smoking Slipper, $75

A bold accessory

This faux leather bag charm is bright and small but “eye” catching!

Eye See You Bag Charm, $83

A protective cover

This protective iPhone cover is topped with a graphic eye design that allows you to follow the this trend!

Eye Transparent iPhone Case, $35

Don’t be afraid to be bold and try something dangerous! With the help of an unusual pattern worn appropriately and satirically, all eyes will be on you!

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Gluten-Free Pasta Receipes

When creating dinners for our families, we are always on the lookout for nutritious recipes that our children will enjoy. All moms need to come home from their busy lives ready for the dinner rush. When our kids come home from school or camp, they are ravenous! It’s only natural that we want our children to be eating healthy meals that touch on all of the food groups, but parents often find themselves throwing on a pot of mac ‘n cheese to fill all the hungry bellies.

In the summer, our schedules become a little bit lighter and we pledge to break out of our comfort zone and try some new exciting nutritious meals. We recently were introduced to Gabriella’s Kitchen skinnypasta. This pasta contains no GMOs, no additives, and no preservatives. It is created with fresh, natural and high-quality ingredients, which sounded perfect to us! Pasta is one of those foods that we try not to eat too much of, but with skinnypasta’s options — High-Protein, Gluten-Free and Superfood — skinnypasta has become a regular on our dinner menu. Best of all, the cooking time takes just a few minutes!

On the skinnypasta website, they provide many delicious recipes that were the perfect springboard for us to begin.

Linguine Tuna, Capers and Olive pasta

skinnypasta HIGH PROTEIN Fettuccine with Tuna, Capers and Olives

When we think of pasta, protein isn’t the first word that comes to mind! But the truth is, that most days, it is much easier to get a bowl of pasta into our kids tummies that a piece of meat. skinnypasta HIGH PROTEIN fettuccine is fortified with vegetarian protein from non-GMO sources, which makes it  healthy, filling and delicious for our kids avoiding a fight at the table!

Ingredients:

• 1 package (250g) skinnypasta™ HIGH PROTEIN Fettuccine
• Extra virgin olive oil
• 1/2 cup capers, rinsed and dried on a paper towel
• 7 cloves of garlic, minced or thinly sliced
• A small handful of Kalamata olives, split in half with your fingers
• 16 ounces olive-oil packed tuna, oil drained off and discarded or saved for another use
• Juice of 1 very juicy lemon
• 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsely

Add chill flakes to this recipe to spice it up!

Click here for cooking directions.

High Protein Pasta

skinnypasta SUPERFOOD TEFF Penne with Peppers, Onions, Basil and Tomato Sauce

SUPERFOOD TEFF Penne is made out of an ancient grain called Teff which is naturally gluten-free, vegan, and a good source of protein. It is free of common allergies such as wheat, soy, corn, egg, dairy, nuts and peanuts. For us, this is a big deal! There are allergies all around us between ourselves, our families and our children’s friends.

Ingredients:

• 1 package (250g) skinnypasta™ SUPERFOOD TEFF Penne
• 1/2 a red and yellow pepper cut into pieces
• 1/4 red onion sliced
• 1 garlic clove, peeled and thinly minced
• 2 ½ tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
• Coarse salt, to taste
• ½ tsp of fresh ground black pepper
• One jar of your favorite tomato sauce
• Handful of fresh basil leaves and parsley, roughly torn or chopped

For an alternative recipe and cooking directions, click here.

Linguine Al Limone

skinnypasta HIGH PROTEIN Linguine Al Limone

Ingredients:

• 1 package (250g) skinnypasta™ HIGH PROTEIN Linguine
• Lemon juice from 2 lemons, freshly squeezed
• Zest of 1 lemon, finely chopped
• 1 garlic clove, peeled and thinly minced
• 100g Parmesan cheese, grated plus extra put aside for serving
• 2 ½ tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
• Coarse salt, to taste
• ½ tsp of fresh ground black pepper
• Handful of fresh basil leaves and parsley, roughly torn or chopped

For an alternative recipe and cooking directions Click here for cooking directions.

Linguine with Parmesan and Basil

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White jeans and ruffle top with wedges

Fashion Friday: What’s in my cart this week

Shopping online is simple and quick. For the busy mom on the move, it is always the easiest route to go… unless you have to return items that don’t fit, of course. While browsing different websites, I usually put a few items in my shopping cart just to keep my eyes on a few options that are trending right now or pieces I need to add to my already ever-evolving wardrobe. Once you buy one item, it spirals into, “I need that top to go with the new skirt” or “Wouldn’t those shoes work perfectly with that new pair of pants?” Beware — occasionally, some of those items go missing from the shopping cart when you eventually go to make the purchase!

Start at the top

I have been wearing this ruffle top from Zara nonstop. It is crisp, comfortable, sleek and pairs perfectly with a pair of culottes or white skinnies. Here are some similar options;

Royal Blue Ruffle Off The Shoulder Blouse, $15

Tulip Sleeve Off-The-Shoulder Top, $40

Tularosa, Alexa Lace-Inset Off-Shoulder Crop Top, White, $89

Re:named Over the Shoulder Top, $41

Splendid Striped Off Shoulder Tee, $118

Jeans for any occasion

I love the quality of a good pair of jeans. High-waisted skinnies hold me in, in all the right places, pair nicely with a cropped top, and are figure flattering for everyone.

Frame Le High Skinny Jeans, $150

Complete your outfit with the right shoes

Wedge shoes offer all the elegance of heels with the comfort of flats. A little pop of color adds flavor to an otherwise neutral outfit.

Kate Spade New York Tarin Platform Sandals, $127

Always accessorize

Try pairing bright chandelier earrings for a flattering flash of color to contribute to this look.

CHAN LUU Goldtone Beaded Drop Earrings, $70

Happy shopping!
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If you’re a Target shopper (yes, aren’t we all!), you’re likely familiar with Made to Matter, a purposeful campaign from Target to highlight brands that are innovative in the way they create safe products. And, if you’re a mom, it’s also likely that you’re familiar with Babyganics, a baby product brand that is committed to making products that help raise the next generation of healthy, happy babies.

Now, can you imagine when these two combine their superpowers into one product? The result is the Babyganics Natural Wool Dryer Balls, available exclusively at Target under Made to Matter.

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A trip to the farm

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of joining the team from Babyganics to witness, firsthand, where their Natural Wool Dryer Balls are made. It’s hard to imagine, as you’re roaming the aisles of Target, that the products you buy come from somewhere other than a factory, or a warehouse, or anywhere other than a small East Coast farm that is home to about 100 sheep and their owners, John and Olga.

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You know it’s going to be a good trip when they give you rubber boots to wear, right?

The experience of being on the farm where the sheep who produce the wool for the dryer balls are born and raised was inspiring. I can’t say that I have first-hand experience of knowing where most of the products I use in my daily life come from — let alone a product I can buy on the shelves of Target. It truly made me consider, what if we approached every product we use in the same way?

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Not only did we get to meet the owners and the sheep who live at the farm, but we got to make our own dryer balls, taking a lesson from the local women who hand-make them for Babyganics. With a lot of patience and skill and finesse, a length of pulled wool (above) is transformed into a fluffy dryer balls like these:

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The top dryer ball is the one I made (not bad, huh). From there, they are washed so that the wool felts together into the more compact version that you can use in your dryer to make your clothes soft and fluffy.

 

A Trip to the Farm with Babyganics

Why Made to Matter matters

It’s hard to completely appreciate the magnitude of how sustainable and purposeful this product is. From the soil that grows the grass for the sheep to eat to the local hands that actually transform the raw wool into the dryer balls, being able to witness, firsthand, the care that goes into making each dryer ball was incredible. And, to then bring a product that has been so thoughtfully created to a mass outlet such as Target takes things to an entirely new level.

Under Made to Matter from Target, the everyday shopper has access to brands that actually do make a difference — for families, for kids and babies, for the environment — and this product is a prime example.

But, don’t take my word for it. Listen to the story behind the Babyganics Natural Wool Dryer Balls from the owners of Babyganics, Kevin and Keith, and John and Olga who call the sheep farm home.

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Babyganics Wool Dryer Balls Video
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Making the switch to wool dryer balls

If you haven’t already made the switch to using wool dryer balls in your laundry process, I can’t recommend it enough. As an avid dryer sheet user, the Wool Dryer Balls take the drying process to an entirely new place. The package comes with three dryer balls, which you use in your dryer at the same time. Toss them in with a load of any size and let them work their magic — the balls move around in your dryer as your clothes dry, making them fluffy and static-free naturally.

Beyond the advantages of keeping harmful chemicals out of your laundry room, using the Babyganics Natural Wool Dryer Balls also helps to reduce the amount of energy needed to dry a load of laundry — you’ll find that your clothes are taking up to 25 percent less time to dry!

Babyganics Natural Wool Dryer Balls, Exclusively at Target

You can get your own Babyganics Natural Wool Dryer Balls exclusively at Target, both in stores and online. A set of three balls costs $20 and will last for approximately 1000 loads.

A big thanks to Babyganics for having me to the farm to visit. As always, all opinions are my own.

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I love the look of combining blush and black for both day and night. I recently tried on a few items to try to emulate this trendy combination and quickly learned that not all blush tones are flattering on. When pairing your blush items, try to stick with other neutral tones that work well with your coloring. I find that when pairing these neutral tones, I like to stick with black as the base of many of my outfits, making blush my accent color.

Blush and Black Fashion

The basic

A black tank dress works well with almost everything in my wardrobe. I can wear it to work with a neutral vest and some flats of comfortable heels. The Aritzia dress is fitted, yet conservative enough for work.

Aritzia Seymour Dress, $80

The simple addition

I love this barely-there, understated, “Love” necklace.

Jennifer Zeuner Jewelry Love Necklace, $155

The bomber

This bomber is the right shade of blush and will be a great little piece on a cool morning or early evening outing.

Shiny Bomber, NLY Trend, $80

The neutral lip

The Revlon ColorBurst lip balm comes in almost any shade, I am currently wearing this neutral shade daily.

Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm, $10

The lunch bag clutch

This lunch bag-looking clutch is inspired by the traditional brown paper lunch bag and is a timeless look.

Marie Turnnor Accessories Pyramid Stud Lunch Clutch, $220

The shoes

These suede booties are a must have for warm summer nights, daytime outings, long days at work and for travel. They are super comfortable and go with almost any outfit.

Jeffrey Campbell Pink Suede Lace-Up Bootie, $115

Open toe sandals in a neutral shade are a great basic.

Steve Madden Basic Sandal, $120

The long topper

This long vest fits nicely over the fitted black dress and adds coverage to a simple outfit.

Long Waistcoat with Back Opening, $50

The sparkle

The urban look of this bracelet is sporty, yet can be deemed as evening wear because of the crystals. It is comfortable and easy to wear.

Slake Nude Crystallized Bracelet, $70

Read more Fashion Friday posts

Fashion Friday: 4th of July style
Fashion Friday: White summer sneakers
Fashion Friday: Poolside style

Read More →

4th of July Style

Fourth of July is a tricky holiday to dress for — I always feel like I’m too casual or too dressy for what we’re doing to celebrate. The perfect balance of looking patriotic while still being stylish is hard to find! This Fashion Friday look has a little bit of everything, so you can pick and choose based on your 4th of July plans. Go dressy, fun, or casual… or mix up the pieces to create a look that’s all your own!

Fashion Friday: 4th of July style

1. Varun and Nidhita Emma Dress, $248

2. Side Stitch Short Sleeve Utility Romper, $59

3. Ascot + Hart Zuma Check Blouse, $48

4. Authentic 1969 Eyelet Summer Shorts, $40 (on sale!)

5. Hinge Nita Leather Wedge Sandals, $80

6. Patrica Green Paige Slingback Espadrille Flat, $70

7. Vans Classic Perforated Slip-On Sneakers, $60

What’s your 4th of July style?

 

 

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