Top 5 Tips to Dorm Shopping

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Recently I went out on a little shopping spree with my parents for all my college dorm essentials. It was the most stressful, yet fun and exciting, shopping trip I have ever been on in my entire life thus far. Now, you're probably thinking, "How could your first time DORM shopping have been stressful for you?" After reflecting a bit on the experience, I realized that it's not really all it's cracked up to be. I don't like when my parents spend a ton on me, so I was focused on doing my best to get what I wanted and needed that was of good quality while also saving them money. Anyway, I actually came out of this trip with a few pieces of advice to share that can help make your dorm shopping experience a little less stressful! Here are my top 5 tips to make dorm shopping a bit easier on you (and also your parent's/parents' wallet)...

1. Be prepared before you go (or at least try to be).
My parents did not inform me when we would be going shopping for all of my dorm stuff. We were just out for lunch one day and my father said, "We're going to stop at a few places so you can gather up everything you need for your dorm." Now obviously, I was pumped - I mean, who isn't ever excited to go shopping? However, I felt completely unprepared; I'm the type of person who needs my list with me to check off as I go, and since we were out I didn't have it with me. Luckily I had saved many different dorm packing lists to my Pinterest boards, so I quickly put together a list on my phone of all the important items I needed to get. The lesson of this tip is simply to be prepared not just for the shopping itself, but also in the case that your parents surprise you one day out of the blue like mine did!

2. Focus on the essentials first.
Get everything that's actually important prior to buying things that you just think you would like to have and/or really don't really expect to use that much. It doesn't make much sense to buy the TV or microwave before the bedding now does it?

3. Check the sale items before the fully priced.
This may sound like an obvious tip, but you'd be surprised how many people don't follow it. I had picked up a few different pillows for my bed in Target to decide on, all about $15, and then I came across the one pictured above on the clearance rack for $7. I didn't even think to check if there was a sale section, it just completely slipped my mind when I saw all the pillows in an isle next to the comforters! Turns out, the clearance pillows were a bit farther down. Not only did I save half of what I was going to spend on an equally-quality pillow, but I also had money leftover to put towards other things!

4. It's okay to go cheap.
Some people think they need to shop at more expensive places to get the most out of their money. That is not the case and should not be your plan of attack when dorm shopping, especially when you're going into college; you're about to pay thousands for your education, so you shouldn't be spending more on your dorm room than you have to. It's okay to get some of your little items from places such as Walmart - for example, do you really need that toothbrush holder from Target that costs $5 more than the practically/exact same one you saw at Walmart? Also, just because an item is cheaper does not mean it isn't the same/even better quality.

5. DIY it if you believe you can.
All of the wall decor for my dorm (except the items that I received as gifts) are DIY projects. Buying my own canvases and paint proved to be a lot cheaper than purchasing the paintings, and it also gave me creative control. The wooden letter H in the picture above was also a DIY project that would have been much more expensive to buy off of Etsy from someone, and I'm even buying a $6 wooden oar and painting it myself rather than purchasing a $30+ already made one! Sometimes, it's easier (and more fun) to just do things yourself.

What are some tips that you have for dorm shopping newbies like myself? Leave them in the comments below. Hope I managed to help any fellow Class of 2019 students out there with these tips (and future college dormers to come)!

Saturday in Sarasota

Monday, July 20, 2015

I can't stand being away from a beach for very long, especially during the summer (can you tell I'm a Florida girl?). The last time I took a trip to one was the weekend following my high school Graduation back at the end of May. To me, that's a very long time to be without the ocean and sand - and that was only about two and a half months ago. So when my parents offered up the opportunity to go out to Sarasota this weekend, it didn't take me more than a few seconds to tell them yes.

{Top: Aerie (similar) | Bottoms: Aerie (similar)}
Being by the ocean just makes me feel so relaxed. I've been very busy and stressed out lately with preparing for college and competing at a National Conference in Washington, D.C. last week, so getting to sink my toes in the sand while listening to the ocean waves was a really good stress-reliever for me. We spent Saturday morning out by the water so we could get some beach time in before the rain hit - they may call Florida the Sunshine State, but it actually rains here a lot more than people think.

While in Sarasota, my parents and I always scope out the local shops in St. Armand's Circle, and this particular weekend they offered me a chance to get something from the Sarasota Lilly Pulitzer store. Why they had decided to give me this opportunity? I don't know. But obviously, like any young adult woman would have done, I accepted it - I mean, who would turn down a chance to go shopping in one of your favorite stores if your parents were offering to pay the bill?

Taking a moment to appreciate the beauty that is Lilly Pulitzer dressing rooms (*insert heart-eyed emoji here*).
{Dress: Lilly Pulitzer} 
I was looking around the store at some of the new arrivals for the fall collection (this pattern is definitely my fave) when I decided what I would be searching for on this Lilly trip in particular was a dress. When I stumbled upon this piece in the sale rack, I knew I just had to try it on; I fell head-over-heels for this one the moment I saw it. The Janice Shift has always been my favorite style, and trying it on definitely helped to show me that it's definitely the perfect type of dress for me - and this specific pattern also had me even more in love. However, despite that the dress was on sale for $139 from the original $198, I ended up not making the purchase. My reasoning was due to the fact that I simply could not think of enough occasions that would enable me to wear this gorgeous dress; it's possible that I could have worn something like this out as an everyday type dress, but I don't wear dresses out very much on-the-norm already. Maybe one day I'll adjust to wearing dresses on a regular basis, but for now I'll stick to Lilly shorts. I also figured that maybe there would be an even better deal on this dress or another nice looking Janice one during the After Party Sale this August, so waiting until it's a more reasonable price might be for the best for someone like me who doesn't expect to wear it very much.

We were able to have my dog at the hotel we were staying at, and there was a cute park just half a mile away. My family decided to take her for a walk at the end of the day and we sat on one of the benches near the water to watch the beautiful sunset. It was a perfect ending to a perfect day with my family, and I'm always thankful for the moments we get to share together.

What fun things have you done with your family lately? I'm trying to get as much time in with them as possible before I head to college in August. Also, are you ready to shop the Lilly Pulitzer After Party Sale? It's probably time I started saving up!

Carrie Dunham Handbags

Friday, July 17, 2015

I don't know about all of you, but I just love handbags. From purses to totes, I believe that a woman can never have too many! 

Finding a great clutch has always been the hardest endeavor for me. I'm just so picky when it comes to my purchases in general, but for some reason, I'm extremely sensitive when picking a clutch. Recently however, I discovered Carrie Dunham hangbags - and let me just say, I consider this company to be one of the best I've ever stumbled upon. Their clutches are fashion-forward and give off a classic look while ensuring great quality.

(Naked Carrie Clutch with gold chain)
(Hot/Light Pink Linen Color Block Cover for Carrie Clutch)
(Mint Snakeskin Cover on Carrie Clutch)
The Carrie Clutch (shown above) is made of leather and features an adjustable and also removable chain strap. The Dunham Clutch (shown below) is made of either soft suede or leather and features a leather handle instead. Both clutches are efficient as they feature interchangeable covers! No need to buy multiple bags when you can just buy nice, affordable covers to easily change to match your outfit. But whether you choose to use a cover or not, your bag will effortlessly look chic and stylish!

(Top left: Naked Dunham Clutch in gold; Top right, bottom left, and bottom right: Dunham Clutch Covers)

Which clutch would you prefer - the Carrie or the Dunham?
Click here to check out the Dunham Collection and use the code "asouthernsunshine13" if you plan on making a purchase for a special discount!

My D.C. Experience

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Oh, how I have missed blogging! For those of you who have been keeping up with me on Twitter and/or Instagram, you know I've been away at our nation's capital these past few days attending a National Conference. This is the reason I haven't posted lately; I tried pre-planning my posts, but as we can all see, that plan ended up not working out due to me being a lot busier than I thought I would be the week prior to my leave. But I'm back now and ready for a new month of blogging - posts will return to their normal 8 a.m. Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule soon. I had a wonderful time in Washington D.C., but I'm really happy to be back home. Here are a few photos from my travels...


Georgetown Cupcake in Georgetown! The line was long, but these cupcakes were definitely worth the wait (and the long walk it took to get to Georgetown from the Metro).

The changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery.

The U.S. Capitol Building, which my group got to tour the inside of!

We're from Florida, we couldn't be prouder - if you can't hear us, we'll say it a little louder!

The White House (before they made us all leave for who knows what reason...).

The view of the Washington Monument from the Lincoln Memorial at night.

The Lincoln Memorial (which involved many, many stairs to get to...).

Gala Night after taking home the Gold earlier in the day! D.C. themed with origami, cherry blossoms, picture backdrops and all.

I had such an awesome time this past week and I'm extremely thankful that I had the opportunity to go on this trip with some of the greatest people I'll ever know. I definitely am going to have to go back one day when I have children so that they can experience our nation's great capital for themselves. It was real, D.C.!

PINK Collegiate Collection 2015

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

I have always adored the Victoria's Secret PINK Collegiate Collections. Even though my college is no longer a part of the collection (major boo), I still plan on purchasing some pieces from a few other schools that I love with all my heart and plan to support at future sporting events. (EDIT: They do have UCF, the website just doesn't show it! So excited to get to sport my school in PINK!) Just yesterday the 2015 PINK Collegiate Collection was released, and it is proving to be one of the best collections yet. It has all the basic college girl clothing essentials, from limited edition varsity and gym crews to half-zips and hoodies. My favorite item this year is definitely the game day jersey, fully sequined with your school's logo to help you make a statement at any game. Here are some examples of the collection's clothing this year based on my absolute favorite school out there, the University of Texas at Austin, and a fellow Florida college, the University of Florida, where my boyfriend and a close friend of mine will be attending...

(University of Florida to left: Game Day Jersey, Varsity Crew;
University of Texas at Austin to right: Game Day Jersey, Varsity Crew)
(University of Florida to left: Half-Zip, Gym Crew;
 University of Texas at Austin to right: Half-Zip, Gym Crew)

What school's clothing will you be purchasing from the collection? Click here to shop the 2015 collection now!

*All pictures obtained via the Victoria's Secret PINK website in the schools' respective collections*

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