Gingham & Girlfriend Jeans 

Alternate Post Titles:
A day in the life of a girl who doesn’t have a handle on hair & humidity, yet.
How to feel like a recycled tablecloth in the very best way.
A Tale of Two Bargains

When I plucked it from the rack, this top felt edgy & trendy with a follow the yellow brick road flare that confounded me, yet drew me in.

I call this feeling: the gingham conundrum. Should I sprawl out and let a couple of starry-eyed honeymooners picnic on my back? Practice my hair-flip-cappuccino-sip under a tres chic cafe patio umbrella? Milk the goats? (Or maybe, just maybe, go to lunch wearing a perfectly adorable summer pattern like a perfectly normal girl with fewer gingham complexes?)

The SLEEVES gave me serious heart eye emojis, and bent my reservations to the practicality of the classic pattern in my own wardrobe. (Gingham = not crazy. Me = up for debate.)

I had lustfully tried on several tops in similar silhouettes on our trip to Italy this past spring, but deemed each a “non-critical” fashion emergency. This $14.99 version from the racks of TJ MAXX: emergency, declared. Three cheers for silencing a lingering non-buyers remorse, and four cheers for all the euros saved on pulling the trigger on this top, instead.

Denim has been an entirely separate scouting situation.
On another budget, I could have easily taken up the two-thousand mermaid-haired, deep-pocketed fashion influencers’ jeans suggestions during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale to fill my fall fashion gaps. (The sale I could have shopped, maybe, had there been a sale on top of sale of some of those pretties. Equal parts yikes & drool.) 
 
The four-leaf clover I was hunting: destructed, medium wash, inexpensive without feeling inexpensive (feeling inexpensive, read: poor distress-placement and ultra-spandexy.)

I tried on ten. pairs. of jeans. between a few different sales happening over the weekend (Texas’s tax-free holiday), to no avail. I punctuated a separate errand entirely, and slipped into Old Navy for a quick once-over, not looking for denim, because I rarely do at Old Navy. Lo and behold: my four leaf denim clover, setting me back a whole seventeen bones (tax-free).
Adding one more pair of destructed jeans to my weekend/evening outfit rotation was a preemptive move to keep my favorites from becoming too ratty in the way distressing can with time and wear, and I think I’ll be happy I did.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom: aka only spending less than $35 between two happy pieces in one outfit.

The gift that made me cancel Birchbox 

My mother-in-law is the kind of woman who just gives you things. It’s fantastic.

(Note: I hate calling her my mother-in-law. Let’s call her my friend Michelle.She’s been my friend Michelle much longer.)

My friend Michelle is acutely in tune with her personal style and what fits her body type and image, and has a serious knack for spotting that in others. She can style a person or a coffee table to personal taste like no one’s business. And if she has something brand new or otherwise, and thinks it will look better on you, or look better on your mantel, it’s yours. Don’t argue. Go with it. You’re welcome.

This over-sized scarf/sarong situation: Michelle. Something a little more funky than I *may* have picked out on my own, I love, and have her to thank. My friend Michelle, plus also Fab Fun Fit.

I’ve been a Birchbox subscriber for something close to three years? Something like 36 boxes deep? And I’ve had this little probing inner conscience voice begging the question over the past several boxes: are you really that excited about these face cream samples? 

To which my physical, loud, and stubborn Robin voice replies monthly YES, YES OF COURSES I AM, WHY WOULDN’T I WANT MORE SAMPLES?! THE BOX UNDER MY SINK ISN’T NEARLY FULL ENOUGH OF SAMPLES. HAHAHA. SILLY CONSCIENCE, BE QUIET. 

I imagine someday I’ll reach the height of disposable income nonchalance where I don’t notice $10 coming out of my account every month. And maybe I won’t. (And maybe I wouldn’t want to?)

Right now, I notice, and then the voice pipes up: are we sure, Robin? Really? 

Then, Michelle gave me the low down about Fab Fit Fun.

I’d seen the same 20 celebrities + Bachelor-Franchise-Cast-Off-Almost-Celebrities as you probably have promoting the service, but never thought seriously about signing up (after all – I had my Birchox to be loyal to, right? Right?) Plus, FFF was a little pricier, albeit only 4 times a year.

The weight of a friend’s endorsement tends to carry more weight with me, and going through her summer box of full-size products (and being gifted this funky drapey piece) gave me serious pause to the value I was getting out of my Birchboxes.

Verdict: I just wasn’t excited anymore. As I unsubscribed, I checked the box “I’m all sampled out,” and realized it was true: too many samples. Not enough time. Or disposable income nonchalance to turn the samples into full size products.

I’d also been subscribing so long, I’d begun doubling up, and I didn’t need that.

I haven’t subscribed (yet!) to Fab Fit Fun, but I see it as a serious contender + worthy investment in entertainment and fun value.

In the meantime, I have an easy Sunday styling piece in this scarf/sarong/almost-poncho to itch my layering urge + not melt away these weeks it feels like we’re living on the surface of the sun in Dallas, TX.

Office Outfitting: week one edition

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I unsubscribed from job alerts this week. It was the most freeing click of a button I’ve maybe ever experienced.

Being the Robin that I am, a small (large) part of me was particularly excited by this turn of employment events because it meant dusting off my pumps and slacks from their 4 month hiatus from circulation. Hello again, trusty Business Caj!

(I realize I’m a freak. A freak who feels safer in her skin while donning a blazer than a T, and being in an environment which requires it. To each their wardrobe-ing own. Starched Collars, I just can’t quit you.)

I gram’d earlier this week about my first day, so this development is likely old news, but that’s never stopped me before.

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Workaholic from birth, I’ve been on the BusCaj scene *roughly* seven years. Dressing for work isn’t quite as anxiety-inducing for me as I’ve come to realize it is for some friends and clients I serve at Loft.

I have a handful of trusty “formulas” or “when in doubts, reach for _____” –ifyouwill– when it comes to putting together work outfits. Through this series on workwear (a request that’s popped up a few times), I’ll probably unpackage them for you, although it’s more of a feeling than a science. Am I an expert? Not likely. Do I own more suit jackets than you? There’s a chance. A pretty solid chance.

Formula 1: When in doubt, reach for a shirtdress. Top with jewelry. Done.

The structure of a shirt. The comfort of a dress. Who loses? Not me, I’m wearing a shirtdress.

The first two days in the new digs I’ve worn black. Day 3, I decided I better prove to them I’m not in mourning for joining their company, as if anyone has even really noticed my ensemble, but let’s pretend today. I’ve been head-over-wedges for a rose gold/purple combo lately, so decided to bust that out for this.

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(Who has a purple dress and needs her ends trimmed? Haircut on the calendar, worry not.)

Dress: Loft, spring collection, aka old.
Shoes: Franco Sarto, last fall, aka old.
Earrings/Necklace: Kendra Scott
Bracelet: Fossil Outlet, aka, old.
Bag: Louis Vuitton.

Casual Friday 02

Somewhere around the time a tearful Kelly Clarkson belted and melted Americas’ hearts through a downpour of confetti rain for the first time was about the last time I rocked a true denim flare.

CasualFriday_02_Flares_Blanket-11CasualFriday_02_Flares_Blanket-3CasualFriday_02_Flares_Blanket-8I haven’t NOT been silently rooting for their comeback since they started popping back up on the regular the past few years! I’m just one of a million teen girls of the 00’s fondly addicted to the skinnies of her punk-rock years. (Versatile! Flattering! Boot friendly! Heel friendly! Sneaker friendly! So friendly!)

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Not to mention (a happily awkward way of highlighting that I would like to especially mention), I’ve discovered finding the right fit in a flare vs. skinny –with a skinny budget– to be challenging. I’ve had a nice little order-try-return cycle happening with nearly every decent denim sale I’ve seen since about October.

While I’m not abandoning my skinnies anytime soon, finally finding a solid pair of flares has been fun for the sake of variety.

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The number of days I can accurately label “moderately chilly” this winter appear to be dwindling, so I’ve also been attempting to take full advantage with some of my favorite winter-esque pieces as well. Featured: the most cozy blanket-scarf of a leopard-loving, neutral-junkie’s dreams.

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Not that the office isn’t cold enough for me to look like I’m ready for a holly jolly toboggan ride nearly each and every one of the 365.

If you missed the first installment of Casual Friday and this hasn’t been painfully enough for you, you can check it out here!

If you’re looking for outfit deets, feel free to comment, shoot a message, send a carrier pigeon, or whatever you feel most comfortable reaching out to me with. I promise to fill you in. I’ve been debating leaving details on this sort of thing. Helpful or obnoxious? Let me know!

Autumn Indulgences: my 4 c’s

“I love fall.” –The thread uniting basic white girls across America the moment temperatures dip just low enough to bust out a blanket scarf and snap a story sipping pumpkin spiced anything logo’d with the green mermaid stamp of approval . Truth: I am not immune to this sentiment. There’s a reason it’s so wildly and mockably popular! Fall is terrific. To me, it’s the seasonal precursor to the most wonderful time of the year –a little taste of the best season to come, but everyone isn’t grumpy about being cold or sharing the road with shoppers and sludge, yet.

I also find it an easier season than ev.er. to convince myself I deserve/need/earned/can’t-live-without a serious number of guilty pleasures.

Coffee
“It’s a little chilly (maybe 70 degrees), I could really use some warming up…” -Starbucks run. Keep your pumpkin-spice, though, and I will drink all of the Chai Tea Lattes you have with a side of *one of everything* on the holiday menu, thanks.

The ole’ Karber coffee maker tends to start working double-time, too, with the changing of the leaves (in the interest of still keeping some of our money in the bank). IMG_9690

Ye true coffee geeks across America forgive me – I love me some local beans, too, but more often than not I’m brewing:

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You guessed it. Starbucks Medium House Blend + Bailey’s (non-alcoholic) Vanilla Creamer

Smooth. Easy. Available at Kroger. Typically on sale at Kroger. Makes my house smell like I’m lounging in a super fleek Starbucks, minus congregations of high-schoolers and SAHMs, plus I don’t have to wear real pants (admittingly a point less to do with the coffee bean concept, and more with at-home brew.)

Cardigans
“It’s a little chilly (maybe 70 degrees), I could really use some warming up…” -Sweater weather. Longline/Boyfriend/Duster/Maxi/Squishy-Blanket-Disguised-as-Sweaters cardigans have been my favorite of favorite fall obsessions.

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Although sweater-weather south of the Texas Panhandle (I’m realizing) is more of a state of mind than an actual thing, frigid office air conditioners have still bred plenty of necessity to humor this card-carrying cardigan hoarder. Plus (!), now that we’re nearly all the way to gosh-dang Thanksgiving, Mother Nature is *finally* beginning to see things my way around here, too.

A few that top my lust list (at a variety of price-points):

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Candles
“It’s a little chilly (maybe 70 degrees), I could really use a million tiny fires around my apartment to warm up!” -Okay, obviously not. Fall candles just smell the coziest, and as temperatures dip, who doesn’t just want to feel cozy?

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I have -easily- two to ten candles lit on any given evening in our 900ish square feet of space (which is all about having scents that blend, as much as it is having a potential candle addiction). 2 for $24 Bath & Body sale? Yankee Candles from Home Goods? Anthro-anything? I don’t discriminate, although I naturally end up with an overflow of B&B candles 10:1.

Calories
“It’s a little chilly (maybe 70 degrees), better really start packing it on for hibernation!” –What I think my mind actually convinces my stomach needs to happen for the last three months of the year. (If only.)

From carrot cake in the break room, sharing meals with company passing through, Friendsgivings, practicing Pinterest recipes for the pending holidays, to snacking on friend’s practiced Pinterest recipes for the pending holidays, why is there more. food. everywhere. starting this time of year?

Rarely is it the healthy stuff, either. It’s the good stuff. Nobody’s whipping up extra fruit salads or lettuce wraps –it’s the heavy, sugary, gluten-laden, glorious breads, cakes, pies, cookies and candies. This is such a fun time of year to bake for the same reason I burn through ten trillion candles – I love the coziness of baked goods.

I tried a new-to-me, easy recipe, and I feel like you need it in your life: Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread.

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It’s fairly heavy bread, with a heavenly balance of banana and cinnamon. Just trust me and follow the link for the road map to banana bread bliss.

Do you have any obsessions particular to fall, or have you read this not understanding a single word of my crazy? Comment below or with the talking bubble near the title!

Casual Friday 01

To some of you, “Casual Friday” may conjure images of one particularly campy season-five scene at Dunder Mifflin (da****, Meredith!).

 (I’ll spare the rest of the scene in the unfortunate event you haven’t seen The Office –in which case, quit reading now and go do that instead.)

To others, today is simply “praise Jesus, it’s jeans-and-go day.” I’m on both teams.

I’ve had an office job since I was 18, and while I genuinely enjoy an excuse to wear nicer clothes Monday-Thursday, sometimes it’s a relief to have one element of my work outfit preemptively chosen at least one day out of the week: Friday denim, basically always. (Simply novel, I know.)

Chillier seasons make it particularly easy to feel casual + not frumpy on Fridays. I love a denim and blazer combination, especially after throwing boots into the mix. It instantly makes me feel polished, even if I woke up 30 snooze-buttons late and spent a literal two minutes pulling an outfit  together.



 Do you have a Casual Friday throw-and-go favorite? Comment below or with the talking bubble near the title!

Trend Love: Boho Chic

Where bohemian meets romantic, I am unreservedly smitten.

Boho Chic Fashion Trend

Boho Chic Fashion Trend

My spirit isn’t so much Free as OCD, making Boho Chic as as close as I feel comfortable getting to straight up Bohemia-ville with my style, as pretty as I find it.

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Realistically I’m not a total nonconforming, runs through daisies flower child. I’m just not. Coupled with the fact I enjoy hot showers, nurse a powerful Starbucks addiction, and work for a financial institution, I seek a little structure to not feel like I’m playing dress up when I feel like channeling some free-flowing-flowers-and-fringe.

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While there are elements of bohemian style and thinking I adore, like any trend I attempt to adopt and develop them until they fit seamlessly (to me) with my everyday duds and overall lifestyle. Much more difficult on my current 9-5 grind (oh hey there, dress code) -that’s why weekends were made.

(Across fewer eggshells: If it feels kind of like a costume to you, it probably looks kind of like a costume to everybody else. Avoid looking “hippie for a day” -or “insert-trend-here for a day”- by working trendier pieces into your wardrobe naturally. You do you. Always do you. Even sporting trends, develop and make them the most you you can do, and then rock the heck out of it. That’s my humble opinion.)

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Enter the “romantic” side of this puzzle, how it makes me feel like I’m avoiding hippie poserdom, and why I’m head over heels.

Feminine colors, flowing silhouettes, dreamy details and lace for days –allow me to embody a little Julie Andrews up in here because these are a few of my fa-vo-rite things.

Boho Chic Fashion Trend

Boho Chic Fashion Trend

Give me a 70’s (or early 2000’s) bell-sleeve in cream lace and color me happy. This tunic was tucked in the back racks of mega clearance sale in one of my favorite boutiques, marked 75% off, all by its lonesome, and in my size. I melted.

Fitted yet drapey in all the right ways, I love how feminine and chic it feels-

Boho Chic Fashion Trend-11 Boho Chic Fashion Trend-10-and how it balances out a fringe-tastic vest channeling some serious macrame vibes.

Boho Chic Fashion Trend

Neutral-on-neutral-on-neutral, the pop of color I went for here -if you can even call it that- was a rich, matte mauve nude lip.

Boho Chic Fashion Trend

Mauve Matte Nude LipI know it lends a bit better traditionally to the trends of cooler autumn days… but there’s been a whole lot of who cares vibin’ in the world of beauty these days, and I’ve been a fan.  (This is where I hop up on the soap box and preach you-do-you again.)Boho Chic Fashion Trend-15

I whipped a curling iron through a few pieces of my hair for a little body + structure, but embraced a lot of natural kinks and bends this day. That might be my favorite part of who cares having a moment in beauty/hair/makeup/stuff – loose, undone texture-full mops that makes getting ready easy-peasy, and plays exactly perfectly to Boho Chic.

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With all of the fashion degrees and VIP expert insider knowledge that I do not posses: while this trend is very now, it isn’t particularly new, and I don’t particularly see it going anywhere.

And when it does, I’ll probably be the old lady walking around being scolded “get with the times, it isn’t the 2010’s anymore,” because I don’t foresee myself ever giving up fringe and lace. Ever ever.

Boho Chic Fashion TrendWhat are your favorite ways to work this trend? Comment below or with the talking bubble near the title!

Spring Trend Crush: Florals + Stripes

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I wouldn’t call my style adventurous.  I usually feel safest inside the confines of some well-mixed basics, textures, and an occasional color pop.

Then sometimes…

Sometimes -when the right piece speaks to me- it’s fun to break outside of my boring, basic-loving skin and shake things up. My trend crush this spring has hands down been florals + stripes. Anywhere. Everywhere. Any form. So many hours on Pinterest pining.

Then I found this skirt, and boy it spoke.

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I debated myself for days on buying it. Then it finally landed on my doorstep, and I couldn’t believe it was ever even in question.

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Full, floral, modest enough for the office yet fun enough for an afternoon around town, this is the skirt spring wardrobe dreams are made of.

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The best part, it’s perfect for my favorite spring pattern pairing:  florals + stripes.

Skirt | Chicwish
Shirt | JCrew Factory
Necklace | Elisabeth Ashlie
Earrings | World Market
Flats | Two years old, back of my closet never worn. Thanks again, skirt.

What’s your take on this pattern pair? Do you love this trend as much as I do, or possibly hate it more? Comment below or with the little talking bubble near the title!

Valentine’s Outfit Inspiration

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I swooned for this asymmetrical dress immediately. Not only is it an obvious and easy choice for a Valentine’s date, but I’ll rock heart polka dots year round. I love that it feels completely February 14 without being made of red or pink tulle -it’s easy to forget subtle details or patterns can be just as festive in comfortable, neutral tones (says the neutrals-junkie.)

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While the possibilities for a simple black and white dress are endless, for this day particularly I chose simple, gold jewelry to keep the heart pattern the real focus.

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Dress | Nordstrom (sold out online)
Earrings | Kendra Scott
Ampersand Necklace | Elisabeth Ashlie
Cuff Bracelet | Loft
Love Script Bracelet | Runway Seven (local boutique)
Two-Tone Watch | Armani Exchange (old)
Lip Color | Clinique Chubby Stick in Richer Raisen
Boots | Steve Madden (old Candace style, here are this year’s version)

From behind the camera, here is my handsome Valentine Date. (Proceed to awwww or throw up or whatever because we’re so cute. When better than the season of love to show off my favorite man?)

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The Gap Clearance Center

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If I could only buy clothes from one company for the rest of my life, it would be Gap, Inc. -parent company of Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, and Piperlime. (See how tricky I am?  Technically I get 4 hypothetical stores out of the deal. Hypothetical win for me.)

It’s an obsession that began with my first part-time job as a sixteen-year-old Old Navy Sales Associate shopping-addict, using and abusing my cross-company employee discount and practically working 3 years in exchange for clothing. They created the perfect little brand-loyal monster out of me. (Win for Gap, Inc., but in real life.)

When my husband and I knew our days in Kentucky were officially numbered, I realized the one adventure I had yet to check off my “Living in Louisville” mental bucket list: shop the Gap Clearance Center.

Oh what is the Gap Clearance Center, you may ask? I had no idea, either, because it’s the only one in the world and I had just found out about it.

Yes, world. The whole world. We had been sharing a state, and I had yet to visit. It felt like brand betrayal.

Because Austin and I didn’t see ourselves back in the Bluegrass state anytime soon, I simply had to make time for a quick solo road trip. My last free weekend before the move, I made an hour and a half jaunt to Hebron, KY.

I stretched my legs, slung on my purse, and swung open the big, glass, industrial double doors not knowing quite what to expect, completely excited, and immediately completely overwhelmed.

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It’s not an outlet or factory store. Essentially, it’s a dumping ground for all products in the company that were damaged, made defective, overstock, or simply didn’t have any luck selling. There was a ton of stuff with absolutely no issues, mixed in with a ton of stuff with a lotta issues.

Think giant, Walmart-sized department store with the organization of a Good Will filled like the Island of Misfit Gap Garments. I had found my Mecca.

If you like your shopping experience to be neat, tidy, organized, and have everything you’re looking for presented in front of you sized, sorted, and handed to you through the fitting room door –this is not your place (and there’s nothing wrong with that. This is one trip ill-advised for the faint of heart or inexperienced shopper.) Items were organized by type (tanks, sweaters, pants, shoes), store, and generally size, but it was a true treasure hunt from there.

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insidestore(How to even begin to show everything? I have no idea. There was so much stuff. This is like maybe a third of the store.)

I have a rule of thumb when I shop  -I never use a cart. If I can’t carry it, I shouldn’t buy it, simple as that (you know, except for groceries.) That’s how I began this journey, and half an hour in I caved under the pressure of ten thousand tons of fabric & buttons. Shuffling my two little, overflowing arms to the carts, a knowing grin from a nearby sales associate told me I hadn’t been the first who thought I could tackle the store alone, and wouldn’t be the last. This was about to get serious.

It was essential to try on absolutely everything -hence the necessity of a cart. A pair of trousers could be labeled “6-Tall” and one leg in fits more like a “2-made for American Girl Dolls.” One arm of a sweater might be longer than the other, the buttons might be off, or the zipper may be busted. Practically everything was a gamble until you hit the fitting room.

They do have these nifty labels for seriously obvious damages like snags & stains to help not waste your time.

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They also had a sort of tag marker labeling system: “D” for damaged so you know to look out, a silver line for everything’s fine, and a mysterious red line that I have no idea what it meant. I mostly ignored the system and opted to try things on and investigate myself, instead. It seemed safer.

Four and a half hours & three massive trips to the fitting room later, I had to call it quits -and that’s truly how I felt. I wasn’t done, I just had to leave. It felt like clothes were constantly circulating from the fitting room to the floor, and I didn’t want to miss anything. It was so busy. I was so exhaustedtired of undressing and redressing and investigating, and thirsty as all get out. My lips were dry, my hair was flat, and my arms were sore -I felt like I was leaving the gym. (I should really visit the real gym more often.)

Worth it? Yes.

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I was more than thrilled with the gems I found -particularly a $78 Pim + Larkin sweater I had been in love with from Piperlime the previous winter I scored here for $19.

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And a pair of on-trend black Gap skinnies for $9.99.(My love of Gap denim probably accounts for half my loyalty to the brand.) And also a pair of wonderful smelling  black leather Steve Madden booties from Piperlime for $14.99 (swoon.)

If you happen to be a Gap-obsessed, shopping-lunatic like myself and land somehow in Northwestern Kentucky with some spare money & time, I highly (obviously) suggest at least a quick run through (if quick is actually even possible.)Something tells me this place is seriously, seriously hit or miss, and happen to be hit for me. I would say it’s worth the chance as maybe not a huge time-saver, but a massive money-saver.

gapcenter(Part of my loot! $3.99 tops, $5.99 sweaters, scarves, and a fabulously perfect Banana Republic LBD.)