Travel Style: Pittsburgh

This past weekend Bryan and I headed to Pittsburgh's Strip District to celebrate our anniversary and engagement. We had a lovely time, particularly at the zoo. I made sure to do everything that my parents wouldn't let me do at the zoo as a kid because what I wanted was too expensive. So during our trip I got a Dippin' Dots, photo booth photos, AND a stuffed red panda. It felt good to embrace my inner child!

It's no secret that I don't travel well. Long car rides give me anxiety and I don't like to be too far from wherever we're staying in case something happens, like I get a blister or need to find a restroom. It's silly things like this that make me hard to travel with, but thank goodness Bryan knows how to deal with my anxieties. 

Part of how I prepare for travel is by making sure my outfit is extra comfy if I'm going to be in the car for a long period of time. I was inspired by Julia Engel's blog post on her travel style and thought I'd share my thoughts here.  For this trip, I turned to my favorite white sweater, ponte leggings, and my new sneakers. 

I originally became obsessed with these shoes after seeing Carly from The College Prepster wearing them in her post in partnership with J. Crew x New Balance. I loved the color and I've been gravitating to it in clothes, accessories, and everything in between. I sent Carly a tweet to find out if she thought they were worth the investment and she did, so I bought them as a birthday present to myself. 

I can attest that they're super comfy, and they don't make me feel dorky like I do when I normally where sneakers. Every time I look down at the pop of pink, I can't help but smile! If you're interested in a new pair of sneakers, I definitely recommend these!

sarah travel 3.jpg

Styled Well: LOFT sweater (old, similar here) | LOFT leggings | J. Crew x New Balance sneakers | Kate Spade handbag (old, similar here) | Warby Parker glasses

I used to be very against leggings as pants, but I've found that leggings in a ponte material provide the same amount of comfort with more coverage than regular thin leggings, making them more like pants. I completely understand that people are still against leggings as pants, but I've found they work for my lifestyle. 

The only downside to my travel outfit was including my hot pink Kate Spade handbag. I chose to bring that one because it had enough room to carry my camera and had a cross body strap. However, the cross body strap is actually more of a shoulder strap so I couldn't carry it easily and it left my shoulders feeling sore. Next time I travel, I plan on taking a large cross body bag so I can walk around more comfortably. 

Do you have a go-to travel look? Also, if you have any suggestions on road trips Bryan and I can take next, let me know in the comments!

 

Why The French Lifestyle Isn't Overrated

Anyone determined to live well and has done research on the subject has undoubtedly come across books, blogs, and podcasts about the idealized French culture. Some critics turn up their noses at our French-obsessed culture, saying our beliefs that French women don't get fat, are always stylish, and hardly ever wear makeup are fiction. Even as a devoted Francophile, I completely understand and respect that viewpoint. It would be silly to idolize a country I've never been to and be steadfast in my belief that France is every cultured woman's dream. 

French Culture and Lifestyle

However, I still embrace my French obsession in a different way. In her book 30 Chic Days, author Fiona Ferris describes having an idealized version of a French Girl in her head who she knows in reality does not exist but is a trope that gives her confidence and a goal to aim for. This is where the truly magical effect of French obsession comes into play. By reading these blog posts or books about what makes French women special, we start trying to exhibit that quality in our own lives. Sure, French women are as deeply flawed as the rest of us, but the dream of the chic French Girl keeps us Francophiles moving toward our dreams, even if those dreams don't exist in reality. 

Rather than looking for the bad or the "overrated" in a cultural obsession, why not choose to see what wonderful outcomes a predilection brings?

Emphasis on good food

In the famed French Women Don't Get Fat, Mireille Guiliano writes about how French women eat bread, butter, and dessert—all without getting fat. Several other books, such as Anne Barone's Chic and Slim, discuss the same topic. While these books provide different outlooks and tips, the philosophy boils down to our French Girls eating high quality, nutritious food in small portions. Out with the rice cakes and in with the boule if you will. With the food revolution that's taking place—more farm-to-table and organic foods—embracing French food culture couldn't have come at a better time. With the French philosophy in mind when it comes to food, I've found I'm better able to enjoy my meals and am discovering new foods I like.

Capsule Wardrobe

Much like fine cuisine, capsule wardrobes have recently come into vogue with the rise of minimalism and French adoration. As Americans, we've often used clothes shopping as a way to cheer up a bad day. This consumerism isn't only bad for our wallets. With too many items of clothing to choose from we're creating decision fatigue and causing ourselves unneeded stress before the work day has even begun. When we limit the number of items in our wardrobe like a French Girl does, we're making our decision process easier. And, when we spend money on fewer articles of clothing, we can save up for highly quality purchases that can last through many seasons. Since adapting this philosophy, I've found that getting dressed really is a lot simpler and wearing a "uniform" of black pants and light colored tops suits my lifestyle and taste. 

Appreciation of art

I imagine it would be difficult to not appreciate art when you have Musée du Louvre in your capitol city. That being said, the abundance of art readily available to the French Girl provides her with numerous opportunities to "seek out the arts," as Francophile author Jennifer L. Scott would say. Those who are channeling the ideal French Girl lifestyle are often inspired to find more opportunities to see exhibits, productions, or performances. I take a certain amount of delight in going to the theatre because in my mind, I'm acting like a Parisienne. 

Good Manners

While the French might be known for being a bit cold, they have very strict standards for proper greetings and interactions while doing their daily shopping. Part of this has to do with the more formal language usage (tu vs. vous), but the rest is based on the idea that when going into someone's shop, you should act as if you're entering their home. After all, one's job is their livelihood. Since learning more about the French necessity of greeting shop owners with "Bonjour!" and a little friendly chit-chat, I've made strides to do the same whenever I speak to an employee at a store. For example, I always make sure to says hello and ask the baristas how they are when I'm at Starbucks. Often times, I think they're so used to asking, "Hi, how are you?" and hearing someone's order in response that they're taken aback at a genuine exchanged of pleasantries. It can actually be quite fun and lead to interesting conversations. 

I've been wanting to write this post for awhile because I am undoubtedly smitten with the French culture. After years of reading Francophile books and blogs, I'm excited to add my voice to the conversation. Moving forward, you can expect more French themed blog posts on Sarah Michelle and further discussion on how to embrace your inner French Girl. Share in the comments any French philosophies you live by!

 

Christmas Bucket List

Anyone who has known me during the month of December knows I'm obsessed with Christmas. I love Christmas music, Christmas movies, Christmas decorations...really the list just goes on and on. Although I admittedly don't look forward to Christmas Day because it means the magic is over until next year. But the build up to December 25th? That's amazing, and to make it even more amazing, I came up with a Christmas Bucket List to hopefully complete before the season is over. 

Christmas Bucket List

Bryan has been absolutely amazing in helping me reach my bucket list goals. This past weekend we went to a Christmas tree farm and wandered around to admire the trees and general Christmas splendor. Saturday night was extra special as Bryan treated me to an early Christmas present. We went to dinner at Rachel's Cafe and Creperie (where we had our first date) and then went to see Beauty and the Beast at the Fulton Theatre. I've always found going to the theater special, and this was sincerely the best show I've ever seen—if you live near Lancaster, PA, you should definitely consider going!

Here are a few photos from this weekend's festivities:

Peppermint Affogato
Bryan
Styled Well: Ann Taylor Long Sleeve Shirt | Almay Red Lipstick 

Styled Well: Ann Taylor Long Sleeve Shirt | Almay Red Lipstick 

Do you have a Christmas bucket list or any must-dos? If so, share them in the comments. I'd love to add a few more to my list.