How To: Wear a Midi Dress

I peeked through my little sister's closet the other day and discovered a stunning little collection of midi dresses. She has the midi dress look down on point, and it looks really good on her. Me, on the other hand...different story! I've been scared to wear dresses that hit anywhere near my calves, because I associate them with the frumpy, old grandma look. I'm far from grandma age, so I don't need to look like one just yet! After seeing my sister's gorgeous dresses, I thought I could pick up and share a few tips on how to wear a midi dress.

Here are some tips I've taken note of to rock the midi dress look this summer:

1. Pick a lighter fabric.
Choose a fabric that's lighter in weight, so it's comfortable, airy, and won't add extra weight to your figure. The dress I've featured today is made out of cotton, so it's very breathable - perfect for summer. The only problem is that it wrinkles easily, but nothing an iron can't fix! Other fabric options I recommend are mesh and cotton voile.

2. Wear high heels/wedges to elongate your legs.
Midi dresses have the tendency to make you look stumpier than you really are, because they create the illusion of shortening the length of your legs. I'm a tiny 5' 1", and my calves are still large from my gymnastics days. So, midi dresses don't help my situation unless I pair them with a good pair of heels. I'd keep them a shade of nude to further elongate the length of your legs, but a fun, strappy heel would work well, too!

3. Choose an A-line silhouette that hits at the correct length.
This silhouette is sure to flatter women of all body types, because it creates a very feminine figure by accentuating your waist. The trick is to make sure the length of the midi dress is flattering on Y-O-U, because a flattering hemline is different on everyone. Rule of thumb: thick calves are best off with a hemline just below the knee or 2-3 inches below the thickest point of your calves, while thinner calves should opt for a length just below the knee or right above mid-calf.

For more outfit details and my favorite summer midi dress picks under $150, keep scrolling!

This midi dress has a sweet mandarin collar, pretty navy embroidery, and fun tassel ties. Accessories were kept at a minimum to showcase the detailed embellishments on the front and the sleeves! It's sure to make a reappearance this summer for brunch, church, and even summer weddings.

Here are some of my favorite under $150 summer midi dresses:

Have a favorite? Let me know down below! As always, thank you for stopping by on the blog today. I've been home for the last week, and I've had a fantastic time hanging out with family and eating lots of yummy, home-cooked food. I didn't realize how much I missed it! I'll be meeting a friend from grade school for lunch today, so I'm super excited to catch up on all the fun college shenanigans from the past year. Wishing you a great day, y'all!

P.S. Another tan is very uneven and somehow, the outside of my legs are tanner than the inside. Any tips on how to fix that? Help a sister out here! XO

Gelateria Gemelli

One thing you might not know about me is that gelato, ice cream, or anything of the sort is my favorite dessert. It's my go-to treat any day of the week, and it always puts me in a good mood. (Anyone feel me on that?) A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I had the amazing opportunity of interning with OH! Fox Creative the past two months. Luckily for me, OH! Fox's studio space is in one of my favorite parts of town, and it's right around the corner from this cute little gelato spot, Gelateria Gemelli! I knew I had to stop in for an afternoon treat.

Gelateria Gemelli in Austin, TX |

Gelateria Gemelli in Austin, TX |

 It was a quiet afternoon when I dropped in, so I took my time in the shop reading what Gemelli's is all about. As said on this little card, they support local suppliers by shopping around the area, which is great! One reason why it's important to shop local is because it helps sustain the environment by minimizing negative environmental effects from long transportation routes. If you're interested, here are 10 reasons why it's important to shop local. But let's move on. We're here for some yummy gelato!

Gelateria Gemelli in Austin, TX |

The storefront is filled with lots of seating at marble tables, perfect for an afternoon or after-dinner dessert date. I love the tiles on the counters' sides and the accents of teal around the space.

Gelateria Gemelli in Austin, TX |

I took my time trying out lots of samples. The very nice guy helping me recommended the Valrhona chocolate flavor, so I made sure to give it a go. And of course, it was delicious.

Gelateria Gemelli in Austin, TX |

I decided on a waffle cone with a scoop of the Valrhona chocolate gelato topped with pistachio gelato. I'm not usually drawn to anything pistachio, because I always deemed it as an "old person flavor", since it's my dad's go-to flavor. (Don't tell him I said that!) But boy, this pistachio flavor was amazing. Definitely my favorite out of the ones I tried.

Gelateria Gemelli in Austin, TX |

I walked out of Gemelli's a happy gal that day. The shop was quite empty on the weekday afternoon I visited, but I was informed it gets popular after dinner and on the weekends. I'll definitely be back soon to try out other flavors and items on their menu such as their affogato (espresso + gelato) and cocktails! For more yummy eats in the Austin area, stay connected with me via Instagram @sarah_thebella. Thank you for stopping by and reading along! Do you have a favorite gelato flavor?

What's In My May 2016 Birchbox?

Receiving subscription boxes in the mail has never felt so good. With school exams in full force last week, this May Birchbox felt like a real treat after so much studying for school. I couldn't wait to dive into these fun goodies!

Birchbox May 2016 Featured Box |

Choosing what would go in my box this time around was a no-brainer. If you're unfamiliar with the Birchbox selection process, you can pick one out of three options all for $10/month:

1. Do nothing. Everything in the box is a surprise!
2. Choose one sample for your box out of their curated list of products.
3. Choose the featured box. You'll know everything in your box before you receive it.

I went with option three this month, because there were things in this box that really stuck out to me, and I couldn't pass them up. Here are my thoughts on each of the products I received:

1. Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Matte Bronzer | Full-size, $29
To be honest, this little guy is the main reason I chose the featured box this month. First, Benefit Hoola is my favorite bronzer; it's a perfect matte bronze color that isn't orange-tinged or dirty brown. Second, the package is so stinkin' cute! (Anyone else get sucked in by cute packaging?!) The regular size is quite bulky and takes up a lot of space in my makeup case, so having this size around will be super helpful for my upcoming travels in July! This travel size is worth just above $10.

2. CLEAN Blossom Eau de Parfum | Full-size, $20-$72
In last month's Birchbox, I received a perfume I really didn't like hated. It was so bad that I was afraid I would receive another one like it. To my pleasant surprise, I really enjoyed this scent. It's a fresh floral that dries to a clean finish that isn't too musky or powdery. I really like this one, but I think my go-to floral will remain Stella by Stella McCartney. This sample size is worth around $1.68.

3. Davines LOVE Smoothing Shampoo | Full-size, $25
I've used this sample before, but I was happy to receive it again through the featured box, because it's one of my favorite shampoos. It's packed with nourishing ingredients from an infusion of olive extracts, so this one is perfect for summer months, because it helps smooth out strands after time in the pool or being out in the sun. And it smells incredible! This travel size is worth just over $7.

4. Davines LOVE Smoothing Conditioner | Full-size, $29
Like the shampoo, this Davines conditioner does a great job smoothing out frizzy, dry hair and also smells really great. My only complaint is that this sample is much smaller in size than the shampoo, so I'm guaranteed to run out of conditioner before I finish using the shampoo...a little inconvenient! This size is is worth just above $1.30.

5. COOLA SPF 30 Organic Makeup Setting Spray | Full-size, $36
I've been recently exploring more makeup setting sprays, and I'm glad I saw this one in the featured box, so I could try out another. The initial smell of this spray smells of strong alcohol, but it gives off a very cooling sensation and dries smelling of green tea. Similar to the Supergoop! Makeup Setting Spray I talked about a few weeks ago, this setting spray has SPF and is designed to lock in makeup. I really enjoy the cooling sensation from this spray and that it makes my skin look more moisturized. This $7.20-worth size will be traveling with me!

6. ModelCo Lip Lacquer in Creme Brulee | Trio of Lip Lacquers, $16
First off, I love the packaging of this sample. It's a perfect size to throw in a little clutch, has a see-through tube that clearly shows off the color inside, and a normal-sized doefoot applicator. The gloss itself is very pigmented and shiny, but unfortunately, this nude color doesn't look that great on me. I'm sure Creme Brulee would look great on lighter skin tones, though! This sample-size is worth $5.33, and I think the trio would be worth it just to try out the other two fun colors, since they're very different from this one.

This May Birchbox was worth over $32, so this box was a great deal - especially since I loved almost all the products! I'm looking forward to bringing lots of these goodies along with me for my upcoming travels. School's out now, and I'm super excited to be back home enjoying my mom's home cooking. Be sure to follow along on Instagram @sarah_thebella for more beauty finds, and I'll see you back here on Thursday.

Sarah's College Survival Guide: 10 Dorm Living Tips

10 Dorm Living Tips | The Bella Insider

Given that this weekend marks my last few days of living in a dorm room with my sweet roommate, I thought it was time to give some dorm living tips. First, I can only speak from experience, but I can say that dorm life has been one of my favorite parts about college. That might not be the case for everyone, but I personally found so many benefits of living on/close to campus, and I can't recommend it enough if you're living away from home for the first time.

10 Dorm Living Tips | The Bella Insider
{my dorm room set-up for the 2015-2016 school year}

If you've been following me on Instagram @sarah_thebella, I'm sure you're very well-acquainted with my room. I've been in this comfy, little space for two years now, and I've really enjoyed it, but it did come with some difficulties. Dorm life was a big change for me, and sometimes, it wasn't always easy sharing a small space and living in such close proximity with others, but I grew to love much so, that I'll be doing it again next year! Look out for some dorm inspiration posts on the blog, because I can't wait to decorate again! For now, here are 10 dorm living tips for making your future dorm life livable, comfortable, and "home-y":

1. Establish guidelines with your roommate(s) in the first couple weeks.
If you're living with another person in your dorm room, it's really important to establish some ground rules, because you probably have different living habits. Some examples of things to discuss include what to do when friends come over, what items in the room can be shared, or what to do if the other person comes back late at night. You'll want to do it as soon as possible, so you avoid awkward, uncomfortable situations in the future.

2. Invest in a good set of headphones.
Dorm walls can be thin! If you don't want to be distracted by noises outside your room, I highly recommend buying a good set of headphones or earplugs to block out sound. I use these Panasonic headphones, because they're super affordable and get the job done, but if you're easily distracted by noise, I recommend investing in a better pair like these Bose noise cancelling headphones.

3. Make your bed in the morning.
Making my bed was a rare occasion in high school. My mom used to nag at me every day to make my bed, and I hated doing it - especially since I was gonna mess it up the same night anyways! It was a different story when I came to college though. Since our beds took up such a large area in our space, they were a huge eye sore if they were unmade. So, my roommate and I agreed to make our beds in the morning. They really did make our room look cleaner, and after a long day, it was really nice coming home to a nicely-made bed.

10 Dorm Living Tips | The Bella Insider
{cute + practical storage}

4. Don't sacrifice practicality for a cute room. 
Like many high school seniors ready to go off to college, I had a dorm room Pinterest board dedicated to dorm decor and DIYs. I was obsessed with wanting to make my room look good! I learned in my first year of college that it's not worth having a cute room if you can't use the space properly. For example, I chose to put all my textbooks on a top shelf, since I thought they were an eye sore. It wasn't a good idea, since I always needed to stand on my chair to reach for them. This year, I learned to put the things I reach for most in more practical places, which has been really helpful in saving time.

5. Be prepared with necessities before you get sick.
When living in such close proximity with so many people, getting sick is inevitable. The germs spread fast, so make sure you've stocked up on vitamins, medication, stuffed animals, or whatever else you need when that time comes around!

6. Closet space is limited. Bring only what you need.
I made the mistake of bringing my entire wardrobe my freshman year. It was hard to decide what I wanted to bring, so I just brought it all! My tips for a college wardrobe could probably make another blog post in itself, but as a guideline, bring a few "going out clothes", a set of "interview clothes", and stock up on comfortable and practical everyday pieces. Most girls on college campuses prioritize comfort above everything else, so workout clothes, soft tees, and leggings will be your best friends! Besides those, I think every girl should own these closet essentials.

7. Participate in dorm events!
You're not guaranteed to be close to your roommate or people in your hall, but I found some of my best friends living in a dorm setting by actively going to events hosted by my dorm. If your dorm hosts events free for residents like the Casino Night we had in our dorm a few weeks ago, make your best effort to attend! Your dorm experience is what you make of it...and who knows. You might just find your best friends!

10 Dorm Living Tips | The Bella Insider
{amazing roommate and neighbors from freshman year}

8. Find time to organize in the first few weeks.
If you spend your first few weeks finding a "home" for all your things, I promise you'll thank yourself later. I really appreciated that my roommate had a label maker, because I was able to label anything I needed. I also really loved having these drawer organizers for my underwear and clothes. They were so, so helpful getting ready for the day.

9. Don't trust everyone.
Some people won't be as nice as you, and you don't want to learn this the hard way. I feel grateful to live in a place where I feel comfortable leaving my things around the dorm and lots of girls are willing to share their things, but this isn't always the case. Be careful where you leave your belongings, and try not to leave them unattended, so they don't get stolen!

10. Buy multi-purpose products to save space.
Most people don't have a lot of space in their dorm rooms, so it's best to buy products that will serve multiple uses. My favorite example is washi tape. Washi tape is the best, because you can use it to label things, stick papers on your wall, and decorate your planner, so you eliminate the need for other items. Some other multi-purpose products I really like are my organizer task lamp that also doubles as an organizer and another outlet.

Thank you for stopping by on the blog today! I'll be studying this weekend for my last final on Monday, is what it is. Haha! Hopefully I find some time to relax, too! I've linked some products below of things I talked about/pictured in this post, but stay tuned for some fun upcoming College Survival Guide posts like my picks for the best graduation presents and some essential items you need in your college dorm room. Have a great weekend!


3 Reasons to Wear a Colorful Printed Top

It's no secret that I love bright colors. (Remember that yellow maxi dress from a few weeks ago?) When all those bright colors meet to create a colorful printed top, I just can't pass it up. There are so many ways to style one, and now that it's summer time, I have all the more reason to stock up on them! If you're afraid of some color, don't worry. I'm here to convince you why a colorful printed top is the way to go - especially for this upcoming summer!

3 Reasons to Wear a Colorful Printed Top |

3 Reasons to Wear a Colorful Printed Top |

3 Reasons to Wear a Colorful Printed Top |

There are so many reasons to wear a bright printed top. Here are some of my favorites:

1. It matches with all your accessories.
Neutral or bright accessories, you choose! A patterned top with lots of colors is sure to match whatever purse you decide to bring or jewelry pieces you choose to wear. Here, I brought along a neutral clutch, but a bright bag would look just as cool. I chose a pair of purple dangle earrings to up the fun factor, but they would look just as great with a pair of black tassel earrings or gold statement earrings

2. You can save on luggage space.
This might sound like a silly one, but if you over-pack for your trips like I do, a colorful printed top might just do the trick to save you some luggage space. Since it pairs with lots of bottoms such as shorts, a maxi-skirt, or a pair of skinny jeans, you can get away with bringing less items and still have plenty of stylish, fun outfits - perfect for summer trips.

3. It uplifts your mood!
It's proven that color affects the way we think, act, and even perform at school and work. How could one be down wearing lots of color? I'm convinced that bright-colored pieces make people happier...unless you hate color. Haha! That's a different story though. Does anyone here dislike color? 

3 Reasons to Wear a Colorful Printed Top |

3 Reasons to Wear a Colorful Printed Top |

TOP floral crop blouse | SHORTS zara (similar here) | PURSE bought in Hong Kong | SHOES lace up ballet flats (on sale for $21.50! other favorites linked here, here, and here) | EARRINGS kendra scott danielle 

This colorful printed top is such a fun addition to my closet. The first time I wore it out was at 7 am to meet a friend for coffee, and the barista at the shop told me he loved that it looked like a watercolor art piece! This blouse can stand alone as a statement piece with neutrals, but it also pairs with lots of accessories to create a really fun outfit - perfect for a summer trips with the family or dinner with girlfriends. Did I mention this top is under $20? A serious steal.

Thank you for stopping by! I hope you're having an awesome week. I'll be studying for two finals: one in an engineering mechanics class and the other in computer programming. Hopefully, the finals won't be too terrible. Stay tuned!

Photography by Kelly Rice