Fashion & Beauty

Back to School: Girl Style

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God knew what he was doing when he blessed me with two daughters. Honestly, there’s little I love more than dressing them up. The back-to-school season gives me an excuse to shop for clothes for my older daughter. She’s at that age though — she’s developing her own taste and style, and mom’s input isn’t as welcome as it used to be. So I’m learning to compromise on what to get: Stuff that she needs and are practical, but that she loves too. Because like her mama (and her daddy, for that matter), my baby loves to be fly. So when Walmart challenged me to find some back-to-school style on a budget, we were only too happy to oblige.

Last week, I shared her brother’s outfit picks. This time, I did the shopping on my own with her taste in mind.

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When I saw this owl tunic, I knew she’d love it. I’ve been trying to consciously encourage her to consider colors other than pink. This had just enough pink to keep her happy, it’s long enough to cover her butt, and the owl and ruffles are just fabulous. And those lace-trimmed leggings? $3 on clearance. So this whole outfit cost about $11.

Plus, she can mix and match both pieces with a ton of stuff that’s already in her closet, so they’ll really stretch her wardrobe.

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For the second outfit, I had to consider the weather to come. Because while it’s still scorching hot in Georgia, that will change eventually. Winter coat weather is still a long way off, but sweater weather will come a lot sooner — especially during the early mornings when she heads out to catch the bus. During the fall and spring, my daughter practically lives in hoodies, and all of her ones from last year are too small.

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This Danskin hoodie caught my eye, and at just $9.98, I couldn’t pass on it. It is super soft, both on the outside and the inside, and the color is neutral enough to be worn with a bunch of different bottoms and layering t-shirts. And in fact, I plan to go back and get it in a few other colors, because it fits so nicely and the quality is awesome.

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The jeans are from Jordache, and I love the zipper details and fabric belt. When I first looked at them in store, I thought they were cropped, but once she put them on, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they actually go all the way to her ankles, so she’ll be able to continue wearing them when the weather turns cooler.

My daughter has already worn the first outfit to school, and I know she’ll wear the hoodie as soon as it’s cool enough. So mama did pretty considering I didn’t have her with me to choose stuff.

Walmart is one of the places I like to shop for the kids because I can generally get good quality clothing inexpensively. They grow so fast that it’s usually not worth it to me to spend very much on their clothes. And even if your kids wear school uniforms, you can get those pieces inexpensively at Walmart too.

Where do you shop for your kids’ back-to-school clothes?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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I consider myself lucky. I’ve always had relatively clear skin and I’ve never had to deal with severe acne. But after I had baby Juliza, my skin started acting up. I started seeing more pimples and flareups of smaller bumps where there had been none.

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Needless to say, I wasn’t thrilled about it, but I had a beautiful new baby to care for, so I didn’t exactly make my face a priority. So when Walmart offered me the opportunity to try out a new product designed to reduce acne without using any chemicals, it was the incentive I needed to finally address the issue.

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So about that product: illuMask is a literal mask that you wear for 15 minutes at a time that is designed to treat acne with light therapy. It is available at Walmart for $29.97.

Sound a bit strange? Yeah, I thought so too. And it looks even stranger.

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I had flashbacks to my first Friday the 13th movie, but I’m game.

I pressed the button on the controller to start my first treatment, and the lights came on. They are bright, and it took a while for my eyes to adjust. And I felt a little claustrophobic. It took some getting used to. Thankfully, there is a viewing window, so I just watched an episode of Law & Order SVU while I waited out the 15 minutes. The lights simply went off when the time was up.

Unfortunately, that’s where my test ended. Because as I read the instruction manual more carefully after that first treatment, I came across a disclaimer:

“It is not recommended to use illuMask if you are pregnant, may be pregnant, or nursing, as the device was not tested on pregnant or nursing women.”

Well, that would’ve been nice to know earlier: Like a prominent warning on the outside of the packaging — especially for moms who are making an in-person purchase decision. This one sentence was on page 10 of the instructional booklet. It’s also not in the online description, which would be very disappointing for anyone who ordered it, only to open it and then realize they shouldn’t use it.

So I didn’t complete the treatments. Bummer too. I really wanted to see if it would clear up my face.

Still, here’s what the product is designed to do, in visual form:

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For those who may not be able to see the image, illuMask uses a combination of red and blue light wavelengths to target acne-causing bacteria. The blue light is designed to kill the bacteria, and the red light to reduce inflammation, heal breakouts and even skin tone.

Each illuMask is good for thirty 15-minute sessions. In testing, 93% of users reported improvement in the appearance of their skin in as little as two weeks, though it is recommended that you complete all 30 daily treatments.

When I’m done nursing, I do still want to try this, because I love the idea of using light to repair my skin rather than some questionable chemical cocktail, and the anecdotal evidence is good. I’m going to hold onto it until then.

What about you? Would you try illuMask?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

Back to School: Boy Style

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Shopping for back to school supplies is a necessary consequence of this time of year, but it is hardly my kids’ favorite part. Like me, they are far more excited about shopping for new clothes. As much as they’d probably love it if we went to the mall and spent a ton of money on pricey brand name clothes, that’s just not going to happen — especially not when they’ll outgrow the stuff in a year’s time.

Instead, I’m more concerned about finding clothes that look great, but that also are affordable and durable so they can last as long as possible. So when Walmart challenged me to share a back to school story, I knew my stepson would be more than happy to find a couple of outfits to go back to school in style.

Here’s what we found:

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My stepson is a character. He may be small for his age, but his personality is huge. Can’t you tell?

On top of that, he likes to look good. He’s the type who plans his outfits in advance and is sure to accessorize with a pair of sunglasses, a watch and a few spritzes of cologne. What can I say? He takes after his dad.

Anyway, I was actually the one who spotted this And1 t-shirt, and I knew he’d love it. Because in addition to his love of “swag” (I despise that word), he also fancies himself a football player, so the phrase “Every Day is Game Day” appealed to his athletic dreams.

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The Faded Glory jeans were a great find too, at just $12.97 with an adjustable waist and belt included.

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The second outfit is a bit more casual, but appropriate since he lives in Florida and the weather will be warm enough to allow it for all but a few months of the school year.

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My husband has a couple of performance tops from Walmart, and this boy-sized top by Russell was the perfect choice for my stepson. Paired with some affordable basketball shorts from Starter (just under $5), he’ll be comfortable throughout the school day, and he won’t have to change before switching to sports and outdoor play in the afternoon.

All told, we spent about $35 for two great outfits that can be mixed and matched with each other and with other items already in his closet. There were a ton of other affordable options too, including graphic tees in the $5-10 range and a wide variety of jean styles and colors.

Where do you shop for your kids’ clothes to go back to school?

Next week, I’ll share my daughter’s back-to-school style.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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I’m Wearing: Avia performance tank from Walmart  |  Avia performance capris from Walmart  |  Puma sneakers (similar) (aff)

I’ll start this off with a bit of honesty: I’ve become lazy. In fairness, I’ve had a good reason to slow down. Having a baby will do that to you. But baby Juliza was born six months ago, and it’s about time for me to find ways to become active again.

We moved this past weekend, which was one heck of a workout in itself — especially given that we moved from a third floor apartment into a house with all the bedrooms upstairs. That was fun. Still, it’s long past time for me to develop an earnest workout regimen, less for vanity and more for my health and fitness. I’ve lost a lot of flexibility over the last few years, and I need to work on my arm strength and endurance.

All this to say that when Walmart offered me an opportunity to try out some great activewear from Avia (yes! You can find Avia clothes and shoes at Walmart), I knew it could be the kick in the pants I needed.

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Typically, I work out in leggings and t-shirts. Though I’ve bought some workout shorts in the past, I learned after a couple of uses that they weren’t my favorites because they’d ride up during my favorite form of exercise: dancing.

These workout capris from Avia are amazing. They are soft and smooth with great stretch, which makes them awesome for everything from yoga and pilates to dancing and bike riding. And did I mention they’re great for lounging around the house? I’m wearing them right now, and they are so much cooler than yoga pants when it’s hot outside. Plus, there’s a hidden pocket big enough for a key. I wish it was a little bigger, but I’ll take it! They’re available in a bunch of colors, and at just $14.86 for performance pants, I’m definitely going to invest in a few more.

On top, I’m wearing a great moisture-wicking performance tank. I can’t lie. I chose this mostly because of the color and style. The performance is just a nice bonus. I usually like workout shirts with sleeves, but I thought this would keep me cooler, especially on bike rides. I got through an exhausting (and sweaty) Zumba routine without having the fabric stick to my skin, so I’d say that’s a win.

And the best part? All the Avia items go up to a 2X, and the stretch is pretty awesome.

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As it is, I’m probably going to live in this outfit for the rest of the summer, because the loose fit of the top also makes breastfeeding a breeze, both from the bottom and through the arm hole.

There are a ton of styles of Avia tops and bottoms, and some great sports bras that looked to be really supportive (though I can’t know for sure without a test). For the price, I really like the style and quality, and I’ll keep my eye out for more Avia items when I need some workout clothes that can do double duty for lounging.

What about you? Do you like to invest in workout clothes? Do you trust the Avia brand enough to try these?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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I’m Wearing: DIY scarf top with scarf from Walmart | Faded Glory jean shorts | OP striped tote bag | Thrifted Calvin Klein sandals (aff)

Like most other people this weekend, I will be spending time with my family with good food and possibly some fireworks. I will obviously want to be comfortable for this, because what fun is a full belly in uncomfortable pants, right? Still, wannabe fashionista that I am, I also want to be cute. So when Walmart challenged me to share a Fourth of July story, I knew I wanted to create a comfy, affordable outfit.

Of course, the idea of a patriotic outfit generally conjures cheesy t-shirts featuring flag motifs, eagles or some horribly tacky combination of the two. And mama doesn’t do tacky. I chose instead to feature our nation’s colors. When I couldn’t find a top I really loved, though, I decided instead to make my own. From a scarf.

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I grabbed a great, lightweight navy Faded Glory scarf at Walmart for just $6.97, along with some $10 white shorts and a great red and white striped tote bag and commenced trying to create a look I could walk out of the house wearing.

After tying it about a million ways, I finally settled on one I liked. I call it the “Goddess Drape top.”

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I love the soft drape of the front and the fact that it doesn’t look at all like a scarf. It feels put together and fancy, with a little added awesome because I “made” it myself. I’m actually really proud of this outfit. So much that I wore red lipstick to complete the patriotic look. You can take a look back at my past outfits to see how rarely I wear makeup. Hint: Almost never.

Anyway, I thought you might want to learn how to make this top too, and like the old saying goes, I can show you better than I can tell you.

DIY Scarf Top Tutorials

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All that trial and error resulted in quite a few tops that look really great. Check out this video for four ways to tie a scarf as a top, including the style I’m wearing in the outfit above.

What about you? Would you wear a scarf as a top? Are you planning to dress for the Fourth of July? In either case, feel free to share your outfits in the comments below!

More for the Fourth

If you’re looking for more Fourth of July ideas, check out these great ones from the other Walmart Moms:

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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The best way to describe my husband’s style is cool and casual. He will dress up on occasion, but he is most comfortable wearing — well — comfortable clothes and fly sneakers. So when Walmart asked me to shop for men’s polos and shorts for the summer, I knew both would be right up his alley.

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The selection was huge! There were several walls with nothing but men’s shorts displayed, along with several racks. Prices ranged from about $9 to $16. There were solid shorts in a variety of colors, along with plaid, stripes and camouflage prints. But it wasn’t difficult for him to zero in on a pair that he liked: These belted gray shorts from No Boundaries for just $12.84. They fit well and they’re just long enough, and he’s thankful for the canvas belt that came with them. Plus, the pockets are nice and deep — a must for my hubby since he puts everything in his pockets. (aff)

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There were a ton of polos too, from solid colors to patterns, and fabrics from cotton to dry fit. He chose a performance golf shirt by Russell to coordinate with the shorts. It was among the pricier tops at $17.97, but completely worth the price. It is a moisture wicking shirt to keep him dry in the hot Georgia summer and it has UPF 30+ sun protection. Plus, the fabric feels like a dream. The tag recommends that it not be ironed, but once we wash it and hang it up immediately out of the dryer, the wrinkles should fall right out.

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While we were there, we picked up some shorts and a top for my stepson. Because he has to look fly too, and we couldn’t resist all the boys’ shorts on display.

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He immediately knew he wanted camo shorts, and we found a great pair from Wrangler for just $11.97. The fabric feels like great quality: Thick and rugged enough to withstand pre-teen boy shenanigans, but still soft to the touch. We’ll see how the colors wear in the wash, but the great thing about camo is that the more faded it gets, the “tougher” it looks. (aff)

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He paired the shorts with a graphic t-shirt with an inspirational message in bright neon green for just under $10. Not bad for two full outfits made up of items that can be mixed and matched throughout the summer. Not bad at all.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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I’m Wearing: 4 All Humanity Chevron Flare Dress  |  Kelsi Dagger Genna sandals  | Dsenyo clutch | Dsenyo bracelets (aff)

I’ve made it my mission to find fashion brands that are making stylish, eco-friendly clothing options for the plus size woman. Ideally, these brands would make items in extended sizes, but I’m also looking at companies that are at least going to an XL, which — believe it or not — still is not the norm. Many brands stop at a Large. 4 All Humanity is one of the few brands making modern designs up to an XL, and I love the story behind the company.

4 All Humanity offers Fair Trade women’s apparel and accessories made by artisans around the world. Their organic cotton apparel is produced by a cooperative in northern Uganda, and their jewelry and accessories come from cooperatives in India, Thailand, Mexico, and South Africa using recycled materials, silver, vintage fabrics, leather, and semi-precious stones.

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Simply put, their Chevron flare dress just makes me happy, from the color to the chevron cutout at the collar. It is lightweight and unlined, which means that it is perfect for summer, but might require some shapewear underneath. I’m a busty girl, and the XL fit me on top, but barely. If you’re a plus-sized woman with a smaller chest, the XL will offer a you some breathing room.

I may have to tuck this one away until next summer or wear it on days when I’m out without the baby, because it doesn’t allow for easy breastfeeding, but it’s definitely a keeper. As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to pair it with blue and an African pattern of some kind. Then I remembered that I have this clutch from Dsenyo, another company that makes Fair Trade accessories and clothing made by artisans in Africa. This is easily one of the most eco-friendly combos I’ve worn thus far.

Giveaway Time!

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4 All Humanity has generously offered a giveaway for my readers. One of you will get to take home the Chevron Flare Dress in the color of your choice! It’s available in yellow, cobalt blue and mint green and is available up to an XL. Enter via the Rafflecopter below. If you can’t see it immediately, please wait for the page to finish loading. Note: U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received this dress from 4 All Humanity for the purpose of review. I did not receive compensation. As usual, all opinions are my own.

My oldest daughter grows like a weed. So much that she wears almost the same size shoe as me. She’s 8. The challenge is that I’m forced to shop in the women’s section for shoes that can fit her, but a lot of the styles are just a tad too grown up for my little girl. We typically end up buying basic shoes that she can wear with anything, including flip-flops. But we all know they aren’t exactly the most stylish shoes in the world. So when Walmart challenged me to create a summer DIY project, I thought we could do something cool to dress them up.

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This is an amazingly simple project that kids can do on their own and that can be changed out at will.

You’ll Need

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This idea was inspired by an eco-friendly shoe company I’ve been stalking for years called Mohop. Their signature shoes can be laced and tied in unlimited ways using colorful ribbon. These aren’t exactly the same, but they’re cute, easy and inexpensive.

If you’re using a scarf, I’d definitely recommend a lightweight spring or summer scarf rather than a heavy winter scarf. First, you need to cut it in half lengthwise, so you’ll have a piece for each shoe.

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Next, simply fold or bunch the scarf into a small roll, and start wrapping it around the top of the flip-flop, from the piece that goes between your toes. It may take some creativity to achieve a wrap that properly covers the flip-flop, but experiment with a couple of ways. This may involve doubling back over some sections. Just try to spread out the scarf fabric as much as possible so it doesn’t get too thick.

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When you reach the end, tuck the end of the fabric back up through the last loop to secure it.

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That’s it! You could use hot glue or thread if you wanted to make it more secure, but this is really plenty secure on its own. Also, this allows the wrap to be interchangeable, so the ribbon or fabric can be changed easily to match an outfit, or removed altogether if you’d prefer the to wear the flip-flops plain one day. My daughter has already begged me to buy more ribbon so she can change the wrap.

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What do you think? Would you try embellishing some basic flip flops?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.