Blue Tiered Floral Dress + Black Over-the-Knee Boots

SHEIN Frill Detail Bishop Sleeve Tiered Botanical Dress - Pearl Girl

Floral Tiered Dress //
Leather Over-the-Knee Boots //
Sunglasses // Sold out, similar linked
Pearl Earrings // I got mine in Hoi An, Vietnam, but a very similar pair are linked!

How was your weekend? Mine was relatively low-key — had an amazing dinner at STK in Meatpacking on Saturday night, went for a walk in Central Park and snapped some photos, and caught up with a couple of friends from high school over tacos and margaritas on Friday. (We went to Tacombi for tacos, and then Panchito’s — which was one of my favorite spots back during my first summer in NYC in 2012). It’s nice for life to be a little more relaxed, however, after the craziness that was the last three months of 2017! I didn’t have a big overarching post in mind for this week, so I thought I’d just share three things I’ve been thinking about.

I got Amazon Prime.

You guys, I may be the last person in America to say this, but I just got Amazon Prime! Why did I hold off for so long? Well, I honestly don’t order from Amazon that much. If I lived in a building with a doorman or in the suburbs, maybe I’d use it to buy essentials like toilet paper and dish soap. But I don’t, and getting packages can be a serious pain for me. But I’ve been meaning to back all my photos (which go back to about 2004, when I got my first digital camera!) for a while now, and an Amazon Prime membership comes with unlimited photo storage, versus getting 1 TB of storage for $60 a year. I figured with a prime membership, I’ll get unlimited storage plus free two-day shipping, so it can’t hurt.

I also, of course, placed an order during my free trial and picked up a new steamer (mine was spurting out water and would stop for a minute after every minute of steaming), filters for my camera and a microneedling tool (I’ve always wanted to try one, stay tuned for a review on how that works!)

This dress!

I couldn’t make it through this post without, naturally, talking about this dress! It’s from SheIn, which is a one-stop-shop for fun dresses, tops and more. What I love about SheIn is that everything is so affordable that you don’t need to feel guilty about spending a lot of money on something that’s super trendy. I know there can be some questions about quality, but I’ve never had a problem with anything I’ve ever ordered from there. This dress is lined and I love the ruffle detail.

Bringing back the curls.

If you caught my Instagram story from Saturday night, you’ll know I was reminiscing about my curly hair. You wouldn’t know it from the majority of the photos I post on my blog, but I naturally have very curly hair. At least, I did. It can range from wavy to curly, and I was never quite sure the way it would look when I’d wake up or after I let it air dry. So around the time I graduated from college (ALMOST FOUR YEARS AGO!) I started blowdrying it, usually with a round brush but it still ended up pretty straight. Honestly, this is much more predictable and easier to manage. But when I was looking back on some of my photos from college I started wondering why I left the curls behind? (They can be very frizzy, another photo reminded me!) But I think I need to try the curls out again for a bit. Or at the very least, see if my hair can still retain a natural curl the way it used to. Isn’t your hair texture supposed to change every seven years? Have I beat it into submission? Stay tuned!

Hope you have a very happy Monday and a lovely week, friends!

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Two Days in Brussels, Belgium (Solo!)

brussels belgium travel guide pearl girl

There’s so much travel content I want to share this year. Beyond my recaps, of which I have so, so many still to write, I really want to write posts on my tips for traveling alone and how I pack for international adventures. But first, I need to get through the set of recaps for my first big trip, which happened last October.

If you read about my trip to London last fall, you likely know that was only the beginning of my European trek. After a lovely weekend in London with some of my closest friends from high school, I took an early Monday morning EuroStar to Brussels, Belgium. I spent my three days in Belgium by myself, as two of my friends had moved onto Paris and one was still back in London. It was the perfect stop during my trip, as it’s not really a big enough city to justify a solo trip from the U.S. I did three days in Belgium — two in Brussels and one in Bruges in between.

Isn’t this the funniest thing?!

One of my favorite things to do in European cities where I’m not super familiar with the big sights (the way I would be in Paris, London, Berlin, etc.) is to go on a Sandemans New Europe walking tour. It’s a great way to acquaint yourself with the city, learn a bit about its history and make a mental list of places to go back to and explore more later.

After a quick lunch of a Belgian waffle, I took an afternoon walking tour with Sandemans. We met in the Grand Place, which is likely the most famous site in Brussels. It’s a gorgeous square filled with gold-accented buildings and important landmarks to the city, like the Town Hall (seen in the first photo above.) There’s lots of restaurants around the square, but they’re definitely tourist-y and a bit overpriced. However, I still recommend sitting on the patio of one of them and having a beer, especially at night when you can watch the town hall all lit up.

brussels belgium travel guide pearl girl

The tour took us through the Brussels city center, up near the Royal Palace and the E.U. Headquarters, so we got a big taste of the city. There are tons of amazing murals in Brussels, so that was fun to see, and it was a great way to learn a bit more about Belgian history — a topic that I admittedly don’t know a ton about! Another highlight? The Mannekin Pis! It’s a tiny fountain/statue of a little cherub-esque boy peeing. It’s sort of hilarious, but you need to see if you’re in Brussels.

If you are going to take a Sandemans tour, remember to bring cash! The walking tour is technically free, but these guides work for tips so it’s pretty rude not to give them one. I usually give 10 to 20 euros depending on how much I have in my wallet. (And if you don’t have a chance to grab cash before you go, your guide will gladly direct you to an ATM.)

Without a doubt, one of the best things about Belgium is the FOOD! For such a small country, they have so many signature foods: Chocolate, fries, mussels, beer, to name the most famous ones. I had a bunch of amazing meals in Brussels. I adore mussels, so my two dinners in the city were spent at Chez Leon and Aux Armes De Bruxelles. Both are located just off the Grand Place, and are actually across the way from one another, so very easy to locate. Chez Leon is a bit more affordable but Aux Armes De Bruxelles is more formal. I believe I had the white wine mussels at both, which were both excellent. If you have to pick one, I’d say go with Chez Leon because it’s a bit more affordable but the food is just as good. Mussels at both places are served with fries and bread — perfect for dipping into that delicious broth!

After my day trip to Bruges, I arrived back in Brussels hungry, but not starved. So I went to Fritland, very casual eatery where (you guessed it!) fries are the speciality. There’s tons of sauces to choose from, the fries are amazing. Crispy, but potato-y. So, so good. Worth a trip for an afternoon or late night snack — even though you’ll get fries with pretty much every meal in Belgium.

Of course, you can’t go to Belgium without eating a Belgian waffle. My mom thought they were too sugary sweet on her own trip to Belgium a few years ago, but I loved them! (And ate three throughout my three days in Belgium.) This is the best place to get a traditional Belgian waffle — according to my Brussels native tour guide — is Dandoy. I had breakfast there on my final day, and ate a light and sweet waffle covered in strawberries and ice cream. You can either take yours to-go or eat in house in their upstairs dining room.

On my last day in Brussels, I ventured further outside of the Grand Place area to visit the Royal Palace and the European Union headquarters. I walked to both, but if you’re coming from the Grand Place, be prepared for about a 30 minute trek. (It was no big deal to me, one of my favorite parts about traveling is all those extra steps you get in!) Sadly, the Royal Palace was no longer open for tours (it’s open in the summertime!) but it was still very impressive and imposing. Did you know that it’s bigger than Buckingham Palace? Crazy, right? The architecture reminded me a bit of Buckingham too.

Being a big fan of Europe and having an interest in politics, I was super excited to check out the European Union headquarters. I really went all out here, visiting three of the spaces that are open for visitors: The Parlamentarium, the hemicycle (seen above) and the House of European History. The hemicycle is definitely the best-known of these, as its where the E.U. representatives meet — sort of like the U.S. Capitol. The Parlamentarium was a detailed visitors center that gave a ton of background on how the E.U. came to be and the purposes it serves today. The House of European History is what you’d expect. This was probably my least favorite stop on the tour, even though I’m a huge history nerd! I think at that point in the day I was getting a little E.U.-ed out. (However they did have a chart showing European royal family trees going back like, 600 years, and I probably stared at it for 10 straight minutes!)

I stayed at the Hotel Aris, a no-frills, but definitely comfortable hotel right near the Grand Place. It was a really great spot — affordable, good-sized rooms and an incredible location. I’d highly recommend it if you’re looking for a place to stay in Brussels and want something that’s a step above a hostel. It’s also very close to the Gare Central, which is not where the EuroStar trains go to but an easy enough transfer to get there.

And that’s my time in Brussels! It’s a great city with even better food. I feel like Brussels flies a bit under the radar when compared to its high profile neighbors Paris and Amsterdam. However, it would make a great two-day trip if you find yourself in this area of Europe!

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Fair Isle Sweater + Levi’s 505 C Jeans

J.Crew Fair Isle Sweater, Levi's 505 C Jeans - Pearl Girl

J.Crew Fair Isle Sweater, Levi's 505 C Jeans - Pearl Girl

J.Crew Fair Isle Sweater // On sale now!
Levi’s Jeans //
Margaux Navy Ballet Flats // Seriously the best ballet flats. Gorgeous leather, come in a ton of colors, and the bow is adjustable to help with fit. (Great for people with narrow feet like me!)
Mansur Gavriel Bag // Read my full review of this bag here.
Ray-Ban Sunglasses // I’ve had mine for over five years and they’re still my go-to sunglasses.
Pearl Studs // I picked mine up in Vietnam (for $6!!!) but luckily you can find studs like these anywhere.

It’s an exciting day, you guys — these are the first outfit photos taken on my new camera! There are a few downsides of this camera compared to my previous one, mostly that there’s a bit more processing time for images and the battery goes a lot faster. (My old one had an insane battery.) But from my research these are just the sort of thing that happen with a mirrorless camera versus a DSLR.

The image quality, however, is incomparable. I cannot wait to take this camera on my next trip — which I booked this week! Flights to Savannah, Georgia were insanely cheap ($116!) so Natalie and I decided to make a long weekend of it in early February. If you have any Savannah recommendations, please leave them below. I’m so excited for a little warm weather and exploring a beautiful city.

Something else you’ve likely noticed in these photos — I dyed my hair! I usually get highlights about once a year but I don’t feel like they’ve ever turned out quite this blonde before. I’m actually a little nervous that now the difference between this and my natural hair will be very pronounced. I was really into my once-a-year highlights routine (as was my wallet) so I’m hoping this doesn’t mess with that. However, I am into the blonder look, so all good for now.

Okay, onto the outfit: I’m seriously obsessed with this sweater. Somehow I didn’t have anything fair isle in my wardrobe (how!?) so I scooped up this sweater on sale from J.Crew a few months ago. It’s seriously so cozy and I love the pattern. And considering the crazy cold pretty much the entire northern United States has been facing over the past few weeks, turtlenecks have been on constant rotation in my wardrobe. (They keep your neck so warm!)

Over the past year or so, I’ve really fallen in love with Levi’s jeans. The quality is amazing — really thick, real denim. It all started with the Wedgie Icon Jeans, then a pair of 501 jeans, and finally this pair of 505 C jeans. These honestly might be my favorite ones yet! I love the color and how it adds a contrast when you wear them with navy, versus how a darker wash all sort of blends together. One thing I will say: All their jeans run really small. I always size up one size and most of my friends who have Levi’s jeans have said the same thing.

Hope you have a lovely Monday, friends!

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The 24 Best Things I Bought in 2017

English Factory Dress, Levi's Jean Jacket, J.Crew Signet Bag in Carl Schurz Park // Pearl Girl

This is the last of my looking back on 2017 posts — with the exception of all the travel recaps that are still to come, starting with Belgium next week! I love reading about people’s favorite buys, partially because it’s interesting, and partially for ideas. I loved a lot of the things I bought this year (a great thing, as it means money well spent!) so I thought I’d chronicle my own. Since it is so many, I divided them into sections: Tech, fashion, life and beauty.

And tell me in the comments — what was your favorite thing you bought this year?

TECH

Bose QuietComfort Noise Canceling Headphones // Anyone who knows me knows how sensitive I am to sound. I had debated these for over a year, but the price tag had me wary. But when I had an unexpected influx of cash in the exact amount of these headphones this spring, I decided to take the plunge. If you don’t want to make a smaller splurge, the older model of the headphones is still available and likely works (almost) as well. I’d have to say this is likely my #1 purchase of 2017. Yes, there are very expensive but for how much I use them (literally everyday at work and on every flight, train or bus ride) they are so worth it.

Sony a6000 Camera // As you might have read in this post, I recently bought a new camera! And though it was an end of the year purchase, it still makes the cut. I took it out for a spin during the massive snowstorm on Thursday and I am obsessed. The image quality is so much better than my DSLR (which makes perfect sense, as it’s almost eight years old) and it comes in a much lighter package. I can’t wait to take this with me on trips and snap blog photos with it!

iPhone 8 Plus // I also upgraded my phone this year, to the iPhone 8 Plus. The larger size (I previously had a 6S) took a bit of time to get used to, but now I don’t think I could go back. The camera is also incredible, which is so nice for when I don’t want to bring my real one out with me. (I’ll also admit that I did not actually buy this myself — it was a gift from my lovely mom. Thanks mom!)

PopSocket // If you get an iPhone Plus, however, you desperately need a PopSocket. (Especially if you’re a woman.) The phone is a little on the large side, and this is a huge help in holding it. It pops out the back so you can just grip the back of your phone without holding onto both sides.

Barbour Beadnell, Wedgie Icon Fit High Waist Crop Jeans, J.Crew Gemma Flats // Pearl Girl

Wearing the Levi’s Wedgie Icon Jeans in this post.

FASHION

Longchamp Le Pilage Bag // Longchamp totes were very popular when I was in high school, so when I went on a class trip to France in tenth grade, I scooped one up since they were at a discount in their country of origin. I wore it to death in high school and early college, but haven’t used it quite as much since. But needing a bag big enough to lug everything around when I was in Europe this fall led me to throw it in my suitcase. Guys, what have I been doing? This is the best travel tote! You can fit a big camera, a sweater, all the essentials plus travel documents, but it’s lightweight AND has a zipper to protect from pickpockets! My old one was really on its last legs — the interior lining was completely coming off, and the corners were busted. So I picked up a new one (in navy) in France, where they’re significantly cheaper. I already have brought it with me on two more trips just in 2017!

Levi’s Wedgie Icon Jeans // These jeans make your butt look great and make you look so cool. I love the straight leg and raw hem and I promise, they’ll look good on anyone! Size up a size, Levi’s jeans run small!

Everlane Bridge Sandals // I’m usually a Jack Rogers loyalist when it comes to flat sandals, but I loved how these Everlane sandals looked like the Hermès Oran sandals without the massive price tag. They’re so elegant and go with any outfit, which I love. I really wore them to death over the summer, and plan to do the same next summer.

Nike AirMax Thea Sneakers // These are so comfortable for days walking around while traveling, or great for spin class or an afternoon at the gym. (I’ve heard that they’re not the most supportive for long runs though, so keep that in mind if you’re a runner!) Also the colors are so cute and make them much more chic than just a classic gym shoe. Also, they’re on sale at the link I shared.

Mansur Gavriel Lady Bag // I’ve already waxed poetic about this bag, which I nabbed on Mercari, a resale app, for a significant discount. It’s such a gorgeous color and a great size — fits a camera and all your essentials.

Stuart Weitzman Midlands // The big question about these boots is whether or not they’re worth their $800 price tag. And I have to admit, I wouldn’t pay that much for them. I got them on a crazy deal for $300 — still a lot for a pair of shoes. But for a pair of boots I’d been eyeing for literal years, I decided to go for it. While they’re gorgeous and I don’t regret the purchase, I would never buy them if they weren’t on sale. So keep your eye out for a sale — the exact pair I have is $300 off at the link above!

J.Crew Signet Crossbody Bag // This is such a great little crossbody. I have it in the pink with a navy tag, sadly no longer available. It’s affordable — if buy it on sale, which it almost always is, you can get it for less than $100, and holds just the right amount of stuff without being too bulky.

Tassel Earrings // Ironically, these were purchased from an Etsy shop based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where I just was a few weeks ago. But they’re insanely affordable and adorable. Plus, they’re really light so they don’t weigh down your earlobes the way beaded tassel earrings can.

Tailored Clothing in Hoi An, Vietnam // When I was in Vietnam, my family and I visited a tailor in Hoi An to have a few items made. It was honestly incredible. I got three gorgeous items custom made — a silk shirt, a midi skirt and a dress — for less than you’d pay for them at a normal store, where they aren’t literally sewn to fit your body. I know I’ll treasure these items forever and can’t wait to shoot them for the blog!

LIFE

S’well Bottle // I weirdly came into five (!!) of these this year as gifts or through events, and I’ve kept one for home and one for the office. I’m all about reusable water bottles (it’s literally the easiest thing you can do to help the environment) and it really does keep your cold liquids cold forever. I haven’t tried hot liquids in it, but I assume it works just as well.

New Rug // My old rug was sad, dirty and after an ill-fated trip the cleaners, falling apart. I was so happy to be rid of it and bring this one in instead, which is a bit more elegant and covers more of my floor.

Wire Shoe Rack // Very simple, but I got this for near my bedroom door and it’s a great place to stash the shoes I wear most often so they’re right in sight and I don’t have to go hunting for them in my closet.

Travel Pillow // I saw Bridget recommend this pillow on her Instagram several times, and as a fellow frequent traveler I figured why not try? This thing is AMAZING. It doubles as an eye mask and a travel pillow, plus it helps to block out noise on the plane around you. It’s a little bulky to put in a carry-on tote, but now I don’t think I could handle five hour plus flight without it.

Wearing the Sisley Lip Crayon in this post.

BEAUTY

Tiger Balm // This stuff is available at every 7/11 in Thailand for a dollar. And it is magic. There’s one that’s for cooling and one that’s for warming, and I’ve only used the former. I can’t even really describe the sensation it gives you, but it’s sort of a icy cool relief. It’s great to put on your temples for headaches or on bug bites. Though it’s not quite as ubiquitous here as it is in Southeast Asia, you can still buy it on Amazon.

First Aid Beauty Moisturizer // I love to layer this priming moisturizer on my skin in the morning, whether I’m wearing foundation that day or not. It also has a nice consistency and doesn’t leave your skin feeling sticky.

Sisley Lip Crayon // I know, I know. It’s a lot to pay for lipstick. But these are the best lipsticks ever! They sort of feel like a balm, but a bit more intense than that. They’re moisturizing and go on so smoothly. I have two, both of which I got at a discount, so I’d suggest keeping your eyes open for sales.

Benefit RollerLash Mascara // I’m usually not that loyal to different mascaras, as I find most of them work pretty well so why be picky? But this one is something different. It’s basically a better version of your natural lashes. No clumps, super lengthening, not all “bulky,” if that’s the right word to describe it. As someone with very blonde lashes, I especially love it. I pretty much always have to wear mascara to avoid looking like I’m deathly ill. With this, they look natural but still present, haha!

Chanel Bronzer Stick // As someone who is literally so, so pale, my biggest concern with bronzer is always that it’ll be too dark and make me ridiculous. I love this creamy bronzer stick because it’s not too dark and is easily blendable.

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What I Want to Focus On in 2018

Fashion blogger Diana Pearl of Pearl Girl styles a J.Crew Cocoon Coat and L.L. Bean Boots for Winter

Original outfit post here.

Like everyone else (or at least, so it seems on the internet!) I think the idea of making “resolutions” for the new year is oftentimes pointless. Habits are to break and hard to make, and even though a new year can feel invigorating, it rarely means you can completely change yourself, or even elements of your self.

But still, I like the idea of starting a new year with a few forward-thinking thoughts and goals in mind. I love reading about other people’s, so I’m chronicling mine below. A fun comparison? Looking at last years goals. I’d say I did decently well. I connected with a few old friends, made fitness a bigger part of my routine and started bringing my lunch to work more often. However, I’ve definitely let the blog slip in the past few months of crazy travel. Ah well, it happens! Without further ado, here are my 2018 thoughts.

Spend less. // Who doesn’t want to spend less in the new year? (Maybe those crazy people who are trying to retire by 30 and only eat ramen.) Saving money is great and I want to do more of it in the new year.

Clear out the clutter. // Another reason to spend less? To have less. When you’re living in a small New York apartment, this is not just a matter of money but sheer space. It’s incredible the amount of stuff you collect simply by existing, but I want to have less of it in 2018. While I don’t think I’m quite ready to go full Marie Kondo, I’ve scheduled a Salvation Army pickup for early February and will continue to sell the clothing and accessories I’m done with on Poshmark.

Work out more. // I started 2017 with this same goal, and managed to incorporate a gym trip into my schedule once a week. I’m at the point now where I feel guilty if I miss my Saturday morning spin class (if I’m town!) which I think is a step in the right direction! Of course, once a week isn’t much, but for someone who has had a really had time making fitness a habit. (I truly hate working out and though I’ve tried many different workouts, I have yet to find anything I truly enjoy in a gym.)

Join a book club. // I read a lot this year, though I didn’t quite hit the 50 book goal I set for myself last year. That may have been a bit ambitious, so in 2018 I’m hoping for 40. But on a bigger note, I want to join a book club! Preferably with people I don’t already know — no offense, pals — as I think this could be a great way to make new friends!

Blog more. // Like I said, the blog definitely took a backseat at the end of 2017. It was for a good reason — three really incredible trips — but it happened. I’m not going to beat myself up over it, but I do want to do better in 2018. Expect more lifestyle content, more NYC-centric posts and plenty of travel recaps from last year’s trips!

Pick up a new country and a new state. // Travel is one of the most important things in the world to me. I’m hoping to add even more than one country to my list (Australia and New Zealand!) as well as a new state (hopefully Vermont!) to my list in 2018.

Be better at saying no. // I definitely have a hard time saying no and can overload myself unintentionally. There’s nothing wrong with challenging and pushing yourself, but sometimes it’s better to be upfront when you can’t take something on.

Apologize less. // On that note, I — like many women — have a problem with over-apologizing. I catch myself doing it when someone bumps into me or when I just don’t need to. Sometimes apologies are necessary, but I want to do it less when it isn’t necessary.

Volunteer. // After the 2016 election, I started donating monthly to two causes that are important to me. I’ve never regretted that decision, but I think it would be great to do something that gives back on a deeper level. I have a few ideas in mind so will hopefully take the plunge soon!

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