Why Now Is the Time to Buy a Statement Coat

J.Crew Tie-waist topcoat in double-serge wool - Pearl Girl

Purple Tie-Waist Coat // On sale!!! One of my all-time favorite coats. Also available here.
Lavender Cable Knit Sweater // The coziest, and comes in the prettiest color.
Black Jeans // How did I live without these for so long? HOW?!
Chelsea Boots // My go-to shoes from October to April.
Colored Gem Earrings // Sold out, but similar linked!
Sunglasses // There sort of make me look like John Lennon, but I still like them!

I’ve spent my entire life living in chilly climates. In fact, as sad as it is to say it, New York is the warmest place I’ve ever lived. I grew up in Chicago, which is very cold, and went college in Syracuse, New York, which isn’t quite as cold but gets much more snow. And as a result of living in places with such chilly winters (though honestly, New York really isn’t that bad!), I’ve developed quite a coat collection. To me, investing it coats makes sense: You wear them for the majority of the year, every day. My favorite sort of coat to add to my closet? A statement coat.

You can probably deduce what I’m talking about when I say statement coat: A coat in a bold color, or a unique cut, a garment that makes people stop you on the street to pay you a compliment. (The latter is exactly what happened while wearing this coat!) This long purple coat was my statement coat purchase of the 2017/2018 winter season. I’m obsessed with the color and the tie at the waist — plus the length, which is unlike any other coat I own!

This coat is from J.Crew, and they are seriously the best when it comes to brightly colored statement coats. I love the classic cocoon coat, and how cute is this furry one? If you’re looking to build up your own statement coat collection, now is the perfect time: Since stores are starting to roll out spring items, coats — like the one I’m wearing — are going on sale! You can still get a month or two of use out of it before packing your coat away for the summer, and come November, you’ll have a cute coat to break out to ring in the season!

A note on the rest of the outfit: I’m obsessed with this sweater, which is oversized and comes in the pretty lavender-pink hue. I actually wore it to work today with my black jeans, which have become my go-to pair of pants in my closet. Fun fact: I didn’t have a pair of black jeans before this winter, and I don’t know how I lived without them. Whether it’s going out, going to work or just running errands, I find myself reaching for them. Seriously the most versatile pants! Which, I know, is not revolutionary, but if you don’t yet have a pair in your closet, rectify the issue! I promise, you’ll be glad you did.

J.Crew Tie-waist topcoat in double-serge wool - Pearl Girl

I got these Chelsea boots last Christmas as a gift, but I am definitely planning on repurchasing whenever I run them into the ground. (I will say though, I’ve had them for over a year and they’ve held up well so far.) They are seriously the best shoes to throw on throughout the fall and winter, and look equally good with skirts and dresses as they do with pants. This outfit has essentially been my uniform for the past month: Black pants, comfy (but chic!) sweater, wool coat and Chelsea boots. Case in point: I wore this exact outfit to work this week!

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A Day Trip to Annecy, France

Annecy, France Travel Guide - Pearl Girl

Prepare for photo overload. This post marks my last from my October 2017 trip to Europe, and we’re ending with one of my favorite cities from the visit: Annecy, France. Located not too far from the Swiss border and about a two hour train ride from Lyon, we decided to make a day trip of it since we’d be in the area.

Annecy is a place you visit for the beauty. The city sits on a lake surrounded by mountains — we’re getting into Alps territory, after all. And it’s not just nature. The buildings are adorable, candy-colored and quintessentially European, and between them runs several winding canals, making it something of the French take on Venice. It’s not chock full of museums or major tourist sights, but it what it does have is a whole lot of charm.

Annecy, France Travel Guide - Pearl Girl

After catching a morning train in Lyon, we arrived in Annecy around 11 and headed straight for the (very picturesque) city center. Like I said, Annecy isn’t a city known for its museums, but rather what’s outside. We spent some time just wandering the streets here, and since it was Saturday, there were lots of stalls open selling paintings, rugs and other items.

Since we arrived close to the afternoon, we started getting hungry after a walk around the city center. Because Annecy is so close to Switzerland, Swiss tastes are very much reflected in the menus of their restaurants — meaning there’s lots of cheese fondue to be had! Cheese fondue is pretty much my favorite food in the entire world, so I insisted we go to a restaurant that had it on the menu. We ended up at Ô Savoyard, which was decorated in a delightfully kitschy Swiss style, sort of like an over-the-top chalet. I, of course, had the fondue and it was incredible.

Annecy, France Travel Guide - Pearl Girl

Annecy, France Travel Guide - Pearl Girl
Lake Annecy is without a doubt the city’s crown jewel, and on the day we were there it honestly couldn’t have been more beautiful. We bought tickets for a boat ride, thinking it would be about 30 minutes, but it ended up being well over an hour. Even though it was longer than we were expecting, it was really lovely. You go through the mountains and with it being October, they were covered in gorgeous fall leaves. A must-do if you visit the city.

The lake feeds into this canal, situated just off the shore of the lake. It was one of my favorite parts of the city: Views of the lake and the mountains on one side, and lined with trees on the other.

The sunset has to have been one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. The sky was painted in hues of pink and purple. I absolutely love the way it reflected on the water in the canal in the last photo above.

Annecy is seriously one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been in my life, and I highly, highly recommend stopping there for the day if you ever get the opportunity! As I have traveled throughout Europe, I’ve found that a lot of my favorite cities are the smaller, more picturesque ones. I loved Salzburg, Austria, St. Andrews, Scotland, and of course, Bruges, Belgium. Annecy definitely fits within this mold and has been added to to my list of all-time favorite cities!

I hope you’ve enjoyed following along on my trip through London, Belgium and France last October. If you’ve missed any of my recaps, I’ll link them here: London, Brussels, Bruges and Lyon!

Next up on the travel recap front — Southeast Asia!

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A Long Weekend in Lyon, France

Lyon France Travel Guide, What to Do in Lyon France - Pearl Girl

France is without a doubt one of my favorite countries on earth. (At least, ones that I’ve already visited!) And while I’d say my most dominant obsession is anglophilia, there’s definitely a bit of a francophile in me, too. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Paris several times, to the point where I feel pretty comfortable navigating myself around the city and have favorite spots I like to visit when I’m in town. I’ve seen more of the country throughout my trips over the years: I’ve been on a tour of the Loire Vallery, visited Strasbourg and Giverny, did a few days in Nice, Avignon and Aix-en-Provence and even did a day trip to Chamonix when I was studying abroad.

But still, I feel like I’m only scratched the surface when it comes to what there is to see in France. (In fact, I’d love to rent a car and drive around the country for a month, stopping at every chateau I can!) And with a friend living in Paris for six months last year, it seemed like the perfect time to visit. I took the train from Brussels to Paris, where I met up with my friend (and another visiting friend!) at her apartment. I just spent a day in Paris before heading to Lyon on Friday morning, the majority of which was spent either in line for or at the Christian Dior Couturier du Rêve exhibit at Le Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Sadly, it just closed, but it was incredible and well worth the two hour wait!

On Friday morning, we caught an early train to Lyon direct from Paris. It was an easy two hour trip on the TGV (France’s high speed train) and we were in the city before noon. We stayed in this AirBnB in the first arrondissement, and I couldn’t recommend it more. Not only was it beautifully decorated, it was well located and in a large building, so it felt very safe!

After a wonderful lunch at a restaurant, near our apartment (sorry, I can’t remember the name!), we set off on a walk through the city. Two rivers — the Rhône and the Saône, run through the city. Our apartment sat in the spot of land in between the two rivers, so first we went left towards the Saône. The sun was shining and it was absolutely beautiful. The river is lined with candy-colored buildings and it just looks so perfectly European.

On the other side of the Saône is my favorite area of Lyon, Vieux Lyon, or the city’s old quarter. It’s a bit touristy, with lots of restaurants and souvenir shops around, but the architecture is just gorgeous. Cobblestone streets lined with yellow, orange and tan buildings. We spent a couple hours just wandering the streets here!

That night, we went for a very traditional Lyonnaise meal at Le Café Des Fédérations, a bouchon in the city. Eating dinner at a bouchon is a quintessential Lyon experience, and one I wanted to have, but I honestly can’t say I was a huge fan of it. It’s pretty affordable, at 20 euros for a three course meal, but the food just isn’t really to my taste. It’s basically consists of meats with very thick, heavy sauces. I had the sausage with red wine sauce and I just didn’t love it. However, it could be more your thing, and it is very Lyonnaise, so I think it’s worth a shot to try it!

We spent the next day in Annecy, about two hours away and closer to the Swiss border. That’ll be my last post recapping this trip, so for now I’ll skip to our second day in Lyon. We started off with brunch, which as I learned, is more of a buffet affair in France. It’s pretty epic — lots of cheese, quiches, pastries and breads. We also paid a visit to Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, a food hall filled with lots of stalls to visit. We just got macarons, but it would be a cool spot to sit down for a quick meal or afternoon snack if you have a chance!

Next we headed back over to the Saône side to take the funicular up to the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière, a massive and beautiful white church at the top of a hill. Also at the top of the hill are the remains of a Roman theater. And as you might imagine, the views from the top of the hill are pretty incredible, too!

A note: We used Lyon’s metro system throughout the day, and it was fairly easy (aside from one mistake switch — make sure you pay attention to what direction train you’re getting on!) to use and very affordable. The funicular is a part of the metro system, although you do have to buy a different ticket to access it.

My friend Alison had to leave to head back to Paris that afternoon, so I went off to the Institut Lumière, a museum about the Lumière brothers, who invented the film camera and essentially, movies as we know it. I’m sure this museum would have been great if you spoke French, but as my high school French is rusty (to say the least) I really couldn’t fully appreciate it. They do offer audio guides in English, but I just prefer to read so it wasn’t the ideal museum experience.

I actually found Lyon to be more unfriendly to English speakers than almost any other city I’ve visited. I don’t mean this in a negative way, it was clearly just less touristy than a city like Paris.

On my last morning in Lyon, I visited the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, which is sometimes nicknamed the Mini Louvre. They have a gorgeous collection of paintings and sculptures, and it didn’t take too long — about two hours — for me to get through. I then had an incredible lunch at L’Entrecote. They serve only steak and fries, and oh boy, they were the best steak and fries of my life! Definitely worth a stop if you’re in the city.

Another thing to see in Lyon: All the passageways and frescos that dot the streets! They feel like something out of another era, and it’s a cool way to spend an hour or so poking your head around to get a peek at them. Lyon is truly beautiful, and a wonderful alternative if you’re looking to see a bit more of France!

Next up, Annecy!

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How to Handle a Long-Haul Flight: Products

Best Products for Long Flights - Pearl Girl

ONE Silk Eye Mask TWO Lip Balm

THREE MZ Wallace Tote FOUR Lululemon Align Pants

FIVE Cozy Socks SIX Noise Cancelling Headphones

SEVEN Ostrich Light Travel Pillow EIGHT Cashmere Travel Wrap

NINE Laptop Case TEN Earbuds

ELEVEN Truffle Travel Case TWELVE S’well Bottle

Over my years I’ve traveling, I’ve done quite a few lengthy days (and nights!) on planes. Especially at the end of 2017, when I did six transatlantic or transpacific flights, including the longest day of travel I’ve ever had in my life. And with that, I’ve learned a lot about how to survive a long-haul flight without A. ruining the first few days of the trip you’re about to go on or B. wanting to die. As such, I wanted to share my advice for handling long flights. I decided to separate this information into two posts, because I think what products to bring along only tell half the story when it comes to traveling long distances.

Products, of course, are essential. My mantra when it comes to long flights is to make the experience as easy on yourself as possible. To me, that means focusing on two things: Making yourself as comfortable as possible, and making sure you’ve got plenty to occupy your time.

As for comfort, it obviously all starts with how you’re dressed. I never used to undersetand the Lululemon obsession — I thought their products were overpriced. And while they’re definitely expensive, a few pairs of align pants are worth the investment. You seriously feel naked (but in the best way!) and now I really won’t travel in anything else. I snagged a cashmere travel wrap during last year’s Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and I seriously wore it constantly during my first trip to Europe last fall. It serves as a blanket (one that’s way softer than whatever the airlines are giving you!) and then once you arrive, a very warm, very chic scarf. On top, layers are key. I usually wear one of the jackets I’m taking with me on top (but stow it under my seat) and a cozy sweater or cardigan. This waffle tee has become a go-to of mine as well — it’s thick but still cozy and breathable.

They’ll likely serve you food on the plane (unless you’re flying Norwegian Air or another budget airline!) but still, either bring a snack from home or pick something up at the airport. You can also buy a big water bottle or bring one of your own, like a S’well. The perk to the S’well is you’ll be able to use it throughout your trip. Another comfort essential? Lip balm! Literally, having dry lips on a flight that you still have another six hours to go on is TORTURE. Save yourself the heartache.

And then there’s the not-so-little task of occupying yourself. Thankfully, modern airplanes have solved a lot of this conundrum with their touch screens with dozens of movie options. However, older planes are still in circulation. Last fall on my flight from Paris to New York, my plane only had the screens that hang from the ceiling. In that case, come prepared. Download a movie or two onto your laptop beforehand as well as several books onto your phone, iPad or Kindle. Options are key here people!

But when it comes to how to spend your time on a flight — particularly an east coast to Europe flight — you’re going to want to sleep for most of the flight, if not the entire thing. On a long flight, you’re going to want to sleep as much as you can. This travel pillow makes it so much easier to do just that. It blocks out light and (some) noise. And, it gives you a cushion so you have something soft between you and the plane wall. (Anyone else a window seat lover for this reason?!) At the very least, make sure you have an eye mask to block out the light in your carry-on.

And where do you put all this stuff? My favorite carry-on is the MZ Wallace Medium Metro Tote. It has lots of interior pockets, is very spacious and has a zipper. Although if you’re going on a really long trip that involves a lot of moving around, I’d also recommend a North Face backpack, as it’s easier to carry around heavy weight on two shoulders rather than one. (I still have mine from high school!) Sometimes, I’ll bring a smaller crossbody bag with me to have my essentials — passport, wallet, phone — close and easy to access.

Also, a note on passport cases. I use one, and while they can be very chic and make for a nice ‘gram, they’re actually incredibly unpractical. You constantly need to remove it from the case to go through customs, security, etc. I’d love one day to invest in this travel wallet as it’s chic and looks very practical, but I have yet to take the plunge on that purchase!

Any questions — or any products you’d recommend yourself? Let’s talk in the comments below! And stay tuned for my advice and tips on surviving long flights, to come later this week!

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A Day Trip to Bruges, Belgium

When I planned my three days in Belgium, I knew I needed a day in Bruges. Nicknamed the “Venice of the North,” it’s a very small city (only 117,260 people — a little over double the size of my hometown!) but an absolutely beautiful one. My mom and brother went here for spring break my freshman year of college (our breaks didn’t line up so I couldn’t come with) and ever since seeing their photos, I’ve been dying to make the trip myself. And even after nearly seven years of anticipation, Bruges lived up to the hype.

Bruges Belgium Travel Guide - Pearl Girl

Bruges Belgium Travel Guide - Pearl Girl

It’s about an hour on the train from Brussels to Bruges, and I booked mine on Rail Europe (though it was a Thalys train) about two months in advance. However, I later learned this was seriously unnecessary — you can just buy them from a kiosk at the station! The tickets can also be used for any train, and there’s tons that run along this route so if you miss one, there will be another in about 15 to 20 minutes. On the way there, I walked to the train station (Gare Nord) from my hotel near the Grand Place, which was about a 25 minute walk. But on the way back, I stayed on the train and went to the Gare Centrale, which was right near the Grand Place.

Once you get into Bruges, it’s a quick walk from the station to to the city center. And a gorgeous walk, at that. Sadly, I was there on a pretty gloomy day, but it was still so picturesque. I can’t imagine what it would look like on a day when the sun is out.

Honestly the biggest appeal of Bruges is just how charming the city is. I spent most of my time there walking the streets and snapping photos. But since it’s a city filled with canals, the best way to Bruges is by boat! There’s plenty of boat tour companies located around the city, I just hopped in one that I saw on the street. It cost about 15 euros, and lasted about 30 minutes. It’s well worth it for the views that can only be captured by water.

Another great way to see the city? From the top of the Belfry tower, which sadly, I didn’t do. By the time I made my way over there there wasn’t much time left in the day and honestly, my feet were tired from all the walking and it was quite the climb up there, so I was okay with skipping it.

The real highlight of Bruges? THE FRENCH FRY MUSEUM. Yes, this is a thing. It’s called the Frietmuseum, and it’s all about the history of French fries — which, fun fact, are actually a Belgian thing. American soldiers in World War I were fighting in Belgium and ate fries, thinking they were French because French-speaking Belgians served them. The name stuck! But I kind of feel for the poor Belgians, not getting the credit they deserve for creating of the greatest foods of all time.

The museum was honestly well done and interesting, so different from your typical museum stop! And of course, they serve fries in the basement. I knew I was going to Fritland back in Brussels that night (and I ate them for lunch that day too…) so I skipped, but my mom said they were amazing! The museum is located just off the city’s main square, called the Markt.

Bruges Belgium Travel Guide - Pearl Girl

I ended my day walking to the outskirts of the city where I caught a glimpse of the windmill before grabbing a waffle to go. Though it may not be packed with sights to see like Paris or London, Bruges is truly so lovely — and the perfect place to spend a day wandering around (and eating fries!)

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