Taking A Chance On Facebook Ads: My Experience With Sammy Dress

I have been doing a lot of online shopping to prepare for my trip to St. Maarten (we are leaving on Friday!), but while online shopping and using Facebook at the same time, I ended up getting tons of focused advertisements I generally ignored. However, after visiting and liking ModCloth via Facebook, I decided to get sucked in and click on a few of the other advertisements.

The one I decided to actually shop from is Sammydress.com.  I am sure you all have seen the ads, ‘Cheap online dresses- $6!’ I wondered what the catch was and immediately it became clear- you are ordering direct from China. Sizing, quality and shipping time were all immediate concerns, but I decided to try it and see what happens.

black and white sheath dress

Abstract Letter Sheath Dress Sammy Dress ($13)

I started by ordering two dresses and a sweater. Sammy Dress gives you an option to upload pictures of you in the item, so I tried to purchase items where people uploaded their photo. I also made sure to read the ratings and look for the raters sized the closest to me, if there are too many, then I looked for 3 star ratings, since I felt like those gave the most objective view. They took the time to explain why it wasn’t five stars, but still higher than one.

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I found shipping to be pricey, sometimes even higher than the item being purchased, but it still makes the item a deal. So, if shipping is $9 on a $6 dress, then I won’t get too bent out of shape. Also, the shipping takes about three weeks. I received my first two dresses in three weeks, but my sweater was still on back order, so they gave me an option to wait for the sweater or receive a refund. I decided to wait for the sweater and am still waiting. Each of the items state the length of time to ship, but that is simply to ship the order, not for the item’s arrival. I don’t mind waiting for packages, but if you are in a hurry, then any international shipping is going to stress you out. The only time I had fast international shipping is ordering bathing suits on Amazon.

sheath dress

I love my dress! It is lined, light, but I will easily be able to wear it in the fall, early summer and spring. My wool dress I haven’t tried on yet. It came so wrinkled that I’m going to need to press it beforehand. It is definitely 100% wool. My iron is going to hate me.

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Earrings Hello World (gift)

I absolutely love these earrings. They are bronze and match a lot of my handmade jewelry. 

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Box Braids J.P. Hair Perfection ($90 not including hair)

necklace

 Paper Bead Necklace Darwin, Australia ($20)

My Aunt Michale brought necklaces with her from the same artist who gifted me one in a previous entry. I adore my necklace, and you can find a similar one on Etsy, but it was decided that my Aunt’s friend would make more selling his jewelry in Australia than in the States. The necklace is made out of paper and is a long process. I am very fortunate I was able to buy two necklaces and a pair of earrings from him during her Stateside visit.

black and white dress

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 Beijo Brazil Necklace Tselaine ($44)

This necklace made by a local Philadelphia artist, caught my eye immediately. I love the design and the detail even in the chain. She has many more one of a kind pieces at Tselaine.

 

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shoes

 Steve Madden Black Schoolgrl Flats Amazon ($44)

These are actually the third pair of these flats I have ordered over the years. I love them so much and love the style. I wear them all the time! 

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I am going to order from Sammy Dress again, but only items I don’t depend on. I wouldn’t use them to order primary winter coat, for a wedding or an event dress, I also wouldn’t purchase anything over $20 since I don’t have the patience to deal with returns. Do you shop online? Sound off in the comments below!

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Photography by Eric S.

Boots, Pockets & Dressing For Fall

It is officially Autumn and I don’t want to admit it! As the weather is becoming a bit cooler, I am trying to decide how I can hang on to a few of my dresses by giving them a different edge than last year. 80s throwback? Industrial look? Or just a love of skirts with pockets- whatever works, I just love the simple style of a heavy fabric to match my heavy fall boots. Now is the time to break out my sweaters to throw over my dresses and to hand wash my million pairs of tights.

How are you preparing for  Autumn?

burnt orange dress

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 Burnt Orange Taylor Dress Nordstrom ($83- still available online in select sizes)

I love the pattern and the heavy material on this dress! I found it on sale and still have to take it in a bit (my dress is clamped in the back for this shoot), but the pockets are what sold me. I am not a huge clutch person, so whenever I see a dress with pockets, I automatically swoon!

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Paper Bead Necklace Darwin, Australia ($20)

My Aunt Michale brought necklaces with her from the same artist who gifted me one in a previous entry. I adore my necklace, and you can find a similar one on Etsy, but it was decided that my Aunt’s friend would make more selling his jewelry in Australia than in the States. The necklace is made out of paper and is a long process. I am very fortunate I was able to buy two necklaces and a pair of earrings from him during her Stateside visit.

brown leather boots

Brown Leather Troopa Boots Steve Madden ($100)

I have been looking for the boots since my cousin bought them some time ago. I love how heavy they are and I ended up buying another pair in stone (they didn’t have wine in my size), but they do hurt my left heel after walking in them for awhile. I am going to see if a sticker insole helps. The boots are still available on Steve Madden and on Amazon for an even lower price and various additional colors.

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Rosin Bracelet Darwin, Australia (gift)

My Aunt brought this bracelet as a gift from an artist she works with Australia. The bracelet is made of rosin, so if you have ever been in middle school orchestra, you know the feeling. I wish I had more information on this artist, but my Aunt made it seem like her pieces wouldn’t be in my price range (my Aunt keeps it real, though I did have to explain to her what shade meant after that).

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Laura Mercier Lip Glace’ in Quartz Birchbox ($10 subscription sample/original price $25)

This lipstick came in my Birchbox months ago, but is no longer available in Quartz. I looked everywhere since I broke my only tube after the shoot! There are similar colors available on Birchbox and Laura Mercier. I did cancel my Birchbox subscription after ten months because too many of the samples in the box were unusable for me even after adjusting my settings. I think there is a disconnect when it comes to women of color and Birchbox (I spoke to them in email about this and they stated ‘they are working on it’) and instead of being frustrated with my ‘nude’ nail polish or sulfate hair products, I decided to move on.

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Box Braids J.P. Hair Perfection ($90 not including hair)

I am leaving for St. Marteen in a little over a week, so I decided to get my hair braided. I found Mia online and I love my braids! They took a little over six hours, but Mia was completely professional, accommodating (I was able to work while getting my hair braided) and easy to get to. She uses all natural products (she makes her own peppermint spray conditioner spray) and she is natural! I definitely recommend her to anyone and look forward to returning to her in the future.

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orange dress, brown boots

My friend and fashion inspiration, Devaney, opened her own store on Etsy called, Sew AuCourant , she makes fabulous pillows and home décor items and takes custom orders as well. She is making my linens for my wedding. Check out her site and I have to do a feature on her work and how I am saving money on my wedding at some point on my blog!

Photography by Eric S.

Statement T-Shirts and Interview with Heart of XXiV

I am torn on statement t-shirts. They either have too many words on them, won’t be in style (or make sense) the following year, or I fear that someone will start a random conversation with me about whatever is on my shirt.

On the other hand, I have a few t-shirts I just adore: my 517 t-shirt with my hometown’s zip code, my ‘LOVE’ t-shirt with my new city’s symbol on it and my ‘Love Over War’ camouflage t-shirt, which needs a little explaining.

Prior to going to school for way too long to study social work, I was in the Air Force. Once I was in graduate school and focusing my studies and field placements on veteran- well, veteran everything- I was giving a presentation to my classmates about some surveys, outreach and lit review stuff I did for a project. Then came the anonymous classroom feedback:

It was more about the classroom’s feeling on veterans than on how much I sucked at presentations. The one that will always stand out to me was, ‘I would have liked to hear from a veteran who is against war’.

Hello! I was standing right there! There are many collaborations and writings and interviews with veterans, but many can be one dimensional.  They say, I worked with getting the realities of war out, but they don’t get the realities of veterans out.

Anyway, getting back to the shirt, it kind of was my statement tee. My ‘I am standing right here’. The shirt was made by a website I like and it is not only because one of my cousin’s is the founder (I still pay full price), but in Michigan, to be able to be an entrepreneur is hard.

Garrion Lang and Jovon Young first stated their fashion line as as painted t-shirts and hoodies in the place where fashion comes to evolve, thrive and die: high school. They were athletics, but popular in their own way, they thought of ‘making it’ through creating their own brand called ‘Black Catz’.

Deciding a paw print and name had to be more distinguishing; A combination of Garrion’s design and Jovon’s logo began ‘Heart of XXiV™’ (or Heart of 24 representing gold). The brand took off in places where many big ideas take off: the high school hallway. Soon people wanted to know where they could get the shirts from and Lang and Young had to make a decision: What if we could show our city that you CAN do what you want?”

From here, Heart of XXiV™ went on to create more styles of clothing, a website, and is now in collaboration with their local minor league team. They are most excited about this helping the community through the money they receive, but Lang can’t give out too many details just yet. I was able to get him to answer a few questions about his brand, his personal clothing choices and what is behind the Love Over War shirt.

 

Camo Tee

More photos below

1. What is your mission?

With that mindset and the help of Aarika Walton we formed our mission statement:

It is a lifestyle that started with dreams and individuality. Engaging in the way people redefine their style through an array of quality products and creativity by encouraging people to stand out rather than fit in. Provide the consumer with a sense of self-worth, confidence, love, and most important to be one’s self!

2. Where did your slogan come from (When Your Heart Is Gold, You’re Forever Rich)?

WYHIGYFR came from the logo it’s self. We had to find out ways to mix the positivity we create and our name together. When you break it down it’s saying no matter what you do as long as your heart is in it, the success of it will come. I personally believe when you put your everything into something, there is no way you can fail because you’ll keep going until you find a way for whatever it is to work.

Heart XXIV sweater

Photo provided by Garrion Lang

3. What is behind the Love Over War shirts? Were you making a statement with the camo background?

I was inspired by a “mind over matter shirt” that Wale (the rapper)  had on. I thought it was a great concept to play with. So I used different words “love” and “war”. The meaning is self-explanatory, Love over War, peace rather than fight. Just pushing the positive energy objective through clothes. As far the camouflage background for the words, I just thought it best fits the shirts with play on “War.”

4. What sort of fashion advice would you give out to men and women?

Fashion advice I would give, is to wear what you want, what makes you feel good, in season or out of season because the way you dress is just an extension of yourself. If you have 1000 different styles, then great. If you have 1, then cool. It’s not what you wear it’s how you wear it. Another thing, I’m a firm believer that it’s the simple things that make an outfit.. Which is why I stick to my saying “simplicity kills”.

5. What makes you decide to do limited editions?

The whole reasoning behind limited releases is funding. Jovon and I work and we pay for everything. It’s been a blessing though because since we have funded out own projects it lets people know the level of seriousness we have about Heart Of XXiV. We are open to investors, although that’s something different for us. But hey you don’t live until you leave, your comfort zone.

6. Pick one piece of clothing for each: what do you invest in, thrift for, and buy on sale?

For me, I invest in the common t-shirts because it’s multi-seasonal and it can be worn under or above your outfit. I don’t do too much thrifting but when I do is usually for old Ralph Lauren pieces (usually the sweaters), I love the longevity of the brand. To me it’s like grabbing a piece of history. I love buying the heavy knitted items (Cardigans, Jackets, sweaters etc) on sale because those are super expensive regular priced!

7. Is there anything else you want me to make sure I include?

I’d like to give a shout out to my partner Jovon Young. Thanks to Brad Young for being a bridge in most of our projects. To EVERYONE who has supported us with a purchase, word of mouth, or a simple “like” in social media and also, to the people of Britches & Beauty for taking the time to interview me.

Love Over War T-shirt

‘Love Over War’ Shirt  Heart of XXiV ($30)

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Paper Bead Necklace Darwin, Australia (gift)

My Aunt Michale works in Child & Family Services in Australia, but also volunteers with refugee families.  One family came to Darwin from a Refugee Camp in Kenya, but are from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The father would make these necklaces for a bag of rice while in the camp and continued making them once in Darwin. They take a long time to make and she received one as a gift.

She asked him if I could have it and now it is my favorite necklace. She wanted to try and get his work into local boutiques in the States, but when I looked on Etsy, it seems the necklaces are quite popular at an affordable price. I am going to buy directly from him (excuse me for not knowing his name, it is rude of me to say ‘him’) and I will do a free-trade round-up and give away with more info.

love over war t-shirt

Green Rain Boots  Pay/Half ($10)

Stella Skinny Leg Jean Express ($80 & buy one/get one $30)

Do not walk into Express paying full price for anything. Just don’t do it. I don’t think I ever paid $80 for a pair of jeans. I love Express jeans and colored slacks, but I love their deals more.

The rain boots from Pay/Half are ones that were made in a boot factory for kids who lose or eat their boots. I am both. They are super cheap and functional.

paperbead necklace

Hair update! I took down my twists and have a bit of heat damage still there from Halloween’s flash dance fiasco. My hair is wet in this photo and it is a little over 30 degrees out, so no hiding what needs to be chopped off.

I received two more BirchBoxes since the last time I posted and I still am receiving hair products with either alcohol or sulfate in it, so I have to change my preferences. I would not recommend the ‘hair products’ option if you only use natural hair products or if your are all natural, but I do enjoy other items in the box. So far, still work $10 a month.

camo shirt

Be sure to add Heart of XXiV to your Twitter and Instagram @HeartofXXiV!

I wrote my first post for Geekadelphia about the social impact and the style factors of Warby Parker. Check it out!

Photography by Eric S.

Shopping In Your Closet: Part 1, Clothes You Rarely Wear

Moving is always difficult for me. I always cram my clothes into unorganized suitcases, bags, and various boxes. I end up losing track of shoes along with clothes that I usually wear. What always ends up being left are the clothes on my hangers.

The problem is, the only items I hang up are clothes I usually don’t wear and I happened to hang up during a stint of cleaning a year prior. Think evening gowns and unique accessories that don’t go with much else (or that I bought for a few specific outfits). Not the most practical way to organize, but hey, I had to make due.

Though a bit frustrating, shopping in your own closet can actually be a lot of fun (with a few ‘what was I thinking?!’ moments) and you may look at your wardrobe in a whole new light.

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AKIRA Knitted Hooded Kimono Wrap AKIRA Chicago ($35)

I haven’t worn this hooded wrap in almost two year (I can’t even begin to tell you where the white tank underneath came from; I’ll go with ‘dark alley’)

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Beaded Tribal Teardrop Earrings Loopty Hoops ($24)

Handcrafted through the Zulu Beadwork Project, I bought these gorgeous earrings as gifts for family and friends. After I placed mine through the washer I didn’t think I could wear them again, but they seem to be fine

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My Favorite Scarf Ambiance  (under $25 per to Dev)

This was a gift from my friend, Devaney, from when she visited San Francisco. I wear this scarf so much that I have it dry cleaned. This is one accessory I keep hanging up and unpacked

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Blue Patent Leather Flats  Eternity Fashion on 1522 Chestnut St, Philadelphia ($12)

To be honest, I have worn these flats into the ground

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Tomato Modern Boot Cut Pants Gap ($20)

I am almost positive I paid less than $20 for these pants, but I would rather over than underestimate. I have only worn them a few times since I bought them, but I might just add them back into circulation

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Photography by Eric S.

My Beef With Matching

Matching makes me feel like this:

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Maybe it isn’t that dramatic. I do love matching certain elements of my wardrobe (like my jewelry color to my shoes) but maybe it was growing up with my Grandma’s insistence on matching every aspect of her wardrobe… including her eye shadow to her blouse.

Maybe I don’t like matching due to sheer laziness mixed with budget. I have numerous shoes, but not enough purses to keep up and after living in a life of all grey, mixing textures and patterns is a bit more fun.

Burnt Orange Sweater Gap (On Sale for $30)
Multicolored Striped Flats Moda on 1523 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia ($12)

Blue and White Slim Fit Pants H & M ($15)

Yellow Fair Trade Earrings Outdoor Vendor,1801 Walnut St, Philadelphia ($15)

Photography by Eric S.