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Big Sur travel diary

In spite of the fact that I'm not a textbook outdoorsy person, Big Sur is one of my favorite places on earth. I've day-tripped or driven through it multiple times, but had never actually spent the night there. So when my company announced that we had to take a mandatory week off—and flying anywhere was out of the question—Sean and I decided to take a road trip, and Big Sur seemed like the perfect place to hit first. Depending on traffic, it's about three and a half hours by car from San Francisco, and I highly recommend taking the scenic route, Highway 1, which goes along the Pacific. Big Sur is a magical place; it's surrounded by mountains, heavily forested, with a river running through it, and it stretches along some of the most gorgeous parts of the coastline. It's also incredibly peaceful and relaxing; on a usual vacation, it generally takes me a couple days to totally relax, but I felt completely mellow by the end of our first night. We spent four nights in Big Sur, but whether you're spending an entire week or only one night (considering we had a different neighbor every night, I think that's what most people tend to do), there are a gazillion things to do. Here's what we did in Big Sur.

This is the Bixby Creek Bridge, a must-stop on the way into (or out of) Big Sur 

What to wear on a road trip

I will preface this post by noting that it features a much more casual vibe than you're used to seeing here. I obviously like to bring more low-key pieces into the mix on a regular basis, but I rarely tend to wear them all at once. But when you're on a road trip, comfort is truly key, and when you're choosing to stop in very outdoorsy locations like we did, function and practicality are essential. My general packing philosophy is that (almost) everything you bring can ideally be worn together, so you have multiple outfit options out of fewer pieces (more on this here)—you'll see several items repeated throughout this post. We didn't capture every outfit I wore (you'll see a few more in my travel diaries, coming soon), but here are some of my favorites from our California road trip last week. 

The joy of treats

This post is sponsored by WellPet, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own. 

As I alluded to in last week's post, having a dog is an incredibly rewarding experience on many levels, but you also need to put in a lot of work. There's the physical work, like exercising your dog, and there's mental work, which is often the more challenging kind. In order to make life easier for you and your dog, a certain level of training is in order. The most basic is housebreaking, followed by sit, stay, and come; you can get fancy and teach your dog tricks, and if they have the right temperament, they can be trained to be a service animal. However you train your dog, repetition and reinforcement are key—we practice training Zuni every single day—and in order to make it stick, you need to reward your dog. Some dogs respond better to action-based rewards, like getting to play with a favorite toy, whereas others respond best to treats. Zuni falls into the treat-based category, and when she's being stubborn (which is fairly frequently) it helps to have some that are really rewarding. Thankfully we've discovered Old Mother Hubbard, and Zuni loves them so much, she'll do just about anything for one. 

How to dress like a French woman in summer

I will preface this post by noting that this is probably the spendiest outfit I've ever featured here, although as you read on, I will detail how it can be had for much less than the retail price. Now that we've taken care of that, this is one of my favorite outfits I've ever featured on this blog, because every piece is meaningful and was carefully considered. One of my big goals for 2020 was to be more thoughtful about what I buy, and several of the key items here were long-planned and saved up for, while others are just some of my all-time favorites. So to set the scene, let's go back in time to my birthday trip to Paris back in March...

Why you should get a dog

This post is sponsored by Wellness, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Anecdotally speaking, people have been adopting dogs in record numbers over the last few months, and they're onto something. For one, since we've been staying at home more, it's an ideal situation to both focus on training your dog and bonding with it. For another, having a dog brings a sense of normalcy and stability to your life: you have to feed and exercise it on a very regular schedule, which forces you to take much-needed breaks—and for me, especially, walking my dog, Zuni, has been critical in terms of both my physical and mental health. But most importantly, Zuni and I have an emotional bond that's hard to put into words that don't sound cheesy. But I will try. 

Must-have summer dresses

I didn't do a trend report this season for multiple reasons. For one, I didn't feel like (or have the need to go) shopping for new things this spring, because I've been staying at home since mid-March. For another, I'm trying to buy less, so following trends kind of seems like a recipe for disaster. That said, I have been shopping a bit, and now that it's finally summer and I am starting to venture out into the world, I've had one thing on my mind, and that's dresses. I will probably never tire of buying summer dresses—they look great, they're comfortable (even more so than sweats, I believe!), and they're just so effortless. There are some trends emerging this year, and basically, the key look is a boho prairie thing, with puffy sleeves, a voluminous tiered shape, and a ditsy floral print here and there. You can often find more than one of those elements in a single dress, if you want to get even more bang for your buck. So without further ado, my top summer dress picks are below, plus I'm trying new widgets that let you shop even more of my favorite styles—let me know what you think! 


Smocked

The square-neck, smocked-bust trend has been happening since last year, and this year there are even more great options: with or without sleeves, printed or solid, mini or maxi. I love this style because it flexes for all bust sizes, and empire waists can accommodate a food baby (or a real one). 



More smocked dresses:



Wrap

It's hard to call wrap dresses a trend because they've been around forever, but this season's wraps tend to be longer and more drapey, and pretty much feel like glorified bathrobes, which I'm totally okay with. This is also a great silhouette to combine with puff sleeves and/or ditsy prints. 



More wrap dresses:



Puff sleeve

Sometimes actual puffs, other times more like giant balloons, this season's sleeves are all about the volume, which is awesome if, like me, you have a little arm dingle-dangle that you prefer to keep covered. Plus, lengths can vary from full to short, accommodating a range of summer weather. 



More puff sleeve dresses: 



Ditsy print

Of all the summer trends, this can be one of the trickier ones to wear, because it can look juvenile if the style of the dress is too precious. So stay away from too many ruffles or cutesy details for this one and look for more chic, streamlined shapes—it's all about contrast. 



More ditsy print dresses:



Tiered

The tiered babydoll kick started last summer—when I was in Scandinavia in July, it's what all the women were wearing—and it's still going strong this year. This can also be a tricky one to wear; I've found that sizing down tends to help tame the volume. 


More tiered dresses: 


White

Okay, white dresses aren't exactly a trend either—I tend to buy a new one every year—but they're a great way to incorporate more than one of the above elements. For example, this LPA dress has puffy sleeves, smocking, and tiers. 


More white dresses:



How to wear a dress to work in summer

Based on how things are going in most of the country, I'm assuming that many of you are going back to your office soon, if you haven't already. I am a bit jealous—I'll be working from home until Labor Day, if not longer, and while I don't miss commuting every day, I miss the camaraderie of being in a workplace, plus all of the "let's go grab a coffee" or "let's meet up for a drink after work" normalcy. I also miss the temperature control of an office building; while air conditioning can be a bit much, it does wonders for one's seasonal allergies, as I'm now discovering after months of at-home watery eyes and sneezing. Anyway, for those of you dealing with the 90-degrees-outside-to-68-degrees-inside daily transition, here's my take on how to wear a summer dress to work. 

What to wear with a white linen shirtdress

You know when you have something in your wardrobe that's just so good, you pray that nothing ever happens to it? That's how I feel about this shirtdress. It's a very special dress in the realm of Cheryl Shops; you last saw it in Carmel, but it has the honor of being what I wore on the day I decided to bring the blog back (also, coincidentally, in Carmel!). Long story short, you don't have to spend a fortune on a white shirtdress—this one is from Gap—but when you find a keeper, wear the hell out of it. Here's how I'm wearing it this year. 

Get the look: black blazer and leopard slip dress

As I mentioned on Monday, it's dress month at Cheryl Shops, so it's fitting that the most repinned look on my Outfit ideas for ageless style Pinterest board features a dress. It also features a blazer, which makes it very similar to last month's most-repinned look, but obviously you guys are vibing on this combo. I think it's perfect for summer; there's nothing easier than a flowy dress, and the blazer keeps you from freezing in the air-conditioning, plus the accessories make the whole thing feel casual yet chic. Here's how to put it all together. 

What to wear with a striped dress

The last week has been a little heavy; as I write this, helicopters are circling my neighborhood, thousands of protesters are likely spending the night in jail, and the world feels even more unsteady than it has the last few months. I will always argue with people who call fashion frivolous, but writing about it does feel a little off right now. That said, life is beautiful and everyone deserves to enjoy it. I was reminded of this today when I ate lunch in a real restaurant (!!!) and looked around to see so many families and friends reconnecting with each other after months in isolation. We have more in common than we realize, and we have to fight for each other. So I'm opening my eyes and ears to the experiences of people of color, opening my heart to their struggles, and opening my mouth to fight institutionalized racism on their behalf. To start, I highly recommend reading this op-ed from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Next, here's a list of things you can do to help the Black Lives Matter cause. And finally, I know you probably didn't come here for Woke Cheryl, but thank you for taking the time to read this. If you can change one mind, you can change the world. 

Father's Day gift guide

My dad was always a hard person to shop for, and I'd always complain about and agonize over what to get him for Father's Day (and for his birthday, and for Christmas...). Of course, now that he's been gone for two years, I'd do anything to have to buy him a present again! Long story short, if your dad is still around, I hope you show him how much you love him, whether that's sending him a present, doing a socially distant drive-by, or breaking all the rules and giving him a big ol' hug. And if you're in need of gift ideas, read on. 

What to wear with white ankle boots

How quickly everything changes. A week ago, when we shot this, it was chilly and had been raining (which is very rare in May); today, as I'm writing this, it's gorgeously sunny and in the upper 70s. All of a sudden it feels like summer, and I'm here for it. I know I'm not alone in thinking what a crazy year this has been so far: I took my laptop home on March 13th, thinking I'd be working from home for a couple weeks; I just found out last week that my entire department will continue to do so until Labor Day. Long story short, nothing is certain, and the only constant is change. So with that in mind, I thought I'd try something new, e.g. a pair of pointy-toe white ankle boots. Anything that gets me out of my house slippers is a good thing, right?


Memorial Day sale picks

It's no secret that retailers are hurting right now. It's also probably no surprise that nearly everything is on sale right now. And it makes sense: we haven't been going anywhere, so we haven't really needed anything to wear, hence we haven't been shopping. (Not to mention, stores have been closed for 2+ months.) Also, many of us are furloughed and/or unemployed right now, so maybe shopping isn't the best idea, to be honest. BUT, if you have disposable income and want to make sure that the stores and brands you love don't go out of business, who am I to stop you? Here are my favorite items on sale now, plus more stores with amazing deals below.



What to wear with a tiered midi skirt

Back in March when I was in France, I wanted to shop...but I didn't, at least, not to the extent that I thought I wanted to. At the time, there were several factors: for one, I was sticking to my sustainability resolution (e.g. buying only the items I really, really wanted). For another, even with the VAT refund, full-price prices were still pretty high. But the real underlying reason I didn't shop very much was that COVID-19 was just starting to break, and when things are starting to feel very uncertain, the last thing you want to do is spend a bunch of money on stuff you don't necessarily need. I have no regrets about what I didn't buy in Paris (god knows, I bought enough as it was); that said, I made a mental note of things to pick up if I found them on major sale, and it didn't take long for me to find this √ątoile Isabel Marant tiered midi skirt at a price I just couldn't pass up. Long story short: I love it. Here's how I've been wearing it.