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May 23, 2017

Fashion and Beauty Travel Essentials and Packing Tips

With the start of the summer travel season just days away, I've got travel on my mind. I like to think of each trip I take as a learning lesson in how I can pack more efficiently. There's always room for improvement! From the very first time I traveled abroad in 1999 (and arrived at my destination with shampoo all over everything), to the trip I took to Eastern Europe earlier this month, I'm always trying to improve the way I pack by bringing only the essential beauty and fashion items that I need.

Full disclosure: I never enjoy packing for overseas trips because it means I have to narrow down all of my fashion and beauty possessions into a small selection of must-haves, and pack them into a 25" suitcase, all the while minding the weight limit imposed by most airlines. My weakness is over-thinking what I'm packing and agonizing over small decisions such as whether to pack a specific pair of ankle boots versus wedge sandals. At the last minute, I second guess myself and take a few things out of my suitcase. The upside is that it helps me keep my luggage under 40 lbs. and leave room for vacation purchases. I know that I spend way too much energy thinking about what's in my suitcase, but I have learned some lessons! #BabySteps

Travel Tips:

1. Before traveling, go to Sephora and request samples of your favorite perfumes. Their mini vials are perfect for short trips, and it saves you the effort of bringing large perfume bottles or putting your perfume into small containers.

2. Use leak-proof (plastic) bags or makeup cases to store your toiletries and keep them in separate compartments from the rest of your packed luggage. In case something spills, you'll be able to contain the mess. Bring extra plastic bags to store beauty items in case of leaks. 

3. Pack your socks inside of your shoes to save space and help them (especially boots) their shape.

4. Select wrinkle-proof pieces (in fabrics like polyester) in order to minimize ironing.

5. Pack items that are versatile and can be worn multiple ways. For example, a black slip dress, a shirtdress, or a jacket with a detachable hood. Change your look while on vacation by re-wearing these basics with new accessories.

6. Don't pack your most valuable jewelry or apparel in case your luggage is lost or stolen. 

7. If you have a long journey, pack a change of clothes in your carry-on in case your luggage is delayed, lost or stolen.

8. As tempting as it is, avoid drinking coffee or alcohol on the plane. Instead, opt for lots of water to stay hydrated and ward off jet lag.

What I Pack:

When it comes to the fashion and beauty items that always make the cut, I've learned exactly what to prioritize. So I'm sharing the eleven items that I can't leave home without.

fashion and beauty travel essentials

1. Givenchy studded sunglasses, $495. A good pair of shades is essential for sunny destinations and for hiding tired eyes after your flight. This pair has small studs and cool mirrored lenses. 

2. Flight 001 red eye kit, $11.98. This travel set includes an eye mask, ear plugs, floss, and toothbrush - everything you need for a restful trip. I never get on a plane without earplugs.

3. Avène thermal spring water spray, $18.50. This is a French beauty favorite for fighting dry plane air and static-y hair.

4. MAC lipglass, $17. This lip gloss is long-lasting and doesn't dry your lips, plus the range of shades is endless. I've been a fan ever since I can remember.

5. Peter Thomas Roth mineral sunblock, $30. This is easy to apply over makeup, and perfect for oily skin. There's also a version in SPF 45 for non-oily skin.

6. Henri Bendel 'Jetsetter' convertible backpack, $278. You can wear it three different ways, plus the pockets make it super easy to stay organized. Simple but chic, right? I get compliments whenever I wear mine.

7. Chanel Ultrawear Flawless compact foundation, $60. Gives skin a natural, flawless finish with SPF 15. I carry mine everywhere for touch-ups and extra sun protection.

8. Ray-Ban 'Highstreet' sunglasses, $140. This style is lightweight, classic, and they pair well with everything.

9. Bioderma micellar water, $6.90. It removes the most stubborn makeup, and leaves skin feeling soft and clean.

10. Adidas Gazelles, $79.95. A bit more rugged than the Adidas Superstars, they are comfortable enough for walking around all day, dirt resistant, and are easy to style with both casual or more dressy looks. Mine served me well for walking on cobblestones, climbing steps, and light hiking.

11. Collection XIIX baseball hat, $20. Ideal for sunny days, rainy days, or post-flight hair days. 

See more travel essentials:





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May 20, 2017

Uniworld Delightful Danube Cruise Review

I just completed my second European river cruise with Uniworldand I must admit that I'm having withdrawals from their abundant breakfast and lunch buffets, the twice daily housekeeping service, and the surreal beauty of the German and Austrian countryside. They indulged our every need!

You may recall my first Uniworld cruise to Venice in summer 2015 aboard the River Countess. This time, I sailed on the River Beatrice from Prague to Budapest, with stops in Nuremberg, Regensburg, Passau, Spitz, Vienna, and Budapest. Highlights of my trip include a a few surreal bucket list moments: riding a bike along the river from Germany into Austria, strolling the quiet gardens at Vienna's Schönbrunn Palace, hiking through the Bavarian forest, and navigating the stunning but steep vineyards of Spitz Village in Austria. I must still be jet lagged because as I review my travel photos (more on my Insta @thekeytochic), I can hardly believe the things I saw. It feels like a dream. As I get back into my regular routine, I'm feeling so grateful for the new memories.

During the early planning stages of my trip, I had trouble selecting a cruise due to the sheer number of options available. Prior to this vacation, I'd seen western and southern Germany, but I'd never traveled to Eastern Europe. So many people have raved about Prague, so the choice became more obvious as I studied Uniworld's itineraries. My trip started in Prague, with a stay at the centrally located and well appointed Art Deco Imperial Hotel, whose large breakfast buffet was nothing short of amazing. I'll certainly miss their Bircher muesli and its rich, coconut flavor. (Disclosure: I may be obsessed with muesli.) 

With two Uniworld trips under my belt, I've come to realize that they spoil their travelers with abundant breakfast and lunch buffets, customized service from the well-trained restaurant staff (who graciously accommodated my healthy eating requests), plenty of tour options to choose from, unlimited free drinks on board the ship, and fun "Go Active" excursions for travelers who seek new fitness adventures. I did two hikes and a bike ride during my trip, and also spent some time in the ship's fitness center in order to burn off all that muesli from the breakfast buffet. Any vacation that includes exercise is one that appeals to me.

While I'm not the target demographic for Uniworld due to my age, a twenty-something traveler from Australia told me about U by Uniworld. It's targeted towards the younger 21-45 age group, with an emphasis on unique experiences, Instagram-worthy scenes, nightlife, and fitness activities. I'll definitely be looking into their trips, perhaps for next year.

Here's a look at some of my favorite moments on the Delightful Danube cruise.

Prague Castle Gardens

The Prague castle gardens took my breath away as our tour guide walked us downhill from the castle to Old Town.

River Beatrice Uniworld Stateroom

Stateroom on the River Beatrice (pillow menu, L'Occitane bath products, good lighting, cable TV, and plenty of closet space make the rooms really comfortable).

River Beatrice Uniworld Lobby

Uniworld Tea Time River Beatrice

I had to indulge in tea time one evening before dinner on the River Beatrice. 

Uniworld Lunch Buffet River Beatrice

Lunch buffets always included meats, cheeses, a salad bar, soup, and more Eastern European comfort food than you can imagine. Did I mention the dessert table? I somehow managed to resist it each day at lunch.

Passau Germany

Passau, Germany was a favorite location due to its charming vibes, river views, beer gardens, bike paths, and pastel architecture. (Cute place for a honeymoon, too.)

Uniworld Breakfast Buffet Meal


Muesli, yogurt, fruit, and scrambled eggs for breakfast to fuel me through the day.

Passau Germany Hike

The views at the end of a 4-mile hike through the verdant Bavarian forest in Passau. I'll never forget the comical sound of the frogs croaking as I walked through the fields.

River Beatrice Uniworld Stateroom Flowers

Bridge From Austria to Germany

This bridge leads from Austria to Germany. It was the halfway point of a scenic bike ride along the river, which included a beverage break at a charming café. 

Austria cafe

street style germany

Another scene from Passau, where colorful gardens and charming restaurants offer pretty views along the river.

Schonbrunn Palace Gardens Vienna

Tulips in my favorite shade of pink at Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. If you stroll long enough, you get past the clusters of selfie-taking tourists and you'll enjoy quiet, empty swaths of colorful flowers, manicured gardens, and endless paths for strolling.

Melk Abbey Austria

Melk Abbey also offered pretty gardens and peaceful scenery. Wearing Givenchy sunglasses, floral blouse by Who What Wear, and Adidas Gazelles

Sweets in Vienna, Austrian desserts

Vienna abounds with cafés and shops selling desserts that are hard to resist. 

Uniworld Lunch Buffet Salad

I took advantage of Uniworld's salad bar each day for lunch. The salmon was a memorable meal.

Spitz Austria vineyards

The view from the vineyards of Spitz, Austria just after a light dusting of rain.

Uniworld Fruit Dessert

Nedko, the restaurant manager aboard the River Beatrice, made sure I had healthy options for dessert. This lactose free (and guilt free) fruit compote was one of my favorites. 

Budapest Hungarian Parliament Building

Above and below, the views of Budapest were breathtaking.

Budapest Hungary Views

RiverBeatrice Delightful Danube Cruise

Catch up with my travel and shopping adventures over on Instagram or Snapchat @thekeytochic.

See my travel fashion and beauty favorites:






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April 30, 2017

Who What Wear Collection Spring 2017 Review

Please note that this post contains affiliate links and I may be compensated if purchases are made by clicking links. 

If you've seen my Insta stories over the past year, then you probably know that I'm a dedicated fan and frequent shopper of the Who What Wear Collection at Target. I adore discovering their new arrivals each month, styling head-to-toe looks, and stocking up on chic new pieces for my wardrobe. This spring 2017 collection might just be the best one to date. I pretty much want it all. 

So what's in store? Well, it's a playful mix of on-trend gingham, ruffles, chambray, statement sleeves, and party-perfect maxi dresses with just the right balance of brights (hello, yellow!) and neutrals for the spring to summer transition. There are polished pieces for work, pretty dresses for weddings and parties, and laid back looks for off-duty days. It's everything you need to update your closet and a few things you didn't even know you need! 

Here's a peek at the new arrivals.

who what wear collection spring 2017



Gingham is a prominent print in everything from maxi dresses to off-the-shoulder tops and sleeveless blouses.

who what wear collection spring 2017



who what wear collection spring 2017

I took home the ruffled denim jacket, embroidered jeans, this adorable bird cage skirt, and this ruffled sleeve blouse in floral

who what wear collection spring 2017



who what wear collection spring 2017



who what wear collection spring 2017

See my original Who What Wear Collection fitting room review for info on sizing. 

Preview more of the spring collection below, and connect with me on Insta stories @thekeytochic to see how I style my new pieces. 





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April 9, 2017

Victoria Beckham for Target Review


Please note that this post contains affiliate links and I may be compensated if purchases are made by clicking links. 

When you think of Victoria Beckham, perhaps her Spice Girls-era platforms, tight dresses, or bobbed hairstyle come to mind. While I was not the target demographic when the Spice Girls hit it big, I can appreciate Victoria Beckham's current day personal style and her chic designs. With her days as Posh Spice long behind her, she's earned her credentials as a style icon, mother extraordinaire, and talented fashion designer. So when I learned of her #VBxTarget collection, I made my wish list and strategized my shopping plans for April 9 in the hopes of spicing up my closet with some florals, gingham, bunny prints, and maybe a cute bee print blouse. Here's the Beckham buzz on my shopping experience...

I made my way to Target just before the 8AM opening to be one of the first to shop. A handful of shoppers (men and women) in various age groups were excitedly waiting to shop with me. Everyone was polite, enthusiastic, and friendly. No hoarding or frenzy here! What follows is my shopping review with fitting room photos. 

Here's what was on my wish list:






April 10, 2017 update - Shop alternatives to some of sold-out items, including this silk bee print blouse:








In the Store

Here's a look at the merchandise before we swarmed like busy bees. All of it was merchandised together in the Junior's department, making it easy to shop the various size ranges. I did not spot anyone hoarding, and many shoppers headed straight to the fitting rooms. I noticed women in a wide variety of ages and sizes trying on the trousers and dresses, which was refreshing. The infant, toddler, and Girls' merchandise wasn't in high demand in my store. A few helpful boyfriends and husbands chatted while we shopped. I can appreciate their dedication! 

victoria beckham for target scallop romper

victoria beckham for target raincoat

Shop VBxTarget for Girls and Toddlers:

victoria beckham for target girls florals

The Women's white gathered waist poplin top in the collection (seen in the photo below in the middle) is similar to this Victoria, Victoria Beckham poplin blouse for $325. The blue striped dress is similar to this striped cotton dress by Victoria, Victoria Beckham for $560.

See similar items by Victoria, Victoria Beckham:



victoria beckham for target dress and gingham top

victoria beckham for target daisy dress

Shop daisy prints:



victoria beckham for target

victoria beckham for target babies

Shop tulip prints and the blush collared dress:



victoria beckham for target dresses

Pros: 

Lots of selection, with similar prints displayed together (eg. circus scallops, pop florals, pressed English flowers, etc.)
Cute mommy-and-me options
More than enough sizes for many items in proportion for the demand in my store
Well-trained and helpful employees ready to assist with go-back and finding sizes

Cons:

No plus sizes at the first store I visited (but some at the second store)
Not enough stock in the calla lily trousers (those were really popular!)
Fitting rooms didn't have enough hanging space

In the Fitting Room

For reference, I wear XS or S and 2-4 at Target. I'm petite, so I tried on some Girls' #VBxTarget dresses in XL out of curiosity. 

Left to right:

Pressed floral ruffle hem dress in Girls' XL. It's fully lined, stretchy, and comfortable. The fabric is sturdy and the back zip was easy to use. Surprise hit for me, since drop-waist silhouettes usually don't appeal to me.

Blush scallop trim dress in Girls' XL. I didn't love the wrinkled fabric. The buttons at back of the neck were tricky for me. Cute for kids, but not for me. 

Daisy scallop trim dress in Girls' XL. Nice woven fabric, but back buttons tricky again. Runs slightly smaller than the other two dresses. Cute, for kids, but not for me. 

victoria beckhamfor target drop waist dresses



Floral Fever (Favorites)

Left to right:

English floral satin dress in small. I though it was well tailored, flattering, and slightly stretchy. The zip can be tricky as it goes over the waist seam. I ordered it online and I am really excited to wear it soon. It's a top pick for me. I think it's flattering for many body types. 

Satin calla lily blouse in small with calla lily trousers in 2. Both are well tailored, true to size, made of sturdy fabric, and felt very comfortable. Note the French cuffs! The trousers have a tiny bit of stretch and are fitted through the hip. They flare out at the knee and ankle, are high waisted, and elongate the legs. I'll have to hem them for a better fit. Pajama vibes? VB wore this look, so no wonder the pants are sold out online.

Satin photo ruffle top in small. It's true to size, has a slightly boxy shape, and was easy to put on. Worn with the black twill trousers in 4. They were sturdy, well tailored, and a surprise hit for me. Taller shoppers, rejoice; the inseam is a generous 34". If you want the signature slouchy trouser look that Victoria favors, these trousers deliver. They're a great (and flattering) basic at an amazing price, and not surprisingly, they are sold out online. (I just hemmed mine to wear with flat sandals and Adidas shell toes.)

victoria beckham for target floral dress calla lily outfit



Left to right:

Blush jacquard bomber jacket in small. This is a top pick for me. It's partially lined, has pockets, and is true to size. It looks double the price of $35. Blush bunny sweater in Girls' XL. Great soft texture, cute shoulder button detail, and easy fit. Blush jacquard shorts in 2. They ran small for me, are well tailored, and comfortable. If you're curvy or unsure on these, size up. 

Black collared dress in small. It's tailored to be close to the body, is lined, and felt really easy to wear. Cute bunny detail! The back zip can be tricky on this one. 

Gingham peplum top in XS with gingham pants in 2. The top runs really big and has a tricky diagonal back zip at the shoulder seam, while the pants are fitted, comfy, and more true to size. 

victoria beckham for target bunny dress sweater gingham outfits



Left to right:

Gathered waist stripe poplin dress in small. It runs big with an easy fit and non-stretchy waist. The curved seam is forgiving to the waistline but evokes maternity apparel vibes. The jury is still out on this piece. It definitely looks better without wrinkles, and I think the sculptured sleeves give it an elevated, almost designer-y look. 

The bee print blouse in small has an easy, non-tailored fit and lightweight fabric. The French cuffs elevate the top and make it feel special. I would've preferred a pointed collar over the banded one, but it's still a favorite. The bee print is hard to resist. 

The floral lace appliqué sweatshirt had great texture and details, was thick, and felt well made. I'm wearing it with the Girl's stripe poplin shorts in XL, which are lightweight, have an elastic waistband and sadly, no pockets.

victoria beckham for target stripe dress bee top floral sweatshirt



Twinning with my Bestie

Below, the satin calla lily dress on me in small and medium on my friend. It's similar in silhouette to this Victoria, Victoria Beckham ruffle dress which has a price tag of $825. The back zip was easy to use, and the fit is well tailored. There's slight stretch and the print makes it elongating. My friend took this one home and I might go back for it! It's a chic piece for spring for only $35. Her daughter rocks the grey bunny set in 5T and loved it so much. See those smiles? 

victoria beckhamfor target calla lily dress grey bunny sweater set



Victoria Beckham for Target clear raincoat and mod tulip dress

Above, the mommy-and-me tulip dress look (true to size) with the clear raincoat (a hit at my store). Below, another look at the grey bunny set ($38) which my model happily took home.



Victoria Beckham for Target Grey Bunny Set



Victoria Beckham for Target Girls outfits

Final thoughts:

In terms of quality, tailoring, and construction, Target hit a home run on this collaboration. The twill pants were so Victoria, as were the drop waist dresses and bunny print details. I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want...I would've liked to have seen sunglasses, bags, swimwear, and footwear, but you can't have it all, right? 

If you shopped with me on Twitter last night, I hope you scored all your favorites! I'm really happy with all my purchases, and I'm looking forward to spicing up my wardrobe with some Posh vibes. #BuzzingwithHappiness #GirlPower 

If you are in need of specific items, reach out via social or e-mail for my personal shopping service. For the buzz on all things #VBxTarget, see my Insta stories or catch up with me on Twitter & Facebook @thekeytochic for more photos. 

Shop Victoria Beckham:




Shop VBxTarget:


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